Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eid Mubarak!

Cranmer wishes all of his Muslim readers and communicants a blessed festival.

Eid ul-Fitr is a day of forgiveness, moral victory and peace, of congregation, fellowship, brotherhood, and unity. Muslims are not only celebrating the end of fasting, but are also thanking God for the help and strength that he gave them throughout the previous month to help them practise self-control.

Cranmer apologises that he can find nothing from Barak Obama on this occasion.

Guardian: Can Muslims trust the Tories?

What an utterly stupid question.

Yet it is one which obviously preoccupies Sarfraz Manzoor of The Guardian, as he ponders whether or not the Conservative Party has changed ‘since Enoch Powell gave his notorious speech in Birmingham’.

Why is this one speech by one Tory at one particular time deemed to encapsulate the beliefs and attitudes of all Tories for all time? It is not the Conservative Party which is incapable of change, but prejudiced journalists like Mr Manzoor who seek to tarnish entire groups of people because of the attitudes or actions of a few. If one were to ask ‘Can Tories trust Muslims?’, doubtless Mr Manzoor would be among the first to cry ‘racism’ or ‘Islamophobia’.

The Powell speech did not distort all discussion about race and immigration; it was the media response to it, and that remains the case. Even now, the moment anyone seeks to raise the subject it is usually the pathologically ‘centre-left’ media which silences those who dare to raise their heads above the parapet with cries of ‘extremism’, ‘racism’, or accusations of being (God forbid) ‘right wing’ which has itself become synonymous with extremism.

But Mr Manzoor is concerned to know if Enoch Powell is somehow vindicated because of the rise of ‘political Islamism’. It is such a tautology which persuades Cranmer towards the view that The Guardian has no depth and that Mr Manzoor is out of his. He clearly had little time for the Conference discussion on the distinction between Islam and Islamism. He summarises: ‘There was no inconsistency between the values of Islam and an open society: the quarrel was with those who had hijacked the religion for political purposes. And yet even though the panel were (sic) proclaiming the necessity of drawing a clear distinction between mainstream Islam and the ideology of Islamism, the audience had been handed a photocopied front page of yesterday's Sunday Express whose front page screamed: "Cameron: I'll curb Muslim fanatics".

And the dissemination of such an article really proves that Tories really do harbour racist views, does it not?

There are so many arguments one may adduce to negate Mr Manzoor’s facile reasoning that Cranmer can hardly be bothered. When it comes to the question of whether Muslims can trust the Tories, the simple response is that they will - if they are Tories. And, surprising as this may be to The Guardian, many thousands of them are. But then one might consider Mr Cameron’s ‘A-list’, designed specifically to permit candidates like Rehman Chisti to be selected for winnable or safe seats. Or the elevation of Sayeeda Warsi to the Lords to become ‘Britain's most senior Muslim politician’, which, according to Labour MP Sadiq Khan, was ‘because of her religion.

And Mr Cameron proposes to ban such groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, to confront the quasi-legitimacy bestowed upon organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain, and to encourage ‘the teaching of a more moderate interpretation of Islam in mosques’. There is also the possibility of the compulsory teaching of history in schools and the establishment of an ‘Institute of British Islam’.

If Mr Manzoor or any other British Muslims have any problems with these proposals – which are manifestly for the immense benefit of all British Muslims – then they should not only look to another political party, but to another country.

But Mr Manzoor is not persuaded ‘the nasty party’ can rise to the challenge of distinguishing the extremists from the law-abiding and peaceful. He is not persuaded that Conservatives can ‘show that their rightful concerns about Islamism are not a proxy restatement of broader prejudices’ and he questions whether Conservatives ‘are at ease with a diverse and heterogeneous society’.

Well, Mr Manzoor, how many Muslims are ‘at ease with a diverse and heterogeneous society’?

And what makes you think Muslims can trust Labour?

The Conservative Party represents the entire British population irrespective of race, colour or religion. The Conservative Party does wish to ensure that the Muslim community is fully involved in our national life at all levels. And what have the past 10 years done to encourage Islamic beliefs in enterprise, in the sense of community, the belief in the family and in the value of hard work?

How many Muslim businesses have been helped by a decade of Labour? How is it that so many Muslims are trapped in areas of great deprivation? How is it that the rate of unemployment among Muslims has risen to 15 per cent? How is it that there is a general underachievement of Muslim children in school, the health of Muslims in below average and there is a lack of interaction in many areas?

Ah, this must be the fault of the Conservative Party.

Or perhaps, just perhaps, Mr Manzoor is permitting his political ideology to colour his theological perception and cloud his sociological judgement.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Rosh Hashanah!

Cranmer would like to wish all of his Jewish readers and communicants G_d's rishest blessings for Rosh Hashanah. As you focus on G_d as King, he exhorts you to celebrate the sacred occasion with loud blasts of the Shofar (Lev 23:23-25).

In the words of Barak Obama: "The Jewish New Year is unlike the new years of any other cultures, in part because it's not simply a time for revelry; it's a time for what might be called determined rejoicing - a time to put your affairs with other people in order so you can honestly turn to God, a time to recommit to the serious work of tikkun olam - of mending the world."

Labour’s identity theft

Cranmer is expecting one firm policy commitment to emanate from the Conservative Party Conference this week, and that will be Dominic Grieve’s announcement that the next Conservative Government will abandon all plans for a national identity card scheme. Labour intends that all immigrants to the UK will eventually possess a biometric ID card (and Cranmer has no problem with that), but they also intend issuing such cards to all UK residents - at a cost of anywhere between 5 and 25 billion pounds (pick a number).

As the card design was unveiled by the Home Secretary last week, Cranmer was struck by the preponderance of EU symbolism and imagery upon it. There is a picture of a bull (of which the Government seems to be full) above golden stars, and the coloured background is made up of hundreds of tiny letters spelling 'EU'. The bull is drawn from Greek mythology, and is the beast upon which Europa rides.

Although it is presently denied, eventually all people will be obliged to present their cards for scanning when requested to do so. It will not only be the police, for the right to request proof of identity will inevitably be extended to council jobsworths, parking wardens, the litter police, the dog mess patrols and all the other sundry monitors and spies who persecute the innocent.

And these scanners will also need to be installed in every hospital, clinic, GP surgery, dentist, town hall, school, etc., etc. For there is no point having an identity card if those who provide the services do not have the means of authenticating the ID.

From 2010, the Government will ‘encourage’ all UK citizens to apply for a card ‘on a voluntary basis’.

How precisely will they be ‘encouraged’? Why would one ever ‘volunteer’ for such a thing?

Yet these cards are supposed to prevent terrorism and decrease all manner of other crimes. But they are certainly not likely to stop the likes of Mohamed Atta and his ilk, for Islamist terrorists do not seek to conceal their identity; indeed, they are proud of their martyrdom and seek to glorify their names.

But Not-So-New Labour is sure the cards will deter murderers and burglars. So when someone approaches you with a knife, be sure to ask him for his card first. And when you find a burglar in your home, instead of hitting him with a club or shooting him (and thus breaching his human rights), you simply ask to see his ID card.

Identity cards do nothing to protect the citizen against the criminal, but everything to permit the government to control the population. Socialism is all about control, and this initiative has its roots firmly in the continental Social-Democrat tradition of statehood. There are tens of millions of people in the UK who have driving licences which contain the same basic information as ID Cards and these can and often are used in many everyday situations. And then millions of others have passports, NI cards, student identity cards – all of which are acceptable as a means of official identification.

And if these are flawed, the addition of yet another card will be no remedy. The only absolutely secure way of identifying people is to insert a microchip. Cranmer suggests the forehead or the right hand to facilitate scanning. And then every time you walk down the street you could be recorded, late for work, entering a shop, going on a bus. Crime would disappear overnight, and credit card fraud would be eradicated, for one would only be able to buy and sell if one had been chipped.

But Cranmer has a question for the Home Secretary:

How precisely does one qualify for an ID card? Will not individuals have to provide some form of identification to prove who they are, and will not that be deemed sufficient evidence for the issuing of the card?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Conservative Party Conference: All will be revealed...

...in Time?

Well, it wasn’t. In the UK, the feature was introduced as: 'Behind the smile: Gifted and polished or empty suit. Who the heck is David Cameron?' And so one awaits with bated breath to hear from this week’s Conference the positive pronouncements and the primary policies which will define the next Conservative government. And this Conference is the opportunity to do so. If an election is to be held in the spring of 2010, leaving the manifesto show-pieces until the autumn of 2009 will be too late for them to enter the public consciousness. While the world and his dog may be sick of the present government and even more sick of its leader, there is still a considerable element of ‘known unknown’ about Mr Cameron’s political philosophy, and this can only be rectified by distinguishing and by definition.

When Time magazine introduced the rest of the world to David Cameron as Britain's prime minister-in-waiting, he appeared only on the front of the European, Middle East and African editions of the magazine: he did not make it on (or even inside) the US edition, or those covering Asia and Australia. Time sells 3.4 million copies in the US - compared to just 1.1 million in the rest of the world. Having a cover on Time magazine is prized by politicians as a sign that they have made it. But it seems the Leader of the Conservative Party still has some way to go before he may reach the majority of his audience.

Mr Cameron may ooze Etonian and Oxbridge confidence, and he may embody the yearning for a generational shift. But he lacks the understanding of the need for clarity and definition. What made Burke, Disraeli, Churchill and Thatcher ‘great’ was that they personified the Conservative Party for a particular era, providing its policies, appeal, style and structure to suit the age into which they were born. In his approach, Mr Cameron risks being a Derby, a Bonar Law or even a Heath, insofar as he told Time: 'I think you just get on with it. It's the best thing to do in politics rather than trying to endlessly work out the definition of who you are or what you're about.'

No, Mr Cameron. The people need to understand ‘what you’re about’, and they will only grasp this through definition. Cranmer might agree with you when you say ‘You can't walk a mile in everybody's shoes’, but it is your task to make them feel that not only could you, but that you would want to. When David Willetts describes his leader as a man who ‘is comfortable with Britain as it is today’, the gulf becomes apparent. And it is not that the majority wish the nation to return to 1558 or recreate that of 1958, but that this majority is manifestly and distinctly uncomfortable with ‘Britain as it is today’, and decry what New Labour has done to it. And they may cite uncontrolled and uncontrollable immigration and the consequent ‘multiculturalism’ as a primary concern.

What are you going to do about this, Mr Cameron?

It is one thing to enforce a ‘points’ system upon those seeking to immigrate from India or Pakistan, but how do you intend to prevent millions of Poles, Romanians and Hungarians from taking 'British jobs', or making use of doctors, dentists, hospitals and schools while British taxpayers are forced down ever-lengthening queues? And you say you want Turkey to join the EU, granting its citizens the same border-free migration rights as all EU citizens. How will you stop millions of Turks from swelling the ‘ghetto’ communities of Bradford, Oldham or Leicester, storing up the potential for civil unrest, exacerbating the likelihood of civil war?

In 18 months, David Cameron is likely to be Prime Minister, and it is likely to be an electoral landslide of the magnitude wrought by Tony Blair in 1997. Yet 18 months prior to Mr Blair entering No10, the people had more than a vague idea of what he was planning to do - devolution, the minimum wage, the New Deal funded by a windfall tax on the privatised utilities.

What has David Cameron pledged?

He will raise the threshold for inheritance tax from £300,000 to £1m - a move which will not affect vast swathes of people. And he will find £121million to reinstate weekly dustbin collection. Yet even the announcement of this policy fundamentally contradicts his pledge to restore powers to local authorities.

What is to be Conservative foreign policy? – a known unknown.
What is to be done about increasing rates of crime? – a known unknown.
How will he mend Britain’s ‘broken society’? – a known unknown.
How will he address the crisis in the health service? – a known unknown.
How will he tackle the dire failures of education provision? – a known unknown.
What will be his policy on the Lisbon Treaty? – an unknown unknown.
Will there be a referendum? – an unknown unknown.

But doubtless he will talk about his ‘vision’ and promise to bring about ‘change’. And he shall bring his wife onstage, and the standing ovation shall be rapturous.

And the faithful shall feel good.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dominic Grieve: ‘The role of Christianity is really rather important’

These are the words of the Shadow Home Secretary on the eve of the Conservative Party Conference. And they are evidently not simply a vacuous statement of the blindingly obvious, for the context is an interview with The Guardian which talks of the ‘terrible legacy’ of British multiculturalism which ‘has allowed extremists to flourish’.

He talks of the ‘cultural despair’ felt by the indigenous population, and the alienation felt by immigrants as ‘UK values’ are no longer articulated, and so cannot be understood.

As Mr Grieve warned against downplaying Britain's Christian heritage, he said: "We've actually done something terrible to ourselves in Britain. In the name of trying to prepare people for some new multicultural society we've encouraged people, particularly the sort of long-term inhabitants, to say 'well your cultural background isn't really very important'."

And so multiculturalism has ‘created a vacuum’ and ‘encouraged support for extremists on both sides’.

He then specifies the Islamist terror group Hizb ut-Tahrir on the one hand, and the BNP on the other. It is a pity he did not take the opportunity to point out a crucial difference between these two obnoxious polarities. While both may be typified by a distasteful antipathy to some other, only one of these extremist groups despises democracy to the extent that it resorts to violence and murder to achieve its ends. Only one of these pours scorn upon ‘UK values’.

And so Mr Grieve offers an antidote, but this in itself may be perceived as ‘extremist’, for it is probably one which members of the BNP would accord. He says: “...the part played by Christianity in Britain should not be ignored. The role of Christianity is really rather important. It can't just be magicked out of the script. It colours many of the fundamental viewpoints of British people, including many who've never been in a church."

But this Christianity is Protestant - the foundation of the nation's liberties - and at the last General Election it was the Conservative Party’s policy to repeal the Act of Settlement which, it must be observed, many Roman Catholic tolerate because it ensures an expression of Christianity at the heart of government. An established semi-Protestant Church of England is better than no established church, even if it is a reminder of the concerns of a bygone era. But it is not so bygone for some inhabitants of the UK, yet this debate has been confined to Belfast or parts of Scotland.

The demands for repeal of the Act of Settlement (without consideration of the implications for the Act of Union and other great constitutional treaties) do not only come from New Labour and The Guardian; there is a movement within the Conservative Party to unravel the Christian foundations of the nation as well. So when Mr Grieve talks passionately about civil liberties or 'the role of Christianity’, Cranmer would like to know if Mr Grieve intends ignoring the particular brand of Christianity which guaranteed the nation's liberties and was enshrined by statute three centuries ago to ensure that the Supreme Governor of the Church of England would be Christian and Protestant 'for ever’. He would also like to know why Conservative opposition to the repeal of the blasphemy laws was principally left to prominent Roman Catholics and a non-practising Jew. The only member of the Church of England to speak from the Conservative benches was Gerald Howarth. Where was Mr Grieve’s Anglican conviction then? While Ann Widdecombe, Edward Leigh and Bill Cash fought tooth and claw for the retention of laws which relate specifically to the Church of England, Mr Grieve was mute. Does he believe such laws - which underpin the Christian foundations of the nation - to be obsolete and otiose?

While the Shadow Home Secretary may bemoan the gradual diminution or the systematic eradication of the nation's Christian heritage and identity, he offers no solutions, no policies for revival, no religio-political strategies for resurrection. We are beyond soothing and sympathetic words, and yet these usefully conceal his essential support for the EU world order and his advocacy of the ECHR mantra of 'rights' which is antithetical to any notion of Christendom.

We might all agree that ‘multiculturalism’ now belongs to a bygone era. But there is plainly inter and intra-party division on what expression of Christianity must be asserted. And even the word ‘asserted’ is fraught with difficulties, for the age demands ‘neutrality’ and ‘equality’ in the religious realm, and it is perfectly obvious to those who have eyes and ears that the maintenance of the Established Church or the propagation by government of the Christian faith can be neither of these.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tony Blair: Studying other religions strengthened Catholic faith

This is the interesting assertion, and not the most auspicious statement to emanate from the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

The whole Telegraph article is worth reading, but the clearest inference of this statement is that in his efforts to study and understand other religions, he was persuaded of the rightness of the Christian worldview, and reinforced in his understanding of catholicity. By overcoming his ignorance of other faiths, he has rationally arrived at the view that they are all wrong, and that the Roman Catholic Church is right.

It is not the most diplomatic way of anointing 100 ‘mostly young people’ of varying faiths as ‘inter-religious ambassadors’. It is, however, the plainest acknowledgement made by him that in issues of religion, discrimination is a necessity and assertions of equality are nonsensical. If one is to be free to choose one’s faith, one has to be free to discriminate. It then becomes no business of the State to legislate against those issues of conscience which are intrinsic to one’s belief.

What a pity he was never so enlightened when he was prime minister.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Marxist Church of England

The Archbishop of York has called share traders who cashed in on falling prices ‘bank robbers and asset strippers’, and the Archbishop of Canterbury waxes lyrically of the virtues of Karl Marx, warning that in the face of the credit crisis, ‘the financial world needs new regulation’, and that ‘society is running the risk of idolatry in its relationship with wealth’.

Running the risk?

Does the Archbishop not understand that Mammon has been society’s idol for centuries, and that positioning the Church towards Karl Marx is naïvely simply supplanting one idol for another?

And Marx is in any case a curious exemplar for a church, as he sought to replace the Hegelian dialectic of the spirit with a materialistic dialectic located within the economic sphere. For Marx, the inadequacies of society were to be overcome by a transition from capitalism to Socialism and ultimately to Communism.

Perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury has failed to notice that in recent decades Socialism has become a spent force and Communism has been thoroughly discredited. Perhaps, like orthodox Marxists, Dr Williams will blame the imperfection of leaders for the non-arrival of his Utopia, but he would be something of an expert in that.

It is difficult (as ever) to fathom what the Archbishop is proposing, for his advocacy of the Marxist ideal and the repudiation of capitalism can only be accomplished through the diminution of democracy, or, what Marx oxymorincally called ‘democratic centralisation’. In fulfillment of the pattern of society set out by Plato in 'The Republic', the ultimate authority has to be intellectuals and experts – the Philosopher Rulers – and this paves the way for bureacratic authoritarianism. At best (if it be), this may be seen in the form of ‘democratic centralisation’ of the European Union. At worst, it is that of Stalin and Lenin.

Capitalism can be cruel, but so is nature. It is a manifest inconsistency for the Church of England in one week to apologise to the man who expounded a theory of survival of the fittest, and the next to denounce such a theory when it is manifest in the natural laws of economy and society. Exploitation is an undoubted evil, but this ‘extremism’ is not a capitalist necessity, but a result of the greed in the heart of man. And the Archbishop ought to know that one cannot change the human heart through legislation or external imposition.

Democracy has its imperfections, and so does capitalism. But both have been found by experience to be the better than the alternatives, and both yield a more just and less oppressed society. The ‘Protestant ethic’ identified by Weber is both rational and moral, and the history of the modern era attests to this. Marxism has failed along with the barbarities of fascism, and history attests to this also.

Cranmer hears the Archbishop of Canterbury is presently making a pilgrimage to Lourdes, and speaking at the shrine to the ‘Immaculate Conception’. It is time for him to follow the man who appointed him to Canterbury, and to take his pro-EU, anti-State, anti-individualist, Marxist, federalist, Socialist, ‘third way’ Catholic-ecumenism to another place. He belongs elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sheffield Council refuses to bury Christians on a Saturday

There are rites, and there are rights. And, in a blatant example of religious discrimination, it seems that only Muslims and Jews have the right to be buried on a Saturday. From The Daily Mail:

A council has barred a grieving family from burying their stepfather on a Saturday - because he was not Muslim.

Harold 'Charlie' Lemaire died last week aged 75 from pneumonia. His stepdaughter, Jean Maltby, wanted the funeral to be held this Saturday so family who live outside the city could attend.

The retired steel worker's stepson Stephen lives in Dorset while other members of his family live as far away as the Isle of Man.

But when her funeral director called Sheffield's City Road Cemetery to arrange a memorial service followed by burial, he was told the funeral would not be allowed on a Saturday because the family was not Muslim.

The city's council confirmed it does not offer funerals at the weekend except to Muslims, in line with the rules of the Islamic faith that the dead must be buried as soon as possible.

Ms Maltby said today she felt it was unfair to offer weekend funerals to one religion and not to others.

'It should be one rule for everyone - and I don't think the people of Sheffield realise the council has made this decision,' she said.

'It goes against the council's policy of equal rights. They are making a service available to one sector of the community and not another.'...

Let us be clear here. Undertakers have no problem with funerals on a Saturday. And Islamic groups have backed calls for all faiths to be treated equally. The initiative has come from some PC-obsessed jobsworth on the Labour-controlled* Sheffield Council.

Cranmer wonders why the council's own code of conduct and anti-discrimination guidelines do not cover this manifest inequality. But he more than suspects they do. All it will take is for someone to threaten court action, and the policy will rapidly be changed.

*Sheffield Council became Liberal Democrat in May 2008. The policy emanates from the Labour era.

'Catholics for Obama'

It transpires that Senator Obama is just as pro-family as Sarah Palin. And the Obama-Biden campaign has produced piles of merchandise to prove it. Just read it and believe. Suspend all criticism and imbibe. Allow it to enter the deepest recesses of the consciousness without question or doubt.

There is a certain disquiet in the USA as to how anyone can profess to be pro-family and yet support abortion. It is a question the Obama-Biden campaign is confronting head-on. The feeding of the five million with ‘faith merchandise’ has been referred to as the boldest move since Christ drove the moneychangers out of the Temple, and this postmodern messiah is bathing in the shekinah glory of the media spotlight. The faithful may choose from ‘Believers for Barack’, ‘Pro-Family Pro-Obama’ and ‘Catholics for Obama’ buttons, stickers, banners and flags. And they are currently planning ‘Clergy for Change’ and ‘Pro-Israel Pro-Obama’ merchandise.

It is a crude attempt to win the religious vote – in particular the Evangelical and Roman Catholic contingent - for whom family values and abortion remain the highest of priorities. The Roman Catholic Church has said that candidates who promote fundamental moral evils such as abortion are cooperating in ‘a grave evil’, and so Catholics should not vote for them to advance those evils.

A Catholic voter’s decision to support a candidate despite that gravely immoral position ‘would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.’

The divergence between the Biden / Pelosi view on abortion and that of the Bishops is said to be simply ‘a running debate between Catholics’. But for many, abortion is the only issue: it concerns a fundamental teaching of the Church on justice and peace, serving the poor and advancing the common good — beginning with a fundamental priority on protecting innocent human life from direct attack, which abortion manifestly is.

The Catholic vote has historically been pivotal in deciding who occupies the White House. It has gone to the winning presidential campaign in every race since 1976, except Al Gore’s 2000 bid.

But Cranmer wonders why there are no buttons, banners or bumper stickers saying ‘Muslims for Barack’?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gordon Brown: I’m an ordinary man...

Who desires nothing more than an ordinary chance,
to live exactly as he likes, and do precisely what he wants.
An average man am I, of no eccentric whim,
Who likes to live his life, free of strife,
doing whatever he thinks is best, for him,
Well... just an ordinary man...

When Cranmer heard that the Prime Minister describe himself as a ‘pretty ordinary guy’, the words of the genius lyricist Alan J Lerner drifted into mind. And then the extent of Mr Brown’s self-delusion became apparent.

Setting aside the absurd notion that any politician (or aspiring politician) can be in any sense ordinary, and also setting aside any philosophical debate into the nature and definition of ordinariness, Cranmer has condensed just a few of the Prime Minister’s widely-publicised character traits, and is at a loss to find anything ‘ordinary’ about the man at all.

He is known to rant and rave and kick over chairs in fits of anger.
He refuses to admit responsibility, and pathologically pursues vendettas.
Despite his Christian profession, he is obsessive and unforgiving.
He is incapable of shouldering responsibility, except for that which succeeds.
He invariably blames others for his own mistakes.

But Gordon says he is ordinary;
And Gordon is an honourable man.

He uses abusive language and relies only on those who will tell him what he wants to hear.
He discards the innocent and protects the wrongdoer.
He is economical with the truth.
He preaches a ‘moral compass’, yet lacks any moral foundation or sense of direction.
He is self-righteous, and aggressively so.

But Gordon says he is ordinary;
And Gordon is an honourable man.

He is incapable of perceiving his own faults.
He is not easy to work with.
He has been judged to be 'psychologically flawed'.
Those who work closely with him have referred to ‘Stalinist ruthlessness’.
They also talk of his ‘complete contempt for other ministers’.
This Stalinist element creates a schizophrenic tension of Jekyll & Hyde proportions.

Yet Gordon says he is ordinary;
And Gordon is an honourable man.

He is Mr Bean and Mcavity – looking absurd when present or conspicuous by his absence.
He is a coward and a bully.
He can be nasty, incompetent, malign, cold, arrogant, blinkered and totally devoid of the warmth of human kindness.
He talks of ‘vision’ and ‘values’, and seems to be trying to build the Jerusalem which the Rev. John Brown never lived to see.
He refuses to listen to criticism or warnings.
He is stubborn and cannot trust or delegate.
He is relentless in his calculating ambition.

Yet Gordon says he is ordinary;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.

Further proof is not needed that Gordon Brown is manifestly not an ordinary man. And his very use of the word obscures and obliterates vital linguistic meanings, thus subverting distinctions and definitions that are essential for normal comprehension and familiar discourse.

But while he may not be an ordinary man, he may indeed be a perfectly ordinary politician, simply locked away in his own private monastery of self-perceived ordinariness.

And then we wonder why things are as they are.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Blue Blog

It is official. The Conservative Party's new blog is to be called 'The Blue Blog'. Cranmer preferred 'Sacré Bleu', but wonders if this distinctly risqué and utterly unoriginal name might not get a little more 'passing trade', thus spreading the Conservative gospel further and wider, setting its bounds more ambitiously, boldly going where no Tory has gone before.

Blessings to The Spine for the graphic.

The importance of praying for Gordon

As the Labour Party gathers for its conference, Cranmer’s conscience is seared by the need to confess.

His Grace would like it to be known that he is an avid supporter of Gordon Brown. This support is sincere and wholehearted. He thanks God for him, and prays for him day and night as he is exhorted to do (1Tim 2:1-4). He wishes him good health and a hugely successful conference. May all those plotting his downfall be confounded. May his enemies be scattered, and those who wish him ill fall under their own curse. May he be preserved by his shield and protected by armour, and may those who seek to politically undermine or publicly humiliate him be silenced and bound.

It seems vogue to suffix all manner of verbiage with ‘con’ these days. Daniel Hannan MEP and Douglas Carswell MP profess to be an Obamacons – Conservatives for Obama – and they seem able to sleep at night.

Well, Cranmer is a Gordocon. If the term has not yet been coined, let it be so now. For His Grace’s support is sincere. And there is no philosophical contradiction or oxymoronic tension.

Gordon Brown is the Conservative Party’s guarantee of victory at the next General Election. If he remains, the shift in public opinion towards David Cameron will be just as seismic as it was for Tony Blair in 1997. Any replacement leader will pose a threat to the Conservative Party, though the magnitudes will differ.

Jack Straw will have popular appeal – he is safe and secure. David Miliband has the brains for PMQs, but all the charisma of a dung beetle. John Cruddas is eloquent and forceful. James Purnell is young and charming. Ed Balls - Cranmer won't waste his time. Harriet Harman is cold and calculating, but the thought of Labour’s first woman prime minister will capture the popular imagination. Alan Johnson will be profoundly dangerous, for it is difficult not to like the man. He is Labour’s Ken Clarke, with an affable blokish familiarity, a warmth and a genuine concern. John Reid would also be a challenge for the Conservatives. His experience is formidable, having held most of the great offices of state. He is a thug in private, and persuasive in public. And Hazel Blears might just get Cranmer’s vote, purely for the entertainment factor.

None of these, of course, may present the Conservative Party with any long-term threat. But with rumours of a leadership contest, the emergence of a shiny new leader would yield a honeymoon period during which a general election would swiftly be called. Disenchanted Liberal Democrats might flock to Labour, and those erstwhile Labour voters who deserted their party over Iraq or any of the recent policy fiascos might be persuaded to give a new leader the benefit of the doubt.

So Cranmer is praying for Gordon Brown.

He is similarly praying for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.

He has given up praying for Archbishop Rowan Williams.

But he reserves his most fervent intercessions for the Bishop of Rochester, and he hopes to see the day that David Cameron permits the name of Michael Nazir-Ali to be put to Her Majesty in consideration for the See of Canterbury.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The death of democracy and the rise of mediocracy

Peter Hitchens has an excellent article in The Mail on Sunday today. His thesis is clear: ‘Our political parties are corpses and democracy as we used to know it is quite dead’. And the evidence adduced is persuasive. Essentially, political parties have ceased holding to any coherent philosophy, and have become enslaved to the ‘centre-left’ zeitgeist which has spreading like bindweed for the past 40 years. Members are ‘driven away or sidelined’, and ‘traditional voters (are) taken for granted’. He identifies the Michael Howard revolution against Iain Duncan Smith as ‘a blatant takeover of a Right-wing party by the “Centre-Left” establishment’.

And one observes, every four years or so, what Dr Richard North prefers to call an ‘an electorally mandated reshuffle’, during which one party is replaced by another, but nothing really changes – especially in respect of the big political themes: Health, Welfare, Law and Order, Education, Defence, the EU. The faces change, but the ‘narrative’ – that postmodern fixation - is constant. There is no longer a right or left in British politics, but a murky and muddled perpetuation of a ‘centre-left’ manifesto of ever-expanding liberalism. And God forbid that any party should attempt to challenge this settlement, for the media world which drives it will brand that party ‘extreme’ or ‘right wing’, and Jeremy Paxman will sneer and sneer again to ensure that its very name will be such a jarring dissonance that, if it wishes to retain any credibility at all, it will have to conform and bow down to the spirit of the age.

And so the Conservative Party has subscribed to the cult of Mother Earth and pledged to tackle ‘man-made global warming’. It has abandoned its plans to reform the NHS – which long since ceased being either national or a service. It has abandoned selection in education – which historically has been the single greatest mechanism for social mobility ever conceived. And it long since abandoned its core philosophy of the defence of the nation state, in favour of ‘ever closer union’ and subjugation to an unaccountable and immovable government in a foreign land.

Cranmer will not bother to mention the undermining of the Christian foundations, since this is a natural consequence of a candidate selection process which is designed specifically to discriminate against the white heterosexual Christian in favour of the black or brown homosexual / Muslim / Sikh / Hindu. And if the latter is a woman, so much the better. Testosterone is too right wing, and oestrogen helps to feminise the nation’s politics. And God forbid anyone should dare to question the rights of these oestrogen modules, for their bodies are their own, and they shall do with them as they will.

The god of the centre-left became man in Tony Blair, but the hypocrites and vipers crucified him. And still the nation mourns his passing, rather like they mourn the loss of Diana, Princess of Wales. Yet idols are not only to be found on the football field or on X-Factor. The centre-left powers which found their incarnation in Tony Blair have now identified David Cameron as the Chosen One. And the cameras are drawn to him like crowds to a messiah, and, sure enough, Mammon is not far behind. And when they grow tired of him and the once-passionate relationship diminishes to a pathetic luke-warm glow, they shall spew him out of their mouths and seek another charismatic, photogenic political pin-up with the ability to talk well and say nothing at all.

Mr Hitchens is a wise and perceptive man, for he notes that politics is ‘played out almost entirely on the airwaves and in the newspapers’, and so ‘MPs (do) what they (are) told by the media’.

Cranmer is quite sure he does not need to remind his readers or communicants of the identity of the Prince of the Power of the Air. For it is he who has subtly and successfully supplanted democracy with mediocracy: the power of the people is as nothing to the power of the media.

And it is not only MPs who are obliged to take their orders from the liberal media, but party leaders as well. Because ‘the rule nowadays is that you cannot become the government unless you bow to the views of the “Centre-Left” media elite, especially the broadcast media elite... which fanned out in the Seventies into the civil service, education, entertainment, the law, the arts, rock music and - above all - the media’.

Thus the victor in every general election is always the ‘Centre-Left’, ‘which claims to be moderate but is in fact a swirling cauldron of wild Sixties Leftism - anti-British, anti-family, anti-Christian, anti-education and pro-crime. But if you dare to oppose this stuff, they’ll call you an extremist.’

And pro-British, pro-family, pro-Christian, pro-education and anti-crime extremists have to be eradicated. One might choose the Paxman strategy of attrition - sneering at them and hurling insults – like Alan Duncan's ‘Tory Taleban’. Or one might sack them from the parliamentary party or prevent them from ever holding positions of responsibility. Or, better still, one simply ensures they are never selected as a parliamentary candidate in the first place.

The bloodless revolution to ensure the propagation and perpetuation of the centre-left is successful and secure. God help anyone who tries to confront it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tony Blair begins teaching at Yale

With most excellent timing, on the eve of the Labour Party Conference, Tony Blair begins teaching a course in ‘Faith and Globalisation’ at Yale University. While the UK’s political focus is on Gordon Brown’s miserable visage and his never-ending purgatory, the cameras and glitzy chat shows cannot help but be drawn Mr Blair’s charismatic promise of life-giving water. He has no qualification to teach - no degrees in theology, politics or philosophy - and yet he is being paid a fortune for spouting his nebulous, ecumenical, third-way religio-political pap to the some of the world’s finest young minds.

And what is his thesis?

Religion can either harm or heal’.

What a mind-blowing and profoundly academically challenging course this must be.

And Cranmer thought educational dumbing down and worthless degrees were just a British problem.

Blessings to Mr Beau Bo D’Or for the excellent graphic

‘Religious cleansing’ in the UK police

It is reported that The Metropolitan Black Police Association (MBPA) have withdrawn their cooperation with the Metropolitan Police Service after accusing it of ‘ethnic and religious cleansing’ following the suspension of Commander Ali Dizaei for a second time. This comes after the force's assistant commissioner, Tarique Ghaffur, was suspended last week after launching a racial discrimination claim. The perception is one of ‘relentless attacks on minority staff’, compounding the ‘institutionally racist’ accusation of the McPherson enquiry.

MBPA chairman Alfred John said he was ‘appalled’ at the action taken against Mr Dizaei, who is simply the ‘victim of what we believe to be the culmination of a sustained witch-hunt’.

Cranmer is a little intrigued that Mr Dizaei had not received a single complaint about his character or any questions about his policing abilities during his four years of service and yet, within the last three weeks, three complaints have surfaced. This is indeed a curious coincidence, and Mr John may have a point when he refers to ‘the significance of the timing of these allegations’.

But the ‘timing’ he objects to is not that of the suspension. Mr John is persuaded that ‘this insult has come during the holy month of Ramadan to cause maximum distress to his family, his profession and his role as the President of the National Black Police Association’.

Are Muslim police officers to be exempt from the usual disciplinary procedures during Ramadan? Will the Christians be permitted the same latitude during Holy Week or Christmas? And Jews during Yom Kippur, or Sikhs and Hindus during Diwali? (Cranmer is unsure of the Jedi holy day/week/month, but feels sure they should have rights to exemption also).

If this is the future of policing in the UK, then a degree of ‘religious cleansing’ may be wholly justified. We are just a breath away from religious adherents who work in crucial public services demanding ‘special treatment’ (as opposed to employer discretion) during religious festivals. What happens when all Muslim doctors, nurses, firemen or teachers demand Eid off? Will Sikh and Hindu schools be permitted to close during Diwali?

The MBPA has declared that it ‘no longer had any confidence in the leadership of the police force or the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), which oversees it’. They have disengaged from all meetings with the MPA and MPS ‘except those that will involve discussions around the reinstatement of Mr Dizaei’.

They would have been on much stronger ground if they had limited their complaints to those surrounding the credibility of Commissioner Sir Ian Blair after being ‘drawn into an ugly investigation’ about contracts for friends. Or that of Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick being promoted during the investigation into the mistaken killing of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005: an operation she led.

All of which is a very strong argument for making police commissioners accountable to those they are supposed to serve. Increasing centralisation of top-down policing is neither reducing crime nor inspiring confidence. If police forces were made accountable for their performance to the communities they serve, then the MBPA could simply propose Ali Dizaei or Tarique Ghaffur to be the next commissioner. And then one could test very easily how much credibility such characters have with the local population.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Public bodies are ‘intolerant’ of Christian groups

The Archbishop of York has spoken of Government ‘intolerance’ against Christian groups when it comes to funding community initiatives. While faith remains a primary motivation for charitable and voluntary work in Britain, increasingly voluntary groups which have a Christian foundation are viewed as ‘tainted and unsuitable for receipt of funding’ by public bodies.

Dr Sentamu said Christian groups ‘are working at the coalface of pastoral care and social practice, motivated by nothing more than their love of God and the love for their neighbour.’

And the statistics are unequivocal. There are 22,000 faith-based charities in England and Wales which work tirelessly for the benefit of the elderly, children, the homeless and the disabled. Churchgoers contribute more than 23 million hours of voluntary service each year.

But Dr Sentamu has noticed ‘a chill wind that blows around grant makers and managers of funds’ when they consider the plans of faith groups. He said: “We must resist any trend in national or local Government where the decision as to whether a solution works is not based on results, but upon the intolerance that sees a project motivated by faith as being tainted and unsuitable for receipt of funding. Rather there should be a recognition of the valuable work being carried out by groups motivated to serve the common good by a belief in dignity of all as God’s creatures in which his divine spark resides.”

The Archbishop added: “Of course there will be those who will say the Church has no role to play in service delivery and that faith has no part to play in the solution. But the facts tell a different story. The Church has a role to play because it is based in the community. It does not drive in to places of strife in the morning and leave before the lights go down.”

One might think that a nation with a Christian heritage might be content to trust the spiritual force and theological bedrock which forged its identity. The liberal democracy which has developed over the centuries has become manifestly illiberal where Christianity is concerned, yet the philosophy demands several ideological commitments:

First, it requires state tolerance of all beliefs that do not restrict the freedom of others. Second, it involves equality of citizens before the law regardless of their beliefs and practices. Third, it imports neutrality on the part of the state towards religions and their communities and even (though this is a rather grey area) towards distinctive moral visions of the common good.

In pursuit of Labour's 'common good', it is to be observed that the state is increasingly intolerant of Christianity; all citizens are no longer equal before the law; and the only neutrality expressed by the state towards religion is that which is profoundly anti-Christian, which is no neutrality at all.

Significantly, a study by Cambridge University accused this Labour government of ‘planning blind’ on community projects because they had no evidence of the work Christian groups carried out, despite ‘focusing intently’ on Muslims.

One wonders why.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rev Professor Michael Reiss sacked by Royal Society over 'creationism'

Cranmer has received a request to provide space to discuss this incident, and he is pleased to do so.

Last week, the Rev Professor Michael Reiss called for ‘creationism’ (the belief in a literal 6-day creation) to be debated in the classroom if the subject was raised by pupils. Not, as was widely reported, to be ‘taught in science classes’.

Yesterday, he was forced to resign as director of education of the Royal Society, for bringing it into disrepute. The action followed a campaign by high-profile ‘militant atheists’, and some intolerant – one might almost say ‘bigoted’ - religious bloggers.

The Professor did not call for creationism to be taught in schools. Indeed, he stressed the belief had no 'scientific validity'. And with sensitivity to religious and ethnic diversity in schools, he observed that banning all discussion of an 'alternative world view' at a time of growing religious fundamentalism could backfire.

The Royal Society is of the opinion that these comments had damaged the body's reputation.
In a statement, it said: 'As a result, Professor Reiss and the Royal Society have agreed that, in the best interests of the Society, he will step down immediately as director of education.’

While the rabid atheists and obsessively-narrow religionists demanded Professor Reiss’s dismissal, Lord Winston supported him throughout the furore. He said: ‘This individual was arguing that we should engage with and address public misconceptions about science.... Something that the Royal Society should applaud.’


If the theory of evolution is so self-evident, it ought to have no problem standing up to a classroom discussion. Science is about enquring, the prerequisite of which is an open mind. The Royal Society has manifest the antithesis; indeed, it has displayed intolerance and the enforcement of personal prejudice.

No wonder science is dying in Britain.

Incidentally, the Vatican has said the theory of evolution is compatible with the Bible and does not therefore plan to apologise to Charles Darwin. It advocates 'theistic evolution,' which sees no reason why God could not have used an evolutionary process to create humans.

Why can the Church of England, with its genius for the via media, not see the common-sense position of that?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sadiq Khan MP: David Cameron promoted Baroness Warsi ‘because of her religion’

While he sits in Parliament agitating for special rights ‘to improve the lives of British Muslims’, Sadiq Khan, a Government whip, is of the opinion that David Cameron appointed Sayeeda Warsi to the House of Lords and propelled her into his Shadow Cabinet to become ‘Britain's most senior Muslim politician’ simply ‘because of her religion’.

What an intelligent bloke.

It could hardly be because of her outstanding success in fighting general elections, and neither could it be because of her impressive record in any particular sphere, because she does not have one. Her elevation was tangential to but consistent with the aims of the ‘A-list’ – a fundamentally anti-meritocratic mechanism designed specifically to increase the number of female, minority ethnic, homosexual and disabled members on the Conservative benches after the next general election.

Cranmer thinks Baroness Warsi's religion was distinctly secondary to the colour of her skin. If Mr Cameron were overly concerned about religious representation on the Conservative benches, he really ought to discriminate in favour of a few members of the Protestant wing of the Church of England. It would, of course, be easier for him if they were black, brown, gay or one-legged.

But Mr Khan accuses the Leader of the Opposition of an ‘opportunistic courtship of the Muslim vote’, and the use of the ‘Tory spin machine’ to persuade them that the Conservative Party is ‘on the side of British Muslims because it needs their votes to win key seats’.

Of course, Labour has never courted any minority ethnic or religious vote, or used anything as crude as ‘spin’ to attempt to. And God forbid that anything like a ‘religious hatred’ law should be seen as an attempt to portray Labour as ‘on the side of British Muslims’.

But then Mr Khan waffles on about the Conservative Party having no Muslim MPs, and of selecting ethnic minority parliamentary candidates only for ‘hopelessly unwinnable seats’.

Maybe he is not so intelligent after all.

Does Mr Khan know of Rehman Chishti, selected for the very winnable seat of Gillingham and Rainham?

Or Zahid Iqbal standing in Bradford West, which has a Labour majority of just 3000.

Or Helen Grant who was selected to the very safe Conservative seat of Maidstone and the Weald?

Or Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones for the new notionally Conservative seat of Chippenham?

And what about Adam Afriyie? Or Shailesh Vara?

Sadiq Khan is a pompous oaf consumed by his pseudo-prophetic sense of self-importance.

While Sayeeda Warsi has been applying her efforts to educate the Conservative Party on the complexities of Pakistani politics, confronting ‘honour’ killings and forced marriage, and immersing herself in very relevant and pressing social issues which will benefit more than her co-religionists, Mr Khan has his sights firmly on the glorification of Allah and the wellbeing of the Ummah.

His desire is to ensure that the forthcoming ‘Single Equality Act’, which will force public bodies to actively promote equality on grounds of gender, race and disability, ‘must also tackle religion and end "Islamophobia in the workplace".’ He demands specific 'training for teachers and changes to the curriculum to improve education standards for Muslim boys'.

Their failure, he asserts, is because of our ‘laissez faire approach to Britishness’ which has ‘led to Muslims feeling like second-class citizens and being denied good jobs’. Mr Khan continued: ‘Without equal opportunities, integration stands little chance’, and he spoke of ‘anecdotal reports’ which suggest ‘Muslims were being blocked from progressing up the career ladder because of their religion’.

This, he said, is ‘fuelling alienation and the rise of extremism’.

So it is all manifestly the fault of all the kuffar (white, 'Christian') British who are quite simply failing to promote sufficient numbers of Muslims to directorships, chairmanships, headships or other positions of influence, such that they are left with no choice but to bomb their way to power.

Well, it worked for Sinn Féin.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Roman Catholic priests accuse C4 of pro-Muslim bias

It is difficult in these latter days of religious turf wars to discern who is leading whom, who is following whom, and why anyone should be concerned about either. It may be that it is simply a case of the blind leading the blind, or the deaf shouting at the deafer, while the rest of the country wishes the God in whom they do not believe would strike all the offenders dumb.

Since it is not remotely in Cranmer’s nature to manifest any religious bias, he is pleased to bring you news that, following the Sikh and Hindu accusation of a BBC which is biased towards Islam, Roman Catholic priests have accused Channel 4 of that very sin/vice/crime, and also of ‘not showing enough respect to Christianity’.

Their assertion is that the channel recently showed ‘a whole season of broadly positive programmes on Islam while a "Da Vinci Code-style" documentary on Christianity cast doubt on the validity of the Pope’.

Cranmer breathes deeply.

The priests accuse C4 of treating the history and beliefs of Islam ‘more reverently’ on its website than it does Christianity.

Cranmer has checked out this complaint, and he has not the foggiest idea what these priests are talking about. Whilst the BBC website is undoubtedly more comprehensive and nuanced, that of C4 certainly displays awareness of the differences between (and the origins of) the major denominations of the major religions, and there is no discernible bias in its presentation at all.

But Fr Ray Blake of Brighton detects ‘a rather supine attitude to Islam and a trivialising attitude to Catholicism’. He asserts: ‘Channel 4 has shown quite serious discussions about Islam but nothing that treats Christianity in the same way.’

Cranmer wonders if Fr Ray saw Undercover Mosque, or Undercover Mosque – The Return.

While there may be a bias in output quantity, this is quite simply because of the present obsession with finding a Muslim terrorist under every cornflake. If Sikhs and Hindus are relatively uninteresting, Fr Ray must understand that Rome only becomes interesting to the broadcast media when she is putting on a good show, or shaming the Church of England.

His concern continues with such issues as the claim that St Peter died in ‘Palestine’ - not in Rome as the church has always taught. But Cranmer thinks this to be a valid archaeological and historical enquiry, and Fr Ray should have nothing to fear from it. Indeed, he ought to be pleased that C4 is giving airtime to such issues, and volunteer himself as an advocate for his cause. Scripture does after all state that it was Paul, not Peter, who was the apostle to the Gentiles (Rom 11:13).

Yet he further complains that ‘academics quoted in the documentary say this means that he was not the first Pope and so other pontiffs have not been his true successors, with the Vatican accused of "fabricating" a connection with the apostle to justify its power’.

Fr Ray might as well berate all Protestants and a hefty proportion of the Church of England, for such assertions have scriptural, historical and theological validity, and it is quite bizarre to raise such concerns in a complaint of pro-Islam bias. Questioning Roman Catholicism is not the same as questioning Christianity any more than impugning the Church of England denigrates the name of the Lord. If C4 is showing ‘disdain for the Catholic Church’, it is certainly balancing this with a very real enquiry into what actually goes on in British mosques.

According to these priests, the anti-Christian and pro-Islamic conspiracy is explained by virtue of the fact that C4’s commissioning editor for religious broadcasting is one Aaqil Ahmed, a Muslim. The belief is that he has cleverly circumvented the rigorous filtering process designed to weed out all religious bigots and ensure the placement of an ultra-liberal. But he is really a Muslim fundamentalist intent on undermining Western Christendom and establishing a worldwide caliphate, and he is beginning his quest in the studios of C4.

There may indeed be a reluctance by much of the Western media to criticise Islam, and this is doubtless born out of fear of Islamist militancy. But Cranmer finds C4 to be on the right side of the battle for freedom of expression. And, moreover, it is more likely that a Muslim in such an influential position at C4 will be far more critical of his own faith than he is of others, and Muslims are more likely to heed the output of C4 by virtue of Mr Ahmed’s presence.

If there is to be any Islamic ‘reformation’, it will emanate within Islam and be led by Muslims. And Cranmer can think of none better than those more liberal types presently working in the Guardian-dominated world of the media.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Church of England apologises to Charles Darwin

Cranmer is sick and tired of this utter nonsense. It makes the Church of England look and sound even more ridiculous that it already does - if that were possible. In the creation of a cohesive society and for the pursuit of the common good, it is conceivable that one might entertain an apology to the descendants of slaves for the role the Church played in that trade, and even to attempt some sort of bridge-building exercise with Muslims by apologising for the Crusades. But who exactly is the target audience for an apology addressed to Charles Darwin? Who is grieving for reconciliation?

Some scientists dismiss the gesture as ‘ludicrous’; Mr Darwin’s descendants describe it as ‘pointless’, and Ann Widdecombe wonders why the Italians aren’t apologising for Pontius Pilate.

The apology is written by the Rev Dr Malcolm Brown. It raises so many issues of credibility that Cranmer is at a loss to know where to begin.

Apparently, the apology is ‘for misunderstanding his theory of evolution’. Apart from the fact that the Church has historically ‘misunderstood’ far more important things, the Church of England did not actually ‘misunderstand’ Darwin’s theory at all, not least because (as always) it was divided on the issue. The bishops understood completely the significance of the nexus of the theory (and theory it remains) - that man is the progeny of apes. It really is so simple that even a bishop in the Church of England can comprehend it. Looking at the similarity between Mr Darwin and Dr Williams, it may indeed be adduced that they have a common hairy ancestor. But believers were and are divided into those who perceive this theory to be anti-Scripture and profoundly evil, and those for whom it is but another possible explanation of how God created, totally consistent with Scripture.

It is possible to be so preoccupied by atoning vicariously for the sins of one’s predecessors that one ceases to be aware of one’s personal failures and shortcomings.

While the Archbishop of Canterbury purports to apologise on behalf of the Church of England, he most certainly does not apologise on behalf of Cranmer, or, he suspects, on behalf of millions of Anglicans who have an understanding of church teaching or writing which is time-bound or culture-bound. If he continues along this path, Dr Williams will find himself apologising on behalf of Jesus for choosing to become incarnate in a backward time and strange land. He ought to at least apologise for not waiting until the era of mass communication – spreading the gospel could have been so much easier via the internet.

But even more bizarrely, the Church has addressed its contrition directly to the Victorian scientist himself, even though he died 126 years ago.

Why on earth is the Church of England addressing the dead?

At least Cranmer can agree with one line of the apology:

‘People, and institutions, make mistakes and Christian people and Churches are no exception.’

The Church of England is certainly no exception. One wonders if this ‘apology’ is simply a political move to distance itself from the furore surrounding ‘Creationism’. It seems it is now a sin to engage in the philosophical dimension of science, and heresy to question any aspect of the scientific method - even when practitioners of that method elevate theory to fact.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

God, who made thee mighty

Cranmer much enjoyed last night’s Last Night of the Proms. And not only for the manifest passion of and for the music, but also for the patriotic fervour it engenders. The Royal Albert Hall was draped with Scottish saltires, Welsh dragons and English crosses of St George, complemented by a healthy showing of numerous Union flags. And, as ever, the festival ended with ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, ‘Jerusalem’, and the National Anthem.

God, who made thee mighty... And was the holy Lamb of God on England’s pleasant pastures seen... When Britain first, at heaven's command... Was Jerusalem builded here... God save our gracious Queen...

It is not, of course, the greatest two hours of Promenade music, but it is British and it is a world class celebration. Yet, irritatingly throughout the evening, Cranmer’s mind was intermittently distracted by the voice of Labour’s Margaret Hodge, who earlier this year criticised The Proms for being ‘too white’ or ‘unrepresentative’ of modern Britain – in short, fundamentally ‘un-British’. While Stalin believed that the arts had the potential to shape his brave new world, Ms Hodge is concerned that they should express ‘inclusivity’ or ‘multi-culturalism’, and they ought therefore to be some sort of social barometer, with a healthy proportion of brown, black and yellow faces, with the implicit exhortation to wave the flags of Pakistan and Poland.

But the God who made Britain mighty was not Krishna or Waheguru; Blake did not have a vision of Mohammed walking upon England’s mountains green; Britain did not receive a command either from Jannah or act through karma; Mecca is not being builded here (or is it?); and it is not Allah we ask to save the Queen.

The Bishop of Rochester is right when he observes Britons suffer 'cultural amnesia' about Christian art. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he exhorts the rediscovery of the Christian foundations of British artistic expression:

‘The works of Shakespeare or Milton could not have been written without the English translation of the Bible and the publication of the Book of Common Prayer, while great paintings and pieces of music were inspired by Christianity and made to be showcased in churches and cathedrals.’

He asserts that ‘people are now ignorant of the religious background to our culture’, and this (sadly) includes our politicians. Firsts in PPE or doctorates in the big names of Socialism do not equip our leaders with an understanding of the function or purpose of art. And as they are systematically engineered by the ultra-pc Arts Council of Great Britain, the Christian values which were foundational to ‘Britishness’ are being supplanted by ethnic quotas and religious sensitivities which are invariably anti-white, anti-Christian and anti-British.

Dr Nazir-Ali said: "What amazes me is how people in this country don't take account of the brute fact that the Bible and the prayer book have shaped so much of its literary and cultural achievements... Certainly with art, poetry and music, people aren't exposed to the Biblical root of what has inspired people to create these themes. There should be better interpretation of things.’

So much of the inspiration for art was Christian, and the Bishop simply makes a plea for some reference to this fact to be made, ‘otherwise this amnesia will make the culture more and more shallow’.

Being born in Pakistan, he is well-qualified to warn of the decline of Christian values, which is ‘creating a “moral vacuum” that is being filled by radical Islam’. His solution is to educate, but this is only possible if one wrests education from the hands of manipulative and meddling politicians.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Laïcité - Pope urges France to re-think its secular republic

Pope Benedict XVI has urged Christians in ‘secular’ France to make their voices heard in the public realm, declaring ‘politics and religion must be open to each other’.

Cranmer is delighted to say that he fully accords with His Holiness on this, and looks forward to being invited to the Vatican for a private audience to discuss the details over wafers and wine. He would be happy to philosophise on the 1905 concept of ‘laïcité’ which has no easy translation into English: it is not ‘secularism’ - as frequently defined by the clericalism it opposes - but more a term for the separation of church and state. Intrinsic to it are various Enlightenment notions of liberté, including freedom of thought, conscience, expression and religion. And it is predicated upon the post-Enlightenment settlement of the division between the private realm of spiritual belief and the public realm of political policy. Laïcité is a founding principle of the French Constitution, which states in its First Article: ‘La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale.

But erstwhile Catholic France – known as Rome’s ‘eldest daughter’ since Frankish king Clovis converted in the fifth century - is presently confronting a substantial transformation in its religious landscape. The country has the largest population of Jews and Muslims in Western Europe. Despite its deeply Catholic roots, of the 75 per cent of the nation's 62 million people who are baptised, fewer than 5 per cent attend Mass every week. And many of its centuries-old cathedrals are crumbling in towns that lack money or the motivation to renovate them.

But it is the growing number of Muslims whose ‘public’ customs – such as the wearing of hijabs - have resulted in a severe restriction of such expressions of religious adherence in government-owned buildings. The laïcité which applies to the church must also apply to the mosque. And yet these two religions are clearly not held as equals by the secular Republic, and obviously not by the Pope.

His Holiness rightly asserts that ‘the presence of Christian values is fundamental for the survival of our nations and our societies’, and he appears to be meeting President Sarkozy in one of those illogical, postmodern ‘third ways’ which permit mutually exclusive concepts to fuse into an oxymoronic nebulous entity which feels more than it means.

Thus we have a papal blessing upon the notion of ‘positive secularism’ – which will uphold the Republic’s demand for the separation of church and state while creating space within the public realm for religion. Curiously, the very act of inviting His Holiness to the Elysée Palace is the incarnation of the concept, for it is clear from this photograph that the Pope was not asked to remove his rather prominent cross or any other religious symbols he was wearing.

Pope Benedict said it was ‘fundamental on the one hand, to insist on the distinction between the political realm and that of religion in order to preserve both the religious freedom of citizens and the responsibility of the State towards them’. But he added that societies must also be ‘more aware of the irreplaceable role of religion for the formation of consciences and the contribution which it can bring to - among other things - the creation of a basic ethical consensus within society’.

The problem then is égalité, for secularism demands a ‘neutral’ religious outlook, such that what is permitted to Christianity in the public realm must also be granted to Islam. And if La République does not oblige, the EU will enforce it under its Human Rights anti-discrimination legislation.

The President’s ‘cultural Catholicism’ is weak, and only a vibrant and vehement expression of Christianity will fill the spiritual void which is being occupied incrementally by a very different brand of clericalism. While he is intent on rejecting the ‘negative laïcité’ of restriction in favour of a ‘positive laïcité’ of mutual benefit, the President speaks of a hope in faith which must be extended not only to Christian groups, but also to those religious groups which are inimical to France’s Christian roots.

It may be ‘madness’ to ‘deprive ourselves of religion’, as the President said. But, in the last analysis, there may be some expressions of religion of which it is undoubtedly better to be deprived, and the French may one day thank God that religion is subjugated to secularism.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Polly Toynbee: Gordon Brown cannot be resurrected

The great and wise Polly Toynbee of the erudite and infallible Guardian declares again and again that Gordon Brown is politically dead, and there can be no resurrection. According to 53 per cent of voters, a new leader would not make any difference to Labour's fortunes.

When one considers this time last year, on the eve of the party conference season, Gordon Brown was riding high and David Cameron was under severe pressure to make the speech of his life, it is a curious reversal of fortunes. The Lord moves in mysterious ways.

Cranmer shall be enjoying his Burgundy this evening.

MPs have audience with Pope

Cranmer is a little intrigued to read that Conservative MP Brian Binley has had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. Mr Binley is not Roman Catholic, and describes himself as an ‘irregular church goer’. He is, however, a Freemason and a member of Cornerstone. One must surmise that he values the Christian foundations of his party’s philosophy and the nation’s history.

But Cranmer is even more intrigued that this is Mr Binley’s second such audience, and that it was his hope that the meeting will be ‘productive and useful for our two governments' relations’.

Is Mr Binley there on behalf of HM Government?

Apparently, His Holiness greeted the ‘All Party Parliamentary Group from the United Kingdom’, yet this cannot be a public audience, for private discussions must be taking place for the meeting to be 'productive and useful'. But why are they granted such an audience, and what did they discuss? Contraception? The Lisbon Treaty? Child abuse? Islamic terrorism? Social Justice? The anti-Christian roots of Freemasonry? Or the remarkably successful ‘brand decontamination’ which ‘God’s Rottweiler’ has undergone to become the quite remarkable Pope Benedict XVI? The Conservatives could certainly learn a lot from that.

If any communicants can throw any light on these meetings, he would be deeply appreciative. All-Party groups are rather nebulous entities, and are usually despatched on ‘fact-finding’ missions. But Cranmer cannot find which such group has audiences with the Pope, and why.

Mr Binley’s specialism appears to be ‘Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reforms’. His Holiness must be a rather busy man, and is hardly likely to be much enthused by that.

Does this unspecified All-Party Parliamentary Group also have audiences with the Archbishop of Canterbury?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sikhs and Hindus object to BBC pro-Muslim bias

And, moreover, they find it painfully obvious that the state broadcasting company is ‘pandering to Britain's Muslim community by making a disproportionate number of programmes on Islam at the expense of covering other Asian religions’. It is, they say ‘BBC policy’.

Research establishes that over the past seven years, the BBC has made 41 programmes on Islam, compared with five on Hinduism and just one on Sikhism. The Buddhists and Jedi Knights must feel profoundly short-changed.

According to The Independent, this disproportionate focus on Islam is ‘part of an apparent bias within the BBC towards Islam since the attacks of 11 September 2001, which has placed an often uncomfortable media spotlight on Britain's Muslims’.

Apparent bias?

The Christians have been saying this for years. The BBC has said it would be content to consign the Bible to Room 101 but not the Qur’an, and there are numerous instances of the denigration of the name of Jesus but not that of Mohammed; scorn being poured over the declining Church of England but not the ascending Mosque of England; and the incessant questioning to the point of ridicule of the foundational tenets of Christianity (frequently during Christmas or Easter), while the claims of Islam are treated with reverence and submission (especially during Ramadan and Eid).

Of course Hindu and Sikh licence-fee payers should feel cheated.

But there is a very simple remedy. If a few more Sikhs were to become as militant as those who forced the closure of a theatre in Birmingham; and a few Hindus became as militant as their co-religionists in Orissa, the BBC would feel obliged to redress the imbalance.

The reality is that Sikhs and Hindus are relatively boring, and the BBC is concerned with viewing figures. The Christians, of course, are always good for a laugh, so The Decline and Fall of the Church of England has become the sitcom of religious broadcasting.

But the BBC is the primary source of news for millions, with considerable influence over the formation of people’s worldviews. It has been admitted that there is a disproportionate number of homosexuals who work within its edifice, and it is unsurprising, though a manifest contradiction, that a culture of liberalism has permitted a reverence for Islam to supplant that of the indigenous faith. It is now subject to those mental pathologies which are at the root of the decay of Western Europe - anti-Americanism, anti-Christianity and anti-Semitism. Its anti-Israel reporting and the white-washing of Muslim/Arab jihadic pursuits permit the Islamist agenda to proceed apace.

Cranmer is fed-up of paying for this hideous propaganda narrative which is inimical to all that he believes and holds dear. The BBC needs reforming, and Cranmer prays for a broadcasting Martin Luther to pin his 95 theses to the door of Broadcasting House.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

TUC calls for Christian to be sacked from Equality and Human Right Commission

The Equality and Human Rights Commission was established by the Equality Act 2006, bringing together the three existing UK equality commissions - the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission. During this process of rationalisation, the Government placed three new strands of human rights under the aegis of the EHRC - age, sexual orientation and religious belief.

According to the Trades Union Congress, no Christian (apart from he nominal variety) could possibly defend the rights of the oppressed, and they have therefore called for Joel Edwards, director of the Evangelical Alliance, to be removed as an Equality and Human Rights Commissioner.

The motion was moved by one Phyllis Opoku-Gyimah, who was ‘appalled’ by his appointment, and even moreso that he retains the support of the EHRC chairman, Trevor Phillips. She said: ‘Joel Edwards has clearly stated that same sex relationships are morally wrong and sinful. How on earth is he going to look at gay and lesbian issues when he has made a career out of opposing equality for LGBT people?’

She asked how people would respond ‘if he was to say the same thing about disabled people, Muslims, or older people, saying it would not be tolerated’.

And she is firmly of the view that ‘his appointment has distorted the concept of human rights’, and the Conference, which represents 6.5 million members in the UK, agreed to campaign for the immediate removal of Mr Edwards from his position.

The curious dimension of Ms Opoku-Gyimah’s perspective is that she presents Mr Edwards and the EA s being stridently ‘anti-gay’, ‘anti-equality’ and therefore ‘anti-justice’. Certainly, the organisation gave evidence to a House of Commons committee opposing the new crime of ‘incitement to violence on the grounds of sexual orientation’. But this was concerned with issues of religious liberty and freedom of expression. And certainly they also opposed the Sexual Orientation Regulations - which ensure equality of gay, lesbian and bisexual people when accessing goods and services- but, again, on the grounds of religious and civil liberties.

There appears to be an insistence by the TUC that all Equality Commissioners must share the same outlook and the same beliefs. This Marxist strategy is designed eradicate the expression of a range of views and opinions, and to silence debate, especially that which may relate to an expression of Christian orthodoxy.

According to her biography, Phyllis Opoku-Gyimah is proud of being ‘a black woman, a mother, a partner, a daughter, a friend, a sister, a full-time civil servant, a dog owner, an events coordinator / part of an executive committee for a voluntary organisation and not forgetting a Black Member Rep for PCS Proud’.

Apparently, she is a civil servant. One wonders which sorts of civilians she would be incapable of serving. After all, she could not possibly assist or represent the views of heterosexual white males, fathers, married couples, sons, brothers or cat owners.

Cranmer thinks she ought to be sacked from the civil service for failing to uphold its principles of anti-discrimination and tolerance of religious minorities, and for her manifest prejudice towards Mr Edwards for daring to be a Christian.

And, finally, why did she not propose a motion at the 2006 TUC Conference to demand the sacking of Ruth Kelly after Tony Blair appointed her as Equalities Minister? Is it because Mrs Kelly is a woman, a mother, a sister... and Labour?
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