Wednesday, June 30, 2004

On the box
Josie and the Pussycats

A children's movie so it's deliberately heavy-handed and OTT but still a funny, delicious satire of pop culture and the forces behind it, educational for the kids. Besides that, Rachael Leigh Cook and Parker Posey are lovely and Alan Cumming is an Englishman doing a camp fake posh accent. Oh, yes, and the music is serviceable pop too - but not both spot-on musically and funny like the 'early period' Rutles (including 'Hold My Hand (Yeah, Yeah)', 'Goose-Step Mama' and 'Blue Suede Schubert') or Spinal Tap.

As Frances McDormand quipped as the mother in Almost Famous, 'Adolescence is a marketing invention'.
From blog visitor Mike Russell
Photo proof: Hindu ritual at Fátima shrine
Follow-up to Lee Penn's entries a while back

Lord, in Thy mercy: hear our prayer.

As I said when this news first broke, Hindus are wonderful people but this doesn't belong in a consecrated Catholic church.

Natural theology: the Lord loves the one who loves the Lord

But does anybody else notice the supreme irony that the Radha Krishna Temple, like the one in London built for the Hare Krishnas (technically not Hindus but a Westernized redaction of that faith) by George Harrison, is much, much nicer than the poky, protty little chapel at Fátima? Natural religion including this example from India has more in common with the historic Catholic mainstream blessed by revelation than it does modernity.

Iconoclasm and the 'Reformation' redux

What? ... em Portugal?! Sim, Senhor.
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
‘Family values’ for the US Republican Party convention...
From the American Friends Service Committee via John Treat
‘Eyes Wide Open: Iraq Aftermath’ exhibit
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Prolife watch: news from the UK:

Nearly half of pregnant teens opt for abortion

Palestine: don't call it a wall
Rather, it is a network of cages, says Ran HaCohen.

Column comes with an illustrative map.
Pope wants Orthodox-RC panel to resume work
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Nuns must find £400,000 for disabled access or close shrine at Tyburn
Under the revised Act, all buildings that provide "goods, facilities or services" to the public must have the same "access, use and exit" for the disabled as the able-bodied. Any business or organisation failing in its responsibilities could face prosecution.

S al-B: Totalitarianism of 'the public', or meddlesome government busybodies. [End.]

That's the position of LRC on this; charity to the handicapped of course is a good thing but it seems as with other things the government bollockses it up. Oh, and 'handicapped' is a better word, as I read once on LRC: those of us with handicaps aren't 'disabled' but rather are able to do lots of things, just not everything.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Nick Berg’s father rips Bush
The Libertarian Jackass
Who is, as you've doubtless sussed, not really a jackass
Hussein to face charges
This would be fair except... who will be sitting on the tribunal? Kermit, Fozzie, Rowlf, Waldorf and Statler, Bunsen Honeydew and the Swedish Chef? Who will argue on Hussein's behalf? Gonzo? Animal? ('Ah ha ha ha! I objeeeect! I objeeeect!') Maybe a famous boxing marsupial will be the chief judge as it seems it'll be that kind of court.
US Army recalling thousands who left the service
Uh, oh. The creeping draft - 'involuntary callups' - is here.

This was inevitable when it became clear that we would have to maintain significant combat forces in Iraq for a period of years," said Dan Goure, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank.

Years. War without end.

Lord, in Thy mercy: hear our prayer.
Ultrasound images show babies yawning, smiling, opening their eyes, and even 'walking' (!) after only 8-12 weeks' gestation
Vatican expert explains context of Bartholomew I's visit
From Virtuosity
A punto

David V. seems preoccupied with homosexuality; we at the blog are with the magisterium on the matter but also try to be sophisticated and European about it - it's been around since the fall of mankind - so we're not obsessed with it. That said, the Rt Revd Ray Sutton (of the Reformed Episcopal Church) hits the nail on the head re: the church (unusual for somebody whose church historically was Calvinist):

God took a bride, the church. The groom did not take unto Himself
another groom, which is the image portrayed by homosexual union. It is
the inversion of the family of God and therefore Satanic... I agree with the Primate of Nigeria
[Archbishop Peter Akinola]. It IS Satanic.

From Bishop Keith Newton of Richborough, England:

We are called to be faithful not publicly credible.
Jesus wasn't publicly credible, He died before a jeering crowd. The
Early Church was not publicly credible. The Confessing Church was not
publicly credible, and the church today should not be publicly credible.
If the Church organizes itself without God why on earth should it be
publicly credible?

From David Virtue:

An interesting note on language. Many now sense that the term
Anglo-Catholic might not be useful to describe ECUSA's orthodox
faithful. Increasingly the term Evangelical Catholic seems to be
catching the imagination. The word 'Evangelical" recognizes the church's
gospel mission, the word 'catholic' establishes its historical lineage.

Well meant, perhaps, but sorry, no; it just sounds like reinventing the Protestant Elizabethan settlement. Why perseverate (to use a psych term) with this? It didn't work the first time!

Two bishops exchange words
Edwin Barnes was the principal of St Stephen's House, Oxford, when I was there - a decent human being and it turns out quite sound, although I didn't and don't like his modern liturgics including at Staggers. He was keen on putting nave altars in churches when he was active as a bishop.

A new Anglican Communion?
I've talked about this with some people and have heard it talked about for at least six years - the (ex-British) Empire strikes back! A communion that bypasses the Church of England, perhaps with Lagos as its primatial see. Fine with me.
The very best thing I learnt from the RCs
From my two relatively brief stays with them many years ago (the last was over a decade past) - how to make a good confession. (St Peter's Episcopal - see yesterday's entries; they laid my Catholic foundation - taught me about the sacrament in theory but we never practised it!) A self-described 'shanty Irish' American priest from New Jersey who'd gone to seminary in the 1950s, before Vatican II ruined everything, taught me in the box and in his weekly column right from Trent and St Alphonsus Liguori: mortal vs. venial sin, avoiding the near occasions of sin, etc. A speciality in theology that western Catholicism excels at historically and a foundation I use to this day. Thanks!

From another old-school priest, known online fittingly as latinopadre:

All in all, we need to remember basic catechism teaching.

1. Stay away from the occasions of sin.
2. Frequent the sacraments, especially penance and the Holy Eucharist.
3. Avoid Mortal Sins.
4. Avoid Habitual Sins.

Mariology was an important discovery as well (though St Peter's gets credit for introducing me to the concept, not the practice), and getting to know the Dominican Rosary.

'Search for Christian Maturity' for high-school kids (like a junior version of Cursillo) gets props too, not for liturgics or for theology in theory but because it was therapeutic when I was getting no help anywhere else - a breakthrough that helped change a slightly autistic person into the man writing this now. Дивное чудо! (C'est un miracle!)

More than I need a handy dictionary to read non-religious subjects in Russian, I need a Berlitz interpreter or Babelfish to understand most (but not all, of course) mainstream American RCs, an alien and often hostile folk (liberal church workers are like self-hating Jews). Such a tour guide/interpreter, an ace one, is Thomas Day.
LRC pick (one of several excellent ones today)
Frauenkirche restored
Church of Our Lady, destroyed in the 1945 Allied terror-bombing of Dresden
I had a friend, now gone (an ethnic Russian whose Orthodox priest father and mother were 1917-era Russian exiles), a lovely old man who'd been retired a long time and had a lot of opportunity to read the prayers of his tradition and think about what they mean. Like many other Americans of his generation he was in the military in World War II - in the US Army Air Forces as an enlisted man stationed in England. His job was to help load 500- and 1,000-pound bombs onto the big four-engined B-24 Liberator aeroplanes. One of the missions he had to work on was Dresden - he felt remorse about that when I knew him, over 50 years later.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Michael Badnarik
The Libertarian candidate for US president
From Karl Thienes
Soft totalitarianism
Or the racism of the left
High court slams Bush on terror suspects
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Justin Raimondo’s review of Fahrenheit 9/11
Conservative with Tradition is one thing, Conservative with a Revolutionary Idea is quite another. One is the man who clings to kin, language, country, and King... the second is an aging hippy.

- Drake Adams

A punto. How granola conservatives and young fogeys are different from ageing granola liberals.
In Russian

Отец Димитрий

О. Димитрий Дудко умер
Fr Dimitri Dudko, Russian Orthodox priest who suffered under the Communists
Вечная память.

28 июня, в 5 утра, после продолжительной болезни на 83-м году жизни отошел ко Господу известный духовник и подвижник веры священник Димитрий Дудко. Многим россиянам хорошо известны его многочисленные книги, беседы и труды на благо Православной Церкви и России.

Translation by me: The 28th June, at 5 in the morning, after a long illness in his 83rd year of life noted cleric and struggler for the faith the priest Dimitri Dudko departed for the Lord. Well known to many Russians were his many books, conversations and labours for the good of the Orthodox Church and Russia.
On living frugally as a newspaper sub-editor during the Bush depression
Why I love thrift shops and jumble sales
I'm writing this at home using an 18.5-inch monitor I found ... for US$20. Had to pay nearly as much for a new connecting cable, but still.
From The Rockall Times
Official Tridentine Mass returns to Phoenix, Arizona
Rising from the ashes of boneheaded 'renewal' nonsense
How much do you want to bet the good ordinary of Phoenix is trying to run a successful Society of St Pius X chapel out of business and doesn't really like the old Mass (the Roman Mass)? (News as shocking as that about Cialis reported below.)

Vatican II had affected the attendees. I didn't see anyone saying their Rosary. All tried to follow along and many treated it like the transition "dialogue" Mass and said the responses. The priest seemed to encourage this. This is a good thing.

Yes, it is. Probably what the bishops at the council intended and what should have been: if the 1965 Missal, as issued in 1965, were kept.

One lady at a church where we ministered music at an earlier Mass...

Danger signal: when everybody at church says he is a bloody 'minister' of something.

...showed me she had her hat on. "I'm planning to attend the Tridentine Mass!" she told me, and then added "they should have never taken that Mass away from us!"


Reactions from priests and liturgists not involved with the Latin Mass, were generally not positive. One priest told me he felt it was making a concession to those who had become schismatic (I told him that when the news media asked a traditionalist parish about that, they assured them they didn't plan to come back to the Roman church [sic]).

That bet is won.

Another priest said angrily "I will NEVER have a Latin Mass in THIS parish!" (it's up to the priests whether they wish to host a Latin Mass or not).

Takes me back 18 years to an RC priest screaming in my face similar boneheaded things. Glad I didn't listen to him and 'be open to the spirit' of 1986! (Didn't waste money on a Members Only jacket for starters, let alone buy into crap liturgy.)

A liturgist asked "Do you want to take the church backward 1000 years?"

Note to Eastern Orthodox reading this blog: this shows that underneath the patronizing 'ecumenical' rhetoric (and co-opting things like icons to do New Age stuff), mainstream RCs really think you're a bunch of retards.

Granted, the Orthodox have their shortcomings too, but deep down such moderns hate them for the same reasons they hate RC traditionalists: 'drop that ethnic old-fashioned stuff and buy our agenda'.

My husband thought to himself that the Post Vatican II Mass had taken the church back 1850 years since it's the Mass of St Justin the Martyr.

Such attempts to play early church are proveably rank bullsh*t. Ask your husband if he'd like to bring back the public confessions and years-long penances of the early church. Didn't think so. So cut it out.

And the reason I still don't buy the modern stuff (though how modern something is from the late 1960s and only believed in by the Geritol set is really debateable) despite exposure, pressure and attempted coercion over the years:

Where I got started
... in the Catholic faith (I was baptized into Holy Church at another Anglican church over 37 years ago): St Peter's Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Missouri, which 25 years ago was a Prayer Book conservative parish - not high (Morning Prayer was the main Sunday service a lot) but no ladies in the sanctuary, Communion with the priest facing the altar and using a rail, and using the 1928 American Book of Common Prayer (a lot like the Church of England's 1662 book) and the 1940 Hymnal, including Healey Willan's Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena for Communion. And crypto-Anglo-Catholic Sunday School teachers who pointed me in the right direction. A quarter-century later, thank you.
Committee to Re-Defeat the President
Fun with spam
Letter From Mr B. Idrissa Read&Respond
The Nigerian scam is still around - pushed both by organized crime and independent criminals in Nigeria

From: Terri Hatcher
Subject: the truth is autonomous banach
And it turned out that the beautiful sometime star of 'Lois & Clark' and Radio Shack adverts did not in fact find my work e-mail address and drop me a line. I've never been so disappointed.

Why is Cialis popular?
Uhhhhhhh, I don't know; could it be...

• Because the baby-boomers are getting old?
• Because most people enjoy sex?
On the box
Sir Alan Sugar to do UK version of ‘Apprentice’
Spoken language of Jesus faces extinction
The doubtful survival of Aramaic
LRC pick
Harry Truman, war criminal
The little Mason and racist who nuked civilians in Japan's most Catholic city, Nagasaki
Today’s top news story

You're a sovereign nation again... oh, yeah, just kidding!

The calendar says its the 28th June but in Iraq it's really... April Fool!
From Mike Russell
Thoreau on protection from our ‘protectors’
"I went to the store the other day to buy a bolt for our front door, for as I told the storekeeper, the Governor was coming here.

'Aye,' said he, 'and the legislature too.'

"Then I will take two bolts," said I.

He said there had been a steady demand for bolts and locks of late, for our protectors were coming."

- Henry David Thoreau (1859)

Sunday, June 27, 2004

On the box
‘Mad TV’
This show was killer the first two or three years it was on (kicking the sh*t out of ‘Saturday Night Live’) - spot-on parodies (‘Raging Rudolph’) and a funny and talented cast (best: Phil Lamarr, who can play anything from a street wack - tramp to UK readers - and the demanding physical comedy of Jack the UPS guy to a well-spoken CEO credibly; oh, yes, and 'Funky Walker, Dirty Talker', along with Jack one of the show's only funny original characters*) but those days are long gone with most of the original players.

I could tell it had died when all the black actors were marginalized. In the beginning you could tell this was a hip show because the acting team not only had a good number of black actors but they were assigned parts in sketches that didn't have to do with race - interchangeable with the white players. But they also did things that faced race head on: remember the very funny Artie Lange in ‘That’s My White Mama’? I wonder if the show got a new producer and/or a new, inferior team of writers (who display perhaps unconscious racism?) because now the show does neither: the only time you see Aries Spears or original cast member Debra Wilson (before she probably finally got fed up and left) is when they need(ed) somebody to impersonate a black celebrity, such as Shaq or Whitney Houston.

The other horrible thing the show did re: race was former cast member Alex Borstein (also the voice of wife Lois in the very funny ‘Family Guy’) with her godawful Ms Swan character - the worst caricature of Asians on film or video since Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

I love this woman - I'm sure her husband is very happy

Oh, well. ‘SNL’ is shite but at least it’s got easy-on-the-eyes Tina Fey using humour (remember that?) to speak truth to power and teach the masses what’s really going on re: Bush and Iraq. A recent quip: when Colin Powell apparently slipped and admitted there might be no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda... remember that, world: 'if you're not involved with al-Qaeda, we're gonna get you'.

*Sample: 'Baby, I wanna come into your church and speak in tongues.'
Fahrenheit 9/11 the first documentary ever to debut as Hollywood's top weekend film
It made $21.8 million its first three days - and deserved every penny

More than 40,000 Turks protest Bush visit
From blogforlovers
St Cyril of Alexandria (more)
An Eastern church father claimed by the Church of Egypt (Copts) as he was patriarch of Alexandria (the first patriarchs to use the title 'Pope' - and they still do). Not the nicest fellow perhaps but a keen theologian. His wording regarding the natures of Christ in a way makes him a founding father of all the Oriental Orthodox churches, not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox, though the two groups seem to be reconciling. That schism happened because the Egyptians (the Copts are the ancient Egyptians - they're still around!) didn't like the Greeks and their empire. Now many/most say that theologically it was all a big misunderstanding. St C is also the RC patron of the town where I live.

Taylor Marshall on St Cyril

Our Lady of Perpetual Help
One of my favourite icons - she looks Russian, especially with the angel holding the three-bar cross, even though she's really Greek (this one's from Crete)
On praying the daily office
From Ship of Fools

POD people
Are you one?

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11
Just saw it:

• Cannes was right
• Though it was perfectly orthodox and useful to win back the lapsed to the church, this is arguably better and more important than Mel Gibson's movie this year
• I see from my counter that many of you are in the US - everybody there who can vote should see this
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
What to expect from the summits

Scientist sees space elevator in 15 years
S al-B: Government boondoggle or idea worthy of Matt Groening Enterprises?
LRC picks
Up from classical liberalism
Bill Buckley’s betrayal of the real American right

All that’s missing here is Buckley’s CIA connection - he was an agent (whence he got some of his ideas for Blackford Oakes - fluent in Spanish his whole life, B was useful in Latin America) and the NR was a front op for them.

He clearly understands the Old Right (like Reagan did, even though as an ex-Democrat Reagan arguably was a kind of neocon all along - at least he was a nice fellow) and authentic Catholicism, and I enjoyed Nearer My God, but it seems he doesn’t believe in either.

In its choice of editors and contributors, National Review, like Freeman, represented a cosmopolitan conservatism at considerable distance from the anti-semitic and paranoid Right...

That ‘cosmopolitan’ air is part of the man’s appeal, at least to me - as St Josemaría Escrivá once wrote, Catholicity means thanking God for the glories of all cultures, including of course historic Europe’s - but how ‘cosmopolitan’ or un-paranoid is crushing another country that’s no threat to yours and in so doing pissing off most of the rest of the world? (The stance of NR re: Iraq.)

The Old Right Buckley and the US government were dealing a death-blow to here were painted as Nazis (as they are in the excerpt) because they weren’t paranoid about World War II and wouldn’t bend either to British spies or to the Communists (both very active in the States), rightly saying it wasn’t America’s war. (Like us, they weren’t pacifists either - the military should have been strong enough to defend America’s neutrality. John Flynn and America First were right all along.)

In addition... [NR]...went out of [its] way to recruit a group not represented on Freeman and sometime attacked on its pages -- traditionalists and southern agrarians. Richard Weaver (see the IC review)...readily agreed to be listed...Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, a monarchist, became [NR] correspondent in Vienna... Russell Kirk balked at being listed even as a contributor, because he didn't want to appear...with Meyer, who had savaged his book... but he agreed to write a regular column.

Recruiting those who today are ‘this blog’s kind of people’ to get cred with real conservatives. Gotcha. Buckley was a snake all right - smart.

Brother-in-law L. Brent Bozell, Jr. ... Needing space and time to write what is still a great book on the Warren Supreme Court, Bozell took his family to Spain. Wowed by the Carlists he met, his Catholicism (he was a convert) began to foment. Struck by an idea that there should be a journal of radical Catholic thought not tied to notions of American Federalism, Bozell enlisted aid from Buckley (which he initially received).

But it was clear that Bozell thought outside of the right-wing establishment. After a series of rebuffs by Buckley in effect, warning both privately and publicly that his sister's brilliant husband had become eccentric over the Catholic Thing, Bozell organized
Triumph magazine and struck out on his own. For ten years (and a peak subscription list of 30,000) Triumph inveighed against abortion, pornography, and gnosticism, and attracted great thinkers like Jeffrey Hart and Frederic Wilhelmsen.

Sounds like a noble cause and parallels, if I may say so, the difference between this blog and what is passed off as conservatism in most quarters today. Re: pornography, of course it’s the church’s place to ‘instruct the ignorant’ why it’s wrong (basically it’s a scam that takes people’s money by taking advantage of their problems, driving them farther down into addiction - it’s a dead end in all respects) but that said, people have the right to be wrong as well as right so this blog takes a libertarian view on the government trying to enforce morality. (This isn’t US ally Saudi Arabia. No morality police.) It’s been around since the fall of mankind - deal with it like a grownup.

Frank Meyer, however, if not more perceptive, more clearly nailed Wills' shift from Right to Left, as, "bilious in its view of Mr. Nixon...and the America of self-reliance...the book echoes with the curiously mixed accents of Bayard Rustin, Malcolm X, and Tom Hayden."

Perhaps true but hypocritical of NR to say so, because like Nixon they were talking up the America of self-reliance while at the same time tearing it down.

The Buckley career careened: the run at NYC mayor, the USIA appointment, the UN run, the ‘Firing Line’ success, the best-selling spy novels, and the charisma -- just a bit affected.

Of course I like the way he sounds and to be fair to him I don’t think it’s affected. (I like his style but, it turns out, don't like many of his views.) He faced that accusation head-on in an interview once, explaining that he spent a good part of his boyhood at a Jesuit boarding school in England. ‘So how am I supposed to sound?’ His half-English voice is real and he never lies about his origins. (It's as real, and for the same reason, as the Texan twang of George W. Bush, who's really a Connecticut Yankee by birth like his dad.) Of course badly done put-on accents are odious (Loyd Grossman, call your office) but I’ll argue that this reverse snobbery, part of the same movement as the war against RP in England itself (even Prince William sounds Mockney to me), is part of the demolition of the old order (yes, Christendom) under way at least since World War I.

One sees this shift in the changing attitude of American soldiers. In American Cæsar, the late, missed William Manchester noted that doughboys were proud to serve under the aristocratic MacArthur. GIs weren’t - they made fun of him. (Stupid since despite his shortcomings - he attacked the Bonus Army in DC during the Depression and got off scot-free for the Japanese destruction of the Philippines whilst the general/flag officers at Pearl Harbor got scapegoated - he was a excellent soldier, winning battles with minimal loss of American lives.) In Lord Mountbatten’s day, sailors were proud to serve under a titled captain. Same idea.

Appleton, Wisconsin sees Fahrenheit 9/11
Haven’t seen it yet but so far I think the criticism of Mr Bush’s continuing to read aloud to schoolchildren after being told about the attack is uncalled for. Whether he foreknew or not, what was he supposed to do, freak out?

There was tumultuous applause at the end, punctuated by a moment of reflective silence as we read the dedication card invoking those murdered by terrorists on 9/11, and those murdered through state terrorism in the aftermath. [End.]

A punto.

It will be all but impossible for anybody who sits still and watches this film to view Bush the Lesser as anything other than a petty, spiteful, dim-witted, bloody-handed little fool – and the figurehead of a murderous power elite.

...the largest immorality of this entire enterprise is the actions of a dishonest president lying our country into war and forcing decent young men (and women) to do immoral things.

The jackpot question to Mr Kerry:

Impertinent sort that I am, I asked, "What's this fellow's position on the war?"
The scribbling stopped, and several sets of eyes focused intently on the hapless volunteer. "Well, um, ah, he thinks we should do something," he began, stammeringly. "Ah, he just thinks we should be more careful." On hearing this, a lady looked at her husband, who had signed the petition, and snapped, "Scratch off your name." I told the volunteer that I'm what most people would regard as an "ultra-conservative – not just a ‘conservative’ – but if your guy came out against the war I'd vote for him, and knock on doors."


The Bush-Lincoln parallel (or Al Gore is right)
Or, I voted for the wrong person in 2000. Never again.

Lincoln essentially declared himself dictator and proceeded to launch a war without the consent of Congress... censor the telegraph

The Internet of the 1860s. Big Brother reads your e-mail.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Obscure church apparently now gone
The Catholic Apostolic Church (more)
A.k.a. Irvingites, who traced their origin to a Scots Presbyterian minister called Irving, back in the 1800s. Contemporary with Anglo-Catholicism it had a lot in common with it æsthetically and in aspects of its theology (perhaps a similar romantic reaction against the 'Enlightenment' and Industrial Revolution?), but it wasn't connected to the historic Catholic church. More home-grown like Mormonism or Seventh-Day Adventism... or the Shakers. Like the Priestless Old Believers in Russia and elsewhere, their clergy (including most importantly this church's self-ordained bishops) all died off but unlike the Priestless they didn't carry on. They built some wonderful churches, though (more) - perfectly adaptable for Catholic worship.
Michigan legislature OKs partial-birth abortion ban

Fr Seraphim von Abele on Mary Immaculate (Пренепорочная), Part II

He’s right on this one
Of course we don't see Mr B as a knight in shining armour defending Christendom (or Mom, apple pie and Norman Rockwell's America for that matter - how many Iraqis have died recently in the run-up to pseudo-independence?) like the still somewhat Protestant Mr Ray does, but we give credit where it's due. He and Mr Ashcroft may have done what they did for different, Protestant religious-right reasons, but perhaps by accident they're right here. It's not the government's job to push that. (Just like, for religious-liberty reasons, in the American system it isn't the government's place to hold, for example, a Corpus Christi procession, as good as that is.) If some government workers want to make fools of themselves on their own time (and spending their own money) waving colourful flags to tell complete strangers what gets them off I reckon that's their right.

The blog doesn't condone homosexuality but we don't fear homosexuals either - first and foremost they're people. Anybody who defines himself primarily by his orientation seems a bit pathetic. (There is no such thing as the gay community - a happy-clappy, rainbow flag–waving happy family. They're just people.) The homosexuals I know agree.

Many thanks
To the 10,100+ unique visitors this blog has had since Lady Day (25th March) this year. You're the greatest!
From David’s Daily Diversions
Teenage virgins? Never heard of ’em, mate. What’s the punch-line?
I think the Americans are going to be shocked at just how depraved this country is.

David Holford is writing about this:

US chastity crusade gets cold response in secular Britain
Another 'O tempora!' story. Of course they're meant to shock but it is really horrendous even if it's only 2/3 true.

This, from the comments box, puts things into historical perspective: Hmmm, doesn't sound quite as bad (yet!) as England of the 1720s, prior to Wesley, but it's getting close.

One 15-year-old boy called Owen unwittingly summed up the situation when he asked: “What’s celibate?”

Not being married. Of course what these Protestants are promoting is chastity. I dare say that like their 19th-century ancestors they'd be horrified by celibate vocations ('A convent?! Woman, get a husband!) almost as much as some of them were by sex, right or wrong.

(Actually the charismatic 'covenant-community' cult I rented from for nine years had pseudo-celibate vocations but these didn't last very long. The leaders soon paired just about everybody off before the thing fell apart.)

As my late friend Alison Engler once put it, Catholic societies have room for all kinds of people, marriageable or not (be they 'made eunuchs' involuntarily because of looks or handicaps or 'eunuchs for the kingdom', having a calling to monastic life). There really are no 'misfits' in God's plan. (Witness the wonderful holy eccentrics of 19th-century Russia, for example - such as the wandering странники of The Way of a Pilgrim - or the 'holy fools' of earlier centuries.) Protestants don't. After a certain age, if you're not married you're a nonperson.

(And as the novelist David Lodge pointed out, the false gospel of sexual bliss as a cure-all frankly leaves out most of humanity. As nasty as Calvinism's double predestination really in its snobbery.)

Tertiaries are another good example of an 'odd' vocation that has a place in a healthy society. St Catherine of Siena, for example, never lived in a Dominican convent but rather in her parents' house. Somebody who'd probably be written off by Protestants or their direct descendents, the modern-minded. But she did great things for God.

Of course despite all the potential embarrassing naffness of evangelicals (think Ned Flanders - 'Revd Lovejoy, I think I'm coveting my own wife!') at heart this campaign isn't anti-sex but pro-common sense. The secular approach to all this is a massive dodge of reality and it's a matter of showing that to the average person.

Anti-spyware bill advances in US Congress
IMO no prob from this libertarian's POV. Many of these scum are criminals and all of them have no more right to hijack my computer than to invade my home.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Guess that denomination!
Psych! It's not what you think. The answer surprised me but I don't know much about the doings of most denominations.
Eastern Orthodox news

Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow

Icon of Our Lady of Tikhvin is returned to Russia
This sounds like something from The Onion - which is excellent this week BTW - but isn't:

New slang-English Bible edits out and rewrites tough stuff about sex
Approved by + Rowan Cantuar

Takes up Charles Bennison's perversion of the Catholic position on scripture as the church's compilation - allegedly he said to many at the Church of the Good Samaritan, Paoli, 'and the church can change scripture' - and acts on it.

I'll concede there's a place in evangelism for reaching out to the unschooled with dumbed-down paraphrases, as long as they still tell the truth. (But by all means educate them as well as save them!) But the other aspect is outrageous.

Maybe next the editors and even clergy will claim that the famous Adulterous Bible misprint centuries ago (typo in the Sixth Commandment!) was really the inspiration of the Holy Ghost!

As the real Bible says, there are lots of people with itching ears - not to mention other body parts - who will buy this, but I think intelligent unchurched or lapsed people will see this as the lying and pandering it is and reject it, either converting to the real thing or sinning honestly. (Much like I understand teens see the new, like, wow, teen Bibles as the condescension they are.)
In Russian
The Russian Orthodox archbishop of Tobolsk and his opposite-number bishop in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad had an historic meeting the 16th June
Конец раскола наступаюший!

From HM Dominion of Canada, adopted home of our own Samer al-Batal
Have the major parties bogarted the Marijuana Party’s platform?
Single-issue parties by nature are short-lived and such drug laws are hypocritical. Get rid of them.

Friendly dog saves Toronto
Literally, from a would-be mass murderer. The ultimate pet therapy.
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Red China: still an awful place
Three RC bishops, one an octogenarian, arrested; Vatican protests
Happy St Jean-Baptiste Day, Québec.

LRC picks
Saddam is innocent
Of any wrongdoing against the American and British peoples. Let him go!

Dr Steve’s guide to healthy living
Food can and should be a source of delight. As for 'nutrition', this is all balls.

- Evelyn Waugh, predicting the Catholic answer to today's fad diets

More from the quotable Mr W, via an article by (Ukrainian Catholic subdeacon) Adam DeVille in Latin Mass:

On the relentless marketing of sex as a need (benefiting only the 'makeover' cosmetic surgeons, contraceptive-makers, abortionists and loutish men):

Responsible people - doctors, psychologists, novelists - write in the papers and say, 'You cannot be happy unless your sex life is happy'. This seems to me just about as sensible as saying, 'You cannot lead a happy life unless your golf life is happy'.

More on the subject from James Bemis in the same magazine:

Legalized abortion benefits no-one but feckless men.

A punto. It's (to quote Bud Macfarlane's good-hearted but slightly protty novels) 'pig heaven for men' being marketed as 'empowerment' for women.

More evidence: the secular world is not cool
The most disturbing thing other than uncharity and bad manners about a recent attack on me on the Ship of Fools board is that the two people doing it have the notion that 'a man's home is his castle' is something only believed in by 'losers' who wear historical costumes playing knights and Robin Hood at fairs (according to them, apparently a life-form only one rung above 'Star Trek' conventioneers in uncoolness). Scarier still: the people who make such claims probably vote.

Thanks again for the assist
To 'Archangel', a former friend (and occasional contributor to the blog today) who was a formative influence on my worldview, for a defence of my person he posted in the comments box, now altered, of a now-gone blog run by these loons:

As somebody who was acquainted with the owner of A conservative blog for peace for some time I am appalled not only by the hubris... but also by the complete ignorance of his character and beliefs... [he] is neither an unreconstructed liberal nor, least of all, a homosexual. I never cease to be amazed by the lack of charity shown by self-styled Orthodox experts online who treat all those who don't bow to Mount Athos or Moscow* as 'the great unwashed'. Absolutely appalling.

A friend recently told his therapist about these people and, AFAIK never having seen my site, the words out of the therapist's mouth were, 'So they're about to drink the Kool-Aid'.

More thanks
I agree with your blog 90% of the time and the other 10% makes me think.

- John Treat, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and contributor of peace stories

*Or Suzdal', or Buena Vista.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

LRC pick
Back in the USSR
Ashcroft wants defense attorneys to be adjuncts of the prosecution. Article by Paul Craig Roberts.
Or, again, the neocons, often Marxists to begin with, 'beat' Communists by becoming just like them.

As my Russian friends say, at least in the Soviet Union people knew they weren't free.

Fun with spam
Sheeee wiiiiill saaaaay it's toooo biiiiiiig
So if I buy your product and actually get it delivered to me the result would be I physically couldn't have sex? Sounds like a lot of money to waste on a wank (which after all can be got for free). But I'm sure there are eejits who buy.

ECUSA’s new site
I think it kicks - nice use of Flash.

About the icon - very lovely of course, but one can see how its use here might offend people in the Orthodox tradition, seeing that at least in practice the Episcopal Church often denies the theology (not opinions, but objective truth - the Orthodox are clear on that!) represented in most of this icon's symbols! The Catholic faith reduced to a dish in Frank Griswold's smorgasbord of relativism.

One can imagine the 'dialogue':

The Revd Tyler Higginbotham, A.B., M.A., M.Div., D.Phil., S.O.B. (and his 'partner', Chad): Hey, look at us! We're just like you!

His Grace Bishop + Methodius, lifelong Russian Orthodox: NO, YOU'RE NOT!

From Charles Glenn Wingate
Episcopal parody song
I'm an odd duck in a lot of ways, one of which is being a narrowly focused anglophile and so am not mad about Gilbert and Sullivan despite having been in two amateur productions (chorus parts in Trial by Jury and Iolanthe). But in the words of our father among the saints Homer of Springfield, 'it's so funny because it's true'!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

From John Treat
Holy Land Olive Oil
Support the Palestinian people - do your cooking and/or fuel your sanctuary/icon lamp with this!
From Ecclesia Anglicana
One wishes his protty-sounding endorsement of Mr Bush were a joke but regrettably it isn't.

We’re with Jack on this one
C.S. Lewis, that is - gracefully this quotation predicts the Catholic and libertarian position held here.
Two from blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Religious in Ireland support protests against Bush
Fr Frank Brady said: "George Bush is portraying the American people as dishonest, deceitful and untrustworthy. I don’t think that that is fair. I think we need to protest and raise our voices."

Most Americans reject Iraq war: poll. 22/06/2004. ABC News Online
Fifty-two per cent of Americans believe the Iraq war was not worth fighting in what amounts to a repudiation of President George W. Bush's argument
Fissiparous churches and The Life of Brian
I haven't seen it but yes, I understand this is exactly one of the things in religion in general that Monty Python was taking the piss out of.

Protestants of course get the grand prize here, splitting like cancer cells their entire history.
Two from Yahoo! News
Vietnamese man goes for Guinness longest hair record
I haven't been to a barber since 1998 - when I figured out I could cut my own hair better and bought clippers!

US to pretend to hand over Hussein
Yeah, right. Tell you what: the government can have legal but not physical custody of the money it gets from me in taxes.
The war on computer terrorism - spyware!
The rise and rise of scumware

Computer invaded by look2me? Even Spybot couldn't get rid of it here. This does:

kill2me (compressed file)

Why Gmail sucks
Big Brother is reading: Google is the king of search engines but don't get your e-mail through them

Spammers use your cat’s name to sell you Viagra
Haven't got a cat but the ones making that unholy racket outside my window definitely don't need it!
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Samer's LRC pick:

On the actual progress of peoples
S al-B: Another instalment by Thomas Woods on free-market capitalism and Catholic social doctrine. Again, he rebuffs the tendency within neo-conservative RC circles to assign the popes impeccability (except in one's criticisms of US foreign policy).

Shooting death angers Iraqi family
US tactics in raid raise concerns
"They think they have killed one man," Qasim Bawi said. "They have killed the whole family."

S al-B: That's five new fatherless Iraqi children.
Flurry of suicide attempts at Guantánamo
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
US Supreme Court: No right to keep name from police
LP: In the current issue of the Journal of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, I have an article titled "When the state becomes god" - an history, current overview, and projection of the destruction of freedom in the US.

One of my predictions is coming to pass.

(The magazine is available for order by e-mailing SCP at or by calling them in Berkeley, CA at 510-540-0300 from 9 to 5 West Coast time.)

In the article, which I prepared in April, I wrote:

"In 2000, Nevada police arrested a man who refused to identify himself to them, even though he had not (yet) been arrested or charged with a crime. In March 2004, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the case; its decision will determine whether a police request for "your papers, please" now is a legally enforceable order."

I predicted how the High Court would rule on civil liberties cases:

"Several Supreme Court justices have said that they will not stand in the way. In March 2003, Justice Antonin Scalia told a gathering at John Carroll University that "most of the rights you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires," because "the Constitution just sets minimums;" during war, "the protections will be ratcheted down to the constitutional minimum." Soon after the attack on the World Trade Center, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said that Americans are "likely to experience more restrictions on our personal freedom than has ever been the case in our country." In 1998, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote, in his book All the Laws But One: Civil Liberties in Wartime, that "In time of war, presidents may act in ways that push their legal authority to its outer limits, if not beyond." Three of the nine Justices have telegraphed their intent: when the President says "jump," they will say, "how high?""

Some cases, such as the "enemy combatant" case, are still to be decided.

Welcome to the New Prussia. [End.]

Monday, June 21, 2004

Pilot Mike Melvill follows in Chuck Yeager's contrail

Private craft flies into space, history
The free market's got the right stuff
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Three examples of what passes as 'conservatism':

O’Reilly: Bomb Iraq again!

Bombing Iraq, again, thrills the neocons

Errr... ‘Conservatives’

S al-B: And some of them would also title themselves 'Christian'. Russell Kirk would hurl.
The gay-priest scandal
Here's part of that Dallas Morning News story Lee Penn and Rod Dreher said was coming:

Runaway priests hiding in plain sight
'Turkey dance' takes them around the world - literally
From blog correspondent John Boyden
Madonna adopts the name Esther
Reminds me a little of Hillary Clinton's 'vote for me, I'm sort of Jewish' ploy, only I think Ms Ciccone is for some reason trying to identify with Kabbalah, a serious tradition in Judaism she apparently is exploiting. Wonder if this'll last longer than the bindi she wore back when she was making some half-good pop music (and thanks to the former was pissing off real Hindus royally). I think she's been into her Kabbalah lite at least since she was pals with and making bad movies with Rupert Everett so who knows?

And the English thing she was into had so much potential. She probably was only into it for snob reasons (remember, like, a year ago when she was trying to be Mary Poppins with children's books?) but there was the potential of it taking and her 180ing and moving Catholicwards. Alas. (Again, when I've heard her on the TV, I like the way she speaks - not obnoxious Detroit or Noo Yawk but not a badly done attempt at posh either, just cultivated, that's all.)

"I did spend, you know, at least a decade taking my clothes off and being photographed, saying bad words on TV, and, you know, that sort of thing," she told ABC's Cynthia McFadden. "I don't regret it, but it's just ... I mean everybody takes their clothes off now. And then what? You know? And -- and then what?"

JB: --And well said, indeed, Madonna--uh, Esther, well said!

Keep up the good work of being an intelligent, insightful role model for the youth of today. [End.]

It'd at least be funny if she were like Phoebe on 'Friends' channelling the restless spirit of a cranky old Jewish woman in New York called Esther.
More Virtuosity
‘Feminization’ of Church of England a mistake
The CofE has experienced the very opposite of the growth promised by the feminizers.

Possibly offensive stereotypes in this article aside, of course this is true. And it's true that most men don't like sissy religion.

One advantage I got from dating somebody far, far on the wrong side once (pro-abortion, atheist) is she pointed out to me that her kind are not at all impressed by this kind of feminist posturing by the church. They see it as the weakness it is.
Send me light, send me dreaming
Send me the changing of the seasons

- Julia Macklin

Back and better
Taking lemons and making lemonade (or lemon squash if you like that better): when somebody (let's call him 'Cox-sucker' after his ISP) attacked my four-year-old Angelfire pages by using up their bandwidth to try to shut them down, not only did I take away his target, the admittedly bandwidth-heavy The Orthodox Tradition, but I improved it. Now page navigation's a snap. Enjoy!

Fr Seraphim (Rose)'s books on those pages sell like hotcakes, for which thanks, but do buy G.K. Chesterton's on Amazon as well and give them a read. Many of the same good points but funnier and much, much shorter.

On the box
‘Star Trek: Voyager’
I know that talking about this cash-cow kiddie-show franchise brings with it a shower of demerits in the form of taking away coolness points, but as some on the Ship of Fools forum assure me that in fact I'm not cool, there's no worry about letting the side down so here goes.

It was dangerously hot outside the other day so, a captive audience as it were, I sat down, watched about 90 minutes of repeats and was impressed: perfectly good entertainment in the 'Flash Gordon'/Buster Crabbe as 'Buck Rogers' serial sci-fi genre with serviceable acting and 1990s CGI effects. There was more to this than spotty teenage boys staring at Jeri Ryan's chest. The story arc had to do with Ryan's character, introduced as a cyborg (half-human, half-machine) who was part of a hive-like collective, becoming part of the Voyager crew. (The basic plot of 'Voyager' was half-'Battlestar Galactica', half-'Gilligan's Island' - castaways aboard a lost spaceship trying to find their way back to mother Earth.)

While this was momentous for spotty teenage boys of all ages, the more interesting story line here, especially for Catholics, was the death/apotheosis of the more attractive woman (IMO in the end), the sweet Kes. (Made even more adorable when in the end she let her hair grow out.) This was explained with plausible pseudo-science: discovering a reality beyond sub-atomic particles. Sanctification/deification/theosis, anyone? This wasn't the Protestant snow on a dunghill but transformation. 'God became man that man might become God.' Nice lesson too for the kids on being Christlike - self-sacrifice to save one's friends.

The shows got better when creator Gene Roddenberry's vicious anti-religious bias died with him.

The Borg were the 'Star Trek' shows' best all-round aliens and bad guys - menacing-looking, not too suspiciously human-looking and their past meetings with humans (and scary 'assimilation' of people) explained away their ability to speak English.

The exterior of the horrible new RC cathedral in Los Angeles (the 'Taj Mahony') looks like a Borg cube ship (like the Death Star from Star Wars, only a big cube) made of concrete.

The Maquis were cool - the libertarians of this make-believe universe. Capt. Kirk's outfit weren't really the good guys: they were totalitarian!

The brother from another planet: while this wouldn't be a problem for people who'd never seen the show before with Mr Spock (one of the best TV characters ever), the black Vulcan (Tuvok Shakur: 'yo, I'm from sowf Vulcan') was problematic for anybody who'd admit to seeing the original show with Leonard Nimoy knows that the cool, Zen-like Vulcans are like the Japanese except they're tall. (Their cousins the Romulans are equally smart samurai Japanese.)

Kate Mulgrew sounded like she was impersonating Katharine Hepburn.

Moving right along...

Like St Dunstan, giving the devil his due...

From blogforlovers
+ Cantuar’s a ‘Simpsons’ fan
As is this blog. Archbishop Rowan Williams is considering joining PM Tony Blair, three of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who in lending his voice to an episode, being Groeningized, that is, rendered with bright yellow skin, four digits per hand and an overbite.

From Virtuosity
Another network that’s much ado about nothing
Working under the banner of the Anglican Communion Network the half
dozen groups representing some 200,000 Anglican made "common cause" for
a united, missionary and orthodox Anglicanism in North America.

The groups, all based in the U.S. have come under the chairmanship of
the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, ACN Moderator. In a letter to the Archbishop
of Canterbury, leaders of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), the
Anglican Mission in America (AMIA), Forward in Faith North American
(FiFNA), the Anglican Province in America (APA) and the American
Anglican Council (AAC) pledged "to make common cause for the gospel of
Jesus Christ and common cause for a united, missionary and orthodox
Anglicanism in North America."

Or 'anybody's who's remotely Anglican who's still Christian' or 'let's re-create the Elizabethan settlement (compromise between Catholic and Protestant) and have fun watching it fall apart all over again'. Got to give acquaintance Archimandrite Serge (Keleher) credit for that last one.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
From the Iraq-based blog Baghdad Burning:

The puppet show

Iraqi civilian war casualties
Lord, in Thy mercy: hear our prayer.

by Charley Reese
Nationality vs. who you are
I haven't seen The Terminal (yet?) but Tom Hanks’ Slavic traveller whose country disappears on him midflight reminds me of a few Russians I've known, both a World War II exile and 1980s ones from the USSR who, because they had their Soviet citizenship and passports revoked and they never applied for US citizenship, technically are men without countries - no official nationality! Of course they're really as Russian as a samovar.
LRC picks
What’s really wrong with the US flag pledge
‘Under God’ has got nothing to do with it

Attacker of innocent life
Charley Reese on abortion and the feds, and the undermining of states' rights
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Guardian Unlimited: Bush told he is playing into Bin Laden’s hands

Friday, June 18, 2004

From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Republican National Committee Convention Schedule
New York, NY
6:00 PM Opening Prayer led by the Reverend Jerry Falwell
6:30 PM Pledge of Allegiance
6:35 PM Burning of Bill of Rights (excluding 2nd amendment)
6:45 PM Salute to the Coalition of the Willing
6:46 PM Seminar #1: Getting your kid a military deferment
7:35 PM Serve Freedom Fries
7:40 PM EPA Address #1: Mercury: it's what's for dinner.
8:00 PM Vote on which country to invade next
8:10 PM Call EMTs to revive Dick Cheney
8:15 PM John Ashcroft Lecture: The Homos are after your children
8:30 PM Round table discussion on reproductive rights (MEN only)
[We interrupt this parody for the following announcement: 'r.r.' is of course code for baby murder (marketed as 'empowerment for women'... there really is nothing new under the sun, not since the Garden of Eden in fact)... which of course is not supported by this blog. We support real r.r., the right to reproduce or not, which involves unpopular mediæval notions like self-denial and respecting others.]
8:50 PM Seminar #2: Corporations: The government of the future
9:00 PM Condi Rice sings "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man"
9:10 PM EPA Address #2: Trees: The real cause of forest fires
9:30 PM Break for secret meetings
10:00 PM Second prayer led by Cal Thomas
10:15 PM Lecture by Karl Rove: Doublespeak made easy
10:30 PM Rumsfeld demonstration of how to squint and talk macho
10:35 PM Bush demonstration of trademark "deer in headlights" stare.
10:40 PM John Ashcroft demonstrates new mandatory Kevlar chastity belt
10:45 PM Clarence Thomas reads list of Black Republicans
10:46 PM Seminar #3: Education: a drain on our nation's economy.
11:10 PM Hillary Clinton Piñata
11:20 PM Second Lecture by John Ashcroft: Evolutionists: The dangerous new cult
11:30 PM Call EMTs to revive Dick Cheney again.
11:35 PM Blame Clinton
11:40 PM Laura serves milk and cookies
11:50 PM Closing Prayer led by Jesus Himself
12:00 PM Nomination of George W. Bush as Holy Supreme Planetary Overlord
From Paul Goings
Democracy as a form of government
PG: I don't know if the following is a reliable quote, but fascinating if true...

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only
exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from
the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the
candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the
result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always
followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest
civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this
sequence: "From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great
courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance
to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From
dependence back into bondage.

- Lord Alexander Fraser Woodhouslee, The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic (1776)
From Forum 18, those pesky Norwegians with a point about religious liberty
Sakhalin, Russia: Orthodox deacon says sectarians control 70% of island's economy
Может быть!

Moscow bans Jehovah’s Witnesses
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Friend of the blog Rod Dreher drops a bombshell warning of the latest news in the gay-priest scandal
Can it get any worse than Poppa Bear? (I saw the uncensored pic - eew. Caption: 'John Vernoski, I want you.') Wonder if he wanted to get caught.
A trifecta from blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Rebuild or retreat: America’s strategic dilemma

The Bush-Kerry conundrum
S al-B: In looking back at their own past record, the Democrats will find no moral high ground on which to stand. After all, Clinton engaged in a Balkan strike and killed plenty of Iraqis with sanctions. [End.]

And we haven't forgotten that Kerry voted for the war.

Townies who yearn for taste of country life
Lifestyle news: marketing 'villages' in the UK
On the box
My all-time favourite episode of ‘Friends’
'The One the Morning After', where Ross and Rachel break up (not getting back together until the finale). The first one I ever sat down to watch - so good I've been watching ever since, catching up thanks to the repeats in syndication. Realized that for all the show's problems - let's just say it wasn't for kids - it had a heart. And as for this episode, like or hate the show, or Ross and Rachel, or the actors who played them, David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston can act.

‘The WB’s Superstar USA’
Well, they chose the tall cute (not particularly pretty but sexy) blonde with the nice Bristols to publicly humiliate and she took it remarkably well. No public breakdown like my nastier contemporaries admitted they wanted to see. Actually the show pulled the punch (barely dodging the Carrie ending they otherwise would have richly deserved) by giving all three finallists thousands of dollars each. And to give poor Mario credit, he could be presentable with the right hair and a glasses upgrade or contacts, which of course the show didn't do in its elaborate set-up to make fun of him.
From blog correspondent John Boyden
Gitmo again
US soldier beaten by other soldiers while undercover as a prisoner
LRC picks
Why Bush isn’t really a conservative

10 rules for living

Thursday, June 17, 2004

From The Gutless Pacifist
Just another way to screw the poor
Or usury is still a sin, even though the way of determining it has changed
Terry Mattingly and Douglas LeBlanc have a blog (neocon-ish)

Good story:

Rubbishing ‘modern’ and ‘inclusive’ language in religion
A thought on Mary Immaculate (Пренепорочная)
by Fr Seraphim von Abele
9/11 panel finds no link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda
It wouldn't have made sense for the president-for-life (or until invasion by ex-friends) of the Persian Gulf's relatively most free, secular state to help those loons - and he didn't!
Two from The Guardian via blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Rumsfeld, war criminal
Broke international law detaining prisoner since October 2003

Law professors say impeach Bush; Kennedy says no, just elect Kerry
From Mere Comments, Touchstone’s most excellent blog, via friend Joseph Oliveri
Republican National Congressional Committee fund-raising
by David Mills on Recognition at Last by William Luse
'You wanna be where everybody knows your name...', la, la, la... everybody except a-hole pols who don't really know you from Adam.

Another TV reference: 'Why, yes, it's about time! The Speaker of the House duly recognizes me, Peggy Hill, with the Order of Merit! Hank, let's break into the savings and send them a huge cheque!'

The most amusing letters come with claims that the Republican Party is standing for family values, American values, etc., which judging from their example quite obviously does not include telling the truth and quite obviously does include deceit and deception.

But it’s only fund-raising, some of you might say. Please don't. Lying is lying. Lying is a sin for which a man can go to Hell.

And the RNCC's is a particularly despicable kind of lying because it plays on the naïve and gullible to get money from them they otherwise wouldn’t give, and perhaps can't afford to give. It’s a lot like plain old fraud, even if it stays within the bounds of the law.

JO: "Lying little slimeballs" -- how true! Junk mail is bad enough; but
whenever you receive an unsolicited letter from the office of a senator or
congressperson, pretending to know who you are, with computer-generated
"handwritten" gloss on the laughably form-letter text, I consider that SPAM.
It's garbage. It would be an insult to a ten-year-old's intelligence. And
the purveyors should be fined.

Although I suppose if we did try to fine people for sending out such
mailers, then we'd start seeing letters from "Senator Driftwood Q.
Mistakenly," "Nikita O'Flannigan," and "Xhsyrt.phtrasdrf!dkia" in our
mailboxes... [End.]

I don't think I'll be getting scams like this from the Libertarian Party but you never know.

I also hate the ones disguised as official government notices - yellow envelopes and suchlike. I'm good at sussing them now.

On absolutions that ‘work’
The Godfather movie S.M. Hutchens refers to, which I haven't seen, may reflect what many badly or never catechized RCs think, especially in the wake of the gay-priest scandal for those who haven't got short attention spans as they've been conditioned to by the media (like everybody else), but this - the idea that the priest has to be 'good enough' for 'his' sacraments to do the trick - is part of the Donatist heresy, not the Catholic faith, and thus certainly not what the Roman Catholic Church teaches! They're the church's sacraments, not the priest's, and his worthiness or lack thereof has nothing to do with their grace. Otherwise the church would have gone extinct a long time ago!


Evangelicals against artificial contraception
As all Christians were until the Church of England changed its mind in 1930 - it's not an RCs-only thing at all

The International Churches of Christ
¡Ay, Dios mio! Were they annoying in their day! I think they're on the wane now that their founding ex-minister guru has quit. They were very, very good at chatting you up - seemed quite normal except unusually friendly (especially by southern English standards, I reckon), then they'd pitch you with the church thing towards the end of many minutes of conversation.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Long article by blog correspondent Lee Penn
Washington Mooned
More on the crowning of the divine Mr M by members of Congress

Several Lawmakers Ambushed for "Coronation" of Unification Church Leader, Wife

Published in The Christian Challenge (Washington, DC)
June 15, 2004

YOU MAY NOT KNOW IT YET, but a pair of Messiahs is among us, and has recently been crowned as such at a federal building in the nation's capital.

One U.S. Congressman, Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Illinois), helped to crown Unification Church leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife as "True Parents" of mankind at a March 23 banquet held at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington D.C.

Photos from a video of the event produced by Moon's church show Rep. Davis as one of the two people carrying a crown toward the Rev. Moon and his wife, as a prelude to their dual coronation.

When interviewed by The Christian Challenge, Davis confirmed his role in the event. He said, "I was attempting to provide an accolade to the Rev. Moon and his wife for promoting visions of world peace," as well as for their "visions of family structure." He added, "From my vantage point, it did not have anything to do with religion. I am a practicing Baptist, and have been a Protestant all my life."

Not all participants were so willing, however.

Moon's organization claimed that two U.S. senators and nine U.S. representatives were involved in, and supportive of, the coronation gathering.

But it is evident that the organization was not totally forthcoming about its intentions for the event, and has its own view of what happened there. For starters, the gathering was billed as a function of the Interreligious and International Peace Council--which, however, is one of Moon's groups.

At this writing, the Challenge had interviewed staff for one senator, and spoken to seven representatives (or their employees) said to have backed the event. Only one, Rep. Danny Davis, supports Moon; TCC found that the rest of the legislators whom the "Moonies" claim as backers want nothing to do with him or his cult-like church.

A knowledgeable source on Capitol Hill said that some legislators attended the March 23 banquet without knowing the real sponsorship and intent of the gathering. "There was a mass exodus from the event as soon as folks realized that it was a Rev. Moon event, and that he was there," the informant said.

The Moonies claim in a video of the banquet that, in all, "81 U.S. senators and members of Congress...26 ambassadors to the United States...and some 450 leaders from various fields...came to participate in an Ambassadors for Peace Awards...and Crown of Peace Ceremony." If this is true, it would account for the "mass exodus" when assembled legislators realized whose party they were unwittingly attending.

Moon has been promoting himself and his wife as "the Messiah and True Parents of all humanity" since August 1992. (His conviction and 13-month imprisonment in the 1980s for tax evasion in the U.S. evidently was not a disqualification for this exalted role.) According to a Moon follower, the couple's role is to finish the mission that Jesus failed to complete.

When Moon and his spouse were "crowned" as "True Parents" on March 23 at the Dirksen Building, Moon claimed that even infamous deceased figures like Lenin and Hitler had found strength in his teachings and been reborn.

He told the Dirksen gathering that: "A new era has arrived today. The number of people around the world who have received my teaching and are standing resolutely for the sake of building the Kingdom of Peace is growing by leaps and bounds...

"But in the context of Heaven's providence, I am God's ambassador, sent to earth with His full authority. I am sent to accomplish His command to save the world's six billion people, restoring them to Heaven with the original goodness in which they were created. The five great saints and many other leaders in the spirit world, including even Communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin, who committed all manner of barbarity and murders on earth, and dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons. Emperors, kings and presidents who enjoyed opulence and power on earth, and even journalists who had worldwide fame, have now placed themselves at the forefront of the column of the true love revolution. Together they have sent to earth a resolution expressing their determination in the light of my teaching of the true family ideal. They have declared to all Heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent. This resolution has been announced on every corner of the globe."

Rep. Danny Davis told the Challenge that he heard this speech, but "the notion of a decreed Messiah is a little bit out of context. I don't believe that there are earthly Messiahs; the only Messiah that I know is Jesus the Christ."

Davis added that Moon's speech "was similar to a baseball team owner telling team members that 'we are the greatest team on earth'" just before a game. Davis' reason for supporting Moon is that "if we try to bring people from different races, religions, and ethnic groups back together, this becomes good for the world order...I don't agree with many of the social positions of The Washington Times," which is owned by Unificationists, "but I don't think that is a reason to distance myself from them," Davis said. "I have never had one of Moon's organizers try to convince me of positions contrary to what I would take myself."

According to a document issued by the Unificationists, the six "Congressional co-chairs" for the "Host Committee" of the March 23 banquet at which Moon was crowned included Davis, Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-Tennessee), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Maryland), Curt Weldon (R-Pennsylvania), Chris Cannon (R-Utah), and Sanford Bishop (D-Georgia).

On March 24, the Washington Times coverage of the event listed the same six Congressmen, as well as Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), as "assisting at" the banquet.

When contacted by The Christian Challenge, one senator and three congressmen acknowledged attending part of the event, but they (or their staff) firmly denied that they were involved in planning the event, or that they knew in advance of Moon's planned coronation, or that they attended the coronation ceremony itself, or that they accepted Moon's messianic claim.

One, Rep. Ford, denied attending the event at all. Only one, Rep. Davis, acknowledged supporting Moon; he said that he has seen other legislators "at events of this kind."

At press time, the Challenge had not yet received a reply to its questions from the office of Rep. Cannon.

Sen. Mark Dayton's press secretary, Chris Lisi, said that the senator attended part of the banquet because some "very distinguished people from our state were being honored there." She said that the meeting planners "were not being up front as to who was sponsoring the event. We would never have been there if we knew what the event really was."

Michael Conallen, the chief of staff for Rep. Weldon, said Weldon was at the banquet for "5 or 10 minutes" to speak about his recent trip to Libya; Weldon neither saw Moon at the event, nor witnessed the coronation, nor heard his Messianic speech. About Moon's purported Messianic status, Conallen said, "in no way does Cong. Weldon share that belief."

Rep. Bishop said that he received an "international peace award" at a banquet, but got there late, "just before it was dismissed." Bishop added, "The Messiah in my life is Jesus Christ... I am not a Moonie, and I do not believe that Mr. Moon is a messiah. The Washington Times has never spoken to me; they have no authorization to say that I am affiliated with this."

Rep. Bartlett's press secretary, Lisa Wright, said that Bartlett received an "Ambassadors for Peace Award" from the Washington Times Foundation for his work in Congress, and attended part of the banquet. She added, "this was the sum total of his participation...His attendance in no way reflects an endorsement of what the Rev. Moon said or did at that event, or at any other time."

Mark Schuermann, a staffer for Rep. Ford, said that Ford did not attend the event, and did not participate in planning it. Schuermann also said that if Rep. Ford was on the Host Committee, "he was not aware that it had any affiliation with the Unification Church," and that Ford "does not accept Moon's claims to be messiah."

The Moonies' Interreligious and International Peace Council claimed other prominent sponsors for the March 23 event, those whom they listed as members of the "Invitational Committee." These dignitaries included Dr. Stephen Covey, a well-known motivational speaker who has also made presentations for the State of the World Forum, Rep. Philip M. Crane (R-Illinois), Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Virginia), Rep. Eddie B. Johnson (D-Texas), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

As of this writing, the Challenge had interviewed employees of two of the four federal legislators that the Moonies claimed were on the "Invitational Committee." Both denied any involvement whatsoever in the Moonie event. John Townsend, a staffer for Rep. Johnson, said, "They contacted us" but "we didn't even go."

Tami Stough, a staffer for Rep. Crane, said, "We have checked [Crane's] schedule, and he was nowhere near the Dirksen Building" at the time of the banquet. She added, "we can say without equivocation that Rep. Crane was not there, and had no knowledge" of it, nor was he (as the Moonies claimed) on any invitational committee.

Other Capitol Hill sources say that it is a common practice among special interest groups in Washington, DC to invite VIPs to events, and then to claim - without further evidence of support - that the invitee endorses the special interest group's agenda.

The Christian Challenge has not yet been able to confirm or refute investigative reporter John Gorenfeld's report in mid-April that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-New York) wrote a statement hailing Moon.

Reportedly, Rangel wrote that: "I, CHARLES B. RANGEL, Member of Congress, 15th Congressional District, by the power and authority vested in me, this 16th day of April, 2004, do recognize you as 'True Parents' exemplifying self-giving service and leadership and of 'King of Peace' in the key areas of reconciliation and peacemaking over 50 years."

Left And Right
WHILE MOON NOW SEEKS followers on the left and right, the Unification Church until recently had a reputation as a right-wing organization. It was a staunch, hawkish opponent of Communism during the Cold War. It has endorsed Republican politicians in the U.S., and military rulers in Bolivia and Honduras, and the right-wing nationalist Jean-Marie le Pen in France. Unificationists own the conservative Washington Times, as earlier noted, and Tiempos del Mundo, a major Latin American paper based in Buenos Aires. The church and its allies have created a bewildering array of front groups, each with its own acronym; several of these organizations promote interfaith dialogue.

One of his groups, the World Alliance of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO), gave an "Interreligious Cooperation Award" to Episcopal Bishop William Swing of California and his United Religions Initiative (URI), in October 2002. Members of Moon's church have been active in URI's local chapters since 1997.

The day after his March 24 coronation in the Dirksen Building, Moon told members of his church, "Yesterday the Crowning Ceremony was a great historical turning point." His lamentation about moves toward gay marriage, which he called "Satanic," was apparently the inspiration for his insistence that it was "time for women to go to the front line"; that "192 nations must become one" and that "Christianity must rise up and embrace Islam and Judaism."

"God loves Christianity, Judaism and Islam. America must stand up to unite these three...Yesterday the Senate and House together offered the Crown as Peace King to True Parents," he said.

Last year, Moon also blamed the Jews for the Holocaust, demanding they follow his form of "Christianity": "Who are the Jewish members here, raise your hands! Jewish people, you have to repent. Jesus was the King of Israel. Through the principle of indemnity Hitler killed 6 million Jews. That is why. God could not prevent Satan from doing that because Israel killed the True Parents. Even now, you have to determine that you will repent and follow and become one with Christianity through Rev. Moon."

Despite Moon's animus toward homosexuality, an ecclesiastical member of the "Invitational Committee" for the March 23 crowning event was Archbishop G. Augustus Stallings, who has a colorful past. As Jason Berry, an expert on the Catholic sex-abuse scandal, reported: "In 1989, The Washington Post began coverage of the flamboyant George Stallings, who quit the [Catholic] priesthood rather than follow Cardinal Hickey's request to enter a treatment facility after abuse accusations by former altar boys. He, too, was never prosecuted. Stallings launched his own religion, with drums, dancing, and stem-winding sermons that bestirred a tongue-in-cheek profile by '60 Minutes''s Morley Safer." Accusing the Roman Church of racism, Stallings founded the Afro-centric Imani Temple in 1989 in Washington, D.C. He is, among other things, the chairman of the Executive Committee of the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC), a Unificationist organization. Stallings and the group have lately been involved in a crusade, inspired by Moon, to remove crosses from Christian churches, partly as an interfaith gesture and because of its alleged negative connotations.

[Stallings is now a bishop and archbishop thanks to consecration by vagantes, of whom he is now one. One of thousands of little ecclesiastical sideshows around the world.]

Unificationist spokesmen claimed that 300 Christian congregations had removed the cross from their churches between April and August 2003.

Moon claims to have had the late North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung among his supporters. According to the Unification Church, "Risking his life, Reverend Moon traveled to North Korea in December 1991, and met with President Kim Il Sung, under whose regime he had been tortured and sent to a labor camp. The North Korean ruler, who had suppressed religion for 40 years, completely welcomed Reverend and Mrs. Moon."

Since then, Moon has strengthened his ties with the Stalinist regime - including establishing an automobile plant in North Korea. A South Korean newspaper reported in August 2003 that there is a "strong relationship between the North Korean government and the Unification Church, or Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. The church, which owns Pyonghwa and such companies as the Tongil Group, The Washington Times, and UPI news service, among others, has had close ties with the North. The church and its business empire have engaged in not only North Korean business projects, but also many inter-Korean cultural exchange programs since the early 1990s. They have held inter-Korean art exhibitions, scholarly exchange programs and sports exchange programs. Recently, the Moon empire has established a hotel, a park and a church in the North."

Credit is due to John Gorenfeld, a San Francisco-based investigative reporter who first brought the March 23 event to public attention. He provides valuable links and documentation about the Moon cult at his web log.

This story is based on an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Lee Penn, False Dawn: The United Religions Initiative, Globalism, and the Quest for a One-World Religion, to be published this summer by Sophia Perennis Press.