Destroyed Church Syria
Christian Persecution

#ChristmasMeans anything but peace on earth

 

Today marks the official  start of the Church of England’s #ChristmasMeans Twitter campaign. Church congregations and clergy are being encouraged to get out their smartphones to let the Twittersphere know the joy and meaning of Christmas.

I’d like to be able to say that #ChristmasMeans a chance to meditate on the incredible moment that God became incarnate, revealing His character to us through the birth of Jesus Christ. However, like many parents, since the schools broke up, #ChristmasMeans trying to keep the kids from winding each other up, the house under some sort of control and trying not to get incredibly stressed out by having to do that last shop at Tesco along with what seems like half of the country.

At least the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has his mind on more important matters:

John Sentamu ChristmasMeans

I have to agree with the Archbishop here. I never get bored of hearing or singing ‘Hark the Herald’, and Charles Wesley’s beautiful words never fail to lift my spirit. Having said that, ‘Peace on earth’ feels like a somewhat empty statement right now. I’m not feeling a lot of peace in the run-up to Christmas as I try, with limited success, to make space for Christ the everlasting Lord.

I really can’t complain, though. This has been a dreadful year for the followers of Jesus around the world. I might be annoyed by the distractions, but at least I can go to church and celebrate the birth of Christ without fear of harassment or arrest. As we know, Christians in Iraq and Syria will once again be unable to enjoy this Christmas, but so too will vast numbers in Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, Eritrea, Pakistan and many other countries. For them there will be no ‘peace on earth’. Nor was there much for Mary and Joseph.

The Christmas story has become so sanitised in Western culture that we forget how disturbing and traumatic it must have been. Mary would have been ostracised for becoming pregnant outside of wedlock; her 70-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem whilst carrying her unborn child cannot have been comfortable or easy. She had to face the indignity of having nowhere safe to give birth and having to use a food-trough for a crib. Later, Joseph and Mary had to flee under cover of darkness from their home in the dead of night to escape the authorities. They avoided the murderous butchering of their son, unlike the families they has left behind. Instead they embarked on a long journey that would leave them aliens and political refugees in a foreign country where they would have known neither the language nor the culture.

Jesus had very little peace in his life, especially during his ministry, where he was regularly ridiculed and hated to the point of being killed by the corrupt authorities. His followers have gone on to share the same treatment ever since. The words that Jesus spoke, warning that this would be the case, have been proven. To be a Christian comes with a cost that can remove all chances of a peaceful life. Yet Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be the Prince of Peace. How can this be right when he neither experienced nor promised it?

As the Jewish nation waited for its Messiah, a belief grew that the Anointed One would establish the Throne of David once again with physical power and might; the Roman oppressors would be defeated and Israel would become a great nation. Their understanding of Old Testament prophecies was nowhere close to being correct, so much so that even John the Baptist was left questioning whether Jesus was truly God’s Son.

There is a similar misunderstanding of God’s peace that enters into our nativities. We turn the events of Jesus’ birth into something saccharine to make Jesus sweet and docile. This is far easier to deal with than the truth. This sanitised Jesus, who neither cries nor vomits, lies in a warm and clean manger, happily wearing the title of ‘Prince of Peace’. But this is not God’s peace.

In the Hebrew, Isaiah’s ‘Prince of Peace’ is sar shalom. Sar is better translated as ruler or leader, and shalom means far more than just peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. It is the binding together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight. For mankind, shalom means a deep flourishing and wholeness wrapped in the love of God.

Prince of Peace works nicely as a piece of alliteration, but fails to convey the full meaning. Jesus is not the ‘peaceful ruler’. Instead he is the ruler of shalom, restoring and making good the relationship between us and God. Charles Wesley understood this when he wrote ‘Peace on earth and mercy mild (which results in) God and sinners reconciled’. For it is in God’s mercy through Christ that we find our salvation and purpose.

There is one thing that strikes me time and again when I hear Christians living in places of extreme oppression talking about their situations. Their experiences have not driven them away from their faith or caused them to question God’s existence. Instead their experience of God’s shalom has become even more real. It is the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, that keeps them strong despite the incredible hardships they endure for the sake of following Jesus. Their desire to hold tight to God does not let up because the blessing that has been received from Him is too precious ever to be abandoned.

This is what #ChristmasMeans. God has freely made His shalom available to us all through Jesus Christ. His peace can be ours at Christmas, even amongst the crap that gets in the way if we choose to accept it. And once we have it, the greatest of all presents is ours to keep for ever.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

  • As so many people do, you have missed out the all-important last verse, Mr. Scott:
    ‘Come, Desire of nations, come,
    Fix in us Thy humble home;
    Rise, the woman’s conquering Seed,
    Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
    Now display Thy saving power,
    Ruined nature now restore;
    Now in mystic union join
    Thine to ours and ours to Thine!
    Hark! The herald angels sing
    “Glory to the newborn King!”‘

    • Dominic Stockford

      Exactly. Missing that out is rather like the ‘nice’ Bible passages read by so many churches at this time of year, missing out the challenges against sin and the reality of judgment.

    • You can blame George Whitfield for that cut. There’s also a fifth verse:

      Adam’s likeness,Lord, efface,
      Stamp thy image in its place.
      Second Adam from above,
      Reinstate us in thy love.
      Let us thee, though lost, regain,
      Thee, the life, the inner man:
      O, to all thyself impart,
      Form’d in each believing heart.

      • Not forgetting the ‘Second Eve’.

        • dannybhoy

          Mrs Proudie you mean?

          • Er … not quite, Mrs Proudie.
            One suspects you were not granted the exceptional grace necessary or that you’ve lived a life of self denial. Sorry to disappoint. Jack stands ready to be corrected, if he is mistaken.

      • carl jacobs

        Interesting story about Whitefield and this hymn. I had never heard it before. I can see why Whitefield might have cut that verse.. The theology is a little suspect at the end.

        But from what I learned, we have Whitefield to credit for the survival of this hymn. For it was he who recast the opening line to “Hark! The Herald angels sing” from Westley’s original. Yet one more example of the positive influence of Calvinism.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Jesus never promised peace!!!??? Please sir, read your Bible a little closer. ‘Peace I give you, not as the world gives…”

  • The Explorer

    Luke 2:14 “peace on earth good will towards men” is a mistranslation that has caused much confusion and cynicism. Peace and good will have not become universal because of Christmas: as Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Silent Night/7 o’clock news’ pointedly indicates.
    The actual meaning is more difficult. Not some sort of ‘Love to everybody from Daddy in the Sky’, but ‘Peace towards those on whom God’s favour rests’. That’s a very different message.

    • DanJ0

      Presumably that’s the meaning of the sword in Matthew 10:34-36: something which severs members of families and families in communities into those whom god favours and those it doesn’t.

      • The Explorer

        Good point! The tricky bit is WHY God favours some and not others. That’s where Calvinists and Arminians are in disagreement.

        • Dominic Stockford

          The Bible isn’t 🙂

        • And Catholics …. do not forget us Catholics.

          • The Explorer

            True. Augustine had seen the implications of Election long before Calvin was on the scene. Who would be the earliest Catholic equivalent of Arminius? (Before, say, Karl Rahner?)

          • carl jacobs

            Who would be the earliest Catholic equivalent of Arminius?

            Pelagius? 🙂

            [skitters away and hides]

          • Another heretic ….

          • carl jacobs

            BTW. There was yet no Rome-centered church at the time of Augustine of Hippo. Augustine is not properly categorized as Roman Catholic.

          • The Explorer

            Point taken.

          • All Orthodox Christians, living, dead and yet to come, are properly categorised as Roman Catholic. Christianity is not a ‘pick and mix’ faith.

          • dannybhoy

            We never forget Catholics Jack.
            We’ve seen what happens to those who forget Catholics….
            😉 !!

          • No … that what eventually happens to Catholics and non-Catholics comes later, Danny.

          • dannybhoy

            Lol Jack!

        • dannybhoy

          I tend towards Arminianism personally, on the grounds that “all who believe on Him (and act on that belief) will have eternal life…”

          • Good first step in the right direction, Danny.

          • dannybhoy

            Thank you Jack.

          • Then on to Luis de Molina.

          • dannybhoy

            http://www.iep.utm.edu/middlekn/

            I am happy in my simple way to say I believe in the freewill of man whilst placing no limitations on the God I trust.

            The balance of Scripture is towards our God wishing that all men might be saved, even if He knows already who will respond to His freely given offer of Grace and who will continue to place their trust in French pastries…

          • William Lewis

            Well put Danny boy. I understand that William Lane Craig is impressed with the logic and arguments of Molina too.

          • dannybhoy

            Yes I’ve seen some of his stuff on Google. Did you see this articke by Dawkins regarding a requested debate by Mr Craig?
            http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/oct/20/richard-dawkins-william-lane-craig

          • William Lewis

            Yes I saw the story. I think that Dawkins was probably right not to debate (from his point of view) with WLC as his philosophical reasoning would not have coped.

          • dannybhoy

            Having read a bit of your Luis de Molina it puts me in mind of a theological system known as “The Moral Government of God” which I studied quite a few years ago now. You can find it on the web still, although mostly discredited now.

            The subject of God’s foreknowledge and man’s freewill is quite similar in some respects

          • If you find Molina helpful, here’s an early Christmas present Danny. It is worth the effort.

            http://socrates58.blogspot.co.uk/2006/04/molinism-middle-knowledge.html

            You might also want to explore the writings of Father William Most, a Catholic theologian of some merit. Here’s access to a library of his writings:

            http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/most/index.cfm?CFID=2157064&CFTOKEN=83051563

          • dannybhoy

            “If you find Molina (and he’s not Jack’s)”
            Pedantic.. 😉
            I shall take a look at both Jack, and thanks for taking the trouble to recommend them.

      • William Lewis

        Isn’t that more to do work the inherent controversy and divisions that Christ’s life, death and resurrection brings?

    • dannybhoy

      Perhaps the same enemy tactic as that of setting up Santa Claus as the focal point of Christmas?

  • The Explorer

    In Milton’s ‘On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity’, the devils wonder what’s going on. Nature tries to hide her shame under snow. Christmas is a declaration of war.

  • len

    The message’ peace and goodwill towards men’ is widely misunderstood.
    The message given to the shepherds by the Angel was that a new era had begun.The Saviour Jesus Christ was to come into the World and God was going to be able to have a entirely different relationship with mankind due to the fact that Jesus Christ (through His atonement for the sins of humanity at the Cross of Calvary)was to be a Mediator between sinful man and a Holy God.
    God was able to have ‘Peace and Goodwill’ towards man due to Christ.This is a major turning point in Christianity.
    A cosmic drama was played out on that Hill at Calvary which changed the World forever for those who have the fortune to apprehend it.

    Man without Christ will never know peace.

  • Phil R

    “His peace can be ours at Christmas, even amongst the crap that gets in the way if we choose to accept it. ”

    If God chooses us

  • SidneyDeane

    That really is a great Christmas carol.

    Merry Christmas all.

    • The Explorer

      Merry Christmas, Sidney.

    • CliveM

      And you as well.

  • carl jacobs

    Gillan

    I tried. I expended considerable effort but alas my search was fruitless. There was no avenue of attack. There simply was nothing to complain about in this post. It was excellent. Well … other than the whiff of Arminianism at the end. But that’s an argument for another time. Otherwise it was excellent.

    • *gasp*
      Jack falls off his chair …….

      • carl jacobs

        Don’t you have shopping to do?

        • Sunnily enough, no.
          Jack buys all his presents for others very early in December and non-perishable food stuffs too. This way he can avoid all the heathen and protestant-capitalist stress and strains of the season.

          Of course, this means his misses the wonderful American ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ initiatives, designed to provoke greed balance supply and demand.

    • Thank you Carl. Don’t get too hopeful. I’m sure thing will deteriorate soon enough… 😉

      • Happy Jack is training Carl in the idea of both/and as well as helping him to appreciate more subtle uses of irony. It’s slow going but someone has to attempt it. Thus far, he is proving a most difficult and challenging Grasshopper

        • carl jacobs

          Jack

          the idea of both/and

          I am an Engineer. I am well familiar with the logical operator AND, OR, and XOR. And don’t even try to tell me they are different.

          appreciate more subtle uses of irony.

          Translation: Penetrate the impermeable shell surrounding some inscrutible act of British “humor.”

          • Carl, why such stubborn resistance? Please do not rely on goal difference in added time at the end of 90 minutes to win the Crown. You must leave old certainties behind and consider a more dynamic and rich set of truths.

            Trust Jack. He has only your happiness in mind.

          • carl jacobs

            OK, BatSage, riddle me this.

            I read the following on the Spectator weblog this evening. Why is this funny?

            the classic ‘Not The Nine O’clock News’ sketch where a groups of young girls are shown dancing around their handbags to loud music and flashing disco lights. Their activities are eventually interrupted by a customer asking these shop assistants where she can try on an item of clothing.

          • Lol ……………..

          • carl jacobs

            Yeah, I was pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to explain it.

          • It’s all to do with right-brain and left-brain functions. You need to develop the right hemisphere to counter your highly developed logical/rational left hemisphere. You’re blocking your creative and imaginative side.

            If Jack explained the joke it would no longer be funny. Ever wondered why Jesus spoke so often in Parables?

          • carl jacobs

            That’s a possible explanation. Another explanation might be “It’s not funny.”

          • Lol ……….. now that’s irony, Carl.

          • carl jacobs

            No, It’s really not.

          • Happy Jack says you would make a most excellent straight man. Avi would be an ideal partner.

            “Brain research tells us that only twenty percent of human beings have a sense of irony, which means that eighty percent of the world takes everything at face value.”
            (Douglas Coupland)

            He’s Canadian too, btw.

  • Linus

    Why should peace prevail during Yule? It was originally a festival honoring the Norse god Óðinn Jólfaðr, also known as “the Furious One”, a deity not known for his dedication to peace.

    Christians may have done their best to annex the festival and turn it into a celebration of a god of their own invention, but the folk memory of its origins remains. We no longer believe in Óðinn Jólfaðr, just as most of us no longer believe in Jesus Christ. But we still believe in marking the shortest (or longest) day of the year with a family feast, good cheer and the exchange of gifts.

    Religions come and go. Social traditions adapt to them, survive and carry on. We’ll certainly be celebrating Yule or Xmas or Solstice or whatever the festival comes to be called in the future, long after Christ has followed Óðinn Jólfaðr into oblivion. But the festival will always remain pagan in origin, no matter what religion or creed temporarily subverts it for its own purposes.

    • The Explorer

      Odin was also the god of Wisdom (his sacrificed eye in Mimir’s Well), the god of contemplation (his two ravens: Thought and Memory) the god of treaties (the runes on his spear), and the god of language (the runes on his tongue). Thor was much more impetuous.

      • Linus

        Most Norse gods were warlike and vengeful and Óðinn was no exception. þórr may have been portrayed as exceptionally violent and belligerent, but Óðinn was a warrior king and epitomized victory and domination rather than peace and reconciliation.

        Yule is his festival. Christ is just an interloper.

        • Phil R

          If I remember rightly you needed to die with a sword in your hand otherwise you did reach the feast hall with lots of food, fighting and virgins.

          Honour and sarificial death was extremely important and so they understood the Gospel easily

        • The Explorer

          I think it’s difficult to be dogmatic about the Norse gods. The Aesir and the Vanir seem to come from two conflicting traditions. Also, much of our information is derived from Snorri Sturluson who is a) very difficult, and could give T S Eliot a lesson in how to be obscure and b) a Christian. Odin hanging on the World Ash Tree to gain wisdom could reflect Christian influence. Whatever it is, it certainly isn’t very warlike.

          I disagree emphatically about victory. The gods live in the shadow of Ragnarok. They know they will be defeated, and assert the value of doomed resistance. Norse religion is the ideal religion for the Second Law of Thermodynamics: it will all come to nothing.

          • Linus

            Look at the Old Norse origin of Óðinn’s name. Óðr as an adjective means furious, frantic, violent. It implies struggle and a desire to dominate and subjugate. Victory is desired although it may never be fully attained. Peace is the last thing on Óðinn’s mind.

            Yule is not a festival of peace. And given Christianity’s bloody history, I wonder that the usurped Christian version of it should be associated with “mercy mild” rather than genocide, torture and oppression.

          • Perhaps you should be researching the Druid religion. By all accounts, this was the ancient faith of the Gauls.

          • The Explorer

            Yule is not a festival of peace. If you look at the thrust of Gillan’s article, Christmas is not a festival of peace either. But why don’t we talk about Saturnalia, and the Lord of Misrule? If Satan is the prince of this world (and no, I’m not confusing him with Saturn), how about Christ as the Lord of Misrule, turning the existing order upside down?

          • Old Nick

            Saturnalia was last week.

          • The Explorer

            I thought it started last week but was still going on. 17th December until the Birth of the Sun on 25th December. Depending on which calendar is being used, and what part in it all involved Mithras worship. Yule mixed up in there as well. A bit like our days of the week, which reflect Norse and classical influence.

          • Old Nick

            The festival of the Unconquered Sun is quite likely to be no older than the Emperor Aurelian (270-75) and is nothing to do with Saturnalia, and current scholarship is inclined to be sceptical about any link between that and Mithraism. The earliest secure mention of the birth of Jesus being on December 25th is in the Chronicle of 354 – long before Christians met Norse mythology and suchlike northern matters. The date seems to have been calculated from the one date all early Christians were interested in – the date of Easter. The original Easter was deemed to have been 25th March (by calculating Roman dates from the Jewish calendar), and Christian chronologists liked to think that perfect people lived mathematically perfect lives, so considered Jesus to have been conceived on the day of his death or resurrection(the actual feast of the Annunciation is not attested before the 6/7th century, but Christians were keen on calculating times and seasons, for their own sakes). A heavy-duty patristics scholar explains all this clearly here:
            http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/how-december-25-became-christmas/

          • The Explorer

            At the back of my mind was ‘Twelfth Night’: in which Toby Belch (and maybe Feste) is thought by some to be reminiscent of the old Lord of Misrule, turning society upside down. ‘What You Will’ suggests Shakespeare’s tolerance of approach towards the two calendars and various customs (“cakes and ale”).
            I have sympathy with the tradition (Justin Martyr against Tertullian) that saw Christianity as the fulfilment of paganism rather than its denial, and that sought to sanctify where it could.

          • Old Nick

            Indeed – Christmas games ! Much of this seems (according to Professor Hutton of Bristol) to be no older than the High Middle Ages – and all the more fun for that: “Higher, Knight”. I agree about ‘the Platonick philosophy’, the Church’s ‘old kindly nurse’. A Merry Christmas to you.

          • The Explorer

            Thank you. And to you. You expressed it all much better than I did.

    • carl jacobs

      Celebrate … what exactly? The carnal gratification of the moment? The pointlessness of life? The fact that the sun hasn’t yet exploded and erased all memory of our existence?

      You use wealth to narcotize your meaningless life by purchasing some series of experiences and then celebrate that you live your life in a narcotized fog. And the whole of your hope is to die and be forgotten along with your deeds. You say “At the end, the Earth with hide me, and the mountain will cover me up.”

      You might know happiness. You might know tranquility. They are both as transient as your life. But you know nothing of joy or peace, for they are eternal things. And you know nothing of the eternal.

      • Linus

        Happiness and tranquillity are by their very nature transient emotions. We live. We die. We didn’t exist before being born. So there’s no reason to believe we’ll exist after we die.

        I don’t see why so many people find that frightening. I didn’t suffer before being born so there’s no reason to imagine I’ll suffer once I’m dead. It seems to me that it will be like falling into a dreamless sleep and never waking up again. Whatever meaning my life may have had won’t matter to me once I’m dead. Nothing will matter, because there will be no me for anything to matter to. While I’m still here my life matters because I experience it, draw enjoyment and satisfaction from that experience and would like to maximize those feelings for as long as possible. But I’m mortal, so sooner or later I will die. That’s just the way it is.

        Of course the religionist is terrified of the prospect of not existing any more. So he invents a god in the form of a deified projection of his own ego and endows it with eternal life and the ability to give him eternal life too. That way he can fool himself into thinking he’s immortal and that the enjoyment and satisfaction he draws, or would like to draw, from life will go on for eternity.

        If you take comfort from these dreams of eternal bliss, then by all means dream away. But justifying your own dreams by seeking to portray my realism as “narcotized” is a tactic born out of fear. Only if I’m wrong can you be right, so you seek to portray me as deluded, drugged, whatever will reduce my humanity in your eyes to the point where I can be dismissed as pointless and irrelevant.

        There’s Christian “love” in a nutshell. Hate thy neighbor and denigrate him at every turn unless he enables your fantasy of divinity and eternal life.

        • “While I’m still here my life matters because I experience it, draw enjoyment and satisfaction from that experience and would like to maximize those feelings for as long as possible.”

          You’re abundant joy and happiness is plain for all to see, Linus. You believe are at peace with yourself and others? Truly? What really troubles you about the existence of God? What are you hiding from?

        • carl jacobs

          Linus

          And who told you what love is? Who told you the content of hatred? Or good? Or evil? Or right? Or wrong? Or truth? Or falsehood? Any observer can define these terms in any fashion. Any definition is equally valid. You have no authority to parse the differences. And yet you still appeal to some objective concept of “love”. You can’t even argue with me without appealing to categories that your own world view can neither define or sustain let alone generate. You can’t so much as establish the value of your own life. You can bind no man against his will – except by the application of power. Quoth the conqueror:

          What is best in life?

          To crush your enemies. To see them driven before you. And to hear the lamentations of their women.

          Is he right or wrong? You cannot say. You can only dominate. This is the fatal contradiction in your own world view. You know things are wrong. But your worldview denies it. If you were consistent, you wouldn’t talk to me of love or hate. You would realize that those categories are no more descriptive of human acts than “red” and “blue.” You would crawl into the pity with Nietzsche. He had the courage of consistency and followed his road to the end. But living life in an amoral universe would be intolerable, so you steal concepts to make life palatable. But you never face the contradiction of what you have done by your act of thievery.

          It matters not to me what you believe. But you should be consistent in your beliefs. Don’t steal from God what you cannot produce. If you say that God is dead, then live consistent with that declaration. Have the courage of your convictions, Linus. Live by what must then be true. There is no love or hate. There is only power.

          There once was a rich man who lived his whole life in comfort and wealth – knowing neither want nor distress. He died cursed of God for his wealth disguised the extent of his destitution. One night his soul was required of him, and he had nothing with which to redeem it. To hate the man would be to ignore him in his comfort. To love the man is to tell him that he is not sovereign over his own life. But then, I can say these things because I can know the difference between love and hate. I am not chained in a dark world of arbitrary definitions.

          • dannybhoy

            Carl,
            I found this quote in a thesis on the Reverend GA Studdert Kennedy, aka “Woodbine Willie”

            http://thecitytalking.com/content/2013/2/22/woodbine-willie-leeds-rebel-priest-hero.html

            “That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the débris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.
            Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm
            foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”
            Bertrand Russell,

            Free Man’s Worship
            I think it points out what you are saying to Linus, that if we logically follow through what people who deny God and assert meaninglessness, then there is no basis for value, intelligence or love or forgiveness. But man cannot live without meaning, even if it means being inconsistent.

        • William Lewis

          At least you are a hedonist which is probably the most logical ideology of the godless. What else is there than to maximise the sensory enjoyment from the material world?

          • Linus

            The greatest hedonist of all is the religionist who dreams of eternal bliss. What motivates you if not visions of some kind of eternal mindgasm once you’re plugged into the ultimate source of pleasure.

            I’ll take pleasure where I can find it, but in any human lifetime pleasure is not the only sensation we’ll experience. Nor should it be. A life made of pleasure alone wouldn’t be a life in the proper sense of the world. If we don’t experience a plenitude of sensations, we don’t live. But however many sensations we do experience, part of what it means to be human is knowing we’ll cease to exist at some point. This is what religionists can’t handle, so they invent a fantasy of eternal bliss to help them cope.

            Personally I’d rather have one full and finite life here on earth than drag my way through the all the pleasures of eternity on some kind of permanent ketamine trip. Being high for the rest of time most certainly doesn’t appeal, so I find it ironic to be accused of hedonism by someone whose religion is founded on that very principle in a way that my philosophy can never be.

          • William Lewis

            “What motivates you if not visions of some kind of eternal mindgasm once you’re plugged into the ultimate source of pleasure”

            Well there’s truth, love, purpose, peace, honour, glory, hope, fellowship, healing, relationship, worship, knowledge and understanding. And that’s just for starters.

            “If we don’t experience a plenitude of sensations, we don’t live.”

            Says who?

            “Being high for the rest of time most certainly doesn’t appeal, so I find it ironic to be accused of hedonism by someone whose religion is founded on that very principle in a way that my philosophy can never be.”

            That’s one of the most bizarre contents I have ever read.

    • The Explorer

      Actually, I don’t know anyone who at Christmas/Yule/Saturnalia/whatever is consciously marking the shortest/longest day of the year.
      Maybe I just don’t know the right sort of pagans, but anyone eating a chocolate log is generally just bored with Christmas pud. Most people don’t have fireplaces for burning a symbolic log, and bonfires are what you have on 5th November.
      In my experience, those who know nothing about Christ know even less about Odin.

      • Linus

        The whole of France eats Yule logs at Yule. We wouldn’t touch the boozy, acrid, fermented dried fruit abomination you eat in England with a robotic arm positioned in Dover and remote controlled from an underground nuclear fallout shelter in Calais, let alone with a barge pole.

        My Yule log this year will not be flavored with chocolate, but rather with Grand Marnier and bitter orange. I’ve seen the British version of what passes for a Yule log. They sell them under cardboard and cellophane in Marks and Spencer on boulevard Saint-Michel. I stopped in there this afternoon to read the label and have a good laugh.

        With 95% inverted corn syrup in an edible silicone base, a fistful of poor quality damp British flour, a teaspoon of watery British “butter” and a half of a third of a sixteenth of a grain of cocoa powder, I can’t say I was tempted to buy one. Although if I change my mind, no doubt the same log will still be there in the New Year. They weren’t exactly flying off the shelves, although there were plenty of badauds like me there having a look and a laugh at all the inedible muck the British call “seasonal fare”. 15€ for an extruded brown blob of industrial waste masquerading as a cake! Dieu qui serait Tout Puissant si jamais il existait !!! Good thing they have such a long shelf life. They’ll probably still be there this time next year…

        • Hmmm … “bitter orange”? That figures.
          What made you desert the faith of your parents, Linus?

          • Linus

            Dessert was the faith of my parents, Happy Jack. Their chef pâtissier was an artist who could make you believe in angels the moment his creations touched your tongue. Bitter orange brioche praslinée was his signature dish.

          • They had no Catholic faith, Linus?

          • The Explorer

            HJ,
            Have you noticed that he talks about a boozy and dried fruit abomination, and then talks about Grand Marnier and bitter orange. Sounds like another boozy and dried fruit abomination to me. One’s got to watch this guy.

          • He’s here for a reason, Explorer.

        • The Explorer

          I assumed you to be talking about the UK situation, since this is a UK blog. I take it you are French? (Pre yourself, the only LInus I’ve encountered was the one from the comic strip, ‘Peanuts’)
          The edibility of the UK yule log was not the point at issue. The issue was the symbolism (or its absence).
          If Yule logs are eaten throughout France, they may have some Scandinavian significance in Normandy, but I bet they haven’t in Provence or Languedoc.

          • Linus

            Yule logs are eaten the length and breadth of the entire country. They’re the classic French seasonal dessert, whether you’re in Rouen or Marseille. The Provençaux have their own name for them, chalendon or calendaou instead of the standard bûche. They even favor different flavors, such as orange blossom or pistachio instead of the traditional chocolate or orange. But they’re still Yule logs.

            The Scandinavians weren’t the only culture to celebrate midwinter with a symbol of rebirth and growth. We burn a fruit tree log on the hearth and serve a pâtisserie log on the table, as do cultures across Europe such as the Catalans, the Lombards, etc etc.

          • The Explorer

            I thought you said everybody was celebrating Odin. True, other cultures celebrated rebirth (in Wales they would carry round a dead wren), but that’s a different argument.

        • DanJ0

          You should make your own desserts like I do, then you know exactly what’s in them. I made a fantastic caramel-based Christmas cake a few days ago for work.

          • dannybhoy

            My wife makes a great Christmas cake, full of low grade flour and industrial grade watery butter with various dried fruits polluted by insecticides added…

          • Linus

            I do. I made a tarte à l’orange this evening for dessert at a pre-réveillon lunch I’m hosting for a friend who can’t be present for our main Yuletide meal tomorrow night. 100% natural, just as your god, if he existed, would want it to be. Delicious too, even if I say so myself…

          • DanJ0

            Actually I’m my own god, at least according to some here.

          • CliveM

            DanJo

            Hope the shock of being called a believer doesn’t have any negative long term affects!

        • dannybhoy

          “They weren’t exactly flying off the shelves, although there were plenty
          of badauds like me there having a look and a laugh at all the inedible
          muck the British call “seasonal fare”. 15€ for an extruded brown blob of
          industrial waste masquerading as a cake! Dieu qui serait Tout Puissant
          si jamais il existait !!! Good thing they have such a long shelf life.
          They’ll probably still be there this time next year…”

          So you’ve come out as an anglophobic food snob Linus Somewhat at odds with your otherwise liberal outlook ain’t it?

          • Linus

            My digestive tract is incapable of philosophizing over the relative merits of French and English cuisine. It simply rejects what it can’t identify as food. Call it prejudice if you like. If it adds a decade or so to my life, I can live with that.

          • You must also think of your waist line, Linus.

          • CliveM

            Vanity, vanity all is vanity.

        • CliveM

          Dear oh dear you’ve become a tedious old bore. Go and find something new to say. At the moment your not worth the effort of insulting. British food, blah, blah. Whatever.

          There has to be a Frenchman some where who would have some wit and sardonic observation to make with his insults?

          Is this the best they can send us. Frankly if I could be bothered I would be insulted.

          • Linus

            If you could write a coherent sentence in your own language, you might be a worthy partner in conversation. As it is, you can’t. So quite frankly, you’re not.

            Note my use of verbal contractions rather than pronouns. And let’s not even get started on your inability to employ the subjunctive mood.

            I mean, really … if a Frenchman can master these basic techniques in English, you’d think a native speaker might be able to…

          • Inspector General

            Been telling him for ages… :->

          • CliveM

            You have not!!

          • Hmmm …

          • CliveM

            ??

          • Lol …. just Jack’s little joke.
            Although …. if you’re going to engage with Linus, who is very literate and grammatically skilled, you should … maybe … occasionally … check some of your spelling.

          • CliveM

            My spelling has always let me down, sigh! Although in my defence the predictive spelling on the phone is a pain.

            Like to point out however “Jack to” is also not true! :0(

          • Well … in his mind Jack has repeatedly pointed out your failure to use verbal contractions and deploy a subjunctive mood. Just because he never quite got around to posting ….

          • CliveM

            Ok fair enough. Tell me what they mean again?

            Just had a pop round to pink news. ( first and last time ) you and the Inspector seem very busy. Where do you get the time!!

          • carl jacobs

            It’s a weblog, Jack. It’s not an academic or professional environment. Only a pedantic self-aggrandizing ass would expect grammatical perfection in the comments section of a weblog. That’s just Linus trying to intimidate his opponent with his “towering intellect.” It’s a way of displaying condescension of the “I’m far smarter than you” variety. It’s all so much excrement.

            And the charitable assumption would in any case always be to attribute occasional errors to typos and malicious autocorrect algorithms. Or perhaps just to oversight. It happens because no one is perfect.

          • “It’s a cheap debating trick.”

            Of course it is, Carl. It’s the only card he currently holds on here – his education. Basic military tactics. One shouldn’t always let an opponent know that you know what he’s up to.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I’m glad I was sitting down when I read that – Americans are not perfect?! Surely shome mishtake? I have an American friend and he is perfect in every way, including stopping talking if I start, but carrying on talking if I don’t start. great company.

          • carl jacobs

            Our natural American humility prevents us from claiming perfection.

          • CliveM

            To be honest, partly it’s laziness. All commenting is done on a phone. Problem is one fat finger, one small keyboard makes it all a little time consuming! I just don’t have the patience to be too careful!!

          • Jack too.

            Pssst … Inspector, what are these “verbal contractions” and this “subjunctive mood”? Are they code words between you know who types?

          • CliveM

            Tried to google but my spelling wasn’t up to it!

          • CliveM

            Yea whatever.

          • This made Jack chuckle, Linus.

          • CliveM

            If I had been able to understand I might of laughed as well!

    • dannybhoy

      Thanks for that Linus. Nice to see you here again.

    • Phil R

      Jesus into oblivion? How do you explain that when Christianity is growing at 4 or 5 times the rate of population growth?

      • Linus

        Where? In your dreams perhaps. Or in Equatorial Guinea or Liberia or some other such unfortunate place where the population needs something, anything, to hold on to.

        Or maybe you’re talking about all the Polish Catholics flocking to England to pick your cabbages and unblock your toilets for you. Pumping a few million of them into your churches will certainly have skewed the statistics in the right direction.

        Let’s see what happens when Ukip storms to power, shall we?

        • The Explorer

          There are thought to be 120 million Christians in China.

        • IanCad

          “Let’s see what happens when Ukip storms to power, shall we?”
          In your dreams.

          • Linus

            Actually, no. In my nightmares, to be more precise.

        • Phil R

          Much of Africa yes 5% to 50% in 100 years

          How about South Korea 2% to 60% in 70 years

          China…….!

          Nominal Christianity is on the decline in the West helped alone by the CofE. However in the Cities many of the Churches are flourishing with some Bible Believing CofE Churches topping 1000

          BTW.

          All nationalities are always very welcome.

          With or without a job!

  • Peace be with you (I’ll take the response “And also with you…” as read).

    Christ himself is our peace, he has reconciled us to God in one body by the cross. 🙂

    “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:14-18)

    (Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is probably my favourite as well)

  • CliveM

    Christmas might not bring peace, but I believe it brings us the hope of peace. Perhaps that is what the soldiers in WW1 were trying to celebrate through their Christmas truce. Not peace, that would have been a lie, but a reminder of the hope of it.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Including the ones mentioned in that letter from the British soldier to his family, who shot any Brits (or Huns, the other way round) they clapped eyes on that day…?

  • dannybhoy

    “Their experiences have not driven them away from their faith or caused
    them to question God’s existence. Instead their experience of God’s shalom
    has become even more real. It is the peace of God, which transcends all
    understanding, that keeps them strong despite the incredible hardships
    they endure for the sake of following Jesus. Their desire to hold tight
    to God does not let up because the blessing that has been received from
    Him is too precious ever to be abandoned.”

    Daniel 3>
    24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counsellors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.
    I think He draws near those who suffer for love of Him.

  • Inspector General

    Not altogether sure where this bizarre notion of peace on earth at Christmas time comes from. The only inclining is that no one starts a military campaign around this time of year for rather obvious reasons. Similarly, unsuccessful failing campaigns would be called off now too. Someone once worked out that since the time of Christ, there has only been an aggregated 14 years peace throughout the known world. It thus stands to reason that much of this time would have been around the years end.

    And now for some thought to cheer. Plenty of muslims are finding peace at this time. Their wretched lives coming to a forced end. The years of frothing at the mouth with the hate the Koran has schooled them in are sweetfully ended for them. Their barking mad conduct stilled. They are at rest. We don’t know the details, but that’s because it can only take place when the eyes of the world are not seeing it. For where it is happening, the journalists keep away, and who can blame them for not wanting to lose their heads in the Saracen fashion.

    There are too many people in the world, especially the wrong type of people. Something is being done about them. So let us pray and give thanks to God for this killing.

    God Almighty. Accept these dead muslims we give You as a sign of our continuing devotion to thy glory. We give thanks that we are able to do thy work and are not reduced to merely praying to You to do it for us, as if You would. Furthermore, oh Lord of Hosts, we ask that You comfort the bleeding hearts amongst your flock who do object to this cull, who doeth believe in all sincerity that if they whine about Islam enough, be it through blog posts or tweets, the killing would prove to be unnecessary and that thine enemies would come to heel all by themselves, and with joyful hearts of love. Amen

    • dannybhoy

      Incorrigible!

    • The Season of Christmas prevents Jack from giving this *prayer* the comment it truly deserves.

      • Inspector General

        When you achieve the higher state of consciousness this man has, you will then appreciate God’s earthly creation and what we are here for. To wit, for our creator’s amusement, in the full sense of the word.

        • Tsk … should Jack ever achieve this “higher state of consciousness” he hopes his friends on here will correct him with charity and patience.

        • carl jacobs

          Inspector

          for our creator’s amusement, in the full sense of the word.

          God is not a man that he should require amusement. The degree of your theological bankruptcy is absolutely amazing at times.

          • Inspector General

            A fellow who believes in pre-destination should be rather more wary than the average when it comes to throwing phrases like theological bankruptcy around…

          • carl jacobs

            Inspector

            I know Protestant theology – both Reformed and Arminian. I know Roman Catholic theology. None of the three would countenance a statement like “God created man for His own amusement.” You don’t seem to understand just how radical is the deviation contained in that kind of statement. It’s a fundamentally pagan view of God. It presents a view of God as essentially a powerful man with the desires and needs of men. You aren’t just wrong. You are catastrophically wrong.

            I believe in predestination because the Bible teaches it. Every Arminian and Catholic on this weblog will also affirm it. We might argue over what it means. But we will all affirm it. We must. It’s right there in Scripture. Conversely, there are no Catholics or Protestants on this board who will affirm that idea that God created man for the purpose of divine amusement.

            None.

          • Inspector General

            Carl, when this man approached you a long time ago with ‘The human creation, what is the purpose’, you gave ‘so he could know and love God’. Or words to that effect.

            You might ask a child of three if it was communicative enough what is the purpose of his birth. He would with little doubt give you the same but with parents instead of God.

            In other words, what you can give is woefully light. If you don’t know, then say you don’t know. Be honest about it, and allow this man, who doesn’t know either, to speculate. It is not blasphemous to ask…

          • carl jacobs

            Inspector

            I would have almost certainly quoted the Westminster Confession of Faith.

            This is the whole purpose of man – to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

            The purpose of man is to glorify God.

          • Inspector General

            Yes, you did. Rather brief isn’t it…

  • IanCad

    Thanks for another excellent and thoughtful post Gillan.

    It is sobering for we who are sleek and fat to reflect that our faith was spread through the means of persecution.

    Speaking for myself, I do little to further the knowledge of our creed.

    And then only when convenient, or feeling chipper; and it isn’t raining.

    May the Holy Spirit fortify us when the trials begin.

  • Inspector General

    And now for a slight aside. For the delectation and amusement of Cranmer’s following, the Inspector gives you this festive treat…

    The supermarket Waitrose administers a community fund. It has recently donated £330 to a café in St Neots to provide Christmas lunch for lonely people. A magnificent gesture in the finest of Victorian traditions, sure you’ll agree. But now, it has come to attention that the owner of the café made a trip to Uganda two years ago where he gave his support to Ugandan Bishop David Kiganda who is a member of the ‘National Task Force Against Homosexuality’.

    Uganda, if you didn’t know, operates laws regarding this behaviour which are on a par with how it was pre 1967 in the UK. No bad thing as far as the Inspector is concerned, but even he admits some of the punishment is a bit stiff. However, it’s a sovereign country and they are entitled to have it as they wish.

    Pink News got wind of all this and is berating Waitrose for making the donation and are trying to wring a statement of regret from the company. It can even be construed from the indignation that the afflicted might even look to obtain a statement that had Waitrose been aware of the owners ‘shocking homophobia’ the gift of the money would not have taken place. Rather remarkably in this day of assault by thug tweets, and on line thug groups, Waitrose is not having any of it and holding firm !

    Damn good show, Waitrose !

    Anyway, it’s all happening right now on PN. Any gayer bishop following Cranmer might like to go over to that site and see the way his errant flock of gays conduct themselves during this festival of goodwill. And let us not forget the lonely folk benefitting from Waitrose’ largesse and wish them well during the forthcoming year, even if our aggrieved gays can’t…

    • CliveM

      It’s what happens when ideology forgets humanity. Well done Waitrose and when I can afford to shop there I will!

      • dannybhoy

        You poverty stricken idealist you, with your wee nose pressed up against the window of one of this country’s finest emporiums…!
        Waitrose is the supermarket of conversational choice amongst our Anglican community..
        I delight in Lidl name dropping when ever the opportunity presents!

        • DanJ0

          Lidl is the dog’s bolls! Especially with their deluxe range.

          • dannybhoy

            I’ll look out for you… 🙁

          • Only in the delux section, mind.

          • dannybhoy

            🙂
            I wonder if he wears a snood when he’s out, to avoid frightening the bawbees and old ladies?
            Which reminds me..
            how’s your grandchild doing Jack?

          • Happy Jack is saying no more about said person for fear of attracting unsolicited interest.

            Lucy is gorgeous and doing splendidly. She makes Jack chuckle. (‘Bawbees’ are Scottish coinage. Do you mean ‘bairn’ or ‘wean’?)

          • dannybhoy

            Wean, I meant wean.
            (Which I suppose in Clive’s money means farthing..)
            I am glad you continue to enjoy granddadhood. They fill you with a sense of awe don’t they?!
            I am just over halfway through John Halifax Gentleman my Mrs Craik- a distant relative of Mrs Proudie I shouldn’t wonder.
            A most excellent book of the Victorian genre.

          • Martin

            What grandchildren fill me with is amazement at how they can be so naughty even when they are so young.

            But I do love them dearly.

          • dannybhoy

            Good Morning Martin,

            Happy Christmas to all. The wife and I have decided to stretch our celebration of Christmas to twelth night, even though I tend towards the belief that our Lord was born at Succoth, the Feast of Tabernacles, rather than December 25th…
            http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Articles/Christmas/christmas.html
            but ultimately, regardless of the exact day it only matters that we mark the greatest event in world history with praise and thanksgiving.
            Anyway, children!
            I think there’s a whole debate to be had about naughtiness in children, and whether it’s evil or not…… 😉
            We had the great pleasure of a family gathering (the wife’s side) at which four young children were present and I have to say what a delight it was to be with them, singing carols and making them laugh. Beautiful!

          • Martin

            Danny

            I wouldn’t say that Christmas marks the ‘greatest event in world history’, rather that goes to Easter.

            As to children’s naughtiness, they’re simply not as good as adults at hiding it, for as Scripture says, “all have sinned”.

          • dannybhoy

            “I wouldn’t say that Christmas marks the ‘greatest event in world history’, rather that goes to Easter.”
            Pedantic!
            “Chicken and egg” comes to mind……:)

            Regarding children. what I was hinting at is that as creatures we are of course incomplete. Emotionally and spiritually we crave love, recognition, understanding and forgiveness.
            So we cry, we pout, we feel lonely, misunderstood and rejected, or angry that we didn’t get our own way.
            I suggest that these states of being are as much a consequence of being creatures as they are of being sinful.

          • Martin

            Danny

            Pedantic? How man Gospels record the birth as against how many record the death & resurrection?

            Actually I’d suggest those things are entirely the result of being sinful.

          • CliveM

            Happy Jack

            I’ve been trying to tell him, but he won’t listen. He’s very stubborn!

          • DanJ0

            Aldi sell free range chicken at 2/3rd the price of Tesco, and 21 day aged steak which supermarkets don’t usually sell at all. Their 18yo single malt this Christmas is almost certainly Glenmorangie rebranded as Glenmarnoch.

          • CliveM

            The steak is particularly good.

          • dannybhoy

            DanJ0,
            I love a good steak and a nice bit of chicken, can take or leave whiskey, chocolate raspberries sound rather vulgar…
            You’re a mystery shopper, ain’tcha..
            http://www.mystery-shoppers.co.uk/becoming_a_mystery_shopper.htm

          • CliveM

            DanJo

            Have a good Christmas however you intend to spend it and a Peaceful New Year.

          • DanJ0

            I’ll be by the chocolate-coated strawberries and raspberries probably.

        • CliveM

          We are having an Aldi Christmas! Lidls twin brother.

          • dannybhoy

            (Sniffs haughtily)
            Typical Presbyterian, has to be controversial.
            Aldi’s is very low rent…

          • CliveM

            If you look after the pennies the Bawbees look after them self.

          • dannybhoy

            Bawbees look after themselves??
            Since when have the wee’uns been able to fend for themselves, ye heartless wretch!

          • CliveM

            Bawbees Scottish half penny :0)

          • dannybhoy

            You made that up!
            I had a Scottish cousin and he never talked about bawbees. He called them babies..

          • CliveM

            Wiki it………

            Tsk the lack of trust!

          • dannybhoy

            Shops at Aldis!
            Wha’ a snob..
            Babies are the same as halfpennies?!!

          • CliveM

            Dear oh dear! Called a snob for shopping at Aldi!!!!

          • dannybhoy

            I sincerely wish you and yours (His) peace and great blessings for Christmas and the New Year Clive.
            Thanks for being a good sport!

          • CliveM

            DB

            Likewise for you and yours.

            It has been a pleasure posting with you, have a Great Christmas, you deserve it:0)

    • James60498 .

      Just e-mailed Waitrose to express support for their donation.

    • Inspector General

      The Inspector has been commenting on PN. The fellow concerned is a fiery evangelist and no mistake. You’d think the inmates wouldn’t need to libel him, but they have…

      • They are a troubled lot, Inspector. God help them. However, Jack isn’t sure you’ve been called to be an evangelist to homosexuals on Pink News. They don’t seem too fond of you over there. Jack will say though that your comments were well reasoned and fair.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Guys, this article makes an unbiblical claim, and bases much of what it says on that, namely: “Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be the Prince of Peace. How can this be right when he neither experienced nor promised it?”

    Can we please all get the author to rethink what he is saying in light of the quote from Jesus: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27. This is a clear promise of peace, from Jesus.

    • CliveM

      I think the author is talking of a different peace. Not personal peace, that comes through the reassurance of Gods promises, but worldly peace and of that I see precious little of that.

      But I do agree Jesus promised peace for the believer. Doesn’t mean their will be no strife.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Jesus promised peace for the believer…

        Yes, and I believe His peace is the only true peace one can have.

  • Jim Corcoran

    Peace on Earth?

    “Aren’t humans amazing? They kill wildlife – birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

    Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative – and fatal – health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

    So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

    Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

    Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and then plead for ‘Peace on Earth.'” C. David Coates

    ********

    The good news is that anyone can break this cycle of violence. I did and you can too. Each of us has the power to choose compassion. Peace really does begin in the kitchen. Please visit these websites to align your core values with life affirming choices: http://veganvideo.org & http://tryveg.com

    • No thank you. You are way too late. Happy Jack has already got his turkey, pork and ham roast in for Christmas dinner. He’s also got a lovely cut of beef set aside for the New Year. Maybe next year.

    • sarky

      Reading this eating a bacon buttie mmmmmmm

      • Jim Corcoran

        The 21,000 people dying of starvation EVERY DAY because of your selfish dining habits, might take exception to your feeble joke.

        • I think you will find they are dying because of tribalism, ignorance, dirty water and poor sanitation, war and corruption, not because others eat meat. You do raise some valid issues but compulsory veganism is not the answer to food poverty.

          Happy Christmas anyway.

    • Linus

      The problem with vegan cuisine is that it’s so rich in fiber and fermentable vegetable matter, it turns its adherents into ambulatory methane factories, which makes it a self-defeating proposition.

      If you’ve ever been stuck in a crowded Paris métro carriage next to a vegan, you’ll know what I mean. It’s at times like that you wish there were a God to thank for no-smoking laws. If someone were to strike a match, thousands might die in the ensuing fireball! To say nothing of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming…

      A balanced diet consisting of all food groups is proven to be the best for overall health. We eat a lot meat in France, yet our rates of coronary and inflammatory bowel disease are among the lowest in the developed world.

      I never met a vegan who didn’t suffer from some form of irritable bowel syndrome. That’s what happens when you tip the scales too far in one direction. Vegetables are important, but balance and moderation are the keys to a healthy diet.

      • dannybhoy

        You sound so much more balanced and reasonable when discussing food and France, Linus.
        Perhaps a dietary blog beckons??

      • Let’s be honest, Linus. If God didn’t want us to eat animals, He wouldn’t have made them out of food.

        Happy Jack is a post-modern vegetarian. He eat meat ironically.

      • Jim Corcoran

        You lead a very sheltered and narrow minded life.

    • dannybhoy

      You sound (can’t smell from here) like you might get on with this lady I was reading about yesterday…
      https://ceabbate.wordpress.com/

    • carl jacobs

      Carrot Juice is Murder

      I say we take up the fight!

    • Inspector General

      You need to look at it from a different perspective. Animals come and animals go. Their meat sustains us. Really don’t care if they are happy with their lot or not. They seem to be, in the fields. As for health issues, all caused by gluttony. Serves the fatties right. And don’t think you surviving on seeds and greens is going to save you. Death awaits you too, the only difference being that you have done without marvellous meat during your lifetime. Pitiful, but that’s your problem…

      • Jim Corcoran

        The difference is that 21,000 people die of starvation EVERY DAY because of selfish people.

        • Inspector General

          Is it really 21000 ? seems rather a lot…

          So, instead of canvassing the governments responsible for these people, you find it more convenient to combine this guilt, which this man is completely free of he might add, with your bizarre vegan whatever, and blame anyone who listens to your voice in the wilderness…

          • Pubcrawler

            Well said, sir. I have just enjoyed a fine piece of the Roast Beef of Old England, locally reared and grazed on the common (which, being a flood plain, is of no practical use for anything else, otherwise it would be a housing estate, not agricultural land). Impact on world food supply: zilch; impact on local economy: positive.

            Meat is dinner.

          • Inspector General

            Think we’ve seen him off, Pubcrawler. He won’t be back.
            Come across his type before, you know. Fellows who wish to spread their food faddism on the back of the world’s starving. Pretty damn low thing to do, if you think about it…

          • Pubcrawler

            A low trick indeed. But seen him off? He seems to have lingered like a bit of sprouty flatulence, so I wouldn’t speak too soon.

            Now, once more unto the cheese board!

        • Pubcrawler

          You know what a large number of those starving masses would really like? A couple of goats so that they can produce milk and cheese (not vegan) for personal consumption or to sell/barter, and in the fullness of time a bit of goat meat to eat. Or maybe a village cow or two for the same reasons. Even better, a bunch of chickens for eggs and meat because the return on investment is quicker.

          Your sanctimonious priggery is vanity, not a solution to world hunger.

          • Jim Corcoran

            Heifer International (HI) is an organization that claims to work against world hunger by donating animals to families in developing countries. Its catalog deceptively portrays beautiful children holding cute animals in seemingly humane circumstances. The marketing brochure for HI does not show the animals being transported, their living and slaughter conditions, or the erosion, pollution and water use caused by the introduction of these animals and their offspring.

            By definition, animals raised for food are exploited in a variety of ways. The animals shipped to developing countries are often subject
            to; water and food shortages, cruel procedures without painkillers,
            lack of veterinary care resulting in extended suffering as a result
            of illness or injury.

            A large percentage of the families receiving animals from HI are struggling to provide for themselves and cannot ensure adequate
            living conditions, nutrition, and medical care for animals they have
            been given. HI provides some initial veterinary training to individuals and the initial vaccines. But, long term care for these animals and their offspring is up to the individuals.

            To make matters worse, animal agriculture causes much more harm to the environment than plant-based agriculture. The fragile land in many of the regions HI is sending the animals cannot support animal
            agriculture. Although they say they encourage cut and carry feeding
            of the animals to avoid erosion, the reality is often quite different.

            The consumption of animal products has been shown in reputable studies to contribute significantly to life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a variety of cancers. Regions that have adopted a diet with more animal products see an increase in these diseases. The remote communities supposedly served by HI have no way of dealing with the health consequences of joining the
            high-cholesterol world.

            While it may seem humane and sustainable to provide just one or two dairy cows here or there, the long term consequences are an increased desire for animal products in local cultures leading to an increase in production. These communities may be able to absorb the additional water use of one or two cows, what happens when there are hundreds or thousands of dairy cows, each consuming 27 to 50 gallons of fresh water and producing tons of excrement? The heavy cost to animals, the environment and local economies is not figured into HI’s business practices.

          • Inspector General

            Simple trade off really. You get to mock the world’s hungry, but it’s for their own good. And you get to spread the joys of living on planet Vega, which in itself is a recipe for malnutrition. No wonder you blighters get to live for so boringly long. The body finds itself in a siege state due to insufficient diet and must preserve itself for when things get better. But it never does. Chew on that….

          • Jim Corcoran

            blissful ignorance

          • Inspector General

            Ah, such simple zeal. And only possible of a full stomach, you unpleasant bag of wind…

          • Jim Corcoran

            you have quite an ego.

          • Inspector General

            You remind this man of schoolgirls who bring injured cats home. Such righteous work…

  • preacher

    For a really good Christmas song try Cloverton ‘s ‘Hallelujah’ on You Tube, a real blessing!.
    Peace to all. P.

  • Inspector General

    It’s a terrible world out there. Always has been…

    “Hey senor, will you help us. The men, they come. They pillage the village, rape the women and steal our corn”

    “Have you not had assistance from the federal troops”

    “But senor, they WERE the federal troops…”