Book Sale

Thursday 29 February 2024

May Justice Be Swift


"Lex inusta lex non est lex."

St. Augustine.

An unjust law is no law at all.

"1 Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees,

    and the writers who keep writing oppression,

2 to turn aside the needy from justice

    and to rob the poor of my people of their right,

that widows may be their spoil,

    and that they may make the fatherless their prey!"

Isaiah 10:1-2


A law that contradicts God's law is an unjust law. Thankfully, sometimes, though the Church itself fails to recognise this, in the common grace of God our law system, which finds it origins in biblical revelation, does recognise this.

May justice be swift. The politicians who enacted these unjust polices stole income, livelihoods, dignity and reputations from good Australians. May those who were harmed by these concepts be compensated generously, and may those who enforced these immoral and unlawful decrees be lawfully sanctioned so that future politicians and leaders do not try to do the same. 

Tuesday 27 February 2024

The Sins of the Fathers Can Be Devastating


The sins of fathers can be devastating. Israel missed out on a very good king when Jonathan died, and Saul's dynasty crumbled. Jonathan was the rightful heir to the leadership, before God removed the anointing from Saul's house, and would have been a very good king. In fact, in a side by side comparison, Jonathan shows far better qualities as a man and a leader in character, and nobility, than either Saul or David.

We see a great example of the nobility of Jonathan in 1 Samuel 14,

“6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” 7 And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” 8 Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.” 11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12 And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.” And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 13 Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him. 14 And that first strike, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, killed about twenty men within as it were half a furrow's length in an acre of land. 15 And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic” (1 Sam. 14:6-15).

Jonathan displays bravery and godliness of the highest order in this passage, and he would have built a powerful legacy in Israel, if he had become king.

But Saul destroyed that potential legacy for his son. David's ability probably outshone Jonathan, unlike David, though, he maintained his dignity.  

Jonathan lost his chance of an incredible future because his father destroyed it with his own sins. Jonathan was not held responsible for those sins, but the backwash of Saul's failures destroyed his own son in the process.

The sins of fathers can be devastating.

Monday 26 February 2024

Wicked Leaders and Housing


Image: Unsplash

Home ownership is not something which is antithetical to Christianity.

We read this in Isaiah:

"20 No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands" (Isa. 65:20-21).

This is of course in the context of Isaiah speaking about the New heavens and the New earth. So, this is not a promise that God's people would enjoy this in fullness in this age, but that we will in the age to come, eternal life.

However, there is an application for our day. Because this promise that God's people would build houses and live in them is a promise throughout the Bible. Nations where God is blessing the people see this increase, nations where God is judging the people see this decrease. This should then make it obvious to us what is happening to our nation, we are under judgement. The ability to own a home is disappearing for many in the upcoming generations, unless of course, husband, wife, and soon children, work. Which is far from a nation under blessing. And will still only work for so long. 

If our leaders were truly righteous they would be enacting policies that increased the ability for Australians to own land. Instead, they have done the opposite since the Howard era, supercharging economic growth through mass immigration, making the economy look bigger where everyone's share of the pie is actually smaller, including those who have come into the country more recently. 

As John Calvin said, "When God wants to judge a nation, he gives them wicked leaders."

What fascinates me is that more people are realizing this. More people are recognizing that those in power over us are not for us, not for our good, and serve other masters. Governments which allow international monetary funds to come in and build up housing and land, when their people are suffering are clearly not governments of the people, for the people. They are governments of an evil international elite, for an evil international elite.

There are many things about this which need to change, but as we can say for certain that God is judging our nation, by giving it over to a leadership that does not serve it, therefore the key to that change is in the repentance of the people beginning which the Church of God itself. We are not promised that we would prosper in this life, Christianity is not a means to gain. But no one can deny that where Christianity in truth increases that blessings do come. If we want to see those blessings come again, I believe it begins with the church confronting the evil in our nation and its own congregations from pornography, men submitting to their wives, greed, apathy all the way through to support of the bombing of civilians across the Middle East from Iraq to Gaza; and everything else in between that we tolerate. If we want to see the return of blessing, it begins with repentance, in all the areas necessary.

We will not have the fullness of Isaiah's prophecy until the fullness comes. But we can have a larger measure of that blessing if we humble ourselves. 

Saturday 10 February 2024

History or Die


I have had people ask me many times over the years, "Who cares about history? Why is history so important?" I like to ask them a very simple question: do you put your hands on a hot plate? Everyone answers no, of course they don’t. I then ask why? I usually get some variant of ‘because it will hurt’, or because it is dangerous. I then point out the obvious: you know it will hurt, because you have burnt yourself before. You know that fire hurts from experience. That is what history is. History is the communal collection of learning from our own human mistakes.

We ignore history at our own peril. 

Friday 9 February 2024

Immanuel, God is With Us

You can watch the video of this sermon here.


Last week we looked at the importance of family from Matthew chapter one. We saw how  God chose a good mother and a good father to be central to his redemption plan. We saw how Joseph was a just man, and he shows this by being dedicated to maintaining his righteousness, upholding the law, and showing mercy to Mary when he thinks she is guilty. We saw how Mary is the greatest woman in history, because she was the one who was blessed to have Jesus in her womb. And we noted how through most of Christian history European women would have been encouraged to see her as the ultimate role model, the ultimate example of what it means to be a righteous woman. Yes, the Catholics go too far, but we should still not forget her powerful stand out example.

Today we are going to look at the same passage again, but we are going to focus on a different aspect.

Talking about family is important. We live in a day and age where there are so many pressures and attacks on family, that it isn’t funny. There are external pressures from the way our society forces us to have both men and women work just to pay the bills. There are also internal pressures from the expectations that we place on ourselves in our own families. And there are a whole bunch of issues in between. The predominant way that we all live is in families. This is God’s intention and gift for mankind. David tells us this, “5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. 6 God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land” (Psalm 68:5-6, KJV). God wants people to be surrounded by those that love them and cherish them. He wants what is best for us, and so advocating for biblical family is important. The more our culture rejects these truths, the more the Church should double down on them.   

But, as true as that may be, the most important thing we read about in Matthew One is not about Mary and Joseph. There is a much more profound truth in these verses and I want to focus on it today: the immanence of God. The coming of Jesus Christ, the incarnation as it is called by theologians, is THE MOST important event in this passage and in all of history, outside of creation itself. It is the cornerstone of everything before and after it. It is the most important thing we can ever hear about and will ever be made to consider. And if it is not the anchor of your life, then you are in danger of having your entire life shipwrecked, no matter how well put together you appear to be to others. How your eternal destiny goes depends on how you respond to this truth. So, let’s consider what the Apostle Matthew wants us to take from our passage this morning.

Fulfilment (Matthew 1:18-23) – We looked at these verses last week and noted how they vindicated Mary and showed to Joseph how she was actually innocent. But far more is going on in this passage than just a vindication of the most blessed woman. The angel tells Joseph,

“18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” which means, God with us).”

Within these few short verses we see the fulfilment of a long line of promises and blessings from the Lord himself. So, what I want to do this morning, is examine what this passage is fulfilling, so that we can have a fuller understanding of the importance of what the angel is saying.  

I noted a few weeks ago that Matthew is more focused on the way that Jesus’ ministry fulfills the Old Testament than other Apostles. They all have this in their gospels to a degree, but none more than Matthew. Again and again he emphasizes “fulfill”, or “fulfilled”.

This is important to establish, because there are some Christians out there which don’t see how the New Testament connects thoroughly to the Old, and some who think of the Church as secondary in importance to Israel, and some even go so far to say that it is a backup plan, or that God has two different peoples, Israel and the Church.  

The argument goes like this: That Israel are the people of God, but God came to his people and rejected him, so God went to plan B, which was to make the Church, and he will one day save all of Israel and finish plan A. This position hits on some important truths, but they are incomplete.

Many Jews did reject Jesus. But not all did. The entire early Church was originally Jewish remember. So how can the Church replace Israel when it was made up of ‘faithful Israel’? How can the Church be different to Israel if it was made up of faithful Israel?

Israel is God’s people, but he did not reject his people, all he did was cut out dead branches. Israel and the Church are different names for God’s people. Remember the church just means gathering or assembly. And this was a common name for God’s people in the Old Testament.  

It is true that one day a large percentage of Jews, that is Israelites will be saved. But they will do so by trusting in Jesus and re-joining the Church. Because all who believe in Jesus, Jew or Gentile, are made part of the church, which is the body of Christ. “All are one in Christ Jesus,” as Paul told us.

Matthew’s focus on fulfilment, which we will see as we go through his gospel, highlights how thoroughly Israelite and Christian at the same time, the gospel message is. The gospel message fulfils the hopes of Israel, and our hope is in that. All who believe are the children of Abraham. There is only one message for Jews and Gentiles, and only one hope; Jesus.  

The Apostle begins by showing how the coming of Jesus fulfills one of the most ancient promises of God to his people: that he would dwell with us. So, let’s explore this today, by beginning with our original purpose.  

Our Original Purpose (Genesis) – What is our purpose in life? Many people wonder at this. There is an entire snake oil industry out there to take advantage of this and to give human answers to this question. Many people will be told to seek inside themselves, to seek the wisdom of ancient spirits, to read the Bhagavat Gita, or the Kabbalah, or the Gnostic Gospels or some modern spiritualists re-writing of these things. They may be told to seek it through education or career, or social engagement. Or some other way. Gordan Gecko once told people purpose was found in greed, making big money in business, that “Greed is good”. Others will promise that you will find your purpose in life if you find “the one” you are supposed to be with. This is as pagan an idea as you can get, but still many Christians believe this. The Bible shows us something very different about our purpose.  

We were created to reflect God and enjoy him. We read in Genesis 1:26-28 –

“26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Out of all the creatures on the plant, there is only one that is created in the image of God, and that is humanity. To be made in the image of God means to have his stamp, to be valuable, to be able to participate in the divine nature and have both the privilege and responsibility to choose good or evil.

So free will.

It is clear that God gave us this gift so that we can have fellowship with him: Genesis 2:8-9,

“8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

Adam and Eve were created with the likeness of God in lesser measure, so that he could walk with them, talk with them, and have fellowship with them. So that we could choose to do this.

God did not have to do this for himself. The scriptures never indicate that God is lonely, or alone, or in need of human fellowship. Jesus shows us how God the Father and Son existed in eternal fellowship before the foundation of creation, “4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:4-5).

God is not alone. He exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He does not need humans for companionship. We are not like puppies to him either. We are not pets. We are not amusements.

Creation does not exist for any need God has. But for the benefit and good of the creation to get the chance to enjoy God. He did not do this for himself, but for us, Psalm 16:11, “11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” He created us to enjoy him. To experience his glory and greatness. Creation is a gift, for our benefit.

Adam and Eve got to experience this in its full perfection. How long they were alive before the fall we do not know. It is one of the questions only they and God will be able to answer one day. But we see God’s intention for mankind in the fact that Adam and Eve were given access to the private garden of the king of the universe, and that God decided to walk with the man and his wife.  

This shows us how God desired to share himself, and everything good that he could create, with the man and the woman.

And they rejected this. It was not enough for them.  

Sometimes atheists and skeptics will ask, “If God loves us, why did he not create for us a perfect world?” Well, the answer is very simple, he did. We rejected it. We ruined it by allowing sin to destroy it. God gave the man and woman everything they needed, everything they could ever want or need or enjoy, including each other, and they chose to follow the deceiver instead. This caused a cataclysm, a sundering, that is still felt to this day.

Cataclysm (Genesis 3) – Have you heard of PTSD? This is a pretty well-known psychological disorder, originally referred to as shell shock and applied to the struggles soldiers face after intense battles, it has developed into a commonly referenced psychological disorder, generally witnessed in people who have gone through some intense trauma. It is accompanied by nightmares, night sweats, and hypertension and all sorts of other health issues. When some people experience intense shock and trauma, this leaves psychological scars on their minds and souls. It breaks them. All of humanity in some way is still reeling from the shock of having been sundered from the presence of God and the Garden of God. We have spiritual PTSD.

We were supposed to live in a garden, where everything was provided for us, and it is peaceful, perfect and filled with the presence of God. We were supposed to live in the shelter of the arms of God.

We were not created for this sinful world we now inhabit, it feels wrong, because it is wrong. This is why even when you have achieved everything you want in this life, your soul will still feel ill at ease, as Jim Carrey said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.”[1] We feel this longing, this sense that something is not quite right with this world, because we have been exiled from our true and proper home.

Genesis 3:22-24 tells us this,

“22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”

“He drove out the man…” God cast us from his presence, because of our sin. Sin cannot be accepted in the presence of the Holy God. He is a consuming fire, a terror to evil. And by rejecting him we became evil. That is what it means to be fallen, as Jesus said, “You, though you are evil” (Matt. 7:11).

This reality is so true and still such a sensitive spot for human beings, that many people get angry, offended and annoyed at hearing the truth about our spiritual standing before God, and the truth about our reality in the world. One thing the person who has been traumatized fears the most, is the truth of what has happened to them, and what this has done to them.

They want to shut it out, hide from it, pretend it never happened.

This is why so many men refused to “talk about the war.”

This is why most people hardly mention what happened during the covid years, because it was too traumatic for far too many people.

But God’s intention was never to leave us in that situation of being exiles. As we saw last week, from the very beginning he promised to correct the results of evil, Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” And so we read through the rest of the Bible that God is making a way for him to dwell amongst his people again, even though we have been given over to evil.

The Promise – God promised to be God amongst us.

A Great People, With A Great Land. First God begins by promising the childless man, Abram, that he will have many children, and he will give these children a great land, Genesis 15:5, 18-20,

“5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”…18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

Their God. God promised him this land so God could be with his people and over them as their God, Genesis 17:6-7,

“6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.”

This is why during Jacob’s life God comes to him and tells him he will bless him, at a place that Jacob renames Bethel, which means “house of God.” God is revealing to his people that he is going to make them a people, and he is going to give them a place, and he is going to live in that place, as their God.

God’s intention is to live amongst his people again. He will not abandon us, even though we deserve that.  

The Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38) – This is why when God brings his people out of Egypt, he does not just stay in the cloud. He commands them to take their best craftsmen and their most skilled workers, and some of their precious materials, and build him a dwelling, a tabernacle, a tent, and an Ark, “8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it” (Exodus 25:8-9).

And then he places his presence with them, Exodus 40:34-38 –

“34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 36 Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.”

What made the Ark and the tabernacle holy, was not the materials it was built from, it was not the hands that built it, it was not the fine detail of the craftsmanship. It was the presence of God within its midst. God’s presence sanctified it, made it holy, sacred, and a place of wonder.

Wherever the Ark went, there they stood on holy ground. Remember what happened when the Philistines captured the Ark? Their God Dagon fell down before it, and many of their people got sick. Because God’s presence was with the ark.

The Ark was both a promise and a warning. It was a promise that God would be with his people, in their midst, living with them. But it was also a warning that he was watching them, making sure they lived as his people.

God’s presence cannot tolerate sin. If they do not deal with their sin, if they allow their sin to grow, he will withdraw his presence. So, it was a promise and a warning.

The tabernacle was part of God’s plan to bring humanity back closer to their original purpose. God’s intention was always to dwell amongst his people. But the sin of humanity made this a big problem. So, God produced a plan to restore the holiness of humanity.

To some degree God’s presence in the tabernacle, sanctified the land of Canaan, Israel, as Holy. It was made the Holy Land by God’s presence. But this was only one stage in the plan. There is much more.

The Temple (2 Samuel 12:12-17) – The temple solidifies God’s presence among his people. From the time of Moses till David, God was content to dwell in the tent which could be moved, in the midst of Israel. To God what really is the difference between a tent and a building of stone? They are both temporary compared to him. But David decides he wants to build a house of God and God tells him this,

“12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” 17 In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.”

The Israelites would have seen the presence of God’s temple in their midst as a sure sign that they were invincible. They knew what the ark of the covenant did to Israel’s enemies. They knew that God could not be defeated. They knew that God was all powerful.

This went to their heads. God had actually told them that he would dwell among them forever in the land if they obeyed him. If they did not, he said this would happen: Deuteronomy 30:15-20 –

“15 See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

God’s presence in their midst was always conditional. God cannot abide sin. He made a way for their sin to be dealt with, but if they ignored his laws and his sacrifices, they would become too wicked for him to remain in the land.

Jeremiah tried to tell the leaders of the Jews that God would destroy the temple if they did not repent. They told him he was a heretic. God’s temple could not be destroyed. It was invincible. Once built always built, was their version of once saved always saved.

As sure as the night is darker than the day, they rejected God again, just as Adam and Eve had. And God eventually tired of their rebellion and withdrew his presence from the temple of the Lord. Ezekiel 10:18-19 –

“18 Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. 19 And the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth before my eyes as they went out, with the wheels beside them. And they stood at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the Lord, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them.”

This was a monumental event in Israel’s history.

What made Israel great, was not that they were the best of nations, or the most holy of nations, or the most powerful of nations, or the smartest of nations. Because they were none of these things. It was the presence of God in their midst which made them great. That and that alone.

This was God’s greatest blessing to them.

This was what sanctified them.

The loss of God’s presence to Israel, was every bit as devastating as Adam and Eve being kicked out of the Garden. Not long after this happened they were utterly destroyed.

All of their hopes were based around this promise: that God would dwell among them and walk among them. All of our hope in this life, is based on the same thing. Every good gift comes from God above, to dwell in the presence of the Lord, is to dwell in blessing. To be cast from his presence is the definition of hell.

After the Jews were punished in exile and brought back home, they rebuilt the temple, they restarted the sacrifices. But things were different. God told them that one day he would refill their temple with glory. But they knew that things were not right. Israel never became powerful again. They no longer had kings. They were conquered by other nations, turned into slaves.

They were longing for the power of God to be amongst them once again.

The Redemption of Israel – This is what Jesus is. The power of God among them again. We saw this passage last week. When Jesus was born, this woman called Anna, a prophetess, noted this, Luke 2:36-38,

“36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Anna knew that Jesus was the redemption that Israel was waiting for. God amongst them.

When the angel said this, “22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.’ (which means, God with us).” This was not just the fulfilment of a prophecy in Isaiah. It was that, but it is also so much more. It was the fulfilment of God’s intention for Israel, for his people, for humanity.

The Apostle was showing that although we human beings had become lost. God was not going to leave us this way. Although we are cut off from his presence, he was not going to leave us that way. Although we stood condemned, he was going to make a way for us to be saved.

God would not abandon his people. Anna knew this. Mary knew this. Joseph knew this. Jesus proves this. Because he is Immanuel, God with us. God with his people. And who are the people of God? Who are the people this promise is fulfilled for? All who believe.

God wants to dwell with you. God wants to give you the chance to fulfil your original purpose in life; to enjoy his presence forever. This is why Jesus dealt with our sins on the cross.

Remember: sin casts us from the presence of God. Only holiness can restore it. God had to restore this himself because none of us are holy. Which is why he died on the cross for your sins, and my sins, the sins of all who believe.

Application – So how do we apply this sermon today? I really have only one point of application, a simple point and that is this:

If you are seeking to fulfil your purpose in anything other than God, you will fail. You were created by God and for God, and so only in God can you find satisfaction.

Virtually all of the ills we face in our own lives and in this world, come down to this one simple fact: we try to find satisfaction outside of God and his purposes for our life. If we do this, we will fail. Every day this kills marriages, causes depression, creates broken hearts and relationships, creates jealousy, strife, anger, and more. Every day people cause themselves or others pain, by seeking for satisfaction outside of God.

Remember the words of Asaph, Psalm 73:25-26, “25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” This is why you need to believe in God, because there is no hope outside of this.

Conclusion – Matthew shows us how the Lord Jesus is the hope that the Israelites were waiting for, the hope you and I need. Why would you look anywhere else. If you are struggling in your walk with God, or you do not yet believe. Let me encourage you this morning: come back before the God who wants to walk with you. In him you will find forgiveness for sins, and the longing your soul was looking for. Let’s pray.

List of References

Thursday 8 February 2024

New Old Evils


You could say humanity is good at dreaming up new evils. But I find that, more often than not, what we see is example after example of humanity returning to ancient evils. Here is an example of an old evil being revived,

“Just a few hours later, Ethan pulled a handgun from his backpack and shot four of his classmates dead, while wounding six others and a teacher.

The gun was the 9mm Sig Sauer that his father had purchased with him just four days earlier, and which his mother had him practice using at a shooting range.

Ethan is now serving a life sentence in prison after he pleaded guilty to terrorism and first-degree murder in December.

Jurors have also convicted his mother, Jennifer Crumbley, of four involuntary manslaughter charges in what is regarded as the first US prosecution of a parent in connection to a mass school shooting by their child.

Her husband, James Crumbley, was also charged with involuntary manslaughter and is set to stand trial next month.

So what ramifications will this landmark ruling have? Could it pave the way for other parents to be held responsible for their child's crimes? We have spoken to an American legal expert to find out…

…Even though Jennifer Crumbley did not pull the trigger, she was held responsible for not safely securing the gun and ammunition at home, as well as failing to seek support for her son's mental health.

Prosecutors said the 45-year-old mother had a duty under Michigan law to prevent her teenage son from harming others.”[1]

This is a profoundly unjust verdict. Punishing the parents for the crime of their son is inherently evil. There is perhaps a just case in some situations for punishing the parents for crimes that they committed which enabled the crime of their child (in this case no securing the gun), but they should not be held legally accountable for a crime that is committed by their son or daughter.

The scriptures speak to this principle very clearly:

“1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge’? 3 As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. 4 Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

5 “If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— 6 if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor's wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, 7 does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 8 does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, 9 walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord God.

10 “If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things 11 (though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor's wife, 12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, 13 lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself" (Ezek. 18:1-13). 

The soul who sins shall die. This is a foundational principle of biblical and western justice. Set aside for now the discussion of the injustice of not sentencing to death a person who has committed murder, the Bible is very clear that a parent is not legally responsible for their child’s violent act and the child is not responsible for their father’s – or indeed mother’s – violent act. The soul who sins shall die.

This is an important principle of biblical and practical justice. The one who has control over their own actions is the one who is responsible. Of course, it is different if you find out that the parents planned the crime with their son and then sent him out to commit it, then they are accessories to the crime. But teaching your son to shoot is not the same as teaching him to shoot in the act of a crime. This should be especially true in the United States where self-defence rules and laws around gun ownership are far more supported by their culture and law. But put aside gun crime for now, can you see how this sort of principle could be expanded on? Which is what lawyers are very good at doing.  

If a parent teaches their son or daughter to drive, and then that child steals the car to run someone over with it, deliberately. How is the parent responsible? Teaching your son or daughter to drive is an important aspect of being a parent. It is both a socially acceptable norm and legal, if done at the right age and in the right way. Where does a person’s personal responsibility end and another person's begin? This is a murky way to approach the law, and it is easy to see how this could end up in incredible injustice. 

This does not mean that a parent has no culpability for the wicked actions of their child; as the Proverbs say, “A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him” (Prov. 17:25). A parent who has a wicked child will have bitterness. This bitterness is punishment enough. There is a moral sense in which they will also be held accountable to God for their mistakes. But God is clear that you should not punish a son for his father’s crime or vice-versa.

One of the problems that happens in our world is often those with the power of the law, that is judges, lawyers, politicians, etc, will see a problem in their society, and they will seek to push the boundaries of the law to try and address the problem. But they end up instead corrupting the whole process of justice as a result, because they extend the law beyond the extent of reasonable justice. You saw this with prohibition, you see this with three strikes and you are out laws, and so many other examples. One of the reasons that we have laws in the Scriptures and in practice to only punish the person who committed the crime, is because it is very easy for a vengeful person to think of all the reasons in the world why that criminal’s parents, wife, husband, son or friends should also be responsible. To create such resources in the law to actually follow through on this bends the application of law from proper vengeance to unjust revenge.

This greatly expands the bounds of the law, as the article notes, “Professor of law at the University of Michigan Ekow Yankah says Jennifer Crumbley's trial sets a "contentious" precedent for holding parents accountable for their child's wrongdoings. "Now you've given prosecutors a new tool," he says.”[2] A tool which he always asserts could have expansive negative consequences.

It is easy to be angry at a crime like this and cheer the “drop-kick parents” of a school shooter being punished. But whatever mistakes they made they are not the shooter, and once a pandora’s box like this is open parents will be held accountable for all kinds of other actions of their children. We are now entering into the realm of collective punishment.

It does not surprise me that a pagan idea like collective punishment is being revisited by the modern United States. Christianity is a religion with a strong sense of justice, but it is a clearly defined justice designed to restrain our impulses for things like revenge and payback. You might want to blame the extended social circle or family of someone who commits a heinous crime, but a just law punishes only the person who committed the crime, because our sense of payback can just grow too strong and overcome reason. Also, once you take away that kind of boundary, the law just becomes a tool that you wield however you can find a way to wield it. That is a scary world for anyone to live in. It is a world where those who want to seek to do harm will make sure they get into positions of power where they can do so, with the full force of the legal system behind them. This results in undermining law and order itself.

For some time now westerners have been seeking to shake off what they see as “the shackles of a biblical worldview” but now we are starting to see just how far reaching these ramifications can be. This is the world unbelievers have been working for, but they know not what they ask for…though it is becoming clearer how horrible a post-Christian society can actually become.

List of References

[1] Audrey Courty 2024, “The Michigan school shooter's mother Jennifer Crumbley was convicted of manslaughter. Could the landmark ruling set a legal precedent?” ABC News (AU),

[2] Ibid.

Tuesday 6 February 2024

Be Good or Be Accepted as Good.


Is it better to be good or be accepted as good? This is perhaps the most pertinent moral question that every single person has to grapple with at many points in their life. The school child who is given a choice to bully a weaker kid with his friends or refuse to do so and risk being bullied himself, is forced to make this choice: be good or be seen as good. The older teenage child who is in a peer pressure culture to be sexually free needs to choose between being sexually active and sexually chaste so they also are forced to make this choice: be good and maintain your sexual chastity or appear to be good to your friends or social group and indulge in the group vices. The employee who is being asked to go along with or overlook some form of corruption or dishonesty in the workplace is being given this same choice: be good or be accepted as good. The solider who is asked to enforce an unlawful or an unjust command is being forced with this same choice: be good or be accepted as good. Examples can go on and on.  

We face this sort of choice again and again in our lives. It never fully ends. The pressure of fitting in, the pressure of keeping a job, the pressure of maintaining friendships, the pressure of many other things will often put us into a position of needing to choose: do I want these people to see me as good and continue to accept me, or do I want to actually do the right thing? This is a common pressure on us. It takes character to make the right decision consistently.

John C. Wright reflects on this in his book Transhuman and Subhuman, in light of another book, The Glory Game:

"The theme of the book, as I said above, is abnormally clear, because Laumer skillfully has left out anything which might detract or delay from emphasizing that theme. This story is as sharply pointed as a fable by Aesop. The point is the answer to the question famously asked by Socrates, but surely asked by all men in all ages when they reach a certain age, whether it is better to be seen as evil while truly being good, or to be seen as good while truly being evil?

The question divorces the reward of virtue from the reality of virtue, at least, in the view of the world where the only reward is the esteem and applause of men. Tan Dalton does what is right, come hellfire or floodwater, and does not flinch at paying the price in terms of esteem lost, prestige ruined, career savaged, character slandered—and he does not get the girl in the end.

The setup of the paradox of seeming rather than being good is simple enough: Dalton is presented with two political parties, a stupid party and an evil party, both of whom have a dumb and cowardly answer to a not-very-complex question, but a question that requires bravery and fortitude to answer. He cannot in good conscience join with either party, and so he is isolated, despised by both, and scorned by all. In other words, he is given for his goodness the exact same reward rightly given to evil men.

One thing that particularly delighted me both as a child and as a man about Dalton’s answer is the pragmatic idealism of it. Pragmatically, it is unwise either to overreact or underreact to the aggression of an ambitious but weaker alien menace. But whether it is unwise or not, it is unfair on idealistic grounds not just to Mankind, but to the Hukk aggressor also, to meet aggression with a reward, because it confuses them into a false picture of the world, one where they can make many small piecemeal attacks with no fear of massive, overwhelming, or, (in this case), genocidal retaliation.

Now surely no one raised in a Christian nation, (even one that is culturally Christian if not officially), is unaware of the answer to the Socratic question. The non-Christians who, for whatever reason, accept Christian value judgments as valid can see in the example of Christ on the cross, or Socrates drinking hemlock, the reward of being good rather than looking good. Until very recently, the picture of a man willing to make any sacrifice to do the right thing, despite any slander or false accusation, was a paramount ideal of our civilization.

The self-aggrandizing hucksterism of a Cassius Clay was not a mainstream ideal, nor was success at any cost, nor did anyone listen to smirking cads who said that winning was not everything, but the only thing.

Even children were taught the ideal of seeking the reward of virtue not in the opinion of the fickle world: Superman is garbed as a drab and mild mannered reporter who cannot even get a date, no worldly reward comes to Clark Kent for his good deeds; Spider-Man is hated as a menace by the city he saves, so if anything, his reward is even less. These are the men upheld, and rightly so, as heroes to our children. Glory Hounds like Booster Gold or Gilderoy Lockheart are rightly portrayed as distasteful, comedic, or villainous.

We are a society that by tradition—Christian tradition—mistrusts those who seek the good opinion of society."[i]

I think one of the most important points in this section of Wright's discussion is this one: “Until very recently, the picture of a man willing to make any sacrifice to do the right thing, despite any slander or false accusation, was a paramount ideal of our civilization.” Our modern moral code has completely changed, which is why the anti-hero, who is really often just an interesting villain, is so common in today’s pop-culture. The idea of the clever, but devious, ordinary man who uses any means at his disposal to get “what is his” is a picture of the new pagan morality overcoming our society…which is really just the old pagan morality returning. A morality with no real higher guide or judge, one that simply does what seems right or feels necessary in the situation.

But the truly noble person, the truly good man, does not focus on success at any price or any cost. He is willing to suffer for doing what is right. The world might mock the Ned Starks of society and look at them as foolish, or pity them for their old morality, but our western culture was so successful, in part, because it was built by people who had a higher sense of morality than just doing what worked, or what succeeded. Men and women who knew it was correct to do what was right, and not just because of some expedient reason or belief they would necessarily always prosper. They knew that doing what was right was the correct thing to do because they knew they would be judged by a higher power; God.

Paul reflects on this in the book of Galatians. In this book he is dealing with some popular false teachers, and that is a key point; they are popular. He reflects on the motivations for his ministry by saying, “10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). Paul’s concern is not popularity or success, even though he does want to flourish in his ministry. Paul’s main concern is that he is doing what Christ commanded him to do. Success, for Paul, is receiving that commendation from his Lord, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Paul had many failures and many successes in his ministry. But overall it was a barnstorming success, as he was part of the early generations of the Church which made the Church the power force in this world that it became. But this success was a bonus to his ministry, serving his Lord was the goal.

It may be popular today to look at doing what works, whether it is right and good or not. It may be popular to go along with this culture, because this is the increasing zeitgeist of our world today, as reflected by the pop-culture push for the break all the rules, even decency rules, character of a lot of modern media. But Paul, and many other Christians, were willing to suffer for doing what was right in a culture that rarely rewarded that, basically guaranteeing that they would face persecution of some kind and a often a very hard road.

Our modern culture is reviving that old pagan moral code, which is really a lack of moral code and whatever works, or whatever serves the cultural idols of the day. But we have not yet completely lost that different morality that the Church unleashed on the world. A morality that did exist before the Son of God came to earth as a man, we see it in Joseph, Daniel, David and many others in the Old Testament, but which did not really transform the culture until Jesus unlocked the Church from the law of Moses through his death and resurrection. Then this morality spread like wildfire, especially among the heathen Gentiles of Europe, and transformed the European nations remarkably, eventually creating western civilisation. This Christian impact has not completely faded. I don’t even know if it can completely fade.

So, in light of that, we should be far more willing to suffer and far more willing to do what is good rather than worry about being seen as good by our decadent society, because we live in a culture where it is easier to do that. I did not say it is easy, it is often hard, but it is not as hard in our culture as it was in first century Judea, Corinth, or Rome.

The only way we can hold ourselves to this standard, and do so consistently, is to remember we do not primarily serve men or governments, but God, and he will judge us according to how we did what was right, and he will frown on us doing what made us accepted by this world just to look good. Jesus gave us a heads up that this would be part of following him;

“18 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15:19-21).

We should not be surprised when this happens. We were forewarned. But we were also promised we would be rewarded. Knowing that we will be rewarded for what we lose in this life for doing the right thing, helps us to have the strength to do that.

This does not mean we will always get it right and stand on the right principles. We are fallen, prideful and stubborn creatures, we will get a lot wrong. But it does mean we know the challenge set before us is not an impossible one. Previous generations of believers maintained their nobility in even more trying circumstances. It is simply our job to trust in Jesus, believe his words and carry on the tradition.

List of References

[i] Wright, John C. Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth (pp. 129-130). Still Waters Books. Kindle Edition.

Monday 5 February 2024

Substacking It

I started a Substack back in 2022, uploaded one post, and then promptly just did not use it. But I have decided it is time to work a bit harder to build up my writer profile and seek to reach more people with my work. I have published one book so far called Defending Conscience, and I am currently in the process of publishing my second book, and I have several more in the works down the line, on various topics. My second book will be very different to my first one, covering a very different issue; how evil works in this world.  

For years now I have maintained this blog and will continue to do so, but I will be posting some of my more detailed research pieces, past and present, on substack to build my profile in that community, which I have been continually told from different sources is a wise one to participate in. 

I will be activating paid support soon, there will be three levels of support:

$5 monthly subscription

$50 yearly subscription

$100 Mega Supporter yearly subscription

The amounts are in U.S. dollars, because I have a lot of readers in the United States. I will be making everything available to all subscribers, even free, from the beginning, because my goal is to reach as many readers as possible, and I only want people to donate who would like to. If you have enjoyed my writing in the past I would appreciate the support. But if you do not have the money to subscribe or just choose not to that is fine, I would prefer if you shared my readings around anyway, whether my books or my blog articles. Financial support is helpful and a bonus, but reaching people with these messages is the most important aspect of this for myself.

My focus with my writings is to strengthen people in their faith and seek to do all that I can with my small influence to oppose evil in this world. That is why my profile picture on Substack is a picture of St George slaying the dragon. We all need to play our part in overcoming evil, and one way we can do this is write about the truth and expose lies and share the writings of those that do. 

Thank you to those who have been reading my blog faithfully for some time now. I will continue posting on my blog as regularly as I have been. And I will keep you updated on future writing projects.

One other thing, I am not very good at keeping up with comments, because of my work commitments I do not have a lot of time to review them, but I do read them and some of them I post to the blog and respond to, so if you do post a comment and you have not seen it uploaded in the next day or so, this is part of my normal process. I will seek to get better at this, as comments appear to be an important part of Substack.

So, I encourage you to subscribe over at Substack and share these posts widely. Here is my most recent post, which is something I wrote some time ago. I will be uploading more posts shortly as well. Blessings. 

Saturday 3 February 2024

Narcissism and Obesity


Why are so many people fat? Is it because there are too many takeaway stores? If you listen to some progressive activists this is where they will focus their argument; people are fat because the food available around them is unhealthy and cheap. It is not their fault, society conspires against them to make them work long hours and then coerce them into buying bad food! But the truth is for the price of a meal from McDonalds you can cook up a high quality 300gram steak on the BBQ and eat it with boiled carrots and drink water, and you will be far healthier over the long term if you do this regularly. So, availability of good food is not the problem. To say this is the problem is just to pretend that people do not have agency, they are simply products of their environment and cannot really make their own choices. If this were the case there would be no thin people.

So why are so many people fat? Let me suggest a more basic reason: it is a particular form of narcissism, probably sometimes coupled with some form of self-loathing. This reasoning comes from several sources.

For one I have observed how obstinate many overweight people are. They do not believe they need to lose weight, they do not believe they should lose weight, and they at times even believe they are superior to those who work hard to keep weight off. Some think they are superior because they are not as focused on appearance. Some think they are superior because they focus on other endeavours that they would not have the time for if they wasted time on “getting into” shape. It takes an incredibly inflated self-image to carry that kind of weight around with you, with all of the accompanying issues it causes, and not think you need to do something to deal with it; especially if you fly regularly. It is an inherently self-deluded and self-inflated view of oneself…pun definitely intended. This does not mean that all people who are overweight are like this, some may have serious health issues, or simply neglectful parents who encourage their children to stack on the pounds, but this is still true for a lot of fat people.

Secondly, the Bible shows us that obesity is a fruit of narcissism:

“17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Col. 3:17-19).

“Their god is their belly…” Here Paul addresses the sin of gluttony which in a way is a corrupted form of self-worship and self-indulgence. That is what narcissism is, an excessive amount of self-interest. The obese person is so obsessed with what they put into their bodies, or more accurately, they are so enslaved to putting into their bodies what their stomachs demand of them, that they dedicate a large proportion of their time to this self-interest. At the expense of their health. Instead of cutting back on some decadent edible delight, they would often rather pop a pill or take a needle, than stop eating a beloved food and get on the treadmill. There is a reason that obesity culture has turned into body positive culture; it is because obese people delude themselves about what they are doing to their bodies, their looks, and their health anyway, so why would this not naturally result in a social culture that get’s offended at being told to drop a few k’s for their good and the good of society (healthcare costs society a lot).

Of course, this is not just the result of narcissism, it is also the fruit of laziness, “One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Tit. 1:12). But even laziness is a form of narcissism. It is not the selfless, motivated to serve person who is lazy, it is the person who is too interested in their own leisure and pleasure. It is the self-serving person who is often lazy. 

I first really became aware of this during Covid. There was constant messaging that obese people were at the highest risk of severe illness. But rather than create a worldwide phenomenon of big people hitting the gyms, streets and treadmills at home to shed weight, this caused most of these people to despise the healthy people who were not afraid, get behind the mandates and lockdowns in their most extreme forms, and then line up with glee for their mystery shots. How narcissistic is it to expect the entire society to come to a halt because you are at slightly higher risk of a virus because of your own life choices? Yet this is how many people were acting. You were selfish if you were healthy and did not want the shot. You were a hero if you got your shot, your free donut, and sat your arse back on your couch and watched all the news updates for what you were supposed to do next. I even mentioned in some sermons how people could protect themselves from serious illness by getting fitter, this went down like a led balloon, or a cheesecake at a tubby man’s birthday party.

Thirdly, researchers have observed a high level of narcissism in overweight people, “The role of narcissism as a modulator of self-satisfaction with one’s body varies depending on BMI level: extremely underweight women and obese individuals constitute groups in which narcissism has the strongest impact on the self-satisfaction with body.”[1] The study also found, “Vanity and Leadership were narcissism dimensions which played significant role in slim women, as compared to Vanity and Self-Sufficiency in obese women.”[2] Of course, it is not just obese people who are narcissistic, but studies are bearing out that the rapid rise of obesity is driven by a narcissism epidemic in our society.

As another study which found the same thing shows,

“Our theory is in line with obesity experts, who have stated that one of the main issues in our society today is that it is perceived as too competitive with undue emphasis on physical appearance. This essay is by essence reductionist, and does not attempt to assess all forms of obesity, some of which are likely to have other origins.”[3]

In other words, some people lean into their obesity to show that they are not giving in to the pressure to take care of their appearance. It is a pendulum swing of sorts. “I don’t need no healthy habits! I'm good as I am, the world can deal with it." Kind of thinking. This is perverted, but obesity is a perversion.

People forget that gluttony, the major cause of obesity, is both a self-obsessed sin and a deadly sin that ranks alongside lust, adultery and murder. The man with the porn habit can keep it hidden, but the glutton often can’t. There is a form of narcissism and gluttony that exists for those who are too picky about what they eat as well, but I will leave that to another discussion of gluttony in all its forms. For our sakes in this piece it is enough to show that so many people are fat because they are self-obsessed. Maybe it is because they just give their body whatever it asks for, maybe it is because they want to rebel against a perceived pressure to look good. Either way, narcissism is a powerful driver of obesity and it is no wonder that large levels of obesity correlate with the high levels of selfishness and self-indulgence in our western societies today.

List of References