Some wars are fought to subjugate and oppress, others to redeem and liberate. Some are arise out of vengeance and resentment, others in pursuit of justice and peace. There are conflicts of land and wealth or power and glory. The righteous rhetoric of dictatorship carves into the democratic commonwealth. The principalities of theocracy, plutocracy and oligarchy seem to be perpetually ranged against liberty, justice and the rule of law. In the realm of rationality, there can be no concessions: victory is the goal and virtue the motivation. But their morality is our insanity. Their freedom is our captivity. Give me impotence, and I will show you a slave. Continue reading →
Jeremy Hunt was answering Health Questions in Parliament last week, and on the matter of access to GPs he disclosed: “I took my own children to an A and E department at the weekend precisely because I did not want to wait until later on to take them to see a GP”.
Now, it may be that the Secretary of State was acting quite naturally in the best interests of his children. It would be quite wrong to pry into the personal circumstances of Mr Hunt’s visit to A&E, or to conjecture about the nature of the accident or emergency which had befallen one (or both) of his children. Continue reading →
Right across the political spectrum, there is now broad acceptance that there’s a real and truly worrying recruitment and retention crisis in General Practice. Not only are experienced GPs retiring in droves; new medical graduates are avoiding that branch of the profession like a bout of Ebola. Surgeries are starting to close because of their inability to find replacements for retiring partners, with the inevitable knock-on for surrounding surgeries who have to adopt the dispossessed and abandoned patients. Continue reading →
“…that shrewd and knavish sprite/ Call’d Robin”, I tweeted on the #nothingescapesshakespeare hashtag I seem to share with my fellow Bardophile Dan Hannan, when I heard the sad news that Robin Williams was dead. I guess for a certain generation (i.e. mine) he will always be the zany, elfin Mork from Ork, transmitting wry observations about the human condition (i.e. American culture) to his humourless supervisor Orson – “Nanoo Nannoo”. The TV series went stratospheric in the late 70s, and a lot of casting thereafter was done to feed Williams’s whirlwind appetite for comedy – DJ Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning Vietnam, Armand in The Birdcage, or the explosive voice of the Genie in Aladdin, much of which was improvised. Every performance was a spontaneous cyclone of craziness and enthusiasm for life. Continue reading →
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Prov 22:6)
The Bible is crammed with generic nuggets of advice about child-rearing. Much of it is self-evident and straightforward – correct them, love them, nurture them (eg 1Thess 2:11f). Some of it is very specific, like not provoking your children to anger (Eph 6:4), or making sure you leave an inheritance to your grandchildren (Prov 12:22). And, in an age of child-centred orthodoxy and human rights, some of it has become contentious, like the use of corporal punishment (Prov 13:24). Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the Bible about what you do if your children are spending too much time playing ‘Call of Duty’ or more engaged with Facebook than their physics homework. But from several broad biblical principles has emerged some sound Judæo-Christian praxis about child-rearing. Basically, parents know what’s best for their children, and with the right instruction and discipline administered with consistency and love, they will become an asset to you, to their communities and to God. Continue reading →
In an increasingly unbelieving world of humanism and secularisation, not to mention the jarring dissonance of a sharia-compliant caliphate and all the fuss over women bishops, religion has become a turn-off. God is bothersome: atheism rules the new enlightenment and Dawkins reigns supreme. Mention the Bible or Church, and eyes glaze over. But say “biblical epic”, and something numinous energises the spirit. You might not believe in the irruption of God into the affairs of man, but you will surely be drawn and compelled to all that is theatrically holy. Even Professor Dawkins might admit to being mystically gladdened by the ancient legends of transcendence and omnipotence. Continue reading →
“I am more confident than ever that I will be the next European Commission President,” tweeted former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker on 4 June. Quite how he knew with such certainty so far in advance of the EU’s elected national leaders is something of a mystery. Until, that is, you consider the continuing dominance of the Franco-German axis in the European Union, and the historical absurdity of believing that a British prime minister could ‘take a lead in Europe’ or ‘grasp the agenda of reform’ – with or without a handbag. Continue reading →
I’ve noticed over many years in the classroom that when students enter the physics or chemistry lab, they expect to be taught facts, and the teachers duly oblige by providing copious evidence from textbooks. But when those same students come to me to consider matters of theology, politics and philosophy, they generally take the view that they can choose what they like best, because just about everything that Hilton goes on about is mere opinion or speculation, if not total fabrication. If it feels good and brings serenity, it must be good and serene. Whatever they choose to believe is true, and truth is consecrated in the mind, just above freedom. Continue reading →
According to George Eaton, writing in the New Statesman, “Tories have stopped talking about the NHS” because “election strategist Lynton Crosby has warned them that it helps Labour, which has a double-digit lead on the issue”.
I’ve almost ceased caring which party “leads” on this issue: I’m now at an age when I just want a healthcare service that delivers tender mercy and dependable consistency. Continue reading →
In the wake of Ofsted’s alleged (and vehemently contested) ‘Trojan Horse’ plot by certain zealous Muslims to infiltrate and take over a number of schools in Birmingham, Michael Gove has insisted that all educational establishments must ‘actively promote British values’. In a rather ungracious response, Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt told BBC2’s Newsnight: “I’m not sure Michael Gove would know if British values came and bit him on the bum.” Continue reading →