30 Jun

God Is Love

I am getting pretty fed up with some common articulations of theology – particularly the notion that God does or will punish us. God does not and will not punish us. He is not the sadistic schoolmaster or the punitive Beak. The image of God as retributive judge is the entirely understandable existential, anthropomorphic fiction of an over-enthusiastic Old Testament prophet. Of course in a sense the prophet was right. We do suffer and might even feel we are damned. But the truth is that we go to hell in the handcarts of our own making. That is to say, we suffer when we go against the will God expresses for us and which is exemplified in his laws.

All this is relatively simple. But – next question – why are things so ordered as to be peculiarly difficult for us? The answer is in God’s omniscience: because his way of ordering things is the best way and all other ways he considered and rejected

Why do you not believe that God loves you? That not one hair of your head perishes without his noticing?  He has told you so many times that he loves you. What more do you want him to  do – to die for you? Well, let’s not get into that…

We fallible creatures know something of what love is. It is what we prize above all. Do you think God’s love is weaker than yours? We can only love because God first loved us. All our human love – ecstatic and deep as it can be – is but a pale copy of God’s love for us. We could not even think these things outside of God’s love.

God is love and nothing else

As the Collect for Ash Wednesday has it, he hateth nothing that he hath made. If you will overlook the romantic flourish, do you think for a minute that God would condemn what he has fashioned by his own beautiful and holy hands? Consider the heavens, the works of his fingers, the moon and the stars which he hath made. Man is and God is mindful of him. That’s us.

But nasty things happen. Yes. So what? The loving Creator knows what he is about. It doesn’t matter. Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord. Whether we live therefore or whether we die, we are the Lord’s

For God’s sake, Peter, cheer up!

29 Jun

Mind yer grammer

A BBC documentary informs us that Prince Charles has often tried to influence government policy. He was even courageous enough to talk sense to David Blunkett, telling him he should bring back grammar schools – those institutions sometimes referred to by The Times Educational Supplement as “grammer schools.” Blunkett comments:

“I would explain that our policy was not to expand grammar schools, and he didn’t like that. He was very keen that we should go back to a different era where youngsters had what he would have seen as the opportunity to escape from their background, whereas I wanted to change their background.”

Just the sort of remark you would expect from an old class warrior. Actually, it is indisputable that grammar schools did enable youngsters to rise above their origins. The opportunities provided by grammar schools were real and not fictitious, whereas Blunkett’s airy talk about “changing their background” is so nebulous as to be void of all meaning. What we have to understand is that socialists favour equality. They want to assign everyone to the same level. Unfortunately this always means levelling down: the perfect example of socialist levelling is the prison uniform. It is also indisputable that not everyone is suited to an academic education.  There is nothing “elitist” about this. It’s horses for courses. Some people are not suited to a practical education. I wasn’t. The woodwork master slung me out of his class for creating a three-legged stool so palpably atrocious that I was not allowed (as the other lads were allowed) to stain and varnish it, but was ordered to paint it red as an awful warning. And I was held up to mockery and scorn for making a Horlicks of the paint job.  Once, before one of my regular canings for truancy, the headmaster said, “You know, Mullen, I sometimes think you come to school only to play cricket and enter the poetry competition.” He wasn’t far wrong. Though I did like the girls in their candy stripes who used to sit around the field and watch us play cricket.

What a pity that Blunkett and all the other socialist ideologues were not permitted by their class prejudice to notice that grammar schools were a way – perhaps the only way – of improving the prospects of the poor. What is beyond doubt is that the system of universal comprehensive schooling has massively failed the poor. The department of Education’s own figures admit that, after eleven years of full time, compulsory education, 43% of our children leave school unable to read, write and count efficiently.

That is the consequence of the politics of envy.

28 Jun

Talk and double-talk

The Church of England has this week published a discussion paper to be used as part of its fresh “conversations on sexuality.” I am left wondering what more there is to be discussed. Also this week, the Roman Catholic Church has expressed its disquiet about the fact that so  many of its adherents dislike the church’s traditional teaching on sexuality.

So what’s new? Sinners don’t like to be reminded of the fact that they are sinners. I will rephrase that: we sinners don’t like to be reminded of the fact that we are sinners.

What the bishops and the enlightened synodical bureaucrats are trying to do of course is, if you will pardon the expression, to find some wriggle-room: to discover a form of words which will say that the unanimous scriptural and traditional teaching of the church over 2000 years is really no longer appropriate for emancipated modern types, persuaded as they are of the higher authority of “diversity.” And naturally, it’s the economy, stupid! The secularised, atheistic church throughout Europe, Catholic and Protestant, can’t afford to alienate all those thrusting, prosperous permissive types and the well-off homosexual metro-political fashionistas.

There is no such form of words which amounts to anything other than a repudiation of the teaching of Christ. The teaching of Christ is definite and compassionate. It sets out the rules and then extends the most profound forgiveness to those who break the rules – as we all do. It proclaims, Go And Sin No More. What it does not do is to say that sin is not sin. But this is the foul, duplicitous, mealy-mouthed, bureaucratic fudge that the church is looking for. under the euphemism of “conversations.” Let me provide the ultimate conversation stopper:

“Matrimony was ordained as a remedy against sin and to avoid fornication, that those who have not the gift of continency might marry and so keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s Body.”

24 Jun

Do the arithmetic, Your Grace

1 + 1 = 2; 2 + 1 = 3; 2 + 2 = 4…….

The Archbishop of York is outraged by the fact that there are so many of what he describes as “working poor.” He is talking about low pay. He says men should not live by the minimum wage alone but should instead receive 20% more than that basic stipend in the form of “a living wage.”

“Should” is an interesting word, necessarily implying a moral judgement. But morality, if it is to mean anything, must be located in the world of facts and practical results. Moreover, every “should” also implies a responsibi9ity: who should? In this case the responsibility is clearly with the employers, those who pay the wages. I am sure the employers are grateful for the gift of the Archbishop’s superior moral insights and to be elevated, if only temporarily, on to his higher ethical plane. But let us come down to earth just for a moment and consider likely consequences. These are far removed from what obtains on the Church of England’s socialist fantasy island.

The employer needs to balance his books and to make a profit in order to sustain his business. Thus he calculates costs – including the amount he can reckon economically to pay in wages. If, in accordance with Dr Sentamu’s blue sky utopianism and infinite kindness, he is suddenly required to pay 20% over the odds, then (I suggest) in the real world one of two sets of consequences will follow: either he will employ fewer workers or his business will become unprofitable owing to the additional costs and it will fail. Then all will be out of work

Does the Archbishop intend either of these outcomes? Is it not better that more are employed even on low wages than that some are sacked to increase the wages of some others? Is it not preferable, on the whole, that companies stay in business?

But I am talking about the real world and not the C. of E’s. economic neverland  

23 Jun

Prophets & Visionaries, a new book by Peter Mullen

Prophets & Visionaries: Writers of Judgement by Peter Mullen (Published by RoperPenberthy £9.99)

Prophets & Visionaries consists of eight extended critical essays on eight acknowledged thinkers and masters of English prose: Samuel Johnson; S.T Coleridge; John Henry Newman; G.K. Chesterton; T.E. Hulme; T.S. Eliot; R.G. Collingwood and C.H. Sisson. (2014 is the centenary of Sisson’s birth). Each chapter is an introduction and commentary on its subject’s contribution to English literature, philosophy and theology. But these essays are not merely historical studies detailing things which belong in the past. Rather they bring out the extraordinary relevance of these great writers to contemporary life, thought and politics.

“This is a book written by one who has so mastered the material that he can go to the heart of the matter. In truth, learning worn lightly” – Rev’d Dr Aidan Nichols OP

“In his own perceptive and inimitable way, Peter Mullen has produced a compendium of British thinkers of the first rank. All of these, in one way or another, have upheld the vital importance of the Judaeo-Christian tradition for all that is true and good about these islands and the people who live in them. The distortions of the tradition, over the course of history, and its more recent abandonment, should not blind us to its reality as the ground and informing principle of the State, Law, values and virtues in this nation. Its reaffirmation is undoubtedly needed for the moral and spiritual renewal which is so necessary if we are to resist the dangers with which we are beset” – The Rt Rev’d Dr Michael Nazir-Ali

“The kind of modernity here scrutinised through the eyes of some of its most mordant and insightful critics, from Coleridge to Sisson, claims to be self-consciously reflective, creative and boundary-breaking, whereas it is in practice a new Establishment peddling its own taken for granted assumptions by rote and setting limits on the things one is allowed to think and say. The word for this is hegemony and Peter Mullen’s lively and engaging study, by judicious selection and wide-ranging quotation, provides a thematic index or aide-memoire on how to puncture its pretensions” – Professor Rev’d David Martin

Rev’d Dr Peter Mullen in a Church of England priest with experience in town, country, schools and university, most recently as Rector of St Michael’s Cornhill in the City of London. He is Chaplain to several City livery companies. The author of more than forty books, including poems, novels and short stories as well as theology, philosophy and music criticism, Peter Mullen is available for interviews and may be contacted through his publisher or directly at: 3 Naomi Close Eastbourne BN20 7UU

Phone: 01323-655832 peter77mullen@gmail.com

22 Jun

Allah, the poor moderate Muslim house-slaves

What an affecting scene! The British Muslim woman on TV weeping over her psychopathic son who has gone to Iraq to kill reasonable people. She begged this “highly intelligent” son of hers who had aspirations, we hear, to be our first Muslim prime minister to come back to Britain. As for his becoming the first Muslim prime minister – well he could easily be an improvement on Cameron. But frankly. mother-under-the Halloween-costume, we don’t want your beloved son to come back and kill English children. We Christians – in the interests of interfaith dialogue – would much rather he stayed out there in Iraq and slaughtered as many other of his co-religionists as possible.

Is there any difference in meaning between the normal (I should say abnormal) word “Islamic” and the BBC hybrid term “Islamist” ? I mean, and I am only a philosopher, are there any Islamists who are not Islamic?

The civilised world is facing the biggest threat to its survival since the dark ages when this ministration of death conquering by the sword swept across Europe. This barbarism was put down then by Christian knights, by Charles Martel, by the papal states, by the heroes of Lepanto and Malta. This diseased affliction was three centuries ago at the gates of Vienna. It is inside these gates now, with the welcome of the EU nomenklatura and the bien pensant, wishful thinkers who are the real enemies of our civilisation. As T.E. Hulme said, “A civilisation is not defeated until it has taken into itself the beliefs of it enemies.”

Well said, Tom

We are all going to die from pre-emptive self-abasement and political correctness. Why are we so unconfident in our civilisation? Such moral and physical cowards?

Fire needs to be fought with fire. We are fighting fire by appeasement, that is by pouring oil on the flames

09 Jun

Are you interested in morality?

Half a dozen times over the last fortnight I’ve come across newspaper and magazine articles in which writers, on the subject of politics and morality, speak of a choice between “morals” and “interests.” All these writers insisted that individuals and nations should act from moral principles rather than from perceived interests. There are several points to be made about this.

First I believe it is a false distinction. Why can it not be moral to act out of self-interest? Any father or mother who did not act in the family’s interest would rightly be described as irresponsible. Surely the leaders of nations are justified when they act in the nation’s interest. National politicians are elected precisely for this purpose.

This is where the discussion takes a sinister turn. For what is this “morality” which, it is alleged, should be preferred over interest? To uproot moral principle from interest is to commit oneself to abstractions. And of course different parties are bound to prefer differing abstractions, so how is the word “moral” to be defined? Really, when these political advocates of morality speak, they usually assume – entirely without justification, in my view – that acting morally means acting according to abstract concepts – such as equality, diversity and universal human rights. No reasoning is ever provided to demonstrate that such abstract principles are cogent and valid, let alone that they should be be accepted as normative.

The so-called international debate about morality in public life and foreign policy has effectually been settled in favour of something very much like the ethical dogmas of the French Revolution. This is pernicious.   

07 Jun

Ill Literacy

The Secretary of State for Educashun, Michael Gove, aims to “end illiteracy within a generation.” And when he’s finished doing that, he will abolish hatred and prejudice, present a cure for the common cold and make all people live in love and charity together. Then we shall all celebrate The Great and Notable Day of the Gove. I must say, I scratched my head when I heard Gove make that promise about ending illiteracy. He’s normally so intelligent and to the point and he has done more for schoolchildren than anyone since Robert Raikes (1736-1811). Gove is not given to making damn fool remarks, so why is he promising something which he can’t possibly provide? (You didn’t think I was going to say “deliver,” did you?)

And where will he choose to begin this soroptimistic project? He had better start with the teachers – and, while he’s at it, a great number of our “leading” commentators who write in the papers and talk on radio and TV. You know, people who say “begs the question” when they don’t mean ignoratio elenchi or petitio principii but only “asking the question.” They say “deteriate” and “mitigate against.” “Refute” when all they mean is “repudiate.” medical reports announce that the patient is “critical but stable” – when the meaning of “critical” is precisely that a thing is unstable. Then there are the worshippers of the spurious adverb, as in “actively seeking,” “communicate effectively” and sheer slang such as “going forward” for “in future.” The word “iconic” is used to describe a punk rocker or a television cook. “Crescendo” to mean “pinnacle of sound” when that word means a gradual increase in volume. They can’t pronounce “drawing” but have to put in an extra “r” – “drawring.” They start all their sentences with “So…” – so forgetting that nihil ex nihilo fit also has its grammatical context. And “centred around.” “pressurised” for “pressured.” “I was stood.” “I was sat.” “Disinterested” when they mean “uninterested.” “Run down council estate” for “council estate.” “Miniscule” for “minuscule.” “Burgalry.” “Decision-making process” for “deciding.” “Impact on” for “affect.” “Infamous” means that a thing is notoriously vile, abominable etc. Now it’s used in such as “the Liverpool striker’s infamous penalty miss.” “Trained marksman” – as if there were untrained ones! “Damage” becomes “negatively impact upon.” “Is comprised of” for “comprises.” “Murals on walls…”

Gove might like to start with the in-house journal of his profession, The Times Educational Supplement in which I saw an advertisement for someone to teach English in a “grammer school.”

04 Jun

Four legs good, two legs bad

In a wonderful act of selective self-censorship, the Church of England has banned the clergy from joining the British National Party and the National Front on the grounds that these parties are guilty of “the sin of racism.”

They really mean it!

Racism is one of the modern seven deadly sins along with sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, elitism, social-exclusion, global-warming denial and belonging to the Nasty Party. It’s reassuring to know that the bishops will not unfrock me if I join the Communist party, despite that party’s historic contributions to general impoverishment and genocides. Indeed, some Anglican clergymen of very high rank have been members of the Communist Party.

There was Hewlett Johnson (1874-1966) who was elevated to become Dean of Canterbury. He ought to have been shot as a traitor for his continued support for the USSR even after the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact had allied Russia with the Germans with whom we were at war. The Soviets regarded him as principal among the “useful idiots” along with G.B. Shaw, H.G. Wells and Sidney and Beatrice Webb. They awarded him the oxymoronically-named International Stalin Peace Prize in 1951.

It occurs to me that there are more pertinent allegiances which ought to earn the penalty of unfrocking: not believing the fundamental doctrines of the Church, for instance. Though I guess the bishops conjectured that this would reduce the number of the clergy by quite a lot – not excluding some of the present episcopate.

This latest act of ecclesiastical puerility and political-correctness only serves to make the Church look ridiculous and to show it up once again in its true colours. Actually, the Church of England has only one colour these days: red.  

03 Jun

Die Fuhrerin

Of course it’s a damnable libel to suggest that Britain is ruled by the EU. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are still an independent sovereign nation and we govern ourselves. It’s just that we are bound by a Common Agricultural Policy which is against our national interest. We had to agree to have our fishing industry destroyed by EU diktat. We can do nothing to limit catastrophic numbers of economic migrants from other member states. Our financial institutions are ever more shackled by EU rules and burdened by tax rates set by the super-state. We are unable to deport foreign criminals and perceived enemies of the state. Every day there come fresh examples of EU interference in our national life: this morning alone it is reported that the EU is telling us to alter the way we administer the Council Tax and instructing us to raise taxes on high value property purchases.

But if you catalogue and criticise the countless ways in which we are under the EU’s control, you will be accused of a Little Englander mentality and of xenophobia. The truth is that all the decisions of importance about what goes on in our country are taken in Brussels and Strasbourg. It was always intended that way. The founders of the European project envisaged “ever greater political union” from the start. This is not a matter of opinion or a paranoid fantasy, but the reality: the architects of the EU made their intentions plain on numerous occasions and their words are well-documented. Interviewed in the British press and on our TV channels, EU statesmen and leaders never show the slightest reluctance to agree that this ever-closer union is their aim.

David Cameron is making a pretence just now of talking tough. He says that if the arch-federalist Jean-Claude Junckers is appointed President of the European Commission, Britain “might have to leave the EU.” I say he is making a pretence because he has no intention to lead us out of the EU. Dave is talking big because he and his party are severely startled by the success of UKIP in the recent elections. The reality is that we live in a federal Europe already, a Europe that is dominated, ruled and exploited by the Germans. What Bismarck in 1870, the Kaiser in 1914 and Hitler in 1939 were unable to effect by force of arms, Angela Merkel has achieved by economic muscle and uber-bureaucratisation. Germany exercises hegemony from the Baltic to the Atlantic seaboard.

Here is the news: David Cameron will not be able to take us out of the EU – because, put quite plainly, Frau Merkel won’t let him