Tag Archives: Church of England

FREEDOM WORE A REDCOAT

It’s appropriate to start the fourth of July with a poster showing at the Museum of the American Revolution, in Philadelphia.

“Sometimes, freedom wore a redcoat,” is the slogan on the poster, showing a redcoat surrounded by African-Americans.

The exhibit highlights the fact that 15,000 African-Americans fought with the Loyalists; while only 5,000 fought for the Patriots.

Even the term “patriots” as against the “Americans” is a step forward in our understanding of the Revolutionary War; this was not a war between Americans and the British, but rather a civil war between two factions of Americans.

After more than 240 years, it’s healthy for Americans to realize this fact, and to appreciate that the war was not as simple as Hollywood (and books) have often made out.

After the conflict, many of the former slaves left for Canada and helped found Sierra Leone.

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LOVE AND HATE IN JAMESTOWN

Of course, the Revolutionary War was not the beginning of America.   There was 170 years of western civilization here before the struggle for independence.

It all began in Jamestown.

The first English settlement in North America began in 1607.  (There was an earlier settlement on Roanoke Island, but it was wiped out.)

Jamestown itself was almost wiped out.   It was a miracle that it survived.

I’ve been reading the book “Love and Hate In Jamestown,” by David A. Price, published in 2003.   On a number of occasions things were going so badly that the settlers wanted to return to England.  One young white man wrote his parents back home begging them to redeem him from indentured servitude, as he didn’t think he would survive the seven years he had to endure.

There is a promising series running on PBS right now titled “Jamestown.”   However, it should not be confused with the facts. The series is very good in conveying the difficulties and challenges of every day life,  but is a fictionalized account  of the English settlement.   However, the series is still one of the best currently showing on American television.

The TV series is in 1619-1620 right now, with the arrival of the first  women and the first African-Americans in 1619 under the governorship of Sir George Yeardley.   The same year saw the beginnings of democracy in the colonies, with the establishment of a parliament (the House of Burgesses).   A major fault of the TV series is that life in Jamestown is seen through the eyes of three women, at a time and in a place where women were few and far between, and irrelevant when it came to decision making. It’s revisionist history, for sure.   More for the 21st century audience than reality.

I am waiting for the uprising, which took place after Yeardley left.  On March 22nd, 1622, one quarter of the colony were slaughtered by the natives, a major turning point in relations between the settlers and the Native Americans.   This was a precursor of the long history of bad relations between the whites and the natives, which went on until the end of the nineteenth century.   The date, March 22nd, was long commemorated throughout Virginia, in remembrance of those who had died.

It’s hard to imagine the heartbreak of those early years.   Pocahontas died before she was due to leave England with her husband.   He had to leave their two-year-old son behind, as he was too fragile to make the Atlantic crossing.   Having lost his mother, he never saw his father again.   He was eventually raised by his uncle.

In his last chapter, Mr. Price, who lives in the Washington DC area, looks at the Pilgrims and the Mayflower.   Of interest was his account of the religious persecution of the Pilgrims.   He relates how the Puritans wanted a ban on sports and the theater on “the Sabbath” (Sunday).   “In 1618 King James overruled local Puritan magistrates who attempted to ban Sabbath day sports.   “When shall the common people have leave to exercise,” he demanded, “if not upon Sundays and holidays, seeing they must apply their labor, and win their living, in all working days.”

“On the scale of European religious repression, King James’s treatment of the Puritans was relatively mild.   At his behest, the bishops of the Church of England fired around ninety of the most conspicuous Puritan ministers from Anglican churches.   He banned the worship services of a breakaway group, dissenters within the dissenters, known as the Separatists.   On the other hand, his sponsorship of a new Bible translation, now known as the King James Bible, came at the suggestion of a prominent Puritan clergyman; several Puritans were also on the team of translators.

“In any event, a group of 125 Separatists left England for Amsterdam in 1608.”   (“Love and Hate In Jamestown,” David A. Price. pages 223-224, 2003.)

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PERVERSE THINKING

“Politicians are granting free healthcare to illegal immigrants, while fining Americans for not having health insurance.”   (“The state has become our nation’s real God,” by Gary DeMar, New American Vision)

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EU CHANGE OF LEADERS

It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen in Europe right now.

The EU’s top officials are being replaced.   Not democratically, of course.   But their terms are up, so there’s going to be change.

Most significant so far are Ursula von der Leyen and Christine Lagarde.   They have won the top two posts.   Ursula von der Leyen had a mixed record as Germany’s Defense Minister.   Christine Lagarde was the head of the IMF.

CNN reported 7/3:    “Europe’s leaders have agreed to give two of the top four European Union jobs to women, but only after a marathon set of talks that exposed the continent’s simmering divisions.

“German defense minister Ursula Von Der Leyen emerged as nominee for president of the European Commission, and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, who is French, was put forward for the presidency of the European Central Bank.

“Von Der Leyen’s role must be confirmed by a vote in the European Parliament.    If elected, she would be the first woman to lead the European Commission.   Lagarde will be the first woman to head the bloc’s central bank.

“Outgoing European Council president Donald Tusk called the appointments “a perfect gender balance.”” (Bryony Jones)

 

 

 

 

BOTSWANA ENDS SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION

Activists pose with a rainbow flag as they celebrate outside Botswana High Court in Gaborone on June 11, 2019. Tshekiso Tebalo/AFP/Getty Images

Botswana has become the latest nation to legalize sexual relations between members of the same sex.   This puts them at odds with most African nations, but brings them into line with neighboring South Africa, which enshrined anti-discrimination in their new post-apartheid constitution.

African nations have long persecuted homosexuals, believing that sexual preference is simply a choice.

Botswana used to benefit immensely during the apartheid era from white men crossing the border to have relations outside of marriage with African women. Inter-racial sex was banned under apartheid.

Now same-sex relations are on a par with adultery.   They are both legal.  As is fornication.   I Corinthians 6, written by the Apostle Paul, lists all three as sins that will keep a person out of the kingdom of God.   If you study the Greek, you will find that all three involve penetration.

“ Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?   Do not be deceived.   Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

A female lawyer in Botswana explained on DW.news that the previous law went back to 1533.   Botswana only goes back to 1966.  But before that, it was a British colony and inherited many British laws.

Before 1533, ecclesiastical courts used to deal with all of these sins.   In 1533 England passed the anti-buggery laws.

It was the country’s first civil sodomy law, such offenses having previously been dealt with by the ecclesiastical courts.   The Act defined buggery as an unnatural sexual act against the will of God and man. ”  (wikipedia)

Adultery and fornication were not mentioned, as King Henry VIII was a serial adulterer.   They were also passed at this time because Henry was breaking away from the Church of Rome (1532-34) and the ecclesiastical courts ceased to exist.

Wikipedia has this to say on the break with Rome:

“The break with Rome was effected by a series of acts of Parliament passed between 1532 and 1534, among them the 1534 Act of Supremacy, which declared that Henry was the “Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England.”

These anti-sodomy laws were later “exported” to British colonies. Over half the countries in the world that still outlaw this particular sin are former British colonies.   Britain, through its Commonwealth ties, has been encouraging nations to change but many still strictly enforce the laws.

This is hypocritical, to say the least.   Many African nations come down hard on same-sex relationships, while their leaders commit serial adultery.   In African culture, the “big man” syndrome encourages men in public office to have plenty of relationships with women.   Churches don’t help, often turning a blind eye to adultery and fornication, while condemning homosexuality.

Of course, in an ideal world, fornication, adultery and sodomy would not exist.  We will have to wait for the Kingdom of God to see that happen.  But persecuting a minority in today’s world is not going to stop anything.

The Enduring Word Commentary has this to say on I Corinthians 6:

“Paul did not write in or of a “homophobic” culture.   Homosexuality was rampant in the ancient world; 14 out of the first 15 Roman emperors were bisexual or homosexual.   At the very time Paul wrote, Nero was emperor.   Nero castrated a boy named Sporus and then married him (with a full ceremony), brought him to the palace with a great procession, and made the boy his “wife.”   Later, the emperor lived with another man, and Nero was declared to be the other man’s “wife.”   In this list of sins, homosexuality (not some “special” version of homosexuality) is described, but it is described right along with other sins.  Some who so strongly denounce homosexuals are guilty of other sins on this list.   Can fornicators or adulterers or the covetous or drunkards rightly condemn homosexuals?   Of course not.

“Christians err when they excuse homosexuality, and deny that it is sin, but they also err just as badly when they single it out as a sin God is uniquely angry with.”   (Enduring Word Commentary)

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HONG KONG RIOTS

Talking of the legacy of the British Empire, Hong Kong is a territory in upheaval, with hundreds of thousands of people (all Chinese) rebelling against the Extradition Bill, that could have them all sent to mainland China for prosecution.

Hong Kong was British for over 150 years. During that time, the people were acquainted with freedom. The law was separate from the government.   China has no such tradition.

Although all the people are Chinese, many obviously still want the British tradition.   According to the Basic Law, they were guaranteed that for fifty years after Beijing took control of the former colony they could keep their laws and traditions.   Less than halfway into the fifty years, China has clearly changed its mind.

That makes it less likely that Taiwan will ever consent to being taken over by China.

China, we must never forget, is a one party state with all that that implies.   China will win this one.

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CHERNOBYL

The nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, which exploded in 1986, is now the subject of a five part television series, produced by HBO and Sky. We found it excellent, compelling viewing.  (Warning:   it contains a scene showing nudity – but not involving sex.)

Again, it shows the absurdity of socialist thinking, that everything (even a disaster) has to be directed by the party.   Mikhail Gorbachev wrote that Chernobyl was the biggest single factor in the fall of the Soviet Union.

The official death toll was 31.   The actual death toll is closer to 31,000!

It should be compulsory viewing for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and AOC – and all those inclined to vote for them.

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PELOSI SORRY FOR THE POOR

From the Financial Times (3rd June) comes the following on Nancy Pelosi:

“It is dangerous to underestimate Nancy Pelosi . . .

“It is interesting, however, that Ms. Pelosi says:   “What took me from the kitchen to Congress was knowing that one in five children in America lives in poverty.   I just can’t stand that.”   (Anne Marie Slaughter, FT)

(COMMENT:   In which case, why is she in favor of allowing in so many refugees?   They depress wages at the bottom, making it harder for Americans.)

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BREXIT DEVELOPMENTS

The Conservative Party has ten people vying for the leadership.  One of them is Boris Johnson, a maverick who has been likened to Donald Trump, who is a personal friend.   Mr. Johnson was born in the US, so could actually also run for president.

Although Boris says he would prefer a deal with the EU, he is promising to leave the EU by October 31st, with or without a deal.   In an attempt to thwart this, and stop Britain leaving without a deal, a parliamentary vote this week was narrowly lost, meaning that the country can leave without a deal.

If the vote had gone the other way, Britain would have been in the position of not being able to get a deal and not being able to leave without one.   The country would have, effectively, been a prisoner of the EU indefinitely.

It should be clear to everyone that the biggest obstacle to leaving remains parliament.   Supposedly the house of the people,   it has become the house that denies the voice of the people.   At the next election, people should remember this and vote the incumbents out of office.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon has visited Brussels once again.  The leader of Scotland seems determined to keep Scotland in the EU. The only way this is possible is if Scotland breaks away from England.

“Ms. Sturgeon said that because of Brexit “there is now a deeper understanding” in EU capitals “of why Scotland might want to be independent” compared to in 2014, when the Scottish referendum took place.   “The vibe here compared to 2014 about this question is like night and day,” she said.”  (Brussels Briefing, FT, June 12th).

Scotland would need a great deal of financial help if she left the United Kingdom.   Only one country could give her what she needs – Germany.   What would England do if Scotland broke away and formed a de facto alliance with Germany?

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WAR WITH IRAN?

The latest attack on oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz raises the stakes in the Persian Gulf.   Undoubtedly, Iran was responsible.

Although war with the US is not likely, another regional war could start over this.   The United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia, both Sunni Muslim nations, could be provoked into a conflict with their arch enemy, Iran.   If that happens, it’s difficult to see how the United States could remain uninvolved.

Many Bible students are fond of identifying Iran with the King of the South, the ancient prophecy in Daniel 11.   It’s difficult to see how Iran can be the king of the South now when it was a part of the King of the North in biblical times!

Don’t look for rationale in this.   Iran’s theology embraces an apocalyptic vision of the future, which might encourage them to go to war.

Iran has three times the military power Iraq did.   If there is a conflict, it could tie down the US for years.

A SPECIAL PLACE IN HELL

Donald Tusk (AFP)

Donald Tusk is the President of the European Council.   He was voted in for a second term by the 27 countries of the EU, not by a popular vote of the people.

He serves until the end of 2019.

Earlier in the week, Mr. Tusk caused offense by saying that “there’s a special place in hell for those who support Brexit.”   Later, Guy Verhofstadt, special EU negotiator on Brexit, further elaborated with:   “Lucifer himself would not welcome Brexiteers, as they would divide hell.”

So, Brexit has brought religion to Europe, a continent that sorely needs it!

These insulting and, at the same time, amusing comments overlook a significant truth about Europe.   Religion is involved.   Let me elaborate.

COMING OUT OF A CULT

Leaving the EU increasingly resembles coming out of a cult.   Independent thinking is discouraged and blind obedience is expected.   Members are deceived about its history.   The finances are strictly controlled by the people at the top, who divert a significant amount of donations to take care of themselves.   After leaving, there will be a period of meaninglessness; and withdrawal symptoms will take some years to work through.

The EU Treaty allows people to leave, in exactly the way Britain has left.   So why are the British being treated this way?   Because if they are a success, others may want to leave as well and the cult would lose members as well as financial support.

It’s not just Juncker and Tusk who have benefitted from largesse. Others have, too, including some prominent British officials.  Veteran British socialists, Neil and Glynis Kinnock received millions of pounds when they were EU officials.   Others have gotten fat on the EU “gravy train,” as it’s often called.

HISTORICAL COMPARISON

After the Protestant Reformation in the early part of the sixteenth century, the Church of Rome was in a panic.   Rather than reform the corrupt practices of the church, it clamped down.   The “counter-reformation” led to an incredible persecution of non-Catholics.   Of great concern was the preservation of the influence and material wealth of the church.  

“(The counter-reformation) was the period of Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation.   It began with the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and ended with the 1781 Patent of Toleration.   Initiated to preserve the power, influence and material wealth enjoyed by the Catholic Church and to present a theological and material challenge to Reformation, the Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort . . . ” (Wikipedia: counter-reformation).

History is repeating itself.   As authoritarianism is very much a part of Europe’s DNA, so the EU is reacting to Brexit with its authoritarian instincts.

At stake are the inflated salaries of top EU officials.   Jean Claude Juncker, the President of the EU Commission, is paid over $31,000 a month.   In addition, he receives generous allowances to cover travel and other expenses.   So it’s very similar to the counter-reformation, with the desire “to protect the influence and wealth enjoyed by the church.”   We may see the Inquisition and the expulsion of Brits yet ahead.   (Hundreds of thousands of Protestants were expelled in the counter-reformation!)

This is the reason Britain turned its back on Europe in the first place, rejecting the authority of the Church of Rome.  In 1534 King Henry VIII declared himself Supreme Head of the Church of England, thereby rejecting papal authority.

England was effectively cut off from Europe.   One of the first decisions Henry made was to legalize the Bible, which had been suppressed for over a thousand years by Rome.

That same Bible tells us a little about Europe’s future.   After the upheaval that is taking place right now, there is to be a union of ten nations.   We know it’s still ahead as it remains there until the return of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 17:12-14 says:  “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.  These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.  These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”

Europe and religion are inseparable, then, now and in the future.

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EU – US Trade War

“As nearly 100m Americans watched Tom Brady, the veteran quarterback of the New England Patriots, lift another Super Bowl trophy last Sunday, many will have noticed that Mercedes-Benz was the sponsor of the gleaming new stadium in Atlanta where the game was played.

“The German carmaker, owned by Daimler, recently moved its US headquarters to the state of Georgia from New Jersey, cementing its commitment to the south-eastern United States, where it already owns a big manufacturing plant in Alabama.

“But even as the Mercedes-Benz logo flew high over the biggest American football match of the year, it and many other foreign carmakers operating in the US worry that their love for doing business stateside might be unrequited.

“The US commerce department is due to issue a report by February 17 declaring whether it believes automotive imports constitute a threat to US national security.   Such a finding would inflame an already tense trade relationship between the US and Europe.   After the conclusions are published, Donald Trump will have 90 days to decide whether to follow up by imposing tariffs on imports of cars and car parts.   That prospect has filled European policymakers in Brussels and beyond with dread.

“The EU has been adamant that it would react strongly to such a move, stopping budding trade negotiations with Washington and retaliating with its own tariffs on a list of US goods. ”  (James Politi, Financial Times, 2/8)

HUBRIS WILL NOT DEFEAT THE ENEMY

Bill de Blasio                             Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio

Yesterday (Monday) I read an article, which stated with great certainty that the US has been better at assimilating Muslims than European countries.   I also read a separate article in USA Today, which quoted the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, claiming that “New York City has the strongest, most agile, best-trained first responders in the world.   They’re ready to protect us.”

These are just the latest examples of hubris, which is defined as “excessive pride, or self-confidence, arrogance.”

When it comes to assimilation, I am reminded of a conversation I witnessed on British television one Sunday morning a few years ago. People of African descent who had lived in both the United Kingdom and the United States were discussing this very issue.   All the participants said they felt more comfortable and more assimilated in the UK than the US.

This may or may not be true of Muslims.   My concern here is that Americans should be very careful in making such assumptions, that we cannot say for sure and that, really, it doesn’t make any difference.   We are just as threatened by Islamic terrorism as the Europeans.   Whether the US responders do a better job remains to be seen.   FWIW, France (and Canada) are the two countries that top the World Health Organization’s list of best medical systems.   The US ranks at #37.   When it comes to saving lives, Paris is one of the best places to be.

When it comes to fighting ISIS, there’s a great deal of hubris right now.   Once again, the entertainment industry is partly to blame – it’s not just James Bond that defeats the world’s greatest evils; Americans have been doing it for decades.

Or, have we?

More than fourteen years after 9-11, Al-Qaeda is still killing people.   The hotel attack in Bamako was perpetrated by an al-Qaeda affiliate.

The US has been in Afghanistan for the same length of time (longer than the Russians were there) and there is no end in sight.   In fact, the situation is worse in that ISIS now operates there, along with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Iraq continues with daily conflict.   The immediate goal of overthrowing Saddam Hussein  was achieved by the western coalition, but the resultant mess just goes on and on.   The Iraqi conflict gave birth to ISIS, another problem that seems likely to go on and on.   And, if they are ever defeated, there will be other Islamic extremists to replace them.

Proverbs 16:18 says that:   “Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.”

I quoted Niall Ferguson a few days ago.   He showed the similarities between what is happening now and what happened to the Roman Empire in its last days – the barbarians are at the gates.   Indeed, they are within the gates thanks to the West having the most myopic immigration policies in the history of mankind.

The West has lived through a period that might be called the Pax Americana, a peace guaranteed by the United States since the end of World War II.

But the US has not had a decisive victory since World War II, when the global conflict was won by the three great powers, the British Empire (which fought the war from 1939-1945), the Soviet Union (which was forced into war six months before the US) and the United States.   The US could not have done it alone.

Korea ended up a stalemate, a burden still carried on the backs of the US tax-payer.   Vietnam was lost.   At the time, there was plenty of hubris.   Who would have thought, in 1965, that the US could lose to North Vietnam?

The next major conflict was the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91.   The immediate goal of driving Iraq out of Kuwait was achieved, but Saddam lived to fight another day, literally.   And, as I said, the mess goes on and on.

Americans are fond of saying that the US military is the best in the world and that the country spends ten times as much on its military as the next biggest spender.   That may be true, but it’s misleading.   In World War II, for every US soldier actually fighting, there were 60 people employed in support roles; for the British it was 45 to 1; for the Germans, 20 to 1.   Efficiency varies.

Additionally, US military personnel are paid more than those of other countries, so the dollar amount spent is not saying much.

Besides, the greatest threat now is Islamic terrorism, not a professional national army.   The “armies” that brought down Rome were barbaric, wild tribes, the Huns, the Vandals and, ultimately, the Arabs.   We’re faced with a similar enemy, but making it worse, our enemy is also “within.”   Let’s remember, the Babylonian Empire fell because two men betrayed it!   It only took two men to bring down the greatest empire in the world at that time.

The analogy with Babylon is apt in another way, too.   Babylon’s period of ascendancy lasted a little over seventy years, from the defeat of Assyria in 612 BC to its own defeat at the hands of the Persians in 539.   Super powers have great difficulty maintaining dominance over a longer period.   The Romans and the British were two exceptions, but countries simply burn out after 70 years.   The US is burning out, showing great reluctance to take on the growing threats to its own dominance.

It’s predecessor as global superpower number one was Great Britain.   Britain simply went broke.   The US is similarly broke, with a national debt of roughly 20 trillion dollars.   How much longer can the country lead the fight against anything?  ISIS is the wealthiest terror group ever, while the US is now penny pinching.

There’s a third lesson, too, from ancient Assyria and Babylon.   The former invaded the ten tribes of Israel, taking the people away as slaves.   The latter, Babylon, more than a century later, conquered the Jews and took them as slaves to Babylon.   The Old Testament prophets show that these nations were conquered because of their sins.

In a statement after the Paris terror attacks, ISIS said it attacked Paris because it’s a “sinful city, full of perversions.”   This does not mean that ISIS is made up of righteous people, any more than ancient Assyria or Babylon were.   But it does mean that many Muslims, appalled at the liberal values of the West, will naturally flock to ISIS.

In this sense, our own permissiveness works against us and is contributing to the violent acts being perpetrated by the terrorists.

But people in the West have hardened their hearts when it comes to God.   When the Church of England prepared a cinema ad promoting the Lord’s prayer, cinemas refused to show it; when the hashtag “#pray for Paris” appeared on Twitter following the Paris attacks, one French publication told people supporting the sentiment that their prayers were not welcome; that France doesn’t want religion!

Some asked where was God when Paris was attacked?   The answer can be found in Isaiah 59:2.   “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”  Isaiah was preaching to a nation that had known God, but rejected Him.

There are similarities with the western world of today.   We should avoid hubris, clean up our act, and turn to the true God if we are to have any hope of defeating Islamic extremism.