Refugees Then (1940s) and Now (2000s)

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On Facebook a friend, writing about the BBC’s two-part feature “The Holy Land and Us – Our Untold Stories”[1], says,

The one thing that stood out to me was the post war arrival of thousands of refugees crowded into boats. It made me think about the views to refugees arriving here in boats and how contradictory our ideas can be. Do people have different views about refugees arriving in Palestine in boats and refugees arriving here in boats?[2]

I have not yet watched this but here is how I would answer my friend’s question about attitudes towards refugees:

I suspect the reason for the difference in  attitudes to Jewish refugees arriving in Palestine in the 1940s and all the refugees arriving in Europe in recent years is at least two-fold:

  1. Unlike today’s refugees the Jewish refugees were not coming to Europe, they were leaving it, thus becoming someone else’s problem.
  2. In the 1940s most of Europe had a bad conscience vis-a-vis the Jews, for having looked the other way when the nazis’ treatment of the Jews of Germany and occupied countries was becoming obvious. This is true both of countries like the UK as well as of non-nazi citizens within Germany and Austria.
  3. Refugees coming to our countries back then were mostly Europeans like us, not foreigners with a vastly different culture like today’s refugees.

Today’s refugees are coming to Europe, thus becoming our problem and inconveniencing us; with the exception of the Ukrainians this past year they are foreigners with a religion and cultures alien to us; and unlike those alive in the 1940s we today do not feel responsible for nor have a bad conscience about contemporary situations that prompt people to flee their homelands.

Needless to say, I think this applies not just to refugees arriving in Britain by boat but to refugees arriving in other European countries receiving a less-than-enthusiastic welcome.

My own country of Austria is a prime example of this. Not only is there at most a reluctant welcome of today’s refugees, but attitudes to Jews and Israel have shifted as well: WWII and the Holocaust are distant history to those born in the past fifty years and most of them don’t feel any guilt/shame/responsibility for what happened to the Jewish people, thus they are less sympathetic to Israel’s plight. On the other hand, Palestinians, portrayed as the underdog, evoke sympathy.

  1. “The Holy Land and Us – Our Untold Stories” on HD TV Omega Stream, may require registration. If you are in the UK you should also be able to find it on BBC iPlayer.[]
  2. Facebook Post by Jim Stewart on Mar 22, 2023[]
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And so it goes on and on …

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    Photo & Clipping Credit: Washington Post website

And so it goes on and on and on …

But private gun ownership with minimal checks and controls remains a sacred right protected by a particular reading of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The right to keep and bear arms is here clearly linked to the citizens being organized as a militia. But for some reasons otherwise rational Americans ignore this and insist that every Tom, Dick, and Harry should be able to walk into a store and buy not just a pistol or a hunting rifle but a machine gun or assault rifle.

An American friend told me that as a European I do not understand that. For a long time I thought I did, but with every incident like this I my understanding wanes.

Some folks tell me that without the right to bear arms the U.S. would still be under the British Crown[1]. But for this to hold true, for freedom-loving citizens to rise up against a despotic government and actually prevail, you would also need private ownership of tanks, fighter jets, war ships – the full arsenal of modern warfare. Ludicrous!

What is most difficult for me to wrap my head around is that many of the people who put forth such (unpersuasive) arguments for this particular interpretation of the Second Amendment are all evangelical Christians, followers of the Prince of Peace, quite a few of whom have served as missionaries in Europe. What a testimony!  Unbelievable!

So we can look forward to more such incidents in 2023, an uninterrupted stream fom 2022 and years past.

When our application to stay on in the U.S. long term was denied in 1989, it was with disappointment and regret that we returned to Austria. It pains me to say so, but today I am so relieved and thankful that we are no longer in that hopelessly polarized and divided country and that our kids grew up without only a minimal threat of a shooter going on a rampage in their school.

  1. Not that this would be so much worse than the current political situation, especially in the past seven years, with no end in sight![]
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No Rule of Law for spies and their spouses in the U.K. and U.S.

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The Guardian reports on the trial, conviction, and sentencing, by video link, of Anne Sacoolas for the negligent, accidental killing of motorcyclist Harry Dunn in August 2019.

  «The mother of the British teenager Harry Dunn has said her promise to win him justice has been fulfilled after his killer was sentenced, but said it was “despicable” that she had failed to appear in court.

Although Anne Sacoolas, a US citizen who was driving on the wrong side of the road when her car struck the young motorcyclist in 2019, avoided jail, she received an eight-month suspended sentence and was disqualified from driving for 12 months.

Dunn’s family had waged a three-and-a-half-year campaign eventually acknowledged her guilt in a British court after a UK request for her extradition was denied.

Speaking outside court, Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, said it was “job done, promise complete” now that Sacoolas had a criminal record.

But she said Sacoolas, who appeared via a video link after her lawyers said her US government employer had advised her not to return to the UK, should have been in court. “I think it’s despicable that she didn’t come over on the judge’s orders … Huge coward,” she said.

“We weren’t cowards. We didn’t back away from the US government or the UK government. We didn’t back down, because we have values. Maybe she doesn’t.”»

What to say?

  • So Sacoolas received a suspended sentence; her 12-month driving ban is a joke, because her U.S. employer will no doubt tell her that the ban doean’t apply in the U.S. and she should go right on driving.
  • Undoubtedly it was cowardly of Mrs Sacoolas to refuse to obey the court’s summons.
  • The way the U.S. government whisked Sacoolas back to the U.S. after the fatal accident and then refused to extradite her was despicable (and no difference there between the Trump and Biden administrations).
  • Especially deplorable is the fact that Harry Dunn’s family did not receive the unreserved support of their own U.K. government in their quest for justice.

It seems that the Rule of Law does not always apply when it comes to American spies and their spouses. No doubt the situation is similar in other countries; diplomatic immunity, like parliamentary immunity, is easily and often abused.

But both Britain and the United States like to present themselves as global beacons of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, and it is disappointing (although no longer very surprising) that one finds  George Orwell’s satirical tale against Stalin, Animal Farm, with its conclusion that “all animals are equal—but some are more equal than others” so clearly demonstrated.

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Nothing is hidden that will not come to light

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In the UK victims of child sexual abuse within churches and other religious organizations are asking that the law be changed to explicitly require churches etc to report all child abuse allegations to the relevant authorities rather than dealing with them “pastorally” in-house.

I fully support such a requirement. In my view there can be no legitimate reason for churches to oppose such mandatory reporting laws. Some people will say that such a requirement is incompatible with the Seal of the Confessional; however (a) most often church leadership hears about such allegations through channels other than the confessional, and (b) the Seal is intended to protect the repentant; a person who confesses to child abuse but is not willing to submit to the relevant authorities is not truly repentant.

Opposition to mandatory reporting laws because of the Seal are about as plausible and legitimate as the Southern Baptist Convention leadership’s refusal to act on credible allegations of sexual abuse in their churches because of “congregational autonomy.”

Anyway, most of the scandals involving the covering up of child abuse by religious authorities are not about protecting the Seal but are rather about protecting the reputation of the organization or of a beloved leader, and escaping liability for negligence. In the long run this does not work, for of course Jesus had it right when He said, “Nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light,” and reputations are worth nothing in view of Jesus’ words, “Woe to the one through whom offenses come; it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

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THIS is, what the military is for!

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Today my wife and I spent almost the entire day glued to the BBC’s coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, the procession from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey, the funeral service itself in the Abbey with hundreds of heads of state and other world leaders among the congregation whom Archbishop Justin Welby reminded that those who serve others “will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten,” then the interminable procession from the Abbey via Buckingham Palace to Wellington Arch  near Hyde Park Corner, and finally by Royal Hearse to Windsor, where the committal service took place in St. George’s Chapel, where the Queen and her late husband Prince Philip will be buried side by side.

The whole thing went off without any mishaps, and I was very impressed by the crowds, both those lining the streets along the procession routes, as well as those gathered in open spaces in Ediburgh, Manchester, and as far away as Christ Church, NZ. Even more impressive were the masses of soldiers and sailors in their colorful uniforms, with their carefully choreographed movements, all to honour their late monarch.

It made me think of what other soldiers are doing at the behest of their leaders, such as those of the Russian army in Ukraine on Vladimir “Butcher” Putin’s orders: attacking a neighbouring country on the pretext of a threat by NATO and “Nazis” in Ukraine’s government, then bombing civilian targets such as schools and hospitals, torturing, raping, and killing civilians including children, and threatening the continent with a major disaster by repeatedly shelling the area around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

I thought also of the Ukrainian soldiers defending their country with incredible bravery and ingenuity, and I came to the conclusion:

The impressive spectacle on display in London and Windsor today, and the courageous defense of their country against a vicious and brutal aggressor, is what the military is properly used for. What Putin is doing, ordering an invasion, pillaging, and all sorts of other atrocities, is an improper use, an abuse of the military which he should not get away with but be held accountable by the international community.

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Red Mittens for the Queen

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A tribute to Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her death, by Ian Kleinsasser, Crystal Spring
September 9, 2022
The following narrative offers a0 plausible explanation of how Queen Elizabeth II of England visited a Manitoba Hutterite community as part of her 1970 Manitoba Centennial Celebration tour. 
(See below for a brief introduction to Hutterites.)
This story begins in January or February of 1969, approximately one year before Queen Elizabeth II visits Manitoba. On a snowy winter day, a middle-aged Hutterite woman known as Hans-Rebecca[1] from the Rainbow Hutterite community[2] was busy knitting two pairs of red mittens. When people inquired who would receive these mittens, Hans-Rebecca replied: „These are not normal mittens. I am knitting these for Queen Elizabeth II.“
True to her word, when Hans-Rebecca finished the mittens, she packaged them up and, just like that, sent them off across the Atlantic Ocean to Buckingham Palace. A month later, an official-looking envelope landed on Hans-Rebecca‘s table. The letter was from one of the Queen‘s ladies-in-waiting and read: 
„Queen Elizabeth normally does not accept personal gifts from people, but this will be an exception.“ 
The letter further stated that Queen Elizabeth II would like to visit a Hutterite Community in Manitoba when she travelled to Canada in 1970. The lady-in-waiting thanked Hans-Rebecca for the two pairs of mittens and said that the Queen wanted her to know that she would make great use of them for her children. 
So, when Queen Elizabeth II visited Manitoba in 1970, one of the places she requested to see was a Hutterite community in Manitoba. Unfortunately, though Hans-Rebecca may have instigated the Queen‘s visit with her thoughtful gift, she never met Queen Elizabeth. Only young people, Diene (girls) and Buem (boys), went to see the Queen in Milltown.[3]
Hans-Rebecca‘s story offers a plausible account of why Queen Elizabeth II requested a tour of a Hutterite community in Manitoba. The story doesn‘t tell how the visit came about from a political or organizational perspective, i.e., who pulled the political strings to make it happen? A Winnipeg Free Press article, „Brush With History“,  by Kevin Rollason, adds some added clarity. According to Rollason, then Manitoba Premier Edward Schreyer played an essential role in facilitating the visit to the Milltown Hutterite community. At the time, Mr Schreyer was well acquainted with the Hutterites and played a crucial role in ending the Gentleman‘s Agreemen[4]  in Manitoba, which had placed unfair restrictions on Hutterite communities. In the Free Press article, Schreyer shared his perspective:
„It [the request to tour a Hutterite community] was unorthodox, but I picked up the phone and called the Milltown Hutterite Colony to see if the Queen could visit a Hutterite colony. The next day [the Hutterite leaders] said yes. The bottom line is she enjoyed it greatly, and on at least two occasions, she said she enjoyed it as a very remarkable visit. And two or three days after the visit, when the Queen and Philip were leaving at the airport, a small group from the colony came to see her off.“
Edward Schreyer gives a good description of how the visit came about. At the same time, it captures, in a unique way, the “unorthodox” nature of Queen Elizabeth’s request. Could it be that it was the gift of a pair of red mittens from a year before that now caused Manitoba officials some “unorthodox” angst?”
Schreyer’s account does not shed any light on why the Milltown Hutterite community was chosen as the site for the visit. However, a likely factor was its proximity to the railway tracks and station at Elie, Manitoba. When the Queen arrived in Milltown, she was met by crowds of curious young Hutterite women, men, children and members of Milltown and neighbouring Hutterite communities. After touring the Milltown Kleineschul (daycare), church building, and communal dining hall, Queen Elizabeth returned to her vehicle. As the Queen prepared to leave, the young girls from the James Valley Hutterite community near Elie reportedly sang: Should We Meet No More by Daniel O Teasley. Others reported that the congregation sang, God Be with You Till We Meet Again. When two Hutterite men, Josh Hofer and his son Nathanial Hofer, joined the James Valley girls in singing a German song, Prince Philip stepped up beside them and sang along. 
When Queen Elizabeth‘s party finally left the Milltown Hutterite community and returned to the Elie train station, many Hutterites followed behind to watch the royal train leave. Queen Elizabeth II stood as the train pulled away from the Elie station and waved a final farewell to the cheering crowd gathered on the Canadian National Railway platform.
We may never know whether two pairs of homemade red mittens brought Queen Elizabeth to request a visit to a Manitoba Hutterite community in 1970. What is known about the Queen‘s visit is that she came! Since then, many within the Hutterite community in Canada have cherished her visit. Today, along with thousands of people worldwide, we mourn the passing of a remarkable person, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. God Be with You till We Meet Again!
Copyright © 2022 by Ian Kleinsasser. Posted here with his permission.
Photo Credit: Mennonite Heritage Archives.

A note from the blog owner:

The Hutterites are an Anabaptist group which originated in the South Tyrol in Austria (now part of Italy) in the early 16th century. Due to religious persecution the group migrated several times, first to Moravia (in today’s Czech Republic) and Upper Hungary (today Slovakia), then to Transsylvania (Romania). There the Hutterites encountered Carinthian Crypto-Protestants who had also fled persecution in Habsburg Carintha and to a large extent adopted their German dialect. From there the Hutterites moved to Walachia (southern Romania) and finally to Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire). Due to the threat of military conscription most Hutterites migrated to the US between 1874 and 1879. Between the two World Wars the Hutterites left the US due to discrimination because of their pacifist beliefs, and moved to Canada where most of the Hutterites live today.
The Hutterites practice community of goods, living together in settlements called colonies. There are three main groups, the Schmiedeleut, the Dariusleut and the Lehrerleut (named after leaders), with several smaller related groups.
For a more extensive description the Wikipedia article is a good resource.
  1. Hans-Rebecca – Rebecca Maendel’s father was called John (Hans in German). In the olden days, it was common practice for people to add their father’s first name to theirs as a way to distinguish them from another person in the same community with the same name.[]
  2. Rainbow Hutterite community was located in Île des Chênes, Manitoba[]
  3. At the time of the Queen’s visit, Hans-Rebecca was 48 years old. Though still unmarried, Hans-Rebecca would not have been considered part of the Hutterite youth group and would, therefore not have travelled with them to see the Queen.[]
  4. The Gentleman’s Agreement was made in 1957 between the Union of Manitoba Municipalities and the Hutterites, in reaction to the latter’s growth. It limited both the size and number of Hutterite colonies. It was discriminatory to begin with and eventually became unworkable. In 1970, in the wake of a larger land purchase than was permitted under the Agreement and the ensueing legal wrangling the Manitoba Human Rights Commission declared the Gentleman’s Agreement to be discriminatory and thus invalid.[]
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How Serious Are We About Truth?

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Is being concerned about truth part of “international,  cynical deconstruction of hope ”?

As Christians, are we about truth, or about touching stories, even when they are untrue or inaccurate?

Can we really give people hope with “fake news”?

Is a concern for truth and accuracy in Christians’ communications evidence of an “international, cynical deconstruction of hope”?

In the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s death a Facebook user[1] posted this meme:[2] 

This struck me as strange, not because of the pious sentiment it expressed (for the Queen has always been a pious Christian who was not shy about expressing her faith), but because the diction (the tone, the choice of words) was not that of an upper-class Englishwoman of the second half of the 20th century who was a member of the Church of England. It just didn’t sound like Queen Elizabeth II.

So I googled the key phrase, “I should so love to lay my crown at His feetand was not very surprised to find that, with the exception of the first few results, all of which had been posted in the few days since the Queen died, practically all others attributed the quote to Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother. One of the results, a facsimile reproduction of the April 1919 issue of “The King’s Business[3], even identified the person with whom Queen Victoria had this conversation: it was Dr. Frederic Farrar, Dean of Canterbury Cathedral and a gifted preacher:

I was evidently not the only one who realized that this quote was wrongly attributed to Queen Elizabeth, because several commenters on this post pointed out that this moving story talks about Queen Victoria, not Queen Elizabeth; most of the hundreds of other commenters chose to ignore this inconvenient fact and gushed about how this quote demonstrates Queen Elizabeth’s Christian faith.

And dozens of people, no doubt well-meaning Christians all and including respected friends of mine, have since shared this post, evidently all without fact-checking it. 

Pointing this out on some friends’ timeline, who had shared the post, elicited comments like, “So what? It’s still a lovely quote!”, or “I make no apology for posting this!”, or “I don’t find it egregious!”

One person justified sharing the post with the fact that it might give people hope in this time of international mourning; he then suggested that my concern for accuracy is part of “international cynicism” and the “cynical deconstruction of hope.”

This lack of concern for truth (and actual dissing of such a concern as cynical) discredits the faith it is supposed to demonstrate; it lends credibility to comments like this one:

and then,

Simply put, as told in this context, even without naming Queen Elizabeth but with her picture attached to it, the story just isn’ t true; and attributed to someone living during the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st it does indeed “reek of souvenir teacups and bobblehead sentiment.”

As Christians we are supposed to be about truth. Yet so often “does it feel good” seems to be more important than “is it true“, not just here on social media but also in too many pastors’ sermon illustrations and even personal testimonies of conversion and healing.[4]

As I said, Queen Elizabeth was not shy about her Christian faith, and there is plenty of evidence of that in her speeches, as Terry Mattingly documents in his article entitled “Elizabeth the Great: Why do many journalists choose to edit faith out of her Christmas talks?”. To his question  I would like to add the equally pertinent question, “Why do many Christians believe that it’s o.k. to embellish the truth as long as that makes a nice story?

  1. I have chosen not to identify the Facebook users I mention because I want this to be about the issue of truthfulness, not about the shaming of individuals[]
  2. Since then someone else has created a slightly different version of the meme but still with a picture of Queen Elizabeth as implied attribution[]
  3. The King’s Business” was a monthly publication, from 1910 to 1970, from the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, now Biola University[]
  4. Sometimes Christians look at impressive testimonies like St. Paul’s or Nicky Cruz‘s and give in to the temptation to make their own story more interesting by embellishing it.[]
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On Today’s Free Speech Crisis

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 Toby Young, British journalist and founder of the Free Speech Union, in conversation with Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute, with some insightfull comments about the new “woke” public morality (i.e. normalization of homosexuality and transgenderism, unrestricted abortion rights, etc.):

We have to try to understand why it has become harder and harder to disagree about essential values in the public square withhout falling out with each other, and why cancel culture has metastsized to become such an all-encompassing blight. I think it has something to do with the ebbing away of the Christian tide.

In the nineteenth century, and even in the first part of the twentieth century, we were a  Christian society, and the sacted values we were expected to observe were Christian values, and if someone comitted adultery, or got divorced, or was born out of wedlock, there was serious social stigma attached to that. We had a kind of public morality which people were expected to observe, and if they didn’t, they were sort of outcast, or they were in some kind of Bohemian sub-culture. There was some tolerance for people who didn’t believe, more tolerance, particular towards the end of the nineteenth century, in the higher education sector, towards people who challenged the prevailing orthodoxies, more tolerance than there is now.

So as the Christian tide ebbed away, so this morality faded, and particularly in the 1960s and 1970s all the taboos which had constrained people’s behavior, the moral taboos, fell away and there was a brief period where we enjoyed this intellectual, sexual freedom, and everyone thought that was what the future was going to be. But then, intererestingly, people seemingly found it quite difficult to cope with that degree of freedom, and they’ve embraced another, even more dogmatic morality, which in the past ten, fifteen years has become the public morality.

So after a brief interlude, one public morality has been replaced by another. And if you don’t sign up to the articles of faith of that political morality, you are now outcast, probably more outcast than you were if you didn’t sign up to the articles of the Christian faith in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

And I think that’s really what has happend: we have embraced this new, secular public morality which is actually, interestingly, much more puritanical, and censorious, and authoritarian, than the seemingly much more gentle Christian morality which at least allowed for forgiveness, a path back, redemption, but which this new public morality seemingly doesn’t allow for. And I think that’s why we live in an increasingly intoletant society, why, if you don’t sign up to the shibbolets of the “woke church”, you end up kind of cast out; and, curiously, lots of people who find themselves at odds with the articles of faith of that new public morality are orthodox Christians.

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Glory to Ukraine and victory to her defenders!

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Слава Україні та перемога її захисникам!

When I grew up it was in a family strongly opposed to war (reading books like E. M  Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”, set during WWI) but at the same time immensely grateful to the WWII Allies for defeating Hitler and his goons, liberating Austria from Nazi Germany, and then (at least the Americans) financing reconstruction.[1]

After I became a committed Christian I tended towards Just War theory but always with the niggling feeling that deciding if a particular war was just would be fraught with many thorny questions.

In recent years, turned off by the disastrous turns of the ostensibly just wars of the US and her allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, which could with some justification be considered just wars,[2] and through reading books from authors in the Anabaptist tradition, I was moving in the direction of an absolute pacifism.

However, after Vladimir Putin’s brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine[3] this absolute pacifism has become untenable for me. It is self-evident to me that a nation in Ukraine’s situation has every right, both before God and man, to defend herself, including with military means. I believe this is covered by Romans 13:4: The government “does not carry the sword for no reason. For it is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.” — in this case Vladimir Putin and his army. I pray for Ukraine’s victory over the cruel invader and the removal, by whichever means God chooses, of Putin and his cronies, including the shameful Patriarch Kiril[4] of the Russian Orthodox Church, and I hope that our Western governments in the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and others, will continue to support Ukraine as long as necessary and not give in to Putin’s threats. Putin must not be allowed to keep any of his ill-gotten gains.

And so I read with satisfaction (tempered by pain over the loss of lives) about the recent victories of the Ukrainian forces and the partial routing of the Russian forces. I am convinced that Russian soldiers taken prisoner by the Ukrainians will by and large fare better than Ukrainian soldiers captured by the Russians.

Glory to Ukraine, and victory to her defenders!

  1. The house I grew up in was financed by an ERP mortgage (ERP: European Recovery Program, also known as Marshall-Plan) []
  2. unless one had an anti-American or anti-Western pre-disposition[]
  3. The notion advanced by some, that Putin’s attack was justified because he felt thst Ukraine’s attempts to join the EU and NATO threatened Russia, is nonsense. No rational person can assume that the USA, let alone her Eurupean partners in NATO, would start a war in Europe. This idea is plausible only to someone who considers such an attack an appropriate way of realizing his “Imperial Russia” pipe dreams.[]
  4. Like all Orthodox bishops Kiril is a monk; yet his personal wealth is estimated to be around $4-8 billion, which even apart from his support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine casts an unfavourable light on him.[]
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Humans are either Female or Male

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A few days ago Spiked, a UK-based online magazine variously described  as either right-leaning libertarian or left-leaning libertarian, published an article by Gareth Roberts, the “cancelled” Dr. Who writer, entitled, Joan of Arc was not ‘nonbinary’. He criticizes an upcoming play at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, “I, Joan”, which ‘reimagines’ Joan of Arc as a nonbinary person; then he goes on to criticize the current tendency to project ideas and concepts of contemporary identity politics into the past, “identifying” historical persons as one of “LBGT+”.

This quote struck me:

It is, of course, notoriously difficult to define ‘nonbinary’. Like its siblings ‘trans’ and ‘queer’, it has an uncanny power to mean whatever the person using it fancies saying at the time. But so far as I can make out, it seems to boil down to not behaving stereotypically ‘like a man’ or stereotypically ‘like a woman’, but as a bit of both.

This is a newly discovered and exciting characteristic shared by 100 per cent of the human race. Declaring yourself ‘nonbinary’ is like demanding to be recognised as unusual because you’ve got a bumhole.

The problem is, of course, that in contemporary usage the term nonbinary doesn’t just mean not behaving stereotypically ‘like a man’ or stereotypically ‘like a woman’ but as a bit of both.

Instead it implies a refusal to be classified as either male or female[1] ; it is thus a denial of a foundational aspect of human nature as both Scripture and science affirm it:

So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.
(Genesis 1:27, emphasis mine)

Yes, science recognizes the condition of gender dysphoria, but with the exception of the 0.02%[2] of people born with ambiguous physical sex characteristics (intersex) those affected by it are nevertheless either male or female, and objective science untainted by political correctness identifies it as a pathology, which is considered totally unacceptable bigotry by those who identify as nonbinary

I don’t really have a problem with someone not fitting traditional gender stereotypes in either dress, behaviour, or even preference of name and pronouns, and of course people are free to call themselves what they want, and, as Jordan Peterson famously said, as a matter of politeness I will usually address an individual as he or she wishes to be addressed.

However, both as a Christian and as a thinking human being I reject the very concept of nonbinary persons as contrary both to Scripture and human nature, and I object to being compelled, whether by law, or company policy, or social pressure, to affirm someone’s gender self-identification as trumping biological fact.

The post-modern expectation that all of us ought to affirm as the ultimate reality someone’s self-identification even if that self-identification flies in the face of biological fact, or else face various kinds of sanctions, is the ultimate denial and rejection of the freedoms of speech, expression, or opinion as fundamental human rights, just as compelling people to affirm same-sex attraction, marriage, and sexual activity as normal and good is a denial of the freedom of religion.

I agree that in a pluralistic society we generally owe each other tolerance (within the constraints of the law[3]), but we do not owe anyone affirmation. 


  1. This is also reflected in the language of gender assignment at birth which suggests that sex is is arbitrarily assigned rather than being discerned based on objective biological criteria[]
  2. There are those who put that percentage as high as 2%, but it seems to me they are driven more by ideology than sound research[]
  3. Within a church, the tolerance we owe each other is also constrained by the doctrine of that particular church[]
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