Friday, December 30, 2016

Transgenderism

I recently started quite a provocative thread on Facebook. 
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There isn't an argument.

 Amid the negative reactions from young men, a Christian friend has made some very good points.

No, I cannot agree with the artificial distinction you make between a person's sex and a person's gender, whatever you feel you have observed, and however your views lead you to interpret those observations. It is perfectly open to you and others to redefine terms to suit your own opinion or purposes if you wish; you can decide to call a chair a lamp-post (though in its present form it will still retain the intrinsic characteristics and functions of a chair, whatever you personally decide to call it); you could decide to perform major surgery on it in order to make it look a bit more like a lamp-post. You could perhaps persuade or bully others into calling your chair a lamp-post, by threatening them with legal proceedings if they do not, or accusing them of hatred towards chairs that want to be lamp-posts, and vice versa, or declaring them to be ignorant or unintelligent if they persist in calling a chair a chair and not a lamp-post. You could say that for many people, being a chair is about other things than something to sit on, and being a lamp-post is about other things than a means of lighting a street. In short, you can say what you like, but the fact remains that the words 'chair' and 'lamp-post' conjure up historically distinct objects with distinct functions in the minds of the majority.........even, metaphorically, in the minds of chairs that would for some reason like to be lamp-posts (or lamp-posts that would like to be chairs). If this were not so, then neither would hanker after being the other, because neither would have a clear idea of what the appearance and function of the other actually is. 'How people see themselves' is irrelevant. An anorexic sees him/herself as grossly overweight; onlookers see him/her as dangerously underweight; in this case the theory of the validity of 'how people see themselves' could lead to death or irrevocable damage if somebody does not attempt to correct the distorted vision of the anorexic. Why try to correct the distorted ideas of anorexics in order to stop them doing irrevocable damage to themselves whilst in the grip of their delusion, yet encourage those whose ideas about their true gender/sex are equally deluded - and even offer to pay for and perform the permanently damaging surgery that they wrongly think will give them what they seem to hanker after? That is extremely cruel, and there are a number of well-publicised cases of people who have undergone such radical procedures and later regretted it bitterly. In the book of Genesis we read 'Male and female created he them'. We should be seeking to restore that truth in human minds, not encouraging the damaged perceptions which have increasingly developed as a consequence and concomitant of sin.

 There is a logical problem with the idea that a person 'knows' themselves to be 'born in the wrong body' in terms of sex/gender. What really defines a man or a woman? It goes way beyond choice of clothing, playthings, interests, career etc., or even emotional response. One can only know what being a man/woman really feels like by actually being one. Saying that you 'have always felt you were a woman', when in fact you have only ever have been a biological man, has to be self-deception. You cannot know what a woman experiences from infancy which defines her womanhood to her. Even she herself might have difficulty in establishing it. Third party observation can only be a very superficial and often misleading guide, and it is interesting that those who are thus confused often go overboard on what they think of as visible evidences of femininity/masculinity. However outward characteristics change. Ladies now wear trousers and become mechanics. Men use make-up and wheel their children around supermarkets. Whilst human customs and desires can, and do, change, the above simple *equation does not. It was established in creation. You say that you are interested in why such people have such desires, since they say that these are not matters of choice. There can be a number of explanations, and they themselves may not know why, but God does, and he has provided both answers, and a solution in Christ. I find that the Bible answers any and every such question if I am diligent to study it and look for the principles contained therein. You, apparently, depend on the opinions of secular philosophers (Mill) and your own observations to shape your thinking. I trust in what I believe to be the wisdom of my Creator, as transmitted through the Bible. We are not going to agree because our criteria for discussion are fundamentally opposed. However there will come a time when the truth will be made evident to all, and in the meantime I think that compassionate Christian friendship, despite such firm disagreement, will do more to alleviate the suffering of confused humanity than any amount of sycophantic political pandering to unnatural desires.

I wonder, if I were a school child who was convinced that I was a monarch, and wanted to be addressed and referred to as 'Your Majesty', whether staff would be instructed to sanction anyone who refused to do this? Actually, according to your reasoning, I would not even have to be convinced of my 'queenliness'. I would simply need to experience and express a desire to be addressed as 'Your Majesty'. if I wore some kind of crown, should that entitle me to use the special toilet facilities that are provided for the Queen when she carries out official duties?

Another friend has written  For a thoughtful and informed review of this subject see http://www.wsj.com/.../paul-mchugh-transgender-surgery...
. Paul McHugh is a distinguished psychiatrist formerly at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. There is another aspect to this quest
ion, referred to obliquely by Professor McHugh. This is the tendency in some contemporary discussion to consider mental phenomena as definitive, even when there are contravening physical conditions. So, regarding gender identity without regard to physical reality. This is an ancient philosophy called gnosticism which reappears periodically in history. Gnosticism is not compatible with Christianity, nor actually with living in the real world.
In The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Paul McHugh writes that a drastic physical change doesn't address underlying…
WSJ.COM|BY PAUL MCHUGH

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Twelve Days of Cumberland Turkey

On the first day of Christmas my true love said to me I'm glad we've 
bought a turkey and a Whitehaven Christmas tree.
On the second day of Christmas much laughter could be heard As we tucked 
into our turkey - a most delicious bird.
On the third day of Christmas we had friends in from Cleater Moor The 
turkey tasted just as good as on the day before.
On the fourth day of Christmas, Gran came from Kirkoswald. We finished 
up the Christmas pud and ate the turkey cold.
On the fifth day of Christmas, outside the snowflakes flurried But we 
were nice and warm inside--we ate the turkey, curried.
On the sixth day of Christmas the turkey spirit died. The children 
fought and bickered and we ate the turkey--fried.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave a wince When he sat 
down to dinner and was given turkey mince.
On the eighth day of Christmas, the dog ran off for shelter I served up 
Cumberland turkey sausage and a glass of Alka-Seltzer.
On the ninth day of Christmas, poor Dad began to cry He said he couldn't 
stand the strain of eating turkey pie.
On the tenth day of Christmas, the air was rather blue And everybody 
grumbled at eating turkey stew.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, the Christmas tree was moulting Mince 
pies hard as rock and the turkey quite revolting.
On the twelfth day of Christmas at last Dad smacked his lips The guests 
had gone, the turkey, too - we dined on Workington fish and chips

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Monday, December 26, 2016

HB THOMAS GRAY 26 Dec 1716

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike the inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Gray's Elegy

To each his suff'rings: all are men,
Condemn'd alike to groan,
The tender for another's pain;
Th' unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise.
THOMAS GRAY (1716-1771) An Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College (London: R. Dodsley, 1747)

The hues of bliss more brightly glow,
Chastised by sabler tints of woe. --- Thomas Gray, Ode on the Pleasure arising from Vicissitude. Line 45.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,

 "O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, . . ."
We sang little above a whisper, our eyes darting
anxiously up to the barred windows for any sign of
the guards.
"Joyful and triumphant?"  Clad in tattered
prisoner-of-war clothes, I looked around at the two
dozen men huddled in a North Vietnamese prison cell.
Light bulbs hanging from the ceiling illuminated a
gaunt and wretched group of men--grotesque
caricatures of what had once been clean-shaven,
superbly fit Air Force, Navy and Marine pilots and
navigators.
We shivered from the damp night air and the fevers
that plagued a number of us.  Some men were
permanently stooped from the effects of torture;
others limped or leaned on makeshift crutches.
    "O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem.  Come and
     behold him, born the King of angels. . . ."
What a pathetic sight we were.  Yet here, this
Christmas Eve 1971, we were together for the first
time, some after seven years of harrowing isolation
and mistreatment at the hands of a cruel enemy.  We
were keeping Christmas--the most special Christmas
any of us ever would observe.
There had been Christmas services in North Vietnam
in previous years, but they had been spiritless,
ludicrous stage shows, orchestrated by the
Vietnamese for propaganda purposes.  This was our
Christmas service, the only one we had ever been
allowed to hold--though we feared that, at any
moment, our captors might change their minds.
I had been designated chaplain by our senior-ranking
P.O.W. officer, Colonel George "Bud" Day, USAF.  As
we sang "O Come, All Ye Faithful," I looked down at
the few sheets of paper upon which I had penciled
the Bible verses that tell the story of Christ's birth.
I recalled how, a week earlier, Colonel Day had
asked the camp commander for a Bible.  No, he was
told, there were no Bibles in North Vietnam.  But
four days later, the camp commander had come into
our communal cell to announce, "We have found one
Bible in Hanoi, and you can designate one person to
copy from it for a few minutes."
Colonel Day had requested that I perform the task.
Hastily, I leafed through the worn book the
Vietnamese had placed on a table just outside our
cell door in the prison yard.  I furiously copied
the Christmas passages until a guard approached and
took the Bible away.
The service was simple.  After saying the Lord's
Prayer, we sang Christmas carols, some of us
mouthing the words until our pain-clouded memories
caught up with our voices.  Between each hymn I
would read a portion of the story of Jesus' birth.
    "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for,
     behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
     which shall be to all people.  For unto you is
     born this day, in the city of David, a Savior,
     which is Christ the Lord."
Captain Quincy Collins, a former choir director from
the Air Force Academy, led the hymns.  At first, we
were nervous and stilted in our singing.  Still
burning in our memories was the time, almost a year
before when North Vietnamese guards had burst in on
our church service, beaten the three men leading the
prayers, and dragged them away to confinement.  The
rest of us were locked away for 11 months in three-
by-five-foot cells.  Indeed, this Christmas service
was in part a defiant celebration of the return to
our regular prison in Hanoi.
And as the service progressed, our boldness
increased, the singing swelled.  "O Little Town of
Bethlehem," "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," "It Came
Upon the Midnight Clear."  Our voices filled the
cell, bound together as we shared the story of the
Babe "away in a manger, no crib for a bed."
Finally it came time to sing perhaps the most
beloved hymn:
    "Silent night, Holy night!  All is calm, all is bright, . . . "
A half-dozen of the men were too sick to stand.
They sat on the raised concrete sleeping platform
that ran down the middle of the cell.  Our few
blankets were placed around the shaking shoulders
of the sickest men to protect them against the
cold.  Even these men looked up transfixed as we
sang that hymn.
    "Round yon virgin mother and child.  Holy infant so
     tender and mild, . . . "
Tears rolled down our unshaven faces.  Suddenly we
were 2000 years and a half a world away in a village
called Bethlehem.  And neither war, nor torture, nor
imprisonment, nor the centuries themselves had dimmed
the hope born on that silent night so long before.
    "Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace."
We had forgotten our wounds, our hunger, our pain.
We raised prayers of thanks for the Christ child,
for our families and homes, for our country.  There
was an absolutely exquisite feeling that all our
burdens had been lifted.  In a place designed to
turn men into vicious animals, we clung to one
another, sharing what comfort we had.
Some of us had managed to make crude gifts.  One
fellow had a precious commodity--a cotton washcloth.
Somewhere he had found needle and thread and fashioned
the cloth into a hat, which he gave to Bud Day.  Some
men exchanged dog tags.  Others had used prison spoons
to scratch out an IOU on bits of paper--some imaginary
thing we wished another to have.  We exchanged those
chits with smiles and tearful thanks.
The Vietnamese guards did not disturb us.  But as I
looked up at the barred windows, I wished they had
been looking in.  I wanted them to see us--faithful,
joyful and, yes, triumphant.
     --John McCain
      (A U.S. Arizona senator, former U.S. Navy pilot and
       five-year POW in the Hoa Lo "Hanoi Hilton" prison after
       his plane was shot down over Hanoi on October 26, 1967.
      _Reader's Digest_ [December 1984], "Joyful and Triumphant")

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas tide. 2016

71 Lee Road, Greenford, UB6 7DA, 02082480579, gweeks@btinternet.com

Greetings from the Weeks family this blessed Christmas tide. 2016 has not been a very eventful year but here is the news. Our health continues to be reasonably good considering we have both reached the three score years and ten.We enjoyed two overseas holidays this year. In April we flew to Germany to visit our Ealing friends in Essen.  2017 marks 500 years since the start of Luther’s reformation. It would be good to find a suitable church history tour.

In August, ten Weeks and Littles went on a family cruise suggested by Adrian’s parents.  So our party was Adrian’s parents and sister, Adrian, Rachel, Ethan and Elissa, we two and Debbie.  We had two weeks cruising from Southampton to the Canary Islands and back via Lisbon and Spain - very relaxing.
Katy continues to be very busy with her cello and piano in church and cello in various outside groups.  She is also very active in our Church’s English class helping women with their communication skills.  Graham continues to preach at the Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre.  He continues to convene two specialist groups for the local University of the Third Age as well as volunteering at the Evangelical Library. He is now in his 34th year as an elder in our church.  Adrian is among four men about to commence an elder’s training course at our church. Our building plans have once again been delayed over costings but we are about to appoint a contractor and we hope building will start in January and be completed this time next year.
Debbie still lives with us. She helps in the church mother and toddlers group and also a weeknight club for children in school years 1 to 6. Her craft and design skills are much in demand. Her work is still child minding three days a week caring for our pastor’s three children including one year old Phoebe who has Down’s Syndrome. Rachel now is freelance in her occupational therapy working part time in two local schools. Near Cambridge, Jonathan has found some temporary employment in the warehouse of the Cambridge Examinations Board. Bethany and Hannah are now teenagers. Bethany was baptised last month. It was a very encouraging service for her and all the church members were very supportive.  We had a lovely bring and share lunch together afterwards.  In Canterbury Zac has followed sister Sahara with good marks in the 11 plus. So next year he will enter a boys’ grammar school there.
One major event we would pray for in 2017 is to move house. We have been here over 32 years and would like to downsize a little. We want to be no further from church but cannot afford to be nearer. We would like a smaller garden (Katy can’t cope with ours any more), a downstairs toilet, two reception and at least thee bedrooms.  We are praying for God’s guidance in this and trusting in His goodness.  
With our love and prayers for 2017,

Graham and Katy

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

My reasons for voting BREXIT

The morning of 24 June 2016 was one of the happiest and surprising of my seventy years. The night before I had retired to bed after seeing Nigel Farage more or less admit defeat when polls closed in the EU referendum. To wake up and hear we were leaving the EU, or EUSSR as I call it, was bliss. To hear Cameron was resigning was added euphoria. I have detested him ever since the fiasco of same sex 'marriage' for which he had no electoral mandate.
    Since the vote, the minority who voted to remain (the remoaners)have slandered us, the Brexiteers as old, poorly educated, xenophobic little Englanders. I merely say the remoaners are bad losers like the USA's democrats.
    So why do I want out? First of all I shall refute the slanders. Yes I am old by the stsndards of a younger generation. But it means I can remember when I lived in an independent, sovereign United Kingdom-It was not inequitably devolved nor encumbered by laws not of our making. It was a representative democracy where I was a happy object of the Crown, not a citizen of an undemocratic union of foreign nations.
     As to my level of education, a 2:1 honours and I declined the offer of a Ph.D course. So like most people I class myself as of above education and intelligence :-)
     Xenophobic? As my many friends from diverse nations. I am in some ways ambivalent on immigration. I enjoy culinary diversity but not multiculturalism. I believe the levels of immigration in my lifetime are something not envisaged nor welcomed by many. But I defy anyone to say I have been less than welcoming personally. Immigration, on the positive side for Christians means you can engage in cross-cultural witness at home. You do not need to go the thousands of miles that we did. I do believe we have suffered from a sloppy Home Office failing to control our borders. They count people in after a fashion but fail to count then out when visas expire. I do object to free access for citizens of EU nations when life is made difficult for our Commonwealth allies, often kith and kin to come here. But I never questioned the right of EU nationals now here, to remain if they wish.
     Little Englander? That is not what the bathroom scales say. They almost cry,'One at a time please.' Englander? When I was young I would say I was British. Now I am English. That is what devolution, noisy nationalists and immigration have done to me.
     But let me leave the slander and give positive reasons. I object first and foremost to the loss of sovereignty from parliament and our courts.The decision had no real electoral mandate then, back in 1969 or 70, we had a general election prior to Heath taking us into the Common Market. We were offered no electoral choice. The main parties wanted in. In my constituency all the candidates were for joining. In my father's constituency the candidates were against the Common Market. So we had no choice and the majority of people were happy to be led astray by the repeated lies from all sides telling us this was a solely economic matter, nothing political. Heath et al lied. They knew it was political, not least to keep peace in Europe, stopping the Germans and French fighting for a third time in the century. When Heath fell and Wilson offered a referendum it was questioning about the stable door after the horse has bolted. Or to put it better, it was like asking the young mother some time after the shotgun wedding and birth of the baby, 'You didn't mind ,did you?. Everyone now says Wilson only did it to unite his divided party.
 So parliament has ever since voted to reduce its own powers and have us governed from Brussels The whole EU is undemocratic. Laws are not parliament made like at Westminster. We have been tied into a continental legal system based on Roman law and not one ancient common law. In the EU the citizen can do nothing unless permitted by law. Here the subject can do anything unless prohibited by law.
     So for me I want out for sovereignty, democracy, rule of law by our courts and control of our borders. I do not wish to expel anyone except law breakers and those who are a threat to national security. I do not need to spell out who most of the last mentioned are.

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December 22: Hugh McKail Martyred (1666)

He Gained the Martyr’s Crown
by David T. Myers
The enemies of the Covenanters had very long memories. Long after sermons were preached or actions taken, the authorities in Scotland remembered words and actions against them. Such was the case with a young minister by the name of Hugh McKail.
A child of the manse, from Bothwell, Scotland, his pastor father was one of those forced out of his pulpit and parish when he refused to conform to Prelacy.  Little is known of young Hugh’s early days, but he did go to Edinburgh for education. There he was soon marked out as a young man of exceptional ability. For that, upon graduation, he was chosen to be a chaplain and tutor of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir James Stewart. In that Covenanter home, he would sit at the feet of those in leadership positions in the church and learn of the dire situation facing both the church and the state.
In 1661, he applied to the Presbytery for licensure in the ministry. Preaching in a variety of situations, he was quickly recognized by his hearers for his great ability in the Word of God. However, his ministry soon came to an end as it became obvious that he wouldn’t compromise his convictions, just as his father before him.  Preaching his last sermon in a church in Edinburgh, he had a sentence in it which marked him for remembrance by the Prelate forces of his day. He said, “the Church is persecuted by a Pharaoh on the throne, a Haman in the State, and a Judas in the Church.” The identification was obvious to all in the pews that day.
Forced to leave his beloved Scotland, the young twenty-six year old would spend the next three years in Holland. On his return to Scotland, the situation had not improved any and there was a spark of rebellion in the air. That spark was ignited, as a prior post here, one November 28th indicated, at the Battle of Rullion Green. Hugh McKail was among the nine hundred in the Covenanter ranks that day. But his own physical weakness removed him before that great battle arrived, and he traveled to Edinburgh instead. There he was arrested by the authorities, not so much for his Covenanter attachments as for his statement made in that Edinburgh church some years before.
Interrogated in prison, he was placed in the Boot, a fearful torture device which all but crushed his leg while he remained silent in voice. He was ordered to die by hanging on December 22, 1666. His exact words that day of death have been preserved through the ages. They were:
Farewell father, mother, friends, and relations; Farewell the world and its delights; farewell meat and drink; farewell sun, moon, and starts; Welcome God and Father; welcome sweet Jesus Christ the mediator of the New Covenant; welcome blessed Spirit of grace, the God of all consolation; welcome glory, welcome eternal life; welcome death!  Into Thy Hands I commit my spirit.”
Words to Live By:
Could Hugh McKail have compromised his convictions and avoided suffering and death? Certainly, and many did. But this young man  was reared by a parent who by his example remained steadfast to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. With such an example like that, it is no wonder the young minister was given over to sacrifice, in loyalty to both the Living and Written Word, come what may to his physical body. Addressing all parents reading these posts on Presbyterian history: Your life preaches all the week. Are those in your family being helped or hindered to follow the Living and Written Word?

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The Battle of Rullion Green November 28, 1666

The Time Was Not Ripe
This mysterious phrase is found on a stone memorial on the grounds of the Battle of Rullion Green which is located eight miles south of Edinburgh, Scotland. It tells the tragic story of defeat in the first battle of the Scot Covenanters—Presbyterians all—against the English government of Charles II.
This battle was part of the Killing Times era of Scottish Covenanters. In essence, the Anglican government had declared war against the Presbyterians of Scotland, asking for unconditional surrender on their part. Their pastors—some 400 of them—had been ejected from their pulpits, their manses, and their parishes. When some of them began to preach to their people in the fields and moors, that whole scene became a dangerous practice, with fines leveled against the attenders, and imprisonment and death as well. All that was needed was a spark to ignite the smoldering indignation of the Scottish people of God.
That spark occurred on November 13, 1666 when an old man by the name of John Grier was accosted by the soldiers of the English government. Unable to pay a fine for his absence from his church with its Anglican curate in the pulpit, he was beaten severely that day. Four local Covenanters  happened upon the scene, and tried first to reason with the soldiers. When that failed, words turned to actions, and one of the soldiers was shot. Other villagers joined in the fray and took the solders prisoners. At this point, the Covenanters numbered ninety people.
Aware of the danger posed by their actions, they marched to Dunfries, Scotland, where they attacked other soldiers, killing one in the process. By this time, their numbers had reached two hundred and fifty. On the way, they captured Sir James Turner, the overall military commander in the area. Continuing further, they encountered a soldier friend by the name of James Wallace, who had experience in warfare. He and his military subordinates joined the Covenanter crowd. They then headed to Edinburgh, the capital city, to find more support for their actions to stop “the killing times,” though to their surprise, the weapons of the citizens were turned against them. The time was not ripe for a rebellion against English rule, evidently, despite their numbers having reached some three thousand or more by this time.
The English government dispatched General Thomas Daiziel against them, who with an army of 3000 (some sources say 5000 soldiers), marched after them. The Covenanter force, with their inadequate weapons and supplies, began to fail, with many deserting the force, leaving some 900 left to do battle. On the afternoon of Wednesday, November 28, 1666, on a long slope in the country side south of Edinburgh, three thrusts by the government forces eventually brought a crushing of the valiant forces of the Covenanters. Some fifty were killed, including two Presbyterian ministers from Ulster. But that was only the beginning of the killing done that day. A bloody retribution was exacted upon the prisoners, including starvation, death by handing, and sending many on prison ships to the American colonies and the West Indies.
Words to Life By:
On the monument which marks the battlefield, there is carved a biblical text from Revelation 12:11, which reads, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”  Another inscription reads,
“A cloud of witnesses lyes here,
who for Christ’s interest did not appear,
For to restore true Liberty
Overturned then by Tyrany
and by Proud Prelates who did rage
Against the Lord’s own heritage.
Their sacrifices were for the Laws
of Christ their king,  his noble cause,
These heroes fought with great renown,
By falling got the Martyr’ Crown.”

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