TopCrétien: Great News From Tough Mission Fields

If you’ve scrolled down the page, you’ve probably seen the link to “TopCrétien” on the sidebar, or at the bottom of the “static” part of the site.  It’s been there for about the last six years, on every page on the site.

The Francophone world has always been a fascination of mine since prep school.  That world not only includes obvious places such as France, Belgium and Québec, but also much of North and Sub-Saharan Africa.  But how to communicate the Gospel to these people?  I touched on one way this site has been doing just that, but I knew it needed more.  And I also knew that visitors from my site, coming as they do from all around the world, needed something different.

This morning on the 700 Club there was piece on TopCrétien, on the occasion of the one millionth person to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour from this website or those related to it.  Praise God and congratulations to TopCrétien and Eric Célérier, its founder!

When you do ministry on the web, you wonder sometimes what are the results you’re getting.  It’s good to know that, before the long blogroll and other links, one site I’ve consistently linked to has been a good partner.

Throwing Geithner Under the Bus re China

Or at least that’s the way it looks:

On the heels of Treasury Secretary Geithner’s apparent designation of China as a currency manipulator at his confirmation hearing last week, President Obama called President Hu over the weekend to try and calm the waters.

We at this time have no more information beyond confirmation of the call, but our sources tell us that President Obama did make the call in an effort to let President Hu know that the United States very much hopes to maintain strong positive relations with China and to cooperating with China on the many crises now confronting the world.

Incredible as it may seem we have confirmed that Geithner’s language was taken from the Obama Campaign website without anyone, including Geithner himself, having asked the White or State Department whether the electioneering slogans were now governmental policy.

It’s really hard to read a lot into this.  But calling the world’s largest country a currency manipulator right out of the chute is typical Boomer smashmouth rhetoric, which is one reason why there isn’t a Boomer in the White House.  Obama was wise to try to smooth some feathers with the Chinese.

And, as far as throwing people under the bus is concerned, putting Rick Warren on the inauguration program should have demonstrated that loyalty isn’t one of Obama’s strong suits.  Watch for that bus!

Pope Offers “Personal Prelature” for the TAC. Who’d Have Thunk It?

Not me, for one.  But Damian Thompson obviously does:

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has decided to recommend the Traditional Anglican Communion be accorded a personal prelature akin to Opus Dei, if talks between the TAC and the Vatican aimed at unity succeed, it is understood.

The TAC is a growing global community of approximately 400,000 members that took the historic step in 2007 of seeking full corporate and sacramental communion with the Catholic Church – a move that, if fulfilled, will be the biggest development in Catholic-Anglican relations since the English Reformation under King Henry VIII.

TAC members split from the Canterbury-based Anglican Communion headed by Archbishop Rowan Williams over issues such as its ordination of women priests and episcopal consecrations of women and practising homosexuals.

The TAC’s case appeared to take a significant step forwards in October 2008 when it is understood that the CDF decided not to recommend the creation of a distinct Anglican rite within the Roman Catholic Church – as is the case with the Eastern Catholic Churches – but a personal prelature, a semi-autonomous group with its own clergy and laity.Opus Dei was the first organisation in the Catholic Church to be recognised as a personal prelature, a new juridical form in the life of the Church. A personal prelature is something like a global diocese without boundaries, headed by its own bishop and with its own membership and clergy.

Because no such juridical form of life in the Church had existed before, the development and recognition of a personal prelature took Opus Dei and Church officials decades to achieve.

Part of the problem, for me, was that, until this, I wasn’t familiar with the concept of “personal prelature,” and my guess is that many others are in the same boat.

If this becomes reality, it is big–very big, for a number of reasons:

  • It would make very official the Vatican’s displeasure at the direction parts of the Anglican Communion are taking, and probably send to the bottom ecumenical dialogue between the two.
  • It represents a very dramatic shift in Vatican policy towards the rest of the world.  The flap over the St. Pius X bishops is more publicised, but this pontiff basically has decided that the Catholic church’s “friends” aren’t doing it much good.
  • It’s a creative solution to a problem largely of the Catholic church’s own making (non-recognition of Anglican orders, celibacy of its own priests, etc.)

How all of the details of this will work out is going to be interesting.

If We Had Really Known This About the Old Soviet Union…

…the Cold War would have ended a lot sooner:

In the early 1970’s, when the Brezhnev era seemed most full of promise, an elderly Frenchman travelled from Moscow to Khabarovsk on the Trans-Siberian railway.  After only a few hours at the eastern end of the line he boarded the train again for the long journey back to Moscow.  The Frenchman watched life through the windows of the train, commenting on what he saw to his wife and anyone else who would listen.  The sights, as he saw them a second time, seemed even more fascinating and puzzling; and as the train passed yet another straggling town he took off his spectacles and addressed the carriage.  ‘There are only two words in the English language to describe this country.  One is mesee and the other is sloppee.’ (Mark Frankland, The sixth continent: Russia and the making of Mikhail Gorbachov, p. 46)

Those of us who visited the Soviet Union in its last years certainly observed and experienced much of this.  And such should be a caution to people who would demonise/overestimate contemporary Russia.

If I Had Wanted Your Opinion, I Would Have Asked for It

Which is, more or less, what Barack Obama told Sen Jon Kyl (R-AR) yesterday:

The top congressional leaders from both parties gathered at the White House for a working discussion over the shape and size of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan. The meeting was designed to promote bipartisanship.

But Obama showed that in an ideological debate, he’s not averse to using a jab.

Challenged by one Republican senator over the contents of the package, the new president, according to participants, replied: “I won.”

The statement was prompted by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona , who challenged the president and the Democratic leaders over the balance between the package’s spending and tax cuts, bringing up the traditional Republican notion that a tax credit for people who do not earn enough to pay income taxes is not a tax cut but a government check.

Obama noted that such workers pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, property taxes and sales taxes. The issue was widely debated during the presidential campaign, when Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, challenged Obama’s tax plan as “welfare.”

With those two words — “I won” — the Democratic president let the Republicans know that debate has been put to rest Nov. 4 .

If there’s one thing that absolutely, positively infuriates me about this country, it’s the practice of inviting people in for meetings when you have absolutely, positively no intention of listening to them, or really care about their opinion.  But people here have to go through the motions of showing how “inclusive” and “open” they are.  It’s part of the theatre, and it not only wastes everybody’s time, it’s insulting.

The reality, of course, is that Barack Obama is keeping the Republicans in his back pocket in case the Congressional Democrats don’t go along with his program.  But jabs like this will make that more difficult when the time comes.  It would have been more honest to proclaim that “we won” to start with, ignored the rest of the country, and went on until “we” reached an impasse.

Which “we” will do sooner or later.

Sometimes, Even a Liberal Will Surprise You

It pays to have a little (actually, a lot of) humility, and such is the case with the nomination of Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate.

Earlier this week, I predicted that “it’s a given that New York Gov. David Patterson isn’t going to appoint a Republican, or a conservative Democrat for that matter.”  He did the latter, although many of his colleagues in the party aren’t happy with the choice.

I still think that appointing Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg would have been a lot of fun.  This appointment–or more precisely, the blowback from it in the Democrat Party–may also be fun too.

Transportation and Infrastructure Upgrades Already Slow Out of the Gate

I was afraid that this was going to happen:

When President-elect Barack Obama announced last month that he would revive the economy with the largest public works program since the dawn of the Interstate System of highways, advocates for the nation’s long-neglected infrastructure were euphoric.

Some hoped that the time had finally come to bring high-speed rail to the United States, or to wean the nation from its dependence on foreign oil with new or transformed public transit systems, or to take bold action to solve the problems of rising populations and falling reservoir levels across the Southwest.

But those hopes are fading. As the details of the plan come into focus, big transformative building projects seem unlikely. And the plan does not begin to provide the kind of money that civil engineers believe is needed to bring the nation’s aging bridges and water systems and roads and transit systems to a state of good repair.

Honestly, I’ve never understood the aversion that conservative Republicans in general and George Bush in particular have towards putting money into transporation and other public infrastructure.  The blunt truth is that, for all of the whining that took place (and all of the guff that Sarah Palin put up for it,) the “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska has more potential to raise the productivity of the United States than the vast majority of entitlements that government hands out.

As I said last month:

The general financial situation of the Federal government, coupled with that of the states, will make allocating funds to this difficult, even in a “stimulus mode.”  The general trend in American governmental budget allocation has been towards entitlements, and reversing that habit won’t be easy.  For the most part the states don’t have the option of deficit spending.

That crowding out effect is exaserbated by the House’s desire to be trendy with “high tech” projects when the basics of our infrastructure are woefully behind.

The opposite of progress is…

Thick as a Brick: Britain Approaches Bankruptcy

It’s hard to believe, but…

With every step taken by the Government as it tries frantically to prop up the British banking system, this central truth becomes ever more obvious.

Yesterday marked a new low for all involved, even by the standards of this crisis. Britons woke to news of the enormity of the fresh horrors in store. Despite all the sophistry and outdated boom-era terminology from experts, I think a far greater number of people than is imagined grasp at root what is happening here.

The country stands on the precipice. We are at risk of utter humiliation, of London becoming a Reykjavik on Thames and Britain going under. Thanks to the arrogance, hubristic strutting and serial incompetence of the Government and a group of bankers, the possibility of national bankruptcy is not unrealistic.

Kind of makes me think of the opening (and closing) lines to Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick:

So you ride yourselves over the fields and
You make all your animal deals and
Your wise men dont know how it feels to be thick as a brick.

Britain’s “wise” men and women may not know how it feels, but it’s becoming evident that they’re awfully good at being “thick as a brick.”

For those of us in the “Colonies,” consciously or not much of our own élite want this country to be more like the UK.  They’ve succeeded to a great degree.  We have an educational aristocracy, growing secularism and a society which is being crowded out by the state.  But if our new leader isn’t careful–or even if he is–we may end up with the same result.

Planned Obsolescence? Not Here!

One common complaint people have with many things they buy these days is that they are designed with the idea that they will, at an appointed time, wear out and become useless, requiring their replacement.

But that wasn’t the case with my old family business, the Vulcan Iron Works.  At the right is a pile hammer it produced in 1905, still on the job in Charlotte, NC, in October 2008.  At the time the business was located in Chicago.  The business was run by my great-great-uncle William and his brother James, whose patent is the principal one for the hammer.  Their brother George had already left Chicago for Washington to serve in the Department of Commerce and Labour under the President at the time, Theodore Roosevelt.

Three and a half years ago I went to New Jersey for the History Channel to view another Vulcan hammer which had been made in 1908 and was also still in service.

If you’re interested in more about the hammers in general and this photo in particular, click here.