Authorities Assault A Child–Statism At Work

PETITION TO NORWAY’S EMBASSIES IN EUROPE

Homeschooled Boy Kidnapped by Police in Norway

By Home School Legal Defense Association

What should have been a happy homecoming to Norway for Leif and Terese Kristiansen turned into a parent’s worst nightmare when the Barnevernet (Norway’s child welfare agency) brutally removed their son, Kai, after they started homeschooling.

The family had been living in Canada, where Terese and Kai are citizens. They returned recently to Norway in search of new opportunities. But at the local public school, 12-year-old Kai became the victim of merciless bullying. School officials did not resolve the situation.

To protect Kai from further trauma, his parents did the responsible and loving thing: they removed him from the public school and immediately began to homeschool him. By choosing to homeschool their son, the Kristiansens did what the state or public school would not do . . . keep Kai safe and provide him with a healthy learning environment.

As if being the victim of school bullying wasn’t enough, on Thursday, February 9, 12-year-old Kai was hunted down and then tackled in the snow by Barnevernet agents and police.  You can watch an edited version of the video here (WARNING—the video contains violence against a child and may be extremely upsetting.)

In a Facebook video of the incident that has already been watched over 600,000 times, Kai’s mother, Terese, looks on in terror, screaming for help as Kai is chased by the police and the Barnevernet. “My son is being stolen by Barnevernet in Norway because we want to homeschool!” Terese shouted as helpless friends and neighbors watched. 

Kai can be heard screaming “No!” over and over as the police and a Barnevernet investigator attempt to subdue him and take him into custody pursuant to an order from the local authorities.

The 12-year-old was ordered into state custody because his family chose to homeschool.  This incident adds to the troublesome track record of the Barnevernet.

According to Ray Skorstad, a legal administrator and founder of Barnets Beste, an organization that assists parents who have had their children taken into custody by the Barnevernet, the seizure of Kai was a “brutal invasion of the family without sufficient justification.” Skorstad added that “the primary reason for taking the child was that he was not in school.”

HSLDA Director of Global Outreach Michael Donnelly spoke with Kai’s mother, Terese. “We had hoped that we would be welcomed in our own home country,” she told him. “But I am living a nightmare; I can’t believe what they did to my son.”

Donnelly has previously seen the overreach of the Barnevernet through his work on behalf of the Bodinarius family, whose children were taken because Norwegian authorities said they disagreed with the Christian values of the parents.  Donnelly said that it’s especially important for the homeschool community to support families in cases such as these.

“An attack like this is an attack on homeschooling,” he said. “Parents are the ones who have the right to decide how their children are educated and what is best for them. Parents do not have to give a reason for homeschooling, but the Kristiansens were well-justified in taking their son out of school in order to keep him from being bullied.”

“Homeschooling is no justification to take a child by force,” he added. “This action was a gross violation of Kai’s human rights and his parents’ rights. We are calling on Norwegian officials to immediately return Kai to his parents. We will do whatever we can to see justice done for Kai.”

“As of right now, the family has been permitted only one weekly supervised two-hour visit with Kai. Although a court hearing is scheduled for February 15, it would be a miracle if the authorities were to immediately release Kai. Let’s pray that happens,” he concluded.

Skorstad said that the family’s decision to remove their son from school is what drove the state to act. “The authorities wrote that the boy needs to be in school for socialization purposes.”  [Emphasis, ours.]  Barnevernet officials had said the family were “avoiding them,” and when the parents decided to homeschool Kai, they took custody.  The family’s Oslo-based lawyer, Trond Olsen Næss, has denied Barnevernet’s allegation, saying that the family had been in contact with the authorities, but that the agency had moved too fast.

We are asking concerned people and homeschooling families all over the world to sign the petition and to contact the Norwegian Embassy in their country to demand justice for Kai and to acknowledge that homeschooling is not a legitimate reason to forcibly remove a child from a family.

Through our Homeschool Freedom Fund, HSLDA will be standing with the Kristiansen family, providing support and counsel. We are committed to following this case even to the European Court of Human rights if necessary.

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Daily Meditation

A Diligent Pupil Of Contentment

I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.  Philippians 4:11

Charles H. Spurgeon

These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. “Ill weeds grow apace.” Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth: and so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education.  But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care.

Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us. Paul says, “I have learned … to be content;” as much as to say, he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth.

No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” he was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave–a poor prisoner shut up in Nero’s dungeon at Rome. We might well be willing to endure Paul’s infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him, if we too might by any means attain unto his good degree.

Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented without learning, or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that murmur, natural though it be, and continue a diligent pupil in the College of Content.
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What is Money For?

The Beat of A Very Different Drummer

Given the relative wealth that washes around in New Zealand, and in the West generally, a question is begged that is seldom addressed.  What on earth is money for? 

The answer our pagan culture most often advances is that wealth is for self: self satisfaction, pleasure, self-aggrandizement, self-indulgence, living “the good life”, and so forth.  The Puritans had a different answer: they believed, taught, and lived the doctrine that money is a social good, not a private possession. 

It is granted immediately that the doctrine of money being a social good is also widely believed in secular society today.  Money is to be taxed–as highly as the electorate will permit–to be dispersed by the State for whatever good the State determines.  Those who espouse this doctrine of money, however, tend to cover over its implications.  These include a belief that the real owner of all property is the State; that the role of citizens is to produce money, wealth and property to fuel the State’s demands; and that the function of private citizens and corporations is akin to serfs or slaves. 

It is at this point we are confronted with the great divide between modern secular culture, on the one hand, and Puritan (or Christian) culture, on the other.  The Puritan ethic called for believing men and women to work hard, live modestly, and use their excess earnings for their neighbours’ good and the good of society as a whole.  The present secular ethic is a perversion of this doctrine.  Modern secular society is confronted by the State’s overtaking personal and private stewardship with taxes, imposts, rules, and regulations. 

The flip-side of this Statist aggression is for the citizen to avoid paying taxes whenever and wherever possible and use the squirrelled funds to spend upon themselves and their appetites.  After all, why should citizens be concerned about the welfare of their neighbours and community, when the State has taken over that responsibility?  At this point the modern State and the citizens resemble more the kleptocracy of the Roman Empire than the ethics and practices of the Christian faith.

William Perkins was one of the greatest Puritan theologians.  Here is his summary of how Christians ought to use their property, wealth, and income:

We must so use and possess the goods we have, that the use and possession of them may tend to God’s glory, and the salvation of our souls. . . . Our riches must be employed to necessary uses. These are first, the maintenance of our own good estate and condition.  Secondly, the good of others, specially those that are of our family or kindred. . . . Thirdly, the relief of the poor. . . . Fourthly, the maintenance of the Church of God and true religion. . . . Fifth, the maintenance of the Commonwealth.  [Cited by Leland Ryken, Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were (Zondervan/Academie Books, 1986),  p.67.]

This sort of thinking came straight out of the Continental Reformation.  Calvin wrote fifty years earlier:

If we acquire possessions in gold and silver, it is our duty . . . to do good to our neighbours.   

And elsewhere:

All the rich, when they have property with which they can be of service to others, are here . . . to assist their neighbors. . . .  Those to whom God has given much grain and wine are to offer part of these goods to those who are in need of the same.  [Ryken, ibid.]

The money-ethic of so many in our materialist society has been summarized by a cynic:  money is a race and competition to:

Get all you can;
Can all you get; and,
Poison the rest.

This is the natural default position of the average secularist living in a society where the acquisitive State extracts citizens’ wealth by force in an attempt to achieve social and economic “justice”, or, more accurately, egalitarianism.  If the State is “taking care” of the poor and needy, why should we, the citizens, take any responsibility?

But Christians march to the beat of a different Drummer.  They know that they must give an account to God for all that God has given them.  They rejoice in that duty and responsibility. It is an honour.

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Letter From America (About "Christian" Capitulation)

How Religious Liberty Dies

David French
National Review Online

So, this is what passes for national news:

First-grade teacher Jocelyn Morffi lost her job at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School a day after she returned from her Florida Keys wedding.

A female teacher at a Catholic school married a woman and got fired. Why should anyone be surprised that a Catholic school follows Catholic teachings?

The answer’s obvious, of course. National news organizations are populated with people who loathe orthodox Christian teaching on sexual orientation and identity, and stories like this are simply advocacy disguised as reporting. They know news articles ratchet up pressure. They know members of the community respond to negative coverage.

And, sure enough, in the middle of the AP article linked above is this depressing detail:

Several parents say they were surprised and upset at Morffi’s firing, which they learned of in a letter from the school Thursday evening. About 20 parents went to the school Friday morning to demand an explanation.

Over the long term, this is the real threat to religious freedom.
It’s not, ultimately, the government. It’s the combination of media and cultural pressure — of external and internal anger — that slowly but surely bends church institutions to its will. Talk to thoughtful pastors and religious leaders, even in ruby-red communities, and they’ll concur.

The media pressure is familiar. Reporters who gravitate to sex and identity beats are often activists in disguise, and the stories that interest them are the confrontations between tradition and sexual liberation. They admire lesbian Catholics. They’re drawn to the narrative of the reformer facing the entrenched hierarchy. They see themselves as “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.”

Once the media pressure sets in, the next reality emerges. American churches and religious institutions are often laden with members who don’t truly share doctrinal beliefs. This is a particular problem in religious schools. They appreciate the good SAT scores, the safe environment, and the kind teachers. They love the service opportunities, the sense of community, and the small class sizes. They’re willing to tolerate chapel and Bible classes if it means a better childhood for their kids.

Until, that is, the going gets the least bit tough. Then, in spite of the fact that the school’s religious identity has been open and obvious from day one, they’ll claim to be shocked at the alleged intolerance.

Suddenly, the school can face a threat to its very identity without a single government official lifting a finger. Most religious schools operate on small margins, so the loss of even a few families can plunge them into a financial crisis. Capitulate to the angry parents and the traditionalist families may leave. Stand firm in the face of media pressure and the progressive families may start to bail. It takes moral courage and deft diplomacy to emerge intact.

There is a persistent belief among church-goers that a person should be able to get all the benefits of Christian community without any of the doctrines that make religion unpalatable to modern moral fashion. That’s in essence the mission statement of Mainline Protestantism.

And it simply doesn’t work. The Christian community and Christian service that people love are ultimately inseparable from the entirety of the Christian faith that spawned them. Carve out the doctrines that conflict with modern morals and you gut the faith. When you gut the faith, you ultimately gut the church.

It makes sense then that mainline denominations aren’t thriving. They’re dying. Without the eternal truths of the Christian faith, the church becomes just another social club. Why sacrifice your time and money for the same wisdom you can hear at your leisure on National Public Radio?

Here’s the interesting thing: Some of the casual Christians who’ve fled the unsatisfying Mainline are joining more traditionalist churches and schools without changing their beliefs. They don’t become more theologically orthodox, they just crave the benefits of the more orthodox communities. Once in their new religious home, they exert the same kind of pressure for cultural conformity that helped kill the churches they fled. It’s the religious analog of the well-known phenomenon of blue-state Americans leaving their high-tax, heavily-regulated states for red America and promptly working to make it more like the place they left.

Legal victories preserving our fundamental freedoms are ultimately meaningless if cultural pressures create a dreary intellectual conformity. You can win all the Supreme Court cases you want, but if the faithful don’t maintain the moral courage and strength of conviction to tack into the cultural headwinds, it will all be for naught.

I don’t know what will happen at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School. The Catholic Church won’t change its teaching in the face of this controversy, of course, and some institutions do in fact emerge from such tests stronger and more vital. But others fail. Others compromise. And with each compromise, the forces of conformity win, religious “freedom” is further circumscribed, and we learn once again that politics is far downstream from culture.

— David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.

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Daily Meditation

Stories Make the Real More So

C. S. Lewis

The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by “the veil of familiarity”. The child enjoys his gold meat (otherwise dull to him) by pretending it is buffalo, just killed with his own bow and arrow. And the child is wise. The real meat comes back to him more savoury for having been dipped in a story; you might say that only then is it the real meat. If you are tired of the real landscape, look at it in a mirror. By putting bread, gold, horse, apple, or the very roads into a myth, we do not retreat from reality: we rediscover it. As long as the story lingers in our mind, the real things are more themselves.

From On StoriesOn Stories: And Other Essays on Literature. Copyright © 1982, 1966 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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When I read the passage we are looking at today I couldn’t help but remember times that God had spoken into my life through prophetic ministry.

One time in particular came to mind.

I was over on great barrier Island with a group of friends, we’d gone over to camp and tramp and fish and dive. A friend from church was working as a cook at Orama Christian community on the island and had asked us to bring his suite case over with us and drop it off. So we used it to store food in for the first few days we were camping and then two of us tramped over the island to give it to him.

We arrived in the middle of the Orama Christian conference and got invited into one of their meetings by our friend. The guy who was speaking was Des Short, the principle of Faith bible college. When he finished his message he looked straight at me pointed with his figure and in a loud voice said “You”.

Now I thought he was upset that we were there and was going to have us thrown out. You see while my fashion forward style could be described as aging vagrant or transient sage, back then I was a bit wilder.   I used to have long hair and a full beard, and this was the only time in my life when I had dreadlocks. I should say the only time I had a dreadlock. We’d been tenting with no fresh water for showers and swimming and snorkling everyday for hours, So my hair was matted into one salt encrusted dread lock, over to one side of my head.  We’d just spent two hours tramping over the Hills from Port Fitzroy. The track was a firebreak and went straight up the hill and then straight down the other side, so we were all sweaty. I’d borrowed my mate Tim’s jacket, to try and look descent, but I ended up looking even worse, the problem was Tim was shorter and smaller than I was and I ripped the sleeves and back out of  it, and the man at the front said “you… you Young man” and my heart fell.

Then he said that he believed that God had called me to be a pillar in the church and that I would make a mark for Christ. Which freaked me out a bit more than if we’d been thrown out for being too scruffy. God was speaking into my life… it was part of a call to ministry.

There are times when I think I’m not really cut out for ministry, like you probably do as well, that the spirit reminds me of that time. When I find myself trying to cope with pressure and stress I’ve sensed the Spirit say well pillars are supposed to be load bearing. It has been helpful as I have found myself in times of struggle to keep on fighting the good fight… to battle on.

In the passage we had read to us today Paul tells Timothy that he has given him his command and to remember the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected so have suffered shipwreck with regards to the faith. The passage rounds off the opening section of Paul’s letter and completes Paul’s charge to Timothy to oppose false teachers and advance God’s work by faith which result in love. We are going to look at the passage and then look at what it can say to us about avoiding being shipwrecked as we battle on in the faith as well.

Firstly Paul addresses Timothy as his son, as he had in verse 2 and this not only denotes a warm and strong relationship between the two but also that Paul sees Timothy as being his natural successor and representative in this situation. Paul is throwing the full weight of his apostleship behind Timothy. It’s kind of like with the royal family at the moment; the younger royals are stepping up and taking some of the work off the queen and in particular the duke of Edinburgh as he has retired. Like Remembrance Day last year. When they speak they speak with the Queens authority, she as prince William says ‘She is the boss’.

By inviting Timothy to remember the prophecies spoken about him Paul is saying don’t just take my word for it, he is asking him to remember how God has called him to ministry, so he will keep going when things get tough. But he is also asking him to remember that his authority and ministry is affirmed by the Holy Spirit and by the wider church. In the New Testament there are not many examples of people receiving such a call. You could think of Jesus baptism, or Paul’s own conversion, the disciples being called by Jesus to follow him. The best example of this would be in Acts 13 where the elders, teachers and prophets at Antioch call Paul and Banabas and set them aside for the work God had for them, and they set out on their missionary trips, one result of which is the planting of the Church in Ephesus. Timothy’s mission is not just a good Plan of Paul’s but part of the good God’s plans for Timothy.

Having given Timothy, the charge to fight the good fight, Paul then turns to how he is to fight, he is to hold on to faith and the good conscience. Ephesus was a major trade city it had been fought over and passed from empire to empire and would have been used to seeing troop garrisoned there. So Paul uses military metaphors. In his letter to the church at Ephesus Paul had told his readers to put on the whole armour of God and here amidst the military language of command and charge and fight, Paul mentions two of those things, faith, which in Ephesians Paul says is like a shield and good conscience which could be likened to the breastplate of righteousness. They are not offensive weapons rather they are defensive things, they are designed to hold ground and repel attacks. It is our faith in God and how that works out in how we act and react that is the best way of refuting false teaching and provide a defence of th hope we have in Christ.   

Faith speaks of that invisible relationship with God, that Paul had just finished saying was based on the grace of God, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Good conscience is the way that that relationship with God gives us a moral compass for decision making. It is how we live out that faith we have with God. James puts it like this faith without works is dead. In John’s first epistle he puts it like this ‘everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Who ever does not love does not know God, because God is Love.” As the conclusion to his sermon on the mount Jesus had said those who love him are the ones who hear his word and obey them, put it into action. We are saved by grace by Christ’s death and resurrection, and as we receive that love its transforms us to that we act and react out of that love and grace to the world around us.

Paul then contrasts Timothy’s holding on to faith and a good conscience with the false teachers who have veered off course and have ended up being shipwrecked. It might seem as if Paul is mixing metaphors here saying Paul needs to be a good solider, a metaphor he uses in his second letter, and a good sailor, as well as having a large military garrison Ephesus was also a major port and people would have been used a regular occurrence for some ships to leave port and be shipwrecked. Paul himself knew what it was like to be shipwrecked. Paul says the reason they have had this happen to them is they have rejected faith and good conscience, in the Greek the word reject is singular, so may apply simply to the good conscience, what Paul told of us the false teachers is that they were getting caught up in controversial speculation in myths and genealogies and were misusing the law and there is a sense here that they had disconnected faith from good conscience. They did not have that moral compass and so were lead off track and up onto the rocks or out into Adriatic and Mediterranean storms and founded in the changing winds of temptation and shifting ethical standards.

Paul finishes this section by refering to two specific people, who we are to assume were false teachers. Hymenaeus, who we only have mentioned here and in 2 Timothy and Alexander who may or may not be the Alexander we meet in Ephesus in Acts, A Jew who tries and tell the crowd what is wrong with Paul and his Christian faith, in second Timothy, Alexander the silver smith is mentioned as someone who Paul says he has suffered much at his hands. Alexander was a common name amongst Jews in Greek society.   But Paul says he has handed them over to Satan to learn not to blaspheme. Hand them over to Satan is a way of saying that they have been removed from fellowship, they are outside the protection of the church. However this is not a punishment rather it is in the hope that they will learn. Perhaps part of Timothy’s charge is to teach them and discuss with them the gospel in the hope of them changing their minds. Paul had called himself a blasphemer out of ignorance he had spoken against Jesus Christ and the sense here is that these two know about Christ but have chosen to speak carelessly about God.  We tend to link blaspheme simply with using Jesus name as a swear word, but here Paul sees it as much more its speaking falsely about the nature and grace of God.

How does this apply to us, how can Paul’s charge to Timothy help us avoid a shipwreck of faith?

Firstly, we are all in a battle, we all have a fight to fight…following Christ puts us at odds with the world in which we live. It calls us to swim against the tide and sail a different course, our sails unfurled for the wind of the Holy Spirit. You could liken the church to a lifeboat called by Christ to battle the storm to rescue and save people. We need the same encouragement and help that Paul was offering Timothy. 

I don’t mean everyone has to have those experiences of a prophetic call to a specific ministry like Timothy did to look back to and remember and be encouraged by. They are not common in the scriptures or today. While I have found those times encouraging and a reminder of God’s call, If I was to depend on those two or three times that God has spoken into my life they would be rather thin threads to help me hold onto the faith and good conscience, they would be distant and dispersed fix points, almost impossible  to use to navigate through the shallows and rocks of life.  Nor does it mean that you can sit back and say see Howard I knew all this talk about Christian leadership wasn’t for me… “I haven’t had that same experience as Timothy or you.

The best definitions of prophecy is the Holy Spirit taking the timeless word of God and making it timely, applying to the here and now.  We are all able to experience and know that in our lives. It is as we focus on God’s word on a regular daily basis that our faith and our good consciences are encouraged and strengthened. As we read it devotionally and as we study it and wrestle to understand and apply it to life, that it is able to point us to our true north in Jesus Christ. Using like Paul does a military image… During desert storm fighting vehicles were unloaded out of planes and off ships and the first thing they would do was stop in a painted square on the runway or port they arrived at. It was a square whose positioning was exactly known so they could recalibrate their GPS systems which enabled them to manoeuvre cross country in the trackless desert and achieve their mission. That is the same as the word of God is for us. It points us to the true north of Jesus Christ.

And…The reality is that scripture says we are called by God, God has spoken and called us to be witnesses to Jesus Christ, as we go in this world. We are called to be God’s people, a royal priesthood as it says in 1 Peter called forth to declare the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light, we are all called to love one another as Christ has loved us. The Holy Spirit gives each one of us gifts that we are to use for the common good.

In the midst of the wrestling with the things that would try and take us away from Christ and shipwreck our faith we are able to remember that prophetic word of God… I’m reminded of Jesus in the desert facing temptation he was able to navigate his way through that by focusing on God’s timeless word made timely to the situation, which came to him as a devote Jewish man from a life of studying the scriptures, and the presence of the same Holy spirit that is poured out on you and I. He remembered it as a rock not on which he would be shipwrecked but on which he could stand, a rock to anchor him in the storms and battles of life.


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Thatcher’s "Place" in English History

An Early Assessment

We well remember the outpouring of disgust and incandescent hatred, yet also sadness, respect, and public honour that accompanied the death of Margaret Thatcher.  It seemed that her passing was significant to so many for the exact opposite reasons.

We recall that a local radio station played Maggie, the lament by Foster and Allen, to mark her death.

But what was her significance, really?  It’s probably still too early for historians to write a balanced perspective that captures the genuinely historic aspects of her Prime Ministership.  Robert Tombs, at the end of his magisterial volume, The English and Their History makes an attempt.

We think our readers will appreciate his “take” on a most remarkable leader, seen in the light of England’s longer, wider, deeper past.

Margaret Thatcher was the most admired and most hated–indeed, the only deeply admired and genuinely hated–Prime Minister since 1940.  . . . Her progress from Grantham corner shop to Downing Street became literally a legend in her own lifetime, with Hollywood gloss.  The conflicting versions–the dauntless Boadicea who conquered national decline versus the malignant harpy who shattered the working class–magnify her personal importance.  They have remoulded modern political identifies into Thatcherite and anti-Thatcherite–a personalization of political ideas not seen since Sir Robert Peel. . . . [Robert Tombs, The English and Their History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), p. 817.]

For living memory at least, she will be identified with the great “turnaround” in Britain.  In the seventies, Britain was seen as a has-been power, a crumbling nation, whose glories were former, not current, and certainly not to be its future.  During Thatcher’s prime ministership all that changed.  “Britain was back”, as they say.  Naturally, such a radical national volte-face was not achieved single-handedly.  Historical causation is always a complex and at times a very messy business.  Notwithstanding that, however, Thatcher was in the middle of it all, and cannot be causally disassociated from it.

She is still the only woman who has risen from nowhere–not as the member of a political dynasty–to make a comparable political impact on any large state.  The only European comparison more than three decades later is Angela Merkel, a political insider, not the conqueror of a sceptical party in which snobbery and sexism were standard (some of its staff used the acronym TBW–“that bloody woman.”) . . . .

She was continually in conflict with ministerial colleagues, especially at times of crisis: . . . Her personality aggravated the problem: in the words of one friend and admirer, “judged by the ordinary criteria of man-management, or of efficiency, or even those of Christian charity, she was often at fault,” hectoring and humiliating.  More fundamental, and part of the explanation for her relentless combativeness, was the fact that she was usually isolated in the highest reaches of politics and officialdom, not expected to survive long, and at first not taken seriously.  [Ibid., p.818]

Britain, of course, has seen its share of strong female leaders.  The two Elizabeths (I & II) are clear examples, not to overlook Victoria in her earlier years.  But Thatcher was an outsider, not part of the Establishment.

More than any Prime Minister since Gladstone (not the only resemblance), she relied on supporters outside Westminster and Whitehall.  To many on the left, especially feminists, her personality and her sex added to their loathing–how dare the pioneer woman be a hardline Tory reeking of suburbia!  Moreover, she “shredded” the Labour Party ideologically–the unkindest cut of all.  Ever since, to the despair of many of its activists, the British left has been politically and intellectually on the defensive.  [Ibid., p.818]

Ah, yes, we still chuckle over the time when Thatcher was facing down the Soviet Union and was expressing a strong positive commitment to Britain’s retention and expansion of its nuclear arsenal.  We happened to overhear a conversation between two hip female lefties browsing in the Auckland University Bookshop.  They were aghast that Thatcher was not taking the feminist position on banning the bomb.  How dare she betray the “woman’s position” on nuclear weapons.  The arrogance and the ignorance on display that afternoon gave us a measure of hope for the future.  As Mao would have put it, those ladies were paper tigers, with the intellectual weight and incoherence of the easily led and manipulated.

In summary,

. . . . Nigel Lawson, a Chancellor of the Exchequer and core Thatcherite who finally turned against her, summarized Thatcherism retrospectively as “a mixture of free markets, financial discipline, firm control over public expenditure, tax cuts, nationalism, ‘Victorian values’ . . . privatization and a dash of populism.  But we should beware  of attributing too much ideological coherence to the policies of one who combined basic principles with political pragmatism.  Thatcher’s long period in office was one of constant and testing crises, but not always the same ones: inflation, strikes, Ireland, the Cold War, the Falklands, Europe.  “Thatcherism” evolved as its circumstances changed.  [Ibid., p. 819.]

They say we are aged and grey, Maggie,
As sprays by the white breakers flung,
But to me you’re as fair as you were, Maggie,
When you and I were young.

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passing on the blessing

marmsky Feb (19)

devotional post # 2297

Numbers 10:29-36

Num 10:29 And Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which Yahveh said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will do good to you, because Yahveh has promised good to Israel.”
Num 10:30 But he said to him, “I will not go. I will depart to my own land and to my kindred.”
Num 10:31 And he said, “Please do not leave us, because you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us.
Num 10:32 And if you do go with us, whatever good Yahveh will do to us, the same will we do to you.”
Num 10:33 So they set out from the mount of Yahveh three days’ journey. And the ark of the covenant of Yahveh went before them three days’ journey, to seek out a resting place for them.
Num 10:34 And the cloud of Yahveh was over them by day, whenever they set out from the camp.
Num 10:35 And whenever the ark set out, Moses said, “Arise, O Yahveh, and let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you run away before you.”
Num 10:36 And when it rested, he said, “Return, O Yahveh, to the ten thousand thousands of Israel.”

passing on the blessing

How did Moses know that Hobab would experience blessing just by accompanying the Israelites on their journey? For that matter, how could he be confident that the Israelites would receive good from the LORD, to pass on to Hobab’s family?

God had made a commitment to their ancestor — a man he named Abraham. If Abraham obeyed God and went where he told him to go, he would be blessed. He was responsible to pass on that blessing to the nations he passed through.

LORD, make us a blessing to the nations where you send us.

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Hard to Believe

Rotting Corruption In the Body Politic
It turns out that President Obama was probably far more dangerous as President of the United States than we have hitherto thought.  It would seem that he and his immediate coterie actually believed that President Elect Trump was a Russian mole who had been working for Putin for years.  

It is one thing for corrupt politicians to start a smear campaign against an opponent built upon lies.  We may regard such troglodyte behaviour with scorn.  We may think that in the long run it damages the body politic.  We may wish to expose all such lying deceitfulness for the destructive, self-serving cant that it is.  But when we are confronted with someone who has held one of the highest offices in the land actually believing the smear to be true, all sorts of questions are begged about the intelligence, integrity, and maturity of that person.  We are left nodding once again to the biblical assertion: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  [Jeremiah 17:9]

Obama Viewed Trump ‘as a Traitor and a Russian Spy

Jeff Poor  of Breitbart News  provides a partial transcript of Tucker Carlson speaking during his Fox News opinion programme.

Tonight, we have more on the ongoing saga of the Trump dossier.

Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham have launched a probe into former National Security Advisor Susan Rice. In the very final minutes of the Obama administration, just afternoon on inauguration day 2017, Rice sent herself an email on the White House computer system.  In it, she described a meeting she had attended just two weeks before on January 5. At that meeting were President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, FBI Director Jim Comey, Deputy AG Sally Yates and Susan Rice herself.

According to Rice in this email, Obama instructed the officials in the room to consider withholding national intelligence from the incoming Trump administration in case they were compromised by Russia.  In other words, almost two months after the presidential election, Barack Obama viewed Trump not as his democratically elected successor, but as a traitor and a Russian spy.  Obama viewed himself as someone who somehow had the right to withhold government documents from an elected president. That’s not the behavior of someone who believes in democracy.

And yet, that meeting set the tone for that year and all subsequent arguments since. Democrats have treated Trump and his election as illegitimate ever since then. And at the heart of their case against Trump and this administration is the Steele dossier.  To this day, the dossier is the only publicly available document that details alleged collusion with Russia. Now, of course, we have talked a lot about the dossier on this program. But relatively little about what is in it.

What does the dossier actually claim? Is any of it true? After more than a year of probing by politicians and intelligence agencies and journalists, here’s the sum total of what we actually know about the document that started all of this.

We know the dossier was compiled by Christopher Steele, acting as a contractor of Fusion GPS with funds supplied by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC.  The dossier was a form of opposition research designed to be used against Trump in the presidential campaign. It was not an intelligence document. It was oppo.

The dossier claims that Russian authorities didn’t simply collude with Trump during a 2016 election, the charge you hear a lot about, it also claims that Russian intelligence cultivated Donald Trump as a kind of asset, a kind of one-man sleeper cell for more than five years. Needless to say, there’s no evidence of that.

The dossier also claims the Kremlin fed the Trump team intel reports on Hillary Clinton and other political opponents for years. There’s no proof of that either.

It claims Trump was favored by Moscow with lucrative Russian real estate deals as part of his cultivation as a political asset. That’s a sleeper cell. No proof there either.

According to the dossier, Trump and Russia were exchanging intelligence with each other for at least eight years. No proof of that.

The dossier goes on to describe a clandestine meeting in Prague between Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and representatives supposedly that took place in August of 2016. This is one of the very few claims in the dossier that has been conclusively checked and it’s false. Cohen wasn’t even outside the US at the time the meeting supposedly took place.

In sum, the Steele dossier is absurd. The closer you read it, the more absurd it is. Take 10 minutes to do so yourself. It’s online. And as you read it, ask yourself who would believe something like this? It’s so transparently partisan and unlikely and stupid and flimsy, it reads like a parody of a badly written spy novel.

At the same time, he was firing people on “The Apprentice”, Donald Trump was working with Vladimir Putin to subvert America? It’s hard even to say that with a straight face. It’s that stupid.  And yet, keep in mind and never forget, this is the document the FBI used to justify spying on American citizens. These are the claims that Democrats in Congress repeatedly cited as the reason to stop the normal functioning of government in order to investigate the administration.

This is the famous dossier that even today progressives in the media are spending millions in an attempt to corroborate. And it’s all a stupid joke. Amazingly, a lot of people in power fell for it.

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Daily Meditation

When Obedience Feels Impossible

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. (Hebrews 11:17)

John Piper

For many of you right now — and for others of you the time is coming — obedience feels like the end of a dream. You feel that if you do what the word of God or the Spirit of God is calling you to do, it will make you miserable and that there is no way that God could turn it all for good.

Perhaps the command or call of God you hear just now is to stay married or stay single, to stay in that job or leave that job, to get baptized, to speak up at work about Christ, to refuse to compromise your standards of honesty, to confront a person in sin, to venture a new vocation, to be a missionary. And as you see it in your limited mind, the prospect of doing this is terrible — it’s like the loss of Isaac.

You have considered every human angle, and it is impossible that it could turn out well.

Now you know what it was like for Abraham. This story is in the Bible for you.

Do you desire God and his way and his promises more than anything; and do you believe that he can and will honor your faith and obedience by being unashamed to call himself your God, and to use all his wisdom and power and love to turn the path of obedience into the path of life and joy?

That is the crisis you face now: Do you desire him? Will you trust him? The word of God to you is: God is worthy and God is able.
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