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Sunday, February 07, 2016

Quinquagesima


  • Mass: Esto mihi in Deum protectorem.
  • More on Pope Francis' and Patriarch Kirill's historic upcoming meeting. I hadn't thought of this but Gabriel Sanchez remembered: the Patriarch of Moscow's longstanding objection to meeting the Pope was the existence of the Ukrainian Catholic Church (which is among "the Uniates"). Understandable given the schismatics' crabbed version of the true-church claim. In this case, the Russians say Ukrainians are a branch of themselves (arguably true; they are closely related) so they should all be in the empire and thus the empire's church (their fake catholicity) and thus are outraged that most western Ukrainians (the most patriotic, un-Russian Ukrainians) aren't and don't want to be. (Like the tsars, Stalin hated the Catholic Church because he couldn't own it like he eventually could the old state church.) So what does this change in policy, not doctrine, regarding meeting the Pope mean? Msgr. Kirill (what we traditionally call bishops without jurisdiction) is his church's canonical patriarch in the Ukraine, but the Ukraine has separation of church and state (as, in theory, does Russia) so he can't tell the Ukrainian government what to do. (And why on earth should the Ukrainian government obey a man in Moscow's wish to liquidate its most patriotic citizens? Just because Russia's the biggest bully on the block?) Maybe this is Realpolitik from the Russians, playing their cards carefully, either telling the West what it wants to hear about the Ukraine or even giving up an implied claim to the place. (Why Putin isn't invading its Russian east.) I would no more expect or respect relativistic religious liberty (lamely defending mere "freedom of conscience," not the faith) from the patriarch than I would from us. A point Sanchez brings up: can the Pope throw the Ukrainian Catholic Church under the bus for ecumenism's sake? Handing them to the Russian church, say? I dare say no. We have a true-church claim too, which all Catholics, including the Pope of course, must obey. The Ukrainian Catholics aren't in schism or heresy; he can't throw them out! (Just like he can't ordain women or marry two men.) By the way, anti-Catholic online Byzantium isn't necessarily pro-Moscow. For one thing, there's a power struggle between Moscow, the only geopolitically important Orthodox church because it belongs to a superpower (land and nukes), and Constantinople, the Orthodox' ranking patriarchate (but not their Pope; their national churches are independent) as it was the capital of the old empire, the historic headquarters of the Greek church and missionaries to the Russians, but under the Turkish bootheel since the late 1400s (the patriarch has to be a Turkish citizen). Second, the little anti-Catholic "Orthodox in communion with Rome" ecumenical online circle's fantasy is that the Uniates are in fact Orthodox; all that needs doing are for the Catholic Church to acknowledge that by dumping all our defined doctrine after the 11th century and for the Russians et al. to recognize the Uniates' orders and start intercommuning. Ridiculous, I know. But some people will believe anything. (By the way, I'm not knee-jerk anti-Russian — I hope Putin's a new Constantine. My first traditional Catholic Mass was Ukrainian.)
  • Including that cheering for the home football team in church is a good idea, or abusing religious symbols in fun for a good cause. Photo from the Episcopal Church in Colorado (why not "the Diocese of Denver"?): Ken Malcolm and Bishop Rob O'Neill with a "Broncos chasuble." At least it has a traditional orphrey pattern (after all, these are Episcopalians) but no. Sacrilegious and pathetic. I didn't post this to pick on the Episcopalians. Indirectly because of Vatican II, Catholics have been just as ridiculous. The likely thinking behind this, if any: church, particularly the Eucharist, is about building up the community, right? What better way here and now than to join the city in cheering for the winning home team? The ways this is wrong: this cheering belongs in the Sportsmen's Club bar in the parish hall, not in the sanctuary. Putting this secular symbol literally at the altar is making it an idol. And what is it really a symbol of? Not only just a game, but a business that doesn't even really care about the city. It's not a liturgical color assigned for the day (though it accidentally looks like the purple for Quinquagesima Sunday), just like green isn't the color for St. Patrick's Day nor is "Danny Boy" appropriate in church. Again, a profanation. The Episcopalians wrote to me: Just to clarify, this chasuble is not being used in liturgy. It was a gift made by a parishioner 30 years ago to The Episcopal Church in Colorado. We honor the memory of the woman who made it and support our home team as we use this unique opportunity to raise money and bring attention to a great charity that does tremendous work in over 40 countries. So far we have raised $17,000 that will help communities in need around the world. If you'd like to participate in this philanthropy to a deserving organization, please let us know. A little better, but they think making fun of one of our sacred symbols to raise money for a Protestant charity is OK. My answer: Thanks for the clarification, but the chasuble as a liturgical vestment was originally ours; to us Catholics, it is part of the presentation and pleading on our altars of Jesus' sacrifice. Using it jokingly to cheer for the home football team is as wrong as an image of Jesus wearing a Broncos jersey (reminds me of Buddy Christ in the movie Dogma).
  • Statement from Metropolitan Hilarion regarding the conversion of the "Catholic Church of the East" to Orthodoxy. I understand this Fr. Elias "was in fact deposed as a priest in the PNCC," itself iffy (in schism, this tiny, shrinking American church's wires have always been crossed: good-hearted Polish cultural conservatism meets radical protestantizing Americanist ideas going back to its founder; a lot of them are Freemasons). If so, there goes ROCOR again, scraping the bottom of the vagante barrel in their effort to pretend to be a universal church (the universality they really believe in is the same “Russian World” as in Russian politics) and thus spite Rome. Didn’t their getting burned by Blanco and Nathan Monk teach them anything?

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Pope and a patriarch, folk medicine, coyotes, and more


  • The Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow are to meet. Good coverage from the New York Times. For once I wish the more sensational bad coverage were right, that Patriarch Kyrill was about to reconcile Russia to the Catholic Church. Which won't happen here. Actually we want to bring all those churches back at the same time (they have a rite that's better than the Novus Ordo, and ideas and ways that can be "outside the box" of our typical thinking), so it's just as well. Why Communist Cuba? "Neutral"?! All that will happen is the Pope and the patriarch will have a polite meeting and issue some innocuous joint statement that persecuting Christians isn't nice, like something the Archbishop of Canterbury would say. Ecumenism's only accomplishment is the Christian sides aren't trying to kill each other anymore.
  • Granny women: healing and magic in Appalachia. Herbal folk medicine: there is something to this (most of ancient and medieval medicine, including that of American Indians), and I believe those who say the American Medical Association, bought off by Big Pharma, is trying to wipe this out as competition; the "healthcare" business doesn't care about you and would really rather keep you sick so you and the insurance companies eventually pay them big bucks to sell you new drugs, etc. (Herbs are drugs too.) On the other hand, modern Western medicine is real and beneficial; we just need to get rid of the abuses. I imagine too often "naturopathic doctors" just run glorified vitamin shops. Related: the theory behind chiropractic is hooey; coincidentally, manipulating your back does help your back.
  • Quote on Trump: This guy is just pandering to people's anger and frustration. At least somebody's grabbed the media's attention to air that anger and frustration; why I support him. Reminds me of the late Fr. Nicholas Gruner in the Catholic Church: maybe he was a grandstanding self-promoter, even a con artist, very untraditional that way, like a televangelist, but he said things about the church that needed to be said which nobody in the official church, even conservatives, dared, and he reached the kind of people who don't read theological books or journals.
  • While it may be true that Bill Cosby is in bad health at his age, seeing his self-pitying act in the news, showing up at court hobbling with a cane and two big bodyguards holding each arm ("You wouldn't throw an old man like me in jail, right?"), strikes me as an admission of guilt. Maybe he thought he could pull it off as an actor, but you'd think a man with a putative doctorate would come up with something less effing obvious.
  • Have fun but I couldn't care less about the Super Bowl.
  • Picture: Remembering Feb. 3, 1959.
  • Recent books read:
    • Philly Fiction. A collection of short stories featuring the city and lifelike types as characters, from the teenage white girl in the rowhouse who finds out she was an unwanted pregnancy like the one her pretty neighbor has, to the a**hole Greek-American lawyer in Society Hill Towers two-timing women, to the slacker grifter sexing a girl doctor just to get health care.
    • Eamon Duffy's The Voices of Morebath. Michael Davies introduced me to Morebath and Sir Christopher Trychay (in 1500s England, diocesan priests were "Sir Firstname," not "Father Lastname," like knights), people in conservative Devon who like much of England begrudgingly went along with the monarchs' turning against the church, Morebath welcoming Queen Mary's return to it. Duffy's fair, pointing out that villages in other parts of the country welcomed the change of religion (which Davies explained; Catholicism vs. Protestantism in a nutshell: the church and real sacraments giving grace vs. feeling you're saved and sacraments being merely symbols of that). Morebath's of historical interest because the priest was a conscientious record-keeper (beautiful handwriting too; looks like Arabic letters) of the parish's finances. That should tell you something: while this isn't as long as The Stripping of the Altars, that this comes from financial records tells you the book is slow going at first. But the real story is worth reading and of course wrenching for Catholics: basically, the government robbed the church and ruined communities financially by doing so. (Taxes and confiscations to pay for wars.) The recent historical bombshell that Duffy brings up is that we now know Morebath participated in the armed anti-Prayer Book rebellion in the West Country after King Edward VI's regents banned the old Mass and imposed the first Prayer Book; Fr. Hunwicke taught me about that. England was driven from the church by force, and the state church reflects that confusion, claiming continuity with Catholicism (creeds, bishops, and a liturgy) while adopting Reformed theology. Morebath was somehow spared even though it participated in the losing rebellion. Except for the rebellion, Sir Christopher and the people of what we would call St. George's, Morebath (the English say "Morebath church" more than "St. George's," the Catholic assumption being of course there's only one church, one parish, in the area), scared into submission by the government's terror campaign, usually quietly went along with the Protestantization when it was imposed (the campaign against images went back to Henry VIII's reign); what Duffy describes as one of the puzzling things about the English "Reformation," the acquiescence of so many of the people despite their religious conservatism, especially the clergy. (Duffy: Sir Christopher was not a suckup Vicar of Bray.) Duffy mentions that the authorities took advantage of existing strong community life to implement the change, and where that didn't work, they used violence. The circumstances of the change produced what Christopher Haigh calls parish anglicanism (his spelling) or what Duffy describes as the mellow church of George Herbert; by the time Sir Christopher passed away, in Elizabeth I's reign, he and Morebath adapted by treating the new religion with the easygoing reverence they did the old (treating the Prayer Book like the missal and breviary, for example), even though it certainly didn't look the same (the authorities made sure of that). The romantic Anglo-Catholic alumnus in me still sees an estranged Catholic people in the mother country, haunted by the church with its old parishes still named after medieval saints; for a long time it was true. The English Civil War, the "Enlightenment," and the Industrial Revolution seemed to finish off religion there; Wesley, the Anglo-Catholics, and Booth were trying to win the country back for Christ.
    • An advance copy of Coyote America by Dan Flores. A great read and educational. Basically, God put wolves and coyotes on earth for a reason, something scientists apparently only recently figured out (about a balance and niches in nature, for example; predators have a job to do), so the U.S. government's campaigns to kill them (agencies justifying their existence, and using incredible cruelty with poison, for example) at the insistence of ranchers were wrong. (The coyote's place in the hierarchy: the bigger dogs, wolves, keep them in line, while they control prey animals' populations.) There are unintended consequences of course as messing with nature causes: we ended up with more coyotes in cities! It's a conservative vs. liberal skirmish, the pro-killing right, saying "ki-yote" (you can hear the Southern twang), and the "coyote-loving hippies," environmentalists and enthusiasts of American Indian folklore about these intelligent, adaptable wild dogs (including a trickster demigod), saying "ki-yoh-tee" as I always have. I'm with the left on this one, because aren't conservatives supposed to conserve things such as God's creation? The way to deal with city coyotes is to keep them wild, afraid of us; hard because they're so smart. "Haze" them to scare them away; don't back down. Works with people too.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Christians in the modern world

  • Princeton’s Robert George: Are you ready to pay the price? The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. It's Lifesite and Legatus; arguably there's some implied conservative Novus Ordo self-congratulation and playing at martyrdom but this is essentially true. Western society's still Christian-based but the Protestantism (a Christianity long compromised) has turned into secular humanism, Christian ethics minus Christ. Mainline Protestantism is completely owned and on board with this but, quaintly to the new breed in charge, keeps the Jesus talk and the trappings of church. The Orthodox are just an innocuous ethnic club, too little in the West to be taken seriously anyway. Nominal Christianity is still fine, even encouraged; "socially acceptable Christianity": Professor George added that people can still safely identify as "Catholic" as long as they don’t believe. In America, the church being reducing to being Irish, Italian, etc., celebrating Christmas, drinking on St. Patrick's Day, and cheering for Notre Dame football. Evangelicals and real Catholics ("real" as in believing, practicing, and putting their lives on the line) are now targets.
  • Why not negotiate with the world? That seems the approach of thoughtful liberal high-church people, namely, Episcopalians (women priests and gay weddings), such as the writer of Tract 91, "Firmly I believe": The Manifesto. What Vatican II was trying to do, since after all the church isn't tied down to any one culture. (We normally don't tear down our own cultures either; that was crazy.) There's a bit of self-importance here, and/or begging to be liked with all the try-hard pop-culture references and "Generation X" clichés (o sweet young prince, Kurt Cobain). While these Christians aren't Modernists like their grandparents often were (the second- and third-generation "Enlightenment" skeptics, people such as Spong) — they believe the creeds, meeting the world on its terms isn't a winning plan; you end up owned, driving away the really religious, and not converting the cool kids you're trying to impress. Look how well Vatican II worked out for us; learn from our mistake. At least the Episcopalians don't hate high church like our liberals do. And the first Catholic Modernists, such as George Tyrrell, started with good intentions trying to defend orthodoxy to "a changing world"; they ended up out of the church in spirit and in fact. To give the few, the cool, the semi-orthodox credit, I like to say this is like something I'd come up with if I were starting a church; God has other plans.
  • The Daily Beast: Religious fundamentalists are losing. Sure. The unstoppable march of progress. Just you wait: the liberal Protestant and Novus Ordo Catholic churches will be filled every week with enlightened believers including grateful Middle Eastern convert refugees because the liberal Christians are just so gosh-darned nice. Churches you yourselves don't go to.
  • A modern Anglo-Catholic I respect, Will Brown. So close to the church.
  • "Church is not something you go to; it's a family you belong to." Yes, in a way that is far more profound than you and the local warm, charming religious people gathered together. Which church? The local parish or the church as in the Body of Christ? I mean the church. Socially I don't expect jack from my parish so I'm pleasantly surprised sometimes.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

All can; some should; none must: Small-o Christian orthodoxy on images summed up


  • Wrong: The Orthodox. "If you don't use our kind of images, you're outside the church."
  • Wrong: Many of the first Protestants. "Christians must ban images. They're idols." Iconoclasm, originally an Eastern heresy, redux.
  • Right: Certainly not Anglicans at their founding, the Protestant position, but yes, Anglicans now, and I dare say the church agrees: "All can; some should; none must." But those who don't use them must accept the principle behind those who do. Not only can we use images but venerate them (on which many Protestants are still wrong).
I'm not sure how accurate it is to say that for Catholics iconography/sacred imagery is "optional." I know what you're getting at. Catholics have no obligatory practices (such as metanias, kissing icons, etc.), nor do we have uniform "canonical" ways to depict sacred subjects. But still the word "optional" bothers me a bit.

Nicæa II said not only is it possible and not heterodox to have sacred images, but sacred imagery is necessary for Christianity because to secure a proper understanding of the Incarnation, his visible appearance/revelation in the flesh, among men.
No need to worry. I agree that "images are idols" is forbidden in Catholicism. I've tried to get that across. "Sacred imagery is necessary for Christianity"? Maybe, but everywhere in Christianity? There are different schools of spirituality, different cultures... so an imageless Eastern Christianity, the Nestorian/Assyrian tradition as it became under Mohammedan persecution, coexists with image-laden Greek and Spanish pieties. The low-profile, Georgian Anglican-like Catholicism of English colonists in Tidewater Virginia and an Italian saint's neighborhood festa in New York with people pinning $5 bills on the statue. We're not "either/or" like the Orthodox; we're "both/and" as far as practice goes. But we don't have contradictory theologies, pro and con, about images.
I've always wondered about a comment of Joseph Ratzinger in his book Spirit of the Liturgy, to the effect that the Latin West never really came to a full reception of Nicæa II, or a proper realization of the implications of its teaching. I don't take that to mean that we should all Byzantinize ourselves ... perhaps he means something like the West never really developed an idea of the icon as liturgical object. It also explains the waves of iconoclasm that swept the West at the Reformation and post-Vatican II.
I've long liked the notion that icons are halfway between Latin statues and a sacramental presence. Turns out to be a recent idea from a Russian, Leonid Ouspensky, but nice all the same. Sure, deepen our appreciation of images so some of our people stop trying to turn us into Protestants.

More on the Christian use of images

"You can't consider the use [veneration] of images to be idolatry; it doesn't mean you have to use them. You just can't go Protestant and say they're idols and thus wrong."
And it doesn't matter what you would do. You're a Catholic, not an Anglican. Get on board.
My interlocutor, who stomped off, is a young man, a new Catholic, from Protestantism by way of the Orthodox, still learning.

The Protestants' founders were Iconoclasts, among other heresies, in that they thought they knew better than the seventh ecumenical council (Anglican Article XXI: the church and its councils are fallible; "we" know in our hearts what the truth is) that veneration is idolatry. The Lutherans kept images, though, but only as instructional aids, not for veneration, because Luther was inconsistent and was willing to bait and switch, using the church's trappings to bring people into his new faith, plus his followers tried to reach an understanding with the church. (So they accidentally ended up our close cousins, closer to us than to Reformed.) The Anglicans, being Reformed, were definitely anti-images. Basically believing that the Jews are still right on this (where the idea of Iconoclasm among Christians came from).

Differences with Protestantism such as the nature and authority of the church, how it is set up and governed, how salvation works (the church or a feeling of being saved?), the nature of the Eucharist and other sacraments (making Christ's sacrifice present, actually doing what they signify, or just tokens of your feelings of being saved?), are essential. The idea of venerating images is a non-negotiable too: the seventh ecumenical council teaches that the Incarnation now makes that acceptable. Whether you use ornaments in church and what kind are matters of culture and discipline. (Mostly culture; rites usually slowly evolve, not with the church sitting down to compose them.) Elevating them to doctrine would be an error. (The sin of the Orthodox: "If you're not in our cultures, you're not in the church.")

We and the Protestants remain very different faiths though both Christian (for example, the content of the creeds, belief in the hypostatic union). For example, the Reformed Episcopal Church, in the Anglican tradition if not officially Anglican, was founded to oppose Anglo-Catholicism's belief that Anglicanism is a Catholicism (divinely mandated hierarchy and sacraments actually giving grace) albeit without the Pope, vs. the Reformed teachings of Anglicanism's framers. Their take is that the structure of the ancient church (bishops and a liturgy) is nice to have but not necessary: "Presbyterians with Prayer Books." It was very anti-image, anti-ornament. Now they appear to witness to other Reformed Protestants that images are an option. Not venerating them like we do but now they tolerate Eucharistic vestments, crucifixes, and Stations of the Cross! Ditto the Anglican Realigners, ACNA, Reformed with women priests but defending traditional marriage; images such as crucifixes aren't really an issue anymore. Rather like classical Lutherans in that.

With many Protestants we've gotten to the point where we're not fighting about ornaments in church anymore. And that's good.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

"Orthodoxy" and the veneration of images


Hey, I was wondering. Why do Byzantine Catholics call the first Sunday of Lent "Orthodoxy Sunday"? It is true that our Orthodox Catholic faith triumphed in Constantinople in 843 but I don't want people thinking that the Orthodox Church has "triumphed" in some way, with all due respect to our separated brethren.
I don't have a problem with that, just like the Ukrainian Catholic Church isn't afraid of the word "orthodox" in English. (My first traditional Catholic Mass 31 years ago was Ukrainian.) We can interpret it, as in this case regarding the option of images, as both a triumph of small-o orthodoxy and of the big-O Orthodox tradition. I don't believe in any such thing as the Orthodox Church. These are dioceses sharing a tradition that are estranged from us.
In a great irony of history, it was due to the Latin Church that the Eastern Churches maintained images.
Iconoclasm was an Eastern heresy.
I would dare to say the Eastern Churches have kept the Latin Church from jumping off the deep end if you catch my drift.
"Byzantium," the Orthodox tradition, is good: entirely Catholic, preserving a pre-Vatican II way, and offering options and answers "outside the box" of typical Catholic and Protestant thinking. It only becomes a problem when you put it above the church, as the Orthodox do.
The "option" of images? What does that mean?
It means my Latin parish doesn't need an iconostasis to be in the church. The seventh ecumenical council taught that images are allowable, not idols. The church could require images, as your rite does, as a matter of discipline but not as doctrine; the latter would be a kind of idolatry, pushing a culture, not the faith. For example, the Armenians and the Nestorians use images very sparingly, the Nestorians often using no images except the cross. A valid option.
The veneration of images is absolutely doctrine. An anathema was given to those who refuse to do so. How each church chooses to do that is one thing but to refuse it altogether is heresy.
That means you can't consider the use of images to be idolatry; it doesn't mean you have to use them. That's the sin of the Orthodox: "If it isn't Byzantine, it's crap," their little Western Rite missions notwithstanding and even those are heavily byzantinized.
Statues are included in the definition of Nicea II. I've never seen a Roman Catholic parish without one or two statues. It's the same thing. And no, it means what exactly what it says:
"We decree with full precision and care that, like the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross, the revered and holy images, whether painted or made of mosaic or of other suitable material, are to be exposed in the holy churches of God, on sacred instruments and vestments, on walls and panels, in houses and by public ways. If anyone does not salute such representations as standing for the Lord and his saints, let him be anathema. If anyone rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the church, let him be anathema."
That's not voluntary; that's compulsory and dogmatic. It doesn't have to be Byzantine icons but statues and the like are to be present for veneration in each and every church. And as I said, I've not seen one that doesn't have at least one.
I wouldn't go that far. Again, the Nestorians: you don't have to use them; you just can't go Protestant and say they're idols and thus wrong.
Nestorians are heretics; I don't care what they say or do. And it doesn't matter what you would do. You're a Catholic, not an Anglican. Get on board.

The twenty-fifth session of the Council of Trent (Dec., 1543) repeats faithfully the principles of Nicaea II: "The Holy Synod commands that images of Christ, the Virgin Mother of God, and other saints are to be held and kept especially in churches..."
I am on board: you have to accept images as an option; you don't have to use them. If you want to call me an Anglican, fine; at the end of the day I don't care what you think. A long time ago, I tried idolizing a culture the Orthodox way. No thanks, b*tches. The Nestorians might be heretics yet the church recognizes their orders, the credal orthodoxy required for such being that basic, the other requirements being unbroken apostolic succession and true teaching about the Eucharist. I don't have a problem with the idea that the split was a misunderstanding. Also, I should have been clearer: I meant the Nestorian tradition including the now-larger (than the Nestorians) Chaldean Catholic Church, Iraq's biggest church before the recent war. There are regulations for a rite and then there is doctrine. We are one faith but many rites, many cultures.
You're a pseudo-Iconoclast. And you're choosing to ignore Canons from Nicea II and Trent. Good luck with it, dude; your intense dislike for the Orthodox has blinded you.
I intensely dislike error and falsehood especially when they endanger souls, as with the few Catholics who leave the church for such (often egged on in online fora). Iconoclast? Reread me: one must accept the veneration of images in principle; one doesn't have to use an image except according to the discipline of one's rite. And you really don't know me. I never wanted to be a Protestant even as an Episcopal kid. As I write, there is a foot-and-a-half-tall statue of Our Lady next to my desk, a crucifix and a relief plaque of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the wall, and on the opposite wall, a modest Russian icon corner, completely in accord with their rite. The schismatics don't include us, but we include the East.

"Guidos"


A Polish-American on Long Island writes tongue-in-cheek:
Not everyone's lucky enough to live in the Tri-State area and see the guido in his natural habitat, but never fear! Even you white bread Middle Americans can recreate an authentic gavone villa by incorporating the following:
  • 1. columns
  • 2. statues
  • 3. full wall mirrors
  • 4. paved front yard
  • 5. Mary in the half shell (or St. Anthony for you sticklers)
And the most important one:
  • 6. cream-colored rug/carpet
For bonus points you may also include: plastic couch covers, china cabinets filled with glass angels, and a Padre Pio refrigerator magnet.

Do they still wear a lot of gold necklaces and bracelets? Every time we are in Las Vegas you can always spot the guido even before they open their mouth and you can hear the accent. Yeah, pretty much. You don't see jogging outfits anymore, though.
That's a shame.
I'm not posting this to join in making fun of Italian-Americans. Sure, stereotypes exist because on average they're true, as this is, for several reasons. Impoverished southern Italian (Naples, Calabria, and Sicily) immigrants (and their children and grandchildren) newly rich, relatively speaking, but without taste or manners (so they venerate the new couch as a sign of class, thus the plastic cover). The surviving Italian dialect in the second generation and surviving Italian words among the third are southern. But of course there's more to the Italian-American stereotype, again often true: passionate (sometimes violent), speaking from the heart, enjoying life and its pleasures such as food... Interesting relationship with the church because that relationship is so old. (Been Catholic since the caesars converted, back when the Germanics and the Celts were still painting their faces blue and dancing around trees. And maybe so many of the Germanics left the church to turn Protestant because they were never fully Christianized.) They know not to worship priests because they know them so well. Sometimes the trappings of religion are just tribal/cultural markers that have lost their original meaning, or are pagan/voodoo-ey (in ways never fully Christianized: human nature). Often Italian and Italian-American religion is more home-based with devotions to favorite or lucky saints than churchy. (Not institution-builders like the Irish used to be.) Church events such as baptisms, First Communions, confirmations, weddings, and funerals become tribal identifiers and rites of passages no longer much to do with the belief and teaching of the church. Men weren't really expected to go to Mass; women went. The priesthood was sort of a respectable parking lot for homosexuals. Again, none of this is our teaching. But anyway, lots of good, loving people, either very nice or leaving you in peace. A culture of family, hierarchy, and personal and group honor. What about the Mafia? Most Italians were never in in it but of course it exists. (Not so big anymore.) You leave them alone; they leave you alone, capisce? At least there used to be omertà; men actually in it didn't brag about being in it, vs. those who might want you to think they're mobbed-up badasses. (A lot of mob-movie Italians were really Jews making fun of Italians.) Also, a lot of this is generically Latin (Hispanic) or even Mediterranean (Greek). "The accent": Northeastern American speech, particularly New York (Philadelphia sounds different!), because so many southern Italians settled there. On dumb American TV, there are only about five accents, so your working-class toughs have a New York accent even if your story is set in L.A.

What about nostalgia for the '50s? Bowling shirts (sure, it's a tribute from me; beats wearing T-shirts all the time outside of work), etc.? They have it but it's not universal. In that time of unprecedented prosperity for America, Italian-Americans moved up to the middle class and kept their culture (values, norms); they took populuxe (space-age design) to heart. So yes, and you saw pockets of resistance to the Sixties onslaught because of it. By the way, the Sixties celebrated this stuff for about five minutes, as part of warring on the old WASP America, then went back to making fun of it when they realized the church was still Catholic (Humanae Vitae and Roe v. Wade).

People think South Philly still dresses like me, with real dress fedoras (not the kids' novelty hats), but sadly that's long not been so. The only men in the city who do are blacks from the era, for church.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

"Grease Live!" and more


  • My view on the fake '50s including "Grease Live!" is mixed. (The retro Fifties at its best is only part of the '50s story.) Kudos to the actors for daring to do a stage musical with no retakes. The '70s movie was too '70s. I don't like the show's intrusion of '70s style in "You're the One That I Want." I like the stage-like numbers and the innuendo missing from the movie. A fun show for grownups, teen sex jokes and all, but "we know better now" snark leaves a bad taste. The "non-traditional casting" is well meant but please don't rewrite history or preach on the real and alleged evils then (actually, people then were doing the dog work for civil rights). At least some of it was pretty good. Problems included an intrusion of the 2010s' feel/sensibility; some of the cast acted as if they were on "American Idol," and rather like a high-school production, "Look at me; I'm live on stage!" Mugging/hamming on stage for the people in the back rows of the house. (Like a school play with young children, practically waving to Mommy and Daddy.) The best scenes were, like a movie, when you could completely "get into" the play; for example, the car race (early-'50s Chevy vs. mid-'50s Ford) was phenomenally done for the TV audience. Danny and Sandy were wonderfully cast.
  • Experiencing conservative Novus Ordo in the present day. The green tabernacle veil and chalice veil, then the missing altar cards, told me something was up at my parish church this past Sunday. Mass: Novus Ordo partly in Latin (including the Roman Canon), readings from the pulpit in English, and eastward-facing from the offertory to the ablutions because the friar who usually does our Mass is out sick (with a staph infection, from surgery!) and our friars couldn't get a supply priest this week so one of them who doesn't know our Mass well was assigned to us, doing a fair job of making it as close to our Mass as he was able. A complaint: at the Prayers of the Faithful, in church, is the American Catholic Church really reduced to simply begging for "Enlightenment" religious liberty (the second petition this morning)? This is the Church Militant? No wonder so many men stay home or become interested in evangelicalism or even Islam instead. Charles Smith writes: It's strange when you are following the office at home, and you go to a Novus parish, and it's the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, and not Sexagesima. Then the alleluias are said, and the Gloria is read. And the office's propers tie into Sunday's readings, so the disorientation is bad. All the parts of a rite work together; disrupting that for a person or parish is wrong. Arguably, as Msgr. Klaus Gamber said, the new's no longer the Roman Rite even though it's Western, because, besides the different lectionaries, the new Mass often doesn't use the Roman Canon. The fact that not one of the other friars is capable of using the traditional missal is kind of a disgrace. The Mercedarian order remained sound after Vatican II but the traditional Mass isn't one of its specialties. One friar is assigned the traditional Mass here but we have at least two supply priests: the chancellor of the Diocese of Camden and a Jesuit from before Vatican II. I wish the old Mass were still the Roman Rite's norm too. Someday again? I remember the American church 30 years ago. That a young priest, as ours was that day, is wearing a fiddleback, facing "east," using Latin, and giving Communion to people kneeling at the altar rail is phenomenal, as was our normal use of Anglican hymns, not Marty Haugen. Experimentation and reform would have been much better done if the rite had kept the old form as the norm when all priests still knew how to do it; the experimental stuff should have been an add-on, an option, at most. What's funny is "we had to change to relate to the kids" is now believed mostly by people in their 60s and 70s; the kids reject novusordoísmo either mostly for unbelief (the larger culture) or classic Catholicism. Picture a guitar Mass and then picture a typical cynical Gen-Xer or millennial rolling his eyes at it; a big disconnect! It is condescending crap.
  • Are the Orthodox claiming this will be their eighth (or 10th?) ecumenical council? If so, of course I hope they don't dogmatize anything anti-Catholic (since so far they haven't!) and that this doesn't become their Vatican II and Novus Ordo. They might fall into formal error on divorce and remarriage; the rest seems mostly a rehash of Vatican II, innocuous and noncommittal really, plus an internal matter on how a national church becomes independent. We've been trying to end this schism since the Middle Ages; the Council of Ferrara-Florence briefly succeeded but in the next century the prideful Russians reneged and then the Turks re-separated the Greeks from the church.
  • Why Orthodox Easter is different. Orthodox Easter (which, like the Julian calendar, a number of Catholic churches use) doesn't have to be after Passover (superseded so Christians don't celebrate it); that's just a coincidence. It turns out the difference is to do with the Julian calendar (I thought it wasn't); they use the same formula to come up with the date that the Latin Church does but won't update their inaccurate tables for their calculations for the same reason some of them stick to the Julian calendar: to spite Rome. (The same reason the Protestantized English remained on the Julian calendar until the 1700s.) Why the ones that have adopted the Gregorian calendar for fixed-date feasts use the Julian for Easter and say they use the "modified Julian" calendar. In a lot of ways those churches are about spite. The different dates are not heresy (the calendar issue isn't theological) so the church has always lived and let live on this, and can continue to do so. But now that I know, a common Easter date, as with the Byzantine Catholic churches in America that have adopted the Western date, makes sense. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby proposes a fixed date for Easter. The church can do that but, the Novus Ordo being the big exception, rewriting services is not our normal practice and shouldn't be.
  • A New Year's resolution of sorts: to stay off Byz Anti-Cath Dot Org and SchismaticChristianity Dot Net permanently. No point being in either.
  • The National Rearview: obituary of a cuckservative rag. As Bob Wallace says, only one real candidate stands up for working-class white America and that's Trump. NR's orphaned by the times (after the Cold War basically created it) and "just doesn't get it." Or worse.
  • Regarding some moviemakers and actors boycotting the Oscars, crying racism, how about not whining and making better movies? There is no white American plan now to oppress blacks. Blacks are only 12% of America, and talented moviemakers and actors are a small minority of every race. So do the math: of course most nominees are white. Like the imaginary wage gap between the sexes: there's only one pay scale but men on average work harder and longer at harder jobs; women on average put family first. And it turns out black representation at the awards is... about 12%, the same proportion as in the American people. Also, if we take into account Europe's contribution to movies, the percent of blacks drops to something less than 5%. Many don't fathom just how few blacks there are in the world outside of Africa.
  • Music: Indonesia's Tielman Brothers. "John Lennon? Never heard of her."

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Unchurchy church in the new Brooklyn


An idea that's been around in churches at least since the Sixties, with impressive historical credentials (when romantics read the Didache): in hipsterized, gentrified Brooklyn, St. Lydia's (a saint from the Book of Acts), an experimental church (actually ELCA Lutheran, which in this case means it's an Episcopal project too) that doesn't use a church building and features an agape meal as the Sunday Eucharist. (First rule of hipster church: don't call it hipster church, "hipster," like "guido," not being something you call yourself.)

Let's start with the positive. It's better done than Pastor Ingqvist trying to be hip with a guitar service. It has a strong appeal, reaching out to fill a deep need probably not being met, 20- and 30-year-olds far away from family in a society where real community is eroding: hungry for a connection. (Loneliness: it's not just for saddos anymore.) In a way it's nothing new. Churches and church groups meet in parish halls and people's homes for dinners all the time. (My city Catholic parish manages to have coffee hour once a month after all the Sunday Masses, like the Episcopalians every week; for an American Catholic parish, phenomenal, virtually St. Lydia's, comparatively speaking.) Such experiments aren't just for liberals such as ELCA: evangelicals, actually very adaptable, have tried it; remember the Jesus movement in the early '70s? Catholics tried it with the charismatic movement and its "covenant communities," and in ways, the Neocatechumenate from Spain with its own low-church liturgy. Before Vatican II, in France you had the worker priests trying to revive the faith among the blue-collar by offering them unchurchy church. OK. So, unlike the Sixties radicals, they don't want to take away my Latin Mass or conventional Catholic or Lutheran parishes. So why not live and let live, having house or storefront churches with agapes, low churchmanship, and good fellowship, alongside that? As I like to say, Catholics' ecumenical approach should be "everything that's not doctrine is on the table." We're not tied down to one rite or culture. Why not room for one more?

Yes, up to a point, and this is where doctrine and practical experience (2,000 years worth!) kick in. As a Catholic I'm not a bigot; as long as we keep the old Mass and you try to keep the teachings, like we try to, I can be very accommodating.

So let's look at St. Lydia's claims to be all-inclusive, not tied down by insistence on doctrine (other than a broad belief in Jesus and the Bible as they see it), and counter-cultural, "working for change" (as if "change" were always objectively good: isn't that a doctrine?). A risk with such communities is when you jettison the traditional church and its teachings you lose your objectivity; pretty soon "God" starts sounding suspiciously like me or "my set" (cf. The Screwtape Letters), our king, our tribe, our government, etc. I've never been to St. Lydia's but I'm sure it isn't consciously cliquey. But let's look at some of their statements: A progressive, GLBTQ-affirming congregation... Refugees welcome. (By the way, "conservative Christian" doesn't automatically mean "pick on homosexuals" as these statements assume. It does mean "follow the same gospel as your straight brethren," which for you means abstinence — "take up your cross and follow me," which seems not to be what St. Lydia's wants to hear. And what of the Christian duty to defend innocent people from being raped or shot by "refugees"?) This is not so much for the benefit of homosexuals or Muslim immigrants but virtue-signaling something very much doctrine, a rather narrow one appealing mostly to present-day white Americans of a certain class on up. A modern, say, English- or Swedish-based culture. A message now so mainstream that most of its target audience doesn't see the need for a church glommed onto it.

Such communities in such neighborhoods might by definition be transitional: what happens when the young creative types pair off, marry, and have kids? Then Pastor Ingqvist's parish with Sunday school, etc., would work better. Might such communities last longer if, say, some of the members committed to not marrying and instead lived together and ran such local churches, schools, hospitals, shelters, etc.? Oh, wait.

In short, I'm reminded of that humorous and insightful writer, G.K. Chesterton, who as a young man tried to come up with the heresy to beat all heresies: maybe supposedly boring old, hung-up orthodox Catholicism and its cultures, from Italian to Ukrainian to sub-Saharan African ones, are far more radical and universal/inclusive (one gospel for all people in all places and times) than anything the good-hearted Lutherans of St. Lydia's can imagine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

When's a Pope not a Pope?

"Is the Pope Catholic?" Serious question.

The world seems to love Pope Francis but for all the wrong reasons. It hasn't suddenly started loving God including Jesus, the church or its teachings. It thinks he's validating all its wrong views. (Free sex! "Who's to judge?" Believe whatever you want as long as you're nice to each other. The bland ecumenicism of apostate Christianity: "post-Christian society.") So at long last, as Vatican II seemed to promise, he'll push those dumb fishsticks into line. ("Get over yourselves; you're just a denomination in a marketplace of spirituality.") The world believes in absolute papal power that's its for the asking; the church doesn't!

"But isn't the Pope the point of being Catholic?"

There have always been Popes with wrong ideas (before modern media, we didn't hear about them); that doesn't affect the Pope's office because his views don't figure in his job, which is only to defend what's been handed down. As far as I know, Pope Francis hasn't tried to teach heresy ex cathedra. The sedevacantist scenario with a Pope turned antipope can happen but we can't presume someone's no longer Pope, although we can and should ignore a bad Pope; we have to wait for the ecclesiastical second-in-command to tell us so. That's why I'm not turning Chicken Little telling people to leave the church.
Who is the "ecclesiastical second-in-command" that you are referring to?
The answer I remember reading is "the world's bishops." Which doesn't mean the schismatics are right; the Pope's office still has God-given authority and Western Christianity is not a fraud. In this situation, the Pope effectively abdicates by stepping outside his office's authority. In practice: your bishop makes the call for you?
I came out of Orthodoxy almost 33 years ago. For the first time in all those years, I am thinking about returning. The Catholic Church I joined no longer exists; at least according to the Pope, I am one of those divining, rigid Pelagians! May God have mercy on His Church!
Of course the church still exists; Jesus said it would. But he didn't promise it would still exist in the United States, for example. Schism: been there. No way. As awful as a Pope can be, he can't change the teachings of the church, and I can't buy that Byzantium IS the church, not just part of it, so Western Catholicism's been a fraud for 1,000 years. (Even when I was trying to, I never could bring myself to defend a so-called "Orthodox Church," only "the Orthodox tradition." Their bishops and Mass are real, and their rite is better than the Novus Ordo, but what looks like Catholic traditionalism from them is only ethnic/national boosterism, no longer really serving God.) If I really believed that, I wouldn't care about Pope Francis and the state of the Catholic Church as I do.
The inconvenient truth is that one can materially hold to heresy — teach it, shouting it from rooftops even! — without ever losing one's Catholicism; that is, their ecclesiastical status of "Catholic in good standing" because it has not been declared as such formally by the institution that gave them their Catholicism in the first place when they entered the Church at Baptism. Francis is Pope. Francis is a bad Pope. We have to come to grips with that reality and work from there... speculating about whether or not he is Pope is futile.
The church is very careful about declaring someone a heretic and excommunicating him. We're not a micromanaging cult. One's weird uncle who hates the church isn't a formal heretic. A heretic 1) is in a position to know better; he's had theological training so he knows what the church teaches and rejects it; he's not ignorant; 2) is in a position of power and trust, responsible for the care and good of souls, such as a priest or a professor; and 3) has been warned.

I don't have to make excuses for a Pope because I know the teachings of the church: the church doesn't run on the Pope's opinions.

I thank God that Francis cares so little about liturgy and traditionalism he hasn't tried to revoke Pope Benedict's reform of English Novus Ordo or Summorum Pontificum. Thanks to that, to me his reign has been a cakewalk compared to Paul VI and John Paul II. That doesn't mean "a pretty Mass is all that matters"; it means, as Anglo-Catholic alumni know, "it's the Mass that matters." I have the church's teachings and unimpeded access to the grace of the Mass. So I 1) tune him out (the media's stream of reporting off-the-cuff remarks that seem to agree with the world), easy since I'm not a priest so he's not my boss; and 2) don't rattle his cage (by calling him a formal heretic or an antipope, saying Benedict's still Pope, etc.). The idea is to keep him ignoring me. He won't excommunicate me for this blog post, and arguably can't, because it doesn't attack the teachings of the church. (And if you think I'm hard on Francis, you should read Adrian Fortescue on St. Pius X.)

Monday, January 25, 2016

How pro-life fails and more

  • From 2009: Life to March. The pro-life movement has endured for so long precisely because it has failed. Is it just a substitute for American Catholic identity, after Vatican II? The writer doesn't say it's that bad. The main points: pro-lifers have cut abortions by about a quarter since 1990 but we're failing at stopping the problem at its cause (we're losing the culture war); people are literally killing for what they think is free sex. Fallen human nature is strong.
  • Chicago, 1972: The Poles: still our victims. From the blink of an eye in the Sixties when ethnic Catholics were cool in America, thanks to their numbers, the goodwill they earned before Vatican II, Vatican II having people think the church was on board with the Sixties, and the new left's war on the old WASP America. Then Humanae Vitae and Roe v. Wade reminded everybody the church is still Catholic so the new bosses went back to hating us.
  • Are "utopian" workplaces (companies that pretend to care about you) just a ploy to keep you at work all the time? A trap for wage slaves, like the company town with the company store that Tennessee Ernie Ford sang about.
  • USA: Greek former archimandrite "marries" man in civil ceremony. Yes, of course I go to an Orthodox church and yes, I receive Holy Communion. If it's true (it's only Mr. Heropoulos' claim for now), then on the ground in Orthodox churches, being in the ethnic group trumps teaching, thanks to economy. So, rare in their conservative cultures (as the Athenos yogurt commercials used to make fun of) but it happens, de facto gay marriage with the partners going to Communion. Liberal Catholic parishes do it too but not while looking traditional; that's an Episcopal thing. (Given the rest of the story, and that he's of a generation that might still go to church, it's far more likely he's Episcopal now.) Among the Orthodox, what looks like traditionalism to us Catholics is just the trappings of ethnic/national boosterism.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Anti-Trump outcry and the state of Britain

Proof? As far as I can tell from the article, it's basically just the PM, one Labour MP, and a former Scottish official mouthing off, not the British government or people. Half a million signed a petition, out of a population of 64 mil. (Class/virtue-signaling? "All right-thinking people, my set of course, look down on Trump.")

Anyway, I'm not impressed. Britain is no longer a world power. (Prince Charles to Putin: "You're like Hitler!" Putin to the prince: "Your country hasn't mattered at least since 1945. Mine still spans 11 time zones and we control our own nukes." Prince: "Ow.") It can tell off the rest of Europe and still act like a world power because it's an American protectorate, thanks to the "special relationship" in which the empire still exists but the ex-colony is in the driver's seat. Been so at least since World War II; leaders in each country were already planning for it, since before World War I. Want to tell off Trump if he's elected and go it alone vs. Germany, et al.? God have mercy on you. And the British telling off Trump probably boosts his support from his American populist base. (Like the National Review attacking him. Free advertising that raises his cred with his base, fed up with the Establishment Republicans' games, and hurting NR as people cancel their subscriptions.) Then there are the British nationalists (UKIP and the English Defence League) who'd be simpatico with Trump. (Blowback from the "migrants"/"refugees": northern Europe is getting fed up.)
Britain's decline started with the abdication of Edward VIII.
Actually the Rhodes Group, now the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), got started before World War I as British leaders realized the empire as then constituted would end, running out of money and resources. The plan, with the American elite: secretly shift its center to America. Promoting Anglo-American relations was part of the plan. Why there are Rhodes scholarships for Americans. Why we got into WWs I and II. (WWII was also Communists in our government helping the Soviets win, the true story of the war that the movies don't tell you. It wasn't really John Wayne saving us from speaking German or Japanese.) The double whammy of WWI and the Depression (years apart of course) bankrupted Britain so in 1931 it started divesting, making its white colonies such as Canada and Australia independent. (Financially still in bad shape, it did so with its nonwhite ones after WWII.) So by the time of Edward VIII, who's only a footnote in history, the change was well under way even though the old empire was still on paper.

Before the change, American foreign policy and popular sentiment understandably feared the mother country as a threat to independence (the War of 1812: we tried to steal what's now Canada and the British gave us a good thrashing); the countries had a naval arms race and last-ditch invasion plans (to be fought in Canada) as recently as the 1920s.

Irony: the United States is more conservative and more religious, but the change marked a defeat for the traditional(ist) trappings of Britain, the monarchy, the lords, and the English church with its coped bishops crowning kings/queens and officiating at royal weddings (the symbols remain and are even popular but stripped of power). For centuries the Popes didn't want republicanism of the American or Irish kind (but we can work with that) but rather that this old structure be reconciled with the church, union from the top down, because hierarchy and indeed establishment are in themselves good.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Gay conservative Christians and more

  • Anglicanism: After the Primates' Gathering, whither gay conservatives? Of course this point reminds me of classic, Tridentine Anglo-Catholicism at its best. Being innocent as a young person, I didn't know for a couple of years that homosexual men have long predominated in the movement. People don't understand that Catholicism is all for being "openly gay" if by that you mean you're honest about your orientation with yourself and the few others it concerns. It doesn't necessarily mean unchastity. Yes, for homosexuals, abstinence is the answer. "Take up your cross and follow me." For example, the A-C alumnus Fr. John Jay Hughes is upfront with you about his bisexuality, if it ever comes up; he has never used this to attack the teachings of the church. There's no such thing as gay Catholicism, just Catholicism. (Why, for the most part, until recently nobody figuratively waved rainbow flags at St. Clement's.) Like Huw Richardson: he's gay and he's Orthodox, but just call him Orthodox; your orientation isn't the sum of who you are. As for the Episcopalians, they now think this is all nonsensical repression (closeting); I think unchaste gay pseudo-traditionalism is for all intents part of their brand now. My guess is the people the piece describes will find out Fr. Richard John Neuhaus was right: when orthodoxy becomes optional, not only is it no longer orthodoxy; it eventually is forbidden.
  • Anglican drama: The Episcopal Church gets a time-out over same-sex marriage. I'm now a writer for Catholic World Report.
  • The March for Life has its place and is great (been in it three times) but 1) what can we do to actually stop abortions (voting Republican doesn't do the trick; Roe v. Wade was under a Republican president — I know; it was the Supreme Court, separation of powers, but still — and we've had how many GOP presidents and Congresses since?) and 2) considering the Novus Ordo American church, among well-meaning conservative Novus Ordo Catholics might this stuff be a substitute for a larger Catholic identity we lost, so much so that the goal of stopping abortions is almost irrelevant?
  • Pope Francis allows women in Maundy Thursday foot-washing ceremony. It's not doctrine; he can do that. But should he? Just like the church normally doesn't write completely new services. His intentions are probably good: serve the poor; be generous. But is this ceremony to do with the apostolic ministry since the first participants were apostles? Why in 1988 I got into a shouting match with two libcaths who hated the then-new Archbishop of Philadelphia for keeping the rule. Like with unnecessary lay Eucharistic ministers and altar girls, it seems not a matter of doctrine but disobedience that churchmen eventually caved on, a fait accompli and a slap for Anglo-Catholic alumni who lived through the attempted ordination of women; we defended the faith and the church and this is the thanks we get.
  • From Patrick Sheridan: What went wrong with the West? Putin's great as a new Constantine for Russians, not for me. I've known Russians (and know Russian) and like them. Hooray for that almost Catholic country returning to its anti-liberal roots. I'm not falling for the secular New World Order trying to exploit my Catholic and old Cold Warrior feelings to get me on board propping up the Ukraine to attack Russia, though of course I support a pro-Catholic Ukraine, independent if it wants to be. The Western left hates Russia because it's not Communist anymore. Fr. Andrew's post, echoing how I talked myself into Orthodoxy 20 years ago ("the West dropped the ball so it's not the church"), is just fanboy convertitis from an outsider worshipping Russia. ("Russia will save the world!" It can't; it's cut off from the universal church.) The church, on the contrary, isn't tied to any one rite, empire, or set of cultures. Byzantium's great; at heart Catholic. But that's not the whole church. Fr. Andrew's "Orthodox Civilization" not only denies that the mid-late medieval West had grace (St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis, frauds? Seriously, get out of town: move [back] to Russia!) but is talking nonsense about divorce and remarriage ("sometimes adultery is OK" says the putative true church?!) and contraception, and is always the state's lackey, even if the state's anti-Christian, once they've been slapped around enough. Nobody can own the Catholic Church, which is why those states have hated it. The Russian government hates the Ukraine because, really being the same people, they think it belongs in their empire and are furious it's not. The empire as fake catholicity. Some senior clergy from upper-class families would shave their Christian beards, just like the old pagan Roman leaders. They read pagan Latin literature and, remarkably, passed their nostalgia for pagan Rome on to the Frankish barbarian invaders. (We're "Frankish barbarians" because we're outside the empire; theologically this is hash.) He's ignorant: at some point didn't the Greeks have unhaloed paintings of Socrates and Plato in their churches' vestibules? (Why not? Their philosophy, like Aristotle later with the Schoolmen, gave our theology a framework. Huge influence on the church fathers.) And the shaven Roman style was normative in the Western classical world at that time; the Byzantine beard came later. A thought: within three generations of arriving in America, Orthodox become just like Protestants.

The indelible mark of the priesthood and fallen-away Catholics

OK, so a lot of Anglo-Catholic parishes practise Benediction. At a parish where the vicar's orders are invalid (in my opinion only former RC priests would be valid) would worship of a piece of bread be idolatry? I am in a city where no Ordinariate community exists. I would like to attend evensong at the Anglo-Catholic parish but it includes Benediction.
Attend. They believe God's there and who knows? God created valid orders but he's not limited to them. Idolatry? No. It's all in the intent, and that's not their intent. I'm supposed to have convertitis and scream "No!" Sorry.

Catholic traditionalist Michael Davies believed that an ex-Catholic priest using the Anglicans' Communion service is celebrating Mass. Illicitly but Mass all the same. Of course I'd like to know what the church teaches. Can't go wrong treating it as invalid, since of course you can't go to Communion there anyway. (The church has never approved or used Cranmer's Communion consecration prayer.) My guess is the Anglican or Lutheran context renders valid orders moot. Like when schismatic Catholic bishops participated in Anglican ordinations: the church doesn't recognize the "Dutch touch" among Protestants; only when the schismatic Dutch-derived churches (the so-called Old Catholics) do it. ELCA's former presiding bishop claims that touch through the Episcopalians; that is pushing the Western Catholic theology of valid orders outside the church too far.
Not that it's pertinent to this (seeing it's a Western matter), but the Eastern view is that if he's a priest then his consecrating of the Eucharist is valid. The concept of liceity does not exist in the East. Either it's valid or it's not. If the priest has been formally defrocked/deposed, then he's no longer a priest and therefore he can not consecrate anything.
Actually the Christian East favors the view that if the priest is outside what they consider the church, be it Orthodoxy, one of the Monophysite churches, or the Nestorian Church, then he's not a priest and there are no other valid sacraments including baptism. Sometimes they recognize our orders, baptisms, etc., as we do theirs but they don't have to.
I would say this is a late development. The work of the Holy Ghost is no laughing matter. Some fanatical Orthodox might deny the indelible mark of the priesthood but no Catholic — no matter what church he belongs to — may deny that he is a priest forever.
Right; Catholics believe a priest never stops being a priest. A laicized priest simply is forbidden from using that, except in an emergency. Thing is the fanatical Orthodox are in good standing with their churches. The "indelible mark" of holy orders is our doctrine, not theirs. They don't dogmatically deny it or anything else Catholic, but they hold this: there is the church and it has orders; everything outside the church is undefined darkness. An Orthodox convert with a theology degree has told me they don't believe their laicized priests are still priests. I'm not sure; I imagine one of their bishops could reactivate one.
Going around denying the validity of other people's baptisms is not "Eastern," it's not "apostolic"; it's plain cult-crazy.
Why I'm Catholic, not Orthodox, for example: I can't buy that only "Byzantium" is the church, the only thing with grace.
Laicised RC priests retain their orders and, with correct form and matter confect valid sacraments in Anglo-Catholic churches. There are not a few active in the Anglo-Catholic movement so this is a valid issue.
Historically it was very rare: Catholics turned Anglicans tended not to mimic the church, and Anglo-Catholics, while sometimes pushing a rival true-church claim, respected us in "the Roman Church" so they didn't try to convert us; they were trying to catholicize other Anglicans. You've seen it more since the '60s, as Episcopalianism high-churchified, coincidentally: ex-Catholics who were priests who wanted to marry, were gay, or were divorced and remarried. Some Episcopalians complain about such remaining very "Roman." Most Catholic liberals don't switch because they are from a generation rightly taught we're the true church so rather than leave they stayed and tried to change (protestantize) it, plus they don't like high liturgics (the Episcopalians worship too much like I do) and they have ethnic and real or perceived class loyalties (an Irish-American not joining the English church, for example).

Then there was St. Clement's, my Anglo-Catholic parish in the late '80s and hangout last decade, which had a few ex-Catholics as lay leaders (ex-Catholic Anglo-Papalists?!) creating a Tridentine-based liturgical haven (albeit ecclesiologically and sacramentally untenable) amidst the American Catholic wasteland/madhouse after Vatican II; they've since returned to the church and have a weekly Tridentine Mass like the one I go to.

And then there's the issue of ex-Catholics coming back and wanting to be Catholic priests. Normally an ex-Catholic priest wouldn't be allowed to but the church could give a dispensation; what John Hepworth wanted. A few men left the church as laymen, married, and were ordained in the Church of England or Episcopal Church, and the church gave them a dispensation when they came back; they are now Catholic priests.

By the way, the return of lapsed Catholics is today's Chair of Unity Octave intention, having prayed for the conversion of European Protestants (I guess mostly our Lutheran cousins; sounds quaint as it seems to me European Protestantism is dead) and American ones (lively, though often "the American religion," not as Christian as one thinks). My dad came back, the core group at St. Clement's came back, and I came back. It happens.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

America's new quasi-official Anglicans


Day 3 of the Chair of Unity Octave has another intention dear to me, the submission of Anglicans to the church. As regular readers know, I was born an Episcopalian because my dad left the church (he came back in the end; unlike me he liked Vatican II). Thanks to that "accident" I learned traditional liturgical forms at the same time the American Catholic Church was dumping them. The culture through which I express the faith that Msgr. Murray taught me. Anglicanism is really only the Reformed faith with bishops but there's always been something to it, in spite of themselves; why Anglo-Catholicism (both the rival true-church claim and what its detractors feared, trying for a "reconciliation with honor" with the church) existed. (In fact Anglo-Papalists started the Chair of Unity Octave.) Why Vatican II gave it a nod.

In this turbulent ecclesiastical scene (often under a cover of English manners), with its high churchmen trying to be Catholic on their terms, not the church's (the Episcopalians love our culture including our traditional liturgy), people resembling conservative Presbyterians, and of course the headline-grabbing liberals chasing every secular lead in mores (yet next to nobody goes to their churches: Fr. Longenecker, an ex-Evangelical Anglican priest, understands why not; Catholic Modernism's self-refuting too), today I'll give the Anglican Church in North America the spotlight, America's new quasi-official Anglicans, not entirely in the Anglican Communion (England's strange Reformed church spread through the British Empire) but many member churches (the conservative African Evangelical Anglicans) recognize them, not the liberal Episcopalians anymore, so who knows? There's a lot to like: enthusiastic about the faith in the creeds, loving Jesus, and still close to the church on sexual matters (what are now considered Catholic issues used to be generally Christian ones). Looking at them in action, having lost their aversion to many Catholic trappings (indirect Anglo-Catholic influence; the Episcopalians' last three A-C dioceses are now in ACNA), you see "separated brethren." Nice that we're not trying to kill each other anymore, and believe me, when they got started in England, they went after us. But today you can see their claim to be "Catholic and Reformed" in action. Being Protestants, they have women clergy, like the Episcopalians they came from. (So what are the A-C dioceses doing there? I guess these A-Cs are pushing a rival truth claim, of which they consider themselves the authentic spokesmen: the spiritual sons of Charles Grafton and others.)

So what's the story? Any chance of them coming into the church? Not any time soon. Same issues as in the 16th century (the church and its sacraments actually giving grace vs. salvation by feeling you're saved, the church, etc. being only trappings). Plus the women clergy. (And they're surprised the Episcopalians also voted for gay marriage?)

Video: Archbishop Foley Beach.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Coptic bishop enthroned in a Catholic church


  • Chair of Unity Octave prayers. Today's intention is close to me, the reconciliation of most of the Christian East, a topic about which there is much misunderstanding. The Orthodox, fellow Chalcedonians, clearly are estranged Catholics, not personally guilty of schism though they're in schism. Or heresy for that matter because they've never dogmatized their anti-Catholic opinions. Born Orthodox get the benefit of the doubt. Clearing up a misunderstanding among them: you don't have to latinize to be Catholic. But the self-latinized Eastern Catholics among us have the right to be. The Lesser Eastern Churches (Monophysites and Nestorians): also estranged Catholics or something like Mormons with holy orders, Christological heretics? (If you get Jesus wrong, are you really Christian? The Mormons aren't.) I don't have a problem with the recent understanding that the accusations of heresy were a misunderstanding (only recently have the Monophysites generally been considered Orthodox); we recognize their orders. (Our semi-"branch theory," only with Catholicism as the whole truth: our teaching on valid orders, requiring credal orthodoxy so basic the Lesser Easterners pass, unbroken apostolic succession, and unbroken true teaching about the Eucharist. The entire Christian East and a few Western splinters are, sacramentally, still in the Catholic family.) Another misunderstanding about the Christian East: that they recognize us like we do them. Not so fast. They can but they don't have to. Many don't. That's right; to them we're in worse shape than the Anglicans, not even having valid baptisms! (Because we're outside the church, see.) And for centuries the three families of Easterners, the Orthodox, the Monophysites, and the Nestorians, didn't recognize each other. (Competing true-church claims.) Still another from well-meaning Catholics: because Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras revoked the excommunications of 1054, we're in communion again or are about to be, imminently. Excommunications don't apply to the dead of course; those excommunications were of certain people on each side and didn't involve the churches. The estrangement remains. Which relates to still another: that Constantinople's the Orthodox Vatican; all we need is for the Pope and the Orthodox Pope to reconcile. No such thing as the Orthodox Pope. They're a loose communion actually little to do with each other; the Monophysites even more so. Misunderstanding No. 5: we're sister churches. The truth: because sacramentally we're still the same, our respective dioceses ("the church of Brooklyn," "the church of Johnstown") are sisters. The Catholic Church has no sisters. So there is no such thing as "the Orthodox Church." At the top there is only one church.
  • Anyway, "what's wrong with this picture," literally? Bishop Arsany (or Arsenios), the Coptic Orthodox Bishop for the Netherlands, attended today a Sung Mass (1962 Missal) celebrated at the Sint-Agneskerk in Amsterdam, where a personal parish dedicated to the Traditional Latin Mass is under the care of the FSSP. He might not be the first Orthodox prelate to attend a TLM in recent years, but as far as I know he is the first one to do so while seated on a throne inside the sanctuary. First off, good! Those at least slightly acquainted with the church know that the Christian East has never had a Vatican II; they had the grace and sense not to cave to the Sixties by modernizing. The Slavs in America just switched to English, including on the Greek Catholic side here (whence most of the Slav Orthodox in America came, "Greek" here meaning "Greek Rite"; by the way, most American Orthodox are actually Greek). So you have rites that are better than the Novus Ordo and historical, natural analogues to the Tridentine Mass. Some of their bishops recognize our sacraments. Well and good. Also, again, born members of these churches aren't personally guilty of schism. And again, our dioceses are sisters. So what's the matter here? Catholics believe there is only one true church, which gives the authority of jurisdiction to clergy, first to bishops, who in turn delegate some of their authority to priests. An estranged Eastern bishop belongs in "choir," on sedilia in the sanctuary with Catholic clergy, not vested to serve (anyway, the traditional Roman Rite usually doesn't have concelebration; the Eastern rites do) but in "choir dress," as indeed Msgr. Arsany (more on that address in a bit) is here, in his monk's habit (Eastern bishops are usually monks, so yes, they're celibate; diocesan deacons and priests may marry before ordination and widowers can't remarry — same in the Eastern Catholic churches and for the few married Roman Rite deacons and priests). Bishops are given jurisdiction by the Pope, so a Coptic bishop shouldn't sit on the bishop's throne in one of our churches. The estranged East certainly wouldn't do that for one of ours, logically. By the way, because jurisdiction comes from the Pope, and because estranged Eastern bishops, unlike Anglican bishops, are real bishops, before Vatican II it was common Catholic practice to refer to them as "Msgr. Name in Religion," much like a European Roman Rite bishop who is not a diocesan bishop. So the Archbishop of Canterbury was "Dr. Lang"; the Patriarch of Constantinople was "Msgr. Meletios." That said, I don't have a problem with the idea that not-guilty, not-ex-Catholic Eastern bishops have apostolic authority over their own people in the same situation as they; you could say the church supplies jurisdiction in that case of "good faith" ("they don't know they're schismatic" as a priest put it to me). So "Bishop Arsany" is fine.
  • In any case ecumenism with these churches (arguably the only kind that matters) is completely different from with Protestants, because they're churches, with apostolic bishops and the Mass, not groups of baptized Christians in non-churches, commonly called Protestants (heretics but not Christological ones). Our goal is to reconcile them to the church from the top down so all their dioceses come into the church at the same time, after which we would leave their rites alone. Huge moral support for traditionalists and conservatives in the Roman Rite.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Fr. Rutler against post-Sixties pop music and the cultural revolution generally

In speaking of the rock and roll genre, I certainly do not want to be lumped with those preachers who once condemned Ragtime music, or even Chesterton who in an unmeasured moment called Jazz “the song of the treadmill.” But I am a pastor of a section of Manhattan called Hell’s Kitchen. I recently had the funeral of a young man who died of a drug overdose, and whose musical world was Corybantic. His cousin, a client of the rock and drug scene, is in prison for murder. So I speak not only as an aesthete who publicly avows that he prefers Mozart and Chopin to Jackson and Bowie, but as a priest who has to pick up the pieces of those who never knew they had a choice. And I object to comfortable prelates in a higher realm, penning panegyrics for the doyens of a culture that destroys my children.
The young Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, for example, were livewires, huge natural talents exuding bad-boy sexuality (not the domesticated Elvis of the movies and Vegas); of course the girls screamed as they did for Sinatra. Just like the Rat Pack, all were naughty (those two being Southern sinners Flannery O'Connor probably understood: "I'm not the King, honey; Jesus Christ is the King. I'm just a singer") but not destructive to the culture as the cute, seemingly tamer Beatles (somehow an instrument of great evil) and the raucous but less talented (and not good-looking) Rolling Stones were in the next decade. The former set's many vices remained a private matter.

So while I appreciate Fr. Rutler's argument, I don't hate early rock'n'roll; like Pat Buchanan I love it among several genres (including swing), the music of a confident, winning America. The '50s were a perfect storm for the country: unprecedented prosperity and the old values or at least the old norms still in force. (But reactionaries such as European traditionalists are right that the rot, the nihilism and agnosticism, had already set in regarding values, certainly among the elite, going back to at least the "Enlightenment." Norms lag; the non-elite often still went to church.) Read Face to Face for some more on that:
It's important to keep in mind as we enter the renaissance of populism, we have to remind the liberals that their revival of 1940s and '50s New Deal economics will have to be traded for a return to lifestyles of the '40s and '50s. If they want a higher minimum wage and narrowing inequality, they can afford to close down pornography, multiculturalism, and rootlessness. By the same token, conservatives must be willing to pay higher income taxes, work in a more unionized economy, and face tighter checks on over-weening career ambition.
Who else does that remind of Catholic social teaching as I think I understand it? Not Big Brother but certainly not libertarian. "Narrowing inequality": the American dream was real then.

And I let Bowie off easy, preferring to remember him as a throwback to a reactionary aristocracy (the Thin White Duke, not an egalitarian nor pretending to be, aristocrats affording not to care what you think, in a business that rewards virtuosity; not born upper-class but looking the part), again with many vices as such have long had. Fr. Rutler puts him in the same malignant camp as the Beatles. For people lacking the cushion of money and social station (class) and/or intelligence, imitating the vices of the upper classes is materially disastrous. And that, I think, is Fr. Rutler's objection to him: flaunting, nay, preaching his vices and harebrained ideas, he made them public for many people's possible ruination.

Debating with a Continuing Anglican about the framers

We share a culture (including saying no to the Sixties, with our respective "symbolic" books with which to say that, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and the Tridentine Mass) and most of our theology (bishops, Mass, sacraments, saints; definitely not the theology of the '28 BCP) but there's only one church, and to be a Continuer takes a misreading of history and an argument its originator, Newman, later disowned as intellectually dishonest: "we owe no allegiance to the intentions of Anglicanism's framers," which is like "I hate the Old Testament but I'm Jewish," "Muhammad's not the Prophet but I'm a Muslim" or "I'll always be a Catholic but the Pope's wrong on the faith" (I've met such a poor soul, the late Fr. Ray Jackson: raised in Cardinal Spellman's New York and ordained by that fine churchman, when the Sixties flipped him, he kept the teaching that there is only one church which he could never leave, but it was wrong about some essentials, so he and his friends must change it).

An Episcopalian:
For myself, I believe that the US and Canadian Anglicans are reflecting the best of the Church's baptismal theology.
A Continuer:
And of course reinterpreting the moral law, as rooted in the very nature of God, based on a completely de-contextualized use of a Galatians passage is not a deviation from the Faith? The Episcopal Church is guilty of apostasy by an serious evaluation of Christian truth based on the Scriptures, Ecumenical Creeds and Councils. The "re-imaging" God that is involved is idolatry. How this represents Anglo-Catholicism and not some form of New Age goofiness is beyond me.
Well and good; what we believe except the Episcopalians aren't apostate even though for centuries they have had many unbelievers. They still have the creeds (those, bishops, and a liturgy being the "Catholic" part of "Catholic and Reformed"). So why's he like what Pius IX said of Pusey, like the bell tower calling the people into the church but staying outside?

Episcopalian:
And from whose mind did your "moral law, as rooted in the very nature of God" (very presumptuous language!) did emerge in the first place?
The consensus of the Catholic Church, the estranged Eastern churches, and classical Protestants is nothing to sniff at, but what really matters is, is the church infallible (as the Bishop of Rome teaches) or are Articles XIX and XXI right so anything goes, as you, Continuer, believe as a good Anglican?
As an orthodox Anglo-Catholic in the Continuum I do not give any standing to the 39 Articles as any kind of catholic statement. The article on the non-communion of the wicked is patently false, and one has to do a "Cardinal Newman" — the dance of the seven veils, as it were — around the wording to make it possible to understand it in an orthodox way. It, frankly, isn't worth the time.
So Anglicanism's framers were wrong and thus God's plan for the church and for England was to have an Old Catholicism, a Catholicism without the Pope's jurisdiction? As my old Oxford tutor would say, prove it. Easier to take the framers at their word, and the liberals are taking that to a logical conclusion, even though the framers never envisaged these changes (women clergy and same-sex marriage). Start another church, but can one call that new church Anglican if it owes nothing doctrinally to the framers?
Aren't we getting rather off topic? And what do you want in this online forum, a dissertation? You know that that is the kind of detail required, of course. Shall I put all theology and history regarding questions of authority and jurisdiction into a thimble? Much depends on what one asserts to be the whole mindset of the Church in England throughout history in response to papal claims of universal jurisdiction, and who one wants to identify as the "framers" of Anglicanism (and the whole question, put that way, begs an important question about whether there WERE "framers" at all, or simply people who tried, with various degrees of success, to insist on various reforms and pruning away of errors. Those who did this best never regarded themselves as anything but catholic, in continuity with the Church throughout history, and not as radical revisionists or Puritans. To change the core is to invent some new abomination, which is not Christ's Bride. If one is a Protestant, one thinks of something very different than if one is catholic). Relations with Rome in the English Church were, throughout history, a very on and off again matter, influenced by numerous historical factors, as I am sure you know. Sometimes autocephalous authority was strongly asserted, and sometimes there was a very strong element of conformity with Roman demands. The same happened in many places in the West, not just in England. And this was a situation which continued right up to the tragedy of the Elizabethan Settlement. The test for orthodoxy and catholicity are no different for the Church in England, or her legitimate successors, than for the Church anywhere else, whether identified as Old Catholic, Orthodox, Roman, or Anglican (in England).
I'm only trying to be logical and fair. I don't agree with the liberals but they may well be right about their own church; I have no right to tell them what to do. Of course I think you're wrong about the relationship between medieval England and Rome and about the framers.

Bombing Muslim countries: About the peace message


A study by the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations showed that the United States dropped 23,144 bombs on Muslim-majority countries Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia in 2015.
Like I trust the CFR, as in the NWO (New World Order). But anyway.

A commenter: "They hate us for our freedom." Irony: Americans are terrified military-age Muslims might come to the USA and bomb us. Meanwhile thousands of our military are over there and actually dropping thousands of bombs on them.

A Protestant minister, rightly trying to stay above left vs. right in American politics: The interesting thing is that all the Republican candidates think Obama hasn't bombed enough. In other words, no force is too extreme to defend "American interests" no matter how small. And these same candidates want your Christian vote. Am I the only one who things something just isn't right about all this?

A quotation from General Eisenhower: I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

Ted Cruz, maybe trying to sound Trump tough (the mainstream candidates either don't understand Trump's real appeal or think it's beneath them): We will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out.

To be fair, General LeMay, from the same big war as Eisenhower, talked of bombing Vietnam into the Stone Age, which we didn't but could have. That was interesting; a different war, one that General MacArthur wanted President Johnson to back out of. (I think we should have stayed out of World War II. It wasn't like the movies, what we were being told we were doing, defending ourselves. Helping the Soviets win was stupid.) It may have been a liberal crusade for a noble cause, trying to stop Communism from taking over the world (back when liberal meant something a little different in America, before the Sixties culture war; it could include social conservatives such as Catholic Democrats and was very anti-Communist), or as some say of Korea, it may have been political theater at the Koreans' and Vietnamese' expense (yes, the jerks who wrote "M*A*S*H" may have been right), not a matter of our national security but attempted shows of force for the Soviets and the Red Chinese in places that weren't dangers to us (so we wouldn't risk blowing up the world in a nuclear holocaust, and why we didn't flatten Vietnam). The John Birch Society was split on Vietnam.

Anyway, a lot of this is American political theater, the right displaying the healthy response of caring about and thus trying to defend your own people (and we really don't want to import some cultures; yes, we're "discriminatory" and "judgmental" about dangerous things) while the left virtue-signals its righteousness with leapfrogging loyalty (fake universal brotherhood, a ripoff of Christianity) by romanticizing the Other (exoticism) and hating their own people and trying to replace them, thinking they'll remain in charge, of a grateful, "diverse" populace (the outcry about "white privilege," really a weapon against conservative whites, not self-criticism, though they pretend to be humble). "Patriotism is for dumb proles in flyover country and is probably racist." Invade the world vs. invite the world.

The right's probably getting played. Violent reprisal on ISIS' turf is exactly what ISIS wants. And they don't give a damn about the "nice" Western liberals. Military-age Muslims are coming in, thinly disguised as refugees, and shooting us. Bait.

The Sixties-bred left isn't the real peace movement. (And actually they can be bloodthirsty: Maoists, and people like Bill Ayers trying to kill our soldiers at home. He should be hanged. They're weirdly nostalgic about World War II, helping the USSR win, one of the world's top killers.) Catholicism is, while of course not being pacifist.

The pastor above is correct to risk sounding like the left in order to criticize the right. Just like Catholic third-way intellectuals criticizing the individualism (selfishness) of the market. (But the market has improved life so much overall: make a product that benefits mankind and creates jobs as much as it has and we'll talk; we don't want to go back to nasty and short pre-industrial, pre-capitalist life like we might fancy.) The church has always condemned the targeting of civilians, including at Hiroshima and Nagasaki; it is a war crime. Even the Sixties-infected (thanks indirectly to Vatican II) Catholic liberals such as the Berrigans had a point criticizing our doomsday nuclear weapons. Cardinal Ottaviani wanted Vatican II to condemn those nukes. The end doesn't justify the means, but such seems a necessary evil like war itself, the only way to get the most dangerous bully to back off. (Our most successful weapons: never used! I've personally thanked a retired "boomer" submarine captain for his service.) Is it a sin to thus bluff about sinning?

I'm anti-war, pro-military, pro-cop, pro-gun, and pro-life. Defend yourself and defend the most helpless people.

The nonviolent answer to ISIS: don't invade; don't invite.

The pastor: I think Jesus says something altogether different about inviting and welcoming.

Christian altruism doesn't require suicide. The Assyrians in Sweden, a people ISIS is martyring in their homeland, support the Sweden Democrats. They came to Sweden to get away from people such as the Muslim "refugees." Don't invite. Pushed against the wall, our duty is to fight (defending the pastor's wife and children as well as the true faith) as at Lepanto and Vienna.