From my diary

I’m working away on revising the translation of Eutychius.  I am glad to say that I am really finding very few outright mistakes, which is encouraging.  I am most of the way through a revised version of chapter 1, and once this is complete then I will update the combined file, and change the version number.  I added a box of version numbers and changes to the back of the file for just this reason.

The death of a close family member last year has involved me in endless work to sort out the estate.  It’s going quite well.  The last six weeks have been spent attempting to get one set of forms done, which – after a journey to get signatures yesterday – I finally managed to get in the post today.  The forms are so old-fashioned that they even required me to pay by cheque.  I actually had to obtain a physical cheque-book in order to do so.  The whole business could and should be possible with a single form on the web.  Anyway with luck I have guessed all the answers correctly, and that bit of business will now happen, and be done and done with.  Other parts of the settlement will require yet more work, which I would guess will drain my time and energy for much of this year.

Eutychius is, therefore, a bit of sanity in all this nonsense.

I have also drafted a post on the origins of the Easter bunny.  If you do a search in Google Books, and the Library of Congress Newspaper Archive, you find very quickly that the phrase “Easter bunny” does not appear before 1900.  (Although the first references are clearly referring to earlier use).  The Easter bunny seems to be a stripped-down, streamlined, and industrialised version of the German Osterhase legend, brought into existence by the mass production of chocolate bunnies in Pennsylvania.  But you will have to wait until I can revise the draft and post it.

Many people will be aware that every year, on every Christian holiday, there is a chorus of screaming that “Easter” (or whatever) “is pagan.”  These absurd claims are repeated by lazy journalists.  It has got very bad in the last few years.  Anti-Christian malice is not absent, but some educated atheists have got fed up with this nonsense and are starting to campaign against it.

But there is another group also posting the same material, but from a very different perspective.  These people rarely reveal their affiliation, but say things like “Easter isn’t in the bible” and so “therefore Easter is pagan.”  They pose as Christians.  But invariably they turn out to be promoting Jewish observances.  This suggests that they are weird American cultists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hebrew Roots, Seventh Day Adventists, and other groups derived more or less directly from Herbert W. Armstrong’s “World Wide Church of God”.  They are not Jews, and they often appeal to the bible, despite the clear condemnation of such teaching in Galatians 3.  They often pretend to be Messianic Jews, although they are not.  I don’t quite know how best to address such folk, yet something ought to be done.  Many of them on social media seem to be “bots”, posting at the direction of another.  I had always thought such groups basically harmless, but the rage and spirit of deceit that I find online suggests something about their real origins.

While reading such stuff, I was reminded of one of the “Hebrew Roots” figures, a strange man named Michael Rood, who used to dress up as an ancient Hebrew priest, and who is responsible for some of the odder claims.  I have collected a certain amount of material about him.  But I am not clear that I am the best person to document this weird penumbra to American religion.  So I won’t write a blog post.  One has to draw the line somewhere!

In the last few days I have noticed that several Christian groups in England seem to be facing a coordinated campaign to destroy them.  May I ask Christian readers to pray for God’s grace, and for those attacked?

The attacks employ what is now a well-known methodology, of creating a scandal, using the media to holler it at the top of their voices, while smearing as many people as possible, regardless of whoever was alleged to be the original wrongdoer.  Once the moral reputation of the group is destroyed, demands are made for the existing leadership to resign, and that their replacement should be drawn from those supporting the attackers.  These in turn have no power to resist the demands to endorse fingerprint vices, and pay huge “compensation.”  In this way the group is effectively destroyed, or at the very least financially ruined.  The Catholic Church has been subjected to this process repeatedly, in order to seize its property and authority.  Usually the allegation is of child abuse, but in fact any accusation will do.  The sincerity of such awful allegations may be judged from the Rotherham scandal, in which the same people happily connived at appalling child abuse by Muslim gangs.  This demonstrated that the “abuse” claims are not the point.  These people care nothing for the supposed abuse.  It’s just a pretext for a power grab.  Likewise it is noticeable that it is only unpopular groups that seem to have problems of this sort.  British institutions are stuffed full of every kind of deviant, yet not one of them is up to mischief?  I think not.

No criminal accusations have been deployed against the British groups. But those campaigning are trying to smear as many Christian groups as they can.

Among the groups attacked in the last few months is the UCCF.  This is an inoffensive umbrella organisation for Christian Unions at British universities.  It has always been hated for its loyalty to the gospel.  The pretext deployed here is that UCCF only recruited young people for a few years and then encouraged them to resign, which – we are solemnly told, is a “breach of employment legislation”.  I would imagine that every youth organisation must do this, unless it wishes to be staffed by old people (!), so the claim is frivolous.  It’s a power-play, no more, of the kind above.  But experienced senior staff have resigned, which is troubling.

I myself owe a great deal to UCCF.  Please would you pray that God will defend them?  Those attacking hope to destroy Christian student work in the UK.

This summer the Oxford Patristics Conference will take place, as it does every four years.  This is critically important to anyone intending to pursue a career in patristics.  Unfortunately the cost to attend is now so great that I cannot afford to do so.  But I hope to be in Oxford for a few hours on one day – probably the 7th August -, and perhaps I will meet one or two people while I am there!


4 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. My wife and I just prayed for UCCF as you asked us to. We are Americans, but we are concerned for the Gospel witness all over the world.

  2. Utterly vile. Who is coordinating all of this?
    Thank you for all you do. Unimaginable body of work! Thank you.

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