Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Jerusalem" hymn banned by politically correct clergy

It's probably the hymn I love best: "And did those feet in ancient times.... ''. With the marvellous William Blake writing the words and the music by Parry, it had to be good. Comments below by the Revd Dr Peter Mullen, Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill

Funny how the "liberals" in the Church have developed this fondness for banning things. First they banned their own modern Alternative Service Book after only 20 years in use. Now, the Very Reverend Colin Slee, the Dean of Southwark, has banned the hymn Jerusalem from his cathedral because it is "not in the glory of God" and is too nationalistic. But surely there is the radiance of divinity in "And was the Holy Lamb of God on England's pleasant pastures seen"? The pseudo-scholarly clergy don't like that line because they deny the Glastonbury legend about Jesus coming to England with Joseph of Arimathea. This shows a numbskull literal-mindedness.

When I preach the Resurrection on Easter Day, I try to evoke the Lord's appearances around Galilee, and on the walk to Emmaus, as if they had happened in my beloved Yorkshire Dales. Blake didn't think Jesus came to England, either. He was a poet and his lines are the stuff of imaginative allusion. But imagination is a bit beyond the reach of the polite mechanicals among the modern clergy.

Christians in England are redeemed by Christ, as surely as the first disciples were redeemed by him in Galilee. Blake's magnificent poem is a way of bringing this home to us, building the truth of the experience into our hearts and minds by using homely, national imagery. The spirit of God breathes all through Jerusalem. Take the fervent line, "Bring me my chariot of fire." It is straight out of the Bible, the ecstatic vision of the prophet Elijah carried up to heaven in the whirlwind (II Kings 2:11). "Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand" is clearly a reference to "the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).

What the modern clergy can't stand is the powerful evocation of England. When they see the word "England" they don't hear the music of ancient Albion. They see patriotism and national pride, which to them are the next worse things to fascism and expansionary imperialism. But, as Chesterton said, if a man won't love his country, it is difficult to believe he loves anything. Blake's hymn was a prelude to Milton, and he knew that Paradise Lost, the Fall of Man, happens down the Old Kent Road as definitely as anywhere else.

Odd, the trendy clergy's preference for abstractions and internationalism when it was abstracted international communism under Stalin and Mao which slaughtered millions more even than the ueber-nationalists in the Third Reich.

There is nothing abstract or theoretical about Blake's hymn. He wasn't writing a report for the General Synod. As a poet of genius, he knew that the way to convey spiritual realities is to incarnate them in things: swords, chariots, clouded hills, mountains green. St Margaret's, "Parliament's church" in Westminster, disapproves of the line about "dark satanic mills" only by misunderstanding it. No English literature scholar imagines for a minute that Blake was referring to the cotton mills and weaving sheds in Lancashire.

One of our finest biblical commentators, Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham, says: "The 'dark satanic mills' were not the cotton mills and steel mills of the new, noisy and smoky industrial revolution. They were the great churches, such as Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral, which Blake saw as being hopelessly in thrall to the follies of the world, follies he saw all too clearly in the great thinkers of what was already calling itself the Enlightenment. He faced down the scorn of Voltaire and Rousseau against the deep mysteries of faith. 'You throw the sand against the wind,' he wrote, 'and the wind blows it back again.'?"

Now, at last, we are getting close to understanding this sour prejudice against Jerusalem among so many clergy. For Blake is attacking them - those who, though they promised at ordination to challenge the follies of the age, actually aid and encourage them. It is the Jerusalem haters who have swallowed whole all the dogmas of Rousseauism and the secular superstitions of the Enlightenment in its most recent form: political-correctness.

If Blake could hear for five minutes these people banging on about their true preoccupations, the follies of the age - anti-racism, gender egalitarianism, compliance, the foreign aid industry and the paranoid fantasy of global warming - he would sing all the more loudly against this lot: "Bring me my bow… bring me my arrows… bring me my sword…"


Deportation ruling enrages spy chiefs

British court says bin Laden's 'ambassador' can remain in London

Britain's intelligence chiefs - John Scarlett of MI6 and Jonathan Evans of MI5 - are warning Prime Minister Gordon Brown that judges in an appeals court have "seriously damaged the war on terrorism," The court ruled that Abu Qatada, one of the world's most dangerous terrorists and described by a Spanish court as Osama bin Laden's "ambassador in Europe," cannot be deported to Jordan to face further terrorist charges because to do so would "breach Britain's human rights laws." The infuriated intelligence chiefs have told Brown the decision has "left Britain's anti-terror laws in tatters and raised serious questions in Washington and European capitals about Britain's commitment to fight terrorism."

Abu Qatada, a heavily bearded Jordanian father of five, has been linked to a number of global terror conspiracies. But the Court of Appeal said he cannot be deported to face prosecution in his native Jordan "because the alleged evidence against him there may have been obtained under torture."

The court ruling means not a single terrorist has been forcibly deported from Britain since the London bombing attacks -- despite a Memorandum of Understanding secured by the Home Office from Jordan and other countries that terror suspects would not face torture.

While Abu Qatada remained in a high security prison, the intelligence services had spent three years putting together what one officer called "irrefutable evidence" that he is closely linked to bin Laden and Ayman Al Zarqawi, the deputy leader of al-Qaida. Videos of Abu Qatada's virulent sermons were found in the Hamburg flat of Mohammed Atta, one of the members of the 9/11 terrorists. German intelligence, BND, passed them to MI6 to strengthen the case against Abu Qatada.

Both MI6 and MI5 also provided evidence seen by the Court of Appeal that Abu Qatada, 44, who was born in Bethlehem, had arrived in Britain under a forged United Arab Emirates passport. He claimed asylum and was granted refugee status. He also received monthly welfare benefits.

From his home in Acton, West London, he called on British Muslims to "martyr yourselves in a holy war on British oppression." When he was first arrested in 2001, he was found to have about $1.4 million in his possession, including $1,600 in an envelope marked "for the mujahedin in Chechnya."


Britain's already pathetic maternity services to be cut even further

Plans to downgrade maternity units in four London boroughs and other parts of the country are unacceptable and will deny women choice in how and where they give birth, leading midwives have said. Maternity services in Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham are underfunded and shortstaffed, with an overspend predicted to be 57 million pounds a year by 2010-11.

However, the Royal College of Midwives said that it has “significant reservations” over plans to cut costs by closing at least one – and probably two – maternity units and providing more home births and deliveries by midwives. The planned changes mirror proposals in other parts of the country, with maternity units in Greater Manchester, Teesside, and Oxfordshire already earmarked for radical overhauls.


The British Antarctic survey reports

For a pro-Warmist group, these guys have some surprising spurts of honesty. I guess that they are actually interested in reality. Some excerpts below:

Why should we study Antarctic climate?

The Antarctic region is an important regulator of global climate. The Southern Ocean is a significant sink for both heat and carbon dioxide, acting as a buffer against human-induced climate change. The sea ice that forms around the continent each winter controls the exchange of energy between the Sun and the Earth, and its partition between atmosphere and ocean. As sea ice forms, brine rejected from the ice increases the density of the upper ocean. These waters then sink and form the deep ocean currents that carry heat around the globe.

Changes in global climate can have impacts on the Antarctic environment. The Southern Ocean supports a unique ecosystem that is well adapted to present climate conditions. Changes in ocean temperatures, currents and sea ice will impact on this ecosystem, possibly changing the ocean's capacity to absorb carbon dioxide. Warming of the atmosphere and ocean around Antarctica may lead to increased loss of mass from the Antarctic ice sheets and hence a rise in global sea level. In order to make soundly-based predictions of how the global environment may change over the coming decades and centuries, we need to understand the role played by the Antarctic in the Earth system.

How has Antarctic climate varied over the past 50 years?

Few continuous observations of Antarctic climate are available before the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58. Since this time, surface temperatures have remained fairly stable over much of Antarctica, although individual station records show a high level of year-to-year variability, which could mask any underlying long term-trend. The majority of stations in East Antarctica, including the two long-term records from the high plateau of East Antarctica (South Pole and Vostok) show no statistically-significant warming or cooling trends. By contrast, large and statistically-significant warming trends are seen at stations in the Antarctic Peninsula. Over the past 50 years, the west coast of the Peninsula has been one of the most rapidly-warming parts of the planet. Here, annual mean temperatures have risen by nearly 3øC, with the largest warming occurring in the winter season. This is approximately 10 times the mean rate of global warming [Hence not caused by it], as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The east coast of the Peninsula has warmed more slowly and here the largest warming has taken place in summer and autumn.

Significant warming has also been observed in the Southern Ocean. Upper ocean temperatures to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula have increased by over 1øC since 19554. Within the circumpolar Southern Ocean, it is now well-established that the waters of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) are warming more rapidly than the global ocean as a whole. A comparison of temperature measurements from the 1990s with data from earlier decades shows a large-scale warming of around 0.2øC in the ACC waters at around 700-1100 m depth21.

Analysis of weather balloon data collected over the past 30 years has shown that the Antarctic atmosphere has warmed below 8 km and cooled above this height. This pattern of warming in the troposphere and cooling in the stratosphere is seen globally and is the expected signature of increases in greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. However, the 30-year warming at 5 km over the Antarctic during winter (0.75øC) is over three times the average rate of warming at this level for the globe as a whole5.

Reliable year-round measurements of Antarctic sea ice extent are only available from the 1970s, when satellite observations first became available. Unlike in the Arctic, where there has been a significant decline in observed sea ice extent over this period, there has been a small but statistically-significant increase in the overall extent of Antarctic sea ice. However, there are strong geographical variations at a regional scale. Sea ice cover has declined substantially in the seas to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula while it has increased in other parts of the Antarctic

Subtle but important changes have occurred in the atmospheric circulation around Antarctica. Since the early 1960s, atmospheric pressure has dropped over Antarctica and risen in the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, a pattern of variability known as the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM)7. These changes have resulted in a strengthening of the westerly winds that blow over the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. Stronger westerlies will impact on ocean currents, upwelling and mixing, but the consequences of such changes have yet to be fully understood.

Has human activity caused the recent changes?

Climate can vary as a result of changes in forcing factors that affect the way energy is exchanged between the sun, the earth and space. These forcings can be of natural origin (e.g. volcanic dust in the atmosphere, variations in solar output and variations in the Earth's orbit about the sun) or a result of human activity (e.g. increases in "greenhouse" gases such as carbon dioxide). Additionally, complex interactions between atmosphere, oceans and sea ice can cause climate variability, particularly on a regional scale, over a timescale of years to decades. Attributing observed changes in climate to particular changes in forcing (or to natural variability) is a difficult process that can only be accomplished by bringing together reliable observations of past and present climate with the results of experiments carried out with sophisticated models of the climate system. Attribution of Antarctic climate change is particularly difficult because of the relatively small number of instrumental climate records available from this region and the short length of the records.

As part of the work undertaken for the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC13, about 20 different climate models were run with historical changes to natural and anthropogenic forcing factors to simulate the climate of the 20th century. The simulated changes in Antarctic surface temperatures over the second half of the 20th century vary greatly from model to model with no single model reproducing exactly the observed pattern of change. However, when results from all models are averaged, the resulting pattern of change bears some resemblance to that observed, with greatest warming in the Peninsula region and little change elsewhere. This result suggests that some of the observed change may have an anthropogenic origin, but the lack of a clear and consistent response to changed forcing between models also suggests that much of the observed change in temperatures may be due to natural variability. The IPCC model experiments fail to reproduce some of the observed features, notably the rapid warming of the lower atmosphere. These differences between modelled and observed changes could be used to argue against attributing change to anthropogenic forcing but some caution is called for as the models used may not adequately represent all of the complex processes that determine temperatures in the polar regions.

More here

No comments: