The War Within

The Enduring Appeal of Creepy Christianity

The desire for certainty in an uncertain world yields terrible results.

By David French
National Review Online

Speaking broadly, there are two great, competing temptations that tug at the Christian Church. Both of them are based on the fear of man.

The first is the one that the theologically orthodox discuss and battle the most: the temptation to forsake Christian doctrine to seek the approval of a hostile culture. This is the old argument that the world would embrace the Church if only the Church were more like the world. It is embraced by much of Mainline Protestantism, and it’s the path to religious extinction. In the effort to appeal to the world, the Church becomes the world, and the logic for its distinct existence disappears. Thus the rapid decline of denomination after denomination that has decided to essentially merge with America’s secular culture.

The second temptation is one that attracts the theologically orthodox: the temptation to run toward a form of hyper-legalism as a firewall to protect your family from the sins of the world. Mothers and fathers are desperate for a way to guarantee that their children will grow up to love the Lord. They want to build high walls against sin, so they seek to create distinct communities that are free of the world’s filth and moral compromise.

This second temptation is pernicious. Theologically, it fundamentally denies a very uncomfortable scriptural truth: that this side of heaven we can’t eliminate uncertainty or temptation. We “see through a glass darkly.” We simply don’t have all the answers — for raising children, for sustaining a successful marriage, for thriving in our careers, or for responding to sickness and adversity.

The scriptural response to this fundamental uncertainty is unsatisfying to some. Faith, hope, and love are vague concepts. The Bible doesn’t have a clear, specific prescription for every life challenge. But rather than seeking God prayerfully and with deep humility and reverence, we want answers, now. And thus we gravitate to those people who purport to offer more than the Bible.

Read this book to discover how, by nursing, regulating their babies’ sleep patterns, and teaching their obedient young children how to silently express their desires through hand signals, you can help prepare them for happy, godly lives. Read that book to discover that if you control every aspect of your child’s education and dating lives, they’ll learn more, avoid sin, and launch into lifelong, happy marriages. Watch this sermon to discover the formula for health and wealth.

This is the world of Roy Moore, the world of conventions and meetings where religious speakers and leaders purport to unlock the secrets not just of the Bible but also of our history and Constitution. Just as pastor-champions and teacher-heroes can lead the people to righteousness, it implies, righteous politicians can restore the nation to greatness.

To be sure, millions of Christians attend these events, watch these pastors, or read these books and emerge relatively unscathed. They have the wisdom to take the good, leave the bad, and not trust any person so completely. Spend much time in Christian circles, however, and you see the families (and sometimes entire churches) that slip away. They start to feel a sense of holy superiority: Everyone else is compromising, everyone else is lukewarm, except them. Self-righteousness insulates them from accountability and self-reflection.

From books and sermons come movements, and movements turn into quasi-cults, almost always with a powerful man at the top. He can pack mega-churches (and sometimes arenas) with acolytes. His words are treated almost like scripture. Parents trust him. Dads model their lives after him. Children are taught to follow his teachings.

But here’s the problem: No matter how many legalistic rules you layer on top of scripture, these men are still men. Worse, they’re men living unbiblical lives. They’ve denied the reality of uncertainty, and they’ve consciously forsaken Solomon’s counsel in Ecclesiastes:

Do not be overrighteous,
neither be over wise —
why destroy yourself?
Do not be overwicked,
and do not be a fool —
why die before your time?
It is good to grasp the one
and not let go of the other.
Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.

Full of false pride and foolish arrogance, they push their flock to the edges of community life. They glory in their extremism, calling it “righteousness” and “holiness.” But for all their rules and all their self-proclaimed righteousness, these men are still susceptible to temptation. Women, especially young women, taught to trust and even revere them become targets for exploitation and abuse. A powerful Christian can have an almost Weinstein-like hold over the young women in his orbit. He starts to act entitled. He becomes an aggressor — then, a predator.

I’ve seen it happen so many times that by now I almost expect scandal when the popular, legalistic figure rides into town. My childhood church’s most charismatic pastor — an arrogant man who claimed to hit “home runs” when he preached from the pulpit — ran off with another man’s wife. Bill Gothard, a giant (for a time) in the Christian home-schooling movement — a person who created in essence a second set of scriptures to teach Christian families how to raise godly children — now faces dozens of claims of sexual misconduct from young women, including rape allegations. Doug Phillips, another powerful man in the home-schooling movement, resigned from his ministry after confessing to an inappropriate relationship with a nanny.

There are few predators worse than these powerful Christian men, the patriarchs of a creepy form of Christianity that isolates its followers from the world, often abuses women behind the closed doors and high walls of its extremist communities, and then places immense pressure on those women to remain silent. After all, if they speak up, it’s not just a man who falls but an entire way of life.

Christians — especially the most politically engaged Christians — have been so often mocked and attacked by a secular culture that despises not just the Church’s excesses but also the central messages of the Bible that we are reflexively defensive. When scandalous accusations come, we don’t want “our side” to look bad. We want Hollywood to be the home of the predators, and ours the home of the righteous. But there is no “our side.” There is only Christ’s side, and He taught us clearly that there will be good and evil within the Church. The ancient enemy attacks God’s people from without and from within. The good seed and the bad seed grow up together. There is no perfect community.

This is where faith has to trump politics. Defending predators in the Church — or going the extra mile to grant them the benefit of the doubt — for the sake of protecting a political advantage carries with it great costs. The church is already defined in the eyes of a hostile secular culture more by its quest for power than its faithfulness to scripture.

More importantly, this is where faith has to trump fear and uncertainty. We have to understand that there is no way around dependence on God. There is no formula for child-rearing. There is no foolproof guide to a happy marriage. No man can tell you how to secure your health or lead you to wealth. There is no community anyone can build that can protect its members from sin or temptation, and the utopian impulse itself can crack open the door to hell.

Roy Moore’s world is a world built on fear. It’s a world that glories in its extremes. It’s a world that’s destined for ruin, and before it goes down, it will consume and damage the most vulnerable among us — unless we end the cult of the Christian celebrity and the quest for certainty first.

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Daily Meditation

A Much More Profitable Service

Avoid foolish questions.  Titus 3:9

Charles H. Spurgeon

Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them.

Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle’s precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings.

There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus?

Such enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept and example, to “avoid foolish questions.”
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A Merciless and Unpredictable Tyrant

The Fragile Thinness of Civilization

English history–like most histories–is replete with tyrants and tyrannies.  Henry VIII was one of the worst.  We acknowledge that he was a creature of his times.  The administration of capital justice was so often based upon witnesses whose testimony, in turn, was based upon confessions extracted under torture.

Our times have seen plenty of this kind of evil malice.  Stalin, for example, wanted in some strange way to dress up his infamy and cruelty with show trials.  Testimonies extracted under torture, or the threat thereof, formed a large part of these trials.  Stalin knew all these confessions were garbage, but the formalities had to be adhered to.  Appearances needed to  be maintained.  Why Stalin persisted in such bizarre arrangements is hard to fathom.  Surely he could not have been trying to convince himself.  Was he trying to keep alive the myth of the New Model Man in the minds of the peasantry?

In Henry’s case one driver was the need for a legitimate (male) heir; he had a hard time finding the right queen who would produce the goods.  His second queen, Anne was eventually convicted of multiple adulteries and executed.  Was Anne an adulteress?  It seems not.  The testimony against her was probably extracted under torture.

Anne was accused of an adulterous relationship with a young musician, Mark Smeaton.

When Smeaton was arrested, he confessed to adultery with the queen–perhaps under torture (one account has Cromwell in person twisting a knotted rope around his head), perhaps after promises of mercy, perhaps even through some psychological fantasy.  This single confession was sufficient, though all the others protested their innocence.  Within three weeks, Anne, her brother, Norris, Smeaton and two other courtiers were tried, condemned and executed.  [Robert Tombs, The English and Their History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, p. 2015),  p.170]

Eleven days after Anne’s death, Henry had married Jane Seymour.  Tombs says that what this horror shows is the “perils of being close to a merciless and unpredictable tyrant.”

Thankfully, in the West, this kind of injustice is no longer seen (there are plenty of others).  Courts thankfully do not recognize the veracity of testimony extracted by torture.  However, there are signs that torture is making a comeback.  We all know what was waterboarding is about.  It has been strenuously defended by some in the West who believe that the end indeed justifies the means–and there is nothing so sacred and holy than the defence of the Republic, or the State.  Those who argue thusly are kissing cousins of a “merciless and unpredictable tyrant”.

Alas, we are not so far removed from the injustices and iniquities of Tudor England as we may like to think.  Or Stalin.  The matter is one of degree, not principle.  If we can murder unborn children without a care–even justify it as a fundamental human right–using torture to extract “evidence” cannot be ruled out, if the provocations were sufficiently pressing.  And so it has proved to be. 
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Called to bless

Japan 2017 (55)

I would like to begin with some reflections on the story of God’s call of Abram in Genesis 12:1-3.

Then Yahveh said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kin and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you an influential nation, and I will bless you and make your name important, and be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3 my translation).

I want to reflect on this text about Abram. I ask what his experience has in common with ours. This passage could accurately be called the first great commission. It can help us find our place in God’s plan for world missions.

  1. God called God set him apart from the family he came from, and the culture he was used to.
  • The New Testament tells us that the God of glory appeared to Abram in Mesopotamia (Acts 7:2). God called him away from the pagan world that he grew up in, to a life focused on the one true God. God spoke to Abram, and changed the focus of his life forever.
  • Every believer in Christ has a conversion experience where he or she encounters God, and each one of those experiences is a call from God. Paul told Timothy that God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace (2 Tim. 1:9 CSB17).”
  • That calling is first and foremost a calling to God himself, and away from the trappings that we are familiar with. Like Abram, our first mission is to separate ourselves unto God. If God wanted to simply “save” Abram, he would not have needed to affect his life in any way. If it was just about preserving Abram for eternity, God could have done that without Abram even knowing it. But God had a mission for Abram, and that mission required dedication and change.
  1. God changed Abram’s context. He sent him to different lands to be a blessing to different people.
  • I want to remind you of the words of today’s text: “Then Yahveh said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kin and your father’s household to the land that I will show you.” When the Lord Jesus commissioned his disciples to make disciples, they had to leave Galilee and go to Jerusalem to launch that discipling ministry. He had told those disciples “I appointed you to go and produce fruit (Jn. 15:16 CSB17).”  We had better not forget that there are two verbs in that statement.
  • Not every believer is going to have the privilege of serving as a missionary overseas, but every believer needs to consider where God wants him or her to be. Like Abram, God often uses us in a different context than the one we are born in. He takes us away from the familiar so that we can learn to trust him as we represent him.
  1. God committed himself to blessing Abram. He invested in the future of Abram and his family.
  • God did not call Abram to bless the nations without assuring him that he would be provided for and protected. Abram could bless because he had been blessed.  This is one of the secrets of successful mission work.  When we separate ourselves unto God, being willing to go where he wants us to go, he sets us apart from others by uniquely blessing us.  Abram learned that. Daniel learned that. John the Baptist learned that. Peter and Paul learned that.
  • Let’s not forget that our Lord has already pronounced a blessing upon us as his servants and representatives. Remember the beatitudes?

“”Blessed are the spiritually poor now, because theirs is the promised kingdom from the sky later. “Blessed are those who are mourning now, because they will be comforted later. “Blessed are those who are meek now, because they will inherit the land later.  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness now, because they will be satisfied later. “Blessed are those being merciful now, because they will receive mercy later. “Blessed are the clean in heart now, because they will see God later. “Blessed are the peacemakers now, because they will be called sons of God later. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, because theirs is the promised kingdom from the sky. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, because your future reward is great stored up in the sky, because they persecuted the prophets who were before you in the same way. “You are the salt of the land, but if salt has lost its taste, with what will the land be salted? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in the sky” (Matthew 5:3-16 my translation)

 

  • We are already blessed. That makes it possible for us to bless others as we serve Christ among them. The beatitudes are followed by the “salt and light” passages because there is a direct connection between blessing from the Lord and missions, the same way it was for Abram.
  1. God challenged Abram to be a blessing wherever he went.
  • God commanded and commissioned Abram to “be a blessing.” Of all the people on earth, God set Abram and his family to represent him and share him with others.
  • Jesus commanded and commissioned his church to make disciples among all the nations (Matthew 28:18-20). When we go where we need to go, lead people to come to Christ and be baptized in God’s name, and teach all that Christ taught, we also become a blessing wherever we go.

God has called you and me to bless the world around us.  He may change our context to put us where we need to be, and we need to be willing to let him do that. He has committed to blessing us and providing what we need so that we can bear fruit where he places us.  He challenges us to be a blessing wherever we go.

God blesses some people by sending them as missionaries.  But each of us is challenged by this text to follow God’s call to be a blessing. Here are three things that all of us can do to bless the nations.

  • SHARE your life and testimony with people. Perhaps the LORD will bring a stranger into your life who needs to know about Jesus.
  • SUPPORT those who are working as missionaries in other nations.
  • SEND someone to reach another nation for Christ.

May God continue to bless you as you seek to respond to his call.

{I originally shared this message in Barbourville Kentucky.  I recently adapted it and shared it in the Ayameike Advent Christian Church, Japan.  The photo is of Penny and me on one of our sightseeing excursions while in Japan, November 2017}.

 

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different or dangerous?

marmsky devotions pics November 2017 (18)devotional post # 2204

2 Corinthians 11:1-3

2Co 11:1  I wish you would put up with me as I display a little nonsense. Do put up with me!
2Co 11:2  Because I am jealous with God’s jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
2Co 11:3  But I am afraid that just like the serpent deceived Eve by his skill, your thoughts will be corrupted from being simply focused on Christ.

different or dangerous?

Change is always happening in the church, but how do we know if the change is dangerous or just different? In Corinth, a change had taken place which directed the focus of the members off Christ, onto the church leaders. Those leaders criticized Paul because they saw him as a threat to their authority and influence. The gospel was at stake. When church becomes about anything other than the gospel of Christ, it becomes more than different. It becomes dangerous.

LORD, you are jealous when your people are distracted from their focus on Christ. Keep us focused on what really matters.

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Douglas Wilson’s Letter From Moscow

I Suggest We Not Vote for Dirtier Elections

Douglas Wilson
Blog&Mablog

So I begin these ruminations with a most necessary qualifier, necessary at least in these troubled days of ours. To defend due process is not to defend the dirty deeds that must be prosecuted or rejected under a system of due process. A civilized society, in order to institutionalize a bias against lynchings—against a populace taking what they might call “direct action” based upon what “everybody knows—must insist upon due process.

That said, here is the qualification yet again. I indent it so that certain people can find it more easily. If Roy Moore is guilty of what his accusers say, then he deserves everything he is going to get, good and hard. With a career and reputation in shambles, he would have no complaint against the Almighty over what transpired. As the bluesman Paul Butterfield once put it, trenchantly enough, “Ain’t no one to blame but myself.”

But if he is not guilty of the charges, then the Washington Post and the suborned women who accused him are the guilty ones. Not only are they guilty of false accusation, but they are guilty of something every bit as bad as what they accused Moore of doing. “And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you” (Deut. 19:18–19).

We have an accusation of a disqualifying sexual crime; if guilty, Moore ought not to be a senator. We have the counteraccusation that WaPo was offering money to women if they were willing to accuse Moore. This too is disqualifying; people who do this should be run out of the business of journalism. But notice that I am withholding judgment in both cases. I do not know if Moore molested a girl decades ago, and I do not know if the WaPo paid women to lie about Moore.
Let’s investigate and examine the evidence. But that means getting all the evidence, both ways, out on the table. After that is the time for decision. Until then, let’s not play “ready, fire, aim!”

So a defense of due process is not a defense of the guilty, considered as such. It is a defense of us all. It is a defense of civilization against anarchy.

The biblical view of justice requires the presumption of innocence, due process, the right to cross-examination, and more. Now David French tries to argue against this, and is quite right that there are certain venues where a certain kind of due process does not and cannot apply. But this should make us more careful, not less. Why?

The requirements of our justice system are requirements that are derived from the general biblical approach to justice. They apply in a particular way to courts, but because they are matters of justice, they also apply everywhere else. For example, the requirement of two or three witnesses to condemn is tantamount to the presumption of innocence. This is required in a court system (Deut. 17:6; 19:15), but naturally—since we are talking about justice—it also applies to disputes within a church (2 Cor. 13:1). If school teachers are wise, it would apply to disputes that boiled in from the playground, and if parents are wise, it would apply to arguments between their teenagers.

The principles of justice apply anywhere it would be possible to act in an unjust fashion. French is quite right that with regard to the courts, it only applies to such things that courts have jurisdiction over. But this does not mean that justice is a matter of indifference so long as prosecution is out of the question. If the adage that you get more of what you subsidize is true—and it is true—then do we really want to encourage scurrilous accusations at the moment of maximum vulnerability? If you think that Moore is a skunk because of these charges and the Clarence Thomas is a statesman because he survived charges of a similar nature, then the day might come when you think Moore is a statesman too.

If you are a resident of Alabama, you shouldn’t change your vote based on these accusations. If you were already against him, stay that way. If you were already in his corner, stay that way. If you were in the process of making up your mind, then his behavior in the course of this controversy is fair game. Public statements are also fair game, of course. But don’t change anything on the basis of a late hit.

I will put it this way. If you change your vote because of unsubstantiated allegations, you are actually voting for political campaigns to get increasingly dirty. You are voting for more of what apparently works. You are voting for our October surprises to get exponentially more lurid. Why? Because it changed your behavior last time. What did you think would happen?

A few other things should be noted.

Someone asked somewhere online why I am taking this line with Roy Moore, and didn’t with Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey. And the answer is simple. If Moore had said it was a long time ago, and he couldn’t remember because there were lots of girls, and then checked himself into some rehab, then I would have treated him the way I did Weinstein. And if Moore had said that he was done with his double life and that it was time to come out as “a gay man,” then the same. But he is denying everything stone cold. This is a he said/she said, and that could not be said about the Hollywood scandal.

The Scriptures treat false accusation as a big deal, which means the possibility of false accusation is also a big deal. One of the Ten Commandments is aimed at it. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Ex. 20:16). Notice that this is perjury in service of accusation. This is false witness against someone. This is a lying heart using the court system as a weapon. There is not a huge difference in principle between that and using the WaPo as a weapon.

Important notice, also indented, as above. By saying this, I am not defending either sins or crimes, committed by anybody, whether right, left, or in the middle. I am defending American liberties. We are up against an astonishing ignorance, like the juror in the Menendez trial who asked, “What is a senator?” “What is the presumption of innocence anyway? What is due process?”

Apart from Christ, slanderous accusation is the natural language that men speak. “Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good” (2 Tim. 3:3). And this is not a temptation limited to men. Women are told specifically to guard themselves against it. Older women are to set a good example for the younger women in this area. “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things” (Titus 2:3).

“Thou shalt not follow the [click traffic] to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment” (Ex. 23:2).


“The insolent smear me with [memes], but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law” (Ps. 119:69–70).

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intensified influence

marmsky devotions pics November 2017 (17)devotional post # 2203

2 Corinthians 10:15-18

2Co 10:15  We do not brag excessively about the hard work of others. But we do expect that as your faith increases, our degree of influence among you may be intensified,
2Co 10:16  so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without bragging of work already done in another’s area of influence.
2Co 10:17  “Let the one who brags, brag about the Lord.”
2Co 10:18  Because it is not the one who promotes himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord promotes.

intensified influence

Paul’s goal was to keep reaching more people — in more places — for Christ. He saw the opposition he was facing by these leaders in Corinth as a threat. The problem was more than personal. It threatened the work of global evangelism. These people who were bad mouthing Paul were hindering world missions. He wanted the Corinthians to respect his team and their work because they had a job to complete. They wanted to preach the gospel in the lands beyond Corinth. That required the support and prayers of the Corinthians. This was not the time to lose their influence, but to intensify it.

LORD, strengthen the ties between our churches and our missionaries, so that we can reach the lands beyond with the gospel.

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Daily Meditation

On Goodness

C. S. Lewis

It has sometimes been asked whether God commands certain things because they are right, or whether certain things are right because God commands them. . . I emphatically embrace the first alternative. The second might lead to the abominable conclusion . . . that charity is good only because God arbitrarily commanded it—that He might equally well have commanded us to hate Him and one another and that hatred would then have been right.

I believe, on the contrary, that “they err who think that of the will of God to do this or that there is no reason besides His will.” God’s will is determined by His wisdom which always perceives, and His goodness which always embraces, the intrinsically good. But when we have said that God commands things only because they are good, we must add that one of the things intrinsically good is that rational creatures should freely surrender themselves to their Creator in obedience.

The content of our obedience—the thing we are commanded to do—will always be something intrinsically good, something we ought to do even if (by an impossible supposition) God had not commanded it. But in addition to the content, the mere obeying is also intrinsically good, for, in obeying, a rational creature consciously enacts its creaturely role, reverses the act by which we fell, treads Adam’s dance backward, and returns.

From The Problem of Pain
Compiled in Words to Live ByThe Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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More on Ardern’s Flappy Lips

“It’s All About Me”

We posted the other day a piece on how New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has mounted a soap box and oozed sanctimony on Australian migrant policy.  The Ozzies don’t have enough compassion.  New Zealand apparently has plenty.  Ardern has “offered” to take 150 of these economic refugees from Manus Island–where they are currently being held–but her “offer” has been strangely put.  She has not only made the offer–she has also insisted that Australia take it up, publicly nagging the Australian PM, Michael Turnbull.

Turnbull is reported to be furious with Ardern’s flappy lips.

The Aussies are well experienced in playing hardball when it comes to such squabbles.  They have their own version of utu, or revenge.  A well-timed leak was promiscuously sprayed across both countries this week.  Apparently, the “refugees” on Manus Island have been engaging in under-age sexual activity with members of the local population.
  The begged question is, Does New Zealand really know what it is dealing with in wanting such folk in New Zealand?

A group of Manus Island asylum seekers are luring underage girls as young as 10 into sex, an Australian Government intelligence report claims.  The Australian Government has confirmed the accuracy of the diplomatic cable, obtained by The Australian Financial Review and Stuff.  Intelligence advice to the Australian Government, sent in early October from Papua New Guinea, details allegations of shocking behaviour by some of the asylum seekers squatting in the now-closed Australian centre on Manus Island.

“In addition to broader allegations of drug taking and dealing (Marijuana), there were overarching community concerns regarding allegations that some residents were engaged in sexual activities with underage girls,” the report states.  The report was concerned that male camp residents were travelling into the community to procure sex with underage girls.  [Stuff]

No problems, says Ardern.  Any “refugees” we take into New Zealand will be thoroughly vetted.  And how will you do that, we wonder?  Conduct DNA tests on the children born to local underage parents to screen out any “refugees” who have engaged in illegal sexual activity with eleven year old girls?  Naive Ardern appears to  be one of these people for whom utterance establishes or creates her own peculiar reality.  The more emphatically she says something, the more certain it will be–at least in her own mind.

Meanwhile irritation grows across the Tasman with Ardern’s silly antics. 

Ardern has been increasingly insistent Australia should let New Zealand take some of the 600 asylum seekers remaining on Manus Island, following the closure of Australia’s Regional Processing Centre.  It is understood the Turnbull Government is furious with what it views as Ardern’s “moral posturing and naivety” on the matter.  The stand-off has caused rising tensions between the two countries, as Australia has come under international pressure over what has been described as a humanitarian crisis on Manus.

Australian government sources say they are extremely concerned about the messages Ardern is sending to people smugglers.  “The smugglers are watching every interaction between governments in the region on this issue and looking for a chance to restart their businesses,” one senior Australian Government source said.  “They observe the statements of new leaders very closely and if they see a sign of policies shifting or changing, they take advantage of that.”

Why is Ardern engaging in such sanctimonious behaviour?  Why the moral posturing?  Why the public hectoring of the Australian government, and Turnbull in particular?

Australian officials are understood to be perplexed about why Ardern’s rhetoric has ramped up on the situation.  . . .  There are concerns the issue could damage relations between the two countries, Australian Government sources familiar with the matter said. It comes after Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she could “find it very difficult to build trust” with an Ardern-led government prior to the election.

The Turnbull Government has said it is worried that if people seeking asylum  – particularly those whose legitimacy or probity it questions – end up in New Zealand, it could be the catalyst for boat arrivals to start again. The concern is Wellington would get the credit for taking the asylum seekers, while it was Canberra that would face security risks and ultimately be responsible for processing any that turned up in their waters.  It would also be the Australian Coast Guard and Navy that would be forced to intervene if boats ran into trouble in notoriously dangerous stretch of ocean. Drownings were not uncommon.

One senior government source said that the “people smugglers’ pitch could be: Go to Australia, end up in New Zealand”.  Australian Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton refused to comment, but he flagged the Turnbull Government’s concerns in an interview in Australia on Monday.

“We believe that if you sent people to New Zealand at this point in time, that the people smugglers would again be able to say, ‘Look; you’ve only got to wait a couple of years on Manus Island or on Nauru and you’ll go to New Zealand – good welfare system there, good health system, good education and housing system – and then you’ll be eligible to go to Australia’.”

There is open entry between New Zealand and Australia.  If this were to be exploited by Ardern’s current “project” in the years ahead, we risk having our open borders with Australia shut down.
All over the oozing sanctimony and self-righteous hectoring of our neophyte Prime Minister who has no idea of the damage her loose flapping lips can do.

In the end, it will have all been about her–as her language constantly demonstrates.

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A Morally Perverse Myopia

Western Progressives Continue to Romanticise Communism

Liam Hehir
Stuff

Fifty years after his death, Che Guevera, the Butcher of la Cabana, remains a romantic icon of radical chic.
Fifty years after his death, Che Guevera, the Butcher of la Cabana, remains a romantic icon of radical chic.

 Ever seen an ordinary young person in a T-shirt bearing the visage of Benito Mussolini? Ever dined at a restaurant bedecked with Third Reich propaganda? Ever listened to a new recording of the Horst Wessel song by a popular contemporary folk singer?

It would be unthinkable for the National Party leader to quote Alfred Rosenberg, ideological architect of National Socialism. No prime minister would ever declare a sympathetic treatment of Reinhard Heydrich to be his or her favourite movie. No credible political figure would argue that the problem with fascism is that it has never been tried properly.

Yet on the centenary of The October Revolution – the coup d’etat that saw the creation of the Soviet Union – communism retains a grasp on the imaginations of Western progressives.

I went out to dinner in Wellington recently.
The restaurant, not chosen by me, shared its name with a Soviet propaganda outfit. On the counter stood a giant bust of Vladimir Lenin. The same Lenin who, to give just one example, approved of the summary execution of more than 50,000 prisoners of war and civilians in the Crimea in 1920. The same Lenin who said “we need the real, nation-wide terror which reinvigorates the country and through which the Great French Revolution achieved”.

You also know you’re in Wellington when the cafe and bookshop patrons are wearing Che Guevera T-shirts. Fifty years after his death, the Butcher of la Cabana remains a romantic icon of radical chic.

Most of them probably don their garments in ignorance of his role in the enslavement, torture and murder of class enemies. One can only hope that they have no idea that this was a man who said “a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate”.

Now, most would grant that the Nazis were worse than the Soviets. The British historian Robert Conquest, a fierce critic of the USSR and Stalin’s Western dupes, certainly thought so. When asked if Nazism was worse than communism, the great chronicler of Soviet mass murder said it was. Asked to explain himself, Conquest said he “could only answer honestly with ‘I feel so'”.

I agree. There is a unique perversity about the Nazis. Their position as the signal evil of the 20th century is uncontestable. “Not as bad as the Nazis” is a pretty weak defence, mind you. Ted Bundy, an American serial killer, may have murdered more than 100 people. The Zodiac Killer, on the other hand, claimed to have killed less than 40. You still wouldn’t hire him to babysit your kids.

And communists have killed an awful number of people. The Black Book of Communism, published in 1997, is a scholarly work aimed at determining the extent of communism’s crimes. Looking at things like man-made famines, extrajudicial killings and full-blown genocides, the authors arrived at a total of 94 million fatalities. This number included, among others, 65 million deaths in the People’s Republic of China, 20 million in the Soviet Union and 2 million apiece for Cambodia and North Korea.

The conclusion of The Black Book is not without critics. But let’s say that there were only 50 million victims. Is that really all that much better? When you’re quibbling over how many millions of murders, the precise number of millions seems to be a bit beside the point.

Venezuela has been conducting its “Bolivarian Revolution” against neoliberalism for the past two decades. For much of this time, it has been left-wing intellectuals, journalists and celebrities who have cheered it along. The cheerleaders have included plenty of New Zealanders, excited by the regime’s leftist and anti-American populism.

But Venezuela’s government could not expropriate private property without resorting to tyranny.

Having crossed that bridge, it has found central planning to be as ineffective as ever. With more and more poverty and misery, more and more tyranny is needed to hold things together.

At the start of the revolution, Venezuela was a flawed democracy. Today, it is well down the path to totalitarian dictatorship. No surprises there.  But we don’t hear much about Venezuela from the cheerleaders anymore. There are few defences, it is true. But nor has there been any introspection about their prior support. Certainly no words of regret.

It’s all gone down the memory hole. As if Venezuela simply does not exist.

If things continue to worsen in that benighted country, that might have to change. Then we will probably be in for all the excuses we have heard before. The theory is good! It just wasn’t implemented properly! They just went a bit too far! They didn’t go far enough! It will work out better next time! It was because of outside interference!  You can’t say state socialism is inherently tyrannical just because it has ended in tyranny everywhere it’s been tried!

And so on, and so on and so on.

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