The history of the European Union is not our memory of Europe

Published by Reimagining Europe

Parliament EU flagHistory is as multifaceted as truth is many-sided. In ages past it was written by the victors; today it is moulded by Bloggers, Vloggers, Tweeters and Tumblrs. Now we create our own democratic history on YouTube and forge our own relative truths on Facebook: the whole trajectory of social media is toward introspection, subjectivity, relativity and personal knowledge. What we say is honest and sincere, and whatever we believe is true. Continue reading

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Christians for Ukip? A Plausible Ethical Perspective

Published by Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics

Christians UkipThe United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) has made some significant electoral advances since the 2010 General Election, when they secured 3.1% of the popular vote. Not only did the party go on to win the 2014 Elections to the European Parliament with 24 MEPs elected on 26.6% of the vote, but they currently have 430 councillors across 76 local councils, and recently secured their first elected MPs to Westminster following Conservative defections and victory in two volitional by-elections. At the time of writing they are regularly scoring between 12-15% in opinion polls. Christians are deeply divided about the party’s perceived ‘undercurrents’ of racism, nationalism and isolationism which, some aver, put them beyond the pale of religious respectability. But despite episcopal denunciations(1), the party is attracting Christians from across the denominations, including the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church(2). Continue reading

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Daniel Hannan: ‘How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters’

Published by ConservativeHome

Dan Hannan 3Daniel Hannan “bestrides the Atlantic like a majestic combination of Winston Churchill and Piers Morgan,” says Boris Johnson on the dust jacket of this book. The precise form of that disquieting chimera troubled my mind as I began to read the Introduction. But because Boris is an astute appraiser, judicious classicist and discerning patron, I settled down to what he promises will be a feast of anthropological scrutiny, philosophical insight, political polemic and epigrammatic anecdote.

And that is exactly what you get – a narrative survey of a thousand years of evolving liberty expressed in page after page of clear-headed contemplation and premium prose. Hannan’s essential research question is: ‘What made the Anglosphere miracle possible?’, and the answer, in short, is to be found in the peculiarly English conception of liberty which incrementally defined an island nation, helped shape an empire and still interrogates the world. We obviously weren’t the first to free captives: that dispensation is found throughout classical antiquity. But the English and then the British were foremost in the conceptualisation of the principles of self-determination – individual rights, private property and personal liberty – which led inter alia to the common law, jury trials, religious pluralism, representative democracy, free markets, the rule of law and the abolition of slavery. Continue reading

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Chosen and Anointed by God – the 60th Anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation

Published by Daily Mail

Queen Coronation 1953On 2nd June 1953, the Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher crowned Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, Pakistan and sundry other realms and distant territories. She was anointed on King Edward’s Chair in Westminster Abbey, where a thousand years of monarchs have sworn their oaths to God and made promises to their peoples. The Prime Minister was Winston Churchill. Continue reading

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Music, Hymns, Poetry and Scripture – the solemn majesty of Lady Thatcher’s funeral

Published by ConservativeHome

Lady Thatcher St Mary Undercroft 2

The chimes of Big Ben did not strike 10am. For three whole hours they were silenced in reverence, as London paused and the flags of England bowed. Draped in the red, white and blue of the country she loved, the coffin carrying the body of the late Margaret Thatcher made its way out of the Crypt of St Mary Undercroft, past the statue of Richard Coeur de Lion, the kingly symbol of England’s enduring Christian faith; and then past Cromwell, sword in one hand and Bible in the other, forever reminding us that the people are sovereign, Parliament is supreme, and God makes the law. And then she passed by Churchill, the last prime minister to defend these islands against invasion and the indignity of surrender to a foreign power.

Emmeline Pankhurst looked on, smiling at the fulfilment of her revolution. Nelson and the proud lions of Trafalgar joined in the homage – with spontaneous applause from the thousands who lined the streets to honour the longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century. She was, by popular consent, the greatest of our post-war leaders: after Churchill, the most remarkable and heroic of this second Elizabethan age. An intimate service in a Grantham chapel would have left the world asking: “What ceremony else?” So, black horses, a 1.5 ton gun carriage, cathedral bells, the insignia of the Armed Forces and the Queen herself all joined together in tribute to The Lady. Anything less would have shamed the nation. Continue reading

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The Coalition rides roughshod over the Constitution

Published by Daily Mail

Queen coronationI have for many years opposed amending the Act of Settlement 1701, in particular those historic clauses which refer to the Protestant Settlement between the people, the Monarchy and the Established Church. I understand, to some, that this puts me in the ‘extremist bigot’ category, somewhere above Enoch Powell but still a little way beneath the Rev’d Dr Ian Paisley. That was the view taken by the Catholic Herald back in 2005, when they demanded that Michael Howard dismiss me as a Conservative parliamentary candidate over articles I had written on the matter for The Spectator two years earlier (which had been evaluated by the Chief Whip, no less). But there was no reasoning with the ‘something-of-the-night’ autocrat. Thankfully, more mature minds (like Charles Moore, William Rees-Mogg, Ann Widdecombe and Boris Johnson) fully understood my concerns, which were based on theological knowledge and constitutional history rather than any irrational prejudice or ‘bigotry’. Continue reading

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Women bishops? Yes, please! The Church of England desperately needs a Margaret Thatcher

Published by Daily Mail

Women Bishops3‘Most of us laugh at the woolliness of modern Anglicanism,’ writes Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph, ‘but it is, though somewhat debased, the true heir of (England’s) national history. It offers an authentically Christian approach to life which seeks peace and a common life. This builds trust and good neighbourliness. It is not an accident that, today, most other Christian denominations and other faiths in this country happily shelter under the protection of the Church of England, and fear a secular state.’

Setting aside the welcome latitudinal ecclesiology of a prominent Roman Catholic who is content to talk of his own church as a ‘denomination’ – that is, simply one among many valid expressions of Christianity in an ocean of human difference and diversity – the observation that the Church of England ‘seeks peace and a common life’ is not only historically foundational but acutely missiological. Continue reading

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Archbishop Justin Welby will try to be all things to all men

Published by Daily Mail

Justin Welby4The archbishop / Is the King’s hand and tongue; and who dare speak / One syllable against him?

So asked Sir Thomas Lovell in conversation with Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII.

We know, of course, how things turned out for that King’s ‘hand and tongue’ under the next Queen – ‘Bloody’ Mary.

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, architect of the Church of England’s XXXIX Articles and author of the vernacular Book of Common Prayer, went on to have a great many syllables spoken against him, principally by those who were suddenly aware that royal patronage had shifted, religion reverted, and those whose theology and beliefs were once in favour became the new outcasts and heretics – ‘a pestilence/That does infect the land’. Such is the ebb and flow of spiritual myopia and religious fanaticism. Continue reading

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The 105th Archbishop of Canterbury is about to be revealed

Published by Daily Mail

Chair of AugustineThe time has come to select a new Most Reverend Father in God, by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan. The CVs have been sifted, references requested, candidates shortlisted, and Google consulted (just in case.. skeletons.. cupboard..).

The betting shops display the usual array of odds, with the favourites presently enthroned in the cathedrals of York, Liverpool, Durham, Norwich and Coventry. You can even get 200/1 on Richard Dawkins succeeding Dr Rowan Williams, of which there’s about as much chance as the Pope beatifying Martin Luther.

It is to the eternal credit of the Church of England that the Reformation was not marked by the imposition of a ‘Year Zero’ in the historical episcopacy. Thomas Cranmer was the last Archbishop of Canterbury to have been appointed by the Pope – the 69th in a line going back to 597 when Augustine of Canterbury became the first Apostle to the English. But Cranmer was also the first Archbishop of Canterbury to be appointed by the King, which was a logical corollary of the Monarch having become ‘the only supreme head on earth of the Church in England’. Continue reading

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