When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, many of us had hoped that the U.S. had learnt its lesson from a quarter century earlier. And what was that lesson? Make sure that any foreign military involvement clearly defends legitimate American interests, know the country and its people where your troops are stationed, and keep the goals realistic. Among other things, this rules out nation-building.
Unfortunately, the George W. Bush administration, once its troops were on the ground in Afghanistan and later Iraq, succumbed to idealistic dreams of reshaping these countries into stable constitutional democracies. Unfortunately, a successful democracy is dependent on two major factors: first, a cohesive sense of nationhood, and second, supportive political traditions. Both were absent in the two countries. This practically guaranteed that the wars would become quagmires with no easy exit.
13 October 2021
27 September 2021
Canada more divided than ever. Here is an excerpt:
Earlier this year there was no sign that the other parties, including the Conservatives, New Democrats, Bloc Québécois, and Greens, were ready to bring down the government. Nevertheless, like his predecessors before him, Trudeau decided that parliament had become dysfunctional—because it was not following his every wish and was doing what a parliament ought to do, namely, holding the government accountable for its actions. So last month Trudeau went to the newly appointed governor general, Mary Simon, and requested an early dissolution of parliament—something no governor general has refused since 1926.
Trudeau wanted to try for another majority government so he would have a freer hand. Canadians saw through this immediately, and his standing in the public opinion polls began to slide. At that point he looked set to lose his gamble and possibly even his government. But when Canadians went to the polls this week, they delivered their verdict: more of the same.
16 September 2021
14 September 2021
At last! An excerpt:
This more systematic method enabled me to work through the remainder of the Psalms at a faster pace than I had anticipated. Thus, by the middle of August, I had completed the remaining unfinished psalms, at last reaching 150, thereby exceeding the target I had set for myself in the Reid Trust proposal.
The result of my efforts is not literary elegance. Some of the Psalms are rhymed, but not all. In fact, reading some of them without the music will not suggest that we have crossed from prose into verse, but they definitely fit the Genevan tunes, conforming strictly to their somewhat irregular metres.
What will I do with all this? I hope to find someone to publish my collection so as to disseminate knowledge of the Genevan Psalter, not only among English-speaking Reformed Christians, but among other Christians unfamiliar with the liturgical use of the biblical Psalter.
13 September 2021
Last week I finally received four copies of the second Brazilian edition of Political Visions and Illusions from InterVarsity Press.
11 September 2021
The choices before us. An excerpt:
As is generally the case, there is no obvious choice that is more Christian than the others. While the Liberals and the New Democrats are usually stronger on care for the poor and vulnerable in our society, their dogmatism on the so-called social issues, such as abortion, euthanasia and gender issues, makes them suspect to followers of the older faith traditions. Similarly, while Conservatives often, but not always, manifest a greater appreciation for the diversity of nonstate communities in Canada, they can just as easily appear insensitive to marginalized groups and to the physical environment.
Voting one way or the other will not usher in God’s kingdom, nor would we expect it to. We will thus likely vote in one of two ways: either for the party we think will do the least damage to the country, or for the best features of one party while hoping and praying that they will outweigh its negatives.
10 September 2021
Last evening I was interviewed by Jean Francesco in a live stream over YouTube on the subject of my Political Visions and Illusions. Much of it was in Portuguese, and Francesco translated my end of the conversation for the sake of his listeners in Brazil. The occasion was an online meeting of the Teoclub, a group of Brazilians interested in discussing theological matters.
07 September 2021
A conversation with Dr. David Koyzis on political ideologies and the Christian worldview.
25 August 2021
Trudeau may lose his gamble and retain only a plurality of seats in the Commons, prolonging his frustration for another four years. Or he may lose even more than that and suffer outright defeat at the hands of Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives.
If that happens, will O’Toole bring a different spirit to his office? Will his government, whether majority or minority, be less willing to employ the tactics of Harper and Trudeau for partisan advantage? While Trudeau may be in a gambling mood, I am not: I wouldn’t bet on it. The temptations that come with political power are often too great, even for someone with good intentions and promises of reform.
21 August 2021
Two days ago I was privileged to spend an hour with doctoral students at Wesley Seminary in Marion, Indiana. These are students of Dr. Aaron Perry, who has had them reading my Political Visions and Illusions. May God bless them as they continue to minister to his people in parish settings.
19 August 2021
10 August 2021
Quite honestly, I am weary. The past nearly two years have been difficult for so many of us. Our daughter lost three of her grandparents, and we’ve not been able to visit my widowed mother during that time. Last month we drove up to spend a few hours with a dear friend who co-owns a brewery north of Toronto. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, sitting on a patio drinking beer in the sunshine. A taste of normality went down along with the drafts.
In my current work with the Psalms, I have noticed how many contain this plaintive phrase: “How long, O LORD?” (Psalms 6, 13, 35, 74, 79, &c.) This question has been on so many of our lips over the past year and a half. I feel numb these days, as if I’m watching all this happen to someone else. I’ve wept very little, somewhat to my surprise. Perhaps this is a natural coping mechanism that has surfaced to enable me to get through each day. Patience is not something which comes easily to me. But patience is what we all need at present.
27 July 2021
23 July 2021
I myself am of two minds about updating liturgical language. As an heir of the Reformation, I believe it is generally best for Christians to worship in a language they can easily understand. Even the most conservative protestant congregations have largely abandoned the King James Version of the Bible, substituting instead the New King James Version or possibly the English Standard Version. Most other churches now use the NIV or the NRSV. There is good reason for this, since we all should wish to see God’s word proclaimed in comprehensible form.
At the same time, it would be a pity if English-speakers were to lose their grasp of the Elizabethan forms altogether. Who would the Copts be if they were to lose their ancestral Coptic language? Or the Maronites without Aramaic? Without Church Slavonic would Russians be forced to change, say, the cities of Volgograd and Kaliningrad to Volgogorod and Kaliningorod, just so people could continue to understand their meaning?
15 July 2021
Next month GodBooks and Thomas Nelson Brasil will be publishing a book titled, The Gospel of Peace and Hate Speech. I have a chapter in this collection about the relationship between politics and idolatry. Coming soon.
13 July 2021
10 July 2021
A Conversation With David Koyzis. Here is a description of this online periodical from its website: "The American Commons is a free grassroots web magazine by rank-and-file American Solidarity Party members that provides commentary on faith, culture, and politics." An excerpt from the interview:
Koyzis: The smoke-filled rooms served a purpose, because they were an avenue whereby local officials and party functionaries would vet a candidate before he was presented to the public. And that stage has been largely removed from the process for the last 50 years. And I think Jimmy Carter, he was fairly ineffectual – a very good man, I like him personally; I heard him speak about 30 years ago in Atlanta, and I found him quite impressive as a speaker – but as a President, though, he had no connection with Congress. It was very difficult for him to govern, because he was this lone figure who was parachuted in and expected to govern in a system that is set up to disperse power.
So, this is the sort of thing that concerns me about the direction of American politics. The sort of figures that the 18th century founders would have blanched at putting in power, these are the kinds of people that are increasingly coming to office in the United States. . . .
09 July 2021
Reassessing Our Heroes. An excerpt:
What do we do with our heroes from the past when we discover their flaws? What shall we do with the monuments to their achievements when the latter seem overshadowed by their errors?
Like so many Canadians, I was horrified to learn of the discovery of 215 unmarked graves of aboriginal children on the premises of a residential school in Kamloops, B.C. Soon after this grisly discovery, students at Ryerson University in Toronto upended a statue of Egerton Ryerson, a 19th-century Methodist leader who contributed to the formation of common public schools in Upper Canada and of “Indian” residential schools. As I write, Hamiltonians are debating the removal of statues of Queen Victoria and Sir John A. Macdonald in Gore Park downtown, because of the role they played in setting federal policy towards aboriginal Canadians.
What then do we do with our all too fallible heroes from the past? We cannot pretend that Macdonald was not our first prime minister and that he did not do much to create the country we love and to which we are loyal. In this respect, Macdonald is no different from other respected figures from the past who have shaped the world we live in.
07 July 2021
Yesterday I posted two videos on this blog, one of this year's National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast and the other of a beautiful hymn, We Seek Your Kingdom. Here is another video: We Seek Your Kingdom: The Story Behind the Song.
I especially appreciate the part of the conversation that begins at 10:56.
"What's your favourite line, Andy?"
"The second line, actually: 'We long for heaven's demonstration here.' I think that word demonstration has become so key in my understanding of the kingdom in these last few years. Importantly, we're not building the kingdom. That's not our job. Our job is demonstrating the kingdom . . . . So just like Jesus' miracles. They were real. Transformation happened. But they were also a demonstration of what the future perfection was gonna be. And I think that takes a lot of the heaviness off our shoulders when we realize our call here is to demonstrate the kingdom, to show signs of that beauty, of that perfection, of that justice in our workplaces, in politics, in media, and everywhere. We're demonstrating that future perfection . . . . We're not building it to gradually get to this future utopia . . . . We're demonstrating what heaven is like in the now."
This text should be added to every future hymnal, as it so wonderfully sums up the nature of our earthly walk as we seek to do God's will in everyday life.
06 July 2021
I was recently alerted to last month's annual National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast in the United Kingdom which moved online this year. It was recorded and I link to it below. I found it deeply inspirational. I wish we had something like this in Canada.
I especially want to draw your attention to the wonderful song at the end, which I hope will catch on in the churches. I would love to know more about Noel Robinson, Andy Flannagan, and Graham Hunter who wrote it. The text is, of course, set to the familiar tune EVENTIDE. The lyrics can be found here.
05 July 2021
Unelected government workers are crucial to sustaining the infrastructure of political life. They do not deserve the generic put-downs about getting the government out of our lives. Their work is necessary for promoting healthy patterns in the way we are governed.
One of the better-known passages about governments in the Bible says, “the powers that be are ordained of God.” Officials are properly fulfilling their mandates, the passage goes on to say, when they reward those who do good and punish those who do evil. That does cover the territory quite well.
In our contemporary mass societies, however, these functions require policies, programs, agencies, people with job descriptions — in a word, the bureaucracies that we so often complain about — in order to promote our social well-being. It is not difficult to think of government officials, elected and appointed, who do not live up to their callings. But we ought to be grateful for the many folks who are committed to doing it well, and for the long run.
Incidentally, Mouw, President Emeritus of Fuller Theological Seminary, was kind enough to write the foreword to the second edition of Political Visions and Illusions, now available in Portuguese translation and soon to be in Spanish as well.
30 June 2021
Tomorrow is Canada Day, a federal holiday once known as Dominion Day. It celebrates the day in 1867 when the Dominion of Canada was established by bringing together in a federal union Canada West (Ontario), Canada East (Québec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Typical Canada Day celebrations include parades and fireworks. From our vantage point on the Niagara Escarpment, we can see multiple fireworks displays in various cities in our region.
23 June 2021
Dear Global Scholars support community:
In my newsletter last Friday, I indicated that I would have news about a donor challenge to support my work with Global Scholars Canada.
Two weeks ago I was issued a challenge by an anonymous potential donor. Up until Dec. 31, 2021, they will match every dollar raised over and above last year's funds up to $8,000. If a particular donor gave $200 last year, what counts this year for purposes of matching is what he or she gives above the $200 amount. All new donations from people who have not previously given count towards the total. This means that if someone gave $500 last year and gives $800 this year, $300 of that will be matched by the donor. A new donor who gives $1,000 this year will in effect be giving $2,000 in total.
Don't worry about alerting Global Scholars to how your donation is affected by this challenge: our accountant will be conscientious in assuring that all qualifying donations are properly matched.
GSC's page for giving can be found here. Once you are in the page, scroll down to the heading marked DONATION DETAILS, and then choose one of the options under FUND. Americans may donate through our sister organization in the US. If you cannot afford to give, please do continue to pray for my work.
In closing I would like to express my gratitude to this anonymous donor for encouraging additional support for my transnational vocation.
Yours in the service of God's kingdom,
22 June 2021
When I’ve read Chronicles in the past, I’ve sometimes thought that they are redundant, simply repeating what the books of Samuel and Kings had already recounted. In the larger biblical narrative, it feels as though the story, which thus far has been smoothly told from Genesis to the exile, is suddenly interrupted by an apparently unnecessary flashback, taking us all the way back to, well, Adam, the first human being. Then we are treated to a long series of proper names, some of whom are familiar but most of whom are not, leaving us wondering what relevance they could possibly have to the larger story of salvation. What harm would have been done by leaving them out and simply skipping from 2 Kings to Ezra?
In fact, the two books of Chronicles are most important. In the Jewish Bible they come at the very end of the collection, functioning as both recap and capstone, leaving the reader with a sense of expectation and hope. In the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, the books are called Paraleipomenon, which implies that the material therein supplements the books of Kings. Yet the Chronicles do not merely fill in the gaps in other books. The Chronicler brings to his work a distinctive emphasis which makes it more than just another historical account.
17 June 2021
You can find the conversation here. I will warn you that this took place at 7.10 am, when I am not exactly in top form. But I will let the listeners judge for themselves.
09 June 2021
And now in London, Ontario, a young man appears deliberately to have attacked an immigrant family from Pakistan with his vehicle, killing all but one person, a nine-year-old, still in hospital. It is suspected that they were targeted because they were Muslims.
07 June 2021
As part of our publishing efforts, IVP seeks to expand the ministry of the books we publish to reach people around the world by sublicensing rights for specific languages, countries and/or formats.
We are pleased to inform you that Political Visions & Illusions (2nd Edition) has been contracted for publication in the Spanish language by Teología para Vivir S.A.C. Translations typically take 18-24 months (sometimes longer) to release. We'll be sure to send you copies of the translated edition once they arrive.Congratulations on this good news!
Good news indeed! This means that the book will soon be available in all three of the major western hemispheric languages. Spanish is spoken by some 400-500 million people, making it one of the most spoken languages in the world. The largest Spanish-speaking countries in order are Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Spain, the United States, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, and many more. May God use this forthcoming translation to advance his kingdom in the hispanophone countries.
03 June 2021
Yesterday afternoon I discussed my work with Global Scholars Canada for a series sponsored by the Oak Centre for Studies in Faith and Culture here in Hamilton. The title was Serving God in a Global Academy: A Look at Developments in Brazil. Clicking on the link will bring up the PowerPoint presentation I used for my talk.
To my delight several of my friends and contacts in Brazil joined us remotely for the occasion. I appreciated their questions, which I did my best to answer. Que Deus abençoe o povo brasileiro!
02 June 2021
Last week I was interviewed by Jonas Madureira, of Edições Vida Nova, on the occasion of the release of the second Brazilian edition of Political Visions and Illusions. Most of it is in English with Portuguese subtitles. Here is the interview below:
01 June 2021
Koyzis’s reliance on Herman Dooyeweerd’s modal analysis theologically grounds Koyzis’s interpretations and critiques in a theology of creation. But, strangely, Koyzis makes nothing of the cross. He mentions redemption often, and speaks of the redemptive narrative of the ideologies as they contrast with the Christian redemptive narrative. But the Christian redemptive narrative, centered on the cross, plays no role in Koyzis’s own political critiques or positions. This is an especially odd omission, and even more so given that theologians of many Christian communions have long recognized a profound political meaning in the cross. A theology of creation and a theology of sin are necessary for a Christian critique of political ideologies, but they are not sufficient. Without a politics that is informed by and centered upon the cross, an understanding of politics may be religious, but I wonder how exactly it would be distinctively Christian.
There can be no doubt that the cross is central to the Christian faith. For centuries people have erected crosses inside their church buildings and on top of steeples. People have worn precious metal crosses around their necks, bishops wear weighty pectoral crosses over their regalia, and congregations have carried crosses in procession on feast days. As St. Paul has written, "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). Without Christ's death on the cross, we are still in our sins. Unless Christ had died, we would have to bear the penalty for our sins. As those who have been redeemed by the power of the cross and Jesus' subsequent resurrection, we sing hymns such as In the Cross of Christ I Glory and Lift High the Cross.
31 May 2021
Inklings Conversations – Spring 2021
(Wednesday June 2nd from 4:00 – 5:30)
Ø Serving God in a Global Academy: a Look at Developments in Brazil, A conversation with David T. Koyzis,
Ø Global Scholar, Politics & International Affairs June 2nd Join Zoom Meeting
Back in 1976 James W. Sire published a book called The Universe Next Door, subtitled, A Basic Worldview Catalog, in which he treated the different visions that animate the lives, not just of individuals, but of entire communities. Beginning with Christian theism, Sire went on to explore deism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism, eastern pantheistic monism, the new age, and, in later editions, postmodernism, Marxism, and Islam. This may not have been the first worldview book ever published anywhere, but it definitely filled a need at the time.
24 May 2021
Yesterday I was privileged to speak to a large group of young people, staffers for the organization Alvo da Mocidade, or Target Youth, the Brazilian counterpart of Young Life. I talked about my own life, my faith journey, and my book, Visões e Ilusões Políticas, which was just released in a second edition. I spoke at the invitation of my great friend Gabriel Lazarotti, who visited me in Canada a few years ago. At least one hundred people were in attendance, primarily from Belo Horizonte, the sixth largest city in Brazil. My principal translator was Gabriel Chaves, assisted by Diego Baião.
Ontem eu tive o privilégio de falar a um grande grupo de jovens, funcionários da organização Alvo da Mocidade, a homóloga brasileira do Young Life. Falei da minha própria vida, da minha trajetória de fé e do meu livro Visões e Ilusões Políticas, que acaba de sair em uma segunda edição. Falei a convite do meu grande amigo Gabriel Lazarotti, que me visitou no Canadá há alguns anos. Estiveram presentes pelo menos cem pessoas, principalmente de Belo Horizonte, a sexta maior cidade do Brasil. Meu principal tradutor foi Gabriel Chaves, auxiliado por Diego Baião.
22 May 2021
I heard that you like very much Brazil and the Portuguese language! Are you following the local news? How do you read the Brazilian political landscape now?
I absolutely love Brazil and its people! As someone of Greek Cypriot parentage, I easily embrace friends when I see them. Brazil is an entire country of people who do the same thing! In this respect I find the social distancing mandated by the current pandemic deeply frustrating. I look forward to a return to normality. And I hope I will one day be able to return to Brazil and hug everyone I meet!
As for the Brazilian political landscape, I think the biggest issues are threefold: (1) the endemic corruption that has marred political life for decades; (2) the confidence people place in would-be political saviours in the presidency; and (3) the global pandemic, which has disproportionately affected Brazil. I believe these three elements are interconnected. This is where political ideologies play a role. If we are viewing reality through one of the lenses distorted by a false redemptive narrative, we will err in our proposed solutions to contemporary political and social ills. Furthermore, it may be that basic political reforms, along with an enduring change in public attitudes, are needed to break the hold of would-be Napoleonic figures in the public imagination.
As the good news of Jesus Christ continues to spread among Brazilians, let us pray that they will increasingly look to him for their salvation and scale back their expectations of political leaders. At the same time, imagine a Brazil where a public justice movement is in a position to elect candidates to congress and to the presidency. A movement dedicated to stamping out corruption and bringing integrity to the political process. Ora et labora! Pray and work to make it happen.Learn Portuguese, take out a subscription, and read more here.
21 May 2021
17 May 2021
12 May 2021
10 May 2021
The book's translator was Leandro Bachega, who is a doctoral student at the Universidade de São Paulo. I am grateful for the hard work he put into this.
I look forward to receiving the author's copies soon. And I pray that this second edition will be a blessing to the people of Brazil, whom I have come to love greatly over the years. Eu adoro o povo brasileiro! Que Deus os abençoe!
07 May 2021
How and why is liberalism failing? Primarily because liberalism, as a centuries-old political philosophy, is rooted in a defective understanding of the human person. Liberalism ignores the person’s rootedness in local communities and their myriad customs and influences, replacing that rootedness with an inordinate allegiance to state and market, the instruments of our supposed liberation.Read the entire article here.
As Deneen sees it, the United States as a whole was established on liberal principles, and these have developed over the past nearly two and a half centuries in ways consistent with liberalism’s underlying presuppositions but inconsistent with a healthy social fabric. However, the overwhelming dominance of liberalism has been masked by the recent superficial polarization of the national political landscape into two factions.
Indeed, our most vociferous conflicts have pitted classical liberals, with their affection for a free market and small government, against progressive liberals, who view government as an instrument for the expansion of individual autonomy.
04 May 2021
I have changed the photograph and link in the right sidebar from the first to the second Brazilian edition of Political Visions and Illusions.
Aqui está a descrição do livro:
As ideologias políticas não são uma mera questão de governança. Elas são intrínseca e inescapavelmente religiosas. Elas reúnem inúmeras crenças sobre a natureza da realidade, dos indivíduos e da sociedade, e formam uma visão coletiva do que é o bem comum. O problema é que as ideologias políticas são também visões idólatras.
03 May 2021
What is the place of faith in public life in the UK? Beyond 'secularism' that seeks to relegate faith to the margins of public life, and a 'Christian nation' position that seeks to retain, or even regain, Christian public privilege, there is a third way. Faith in Democracy: Framing a Politics of Deep Diversity calls for an approach that maximises public space for the expression of faith-based visions within democratic fora while repudiating all traces of religious privilege. It argues for a truly conversational space, reflecting theologically on the contested concepts at the heart of the current debate about the place of faith in British public life: democracy, secularism, pluralism and public faith.
While the book addresses a British readership, I suspect it will have relevance for Canada and the United States as well. Once I have read it, I will be writing and posting a review.
28 April 2021
|Abdullah Onar at his office, 1957|
My father's best childhood friend was a Turkish Cypriot named Abdullah Onar (1929-2019) who came from a neighbouring village in the Karpas Peninsula. He became an architect who designed many buildings in the island. He was also a competent artist, some of whose works I have posted below. I recently came into contact with his great-grandnephew who lives in England, and I quickly discovered that we are distant DNA cousins, which likely means that Abdullah was related to us as well.
22 April 2021
21 April 2021
How do you suggest believers approach public justice? In your view, what is the source of our disagreements about what justice requires?
There are two sources of our disagreements. First, we may disagree on basic principles of justice, in which case it may be that we have been negatively influenced by the redemptive stories told by the secular ideologies I treat in my book. Perhaps we have become Christian socialists, or Christian nationalists, or some such. A major reason for my writing this book is to move believers into examining themselves to see whether they are in fact accepting an unbiblical redemptive narrative and whether this might be adversely affecting their approach to political life.
20 April 2021
My motive in writing this series has been to explore the ways in which people in leadership, representing diverse and potentially antagonistic communities, have undertaken to co-operate for political purposes. In the 1960s and '70s such arrangements were grouped together under the general rubric of consociationalism, a term borrowed from the writings of 16th-century political philosopher Johannes Althusius, whose Politics represents a minority pluralist stream in the modern age, otherwise dominated by a monistic emphasis on undisputed sovereignty. We noted at the outset that Sir Bernard Crick famously defined politics as the peaceful conciliation of diversity within a given unit of rule. All politics presupposes diversity in some measure: a diversity of political philosophies, a diversity of prudential judgements on practical policy issues, a diversity of legitimate interests, and so forth. But sometimes this diversity is of such an extreme nature that it threatens the ability of the system to accommodate it within a single framework. This is where a consociational arrangement can play a significant role.
Baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church, Philip converted to the Church of England at the time of his marriage to Princess Elizabeth in 1947. At the same time he was granted several titles, most notably Duke of Edinburgh.
The writers for The Crown suggest that Prince Philip flirted with atheism in his younger years, but former Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, claims to The Yorkshire Post that Philip discussed with him freely his and the Queen’s shared rootedness in the Christian faith: “Of course, the Queen and I are so strong in Jesus Christ.” His remarkable mother, Princess Alice, had founded an order of Orthodox nuns in Greece, spent the war years sheltering Jews during the German occupation, and ended her life at Buckingham Palace with her son and daughter-in-law. Her presence in Philip’s life likely had an impact on his own faith. Nevertheless, he was known to be inquisitive about other religions and was interested in fostering interfaith dialogue.
15 April 2021
Now we turn to the United States, which, over the past two generations, has become increasingly divided along ideological and religious lines. In this respect, the United States, which once stood aloof from the trends affecting Europe, is coming to resemble France in the wake of the Revolution and ensuing Napoleonic debacle.
09 April 2021
In 1878 Great Britain received administrative control over Cyprus as part of the settlement that ended the Russo-Turkish war of the previous year. The first British colonial high commissioner was Sir Garnet Wolseley (1833-1913), who had put down the Red River rebellion in Canada nearly a decade earlier. From 1878 until 1914, the island's residents remained nominal subjects of the Ottoman Sultan, but when Britain entered the Great War against Turkey, she annexed it outright, lest its residents be considered enemy aliens. Cyprus became a Crown colony in 1925. My father was born there three years later and grew up in the Greek Orthodox community, although he had Turkish Cypriot friends, including a boy born exactly one year after he was. This man remained one of his best friends throughout their long lives.
06 April 2021
- Magna Carta (1215)
- Petition of Right (1628)
- Habeas Corpus Act (1679)
- Bill of Rights (1689)
- Act of Settlement (1701)
- Reform Act (1832)
- Various acts expanding the franchise (1867, 1884, 1928)
- Life Peerages Act (1958)
- Scotland Act (1998)
- House of Lords Act (1999)
05 April 2021
01 April 2021
Belgium became independent almost by accident. For centuries its fate was tied to that of the remainder of the lowlands of northwestern Europe, a part of the Holy Roman Empire that passed into the hands of Spain in 1556. While the Dutch revolt beginning in 1568 sent shock waves throughout these provinces, the Spanish Habsburgs under Philip II managed to retain control of the southern provinces, cut almost in two by the episcopal principality of Liège, a collection of ecclesiastical lands over which the Bishop of Liège exercised political rule. In 1714 the Spanish Netherlands passed into the hands of the Austrian branch of the Habsburgs, who retained control until they were dislodged by the French Revolution.
30 March 2021
The Middle East, at one time called the Near East, has been politically unstable for just over a century, when the victors in the Great War divided the territory of the former Ottoman Empire between them. France and Great Britain were the principal parties to this division, with the former receiving Syria and the latter receiving Palestine and Mesopotamia. The borders were artificial and did not correspond to the boundaries between the various communities in the region. Britain set up Iraq (southern Mesopotamia) and the Trans-Jordan as monarchies under the Hashemite dynasty.
For its part France divided the former Ottoman province of Syria into two, with the southern coastal area, with its Christian majority, designated as Lebanon, or the Lebanon, as it was often referred to in English. France deliberately separated Lebanon from the remainder of Syria to accommodate this Christian population, who would otherwise have been a minority in a greater Syria. Christian communities survived in Lebanon because of their relative isolation in its higher-elevation topography. Nevertheless, Lebanon had a substantial Muslim minority who were more oriented towards their co-religionists in neighbouring Syria than to the west. For them the division of Syria seemed arbitrary and artificial.
26 March 2021
In the first four instalments of this series, we explored some of the principal characteristics of power-sharing in a divided polity, which collectively are often called consociational. I noted that there is no single form of consociational arrangement but that all are intended to facilitate co-operation among leaders of sharply divided communities for proximate political purposes. Each country that has happened upon such an arrangement has its own story. Today I will focus on the Netherlands.
25 March 2021
The most ecumenical of our creeds, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, was compiled in the heat of controversy over the person of Christ and the divinity of the Holy Spirit in the 4th century, when on two occasions the bishops of the church were assembled, following the precedent established in Acts 15, to settle the issues at stake. The result was a creed that is binding on both eastern and western churches. Originally expressed in the first-person-plural—”We believe in one God”—it was later modified to speak in the first-person-singular: “I believe in one God . . . .” But whether in the plural or the singular, it expresses beautifully the faith of a community. Adhering to this faith is not only a sign of inclusion, as some might express it today. It is a matter of life and death, as the pseudo-Athanasian creed tells us: “This is the catholic faith: one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.” To stray beyond the boundaries of the faith is to place oneself in peril. Thus the need for a creed.
The Virtual Illusion: Social Media’s Uneasy Relationship with Real Community. An excerpt:
We live in an age when there is an unprecedented amount of information bombarding us from all directions. With computer technology’s great leap forward in the 1980s and ’90s, our social networks have expanded exponentially, keeping us in constant contact with friends, family, and co-workers around the world. This interconnectedness has refashioned our notion of community, bursting through the old geographical limits that once circumscribed our social circles.
But what has this done to our lives as members of specific communities? If our loyalties are more diffuse than ever before, and if each of us can in effect create his or her own community, how has this affected, for example, the political bonds of solidarity that hold citizens together in a public legal community ordered to doing justice? What, further, is this doing to the church institution?
22 March 2021
19 March 2021
In last Friday's post I outlined four initial characteristics of a consociational political arrangement. These are 1. Executive power-sharing or grand coalitions; 2. Balanced executive-legislative relations, semi-separation of powers; 3. Balanced bicameralism & minority representation; and 4. Multi-party system. Now we move on to numbers 5 and 8 which will fill out the principal characteristics of a political arrangement based on power-sharing among potentially antagonistic communities.
12 March 2021
In my previous posts I discussed the role that various consociational mechanisms have played in allowing potentially hostile subcultures to live together under the same political system. In my last post I mentioned four broad characteristics conducive to this co-existence: (1) élite accommodation, (2) mutual veto or concurrent majority, (3) proportionality in representation, and (4) segmental autonomy. Now it's time to unpack these further into eight categories, which are useful as we compare them to the majoritarian principles employed in most English-speaking democracies, including Canada and the United States. These eight characteristics, four of which we shall look at today are based on empirical observation, but they might also be said to constitute an agenda for allowing potentially antagonistic subcultures to live together in peace. It might not fit well on a placard, and it doesn't lend itself to easy sloganeering, but it may be time to move beyond that.
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