Now that we have concluded Thanksgiving, a time where we thank God for the abundant blessings that He has given us, we now enter the Christmas shopping season with the notorious Black Friday, a day whereby ordinary shoppers go berserk and act like maddened characters from that old Star Trek episode “Return of the Archons.” It seems pointless to me that in an age of online shopping, people should descend to the level of animals to get bargains that might save a few bucks on their bottom line. Let us observe the Christmas with sobriety and thanksgiving for the Son that God gave to us to save us from our sins.
I have been waiting to read the new biography of Russell Kirk by Brad Birzer for many months and am hopeful to read it very soon. Russell Kirk was one of the old style conservatives who wrote The Conservative Mind in 1953 which was a trend setter for the modern conservative movement. According to Brad Birzer, Kirk was rather disinterested in politics with two lone exceptions. The first was in the late 1950s and 1960s when he advised Barry Goldwater who was in his early terms as a senator for Arizona and supported his nomination for President 1964 which was unsuccessful. Dr. Birzer wrote a piece in the Imaginative Conservative that goes into detail on how Kirk supported Goldwater. The next time he involved himself in the political realm was toward the end of his life when he chided the neoconvervatives for their support of the First Gulf War. As Gerald R. Russello stated in 2004 in the New York Sun:
He did not believe that the complex of customs, traditions, and norms we know as constitutional democracy could be packaged and exported to other cultures, especially under force.
Kirk died in 2004, but not before he left us with a great legacy and a pile of wisdom that will take years to pore over. Brizer’s biography on Kirk is available from Amazon.com in hardback and Kindle formats. It is an essential read and I hope many will enjoy its pages.
As of the writing of this post, over 120 people were gunned down or were killed in explosions across Paris. Apparently, this dastardly deed was done by members who are sympathetic to the ISIS group which has occupied vast swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq as well as small portions of the Mediterranean coast in Libya. Little is known about the men themselves, but it is clear that events that led to this event have developed over many years dating back to the unwise actions of the United States in Iraq beginning in 1990 and interventions from other nations dating to the end of the First World War.
Ever since the end of the First World War, the Middle East has been a cauldron of instability with either leaders ousted in violent coups (Iraq and Syria) or emirs and their decedents holding power for decades (Saudi Arabia and Bahrain). Some good books to read on the early years of this transition from Ottoman rule to countries ruled by strongmen are John Hulsman’s fine book “To Begin the World Over Again: Lawrence of Arabia from Damascus to Baghdad” which is a short book that explains how we got to this tragic situation and “Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations” by Georgina Howell. The West’s refusal to heed the counsel of Gertrude Bell and Lawrence of Arabia with regards to post-Ottoman rule has led to unnecessary interventions by the West to stabilize that part of the world. There is much more to this story on how events of a century ago led to the shootings in Paris, but suffice to say, it all began with the Sykes-Picot treaty which is mentioned in Hulsman’s book.
Peter Hitchens, a columnist for the Mail on Sunday, has written a very able defense of George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester in the November issue of the London Spectator. It is remarkable that the accuser in this incident has remained anonymous and the evidence against Bell has remained out of public view. Without collaborating evidence, the matter should not be brought out into the open. The Church of England has violated the Bible’s own standards of testimony by taking the word of just one witness. 2 Corinthians 13:1 states as follows:
Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
English Common Law is the foundation for our right to a jury trial where one is tried by due process with a jury of one’s own peers. In this day and age, the standards of common law in England have been under attack by professed “reformers” such as Simon Jenkins, columnist for the Guardian, who stated in 2013 “Juries should go the way of ducking stools and vestry duty.” It seems that fair hearings are going the way of the dodo and George Bell’s indictment and conviction on the testimony of one person without a jury seems to be a sign of the decline of liberty in the West.