Many people see history as linear, as an advance of ‘progress’. (Progress? To what destination?) In God’s providence there is a direction to it all, but the only thing we know for sure about that direction is what God has specifically revealed in holy Scripture; still less is history, as told by the Bible, composed of straight lines.
For example, the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24–25 speaks mainly of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, but of that event in AD 70 as a coming of the Lord in glory to crush his enemies. Within a generation (24.34) ‘shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’ (24.30). Thus, he later says to the high priest, sitting with the scribes and the elders, ‘Thou hast said [that I am the Christ, the Son of God]: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven’ (26.64). Christ’s destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 is not just a harbinger of his final return in the flesh at the end of the world, but in an important way the very same event. This is not linear history, but in a sense a curved event that intersects with the linear timeline twice, once in AD 70 and once at the end of the world.
If this is the way that Christ teaches us to understand history, then it destroys the myth of history as linear progress.
All these frivolous White people botching COVID-19 responses. You basically need four things:
a short draconian lockdown,
provision for everyone to eat and pay rent,
closing of borders.
If you do not do all four, your plan will harm many people for nothing. It’s all or nothing. Instead, the West does cycles of lockdowns that have no salutary effect and destroy the œconomy. Their governments, and their politics more generally, are a joke.
Taiwan has been free of domestic COVID-19 cases for more than 200 days. They have concerts again, and schools are open. But when they did lockdowns, violators were fined 1 million new Taiwan dollars. Contacts were traced in a population almost the size of Texas on an island the size of New Jersey. Borders were closed. It worked. Taiwan may politically be a joke in other ways, but in this area it did well.
In contrast, the US government has only wrecked the lives of ordinary citizens. A ‘stimulus package’ of a measly $600 per citizen is also freighted with other special allocations on top of the ordinary budget:
$4 billion for Navy weapons procurement;
$2 billion for Air Force missile procurement;
$2 billion for the Space Force;
$1.3 billion for Ægypt;
$700 million for the war in Sudan;
$453 million for US forces occupying the Ukrainian border;
$500 million in ‘relief’ for the Zionist state (about $50 per Israeli).
330 million cheques of $600 each amounts to about $200 billion, and the bill will cost about $900 billion in all. The money spent on weapons and foreign ‘aid’ is on top of the $740 billion already allocated for the 2021 Pentagon budget.
The political process is discredited. These United States are not a serious state.
In Romans 14.1–15.13, St Paul teaches on ‘the weak’ and ‘the strong’, saying that the strong should accommodate the scruples of the weak, but he also pushes the Christians in Rome, as they live in harmony, to develop a common mind rather than merely agreeing to disagree. This is a pattern he consistently upholds from Romans 12 to Romans 15. In 12.1, he urges the brethren to offer up their bodies (τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν, plural) as a sacrifice that is living, holy, and acceptable to God (θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, singular); in 12.2, rather than a transformation of believers’ minds severally, he speaks of a single transformation of the mind (τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοός); in 12.15–16, he says, ‘Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep; be of the same mind one toward another’; in 15.5–6, ‘Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Respect for differences in conviction, then, is to serve a higher end: the formation of the mind of the Holy Spirit in the Church, whether through diverse spiritual gifts animated by one Spirit or through a unity even with diverse convictions on food, days, and other such things the Reformed tradition has called adiaphora (things in themselves indifferent).
Those who are strong, then, are not to impose their views on those who are weak, whose faith in God does not depend on (say) dietary and festival laws. No doubt the trajectory in the long term is toward strength, whereby the people will be able to worship God without scrupling about the Mosaic Law, recognizing what things are truly matters indifferent and not matters de fide (of faith). As Ben Witherington notes in Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 338, St Paul in Romans 14.14 and 14.20 says plainly that no food in unclean in itself. He is certainly not lacking in a strong position. Nevertheless, he says that judging others and criticizing them for their scruples is not the way. It seems to me that respect for variation in convictions and practices is itself part of the common mind that St Paul wants to cultivate in the Church, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
In the use or disuse of Christmas among Reformed Christians, I think strong or weak faith might appear on both sides. A weak Anglican brother may be one who mistakenly thinks that observance of Christmas is essential to his righteousness; a weak Dissenter brother may be one who mistakenly thinks that nonobservance of Christmas, and use of the Lord’s Day only as a day set aside for worship, is essential to his righteousness. A wise strong Reformed Christian may worship with the weaker Anglican brother on Christmas Day, and even through all twelve days of Christmastide all the way to 5 January, but he will also not impose Christmas as an observance upon the weaker Presbyterian brother who believes that the Lord’s Day alone should be observed, nor will he tempt that brother to act against conscience. In the pulpit, he may preach on the Incarnation of our Lord; at home, he may invite both brethren to dinner in Christmastide, that they may rejoice together in the saving truth of our Lord’s coming to us as a man. In the long term, the faith of both weaker brethren will strengthened as they unite in the Lord, both aware of the other’s conviction and, through respect, growing in faith in what is indeed essential to righteousness.
In recommending the use of Fridays as fast days and the use of Lent as a seasonal fast, the Book of Common Prayer also wisely avoids imposing particular practices, whether in choice of meats, forgoing of food, or particular private devotions. This restraint serves the weaker brother who feels that he must not eat land meat, lest he indulge himself in a season of corporate fasting; likewise, it serves the weaker brother who feels that he must not intentionally avoid land meat, lest he fall to popery. What will bring them together is a common focus on the promises of God’s word (15.4–6), through which God will make them likeminded and glorify God with one mind and one mouth. So preaching to an audience with both kinds of weaker brethren may focus on what God promises to those who repent of their sins and fast to seek his face, who mourn that they may be comforted.
One place in which I am uncertain is the fulfilment of the day of rest. I agree with Douglas Moo, in Encountering the Book of Romans, when he says of the commandment in the Mosaic Law, ‘As Hebrews suggests, the Sabbath command has found its fulfillment in Christ, so that all of us who have access to God through faith live in an eternal “Sabbath-rest”.’ The chief way in which we fulfil this law in spirit is to rest in the finished work of Christ, being justified by faith and not by works of the law. Nevertheless, my own conviction is that Lord’s Day rest is necessary not only to help us ourselves rest from our labours and trust in the Lord, but to give others the opportunity to do so as well. This is a secondary moral application of the Fourth Commandment, important against the claims of the idols of our day, not least the idol of global neoliberal capitalism. I think the practice of a weekly day of rest, which cannot be fulfilled unless practised by the body of Christians and not merely by individuals, is undermined by the buying and selling that Christians do on Sunday, which creates incentives contrary to those I think we should be committed to. Sometimes Christians buy and sell on Sundays to facilitate their own practices at church, such as catered church lunch after the Sunday morning service. Suppose that one is dating a girl who does not scruple at buying groceries on a Sunday, and she fears that avoiding Sunday shopping out of respect for her husband’s convictions would be an undue burden on her; perhaps she thinks the solution is to agree to disagree, not interfering with each other’s individual practices. I think this is not what St Paul meant, but such a situation seems a difficult knot for a family to untie.
The full text of British MP Enoch Powell’s speech, delivered to a Conservative Association meeting in Birmingham, England, on 20 April 1968.
The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature.
One is that by the very order of things such evils are not demonstrable until they have occurred: at each stage in their onset there is room for doubt and for dispute whether they be real or imaginary. By the same token, they attract little attention in comparison with current troubles, which are both indisputable and pressing: whence the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future.
Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: ‘If only,’ they love to think, ‘if only people wouldn’t talk about it, it probably wouldn’t happen.’
Perhaps this habit goes back to the primitive belief that the word and the thing, the name and the object, are identical.
At all events, the discussion of future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils is the most unpopular and at the same time the most necessary occupation for the politician. Those who knowingly shirk it deserve, and not infrequently receive, the curses of those who come after.
A week or two ago I fell into conversation with a constituent, a middle-aged, quite ordinary working man employed in one of our nationalised industries.
After a sentence or two about the weather, he suddenly said: ‘If I had the money to go, I wouldn’t stay in this country.’ I made some deprecatory reply to the effect that even this government wouldn’t last for ever; but he took no notice, and continued: ‘I have three children, all of them been through grammar school and two of them married now, with family. I shan’t be satisfied till I have seen them all settled overseas. In this country in 15 or 20 years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.’
I can already hear the chorus of execration. How dare I say such a horrible thing? How dare I stir up trouble and inflame feelings by repeating such a conversation?
The answer is that I do not have the right not to do so. Here is a decent, ordinary fellow Englishman, who in broad daylight in my own town says to me, his Member of Parliament, that his country will not be worth living in for his children.
I simply do not have the right to shrug my shoulders and think about something else. What he is saying, thousands and hundreds of thousands are saying and thinking – not throughout Great Britain, perhaps, but in the areas that are already undergoing the total transformation to which there is no parallel in a thousand years of English history.
In 15 or 20 years, on present trends, there will be in this country three and a half million Commonwealth immigrants and their descendants. That is not my figure. That is the official figure given to parliament by the spokesman of the Registrar General’s Office.
There is no comparable official figure for the year 2000, but it must be in the region of five to seven million, approximately one tenth of the whole population, and approaching that of Greater London. Of course, it will not be evenly distributed from Margate to Aberystwyth and from Penzance to Aberdeen. Whole areas, towns and parts of towns across England will be occupied by sections of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population.
As time goes on, the proportion of this total who are immigrant descendants, those born in England, who arrived here by exactly the same route as the rest of us, will rapidly increase. Already by 1985 the native-born would constitute the majority. It is this fact which creates the extreme urgency of action now, of just that kind of action which is hardest for politicians to take, action where the difficulties lie in the present but the evils to be prevented or minimised lie several parliaments ahead.
The natural and rational first question with a nation confronted by such a prospect is to ask: ‘How can its dimensions be reduced?’ Granted it be not wholly preventable, can it be limited, bearing in mind that numbers are of the essence: the significance and consequences of an alien element introduced into a country or population are profoundly different according to whether that element is 1 per cent or 10 per cent.
The answers to the simple and rational question are equally simple and rational: by stopping, or virtually stopping, further inflow, and by promoting the maximum outflow. Both answers are part of the official policy of the Conservative Party.
It almost passes belief that at this moment 20 or 30 additional immigrant children are arriving from overseas in Wolverhampton alone every week – and that means 15 or 20 additional families a decade or two hence. Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependants, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant-descended population. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre. So insane are we that we actually permit unmarried persons to immigrate for the purpose of founding a family with spouses and fiancés whom they have never seen.
Let no one suppose that the flow of dependants will automatically tail off. On the contrary, even at the present admission rate of only 5,000 a year by voucher, there is sufficient for a further 25,000 dependants per annum ad infinitum, without taking into account the huge reservoir of existing relations in this country – and I am making no allowance at all for fraudulent entry. In these circumstances nothing will suffice but that the total inflow for settlement should be reduced at once to negligible proportions, and that the necessary legislative and administrative measures be taken without delay.
I stress the words ‘for settlement’. This has nothing to do with the entry of Commonwealth citizens, any more than of aliens, into this country, for the purposes of study or of improving their qualifications, like (for instance) the Commonwealth doctors who, to the advantage of their own countries, have enabled our hospital service to be expanded faster than would otherwise have been possible. They are not, and never have been, immigrants.
I turn to re-emigration. If all immigration ended tomorrow, the rate of growth of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population would be substantially reduced, but the prospective size of this element in the population would still leave the basic character of the national danger unaffected. This can only be tackled while a considerable proportion of the total still comprises persons who entered this country during the last ten years or so.
Hence the urgency of implementing now the second element of the Conservative Party’s policy: the encouragement of re-emigration.
Nobody can make an estimate of the numbers which, with generous assistance, would choose either to return to their countries of origin or to go to other countries anxious to receive the manpower and the skills they represent.
Nobody knows, because no such policy has yet been attempted. I can only say that, even at present, immigrants in my own constituency from time to time come to me, asking if I can find them assistance to return home. If such a policy were adopted and pursued with the determination which the gravity of the alternative justifies, the resultant outflow could appreciably alter the prospects.
The third element of the Conservative Party’s policy is that all who are in this country as citizens should be equal before the law and that there shall be no discrimination or difference made between them by public authority. As Mr Heath has put it we will have no ‘first-class citizens’ and ‘second-class citizens’. This does not mean that the immigrant and his descendent should be elevated into a privileged or special class or that the citizen should be denied his right to discriminate in the management of his own affairs between one fellow-citizen and another or that he should be subjected to imposition as to his reasons and motive for behaving in one lawful manner rather than another.
There could be no grosser misconception of the realities than is entertained by those who vociferously demand legislation as they call it ‘against discrimination’, whether they be leader-writers of the same kidney and sometimes on the same newspapers which year after year in the 1930s tried to blind this country to the rising peril which confronted it, or archbishops who live in palaces, faring delicately with the bedclothes pulled right up over their heads. They have got it exactly and diametrically wrong.
The discrimination and the deprivation, the sense of alarm and of resentment, lies not with the immigrant population but with those among whom they have come and are still coming.
This is why to enact legislation of the kind before parliament at this moment is to risk throwing a match on to gunpowder. The kindest thing that can be said about those who propose and support it is that they know not what they do.
Nothing is more misleading than comparison between the Commonwealth immigrant in Britain and the American Negro. The Negro population of the United States, which was already in existence before the United States became a nation, started literally as slaves and were later given the franchise and other rights of citizenship, to the exercise of which they have only gradually and still incompletely come. The Commonwealth immigrant came to Britain as a full citizen, to a country which knew no discrimination between one citizen and another, and he entered instantly into the possession of the rights of every citizen, from the vote to free treatment under the National Health Service.
Whatever drawbacks attended the immigrants arose not from the law or from public policy or from administration, but from those personal circumstances and accidents which cause, and always will cause, the fortunes and experience of one man to be different from another’s.
But while, to the immigrant, entry to this country was admission to privileges and opportunities eagerly sought, the impact upon the existing population was very different. For reasons which they could not comprehend, and in pursuance of a decision by default, on which they were never consulted, they found themselves made strangers in their own country.
They found their wives unable to obtain hospital beds in childbirth, their children unable to obtain school places, their homes and neighbourhoods changed beyond recognition, their plans and prospects for the future defeated; at work they found that employers hesitated to apply to the immigrant worker the standards of discipline and competence required of the native-born worker; they began to hear, as time went by, more and more voices which told them that they were now the unwanted. They now learn that a one-way privilege is to be established by act of parliament; a law which cannot, and is not intended to, operate to protect them or redress their grievances is to be enacted to give the stranger, the disgruntled and the agent-provocateur the power to pillory them for their private actions.
In the hundreds upon hundreds of letters I received when I last spoke on this subject two or three months ago, there was one striking feature which was largely new and which I find ominous. All Members of Parliament are used to the typical anonymous correspondent; but what surprised and alarmed me was the high proportion of ordinary, decent, sensible people, writing a rational and often well-educated letter, who believed that they had to omit their address because it was dangerous to have committed themselves to paper to a Member of Parliament agreeing with the views I had expressed, and that they would risk penalties or reprisals if they were known to have done so. The sense of being a persecuted minority which is growing among ordinary English people in the areas of the country which are affected is something that those without direct experience can hardly imagine.
I am going to allow just one of those hundreds of people to speak for me:
Eight years ago in a respectable street in Wolverhampton a house was sold to a Negro. Now only one white (a woman old-age pensioner) lives there. This is her story. She lost her husband and both her sons in the war. So she turned her seven-roomed house, her only asset, into a boarding house. She worked hard and did well, paid off her mortgage and began to put something by for her old age. Then the immigrants moved in. With growing fear, she saw one house after another taken over. The quiet street became a place of noise and confusion. Regretfully, her white tenants moved out.
The day after the last one left, she was awakened at 7 a.m. by two Negroes who wanted to use her ’phone to contact their employer. When she refused, as she would have refused any stranger at such an hour, she was abused and feared she would have been attacked but for the chain on her door. Immigrant families have tried to rent rooms in her house, but she always refused. Her little store of money went, and after paying rates, she has less than £2 per week.
She went to apply for a rate reduction and was seen by a young girl, who on hearing she had a seven-roomed house, suggested she should let part of it. When she said the only people she could get were Negroes, the girl said, ‘Racial prejudice won’t get you anywhere in this country.’ So she went home.
The telephone is her lifeline. Her family pay the bill, and help her out as best they can. Immigrants have offered to buy her house – at a price which the prospective landlord would be able to recover from his tenants in weeks, or at most a few months. She is becoming afraid to go out. Windows are broken. She finds excreta pushed through her letter box. When she goes to the shops, she is followed by children, charming, wide-grinning piccaninnies. They cannot speak English, but one word they know. ‘Racialist,’ they chant. When the new Race Relations Bill is passed, this woman is convinced she will go to prison. And is she so wrong? I begin to wonder.
The other dangerous delusion from which those who are wilfully or otherwise blind to realities suffer, is summed up in the word ‘integration’. To be integrated into a population means to become for all practical purposes indistinguishable from its other members.
Now, at all times, where there are marked physical differences, especially of colour, integration is difficult though, over a period, not impossible. There are among the Commonwealth immigrants who have come to live here in the last fifteen years or so, many thousands whose wish and purpose is to be integrated and whose every thought and endeavour is bent in that direction.
But to imagine that such a thing enters the heads of a great and growing majority of immigrants and their descendants is a ludicrous misconception, and a dangerous one.
We are on the verge here of a change. Hitherto it has been force of circumstance and of background which has rendered the very idea of integration inaccessible to the greater part of the immigrant population – that they never conceived or intended such a thing, and that their numbers and physical concentration meant the pressures towards integration which normally bear upon any small minority did not operate.
Now we are seeing the growth of positive forces acting against integration, of vested interests in the preservation and sharpening of racial and religious differences, with a view to the exercise of actual domination, first over fellow-immigrants and then over the rest of the population. The cloud no bigger than a man’s hand, that can so rapidly overcast the sky, has been visible recently in Wolverhampton and has shown signs of spreading quickly. The words I am about to use, verbatim as they appeared in the local press on 17 February, are not mine, but those of a Labour Member of Parliament who is a minister in the present government:
The Sikh communities’ campaign to maintain customs inappropriate in Britain is much to be regretted. Working in Britain, particularly in the public services, they should be prepared to accept the terms and conditions of their employment. To claim special communal rights (or should one say rites?) leads to a dangerous fragmentation within society. This communalism is a canker; whether practised by one colour or another it is to be strongly condemned.
All credit to John Stonehouse for having had the insight to perceive that, and the courage to say it.
For these dangerous and divisive elements the legislation proposed in the Race Relations Bill is the very pabulum they need to flourish. Here is the means of showing that the immigrant communities can organise to consolidate their members, to agitate and campaign against their fellow citizens, and to overawe and dominate the rest with the legal weapons which the ignorant and the ill-informed have provided. As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood’.
That tragic and intractable phenomenon which we watch with horror on the other side of the Atlantic but which there is interwoven with the history and existence of the States itself, is coming upon us here by our own volition and our own neglect. Indeed, it has all but come. In numerical terms, it will be of American proportions long before the end of the century.
Only resolute and urgent action will avert it even now. Whether there will be the public will to demand and obtain that action, I do not know. All I know is that to see, and not to speak, would be the great betrayal.
The cope is a churchly cape of splendour, generally having a border (called an orphrey) along the straight edge. It is often worn on state occasions, and in the Church of England required by the Canons of 1604 for the ministers in cathedral churches at Holy Communion.
Usually, a cope has an ornamental hood on the back, which may be decorated with a symbolic picture.
In the Anglican tradition, however, we have ample warrant for variation. As the 39 Articles say, ‘It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word.’ Still less is it necessary or even desirable that ornaments in Asia follow those of England in every particular; rather, to illustrate the principle of national independence in churchly communion, it is desirable that ornaments be somewhat different but show a family resemblance. Imagine if copes in China, offering the best of local crafts in churchly ornaments, used Chinese brocades.
Certainly elaborate brocades have been used in religious settings in Chinese culture, as in this Buddhist cape, whose central rectangular panel depicts a qilin while, outwith the panel, four dragons fly up from the water below:
With the rich Chinese artistic tradition of symbolic animals, clouds, flames, waves, and plants, it would not be difficult to produce brocaded copes with highly textured imagery that aptly expressed the spirit of the occasion intended. The rectangular panel above, in this case depicting a qilin, could easily be adapted into a cope’s hood and show any number of embroidered devices: a lamb, a lion, a lotus, or even several sinograms combined in a round seal (e.g., 聖民承國, ‘the holy people take the kingdom’, referring to Daniel 7.18). When the gospel takes hold of the Chinese empire, it may have centuries to drive development in the arts, and copes worn in church are no exception.
In Western churches, and in Western-influenced churches, it is not rare that Christians are aghast at laws whose punishments, and underlying system of morality, resemble those of the Old Testament. They think such laws too harsh. Sometimes they compare them to sharia law. Would they also be aghast at the morality of the Mosaic Law? If so, are they aghast at the God ‘with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning’?
It is one thing to desire some patient tolerance for those who do not know God; it is another to judge that the God of the Old Testament was unjust, and to feel relieved that the God of the New Testament is not like that. But God is one. People must live with that truth. Perhaps they want their own commonwealths to be ruled by something other than the justice of God, another principle, someone else’s principle. If so, perhaps they desire another gospel than the one that declares that God, the one God, maker of heavan and earth, has inaugurated his kingdom on earth in the person of Jesus Christ. The gospel declares that God, the God of Abraham, both has saved and is saving the world by his own righteousness, in the person of Jesus Christ, whom he has raised from the dead and set as judge over all. In politics, some demand a different political god’s moral law over the moral law of God; in substance, by refusing the rule of Christ, they deny the gospel.
There are, then, some fundamental public principles a Christian must hold. If we turn and consider the reasons for which God destroys the nations, we see some basic things that a state must do if it is to avoid perishing like Sodom. The state must forbid and punish certain sins, or God will destroy the people.
In Leviticus 18, God forbids various sins of incest, adultery, child sacrifice to Molech, homosexuality, and bestiality, saying that for these sins he is expelling the Canaanites:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.
None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD. The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness. The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover. The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister: for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness. Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time. Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness. Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her. And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.
Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (for all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) that the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.
In Deuteronomy 18, Moses declares to all Israel:
When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.
Thus, witchcraft and divination are also forbidden to even the nations, and for these abominations God is driving the Canaanites out as Israel advances into Canaan.
God has not changed. The sins for which he drove out the Canaanites and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah are the same sins for which he will destroy whole peoples now, and the same sins that a governor now must suppress if he cares for the lives of his people.
These are the truths Christians ought to hold, even though they cannot compel others to hold them. A key test is to have an observer compare the Mosaic Law and the kind of legal system that Christian citizens desire for their nation: in the two systems, does he see the moral principles of the same God, or does he see that Christians are hypocrites? If we say that God is one, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is about this one God who in the person of Christ reigns over heaven and earth, and that this is at the heart of the gospel, then must take care that we take this as good news indeed.
The values of classical education differ from those of conventional teaching in the West. The difference in educational philosophy shows up in methods. In teaching math, people take various approaches, some of them more successful and some of them less so.
Take the example of algebra. People often rush through concepts. They are prone to believe that concepts, once ‘covered’, are now understood. It’s important, I think, to judge accurately how ready a child’s mind is to think abstractly. Some children’s brains are physically not there yet. In that case, it would be better to do without the abstractions of letters standing for unknown quantities. Without the ability to think that abstractly, students end up frustrated and unable to learn what the teacher hoped they would learn. Instead, if they cannot yet understand the abstractions, they can do further work on concrete numbers. If they are not yet ready to understand, let them not delude themselves with the false impression that they understand.
Many Christian teachers use Saxon textbooks for math. The Saxon books take the approach of repeatedly circling back to drill procedures. Drilling mere procedures, rather than going for a clear understanding of what is actually being done, is a weakness that makes Saxon distinctly unclassical in its approach. I have some experience with children who used Saxon, and this is what I saw: Rather than sit down calmly and think about what the problem actually was, they grasped at straws to repeat some familiar procedure. Whatever had happened, their minds were dulled to actual understanding.
When we compare Saxon’s approach to teaching with Leonhard Euler’s approach to teaching his Elements of Algebra, we see a world of difference; and Euler’s, I think, is by far the more classical. Unlike newer books, which are eager to have students solve æquations of which they have no actual understanding, Euler does not begin to treat of æquations at all until section 4 of part 1, long after even logarithms:
Containing the Analysis of Determinate Quantities
Of the different methods of calculating simple quantities
Of mathematics in general
Explanation of the signs + plus and − minus
Of the multiplication of simple quantities
Of the nature of whole numbers, or integers with respect to their factors
Of the division of simple quantities
Of the properties of integers, with respect to their divisors
Of fractions in general
Of the properties of fractions
Of the addition and subtraction of fractions
Of the multiplication and division of fractions
Of square numbers
Of square roots, and of irrational numbers resulting from them
Of impossible, or imaginary quantitites, which arise from the same source
Of cubic numbers
Of cube roots, and of irrational numbers resulting from them
Of powers in general
Of the calculation of powers
Of roots in relation to the powers in general
Of the method of representing irrational numbers by fractional exponents
Of the different methods of calculation, and of their mutual connexion
Of logarithms in general
Of the logarithmic tables that are now in use
Of the method of expressing logarithms
Of the different methods of calculating compound quantities
Of the addition of compound quantities
Of the subtraction of compound quantities
Of the multiplication of compound quantities
Of the division of compound quantities
Of the resolution of fractions into infinite series
Of the squares of compound quantities
Of the extraction of roots applied to compound quantities
Of the calculation of irrational quantities
Of cubes, and of the extraction of cube roots
Of the higher powers of compound quantities
Of the transposition of the letters, on which the demonstration of the preceding rule is founded
Of the expression of irrational powers by infinite series
Of the resolution of negative powers
Of ratios and proportions
Of arithmetical ratio, or the difference between two numbers
Of arithmetical proportion
Of arithmetical progressions
Of the summation of arithmetical progressions
Of figurate, or polygonal numbers
Of geometrial ratio
Of the greatest common divisor of two given numbers
Of geometrical proportions
Observations on the rules of proportion and their utility
Of compound relations
Of geometrical progressions
Of infinite decimal fractions
Of the calculation of interest
Of algebraic equations, and of the resolution of those equations
Of the solution of problems in general
Of the resolution of simple equations, or equations of the first degree
Of the solution of questions relating to the preceding chapter
Of the resolution of two or more equations of the same degree
Of the resolution of pure quadratic equations
Of the resolution of mixed equations of the second degree
Of the extraction of the roots of polygonal numbers
Of the extraction of square roots of binomials
Of the nature of equations of the second degree
Of pure equations of the third degree
Of the resolution of complete equations of the third degree
Of the Rule of Cardan, or that of Scipio Ferreo
Of the resolution of equations of the fourth degree
Of the Rule of Bombelli, for reducing the resolution of equations of the fourth degree to that of equations of the third degree
Of a new method of resolving equations of the fourth degree
Of the resolution of equations by approximation
Containing the Analysis of Indeterminate Quantities
For brevity, I have omitted the chapter headings of part 2, ‘Containing the Analysis of Indeterminate Quantities’.
What Euler’s way demands is attention and careful thought, not mindless following of steps to perform numerical sorcery. For that, I appreciate him greatly, even if students have often to be compelled to think hard about what they believe they already understand. A calculator is able to take an input and give an accurate output; a human mind, however, is able to understand, and that is the difference between mastery and slavery in the mind.
Imagine Wudang 武當 and Shaolin 少林, and Emei 峨眉 for the women, all being converted to the gospel and becoming Christian colleges and ascetic retreat centres where people study both the word of God and martial arts, making ready to do gospel work in China and the countries around it, whether as clerics or (on Mount Emei) as deaconesses. Perhaps, according to their long institutional histories, Wudang and Shaolin also develop distinct Christian theological schools of thought and ascetic traditions that both enliven the life of the Church. Yes, I do think Shaolin Seminary has a ring to it.
My daughter enjoys the cutesy sing-along songs they use for memorization at school, but my son is not amused. He likes some of them ok, but there are a few that really test his (and my) patience. I feel bad for the kid. There’s a real need for masculine influences in early childhood education. Even the ‘classical’ variety.
I have a proposal.
Imagine, for multiplication, chanting the 1s to the 8s in the eight church modes, from Dorian to Hypomixolydian; the 9s can be in the tonus peregrinus (wandering tone). In this way, in a Western Christian school, you can kill two or more birds with one stone. The memorization of the multiplication tables can be aided by music; the music can also range through the varied tonalities of traditional church music, in settings masculine enough not to alienate the boys.
Of course, each line must be long enough to be chanted, and ‘one times six is six’ cannot by stretched into two hemistichs (half verses). This is what I suggest: Let the first hemistich be an odd, the second hemistich an even. Two times nine, then, is an odd, and the second half of that verse can say ‘thus multiply the twos’ or something to that effect.
An American friend said of a video of a Black girl singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, ‘I am crying. 😭 I love America and everything this country stands for. 🇺🇲 This is America. No amount of propoganda [sic] will convince me otherwise.’
Far be it from me to deprecate patriotic feeling, but I find it quite odd to say, ‘I love America and everything this country stands for.’ What other country has people saying ‘this country stands for’ this and that? It’s hard for me to imagine someone stating what China or France stands for, as an object of patriotic feeling. There are, to be sure, certain virtues that various peoples distinctively value, such as the Roman sense of virtus; but to say that the Roman republic ‘stood for’ virtus (rather than, say, Senatus Populusque Romæ) could only have drawn blank looks from the Romans themselves.
John Damascene, in The Orthodox Faith 4.17, bears witness to the same canonical reckoning of the inspired Old Testament books as the Protestants:
One must know that there are twenty-two books of the Old Testament, corresponding to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, for the Hebrews have twenty-two letters, of which five are doubled so as to make twenty-seven. Thus, kaph, mem, nun, pe, and sade are double. For this reason the books, too, are numbered this way and are found to be twenty-seven, because five of them are doubled. Ruth is combined with Judges and counted as one book by the Hebrews. Kings 1 and 2 make one book; 3 and 4 Kings, one book; 1 and 2 Paralipomenon, one book; and 1 and 2 Esdras, one book. Thus, the books fall into four groups of five, as follows. There are five books of the Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This first group of five is also called the Law. Then, another group of five books called the Writings, or, by some, the Sacred Books, which are as follows: Josue, son of Nave; Judges, together with Ruth; 1 and 2 Kings [i.e., 1 and 2 Samuel for Protestants] making one book; 3 and 4 Kings [i.e., 1 and 2 Kings for Protestants] making one book; and the two Paralipomenons [i.e., 1 and 2 Chronicles] making one book. This is the second group of five books. A third group of five is made up of the poetical books, namely: Job, the Psalter, the Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes of the same, and the Canticle of Canticles of the same. A fourth group of five books is the prophetic, which is made up of the twelve minor Prophets, making one book, Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, Daniel, and then the two books of Esdras [i.e., Ezra and Nehemiah for Protestants] combined into one, and Esther. The All-Virtuous Wisdom, however, that is to say, the Wisdom of Solomon – and the Wisdom of Jesus, which the father of Sirach composed in Hebrew but which was translated into Greek by his grandson, Jesus son of Sirach – these are indeed admirable and full of virtue, but they are not counted, nor were they placed in the Ark.
Expressly does he exclude the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus (Ben Sirach) from his count, while he includes all the books that Protestant reckon within the Old Testament canon.
I wonder how today’s Byzantine apologists against the Protestant churches, in order to attack the catholic canon of Scripture as ‘incomplete’ – not knowing that in so doing they join in an invention of the Council of Trent with the Jesuits – explain away these words from the very Church father by whom they say their doctrine of images is established. Shall they also attack John Damascene for truncating and mutilating the canon of Scripture, or shall they acknowledge that Anglicans in excluding the Apocrypha from the canonical books have merely upheld the judgement of the Church catholic?
Just as the Song of Songs is in the biblical canon, there is a place in the worship of God for the sensuousness of the teahouse, a woman singing a ci 詞 lyric as she plays the pipa. This too, after all, is part of the piety of the Church: the desire for the beloved, the Lord’s Anointed.
According to the ci genre, the musical vehicle would be existing Chinese tunes suitable for songs about love. In the first stanza of a two-stanza ci, the singer could render a piece of the Song of Songs in verse; in the second stanza, her lyric could unravel that piece of silk according to what the New Testament has shown us about Christ.
In the Abendland, or Western Christendom (including Germany), knowledge of Latin as a classical language used to be de rigueur for top students, and remains important today; in Hong Kong and the rest of China, the question remains of what classical language should be used as a vehicle of education in ancient cultural traditions.
Local students in Hong Kong should, by graduation, have decent command of 3.5 languages:
Cantonese, spoken by the vast majority of Hong Kong’s population;
Mandarin, written in formal communications since the early 20th century, including all standardized tests in Chinese, and important for spoken communication with the rest of the Sinosphere since the 20th century;
Classical (or Literary) Chinese, a continuum of Sinitic that ranges from the writings of Confucius and Mencius to the most literary and formal registers of modern written Chinese;
English, which remains one of the official languages in Hong Kong, necessary for day-to-day life and part of the basis of any particular œconomic advantage Hong Kong has in Asia.
Because of a vast increase in Hong Kong’s number of K–12 students in the postwar period, even having enough schools to support basic literacy was a huge logistical challenge. At that time, there was more than enough work teaching children to speak good Cantonese, write good Mandarin, and read some classical Chinese, as well as to read, write, and speak English.
On top of that, today, the political situation calls for decent spoken Mandarin as well, even as the South China Morning Post’s chief news editor Yonden Lhatoo has expressed his consternation at today’s ‘appalling English standards’: ‘There’s something terribly wrong with our education system when it’s churning out graduates who need serious help with their English.’ The need for good Mandarin and good English has never been greater, and few of my friends from Hong Kong have both. The situation for language proficiency in Hong Kong today is, to say the least, difficult.
Though the education system in Hong Kong as a whole is a problem too great for me to address briefly, I do want to suggest that, on the smaller scale, it would be useful to teach ancient Greek in classical Christian schools, and to require it for graduation with honours or an advanced diploma.
My suggestion is counterintuitive, I know. On top of 3.5 languages, you want local Hong Kong students to learn one more language? But the benefits of Greek would be, I believe, incalculable; it would have only to be done in earnest.
Until 1997, the uses of English in Hong Kong were utilitarian: the British empire needed a local élite whose proficiency in English would allow it to serve the British administration in civil service and in trade. In other words, British imperialism needed servants, not free men. To this end the education system was oriented, that Hong Kong might reliably provide compradors for Britain’s imperialist operations.
Today, however, such an orientation is manifestly unsuitable. Even civil servants who passed through English-medium education under the British empire often chafe at having to answer questions in English at press conferences. While Hong Kong’s place as a hub of international trade and a ‘free city’ in the Chinese empire requires that enough people be both able and willing to speak good English, it is not entirely surprising that the end of the colonial æra has changed people’s feelings about English. Rather than being about serving as a comprador in colonial society and moving up the social ladder, mastering English has to be about understanding of non-Chinese, not on the level of pidgin trade talk but on the level of civilization. Unless Hong Kong’s students go through these growing-pains, especially the city’s best students, Hong Kong cannot succeed.
For any school, an advantage of ancient Greek learnt on its own terms is a much better ability to deal with the grammar and literary style of English, as well as a deeper understanding of the ancient literary and philosophical roots of Western society. If the peoples of the world are to speak in rich cultural languages, expressing rich cultural heritages, they need more than a generic neoliberal pidgin English: they need deep culture, both in identifying with their own peoples and in speaking to other peoples. A Hongkonger able not only to parse a Greek verb but to write in the manner of Thucydides, and to read Plato in the original, could with much greater confidence find his voice in speaking to the West.
For a Christian school, the advantages are even greater. Even one cohort of secondary-school graduates who can read Greek is a number of students who can read the New Testament, the Septuagint, and many of the Church fathers, of whom the young men can already be further trained to serve as deacons in the Church, and some of those as elders able to teach people the word of God. The use of Greek rather than Latin also gives them access to a broader range of theological resources, by which the Chinese church can find its identity within the one Holy Catholic Church with reference not only to the theology of the Reformation but also to non-Western concepts that can speak to the Chinese. In this way, the Chinese churches will be independent from the West, but also catholic. One cohort may be but a few students; but cohort upon cohort, year after year, brings to the Sinosphere a growing number of students who already have the language skills that seminaries want their graduates to have, and others who with training will be able to teach ancient Greek themselves, and others who can begin to deal philosophically with both Plotinus and Zhu Xi.
This can happen. We need books in Greek that use the method that Hans Ørberg’s groundbreaking textbook Lingua latina per se illustrata (a.k.a. LLPSI) uses for Latin, with context and illustrations, and by using only the target language go farther than the ‘Italian Athenaze’ has gone; in Greek, Seumas Macdonald’s project in progress (Lingua Græca Per Se Illustrata; Patreon here) looks promising, though it does not yet have the kinds of pictures on which LLPSI relies. From experience using LLPSI with visiting students from mainland China, I know that even students with relatively weak English can learn some Latin inductively using that book in the space of a few days, because it relies on no other language than Latin. If we have something like that in Greek, we can achieve the same results with Chinese students learning Greek. We also need teachers who are able to teach Greek immersively, ideally with a good command of the pitch accent – a phonological feature to which native speakers of Cantonese, also familiar with Hong Kong English, can relate. If parents and students and teachers are commit to achieving the results, both for better command of English and better understanding of Hellenistic Christian civilization, it can be done.
I’m not a fan of purportedly Cantonese poetry littered with the particles 了 and 的. That’s Mandarin, not Cantonese. Pronouncing Mandarin as Cantonese no more makes it Cantonese than pronouncing classical Chinese in the Sinoxenic pronunciation of Japan makes it the Japanese language. So something like Dorothy Tse’s 布鳥 (‘Cloth Birds’) doesn’t feel like Cantonese to me: even though every word is read the Cantonese way, it’s not grammatically Cantonese.
There are writers, especially graphic novelists, who have incorporated Cantonese into their work, and perhaps the future will see the rise of a Cantophone literature. At present, however, Chinese-language literature in the territory is primarily composed in standard written Chinese, including the three stories in this feature. Standard written Chinese has a different grammar, and often a different vocabulary, than Cantonese, creating a gap between the written and spoken word. As Andrea Lingenfelter observes, most outsiders, and many in the mainland, regard Cantonese ‘as a dialect, a language that sinks beneath the surface of the written word (standard written Chinese) and is thereby rendered inaudible, unless a Cantonese-speaking author is reading his or her work aloud.’
But the fact is, the problem Feeley describes is virtually artificial. There is actually a rich tradition of literary writing in Cantonese, from the Cantonese operas of Tong Dik-sang 唐滌生 and Nam Hoi 13 Long 南海十三郎 to the Cantopop lyrics of James Wong Jim 黃霑. To speak of Cantonese literature as underdeveloped, or low in status, is belied by the fame and quality of these literary luminaries in Hong Kong.
That these kinds of writing fell by the wayside, and the linguistically Cantonese voice was muted, is due to Hongkongers’ own abandonment of Cantonese literary writing. In the 1980s, Hong Kong had a vital voice in the Sinosphere. The theme song of the television series The Bund 上海灘 (1980), sung by the inimitable Frances Yip, is known all over the Sinosphere. The popularity of Mandarin-speaking singer Teresa Teng in the Sinosphere existed alongside a literary space that Hong Kong writers had carved out for Cantonese in a Mandarin-dominated world, to the extent that Teresa Teng herself recorded songs in Cantonese and spoke Cantonese. Those of us who care about the literary future of Cantonese cannot afford to blame a spectre of Communist erasure of Cantonese and expect such a petty accusation to be vindicated. The plain fact is that almost everyone in Hong Kong speaks Cantonese, but Hong Kong has silenced its own Cantonese literary voice.
What we need is to rebuild whatever was lost in the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s, and to support the writing and singing of literature that can speak to people’s hearts as Cantonese literature from Hong Kong has done before. This is done neither by mere nostalgia nor by bitterness against Mandarin. A Cantonese muted by its own speakers must find its own voice again.