Saturday, June 30, 2007

The iBible...



Cranmer was rather amused by this, and would like to share it with his communicants because there's nothing else that grabbed his attention today (or yesterday). He can't wait for the iQur'an, and the ensuing response...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cranmer's Pulpit IV



Cranmer has decided to reward his intelligent and erudite communicants with another open Pulpit. So much has happened since the last, and His Grace is eager to glean the insights of his flock. Previous pulpits have been most interesting reads, and this one offers communicants a further opportunity to raise their concerns, vent their fury, or exercise their apologetics upon whatever religio-political or politico-religious concerns they do so wish…

…intelligently, and eruditely, of course.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Good-bye, Prime Minister. History will be kinder…

Cranmer sheds no tears; indeed, he rejoices in the departure of one of the most unprincipled, perfidious, mendacious, treacherous, disingenuous, sanctimonious, dishonest, deceitful and deluded leaders the United Kingdom has ever seen. The man who promised a government that would be ‘whiter than white’ and ‘purer than pure’ leaves office with one of the most blotted and stained reputations, one of the most questionable of integrities, and one of the most dubious legacies of any leader in modern British history.

He was, however, a consummate performer, a skilful and wily political operator, the most successful leader that Labour has ever had (and probably will ever have). Like Presidents Reagan and Clinton, he has the sort of demeanour one instinctively wants to forgive. And like the Thatcher-Major transition, viewed through the lens of history, the inadequacies and shortcomings of the successor will eventually leave the Labour faithful yearning for their golden era – the age when Britain was great, evangelically proclaiming its worldview, bold in its confrontation, and possessed a leader who walked tall on the world stage.

While Cranmer sheds no tears, he is certain that history will be kinder. It will take half a century, but Iraq may become a stable form of democracy, and the world will point to the foundational efforts of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. It was doubtless due to the efforts of Prime Ministers Thatcher and Major that Ulster embraced peace, but it was the irresistible charms of Mr Blair that persuaded Dr Paisley to govern with Sinn Fein. And it may have been constitutional vandalism to remove the hereditary peers, to tamper with the judiciary, to meddle with finely-balanced constituent parts of the fragile Union, but he gave the Bank of England its independence from government, established a Ministry of Justice, enshrined the principle of academic selection in city academies, and talked of the need for ‘radical reform’ of the public services. That he did not deliver is more to do with the Old Labour instinct to pour good money after bad than it was his personal lack of vision, but he has undoubtedly written the first chapter of a narrative which the Conservative Party must embrace.

As for his path to Rome, it is ironic that 'the most devoutly Christian prime minister since Gladstone' has done more to undermine Christian liberties than any challenge to the faith on these islands in three centuries. He is a spiritual fraud, and Rome is where his heart has always been: his professed Anglicanism was simply a piece of theatre - a facade maintained for constitutional reasons. As far as Cranmer is concerned, he can go, and good riddance - politically, spiritually, ecclesiastically, and theologically. But it is curious indeed that the Vatican would even want such a vain and corrupt dissembler in their ranks. He has failed consistently to adhere to the unequivocal teachings of the church he aspires to join: on protecting the unborn child, on experimentation on human embryos, on civil partnerships, on the challenge of the Sexual Orientation Regulations to the very existence of Catholic adoption agencies, on plans to force faith schools to take students who do not adhere to that faith - his record is one of consistently contending against the faith.

While it easy for him to profess the Nicene Creed, when it comes to his formal reception into the Roman Catholic Church he will be required to swear: ‘I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God’. He could not utter these words in good conscience, and to do so would make him a manifest hypocrite. But then ‘hypocrite’ is from the Greek word ὑποκρίτης (hypokrites), associated with hypokrisis, that is ‘actor’. He is simply pursuing his vocation.

It was Enoch Powell who said that all political careers end in failure. This one may appear to have done so - and that spectacularly - except that Cranmer doesn’t quite think it’s over. While immediate attention is focused on Mr Blair's promotion to Middle East messiah envoy, where he will set up his throne in Jerusalem, Cranmer has his eye on the ultimate appointment. In light of the agreement on the EU Constitution Reform Treaty, there is an emerging vacancy…an assured legacy…which goes hand-in-hand with conversion to Rome…demanding great acting skills…providing a pulpit for Mr Blair’s personal philosophy - pro-European, anti-State, anti-individualist, socialist, federalist, ‘third way’ Catholic-ecumenism.

Cranmer just thinks that Mr Blair will find the prospect of strutting the world stage as Emperor President of Europe will be far too hard to resist. And President Blair would be able to eclipse Prime Minister Brown at every turn…

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Ex-Muslim Council of Britain

A new group has been established for those who renounce Islam. The Council of ex-Muslims of Britain (as it will be known, though Cranmer prefers his own version, if only because of the more direct challenge to the MCB) says it will represent former Muslims who fear for their lives because they have renounced their faith. It will further speak out against Islamic states that still punish Muslim apostates with death under Shari’a law, and aims to become the voice of non-religious ex-Muslims who do not want to be represented by ‘regressive’ umbrella groups such as the Muslim Council of Britain.

Cranmer believes this to be a wholly excellent development, as it secularises what has become a manifestly cultural term shrouded in religiosity. The group already has branches in Germany, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and is becoming a pan EU phenomenon.

It is to be led in the UK by Maryam Namazie, who is under no illusions about the danger she faces. She says: ‘Those of us who have come forward with our names and photographs represent countless others who are unable or unwilling to do so because of the threats faced by those considered “apostates” - punishable by death in countries under Islamic law. By doing so, we are breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam but also taking a stand for reason, universal rights and values, and secularism. We are quite certain we represent a majority in Europe and a vast secular and humanist protest movement in countries like Iran.’

In Islamic theology, apostasy, or ‘ridda’ (turning back) is considered a profound insult to Allah, and the punishment of death is deemed to be proportionate by those who adhere to the totalitarian and fascist nature of Islamism. In response to this ideology, the Council’s manifesto includes:

1) Universal rights and equal citizenship for all. We are opposed to cultural relativism and the tolerance of inhuman beliefs, discrimination and abuse in the name of respecting religion or culture.
2) Freedom to criticise religion. Prohibition of restrictions on unconditional freedom of criticism and expression using so-called religious ‘sanctities’.
3) Freedom of religion and atheism.
4) Separation of religion from the state and legal and educational system.
5) Prohibition of religious customs, rules, ceremonies or activities that are incompatible with or infringe people's rights and freedoms.
6) Abolition of all restrictive and repressive cultural and religious customs which hinder and contradict women's independence, free will and equality. Prohibition of segregation of sexes.
7) Prohibition of interference by any authority, family members or relatives, or official authorities in the private lives of women and men and their personal, emotional and sexual relationships and sexuality.
8) Protection of children from manipulation and abuse by religion and religious institutions.
9) Prohibition of any kind of financial, material or moral support by the state or state institutions to religion and religious activities and institutions.
10) Prohibition of all forms of religious intimidation and threats.

Cranmer has reservations about (4), not least because the Christian dimension of the Constitution should not be equated with Islamic expression and aspiration: the Church of England should not be disestablished because of demands for an 'Established Mosque'. But, taken as a whole, this manifesto should permit some light to shine on the medieval darkness that inhibits any rational discussion of matters Islamic, and Cranmer welcomes it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Blair: ‘EU treaty good for UK’

Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?

But what is it that is so good for the United Kingdom? It very much depends which side of the fence one is on: whether one is a sheep or a goat, so to speak. As expected, the text upon which the ‘Reform Treaty’ will be based is essentially the Constitution re-clothed. It simply removes the ‘C’ word altogether. It also eliminates overt references to anything contentious, thus, the primacy of EU law over national law is sustained, but there will simply be no new reference to it. Those things which are ‘good for the UK’ include:

There will be, for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire, a President of Europe. He shall be called ‘Mr President’, and his term of office shall be two-and-a-half years.

There will be an EU foreign minister, but he shall be called the ‘High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy’. Snazzy title, huh? Just to avoid the clarity of the term 'foreign minister', but it amounts to exactly the same thing.

The Commission will be reduced to 18 members, selected on a system of rotation. There will therefore be five-year periods when the UK has no commissioner.

The EU acquires the much longed-for status of a legal personality. It will be able to enter into agreements, sign treaties, and strut itself on the world stage with all the legal status of a sovereign state. Doubtless its eyes are seats at the UN and to the Security Council, to add to its seats on world trade and finance bodies.

There is a clear directive, indeed, a direct order, in the clause: ‘National parliaments shall contribute actively to the good functioning of the Union’.

The UK has an opt-out from the Charter of Human Rights, but this will be subject to legal interpretation, and history tells us which way those judgements go. This opt-out will be found to be worthless. The EU has thereby established a ‘Bill of Rights’, superceding the English Bill of Rights and all such foundational constitutional contracts which have assured the British people of their liberties for centuries. Since the EU has authority to overrule national laws which are incompatible with the European Court of Justice, the court is rendered supreme.

It was the late great James Hacker who observed of the EU that it has 'the organising ability of the Italians, the flexibility of the Germans, the modesty of the French, topped up by the imagination of the Belgians, the generosity of the Dutch and the intelligence of the Irish'. Remarkable perception quite lacking in any minister or prime minister since.

There is, however, one glimmer of hope in this 'Reform Treaty' for the UK. For the first time, an EU treaty includes an article for the process for voluntary withdrawal of a member state from the union. And therein this ‘treaty’ is indeed ‘good for the UK’, for it that one clause lies our salvation; our survival as an independent, sovereign nation.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Muslims called to ‘hold the Queen accountable’

The Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham has accused the Prime Minister of hypocrisy for bestowing a knighthood on Salman Rushdie, and he asks: ‘What would one say if the Saudi or Afghan governments honoured the martyrs of the September 11 attacks on the United States?’ Although not quite a ‘martyr’ (yet), Pakistan’s Ulema Council has bestowed a top honour on Osama bin Laden in response to the British accolade. He is now Osama Bin Laden Saifullah (Sword of Allah).

But to compare Sir Salman Rushdie to the September 11th hijackers is not only outrageous; it is a highly provocative statement, if not incitement. This Peer of the Realm lends his support to those who bring curses upon Her Majesty, and also to those who insist that if Mr Blair is to become a Middle East envoy, he should be sent back ‘in a bag’. Lord Ahmed lends weight from the heart of Parliament to the demands of the Pakistani religious affairs minister Ijaz ul-Haq, who said the move to honour Mr Rushdie justified suicide bombings.

Leaflets were handed out from the Regent’s Park mosque saying: ‘The British Government's decision to honour Salman Rushdie is a public demonstration of their hatred and contempt towards Islam.’ Apparently, they now ‘have a responsibility to hold the Queen accountable for standing with the people who insult Islam’.

What does this mean? How do they intend to ‘hold the Queen accountable’?

It is significant that a Pakistani group of traders has offered a reward of 10 million rupees for anyone who beheads Sir Salman. This appears to have support from Pakistan’s National Assembly, which is not only demanding that the British government revoke the knighthood and ‘apologise to the Islamic world’, but one MP has also called for Sir Salman to be murdered, declaring: ‘Whosoever kills him will be the hero of Muslims’. Is this what they mean by holding to account?

But it is not only apostates and Christian infidels who are in danger: Britain’s first Muslim MP, Mohammed Sarwar, has announced that he is to step down from the House of Commons at the next general election after he and his family received repeated death threats from other Muslims. Mr Sarwar was pivotal in securing the extradition from Pakistan of three Muslims for kidnapping, torturing and murdering the white schoolboy Kriss Donald in 2004. By helping to convict them, by ensuring justice was done, Mr Sarwar has been found guilty of betraying the ummah – the brotherhood of Islam – and so deserves to die…as do his children…and grandchildren.

Mohammed Sarwar MP can be proud that he not only made history, he has pursued justice. Lord Ahmed should be ashamed, and his peerage should be withdrawn forthwith.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Constitution or Treaty - it's still 'ever closer union'

When Monnet had his great vision for a European Empire, his strategy was to achieve it in bite-size pieces, in order that the people did not choke on something they were not able to swallow. He believed in the Catholic vision that Europe should become a federal superstate, into which all ancient nations would be ‘fused’, and this is wholly consistent with the language of EU treaties. The peoples of Europe were not even meant to realise what was happening; each step was to be disguised as having an economic purpose, but all, taken together, would inevitably and irreversibly lead to federation. After Europe’s coal and steel production were pooled, Europe’s atomic programmes were to be co-ordinated. Then would follow the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Market. After this would come the single currency, and so on.

We arrive, once again, at the constitution stage.

It was too much to chew two years ago, so it has been in the deep freeze. It now returns, not so much chopped up into smaller pieces, but served as a different dish altogether.

Let us be in no doubt: whatever kicking and screaming noises Mr Blair is reported to be making; whatever the BBC is stating is the UK’s reluctance; whatever Commissioner Barroso thinks of the British Parliament or people, there will be an agreement because ‘there is no alternative’, it is ‘destiny’. They might as well say it is the will of God. Former British defence minister Alan Clark observed: ‘The European Commission...is not a programmatically hostile and aggressive force, as was Nazi Germany. But it is not benign. And the reason for its ill-disposition towards Britain...is of the same nature as that felt by Napoleon, by Kaiser Wilhelm, and by Adolf Hitler.’

This is why the EU is so dangerous for the United Kingdom. Not only is it an entity that consists of smoke and mirrors; it is a political project into which the UK is being irrevocablt fused, and the people are being deceived. That is the constant. All the opt-outs are temporary; the derogations are ephemeral; and the proposition that we are ‘winning the argument’ an illusion. Indeed, it is reported that the EU is dropping its commitment to the free market, which is a highly significant eradication of an 'anglo-saxon' concept. The words 'undistorted competition' are replaced with talk of a 'social market economy' and a commitment to full employment. There's no mistaking that this is antithetical to everything that Margaret Thatcher thought she was achieving when she signed the Single European Act. This about a 'social Europe' that is introspectively concerned with rights and welfare, and absolutely nothing to do with liberty or the achieving of a vibrant economy.

Hugh Gaitskell uttered a salient warning at the 1962 Labour Party Conference. He spoke of ‘the end of Britain as an independent nation state... the end of a thousand years of history. You may say “let it end” but, my goodness, it is a decision that needs a little care and thought.’

It not only needs care and thought, Mr Blair, Mr Brown; it needs a referendum. The rights and liberties of the British people are not yours to sign away. Imposition and enforcement do not result in heart-felt conversation, and one man’s assent does not amount to divine blessing.

And speaking of conversion and blessing, why is Mr Blair flying straight from Brussels to the Vatican to see the ‘Holy Father’?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

BBC apologises for saying Jerusalem is Israel’s capital

The Jerusalem Post reports that a BBC presenter dared to refer to Jerusalem as Israel's capital and ‘historic soul’, and the organisation has apologised and promised not to repeat ‘the mistake’. Complaints were received from four organisations – the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Friends of Al-Aksa, the Institute of Islamic Political Thought, and Arab Media Watch, who said: ‘Under international law, neither east nor west Jerusalem is considered Israel's capital. Tel Aviv is recognised as Israel's capital, pending a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.’

Ever-sensitive to Muslim concerns, the BBC responded: ‘We of course accept that the international community does not recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and that the BBC should not describe it as such. I was therefore pleased to see that Katherine Tsang (BBC Information adviser), when she wrote to you in April, acknowledged the error and apologised for it. (Presenter) Steve Boulton and other senior managers in BBC Sport told us they very much regret the mistake and apologise for it… Senior managers will try to ensure, as you suggest, that the mistake is not repeated. Because it appears on the Web site, there will be a public acknowledgement of the error, and the action taken in consequence.’

Cranmer is a little surprised that Pakistan and Iran have not called for suicide bombers to target Broadcasting House for this provocation. Had they done so, doubtless the BBC would be even more inclined to favour the Qur’an, expound the righteousness of Mohammed, and exalt Allah.

But why precisely has the BBC apologised?

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev insists: ‘Jerusalem is Israel's capital. It is the right of every sovereign state to determine which city will be its capital. Quite so. On December 5th 1949, the Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, proclaimed Jerusalem as Israel's capital and since then all branches of the Israeli government - legislative, judicial, and executive - have resided there. It is also where the President and Vice-President have their official residences. Jerusalem is manifestly the ‘historic soul’ of Israel, as Scripture attests - both Old Testament and New - and that is a matter of historic record. It has been sacred to the Jews since the 10th century BC, and that pre-dates the Qur’an by some 1600 years. And the fact that in 1948 the Arab Legion managed to seize the Old City, and hold onto it until the Six-Day War, does not in any sense diminish the claim.

Incidentally, Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible 632 times. Where is it ever mentioned in the Qur’an?

This sort of grovelling apology is consistent with the manifest habitual anti-Israel bias of BBC. We have seen their reporters weeping at the death of Yasser Arafat, and know well of Orla Guerin, who, herself married to a Palestinian, has supplied us with numerous accounts of Israeli-inflicted terror on the innocent Palestinians.

Could someone remind the BBC who kidnapped their reporter…

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Arise, Sir Salman, and we’ll blow you away

It would appear that we have a new definition of ‘honour killings’. British Muslims who happen to acquire an honour from Her Majesty are advised to ensure that their interpretation and propagation of Islamic belief conform to Pakistan’s particular orthodoxy. That is the view of Pakistan’s ‘Religious Affairs Minister’ (what?) Mohammad Ejaz-ul-Haq, and transgression apparently justifies acts of terrorism against the recipient and the British state.

Cranmer was intrigued to see how the reporting of this story developed. According to Sky: ‘Muslims would be right to launch suicide attacks over the Queen's decision to award Salman Rushdie a knighthood… If someone exploded a bomb on his body he would be right to do so unless the British government apologises and withdraws the 'sir' title.’

The BBC was more moderate: ‘If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honour of the Prophet Mohammad, his act is justified… Britain's knighthood to the author Salman Rushdie contributes to insulting Islam and may lead to terrorism… The minister later said he had not meant to condone or incite terrorism but stress its origins.’

But the knighthood was indeed condemned by the Pakistan’s National Assembly, and Iran said that it is proof of ‘Islamophobia' among British officials. And if Britain does not withdraw the award, all Muslim countries are called to break off diplomatic relations. (His Grace is scared.)

It would seem that Mr Rushdie’s knighthood has ‘hurt Muslim sentiments’ because The Satanic Verses was deemed to be blasphemous and resulted in Ayatollah Khomeini issuing a fatwa in 1989, ordering the execution of the ‘apostate’. This seems to be the universal opinion of the entire Islamic world, but Cranmer has never met one Muslim in agreement with this view who has actually bothered to read the novel. Britain's fist Muslim peer, Labour's Lord Ahmed, said he was ‘appalled that someone like Salman Rushdie, who has been very provocative and insulting to Muslims and Christians, has been knighted.’ Well, there are some who are appalled that this twit was ever awarded a peerage, but they don’t go around threatening acts of terrorism.

Cranmer has some sympathy for Sir Salman. Being religiously misrepresented and spiritually misunderstood by theologically ignorant clerics and historically illiterate politicians is conducive to neither enlightened discussion nor progressive politics. Indeed, whipped up by a ‘feral media’, the lawless mob is encouraged to bay for blood, and there will be no satisfaction until there is the scent of death. The problem is that it is customary in Islam to execute apostates, while it has become customary in Christianity to award them bishoprics or academic chairs at élite universities.

And yet there is something of Sir Salman’s award that has a slight echo of Pope Benedict’s speech in Regensburg. While the Bishop of Rome is is no theological lightweight, he is not known for his empathetic disposition. He might have expected his quotation of a 14th-century Byzantine assessment of Islam to elicit a degree of contention, but not the global Mohammedan furore that it did. One may therefore conclude that the provocation was accidental. But while Tony Blair is indeed a theological lightweight, he is a master of the public mood, and is fully aware of every possible nuance of every conceivable headline. The decision to award Salman Rushdie a knighthood for services to literature in his final Queen’s birthday honours is an obvious provocation. Indeed, it seems somewhat insensitive to the volatile religio-political situation in which we live, and incongruent with his conciliatory mode of politics.

Cranmer, however, agrees with the Mohammedans to this extent – the award should not have been bestowed. Not because Sir Salman has blasphemed Islam, disrespected ‘the Prophet’, or hurt Muslim sentiments, but because he is a grossly over-rated author with an interminably dull literary style and his books simply aren’t very good.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Europol: ‘UK is the cause of EU-wide Islamic terrorism’

According to Max-Peter Ratzel, the director of Europol (the EU’s increasingly powerful police agency), the decision by the British Government to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq ‘has left Europe at risk of attack from Islamic terrorists’.

Cranmer does not wish to revisit the rightness or otherwise of these foreign policy decisions, or the argument that such policies may have contributed to the radicalisation of many young Muslims, but instead wishes to focus on the fact that a foreign chief of police is insisting that Britain's foreign policy is to blame for EU-wide terror attacks, and that these conflicts are being used as a tool to recruit disaffected Muslim youngsters throughout Europe to the extremist cause. Herr Ratzel said: ‘The perceived oppression of Islam or the presence of “foreign” troops in Islamic lands is often invoked as justification for the execution of terrorist acts in several parts of the world, such as Chechnya, Kashmir, Iraq or Afghanistan.’

Well, Herr Ratzel, there is a perceived oppression of the United Kingdom with the meddling interference of ‘foreign’ civil servants in sovereign affairs of state. And when we hear the director of Europol - some self-important agent to whose law-enforcement authority the British people have never given their assent - pontificating upon matters political and embarrassing elected politicians, it is a foretaste of the EU’s aspirations to statehood, and police statehood at that.

And one wonders why Herr Ratzel has not bothered to mention that Denmark, Italy, and Poland also have troops in Iraq. Why has he singled out the United Kingdom? And why does he not mention the involvement of the UN in Afghanistan? And what of Islamist atrocities in the EU which are not linked the Iraq, such as the assassination of Theo Van Gogh? And what of other jihadi pursuits across Asia, from India to Thailand, Indonesia to the Philippines? What is driving this radicalisation, Herr Ratzel? Should the whole world just amend its foreign policy and submit to Islamist terrorist demands?

With the imminent arrival of the Constitution Revising Treaty, it will not be long before the director of Europol is formulating EU policy in the Middle East, for that, he will argue, is the only way to ensure the security of the Union. And while we’re at it, let’s have compulsory ID cards, DNA screening, biometric passports, increased surveillance, finger-printing of children, and longer detention without trial for all suspects…

O, hang on…

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Blair’s city academies – the Roman Catholic seed

It transpires that the Prime Minister’s education programme has benefited from a serious injection of cash through a Roman Catholic priest – Father Michael Seed. Whilst Scripture deploys the ‘seed’ metaphor as a leitmotif for the importance of growth in faith, Cranmer would like to suggest that the involvement of this particular ‘Seed’ in helping to finance a project so closely associated with the Prime Minister is nothing short of seedy.

Father Seed is the ‘ecumenical adviser’ to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, and is known as ‘priest to the stars’ because of his involvement with very high-profile conversions, including Duchess of Kent, John Gummer and Ann Widdecombe. The Daily Telegraph reports that he has used his contacts with wealthy businessmen to raise millions of pounds for Labour’s city academies. It would appear that his frequent visits to Downing Street have not merely been to conduct private masses for the Blairs, or even to advise the Prime Minister on conversion to Catholicism, but to discuss how millions of pounds may be raised to finance government initiatives. Perhaps most significantly, the transactions involve one Anthony Bailey, a leading Roman Catholic and millionaire public relations executive, who is to chair the Government's ‘Faith Task Force’ when it launches next month. Is this ‘Cash for QUANGOs’? The sums involved are reported to be £8 million for the funding of four academies.

Apparently, the connection of Father Seed to the academies project has caused concern at the most senior levels of the Roman Catholic Church, with Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor privately expressing ‘deep unease’. The Cardinal has told senior bishops that he feared the introduction could be seen as ‘blurring the boundaries between the Church and party politics’. Strange, that, given his church’s historic support for the Labour Party in the UK, and its fusion on the Continent with the ‘Christian Democrat’ parties…

But knowing the Blairs has certainly brought its benefits. Last week Father Seed was able to launch his childhood memoir Nobody's Child in the House of Commons. Cranmer does not wish to make light of Michael Seed’s appalling abuse and evidently traumatic childhood, but the religio-political activities of this priest would appear to be worthy of a much greater degree of scrutiny.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

David Cameron: ‘I am a Zionist and I’m proud of the fact’

The words of HM Leader of the Opposition, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, at an address to the Conservative Friends of Israel. Out of context, the sentence is uncharacteristically declarative, but even in context, it is forthright, bold, and, in this day and age, rather brave. When asked about the Zionism and Conservatism, Mr Cameron said: ‘If what you mean by Zionist, someone who believes that the Jews have a right to a homeland in Israel and a right to their country then yes I am a Zionist and I’m proud of the fact that Conservative politicians down the ages have played a huge role in helping to bring this about.

Cranmer is reminded of the letter of St Paul to the Romans, in which he expounds that ‘all Israel will be saved’. Calvin writes of this: ‘Many understand this of the Jewish people, as though Paul had said, that religion would again be restored among them as before: but I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning — "When the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also shall return from their defection to the obedience of faith; and thus shall be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both…" The same manner of speaking we find in Gal. vi.16. the Israel of God is what he calls the Church, gathered alike from Jews and Gentiles.’

Cranmer does not hold to Calvin’s eschatological or hermeneutical interpretation (indeed, he is decidedly more ‘post-‘ than ‘a-millennial’), not least because to Mr Calvin’s replacement theology may be apportioned a degree of anti-Semitism which would deny Israel a right to exist at all: the ‘Israel of God’ simply becomes the people of God - the Church - and the one supplants the other. Thus Cranmer is therefore pleased to hear Mr Cameron say:

'There is something deep in our Party’s DNA that believes in Israel, the right of Israel to exist, the right of Israel to defend itself and that a deal should only happen if it means that Israel is really allowed to have peace within secure borders and real guarantees about its future… The West has to understand that there isn’t an equivalence between a democratically elected Government of Israel, a state of Israel that is a democracy, that’s a member of the United Nations, that has a totally legitimate right to exist and defend itself – there is no equivalence between that and a group like Hamas. When it comes to Hamas we have to be very clear about the Quartet principles, until they recognise the state of Israel, until they put an end to violence and accept previous agreements, they really have to move toward those principles in a big way before they should get any Western money and Western support.

And Cranmer was particularly pleased to hear him brand members of UCU, the lecturers’ union which recently voted to explore a boycott of Israel, as ‘Trots’, and ‘a bunch of loons’. Equating their action with anti-Semitism, he said:

What’s disturbing about it, is it is something that is happening here in the United Kingdom and it’s something that has absolutely no justification because Israel is a democratic country and these Trots as you put it are treating Israel as some sort of pariah state and that is completely wrong. So I have no hesitation in saying yes it may be a bunch of loons but actually what they are doing is profoundly wrong, profoundly damaging and also I think sometimes attacks on Israel can spill over into anti-Semitism, to be frank about it.

This speech won’t go down very well in Dewsbury, Bradford, or Bethnal Green, but it will play very well indeed in Hendon, Finchley, and Golders Green…

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

First Minister Paisley: ‘This House is Pope’

Cranmer is somewhat amused by this declaration, made by Dr Paisley during his first questions session in the Northern Ireland Assembly (FMQs?). Apparently, Ian Paisley Jnr has been more than frank with his views about homosexuals and homosexuality. In a nutshell, he said: ‘I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong. I think that those people harm themselves and - without caring about it - harm society… That doesn't mean to say that I hate them. I mean, I hate what they do.’

It is one thing to voice such beliefs when one is not in government, but quite another when one is the people’s representative and such expressions confront head-on the pervasive secular orthodoxy and the increasingly prevalent assertions of equality. Indeed, it is a brave assertion altogether, considering the ammunition it gives not only to one’s political opponents, but also to an amoral media.

And so the First Minister was questioned by the SLDP's Dolores Kelly about the ‘anti-gay’ views of his son, who is a junior minister in the devolved government. She said: ‘Further to the offensive comments of recent weeks by junior minister Paisley, that minister will have no role in equality legislation in relation to the gay and lesbian community.’

But while the First Minister assured members that he is ‘opposed to any form of discrimination or harassment against any citizens’, he would not commit himself on the involvement of his son in issues of equality. He declared: ‘No, I am not in a position to give those assurances - this House is sovereign, this House is Pope.’

Hmmm…

Cranmer is somewhat surprised to hear the First Minister assert this, believing that he above all ought to be more than aware that the Northern Ireland Assembly is neither sovereign, nor Pope, because sovereignty has been surrendered pooled within the EU framework, and it is now the European Commission that manifests infallibility in its ex cathedra dictates and its teleological delusions of empire. The First Minister will soon learn that he leads an Assembly which is merely the equivalent of a county council of Brussels; he is as subject to EU directives, Roman Catholic social doctrine, and all the 'rights' conventions as the rest of the United Kingdom; and he is just as powerless to do anything about it...

…unless, like the First Minister of Scotland, the First Minister of Northern Ireland has it in his power to call a referendum…

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The corruption of state of education

In the whole debate about education - private versus state; grammar school versus city academy; comprehensive versus selection – very little notice is ever taken by politicians of the root causes of the manifest decline in standards, other than to deny that those standards have in any way declined.

But Civitas has identified a highly concerning trend over the past decade, and that is the ‘hi-jacking’ of traditional academic subject to promote ‘fashionable causes such as gender awareness, the environment and anti-racism’. Instead of imparting knowledge or inspiring children to want to learn, teachers in the state sector are now shackled and bound to realise the Government's social goals, and to mould a cohesive society according to the fore-ordained blueprint.

In English Literature, the report shows how issues of race and gender have become pre-eminent in the study of 20th-century poetry: ‘A British pupil can go through the school system and get the top marks in English and English Literature without knowing that Spenser, Milton or Pope ever existed, but having studied Carol Ann Duffy twice, both at GCSE and A-level. With all due respect to Carol Ann Duffy, she is on the syllabus, not because she is a greater poet than Milton, but because she is more "relevant", dealing as she does with very contemporary issues such as disaffected learners.'

In Science, the distinct disciplines of chemistry, physics and biology have been fused into 'scientific literacy', which is more subject to the trivia of the media than with the bedrock of the scientific method: ‘Students are asked to discuss issues such as global warming and GM crops, based on media coverage, and to consider whether or not scientists can be trusted’.

In History, there is no sense of narrative or chronology, but analysis through the lens of politically-correct perspectives: ‘Children jump around in time between, for example, Vikings and Victorians, Ancient Greeks and Tudors… There is no longer any requirement at all to teach about any specific personality from the past. Nor is there any requirement to teach about any specific event - other than within a world history context for one unit.' One survey is noted in which it was found that half of young people ‘did not know that the Battle of Britain took place in World War II, and thought that either Gandalf, Horatio Hornblower or Christopher Columbus led the battle against the Spanish Armada’. Such ignorance is storing up consequences for the future. Civitas states: ‘To know the history of one's country is a birthright. It tells us who we are and how we got here. It tells how our shared values came into being. A people that does not know its history is a people suffering from memory loss, amnesia - a damaging illness.'

Perhaps the most significant corrosion of the educational imperative may be seen in the hi-jacking of Geography by the advocates of ‘global citizenship’, with ‘environmentalism’ as its core faith: ‘Global citizenship education is tied to specific non-academic values that tend towards the replacement of knowledge with morality as the central focus of the curriculum. Thus global problems are not presented as issues to be interrogated for truth, knowledge and meaning, with a view to students developing ideas about the potential courses of social and political action. Instead, the solution is to be found in the personal realm and is presented as a given: that people need to adhere to a new global values system that encourages them to consume less, have fewer children, take public transport rather than drive their cars, be less money-grabbing, support charities, and so forth. Such an approach is no substitute for educating pupils to interpret the world for themselves.'

Increasingly, independent schools are refusing to submit to this inadequate curriculum, and are opting for courses and examinations independent of government manipulation. Thus the O-level, the IGCSE, and the International Baccalaureate are increasing in popularity. While some state schools are also opting for these qualifications, the significant disincentive is the realisation that government does not fund them, and schools are left to cope with the financial consequences. Such academically-rigorous qualifications are therefore simply out of reach for many state schools.

Issues of pedagogy, upon which civilisations has been constructed for millennia, have been subordinated to social engineering and political expediency. The moulding of the ‘responsible citizen’ has supplanted what Mill called the ‘higher’ pleasures – intellectual and aesthetic enjoyments. The school curriculum has been unacceptably dumbed down, with some subjects (like philosophy and ancient history) being publicly decried by ministers of the Crown, while endless lessons are devoted to obesity, sex education, black history, gay history, and ‘fairness’.

The Civitas solution is simple: to depoliticise education – ‘politicians need to be discouraged from regarding the curriculum as their platform for making statements'.

Cranmer says amen to that, but why stop with education?

Monday, June 11, 2007

EU directives – the bindweed of British politics

It has been common knowledge (well, fairly common, when the media bothers to inform the people) that the reason EU foreign nationals who commit crimes may not be summarily deported is because of EU Directive 2004/38/EC. This concerns ‘the rights of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of member states’. Prior to this, all convicted muggers, burglars and fraudsters could be deported simply because their presence was considered ‘not conducive to the public good’. Now, because the EU has tightened the ratchet, only those who pose ‘a present, genuine and sufficiently serious threat’ to society may be removed. Terrorists with guns and bombs who hijack aeroplanes and then claim asylum have every right, under EU rules, to live as free citizens in the UK.

A little more trivially, though by no means insignificant, it has also been reported that the decision for councils switching to fortnightly rubbish collection and increasing recycling is due to the EU landfill directive, which demands that the UK reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill to 75 per cent of its 1995 total by 2010. Councils, like national governments, are powerless to resist, and no vote of the people can change this state of affairs.

But what Cranmer did not know (…though he ought to have suspected…) is that Home Information Packs also have their genesis in an EU directive. The Government has diluted the scheme, the Opposition never wanted the scheme, estate agents despaired at the scheme, and sellers will have to pay for the scheme whether they like it or not. HIPs are here to stay because, as the Government’s website helpfully explains: ‘By 2009, all buildings in the UK that are constructed, sold or rented out will have to have an Energy Performance Certificate, in accordance with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive’.

These pesky directives are stifling British politics and undermining democracy. The entire canon of EU legislation now runs to 170,000 pages, and new directives are added every month which receive no scrutiny from Westminster. The seeds of this weed are sown, they germinate, spread, bind, and produce more seeds, and (sadly) the ground on which they fall is not arid and stony, but fertile and damp, and there are no competing thorns to choke them.

It is therefore all the more important that the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition commit the Conservative Party either to a referendum on the ‘Constitution for Europe’, or to repealing it altogether. According to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Cameron has said: ‘Any treaty that is about the transfer of powers to the EU must be put to the country in a referendum’. Quite so.

On the eve of the Prime Minister’s departure, he intends to sign the United Kingdom up to the new ‘Constitutional Treaty’, which is simply a re-branded version of what the French and Dutch have already rejected. It will establish a permanent EU President, and an EU ‘foreign minister’ with the power to represent the Union on key international bodies such as the UN Security Council. The ‘Treaty’ also includes proposals to give foreign police the right to freely enter the UK and arrest British citizens suspected of crimes abroad with no regard to the current extradition procedures. Other plans include a central European database of EU citizens, containing highly confidential data such as credit cards records. In addition, the revised voting system will reduce Britain's ability to block unwanted legislation by about a third. The susceptibility of the UK to these interminable directives will thereby be massively increased, and the British people can do nothing about it.

If Prime Minister Brown does not make good his manifesto pledge to hold a referendum, Mr Cameron must do so. The issue is not now one of mere politics, but of morality.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The two most powerful men in the world

And look who’s doing the bowing. Cranmer thought that presidents of the United States of America did not bow to anyone. Indeed, the official advice given for the recent visit of Her Majesty to Virginia included the instruction: ‘Bowing is not required of US citizens’. The history of their nation, born, as it was, out of conflicts with royalty and religion, caused them to enshrine the equality of all men at the heart of its constitution: it is its raison d’être.

To bow: cause or to incline to submit; usher or escort obsequiously; be obsequious, fawn; bend or kneel in submission or reverence.

The symbolism of the President of the United States of American bowing ‘in submission or reverence’ to the Bishop of Rome is a metaphor the world now lives by. The death of John Paul II caused the Heir to the Throne to postpone his wedding, and entranced all peoples everywhere with its sublime magnificence. World leaders, elected or not, are acutely aware of the spiritual authority wielded by the Vatican over its billion adherents, and the consequent inherent political power. Thus, unlike any other religious leader in the world, Pope Benedict XVI is able to protest to the President’s face against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as express his concern over issues like ‘the defence and promotion of life, marriage and the family, the education of new generations and sustainable development’. This sounds like a manifesto for world government.

And His Holiness told the President that he wanted to see a ‘regional and negotiated’ solution to Middle-East conflicts, especially the Israeli-Palestinian question. And if the Israeli-Jews and Muslim-Arabs cannot agree on the status of Jerusalem and control of Temple Mount, might it not be worth considering the political, theological and spiritual mediation services of the Vatican?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Zionist conspiracy…

Cranmer is indebted to the ominously Jewish-sounding Daniel Finkelstein of The Times, for discovering the hidden code to rival that of Da Vinci… that this:

…is really a hidden code concealing this:

…and is manifest proof of the veracity of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; that there is a Jewish plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock and reconstruct the Temple of Solomon; that Jews were responsible for the September 11th outrage, which was a Mossad/CIA pretext for the invasion of Iraq; and establishes beyond doubt that Jews are the real power behind George W Bush’s crusade against Islam and intend to dominate the world through the elimination of democracy, control of the world’s oil, media, money supply, and the promotion of Kabbalah…

Friday, June 08, 2007

And Cranmer’s champagne is presented to…

…the Honourable Member for Mid Bedfordshire, Nadine Dorries MP.

Doubtless some communicants will have questions. Firstly, she was not even on the list of nominations, and secondly, she is a co-religionist of those who did Cranmer very great harm on that fateful day. So why is she deserving of the reward of which, owing to his lack of corporeal state, Cranmer is unable to make use himself?

It must be said that the ebay and charity options were considered, but these necessitated financial transactions and banking facilities unpossessed of His Grace. There were some very deserving political nominations, but Mrs Dorries has caught Cranmer’s attention with her fight to limit the time at which an abortion can take place from 24 to 20 weeks. In this quest, she is not only taking on Parliament, but daring to challenge the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church as well.

The Abortion Act of 1967 was introduced to legalise abortion in order to end the back street abortion racket. Or this was the claim. There were all manner of assurances that abortion would only be performed in extremis, but we are now in a situation in which 600 abortions are carried out in the UK every single day. We not only have one of the highest rates in Europe, but also the highest rate of teenage pregnancies.

The Act as it is presently worded permits abortion to be used as a last-resort form of contraception, and the imprecision of the wording permits termination for all manner of minor defects (like cleft palate, for example). Recent advances in medical technology not only render such abnormalities completely irrelevant, but they also permit many babies who are delivered prematurely at 24 weeks to survive. Clearly, the limit is in need of review.

Mrs Dorries is not only reflecting the shift in public opinion, but she is simultaneously confronting the absolutist, meddling, Scottish nationalist Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who insists on a total ban. Further, he has asserted that Roman Catholic MPs who do not assert the need for such a ban should be excommunicated. This hasn’t gone down to well with the Honourable Member for Mid Beds., who says: ‘I do not believe that the Holy Sacrament should be withheld from anyone for any reason. God is, above all things, loving and forgiving.’ For her, the Roman Catholic Church ‘needs to see that seismic change isn’t going to happen overnight. That the process of reducing the number of abortions which take place each day needs to be approached from a number of angles’. She continues:

We need to address the fact that the reason why so many unwanted pregnancies occur is due to the fact that so many young people are having unprotected sex. They think it is cool to have sex from a very young age, and that the majority of teenage boys think that the responsibility for the consequences of sex has nothing to do with them.

That the morning after pill costs £25 from a chemist and that is only free with an appointment from a GP, which can take up to four days rendering such a solution useless.

If you are a 16 year old in full time education or on benefits who realises that you may be pregnant and are faced with spending £25 or chancing your luck, you will probably chance your luck.

Addressing the high number of abortions which take place is not just about making statements to ban abortion.

Making dramatic statements such as withholding the holy sacrament from MPs who don’t vote to ban abortion completely will only serve to feed and galvanise the pro choice lobby. The comments made by Cardinal Keith O’Brien make the RC church look out of step with public opinion and extreme.


Hmmm…

‘Extreme’ Catholicism raises its head again. And Mrs Dorries further accuses the Roman Catholic Church of ‘blackmailing MPs’ which is ‘almost as desperate a measure as resorting to a back street abortionist’. And she also accuses her church of ‘hypocrisy’ with regard to its views on contraception, without which, she asserts, the abortion rate would be even higher.

Cranmer happens to agree with the lady’s noble quest, and lauds her tightrope-walking religio-political confrontation. The path walked by Christians in Parliament is fraught with difficulty, and one invariably ends up satisfying neither group, and being pilloried by both. So Mrs Dorries is awarded Cranmer's champagne for her tenacity, eloquence, and for daring to challenge the arrogance of Cardinal O'Brien. But, of course, only a co-religionists is able to voice such concerns so forcefully. Were Cranmer to do so, doubtless he would be a ‘bigot’…

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Church of England to enforce ‘Papal-style laws’

A helpful communicant has sent Cranmer a most interesting article from The Daily Telegraph. Apparently, the Church of England is to ‘impose a “rule book” of beliefs’, and any who transgress these face expulsion. The General Synod meets in July to endorse this new covenant, which is deemed to constitute ‘’the most significant shift in the Anglican Church since it was created in the Reformation during the 16th century'.

The House of Bishops has decreed that, in the wake of the disagreements over homosexuality, bisexuality, lesbianism, gay marriage, gay priests, gay liturgies, and gay bats in the belfry, that there is a need for a ‘narrower definition of Anglican belief’ in order to ‘block Anglican clergy from pursuing liberal and potentially divisive policies’, thus avoiding schism. According to the Rt Rev John Hind, Bishop of Chichester: ‘A covenant should indicate those areas of faith (including morals) and order where unanimity of heart and mind belong to the nature of the faith itself and are essential for Eucharistic communion’. There is considered to be insufficient statement of ‘what it means to be Anglican’, and so the Bishops’ paper states:

It is possible to envisage the development of a form of covenant that was in effect a highly detailed code of international canon law... and to envisage such a code leading the Anglican Communion to becoming an increasingly rigid entity in which legitimate change and development became very difficult to effect.

Setting aside the very real difficulty of enforcing these new laws upon the autonomous regions of the Anglican Communion, Cranmer is more than a little irritated by this development, not least because a constitutional ‘rule book’ or ‘detailed code’ already exists: it is commonly known as The XXXIX Articles of the Church of England. If these were adhered to, there would be neither crisis nor impending schism. Cranmer spent years drafting The XLII Articles, from which the XXXIX were shaped, in order to maintain the peace of the realm through the unity of doctrine. All preachers and lecturers were required to subscribe to them, or else a license for teaching was not granted them.

The XXXIX Articles were never meant to constitute a systematic theology or a complete body of divinity, or a comprehension and explication of all Christian doctrines necessary to be taught, but, like the creeds of the fourth and fifth centuries, were aimed at resolving the disputes of the time. Insofar as many of the Medievalist errors and blasphemous claims persist to this day, there is a moral necessity to reassert the position of the English Church in order to safeguard the peace, stability, and security of the realm.

While Cranmer can hardly wait to read these new ‘laws’, this 21st-century Convocation has a puzzling dimension quite at variance with that of the 16th. It is announced that ‘Rowan Williams has just embarked on a three-month "study leave". He will return to work in September’.

Unlike Cranmer’s intimate and intense involvement in the formulation of the 16th-century covenant, the present Archbishop of Canterbury is apparently to be on ‘study leave’ while the new rules are drawn up. He will therefore absent himself and play no role in ‘the most significant shift since the Reformation'.

A truly breathtaking and utterly baffling abdication of moral authority, theological integrity, and political responsibility.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Six Day War – 40 years on

According to The Economist, the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict heralded ‘Six days of war followed by 40 years of misery’. It was, they assert, a ‘wasted victory’, ‘hubristic folly’, ‘in defiance of law, demography and common sense’, and ‘a calamity for the Jewish state’.

Hmmm...

It seems patronising to state the blindingly obvious, but if this victory was ‘a calamity for the Jewish state’, what would defeat have meant? It would certainly have heralded another holocaust. Recently de-classified documents have shown that Egypt, Jordan and Syria were planning to cut Israel in half, and Jordan was planning to systematically slaughter the populations of entire Israeli towns and villages. Plans for genocide and the elimination of Israel had been laid in minute detail.

Yet The Economist is considered so close to holy writ by many of the world’s intelligentsia that Cranmer is bemused by its fatuous assertions. The Six Day War quite obviously ensured Israel's existence, and was responsible for persuading Arab nations to simply come to terms with it. As Israel’s neighbours signed peace treaties one by one, so their demands for Israel’s elimination were relinquished, and stability began to balance instability. The UN Security Council also passed a resolution which called for a ‘just and lasting peace’ between Arabs and Jews. While Israel endorsed it immediately, it took Egypt a decade to sign up to it, Jordan 30 years, and Syria indicated a willingness only as recently as 2000. There is here an undeniable fact: the Six Day War was responsible for the legitimisation of Israel as the ‘Jewish State’ – it was thereafter entitled to exist within peaceful borders upon land that had hitherto been deemed to be ‘occupied’.

The number forty in scripture often illustrates a time of trial or testing. The Lord tried and tested Israel in the wilderness (Deut 8:2) to humble them, to establish what was in their hearts, and to see if they would honour his commandments. Moses was up Mount Sinai for forty days and the Children of Israel were tried, and they failed the test as they resorted to idolatry. Jesus was tried and tested of Satan for forty days in the wilderness (Mk 1:13). There are many scriptures which indicate the spiritual significance of this number. So this is not an anniversary offering yet another opportunity for the condemnation of Israel, but a time for reflection; a time for Israel to examine its heart - to assess whether it is honouring the Lord with all its heart, and fulfilling its call to righteousness.

Cranmer is not blind to the justifiable criticisms regarding Israel's acts of annexation and settlement since 1967. And many Jews in Israel (and of the diaspora) share these concerns. The oppression of Palestinian rights and their second-class status in many parts of the country represent an unacceptable subjugation of their humanity to the interests of an Israeli ruling class. But resolution will not come from constant demands for Israel to be eliminated, as President Ahmadinejad perpetually intones. It can only emanate from the elimination of the religio-political ideology that propagates offensive acts of terrorism and condones the slaughter of innocent civilians in the name of God.

Yet this war, and the resulting ‘occupation’, are almost universally acclaimed by much of the media as the root of Islamism, and blamed for the emergence of al Qaeda. The assertion is not merely negated by the well-documented conduct of pre-1967 Islam, but also by the Iranian revolution of 1979 which was all about Islamism and ayatollahs claiming to be the voice of God. And it is noteworthy that Iran had played no part in the conflict at all.

War is always an intolerable tragedy. It represents a failure of humanity, and is the cause of untold suffering. But all things may work together for good… The Six Day War kept a little flame burning, and that light prevented the greater tragedy – that of a second holocaust. The cause was therefore righteous, and it is a righteousness which demands recognition, and for which the world should be profoundly grateful.

May Israel be redeemed through Yeshua her Messiah, and may Zion be restored in our day.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sarkozy: Franco-German relationship is ‘sacred’

The decreed deadline for reaching agreement on the ‘Constitution for Europe’ is 21st June, and as the date looms, the Prime Minister is faced with the opportunity for a legacy beyond the Iraq war. He could say ‘yes’, and go down in history with Sir Edward Heath as a leader who tried to place Britain at the heart of Europe; or he could say ‘no’, and be remembered, like Margaret Thatcher in Bruges, for resisting the vision for a United States of Europe.

The usual threats are emerging. Mr Blair has been warned that to cause dissent is to risk being ‘isolated’, notwithstanding that such ‘isolation’ appears to enjoy the company of Poland and the Czech republic at least, not to mention a majority of the citizens of Holland and France. And to affirm the Constitution will leave Prime Minister Brown picking up the political pieces, trying to justify to the nation by what right an impotent Mr Blair signed away further swathes of our sovereignty, establishing an omnipotent President of Europe, and placing British foreign policy at the feet of the EU’s ‘foreign minister.

But whatever the stance of the United Kingdom, the Constitution has been fore-ordained. The teleology and infallibility are unmistakable, and not even concealed. And the EU’s answer to the ‘democratic deficit’ - the distance between the government and the governed, the disillusionment felt by the people towards their political leaders - is that EU citizens should be given more say in ‘shaping policies’. Not, you understand, that they will have a vote - no, God forbid that the humiliations of the French and Dutch referenda should be repeated – but that a way might be found ‘to empower citizens to voice their opinions’ in order that they might engage in ‘strengthened dialogue’, to somehow ‘feel’ involved. Of course, these opinions have to be consistent with what is already fore-ordained. Any expressions to the contrary will simply be ignored. The path to a United Europe is pursued with religious zeal. It has become an article of faith, and none may challenge the orthodoxy.

The heart of Europe has been reiterated by President Sarkozy, who said: ‘I want to say to the German people that the friendship between France and Germany is sacred and that nothing can call it into doubt.’ Germany and France decide, because they always have. The spirit of Charlemagne lives on.

Indeed. Let Germany and France be friends, and let them perceive the holiness of divinity in their visions and dreams. But let it not be forgotten that the United Kingdom has its own faith, its own creed, which gave birth to its own culture, traditions, and worldview, and permitted it to pursue its own vision to place an unmistakable footprint on the world. And there is still yet more for this little island nation to do in the world, and they can’t destroy this country’s dreams, however hard they try.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

What if Israelis had abducted a BBC journalist?

His Grace does not ordinarily reproduce entire articles, but this one by Charles Moore, on the abduction of the BBC journalist Alan Johnston, is a most worthy read. It highlights the pathological anti-Semitism which pervades much of the mainstream media, and establishes a distinct anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian agenda. He writes:

Watching the horrible video of Alan Johnston of the BBC broadcasting Palestinian propaganda under orders from his kidnappers, I found myself asking what it would have been like had he been kidnapped by Israelis, and made to do the same thing the other way round.

The first point is that it would never happen. There are no Israeli organisations - governmental or freelance - that would contemplate such a thing. That fact is itself significant.

But just suppose that some fanatical Jews had grabbed Mr Johnston and forced him to spout their message, abusing his own country as he did so. What would the world have said?

There would have been none of the caution which has characterised the response of the BBC and of the Government since Mr Johnston was abducted on March 12. The Israeli government would immediately have been condemned for its readiness to harbour terrorists or its failure to track them down.

Loud would have been the denunciations of the extremist doctrines of Zionism which had given rise to this vile act. The world isolation of Israel, if it failed to get Mr Johnston freed, would have been complete.

If Mr Johnston had been forced to broadcast saying, for example, that Israel was entitled to all the territories held since the Six-Day War, and calling on the release of all Israeli soldiers held by Arab powers in return for his own release, his words would have been scorned. The cause of Israel in the world would have been irreparably damaged by thus torturing him on television. No one would have been shy of saying so.

But of course in real life it is Arabs holding Mr Johnston, and so everyone treads on tip-toe. Bridget Kendall of the BBC opined that Mr Johnston had been "asked" to say what he said in his video. Asked! If it were merely an "ask", why did he not say no?

Throughout Mr Johnston's captivity, the BBC has continually emphasised that he gave "a voice" to the Palestinian people, the implication being that he supported their cause, and should therefore be let out. One cannot imagine the equivalent being said if he had been held by Israelis.

Well, he is certainly giving a voice to the Palestinian people now. And the truth is that, although it is under horrible duress, what he says is not all that different from what the BBC says every day through the mouths of reporters who are not kidnapped and threatened, but are merely collecting their wages.

The language is more lurid in the Johnston video, but the narrative is essentially the same as we have heard over the years from Orla Guerin and Jeremy Bowen and virtually the whole pack of them.

It is that everything that is wrong in the Middle East and the wider Muslim world is the result of aggression or "heavy-handedness" (have you noticed how all actions by American or Israeli troops are "heavy-handed", just as surely as all racism is "unacceptable"?) by America or Israel or Britain.

Alan Johnston, under terrorist orders, spoke of the "absolute despair" of the Palestinians and attributed it to 40 years of Israeli occupation, "supported by the West". That is how it is presented, night after night, by the BBC.

The other side is almost unexamined. There is little to explain the internecine strife in the Arab world, particularly in Gaza, or the cynical motivations of Arab leaders for whom Palestinian miseries are politically convenient.
You get precious little investigation of the networks and mentalities of Islamist extremism - the methods and money of Hamas or Hizbollah and comparable groups - which produce acts of pure evil like that in which Mr Johnston is involuntarily complicit.

The spotlight is not shone on how the "militants" (the BBC does not even permit the word "terrorist" in the Middle East context) and the warlords maintain their corruption and rule of fear, persecuting, among others, the Palestinians.

Instead it shines pitilessly on Blair and Bush and on Israel.

From the hellish to the ridiculous, the pattern is the same. Back at home, the Universities and Colleges Union has just voted for its members to "consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions".

Well, they could consider how work by scientists at the Technion in Haifa has led to the production of the drug Velcade, which treats multiple myeloma. Or they could look at the professor at Ben-Gurion University who discovered a bacteria that fights malaria and river blindness by killing mosquitoes and black fly.

Or they could study the co-operation between researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who have isolated the protein that triggers stress in order to try to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, and their equivalents at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge.

The main universities of Israel are, in fact, everything that we in the West would recognise as proper universities. They have intellectual freedom. They do not require an ethnic or religious qualification for entry. They are not controlled by the government. They have world-class standards of research, often producing discoveries which benefit all humanity. In all this, they are virtually unique in the Middle East.

The silly dons are not alone. The National Union of Journalists, of which I am proud never to have been a member, has recently passed a comparable motion, brilliantly singling out the only country in the region with a free press for pariah treatment. Unison, which is a big, serious union, is being pressed to support a boycott of Israeli goods, products of the only country in the region with a free trade union movement.

The doctrine is that Israel practises "apartheid" and that it must therefore be boycotted.
All this is moral madness. It is not mad, of course, to criticise Israeli policy. In some respects, indeed, it would be mad not to. It is not mad - though I think it is mistaken - to see the presence of Israel as the main reason for the lack of peace in the region.

But it is mad or, perhaps one should rather say, bad to try to raid Western culture's reserves of moral indignation and expend them on a country that is part of that culture in favour of surrounding countries that aren't. How can we have got ourselves into a situation in which we half-excuse turbaned torturers for kidnapping our fellow-citizens while trying to exclude Jewish biochemists from lecturing to our students?

Nobody yet knows the precise motivations of Mr Johnston's captors, but it is surely not a coincidence that they held him in silence until the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War approached, and only then made him speak. They wanted him to give the world their historical explanation - Israeli oppression - for their cause.

Yet that war took place because President Nasser of Egypt led his country and his allies declaring "our basic aim will be to destroy Israel".

He failed, abjectly, and Egypt and Jordan later gave up the aspiration. But many others maintain it to this day, now with a pseudo-religious gloss added.

We keep giving sympathetic air-time to their death cult. In a way, Mr Johnston is paying the price: his captors are high on the oxygen of his corporation's publicity.

As for Israel, many sins can be laid to its charge. But it is morally serious in a way that we are not, because it has to be. Forty years after its greatest victory, it has to work out each morning how it can survive.


Cranmer has nothing to add. Doubtless his communicants, or most of them, will agree wholeheartedly with the observations of Mr Moore, and pray for him.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Baroness Cox: Britain is 'deeply infiltrated by radical Islam'

Baroness Cox is not only a crusader for all manner of admirable global humanitarian issues, but she has profound insight and a pleasing manner of plain speaking when it comes to ‘Islamism’. Touring Israel, she has warned that ‘radicalised British Muslims continue to pose a security threat to Israel’, and that both countries should ‘be concerned’. She further states: ‘Britain has been deeply infiltrated’; it has ‘become a base for training and teaching militant Islam’; and that ‘radical groups are multiplying and continuing to recruit’.

In saying this, Baroness Cox fulfils the role of 647 MPs, and shames them. She makes the case single-handedly for the perpetuation of an ‘unelected’ House of Lords. While members of the Commons need constantly to look over their shoulders for votes, the Lords are not so fettered, and are thereby liberated to speak out prophetically even at the risk of offence. The sadness is that the Bishops have abdicated all spiritual responsibility in this regard, yet the Baroness does quote one anonymous ‘senior bishop’ as saying that ‘most of our educational institutions have been infiltrated’, and that ‘university campuses were prime recruitment grounds for Islamist groups’.

Commenting on the plans of Tablighi Jamaat for a mega-mosque in London, she observes the symbolism: ‘It dominates over its surroundings, which submit to it.’ Indeed, for Islam is about submission until the religious and the political are one and the same. Jihad is waged until the dar-al-Harb has become the dar-al-Islam, and to achieve this the Mohammedans are reminded that their political loyalty lies not with the country in which they happen to live, but with the worldwide community – the Umma – and their religious obligation is to bring all under Shari’a law.

And so the Baroness concludes:

We need to wake up, draw a line in the sand, and say enough is enough… Britain's cultural and spiritual heritage are under threat.

Yet despite this warning, in a virtual affirmation of the deafening silence of the Church of England on the matter, it appears that the Vatican has now decided to support Turkey in its quest to join the European Union. It would not only be the EU’s most populous Muslim nation, but also the EU’s largest nation with a potential voting weight exceeding that of Germany. While Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was implacably opposed to Turkish accession, Pope Benedict XVI is making distinctly conciliatory overtures. The EU and Turkey simply have to agree ‘fundamental rules of cohabitation’ in order to build ‘a common future’ through ‘mutual dialogue’.

This is manifestly a shift in the Vatican's position, and Cranmer is beginning to wish the previous judgement had been announced ex cathedra. All talk of different cultural roots and divergent theologies has been silenced. All considerations of history and geography are now set aside. All concerns over the rights of religious minorities and religious freedom are now subsumed to the country's European path.

Cranmer just hopes and prays that the Bishop of Rome knows what he’s doing…
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