onsdag 11 april 2018

The death of civilised debate

The Guardian has been steadily reducing the number of articles on which comments are allowed. On the newspaper’s web site, which used to appear under the slogan “Comment is Free”,  attributed to its famous editor C P Scott, comment is now restricted to the most trivial of topics. As for the commenting opportunities that still remain; where, formerly, comment was normally open for three days, it is usually closed after a few hundred responses.

There are many reasons why this has happened. The newspaper has been a staunch defender of immigration, looks down on criticism of Islam and regards Islamic immigration as unproblematic. This was a widely held view, before Isis and the series of sexual abuse cases came to public attention. These called forth responses ranging from reasonable criticism to xenophobia and outright racism. On the other side, the reasonable criticism was attacked as racist or Islamophobic.

Then came Brexit, an issue which has divided the British bitterly. This is reflected in press attitudes. Both The Guardian and the Financial Times took a line strongly defensive of the EU, to the point that criticism was almost off-limits. The Mail, predictably, took a populist and jingoistic stance, whilst the Telegraph adopted a similar position, though tailored to its better educated and older readers.

There is a reasonable case for Brexit which has rarely been presented, not least because, on the whole, Brexit supporters themselves do not understand the potential benefits; this extends even to academic supporters such as Minford. Although the “remain” case is largely based on mercantilist thinking which was refuted by the classical economists, remainers took the stance that the Brexiters were all old, stupid, xenophobic, and malevolent. Thus, public debate has largely been reduced to assertion and name-calling.

On top of that there is a decline in manners, possibly aggravated by the anonymity of the internet. Disagreement is widely expressed by starting a response with “rubbish”, “nonsense”, “piffle”, or obscenities.

On top of that again is the alleged use of spamming factories, with the Russians and Chinese being blamed. They might well be responsible, but if they are, they are not responsible for creating the fertile ground in which they can gain influence and credibility. The guilty ones are the politicians and media people who want to project a particular view of the world whilst pretending that issues which affect the public at a daily level simply do not exist.

And so the forum for public debate is shrinking and coming under increasing pressure. It does not augur well.

söndag 8 april 2018

Happy Easter

Easter has finally happened. It seems as if Lent has been going on for months. I am going back to bed for another couple of hours as I did not get home till three.

I will say only that it is the first Easter Vigil which did not disappoint since I moved to Sweden in 2012. Thank you Fathers Nemania, Duschan, and Dragan, and the choir, who were singing solidly for over three hours and had to be back again at 8.30 this morning.

At last, an Easter Vigil which was everything an Easter Vigil should be.

onsdag 4 april 2018

Blessed Sacrament flown into church by drone scandal

A parish in Brazil has been criticised on social media after video showed a drone flying the Blessed Sacrament into the church. The act has been branded ‘sacrilegious’.

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/04/03/parish-criticised-after-flying-blessed-sacrament-from-drone/

However, the entire cult of the Blessed Sacrament is questionable. It is of medieval origin, and whilst the motivation was pious, the command we were given was ‘take and eat’. The Anglican reformers emphasised the point in Article XXV of the Thirty-Nine Articles, which states that ‘the Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use Them’.

The objection is not that Christ is not really present in the Blessed Sacrament, but that He really is present. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. (Ex 33:20). The practice does not exist in the Orthodox church. This is one of the reasons why I am hoping to be received into that communion.

söndag 1 april 2018

Calendrical anomalies

Today feels strange. It is Palm Sunday when everyone else is celebrating Easter Sunday. Yesterday was Lazarus Saturday which is my family feast day. Next week is Holy Week as we are still in Lent, which began about the same time as everyone else’s Lent but weekends do not really count.

It seems as if Lent has been going on forever, what with the cold weather and everything, and still snow on the ground. Next Saturday evening will be big, though.

fredag 30 mars 2018

Why is this night different from all other nights?

מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה, הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה

This year Passover corresponds precisely with the western Easter, whereas we Orthodox are still looking forwards to celebrating our Easter, which will be next week. John 19:14 says that today (Friday) was Preparation Day for the Passover, and therefore the Last Supper can not have been a Seder meal.

Confusion over this point arises from a mistranslation of Luke 22:7. From this confusion arises a further confusion, that the Mass is a re-enactment of the Last Supper; this is explained in the polemical book Innovations of the Roman Church by Apostolos Makrakis. From this confusion arises yet more: the use of unleavened bread in the Catholic Mass and the entire programme of liturgical reforms introduced, first at the Protestant Reformation, and fifty years ago, by the Roman Catholic Church itself.

Confusion should not, however, be a cause of enmity, but a reason for enquiry. I wish everyone who reads this a happy Pesach, or Easter, whenever you are celebrating it.
חַג שָׂמֵחַ

söndag 25 mars 2018

“Dictator Pope” author revealed

The author of the book “Dictator Pope” has now been revealed, which has led to him being suspended from the Order of the Knights of Malta.

Marcantonio Colonna is the pen name of Henry Sire, an author and historian. Sire was born in 1949 in Barcelona to a family of French ancestry. He was educated in England at the Jesuits’ centuries-old Stonyhurst College and at Exeter College, Oxford, where he gained an honours degree in Modern History. He is the author of six books on Catholic history and biography, including one on the famous English Jesuit, writer, and philosopher Father Martin D’Arcy, SJ. The Dictator Pope is the fruit of Henry Sire’s four-year residence in Rome from 2013 to 2017. During that time he became personally acquainted with many figures in the Vatican, including Cardinals and Curial officials, together with journalists specialising in Vatican affairs. (Publisher’s note)

It all makes for racy reading, but my own view is that anyone concerned about their spiritual well-being should keep well away from Rome and not engage themselves in the goings-on there, or, for that matter, in church politics in general. The aim and purpose of the church is to enable us to focus on its leader, who is Jesus Christ. Criticism of popes, bishops and priests is a dangerous distraction.

Over the two millennia of Christianity, church leaders in general, and popes in particular, have not, on the whole, covered themselves with glory; their failings are for the Lord to judge. If much is entrusted to one, then much is expected. We should consider ourselves fortunate if such responsibility has not fallen on us.

Their function is to provide us with the tools to enable us to carry out this task; the shepherds should feed their lambs.If the ones we have fail to do that, then we need to seek out others who still take the task seriously. Standing on the sidelines and booing is as much the Devil’s work as the shepherds who act like wolves.

fredag 23 februari 2018

Remainer food hypocrisy

Remainers claim that Brexit will allow in a torrent of toxic meat. This Guardian article, unsurprisingly not open for comment, shows yet again that there is already a grave home-produced problem.

Tests carried out on food at the point of entry to a country are almost worthless in ensuring that it will be safe by the time it it put on the shelves of the shops, or served in restaurants. Food can be badly handled, or frozen food thawed and re-frozen. The most effective deterrent is the likelihood of random checks, with contraventions punishable by heavy fines or imprisonment.

To supplement the resources of local authorities, it would also be worth giving the public better access to public analytical and testing services.

Import controls exist primarily to protect producer interests. Benefits to consumers are largely incidental.

The death of civilised debate

The Guardian has been steadily reducing the number of articles on which comments are allowed. On the newspaper’s web site, which used to ap...