December 29, 2004

Surprise from Mrs H and Fr Pat

My journey to Orthodoxy has been brought to illumination thanks to three main influences: Fr Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory, Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church (especially Fr Stevan Bauman, Fr Dcn Michael Walker, Mother Macaria, and Mother Katherine), and Fr Patrick Henry Reardon. In fact, I met Fr Pat because he was speaking at the bookstore run by Joy of All Who Sorrow.

So it was with great thoughtfulness that for Christmas, Mrs H arranged to get me an autographed copy of Fr Pat’s latest book, Christ in His Saints. She bought it and then sent it to Chicago (where he is pastor of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church as well as a senior editor of Touchstone Magazine) to have it signed and sent back. At the same time she surreptitiously pulled Fr Pat’s first book, Christ in the Psalms, off of our bookshelf and put it in the international post as well.

If Christ in the Psalms is accessible to Christian readers across the spectrum of Evangelical, Roman, or Orthodox, Christ in His Saints is even more so. It is the sort of book that once you even begin to read it, you will put it at the top of your list to give to friends (friends who are worth $17.95, of course). Its 14 large chapters are divided into a total of 137 vignettes, each about a character (or occasionally a group of characters) from the Bible.

Fr Pat’s scholarship is, as expected, outstanding. He is a former professor of Old Testament at an Episcopal seminary because they found his orthodoxy and Orthodoxy entire incompatible with those things with which Episcopalians find themselves compatible these days. He is the principal translator of Exodus and the Psalms for the eventually-to-be-released completed Orthodox Study Bible. Yet with his many years of pastoral ministry, he knows how to reach his audience so they can understand him.

Posted by david at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2004


Comments will be closed for the next few days, as I will not have time to attend to the blog during the Feast of the Nativity.

In the words of Jim Lovell to Mission Control as Apollo 13 was about to lose radio signal on the dark side of the Moon: "OK, we'll just sit tight then. See you on the other side."

Posted by david at 02:59 AM | Comments (0)

A Sheep Amongst the Goats

In a shocking move for our godless death-loving Government, David Blunkett's exit and Charles Clarke's promotion have actually made room for a decent individual as Education Secretary. And no one is more shocked than the "Blair Babes" - fellow female Labour MPs elected in the 1997 landslide. In fact, they have gotten downright catty about it.

Ruth Kelly is a mother of four and a practicing Roman Catholic. And not a liberal Catholic who happens to attend church, but rather a conservative who not only attends church, but also meetings of Opus Dei. She opposes abortion, has told Tony Blair that she could never support stem cell research, and was even excused from the three-line whip on the living will vote last week.

The Blair Babes have expressed disappointed that she has not be more forthright about so-called "women's issues". I don't know how more forthright she could be. What they really hate is that she is plainly opposed to them. One of the women's issues is supposed to be equality of opportunity in employment, but there was no hint of embarrassment in the hypocrisy of one BB who said, “How has she managed to get so far when she’s had so much maternity leave?”

Another BB said, “What’s she ever done for Labour? We were the people in the key seats, rather than that cow who was dropped in and had barely been a party member for a couple of years. She wouldn’t talk to most of us. It was like she regarded herself as one of the ‘in-girls’. This promotion is just a kick in the teeth.” So much for solidarity of the sisterhood.

I don't often wish Labour ministers well in their jobs, but I will make an exception in this case. It will be interesting to see how long she will last, especially if she is bucking the spirit of the age. And of course a good Education Secretary can make my life a lot easier as well.

Posted by david at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2004

Avoiding Christ at Christmas

The Church of England has conducted a survey to anticipate church attendance on Christmas. Christmas is a time when a bumper crop is normally expected - when turnout includes those Anglicans who only attend then and maybe at Easter. In could be said that for many, "C of E" is synonymous with "C and E".

Where will have the lowest attendance? Manchester. Jesus is not the reason for the season in all of the major cities, but 98% of Mancunians will not darken the door of a church.

The highest attendance? Here in Hooterville. An amazing one in ten will be in church to celebrate the birth of Christ. According to the academic who conducted the survey, “That is three times as many as in London, four times as many as Birmingham and five times as many as Manchester.” That's right, 10% of the population is as good as it gets. The relative godliness of the Shire should made clear the godlessness of the country.

The Archbishop of York recently stated the obvious when he acknowledged that Britain is no longer a Christian nation.

Posted by david at 10:08 PM | Comments (1)

December 18, 2004

Being British

I thought I would be able to just send in an application and a hefty fee, wait an eternity, and presto, I would become a British citizen. Now the Government have decided that applicants for citizenship should pass an exam in Britishness.

Now you would think that I should have no problem, after all, the study materials include a section on history. I teach this stuff every day. What could be more important than understanding Britain's history? But history is not actually on the exam.

No, what will actually be on the exam are things like how to claim unemployment benefits (okay, I won't have trouble with that either), how to seek compensation for unfair dismissal, how to complain about sexual harrassment, statutory holiday pay, equal opportunities and discrimination, complaining about the police, all of the rights under the Human Rights Act, same-sex civil partnerships, European citizenship rights, all of the EU institutions and how they work, legal aid, and no-win-no-fee lawyers.

History may not be important, but British customs are. The exam will include knowledge of Father Christmas (though not the actual St Nicholas, of course), Christmas pudding, Valentine's Day, and April Fool's Day. You have to know how to buy a round of drinks in a pub.

These are apparently the things that define Britishness today.

The study materials also include that doctors give confidential advice and contraception to those under 16. They do not mention when to dial 999 or how to visit a doctor or hospital on the NHS. It would seem it is more important to know the sexual rights of teenagers under the age of consent than it is to know how to get an ambulance.

This is all the more serious because an ambulance might prove necessary, since there is nothing on taking a driving test, requirements for insurance, MOT, or road tax, the importance of seat belts, or what to do in case of a motoring accident.

Lessons in Britishness will cost about £40 million each year, and the Government has acknowledged that it has no idea from whence the funding will come.

Posted by david at 11:38 PM | Comments (0)

Restoring Icons

I was flipping through Athanasius' On the Incarnation this evening and paused upon this passage in section 13 and pondered:

Even an earthly king, though he is only a man, does not allow lands that he has colonised to pass into other hands or to desert to other rulers, but sends letter and friends and even visits them himself to recall them to their allegiance, rather than allow his work to be undone. How much more, then, will God be patient and painstaking with his creatures, that they be not led astray from Him to the service of those who are not, and that all the more because such error for them means sheer ruin, and because it is not right that those who had once shared His image should be destroyed.

What then was God to do? What else could he possibly do, being God, but renew His image in mankind, so that through it men might once more come to know Him? And how could this be done save by the coming of the very Image Himself, our Saviour Jesus Christ? Men could not have done it, for they are only made after the Image; nor could angels have done it, because they are not the images of God. The Word of God came in His own Person, because it was He alone, the Image of the Father, Who could recreate man after the Image.

Posted by david at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2004


Abigail has been chattering for a long time. Only recently has she actually begun to say identifiable words. Her first word was "Aidan" - or perhaps more accurately "Aaaaaain" - but still directed at or about him. Then a few days ago she started "Da-da-da-da-da", especially when I would leave for work or when I came home at night.

Only tonight did she say "Mum-mum", but then she has been delirious with a terrible cold and a touch of fever. It may be a fluke.

She is very poorly and hasn't slept for the last two nights, a condition that seems to be going around the blogosphere. I almost hate mentioning it, as if I were soliciting your prayer time away from much more urgent needs.

Posted by david at 12:37 AM | Comments (2)

December 15, 2004

Demise of My Nemesis

I have been blogging about David Blunkett for about as long as I have been blogging about anyone or anything. Now the Home Secretary is the former Home Secretary. The man who spearheaded the introduction of biometric indentity cards and chipped away at the rights of the individual is back on the back benches.

It appears that the evidence was mounting against him in the scandal over whether he fast-tracked the visa application of his married lover's nanny. A smoking gun email was uncovered and that, as they say, was that.

It didn't help that he had bad-mouthed many of his Cabinet colleagues in his biography that was released today. Not the way to win friends and influence people when they are the very people you need to rally behind you to keep your job. They were otherwise perfectly willing to stand behind him in the whole matter of not only admitting his affair with a married woman, but being the one to publicise it to the papers and then hauling her into court (in her 7th month of a complicated pregnancy, resulting her hospitalisation) to press for paternity rights to both her 2-year-old and her unborn child.

Whilst the Conservatives were not "whiter than white" (as Blair promised Labour would be during the 1997 General Election campaign), in times of Tory ascendancy, this would have led to a resignation long, long before it reached the point of the Blunkett situation. But this is just a sign of the times. Neither the Government nor the governed care one bit about who is sleeping with who. Adultery and promiscuity are in. The sanctity of marriage is out. Way out.

The down side of the Blunkett demise is his replacement. It would just happen to be my other nemesis on this blog, Education Secretary Charles Clarke. Clarke has proved himself so far to be a complete idiot. The only good thing is that he is out of the Department for Education and Skills. So now he is not ruining our children, but merely protecting our nation.

Lord have mercy.

Posted by david at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2004

Making Fun of Make Believe

We have to put up with a lot of crap in this country, but one thing that hasn't transplanted here is that silliness known as Kwanzaa. It's really one of those things that only works within the framework of black American mythology and the anti-white racist drivel that is the specialty of American liberalism.

So, with a tip o' the hat to my old friend Greg Wallace, I refer you to A Kwanzaa Karol by Kathie Shaidle in the American Spectator.

Posted by david at 11:54 PM | Comments (2)

December 12, 2004

Saint Alive

Today is the commemoration of a number of saints, including St Herman of Alaska, St Finnian of Clonard ("Tutor of the Saints of Ireland"), and St Columba of Leinster (the other St Columba). But at the top of the list is Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus.

He was mentioned at the end of the Liturgy today, but I didn't know much about him. After I got home from church, I saw Jim Nee's blog piece about him. In addition to usual miracles performed during his life, in his repose he is one of the walking saints.

Sometimes saints just don't get a break.

Posted by david at 05:25 PM | Comments (2)

December 11, 2004

Home-schoolers 1 Oxford 0

I have to recommend an article in the Washington Times today that tells of a debate team from Patrick Henry College who won a moot court competition against a team from Balliol College, Oxford.

This article is long, but worth every word. This story is all the more amazing because law is an undergraduate degree in the UK, so these home-school educated liberal arts majors (PHC only offers degrees in Government, Journalism, History, Literature, and Classical Liberal Arts) were debating a ficticious breach of contract case under British law against what were almost certainly final year British law students. They also debated at Balliol, judge by two Balliol alumni. (I almost didn't realise who the judges were until I translated it into Britspeak and realised they were Lord Bingham of Corhill and Lord Hutton.) Talk about the other side having home field advantage.

Not surprisingly, this news appears nowhere in the British press.

Posted by david at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2004

My Man Mitch

Though I am expatriated from the Hoosier State, I have to admit that I did not follow the recent gubernatorial election there very closely. I was aware of the candidates and I knew that Mitch Daniels was the director of the OMB in the Bush White House.

I didn't know how open he is about being a Christian. I didn't realise that he is an elder at the evangelical Tabernacle Presbyterian Church. His website mentions further that

Through his church he became a founder of The Oaks Academy, an inner-city school established to promote academic excellence and racial reconciliation based on solid religious principles. Though his job in the federal government required him to resign from the school’s board, he remained active in the school. In fact, a photo of the school’s more than 200 students was the first picture he hung in his office in Washington.

And it was in the Indianapolis Star that I learned of his inauguration plans:

Daniels' is inviting all Hoosiers to worship with him Sunday to kick off his inauguration at the Tabernacle Presbyterian Church on 34th Street. Then, Daniels and Lt. Gov.-elect Becky Skillman will host a Gospel celebration featuring Bill and Gloria Gaither and Sandi Patty in the Pepsi Coliseum. The free concert begins at 2:30 p.m.

Not a bad way to set the tone for his first four years as Governor of Indiana.

Posted by david at 11:52 PM | Comments (1)

December 08, 2004

Staying out of Manchester (But It May Not be Enough)

A three-year-old boy ran out in front of a car as the climax to constant misbehaviour, so his father smacked him on the bum. Unfortunately, one of Manchester's finest was putting up murder inquiry posters and saw the man apply one smack.

So the father was charged and banned from going home or seeing his son unsupervised. For six months. He was even banned from speaking to him on the phone. That's how long it took for the case to come to trial.

But it didn't just remove him from his son for a sixth of his son's life. He had a newborn baby daughter and he has missed her entire life. He is a stranger to her. He has missed every exciting development and event in the lives of both children and his partner has had to raise them without any help.

At trial, he was convicted of common assault and given a two-year rehabilitation order. That's right - no, I am not making this up - common assault.

The immoral police and courts of Manchester have ruined a family. Because of a combination of the rehabilitation order and fear, that boy will probably never be disciplined again. He may end up like the 40 hooded students wearing balaclavas who attempted to storm Priestnall High School in Manchester this week and attacked students on their way to take their mock GCSEs.

The Government, the police, social services, and the courts want to remove every shred of discipline from the family, just as they have from the schools, and yet they think they can somehow bring order out of the chaos of their own creation. Children run wild, violence is ever on the increase, the world has gone mad.

Maybe if they weren't so busy arresting fathers smacking unruly children, they wouldn't be putting up so many murder inquiry posters.

Now the Government has officially announced proposals that will put financially responsibility on parents of children under 10 who are found deliberately damaging property. They can't be smacked, but they can saddle mum and dad with a bill for £5,000. If the parents fail to pay, magistrates (like the idiots on the bench in Manchester) will allow property to be seized from their homes or cash deductions made from their wages or benefits. If that doesn't settle the bill, jail is also an option.

Posted by david at 09:02 PM | Comments (3)

December 06, 2004

Who is My Neighbour?

I'm not much of a meta-blogger, but I have to urge you to read an article that appeared in the Washington Times Insider yesterday. We so often forget about the many conflicts in little known places.

The Beslan seige focused our attention for a brief time on North Ossetia, but I saw very little on the actual political, ethnic, and religious issues dividing North Ossetia with neighbouring Ingushetia. It is only now that I know something about the Ingush.

The article only briefly mentions an issue that needs to be on the minds and hearts of praying Christians. "The same region has emerged as a target of opportunity for radical Islamists needing a new base with the loss of Afghanistan. The goal: to marry the local ethnic grievances of Chechens, Ingush and others to the global goals of radical Islamist fundamentalism."

Combined with the example of Orthodox Christians in Serbia in their relationship to evangelical ethnic Hungarians, there seems to be an endemic ignorance of story of the Good Samaritan. Maybe everyone forgets to go to Liturgy on the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, or maybe the priests decide not to preach on the Gospel of the day.

In most of the places Islam meets Christianity, Orthodoxy is on the front line. At these places, the centuries of conflict have hardened the hearts on both sides. It is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that the love of God will ever shine through. If there is to be peace, there must be theosis. Otherwise, I fear militant Islam will gain the upper hand. It is a matter of love or death.

Posted by david at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2004

The Queue for the Queue

I am on an NHS waiting list. But then again, I'm not.

One of my earliest blog entries had to do with waiting on the National Health Service. The Government now says that waiting lists are at their shortest since Labour came to power. What the Government hasn't been emphasising is that the waiting list targets are for treatment.

Like my experience in 2002-2003, I am on a waiting list for diagnosis. These don't seem to matter. I waited ten months then to try to determine why I had to be hospitalised with a bowel attack. Now I have a small growth on my face. The GP was immediately concerned when she saw it, but even though I heard her dictating the letter as I left her office, it will be up to 17 weeks before I can see a specialist. That's four months.

To make themselves look good, the Government have created a queue to get in the queue. By limiting the number of people who can get in the treatment queue, they can manipulate the figures to make themselves look good. It may cost a few - or maybe more than a few - lives, but it will keep Tony and his cronies in power. As long as this spot doesn't turn (or hasn't turned already) into cancer, I should be okay.

Posted by david at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

The Other Kid

Sometimes I go on and on about Aidie's accomplishments so much, you'd think he was an only child. The other kid ain't doing so bad.

She is just under seven months old, so the academic subjects really haven't taken hold. She is sitting on her own, crawling, pulling herself up to stand, and eating like a horse. Every day her personality becomes more and more defined.

It is almost like I had forgotten about all these stages of development. Soon she will no longer seem helpless as she reaches that stage of going anywhere anytime. I think that's when they start to lose babyhood. That and the ability to communicate. Babies communicate in rudimentary ways, but you can't carry on an intelligent conversation with them.

With Aidan I can explain things he sees and he can remember. He grasps concepts and ideas. He understands, for example, that on the news we see trouble in the Ukraine. Abby doesn't quite grasp this yet. But we'll keep her anyway.

Posted by david at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2004

Flirting with Fidel

Tonight I received the paper document that is my Postgraduate Certificate in Education. This was officially conferred in August, but this was the ceremony.

The educational institution from which I received both the training and the document is avowedly socialist. Not socialist in the sense of the current Labour government. No, we are talking proper socialist. It is run by an organisation named after a 19th century utopian.

In order to receive my piece of paper tonight, I had to sit through the most awful commencement address. The entire crowd sat there with a look of boredom. There was only slight relief when, after an interminable related anecdote setting it up, the speaker told us that he would not be speaking for 13 hours like "that great man" Fidel Castro. Fortunately he didn't, though he did spend about 20 minutes telling us about he would not be telling us about Robert Owen. Then he handed out the certificates. I never thought I would receive anything from someone who called Castro a great man.

Posted by david at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2004

Geography and Death

Aidan the geography wiz is at it again. Last night I decided to count the countries or other geographical entities he can identify. Most of them he can point to and tell me what they are. A few I have to say, "show me"

The current list (in no particular order, with spotaneous comments in parentheses) is: Turkey ("I was in Mummy's belly"), Russia, Japan ("looks like a crocodile"), United States, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, Iceland, Italy, the Philippines, Galapagos Islands, Alaska, Taiwan, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Caledonia, Fiji, France, Greenland, Madagascar, Canada, Ireland, India, Ukraine ("that where the trouble is in the news"), Sri Lanka, North and South Korea, and China. He can also point out the tiny sliver of land where David killed Goliath ("he cut off his head with a sword"), but he doesn't remember that it is called Israel. We are currently working on Germany, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Argentina, Falkland Islands, Peru, and New Zealand.

The previous time we did "countries", he asked where the dead people are. He knows they are with Jesus, but that they are also in the ground, because we have visited the grave of Mrs H's grandfather several times lately. He knows that Grampy G is buried in the United Kingdom. He then understood that Uncle Dean was buried in the United States. He started pointing to country after country asking, "Is there dead people there?"

I explained to him that there are dead people in every country, because everyone dies. Now when we spread out the world map, one of the first things he says is, "There's dead people everywhere! There's dead people there, and there, and there, and there..." I made me realise that in one sense, the earth is just one giant grave.

Posted by david at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)