It doesn’t take many churches like St James’s to destroy the Church

The Anglican Church is in big trouble, which can be summed up in two words: Lucy Winkett.

I’m not suggesting that this rector of St James’s church in Piccadilly is either the cause of the trouble or its sum total. Only that she’s its neat encapsulation.

To begin with, any woman seeking priesthood is ipso facto subversive as she’s spitting both at scriptural authority and 2,000 years of Christian tradition. And any Church ordaining women forfeits its claim to apostolic succession, in other words to being a Church. The best it can hope to be is a loose confederation of separate congregations, which is indeed what Anglicanism has become.

How do you address a female priest like Winkett? Suppose you go to confession (which is practised in Anglicanism, though not widely) and she’s on the other side of the curtain. What do you say?

“Father, forgive me…” flies in the face of both grammar and physiology. “Mother, forgive me…” might suggest that Miss Winkett is a Mother Superior, something that has been impossible ever since Henry VIII robbed and destroyed the monasteries.

Perhaps “Parent, forgive me…” would be in keeping with our fashionably hermaphroditic language recently cleansed of all masculine pronouns. Fine, Parent Winkett it is.

It has to be said that Parent Winkett spits at Christian tradition in more ways than just being a vicar. For the collective subversiveness of female priesthood practically guarantees that every female priest can be expected to be subversive personally. Parent Winkett doesn’t disappoint this confident expectation.

St James’s is known as the ‘New Age church’, and with good reason. Since I can say nothing about ‘New Age’ anything that hasn’t already been said about haemorrhoids, I’ve always given this church a wide berth.

Alas, a few weeks ago I attended a choral concert there, thinking that Britten’s music performed by good  singers, one of whom is my friend, would be free of offensive potential. I was wrong.

For the small choir was led by an ineptly drawn caricature of a camp artiste whose musicianship went on to prove in short order that it’s not enough to be homosexual – one must also have talent.

But before I was exposed to that side of his personality, the caricature treated the public to a long speech extolling same-sex marriage and promising that 2013 would always be commemorated as the year in which that glorious institution was legalised.

For fear of offending my friend I waited until the interval to make my escape, rather than demonstratively walking out in the middle of the soliloquy. Later my friend assured me that the caricature wasn’t as bad as he looked, and anyway his speech, though admittedly misplaced at a concert, cast no aspersion on Parent Winkett who had no part in it.

The claim sounded dubious, considering the Parent’s history, the nature of her church and the fact that she’s the caricature’s lifelong friend and a singer in his choir. Her theology also failed to prove my friend’s case, for the Parent’s take on Christianity is rather peculiar.

In keeping with her church’s nickname she’s an ardent champion of throwing the cloak of Anglicanism over every occult and neo-pagan idiocy in God’s creation. Her current hobby is Gurdjieff’s theosophy, or rather Ennegram Personality Profiling Systems inspired by it, but she has many others as well.

St James’s has been known to celebrate Buddha’s birthday, and the day can’t be far when Mohammed’s follows suit. But the Parent knows that this sort of ecumenism on LSD has to be approached gradually, in incremental steps.

She made the next such step this Christmas, by decorating the church yard with a partial life-size replica of the wall that separates Israel from Palestinian terrorists. The write-up accompanying this eyesore says that the wall “is a daily disaster for ordinary Palestinian families”.

“We join with people of all faiths in praying for the day when the Wall will come down… The most unhelpful thing you can do is be pro one side; it just adds to the conflict. We have to not only understand those people who are oppressing us, but try to walk in their shoes, and ultimately to really engage with what it means to love our enemies.”

And so forth, all in the same semiliterate vein. The Parent, not being the sharpest tool in the box, doesn’t realise this, but refusing (or in this instance pretending to refuse) to take sides in a conflict between good and evil is in itself taking sides. And in Israel’s conflict with Palestinian terrorists no Christian, indeed no decent person, should have any trouble identifying which is which.

This is how a real Anglican describes the situation:

“Everyday life in Bethlehem and large parts of Judaea-Samaria is a daily siege. Palestinian protection rackets are rife, with $10,000 being extracted by Muslims from the… Christians, on pain of death… The owner of the region’s only Christian bookstore was recently abducted and murdered; Christian shops and schools are regularly firebombed; zealous Muslims picket colleges to intimidate Christian students into reading and studying the Qur’an… There are regular beatings of Christians, and Muslim gangs routinely seize Christian-owned land while the security forces just stand by and watch.”

On the other side of the conflict is Israel, a country that protects the rights of not only Christians but also Muslims, has a similar form of government to ours, shares our values and – for the strategically minded – is the bulwark in Christendom’s defence against Islam.

The wall, Parent, is there to prevent the Palestinians from murdering Israelis every day and encroaching on Israel’s right to exist. Given half the chance they’d do to Israel what they did to Lebanon after overrunning it: they systematically turned it first into a badly maintained public lavatory, then a bloodbath, then ruins.

One can understand that people who routinely murder Christians are closer to the Parent’s leftie heart than those who lovingly guard Christian sites and relics. After all, deep down she herself has to despise traditional Christianity. What’s really dear to her is every anti-Western pagan lunacy she can get hold of.

It’s hard to feel sorry for such people. But I do feel sorry for the Anglican Church being poisoned from within by the likes of Parent Lucy Winkett, in line to be the first female bishop.

The cost of EU immigration isn’t just financial

These days we tend to use money as the sole measuring stick of just about everything.

This isn’t particularly surprising in a nation that increasingly treats religion as a quaint superstition of no relevance to life. However, even these days there are more important things than money – and one fears we’ll soon be served a cruel reminder of it.

In three days Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants will flood into Britain, a development our EU-bound government is unable to prevent. The newspapers, trying to assess the effect of the influx, are full of numbers preceded by the pound sign and neatly arranged in columns.

In the debit column one finds the cost of looking after the new arrivals before they can support themselves, if such a bright prospect is at all on the cards. The column includes the cost of medical care, schooling, accommodation, welfare payments and so forth.

The credit column is stuffed with figures having more to do with hope than expectation. Here one finds the tax riches the ‘A2’ immigrants are going to generate. This shows how mendacious statistics can become in deft hands.

People only generate new tax revenues when they are self-employed, which is to say when they create their own jobs. If they take jobs already existing, they’ll pay more tax only if they’re paid more than the previous holders. This isn’t going to be the case – in all likelihood the A2s will work for peanuts, ousting the more highly paid Poles and other less recent arrivals.

Another hope widely mooted is that our booming economy will create so many jobs that we’ll desperately need Romanians and Bulgarians to take them. Indeed, if you believe HMG’s statistics, we’re well on course to becoming the most dynamic economy in Europe – and tomorrow, as they say in underachieving Germany, the world.

Taking such projections on face value requires more suspension of incredulity than belief in Father Christmas and the tooth fairy. We have a shrinking manufacturing base, promiscuous state spending, an unmanageable – and growing – national debt, and an increasingly illiterate and work-shy population – this at a time when all modern economies are shifting towards highly qualified labour.

So how are we going to outstrip Germany, with all her Brauns, Bayers and BMWs? The best (or, depending on the way you look at it, the worst) we can hope for is yet another housing bubble creating yet another phoney prosperity, which Dave hopes will last until the next election. Whether or not it does, it’ll burst soon enough – leaving us in a worse mess than in 2008.

Meanwhile the arriving A2s will only be able to make the Exchequer richer by selling houses to one another, until they run out of either houses or money to buy them or, most likely, both.

All in all, if we discount statistical larceny, the net effect of the A2 immigration will be negative, hugely so. The pressure it’ll put on our social services, already creaking at the seams, will be even worse.

But really dire will be the costs that can’t be measured in money. Such as social, ethnic, cultural and linguistic cohesion without which no society can survive as such.

Our consecutive governments have been doing their level best to make sure Britain stops being British – which is a sine qua non for the likes of them to be elected.

One good thing one can say about Labour is that at least they admit that this was both their deliberate policy and desired outcome. The Tories are still coy about it, but then they’re in power and hope to cling to it for a few more years.

Britain and other core European countries aren’t designed to be melting pots, and quoting the American example in this context is disingenuous. From its very inception America has had no choice but to act as the stop of last resort for the world’s jetsam.

It’s the only naturally multi-culti society on earth, which presents no hardship, what with an indigenous culture being either non-existent or too recent to count. Even considering that, one would be hard-pressed to hold America up as an example of racial and cultural harmony.

Sporadic racial riots and constant racial tensions in just about every American state spring to mind, but there are subtler signs as well – just witness the unmatched abundance of racial and ethnic slurs the country has contributed to the English language.

Enforcing this sort of thing in ancient, and sublime, cultures means destroying them first and the nations that begat them a close second. This of course is the EU’s purpose: this horrendously immoral concoction depends for its survival on the destruction of every ancient nationhood in Europe.

It says a lot about Britain’s suicidal decadence that we agreed to join this abomination and now lack the courage to leave it. Instead, Dave, Ed and their jolly friends count the pennies, lying all along that the balance will be positive.

It will be disastrous even at the puny level on which this lot operate. Yet where it really matters the damage being done to our country is incalculable.

But not to worry: at least we can sleep peacefully in the knowledge that Nick will become an EU Commissioner and, with any luck, Tony the EU president. This lot can destroy even well-designed organisations – just imagine what they’ll do to something that has no right to exist. 





Ban Children’s Commissioners, not smacking

A few years ago I overheard a highly instructive exchange on the 22 Bus.

A woman, whose South London origin didn’t require a Dr Higgins to pinpoint, gave a light smack to her misbehaving child.

That upset a middle-aged, middleclass German woman who clearly possessed all the self-righteousness of her social background. “In Germany,” she intoned, “ve don’t smack children.”

“In England,” came an instant rapier-sharp conversation-stopper, “we don’t gas Jews.”

As far as repartees go, this worked. However, like most such lines, it doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny, especially its implication that gassing Jews is a constant feature of German life reflecting an immutable trait of the German character.

It’s neither. Propensity to do extreme, institutionalised violence is a universal corollary of extreme, institutionalised power. Absolute power doesn’t just corrupt, it also predictably turns its possessors into amoral, feral beasts.

The degree of amorality and beastliness is directly proportionate to the extent of power: the greater the latter, the greater the former. That’s why English laws over the last 800 years have been aimed at shifting power away from the state and towards the individual.

Most charters of Hellenic antiquity did exactly the opposite: they empowered the state at the expense of the individual, and if you look at the legal history of continental Europe you’ll observe elements of the same tendency.

That’s mostly why England has so far avoided some of the worst excesses of absolute power, including the one mentioned on the 22 Bus. But it would be wrong to assume that history has immunised England against that sort of thing in perpetuity. Constitutional history no doubt inoculates against tyranny, but this kind of vaccine must be constantly topped up.  

Keeping this simple observation in mind, one should always be on guard against an inordinate growth in state power over the individual. We should never sink into it-can’t-happen-here complacency. It can – and, if we aren’t vigilant, it will.

It’s in this light that the latest diktat from the Children’s Commissioner for England Maggie Atkinson ought to be regarded.

Like the German woman in my anecdote Miss Atkinson doesn’t think smacking children is nice. Like any modern government bureaucrat, she believes that anything she doesn’t think nice must be criminalised. This is ominous.

The modern state invariably treats the family as an annoying competitor. It proceeds from the assumption that it can – and has the right to – bring up children better than their parents.

The state also feels justified in regulating the activity that used to have exclusive rights to producing children. The government now insists on squeezing its body of laws into every nuptial bed in some kind of monstrous threesome.

Government bureaucrats will tell the husband what kind of hanky-panky is allowed and what is not. It’ll tell the wife that a sharp word from her husband is a sufficient reason for an appeal to criminal law. It’ll tell both that their lives aren’t entirely their own.

All such measures are shots fired in anger at the very institution of family, the cornerstone of the traditional social order but a direct threat to modern spivocracy. The war against family is being fought on all fronts and with every weapon of mass destruction.

The welfare state, a blockbuster in the armoury of state tyranny, has effectively made the father redundant, especially in lower-class families. His provider role assumed by the state, the father fades away.

Soon he’ll become superfluous not only as a provider for his children but also as the procreator of them: cloning and artificial insemination can do the job nicely. In fact, the very terms ‘father’ and “mother’, along with ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, have been sunk into obsolescence by the perverse law allowing homomarriage.

The same sort of outrage goes on in child rearing. Conservative parents – unless they can afford to educate their progeny privately – have no recourse whatsoever when they object to the multi-culti, PC, leftie poison being pumped into their children at state schools.

They can’t, for example, withdraw their children from obscene, vulgar, soul-destroying sex-education classes whose main purpose seems to be priming the little ones for a life of sexual, and increasingly homosexual, promiscuity accompanied by multi-culti atheism.

Now Miss Atkinson wants to push through a ‘law’ according to which a parent who smacks a child’s bottom may go to prison. (The quotation marks around the word ‘law’ are a tribute to Aquinas, who correctly taught that an unjust law is no law at all.)

“Personally, having been a teacher, and never having had an issue where I’d need to use physical punishment, I believe we should move to ban it,” says Maggie Lite. I don’t know what subject she personally taught, though on this evidence it couldn’t have been English.

Neither was it logic: “Because in law you are forbidden from striking another adult, …but somehow there is a loophole around the fact that you can physically chastise your child. It’s counter-evidential.”

An adult’s relationship with another adult is fundamentally different from his relationship with a child: he has dominion of the latter, but not of the former. A man can’t tell a grown-up what to wear, what to eat or when to go to bed, but he’s within his right to instruct a child in those areas.

We already have a just law prohibiting violent abuse of children resulting in bruising or injury, and quite right too. But a mild smack is a time-proven pedagogical tool, and when it was applied widely if judiciously, children were manifestly better behaved than they are now, when the parents’ dominion over them has effectively been removed.

What ought to be expunged isn’t smacking but the post of Children’s Commissioner, along with other such busybody jobs. The implicit, if not explicit, mandate of all of them is to destroy what little is left of traditional virtue – most emphatically including the institution of family.

Dave plays the good cop

I’ve seldom seen my friend Dave so distressed.

Last night we stopped at his local gastropub for our usual pint and some pork scratchings. Well, not exactly, to be honest.

Just as the landlord was pulling our Stellas, Dave told him no scratchings, we’ll have onion crisps instead. “Can’t be seen eating pork, old boy,” whispered Dave. “Can’t offend the Muslims, can we now?”

When we settled at our usual corner table, Dave gulped his pint down before I even tasted mine. “Sorry, old boy,” he said, “Too much on my mind, that bloody press is getting right up my nose. Your shout, and you better get me three of these, spare you another walk to the bar.”

Another minute or so, and Dave had poured enough Stella down his neck to pour his heart out. He knew that mine was a sympathetic ear and, what’s more, he could count on my discretion.

“I say,” he said. “I’m the good guy here. I know it, you know it, how come those bloody hacks don’t know it?”

“Can’t imagine, Dave,” I said. “I suppose they’ve been spoiled. I mean, for 300 years they’ve been able to publish their stuff without the government’s licence and now…”

“Hey, whose side are you on, you bloody nincompoop?” Dave turned puce and poured his second pint down his throat practically without swallowing.

“Yours, Dave, always,” I hastened to reassure him. “I’m just playing devil’s advocate, that’s all.”

“Well, bugger me… Forget I said that. Don’t want to offend Peter bloody Tatchell, do we now? I mean, how much freedom do those hacks want? Freedom to offend anyone they like, like the Muslims or Peter bloody Tatchell? That’s not on, not while I’m around…”

“Playing devil’s advocate again, Dave,” I said, “they say it’s hard to define offence. I mean, someone can be upset about anything anyone says. Where do we draw the line? We don’t know, they say. So it’s best not to draw it at all. Leave it to their judgment. Just like over the last three centuries.”

“What are on about, you idiot?” Dave was struggling to contain his unreserved admiration of yours truly.

“What do you mean hard to define offence? Don’t you bloody well know how it works? Say a mullah or Peter bloody Tatchell reads something he doesn’t like. So he calls the paper, the police, the PC bloody C and says he’s offended.

“If it’s bad enough, it lands on my desk. I tell my men to call the editor and tell him to grovel on Page One and then keep his gob shut in the future if he doesn’t want to see a lawsuit from hell, or perhaps a criminal charge. That’s the definition of offence. What’s there not to understand?”

“You’re right, Dave, as always,” I hastened to plug the breach. “But the hacks are saying this means you decide what they can or can’t say. ‘Egregious infringement of press freedom’ is how they put it.”

“Oh they do, do they? Let me tell you, they don’t know what egregious means. I could show them egregious! They don’t want to comply with the Royal Charter? They want to play independent? I’ll show the bastards egregious…”

“Dave, can you stand a bit of avuncular advice?” I asked. “Don’t use words like comply or compliant. It’s like a red rag to a bull. I mean, independent press is a stupid, outdated tradition, we both know that. But you can’t let on that this is what you really think. So don’t say compliant. Reasonable is a much better word, or maybe sensible…”

“Is it now?” Dave finished his third pint so fast an ounce of Stella ended up on his shirt front. “I can tell you what’s reasonable, you moron. It’s for the bloody hacks to shut their gobs and go along with me. If they don’t, you know what Ed’s going to do to them when he takes over?”

“Take it easy, Dave,” I said. “You’re getting red in the face again. To answer your question, no I don’t.”

“Well, I’ll tell you, you oligophrenic retard. They say one word to upset Peter bloody Tatchell or the TU bloody C and Ed will put them out of business. He’ll fine them bloody billions!”

“Perhaps arrest them as well?” I thought I was joking.

“Think you’re joking? Too bloody right he’ll clap them in the pokey. All I’m asking is like a few rashers of bacon. Ed will want the whole hog. Hell, forget I said that. Don’t want to upset the Muslims, do we now?”

Suddenly Dave looked deflated. He finished his fourth pint slowly, almost pensively, and asked me to fetch two more.

When I got back to the table, he felt relaxed – or chillaxed, as he puts it. “I say,” he said. “Aren’t Aston Villa doing great?”

“Don’t you read the papers, Dave?” I asked. “They lost again last night.”

“Oh, for f***’s sake, don’t talk to me about the bloody papers…” Dave was getting agitated again. It was time to pour him into his limo and go home.


Olympic games (as distinct from Games)

What’s wrong with Putin’s KGB government in the eyes of the West?

That, starting with the good colonel himself, it’s run by the same criminal, unreconstructed and unrepentant organisation that murdered 60 million of its own citizens and enslaved the rest?

That it has used diktat, murder, beatings and intimidation to suppress free press?

That it has been freely assassinating and even nuking its opponents, including in faraway places like London?

That it has reduced most commerce in Russia to organised crime, complete with top to bottom corruption, murder, blackmail, protection rackets, money laundering, bribery, international traffic in drugs and prostitution?

That it’s pushing through a clearly aggressive military build-up manifestly directed against the West?

That it’s arming and training terrorist organisations all over the world?

That it supports the West’s enemies with the same knee-jerk alacrity as in the days of communism?

That its internal propaganda is as shrill in its anti-Western invective as ever?

That it generously provides refuge to Western defectors and spies?

That it’s rebuilding the Soviet Union under the guise of economic cooperation?

No, none of those. If the West had any problems with such outrages, chances are we’d be boycotting Putin’s giant propaganda offensive, otherwise known as Sochi Olympics.

The only thing that rates some mild disapproval is the only right thing Putin’s government has done, if for all the wrong reasons: the ban on same-sex marriage and homosexual propaganda in schools.

This caused an outburst of indignation mixed with a small dose of envy. You see, Western ‘leaders’ would love to be able to introduce similar measures in their own countries, if only for the sake of sanity if nothing else.

But they can’t: having been sliding down the slippery PC slope for so long, they’re unable to arrest the downward momentum. They simply have to claim at least parity in the insanity sweepstakes with parties supposedly on their left.

Otherwise they can kiss their careers good-bye: the brainwashed masses won’t vote for them, and they have nothing like Putin’s latitude in rigging elections, which is another object of their envy.

Refusing, or perhaps unable, to recognise the global threat of a KGB Russia armed to the teeth, they have neither the nerve nor desire to boycott Putin’s answer to the 1936 Berlin Games.However, Putin’s only sin they do recognise as such, something they incongruously call ‘homophobia’, demands some knuckle-rapping response. Hence they’ve decided to play silly little games, the kind children play until they grow up and start living for real.

Rather than boycotting the Games like a man, François Hollande has taken the coward’s way out by saying his august persona won’t be in attendance at Sochi. Our own Dave is pondering a similar copout, and so are a few other ‘leaders’.

But my friend Barak Hussein has decided to go all those no-shows one better. Oh, both he and his Vice President won’t turn up either, that’s a given.

Yet Barack has also found an extra way of cocking the snook at the homophobe, an ingenious twist of the knife, or rather of the toothpick.

He, Barack, will send a US delegation to Sochi all right. But he’ll also send a message. This will be delivered by the composition of the select group, starting with its head.

In her previous capacity of Homeland Security Secretary, the current UCLA president Janet Napolitano was successfully sued for discrimination against male employees in favour of her female friends. One of the wronged parties, James Hayes Jr., hinted that Janet’s friendship with at least one of those women was especially close.

This gave rise to ugly rumours in the press, with the hacks salivating over the fact that the 56-year-old has never been married and looks a bit butch. Janet settled the lawsuit out of court, reportedly to the tune of $175,000, and denied the rumours.

She’s a workaholic, she explained, which is why she has never had time to get married. Even though one can plausibly infer that therefore married people are all slackers, one must take Janet’s denials at face value. But that’s not the point: the very existence of such widely publicised rumours sends a message to the colonel.

To make sure Putin isn’t deaf to such nuances, Barack decided to turn the volume up. Apart from a few fourth-tier officials, the US delegation includes six famous ex-athletes. Three of them, Brian Boitano, Billy Jean King and Caitlin Cahow are openly homosexual.

And in case the hearing-impaired homophobe still doesn’t get it, Barack made sure that one of the three, the tennis player King, played a non-wintry sport. Sports have nothing to do with it. If Putin can use the Olympics for extra-sport purposes, then so can Barack.

Don’t you just admire Western politicians and the skill with which they play their pathetic little games? On the one hand, Barack isn’t boycotting Sochi – he’s a responsible, internationally minded leader who believes that such festivals promote world peace, brotherhood, motherhood and other worthy things.

On the other hand, Barack fires a message at Putin, hoping it’ll ricochet back across the ocean: Barack champions all the other things our politicians are expected to champion, such as the absolute parity of all human relationships.

His Russian hosts describe this urge to send multi-tasking messages as trying to sit on two chairs with one a*** (no effeminate birds and stones for the macho Slavs). His American flock are counting the days remaining in Barack’s tenure, hoping he’ll be succeeded by a serious adult. Alas, that’s about as likely as Miss Napolitano giving (natural) birth.

War on Christianity is ferocious, but only one side is fighting

Western Christians celebrate Christmas openly and joyously, sometimes not just by raiding shopping malls. Their houses are lavishly decorated with Christmas paraphernalia inside out, and they don’t seem to fear that a neighbour might toss a Molotov cocktail through the window by way of theological debate.

Alas, the same can’t be said about Christians in the Middle East or elsewhere in the Muslim world, be it North Africa, Central Africa or Indonesia. In those places churches are blown up or torched, Christians are forced to convert to Islam on pain of having their throats slit. Thousands aren’t even given this option of saving their bodies at the expense of their souls.

This description of the general situation is short on novelty appeal: such things have been going on with various degrees of intensity for 1,400 years. But degrees of intensity do vary, and not necessarily just within such a lofty timeframe.

At this time of the year, the French newspaper Le Figaro always runs a large feature on the persecution of Christians, complete with a world map of atrocities. Picked out in yellow are countries in which Christians suffer sporadic violence and discrimination. Marked in red are countries in which Christians’ lives are in danger either due to state repression or endemic local violence.

This being a French newspaper, it’s guided by the Cartesian maxim that all knowledge springs from a comparison of two or more things. In that spirit this year’s article, 200 Million Christians Are Not Free to Express Their Faith, juxtaposes the 2013 map with the 2010 one.

One instantly spots that in the three intervening years red has become much more prevalent. In 2010 only Mauritania and Somalia rated this colour in Africa. In 2013 they are joined by Nigeria, Central African Republic, Libya, Egypt and Sudan.

The same proliferation is observable in the Middle East. There were only three ‘red’ countries in 2010: Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen. They’ve now added Syria to their ranks and, further afield, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Indonesia, the principal waver of the green flag in the Far East, has moved from yellow to red. India, she of 1.3 billion people, ditto, whereas China and North Korea have retained the red badge of dishonour.

Somewhat surprisingly Iran has remained ‘yellow’, but one must compliment their ayatollahs for doing their level best to join the not-so-exclusive ‘red’ club. And of course China and North Korea persecute all religions, not just Christianity, so at least they can’t be accused of discrimination.

It doesn’t take a huge leap of credulity to ascribe this staggering increase in anti-Christian violence to the aggressive war pursued by the nominally Christian USA and Britain, accompanied by their deranged instigation of the ‘Arab Spring’.

Nor does it require a wild flight of fancy to predict a wholesale massacre of Christians sure to follow the withdrawal of American and British troops in a year’s time.

The idiotic and criminal aggression against Iraq was supposed to introduce Jeffersonian democracy in the Middle East. Instead it introduced a chaos liberally soaked with blood – much of it pouring out of Christian bodies, much of it on our hands.

Such an outcome was so utterly predictable that one is tempted to speculate that perhaps this was the intention in the first place. Do you think it’s just possible that the Americans deliberately set out to put an end to two millennia of Christianity in the Middle East? No, surely not. Not consciously at any rate.

A thousand years ago similar, if less widely spread, persecutions of Christians triggered the Crusades – this at a time when the West’s military position vis-à-vis Islam was much weaker.

This Christmas, the on-going massacre has triggered a few speeches by Western prelates and politicians, displaying roughly the same pitch of anger as that caused by Russia’s ban on homosexual propaganda in schools. This at a time when the West could punish the Muslims militarily and economically without working up a sweat.

Words will never hurt those fanatics, it’s sticks and stones that are needed. But in order to feel justified to wield sticks and throw stones, the West has to feel that Middle Eastern Christians are our brothers and sisters, an extension of our closest family.

A gentleman witnessing a blood-sputtering street brawl may cross over to the other side – but he’ll jump right in if it’s his brother’s blood that’s sputtering. The West manifestly feels no such kinship with Middle Eastern Christians. If anything, one detects mild irritation at the stubbornness with which they cling to their outdated superstition.

Yet the West has an opportunity of turning its asinine policy around and using its continued military presence in the Middle East to do some good. Now is the last window of opportunity to save Middle Eastern Christians by a combination of economic sanctions and cataclysmic military reprisals.

But first we must realise that we’re dealing not with misguided and misled friends but with deadly enemies. Military action in the region should be used not to introduce democracy, thereby killing Christians in the fallout, but to punish any anti-Christian violence, thereby saving Christian lives.

Such a goal would dictate a change in the nature of action: rather than having our soldiers die in meaningless skirmishes, we could threaten retaliation against Muslim capitals, rulers and perhaps even holy sites.

This could be precipitated by sweeping economic sanctions, including cutting off all aid to Muslim countries, freezing or possibly confiscating all their Western assets and potentially severing all trade relations. Let them eat petroleum.

Anyway, it’s not up to me to propose any specific military and economic steps. One would like to hope that the West still possesses enough professional expertise not to need a layman’s advice. But physical action must always be animated by metaphysical resolve and right reason. It’s in these areas that we are so lamentably lacking.

Let us all, Christians or otherwise, pray for Middle Eastern Christians to have centuries more of happy, safe Christmases in their own homes. And let’s put enough pressure on our governments to make sure this doesn’t remain a pipe dream.

















Only 365 shopping days left until next Christmas

The rains came and threw cold water on our shopping ardour, nay frenzy. They don’t call those downpours natural disasters for nothing – even if they don’t kill anybody, they can deprive people of the true meaning of life.

In the run-up to the deluge we’d been spending £162,000,000 an hour. But then the floodgates opened, and we suffered a grievous 9% slowdown. There’s weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in hell, where Mammon lives.

But not to worry: out of what used to be called Christian mercy 16,000 shops will stay open on Christmas Day, injecting new energy into the pious worship of Mammon. And tomorrow’s forecast looks clement.

So hurry! The chance of a lifetime! Well, of this year anyway! Discounts on everything! Including, and this is the best part, a 100% reduction on the meaning of Christmas.

Churches stay open too, for old times’ sake, but their traffic is like a trickle compared to the mighty torrent in the High Street. Some have found a solution: eliminating God from their liturgy altogether and joyously advertising this ingenious marketing ploy.

This is the discount to end all discounts: Come and have a good time! Take the weight off your feet, blistered by sprints from shop to shop. No charge! You won’t have to ponder, repent, worship, even listen to those words no one uses anymore. Nor will you have to change your behaviour in any way.

Come in, sing a few popular songs in a Karaoke sing-along, kiss whomever you’re sitting next to (they may be ‘well tasty’, you never know your luck) – and then off you go again, pounding the pavements in search of the real deal.

Even intelligent atheists, some of them my close friends, are aghast, especially if they’re cultured as well. Perceptive people, they sense that this rampant materialism runs so contrary to our cultural, social and spiritual tradition that it’ll eventually spell a disaster even worse than a downpour drowning a good shopping opportunity.

The till, they say, is a poor substitute for the collection box. We all must take Christianity seriously, they say, even if no intelligent, cultured people can take Christ seriously. That way we can dump the outdated superstition while keeping all the good things: social cohesion, moral probity, spiritual content to our lives.

Such people are deceiving themselves so flagrantly that one realises to one’s horror that, whenever they approach this subject, their otherwise unimpeachable intelligence takes some time off.

The agricultural equivalent of their craving would to be sever the roots of an apple tree while still hoping to enjoy the apples. Nature doesn’t work that way. Neither does life.

Christianity was able to provide such good things as social cohesion, moral probity and spiritual content to our lives, while creating the greatest culture the world has ever known or will ever know, not because it was a clever way of keeping the masses in check.

It was able to do all that because it’s true. Or at least because most people believed it was.

Taking Christ out of Christianity will have the same effect on the religion as taking religion out of life will have on society: both will first degenerate and then die.

Unless my intelligent and cultured friends believe – in their viscera, not just their logical minds – that Christmas is the day on which God was incarnated to redeem our sins, Christianity won’t do them any good. Nor will it do any good for a society compulsively obsessed with conspicuous consumption.

A society obsessed with consumption will become consumptive. This is a disease for which no palliative treatment exists.

Intelligent people even wish one another a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year – prosperous, not virtuous or spiritual. They don’t even sense a contradiction there, but then I did say that their minds knock off for as long as it takes my atheist friends to ponder such subjects.

Christ didn’t come into the world 2013 years ago to make us prosperous. He came to die for our sins, thereby making us good enough to be saved. Hence our traditional greeting is an oxymoron or, if we move from rhetoric to music, an ugly, jarring, cacophonous discordance.

Oh, I know my atheist friends are too intelligent to believe any such superstitious nonsense. This isn’t what intelligent people believe.

They believe that a few sub-atomic particles created themselves out of nothing and then – chaotically, totally at random, by sheer chance – came together in a larger entity called matter and decided to live according to rational, clearly teleological laws.

Ex nihilo nihil fit? Nonsense. Of course something can bloody well come out of nothing, say my intelligent friends (they may not actually say it, but that’s the only thing their atheism can imply).

And that something is perfectly capable of organising itself – no outside help needed, thank you very much – according not only to rational natural laws but also according to aesthetic and moral ones. In due course, matter so rationally organised develops an irresistible rational urge to build cathedrals and write the music sung inside.

My cultured friends admire the architecture of the cathedrals; they love to listen to the music and even to play it. Sensitive souls, they detect the presence of divine reason behind these, but they can’t identify it as such.

As far as they are concerned, all those nice things began with a random, purposeless physical event. Yes, the world functions according to universal, rational laws. But that, to my intelligent friends, doesn’t have to presuppose the existence of a rational law-giver. Those things just happen, best not to think about it.

Those of us who do think about it must pray for those who don’t. For by denying divine intelligence they discount their own. If they don’t reconsider, eventually the discounted commodity will have to be written off altogether.

The only alternative is to put Christ back into Christmas – even if this means a smaller and less frantic traffic in the High Street.

Happy Christmas!












Let them eat KFC

According to the advert commissioned by the charity Church Action on Poverty (CAP), “Britain isn’t eating” – specifically because “of the benefit changes”.

I must say that our beefy masses don’t evince too many unequivocal symptoms of emaciation. In fact, driving through the less fashionable parts of South London, one feels a bit of deprivation diet would do them a power of good.

Of course people in the final stages of starvation swell up too, but that sort of thing only ever happens in countries where socialism triumphs even more comprehensively than in today’s Britain, say the USSR in the 1930s or Ethiopia in the 1980s.

One also gets the impression that, though the poor don’t seem to be hungry, they’re clearly thirsty: not only fast-food outlets but also off-licences are full to the brim and the sales of strong lager, cider and fortified wine are going though the roof.

White Lightning cider, for example, costs £3.79 for a 2-litre bottle. One of those is sufficient to make a grown man publicly abusive – two, and he can count on a most satisfying roll in his own vomit. Granted, £3.79 wouldn’t put a whole family under the table, but that sum can put enough food on the table to keep them well fed.

(I’d be happy to provide any number of pasta or casserole recipes for readers in need, although judging by their e-mails most of my readers are eminently capable of feeding themselves.)

If a family is hungry as well as thirsty, and yet its finances don’t stretch to satisfying both needs, CAP is on hand to provide a solution. The pater familias can get pissed and then stagger for more solid sustenance to one of the food banks CAP is opening at the rate of three a week.

In fact the brisk business those food banks are doing provides the factual basis for the CAP claim that Britain is starving – all because of Tory beastliness only partially mitigated by their righteous, or to be more precise self-righteous, coalition partners.

Half a million people, claims this C of E charity, are using the food banks. The implication is that, if they didn’t, they too would swell from starvation, just like those Ukrainian and Ethiopian peasants, half the population of North Korea or most Africans lucky enough to have liberated themselves from ghastly colonialism but not lucky enough to have a sea of oil sloshing underfoot.

That, of course, is nonsense. Benefits to which our poor are entitled exceed the wages of the lower paid workers, and nobody’s claiming those underachievers are suffering from alimentary dystrophy en masse.

It’s just that the desire to collect benefits (be it money or its assorted equivalents, including free food) always exists in a symbiotic relationship with their availability. If something free is on offer, people these days aren’t too proud to grab it – especially if they are encouraged to do so by bien pensant lefties, like those running CAP.

The more offered, the more and by more it’ll be taken – such is human nature, especially when it’s not leavened with old-fashioned, or rather out-of-fashion, dignity and self-respect.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t have food banks. On the contrary, in civilised countries, especially those that used to be Christian, people must not go hungry even if they have no one to blame for this but themselves.

In fact, even a better idea would be to make our supermarket chains use some tax-deductible revenues to provide four or five basic staples free of charge to anyone who wants them. The staples, such as powdered milk, shouldn’t have enough gourmet appeal to attract the better-off – they’d be there to prevent hunger, not to caress taste buds.

A programme like that would cost a fraction of the present perversely promiscuous welfare budget – and it would shut up for ever all those who, like CAP, claim that people in Britain go hungry.

If charity bosses, at least 30 of whom are on salaries greater than £100,000 a year, are really concerned about the plight of the poor, the least they could do would be to offer their invaluable work and flaming conscience free of charge.

And if the charity happens to be Christian, perhaps they ought to remind themselves that the founder of their religion didn’t keep back 80 percent of the loaves and fishes to pay himself, his apostles and their advertising agency.

Such a selfless gesture would liberate enough funds to offer whole underprivileged families a spot of White Lightning to wash their food down. It would also make CAP messages a bit more palatable.


National delusions of grandeur: the deadliest kind of madness

What do Switzerland, Norway and Australia have in common? Oh, several things.

First, they’re all small, in population at any rate. Australia is the most populous of the three, and it only has about 23 million people. Switzerland has about eight million and Norway five.

Second, none of the three either is or, more important, aspires to be a great power. They are happy to mind their own business and aghast at the very thought of having to mind other countries’. Not a single one of them is trying to expand her territory, even though Switzerland, for one, could do with a bit more space.

Third, all three jealously guard their independence. Australia is of course part of the Commonwealth, but she doesn’t rely on the metropolis to tell her how to run her affairs. And both Switzerland and Norway stubbornly refuse to join the EU.

Fourth and most important, they occupy the top three places in the list of countries with the best quality of life.

Now, what about those countries that have now or have had at some point the macho craving for greatness, defined by size, possibly wealth, definitely influence in the world, ideally the ability to boss other lands? Russia, France, the United States and Germany spring to mind.

Where do such ambitious nations rank in our list? Well, none of them is in the top 10. And of the eurozone members, only Holland makes it into that tier. Just.

I detect a causal relationship there somewhere, and not one of the post hoc, ergo propter hoc variety. Diminution in the quality of life is clearly the price a nation pays for pursuing great-power ambitions.

It’s out of such hallucinatory delusions that Germany and France have pushed through the idea of forming a giant, unaccountable European state, complete with a single currency and eventually a single government.

One would think they might have learned their lesson, or rather quite a few lessons. Look at France, for example.

Her national hubris just couldn’t accept the loss of Alsace and Lorraine the country suffered after the collapse of her insane Napoleonic expansionism. Territorial losses weren’t the only ones she suffered. In fact for saner nations those would have been dwarfed by the 2,000,000 young men France had sacrificed at the altar of her pride – to say nothing of the millions of others whose deaths she had also caused.

It was time for national reflection, repentance, humble entreaties for forgiveness. Instead, once the nation had caught its breath, it felt it had to reclaim the provinces it had justly lost. La belle France just couldn’t be la grande France without them, n’est ce pas?

Hence Napoleon’s less talented nephew attacked Prussia and those other German principalities that sided with her. The resulting rout France suffered in 1870-1871 had a few highly undesirable consequences.

First, the German coalition’s success hastened the unification of Germany into a single state bristling with muscular strength and testosteronal aggression. Second, France’s delusions of grandeur suffered another blow, and she wouldn’t have a moment’s rest until she could recoup some of her self-image, along with Alsace and Lorraine.

Revanche became the most popular world in the French press and, more fatally, the most heartfelt aspiration of the French government. The countdown button for the First World War was pushed and, consequently, for the Second.

In the Second World War France suffered yet another humiliation, of being thrashed by the Germans in just 40 days. It then suffered the ignominy of turning into Germany’s satellite and accomplice – among the most enthusiastic ones Germany could recruit in the occupied territories.

After the war the Germans looked at what they had wrought, sighed and declared, “We don’t want to be Germans anymore.” The French, this time suffering not only from injured pride but also from what later would be called the Stockholm syndrome, perked up and said, “You don’t want to be Germans? Fine. But we do.”

The two then fell into each other’s arms and united in a marriage made in hell. France was hoping she could ride Germany’s coattails to regaining what she saw as her erstwhile greatness. In her turn Germany was counting on France to prevent her from gassing too many people in the process of reclaiming her own greatness.

Both countries were so obsessed with being great that they forgot how to be good. But then they aren’t the only ones. Goodness, virtue, call it what you like, no longer appears among modern desiderata.

This isn’t a national phenomenon but a temporal one: Western modernity has effectively removed the only source of goodness, and the only set of criteria by which it can be judged.

Just like a godless self-centred man spending hours every day building up his muscles, or a godless self-centred woman spending even more hours to prevent her various bits from sagging too much, godless self-centred nations also try all they can to boost their self-image.

They don’t comprehend the sheer futility, not to mention vulgarity, of such pursuits. Germany was made great, in the sense of good, not by Messrs Yorck, Moltke and Blücher, or even Benz, Daimler and Krupp, but by Bach, Goethe and Barth. Those who made France great, in that sense, weren’t assorted Napoleons or even Citroëns but Messrs Pascal, Racine and the whole faculty of Paris University circa 1250.

All in all, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that great is the enemy of good. When consciously pursued, greatness is as illusory as happiness – like a mirage it’ll disappear as one gets close. Both greatness and happiness can only result from other pursuits: truth, virtue, beauty, love.

Sorry about not being exactly topical. Blame it all on approaching Christmas – it tends to put one in a contemplative mood. 







Khodorkovsky, the first winner of the Sochi Olympics

Tyrants can murder or imprison their subjects, but that’s not the point. The point is unlimited power, and this may be manifested not only through arbitrary cruelty but also through equally arbitrary benevolence.

Looking back at the 1930s, for example, Russians often express retrospective surprise why so and so wasn’t molested in spite of clearly detesting Stalin.

Surely Stalin knew that Bulgakov’s affection for bolshevism was no warmer than Mandelstam’s, but he spared the former and killed the latter. Yet it was precisely the sheer unpredictability of it all that kept the subjects on their toes.

It all went further than the aesthetic enjoyment of being the godlike master of life or death. Stalin’s stature was based not just on his own unlimited power over his subjects but also on the subjects’ awareness that Stalin’s power, however he chose to exercise it, was indeed unlimited.

True, Stalin murdered millions and imprisoned tens of millions, whereas Putin has merely scored dozens in the first category and hundreds in the second. But that means not that Putin’s power is limited but that he simply doesn’t need greater numbers to make a point.

I wasn’t sad when Khodorkovsky was imprisoned and neither am I happy that he has now been released. A chap like him puts the likes of Bernie Madoff to shame, and in any civilised country Khodorkovsky’s wealth-creating practices would put him in prison for life, not just for what’s contemptuously dismissed in a Russia as a ‘tenner’, a ‘child’s term’.

Russian children indeed used to be sentenced to tenners for picking up some ears of wheat in fields belonging to collective farms. The state had decreed they should starve, so who were they to resist? Today they were stealing some corn, tomorrow they’d murder Comrade Stalin. That sort of delinquency had to be nipped in the bud.

All modern governments, democratic or otherwise, are tyrannical, differing from one another only in the extent of their despotism. Thus you’ll notice that even in the West crimes against the state are punished more surely and severely than crimes against the individual.

A tax dodger evading a few thousand pounds in tax will land in jail on first offence, whereas a burglar stealing a similar amount’s worth in TV sets and computers will only serve time, on average, after 15 convictions (and three times as many burglaries).

Khodorkovsky wouldn’t have been charged with tax evasion had he toed the political line. By failing to do so he violated the unwritten compact between himself and Putin.

When communism ‘collapsed’, which is to say when power in Russia passed from the party to the KGB, the country’s wealth was ‘privatised’. This meant that the KGB state agreed to relinquish the de jure ownership of some of its capital, while retaining the de facto control of all of it.

The ownership passed on to the appointed oligarchs, who were allowed to live the life of Middle Eastern potentates off the interest, and even to impersonate Western entrepreneurs if they so chose. In exchange they undertook to loosen their purse strings whenever the leader demanded it and also to refrain from any political activity that could undermine the leader.

Most of the oligarchs first caught the august eye when doing service in Komsomol, the communist youth organisation technically subservient to the party but in fact acting as the KGB breeding ground.

Khordorkovsky commanded pride of place among the oligarchs because he had been First Secretary of the Komsomol committee in one of Moscow’s boroughs – a position that conferred more actual power in the Soviet Union than most ministries did.

He was nomenklatura, which is to say not just an accomplice in Soviet crimes but an active perpetrator of them. This eased his passage into the highest echelons of the organised crime going by the misnomer of Russian business.

Just like the small-scale Italian equivalent, the Russian mafia ably led by KGB Col. Putin demands adherence to its secret code, its own omertà.

In violation of it the former nomenklatura member began to get ideas above his station. Unlike someone like Prokhorov, Russia’s third richest man, who only does opposition politics to help Putin avoid the bad PR of a 100-percent vote, Khodorkovsky, then Russia’s richest man, thought he could try opposition politics for real.

That decision could have easily earned him a bullet in a dark alley or a staged suicide, complete with a repentant note. Instead it merely earned him a tenner – he should count himself lucky.

Had Putin not decided to outdo Hitler’s Olympics in Berlin by staging his own in Sochi, Khodorkovsky might well have spent the rest of his days in prison. But just as Hitler took it easy murdering Jews in the run-up to his Games, Putin has decided to embellish his record on human rights before his sporting triumph.

The colonel has spent over $50 billion on his PR campaign, more than has ever been spent on any sports event in history. In reality this meant squeezing some ill-gotten gains from the ‘appointed oligarchs’ and pumping them into the coffers of Putin’s closer cronies, but be that as it may he wasn’t going to let this investment go to waste.

So the KGB tsar declared an amnesty and freed Khordorkovsky. By the looks of it the ex-oligarch had to promise to leave Russia within hours of his release and keep his mouth shut even when he’s in the West.

I don’t know how the deal was worded, but the KGB has a way of making itself understood. “Don’t think you can do as you please on the out, Misha,” Khodorkovsky must have been told. “You can run to Berlin, but you can’t hide there. Remember Litvinenko?”

I’m sure this time Khodorkovsky will remember which side his bread is buttered and just enjoy what’s left of his billions.

Meanwhile forgive me if I don’t join our papers in rejoicing over Khodorkovsky’s release (The Times: “His country needs him”). Decent people shouldn’t take part in pornographic displays.