Archive for April, 2012

Friday, April 13th, 2012

From Cranmer

What price freedom of speech? Freedom of expression? Freedom of association? Freedom of contract? As His Grace foresaw (because it was tediously predictable), The Guardian jumped (with unseemly haste) on the Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust plans to advertise a challenge to Stonewall’s claim that being homosexual is innate and unchangeable. For his own ashes, His Grace is not inclined to megaphone advertising and is no fan of sound-bite soteriology, but is respectful and tolerant of those who wish to spend their money in this way. Richard Dawkins’ did not create one new atheist with his bus-side ‘There’s probably no God’ campaign, and doubtless the ‘No God’ slogan irked or offended more than a few people of faith. But the Christians responded in like fashion (again, without news of mass conversions), and there was a healthy and entertaining debate. And debate requires the proposition of (at least) two opposing viewpoints, or it is simply an imbalanced presentation of a singular thesis.

Christians are called to proclaim the Good News, and whether that vocation be in a pulpit, upon a television screen, or walking up and down Oxford Street with a sandwich board, it ought to be tolerated in a free society. Now, while some might preach the wonders of heaven, the Way of Salvation and the boundless love of Jesus, others choose to focus on sin and damnation. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive – it takes all sorts. In 1999 Lord Justice Sedley championed the rights of people to express such views, and quoted Socrates and two famous Quakers in doing so. There is no breach of the peace if what is said is merely offensive. He said: “Free speech includes not only the offensive, but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative, providing it does not tend to provoke violence.”

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Boris Johnson’s Gay Conversion Ads ban threatens democracy

Friday, April 13th, 2012

By Julian Mann

[…]  It is truly frighterning that Mr Johnson is not prepared to leave Londoners themselves to make up their own minds on the question of gay conversion. Does he believe that his electors are incapable of deciding on whether they think that homosexuality is an innate condition or that sexual orientation is more fluid and can therefore be subjected to the exercise of moral choices.

Moreover, cannot Londoners decide for themselves that if homosexuality is an innate orientation with which some people are born, individuals can choose on religious grounds not to act on their sexual desires and remain celibate?

Does Mr Johnson wish to impose on everybody the permissive society’s view that sexual activity is essential to leading a fulfilled life?

Voting in an election – and Mr Johnson is standing in one next month for the office of London Mayor – involves the exercise of independent judgement. It involves weighing up the merits of various arguments. It involves exercising moral choices.

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In Pushing Homosexual Agenda Globally, Obama Admin Seeks to Co-opt, Marginalize Religion

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

By Piero A Tozzi, Christian Post

In a major foreign policy address last December in Geneva before United Nations delegates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton identified “deeply-held … religious beliefs” as among “the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] people.” Criticizing those who “cite religious or cultural values” to oppose “LGBT” rights, she then made a doctrinal point: if properly understood, “religious traditions” actually support the progressive march of “human rights” and sanction homosexual behavior.

Clinton’s remarks followed an executive order making “combating criminalization of LGBT status or conduct” by foreign governments “central” to U.S. foreign policy.

Harnessing a “good religion vs. bad” theme to advance divisive social policy strikes a favored administration chord. Just as the White House has promoted ObamaCare’s abortion pill/contraception mandate by using “Catholic” spokesmen such as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Vice President Joe Biden to blunt Church disapproval, the Obama administration speaks in religious language to advance its global social policy objectives while marginalizing faith-based opposition.

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Shame of the women who must fill West’s demand for babies

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

April 11th, 2012 Posted in News |

Francis Elliott  The Times
Published at 12:01AM, April 10 2012

Mattresses on the floor, a television blaring soaps, a makeshift kitchen — there’s not much in the way of furniture in the two-bedroom flat shared by five pregnant women on the outskirts of Delhi. The only decoration is framed photographs of white couples lovingly cradling newborn babies.

They are reminders, if any were needed, of why the women are spending nine months away from husbands and prying neighbours, but under the watchful eyes of a team of “counsellors”. Rihana Khan, 21, covers her face with her scarf as she explains the additional care she is taking with her second pregnancy. “The first time, with my own child, I didn’t care at all what I was eating or about lifting weights. This time I am much, much more careful. There is a lot more at stake.”

She is carrying twins on the last leg of a journey that began on the other side of the world: the clinic that has paid her to be a surrogate mother services an agency in Israel that helps gay men to become fathers. Their sperm is sent to the US, where egg donors, usually white women from South Africa or the Ukraine, are waiting. The resulting embryos are frozen and flown to India, where wombs are cheapest to rent.

The hostel where Ms Khan is staying is one of three run by Wyzax Surrogacy consultants, which currently house 18 surrogate mothers but sometimes accommodates double that number. To keep costs down, the company specialises in mass embryo transfers — 30 at a time. The bulk order also caters for an emerging trend for gay male couples who want two simultaneous surrogate pregnancies, so both men can father a child at the same time.

The women were recruited from an “untapped area”, said Jagatjeet Singh, the company’s director. The “semi-rural area” (in fact, a slum) was chosen so that the company could “sell the concept and educate the women and their families in a clean slate”, he said. For Najma Khan, 31, the numbers add up. Her husband earns 10,000 rupees a month (£130) dealing in the waste plastic collected by rag-pickers. She will receive 20 times that much and will and spend the best part of a year in relative comfort.

In the absence of any legislation — a statute on surrogacy has been in the works for two years but the Indian Government has failed to answer questions about when it will finally be passed — the risk of exploitation is clear.

Research by the Delhi-based Centre for Social Research suggests high percentages of surrogate mothers are shunned by their families when they return. A survey carried out in Gujarat, traditionally the centre of the surrogacy trade, found that fewer than 3 per cent had a copy of the surrogacy contract.

Although three quarters say they want the cash to educate their own children, researchers found cases of coercion. “We came across women who told us the decision to become surrogates was not their own. They had to agree because their husbands wanted them to. The smile was missing from the faces of the women I met at the shelter homes,” said Manasi Mishra, the lead author of a report on the trade.

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Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

The Consequences of No Consequences

Does anyone else notice the disconnect between stories such as this one, as noted by the estimable Walter Russell Mead:

The stakes in Italy are higher than many Italians seem to grasp. This isn’t just about Italy’s prosperity or its ability to stay in the euro. It is about survival. Italy’s birthrate is far below the natural rate of replacement; that is not unrelated to an economic system that makes it impossible for large numbers of young people to start households of their own.

Unless Italy becomes a country where twenty somethings can routinely leave home and build promising careers so that they have both the economic means to marry and the security to embrace the responsibilities of parenthood, Italians will become a demographic curiosity in their own country — and sooner rather than later.

And this one, about Sandra Fluke and her contraceptive demands:

Contraception activist Sandra Fluke tells MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell that private insurance should cover contraception just like the government does. Fluke says that it is “completely untrue” that taxpayers would have to subsidize contraception.

“This is a program about private insurance. And it has nothing to do with government funding. The government does and should pay for contraception access for the very poorest women through programs like Medicaid, but it is important to be clear that this policy is not about that. This is about insurance that women pay for through their own premiums through their own employers and their universities,” she said.

Forget for the moment Read’s implied connection between the European welfare state and birth-rate death spiral evident in countries like Italy, Spain, and Portugal. And forget also Fluke’s disingenuousness about the true nature of the Obamacare mandate, which is unconstitutional government coercion of private, religious institutions. Let’s get right down to the cognitive dysfunction:

On the one hand — as NRO’s resident demography bore has been tirelessly pointing out — the Western world is facing an unparalleled demographic crisis brought on by a feminist-inspired modern twist on Lysistrata (showering sex but withholding children), while at the same time, the West’s vaunted “safety net” is collapsing because the system has been turned upside-down and a bevy of great-grandparents now coos over a single child.

Surely, this is the ultimate expression of the suicide cult that is the modern Left, a subset of libertine takers that so loathes itself that it will dragoon the makers into underwriting the chalices of tasty hemlock it’s so eager for everybody to quaff in order to put itself out of its misery. If, as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody, it feels good, do it! Alas, it does hurt somebody — it hurts society, by robbing it of its future and burdening those lucky kids who make it through the contraceptive/abortifacient gantlet with an unpayable debt to the very people who tried to get rid of them.

And for what? So that somebody might not be “punished” by a baby as a consequence of his or her personal behavior?

Self-centered Baby Boomer liberalism emerged from the “sexual revolution” of the sixties, and for the past half century Boomers have been trying to escape the consequences of no consequences, which now threaten the underpinnings of the Left’s beloved, bankrupting welfare state. And yet, at the same time, women of child-bearing age demand that somebody — insurance companies, Washington, the pope in Rome — pay for universal contraceptive and abortion services in the name of “women’s health.”

If this is not the definition of a suicide cult — one driven by the leftist insistence that sexual license be, well, licensed by the state, non-judgmentally and consequence-free — it’s hard to know what is. The Shakers had nothing on these people; at least they made furniture. But it’s what comes from treating pregnancy as a preventable disease, and viewing people as carbon-based pollutants instead of beings created in the image and likeness of God.

How do we save ourselves from the consequences of no consequences? As Phillip Longman notes:

The trick will be restoring what, in the days of family-owned farms and small businesses, was once true: that babies are an asset rather than a burden. Imagine a society in which parents get to keep more of the human capital they form by investing in their children. Imagine a society in which the family is no longer just a consumer unit, but a productive enterprise. The society that figures out how to restore the economic foundation of the family will own the future.

“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” That was the witticism that passed for cleverness back in the day. Who needs men in the Brave New World? We’re about to find out.

When the Voices in My Head Tell Me Squat

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Theological???Speculations again. thanks to Stand Firm

More detritus from Holy Week. This one appears on the Sojourners blog, and consists of a Baptist pastor letting the world know that he hasn’t got a clue why he does what he does for a living:

I have no idea what Jesus meant by giving himself over like this. We read the scripture last night at the Maundy Thursday service at First Baptist. “Not my will but your’s.” Lord, have mercy. Someone asked the question as someone does every year, “Why would God want Jesus to die? If it’s God’s will…Why would God will this to happen?” I have some practiced answers. This year I offered them as I usually do.

“First, let me tell you what the tradition says…” I give a theological gloss and watch their eyes glaze over. Right. Of course. This isn’t an answer any more than a stump speech is an indication of what will actually happen if one of these people in the news are elected to public office. So, I move on.

“Well, what do you think…” Sometimes there’s an answer waiting. Sometimes people just want a chance to tell the Pastor what they think. I like hearing how God’s faithful have worked out this stuff. There is always wisdom here.

“Now let me tell you what I think…” is my last response. It goes something like this:

I don’t know. I don’t want to say “It’s a mystery” because that becomes the great theological copout. No. I say that I don’t understand. Why? Because I don’t. The whole story is insane. It’s madness. God has gone insane. Jesus has followed God right there to the looney bin. Peter is in denial. Judas goes off the deep end. The dysfunction of the community following Jesus is exposed in this dramatic turn of events. The Sanhedrin goes nuts. Pilate goes nuts. The women of Jerusalem are told, by Jesus no less, that it will get worse before it gets better. Insane? You think this is insane? You think this is worth your well-trained bereavement? Just wait. This is when we honor insanity. So…I don’t know what the hell it means. I don’t know God’s will. I’m not sure I ever have.

It’s insane. There’s nothing “Good” here.

The whole world has gone mad. Even God.

This is Revelation.

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No, this is crap, not to put too fine a point on it. What’s the one word missing from this rant? “Scripture” or “Bible” (he mentions “the tradition,” but there’s no telling what that means, especially from a Baptist). Instead, it comes down to, “let me tell you what I think.”

The older I get, the less interesting I find my own speculations on religion, and the more interesting I find God’s revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ, conveyed to us through inspired witnesses to the events that God’s Word addresses. It’s kind of a neat book, when you get into it. I hope that Tripp Hudgins, the writer of this tripe and (of course) a Ph.D student at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, takes time from his liturgical studies to glance through it now and then.

Bishop warns stripping Britain of religion leaves country vulnerable to extremism

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

By David Millward, Telegraph

Stripping Britain of its Christian foundations would leave the country vulnerable to “the most sinister of ideologies”, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury has warned.

The Rt Rev Mark Davies used his Easter Homily to express anxiety at the consequences of undermining Britain’s religious heritage.

He cited the recent history of Europe to voice fears extremism would fill the void if Christianity was weakened.

“It has, indeed, been the experience of this past century, as both Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have observed how the most poisonous ideologies have arisen within the Christian nations of Europe,” he said.

“Thus Nazism or Communism attempted to discard the Christian inheritance of faith and morality as if it had never existed.

“They sought either to return to the pagan past or to “re-create” and “redeem” humanity by political will and ideology with terrible consequences.

“If Christianity is no longer to form the basis and the bedrock of our society then we are, indeed, left at the mercy of passing political projects and perhaps even the most sinister of ideologies.”

Bishop Davies became the latest influential religious leader to warn of the consequences of increasing secularisation.

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