As the house is now dog free, I did not expect to find a can of dog meat and certainly was not looking for one. I was not wearing my glasses when I pulled it off the shelf at Kroger. It looked like a promising can of soup, with the word “Organic” prominently displayed on the label. The words “dog food” were in small print and not noticed until my daughter pulled it out of the trash.
It’s my own fault, really.
Our local Kroger grocery store has a “Reduced for quick sale” section, which I often check out for bargains. That’s where I bought this half-price can.
Now, I may be barking up the wrong tree (sorry!), but I do feel that stores have a responsibility to separate human food from pet food, if only to discourage people from switching to the healthier, cheaper canine options.
This could lead to a serious shortage of dog food, forcing dog owners to feed their pets human food. While this would be a boon to vets and would encourage entrepreneurs to open doggie weight loss centers on every block, it’s probably best not to blur the thin line that separates animals from humans.
I will continue to write, even though that dog food has made me a little queasy. My youngest made the observation that my body is in shock from eating healthy food!!!
Enough of dogs. Cats have been a big part of my life recently.
After living in an animal free home for almost a year, our youngest daughter brought a cat into the house, thinking that our grandchildren would benefit from the new arrival. A few weeks later, a second cat suddenly appeared.
The two do not get along. Cat fights have been a nightly occurrence. So, in a couple of days, we will be taking the “new” cat to our eldest daughter’s home. This will cost over $100 in gas. I suggested it might be cheaper to send the cat by UPS or FedEx, but was over-ruled.
To more serious matters, the Chinese Communist Party just held its “once-every-five-years” big congress. Foreign observers would notice that, whenever the delegates had to vote, the vote was always unanimous, with nobody voting against Mr. Xi, the President of the People’s Republic.
I’m surprised that any foreign delegates were there. Mr. Xi’s speech was 3 and a half hours long, “short” by Chinese standards. Come to think of it, I would have voted “for” just to get the speech over with.
As few westerners were likely to have listened, it should be noted that President Xi wants to offer the world an alternative to American leadership. The first Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party was Chairman Mao. He is credited with unifying the country. His successor, Chairman Deng, turned the country’s back on socialism and made it the second biggest economy in the world, after the United States. Now, President Xi vows to build on his predecessor’s accomplishments and make the country “stronger.” History shows he’s likely to succeed – economic success leads to military success.
China isn’t the only power center that wants to offer the world an alternative to the US. The EU is promising the same. The EU is the world’s biggest single market. It is effectively the world’s biggest economy, but with 27 member countries it’s not ranked at the top, with each country listed separately. That will change if Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk have their way. Immediately after Brexit takes place, they want to move full steam ahead with their plans to turn Europe into the world’s number one superpower.
Russia was in the news today.
Exactly a century after the Russian Revolution overthrew the country’s monarchy, the last Czar, Nicholas II, was in the news again.
A new movie on “Niki’s” relationship with a popular ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet, is proving so controversial the lead actor decided not to attend the premiere of “Matilda” in St. Petersburg. Cinemas have been attacked and at least one was burned to the ground.
The contention is due to the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church canonized Nicholas and his wife Alexandra after the end of the communist dictatorship. Russian nationalists consider the movie “blasphemous.”
Clearly, only 26 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the church and the monarchy both have a substantial following in post-communist Russia.
Perhaps one reason for a revival of both Russian and Chinese nationalism is American democracy. US divisions make democracy look really bad. Mass shootings like the recent one in Las Vegas don’t help, either. Street interviews with the Chinese public during the Communist Party Congress showed that most people do not want to be like the West. They feel that the US and other western democracies have too much freedom.
We seem to be living through a time that’s reminiscent of ancient Israel. “There was no king in Israel in those days. Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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).
"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened." — Sir Winston Churchill