Category Archives: News

I have my opinions and am willing to share them!

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON RECENT EVENTS

24-storey apartment building in London on fire

I stayed up late a week ago to watch the British election results, broadcast live on BBC World’s television channel.   It soon became clear that Theresa May’s ruling Conservatives were not doing well. Mrs. May had called an early election to strengthen her position prior to the start of Brexit talks with the European Union.   Her gamble failed – she now finds herself leading a party that does not control over 50% of parliament.   To stay in office, she has had to enter a coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the pro-British faction from Northern Ireland.

This is already being misinterpreted by Sinn Fein, the anti-British, pro-republican faction from Northern Ireland; it could easily lead to further violence in the province.

There’s another threat to the coalition. Mrs. May also relies on the Scottish Conservatives, who did extremely well in the election, increasing their parliamentary representation from one to thirteen seats.  Their leader, Ruth Davidson, who is married to her female partner, is a fervent supporter of same-sex marriage; while the Northern Irish conservatives are socially very traditional.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this all works out.

At the very least, it has weakened the government at a crucial time, as negotiations begin on Monday, with the most efficient and uncompromising bureaucracy on the face of the earth – the European Union.

An additional threat comes from the opposition Labour Party.   A prominent voice in the party is calling for one million people to take to the streets to bring down Mrs. May.   Sound familiar?

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  (Mark 3:25.)

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EUROPEAN LEADERS CHILDLESS

Talking of Europe, note the following, sent by a friend in New Zealand:

• Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected French president, has no             children.
•  German chancellor Angela Merkel has no children.
•  British prime minister Theresa May has no children.
•  Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni has no children.
•  Holland’s Mark Rutte, has no children.
•  Sweden’s Stefan Löfven, has no children.
•  Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel, has no children.
•  Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon has no children.
•  Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has        no children.

So a grossly disproportionate number of the people making decisions about Europe’s future have no direct personal stake in that future.

Additionally, in the last few days, the Irish Republic has a new prime minister.   He also has no children.  The press has been full of the fact that he is the youngest prime minister ever.   He is also half-Indian and gay, neither of which is an issue.   (Serbia’s new prime minister is also gay, as is Luxembourg’s PM.)

At the very least, all the above are thinking short-term, wanting to win the next election.   When Europe was dominated by kings, at the very least the leaders wanted to preserve their thrones for their descendants;  this also meant ensuring the continuation of the nation-state.   Both of these factors no longer apply.

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THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS

Talking of kings, King Henry II got a mention in the US Congress a week ago.   Henry died long before the United States ever existed as a nation – even before America was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus.   He reigned from 1154-1189.

Note the following from Vanity Fair:

“The James Comey hearing has officially gone medieval.   A little less than two hours into the former FBI director’s highly watched testimony, Comey dropped a reference to Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was killed at the casual request of King Henry II in the year 1170.   The reference popped up when Senator Angus King was questioning Comey, asking him about Donald Trump’s seemingly casual but firm request to have Comey drop the FBI’s Michael Flynn investigation.  Though Trump did not demand outright that Comey drop the investigation, even his slightest requests come with an air of seriousness, King suggested.

“Do you take that as a directive?” King asked Comey of Trump’s question.

“Yes, yes,” Comey replied.   “It rings in my ears as kind of ‘Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?’”

Henry II was a very significant monarch.   James Comey learned a lesson from his reign.   Today’s British people, who have experienced three terrorist attacks in less than three months, could learn something else.   Note the following:

“Henry II, who is considered the father of the common law, promulgated the Assize of Arms in 1181. This required all (male) British citizens between 15 and 40 to purchase and keep arms.   The type of arms required varied with wealth; the wealthiest had to provide themselves with full armor, sword, dagger, and war horse, while even the poorest citizens, “the whole community of freemen,” must have leather armor, helmet and a lance.   Twice a year all citizens were to be inspected by the king’s officials to insure that they possessed the necessary arms.   Conversely, the English made it quite clear that the king was to be expected to depend exclusively upon his armed freemen.   When rebellious barons forced John I to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, they inserted in its prohibitions a requirement that he “expel from the kingdom all foreign knights, crossbowmen, sergeants, and mercenaries, who have come with horses and weapons to the harm of the realm.” (Historical Basis of the Right to keep and bear arms, by David P. Hardy, 1982)

During the recent terror attacks in England, on each occasion, one armed citizen could have made a significant difference and saved lives.  Medieval monarchs were very concerned that the people should be able to defend themselves against the French; today, the threat is Islamic extremists, but the principle remains the same.

Also note, in the quote above, that Henry’s second son, John, one of the worst monarchs in English history, was required by the people to “expel from the kingdom all foreign knights, crossbowmen, sergeants and mercenaries, who have come with horses and weapons to the harm of the realm.”

No prizes for guessing who should be expelled today!

It should be noted that King Henry did not introduce the right to bear arms; he simply restored an ancient right that went back to at least the reign of Alfred the Great, in the 9th century.  The Vikings were one of the problems at that time.  The threat changes, but a threat is always there.

With this in mind, I found the following interesting while studying this morning:   “The story of David and Goliath is helpful since “five smooth stones” and a “sling” are the closest equivalent to a handgun we can find in the Bible.   David seems to have been armed with his sling at all times.   There was no way he could run home to get his sling when a lion or a bear was about to attack his flock.   (1 Sam. 17:31-37, 41-54)

It’s possible that Jesus had the Old Testament case law in mind when He offered this injunction to His disciples:   “But be sure of this, if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.”   (Matt 24:43) (“Jesus, Guns and Self-defence – what does the Bible say?”)

Christians should, of course, strive to live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18)   Jesus Christ said: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matt 5:9)   He also told us to “turn the other cheek.”  (vs. 38-39)

With terrorism, we are dealing with a totally different mind-set from Jesus Christ, a religious belief system that encourages and celebrates killing en masse.   People have to be able to defend themselves. King Henry understood this.   Today’s leaders in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada need to address the issue, enabling people to defend themselves from acts of barbarism.   In contrast, Australia has just announced an amnesty calling on citizens to hand over illegal weapons.

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THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON, 2017

The tragic apartment block fire in London dominated the news on Wednesday.   30 deaths have been confirmed, but scores of people are still missing.   There were also over sixty injured.   What started the fire is not known at this time, but a material used in construction appears to have helped the fire to quickly spread.   The Daily Express said Thursday that EU environmental directives could be the cause.

Most of the people in the apartment block seemed to have been from other countries in Africa and Asia.   Looking at the high-rise (24-storey) block of flats, as they are called in England, I wondered why people would leave their own countries to live in such an awful place.

My wife and I have spent many happy days in African villages.   I can truthfully say that I would rather live in one of those than in a high-rise apartment block in London, or any other major city.   Isaiah 5:8 warns against living too close to each other.   “Woe unto them that join house to house.”

What attracts people to move to the West varies for each individual. One of the established reasons in the UK is the generous welfare benefits.   Perhaps some of that money could be diverted to African villages to bring water and electricity to communities to improve their quality of life.   Together with the abolition of welfare for new arrivals, this would go some way to help solve the immigration crisis.

On BBC World this morning, interviews with survivors of the fire revealed a lot of understandable anger.   It’s also clear that many have an “entitlement mentality,” demanding that the government re-house them immediately, claiming that hotels are not good enough; they also dismissed Theresa May’s call for an independent inquiry – they want those responsible punished NOW.

Since writing the above, some residents and neighbors have stormed the local town hall, chanting their demands, blaming the fire on the Conservative government.   There was no logic – just a mob mentality. Scary and a sign of things to come. 


 

ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS

  • At the moment, the bar for taking extremists out of circulation is set ridiculously high.   People known for their own extremism that reaches pre-terrorist levels should not be walking the streets when they have expressed support for Islamic State (ISIS) or tried to head to Syria or called for the destruction of Britain and other democracies or allied themselves to people already in prison. Their demand for free speech or freedom of belief must never be elevated above the rights of citizens to live safely in their own towns and cities.   It is essential for parliament to lower the bar.
  • Is this to be the political landscape for the future, where groups of people demanding death and destruction are given the freedom of the streets whilst those wishing to hold a peaceful celebration are prevented from doing so?
  • To see extremist Islam as a “perversion” of Islam misses an important point.   The politically correct insistence that radical versions of Islam somehow pervert an essentially peaceful and tolerant faith forces policy-makers and legislators, church leaders, rabbis, interfaith workers and the public at large to leave to one side an important reality.   Flatly, Islam in its original and classic forms has everything to do with today’s radicals and the violence they commit.   The Qur’an is explicit in its hatred for pagans, Jews and Christians.   It calls for the fighting of holy war (jihad) to conquer the non-Muslim world, subdue it, and gradually bring it into the fold of Islam. Islam has been at war with Europe since the seventh century.

(“No tolerance for extremism, “ by Denis McMacEion, Gatestone Institute, 6/16).

 

GROWING ANGLO ISOLATION

President Trump announcing US withdrawal from Paris climate accord deal.

An historic upheaval is taking place around the world as the US and UK, the two leading Anglo-Saxon powers, inadvertently separate from other nations.

It started a year ago with the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. One year later, the country is about to enter dialog with other EU nations, a divorce settlement that is going to have a lasting effect on both the UK and the EU.

The historic upheaval continued last week when President Trump ended an international trip with a NATO meeting in Sicily that made it clear the US will no longer guarantee the security and independence of other NATO countries if they are invaded by Russia.   This effectively ends Clause 5 of the NATO Treaty that required all member nations to come to the aid of another member if attacked.

The only time Clause 5 has been invoked was on September 11th, 2001, in defense of the United States.   Alliance members came to America’s aid.

A third development could end America’s leadership role in the world.

I posted a few weeks ago an article on the 70th anniversary of America’s replacing Britain as the world’s chief superpower and international policeman.   The question I asked was: “Could 70 be it for the US?” (February 19th).

It looks increasingly likely that, indeed, 70 could be it!
I say this following President Trump’s announcement yesterday that the US is withdrawing from the Paris climate deal.

Climate change has certainly become politicized.   It’s also true that it has cost jobs, in the US and other countries.   But the fact is that 195 countries in the world signed the deal – the only two that didn’t were Syria and Nicaragua.

More is at stake than a simple climate deal to reduce carbon emissions.

What’s at stake here is America’s global leadership.

Next time the US goes to other nations and asks for help (Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003 are two examples, the fight against ISIS more recently), it’s likely the country will be rebuffed.

The dispute within NATO also risks the US president losing the accolade “Leader of the Free World.”   In recent days, Angela Merkel seems to be filling that role.

Jacob Hellbrunn, editor of the American magazine National Interest, asked in the May 28th issue, Is Trump Pushing Merkel to Create A German Superpower?

“Donald Trump entered office hoping that he could splinter the European Union.  But what if his presidency has the effect of further unifying it —against America?
“. . . Until now, the core relationship in American foreign policy in Europe has been with Germany.   That tie appears not simply to be fraying but on the verge of snapping.   It will be no small irony if Trump has impelled Europe to transform itself into a unified great power.”

Two days later, the National Interest, in a separate article by Salvatore Babones, once again addressed the issue of Germany:

“Germany is not among America’s “closest and oldest allies.”   That honor surely goes to the United Kingdom.   And second, Merkel didn’t single out just the United States.  She said that Europe can no longer rely on the United States or the UK for its security.   In other words, Merkel wasn’t just declaring her independence from Donald Trump.   She was declaring independence from Theresa May, too. But can Germany defend Europe itself?   And even if it could, would Europe want it to?   The most likely answer to both questions is “no.” (“Can Germany defend Europe on its own?”)

The last question and answer overlooks the possibility that the US may push the Europeans into standing on their own; and the only leader, in such a situation, is Germany.   This likely development has been made more likely by Brexit, even though London says it is not turning its back on Europe.   The outcome of Thursday’s election in the UK could be decisive here – a change of government, even a hung parliament where no party has enough votes to govern effectively, would seriously weaken Britain’s role relative to the EU.

SHIFTING ALLIANCES

Yesterday, it was France’s turn.   Emmanuel Macron, the new President of France, took the unprecedented step of announcing France’s “disappointment” at Mr. Trump’s decision and inviting scientists from around the world to fight climate change from France.   Paris was where the deal to fight climate change was signed in December 2015.   The new French prime minister described Trump’s decision as “calamitous.”   (It should be noted that this was the first time ever that a French president addressed the world in English from the Elysee Palace. It was clear to whom it was addressed.)

CBS’ Ben Tracy put it well this morning when he said:   “The president (Trump) is fundamentally shifting alliances around the world” (CBS This Morning).

Note the following from a British newspaper Friday morning:
“One senior European NATO diplomat said:   “Trump showed that we have fundamental differences about what NATO is for. NATO is designed to defend the territory of its members, not stop terrorism or immigration.   We are heading in opposite directions.”   (NATO joins forces in fight against ISIS – but it’s branded as POINTLESS in Germany” (Katie Mansfield, Daily Express, June 2nd).

Many Bible students know that another superpower will soon replace the United States as the world’s global leader.   Some have felt that Donald Trump would reverse America’s fortunes by putting “America First” and strengthening America’s role in the world.   At this point in time it seems more likely that he will speed up the rise of an alternative global power that will rival the United States of America.   Revelation 13, 17 & 18, together with Daniel 2 & 7 describe this new superpower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHY, OH WHY, OH WHY?

Fifty years ago, I became friends with a Muslim immigrant who had moved to the UK from India.   At the time, there were very few Muslims in the area where I lived.   I asked him what he could do as a Muslim in such a remote location.   He said it was the duty of every Muslim to help spread Islam wherever he goes.

Salman Rushdie, the writer persecuted for his book “Satanic Verses” and a former Muslim, speaking in New York over ten years ago (and broadcast on C-Span), said:   ‘When a Muslim moves from the Middle East to Detroit, he is not looking to take advantage of America’s freedoms to better himself; rather, he sees himself as part of the advance guard to spread Islam to America.”

When you hear a Muslim spokesperson on a television news program, keep the above in mind.

Yesterday, Wednesday, approximately 36 hours after the Manchester suicide bombing and following press reports that the perpetrator worshipped at the local Didsbury mosque, a trustee of the mosque addressed the press, distancing his mosque from the bombing, while at the same time inviting members of the public to come and join them, taking the opportunity to proselityze.

“The doors of the centre are open to all – they are open to all.    “Some media reports have reported that the bomber worked at the Manchester Islamic Centre – this is not true, he has never worked in this centre.                                                                                                                         “We are concerned about anti-Muslim acts ranging from verbal abuse to acts of criminal damage to mosques in the area and outside the area.”

As you can tell from the last sentence, he also took the opportunity to halt any anti-Muslim backlash that could follow the bombing that killed mostly young white girls attending a concert in the Manchester Arena.

The youngest was 8 years old.   As this is unlikely to be the last suicide bombing, we need to ask why we can no longer protect our children.

The suicide bomber was the son of Libyan refugees who fled to England in the 1990’s.

An Australian Muslim psychiatrist born in Bangladesh, writing about the Manchester terror incident, called Wednesday for restrictions on Muslim immigrants into the West. His article appeared in The Spectator Australia.   “Refugees have trouble integrating,” said Tanveer Ahmed.

The only solution to the problem of Islamic terror in western countries is to change immigration policies that have allowed this dangerous situation to develop over the last five decades.

The best commentary on the bombing was on the Gatestone Institute’s website.   Note the following three paragraphs.

  • “After hearing of the Manchester terrorist attack, politicians once more communicated their by now old-routine of “shock” and “grief” at the predictable outcome of their own policies.
  • “Most dumbfounding of all, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she was watching the developments in Manchester “with grief and horror” and that she found the attack “incomprehensible.”
  • “Every time a European leader publicly endorses Islam as a great faith, a “religion of peace,” or claims that violence in Islam is a “perversion of a great faith,” despite massive evidence to the contrary, they signal in the strongest way possible that with every devastating attack, the West is ripe for the taking.” (5/22/17 ‘Manchester:  Europe still “Shocked! Shocked!”’ by Judith Bergman)

Ms. Bergman is absolutely correct in writing that Monday’s horror was the result of political decisions taken in recent decades, particularly when it comes to immigration.   It’s almost fifty years since a famous British politician denounced the country’s immigration policies, saying the nation was “building up its own funeral pyre.”   Enoch Powell, MP, had to resign his position in the Conservative party for, as is now clear, speaking the truth.

Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, sensing the changing public mood on immigration, said Thursday that immigrants are vital for the UK economy.   This is meant to scare people into accepting more immigrants, some of whom will, inevitably, be Muslims; and some of those extremists.   What he should have called for is a ban on all abortions.   This will mean a higher birthrate and, in time, will provide those extra people for the British economy.

Immigration policy must change.  The fact remains, following the attack by Salman Abedi, a British born Libyan, that if his parents had not been allowed into the UK, 22 ethnic English (those whose ancestors have lived there for centuries) would still be alive; and over sixty others would not be dealing with potentially life-changing injuries.

It’s no good just increasing the numbers of police and army personnel on the streets, or spending more on intelligence gathering – until something is done about immigration it will all be fruitless.

And talking of intelligence, Mrs. May was correct in her response to US intelligence releasing information from England to the New York Times. Intelligence services need to be very careful about betraying one another’s confidences.   The arrangement between the US and UK dates back 75 years, to 1942.   Australia, Canada and New Zealand were included more recently.   These Anglophone nations need to be able to trust each other.   After a face-to-face discussion with Theresa May earlier today, President Trump has promised to find the source of the leaks and punish those responsible.

One final thought on Britain and terrorism:   the British have a history of compromising with terrorism, starting with Ireland a century ago and continuing until the Good Friday Agreement twenty years ago.   After World War II, Jewish terrorists blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, an act that led to Britain withdrawing from the mandated territory; even though the British defeated the Mau Mau in Kenya, they gave the terrorists what they wanted; the same in Cyprus; in the 70’s they handed over Rhodesia to terrorists led by Robert Mugabe; and then worked on South Africa to hand over to Nelson Mandela, a terrorist leader who was responsible for the deaths of 200 people.   The lesson repeatedly learned is that terrorism works!

This time, the British are fighting for their homeland, the United Kingdom – will they once again compromise with the forces of evil?

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SOLVING CENTURIES-OLD PROBLEMS

Prior to visiting Jerusalem, Mr. Trump was in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and home of one of its strictest sects, the Wahhabi sect of Islam.  Wahhabis believe that all non-believers are infidels and enemies and they have a history of violence directed at non-Muslims.  This includes September 11th, when 15 of the 19 hijackers had Saudi citizenship. Even the attack in Manchester has its origins in Wahhabism, by way of ISIS.

Saudis have helped finance terrorism around the world and continue to provide imams for taxpayer-funded chaplaincy programs in the US, as well as new mosques around the world.   The “help” Saudi Arabia promised Germany when the latter took in over a million refugees, was to offer to build 200 new mosques.

But oil, as we all know, is very important and the Saudis happen to be one of the world’s biggest producers and the country that determines the price of the black gold.

Saudi Arabia is also of strategic importance and an avowed enemy of Iran.  Their differences go back to the seventh century when Shia Islam broke away from the majority Sunni Islam.   Today, Saudi Arabia backs Sunnis throughout the Middle East against Shia Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.   Some wealthy Saudis have even backed ISIS, an organization that supports Sunnis against the Shia.

With a visit to the world’s three main religious centers, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican, President Trump is working on achieving a comprehensive Middle East peace, hoping to succeed where all his predecessors have failed.

He should remember the words of the Apostle Paul.   In his First Epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul looked ahead to the time prior to Christ’s Second Coming when there is much talk of world peace.  For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.   And they shall not escape.”  (I Thess. 5:3).

The US has the power and influence to impose a peace treaty on the Israelis and Palestinians – but it won’t last.   The latter will ultimately not embrace peace until the country of Israel ceases to exist. How can you negotiate with people who are committed to your destruction?

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LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

A news item a few days ago revealed that attendance at Church of England services in the United Kingdom is increasing, after decades of decline.   This is attributed partly to the rise of English nationalism, as evidenced by Brexit.

Whatever the reasons, it might eventually help the BBC.

On Monday’s 9am broadcast on BBC World News, Lyse Doucet, a BBC journalist from Canada, was standing in front of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem awaiting the arrival of President Trump and his wife.   As the president was delayed, Lyse Doucet recapped on Mr. & Mrs. Trump’s visit to what she described as the most important Christian religious site in the world, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which witnessed the “death, burial and reconstruction of Jesus Christ”.

I think she meant “resurrection.”

Which brings me to Little Emily, a 5-year-old girl featured in our local newspaper two or three years ago.   Her Baptist pastor was giving a sermon on Easter Sunday and asked the children what they knew about the resurrection. 5-year-old Emily raised her hand and kept saying:   “I know! I know!”

So the pastor asked her to tell the congregation what she knew about the resurrection.   Her reply made it into the local paper.   “If you experience a resurrection lasting more than four hours, you need to go to the doctor.”

Reportedly, the pastor was unable to finish his sermon.

Maybe one day Emily could work for the BBC, as their Religious Affairs Correspondent!

 

 

THE ECLIPSE OF THE CHURCH

I lost a good friend this week.

We worked together a long time ago.   For many years we’ve been hundreds of miles apart, but we were always able to see each other, with our wives, at our annual church conference.

That is, until the latest split took place.   He and his wife went one way and we went the other.   So, for the last few years of his life, we did not get together.

Church splits can be devastating on relationships.   Even marriages have fallen apart when partners don’t see eye to eye on church affiliation.   More than one church I know of teaches that its followers should have nothing to do with people in other church organizations, even when they are family.

It’s ironic when you consider that Jesus Christ said:  “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another” (John 13:35).

Unfortunately, churches are not immune from selfish ambition, differences over administration or doctrinal disagreement, three of the primary causes of splits.

True Christians will always strive to fulfill the words of Jesus Christ; even as others in their midst will deliberately cause division, believing that God is on their side.

One of the root causes of division is that people have a tendency to follow men.   The Apostle Paul wrote about this in I Corinthians where some were following Apollos, some Peter and some Paul.   As Paul said elsewhere, we should only follow one man and that man is Jesus Christ.   That means we should all live in accordance with His words.   What a novel idea!!!

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ECLIPSE OF THE CHURCH

Church splits are one reason why churches are in decline.   This is true of all churches, including mainstream Catholic and Protestant churches.   The vacuum is often filled by other religions. Note the following headline from the Gatestone Institute:

Londonistan:   423 New Mosques; 500 Closed Churches          by Giulio Meotti  •  April 2, 2017

Londonistan is a term often used to describe contemporary London, Britain’s capital.   It is, like many cities in the UK, becoming increasingly Islamic.   But that’s not the only problem churches face, on both sides of the Atlantic.

“For most of the country’s history, white Christian America —the cultural and political edifice built primarily by white Protestant Christians—set the tone for our national conversations and shaped American ideals.   But today, many white Christian Americans feel profoundly anxious as their numbers and influence are waning.    The two primary branches of their family tree, white mainline and white evangelical Protestants, offer competing narratives about their decline.   White mainline Protestants blame evangelical Protestants for turning off the younger generation with their anti-gay rhetoric and tendency to conflate Christianity with conservative, nationalist politics.   White evangelical Protestants, on the other hand, blame mainline Protestants for undermining Christianity because of their willingness to sell out traditional beliefs to accommodate contemporary culture.”   (“The Eclipse of White Christian America,” Robert P. Jones, The Atlantic)

Many people still believe in God – they just don’t want to join a church.   Consequently, churches are becoming irrelevant, arguably the worst thing that can happen to a church.

One reason for irrelevancy is that churches have failed to understand the dramatic changes that have taken place in the western world in the last few decades.

The writer and former atheist Peter Hitchens, now a deeply religious man, wrote an interesting book in the late 1990’s, showing how much Britain had changed in one generation.   The book “The Abolition of Britain” compared the United Kingdom at the time of Churchill’s funeral (in 1965) with the country at the time of Princess Diana’s funeral, in 1997.

Whereas the people who witnessed Churchill’s funeral were little changed from those who stood in the crowds at Victoria’s funeral in 1901, by the time of Diana’s funeral the mourners were a nation of emotional basket-cases, rather like Diana herself.   In the interim, churches had been replaced by psychiatrists, prescription drugs, mental health workers, television, movies and celebrities.

At the same time, we have witnessed the collapse of the traditional family.   Many people today don’t even know what a family is – they call friends family and won’t even speak to people to whom they are related.

All of this shows a crying need for churches, for the restoration of basic Christianity and biblical teachings on marriage and the family.   (Forget the doctrinal differences that separate Christians from one another.)   Yet churches are not comfortable with the “un-churched.” That was not a problem with Jesus Christ.   Note the following from Matthew 9:10-13:

“Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.   And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’  For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

This passage of scripture could be speaking to us today.   Many of Christ’s followers were appalled that He was mixing with “publicans and sinners.”   But those publicans and sinners needed Christ and His healing.

Just like people today.   Only today, the problems are different.   It’s unlikely that anybody joining a church today will not have an addiction, whether it be an eating or mental disorder, a sexual or drinking problem.   Each of these requires professional help from outside of the church; but there’s also a need for spiritual healing, to remove the cause of the problem.   This can only come from the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.

The need for Christ has never been greater.   It’s churches that are at fault – many Christians will judge and condemn, when what’s needed most is love and compassion, two qualities sadly lacking today.

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CHURCH AND STATE

It’s not just churches that are divided.

Our countries are also seriously divided, perhaps more so than ever before.   This is especially true of the United States and the United Kingdom.

The British historian Paul Johnson, now 88, observed in his 1972 book, “The Offshore Islanders,” that “disunity has always been fatal for the island nation.”

The book was about Britain’s relationship with the European continent – ironically, that’s the issue dividing the country today.   Although the majority of voters want to leave the EU, there’s a solid hardcore that will stop at nothing to remain in the organization.

A different division exists in America.   There are those who are very loyal to Donald Trump, but others who will seemingly stop at nothing to get him removed from office.

The “antis” on both sides of the Atlantic do not care how much damage they cause – their hatred and anger knows no bounds.   Our countries are in danger of falling apart.   Once again, selfish ambition and greed are at the core.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW EUROPEAN ORDER TAKING SHAPE

Getty

The French election on Sunday went as expected, with a victory for Emmanuel Macron, a centrist with no real political experience.

A few days before the election, his opponent, the very conservative Marine LePen, said that one week later France would have a female leader, either Ms. LePen or Germany’s Angela Merkel.   As if to prove the point, Mr. Macron’s first promise, to issue joint Eurobonds, was quickly over-ruled by Germany’s leader.   Germans are far more frugal than most other nations – the idea of issuing joint bonds with France is not going to come to fruition.

Macron is a very successful investment banker, with considerable personal wealth.   He is likely to be successful in moving France’s economy forward.   He will certainly be an improvement over his socialist predecessor who is leaving office with a 4% approval rating. But he is not likely to solve France’s immigration problem or the connected problem of domestic terrorism. In fact, he doesn’t even seem to see these two problems.

The movement that brought him to power (En Marche – “On the move”) is only now starting to form a political party, with only a few days before the elections for the French parliament.   It is quite conceivable that Ms. LePen’s National Front could dominate parliament and give M. Macron a hard time.   M. Macron hasn’t started yet, while Ms. LePen certainly isn’t finished.

Macron has also been speaking out against Brexit, describing it as a “crime.”   That shows little respect for British democracy.   A French lawyer is also trying to get Brexit cancelled on the grounds that the referendum was “illegal” – in effect, both men are saying that no matter how bad Europe is, you have to stay in it!   The EU’s dictatorial nature is becoming more and more apparent.

It is also increasingly clear that every nation in Europe has to bow to Berlin.   Note the following:

Macron to hold talks with Merkel in Berlin on first day of new job  Oliver Gee * oliver.gee@thelocal.com , 12 May 2017,  The Local

Emmanuel Macron will head to Berlin on Monday – the day after he is inaugurated as the new president of France – to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The German leader had welcomed Macron’s win in France, saying he “carries the hopes of millions of French people and also many in Germany and across Europe.”

The 39-year-old had stressed his “common ground” with the German chancellor on economic reform, fiscal discipline and Europe’s future.   The former economy minister had also wanted to strengthen ties with Germany.   The symbolism of Macron meeting Merkel on his first full day as president won’t be lost on the far right Marine Le Pen who had criticized Macron for being pro-EU and said if he won then France will remain under Merkel’s rule.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Thursday underlined common ground with Macron in Germany and France’s bid to bolster the European Union, which has been buffeted by Britain’s decision to quit the bloc.

Schaeuble said both he and Macron are in favor of creating a parliament for the 19-country eurozone.   “A eurozone parliament could be set up, made up of European parliamentarians, which would have consultative powers” for moving forward the European Stability Mechanism (ESM),” Schaeuble said.  (https://www.thelocal.de/20170512/macron-to-meet-merkel-in-berlin-on-first-day-of-new-job)

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Germany’s growing ties to Turkey are highlighted below.   It brings back memories of the alliance between Germany and Turkey forged immediately prior to World War One.   Germany seems to be replacing the US as Turkey’s chief ally – a situation that will receive a further boost now that the US is supplying arms to the Kurds in the war against ISIS.   Turkey has its own problem with the Kurds and does not want them to receive arms.

Germany is negotiating new arms deals with Turkey                    German-Foreign-Policy.com newsletter , 11 May 2017

BERLIN / ANKARA (Own report) – The German government is negotiating new German-Turkish arms deals, as was confirmed by the German Ministry of Economics.   Brigitte Zypries (SPD), Minister of the Economy, spoke with the CEO of Rheinmetall weapons manufacturer about upgrading the Turkish Leopard battle tank.  “In principle,” such deals with NATO partners “can not to be restricted,” according to Berlin.   The German government is also seeking to re-invigorate German-Turkish economic cooperation, to strengthen bilateral relations.  Germany does not want to lose Turkey as a “bridge” connecting Germany and the EU to the Middle East.   Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ankara is not only strengthening the country’s economy and, in the long run, making it one of the world’s top ten economies (“Vision 2023”), he is also planning to transform the country into an independent regional power, forming alliances as it chooses – no longer dependent on the western states.

The reorientation of its foreign policy is accompanied by the country’s transformation into a presidential dictatorship.

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AUSTRIAN ELECTION LIKELY

Following the resignation of the OVP party leader from the governing coalition, another election in Austria is likely.   This time, the right wing People’s Party is doing well in the polls, which show they have more than 30% of the population behind them.   The party, like other right-wing parties in Europe, is against Islamization and the arrival of millions of Muslim immigrants.

With the French and Dutch elections, we saw that European countries are out of line with the US and Britain.

We also see the remaining 27 countries of the EU sticking together – it’s increasingly unlikely that any other nations will break away, especially as the EU seems determined to punish the UK for leaving the organization.

Thirdly, a clearer picture is emerging of Berlin’s role as the leader in Europe.

Europe now is a German led super power, with a greater economic role than the US and with the potential to play a much bigger military role.

 

 

 

 

I LOVE PARIS IN THE SPRING TIME

The second round of the French presidential election takes place on Sunday.   Polls (!) show that the centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron, is leading with 62% of the vote.   Madame Marine LePen, of the National Front, is not doing so well.   Reports say that she is already looking to what is often called “the third round of the presidential election,” voting for the Legislative Assembly, in June.   She has the potential to lead the opposition to Macron, who has no party support.   A future crisis (financial or terrorism), could lead to a major upheaval that would be to her benefit.

Mrs. LePen’s support comes mainly from rural areas and France’s rust-belt; Mr. Macron has all but 5% of the vote in Paris and the more affluent regions of the country.

The French political system, with three elections in just a few weeks, is rather complicated and, certainly this time, quite suspenseful.   For the first time since the birth of the Fifth Republic in 1958, the major parties are not involved in this second round – their candidates did not garner the necessary support.

It’s not just the political system that is different in France. Mr. Macron, married to his former school-teacher, 25 years older than himself, laughed off an accusation that he has had a gay relationship with a prominent radio personality; but now is issuing frequent denials about an overseas bank account!

In a heated televised debate on Wednesday evening, Madame LePen made the best prediction of the evening.   She said that seven days from now, France will have a female leader – either her or Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor.   Mr. Macron is a committed European, whereas she would like the French people to have a Brexit style referendum on the country’s future membership. Under pressure,   M. Macron is talking about the need for Europe wide reforms, but he would keep France in both the EU and the single currency, the euro.

A victory for Emmanuel Macron would mean the 27 remaining members of the EU will stand together against the United Kingdom in the Brexit negotiations.   A win for Mrs. LePen would actually help London, though no politician in the UK is going to say anything to that effect!

So Sunday’s second round is not just about France, but Europe.   We should know the outcome sometime Sunday evening, Eastern time.

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MORE MIGRANTS COMING

  • Turkey appears determined to flood Europe with migrants either way:  with Europe’s permission by means of visa-free travel, or without Europe’s permission, as retribution for failing to provide visa-free travel.
  • The migrants arriving in Italy are overwhelmingly economic migrants seeking a better life in Europe.   Only a very small number appear to be legitimate asylum seekers or refugees fleeing war zones.
  • The director of the UN office in Geneva, Michael Møller, has warned that Europe must prepare for the arrival of millions more migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.   (Gatestone Institute, 5/5/17).

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DIVORCE EUROPEAN STYLE

Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister who negotiated with the EU during the financial crisis a few years ago, is warning the United Kingdom NOT to negotiate with the bureaucratic nightmare known as the European Union.   In effect, Mr. Varoufakis was saying that nobody wins against the undemocratic EU.

Wolfgang Munchau, a German contributor to the London-based Financial Times, is also warning the Brits that they cannot win against Brussels.

The alternative for the UK is simply to leave and face the consequences, what is called a “hard Brexit.”   There are plenty of other countries wanting trade agreements with the UK, so there’s definitely a case for this.   But the British government is hoping for a trade deal with the EU post-Brexit.   They have also re-committed themselves to closer military ties, reaffirming their commitment to Europe.

A hard Brexit could be a better choice.   It would certainly be quicker as Brexit talks will last two years – and that time frame only covers the actual exit, not talks on a new trade pact.

It’s like a divorce – after over 40 years together, the UK and the EU are now talking to divorce lawyers about a divorce settlement.   As with a divorce, the only people who will benefit are the lawyers.   And, as any divorced people know, divorce never ends – the animosity (and the financial costs) just go on and on.

Footnote:   Mr. Varoufakis, who cannot vote in France, has called on people to support M. Macron, in spite of the way he and his country were treated by the EU!

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PRINCE PHILIP TO RETIRE AT 96

Britain’s Prince Philip is retiring after seventy years of public service.   His wife, Queen Elizabeth II, will continue with royal duties, but will no longer be accompanied by her husband.

Shortly after the announcement, the prince was at a function when an older man came up to him and expressed his sorrow that the prince was “standing down” from his responsibilities; the prince consort quipped back that his problem was not standing down, but rather standing up!

In his seventy years of public service, Prince Philip has attended over 25,000 public engagements and made over 600 overseas trips representing the United Kingdom.

He will end his official duties in August, by which time he will be 96 but will still take on a few as he feels up to it.. The Queen turned 91 two weeks ago. It is expected that Princes Charles, William and Harry will take on some of Philip’s commitments.

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INTERESTING QUOTE

( I cannot independently verify the following, but thought that some readers would find it interesting. It’s from a magazine called “Truth in History,” which comes out of Oklahoma.)

“…Bob travels to London quite often on business and from time to time has dinner with a very close friend of his, which is Queen Elizabeth’s personal secretary.   Bob told me that he asked his friend when the Queen was going to turn the throne over to Charles.   He replied, “she does not intend to ever give the scepter to Charles – possibly to William, but her desire is to present her crown, throne and scepter to the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns, whose rightful throne it is. This is her desire.”

Anyone who has read “The Servant Queen and the King She Serves,” published a little over a year ago, will know that the queen is a very religious woman.

“This tribute focuses on the Queen’s own words to draw out the central role of her trust in Jesus Christ in shaping her life and work, offering us an inspiring multi-faceted insight into a life well lived for others.” (Backcover, Google Books)

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DEATH OF OBAMACARE

I have mixed thoughts about the vote yesterday to abolish Obamacare.   The ACA went into effect on April 1st, 2014.   Before you marvel at my memory, I should add that I ended up in the hospital on April 2nd and spent over four months fighting for my life. I had one of those deadly infections that’s killing people all over the world.   I needed two major back surgeries and then fought nausea and vomiting while working my way through all the medications.   They gave up on me twice.

During this time period I was in two different hospitals. The bill from the second one was a million dollars; from the first, it was roughly half that.

Obamacare covered almost all my bills.

If it had not been in place, I would have died.   If I had gotten sick a month earlier, before it came into effect, I would have, likewise, died.

Having said that, I’ve also seen the negative side of Obamacare, of people having to spend a significant part of their income to get coverage, of a bureaucracy that has often failed beneficiaries, of a system that is too expensive to be maintained.

I do believe that the Republicans have made a mistake – they should have come up with another system first, before abolishing what the country already had.

I’ve been in the United States for 27 years, since 1990.   Health care (and how to pay for it) has been at the center of American politics during that time.   Whereas other, less affluent countries, have been able to put a workable system in place in months, the richest country in the world still cannot find a solution to the problem of healthcare.

Apparently, President Trump, who is in New York to meet with Australia’s Prime Minister Turnbull, made a favorable comment to the visiting prime minister about their country’s healthcare system. It’s a single payer system, so the president’s comment is of particular interest.

A possible solution lies in each state working out it’s own system,

But it’s embarrassing that, after decades of talking about it, Washington still has not come up with a sustainable medical system.   Perhaps America could start by looking at the medical systems in Australia, the UK and Canada, our next-door neighbor.   France, too, which the WHO claims has the best system in the world. You would think that one of our TV news programs would take a look at one or two of these other countries.

I might add that if a Conservative government in the UK, the closest equivalent to a Republican administration, abolished the medical system, they would not make it back into power for decades.   The same goes for the French, Canadian and Australian conservatives.

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FAVORITE SCRIPTURE

John Wycliffe (1320-84) was a major figure in what became the Protestant Reformation.

“John Wycliffe was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, Biblical translator, reformer, and seminary professor at Oxford.   He was an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th century.”  (Wikipedia)

His favorite scripture was Philippians 2:12 – “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”   This was heresy to the Roman Church, which dominated the country at the time. Later, the Church had Wycliffe condemned as a “heretic.”   It didn’t bother him – he was already dead and buried. But his bones were exhumed and burnt.

He did not just influence religion.   He also had a profound political effect.   Not long after the birth of the modern parliament in 1265, Wycliffe encouraged people to think for themselves, thereby encouraging democracy, an idea the church did not like at all.

The freedom to think for ourselves is seriously threatened today by universities that won’t allow conservative speakers to address students, citing security concerns.   This is unlikely to be a temporary phenomenon.

Sadly, few remember Wycliffe today.   When I visited Lincoln Cathedral in England some years ago, I asked after the man who served there for some years in the 14th century.   A senior member of the cathedral’s clergy had never heard of him!   I did find a very thin book on him in the bookstore, which I bought.

John Wycliffe (pronounced WICKCliff) is one of the greatest men in our common history, who made a big difference both religiously and politically.

ALL EYES SHOULD BE ON FRANCE

France is once again dominating the news around the world.   Yet another terror attack in Paris took place on Thursday, just three days before the French presidential election on Sunday.   All eyes should be on France this weekend.

France has more Muslims than any other European country.  They total 10% of the population.   Not all Muslims are terrorists, but almost all terrorist attacks in Europe, in recent years, have been perpetrated by Muslims.   Some of these were “home grown,” meaning that they were either born in Europe or received citizenship in whatever country they moved to.   It is, of course, misleading when civil authorities announce a terrorist is “French” or “Belgian” – the general population is thereby led to believe the problem is not really Islam at all, but rather, socio-economic factors (the perpetrator lived in a poor area!).   As I write, French Professor Francois Heisbourg, a Special advisor to the Foundation for Strategic Research, is being interviewed on BBC World where he is pointing out that the overwhelming majority of terrorists in France are French-born, with a quarter of those being converts to Islam.

The latest attack is likely to affect the election on Sunday.   Whenever there is an attack, the “right” gains with its tougher approach to both terrorism and immigration.   Marine LePen is the leader of the National Front and is one of the two front-runners in the election.   Today, she called for the expulsion of all people suspected of links with terrorism.

Sunday’s vote is the first round of the process to choose a new president.   There are eleven candidates on Sunday – assuming that nobody receives more than 50% of the votes, the two who get the most votes will then go on to a second round in a few weeks, when voters will get to make the final choice to replace the ineffective socialist President Hollande, who has been out of his depth during the terror crisis.

If Ms. LePen wins, her victory could significantly change Europe.   A victory for LePen could lead to similar electoral outcomes elsewhere, resulting in a more right-wing Europe.   Marine LePen has promised the French electorate a “Brexit” vote, asking them if they want to leave the EU.   A “yes” vote in France, one of the six countries that founded the EU sixty years ago, would be more devastating than the vote in the UK last June.   Again, it could have a ripple effect across the continent.

Once again, Europe is in turmoil, but it’s a peaceful turmoil, so far. Democracy continues to be the preferred form of government in every EU member country and the democratic process continues.

One “European” election, held last Sunday, is a game changer.   The election was in Turkey, a country that first applied for EU membership decades ago.   It now seems less likely as a result of a referendum, which gave President Erdogan more powers.   The country has been gradually turning to a more Islamic society, going against the roots of the secular Turkish Republic founded a century ago.   President Erdogan is also promising to bring back the death penalty, a move that would automatically disqualify his nation from EU membership.

Another election, just announced, is the British election on June 8th.   British Prime Minister Theresa May surprised everybody with her announcement made earlier this week.   It’s a gamble, but if the polls are correct, she and her Conservative Party will win a landslide, supposedly strengthening her hand in Brexit negotiations.   However, it could also be the case that the other 27 EU member countries don’t really care about the British election.

There’s still a long way to go before the new Europe prophesied in the scriptures appears.   The outcome of the French elections could be a turning point.   The same can be said for the German election in September.   The final outcome will see ten nations in a strong military union with Germany.   You can read about this in Revelation 17:12-14.