Against the family

While many factors have contributed to this truly diabolical, bureaucratic onslaught against the family, we might begin by looking within. The churches’ failure or refusal to intervene in the marriages they consecrated and to exert moral pressure on misbehaving spouses (perhaps out of fear of appearing “judgmentalâ€?) left a vacuum that has been filled by the state. Clergy, parishioners, and extended families have been replaced by lawyers, judges, forensic psychotherapists, social workers, and plainclothes police.
Family integrity will be restored only when families are de-politicized and protected from government invasion. This will demand morally vigorous congregations that are willing to take marriage out of the hands of the state by intervening in the marriages they are called upon to witness and consecrate and by resisting the power of the state to move in. This is the logic behind the group Marriage Savers, and it can restore the churches’ authority even among those who previously viewed a church’s role in their marriage as largely ceremonial…. We all need to atone.
Stephen Baskerville Divorced from Reality

Life together

Fertility and Faith – A day conference, with talks, Q&A and panel discussion, on fertility, infertility, marriage and love
Saturday 21st February from 10am in the Catholic Chaplaincy, Oxford

Fertility and Faith: An introduction – Fr Tim Finigan (Founder, Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life)
Marriage and Meaning – Anthony McCarthy (Research Fellow, Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics)
Natural Fertility: Practical Approaches – Ira Winter (Life FertilityCare Coordinator)

Ask Médaille

John Médaille The Vocation of Business: Social Justice in the Marketplace is far-and-away the best book I have seen on the (bad) theology of economics. It puts economics into its political-philosophical context, with plenty of history, Catholic Social Teaching and immediate relevance to our present situation. It is a big but very well controlled book pretending to be a modest one, and the only book I have not resented buying recently: the title gives no idea of its range or intelligence. Médaille blogs at the Distributist Review

Reliance on the government as consumer of last resort has resulted in a structure that favored global production over national income, the FIRE economy (“finance, insurance, and real estateâ€?) over the real economy (real production of goods), low wages over fair ones, and gargantuan size over human scale. It is this last point that is particularly troubling, since this gargantuan institutions have proclaimed themselves to be “too big to fail,â€? and exercise economic blackmail over the whole republic. The problem with this claim is that it is correct. But the proper response is not to give into the blackmail, not to negotiate with crooks, but to make sure that the blackmailers are never in a position to control the whole economy, to demand trillions in ransom whenever they get themselves (and us) into trouble. Now, it would be mere carping by distributists to point out the problems if we could not offer solutions. But we do have solutions, and it is time to offer them, time to end the era of big business that depends on big government, on subsidies from the general public to private profits. I have nothing against profits—when they are earned; I have everything against profits that are the result of subsidies and privileges. The distributist solution to all of these problems can be summed-up in a few words: Buy it up! Break it up! Fund it right!

And keep reading The Market Ticker

Covenant and confidence 1

The financial crisis that we are suffering represents the crisis in confidence of this society. We can no longer be taken at our word because we ourselves do not believe our ourselves. It is us who do not believe that our word is our bond or that we are good for the money. Money is a series of promises: a proportion of these promises have to be kept, and when that proportion is too low, no one believes our promises. This society’s crisis in confidence in itself is the result of its result to believe that it is indeed good for its promises. It is a blue funk. The nation that is prepared to hear that it is loved, because all mankind is loved, by God, will not suffer any final crisis of self-belief. But the nation that does not want to hear the news of the fundamental covenant of God with man will find no other comfort. The unwillingness of this country to hear about any relationship with God results in this crisis that we have described variously as ecological, moral, social and economic.
One reason for this crisis is that that the Church has not clearly told this country that man is loved by God and that this country is also founded in that love and covenant. The Church has not passed on to the comfort of God, and so the Church has been unfaithful to the nation, and the nation is suffering as a result. The Church must repent. This is what Lent is. Now the Church will suffer. It must suffer for the sake of the world, and the Church here is going to suffer for this country. This country is going to undergo a great panic because it has no hope, and it back to find out that all its hopes are delusory. The Church will suffer the rage of a panicked and anguished nation.
During Lent those who are going to be received into the Church in baptism undergo a preparation and an unburdening, and the whole Church accompanies them in this. For the Church knows the joy of repentance, of honest speech, and unburdening ourselves. The Church can repent and beg for forgiveness. The Church can repent of having failed to be the intercessor and prophetic and priestly intermediary for the country.

Crisis

Profoundly unpalatable decisions are going to have to be taken for the sake of our survival and the possibility of future prosperity. It is not enough to say that confidence must return. Instead, great truths will have to be spoken: we are going to have to start being honest with each other about our predicament. Britain has spent and borrowed too much, saved too little and produces not enough of what the world wants. The banking crisis needs breaking down into two parts. First, there is what should be done immediately to end a cycle of despair. Second is what a future government should do to rebuild capitalism. The situation is that serious.
Iain Martin
Britain is not alone in its current distress, although the fall in sterling speaks for itself. The sovereign debt of Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Italy, Belgium, Austria, The Netherlands, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Korea is all being tested by the markets. The core of countries deemed safe is shrinking by the day to a half dozen. Sadly, Britain is no longer one of them.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Silenced

Dutch court has ordered prosecutors to put a right-wing politician on trial for making anti-Islamic statements. Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders made a controversial film last year equating Islam with violence and has likened the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. “In a democratic system, hate speech is considered so serious that it is in the general interest to… draw a clear line,” the court in Amsterdam said. Mr Wilders said the judgement was an “attack on the freedom of expression”. “Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted,” he said. Not only he, but all Dutch citizens opposed to the “Islamisation” of their country would be on trial, Mr Wilders warned.
“Who will stand up for our culture if I am silenced?” he added.
BBC
Cranmer responds

Precipice

The country stands on the precipice. We are at risk of utter humiliation, of London becoming a Reykjavik on Thames and Britain going under. Thanks to the arrogance, hubristic strutting and serial incompetence of the Government and a group of bankers, the possibility of national bankruptcy is not unrealistic. The political impact will be seismic; anger will rage. The haunted looks on the faces of those in supporting roles, such as the Chancellor, suggest they have worked out that a tragedy is unfolding here. Gordon Brown is engaged no longer in a standard battle for re-election; instead he is fighting to avoid going down in history disgraced completely….

Iain Martin Britain at edge of bankruptcy

We cannot recapitalize them through taxpayer donations, for through that path we only delay the inevitable. We do not have the ability to “manufacture” or “borrow” the three to five trillion dollars it would take to cover those losses – a full fifty percent increase in our federal debt, on which we would pay hundreds of billions of dollars a year – forever – being a permanent drag on GDP. Such a path will only lead to more insolvency as the crimp on GDP will inevitably lead to more job losses, more credit losses and more malaise, ultimately resulting in the very collapse that the proponents of this path claim to be trying to avoid. The math demands that we take bold action. We must force a cramdown of debt to equity, which will wipe out all of the existing shareholders, including those holding preferreds while converting the bondholders into new equity holders, pushing down the capital structure however far is necessary in order to return the firm to solvency.
Many people would argue this is “illegal.” It is not. These firms are already bankrupt if anyone bothers to perform a simple dispassionate balance sheet analysis. Their common and preferred stock is worthless. They continue to trade only on the premise that our government would come in and bail them out with an endless supply of taxpayer dollars, mortgaging our nation and its future in order to keep these bankers and their investors from suffering their just desserts as a consequence of their voluntary, irrational and patently unsound lending decisions. None of these investors put their money in with their eyes wide shut – or if they did, they knew better. Nobody was forced to buy a bank stock or bond. Everyone did so expecting a return, and all took a risk. That risk has now become realized – it has gone from hypothetical to actual. President Obama needs direct Treasury and The Fed to immediately go institution-by-institution, write down the assets to “death’s door” levels, determine how far down the capital structure needs to be crammed to restore that institution to a strong capital position with double the Tier Capital ratio required by law, and then forcibly reorganize the debt into equity.

Market Ticker There is only one solution to the banking crisis

and see Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Imagine

After an angry, inevitably, celebrity-studded rally in Trafalgar Square, groups of Jews descended on Brick Lane to assault anyone visibly identified as a Muslim. Some burst into a curry house and attacked the diners, tugging at their beards while shouting Oi Vey. A rabbi is rumoured to have tried to strangle a waiter with a rolled up prayer shawl. Outside one of the many mosques in the area, the Jews chanted ‘Death to the Earabs’ (in emulation of the Palestinian supporter’s ‘Death to the Juices’ (sic) placard I saw last week).
Elsewhere, irate Jews rioted outside the Iranian and Syrian embassies, blaming them for the rocket attacks in Gaza, while mysterious Jewish websites published lists of prominent Muslims who they threatened to kill. In Bradford an imam was dragged from his car and beaten up by two men on a day trip from Stamford Hill.
Meanwhile, a group of well-known Jews published a letter in the newspapers warning the British government that if it didn’t adjust its pro-Arab foreign policy, there would be a corresponding radicalisation of the British Jewish community who might resume terrorist attacks on public transport.
Faced with such concerted manifestations of hysterical anger, the police decided to arrest any Muslims provocatively sporting a Palestinian keffiyah. Tantalised by Jewish violence, the BBC sent several admiring reporters to tell their story to a wider public, giving a new spin to the saw ‘Jews means News’. My God how they must have suffered to be this angry, threatening Muslims with something ominously called a ‘Holocaust’. Grovelling interviews were conducted with Israeli spokesmen because of their remote connection with these wild-eyed Anglo-Jews. The IDF became heroes over night…..
All of which is only as incredible as what we are witnessing now here in London

Michael Burleigh Imagine

This asymmetric character of the global crisis – the fact that the shocks were even bigger on the periphery than at the epicentre… the troubles of the rest of the world meant that in relative terms the US gained, politically as well as economically. Many commentators had warned in 2008 that the financial crisis would be the final nail in the coffin of American credibility around the world. First, neo-conservatism had been discredited in Iraq. Now the “Washington consensusâ€? on free markets had collapsed. Yet this was to overlook two things. The first was that most other economic systems fared even worse than America’s when the crisis struck: the far larger economic problems in the rest of the world had given Obama a unique opportunity to reassert American leadership, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. The “unipolar momentâ€? was over, no question. But power is a relative concept, as the president pointed out in his last press conference of the year: “They warned us that America was doomed to decline. And we certainly all got poorer this year. But they forgot that if everyone else declined even further, then America would still be out in front…

Niall Ferguson An imaginary retrospective of 2009

Impure

Civil society emerges out of altruism – small platoons of enthusiasts with the freedom and resolve to change things. Britain’s institutions and services all began with Victorian self-help groups. Schools, sewerage, charities for the blind, the sick, for orphans, lepers, stray dogs, all were pioneered by Christians. Yet, in Orissa, India’s poorest state to which we are en route, Christians are not regarded as Indian or even human. The worst massacre of Christians since Partition took place in Orissa on 23 August last year, under the orders, so it’s said, of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad – the World Hindu Movement – who claim Christians are ‘impure’, foreign. Most are dalit – literally ‘untouchable’. It is still a sin for a dalit – or outcaste’s – shadow to fall on a Brahmin. It is actually illegal in India for a dalit to convert to Christianity, and so escape this oppressive caste system. If they do, they lose numerous ‘privileges’ such as schooling, and job opportunities. In Orissa, 85 per cent of the population is officially dalit. Despite massive infrastructure development going on everywhere, India’s age-old hierarchicalism and massive, religiously-consolidated injustice is everywhere.

Jenny Taylor Real India

Behind Western Condemnation

Why do citizens in democracies enthusiastically embrace a radical Islamist group that not only seeks the destruction of a fellow democracy but is overtly committed to the substitution of a world-wide Islamic caliphate (or umma) for the existing international order based on territorial nation states? Not because of compassion for the Palestinians, whose plight has never attracted genuine international interest, especially by the Arab states (and for that matter, the Palestinian leadership), whose decades of mistreatment of the Palestinians have gone virtually unnoticed.

Between 1949 and 1967, Egypt and Jordan ruled the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank respectively. Not only did they fail to put these populations on the road to statehood, but they showed little interest in protecting their human rights or even in improving the quality of their life – which is one of the reasons that 120,000 West Bankers moved across to the East Bank of the Jordan and about 300,000 others emigrated abroad between 1949 and 1967. Nobody in the international community paid any more attention to this than they have more recently to the ongoing abuse of Palestinians across the Arab world from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, a country which was condemned in a June 2006 Amnesty International report for its “long-standing discrimination and abuses of fundamental economic and social rights of Palestinian refugees.” Nor has there been any international outcry when Arab countries have massacred Palestinians on a grand scale. In 1970 King Hussein of Jordan ordered the indiscriminate bombing of Palestinian refugee camps in the course of putting down the Palestinian uprising during “Black September.” This left between 3,000 and 5,000 Palestinian refugees dead. But the fact that Hussein killed more Palestinians in the course of a single month than Israel managed to do in decades was never held against him or dented the widely held perception of him as a man of peace. Again, more than two decades ago Abu Iyad, the number two man in the PLO, publicly stated that the crimes of the Syrian government against the Palestinian people “surpassed those of the Israeli enemy.” While in the wake of the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Kuwaitis not only set about punishing the PLO for support of Saddam Hussein’s brutal occupation by cutting off their financial support for Yasir Arafat’s overblown and corrupt organization, but there was also a widespread slaughter of Palestinians living in Kuwait. This revenge against innocent Palestinian workers in the emirate was so severe that Arafat himself acknowledged: “What Kuwait did to the Palestinian people is worse than what has been done by Israel to Palestinians in the occupied territories.” Yet there was no media coverage or specially convened UN meetings because it is only when they interact with Israel that the Palestinians win the world’s attention.

Efraim Karsh