LENT IS COMING

 

LENT IS COMING (from the 14th of March to Easter 1st of May 2016)

The Church has been talking about Lent for nigh on two thousand years. In the lead-up to Lent – the four Sundays preceding the beginning of Lent, we begin to prepare ourselves for what should be a genuinely serious undertaking. I want here, to try to impress on people just how vitally important this might be for each and every one of us. Things that we may not previously have thought about.

There is, however, a problem with Lent. It is seen by many as something that “the Church does” that is a “custom” that is somehow what one does because one ought to. That I’m afraid is the attitude of the vast majority of people who populate churches the world over.

The proper view of Lent – of really fasting during Lent is quite, quite different. It is a difficult concept to “sell” and very difficult to explain.

Lent is the time for reflection – serious reflection on our SINS – the real ones that we individually and corporately commit that were the reason for the passion of Christ.

This is the time for us all to get serious and to look at what we are doing in our lives and to repent and confess our sins.

Most of us have virtually no real concept of sin. It is something that each of us has to talk through for ourselves in order that it might dawn on us that while we imagine that we are nice, normal, harmless people, in fact we daily fall very short of what God expects.

We were created by God with the potential to be “like” Him – we have truly remarkable brains that are still largely unused – we have the capacity for vastly more than we use our brains for at present. We truly are “gods” on this earth.

We have the capacity, if we work at it, to thoroughly align ourselves with God’s will, His teaching, His Way. We have all the information that we need – its right there, He gave it to us. Its there for us to read and understand. He even gave us a whole panel of Fathers of the Church and Councils to explain in depth what His teaching meant.

So what is stopping us? We know (if we read) that there has been a river of men and women down the last two millennia who actually have succeeded in aligning themselves closely with God’s Will.

These saints have lived in all sorts and conditions of life, some seemingly very unpropitious, but they have managed to become close to God and to reflect Him in their lives. Some few like Saint Columcille of Iona and Saint Seraphim of Sarov have in the sight of others, been surrounded by the uncreated light of God, and many, many others have glimpsed it.

For the first time, God opened the gates of His Kingdom on Pentecost when the Apostles and all the Disciples received the Holy Spirit. The point of Hesychasm in Orthodoxy is seeing the uncreated light which is a witness that we are already communicating with God even from this present life. We have it described in the levels of prayer how one can pass through stages towards having a vision of God.

Seeing/glimpsing fleetingly the uncreated light simply means that we are getting to know God on a spiritual and personal level, that we are beginning to interact with Him. It is for God alone to determine if we see the uncreated light in this life, or the next. It may be more likely that a serious Orthodox Christian may begin to experience God in this life in small degrees. We may experience God’s uncreated light, but not really understand it as such, or perhaps don’t even notice it.

All are called to theosis and many of the Fathers have indicated what theosis is and how it may be experienced in this life. It is possible, in this present life, for a man to experience theosis as already starting.

Archimandrite Saint Sophrony (Elder Sophrony of Tolleshunt Knights, England +1993) writes, “This wondrous light … eclipsed all else”, “everything within and without is illumined: only the Light is seen.” “The manifestation of Light affords man existential knowledge of God …” telling us that such a vision of the light is proof indeed that we have had an encounter with God Himself – “participation in the Divine Life, contact with the Unoriginate Being”.

“Divine Light”, says Archimandrite Sophrony, “is eternal life, the Kingdom of God, the uncreated energy of the Divinity”.  1 John 3:2: “Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” “The complete vision of God is ‘the mystery of the eighth day’; it belongs to the age to come ‘the prelude to Christ’s second coming’, the common reward and garment of Christian theosis”.

Through our genuine, total repentance we begin our recovery from our fallen state which always involves an illumination, as Saint Gregory Palamas says, “to the re-assumption of his vestment of light”.

Grace is not some sort of a reward for our works or virtuousness – it is a gift from God given where there is a a true beginning of alignment with God’s will. Saint Sophrony said “contemplation of divine realities is possible only if one’s spirit is to some extent in harmony with the object of contemplation … Every true vision of God is a gift from the High God making us participants in His life, granting us humility and peace, wisdom and knowledge, love and goodness.”

This is what we should be thinking about as we begin Lent. This is where our Lenten repentance should begin to lead us. We may not think of ourselves as “saints” but nevertheless, that is what Saint Paul called us for we are they who are beginning the road of sanctification, thus are we “saints” indeed. It is for us to start down this road in all earnestness, this road to sanctification, this road to thorough alignment with the will of God.

We need however some idea at the outset of the total awesomeness of God, the Master of the entire Cosmos, the one who conceived the Cosmos with its billions of galaxies, its trillions of stars and planets, the One who holds it in being by His steady, ongoing input to this universe.

When we understand that it is He whose will we seek, it is with Him that we seek to align ourselves, that we are made by Him in His image and likeness in the expectation that we would unite ourselves with Him. Then we know what we are setting out to do.

It can all start during Lent with serious fasting and personal repentance for all our falling short of The Way that Christ taught. It must continue with our forgoing many of the comforts of this world, the petty “entertainments” on television and worthless books. We have so very little time – a mere seventy or eighty years in which to align ourselves with the High God. There is so much reading to do – so much learning and discovering – the Fathers will however guide us through the Scriptures, showing us their real inner meaning.

Do not waste time dear brethren, but set out here and now to change your life totally for there is so little time left.

 

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CANONICITY – ITS USE AND ABUSE

 

There is much misunderstanding about the use of the word “canonical” in Orthodoxy. The word has acquired a quite wrong meaning in popular usage, which ought to be corrected. Canonical is now used to mean “connected to a Patriarchate”. This is of course a nonsense inasmuch as the very word obviously means adherence to the canons. There are lawful reasons for not being connected to a Patriarchate. There are also examples today of groups which started out in a “canonical” jurisdiction which through no fault of their own have been wrongly and quite unjustifiably abandoned by their original jurisdiction – and left that way through obstinacy on the part of that original jurisdiction.

Though all of these “non-canonical” jurisdictions may have Apostolic Succession as has been admitted by many “canonical” Bishops, and while they say that they take lawful stances as allowed by the canons, they nevertheless are not permitted to participate in joint deliberations should they wish to.

The “canonical” joint episcopal committees in various locations around the world are essentially political organisations comprised of jurisdictions which have common attitudes towards ecumenism and modernism in the Church and being to greater or lesser extent sympathetic to both tendencies.

They however, determine who is “canonically” Orthodox on a political, not actual canonical and ecclesiastical basis.

In both the “canonical” and “non-canonical” jurisdictions, it is not possible to find other than political criteria for applying the notion of “canonicity”. Mere possession of Apostolic Succession, or adherence to the canons of the Church, or even commemorating a Patriarch satisfies the political judgement. The only thing that satisfies it is being mutually connected to a Patriarchate. It is political or personal judgement, not spiritual that prevails.

Apostolic Succession is not understood in the Orthodox Church in a legalistic way. One may have tactile Apostolic Succession, yet violate the canons, ignore the conscience of the Church, and preach heresy. This, then, estranges such a bishop from the grace of the Church, though we can’t point to a moment when that grace ceases. Hence real heretics were received back into the Church in various ways in the Early Church: some by confession, some by Chrismation, some by Baptism.

What constitutes the criteria by which Orthodox validity is established is that firstly, the Bishops who head any Church must have the fullness of Apostolic Succession. They must trace their Consecrations to valid Orthodox Hierarchs. This is the most basic definition of validity in Orthodoxy. Secondly they must demonstrably adhere to the canons of the Church, and teach the same doctrine as the Church.

When Bishops separate from their jurisdiction over matters of Faith, they are often suspended, excommunicated, or deposed by the very hierarchy to which they are in resistance. Some of the greatest Fathers of the Church, including Saint John Chrysostom himself incurred this treatment. So we must discern very carefully the reasons for their separation, their sincerity, and their purposes.

Essentially, we judge the validity of any Orthodox group by its possession of the fullness of Apostolic Succession, including adherence to basic canons, teaching the fullness of Orthodoxy without any innovations and, in the cases of Churches which are separated from their original jurisdictions, by the patristic foundation, canonical justification, and sincerity of their separation. Especially looking at whether they consider themselves out of communion or merely considering themselves in communion when their original jurisdiction does not. There are very few clear-cut cases, and there is no infallible authority to adjudicate matters.

Surely then, it is better not to apply blanket condemnation to all who may not be in “communion” with a patriarchate. Surely it is incumbent on all authorities to attempt to rectify matters. And surely it is not right to condemn those whose consciences have deep misgivings about some major problem which they see in their original jurisdiction.

THE CHURCH, GROWTH, NUMBERS AND TRUE CHRISTIAN WITNESS

 

Today, we are seeing the remnants of (even heretical) Christian belief evaporate all over the western world. We see the great western churches – Roman Catholic, Anglican, Protestant all in steep decline everywhere, with no end in sight.

More to the point, we see Orthodox churches going nowhere. Yes new churches are opened occasionally, but what are they? Are they some sort of national remembrance-club in a foreign land? Or are they filled with genuine Christian Believers?

In any case, what should we be doing? Do numbers count? Should we be going after numbers? The coffers will be better filled if we get numbers, and thereby the institution that we call The Church will be better served won’t it?

If the Orthodox Church is a great and powerful institution, that will secure our place in the world won’t it? Souls will be saved won’t they? Or will we, like the independent mega-churches simply descend into materialism, so that no matter the beauty of our church services, we are just a materialistic institution, like business corporations, intent on organisational survival?

I fear the latter may be precisely what we are in danger of becoming. Perhaps all unknowingly, as bishops are pressured, to mind the business and property, with little real time for reflection and praying.

What then can we do about it?

Lets try looking back, initially to the first two hundred years of The Church. How did it act – and what was it?

Right at the beginning, the Church comprised the Jewish followers of Christ in and around the Roman province of Syria-Palestine, centred upon Jerusalem. Persecution caused it to disperse to Antioch and other cities. The community at Tyre which had been started by Jesus Christ Himself continued without a break and still exists today.

The Apostles appointed leaders in the various centres of Believers – overseers in the Greek word episkopoi – from which we get the word bishops. Apparently this word was in use exceedingly early because Saint Dorotheus of Tyre records that Aristobulus, one of the seventy Apostles sent out by the Lord (Luke 10:1–24.) was sent from Tyre as bishop of Britain in AD37. In other words he was sent as a sole leader of a new Church. So the concept of a Church Overseer (bishop) was there in the Church at Jerusalem at that very early stage.

We know that the Church spread throughout Greece to Rome, south to north Africa, and had jumped west to Britain in the very early years after the Resurrection.

We know that the Apostles appointed bishops in each city that they had evangelised and we know that those bishops appointed presbyters as they needed assistance and deacons.

But still – there was no Holy Scripture other than the Septuagint that Jesus had used. All they had was various papers and oral accounts of what Jesus had done and taught. They had The Way that Jesus had taught, they could Baptise and they could celebrate the Eucharist. That much we know because we have it recorded in Scripture and other contemporary documents.

The primary duty of Christians was to live The Way and worship God. The Way is set out for us in the New Testament and it is still the Way for Orthodox Christians to live.

So why did Christianity spread so far and so fast?

Obviously for some people the Christian’s attitudes towards one another would have been attractive, especially in a world where a fair amount of sexual and other abuse was routinely carried out. Their peaceableness would stand out in a world where war and brutality was common even as a public spectacle.

That alone (plus of course preaching in Synagogues) got the Church going. For several hundred years The Church was a fairly loose federation of dioceses which all recognised each other and held the same doctrines. Apart from the letters of the Apostles, there were other documents circulating like the Didache and the Shepherd which taught Christianity. After the Apostles, there were the letters of Saint Polycarp and Saint Clement all of which we still have. Christians didn’t need to be a large corporate institution. The amiable federation of dioceses worked rather effectively. Maintaining the Apostolic tradition wasn’t hard for the first hundred years – for most of which Saint John was still alive.

The Early Church was certainly not afraid of evangelising the non-Christians. It was close-knit enough for most of the Christians in any given town to know each other – there was only one church – very often a converted synagogue or a large private house. Christians tried hard to worship God, respect their fellow man and obey the lawful government.

Their Faith however was both strong and communally held. It was a faith not of this world, but in those days it was to them a very rationally held belief because they had Apostles who had lived with and known Jesus and been there at the major events that they were teaching about. And after the last Apostle, there were still the bishops they had appointed who had learned directly from the Apostles. It is also worth remembering that at the end of 250 years there would have been up to five hundred thousand people whose father, mother, grandfather, uncle or aunt had met or heard Jesus.

After this, we come to the acceptance of Christianity by the Empire, a momentous event that had immense consequences.

The Roman Empire now had its real centre moving to Constantinople, and Constantinople was the centre of the Byzantine Roman Empire.

The centre of Byzantium was Constantinople. A great city of over 800,000 people setting the tone of the empire. What exactly was Constantinople?

Christianity was the official religion of the empire. For a millennium the great city was the capital of Christian civilisation. This was the city of the Great Church, of the emperor, and of the brilliant administration. In short it was the City of God, the Christian Jerusalem. Confidence in eternity and the divine protection of Constantinople and its emperor, and in eternal victory of the faithful was the community attitude.

The belief system of the whole people was rational because the Church at the beginning of Byzantium was only two hundred years from the death of the last living Apostle who had personally known Jesus Christ and that Apostle (Saint John) had lived at Ephesus, just a hundred or so miles from Constantinople, well inside their empire. The history of Christianity was short and immediate, the Bible had not yet been put together. There were no questions as to Christianity’s historical reality and the truth of its premises, there had been no pseudo-enlightenment, this Faith was based on facts.

As Christianity faced up to the world and all the problems it caused them, they held great Councils of bishops, priests, laity and they expected as of right that these Councils would be led by the Holy Spirit. The Councils sought God’s way of dealing with the problems. Most of those Councils were held in the Empire not all that far from Constantinople and in Constantinople.

Constantinople possessed the world’s greatest church building – Hagia Sophia – Holy Wisdom cathedral and its associated compound and buildings which was served by six hundred men including eighty priests and was built in AD 537. There was only one Christian Church in the whole world, it was the Orthodox Catholic Church that Christ Himself had founded. The Apostles had all functioned within the boundaries of the empire, some just a few miles from Constantinople. This was the place where the Emperor, the Patriarch and all the people came to worship before God. Hagia Sophia was the Temple at Jerusalem writ into the Christian Church and everything else a mere synagogue.

Here was the high point of mankind communicating with God, the pinnacle of humanity, the Emperor and Patriarch, Bishops and Priests moving in solemn ministration before the Throne of God on earth in Hagia Sophia. Here too were the ‘akimitoi’ or “those who never sleep”, the monks of Studion whose continuous prayer, day and night through the generations, kept the universe in permanent contact with its Creator in an endless cycle of hearing His words and returning glory. Only in Byzantium, nowhere else on earth, not even in Jerusalem, had this been done, and it is still done today on Mount Athos, the only direct remnant of Byzantium with us, where the twenty monasteries still pray ceaselessly for the world. There were other monasteries in Constantinople, and all over the Empire. Some had started earlier, and a few still exist, but Stoudion was different, it was the beating heart of the Empire, praying continuously for the whole world, and keeping the Empire in continuous formal conversation with God. This was necessary to the well-being of the Empire. This was the secret of the Empire’s success.

This Christian Empire lasted for an entire thousand years in one united Church with a continuously praying centre and only ceased at the point of invading swords.

This same Church existed in the British Isles as one united Church (connected to that in Byzantium) with a praying centre of real monasteries – and it too lasted for an entire thousand years (and only ceased at the point of invading swords).

The same Church existed in Russia for a thousand years and is now growing rapidly with what quality only time will tell.

But these were unified societies with only one Church. We in the west have a bewildering variety of groups calling themselves Christian. The Orthodox Church is in a minority with few claims on the population. It must attract in an entirely missionary way amongst the unchurched majority of the population. This means that the Orthodox Church in say the United Kingdom and Europe must look to the methods by which it approaches this task. It must at all costs avoid the American corporate-business models that so-called Christian bodies there are promulgating.

In the United Kingdom and Europe the Church must first of all adopt the local language and divest itself of its alien ethnicity. Until it does that it will achieve nothing.

It must adapt its architecture and worship more to the local culture. This does not mean altering/shortening the services, it does mean using familiar vernacular forms exclusively. It means that the internal appearance may begin to reflect local tastes.

Ultimately can we say only that what will grow the Church is exactly what grew it in the first few centuries: Christians living seriously Christian lives – in all aspects of their lives – with fully functioning, obviously Christian families, with proper Christian or home schooling. Such that they are indeed attractive to those who see them. Yes, parishes should engage in care for the poor, homeless and sick, but it should be at parish level and no higher.

It is at the family and parish level that all missionary activity should be carried out. If the diocese by itself wants to put a missionary church into some disadvantaged area or country then it should do it as a diocese and no higher level – it should be personal. Perhaps every diocese should be encouraged to sponsor a mission in some place where the Orthodox Church has not hitherto existed, in order that Saint John of ShangHai’s prediction will come true: that the end will not come until the Orthodox Church has preached to all the world.

We must make the Church truly local again and de-institutionalise it. We should look to the idea of very small dioceses, where the bishop is not forced to be a politician in order to become a bishop, or a corporate manager in order to manage the diocese. There should be no great cachet to the office of bishop and small dioceses where the bishop can personally know every priest and his family, as well as a lot of the laity, where he has the freedom to be guide and spiritual father to all those in his care.

This is the case in Greece where in a country the size of Scotland, there are eighty dioceses and there it works, the country bishops could in many cases literally walk around their dioceses.

I think that the de-institutionalising, the small dioceses, the outreach at parish and family level is the only way forward that will work. I am sure that may objections will be raised, but these have to be overcome if we seriously want the Church to preach the Gospel to all

A BRAVE NEW 2016

 

A new year, psychologically at least a “new beginning”, so lets look at what it is that should concern us as Orthodox Christians in the British Isles. Some of the things that I mention are political but they are political things that should concern us very much when we look at them from the point of view of the Church and salvation of souls in our country. A lot of church people use the term “salvation of souls” as a catch-cry or accusation but we must be clear that from an Orthodox Christian point of view this is precisely what we mean: giving people the opportunity to do just that.

The first thing for all of us is the concentration on ourselves, our own souls and our increasing awareness of God, and alignment with His requirements of us. We have Christ’s clear teaching as to how we should live. It is there for all of us to read and follow and if we do not there are no excuses, only reasons, and the primary one is our own weakness. If we live following Christ’s teaching, we are a beacon for those around us and if we follow Christ, then others will be inspired to follow likewise and we will have done our primary duty.

We are, however living in complicated and dangerous times. It doesn’t require a huge amount of discernment to see the most obvious dangers.

The United Kingdom faces huge decisions in this coming year. We have in the past been led to believe that being involved in the European experiment was good for us. However we forget that the great men who originally advocated a European community never envisaged us as being members. Winston Churchill for instance saw it as a French-German thing, we were in his view, never to be involved. His object was purely to obviate any further German initiated wars.

What we see now is what has been recognised widely as a Fourth Reich, that is, a German dominated Europe. The organisation in Brussels has absorbed some 2 to 3 trillion pounds from its members taxpayers, including over £500 billion from UK taxpayers alone. The suspicion now is that the greater beneficiary of all this has been Germany, take a look at her cities and compare them with ours or the French cities and I think you’ll see what I mean.

Islam is obviously seeking to wrest control of our country, even the most “friendly”, “moderate” moslem seeks our conversion one way or another to this satanic religion. I say satanic because a simple reading of Mahommed’s original meeting with “Gabriel” was obviously a meeting with a satanic entity impersonating Gabriel. We must be aware of that. We should therefore be aware that there is a large body of political opinion in this country that is atheist and sees Islam as nothing more than “another church” and nothing to be frightened of, because so far that is the way they have wanted us to see them. We however, need to use our discernment to realise that the wholesale immigration of the followers of this satanic religion in no way helps this country, rather it is the destruction of this country. We need therefore to do all that we can to stop the inflow. Doing that will probably be most easily accomplished by exiting the European Union and electing politicians who recognise the danger.

Discerning the men that we elect to parliament is a Christian duty. We should elect only those who meet our moral standards, and that means not worrying too much about party, but about the individual and the standards that he has actually met in his life (not those he just talks about).

The History Of It All

We are launching out into a new year and all sorts of pundits are talking and writing about what we can or should be doing.

I am going to make some statements here that might offend some people, so be it, pre-political-correctness, people were always making statements that offended others and the others took it in their stride.

I am not talking here just about the United Kingdom, but far more generally.

The world order that predominated after Yalta was that of a bi-polar world. Whether one liked the Cold War or not, it eventually devolved into a position where war was practically impossible on a major scale due to the Mutually Assured Destruction thesis of nuclear balance.

The west, after America had grabbed for itself a “leadership” role, concentrated on preventing communism from spreading further and therefore involved itself in wars in Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia etc., only one of which (Malaysia fought by Britain and Australia) was successful.

Things changed radically after the fall of the Berlin Wall with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a radically different Russia. Over the following twenty-five years, a multipolar world has emerged, with the growth of India, China and Brazil to add to Russia Britain Germany and the USA. This is vastly complicating when it comes to thinking about world events on any scale.

One of the important factors – perhaps the most important factor now influencing world events is the overwhelming power of global corporations.

In 2009, of the top 100 largest economic entities of the world, 44 were corporations – not countries. To put it into rough context, less than half of those, just the top twenty out of the top five hundred global corporations have assets worth 23 trillion dollars. Here are the top twenty companies as of mid 2015:

Rank

Company

Country

#1

ICBC

China

#2

China Construction Bank

China

#3

Agricultural Bank of China

China

#4

Bank of China

China

#5

Berkshire Hathaway

United States

#6

JPMorgan Chase

United States

#7

Exxon Mobil

United States

#8

PetroChina

China

#9

General Electric

United States

#10

Wells Fargo

United States

#11

Toyota Motor

Japan

#12

Apple

United States

#13

Royal Dutch Shell

Netherlands

#14

Volkswagen Group

Germany

#15

HSBC Holdings

United Kingdom

#16

Chevron

United States

#16

Wal-Mart Stores

United States

#18

Samsung Electronics

South Korea

#19

Citigroup

United States

#20

China Mobile

China

The three countries who host the majority of the top five hundred companies are China, the USA and Great Britain. The next nearest country has only half of Britain’s total.

What Are We To Make Of It?

There are many seemingly powerful think tanks and other organisations dedicated to the maintenance of democratic government around the world. However, cynically or realistically, the fact is that control of money means effective control of the activities of governments. Most governments only control the production of money but they do not control what happens to money once it enters the outside world

Imagining that our future is in the hands of our elected governments is foolish, for it arguably is not. Governments (most especially those of the United States and the United Kingdom) have demonstrably held a huge amount of information regarding the way decisions are made, secret. We have reason to suspect that corruption in less than obvious forms is concerned where those involved are not principally in agreement.

Academic Alex Carey explained the three most important 20th century developments, “The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.”

So is there a driving force? And if so what is it? Conspiracy theories apart, is there any compelling reason to believe that there is some agenda to the manipulation of governments and events?

Let us consider some of the less obvious players.

Of course there are the major banks, the major funds, the major oil companies and the major arms manufacturers. In most of these cases, it isn’t the corporations so much as the effective owner-controllers and what they want that should be of concern, if there is anything to be concerned about.

So are there any organisations through which these owner-controllers might act?

The Bilderberg Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and the mother of all these, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, are bodies where decisions about the future of mankind may well be arrived at.

The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). A seemingly open, well known institution. It was founded in 1920 and operates in London with a strong American Foundation in America. It has websites and you can easily see who its presidents and councillors are. However, it holds annual international meetings at which the Chatham House Rule operates: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed”. The participants are all members of other interesting organisations.

The Bilderberg Group

Bilderberg Group. Founded in 1947 at the Bilderberg Hostel by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and meeting every year since in conditions of considerable secrecy enforced by the host governments with no guest lists. Its 2015 meeting had 120 attendees, including many connected to or controlling the above list of companies and other companies in the next twenty rankings.

The Trilateral Commission

The Trilateral Commission today is now global with members from countries such as Argentina, Ukraine, Israel, Jordan, Brazil, Turkey, China. In his book “Trilaterals Over America”, Antony Sutton believes that the Trilateral Commission’s aim is to collaborate with the Bilderberger Group and the Council for Foreign Relations in “establishing public policy objectives to be implemented by governments worldwide.” He added that “Trilateralists have rejected the US Constitution and the democratic political process.” In fact he says, the Trilateral Commission was established to counter a “crisis in democracy” – too much of it – that had to be contained.

An official Trilateral Commission report was fearful about “the increased popular participation in and control over established social, political, and economic institutions and especially a reaction against the concentration of power of Congress and of state and local government.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski (Trilateral Commission’s co-founder)(Security Adviser to two Presidents of the USA) wrote in his “Between Two Ages – America’s Role in the Technotronic Era”:

“people, governments and economies of all nations must serve the needs of multinational banks and corporations. The US Constitution is inadequate….the old framework of international politics, with their sphere of influence….the fiction of sovereignty….is clearly no longer compatible with reality….”

Council for Foreign Relations

Founded in 1921 and headquartered in New York City, with an additional office in Washington, D.C.. Its membership has included senior politicians, more than a dozen secretaries of state, CIA directors, bankers, lawyers, professors, and senior media figures. The Council promotes globalisation, free trade, reducing financial regulations on transnational corporations, and economic consolidation into regional blocs such as NAFTA or the European Union, and develops policy recommendations that reflect these goals.

Its meetings bring together government officials, global business leaders and prominent members of the intelligence/foreign-policy community to discuss international issues. The Council runs the David Rockefeller Studies Program, which influences foreign policy by making recommendations to the presidential administration and diplomatic community.

Security and and Prosperity Partnership

At a March 23rd meeting, 2005 in Waco, Texas, attended by George Bush, Mexico’s Vincente Fox, and Canada’s Paul Martin, the Security and and Prosperity Partnership was founded, aka the North American Union. It was a secretive North America agreement – a group organized by the Canadian Council of Chief Executive, the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations, and the Council of Foreign Relations with the following aims:

Circumventing the legislatures of the three countries and their constitutions; Suppressing public knowledge or consideration; Proposing greater US, Canadian and Mexican economic, political, social, and security integration with secretive working groups formed to devise non-debatable, non-voted-on agreements to be binding and unchangeable.

In short, a corporate coup d’etat against the sovereignty of three nations enforced by hard line militarisation to suppress opposition.

It’s aim would be to create a borderless North America, corporate controlled, without barriers to trade or capital flows for business, America’s access to vital resources, especially oil, and Canada’s fresh water. Mexico’s increasingly “normal” drug cartels, now operating as ordinary corporations, with large holdings in many normal global corporations are apparently eligible for inclusion here.

Apparently secretively, over three hundred Security and and Prosperity Partnership ideas were written to harmonise the North America’s policies on energy, food, drugs, security, immigration, manufacturing, the environment, and public health along with militarising three nations for enforcement.

Does Security and and Prosperity Partnership represent another step toward the Bilderberg/Trilateralist/Council of Foreign Relations goal for World Government, taking it one step at a time?

One step was the European Union the result of many treaties and economic agreements: the December 1951 European Coal and Steel Community; the March 1957 Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community; the European Atomic Energy Commission; the 1957 European Court of Justice; the 1960 European Free Trade Association; the 1967 European Economic Community merging the ECSC, EAEC and EEC together in one organization; the 1968 European Customs Union to abolish duties and establish uniform imports taxing among EEC nations; the 1978 European Currency Unit (Ecu); the February 1986 Single European Act revision of the 1957 Treaty of Rome; with the objective of forming a Common Market by December 31, 1992; the February 1992 Maastricht Treaty creating the European Union; and the Euro currency in 1999 replacing Ecu.

Over half a century, the above steps have cost European Union members their sovereignty “as some 70 to 80 per cent of the laws passed in Europe involve just rubber stamping of regulations already written by nameless bureaucrats in ‘working groups’ in Brussels or Luxembourg.”

The European Union embodies everything that is wrong with the corporate-globalised world that the above groups are trying to foist upon us: an unelected, powerful elite taking unilateral decisions in a foreign capital, a decidedly left-wing, multi-culturalist agenda combined with the worst excesses of nepotism and corruption, a contemptuous lack of financial transparency, together with an incompetence that is simply breathtaking.

The EU and NAU share common features: advocacy from a influential spokesperson; an economic and later political union; hard line security, and for Europe, ending wars on the continent between European Union member states; establishment of a collective consciousness in place of nationalism; the blurring of borders and creation of a “supra-government,” a superstate; secretive arrangements to mask real objectives; and the creation of a common currency.

Steps Toward a North American Union

At the 1991 Bilderberg meeting, David Rockefeller got governor Bill Clinton’s support for NAFTA if he became president; on January 1, 1994, with no debate under “fast-track” rules, Congress approved World Trade Organisation legislation; in December 1994 at the first Summit of the Americas, 34 Hemispheric leaders committed their nations to a Free Trade of the Americas agreement (FTAA) by 2005 – so far unachieved; on July 4, 2000, Mexican president Vincente Fox called for a North American common market in 20 years; on February 2001, the White House published a joint statement from George Bush and Vincente Fox called the “Guanajuato Proposal;” it was for a US-Canada-Mexico prosperity partnership (aka North American Union); in September 2001, Bush and Fox agreed to a “Partnership for Prosperity Initiative;” the September 11, 2001 attack gave cover to including “security” as part of a future partnership;

In April 2007, the Transatlantic Economic Council was established between America and the European Union to: create an “official international governmental body – by executive fiat; harmonise economic and regulatory objectives; move toward a Transatlantic Common Market

The End Game

Is all this a step closer to One World Government run by the world’s most powerful corporate interests?

The 2009 Bilderberg Group Meeting

From May 14th to the 17th, 2009, Bilderbergers held their annual meeting in Vouliagmeni, Greece, and according to Daniel Estulin have dire plans for global economies.

According to his pre-meeting sources, they’re divided on two alternatives:

“Either a prolonged, agonizing depression that dooms the world to decades of stagnation, decline and poverty (or) an intense but shorter depression that paves the way for a new sustainable world order, with less sovereignty but more efficiency.”

Well a depression certainly started in 2008 and we are still living with many of its consequences.

Other agenda items included: “the future of the US dollar and US economy;” with continued deception about green shoots signalling an end to recession and improving economy: suppressing the fact that bank stress tests were merely designed for deception; a final push to get the Lisbon Treaty passed for European Union adoption of neoliberal rules, including greater privatisations, fewer worker rights, capped social benefits, open border trade favouring developed over emerging states, and greater militarisation in the form of a European Union army.

After the meeting, there was a private a 73-page report on what was discussed. Noting that “One of Bilderberg’s primary concerns….is the danger that their zeal to reshape the world by engineering chaos (toward) their long term agenda could cause the situation to spiral out of control and eventually lead to a scenario where Bilderberg and the global elite in general are overwhelmed by events and end up losing their control over the planet.”

Estulin also noted some considerable disagreement between “hardliners” wanting a “dramatic decline and a severe, short-term depression (versus others) who think that things have gone too far” so that “the fallout from the global economic cataclysm” can’t be known, may be greater than anticipated, and may harm Bilderberger interests. Also, “some European bankers (expressed great alarm over their own fate and called the current) high wire act ‘unsustainable.’ ”

There was a combination of agreement and fear that the situation remains dire and the worst of the crisis lies ahead, mainly because of America’s extreme debt level that must be resolved to produce a healthy, sustainable recovery.

Topics also included: establishing a Global Treasury Department and Global Central Bank, possibly partnered with or as part of the IMF; a global currency.

One may wonder if the islamic invasion is part of their planned chaotic re-construction of Europe to suit their ends. Or is it something that has resulted from their planned chaos spinning out of control as they feared? Unintended consequences are very well known and creating chaos has considerable danger of creating unintended consequences.

And What Of All This?

Of course, we are dealing with human events and agendas and, as we well know the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft awry.

So have we cause for concern here? Are we starting at shadows? Is there real danger?

More to the point – as Christians – Orthodox Christians, should we be alarmed or are we just dealing with yet another embryonic empire with which we guardedly deal?

In theory there wouldn’t be a huge difference between living in the world apparently being devised by these people and living in say the Roman Empire. The government quite indifferent to our Christian agenda. We do not seek our kingdom of this world, we seek the kingdom of God. If God enacts the Second Coming then we know that these people cannot prevail.

So yes, the antichrist could well be something entirely different from previous imaginings. It might be this corporatising of the world, and we may indeed be seeing the numerous heads of a monster in these organisations. Certainly the kings of the earth seem to be flocking towards what they are devising, and certainly a one world government could well be the satanic agenda.

Whatever the truth of it is, we as Christians are primarily concerned with saving our own souls and enabling as many others as possible to follow with us in saving their souls. More than living The Way as Christ taught is not asked of us.

GOD, THE COSMOS AND EVERYTHING

I want to very briefly talk about a vision of the Cosmos, about the Master of that Cosmos – the Triune God – about the earth, about the destiny of man – about being at the pinnacle of mankind looking towards God and the future.

Having lived a long time, travelled widely, met a lot of people of all persuasions and done a lot of things in my life, I imagine that I now know a lot. That is ridiculous of course, for I know nothing, all I have is a few minor pointers. However I do have vision. Flawed perhaps, imperfect certainly and unrealised of course. A vision however that haunts me and which I feel impelled to impart. Human words however are so inadequate.

I have read and re-read the revelation of Jesus who was the Christ of God. I have had no such revelation as Saint John had, but I have read and re-read his revelation. I have read and re-read Julian of Norwich’s revelation. I have read the Old Testament revelations.

All of it points in one direction: To the absolutely Almighty Master-Creator, the Triune God that we rightly worship.

What is our worship however? “God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” Worship….λατρείαcaerimonium Both these words imply action – doing something – often in concert with others.

God is a spirit. Well we know nothing at all of the essence of God. We cannot picture Him, we have no idea if indeed He can be seen with our vision, we think that if we could “see” Him, it would be overwhelming and its as best that we cannot see Him. The point is however that He is “there”, He exists.

So what is it that we think that we know now?

Mankind has made enormous strides in understanding the basic structure of the physical world in the past hundred years or so. Strangely, the more we know about the physical universe, the more difficult it becomes to understand it. Most people for instance learned about atoms in school. They were pictured for us rather like little solar systems with a nucleus (sun) at the centre and lots of particles whizzing around it in orbits rather like planets. The picture satisfied most of what people wanted to know and they left it at that. That is not however what it is at all, and those who study and theorise about such things know perfectly well that that picture is wrong. It now appears that the “particles” that surround the nucleus are not really particles. They can be tested and react as “particles” but they also react as waves. In fact they are now held to be pieces of information. That’s right information. They “exist” at different levels in relation to the nucleus and their number and level determines the physical substance which they comprise.

In String Theory the physical world has ten dimensions, six of them hidden from view inside the Cosmos. M-theory gives our universe several extra dimensions that we cannot see – but it places these extra dimensions outside the created universe.

So was the “big bang” actually an explosion of information? The input that was needed to create the world?

We have precise knowledge, we can prove some things and and we can apply our knowledge – but not always with understanding. We know the mathematics exactly, but we cannot connect it to our experience of this world.

Quantum Theory rules the microcosmic world, from which the world that we see emerges, and Einstein’s General Relativity rules the cosmic world that we live in, these two cover everything that we see and know of the physical universe.

The Virtual Reality theory says that our world is a virtual reality that only exists by information processing beyond and outside itself, upon which it depends entirely. It further says that there is nothing inside the physical universe that exists of or by itself.

Try putting the extra dimensions of the universe and the Virtual Reality Hypothesis together and it becomes rather interesting. Information input… a word …. In the beginning …… God said Let there be light and there was light – the first creative action recorded in Genesis. God imparted information and it had a result. And Christians have known from the psalmist “For God spoke and it was; He commanded and it stood” In other words God is the source of each and every piece of information input into the processing which constantly creates the entire cosmos as the virtual reality hypothesis demands.

It follows that the universe must have at least one dimension outside it. In the Virtual Reality Hypothesis, the extra dimensions can be very large – infinitely so – and are outside this universe. It follows that the information input upon which our world depends, comes from outside our physical world, and there is a dimension beyond our physical universe from which it can come.

Christians have known since the new Testament that there were extra “dimensions” to the universe – Saint Paul mentioned them (I was caught up into the third heaven). And as Virtual Reality Hypothesis describes. So science seems to now be saying there is in fact a “place” for God and all that surrounds Him to “be” in physical reality.

Christians have known that heaven isn’t some sort of “supernatural” ethereal, imaginary “place” but that it is as real as what we see around us now. We are told that we have bodies in the afterlife.

Interesting thoughts. All, then that such an afterlife as Christians have, needs is information input – just as this world we have now requires. So perhaps we Christians ought to be at least looking at these scientific theories because they are getting perilously close to convergence with what we know already. Perhaps scientists all unknowingly are edging towards God?

The evidence presented for this view is from science not religion, it is scientific hypothesising based on what can be observed. We as people not involved in such esoteric work need to look at it with care, but there are certain things that we can understand, such for instance as the physical matter we generally take as “reality” is only 4% of the universe, with dark matter (23%) and dark energy (73%) making up the rest. If most of the universe isn’t the world we see, why would we assume that what we see is all there is?

A vision of the Cosmos, the Master of that Cosmos – the Triune God – the earth, the destiny of man – about being at the pinnacle of mankind looking towards God and the future. We as a species may have a long way to go – or a very short way to go, whatever the truth of that, the vision of who and what and where we are is of consuming interest. We in our time won’t know. What we will know is that there is a Master of the Universe and our future lies with Him. It behoves us therefore to align ourselves wholly with Him as far as we can right now.

The revelation of Jesus the Son of God is there for us to see. It outlines what we need to do to align ourselves with God. The Revelation of Saint John the Divine is there to underline the matter for us. For the moment, that total alignment with God is the most important thing for us as individuals to do. It ensures our future.

ARE WE MOVING TOWARDS THE END?

 

It’s been tempting ever since Christianity started out, to think that we moving to the end of time and Christians have been reading the signs of their various times and thinking that the terrible events of the day, the wars and Christian lethargy point to an imminent end.

The Early Christians – including Apostles thought the end would be very soon.

In 1026 Richard II of Normandy lead a group of several hundred men on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the belief that the Day of Judgment had arrived – and so it has gone in pretty well every century since.

Think, for instance about the moslem onslaught on Europe beginning in AD 711 and continuing until Georgia was reconquered in 1878. Much of southern Europe was held by moslems until the 1500s.

Reason perhaps to imagine that all of northern Europe would be conquered and islam would prevail entirely over Christianity.

So, today, we face a resurgent islam again wanting to conquer Europe and this time being aided and abetted by Europeans who have no idea of the danger they face.

We look around us and we see the almost universal abandonment of any pretence at Christianity throughout the western world. There may be theoretically around 2.2 billion Christians in the world – but does anyone seriously imagine that more than 30 million are active, or that more than that would stand up for their faith?

And where will we find that 30 million? Mostly in Russia, Georgia, Serbia I suspect – plus Africa with only small pockets in Europe, the British Isles and the Americas.

The moslems – all of them – read and understand the requirement on them to kill those who oppose islam and refuse to convert. So as they slowly gain control of parts of Europe, expect that to start and internal refugees to mass and move within Europe. The “Displaced Persons” camps of post WW II will start all over again.

Not everyone will be martyred or put to death or suffer unbearable torture. Some will escape, for the Lord told us that He will keep us from that hour of testing, otherwise no one will be here to greet Him. He will keep us, some of us miraculously. He will move us through the spirit of God to safe havens. Some will be moved to true sanctuary cities or towns. Others will be kept safe and provided for because they will be living in the outskirts and hidden away from those that would seek to do them harm. Whatever our fate might be, we need to remain faithful until the end. Our kingdom is not of this world.

When, however, will that “end” come? The moslems invasion could well be no more than God permitting them to run loose as punishment for our abandoning Him. It need not signify the Second Coming.

The Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine is not a timetable for the end. Part of it deals with the Roman Empire as can be easily seen by those who know history. Part of it is a non-linear accounting of the end times. We have, however no clue in it for when that is. Probably quite deliberately so. We are told to live as if we die tomorrow. We must live as if we will answer for all our actions immediately. That is sufficient. We live therefore as if the Second Coming were in fact next Tuesday.

Packaged Faith

A friend of mine wrote this and I like it.  So I thought it would be a good start since I identify with it thoroughly.

bookstore

I was thinking about the old Church of Scotland bookshop at 121 George Street. It was a real bookshop. A real bookshop is one that only sells books and, apart from some Sunday school materials and the church magazine, this one only did sell books. It was not what you’d call decorated. Painted yes, and clean (apart from some dust around the secondhand seventeeth century divines) but lacking in nice veneers and soothing magnolia tints. But it sold books and plenty of them.

It had a tea-room too which was very unusual for bookshops in these days with tapioca pudding on the menu on Monday and Wednesday and crowded with old ladies in serviceable hats and sensible shoes lured by cheapness and churchiness. Espressos and cappuchinos were still as unknown as they had been in the days of Miss Jean Brodie (whom I am sure never crossed the threshhold). The old ladies never actually bought books, perhaps a copy of ‘Life and Work’ on their way out to pore over on the bus back to Cramond or Morningside, but the shelves of William Barclay (the man who never had an unpublished thought), John Owen, Robert Lewis Dabney, J C Ryle, John Bunyan and collections of cloth-bound sermons by A W Pink were reverentially undisturbed except by the odd theology student strayed down from New College. It was therefore the place to be for young ladies hoping to become ministers’ wives but I wasn’t one of them. Perhaps they thought I was a wannabe lady minister.

Then it changed. It became brighter, breezier and pastel-hued. The number of books went down and the number of non-Presbyterian books went up, videos and cassettes appeared in quantity as did magazines, and a good proportion of the books that were left were soft theology, comfy reads, self-help and Christianity-lite. Or as my friend Jean used to say, “lo-alcohol religion with nothing to gladden the heart” just more world-weary tripe about how to be a successful Christian. The craggy, dour, dog-collared old chaps who had once graced journal covers (frightening you off sin for a month) and whose lectures and sermons were advertised disappeared to be replaced by cheerful young men and women with carefully coiffed casualness back in the day when an unbuttoned shirt collar was heart-flutteringly trendy and occasionally in those oh-so daring blue jeans. It’s almost impossible to remember now but thirty years ago people still wore suits and hats to church here.

I got tired of those faces very quickly with their perfect skin and de rigueur cheerfulness, that certain sort of girl-next-door, wholesome Christian cheerfulness that makes me feel jaded and avoidant. Or as Jane Austen put it, “pictures of perfection make me sick and wicked.”

I started going to the Catholic bookshop. It was run by an elderly gentleman and his two spinster sisters, all very devout, and was crammed into two tiny 18th century shops thrown together and full of all manner of thing. Secondhand books with old dust from their original attics and new cobwebs. Encyclicals with impressive Latin names. Lives of saints, real and imagined, each one lovingly photographed in plaster of paris on the cover (try telling those old ladies that St Philomena wasn’t real and their soft, kindly wrinkles would transform into something that would stop a gorgon and beads would be clicked on your behalf at Sunday Mass for weeks to come). A pensive Bernadette Soubirous peered down from dim old photographs over crucifixes, waxen effigies of holy corpses, daguerrotypes of 19th century cardinals and sweetly tinted images of the Little Flower, Jesus Himself blonde and simpering, heavy blood-red glass votive holders, and Virgin Marys so pious that you wanted to smack them resulting in meditative journeys home on the subject of what the penance might be for that thought.

I pored over plastic rosaries, holy water bottles in the shape of Our Lady of La Salette, miraculous medals, pamphlets of novenas, the odd relocating monstrance and no end of sentimental, melodramatic and perhaps even true stories of cures at Lourdes as well as the lives of the visionaries of Fatima. I also discovered Monsignor Ronald Knox and Sister Edith Stein as well as new (to me) works by Cardinal Newman and Fr Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ.

And then the brother and sisters retired and new people took over and it became glossy and bright. Today you would call it “pinnable”. And then unsurprisingly, to me at least, it closed.

The premises now hawk hideous tourist tat and I never pass it without a momentary prayer for the nice old people and a little sniff of regret because there is within me that which likes portraits of long dead religious and that indefinable smell of tallow-and-something that Catholic churches have and this shop had too.

And this is the problem with much of the way Christianity is presented today in bright, clean pastels. It’s smooth and glossy, a sort of Instagram gospel, and I don’t trust it. I loathe the way the faith is packaged, it’s not just Christianity, it’s your Christianity, and I want to smack the purveyors of it like the smugly demure madonna. Christianity should never be comfortable. It should be – it is – joyful but it’s not Instagrammable; if it doesn’t hurt, if it provides easy answers, if it dishes out bilge such as “God will never give you more than you can handle” then it’s denying the brokenness of the system we live in and it’s useless. It’s an empty box. Who wants that at Christmas?