A Good Reason Why Stocks Are Going Up

I suspected this for some time, but now this from Jack Crooks, Black Swan Trading:

In the chart below it shows the Dow Jones Industrial Average (black line) compared to the Dow Jones Industrial Average Multiplied by the US$ Index (red line), both are a monthly price series. What we noticed is despite the very nice surge in the unadjusted Dow, when adjusted for the falling dollar it is still well off its old highs made back in May 2000 …

Anyone care to offer some conjectures, implications, guesses, or logic …

Our attempts are these:
1. Stocks represent ownership of real assets in the real world. And said assets (just like gold) should reflect "real purchasing power". Thus, a falling dollar means said assets should go higher, all things being equal (ceteris paribus for the economic literati among us).
2. International investors see the Dow as cheap thanks to said dollar demise.
3. The P in P/E (price earnings ratio) is bid higher precisely because the E in the equation is rising thanks to a falling dollar. And of the E generated from overseas sales relative to domestic tends to rise because currency translation benefits back into dollars. When the collective Ps for multinationals (which are a very big part of the Dow) are bid up, the index follows in kind.

The Catholic Calendar Script

One of the more popular features of this site is the Anglican Calendar Script, which announces the current liturgical event (Sunday, saint’s day, etc.) according to the traditional Anglican liturgical scheme.  I’ve gotten requests to expand it to include other liturgical calendars (TEC, RCC, etc.)

Well, it looks like another has risen to the challenge.  For you Roman Catholics who want something similar, the Hectorville (South Australia) Parish Music Ministry has taken the Anglican script and modified it for the Roman Catholic calendar.  This is very much a "work in progress" so take a look at it, try it and give your feedback to its author.

One major reason why I never took a run at doing this for the Catholic liturgical year is that the whole business of "ordinary time," starting after Epiphany and leaping over Lent, Easter and Pentecost to land in the North American summer (Australian winter,) makes programming a lot more complicated than it is for its traditional Anglican counterpart.  So kudos to the brave soul at Hectorville Parish who has taken on this task!

Liberals and Sex Just Go Together

Kevin McCollough’s piece "Why Liberals Lie About Sex" is only news in that we’re still wondering why they lie about it.

As a rule, liberals operate under the assumption that a fulfilled life is a sexually active life, be they married or (for many the preferred state) not.  It’s been that way as long as I can remember.  It was certainly that way growing up with them and under their tutelage, which prompted much of The Ten Weeks.  It’s been a leitmotif of Western liberalism and radicalism for a long time, although it’s interesting that, when real radicals like Marxists-Leninists got around to taking over societies, they imposed some very bourgeois morality.  That notwithstanding, why they still feel enough shame to try to hide their idea simply buffaloes me.  Perhaps it is the fact that, when liberalism is explained openly, it becomes unpopular very quickly, which is one reason why liberal talk radio is a general bust.

But there’s one more thing: if a person has enough willpower (either internally or with help from on high) to discipline themselves sexually, they can repeat the feat in other areas, such as financially and politically.  Then they will not be so easily led by elites or become debt slaves, which in turn makes them led by elites (who usually hold the note.)  That dilutes the potential for control, and, with liberals, control is as much the name of the game as sex.  If you can break a society’s discipline sexually, the rest will more easily fall into place.

There is method to their madness…

The Latin Mass and the Nature of Worship

Pope Benedict XVI has certainly been "on a roll" lately with his pronouncements.

For one thing, he reminded everyone that it is the considered opinion of the Roman Catholic Church that many–if not most–non-Catholic Christian churches cannot be properly called a church.  This kind of thing is not new; I dealt with this a long time ago in the piece We May Not Be a Church After All.  Protestant churches just need to deal with this, both as they relate to the Roman Catholic Church and to prevent a repeat of its mistakes in their own organisations.

But a more visible change coming from the current Pontiff is encapsulated in his pronouncement Summorum Pontificum, which makes it easier for parishes to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass.  Many non-Catholics are mystified by this move, so perhaps we can explore these issues in a more informed way than we see in some places.

First, some history: the ritual (or more properly the liturgy) of the Mass that the Pope is opening up is the so-called "Tridentine" Mass, which was formalised at the Council of Trent.  From then until 1970 this Mass was the rite by which it was celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church. Until the Second Vatican Council it was necessary to celebrate this Mass in Latin; after that time it could be celebrated in the vernacular.

In 1970 the Tridentine Mass was replaced with the Novus Ordo Missae, the "new order" of the Mass.  This Mass was made obligatory; it was not permitted to celebrate the Tridentine after that.  (I recreate how that actually impacted Catholics and others in my book The Ten Weeks; a more technical treatment of the whole transition can be found here.)  Since that time–and especially under John Paul II and Benedict XVI–there has been a loosening of the restrictions on celebrating the Tridentine Mass, and the current pronouncement is yet another step in this process.

But, you ask, why would anyone–other than Latin students–want to celebrate the Mass in Latin?  It’s hard for anyone who has not been a part of Roman Catholicism to understand the appeal of this church to start with.  But the whole Latin Mass business is tied up in a larger issue: whether our corporate worship is primarily for the purpose of affirming us as a Christian community or for directing worshipers toward God.  The tug of war between the two has been going on for a long time, and the revival of the Latin Mass is yet another movement of the rope.

Although Pentecostals and Charismatics make a big deal of the times when the Israelites worshiped corporately (thus the endless repetition of 2 Chr 7:14,) the truth is that most of the worship surrounding the temple in Jerusalem was sacrificial in nature, thus very "vertical" in nature.  (It was also largely liturgical in nature, contrary to popular opinion.)  It was done to rectify man’s relationship with God.  On the other hand, by the time Our Lord walked on the earth, between trips to the Temple Jews worshiped in synagogues, which had more of a "horizontal" component, i.e., an act of the community in addition to turning focus towards God.

The New Testament church carried over many habits from the synagogue, even with that "sacred pledge" (to use Bossuet’s expressive phrase) of the Eucharist, which was a community meal.  (The results of that practice were uninspiring, which led to its abandonment.)  However, as time passed, and the role of the Church assumed more parallels with Temple Judaism, the worship moved to a more "vertical" mode, a trend encouraged both by having the Eucharist as the normal setting for Christian worship and celebrating it in a language many worshipers didn’t understand.

One major result of the Reformation was an abrupt reversal of this trend.  How abrupt the jolt was depends on the church; it ranged from a relatively mild change of course (Anglicanism) to a complete redefinition of the church (Anabaptism.)  In Roman Catholicism itself, the "vertical" model of worship was enshrined for centuries, until the liturgical reforms of the 1960’s.  Part of the rationale of these reforms was to put a more "horizontal" (community) emphasis on the Mass, which would complement a fuller role of the laity in the church.  In addition to changing language and liturgy, the priest was now to stand behind the altar and face the people, rather than having his back to the altar and facing God.  This one change does more to symbolise the intent of the reforms than even the language change.

The result of this has been that, for the last forty years, we have had a more "horizontal/community" emphasis in the celebration of the Mass.  Unfortunately, in the hands of people who have more faith in faith than in God, the results of this can be pretty sappy.  We are now seeing another reversal of trend with people who want their worship to be more God-directed.  This can be seen in much of the "praise and worship" movement, although how successful this really is is a matter of debate.  In Roman Catholicism, this manifests itself in part with a desire for the "Tridentine" Mass, and it is to these people that the current Pope is appealing to.

There are many things about the Roman Catholic Church that I find unacceptable, the concept of the Mass as a sacrifice being one and their view of the role of the church being another.  But the idea that our worship of God be more directed towards him and not towards each other is appealing.  If we would actually implement this on a meaningful basis, and direct our attention upward, then our life with those around us would be greater reflection of the ideal that Jesus Christ has set before us.

Holding the Property and the Organisation of the Church

Dr. Peter Toon’s long discussion of the organisation of various churches and their relationships to holding their property is a great idea but, as is the case with many things about our legal system, is also easier said than done.

He is correct that congregational churches (Baptists, Assemblies of God, etc.) tend to have their local churches hold the property.  He is also correct that centralised churches (Roman Catholic, Methodist, Church of God, etc.)  tend to have their denomination (or diocese) hold the property in trust.  In these cases the holding of the property corresponds to the governance of the church.

This is not, however, an absolute necessity.  It is certainly possible for a church that governs itself centrally to have the property of the local churches/parishes held by those entities, although this would tend to dilute the power of the central church government.   It’s also possible (but much less likely) for the reverse to be true.  The legal structure of property holding and the governance of the church do not have to follow each other rigidly.

In the case of the Episcopal Church, as with many things Anglican, we have a muddle (or, to use a misused phrase, a via media.)

In many ways TEC falls between a rigidly centralised church and a congregational one.  Its episcopal form of government suggest centralisation, but its "democratic" houses and selection of ministers suggest a more congregational way.

At one time the property holding reflected this, but the adoption of the Dennis Canon in 1979 put TEC on par with more completely centralised churches by placing all of the property to be held in trust for TEC.  The problem that most parishes that attempt to secede from the church run into is that U.S. courts are loathe to interfere with the internal affairs of churches.  They reason as follows: since the parishes were part of TEC, and TEC decided to uniformly centralise the property, then it is the church’s decision and the courts don’t have anything to say about it.

The one place where secession makes the most headway is California, where the courts (for the most part) apply "neutral legal principles" to the issue.  There, they look at the way the property is titled and decide on that basis, noting that the Dennis Canon is ex post facto.  Whether other states choose to follow this remains to be seen.

The cloud to the silver lining in California is that, should the courts decide to do so, they could use the same "neutral legal principles" to interfere in the workings of the church.  Since many churches operate in a very informal legal environment, the consequences of this are unpredictable, especially in the case of settling an internal dispute about leadership or doctrine.

We can debate endlessly what is right and what is not for the TEC to do in response to parishes that want to leave.  But that doesn’t have anything to do with what we can expect legally in a property dispute.  TEC knows that, in most places, it has the upper hand in this regard, and it is unreasonable to expect them to relent.  After all, isn’t the reason parishes want to secede because TEC has departed from basic Christianity?  What can you expect?

As I said almost two years ago, sometimes it pays to yield:

One of the vexing problems that orthodox Episcopal parishes face in separating themselves from the ECUSA is the fact that the ECUSA holds the property in trust through the so-called "Dennis Canon" (which may in fact have never been properly enacted.) Parishes’ success in getting their property has been spotty due to variations in state laws and the way parish property was titled in the first place.

Sometimes, though, it’s just important to yield, as many orthodox parishes have done. Many years ago, John Wesley was walking through the English countryside when he encountered a single log bridge. Across the bridge was an opponent of his. Someone was going to have to give way, and the two men stood in a standoff.

"I never yield to asses," the opponent declared, holding his ground.

"I always do," Wesley replied, stepping aside.

Sir Lionel Luckhoo’s Testimony

This week’s podcast takes us to the testimony of Sir Lionel Luckhoo, the Guyanese lawyer and diplomat.

He held the Guinness Book of World Records place for the largest number of successive murder acquittals (245).  He accepted Christ as his Saviour in the midst of his defence of Jim Jones before the Jonestown massacre in 1978.

He gave this testimony in August 1983 at a meeting of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Modern Palestine?

Although I can’t claim I saw Jesus in a dream as our friends in the More Than Dreams videos did, my saving encounter with Our Lord was a “direct divine intervention.”  That being the case, my early Christian formation didn’t get as much help from family and church as one would like.  But one of the instructions I did get was to read the Bible.  Even that was problematic: Bible studies weren’t a part of our home life, and scrounging a Bible wasn’t easy.  But eventually I found one suitable for the task.

Always one to look at charts and maps, the ones in the back intrigued me, especially the one above.  It was the mid-1960’s.  Where was the state of Israel?  And Jordan?

It took a long time to connect the dots, but I eventually realised that this Bible of mine dated from the turn of the twentieth century, and that the provincial structure shown above was that of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, thus the name for Jerusalem (el Kuds.)  It wasn’t long before British General Allenby would enter the city on foot and change everything.  But the map has historical value and thus it’s worth presenting, along with two others below.

Jerusalem at the same time. Note the “quarters” in the city, reflecting the millet system the Turks used to divide their various ethnic and religious groups. The Armenians were soon to suffer grievously at the hands of the Turks, and the Jews were soon to arrive in large numbers preparing for the State of Israel a half century later. The “Mosque Al-Aqsa” is the place after which the Martyrs Brigade is named.
The area around Jerusalem, obviously a more populous place now than then.

If You Want to Force a Moral Issue, Send In the British

Surprises never cease in the world, least of all the news that the Dutch are having second thoughts about their wide open society to the point that they have a conservative Christian party in the government and are starting to backtrack on much of the open sex and drugs that have made the Netherlands legendary.

In spite of being a centre for all this, gay marriage and more, the Netherlands has always had a more lively core of Christian belief that most anywhere else in Europe (I’ll admit that in spite of my dislike for Calvinist theology.)   This has been borne out by personal experience, largely in the construction equipment business, an industry not known for its Godliness.  One Dutch business associate complained a few years back that they were forced to take off “God is with us” off of the “Dutch logo” Euro coins.  The motto had been on the guilder for many years.  Another spent an evening regaling my wife and I with his stories of sending Bibles into the Communist countries, all the while with his cognac and cigar in the bar!  This, of course, from the country that produced Brother Andrew (who I think left off the stogie.)

But it seems that, with the Muslim community growing and all the other changes in the wind, it was the British that really got the Dutch goat:

And de Wolf (a Labour Party member of the Amsterdam City Council) said he is fed up with the planeloads of British thrill-seekers who take cheap flights to Amsterdam each Friday evening for weekend binges of sex, drugs and alcohol in his city’s red-light district, where scantily clad prostitutes stand behind plate-glass windows beckoning to potential customers.

I’ve documented the wild ride the hordes of immigrants from the British Isles has given North America, from their uninspiring work ethic (To Do the Work) to their religious adventures (Taming the Rowdies, Cape Henry and the Triumph of “Plan C”.)  And no review of the British is complete without talking about their behaviour at soccer matches outside the UK.  The genius of the British (and the descendants of those they exported) is that they make sin look so utterly trashy and revolting that they force everyone (including even-tempered people like the Dutch) to do something, be it tightening of laws, revival of Christians in politics, or just plain revival.  Perhaps this is the ultimate fulfilment of Paul’s statement:

Law was introduced in order that offences might be multiplied. But, where sins were multiplied, the loving-kindness of God was lavished the more, In order than, just as Sin had reigned in the realm of Death, so, too, might Loving-kindness reign through righteousness, and result in Immortal Life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Romans 5:20, 21, TCNT.)

Considering Things Carefully

The great Chinese author Lu Xun said that "Everything requires careful consideration if one is to understand it."  This certainly applies to the back and forth with Liam over same sex marriage and adoption.  Characterising it as a debate is a stretch; from this side, it looks more like a barrage of name-calling, ad hominem arguments and the like.  (It could be worse.)  Nevertheless there are two things that I have come to realise in the course of all this.

The first is that the advocacy of same sex civil marriage is the advocacy of civil marriage itself.  This is important in understanding why it is necessary to reject other solutions such as the abolition of civil marriage or civil unions.  The way things work in our smashmouth political system, once you take a position, you must pursue it irrespective of whether it is the best way to deal with a problem (for you or anyone else) or not.  There is nothing bigoted about characterising same sex marriage as a problem, because it is for those who want it (because it doesn’t exist) or those who don’t (because others are pushing for it.)  Moreover Liam can whine about positions he finds ambiguous all he wants, but this does not stop him from trashing concepts other than same sex civil marriage right after he complains about ambiguity.  In such a pugnaciously philistine environment there’s simply no incentive to propose solutions other than those commonly held.

The second is that civil marriage is inherently unequal.  There are people who are married and people who are not; this automatically creates an inequality.  Same sex marriage does not enhance equality, but only extends inequality to a new group of people.  In the midst of all of this, it is not clear who comes out the worse for it.  Same sex marriage people demand all of these "rights" that come with marriage, although Liam never gets around to enumerating what any or all of these "rights" might be.  Christians lament of the state of civil marriage and oppose the creation of same-sex marriage, but frankly the basic Biblical reasons for marriage are no longer enshrined in U.S. law.  In the midst of all this the marriage rate continues to decline; obviously a good number of heterosexual people have determined that the disadvantages of civil marriage outweigh its advantages for whatever reason.

Based on these and other considerations, I cannot accept Liam’s contention at face value that same sex civil marriage is a matter or right or logic.  Frankly I’m not much on accepting things at face value, especially if I suspect they originate with those who think more strategically or politically than Liam does.

They seem to have secrets which I cannot guess, and once they are angry they will call anyone a bad character…Everything requires careful consideration if one is to understand it.  In ancient times, as I recollect, people often ate human beings, but I am rather hazy about it.  I tried to look this up, but my history has no chronology, and scrawled all over each page are the words: "Virtue and Morality."   Since I could not sleep anyway, I read intently half the night, until I began to see words between the lines, the whole book being filled with the two words–"Eat people." (Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman, V)

Science for all? Maybe not…

The recent bombing (and attempting bombings) by physicians and engineers in the UK may have a greater casualty than just snarled airport security and throwing more people in jail.  The fact that most of the current round of bombers are physicians, engineers and others with scientific training should put to rest the secularist lie that, if we just had more science and "reason" in education, we would have a better world.

In celebrating the tenth anniversary of a website for geotechnical engineers, I made the following observation:

Engineers, more than those in the pure sciences, are painfully aware that they and the decision makers for the technology seldom overlap.  The responsible use of technology is generally the province of others.  Linked to that responsible use is a reasonably rational economic and political system, without which technology doesn’t get put into use well if at all.  In other words, really crazy systems tend to get in their own way.  Those who want their destiny to be better need to take the proper decisions to make that happen, one way or another.

Let’s take this a step further: science and technology are neutral in that their benefit or harm derives both how they are applied and even how the concepts of "benefit" and "harm" are defined.  Ultimately these all must be delineated and executed within some kind of frame of reference.  The results you get will depend upon the frame of reference you’re working from.

Many of the terrorists come from scientific and technical backgrounds.  Secularists would like us to think that such deep exposure to science–and the underlying logic–would demonstrate to them the "error" of their religious ways.  Physicians, for example, just about have to give superficial assent to evolution to get through their course of study, and as we all know evolution is the elixir of knowledge for the secularist.  But in the case of these terrorists, things did not go according to the secularists’ plan.  Beyond that, their technological studies rendered them more proactive than many of their Islamic forbears, who tended to be fatalistic. That’s a major sea change for Islam; advocates of free will in Islam lost that battle in the early centuries after the Hejira.  It’s a change that most in the press have missed.

Let me repeat: how you view science and its application depend upon the frame of reference you approach it from.  Last summer I wrote a piece entitled Coming Home from Heathrow, where I compared my own journey with that of another engineering student at about the same time, Osama bin Laden.  The training and temptations were very similar, but the outcome was different.  It is the choice of everyone trained in the sciences has to make.