Daily Meditation

On the Lord’s Prayer

C. S. Lewis

We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us. There is no doubt about the second part of this statement. It is in the Lord’s Prayer; it was emphatically stated by our Lord. If you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven. No part of His teaching is clearer, and there are no exceptions to it. He doesn’t say that we are to forgive other people’s sins provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort. We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated. If we don’t, we shall be forgiven none of our own.

From The Weight of Glory
Compiled in Words to Live ByThe Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses. Copyright © 1949, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1976, revised 1980 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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Summons to a Higher Court

Arrogance Paternalism and Racism Rife in the UK Foreign Office
State parties all around the world have taken a fancy to claiming authority over the Bible.  For decades this has been happening indirectly.  State schools, for example, teach evolutionism as fact.  Whilst this is not a direct attack upon the Holy Scriptures per se, it indirectly runs a flag up the flagpole: the state and government parties hold the Bible to be a bunch of baloney.  

We Christians have got used to this and end up returning the “compliment”: we hold that state parties are riddled with cant, ignorance, and are grossly prejudiced.  We end up handing them over to their fate on Judgement Day.

But things are ratcheting up somewhat.  In the UK a functionary of the Foreign Office has decided that it is time to rein in Christians in the Southern Hemisphere (by which they almost  certainly mean Africa, since the Church has been going from strength to strength in that continent).  The Barnabas Fund has exposed the latest egregious action by an organ of the UK state.

A report produced by an executive agency of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has argued that Evangelical Christians in the Global South should be expected to “reinterpret” the Bible to make it compatible with LGBT ideology. The recommendations, if implemented, would massively reverse freedom of religion across the globe.

Barnabas Fund is seriously concerned at the implications of the Foreign Office’s involvement in pushing this ideological agenda and the implications this government involvement may have on freedom of religion around the world in the future. Once it is accepted that any ideology can be imposed on those who hold conscientious disagreement with it, a very significant backward step has been taken both in relation to i) Freedom of Religion or Belief and ii) human rights generally. Barnabas Fund has produced an analysis of the proposals and called on the UK Foreign Office to institute an inquiry into Wilton Park, the Foreign Office agency which produced the report.

Citations from the report, together with Barnabas Fund commentary can be accessed here.

There are a number of immediate responses to be made:

Firstly, the paternalistic arrogance of Wilton Park (an executive agency of the UK Foreign and
Commonwealth Office) functionaries to presume to lecture and admonish African churches, black Christian leaders, and African professing Christians is nauseous.  The entire report strongly implies that all African Christians and churches are ignorant, dumb, and easily led by manipulating Western missionaries (that is, Christian “fundamentalists”–also known as people who believe the Bible is the Word of God).  The Great White Father needs a stiff kick in the rear.  Let’s hope it comes to pass.

The report portrays the church in the Global South, by which it appears primarily to mean Africa, in
starkly negative terms. For example, p. 2 states:

In recent years, the spread of Islamisation and the growth of US based Protestant Evangelical churches have intensified hatred, disseminating it in parts of the world which had previously exercised greater tolerance.   To some extent, evangelicals and Islamic states have made common cause in international fora to inhibit LGBTI  human rights.

The Report goes on to assert that:

A strategy is needed to tackle this serious global problem. The approach will vary from place to place, according to local traditions, cultural norms and needs, but common components include:

. . . challenging the interpretation of sacred texts.

Later on the same page it claims that the problem of churches holding views on sexual ethics that are
different from those of LGBTI ideology are due to:

a.) The activities of missionaries ‘who bought the trust of the people’ and entrenched hateful attitudes towards  homosexuality, transgender and intersexuality.

b.) This influence is amplified where there is poverty and churches can provide what the state cannot: schools, hospitals and other social goods as well as a community for people, many of whom are unemployed.

c.) The churches’ position gives them a powerful influence on cultural and political attitudes, which can include negative views of LGBTI people.

Secondly there is clear evidence of institutional racism on the part of the UK Foreign Office report:

The clear implication is that:

i) There is a serious problem because the church in the Global South holds a different view of sexual ethics from LGBTI ideology.

ii) The problem exists because Christians in the Global South have been misled by western missionaries both in the past and increasingly in the present.

iii) Christians in regions such as Africa are incapable of interpreting the scriptures themselves and only adopt these positions because they are reliant on and subservient to western missionaries.

This is a most extraordinary example of institutional racism. One could perhaps, just possibly envisage  this sort of racism in something written in the 1940s or 50s, although even that may be stretching the imagination a little.  There is absolutely no attempt to engage with how Evangelical African Christians  themselves see the situation. It is solely an outsider’s (i.e. in anthropological terms etic) perspective and very clearly a deeply prejudiced and patronising one.

The suggestion that Evangelical Christians in the Global South have simply imbibed incorrect interpretations of scripture from western missionaries and need to be challenged to reinterpret them will be deeply offensive to a great many Christians. It will be viewed by many African Christians in the same way as they view the attempt of western churches to impose their own liberal theology on them i.e. as both a denial of the faith and a form of cultural imperialism. 

This is the modern UK Foreign Office at work.  It is as pagan and as secular an institution as could be imagined, but it has the chutzpah to lecture Christians on what the Bible says (or ought to say or what they insist it must be made to say).  The Christian Church, for its part, does not answer to the UK Foreign Office.  It answers to its Head, Christ Jesus.

As the dying Samuel Rutherford said, when the King’s men came to arrest him,

I have got a summons already before a superior judge and judicatory, and I behoove to answer my first summons, and ere your day come I will be where few kings and great folks come.

The faithful church in Africa will be summoned in due time to appear before the King of kings.  There is no doubt the lackeys of humanistic secularism beavering away in the UK Foreign Office will, in due time, also be summoned to appear before the same Superior Judge and Judicatory. Christians in Africa, meanwhile, will be where few of the Great White Folk of Wilton Park will ever come.

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NZ Government-Clinton Foundation Rort

The Clinton’s Grubby Fingers Are Even in the Pockets of New Zealand Taxpayers

This piece is reproduced from the NZ Taxpayers Union newsletter

New Zealand Taxpayers' Union Inc.
Dear Supporter,

Another $2.4 million of our money goes to the Clinton Foundation

Clinton-Foundation-Conflict-of-Interest-cartoon.jpgBack in January, we exposed the $7.7 million NZ Aid had paid to the “Clinton Health Access Initiative” a subsidiary of the controversial Clinton Foundation. We hosted a petition calling for the funding to cease and our staff even took to the streets asking people whether there are better uses for taxpayers’ money than a political charity.

After Murry McCully stood down, we wrote to the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gerry Brownlee, asking him to veto further funding.

This morning we revealed that another $2.4 million has been paid this year.  Minister Brownlee says the payments will continue because, he claims, the “Clinton Health Access Initiative” is not a subsidiary of the Clinton Foundation and that it is “independent”. You can read the details here.

Gerry BrownleeYour humble Taxpayers’ Union has dug out the public charity filings of the Clinton Health Access Initiative. They show that far from being ‘independent’, the Clinton Foundation actually appoint the board of the Initiative – President Bill Clinton, and daughter Chelsea are even on it.

We have written back to the Minister to point out that the power to appoint the board alone make the Initiative a subsidiary of the Foundation under both New Zealand law and international accounting standards. Either Gerry Brownlee is trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes, or his officials have completely misled him (and $9.1 million of our money has been paid out on false pretences!).

The Australian Government has pulled the plug on funding the Clinton Health Access Initiative.  Apparently, it considers there are higher priorities closer to home.  Hear hear!

You can add your name to our petition calling for the funding to cease here, or perhaps call Minister Brownlee’s office on (04) 817 6802 to let his staff know what you think about this use of your taxpayer money. Let us know by return email how you get on.

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Daily Meditation

His Timing Is Perfect

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may find grace for a well-timed help. (Hebrews 4:16)

John Piper

All ministry is in the future — a moment away, or a month, or a year, or a decade. We have ample time to fret about our inadequacy. When this happens, we must turn to prayer.  Prayer is the form of faith that connects us today with the grace that will make us adequate for tomorrow’s ministry. Timing is everything.

What if grace comes too early or comes too late? The traditional translation of Hebrews 4:16 hides from us a very precious promise in this regard. We need a more literal rendering to see it.  The more traditional wording goes like this: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” The Greek original behind the phrase “grace to help in time of need” would be translated literally, “grace for a well-timed help.”

The point is that prayer is the way to find future grace for a well-timed help. This grace always arrives from the “throne of grace” on time. The phrase “throne of grace” means that future grace comes from the King of the Universe who sets the times by his own authority (Acts 1:8).

His timing is perfect, but it is rarely ours: “For a thousand years in [his] sight are but as yesterday when it is past” (Psalm 90:4). At the global level, he sets the times for nations to rise and fall (Acts 17:26). And at the personal level, “My times are in [his] hand” (Psalm 31:15).

When we wonder about the timing of future grace, we must think on the “throne of grace.” Nothing can hinder God’s plan to send grace when it will be best for us. Future grace is always well-timed.
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Travel Plans and examples of having the mind of Christ (philippians 2:19-30)

Last week travel plans seemed to be a big topic of conversation. It was the school holidays and the big winter storm and its accompanying polar blast came sweeping up the country, affecting roads, ferry sailings and flights. Flights were grounded, Passes were unpassable, you couldn’t just slip down the road in many parts of the country because they were cut off by slips and landslides. The snow fields were open with the best snow in years, but you couldn’t get to them because snow had closed the roads to the ski fields.

We were down at a farm just outside of Waipukerau in the central Hawkes Bay for a weeks breaks. Another family staying on the farm had to postpone their journey back to Auckland as the Napier/Taupo road was closed by snow, as you can see the welcome to the sunny Hawkes bay sign was in near white out conditions. When the storm finally subsided, we went down to Blackhead beach to see the big swells coming in, and when we came back via another road we discovered the road we were staying on and had travelled down to the beach on was closed because of slips and flooding. We’d only crossed one bridge with the river flowing over it as well as under. By the time we came back up to Auckland on Monday all that was left from the storm was the occasional flooded field, and the remnants of snow on either side of the road up by Taupo. But travel plans dominated most conversations we had with other people that week.

The passage we are looking at today in the book of Philippians seems to be all about travel plans as well.  Travel plans not affected by stormy weather but by ill health. They seem to be simply about why Timothy, whom we know from other parts of the New Testament,  was delayed in coming to Philippi and why Epaphroditus, who is only mentioned in this letter, was returning sooner than expected.

This is part of our journey through Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. A letter where Paul thanks the church for their support for him in his imprisonment and encourages them to stand firm in their faith and to know the fullness of joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ. The same encouragement it gives to us on our journey following Jesus.

So what are we to make of Paul’s talk of travel plans? It seems incongruous that a passage of scripture that starts by urging people to live in a manner worthy of the gospel and goes on to give such a theologically profound and deep reflection on the incarnation and the cross as the example for Christian relationships (in verses 4-11) should finish with two paragraphs about travel plans. It wasn’t unusual for Paul to finish his letters with such things but here they are right in the middle. You could easily just by pass them as a personal note, simply see them as an interesting side-track about who would have carried this letter from Paul to the Church at Philippi, why it was Epaphroditus not Timothy. You could see it as Paul having to turn people around from going down the wrong track, Paul is having to address people grumbling and arguing about changes to travel plans between Timothy and Epaphroditus, like the church had become an air terminal of passengers when all foreseeable flights are cancelled.   But in these two paragraphs Paul keeps very much on track by giving the church at Philippi two examples who lived in the very manner he has been talking about. Two people they knew very well who were examples of being devoted to Christ and living that out in loving God’s people with the mind of Christ, putting others needs before their own. They show us that the ethical demands of the gospel do not ask more than God gives the power to obey.

Ok lets have a look at Timothy and Epaphroditus.

Timothy had been traveling with Paul, since half way through his second missionary trip. In Acts 16, Paul meets Timothy in Lystra and chooses him to join his team. Timothy is a second-generation believer, his mother was a Jewish believer. His father however was Greek and the inference is he wasn’t a believer.  The church in  Lystra thinks highly of Timothy, in a church made up of both Jews and gentiles he fitted right in. Paul was a aware that his mixed upbringing would be an issue in ministering to the Jews, so Paul has him circumcised. Timothy travels with Paul to Philippi and is with Paul on his missionary journeys and stays with him in all his difficulties and his imprisonment. We know that Paul sent Timothy to both Ephesus and Corinth on his behalf when those churches were experiencing difficulties, to act as his eyes and ears and also to speak in his place. Timothy is Paul’s protégé, who he is wanting to reproduce his ministry. In verse 20 the Greek could easily read I have no one else like me as much as I have no one else like him. Paul sees their relationship very much as Father and son.

Epaphroditus is a member of the church at Philippi sent on a journey to bring aid to, and be an aid to Paul. We don’t know much about him. He was obviously a trusted leader in the church at Philippi and Paul calls him a brother and a co-worker and a fellow soldier, someone who shares his suffering for the gospel.  We know from this passage that his work for the gospel causes him to become seriously ill. We also know that he a profound sense of love and concern for the church at Philippi and they are concerned about him so Paul sends him back to them. His return is not to be seen as a failure but rather that he has shown himself to have the mind of Christ, preparing to take on the role of a servant even unto death. But in the mercy of God he has been restored to health.  Epaphroditus is a common Greek name, and tradition tells us that the first bishop of Philippi was a Epaphroditus.

But this is not just a biographical journey, Paul’s emphasis in these two paragraphs is to commend Timothy and Epaphroditus for their faith.

In chapter 1 verse 27 Paul had talked of living in a manner worthy of the gospel resulting in unity and the one spirit, striving together for the faith of the gospel. These two men both show their being loved by God through their love for God’s people. Paul commends Timothy for his genuine concern for the welfare of the church at Philippi. His relationship with Timothy is as father and son.  While that may seem to imply a hierarchical relationship, Paul speaks of Timothy serving with, a fellow slave, not in terms of being in a lesser position, they are partners in the gospel. Epaphroditus shows his love for Paul by acting as a servant and taking care of Paul’s needs. At his heart is a love and concern for the Church at Philippi. Paul’s love for both these men comes though as well.

In chapter 2 5-11 Paul had talked of putting our needs above those of others. That we should have the mind of Christ who did not consider equality with God something to be held on to at all cost, but took on human form and became a servant, obedient even unto death, death on a cross, there fore god raised him up, and he is seated at the right hand of the father, and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God. Timothy shows this attitude…. Timothy  is commended for being different than everyone else… For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.  Timothy is prepared to stay with Paul and serve him in his difficult times. Going to Philippi could have been the right career move, maybe the start of his own ministry and exerting his own leadership, but he chooses to stay and serve, until the Lord Jesus says its time to Go. I was assistant minister at St John’s in Rotorua for six years and people used to ask me, isn’t time that you moved on and got ordained and got your own parish? Until I sensed the call of god to move on, you know I was happy being the assistant as part of a team. Jim Wallace was always quick to talk of ministering together. But it was the right thing to serve in that roll until God said to move. Likewise Epaphroditus was willing to serve and risk his own life for the work of the gospel.  To give up his life for the gospel, and like Christ he was worthy of honour for that. We don’t know what this illness was and I’m not wanting to glorify reckless over work here.  Who knows it may have been that part of that mercy of God was getting some healthy systems in place to ensure that his physical health didn’t suffer. In his letter to Timothy Paul uses the same illustration of a soldier and an athlete to encourage Timothy, part of those illustrations are of someone trained to compete and disciplined to fight. Both Timothy and Epaphroditus are seen as examples along with Paul of that servant attitude.

How do the example of Paul and Timothy and Epaphroditus’ travel plan speak to our journey following Jesus?

Really quickly two things.

The first is that in these travel plans we see how the rubber of our faith hits the road. Paul and his co-workers not only believed and taught the gospel they lived it as well. Karl Barth, possibly the most significant theologian of the twentieth century put it like this

‘”this is how it looks when a man (you could say person)  does not only think these thoughts, but, because they are true and necessary thoughts, must live constantly in their  shadow   and can never get away from them in his concrete decisions.”

Paul puts his own teaching into effect in the difficult pastoral decisions he has to make. In this case travel plans for his co-workers.  It dictates how we live. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was invited on a speaking tour in America in 1939, just before the second world war broke out, Christians in the west hoped to be able to save Bonhoeffer from being caught up in, and even called up to fight for, Hitler’s Nazi Reich. He was offered what could be a fruitful ministry with Germans who sort refuge in the US. But he finally chose to go back to Germany to encourage the Confessing Church, that had up until then been resisting Hitler’s ideology. Even though it meant significant risk to him, and in the end imprisonment and death.    

Finally, We see again an example of how the love of Jesus is to be worked out in our love for one another. In a church that was struggling with unity, the unity it needed to witness to the gospel in the face of opposition that Paul and Timothy and Epaphroditus lived out their faith by loving each other and the church they were called to serve. This passage is full of the fact that whatever the physical destination or journey that way we should go is the way of Christ’s love. Can I say these travel arrangements almost tripped me up and bought me to a stop. I’ve been struggling with the day to day plod of ministry an almost despondency with ministry and they bought me back to the centrality of love. On my desk is a piece of the old Ahuriri wharf that was damaged in the Napier earthquake. I was given it as a gift at my ordination by a very intuitive minister. It’s old concrete with stones from the Hawkes Bay rivers embedded in it. He gave it to me just to remind me that Church is about people held together by the strong ties of Christian love and Christ like love. Just like that wharf that is where the journeys of mission start and end.

This passage speaks to the travel plans of the western Church. It’s presented by Paul’s challenge “everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.   That presents us with a crossroads we can go along the suburban streets around us like everybody else, with the same goals and visions and ambitions and destinations in mind. But the call of the gospel is the narrow way, the road less travelled where like Paul and Timothy and Epaphroditus those model examples of the Christian model we are prepared to loose our lives to find them again in Christ
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Letter From Australia (About Victimhood, Grievance, and Entitlement)

“The Force is Strong in This One”

A politician in Australia has been caught out with her snout in the trough.  But because it’s all to do with a PC cause, there is “nothing to see here.  Move along.”  Nonetheless, voters have taken umbrage.

Here’s a way to test your capacity for self-delusion.  If your child is too ill to go to school today, do you take her on a business trip at the taxpayer’s expense? A moral bind surely, even if it is within the so-called company rules.  But if you’re a warrior for Single Motherhood, that excuses everything.

You can attend, with a sick child in tow, an overnight jaunt to see a few whales and shuck oysters because you are simply doing your job.  In other words, tick, another problem solved in the tyranny of life known as Single Motherhood.  That is, of course, if you’re blindly entitled like the Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young.

The Senator has this week been condemned nationwide for using a reported $3874.24 of taxpayers’ money to go whale watching with her daughter Kora last September in the Great Australian Bight.  Hanson-Young says she didn’t have an option and therefore had to take her unwell 11-year-old along on the trip to discuss BP’s plans to drill for oil in the marine reserve.  [Daily Telegraph]

 If anyone dare criticize this snout-in-trough behaviour, the good senator will face them down with masterful guilt manipulation.  How dare anyone persecute a single mother such as her!

Hanson-Young decided to fight fire with fire, telling Sky News: “Well the truth is… that I didn’t have a choice at the time.  “And you always weight up these things in terms of balance between the commitments of your job as a senator or indeed the demands on myself as a parent and a mum.  So of course I don’t regret it.  What I regret is the idea that there’s some grumpy old white men who have been deciding what is best for my family in the last 24 hours and I tell you what — I’m not going to be lectured to by some grumpy old men about how to be a mother or indeed what is best for my family.”

“There can’t be a family-friendly parliament and no provision for family travel. You can’t have it both ways,” Hanson-Young sniffed.  She also told one radio interviewer: “I think parents across the state can’t just take the day off work because their kid’s sick. Lots of parents know that.”

Then there’s the sanctimonious tweet she posted: “Shock horror! Woman can be mum & politician at same time.”  Thus the Single Motherhood card was comprehensively played.

There are thousands upon thousands of single mums who work and yet manage to arrange their family circumstances without expecting their employers will give them special treatment.  But a deep sense of entitlement pervades far too many politicians.  Once the snout gets in the trough, it stays there.  It’s what they call a “stuck pig”.

They would be our masters, not our servants.  As George Orwell put it, they think are more equal than anyone else.
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a broken time


devotional post # 2088

Hos 1:1 The word of Yahveh that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the time of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the time of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
Hos 1:2 When Yahveh first spoke through Hosea, Yahveh said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself an unfaithful wife and have illegitimate children, because the land commits a great prostitution by betraying Yahveh.”

a broken time

Hosea lived in a broken time, characterized by division and betrayal and dysfunction. He spoke God’s word into that broken time. It would not be an easy word to speak, nor an easy word to listen to. Our generation needs to hear these words, because we also live in a broken time.

LORD, give us the courage to read your words, and to seek your healing for our broken time.


"We the People" Are A Vanishing Species

Politicians Are Now Mere Figureheads

When a civil government extends its commands and controls over the realm, one immediate result is the growing size of the bureaucracy.  When governments reach forth their hands to regulate tiddlywinks, we end up with an ever growing cancer of tiddlywink monitors, data gatherers, inspectors, rule creators, and even prosecutors.

Eventually this rotten tree produces a collage of poisonous fruits.  The rules and regulations become self-perpetuating and self-propagating.  What began as an agency of one hundred eventually becomes a behemoth of thousands.  Secondly, the now behemoth agency begins to work more co-operatively and interlaces its functions with other behemoth agencies.  Before long the administrative state becomes both self-propagating and self-perpetuating.  Politicians–that is, those voted in two power–lose power.  They are made impotent, while the vast enterprise rolls on.  At this point the adjective, Byzantine becomes apt.

The end result is a soft, but extremely effective, transfer of political power has occurred.  The mere citizen, growing rhubarb in his hack yard, suddenly discovers that he is subject to fifty-three different, interlacing regulations promulgated by the Federal Vegetable Administration (FVA).  And he also discovers that his political representative (MP, Congressman, Assemblyman–whatever) can do absolutely nothing about it.

Angelo Codevilla, writing in The Federalist, provides an exemplar of the type–in this case in the United States.

 On July 8 The New York Times reported that President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s application for a security clearance had failed to report his contact with some Russians. The media found this ominous. I do too, but for a different reason.

The national security agencies of the executive branch are demanding that the president communicate about national security matters only with advisers to whom they issue clearances. Someone in the FBI had slipped Kushner’s questionnaire to the Times. Publication of the story underlined the threat to withdraw the clearance.

Nor is this an idle threat. On February 11, the CIA withdrew the clearance of top National Security Council adviser Robin Townley, telling the press it refused to work with him because he had criticized the agency. Never mind that the president had appointed him. President Trump’s passivity regarding the agencies’ arrogation of power over security clearances amounts to acquiescence to a change from constitutional to bureaucratic government.

Who grants the security clearances necessary for doing official work on foreign affairs or defense? On what basis do they grant them? Does it matter? Most people obtain such clearances through the armed forces or other federal agencies after having answered a host of questions. Then the FBI, CIA, or the Industrial Security Services Company check their answers. Understandably, they assume these very agencies give and withhold such clearances by unchanging, objective criteria, and on their own authority. In fact, these executive agencies act with regard to clearances—as to everything else—as agents of the one and only person to whom the Constitution confides the executive power: The president of the United States.

This matters because the agencies’ criteria for clearances are anything but objective, especially the unofficial ones, above all because, for better or worse, when differences arise between any agency and any president, only the president is responsible to the voters.

A moment’s reflection clears the air: Who “clears” directors of the CIA or FBI? Answer: not the agencies. The president who appoints them to run the agencies clears them. He can also fire them. By what right does anyone in any agency tell the elected president of the United States with whom he can discuss what? If there were such a right, who would confer it, and to whom? The president of the United States’ right to command the executive agencies, especially on foreign affairs and defense, comes from Article II of the Constitution and from his election. Whoever takes over what he might know and from whom would be sovereign over him, the Constitution, and the voters.

Today, we are experiencing an unprecedented combination of assertiveness by bureaucracies allied with what we might call the bipartisan Party Of Government, supported by its progressive constituency in the country, and the Trump administration’s downright ignorance-cum-timidity.

Progressivism’s bedrock belief is that expert elites in and out of bureaucracies are the rightful rulers over unsophisticated voters. Making intelligence the very substance of presidential decision-making, leaving only the ceremonial final act to the Oval Office’s occupant, has been CIA’s ambition from the beginning.

Also, outright progressive partisanship, exercised in collusion with the major media, has been a constant at CIA from the beginning and at FBI since the late 1970s. Anyone who doubts this should read the memoirs of the intelligence community’s founding generation, e.g. Cord Meyer’s “Facing Reality.” The agencies’ hostility to Republican presidents (Bush 41 excepted) began with Richard Nixon (because of his exposure of Soviet spy Alger Hiss). The agencies, especially CIA, spared no effort to thwart and try to discredit Ronald Reagan. They warred overtly against Bush 43, through the Valerie Plame affair. But the objective was always limited to power over policy.

During the Obama years, however, the national security agencies became more fully integrated in the progressive Party of Government. Obama appointees found enough likeminded “professionals” willing to use the agencies’ tools to guard what they had come to regard as their rightful power over government against interlopers who claimed power only by virtue of an election.

Asserting the right to grant or withhold clearances to persons cleared by the president’s own choice is the ultimate manifestation of progressive ambition. The Trump administration’s needless acquiescence in this assertion combined with grousing about it defies explanation.

The above is but the tip of an iceberg concerning security clearances. Once upon a time, the questionnaire asked “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party or of any organization that advocates the overthrow of the U.S government?” Nowadays, the question concerns “extremist” organizations, by which more and more the agencies mean outfits deemed extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, like the Family Research Council, or even the Tea Party. In short, the security clearance processes’ changing criteria and growing arbitrariness is a problem deserving of attention.

Angelo M. Codevilla is a fellow of the Claremont Institute, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University and the author of To Make And Keep Peace, Hoover Institution Press, 2014. 
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Daily Meditation

The Revelations of Affliction

The Lord our God hath shewed us his glory.  Deuteronomy 5:24

Charles H. Spurgeon

God’s great design in all his works is the manifestation of his own glory. Any aim less than this were unworthy of himself. But how shall the glory of God be manifested to such fallen creatures as we are? Man’s eye is not single, he has ever a side glance towards his own honour, has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so is not qualified to behold the glory of the Lord.

It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way, that there may be room for God to be exalted; and this is the reason why he bringeth his people ofttimes into straits and difficulties, that, being made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when he comes forth to work their deliverance. He whose life is one even and smooth path, will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God.

They who navigate little streams and shallow creeks, know but little of the God of tempests; but they who “do business in great waters,” these see his “wonders in the deep.” Among the huge Atlantic-waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation, and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah, because we feel the littleness of man.

Thank God, then, if you have been led by a rough road: it is this which has given you your experience of God’s greatness and lovingkindness. Your troubles have enriched you with a wealth of knowledge to be gained by no other means: your trials have been the cleft of the rock in which Jehovah has set you, as he did his servant Moses, that you might behold his glory as it passed by.

Praise God that you have not been left to the darkness and ignorance which continued prosperity might have involved, but that in the great fight of affliction, you have been capacitated for the outshinings of his glory in his wonderful dealings with you.
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Monday quote

There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. This principle is, contempt prior to examination.

William Paley
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