Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Let us not skip Holy Week 

I wished I had something profound to say in the middle of Holy Week.  Perhaps my lack is out of fatigue as I traveled yesterday with some friends to visit a friend in a nursing home.  In any case, I urge readers not to skip Holy Week, particularly the darkness of Thursday through Saturday, of the Last Supper and betrayal, of the arrest and trials, of the crucifixion and burial, in order to rush to Easter.

In most of my pre-Anglican years, that is more or less what I did.  It is not that I despised the Lord’s Passion; I most certainly did not.  An emphasis on Holy Week was just not part of my worship tradition and had not yet become a part of me.

During those years, Easter also did not mean as much to me as it does now.  That is no coincidence.  Yes, I knew well that my life is bound up in Christ’s resurrected life.  But I do not think one can fully appreciate the light and joy of Easter until one goes through the darkness of Holy Week, and of Lent for that matter.  And that I did not do.

Carl Trueman has written on how excising the dark and the tragic from our worship impoverishes it and ourselves.  I think that applies double to Holy Week.  As the risk of using a banal illustration, a movie that proceeds straight from happiness through happiness to a happy ending is likely to be cloying and forgettable.  Not only is life not that way, but the dark times help us to appreciate God’s light.  Neither good movies nor good religion skip over them.  It is not for nothing that early in his Gospel, St. John proclaims, “The light shines in the darkness.”

So my humble recommendation to those who want to have a joyous Easter is first to have a contemplative and, yes, dark Holy Week.  Observe and think upon the Passion of our Lord, who – as the Collect for Holy Monday notes – “went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified.”  Therefore let the rest of this prayer be our prayer and practice in life and worship.  “Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Let the Collect for Holy Wednesday be our prayer also.

Assist us mercifully with thy help, O Lord God of our salvation; that we may enter with joy upon the meditation of those mighty acts, whereby thou hast given unto us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Jeremy Pemberton Must Be Disciplined 

The Telegraph headline is not overwrought.  The Church of England is now indeed facing a crisis as a CofE priest, the Rev. Canon Jeremy Pemberton has legally married his male partner.  The crisis is that the Church of England is now forced to decide whether a priest entering a gay “marriage” will be disciplined or not, with difficult consequences no matter what the church decides.

As I’ve said a year ago, a church that does not care enough about truth to discipline does not care enough about truth, period.  And, although the American church setting differs from the English, we have seen time and again in this country what happens to churches when they refuse to defend truth with church discipline.  Apostasy, once openly tolerated, gains more and more power and drags churches down into the pit.  Look at how my former denomination, the mainline Presbyterian Church, and The Episcopal Church have imploded in recent decades.  The implosions began when open moral and/or doctrinal apostasy (which are often the same) was not disciplined.

Perhaps readers think I am making too much ado about the issue of marriage.  But marriage is certainly important enough to the Lord to be a prominent part of the Creation account and to be made an icon in scripture of the relationship between Christ and his church.  Literally perverting that icon is apostasy indeed.

Not to mention that gay marriage is a key presenting issue between the orthodox and libchurchers in England and worldwide.  The Church of England may continue to try to please both sides, but Pemberton’s act hastens the day when the CofE must choose.  And at least one side will be very unhappy no matter what the Church chooses.  I assert there is a right choice; but there is no easy choice in this matter.

If the Church of England does not wish to follow the well trodden and broad path of apostate and increasingly irrelevant denominations, it must discipline the apostasy of Jeremy Pemberton.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Hannah Overton Hearing Before Texas Court of Criminal Appeals 

Back in 2012, I mentioned the Hannah Overton case and the prosecutorial misconduct perpetrated against her.  The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest Texas criminal appeals court, has paid an unusual amount of attention to this case and held oral arguments on it last week.

The court has long had a reputation for not being very sympathetic to those seeking to overturn convictions.  The Presiding Judge Sharron Keller is, rightly or wrongly, rather infamous in that regard.  But the attention they have given to this case and signs of the high court’s unease with the number of wrongful convictions in Texas are good signs.

Pamela Colloff, who has followed the Overton case closely for years, has written an update which summarizes the hearing.

Please pray for Hannah Overton and her family and for a just ruling.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Obama Pushes Voting Fraud in Texas 

From Politico.  But it appears *someone* attempted to edit it.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday joined the larger Democratic effort to spotlight voting rights ahead of this year’s midterms, blasting “active efforts to deter people from voting often and after their demise.”

“Apparently it’s fairly active here in North Carolina, uhhh, Florida – oh @#$%, what state I’m I fundraising in today?  My telepromptr is off.  Oh that’s right.  I used Fort Hood as an excuse to get taxpayers to pay for this trip. Texas,” he told supporters at a Houston fundraiser. “The idea that you’d purposely try to prevent dead people from voting? Un-American. Liveist! RACIST! Those RIGHT-WING Republicans not only want to kill your Grandma; they want to keep her from voting after she’s dead! How is it that we’re putting up with that? We don’t have to.”

On Friday, the president will continue his election-year push in a speech to Al Sharpton’s National Get in on the Action Network.

Attorney General Eric Holder delivered his own address to the group Wednesday in New York, recounting the Justice Department’s efforts on the issue since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act last year.  The cocaine was flowing; so his address was received enthusiastically.

“Let me be very clear: Protecting the right to vote multiple times for future citizens, felons, and people of deadness — the action - And you know how Easy Al likes to get in on the action, ha, ha- that truly makes our nation in control of the Democrats an exceptional one — will continue to be a priority for this administration, for this Department of Justice, for this IRS, for Elijah Cummings, for this president, and for this attorney general,” Holder said.

Democrats see a voting rights pitch as another way to drive up midterm turnout among core Obama voters — most prominently African-Americans, but also Latinos, unmarried women, dead women, dead men, illegal aliens, felons, welfare recipients, abortionists, IRS agents, trial lawyers, and current and recently graduated college students — the groups, party operatives point out, most likely to still vote Democrat no matter much Obama and Hillary screw up at risk from restrictive voting laws.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Rep. Blake Farenthold: "I Don't Think Mr. Holder Should Be Here" 

Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder went up to Capitol Hill yesterday.  Most of the press attention was on a confrontation between him and Rep. Louis Gohmert.  But I find a statement by my Congressman, Blake Farenthold, more significant.

Farenthold declined to ask any questions, saying Eric Holder should not even be there and should not even be paid since he has been found in contempt of Congress.  Further, he rightly suggested jail rather than the hearing room would be a more appropriate abode for Holder.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

You know, I understand that this Committee has the constitutional duty of oversight over the Department of Justice and that's why we have Mr. Holder here today – but I don't think I can be a part of eroding the constitutional balance of power, favoring the executive over the legislative.

I don't think Mr. Holder should be here. He's in contempt of this body. I've called for his resignation, I've sponsored articles of impeachment and, this week, I'm going to be introducing legislation that would prevent federal employees who are held in contempt of Congress or who fail to fully comply with a Congressional subpoena from being paid their taxpayer-funded salary. I'm going to try and get that [the legislation] included with the appropriations bills that’ll be going through.

I’m committed to maintaining the constitutional balance of power and the authority this branch – this Legislative Branch – has, and I just don’t think it’s appropriate [that] Mr. Holder be here. If an American citizen had not complied with one of the Justice Department subpoenas, they would be in jail – not sitting here testifying.

But I realize there are questions to be asked, and I’ll yield the remainder of my time to Mr. Gowdy.

It was a needful statement, said with a sense of sadness more than anger.  Perhaps that is why it is not getting much press.  But watch for yourself.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Why We Must Fight the Leftists and Their Thought Police 

We have seen in the past hundred years that there are times when detachment from civic and political life is not an option.  When the bad guys in civic and political life are not just wrong-headed and not just evil even, but are determined that people who choose not to support their evil are punished.  Allowing the Nazis and the Communists to take power bit by bit were not viable options.  And trying selfishly to stay detached from it all hardly worked.  To paraphrase some dark humor, you may not be interested in totalitarians, but totalitarians are interested in you.

We are now at such a time.  Totalitarian-minded Leftists, among whom the Pink Shirts are just one manifestation, are taking more and more power in American political and civic life.  And they are not satisfied with defeating their freedom-minded opposition.  They want to vilify and crush them, not unlike their totalitarian forebears, with cries of “bigot” and “racist” and “homophobe” and the like and with demands for firings and boycotts.  And, as in the 20th Century, these are only the beginning. 

Us of a mindset of traditional values and freedom are the new “Dirty Jews” of the Fascists, to be vilified, ostracized, and worse.  Just as in the Soviet Union, being an open Jew or not a member of the Communist Party made one a 3rd Class citizen, if even that, today’s Leftists want to do likewise with those who do not agree with them.  (More noble-minded people of the Left, such as Andrew Sullivan, are excepted from this critique.  But they are a shrinking minority.)

That is the direction the United States is now heading.  We used to have an unspoken agreement (if imperfectly adhered to) that we contest for our values in the public sphere, but we have enough genuine tolerance for political adversaries that we respect their freedoms to speak, associate, and live that we value for ourselves.  The Leftists are shattering that agreement every day.

And we cannot rely on the Constitution or the law or the Supreme Court to protect us.  For the Supreme Court is but one vote away from turning Constitutional rights protecting the individual from the predations of those in control of the state into collective rights.  And even now, the Supreme Court will not even hear the case of a photographer who does not want to be forced by New Mexico law to take photographs against his conscience.

I revere the Constitution.  But when every branch of the Federal Government breaks their oaths to defend the Constitution, we can no more stop the Leftist thugs with the Constitution than we can stop drug gangs by reading to them the Ten Commandments.  We have trusted the government to defend us.  But the government itself is attacking our freedoms and threatening to become even worse in so doing. 

I regret that we as a country have gotten to this point, but it is time to fight and stop the Leftists and their Thought Police by whatever means are ethical, effective, and necessary.  We may not win.  But doing nothing will ensure that we will lose and head for a gulag that is oh-so “tolerant” and “inclusive.”  Jay Caruso has summarized the situation well, concluding (I’ve edited his saltly language slightly.):

This is the United States of America. Yet we have a reached a point where people have to fear for their jobs because a bunch of self appointed leftist [jerks] believe they get to determine what people are and are not allowed to think or believe.

[Imprecations upon them.]

There needs to be serious push back against these left-wing fascists because where does it end? Today it’s a donation to a cause the hard left deems inappropriate. Tomorrow it will be a politician you voted for. Then they’ll go after the websites you like to frequent…. The list can go on for quite some time.

We have a choice to make. We can either kick these punks back into their little sewer of “tolerance” or we can allow them to continue to permeate our culture, attempting to shame the masses into believing exactly as they do.

I choose the former.

As do I.  As. Do. I.

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Monday, April 07, 2014

More on Mozilla and the Pink Shirts (Or You think I’m ticked?) 

Mozilla and the Pink Shirts are finding out the hard way that a lot of Americans do not like the squelching and punishment of free speech.  The backlash is so great that Mozilla has decided to clam up.

And if you think I’ve been worked up over the firing (or the equivalent) of Brendan Eich, read Matt Walsh’s post on this matter.  The beginning will give you the flavor:

Dear gay rights militants, dear progressive tyrants, dear liberal fascists, dear haters of free speech, dear crusaders for ideological conformity, dear left wing bullies:

You will lose.

I know you’ve got legions of sycophants kowtowing to you these days, and the rest you’ve set out to destroy — but you will lose.

So, you’ve tracked another dissident and skinned him alive. You’ve made an example of Brendan Eich, and now you dance joyously around his disemboweled carcass. You have his head on a spike, and you consider this a conquest in your eternal crusade to eradicate diversity and punish differing opinions. You launched your millionth campaign of intimidation, and now another good man has been dragged through the mud, to the sounds of taunting and jeering and death threats.

Please read the whole thing.  It is a wonderful rant I can only envy.  Walsh’s main thesis is that Pink Shirts with this episode have discredited themselves for all to see.  Addressing them still, he writes:

You fancy yourselves the ideological descendants of civil rights pioneers, but these tactics put you in the same vein as book burners and Puritan witch hunters. When your story is ultimately told, it’ll read more like The Crucible than the Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

And that’s why you’ll lose.

You might have fooled society forever if you’d just kept singing about love and kindness, and never started bombarding Christians with your bitter hate and hostility. You might have gained some lasting ground if you hoisted your banner of free love, and never used it to diminish free speech.

But the proverbial cat is out of the bag. You’ve been made.

Because of your own behavior, when people like myself tell the world about the vicious death wishes and vulgar hate mail we receive from your kind on a DAILY basis, everyone will believe us. It’s no secret anymore. Without question and without exaggeration, the ‘gay rights movement’ is the angriest, most ruthless, most controlling, most intolerant of all the ideological enterprises in the country. Now, everyone knows it.

So you’ll lose. People are starting to see that you are the pigs on this Animal Farm, and the equality of which you preach is a very unequal equality indeed.

I certainly hope Walsh is correct about this outcome.  I am not as confident in the American people as I once was, but he may be right.

George Will also points out that the Pink Shirts are “sore winners” who “unsatisfied with victory… want to stamp out and punish people for their previous views.”

And he sagely notes that this episode makes the full disclosure of political donations problematic.

This case is an example of why some of us who used to be for full disclosure no longer are. The people advocating full disclosure in campaign contributions say we just want voters to be able to make an informed choice. That's not what they're doing at all. They really want to enable themselves to mount punitive campaigns and to tear people and chill political speech.

Exactly.  In the current toxic atmosphere belched out by the progressives and their ilk, we not only need a secret ballot, we need secret donations to at least a substantial extent so people can participate in the political process without fear of retaliation and black listing.

Richard Fernandez has written a thoughtful column about the culture war and the raw and dangerous power behind it.

The removal of Eich is about fascism.  It’s about one group of people forcing everyone else to bow to their hat on a pole; it’s about book burning, compelling obeisance to, as Jame Surowiecki put it, “a universal ideology” in a manner so bald that even those who might gain politically in the short term from it are horrified by its crudity.

Kevin Williamson looks at various Lib/Left efforts to squelch and punish free speech.  He begins (And, again, do read it all.):

The word “liberal” has taken a beating over the last few days: A Mozilla executive was hounded out of his position at the firm he co-founded by left-wing campaigners resolved to punish him for having made a donation to a successful California ballot initiative that defined marriage in traditional terms; Adam Weinstein, whose downwardly mobile credibility has taken him from ABC to Gawker, called for literally imprisoning people with the wrong views about global warming, writing, “Those malcontents must be punished and stopped”; Mr. Weinstein himself was simply forwarding a dumbed-down-enough-for-Gawker version of the arguments of philosophy professor Lawrence Torcello; Katherine Timpf, a reporter for Campus Reform, faced a human barricade to keep her from asking questions of those attending a feminist leadership conference, whose organizers informed her that the group was “inclusive” and therefore she was “not welcome here”; Charles Murray, one of the most important social scientists of his generation, was denounced as a “known white supremacist” by Texas Democrats for holding heterodox views about education policy; national Democrats spent the week arguing for the anti-free-speech side of a landmark First Amendment case and the anti-religious-freedom side of a case involving the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; Lois Lerner, the Left’s best friend at the IRS, faces contempt charges related to her role in the Democrats’ coopting the IRS as a weapon against their political enemies; . . . .

The convocation of clowns on the left screeched with one semi-literate and inchoate voice when my colleague Jonah Goldberg, borrowing the precise words of one of their own, titled a book Liberal Fascism. Most of them didn’t read it, but the ones who did apparently took what was intended as criticism and read it as a blueprint for political action.

Welcome to the Liberal Gulag.

That term may be perverse, but it is not an exaggeration.

It is indeed not an exaggeration.  The Bookworm also points out the attacks on our freedom are more dangerous than that from a Gay Mafia.  It is more like a Soviet:

Yes, there’s thuggery involved, which is a mafia tactic.  But unlike the mafia, which was just in it for the money, the new Soviet is in it to subordinate the individual and his beliefs entirely to the will of the Leftist state.

Nor is this thuggery a fringe movement.  While I am very honored here at the Bookworm Room to have gay readers who understand that the safest place for all individuals (regardless of race, color, creed, gender indentification, sexual orientation, etc.) is in a nation that leaves the individual alone, I can tell you that every one of my Leftist friends on my “real me” Facebook, gay or straight, applauds the gay Soviet’s successful thuggery against Eich.  These Facebook friends are, without exception, affluent, educated, successful, and vocal, and they think it’s a great thing that a productive man who has never once been accused of fomenting any discrimination in the workplace was the target of an attack aimed at destroying his livelihood.

This time, it was the non-governmental Leftist collective that acted, but you know they were thinking how much better it would be if they could just outlaw opposing thought. Why convince someone that your position has merit when you can more easily destroy them, which has the useful feature of sending a strong message to any other heretics out there?

And guess who is next?  Us Christians.  Heck, we are under attack already.

Some may think “turning the other cheek” is the operative scripture in this situation.  But, particularly since it is not just us Christians under attack, I think it is Proverbs 25:26 (ESV):

Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain

is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.

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