Tuesday, 20 October 2020

John Ioannidis vindicated; WHO now agrees that the median infection fatality rate for SARS-CoV-2 is nothing like Imperial College's modelling

This paper - published after peer review by the World Health Organisation in the last week - is a stunning vindication for Stanford University professor John Ioannidis.

Back in April, Professor Ioannidis correctly predicted the average infection fatality rate (IFR) as being vastly lower than that being used by Imperial College London and the UK government (and indeed governments world-wide) in the projections used to justify harsh and lengthy lockdowns. On Professor Ioannidis' calculations, the danger of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the average human being had been hugely over-estimated. At that time either ignored or excluded as pushing something dangerous that needed to be suppressed, events have proved that Ioannidis was in fact, right on the money. And now that it's been published by the World Health Organisation, the media's slanderous presentation of him (and many others of equal standing) as an obscure crank is even more untenable.

If you want to see an 8-minute walk-through of what that means in practice for Western countries which went "all-in" on the Imperial College modelling, watch this equally devastating video by Irish biochemical engineer Ivor Cummins (which mentions the paper), applied to the context and so-wrong-they're-insane speculations still being broadcast with few questions by the media in his own country.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

There used to be catechisms in the schools?

There are so many good bits to this article that I can't pick out just one or two quotes; please read it all!

https://dougwils.com/books-and-culture/s7-engaging-the-culture/hellbent-education.html 

Saturday, 3 October 2020

The new totalitarianism

 From the Guardian today: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/02/emmanuel-macron-outlines-law-islamic-separatism-france

Who's not against Jihadism? Practically everyone except Jihadis, presumably. And as such, presumably we're expected to be in favour of measures taken to discourage Jihadism too.

But, read carefully: these are not simply measures to discourage Jihadism. This is another instance of the new totalitarianism: the totalitarianism which is, supposedly, all in your best interests. A new colonising of power, of home life, of parenthood, by the state - a colonising that will not simply be limited to preventing fanatics from blowing you up, but has much broader ends. That's what Mr. Macron has explained, because that's what it is. In his own words, he explains that the French state has its own religion. He explained that alternative religions as religions (not simply Jihadist ideology in particular, or certain strains of Islam) are a problem. He says that it's bad to have too many people of the same religion concentrated in the same area, and that the state's ideology must predominate "in every road, every building". Read the article: Macron's philosophy is not simply about Jihadism; it is about explicitly promoting a secular humanist religion and making sure that it dominates. A totalitarian philosophy, announced in broad daylight.

To this end, he has announced that home schooling - i.e. the idea that parents rather than the state should be the final directors of their children's education - will become illegal, and all children will attend state institutions from the age of three. "The hand that rocks the cradle", and all that. Parents will not be parents, in France; they will merely be unpaid state operatives, required to ensure that their children learn the official state ideology. And let's underline: as Macron explains very clearly, that's not simply anti-Jihadism, that's radical secular humanism. Totalitarianism: it's not that 100% of children are likely to be taught by their parents to become Jihadis, but nevertheless, the solution that is coming is that 100% of children will be de facto and de jure wards of the state.

Peter Hitchens, in another context, recently wrote "If I hadn’t despaired long ago, I would be despairing now." It is very tempting to take up this attitude in relation to the UK evangelical church scene and how it generally looks onto this growing secular totalitarian menace. One day, unless things change or the laws of logic and human thought abolish themselves or God intervenes in miraculous ways, since we have passed A, B, C and D, we will certainly arrive at E. The state will announce that various elements of Christian teaching and parenting are hateful, damaging to children, illegal, and will be subject to criminal censure and childcare orders, whether in school, the home, Sunday school or the main gatherings of the church, starting from 9am next Monday morning. Whether it will be announced on Twitter or in parliament first, I cannot tell you. But I can tell you that, as a whole, the evangelical church has no "plan B" that's been put into effect during the last 25 years in readiness for this very foreseeable situation. With just a few exceptions, there are just handfuls of individuals working working as well as they can alone or in small groups, outside of church structures, for their own families' welfare and the creating of structures in which we maximise our chances of being ready to resist this approaching disaster. We have not taught people to deeply engage with a secular culture, to detect and refute secular ideas, and to guard their children with good arguments and understanding against them. We confess that God uses means, but by and large, we are not deploying means to be ready for the predictable day when evangelical Christianity or Christian parenting themselves become to all effects a crime.

On the political scene, for years Peter Hitchens has observed the dreary pattern of being told that he's an alarmist scaremongerer, that these awful things will never happen, then seeing his predictions come to pass, then being told that it's not so bad after all. I see this same dynamic working in the UK evangelical church. It'll never happen, then it does, then we find that we can adjust ourselves to it, by retreating just a few steps more. May God have mercy, for we are sinners.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Do Christian churches in the West have a "plan B" ?

I wonder how many evangelical churches in the West have given any more than vague thoughts to this question: if and when the state becomes explicitly and directly hostile to the Christian faith (in the sense of deciding to directly forbid its activities or teachings on the grounds that they are themselves wrong, not simply through indirect means), what is your plan for that?

The last few decades have consistently seen Christians accommodating themselves to whatever the secular state comes up with. The church has generally accepted the state's declarations that the public square is secular (not under the lordship of Christ), that children should be educated in a secularist context (not one saturated in the assumptions and directives of the word of God), that the source of law is secular humanism (not the revealed will of God), that the church's voice is irrelevant in public affairs, and so on and so forth. Now that the church has accepted its position as irrelevant to life outside of its own four walls, the reasonable question is: what next? This is a necessary question because secular humanism is not an ideology which has any grounds for saying "we will stop 12 inches outside of your front door, and the front door of your churches". Only a Christian worldview has a basis for distinguishing consistently been sin and crime, and resolving some matters by looking to the future (whether on earth as the influence of Christ's power spreads, or on the final day of judgment). Secular worldviews are necessarily and inevitably totalitarian, regardless of how long the interim period before the consistency works itself out may be. Christians have benefited greatly from the remaining vestiges of the influence of the Christian worldview in society and culture. But, I repeat, what next?

As we all know when it comes to other spheres of life, "hope is not a strategy". And action-less hope is still not a strategy even when coated with a few true-in-themselves Christian platitudes such as "we will pray" and "our trust is in God" and "we need revival". Pietistic slogans are not Biblical manliness.

So, I repeat, what is "plan B"? When the mood changes from tolerating Christians to actively repressing them, what does your local church plan to do about it? And what is it doing now in preparation for that? Yes, it's preaching the gospel. Excellent. But, what is the application of that gospel to your current cultural context? Is the gospel actually preached when it is not applied at levels beyond the personal and individual? What about the cultural and institutional level? And given that God is a God of means and works through second causes, how do you see the lines joining up between your means and the production of a strong, confident generation of Christians who will pass on the faith and the institutions that nurture godly fruit to the generation after them?

And for bonus points: what is the reason why these questions are so rarely even posed?

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Free Pilgrim's Progress movie

This is well-made -
https://www.revelationmedia.com/christianbook-watchpilgrims/ . Some
scenes may be too intense for littler ones (e.g. the fight with Apollyon).

Saturday, 18 April 2020

If tomorrow never comes

Culturally, in our context where death is the great taboo, this is fascinating - a popular song, whose subject is death, and living life now and how we treat those we love in the light of our own coming death: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4kzGhDEURA

Adding to the poignancy is the fact that, in this version, the singer (who took the song to number one in several countries) subsequently fell into adultery and is now divorced from his wife of the time he was singing it.