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We’re still in Christmastide (through January 6, Twelfth Night), so I am continuing — and concluding — a short series on Americans’ views of Christmas.

On Monday, I explained that there really is a war on Christmas: Jesus offends.

On Tuesday, I recapped Pew Research’s ‘5 facts’ about Christmas in the United States. That was the big picture.

Now we drill down into Pew Research Center’s detail, published on December 12, 2017: ‘Americans Say Religious Aspects of Christmas Are Declining in Public Life’.

In short, the people conducting the war on Christmas are winning. And, yes, there is a war on Christmas.

A summary with excerpts from Pew follow. Emphases mine below, unless noted otherwise.

The numbers of Americans celebrating Christmas are still over 90% per cent, however, less than half of those celebrating now consider December 25 as primarily a religious holiday:

Currently, 55% of U.S. adults say they celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, including 46% who see it as more of a religious holiday than a cultural holiday and 9% who celebrate Christmas as both a religious and a cultural occasion. In 2013, 59% of Americans said they celebrated Christmas as a religious holiday, including 51% who saw it as more religious than cultural and 7% who marked the day as both a religious and a cultural holiday.

Americans are not bothered too much about the declining emphasis on the religious aspects of Christmas. Some of those polled perceived a de-emphasis; others did not:

Overall, 31% of adults say they are bothered at least “some” by the declining emphasis on religion in the way the U.S. commemorates Christmas, including 18% who say they are bothered “a lot” by this. But the remaining two-thirds of the U.S. public either is not bothered by a perceived decline in religion in Christmas or does not believe that the emphasis on the religious elements of Christmas is waning.

There is also a political party split on those perceptions:

A higher share of Republicans than Democrats express the view that the religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less now than in the past (68% vs. 50%). And the partisan gap is even bigger when it comes to whether this perceived trend is seen as negative. Fully half of Republicans and those who lean toward the GOP say they are bothered “a lot” (32%) or “some” (20%) by a declining emphasis on the religious aspects of Christmas. Among Democrats, just one-in-five say they are bothered “a lot” (10%) or “some” (11%) by these changes.

There was also a political divide between the two parties’ adherents and church attendance at Christmas:

Nearly two-thirds of Republicans and those who lean toward the GOP say they will attend church on Christmas (65%). Among Democrats, 45% plan on attending religious services this year.

There was a slight religious split — between Protestant Evangelicals and other denominations — with regard to the seasonal greetings ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’:

Most white evangelical Protestants say they prefer for stores and other businesses to greet their customers by saying “merry Christmas” during the holidays. But evangelicals are somewhat less likely to express this view today (61%) compared with 2012 (70%).

Within every other major Christian tradition, there are at least as many people who say the holiday greetings used by stores and businesses don’t matter to them as there are who say they prefer “merry Christmas.”

As for the biblical narrative, Pew asked their subjects about belief in four biblical Christmas details: the Virgin Birth, Jesus in a manger, the angel announcing His birth to shepherds and the arrival of the Magi. All results below are comparisons between 2014 and 2017. All show a decline.

Those who believe in the Virgin Birth have declined by seven per cent: 73% to 66%.

Those who believe that the Christ Child lay in a manger declined by six per cent: 81% to 75%.

Those who believe that the angel announced His birth to shepherds declined by seven per cent: 74% to 67%.

Those who believe the Magi visited Jesus declined by seven per cent: 75% to 68%.

The number who believe all four events took place dropped eight per cent: 65% to 57%.

Worryingly, fewer Christians believe these events took place:

Overall, the share of Christians who believe in all four of these elements of the Christmas story has dipped from 81% in 2014 to 76% today. This decline has been particularly pronounced among white mainline Protestants (see below for details).

The survey report did not say why, but the decline could be due in part to churches’ de-emphasis on the Bible in general. Many denominations are now social justice centres, nothing more.

The decline in three years’ time was most marked among Millennials, adults born after 1980. These are all big drops:

Millennials’ belief in the Virgin Birth fell from 67% to 55% — 12 points.

Their belief that Baby Jesus lay in a manger fell from 78% to 65% — 12 points.

Their belief that an angel announced His birth to shepherds fell from 68% to 54% — 14 points.

Their belief that the Magi visited Jesus fell from 75% to 57% — 15 points.

The percentage of Millennials believing all four events took place fell from 59% to 44% — 15 points.

WHY?

This generation is now raising children. What are these parents telling their offspring about Christ’s birth?

Something is very wrong with the Christmas picture in the United States.

End of series

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As I mentioned yesterday, slowly but surely, the war on Christmas is making more incursions in the United States.

Pew Research findings prove it.

A December 18, 2017 Pew Research Fact Tank article, ‘5 facts about Christmas in America’, shows that little by little, year after year, secularist thought is turning the tide.

A summary with excerpts follows. Bold emphases in the original, those in purple mine.

The first fact states that, although 90% of Americans and 95% of Christians celebrate Christmas — holding steady over recent years:

the role of religion in Christmas celebrations appears to be declining. Today, 46% of Americans say they celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious (rather than cultural) holiday, down from 51% who said this in 2013, with Millennials less likely than other adults to say they celebrate Christmas in a religious way. A majority of U.S. adults (56%) also say religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less in American society today than in the past, though relatively few are bothered by this trend.

Wow! So now, only 46% of Americans celebrate Christmas as primarily a religious holiday.

And over half don’t care if the religious aspect is de-emphasised, which, as Americans told Pew, is happening.

The second fact concerns the greetings ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’:

 About half of Americans (52%) now say it doesn’t matter how stores greet their customers over the holidays, up from 46% in 2012. About a third (32%) choose “merry Christmas” – down considerably from the 42% who said this five years ago. Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say they prefer “merry Christmas.”

The preference for ‘Merry Christmas’ dropped by ten per cent in only five years’ time! It’s now under one third.

Also, why is it not surprising that more Republicans than Democrats prefer ‘Merry Christmas’?

The third fact concerns public Nativity displays on government property:

A growing share says religious displays should not be allowed on government property under any circumstances (26%, up from 20% three years ago). At the same time, a declining share say Christian symbols should be allowed on government property even if they are unaccompanied by symbols from other religions (37% today, down from 44% in 2014). Roughly three-in-ten (29%) say these displays should be allowed only if they are accompanied by other religious symbols like Hanukkah candles, a share that has held relatively steady in recent years.

In 2014, 20% believed there should be no religious displays on government property. In just three years, that percentage has grown by six points.

Furthermore, the number those who support Christian symbols on government property at Christmas has decreased by seven per cent in the same time period.

That is a lot in such a short space of time.

The fourth fact is not a survey piece as such but relates to Christmas displays on public property and how successful they are in going unchallenged:

In the 1980s, the Supreme Court handed down two landmark rulings that allow for displays of Christmas crèches, Hanukkah menorah and other religious holiday symbols on public property so long as they do not actively endorse or promote a particular religion or religion in generalIn practice, religious symbols that are a part of larger secular holiday display (containing, say, Christmas trees, Santa Claus and reindeer) have had a much better chance of surviving a court challenge than those displays that are solely or more overtly religious.

The fifth fact relates to Americans’ belief in the biblical Christmas story between 2014 and 2017:

Two-thirds (66%) say Jesus was born to a virgin, compared with 73% who said this in 2014; 75% believe he was laid in a manger, down from 81%. Similarly, the shares who say they believe that wise men, guided by a star, brought Jesus gifts — and that an angel appeared to shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus — also have declined. A slim majority of U.S. adults (57%) believe that all four of these things actually happened, down from 65% three years ago. Belief in these events has declined not only among people with no religious affiliation, but among Christians as well. Overall, about one-in-five Americans (19%) now say none of these things actually happened.

Ding! Ding! Ding! An increasing number of Christians no longer believe the events of Christmas and Epiphany took place.

How sad is that?

Also, in 2014, just under two-thirds of Americans believed all four events took place. That percentage has dropped eight points since then to an anaemic 57%.

Again, this has happened in only three years’ time.

Good grief.

What will the results be in 2020? I shudder to think.

Don’t let anyone tell you there is no war on Christmas. There is, and the anti-Christmas people are winning, bit by bit, year by year.

Another Pew survey follows tomorrow.

As we are still in Christmastide (through January 6, Twelfth Night), my next two posts will address the war on Christmas as seen in the United States.

Secularists and leftists laugh at this notion, but it does exist.

On December 22, 2017, Fox Radio host Todd Starnes had a poignant news story about a Christian couple, Mark and Lynn Wivell, of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Among the Wivells’ outdoor Christmas decorations was a beautiful display that read ‘JESUS’.

Todd Starnes tells us:

A few days later they received an email from the homeowner’s association asking them to remove the sign. One of their neighbors had complained that the “JESUS” display was offensive.

“We know that Christmas was about the birth of Jesus,” Mr. Wivell told the Evening Sun newspaper. “I was quite shocked it offended somebody, but I guess in today’s world I shouldn’t have been.”

The homeowner’s association came up with a brilliant wheeze to get the Wivells to take the sign down:

They argued that the “JESUS” display was a sign – and signs are not permitted.

The Wivells were unmoved and kept the display up. Good! I hope they had a happy and blessed Christmas.

Starnes then discussed the war on Christmas:

Over the past few months we’ve heard the Mainstream Media tell us that Christmas is really not a big deal. They’ve tried to discount the meaning of the holiday.

Public colleges and universities have demanded that Christmas be an all-inclusive holiday — and it should be celebrated without religious references or traditions.

Even some government leaders have tried to erase Christmas from the public marketplace — fearing that people might be offended by the true meaning of the Christmas season.

I will go into that in tomorrow’s post. This war is working. Pew Research Center results prove it.

Starnes came up with his own brilliant strategy for reminding his listeners of the Reason for the season:

And that’s why I’ve started a new tradition at the Todd Starnes Show. Beginning this Christmas, I will read the Gospel of Luke’s account of the birth of Christ on the radio — verse by verse.

So I hope you will take a moment to our recitation of the birth of Christ …

Merry Christmas, America!

Well played! It’s about time.

In England last week a General Practitioner (family doctor) was censured by the General Medical Council (GMC) for discussing the role of Christian faith in recuperating from illness.

The Telegraph reported (emphases mine):

Dr Richard Scott, a family GP with 28 years’ experience, is facing disciplinary action and fears he could lose his job after he discussed his faith in Jesus with a patient last year.

The 50-year-old is being investigated by the General Medical Council but Christian doctors rallied to his defence and criticised the way that the professional standards regulator had handled the case.

In 2010, Dr Scott, who works at Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, a practice known for its Christian partners, saw a patient at the request of the patient’s mother. He maintains that he only discussed how his faith in Jesus had helped him at the end of the consultation, and with the patient’s consent.

But the GMC wrote to Dr Scott, warning him that he had distressed the patient and risked bringing the profession into disrepute. He has appointed a human rights lawyer to fight the reprimand.

Faithful Christians will instantly recognise that the name the practice has — Bethesda [sometimes ‘Bethsaida’] — is mentioned in the New Testament, specifically, John 5:1-17:

2Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8Jesus said to him,  “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

I said ‘faithful Christians’ above, because they are the most likely to read the Bible in its entirety.  Today, because of the three-year Lectionary, most people aged 35 and younger will not have encountered this story because, for some reason, it is not included as a passage to be read on Sundays or feast days.  Expect to see it, therefore, in an upcoming Forbidden Bible Verses post. (These aren’t banned verses as much as they are, inexplicably, excluded from public worship.)

The painting above, which you can click on to enlarge at Aboutbiblevideos.com, was painted by Carl Heinrich Bloch in 1883.  You can see another of Bloch’s many religious paintings here.

Now back to the story.  One of Dr Scott’s supporters is:

Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, which has 4,000 members including about 2,000 GPs, criticised the GMC.

He said the “clear implication” of the GMC guidelines was that a doctor should be allowed to express his personal beliefs in a way that is “appropriate and sensitive”.

“It does seem to me that the GMC have overreacted by censuring him,” he said.

“All good doctors try to treat their patients as whole persons, not just biochemical machines. That does sometimes include spiritual matters, dealing with questions of meaning and purpose.”

The paper also featured an editorial on the story, fully supporting Dr Scott:

Dr Scott fears that the GMC’s action may eventually lead to his being struck off.

Had he withheld orthodox medical treatment, offering only prayer and the possibility of miracles, Dr Scott might have been a menace to his many non-believing patients (and probably to those who shared his beliefs as well). But that is not what he was doing. All he did was to share his conviction that a commitment to the Christian religion could be one element that contributed to a recovery from illness. If the patients objected, or made it clear that they did not like the turn of the conversation, he dropped the topic. Nevertheless, the mother of one of those with whom he raised it complained. Indeed, she was perfectly entitled to do so – but we cannot see how her complaint can be grounds for the GMC to take action against Dr Scott. After all, no one maintains that he ever forced religion on anyone, or that his faith ever impeded his ability to dispense medical care.

What, then, is the fuss about? The GMC’s excessive reaction is part of a tendency: a number of institutions and companies have, in a misguided attempt to be “multicultural”, banned Christian symbols and overt expressions of faith, something that would never be attempted in the case of other religions. And yet the Christian faith is central to our country’s history and our traditions. Its legacy is visible everywhere. It is right that today, no one expects a person who holds positions of power and responsibility to be a practising Christian. But we appear to be heading towards an alarming situation in which the profession of faith becomes an active disqualification.

The Telegraph opened this editorial to readers’ comments.  On page 2 of the oldest comments, a Margate resident, Aston Walker, wrote in to say that not only was there a clue in the name of the medical practice — Bethesda — but:

The notice is in the waiting area and all the partners are Christians.

I live and work in Margate. The Bethesda is where my family are registered.
Have people forgotten that we are a Christian country, which allows freedom of speech.

I support Dr Scott and what the Bethesda do and offer.

Reader kbo1 rightly points out the Christian origins of European hospitals, dating back to the Middle Ages if not before.  kbo1 adds:

It’s a worrying Stalinist trend, where you can be denounced and fired from your job for not subscribing to the prevailing orthodoxy (in this case atheism).

In closing, many of us will no doubt agree with what responsible has to say:

It is part of Labour’s legacy of socialist soviet totalitarian thought control to promote State rules that benefit the vested interests of people in State funded bodies, above individual freedoms.  The GMC are a medical body with no place in religious matters … 

It reflects the multi-culti, moral equivalance, PC State control and socialist dogma to increase tax and State borrowing to fund State interference in all aspects of life and State dependency.  All funded by huge loans taken by Labour to be repaid by others who do not vote now. 

The values of freedom, equality and fair non-violent rule of law are disappearingThose values were hard won by lives freely given in war against tyrants and dictators.  They are values the civilised West enjoys, and people in other countries now realise are denied them

Sadly, we have not yet reached the point where Westerners are conscious of losing these hard-won rights and liberties.  The West is more than a pool of taxpayers’ money waiting to be raided by all and sundry.  But how many of our fellow citizens steeped in today’s bread and circuses — takeaways and televisual entertainment — are aware of what we are in danger of losing before the decade is out?

My prayers go to Dr Scott in his appeal against the GMC’s reprimand and for the continued success of the Bethesda practice.

Over the weekend a huge furore broke out in France with the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF head, in midtown Manhattan.  He has been accused of sexually assaulting a hotel chambermaid.  (Photo at left courtesy of Izrael.org.il.)

Before going any further, an accused is innocent until proven guilty.

Mr Strauss-Kahn, or DSK, as he is known in France, was the top potential candidate for the Parti Socialiste (PS) in the 2012 presidential elections against the UMP (Conservative) incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

The New York Times reported on May 14, 2011 (emphases mine):

Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, who was widely expected to become the Socialist candidate for the French presidency, was apprehended by detectives of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the first-class section of the jetliner, and immediately turned over to detectives from the Midtown South Precinct, officials said.

The New York Police Department arrested Mr. Strauss-Kahn at 2:15 a.m. Sunday “on charges of criminal sexual act, attempted rape, and an unlawful imprisonment in connection with a sexual assault on a 32-year-old chambermaid in the luxury suite of a Midtown Manhattan hotel yesterday” about 1 p.m., Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman, said.

Reached by telephone, Benjamin Brafman, a lawyer, said he would be representing Mr. Strauss-Kahn with William Taylor, a lawyer in Washington …

Early Sunday morning, Mr. Brafman said that his client “will plead not guilty.”

Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, had been expected to declare his candidacy soon, after three and a half years as the leader of the fund, which is based in Washington. He was considered by many to have done a good job in a period of intense global economic strain, when the institution itself had become vital to the smooth running of the world and the European economy.

His apprehension came at about 4:40 p.m., when two detectives of the Port Authority suddenly boarded Air France Flight 23, as the plane idled at the departure gate, said John P. L. Kelly, a spokesman for the agency.

“It was 10 minutes before its scheduled departure,” Mr. Kelly said. “They were just about to close the doors.”

Mr. Kelly said that Mr. Strauss-Kahn was traveling alone and that he was not handcuffed during the apprehension …

The Port Authority officers were acting on information from the Police Department, whose detectives had been investigating the assault of a female employee of Sofitel New York, at 45 West 44th Street, near Times Square. Working quickly, the city detectives learned he had boarded a flight at Kennedy Airport to leave the country.

it was about 1 p.m. on Saturday when the maid, a 32-year-old woman, entered Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s suite — Room 2806 — believing it was unoccupied. Mr. Browne said that the suite, which cost $3,000 a night, had a foyer, a conference room, a living room and a bedroom, and that Mr. Strauss-K[ah]n had checked in on Friday.

As she was in the foyer, “he came out of the bathroom, fully naked, and attempted to sexually assault her,” Mr. Browne said, adding, “He grabs her, according to her account, and pulls her into the bedroom and onto the bed.” He locked the door to the suite, Mr. Browne said.

“She fights him off, and he then drags her down the hallway to the bathroom, where he sexually assaults her a second time,” Mr. Browne added.

At some point during the assault, the woman broke free, Mr. Browne said, and “she fled, reported it to other hotel personnel, who called 911.” He added, “When the police arrived, he was not there.” Mr. Browne said Mr. Strauss-Kahn appeared to have left in a hurry. In the room, investigators found his cellphone, which he had left behind, and one law enforcement official said that the investigation uncovered forensic evidence that would contain DNA.

Mr. Browne added, “We learned that he was on an Air France plane,” and the plane was held at the gate, where Mr. Strauss-Kahn was taken into custody. Later Saturday night, Mr. Browne said Mr. Strauss-Kahn was in a police holding cell.

Mr. Browne said the city’s Emergency Medical Service took the maid to Roosevelt Hospital for what Mr. Browne described as treatment for “minor injuries.”

Observations

1/ Many online have asked how a chambermaid enters an occupied hotel room. They can and they do.  It’s happened to me on more than one occasion — in four-star hotels. The first time was six years ago in Barcelona, when I actually had the Do Not Disturb sign out.  The woman knocked and immediately opened the door.  ‘Oh, I didn’t realise you were still here.’ The other times have occurred in the South of France where the maids knock once and then come in.  Generally, this is in the evening when they turn down the sheets and place chocolates on the pillows.

2/ For the past five years — since 1999 in Mr Sarkozy’s case — the PS and their water-carriers on the left (Le Monde, Libération, Marianne, Médiapart and Rue 89) have ruthlessly criticised the UMP for every wrongdoing — great or small (mostly the latter) — during that time.  Now they’re crying foul.  Get used to it, chaps.  You’re getting a good dose of your own medicine now.

3/ The PS thinks this was a set-up.  Okay, by whom? The PS itself would have been an unlikely culprit.  The only Socialist candidate who came close in DSK’s opinion poll rankings was François Hollande, and he doesn’t seem the type of man who would have engineered such a thing. I believe he would have fully supported DSK as a contender. The French say that some IMF member countries wanted a new chief from an emerging country.  Fine, but DSK had already announced his intention to stand down with a view towards the presidential elections, so that doesn’t seem to hold much water.  What about the UMP together with the French company Accor — of which Sofitel is a part?  Equally unlikely.  How probable is it that the UMP would be able to engineer this with Accor in a foreign country with full co-operation from a chambermaid and the police?  Highly unlikely.

4/ How is it that a lifelong Socialist tells IMF countries they have to rein in spending whilst he travels first-class and occupies a hotel suite?  This trip alone cost upwards of $10,000 — mind-boggling when millions of people from IMF member countries are out of work, living with extended families or in their own cars.  According to RMC (Radio Monte Carlo) reports on May 17, 2011, however, he paid out of his own pocket on this occasion.

5/ And speaking of the ‘little guy’ — whether guilty or innocent — how is it that DSK is implicated in such a scandalous way with a member of the working class with which the PS so closely identifies?

6/ Just playing Devil’s Advocate here, but how is it that so many people commenting on this story — women included — assume that DSK is innocent?  Why do only a handful take the chambermaid’s side?  Very telling about our view of men versus women, especially powerful and influential men (automatically innocent) versus low-salaried females struggling to get by (automatically guilty).

7/ As for DSK being under diplomatic immunity as head of the IMF, the Guardian says:

Strauss-Kahn, who does not have diplomatic immunity as head of the IMF, is expected to be brought before a state court on Sunday.

On May 17, RMC stated that he had a diplomatic passport with him.  Nevertheless, he is currently in isolation (for his own safety) at Riker’s Island — not the place one goes to make new friends.

DSK’s background

DSK has been married to career journalist Anne Sinclair since 1991. It’s the third marriage for him and the second for her. (Photo at right courtesy of marketpipeline.blogspot.com.) The NYT article referenced above states:

Mr. Strauss-Kahn issued an apology to I.M.F. employees and to his wife, Anne Sinclair, an American-born French journalist …

Both DSK and Sinclair come from privileged backgrounds, possibly accounting for their gauche caviar — champagne Socialist — perspectives. Beware of leftists — they are not always what they seem.  Wikipedia has this on DSK:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was born on 25 April 1949 in the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine. He is the son of Gilbert Strauss-Kahn, a legal and tax advisor and member of the Grand Orient de France, and Russian/Tunisian journalist Jacqueline Fellus. His family is of mixed Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jewish origin.

Allow me to interject a bit about the Grand Orient de France, also from Wikipedia:

The Grand Orient de France (GODF) is the largest of several Masonic organizations in France and the oldest in Continental Europe, founded in 1733 …

The Grand Orient advanced the concept of Laïcité, a French concept of the separation of church and state and the absence of religious interference in government affairs.[23] In the 1930s the Grand Orient was still hostile to Church interests, wishing to close private schools (which were predominantly Catholic), or failing that to reintroduce an insistence that only state schools could provide civil servants.[24]

This dislike of religious participation is still an official policy of the Grand Orient de France today.[25] The Grand Orient de France is concerned about a ‘silent revolution’ of a return of religion in society.[26]

Nicolas Sarkozy was once city councillor for and mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, a beautiful suburb between Paris and La Défense.  The two men knew each other well, which is why Conservative Sarkozy supported Socialist DSK’s appointment as head of the IMF.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself:

Strauss-Kahn was first an activist member of the Union of Communist Students,[4] before joining in the 1970s the Centre d’études, de recherches et d’éducation socialiste (Center on Socialist Education Studies and Research, CERES) led by Jean-Pierre Chevènement, future presidential candidate for the 2002 election.[4] There, he befriended the future Prime Minister of France Lionel Jospin (PS).

So, this chap whom everyone thinks has the world and its economy at heart is an ex-Communist, an unbeliever, a globalist and a Socialist.

Does DSK care about your retirement or those on low incomes?  In response, let me ask how much he really cares about a hotel chambermaid.  People who say, ‘This is serious.  The world’s economy could fall apart’ are talking through their hats.  Let’s not give DSK more credit than is due.  Belgium has been without a government for several months and is managing better than ever — their national debt is even going down.  In any event, don’t worry, the IMF has DSK’s temporary replacement covered:

Hours after its chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested in connection with the alleged sexual attack of a maid at a Midtown Manhattan hotel, the International Monetary Fund on Sunday named John Lipsky as acting managing director.

Mr. Lipsky, the I.M.F.’s first deputy managing director, is a former U.S. Treasury executive and onetime banker at JP Morgan. William Murray, an I.M.F. spokesman, said that Mr. Lipsky, who has been overseeing the logistics of the bailout of the Greek economy, would meet with members of the I.M.F. board in Washington later in the day, according to Reuters.

Well, we can all sleep soundly tonight knowing that.

On Ms Sinclair, Wikipedia informs us:

Sinclair was born in New York to Joseph-Robert Schwartz (changed to Sinclair en 1949) and Micheline Nanette Rosenberg, French-Jewish parents, who fled from Nazi persecution of Jews during World War II.[1] She is the granddaughter of Paul Rosenberg, one of France’s biggest art dealers. After completing part of her secondary schooling in the United States, she went on to finish in France. She then majored in politics at the Paris Institute of Political Studies and in law at the University of Paris.

Again, no ordinary leftist eating sardines out of a tin.  Ms Sinclair has spent her career in radio and television broadcasting, mostly conducting serious political interviews but also writing books along the way. Understandably, her blog has been quiet for the past few days.

DSK has form with women

The New York debacle has raised knowing eyebrows in France because rumours about his private conduct with women other than his wife have been circulating for several years.  Some — including Socialists interviewed on RMC (Radio Monte Carlo) over the past few days — have asked, ‘If these allegations are true — any of them — why don’t these women just say so?’  Uhhh, what woman would publicly oppose the head of the IMF, a man who knows everyone he needs to not only in France but around the world?

What follows is a potted history of DSK’s shadowy past with women — never mind the marriages.

The Guardian carries this story, well-known in France, dating back to 2002:

A local official of the Socialist party claimed that Strauss-Kahn had attacked her daughter, who is goddaughter to Strauss-Kahn’s second wife, in 2002.

Tristane Banon was in her 20s and writing a book when she approached Strauss-Kahn for an interview in 2002. In a TV programme in 2007, in which Strauss-Kahn’s name had been bleeped out, Banon allegedly described him as a “rutting chimpanzee” and described how she was forced to fight him off. “It finished badly … very violently … I kicked him,” Banon said. “When we were fighting, I mentioned the word ‘rape’ to make him afraid, but it didn’t have any effect. I managed to get out.”

Banon consulted a lawyer, but did not press charges. “I didn’t want to be known to the end of my days as the girl who had a problem with the politician.”

Banon’s mother, Anne Mansouret, told journalists on Sunday night she had dissuaded her daughter from legal action because she believed Strauss-Kahn’s behaviour had been out of character and because of close links with his family. “Today I am sorry to have discouraged my daughter from complaining. I bear a heavy responsibility,” she said.

She said Strauss-Kahn was “an otherwise warm, sympathetic and extremely talented man”, but the attack left her daughter depressed and traumatised. “My daughter, despite the passing years, is still shocked by these facts. Her life was completely upset by this affair and she was depressed for a long time.” She added that it was clear Strauss-Kahn had “difficulty controlling his urges”

In October 2008 the Telegraph reported:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was having a secret relationship with Piroska Nagy before she joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London

“While this incident constituted an error in judgment on my part, for which I take full responsibility, I firmly believe that I have not abused my position,” Mr Strauss-Kahn wrote in an e-mail to the IMF staff …

Mr Strauss-Kahn’s wife, French television journalist Anne Sinclair, wrote on her blog that she had forgiven her husband for a “one-night stand” and thanked friends and acquaintances for their messages of support.

The Guardian has more:

An IMF investigation in 2008 cleared Strauss-Kahn of harassment and favouritism over an affair with a senior colleague but deemed it a “serious error of judgement”.

And, the affair left Ms Nagy confused and angry:

an indignant Nagy wrote to investigators saying:I was not prepared for the advances of the IMF director general. I didn’t know what to do … I felt damned if I do, damned if I don’t.” Nagy left her job at the IMF after the affair, and hinted at harassment of female staff, adding that her boss had “without question” used his position to seduce her.

Even men know about DSK’s proclivities (same link as the one in the previous paragraph):

Thierry Saussez, a former adviser to Sarkozy, who took part in the TV show with Banon, said: “All this stupefaction from people is sheer hypocrisy. Everyone in Paris has known for years he had something of a problem. Not many female journalists are prepared to interview him alone these days.”

In 2009, the radio satirist Stephane Guillon dedicated his morning comedy slot on France Inter to Strauss-Kahn’s “obsession with females”. Some commentators suggested his behaviour was a reflection of French culture. In 2000 French writers Vincent Giret and Véronique Le Billon wrote almost presciently in their biography of him: “There is only one thing this famous man has avoided … a fall from grace.”

So, no, there does not seem to be a conspiracy theory behind the fall of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  If he is found guilty, it would appear that his appetites got the better of him, one way or another. As for the past, we shall await further updates. In any event, I hope that he comes to a full repentance.

Let this be a warning to us not to accept the great and the powerful at face value.  Nor let us fall so far into grievous sin that we lose sight of God and His great glory.  It may be too much to expect that DSK will see the light of Christ, but the rest of us can learn a cautionary lesson from his story.

Yes, God does work in mysterious ways (check out 1 and 2 Chronicles for stories of disobedient kings who suffered plagues, defeat, illness, even suicide). And sometimes He leaves us to our own devices:

32 But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. (Proverbs 6:32)

28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  (Romans 1:28)

4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.  (Hebrews 13:4)

7 The people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the towns around them also did evil things. They gave themselves over to sexual sins …  (Jude 7)

24 Give praise to the One who is able to keep you from falling into sin. He will bring you into his heavenly glory without any fault. He will bring you there with great joy.  (Jude 24)

Further reading from the weekend:

‘DSK inculpé pour agression sexuelle: le minute-par-minute’ – RMC

‘Soul Searching in France after Official’s Arrest Jolts Nation’NYT

‘Strauss-Kahn Arrest Comes at a Fragile Moment for the IMF’ – NYT

‘Dominique Strauss-Kahn in sex book claims’ – Telegraph

‘Dominique Strauss-Kahn: Was it a stitch-up?’Telegraph

‘Top French Politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn dragged off flight at JFK’ – NY Daily News

‘”Sex Assault” IMF Chief Is Denied Bail’ – Yahoo! News

Whilst researching Jacque Fresco, the Venus Project and the Zeitgeist films (yet another word stolen from our lexicon!), I happened upon an explanation for the underpinnings of thought accompanying this type of movement.

What follows will help clarify to the small-l libertarian and the average Internet user what exactly is happening with regard to what I call secular pietism: a striving for purity.

On a site — Zeitgeist Movement Exposed — which debunks the Venus Project and its attendant films, blogger James Kush walks us through the process, which includes communitarianism, Abraham Maslow’s ‘peak experiences’ and a drive for personal purity. As far as I am concerned, the following excerpts have less to say about leftist Jacque Fresco’s Venus Project and carry a greater bearing on bans on this, that and the other which have been strangely endemic over the past 30 years.

In ‘Zeitgeist Cult Characteristics’ Mr Kush has two sections of import, borrowed from Rick Ross’s cult-busting site, which appears to have been taken down.  One is called The Demand for Purity.  Emphases mine (and italics in the original) in the passages below:

In the thought reform milieu, as in all situations of ideological totalism, the experiential world is sharply divided into the pure and the impure, into the absolutely good and the absolutely evil. The good and the pure are of course those ideas, feelings, and actions which are consistent with the totalist ideology and policy; anything else is apt to be relegated to the bad and the impure. Nothing human is immune from the flood of stern moral judgments. All “taints” and “poisons” which contribute to the existing state of impurity must be searched out and eliminated.

Thought reform bears witness to its more malignant consequences: for by defining and manipulating the criteria of purity, and then by conducting an all-out war upon impurity, the ideological totalists create a narrow world of guilt and shame. This is perpetuated by an ethos of continuous reform, a demand that one strive permanently and painfully for something which not only does not exist but is in fact alien to the human condition.

It rather sounds like Rick Warren’s New Age-inspired Daniel Plan for health.  I hope the participants don’t end up like this:

The individual thus comes to apply the same totalist polarization of good and evil to his judgments of his own character: he tends to imbue certain aspects of himself with excessive virtue, and condemn even more excessively other personal qualities – all according to their ideological standing. He must also look upon his impurities as originating from outside influences – that is, from the ever-threatening world beyond the closed, totalist ken. Therefore, one of his best way to relieve himself of some of his burden of guilt is to denounce, continuously and hostilely, these same outside influences. The more guilty he feels, the greater his hatred, and the more threatening they seem. In this manner, the universal psychological tendency toward “projection” is nourished and institutionalized, leading to mass hatreds, purges of heretics, and to political and religious holy wars. Moreover, once an individual person has experienced the totalist polarization of good and evil, he has great difficulty in regaining a more balanced inner sensitivity to the complexities of human morality. For these is no emotional bondage greater than that of the man whose entire guilt potential – neurotic and existential – has become the property of ideological totalists.

Isn’t that the truth?  So many people these days are hostile and judgmental.  I really do believe a fair number of them could work great acts of violence if given the go-ahead.  That includes some churchgoers, I’m afraid. Meanwhile, the rest of us look on from the sidelines, aghast.

Mr Kush adds a few prescient observations of his own, one of which really nails leftist thought — the notion that anything they disagree with represents destruction.  (This recent edict of don’ts from the City of New York to its Health Department employees follows this line of thought.)

An example of zeitgeist dividing the absolute good from the absolute evil includes a segment (audio was made exclusive only to members that downloaded the program from the official site; once the segment was exposed, the complete radio broadcast was removed) The Zeitgeist movement believes that everything in the world today is destructive, including families, laws, governments, currency, nations, cultures, states, languages, religions, god, the list goes on and on. Everything is destructive except for The Venus Project which is “perfection” and “heaven on earth”.

The next section, also from the Rick Ross site, is about ‘sacred science’.  And, those of us who have been following the Church of Gaia (aka the ‘Climate Change’ priesthood) along with the many worldwide bans and excessive taxation on legal products.  When he speaks about the Word, he does not appear to be referring to the Bible but a received secular paradigm:

The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic dogma, holding it out as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. This sacredness is evident in the prohibition (whether or not explicit) against the questioning of basic assumptions, and in the reverence which is demanded for the originators of the Word, the present bearers of the Word, and the Word itself. While thus transcending ordinary concerns of logic, however, the milieu at the same time makes an exaggerated claim of airtight logic, of absolute “scientific” precision. Thus the ultimate moral vision becomes an ultimate science; and the man who dares to criticize it, or to harbor even unspoken alternative ideas, becomes not only immoral and irreverent, but also “unscientific.” In this way, the philosopher kings of modern ideological totalism reinforce their authority by claiming to share in the rich and respected heritage of natural science.  The assumption here is not so much that man can be God, but rather that man’s ideas can be God: that an absolute science of ideas (and implicitly, an absolute science of man) exists, or is at least very close to being attained; that this science can be combined with an equally absolute body of moral principles; and that the resulting doctrine is true for all men at all times. Although no ideology goes quite this far in overt statement, such assumptions are implicit in totalist practice.

This explains so much, so clearly.  But, why is this true for a vocal minority when it isn’t for most of the world’s population?

the totalist sacred science can offer much comfort and security. Its appeal lies in its seeming unification of the mystical and the logical modes of experience (in psychoanalytic terms, of the primary and secondary thought processes) … Since the distinction between the logical and the mystical is, to begin with, artificial and man-made, an opportunity for transcending it can create an extremely intense feeling of truth ...

Yet so strong a hold can the sacred science achieve over his mental processes that if one begins to feel himself attracted to ideas which either contradict or ignore it, he may become guilty and afraid. His quest for knowledge is consequently hampered, since in the name of science he is prevented from engaging in the receptive search for truth which characterizes the genuinely scientific approach. And his position is made more difficult by the absence, in a totalist environment, of any distinction between the sacred and the profane: there is no thought or action which cannot be related to the sacred science. To be sure, one can usually find areas of experience outside its immediate authority; but during periods of maximum totalist activity (like thought reform) any such areas are cut off, and there is virtually no escape from the milieu’s ever-pressing edicts and demands.

This is still the best explanation I’ve read yet of the attraction to secular pietism and healthism coupled with bogus ‘sacred science’.

N.B.: Whilst reading the Rick Ross pieces, I gathered that he was not Christian.  However, his blog has news archives about all types of cults of various secular and religious persuasions from around the world.

With all the news in the UK this week and the subsequent posts here on Churchmouse Campanologist about halal food, what is a Christian to think?

With regard to halal meat, the issue is whether it is appropriate for a Christian to eat an animal who was ritually slaughtered facing the black stone at Mecca with an incantation to Allah passed over it.  If we confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour and believe the words of the Bible, are we not honouring a god above the Lord of Hosts and breaking the first Commandment — ‘Thou shalt have no gods before Me’?

Are we also subjugating ourselves to another world faith, even if we seemingly have no choice in the matter?

Are we unwittingly paying an Islamic tax on non-Muslims — a type of  jizya — for being Christian?  And, worse, is it not imposed on us — and collected — by our fellow ‘Christians’? (I use that term loosely — but meaning from a Western and Christian culture.)  I am specifically referring to the plan of GateGourmet — a Swiss company run by Europeans — to make non-Muslims pay extra for non-halal foodGateGourmet handles catering for nearly every international airline.

Understandably, many Christians and secularists are angry to discover how much halal food they have been buying, whether at the supermarket, butcher or restaurant.  This week’s revelations have certainly made me think twice.

How do we handle it if we object?  People are frustrated by the seeming alliance between Western manufacturers selling halal food, leftist counter-culture hellbent on breaking down Christianity and the useful idiots of today’s postmodern world who do their bidding without knowing any better.

I have some useful observations to share with you below.  But, first, here are some ground rules when faced with the probability of halal:

– Be gracious.

– If you’re going to get mad, stop short of sinning.

– Reasonably state that it’s against your religion to eat halal.

– If you write to a newspaper, multinational or a politician, assume they are secularist; prooftexting from Scripture will be lost on them.  Instead, group together facts, figures and present them cogently and concisely.  Get them thinking, ‘Hey, I didn’t know that.’

– If you live in a diverse community — e.g. Harrow in North West London — pool resources with secularists, Sikhs and Jews to lobby for a return to non-halal meat alternatives.  Put together an argument on reasoned principle which you can then present to the council, school governors or catering service.

Okay, we realise the torchpaper has been lit for some length of time — from Africa to America to Australia.  Some thoughts (emphases mine throughout):

– First, a Muslim explains the classic definition of halal (well worth a read):

“Halal Meat” as we know it these days, is a term used more often for commercial profits than religious observance. Those who call their meat Halal, are in some way insinuating that any other meat is not Halal, or specifically the meat in the general grocery stores is not Halal. They make more money on their products by selling it more expensive while deceiving the naive public Moslems into believing that their meat is the only Halal meat for the Muslims …

God did not make distinction between the meat prepared by a Muslim, a Christian, or a Jew, all are lawful to the same degree, all are HALAL. All should be eaten after God’s name is pronounced on it before you eat it. Making it difficult for yourself, by insisting on driving miles to look for the so called “Halal Meat” reflects a misunderstanding of or disbelief in God’s book and His permission for us to eat the food of the Christians and Jews.

Someone from a Halal meat producer (not a native English-speaker?) makes an appeal to Australian ranchers:

The whole concept of Halal Kind Meats share farms and abattoirs is to put the Australian farmer back in control. By no means by dealing direct with Muslims or Japanese or any other Nation are you putting Australia at risk.

Nor are you selling Australia out. Remember we are happy to lease as well as provide some funds for co-joint ventures and 50/50 ownerships. You will be putting thousands of jobs back into country towns. Perhaps many farmers are putting kids through uni in the city and the extra funds will help. Here is a way to pay for that and have something for the kids to come back and run. It’s a future.

The Australian farmer is the backbone of this country and knows more about the real Australia then any of us city folk ever did. However some of the other countries have been around for a few thousand years as well.
What I have personally found that it is rewarding when you get an old Aussie farmer sitting down to talk to people like Malaysian Governments and Muftis with nobody else around.
What you get then is a true combination of grass root contacts which is the Aussie Farmer and the old wise overseas investor who’s been around for a few thousand years longer then us
.

Observations on the New Zealand meat industry from a New Zealander:

If it were just a few individuals saying a Moslem prayer, this would not be a serious problem. Moslems should be free to practice their religion. People of other religions are praying everywhere. The problem arises because this idolatry is organised by the New Zealand Meat Board, and paid for by the Meat Exporters.

Idolatry by legal authorities is far more serious that idolatry by individuals. The Bible has very harsh words against those in authority, who encourage or force other people to worship false gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-17). This is what the New Zealand Meat Board has done

It does not matter what deals we make, if we do not have the blessing of God, they cannot save us. If we stopped halal slaughtering in New Zealand we might lose some important markets for lamb. However, in the long run, it is better to do what is right, than what is most profitable. The blessing of God is more important, than any particular deal.

More from the same author on why companies seek halal certification:

The Christian manager would also need to think carefully about why the are obtaining Halal certification. If they were doing it to provide food to people who need it, that would be okay. However, if they were getting certification just to get more sales, this might be an unwise compromise.

Bill Muehlenberg, an Australian, and author of CultureWatch, discusses halal from a New Testament perspective.  (I hope this may answer the newly-ordained Rev’d Jonny, soon to have a ministry in Harlesden in North West London — all God’s blessings to you and your family):

Christian concerns have to do with how Halal meats are ritually slaughtered. In this process (which can only be carried out by a Muslim), the Muslim prays to Allah while facing Mecca. Arguments can be made about how humane the process is, and groups like the RSPCA claim it is less humane than traditional slaughter methods.

But what about this ritual, and the prayers to a false God? Several Biblical passages speak to this, including Acts 15:28-29, 1 Cor 8, and 1 Cor 10:14-33. The latter text for example speaks about foods offered to idols. Paul says in vv 19-20, “Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.”

The question is whether eating Halal meats fits into this warning. It may well, and we need to proceed with caution here. If we accept the biblical worldview that there is one God, and that this God is not Allah, then those worshipping Allah are worshipping a false God.

Both Testaments make it clear that false religions are associated with the demonic, and thus this is a genuine matter of concern. But sadly even many Christians are quite confused about all this …

It seems to me there are two main worries here. One is the ever encroaching inroads made by Islam in the West, along with the gradual diminutions of our freedoms. The other is the sloppy and unbiblical thinking found in so many people calling themselves Christians.

Bill Muehlenberg on a secularist, communitarian, leftist push against the West:

Cultural Marxism especially flared up during the 60s in the West … I was one of the millions of disaffected youth who became closely involved in this movement. Of course a conversion to Christianity in 1971 saw the end of my dalliance with Marxism, radicalism, and other trendy causes.

But I now see all around me the Christian West unravelling big time, and I am well aware that this is not happening just by chance. There are many activists still at work seeking to supplant the West and its Judeo-Christian foundation with their own version of heaven on earth.

But as I have documented elsewhere, these always end up being coercive utopias, where a small cadre of elites end up tyrannising the masses, all for their own good of course. The revolutionaries in fact never trust the masses, and are quite happy to wipe out multitudes in the attempt to establish their progressive new order.

So am I saying the three episodes mentioned in my opening paragraph are all directly related to, and flow from, the Gramscian revolution? No, but some indirectly are at the very least. The secular left still has blueprint for their grand society, and as history so well informs us, it ultimately comes out of the barrel of a gun.

So we must remain vigilant and aware. Whether the radical revolutionaries who are doing so much damage are aware of their ideological roots or not is not important. The crucial point is that they are very nicely carrying out these agendas, and we are all paying the price for it.

I hope this gives you something to think about in the years ahead, as this is a long-term battle.  All leftist, communitarian things are.  Think of what the Africans have been going through since the 1970s.  It gets worse and worse for them.

Let’s pray, read the Bible (scrupulously!), keep our friends informed and … stand firm in the faith.

The UK Government’s Office for National Statistics recently issued results of a survey which explodes myths about Britain left, right and centre.  Those interested in more detail can find more on the Integrated Household Survey page.

I published the religious affiliations yesterday, but in case you missed that post, here they are again:

71.4% of Britons are Christian

– 20.5% have no religion

– 1.5% are Hindu

– 0.7% are Sikh

– 0.6% are Jewish

– 0.4% are Buddhist

– 4.2% are Muslim

– 1.1% follow another faith

So, only one-fifth have no religion.  Secularists demand all sorts of concessions and have pronounced this a non-religious country for many years.  This influences other world faiths to believe that we are heathens and pagans.  Not true!

Statistics on sexual orientation are equally revealing:

94.8% of Britons are heterosexual

– 1.0% are gay or lesbian

– 0.5% are bisexual

– 3.7% were unsure or did not wish to respond

The survey also has a racial breakdown.

The Daily Mail tells us that the Integrated Household Survey is the furthest reaching survey of its kind to date:

It was compiled by putting new questions to individuals who already take part in six existing large-scale surveys.

As a result the ONS has managed to draw answers from a large number.

In total, the new Integrated Household Survey can cover 450,000, hundreds of times the size of databases commonly used in research.

The questions on sexuality were put to 247,623, of whom 238,206 provided an answer.

By contrast, the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles which last tried to make a count of the gay population in 2000, used a database of 12,000.

Please circulate these links to your friends, families and church leaders.
These widespread findings — the largest body of data outside the census — clearly illustrate the lie of political correctness in our society.   It’s good to be able to finally have some solid data which back up our scepticism in this area.  We are Christian and we are straight.  End of.

I have a long-time friend living in the US who has recently begun an alarming course of regular electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and psychotropic prescription drugs.

As a result, I have been researching the effect that psychotropic drugs have on the brain.  I have also been looking into less damaging alternatives for her.

She hasn’t asked me to do anything on her behalf.  Her husband was instrumental in getting her to start this treatment, more out of discouragement than anything else.  He isn’t being consciously destructive — I know him well, too — he just wants his bride back, the way she was 30-odd years ago.  They have both been retired for some years — at an age many of us can only dream of.  They are financially well-off.

For my part, I am still trying to figure out how an attractive, shapely, intelligent, physically healthy, well-informed woman could require this type of treatment.  Naturally, her psychiatrist is only too happy to oblige.  He has been prescribing drugs for her for the past year.  Suddenly, I received a letter from her this summer saying that she had started going for ECT and continuous drugs.

I wrote back saying that I was happy that she was feeling better.  She was so ecstatic in her letter that I was at a loss to say anything to the contrary, even though I am concerned to read that she may have permanent partial memory loss.  The drugs she will need for the rest of her life.  The ECT seems to be long-term as well.

‘Well, Churchmouse,’ I hear you say, ‘you could always advise getting more involved with the Bible and with church.’  But that’s part of the problem.  She has been — along with her husband — a card-carrying member of the healthist-pietist brigade for years.  Minimal alcohol, no tobacco but excessive worries about health!  She was one of the first women I knew in the 1980s who regularly went to the gym after work.  Couldn’t live without that gym.  All I have heard from her since the 1980s is ‘health, health, health!’  I once asked her why she was so obsessed with it.  She wrote back and replied, ‘Isn’t everyone?  You have to be these days.’

I think of all the energy that she wastes on worrying about her physical wellbeing.  She could have spent all that time studying the Bible and deepening her faith.  But, that’s the other part of the problem.  She’s a healthist, so she adopts the default position of unbelief.  Yet, she’s so worried about losing her health that … she lost it.

And she was railing against God increasingly in the run-up to last year.  She detests God.  She certainly dislikes Christians intensely (yes, I’m a bit low-key with her on that subject).  The usual secularist thing.  I wonder what God thinks about that.  Perhaps He has temporarily left her to her own devices.  I don’t know.  I pray He helps her soon.  Perhaps she has to realise her brokenness first.

So, I am at a loss as to how to respond to her letter from last week saying that her health insurance doesn’t cover mental health treatments and that Obamacare (something she desperately wanted) is already affecting the rest of her health insurance — i.e. other medical treatments have been capped across the board. Now she’s upset.  (Ahem.  I tried to tell her this would happen. She asked me last year why I was so ‘angry’ when Obamacare, once passed, would be just wonderful.  I wasn’t angry, but I could see what was coming.  And now the day of reckoning has arrived.)

Whilst I think of something encouraging and uplifting to tell her, as mentioning prayer (she was raised a Presbyterian) or getting more active around the house (doing her own gardening and cooking would be a start) are out, here is what my independent research has turned up.  You are a more receptive audience for this sort of thing, so perhaps you are as interested as I am in finding out the long-term effects of prescription drugs and how we can wean ourselves off them.

Disclaimer — there are real health — physical and mental — dangers in weaning yourself off drugs, even the ‘perfectly safe’ (!) ones.  Always take professional advice — don’t try this on your own. And, I agree that there are people who really do need to be on drugs for physical or mental ailments — just maybe not forever.

Having said that, here’s the scoop on what happens in Big Pharma followed by a possible way out.

Here’s Gwen Olsen, a former successful Big Pharma sales rep who has since been working with natural supplements and speaks publicly about her career — the highs and the lows.  She also has a website which is worthwhile visiting.

In this video from 2007, she describes her work as a sales rep.  She tells you how she was trained to manipulate doctors by personality type — just like many sales reps do in other fields!  She describes today’s psychiatry, which is no longer treatment and a prescription;  often, it’s just a prescription.  A psychologist handles the therapy.  She warns us about the strength and potency of these drugs, of which she was unaware until she heard doctors discussing them privately:

Olsen says that the physical symptoms we see in mental patients — unusual motor co-ordination or facial habits (licking of the lips) — result from the drugs they are taking, not from the illness itself!  Also, she says that when the side-effects of the drugs make the patients physically uncomfortable, they stop taking the medication.  This is why we have so many outpatients with mental disorders who don’t want to take their pills.  It’s not the fact that they have to take a tablet;  they want to avoid what that tablet does to them physically.

In this next video, also from 2007,  she describes her own personal hell with Xanax and explains how this type of drug — an anxiolytic — can be highly dangerous.  She took it for mild anxiety and became more and more anxious.

Before we get to the link, I recall at the time Xanax hit the US market in the 1980s, it was hailed as a wonder drug for depression.  I worked with a young woman in her early 20s who suffered from ‘mild anxiety’ over a temporary situation.  Her doctor prescribed Xanax and we were quite intrigued to see what we expected would be magic, instantaneous results.  Instead, my colleague, although handling herself well with us, soon started having crying spells in private (most unlike her!).  She put it down to the Xanax.  Naturally, she had some time convincing her doctor to wean her off them.  I also know of a young man in the UK who took Xanax in the early 1990s.  His anxiety turned into aggression.  His girlfriend, another colleague of mine, ended up dumping him because his personality changed for the worse.  In his case, he was sure the Xanax was working just fine — it was everyone else who was the problem!

In this 2008 video, Olsen explains why Big Pharma has no interest in making you or your family well!  I said something similar at the end of May:

As the years go by, one pill leads to another and another until such point as they have a veritable daily cocktail of colourful tablets to take.  What they don’t realise is that Pill B corrects Pill A’s side effects.  Pill C corrects a side effect that occurs when taking Pills A and B together.  And so on.

In many cases, we’ll never really get better. We are cash cows, just part of ‘market share’ — and don’t forget all the scans and tests that go with!

Olsen says that we need to look at our health holistically (sorry if that’s a pagan word) — diet, exercise, wellbeing.  Someone who has a good deal of experience in this area is Dr Vincent Bellonzi of Austin, Texas (I have no connection with him or his clinic, by the way — I merely wish to pass along what he has to say).  He says that you cannot discount the physical aspects of a mental illness.  Often, a physical imbalance of nutrients or amino acids can cause mental problems. Once you go on prescription drugs to ‘cure’ these, you can permanently alter the way your brain works — not always for the better. He explains his seven-point approach:

He also warns about stopping a prescription drug cold turkey.  Practitioners like Bellonzi, however, can help shorten the time you are on them whilst they help you to transition to a tailored set of natural supplements and a better diet:

It worries me to think that we are putting so much faith into doctors and prescription drugs, especially when I read nightmare scenarios like this one which took place in Texas.  Welcome to ‘The Worst Hospital Ever’.  The author describes what happened when she took Chantix (Champix) in an effort to stop smoking. (I’ve seen people on this, too — the woman I knew could go from ecstatic to manic within seconds.) This lady went through a real-life hell for days in a place which should have helped her. Here’s what happened (emphases mine):

I had a bad reaction to Chantix.  I knew that was the problem.  So I asked to be taken to the E.R.  I had heard all the news stories of people killing themselves and hurting themselves after taking it. I was entirely too committed to living and remaining a productive member of society to want to take that chance

Then the intake counselor for UBH Denton, “Ingrid,” came in and talked with me. She said I’d had some kind of episode… and with the help of a very competent physician who came along later, we figured out that it was sleep deprivation, plain and simple. IF someone had just knocked me out to sleep for about 24 hours, I’d have been fine …

The scary thing is that when I told the other patients I was leaving, they all told me, “No, you’re not.” I said “Yes I am. I came in here on my own.” They told me if I had good health insurance, the doctor would file an order of commitment against me. And sure enough, when I filled out the paperwork to leave, the nurse looked at me and said, “He’s going to commit you.” I said “Huh? But I didn’t DO anything! I didn’t try to hurt myself or anyone else. I just had some kind of episode. Why?” They just told me he would.

Then:

I walked in there on my own two feet, and signed myself in voluntarily.  Lisa was wheeled in on a stretcher at about the same time, with bandages on both of her wrists where she had cut herself in an effort to end her life.

I didn’t see her for two days.  When I finally did, she said they had medicated her and put her in bed and she’d been knocked out ever since.  But, we both agreed we weren’t getting any help, and by Tuesday we decided we wanted to leave.  Lisa called her husband, and she was gone in a few hours.  I called my ex-husband who had our son, and my boyfriend, and told them I’d be leaving, too.  I filled out my request to leave.  It was quickly denied

I did not understand how someone who had tried to kill herself was allowed to leave and I was not.  But, thankfully, I wrote down her contact information and we stayed in touch.  I found out later that she didn’t have insurance.  So, think about it from their point of view–she had a choice whether to pay them or not, and if they held her, she might refuse to pay.  But, I was there on great health insurance, known for paying great benefits.  So, they held me.

They kept telling me I’d “probably be well Friday.”  When I raised enough hell about wanting to leave, they let me go on Thursday.  I walked into my house feeling like someone who had just been seriously violated and I wasn’t sure why.  Until I opened my mail and found the letter from the insurance company noting that my benefits for inpatient care were “approved through Friday.”

This episode had serious knock-on effects later from a prescription issued to her by a hospital psychiatrist:

I went to get life insurance about a year ago.  I told the agent what I had been through. He said the biggest problem is that I’d had a prescription for lithium filled at a pharmacyI am now uninsurable for life and health insurance.  I am lucky I have an employer who will give me insurance regardless of that, but as far as life insurance goes, I now pay triple the price I should pay for it because I am “high risk.”

Apologies for the length of the post, but I still haven’t figured out what to say to my unbeliever, healthist friend upthread. (If you have any suggestions, please feel free to chime in.) Meanwhile, let’s be alert as to what can happen in the medical arena.

Something lighter tomorrow.

All this week I have posted videos from the 1960s to illustrate our current problems concerning religion, sex, personal behaviour and politics.  What was said in these film clips is evidence of the progress of the ‘long march through the institutions’ that Antonio Gramsci and then the Frankfurt School advocated in the early to mid-20th century.

We are reaping the fruits of the seeds we have sown:

– engaging in watery, even heretical, Christianity

– believing that our technological advances call for a new sexual morality

– watching births out of wedlock, rape, sexually-transmitted disease and sexual deviance rise to unprecedented proportions

– thinking drug abuse helps us discover ourselves

– subverting the values of our nation in seeking our own personal comfort

Our churches seem determined to modernise, whatever the cost.  As is the wont of fallen man, we try to rationalise changes.  The Bible was written for another age.  Instead, let’s apply business models to the church.  Let’s throw in some Eastern religious practices because they make us feel transcendent.  Let’s put on some entertainment — deafening sub-standard pop hymns or amateurish skits.  Let’s put in a coffee bar — that’ll bring in the punters!  Well, here’s what happens when the Word of God is subverted.  If your pastor is not preaching from the Bible, refusing to talk about hearty repentance or omitting discussing the Cross or Risen Christ in terms of your salvation, chances are he is not practicing or advocating orthodox Christianity.      

Furthermore, we have no need for an ‘evolved’ anything with regard to Scripture or personal morality.  Man has always struggled with sin.  It is man’s inherent desire to justify his sin and disobedience.  We can do no other.  The Bible stories of infidelity and other sexual sins are no different to those we experience or read about today. This has been true throughout history. England went through a long period of licentiousness during the Georgian period in the 18th century, involving every sexual act possible in numerous houses and backrooms of ill repute. Indulging in these sins almost always hurts someone else.  Sure, sexual licentiousness is pleasurable to start with.  However, all too often someone gets hurt.  Generally, it’s the woman or (heaven forbid) girl involved, but men are not immune to being dumped, either.  And there are other means of suffering from indulging in sex — disease, unwanted children, feelings of inadequacy, suicidal thoughts — all brought on by going against the moral standards as set forth in the Bible.  There is no justification for disobeying Biblical precepts in this regard; personal, ‘enlightened’ pleasure is not a valid reason.        

Once we give ourselves over to temporal pleasure, it’s a short walk to other types of sin — crime — theft, murder.  Every day in the Western world, we read of horrific attacks, some of which are fatal.  So many people are now giving in to their own urges that we have muggings, stabbings and shootings on a daily basis.  Sex has broken down our familial structure.  This lack of structure leaves children without proper adult supervision.  Children turn to each other for acceptance, validation and structure — e.g. through gang membership.  This, too, revolves around self.  Robbing or holding someone up at knifepoint to ‘get what’s mine’.  Someone else’s possessions are not ours.  ‘Thou shalt not steal’.  ‘Thou shalt not murder’.  These are just two of the 10 Commandments!  But how many young people know that?

A trend that continues to escalate is the urge — perceived need — to tranquilise oneself, either through illicit drugs, prescription medication or alcohol.  At any one time, a number of us seek to deaden the mind.  Some in authority do not discourage this;  after all, a tranquilised person means someone who is easier to control.  Paradoxically, the more one is controlled as a citizen, the more depressed one becomes and the greater the need of mind-numbing.  In the 1960s, a number of young people followed Timothy Leary’s advice to ‘tune in, turn on and drop out’.  So, it’s tuning in to the zeitgeist — whatever’s happening now — then turn on with a mind-altering substance to explore another realm and drop out of society.  It was a radical idea at the time.  Now, it’s become conventional.  Prescription drugs to treat depression are all too common;  sometimes they are necessary, but I can think of any number of people who are not clinically depressed at all yet are able to get happy pills from their doctors to relieve the angst of everyday life.  Similarly, we are now so controlled by our governments — witness the explosion of thousands of new laws in the UK, the closed circuit television in our streets and speed cameras — that we long to deaden our minds through drink at the end of the day.  Ugggh!  We really should be breaking ourselves of these habits, which can lead only to a mental tropic of torpor.   

Finally, it appears as if we seek our own personal comfort above all.  Look at our advertising, which is full of slogans such as ‘It’s all about you’, ‘You’re worth it’ and ‘Indulge yourself’.  Yep, right.  So, when it comes to fighting for the ideals and values our country (name your Western nation here!) holds dear, we’re not interested.  So many of our fellow citizens are so self-centred that many of us couldn’t care less if our liberties disappeared tomorrow.  So what?  As long as we have chocolate, hair colouring, cheap takeaways and alluring perfume, we’re happy.  ‘It’s all about me!’  Fight in a war?  ‘Forget it.’  Volunteer work?  ‘Can’t be bothered.’  Voting?  ‘Sorry, I’ve got more important things to do.’     

We got into this mess through leftist thinking, popular psychology, ever easier educational curriculum and a move away from Scripture at home and in church.  It’s up to each of us to ensure that we start to reverse this trend.  Christian commentator Martin Olavsky, writing for World magazine, suggests the following in ‘Beck vs Wallis’ and ‘Just ice?’:

… isn’t one of the greatest injustices leaving kids without enough math knowledge to get a decent job and begin redistributing some money to themselves through hard work?

Challenge those who speak of “social justice” in a conventionally leftist way. If your local church is committed to what won’t help the poor but will empower would-be dictators, pray and work for gospel-centered teaching. If necessary, find another church.

A second: Try to recapture the term by giving it a 19th- (and 21st?) century small-government twist. The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute are trying to do this. I wish them success.

A third way: Accept the left’s focus on systemic problems but not its faulty analysis. Learn about the biggest institutional hindrance to economic advance for the poor: the government’s monopoly control of taxpayer funds committed to education and welfare. Work for school vouchers and tax credits that will help many poor children to grow both their talents and their knowledge of God.

Fourth and best: Tutor a child. Visit a prisoner. Help the sick. Follow Christ.

Some of you are already doing this — thanks and please keep it going!

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