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Ultimate Matters

At Christmas: the littleness of God

Enough dwelling on the anger of Islam: time to remember that, while Muslims fear their Allah because he is ‘great’, Christians love their Lord because he is little.

Time to think again of the central proposition at the heart of our history and civilisation and hope: that ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us… full of grace and truth’. That the Mind of God, the act of absolute Being, ‘that beyond which nothing greater can be thought’, revealed his face and heart in the baby of a faithful Jewish girl, born under the rule of Caesar Augustus the ‘god-man’. And a baby born to die, for reasons beyond our ken, as ‘the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’. Enough in that notion of the incarnate and dying God to forge a new civilisation, and to re-create a weary one.

Blasphemy and Mrs Bibi

Mrs BibiSydney-Muslim-behead-all-those
This poor Christian mother of five is still being tormented by Pakistan’s evil laws against ‘blaspheming Islam’, which regrettably are a core tenet of sharia law. Remember the Sydney placards, “Behead all those who insult the Prophet”? Remember Salman Rushdie, Theo van Gogh, the Danish cartoonist or Ayaan Hirsi Ali?

See my earlier posts from 2010, after two Muslim women accused her, unwitnessed down at the village well, of ‘insulting the Prophet Mohammed’. Recall the catastrophic consequences for honourable Pakistani leaders who dared defend her and challenge the religious mob on this wicked law: Tyranny Ancient & Modern

ANZAC: ‘Known unto God’ therefore loathed by the Left

ANZACANZAC day pushes all my buttons. I get to sing the New Zealand national anthem, mine from school days (“God of nations, at thy feet, in the bonds of love we meet…”), the British anthem, mine by ancestry and heritage (“God save our gracious Queen…”) – on the first ANZAC day in 44 years that a British royal and his most gracious wife and bouncing bairn were with us – and our own anthem (“Beneath our radiant Southern Cross…”). I feel the bond of gratitude across generations to my grandfather’s, himself just too young to join the resistance against the German menace, and there is no better public sentiment than grateful admiration.

World Vision flirts with paganism

World Vision imagePoor stupid World Vision. Having offered incense at the shrine of the Spirit of the Age, giving the tick to homosexual “marriage” amongst its employees (while, inexplicably, still rejecting cohabiting heterosexual couples) it now bows to pressure from the Mammon of market forces and reverses its decision. When the AOG churches and others threaten to withdraw support, WV has a sudden fit of orthodoxy. I was on the verge of cancelling twenty years of support for the great work of WV – my tolerance already pushed to the brink by CEO Tim Costello’s embrace of every leftist fashion from climate salvation to Gonski redemption – but will now reconsider. We don’t expect parachurch organisations to be sinless, but it is unforgivable where they are spineless.

Thanks for the life of CS Lewis, who died on 22nd November 1963

 

Lewis - if true

Today is fifty years since CS Lewis died.

Like Mother Theresa slipping quietly away under cover of Lady Di’s death, so Lewis was little noticed on the day of JFK’s assassination. I was 13 months old at the time, and I am privately grateful to have trodden the earth while he was on it, even if my first shaky step was about the time of Lewis’s last shaky step.

Lewis smoking

Hitchens v Hitchens: trivial atheist scorn

Further to my post on Peter Hitchens on Q&A: I did some You Tubing and found this remarkable debate between the two brothers, Christopher the atheist and Peter the former-Marxist-now-Christian. The debate is in two parts; the first, on the Iraq war, is a little dated – although I think I was won over by Christopher Hitchens on this one (as I have been by other of his political arguments over the years). The second part is on ‘Does God exist?’ and it starts at 32 minutes:

Peter Hitchens v the ferals on Q&A: a masterclass in disdain

For those who missed Peter Hitchens on Q&A last week, here he is in all his curmudgeonly magnificence, amidst the regulation four lefties.

Note his prescient comments in 2011:

“People like me – though still allowed to speak – are allowed on to mainstream national broadcasting only under strict conditions: that we are ‘balanced’ by at least three other people who disagree with us so that our views, actually held by millions, are made to look like an eccentric minority opinion.”

Impressions of that show? These were some, and my tweets in response:

Rabbi Sachs inspiring: on being “creative minorities” in our dying civilisation

First Things Erasmus Lecture “On Creative Minorities” by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks from First Things on Vimeo.

This is why we need “public intellectuals” – so they can gather the insights of 2700 years and condense them into a message that is both enlightening and encouraging. From the culture-forming insights of the prophet Jeremiah to the culture-wrecking barbarity both within and without the walls of the West, Britain’s Chief Rabbi of the last twenty years shows how the Covenant that has sustained both Jews and Christians can still sustain us, and with us as a “creative minority”, there is still hope for our grandchildren’s world.

‘A broken and contrite heart’ – Allegri’s masterpiece for Lent

Psalm 51, 3000 years ago: David’s shame and pleading for reconciliation after his condemnation by the prophet Nathan. This unexpectedly great king, this shepherd boy summoned from obscurity by God as a “man after My own heart”, now covered in the filth of his adultery with Bathsheeba and his complicity in the death of her husband. Larger than ordinary life, but applicable to the mix of faithfulness and filth found in most lives, and therefore a timeless prayer.

Nobel laureate on culture’s dependence on family & faith

It might have been Pascal who said that one of the most pitiable things about us humans is that we spend so much time seeking for things that we know cannot satisfy. He also wrote of endless trivial divertissement (“diversion”) as the curse of his day, inimical to a reflective life – and that was a few centuries before Twitter. Even around 1940, before we even had TV or computers let alone Facebook on our phones, CS Lewis was diagnosing the great ailment of his day as being the lack of solitude, which leads to a lack of meditation and therefore of true friendship.

School-leavers: what about a liberal arts education at Campion?

Hear Dr Ryan Messmore on this unique education in ‘the best that has ever been thought or said’ at Sydney’s Campion College. My eldest son has completed a year and is seriously impressed with the course, and with the community, at this small Liberal Arts college.

Something beautiful enough for Christmas: ‘O Magnum Mysterium’

If the role of sacred music is “sursum corda”, to lift up our hearts, then the US composer Lauridsen is a good and faithful servant. I gave you the excerpt last Christmas from his “O Nata Lux”, and I have had to wait a year to share this even more touching setting of the ancient “O Magnum Mysterium”. Everybody has had a go at setting this one – Byrd, Palestrina, Victoria et al – but none can hold a candle to this contemporary composer, at least on this occasion.

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