Saturday 31 December 2011

Job Vacancy at Diocese of Westminster

London, SW1, £25-26k per annum (neg)
Closing Date: 6 January 2012

Diocese of Westminster, Communications dept

The Catholic Diocese of Westminster is home to the Archbishop of Westminster, Westminster Cathedral, over 200 parishes and over 200 schools in London and Hertfordshire and is a registered charity of significant proportions.

We are currently seeking a Media and Publications Officer for the Communications department, which is responsible for managing the internal and external communications of the Catholic Church in Westminster

Based in our central service offices at Archbishop’s House, SW1 the post-holder will help deliver a positive media profile for the Diocese and provide comprehensive support to the Director of Communications in promoting our work through a variety of channels including print, the web and social media.

The successful applicant will possess a background in journalism or PR, have experience of pro-active media relations and of working with social media and e-communications. Relevant experience of writing for and working on the production of publications would also be essential.

S/he must be educated to degree standard or equivalent and possess a good knowledge of all desktop publishing and MS office packages together with excellent communication and organisational skills and a general understanding of the social and moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

Hours of work: 35 hours per week (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday)

To apply for this position, please visit our website and complete an online application. Please note that electronic applications will be accepted, please email your application to


What's Going On?

This one goes out to Caroline Farrow and John Smeaton.

This next one goes out to the Bishops of England and Wales.

Happy New Year to all readers.

Friday 30 December 2011

What if We Did a Lila Rose at a Catholic School?

Lila Rose, LiveAction pro-life worker
One of the huge Catholic stories of 2011 was the stunning exposure of the corruption involved in the abortion industry.

Lila Rose, of LiveAction, used some (rather sneaky) tactics in order to expose, among other injustices such as the destruction of the innocent in the womb, Planned Parenthood cover-up of such things as statutory rape and all kinds of shocking unpleasant crimes.

This whole exposure thing is dynamite, you know. So, tell you what. Why not let's strap some a secret camera to a Catholic schoolgirl, send her to Connexions in her local Catholic school and see what Connexions say when she tells the school nurse she's up the duff.

Then, on camera, we'd be able to watch the Connexions staff say, "There, there, love, we don't need to tell mum and dad about this. We'll send you onto the BPAS, right away, we can tell you're upset" or "Here, you go treasure, just take a couple of these pills. Do mum and dad need to know? No, dear, its all confidential."

Yep, that would be dynamite and the Bishops of England and Wales would be thankful that the truth had been exposed for all the World to see.

Thursday 29 December 2011

...or the van gets it!

I have one day to save my van. I can't afford the MOT repairs. It will cost £800 minimum to get the brakes sorted. I can't get a new tax disc without an MOT. The tax disc runs out on 31st December. I can't declare it SORN (off-road) because it is parked on a public highway and I have nowhere to park it.

George has said he might take it off my hands but he is currently unsure about taking it on. The organisations I have written to asking if they would like it have not replied, I guess due to the Christmas break. If George doesn't take it, and I don't have the money, then this beautiful van will die and be taken to a scrap heap. Sad, but true. I did receive one donation via paypal though I don't know how they found my account on paypal. If the kind person would like to come forward I will refund them by cheque for their kind donation of £50.

It looks like this van is going to the local Poor House, Emmaus in Portslade.

Becket Film to be Remade in 2012

Becket: "Who knows what's down the road?"
The life of St Thomas Becket is to be remade to reflect a more modern and nuanced age.

In the new version of the tale of the martyrdom of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Becket says of the King's plans that threaten the Church, "Who knows what's down the road?"

The famous excommunication scene of the 1964 classic has been dropped by the makers of the new version because of the lack of nuance involved in excommunication.

Instead, Becket is seen giving an interview with a Canterbury newspaper saying that those not in full support of the King and who question the fidelity of the Bishops to the Holy Faith, "should hold their tongues." The exciting remake of the hit movie is said to be controversial, due to the fact that Becket keeps his life after coming to agree to a partnership of civility with the aggressive King Henry so that Becket's wealth and property can be passed more easily on to his successors without fear of legal repercussions concerning his will.

The new version is set to be released by Eccleston Square Productions in the new year and will be launched by Austen Ivereigh and Jack Valero, as part of a new Catholic Voices project aimed at reaching out to a modern age suspicious of the Catholic Church, but which retains an interest in a new vision of Catholic humanism whereby nobody is offended by Her teaching.

The Legend of the Robin's Red Breast

I was telling a friend of mine about the legend of the Robin's red breast. He loved it. I didn't know there was a song about it. How sweet! Let's hear it for the Robin, people! Give it up for the Robin! Legend has it that when Our Lord was dying on the cross, the Robin, then simply brown in colour, flew to his side and sang into his ear in order to comfort Him in His pain.

The Legend of the Robin's Red Breast

Oh have you heard the story,
it happened long ago
When Christ our blessed Savior,
was here on earth below

An echo thru the ages,
from distant Calvary
I'll tell it to you simply,
as it was told to me.


It breathes the blessed teaching,
of God's own holy word
A lesson taught in meekness,
by a lowly little bird.

When Jesus hung in sorrow,
our debt of shame to pay
No one was there to comfort,
or wipe His tears away.

A little bird flew near Him,
in sober coat of brown
And gazed in tender pity,
then slowly fluttered down.


With gentle wings it fanned Him,
to cool His aching head
And hovered near His bosom,
all stained with deepest red.

At last when all was ended,
as if to mourn His loss
It rose with blood stained feathers,
and circled 'round the cross.


It flew away in sadness and,
till this day 'tis said
It wears upon it's bosom,
that stain of crimson red

When I shall cross the valley,
and go to seek my rest
May I wear like the robin,
God's sign upon my breast.

It breathes the blessed teaching,
of God's own holy word
A lesson taught in meekness,
by a lowly little bird.

Music and lyrics by Bradley Kincaid

Abortion Back in the Headlines

The Telegraph today reports on the rise in abortions to reduce multiple pregnancies as a result of IVF treatment.

According to the article, 'more than 100 unborn babies were aborted last year by women expecting twins, triplets or even quintuplets but who wanted to give birth to fewer children, official figures disclosed to The Telegraph show'...

'Over the past few years, there has been a sharp rise in the number of women terminating one foetus or more but continuing with a pregnancy and bearing at least one other child. 
Experts say that the increase in so-called “selective reductions” has largely been caused by a rise in multiple pregnancies following IVF treatment. The disclosure is likely to provoke renewed debate over the practice in which IVF clinics implant several embryos in order to improve a couple’s chances of having a baby. 
Department of Health figures, released under Freedom of Information law, show that 59 women aborted at least one foetus while going on to give birth to another baby in 2006. In 2010, the number had risen to 85. During 2010, 101 foetuses were aborted in this way – as some mothers aborted two or more unborn babies.'

Of the 85 women undergoing selective reductions last year, 51 were reducing a pregnancy from twins to a single baby, up from 30 four years before. There were also 20 abortions to reduce triplets to twins and nine procedures to take a pregnancy from triplets to a single child. 
The other terminations counted in the 2010 data were three mothers who reduced four foetuses to two, and two mothers who reduced five to two. 
Separate figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, show that almost one third of selective abortions carried out in 2009 involved pregnancies that were a result of fertility treatment. 
Multiple pregnancies are more dangerous to both mother and baby and the Department of Health said that about three quarters of the selective reductions were made on medical grounds. 
The risk of birth defects is about twice as high for multiple pregnancies and the babies are far more likely to be premature. Twins are four to six times more likely to suffer cerebral palsy, brain damage that can leave them wheelchair-bound, unable to speak and having fits.
They are also more likely to have impaired sight and heart defects. 
The rise of selective reductions will also lead to discussion over the ethics of aborting a potentially healthy foetus while one or more siblings survive. Some mothers-to-be have said that they were considering the procedure because they could not cope with more than one baby at a time. 
Prof Richard Fleming, the scientific director of the Glasgow Centre for Reproductive Medicine, said that the link between fertility treatment and selective abortions was clear.
“I would be surprised if multiple pregnancy through fertility treatment was not a significant component to the increase in selective reductions,” he said. 
“One of the components within that is the health to the mother and health to the offspring as well – both are compromised by multiple pregnancy. The more complicated multiple pregnancies lie almost exclusively in the IVF domain. It’s a horrible decision to make but a very sensible one.” 
Last night, Dr Peter Saunders, the chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship and a former surgeon, said: “There is no doubt that the rising use of IVF has contributed to a rise in multiple pregnancies. 
“If prospective parents are not willing to have twins then they should not be implanting more than one embryo at a time. Parental preference should never take precedence over the right to life of the unborn child.” 
Last year there were 189,000 terminations in England and Wales. Women can apply for an abortion on medical grounds up to the point of birth. Although selective abortions represent a small proportion of the total figure, they are often viewed as among the most controversial.
In recent years there has been a move to reduce the number of multiple pregnancies because of the risks. In the 1990s the HFEA, which regulated fertility clinics, issued guidance saying that no more than three embryos should be transferred at any one time. A lower limit of two embryos for women aged over 40 was issued in 2001. 
In recent years the HFEA campaigned to persuade parents and clinics to implant just one embryo at a time and set clinics a limit on the number of multiple pregnancies they could produce. 
NICE, the value-for-money advisory body, is currently reviewing NHS guidelines for fertility treatment and is expected to examine the issue of multiple pregnancy. Women who have undergone fertility treatment resulting in multiple pregnancies have taken to internet sites to seek help and discuss the dilemma they face. 
One wrote: “I’m 12 weeks pregnant with my first pregnancy achieved through [fertility treatment]. At my six-week scan, we found that I’m carrying triplets, which has taken a long time to sink in, and we feel we have to consider foetal reduction. My concern is about the best outcomes for my babies, and to me. I’m not sure that being two months premature and incubated is the best thing for my children, along with the other potential risks. I just want the best possible outcome for my pregnancy and my children, and that might not be keeping all three.” 
Another wrote: “I am seven weeks pregnant with twins (non-identical). After two weeks on an emotional rollercoaster, I have decided that I cannot cope with twins due to health, emotional, practical, financial reasons. I am considering foetal reduction.” 
Despite the risks, many women undergoing fertility treatment remain keen to increase their chance of becoming pregnant by implanting multiple foetuses. 
“Women are encouraged to have a single embryo implanted and then freeze any others,” said Susan Seenan, from the Fertility Network, a support group. “But if one of the embryos is poor quality or the woman is having treatment on the NHS or paying for it privately, they are likely to want to maximise their chances.” 
A spokesman for the Department of Health defended the practice. “Over three quarters, 78 per cent, of the selective terminations were performed under ground E – that there is substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped,” he said. “Multiple pregnancies are generally a greater risk to the mother and the babies. The risk is greater for twins than single babies but rises dramatically with three babies or more.”

Quite chilling, isn't it?

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Ask the Experts: Why David Cameron Should Ignore the Royal College and Meet My Friend

"Quick! Somebody stop that man! He's going to get drunk!"
Two headlines have caught my eye today, both coming from The Telegraph. One concerns David Cameron's decision to follow the advice of the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians who have called for a minimum price for cheap booze to be implemented.

The second headline that caught my eye was the stunning news that a third of all unemployed Britons have convictions.

Let's deal with the first article first. First, since when was the UK Government's policies dictated to it by the same health experts that condone and promote the killing of nascent life in the womb as 'abortion care'? Who elected these 'experts'?

Second, it is pretty obvious to glean from the article that this has little to do with concern for the nation's health (though its cost is a factor) and far more to do with what is now known as 'anti-social behaviour'. Cheap booze needs to be made more expensive so that anti-social poor people cannot afford it. David Cameron has a problem in Britain and the problem is sin and poor sinners. Now we have discovered what kind of a Christian David Cameron is. He's a modern day puritan. The likelihood is, however, that the cost of fine wines, good brandy, champagne or whatever it is our beloved parliamentarians drink, will remain mysteriously static.

Third, it seems almost providential that these two articles should surface on the same day on the same Telegraph web page because it is obvious that the two are linked. Why, for example, are so many men and women drinking Skol Super all day, begging for money for it after their benefits have dried up and not out looking for work? The answer is that many of them have convictions so there is no point in looking for work because nobody will employ them. Once men and women receive convictions, any company that runs a Criminal Records Bureau check (and a heck of a lot of companies do exactly that) will not even send a letter of reply to those applicants with convictions. After prison, many of them in for drink or drug related offenses or 'anti-social behaviour' offenses, emerge with no hope of employment because they have convictions. To be blunt, for many men and women, life on the inside is kinder than life on the outside.

So allow me, please, to give readers an example. It just so happens that I have a friend who lives in a hostel in Brighton. Let's call him JE. JE is something of an enigma. The other day I saw him on London Road with a can of beer in his hand late at night talking to a stuffed reindeer toy. He is currently quite heartbroken because a relationship failed.

He always has a can of cheap strong booze in his hand. I don't know how he gets the money, he just does. There's a lot of lending on the street. Raising the cost of the cheap strong booze won't change JE's behaviour. Cigarettes go up every year and it has never stopped me smoking no matter how poor I have been either. JE is seen by the authorities as a huge social menace and a problem and the truth is that JE is really quite irritating and is regularly 'anti-social' in his conduct even though he has a 'heart of gold'. He has a way of begging that makes you want to punch his lights out and often people do. He had an horrendous childhood, abandoned by parents, most likely abused and ended up in prison probably quite early in life. He is now on an ASBO which means he cannot beg. He is banned from 3/4 of Brighton's city centre. There are parts of Brighton on which he is allowed to walk on the right side of the road but not the left. He resides in a really quite awful little hostel room ran by the Council from which he has been evicted several times. The only time I have ever seen JE relatively at peace and relatively happy is when I have visited him in prison.

The question is why? Well, when JE is in prison he has a purpose in life. He gets three meals a day, he cooks, he cleans, he gets cooking qualifications, he gets cleaning qualifications.  Many ex-cons have NVQs coming out of their ears. They want to work, they want to be able to provide for themselves, but the problem is that qualifications and experience do not obtain for you employment in the outside world once the outside world knows that you have a record as long as your arm. Even one conviction is usually enough for an employer to ignore you.

JE is about to go into rehab (again), so he tells me and then he'll be given residence in a 'dry hostel'. However, what JE needs is real support. Obviously, I pray and work for JE's Salvation, but the truth of the matter is that JE needs concrete and practical help in order for his life to improve.  Once you have talked to JE and got past the fact that he is pissed a great deal of the time, and therefore, at times rather obnoxious and unpleasant, JE will likely tell you that he gets pissed all of the time because there is nothing for him to do. He sees no purpose to his life. He has no hope for the future. His self-destructive and societally destructive behaviour is related to the fact that he believes that 'nobody would care if I died tomorrow'. Obviously, one replies by telling him that both Heaven and people on Earth would care, but all JE perceives is that his existence is pointless and meaningless. The man doesn't give a damn if he dies tomorrow because life for him is crushing and all he can do is wander the streets all day, at least, those streets on which he is permitted to walk.

To be honest, JE turned up at my door the other day and I refused to see him because his head was bleeding. I told him I'd call an ambulance for him, it sounded like he needed one and to 'get his arse to hospital'. I'm not Florence Nightingale or, indeed, sadly, Blessed Mother Teresa and I'm not having drunkards turning up at my flat as if they've arrived at Accident and Emergency. I've got neighbours, you know. He keeps telling me that he's recently been running out in front of cars and buses because he has given up on life because he is heartbroken because of a girl. He's also recently taken to cutting himself with a penknife since the relationship ended. The truth, however, is that JE gave up on life a long time ago for reasons known to him alone. I know that a girl isn't going to save him. I know that I can't save him. I know that Jesus Christ alone can save JE, but I also know that JE is the real expert on the issue of JE. He has more knowledge of his own situation that do the DWP, the BMA or the RCP and certainly more than DC.

But where does this leave JE? The truth is that if JE did his detox, did AA, and knew that at the end of it was real support and the possibility of a job as a cook, the job for which he has qualifications and which he enjoys, his detox might be a lot more successful. There is no real possibility of that and so the likelihood is that he will not take his detox too seriously. That is why even though JE's public vices are his responsibility, he is justified in blaming society for his situation also because society will never give JE a reason to get up in the morning and stay sober. I've heard alcoholics say that you sometimes have to hit 'rock-bottom' before changing your life and getting back on the wagon. Well, what do you say to someone who doesn't much care anymore how deep the bottom is and discovers that if you have a drill you can just keep going down and that there is no bottom?

Now, you may say, 'Well only God can help JE' and you'd be right, but it is still true that society will never give JE a job even if he gets clean. You would also have to ask why if only God can help people then why not let's cut all the funding to the drug rehabilitation centres altogether and leave everything to God. Ultimately, JE behaves as one excluded because he is excluded. This is 'broken Britain' and David Cameron thinks he is the man to fix it. We Catholics, however, know that the answer for JE is Jesus Christ, but, and I'm sure St Anthony of Padua would agree, the answer for David Cameron, too, and for all who desire JE's salvation and happiness, is Jesus Christ. I have tried some of JE's cooking, by the way, and he is, in all honesty, a mighty fine chef. The Gospel, as well as inspiring us to lead others to Salvation, should lead us to desire that human beings be allowed to fulfill their potential and use their talents.

What today's two Telegraph articles reveal is that within the fabric of British society, for the released prisoner, convict or offender, here in the United Kingdom we may not believe in redemption, but we do still retain a firm belief, or perhaps 'conviction', in everlasting punishment.  Parliamentarians, on the other hand, can drink as much as they like and be as anti-social as they like with utter impunity.

Happy Chanukah from Brighton and Hove City Council

No Nativity...but Happy Chanukah!
 As I say, there is no public Nativity scene in Brighton this Christmas...

... but there is a Happy Chanukah scene in the gardens on the Old Steine, sponsored by Brighton and Hove City Council. Quite sizable it is too.

May I take this opportunity to wish all my Jewish readers a very happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas to Jews and Gentiles alike.

Social Teaching Catholics

Social Teaching Catholic: St Anthony of Padua
Fr Ray Blake has posted on what he sees as a division within Holy Church between a liberal wing which emphasises Catholic social teaching at the expense of the fullness of the Catholic Faith and an orthodox wing of the Church which emphasises the importance of good liturgy, worship and the defense of the unborn but, by implication of his reasoning, is a little indifferent to social justice. I suppose the inference of his post is that the post-Vatican II Church is confused about where Her priorities should be.

I suppose that the revolutions which exploded in the 1960s both within and without the Church have affected Her mission in the area of 'social justice' as well as in Her liturgical practises. It is not to say, of course, that the post-concilliar Church has lacked any heroic and holy men and women who have founded missions to the poor. What we can say, however, is that even some of the channels of 'caritas' in the Church's mission have been compromised because of the lack of orthodox belief held by those who organise relief to the poor.

My personal take on the sense of confusion within the Church is that as Catholics we need to look back at our roots. It seems to me that the great Saints of the Church known for their service to the poor really loved the poor. It wasn't so much that they did good deeds, it was that they loved Jesus Christ and recognised Him in the poor. St Anthony of Padua, for instance, loved the poor and saw in them the riches of the Gospel. He openly condemned the rich for withholding their money, bread and love from the poor. It is in other words, a very traditionally Catholic thing to love the poor and to desire to bring them relief. Doctors of the Church as far back as St Augustine of Hippo, St Irenaeus and St Ambrose of Milan preached and wrote on this urgent message of the Gospel and that our very salvation depended on what we do for the poor.  St Vincent de Paul was famed for caring for the poor. St Martin of Porres the same. My holy patron saw the poor as the true 'treasures of the Church'. St Elizabeth of Hungary is famed for her care for the poor and hungry.

The problem arises, I suspect, when the Church's message becomes distorted. All of the Saints known for their great love for the poor were great lovers of Jesus Christ. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta loved the poor because in them she saw Christ Crucified. The Doctors of the Church often urged us to be kind to the poor because we should be generous to God. Saints believed kindness to the poor was necessary for our salvation. There is no need, really, for a division in the Church on the issue of social justice. It should not be controversial for a traditional Catholic to be generous to the poor. It should be preached openly that Our Lord made it categorically clear that we will be judged on our response to the poor and destitute.

The problem is the Church's confusion in the wake of the Second Vatican Council and in the light of the cultural revolutions that took place since the 1960s. The problem is that liberalism has dulled our hearts and made them grow cold because we are not inflamed with love for Jesus Christ anymore because we no longer believe in the Salvation that comes from Him. Nothing can be necessary for our salvation if we do not any longer believe in it. Nothing can be necessary for our salvation if we cannot even talk to young people about it. Giving to the poor doesn't help our salvation if we do not believe in salvation, our need for it and the need of others for it.  The confusion and division in the Church is grounded in ignorance of the Faith, ignorance of Scripture, ignorance of our roots, the Saints and Martyrs and sadly, ignorance of Jesus Christ. If traditional Catholics are not kind and generous to the poor then we are perhaps as severed from our tradition as are those liberal Catholics who do a lot for Cafod but who dismiss the rest of Catholic Teaching.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Nativity Scenes: Where Did They All Go?

Public nativity scenes are nowhere in the UK
The answer is. They must all be in Churches. 

Merry Christmas, by the way. I can say that to you because I'm not in the US House of Representatives and you are not my constituents.

Fr Z today posts on The Catholic League's Nativity scene in New York City. It is sad that we are at a stage in history in which, here in the West, Catholic organisations have to fight tooth and nail to remind New Yorkers of the 'reason for the season'.

A few years ago, I managed to obtain a Nativity scene in Brighton from a Wesley Owen Bookshop which has since closed down. It was £35 and I no longer have it. This year, it hasn't happened. As far as I know, nowhere in Brighton sold them over the Christmas period. I think I saw a really small shoddy one made of wool in a charity shop window, but I'm not sure that was even for sale.

Aside from St Bernadette's Bookshop, in Kemptown, which sadly now only opens one day a week due to the poor health of the owner, there is no Christian bookshop either Catholic or otherwise in Brighton.

That's perhaps not surprising, because after all, it is Brighton and Hove, the cosmopolitan, multicultural city by the sea where every message is welcome but for the message of Christ. If there were a Christian, or even better, Catholic, bookshop in Brighton, I'm not sure how much time I would spend milling around it, though, come to think of it, it would be nice to be able to browse around a Brighton CTS store or St Paul's Multimedia store. That said, it would have been really nice to have purchased a Nativity scene for my place this year. It is kind of sad that ordinary gift shops do not think of selling Nativity scenes in this country. After all, they might actually sell quite well, what with Christmas being a celebration of the Birth of Our Lord.  Should we really, in 21st century Britain, have to order Nativity scenes online at Christmas if we want one for our homes or make an excursion to London?

It is quite incredible that today the only Nativity scenes in the UK are most likely solely to be found in Churches. Public Nativity scenes, in town and city centres seem also to be a thing of the distant past in this country. There must have been a time, and it cannot have been that long ago, when town centres had a Nativity scene. The Nativity of Our Lord has been airbrushed from Christmas in these isles, so much so that you'll only see a scene of the Nativity in Churches. No longer are the scenes available in your local store. No longer are they made for town or city centres.

It is, as the picture above suggests, a different story in parts of Eastern Europe, such as Poland and Lithuania. Apparently, you can't move for Nativity scenes in those countries. Maybe I'm just being grumpy, but I can't help thinking that the severance of Christ from Christmas leaves the country all the poorer, spiritually, obviously, but also culturally. There is a bit of a cavernous void in the secularisation of Britain.  What could possibly be so offensive about a Virgin, a Child, St Joseph and some animals in a stable? On the way to Church, there is a whole shop entitled 'Private Shop' dedicated to pornographic sex. Between that and a local grocers is another pornographic sex shop called 'Taboo' selling only sex toys and porn (yes, that's right - only sex toys and porn!). Yet, strangely, you can't find a Nativity scene in this town for love nor money.

Christmas TV Must Watch

I totally missed this movie when it was released, but I really recommend Ratatouille. Pure comedy genius.

You can watch it on BBC IPlayer here.

Monday 26 December 2011

All Together Now...

"Anyway, so I was just fiddling about with my guitar and came up with a few chords. I was going for a kind of 'medieval' folk Christmas song and then the lyrics came to me. Not bad, eh?"

Gaudete, Gaudete!
Christus et natus
Ex maria virgine,
Rejoice, Rejoice!
Christ is born
Of the virgin Mary,
Tempus ad est gratiae,
Hoc quod optabamus;
Carmina laetitiae,
Devote redamus.
It is now the time of grace
That we have desired;
Let us sing songs of joy,
Let us give devotion.
Deus homo factus est,
Natura mirante;
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante.
God was made man,
And nature marvels;
The world was renewed
By Christ who is King.
Ezechiellis porta
Clausa pertransitur;
Unde lux est orta
Salus invenitur.
The closed gate of Ezechiel
Has been passed through;
From where the light rises
Salvation is found.
Ergo nostra cantio,
Psallat iam in lustro;
Benedicat Domino:
Salus Regi nostro.
Therefore let our assembly now sing,
Sing the Psalms to purify us;
Let it praise the Lord:
Greetings to our King.

Urbi et Orbi Christmas 2011

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Urbi et Orbi Message Christmas 2011

'Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world! Christ is born for us! Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to the men and women whom he loves. May all people hear an echo of the message of Bethlehem which the Catholic Church repeats in every continent, beyond the confines of every nation, language and culture.

The Son of the Virgin Mary is born for everyone; he is the Saviour of all. This is how Christ is invoked in an ancient liturgical antiphon: “O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come to save us, O Lord our God”. Veni ad salvandum nos! Come to save us! This is the cry raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers. They need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand which reaches out to them from on high. Dear brothers and sisters, this hand is Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary.

He is the hand that God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love (cf. Ps 40:2). This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which, by God’s will, Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means “Saviour” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save us above all from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of separation from God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient, of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to decide what is good and evil, to be the master of life and death (cf. Gen 3:1-7).

This is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him: “Veni ad salvandum nos! – Come to save us!” The very fact that we cry to heaven in this way already sets us aright; it makes us true to ourselves: we are in fact those who cried out to God and were saved (cf. Esth [LXX] 10:3ff.). God is the Saviour; we are those who are in peril. He is the physician; we are the infirm. To realize this is the first step towards salvation, towards emerging from the maze in which we have been locked by our pride. To lift our eyes to heaven, to stretch out our hands and call for help is our means of escape, provided that there is Someone who hears us and can come to our assistance.

Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine.

Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation. Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, on this Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary, and say: “Come to save us!” Let us repeat these words in spiritual union with the many people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak out for those who have no voice.

Together let us ask God’s help for the peoples of the Horn of Africa, who suffer from hunger and food shortages, aggravated at times by a persistent state of insecurity. May the international community not fail to offer assistance to the many displaced persons coming from that region and whose dignity has been sorely tried. May the Lord grant comfort to the peoples of South-East Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines, who are still enduring grave hardships as a result of the recent floods.

May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which even today stain the earth with blood. May the Prince of Peace grant peace and stability to that Land where he chose to come into the world, and encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed. May he foster full reconciliation and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan.

May he grant renewed vigour to all elements of society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East as they strive to advance the common good. May the birth of the Saviour support the prospects of dialogue and cooperation in Myanmar, in the pursuit of shared solutions. May the Nativity of the Redeemer ensure political stability to the countries of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and assist the people of South Sudan in their commitment to safeguarding the rights of all citizens.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of Bethlehem. The Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought to the world a universal message of reconciliation and peace. Let us open our hearts to him; let us receive him into our lives. Once more let us say to him, with joy and confidence: “Veni ad salvandum nos!”'

Sunday 25 December 2011

Radical Islam Makes Martyrs in Nigeria

Radical Islam is dangerous to the World in as much as it destroys bodies.

Radical Catholicism is dangerous to the World in as much as it changes lives and saves Souls.

Today, in Nigeria, the Catholic Church received a bloody Christmas present from radical Islamists: Martyrs.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas to All Readers

Ron Paul

Ron Paul: Asking to be assassinated
If Ron Paul win's Iowa the media will ignore the result and play down the importance of Iowa in the Republican race.

If Ron Paul wins the US Presidential election he'll be dead the following week.

Friday 23 December 2011

Emergency Discernment

Dear readers,

It is not often that I ask you to pray for me, but I feel that I am coming to a 'crossroads' in life (whether I am in the van or not). I would appreciate your prayers very much.

I feel like I am in something of a hole and that my current state in life, where I am living, my chaotic lifestyle, my lack of proper employment, my lack of a vocation and my really now being something of a perennial tick on the behinds of my parents, friends and now on the entire global Catholic online community, is becoming terribly tiresome. I'm 34 for Heaven's sake. It is kind of forcing me to look at how things are and where things are headed, or indeed, not headed, because things are headed nowhere. For a start, my front headlamps don't work properly.

Thankfully, I know that there is a way out of my current predicament (did I tell anyone I am meant to be getting married and yet I here I am begging on an online street corner?) and it involves a very good organisation in London where I would possibly thrive, marry, raise a family and serve the poor on a more full-time basis, rather than on casual night shifts. There I could garden, teach, lead projects, do family support work, admin, book-keeping or even music and share the diverse range of NVQs that only a perpetual student can obtain with an organisation started by a Catholic priest committed to raising awareness of the sufferings of the very poor.

As it happens, I doubt that this organisation would turn down a van at their family respite home for the poor and, unless the LMS Chairman wants to hire me as a full-time gardener, neither would I have any problems in being hired, because, er, its full-time volunteering and, to be honest, full-time volunteering is the only thing I'm any good at.

Since I wrote a blogpost asking for donations to help pay for my MOT, I have felt somewhat downcast. The reason is that while I am happy to receive donations generally for blogging, since we all have to live, it is 100% true to say that my use of the van would be for personal revenue to pay bills etc and, to be honest, I am not a very good businessman. I cannot see a 'man and van' or even a gardening business expanding and succeeding. Not with me at the wheel at any rate. Secondly, while I know full well that the Catholic community is exceedingly generous, I don't believe that the Catholic community should bail out my bank account because of my own van-based errors of judgment, even if the European Central Bank can spend €489,190,000,000 in bailing out an entire continent's banking system which is going to collapse anyway.

So, anyway, without further ado. Here's the plan. I'll call the organisation tomorrow to ask whether they want a van. I dare say that they could turn it into a minibus at their respite home for poor families in Frimley Green or use it to help poor families move and all that. I know they'll likely say yes and, in the meantime, I ask with more urgency that readers do send cheques to St Mary Magdalen's Church marked for my attention or use my Paypal account (I don't understand Paypal, at all, I don't know how to even link to it) to donate for a van for ATD Fourth World.

The only question then remains as to whether I will be driving it to London or Surrey a few months into the new year to become a permanent full-time volunteer to be joined by my fiancee sooner or later. The Good Counsel Network get second shout on it if they don't want it, unless they really want it, of course, in which case, er, its yours. So, readers, pray for me, that I may be graced to discern God's will for my life in this period of emergency discernment and please donate to the 2011 Christmas Van Appeal. Recommend me to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and pray for me as I pray for you.

In Domino, readers.

Oh, and watch this. I think Michael Voris has just changed my mind about the Turin Shroud. 34,000,000,000,000,000,000 watts! Oh my ...

Thursday 22 December 2011

The Search for Truth

The simple truth is that God's response to man's search for Truth is so simple and so true that it can be overlooked entirely. This is because of God's Absolute Humility.

His Absolute Humility will confound our expectations always and everywhere. We always expect God to be like us, not like Himself. When He comes into the World as 'one like us', we still expect Him to be like us and not like Himself.  Now that He has ascended we still imagine He will be like us, but He is not because His 'ways are not our ways' and His 'thoughts not our thoughts'.

We worship Him as the Almighty God and so He is and, yet, He is the Humble One, not us.

Is it not the case that those who seek 'evidence' and 'scientific proof' for God's existence demand to 'see the evidence' because if we were God, that is how we would choose to reveal ourselves?

If we were God, presumably we'd give an amazing light show in the sky with the words 'I am God, worship me please, oh go on' emblazoned across the cosmos, demanding that all humanity worship us this instant because it is in humanity's interest.

So it is that we, just like the wise and prudent of this World, the intellectuals, the academics, the scientists and the empiricists are so often eluded by Him. We ascribe to God's nature those aspects of our own that are not from Him or of Him.

At Christmas, the Truth comes to us as a Baby born in a stable.  The Magi were right to kneel down and adore Him, but would anyone be wrong if they asked Our Lady if they could hold Him in their arms, put their finger in his tiny palm and let Him squeeze it? Our Faith proclaims that God is All-powerful, Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent and Transcendant. Yet, the same Faith proclaims that it would be no sin to sing the same God lullabies, to wash His nappy, to feed Him, to give Him a kiss on the forehead, to rock Him to sleep or to tell Him a bedtime story.

That is God's Absolute Humility and, in this life, we will always be slightly uncomfortable with it. Because He is All Good and All Pure and Absolute Humility, He can be overlooked by us human beings terribly and tragically and frighteningly easily. The sin, however, still belongs to us. May He bless us and make His face to shine upon us in this holy season.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Pope Benedict XVI Visits Roman Prison

Our beloved Pontiff has visited inmates at a Roman prison. CNS carries a good report of His Holiness's time with prisoners which I have posted below.

Pope Benedict XVI told inmates at a Rome prison that people say nasty things about him, too, but it's important to remember that there are other people ready to offer their love and support.

During a visit Dec. 18 to Rome's Rebibbia prison, the pope gave a short speech and then responded to questions from six of the inmates gathered in the prison's Church of Our Father.

Federico, an inmate from the prison infirmary, which includes men who are HIV positive, told the pope that people say "ferocious things" about the inmates. "We have fallen and hurt people," he told the pope. "We have lost our freedom, but we ask you to help ensure we don't lose our dignity."

The pope told the inmates, "In my family," the papal household, there are four consecrated laywomen from the Memores Domini branch of Communion and Liberation. They have friends in the prisons, the pope said, so the sufferings, needs and concerns of inmates are a frequent topic of prayer and conversation in the papal apartments.

As for those who are not so understanding, the pope said, "we must put up with people who speak about us in a ferocious way. They speak ferociously about the pope, too, and yet we keep going forward."

In his prepared talk to the inmates, dressed in street clothes with most wearing sweatshirts, some with hoods, Pope Benedict said, "I've come simply to tell you that God loves you with an infinite love."

Citing the Gospel of Matthew, Pope Benedict said that "wherever there is a hungry person, a foreigner, a sick person or a prisoner, there is Christ himself who is awaiting our visit and our help."

While human justice and divine justice obviously are different, he said, those who mete out justice on earth have an obligation to ensure that prison terms respect an inmate's human dignity, promote restitution to the victims and society at large, and prepare the inmate to leave prison as a responsible member of society.

Pope Benedict said he knows overcrowded prisons make it even more difficult to maintain the dignity of the prisoners, and governments must do more to alleviate the situation so that it does not become a "double sentence" for the inmates.

An inmate named Rocco asked the pope if he thought Italy's politicians would see the pope's visit as a call to work harder to ensure dignified conditions for the 1,700 inmates.

The pope responded that while his visit was a private initiative, he hoped it would call attention to the rights and needs of prisoners.

A prisoner named Alberto, who said he is "a new man" and the father of a 2-month-old baby girl, asked the pope whether it was right that he was still in prison.

"Congratulations! I'm happy that you are a father, that you consider yourself a new man and have a splendid daughter; this is a gift from God," the pope said. While the details of Alberto's case made it impossible for the pope to judge whether or not he should still be in prison, he said he hoped he could return home soon, hold his daughter and build a strong family.

Gianni, another inmate, asked the pope why he had to go to confession for pardon instead of just getting on his knees and asking God for forgiveness.

"Naturally, if you get on your knees and, with real love for God, pray that God forgive you, he will," the pope said.

But sin doesn't disturb only the relationship between an individual and God, he said, it harms the community of the church and wider society. The sacrament of reconciliation "is the great gift by which, through confession, I can free myself from this and can receive real forgiveness, including in the sense of a full readmission into the community of the living church," he said.

Nwaihim Ndubuisi, an inmate from Africa, told the pope that he had watched his November visit to Benin where the people are full of faith, but quite poor. "Does God only listen to the rich and powerful?" he asked the pope.

"No," said the pope. In fact, seeing the faith and joy of the people of Benin made him think that "in rich countries joy often is absent. We are all so worried about so many problems," he said. "With the mass of things we have, we seem to be further from ourselves and from the experience that God exists and is close to me."

May God bless His Holiness and grant Pope Benedict XVI long life, good health and a long reign.

China Condemn Christian Bale for Trying to Visit Human Rights Activist

The Telegraph has today reported on the story of Hollywood star, Christian Bale, who has received some condemnation from Chinese authorities for attempting to visit a human rights activist in eastern China. Video above shows the incident in which Chinese forces stop Bale from visiting an activist.

The Telegraph omitted to mention that while it may not have been the primary reason for Bale's attempted visit to the blind activist, the man he wanted to see Chen Guangcheng, who is actually a pro-life activist. The Telegraph article doesn't mention this, but Life Site News, of course, does.

Chen exposed the systematic use of forced abortion and sterilization in Linyi City in 2005.  For four years, three months, he was jailed, tortured and denied medical treatment.  Since his release he has languished under strict house arrest.  Well done to Christian for highlighting the plight of women and unborn children in China and those activists who are brave enough to speak out against the Chinese regime.

Christmas Van Appeal 2011

Well, I am quite sure that there are numerous, a veritable truckload of more worthy causes to which you can donate this year, but my van has failed its MOT and I cannot realistically afford to pay for the dramatic failure of its MOT on my wages.

I've been quoted that the repairs needed for the van to be fixed will be £1000. Obviously, I would consider selling the vehicle, and I certainly could do so, if there were someone who wanted to buy a very nice van which has failed its MOT then I'm certainly open to negotiation. Looking back, I'm not sure this purchase was a wise one. I'd consider donating it to some monastery or friary or something like that who had a mechanic in their orders who could make it roadworthy.

However, if there are readers who like my blog and would like to show appreciation for it this year, you can donate to the Christmas Van Appeal 2011 by sending a cheque for me to St Mary Magdalen Church, 55 Upper North Street, Brighton BN1 3FH. I'd give my own address but dead puppies in the post should be for life, not just for Christmas. Any contributions at all would be much appreciated just to take the edge of what could be a rather nasty hit to my already quite heavily indebted bank account. Like most beggars I feel bad asking because there are a million more causes more important than mine, but if you would like to help, you are more than welcome. In the meantime, does anyone know any Polish mechanics in Brighton? I hear they are more 'cost-effective'.

Enshrouded in Mystery

I don't know whether readers have been to Turin to make pilgrimage to the Holy Shroud. The subject of the Shroud is again in the headlines this week, following an announcement from Italian scientists that there is little chance that the Shroud is a medieval forgery and highly likely that it is the authentic burial cloth of Christ.

According to The Telegraph...

'The scientists set out to "identify the physical and chemical processes capable of generating a colour similar to that of the image on the Shroud." They concluded that the exact shade, texture and depth of the imprints on the cloth could only be produced with the aid of ultraviolet lasers – technology that was clearly not available in medieval times.

The scientists used extremely brief pulses of ultraviolet light to replicate the kind of marks found on the burial cloth. They concluded that the iconic image of the bearded man must therefore have been created by "some form of electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at short wavelength)."

Although they stopped short of offering a non-scientific explanation for the phenomenon, their findings will be embraced by those who believe that the marks on the shroud were miraculously created at the moment of Christ's Resurrection.

"We are not at the conclusion, we are composing pieces of a fascinating and complex scientific puzzle," the team wrote in their report. Prof Paolo Di Lazzaro, the head of the team, said: "When one talks about a flash of light being able to colour a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things like miracles and resurrection." "But as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes. We hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate but we will leave the conclusions to the experts, and ultimately to the conscience of individuals." 

One would have thought that, as well as heartening the Faithful, or at least those of the Faithful who have visited the Shrine at the Cathedral in Turin, the words of the Italian scientists would be a welcome contribution to the debate on the Shroud, especially in the quarters of those noble empiricists who welcome any evidence in their in-tray as to the possible existence of God.  This is because, as we know, atheists are open-minded sceptics, generous but sober blank canvasses, if you like, on which discourse on God's existence can be impressed. Above all, they are are delighted when science opens a door into what could be the Heavenly realms. Right?

Unfortunately not. Tom Chivers, writing his blog for The Telegraph, took the announcement from the Italian scientists and both began and ended his piece with the imperious and rather arrogant claim, 'The Turin Shroud is fake. Get over it.' Quite how he got that headline out of the latest research on the Shroud is anyone's guess, but to me it seems rather over-defensive.

After all, the Catholic Church has not made belief in the Shroud an article of Faith to be held by believers. It is an object of private devotion, though obviously one cannot have a Shroud in ones own home.  Personally, I am not 100% convinced that the Shroud is genuine. If it is, then we marvel at the goodness of the Lord because our faith, really, is based on the the testimony of the Apostles to the Lord's death and Resurrection. However, one does get the 'impression' that whether the Shroud is genuine or not, we can be 100% certain that Tom Chivers is trying to bury Our Lord Jesus Christ, like so many atheists do.

Monday 19 December 2011

State Worship

Liturgical dance, North Korean style
I've been struck by the outpourings of grief in North Korea, where the People's Republic's beloved leader, Kim Jong-Il (God rest him) has died, apparently, of a heart attack.

I'm assuming that there is no Christianity in North Korea. I'm assuming that if there ever was Christianity in North Korea, that it has been 'destroyed'. Perhaps Dawkins looks to North Korea as something of a model, in terms of religious expression.

What North Korea really shows us is that worship is integral to human beings. In that country, if scenes on television are to be believed, there is weeping and wailing in Pyongyang because of the death of the leader around whom had been built up a mega cult of personality. The State, in that country, as well as the leader, appears to be invested with god-like status. It is rather frightening to watch the scenes, not because of the outpourings of grief, but because we can safely assume that the love directed towards Kim Jong-il is somewhat misdirected. Grief is natural, but the uncontrollable and sometimes quite violent sobbing of the people of Pyongyang suggest that this is no 'Diana' moment for the country, but rather visible proof that the people of North Korea are almost completely brainwashed by the doctrines of the atheist paradise. The ones who aren't brainwashed are, presumably, in gulags somewhere, starving to death.

I always smile when Dawkins says of those who believe Christian doctrines, that we are 'brainwashed'. Has he never thought what an atheistic State in which religion has been all but banished looks like? Did he never look at Mao with his 'little red book' indoctrinating Chinese children of the new doctrines of communism and think, 'Ah, a fine example of a country in which religion has been destroyed'? Does he not look at North Korea and see his atheist paradise in all its glory? Christopher Hitchens (God rest him) spoke of his resistence to faith in God because God demands our love like as in a 'celestial North Korea'. Yet, few believers would say that God's treatment of them was dictatorial. We who know we are sinners know how tenderly Christ calls His sheep back to Him with love and allows us to face the trials and tribulations that come with having free will. We know that it is usually our own disobedience which brings us distress, rather than our obedience. Really, the Lord Jesus shows us just how ungodly and diabolical those mere mortals who seek an entire country's adulation and who want to be worshipped are.

How do we build Utopia, Richard?
In North Korea the State is all-pervasive and all powerful. Religious expression, in terms of traditonal religion, has been crushed. Yet, the desire to worship has been kept intact in North Korea, it cannot be destroyed, and that innate desire to worship has been harnessed towards the State and the leader in charge. It shows us that worship is integral and completely natural for us human beings and that even in North Korea, in the absence of God, we haven't 'evolved' out of it. The desire to worship isn't artificial, something man-made. Worship is as natural for us as waking and sleeping. Our natural human desire to worship can be manipulated by the powerful and used to frightening effect, when it is geared towards the State.

Stalin and Soviet Russia tried desperately to crush religion and enforce upon the populaces of the Soviet bloc a similar kind of State worship, which was almost always accompanied with the obligatory cult of personality surrounding the beloved leaders. Even when religious expression is crushed, a 'god' must be praised, revered, glorified, honoured and even worshippped. In all such set-ups, 'false messiahs' arise who take the praise. Yet, as soon as the 'evil empire' started to come tumbling down, the Russian people flocked to Orthodox churches to worship not a cult of man, but God.

Worship is natural to us but only healthy when God is worshipped, because only God is trustworthy or can be trusted with our love, adoration, praise and worship, however imperfect our love and praise for Him is. Perhaps Dawkins has not looked at North Korea and recognised a State in which Christianity has been 'destoyed', and indeed, really is a model of an atheist paradise. He should beware, however, and see in North Korea that when God is totally eradicated from the public square, something, or someone else has to step in and take the praise, if not the blame.

Sadly, the problem with so many of the high priests of atheism is that you kind of get the feeling that they wouldn't mind terribly if the persons who stepped in to be worshipped were themselves. Dawkins might say, 'Well, how ridiculous. I'm no communist.' Well, maybe he isn't, but really Mr Dawkins, once you've convinced an entire population that there is no afterlife and that there is no Heaven, someone, somewhere, has to start building the earthly utopia pretty quickly. Of course, when utopia doesn't arrive quickly, the ones who say that it isn't utopia need to be silenced. Quite what you do with the ones who want the real deal of the City of God is anyone's guess. All in all, Rich. I think you've got your work cut out here, mate.

Sunday 18 December 2011

If Atheism Day Replaced Christmas

The year is 2025 and Richard Dawkins has achieved his goal of destroying Christiantiy. What does the new Atheist Republic of Great Britain do at Christmas?

Well, I guess you'd have to somehow replace Christmas Day with something. You could call it 'Atheism Day', celebrating the height of the atheistic winter season.

You may as well keep the Christmas Tree, because, anyway, those Christians nicked that idea from the pagans, right? Atheism Day decorations could be as pictured left to remind the citizens of the glories of atheistic regimes of the 20th century, such as mass murder on a hitherto unprecedented scale.

In the local churches, which by then will have become centres of atheist learning, passages are read out from 'the new Gospels' of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion and maybe God is Not Great. Then, after a big meal, everyone sits back and enjoys some of the classic science lectures of Professor Steve Jones. Then, adverts for companies say things like, "Discover, this winter season, the magic of Atheism...Buy her something special this Atheist Day."

Oh kids would love it. Love it they would. No Santa stories though, because, as I'm sure Dawkins told his children, he doesn't exist and atheists do not feed their children with myths, be they religious or not. Kids would still love it, because we all love and appreciate 'the magic of atheism'. I don't know why but it just doesn't seem to have the same ring about it.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Guess Who Wrote This...

'That the most partially formed human embryo is both human and alive has now been confirmed, in an especially vivid sense, by the new debate over stem-cell research and the bioethics of cloning. If an ailing or elderly person can be granted a new lease on life by a transfusion of this cellular material, then it is obviously not random organic matter.

The original embryonic “blastocyst” may be a clump of 64 to 200 cells that is only five days old. But all of us began our important careers in that form, and every needful encoding for life is already present in the apparently inchoate. We are the first generation to have to confront this as a certain knowledge.'

Click here to find out the answer. You might be surprised. Militant atheists turn away now...

Is it Only an Onion When We Can Eat it?

In the scientific community, is there any consensus as to what stage of development of the vegetable, it  acquires 'onion status'?

Also, any gardeners out there who go ripping their embryonic onions out of the soil before they are edible?

Isn't it the case that onions are left to develop because onions are wanted, whereas babies are not?

Surely to do such a thing would be to act against nature and ecology. To do such a thing is senseless, but abortion is more senseless, naturally.

"By Their Fruits Shall You Know Them"

I was starting to wonder whether it is only the retail world that keeps Christmas going in this country. I don't think the world of retail, somehow, is going to let Dawkins get his way in 'destroying Christianity'.

Sorry, Richard, but I think there's too much money at stake. I wonder whether soon, even atheists are going to suspect Dawkins of some state of perfect demonic possession.

Suddenly, even in Brighton, the place some Protestants might argue to be the 'whore of Babylon' of the Book of Revelation, you walk into gift shops and they're playing 'Silent Night' or 'I Wish it could be Christmas Every Day'. In the shops, Christmas is everywhere. The huge consumer appeal of Christmas means that Christianity, in some sense, is here to stay. Retailers are not going to let this baby go. I've just bought a poinsettia. They're selling at Sainsbury's like hotcakes. Why? Because they're Christmassy, that's why. In the US, apparently, this plant alone, at Christmas, makes sales of $200 million. Christmas is a money spinner. I mean, some people might even buy The God Delusion for their mothers this Christmas on Amazon. Think about it Rich, you know it makes sense to keep Christmas. Your books sales just aren't the same without it.

Still, concerning our country's Christian identity, our beloved Prime Minister has called upon the Church (I think he means the Anglican Church) to take a leading role in shaping the moral values of the country. Just don't ask them to define moral values, perhaps, steer clear of that one Dave, but its interesting that Mr Cameron has called himself a 'committed Christian who struggles with the big theological questions' despite the fact that he vocally supports gay marriage and supports the destruction of unborn disabled people right up to birth.  Dawkins recently suggested that Mr Cameron is not a Christian.

The Anglican vicar, Peter Mullen, writing in The Telegraph, thought that was a terrible thing for Dawkins to say because only God can see into men's hearts. Yet, surely, Dawkins has a point. There has to be, at some point, some objective assessment over whether an individual is a Christian and just saying 'I am a committed Christian' doesn't really cut it. Our Lord said that many would 'come in my name' but that 'by their fruits shall you know them'. I mean, what does a Christian believe? Does a Christian believe in the sanctity of all human life because human life is made by God in His image and likeness? If someone says they don't believe in the defense of human life, and supports the destruction of 'defective persons' is that person a Christian? If someone says they are a Christian, but support gay marriage, is that person a Christian? I do not recall St Paul and the Apostles being great supporters of what is now described as the gay rights movement.

And yet, despite voting in a way which would place Mr Cameron quite easily playing Herod in a House of Commons Nativity Play, which would, quite naturally, be sponsored by the local Freemasons, the Prime Minister can describe himself as a Christian and, what is even more strange, call upon the Church to help to shape the moral values of society.

So, for a moment, let us imagine that the Anglican Communion, which really couldn't shape a society's moral values despite all its best efforts, fell apart and only the Catholic Church was left standing. Then, let us imagine that our Bishops united behind Pope Benedict XVI and the Magisterium and publicly decried crimes against the unborn child, condemned IVF, threw Connexions out of Catholic Schools, demanded that Catholic hospitals stop dishing out abortion pills, demanded an end to pornographic sex education for little 'uns and began preaching radical Catholic Social Teaching as expressed through Rerum Novarum or Caritas in Veritate, would Mr Cameron still want 'the Church' to take a leading role in shaping the moral values of society? Perhaps he would, but, then, how politically expedient would it be for him to do so? I get the sense Mr Cameron sees a reawakening of Christian values in the United Kingdom in the wake of the 'broken society' and the riots and he is tapping into that, but I don't think, really, that he knows what he is really saying, or means what he is really saying.

Five a Day but not on the Liverpool Care Pathway

You go through your whole life being told by the Government to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. They also encourage you to drink lots of water because that's healthy.

Then, when you enter the NHS when you're elderly and dependent on the care of others, the Government's nurse puts the fruit and vegetable bowl out of arms reach and tells you, 'Nah. You don't want that...or water.'

They need to be more consistent. Why do they bother telling us in the first place? Is it just so that we'll be economically viable during our work years or something?

Friday 16 December 2011

A Clump of Cells

I am made of lots of these
Hi, my name is Laurence and I'm a clump of cells.

Could Dawkins disagree?

The only difference between me and a week old fetus is that this clump of cells, me, is more developed than a clump of cells in the womb.

But I'm still just a clump of cells. So when do we decide that a clump of cells becomes human or worthy of protection under law?

I expect Dawkins probably has the answer. He's a biologist, you know. I am certain Hitchens has the answer because he has now met God. May the Lord grant him a merciful judgment and may his soul rest in peace.

Anti-Catholic Conspiracy

That's all I can put it down to.

So far I've written about 7 or 8 songs and put them on my blog but as yet, none of the national music press has picked up on my music. Oh, how convenient! It begs the question: Why?

Why am I not on the front cover of the NME? Why? Because of anti-Catholicism, that's why.

Why have not calendars been produced with me posing in different costumes in different settings, like on a motorcycle dressed in black leather in March, for each calendar month, or in an Alpine resort in December? Why? Because of anti-Catholicism, that's why. It's the only possible explanation.

Why haven't I been signed to a major record label? Why? Because in the wake of the Second Vatican Council and the 'spirit of Vatican II', the Catholic Faith was so decimated that all the Catholic record labels were closed down. The blame for this should be laid squarely at the feet of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

Anyway, in the face of this anti-Catholicism we Catholics console ourselves with the knowledge that happiness lies not in fame, or the cult of celebrity, but in serving Our Lord Jesus Christ, so we spit upon the World and all its vainglorious ambitions.

The Poor Man

It may be that you will never change a poor man's life. Don't worry, he will change yours. The power to change lives belongs to God alone.

It may be that you will never help a poor man to stop drinking so much. Don't worry, he will help you to stop drinking so much. The power to help people to stop drinking so much belongs to God alone.

It may be that you will never help a poor man to live less selfishly. Don't worry, he will help you to live selflessly. The power to help people to live selflessly belongs to God alone. 

It may be that you will never convert a poor man. Don't worry, he will convert you. The power to convert people belongs to God alone.

It may be that you will never save a poor man's soul. Don't worry, he will save yours. The power to save souls belongs to God alone.

It may be that you will never be able to teach a poor man to love Jesus Christ. Don't worry, he will teach you to love Jesus Christ. The power to teach people to love Jesus Christ belongs to Him alone.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Bye Bye Occupy

The exodus from Victoria Gardens begins...
I noticed while driving in Brighton the other day that Brighton's Occupy movement has disappeared, so hold that delivery of a nativity scene for them for Christmas.

The BBC report, with attending picture (left) is a little confusing as to why the 'occupation' of Victoria Gardens suddenly ended.

The Occupy Movement's Brighton Blog has this message for its supporters:

'Firstly we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has supported the Occupation in Victoria Gardens.

The camp has been destroyed by a combination of terrible storms and a fire at the camp which damaged tents and equipment beyond repair. The site has now been removed.

We have done our best to re-seed the garden, even though it is really the wrong time of year. The park and the local people that visited us have a special place in all our hearts now. We will continue to repair the park until it is as good, or probably better than when we found it.

The Occupy Movement in Brighton is far from over, please keep watching here and on Facebook for more info.

We also have a forum here where you are free to discuss any of the issues and we will be expanding the website with more information about the experiences at the camp, what we have learnt and what we can do to make a better system for us all.'

Inspiring. If only Lenin's supporters had been so easily put off by bad weather and so considerate, we wouldn't have had a century of communism and mass murder to contend with. These guys are my kind of revolutionaries. Re-seeding of the 'occupation lawn' having experienced bad weather and thought better of the revolution after all! That's just the kind of radical anti-establishment behaviour that will have those huge corporations shuddering in their shoes! I mean, what with the Occupy movement involving some people with money in the bank, couldn't they have, perhaps, er, bought some new tents?

The BBC report has some interesting information too. For instance, the report says that 'the leader of Brighton's Green-run council, Bill Randall, said because of this he would not tolerate another similar camp in future.' Yet, apparently, this movement had the backing of the Green MP Caroline Lucas and the camp had been assured that all the authorities, including the police, had no problem with them. Confusing or what? Now The Argus is headlining with the story that the Council have 'banned' such camps from Brighton in the future, though this story is yet to make it onto the online edition of their paper.

Malcolm Cook, someone I know from my time at the Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project, is quoted in the BBC report. If you read it, you'll see that it uses quite a lot of BBC-speak. That is, they can say something without actually saying it. Notice how the homeless are being put to blame for the ending of the camp:

Ch Insp Simon Nelson, from Sussex Police, said: "It is disappointing that after many weeks of peaceful occupation an event has occurred which put the safety of others at risk, damaged the environment and resulted in a public servant being assaulted. Most of the occupiers were committed to a peaceful protest and even assisted with clearing the site, but over a period of time the camp had been infiltrated by others who did not share this commitment."

So, the camp fire rolled around on the floor and set fire to a tent? Big deal! Accidents will happen.

One of the occupiers, Malcolm Cook, said the camp had started to attract people with drug and alcohol problems. A large part of the camp's infrastructure was destroyed by bad weather, resulting in the occupiers deciding to leave. However, he said he was proud of what the camp had accomplished. "I'm overwhelmed with what it has achieved," [Sorry, run that by me one more time. What has been achieved again?] he said. "The amount of attention we've received for our cause, for a few tents in the park, is outstanding." [Ah, you received attention. Now, that's an achievement.]

So, from this I think we can glean that the original situation of the Occupy Movement of being a peaceful movement of middle class anarchists was tolerated by the authorities, but that homeless people were attracted to the sight of loads of tents in a park and then the movement had to be closed down, with the agreement of the group themselves, and a stormy night of weather was the perfect excuse for it to be ended.

I've no doubt that the homeless have drug and alcohol problems, but the fact that people have drug and alcohol problems does not necessarily mean that the camp would suddenly become not a peaceful protest. If anything, their residence there would have refined the Occupy Movement's agenda, if they had been so thoughtful as to listen to what is going on in the lives of the homeless and had been so gracious enough as to care.

My guess is that, in the end, the middle class kids couldn't get on with the homeless people because they didn't want 'people like that' there and didn't understand where they were coming from. It looks, to me, rather like 'democracy' here might just have failed, within the camp and without it.  Homeless people in this town have genuine grievances with no recourse to justice. Long term readers of this blog will be aware of many of those grievances and the causes of so much of the injustice. Ultimately, ten or twenty anarchists who have their own flats, some of whom work, but who join together daily at a local peace camp against capitalism and gather around a fire is not a threat to the 'existing order'. There are loads of socialists and marxists who work for the Council. No, a threat to the 'existing order' would be 10 or 20 homeless men and women sleeping in tents in a park with signs up saying, 'We want human rights'.

More on that later.

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