Tag Archives: Northern Ireland

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).

 

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ISTANBUL TERROR ATTACK SHOWS WEAKNESS!

 

Secretary of State John Kerry
Secretary of State John Kerry

Now I understand!

After the latest terror attack on Istanbul airport and a death toll that’s already 41, with over 200 injured, US Secretary of State John Kerry, says that the increase in the number of terrorist attacks represents “weakness” on the part of ISIS – sorry, ISIL (we shouldn’t mention Syria, the Administration’s biggest single foreign policy failure!).

Just last week, the Administration tried to remove all references to Islam, the Quran and the IS leader, in an attempt to water down the Orlando attack.

A short video I saw yesterday showed a journalist interviewing youngish (18-34) people on the streets of Brooklyn, asking them who was behind the Orlando shootings.  Not one thought the attack had anything to do with Islam; blame was placed on the Republicans! It seems to me that the US is singularly incapable of dealing with the greatest security threat to the West since World War II.

The month of Ramadan still has some time to go, so expect more terror attacks.   It’s just their way of celebrating holy days!

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BERLIN – NOW EUROPE’S IMPERIAL CAPITAL

“One thing is certain:   Britain’s departure from the European Union will not make the union more democratic.   The hierarchical structure of its supranational institutions will want to reinforce itself:  Like all dying ideologies, the union knows only how to forge blindly ahead.   The roles are already cast — Germany will lead the way, and France will obligingly tag along.

Here is a sign:   President François Hollande of France, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy and acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain take their lead directly from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, without running through Brussels.   A quip attributed to Henry Kissinger, “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?” now has a clear answer:   Call Berlin.”

(Marine LePen,   “After Brexit, the People’s Spring is inevitable.  NY Times, 28th June.”)

Nietzsche, German philosopher: “The German is an expert on secret paths to chaos.” 

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NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, never misses an opportunity to push for Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom.

She’s on the continent today talking to EU officials about keeping her country in the EU.   62% of Scots voted to “Remain” in the EU.   If something can be worked out with the EU, Scotland could remain in the organization, while England would be outside of it.   This could only happen with a break-up of the United Kingdom.

Ms. Sturgeon’s scheming with EU leaders would have been treason not so long ago!

Prior to the two kingdoms uniting under one king, back in 1603, Scotland posed a major security threat to England.   Remember Mary, Queen of Scots?

The worst-case scenario following Brexit is that Scotland and Northern Ireland will leave the United Kingdom and remain in the European Union, with Berlin as its new de facto capital.

Can you imagine what this would have meant for Winston Churchill in World War II?

Long-term this development could be a major security concern for England.

Perhaps a future John Kerry type British Foreign Secretary could put a positive spin on this.   No doubt a Scottish death-blow to the United Kingdom is really a good thing!

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TRUMP AND BREXIT

Donald Trump has been very supportive of Britain’s Brexit vote, promising a speedy trade deal with the UK (or what’s left of the UK) if he becomes president.   He is hoping Americans will vote the same way in November – to reject globalization and internationalism and “make America great again.”

This could be very interesting – the two English-speaking powers lined up against the EU globalist socialists.

The European Union has even gone so far as to stop the use of English in meetings.   This will, in effect, make their meetings more secretive as foreign languages have never been a strong point of the Anglo-Saxons!

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LONDON BANS SWIMSUIT ADS

Another threat posed to England comes from the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim to hold the post.   Twenty years ago it wouldn’t have mattered as the role was ceremonial.   Then, the law was changed to make London and other major metropolitan centers, more like New York and other US cities, granting the Mayor an executive role.

Mr. Sadiq’s first decision was to ban ads showing women in swimsuits on British Transport, including the London Underground.

No vote was taken on this.  It’s a clear case of Mr. Sadiq forcing his Islamic beliefs on non-Muslims.

He would also like to take London out of the United Kingdom so that it can continue its association with the European Union.

What a mess!   No wonder David Cameron has quit.

Syndicated anti-Trump columnist Kathleen Parker observed:   “His resignation essentially marked the death of the establishment and a rebirth of people who have risen in protest of a world they refuse to accept” (“Brexit – meet Trexit – Trump’s political rise”  (LSJ, 6/28).

The two recent prime ministers who have contributed most to this mess are Mr. Cameron and Tony Blair.   It was Mr. Blair who let Scotland have its own parliament, laying the groundwork for the latest attempt to break away.   Then David Cameron called the referendum.

We should not, however, forget Edward Heath, who was PM from 1970-74.  He’s the one who took the kingdom into Europe, one of the biggest mistakes the country ever made.  IMO.

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NOT EVEN A GOOD METHODIST

Pressured by Donald Trump, Mrs. Clinton declared a few days ago that she is a Methodist.

The United Methodist Church in America came out last month against abortion, a decision that is not binding on members.   The majority of delegates, however, felt strongly enough on the issue to make a statement.   Since 1973 the church had been supportive of Roe vs Wade.

Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, is pro-abortion.   Even more so than the average person as she believes abortion should be available in the third trimester.

This is murder – the murder of innocent children.

It’s hard for me to understand how anybody calling themselves “Christian” can support abortion.   The Bible tells us that children are a blessing.   They are not an inconvenience, which is what abortion is all about.

Psalm 127:3 says:   “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A VERY BRITISH REVOLUTION

Sun headlines BREXIT

“See EU Later!” – front page headline in The Sun.

“No one was hurt. But still a revolution that will lead to profound change.” (BBC Assistant Political Editor, Norman Smith).

The most important election this year has already taken place.  No, I haven’t forgotten the one in November that has still to take place here in the United States.   Nor am I overlooking the election in Australia next week.

The referendum in the United Kingdom on membership of the European Union was a once in a lifetime vote that will actually lead to significant change, something that normally doesn’t follow a general election.

The British people voted yesterday to leave the European Union.  Or, rather, 52% of those who voted, opted to “Leave;” 48% voted to “Remain.” Even that does not reveal the whole story – London and Scotland voted to “Remain.” The English voted overwhelmingly to leave. London, a city which, at best, is only 50% ethnic English, voted to remain.

The pace of change that is taking place right now is staggering.   Britain is OUT; so is David Cameron, who resigned this morning; it’s only a year since he led the Conservative Party to a surprise win in the last election.  It’s less than two years since the Union with Scotland was secured in the Scottish referendum.  Scotland voted yesterday to stay in the EU.  The First Minister of Scotland is now insisting that Scots be given another opportunity to vote on leaving the UK.  What a change in just a few months!

Even the Leader of the Opposition Labor Party may choose to resign – while he supported continued membership of the EU, the party’s supporters did not.

London’s first Muslim Mayor is even talking of the capital city somehow maintaining a special relationship with Europe.

The prospect of the United Kingdom breaking up is a serious one.  Only England (outside of London) and Wales voted to “Leave.”   Even Gibraltar, the first British territory to vote, voted overwhelmingly to “Remain” – the Spanish Prime Minister, seizing an opportunity, is now calling for joint British and Spanish control of the peninsula.

Meanwhile, there is turmoil on the international financial markets, which will likely continue until some sort of an agreement is reached between the UK and EU, reassuring markets.

It’s a big mess all round!

POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES

  1. Changes could come to the EU.  Other nations may withdraw, forcing change on those that remain.   Financially, the European Union received a lot of money from the UK. This spigot will be cut off.  To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, the EU has finally run out of other peoples’ money!
  2. The future of the European Union itself is also uncertain.   One thing is absolutely clear – the bureaucrats who control the Union are out of touch with the common people.   Demands from the people of other countries for their own referendum will increase.   Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, is calling for a quick resolution of uncertainty, hoping to stop any contagion.   Anti-Establishment revolutions, even non-violent ones, have a habit of spreading from one country to another – 1989 is a recent example; 1918 and 1848 are two others.
  3. Scotland is more likely to leave the United Kingdom, taking England and Wales back to the seventeenth century.  Northern Ireland’s future is also uncertain.
  4. Germany will emerge from this as a more powerful force in Europe. This was one concern some British people had. Ironically, by voting to leave, they will have helped strengthen Germany as the dominant power in Europe. As the EU progresses, fulfilling its goal of an “ever closer union”, it will inevitably mean a greater role for Berlin.
  5. The referendum was an anti-Establishment vote.  For 43 years the British people have lived under the growing authority of the bureaucratic socialist super-state that is the EU, having to comply with thousands of dictates they did not want.  Some people have done very well out of the EU.  Prominent Brits have jumped aboard the European gravy train and done very well out of it, with high salaries and an even higher expense account.  There has been little or no accountability.
  6. The vote was a vote against globalization.   The driving force in western thinking, since World War II, has been globalization. Multiculturalism, free trade deals, massive numbers of immigrants, have all profoundly changed the western world; yesterday’s vote was the first big sign that the people are hitting back. Half the people (actually a little over half) feel that they are missing out and don’t like the way things are going. That’s true in other countries as well as the UK.
  7. Migration was a major issue.   People don’t like the sheer numbers of Syrians, Iraqis, Poles, Bulgarians, Rumanians, Pakistanis, etc that now live in Britain.   The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim whose family migrated from Pakistan, sensing this significant change in national thinking, campaigned against a Brexit and now wants London to continue an association with Europe.

In this context, it’s interesting to note the prophet Daniel’s observation about the interracial condition of the ancient Roman Empire and of its modern-day successor founded by the Treaty of Rome:

“42 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. 43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.” (Daniel 2:42-43).   Whereas America was a melting pot, the European Union was a union of 28 different nations and cultures, each with its own languages and customs.   Mixing was never going to be as successful as in the United States.

  1. Yesterday’s vote could start a populist movement – even the US may follow in November.   Presidential candidate Donald Trump, on a private visit to Scotland, said this morning that Brexit is a good thing: “the British have gotten their country back.”   Brexiters have a lot in common with Trump, who may capture the mood of Americans in the same way. Hillary Clinton supported the “Remain’ campaign but was out of touch with the people.  (There was no reason for her to get involved in the first place.)   President Obama warned on a recent visit to the UK that if the country left the EU it would go to the “back of the queue” (a British term) to wait for a new trade deal with the US.   Trump today said that will not happen if he becomes president, that the UK has been a close ally of the US for decades and deserves better than that.

Note the following comment on Twitter from Michael Moore, leftist documentary filmmaker who lives in Flint, Michigan:   “Hail Trumptannia!   Fear wins out in UK.   Britain votes to “build a ‘wall’” by leaving EU.  Hatred of immigrants, xenophobia, nationalism reign.  Fellow Americans – we’re up next!”  This is a typical comment from the not-so-intellectual elite, who insult the voters when they lose!  Expect more of the same from the EU as well as the US.

  1. However, financial concerns are justified.  The pound dropped 10% in hours, even before the final tally was realized (trading continued in the Far East due to the time difference) and stock markets are in freefall.  But this was to be expected.   It should soon calm down.   The Emperor Napoleon once dismissed the English as “a nation of shopkeepers”, a quote from Adam Smith in “The Wealth of Nations.”   But this will only help Britain – Germany sells 20% of its cars to the UK, they will not want to lose that market.
  2. The vote for Brexit will have an international effect as well as a domestic one.   Relations between the EU and Russia may change.  The Mayor of Moscow today said that without Britain, the EU will be less likely to continue economic sanctions on the country.

Today we are witnessing a seismic shift in world history.   We don’t see those every day. What we are seeing is England waking up to the consequences of globalism.   Others will follow.   But, the world has changed in the last 43 years.   Whereas the UK was a constant in the pre-EU world, it no longer is.   The EU offers Scotland and Ireland a viable alternative.   The Brexit could mean the end of the United Kingdom.  British historian Paul Johnson wrote in his 1972 book “The Offshore Islanders,” written between Britain’s application to join Europe and its actual membership, that disunity has always been fatal to the offshore islanders (the British).   The country has not been this divided in centuries and will likely see further division ahead.

Europe has already meant the end of David Cameron, who joins his two Conservative predecessors, John Major and Margaret Thatcher, in being brought down by divisions over Europe.   Whoever replaces him as prime minister will have to try and unite the party and the country at a very difficult time in history.

At the same time, there is going to be a lot of lingering bad feelings, in both British major parties and between the UK and the rest of Europe.  Mr. Juncker has just announced an emergency meeting of the other 27 leaders of the EU, to take place on Wednesday. We will soon see what the EU has in mind for a Europe without the UK.

REMEMBER THE SABBATH

Keep calm sabbath

A few Sundays ago, I had to go to Kroger, a grocery store that’s about two miles from our house.   I chose to go at lunchtime.

When I arrived, there were no shopping carts available (trolleys, for those who live in a Commonwealth country).   I had to wait for somebody to return one.

This had never happened to me before.

After purchasing a few items, I went to the check-out to pay.   I asked the man there if it was always this full on Sunday at lunch time.   He said yes, that most of their customers at this particular time of day had just gone to church and were now doing their shopping.

I remarked on how, when I was growing up, nothing was open on a Sunday.   He looked at me as if I was really old!

It wasn’t until 1994 that stores in the United Kingdom could open on Sundays.   Before that, newspaper shops were open on Sunday mornings, so that people could buy their trashy tabloids and keep up on all the sin politicians and others were committing; but the general populace was expected to observe “the Lord’s Day.”   In the sixties television did not commence programming until sometime in the afternoon and there was a mandatory evening break for religious programming.

When South Africa first got television in 1976, no entertainment was allowed on television on Sundays.   I remember watching the South African Defense Force Choir singing hymns followed by a documentary from Alistair Cooke on the Mormons.  No advertisements were permitted, either.   It was also forbidden to buy alcohol, unless you were resident in a hotel and could use their bar.

Back in 1895, when Theodore Roosevelt was appointed President of New York City’s 4-man Board of Police Commissioners, he chose to strictly enforce the “Blue Laws” that prohibited Sunday drinking.   This was not appreciated, especially by German immigrants who liked to down a stein of beer with their comrades on Sundays.   The once popular TR quickly turned into the most reviled man in America.   Fortunately for him (and the German beer drinkers), President William McKinley appointed him to the position of Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1897.   Four years later, when McKinley was assassinated, Roosevelt became President.

I remember my mother telling me that during World War II, the local town council had allowed cinemas to open after 4pm on Sundays, to cater for the American GI’s based close by.   Clark Gable, then the most popular male actor in Hollywood, had been seen on the steps one Sunday afternoon.

In 1947, Compton MacKenzie wrote his classic novel “Whisky Galore,” which told the story of a small Scottish island during World War II that ran out of whisky.   The islanders were uplifted when a merchant vessel carrying Scotch ran aground off their coast.   But, sadly, this happened late on a Saturday evening and there was nothing they could do to rescue the desired liquid until the “Sabbath” was over.   After church Sunday morning, the men all gathered on the cliff top and simply watched the wrecked ship longingly!   But Sunday night, immediately after the stroke of midnight, the men were all there on the rocks salvaging what they could to enjoy the drink, perhaps also on the rocks!   The book was turned into a movie the following year.   For some reason the title was changed in the US to “Tight Little Island.”

A popular story in the 60’s was about the sky-diver in Northern Ireland who had fallen to his death when his chute failed to open.   The comment was made that “he should have known that nothing opens on a Sunday in Belfast!”   (I’m sure things have changed since.)

We’ve come a long way in the last fifty years.   Now church-goers routinely do their weekly grocery shopping on the way home from church, something that would have been unthinkable two generations ago.

An article by a syndicated US columnist some years ago showed that the same church-goers then went home and watched football followed by “Desperate Housewives” which was based on everybody breaking the Ten Commandments.

One hour of church followed by two hours of shopping, then a family meal, football and a trashy, unchristian TV show.   One has to question the priorities Christians have.

I’m sure God does.   When people, even Christians, have so little time for Him, why should He have time for them?

The root word for Sabbath means “to rest, to cease from labor.”   Jesus Christ said:   “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).   In other words, a 24-hour period of rest from work and from “doing our own pleasure” (Isaiah 58:13) is for our own good.

Today, most people are stressed out, most of the time.   The need for a day of rest has never been greater, yet many don’t have one.    And, if they do, other members of their family may not, so it’s become very difficult to get families together to build the bonds necessary for any society to thrive.

Instead, people are constantly working in one way or another, always trying to make a few dollars more or to have more fun.

We live in a society where God is not taken seriously.   One hour a week in church, followed by the pursuit of secular pleasures is not what He intended.

Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath and attended the synagogue every Saturday (Luke 4:16).   Christians are to be like Him.   We should do the same.   It’s one of the Ten Commandments.   “Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

Previous generations in North America, Britain, Australia and elsewhere were very strict about Sabbath observance.   The irony is that the biblical Sabbath commanded here in the Ten Commandments was not Sunday.   Rather, it was the seventh day, to be exact, Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

People need a day of rest, the Sabbath.   Instead, we have a society where everybody is worn out, with consequent serious damage to family life and relationships.   It’s never too late to change and to start keeping the Sabbath as God intended.

 

UK ELECTION – SECOND TV DEBATE

Grimsby Dock Tower, Lincolnshire
     Grimsby Dock Tower, Lincs – Grimsby fishing port at the height of its glory

I first saw BBC World in Uganda back in 1993.   I remember then expressing the hope that we would soon have it in Michigan.   I did not expect it to take 22 years, but we do finally have it, thanks to AT&T.   However, I’m not sure it’s worth over $100 per month.   This includes a zillion other channels I have no desire to watch.   CNN International is also good and comes with the package.

However, thanks to BBC World I’ve been able to keep up on the British election, which takes place on May 7th.

The first live televised debate was between seven leaders of seven political parties, including Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition partner, Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats.   The debate was very interesting.

It was followed by a second debate last week, this time without the prime minister and his coalition ally.

Again, I found it very interesting but, at the same time, quite disturbing.

Each party leader was making promises.   The four left-of-center party leaders were all promising more and more, competing with each other on how they would improve this or that service, spending more millions (or was it billions?) on this, that or the other.   Only the leader of UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) seemed to have any sense of the need to balance the nation’s accounts.

The Coalition has been trying to do that since austerity measures were introduced almost five years ago.   Their policies stabilized the country while some continental nations were in a rapid downward spiral.   Now, the other leaders feel it’s time to ditch austerity and throw a big, no-expense-spared party!

Two members of my family in England sent me a rather long article in the London Review of Books about the election in my hometown of Grimsby, on the east coast of England.   Once the world’s premiere fishing port, the town fell on hard times after the country joined the European Common Market (now the EU).   It’s revived somewhat, but is still way behind when it comes to economic development.   It has been a Labour Party stronghold since 1945. There is a connection!   No matter who wins, the next representative for Grimsby will be the first woman, as both leading candidates are women.

The Conservatives never stood a chance of winning the seat for parliament.   David Cameron’s posh accent did him in!   But a new party may actually take the electoral cup from Labour.   That party is UKIP.

Resentment against the EU is so great that working class voters seem just as inclined to vote UKIP as they are to vote Labour.

It’s not just the EU, which is the problem.   Immigration is another concern – and the perception that, in an area of 10% unemployment, jobs are being lost to immigrants, both legal and illegal.   UKIP is promising to pull Britain out of the EU and to do something about immigration.

Unlike the other left-of-center parties, UKIP does not look upon the English tax-payer as a cash cow, or a bottomless pit, whichever metaphor you prefer.   I think you get the picture.

The leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, makes Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, seem positively restrained, in her enthusiasm for spending other peoples’ money.   In her case, although she would never use the terms, all the money she is demanding for Scotland and Scottish development would come from the English taxpayer.   None of the others participating in the debate commented on this, perhaps because they all (except for UKIP) were looking to get more from the English taxpayer themselves.

The British (read, the English) are upset because they subsidize much of Europe through the EU.   How long is it going to be before there is a tax-payers revolt against all the subsidies to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, none of which pay their own way?

Ms. Sturgeon is also enthusiastic in her desire to see Britain scrap its nuclear weapons in order to partially pay for all this largesse.

Of greater concern is her insistence that, if David Cameron’s Conservative coalition is returned to power, and the promised referendum on EU membership is held, Scotland must have the right to remain in the EU, if England votes to depart.   This would automatically give Scotland independence, even though voters rejected independence in a referendum last September. Independence is what she and her party are committed to.

But how would they pay for it?   Scotland depends for roughly 10% of its expenditure on the English taxpayer.   This will only increase if the SNP joins the Labour Party in a left-wing coalition.

If Scotland remains within the EU and England withdraws, Scotland will need all the help it can get . . . from Germany, Europe’s other cash cow!

PS:  I thought you would all appreciate the following letter which appeared in the conservative Daily Telegraph of London. It’s a very astute observation on the British election campaign:

British election question

UK ELECTION SET FOR MAY 7th

Signpost, political parties

A turbulent six weeks lies ahead as Britain prepares to vote on May 7th.

Americans are already in the midst of electioneering, for an election that’s still 22 months away.  They can be forgiven a case of envy when they learn that the United Kingdom’s election period will only last 38 days.

Elections used to be fairly routine, with either the Conservative or the Labour party winning.

In 2010, that changed.  Neither party won a majority. David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party and Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party agreed to form a Coalition government.   Later, the two had to agree on austerity measures to get Britain out of the international financial crisis.

Today, the country has the fastest growing economy out of all the major western democracies.   Austerity seems to have worked better in Britain than elsewhere in Europe.

This time, there are a number of parties campaigning to win seats in Britain’s “first past the post” system.

The country has 635 constituencies.   Whoever gets the biggest number of votes in each of these, is elected to parliament.   The leader of the majority faction then becomes prime minister.

This time, however, there are more than three parties.

The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties will all be putting up candidates.   In addition, there’s a fairly new party called UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), which is campaigning for Britain to withdraw from the EU and to do something about immigration, which many see as out of control.

Their leader, Nigel Farage, has already said that if David Cameron, the current prime minister, needs UKIP’s help to form a right-wing coalition government, he will insist on a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU by the end of this year.   Mr. Cameron wants to delay it until 2017 when more Europeans will have moved into Britain, making it more likely that a “yes” vote would be returned.   Anybody from the EU can vote in referenda, though not in general elections. That requires full citizenship.

On the left of the political spectrum, for Labour’s Ed Miliband to form a government, he will likely need support from the SNP (Scottish National Party), Plaid Cymru (Welsh nationalists) and even the Greens (environmental party).   All of these parties will want government spending to increase, thereby jeopardizing the recovery the present coalition has engineered.

There are also smaller parties representing Northern Ireland, which may be needed to form a coalition.

It’s all suddenly become very complicated, but the old days of two-party politics seem to be over for good.

The next occupant of 10 Downing Street will be the man who can successfully haggle with other party leaders to reach the magic number of 318 – that’s just over 50% of all the seats in parliament, without which governing would be almost impossible.

 

AUF WIEDERSEHEN, BRITAIN

Auf

“Auf Wiedersehen, Britain” ran the headline in one of London’s newspapers earlier this week.  The paper showed a picture of German Chancellor Angela Merkel waving.

Faced with the rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and a possible set-back at the polls next year, British Prime Minister David Cameron has been quite vocal in criticizing the EU (European Union). A demand that Britain pay even more money to finance the profligate organization resulted in a public display of Cameron’s anger and frustration.

He has also requested changes to the EU’s open border policy, which allows citizens of newer, poorer member countries to move to the UK to work, or not to work. They can receive welfare, which is more generous in Britain than back home. Their children can also receive a free education and, of course, all are entitled to free medical. All of this is upsetting Brits who have had to tighten their belts through a prolonged period of austerity. UKIP is capitalizing on these concerns. Mrs. Merkel has made it clear she wants no change to the migrant policy and would rather see Britain exit the EU.

Cameron has promised a referendum on continued membership of the EU if his party wins the general election next year.

Complicating things is that Nicola Sturgeon, the new leader of the Scottish Independence Party, sees an opportunity here. She wants a clear majority in both Scotland and England (as well as Wales and Northern Ireland) when the referendum is held. In other words, if England votes “no” to continued membership but Scotland votes “yes,” the two would have to go their separate ways. It’s a sneaky way of gaining independence but politics has never been clean!

The EU has been going through a rough economic period throughout the recession. What London should be hoping for is a total collapse of the organization. The alternative is a German dominated superpower right on England’s doorstep. This seems likely anyway, whatever happens to the EU. Germany will be even more dominant without England as a member. At the same time, a divided British Isles will further weaken the island in its relations with the continental superpower.

It should also be noted that German plans for European domination are not limited to finance and trade. German-Foreign-Policy.com reported November 5th that: “German politicians, military officials and the media consider the subordination of combat units of other European nations to German Bundeswehr command to be a role model for a future EU army.”