Thursday, February 27, 2003

The history and current position of Christians in Iraq
The story of Assyrian Christianity
From the good folks at

They speak the vernacular Jesus spoke — Syriac, a.k.a. Aramaic. And in a unique twist, I think the Catholic splitoff (the Chaldean Catholic Church) from the ancient Assyrian Church (formerly called Nestorian by non-Assyrians) is bigger than its parent.

Summary: They fear American rule and its probable aftermath, including renewed persecution from America’s anti-Hussein allies, the Kurds, more than Hussein, with whom they can live in relative peace.
Passings: TV’s ‘Mister Rogers’, 74
Fred Rogers, ‘gentle giant’ of American kids’ TV, died of cancer this morning at home in Pittsburgh. Did you know he was an ordained Presbyterian minister? Requiescat in pace.

Spam en español
... from the Land of the Midnight Sun (paging Jimmy Page?)

This came in my junk e-mail trap today, from some spammer address in Sweden! Not exactly what the talking heads meant by ‘global village’, I dare say.


Entre miles de familias, la suya ha sido seleccionada para unirse a nosotros y celebrar los Cien Años de Magia del fantástico Mundo de Disney.

Contactenos inmediatamente.

Pero por toda mi vida, incluyendo cuando era niño, yo nunca deseaba ir al Mundo de Disney. Me parece que es un lugar vulgar y desclasado.

Spam from a man who says ‘noo-Q-ler’
About the Bush speech last night
No $ale.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

US Supreme Court Rules for Anti-Abortion Groups
What is dispensationalism?
What the nutballs on America’s Protestant religious right believe
From the Net: Dispensationalism is a form of premillennialism originating among the Plymouth Brethren in the early 1830s. The father of dispensationalism, John Nelson Darby, educated as a lawyer and ordained Anglican priest, was one of the chief founders of the Plymouth Brethren movement, which arose in reaction against the perceived empty formalism of the Church of England. To the Brethren the true "invisible" church was to come out of the apostate ‘visible’ Church, rejecting such forms as priesthood and sacraments.

For more, read a source (Protestant, specifically conservative Lutheran, a kind I have a lot of respect for): Dispensationalism: A Return to Biblical Theology or Pseudo-Christian Cult?

In short, it’s heresy and relatively recent.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Gods and Generals
Or, Ted Turner’s four-hour canonization ceremony for Stonewall Jackson

I liked it!

OK, it’s a little like those old war movies (from WWII) — a little corny with a lot of speechifying. I don’t know why Ted Turner — who once said ‘Christianity is for losers’ — decided not only to canonize Stonewall Jackson but to show his ever-present religion as something positive, but I’m glad he did. Seeing this movie is a big investment of time — nearly four hours — but worth it. I was on the edge of my seat. Can’t say this movie formed my views as much as it reaffirmed a lot of them:

1. The Confederacy had a right to exist.
2. Lee (no racist he) was a hero. (Robert Duvall — a distant relation of Lee’s, interestingly enough — does a serviceable job playing him.)
3. Lincoln’s total war was no different from the German Army invading Russia and then burning it as it retreated. To quote a former friend, I in good conscience never can sing ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’.

A clergy acquaintance, a former Episcopal priest in the Province of Christ the King, keeps a picture of Jackson along with images of Jesus and Mary. (He is an Anglo-Catholic.) If Jackson was half the man Turner paints him as, I understand why.

Who’d’ve thunk it — somebody has made a pro-Confederate (and not racist) movie today and got away with it. Whatever Turner’s problems, kudos to him for so doing.

Verdict: See it if you can spare the time.
Viking cats
Silly animation, but cool song! ‘The Immigrant’s Song’, by Led Zeppelin — this dispels any prejudice against all heavy metal as illiterate.

(A-ah-aaah-ah! A-ah-aaah-ah!)
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods,
Will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde singing and crying:
‘Valhalla I am coming!’

On we sweep,
With thrashing oar.
Our only goal will be the western shore.

(A-ah-aaah-ah! A-ah-aaah-ah!)
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
Sultry fields of green,
Whispered tales of gore,
Of how we calmed the tides of war,
We are your overlords.

On we sweep,
With thrashing oar.
Our only goal will be the western shore.

So now you’d better stop and rebuild all your ruins,
For peace and trust can win the day despite all your losing.
In the Fall 2002 issue of Latin Mass, there appeared a review (of sorts) of the new abridged edition of Vladimir Soloviev’s Russia and the Universal Church (tellingly renamed The Russian Church and the Papacy, reprinted by Scott Hahn’s Catholic Answers group). The review was written by H.W. Crocker III, author most recently of Triumph: The Power and Glory of the Catholic Church.

From what I’ve seen of the Soloviev (that’s Соловьëв, ‘So-lo-VYOFF’) book, I wasn’t impressed — a flaky philosopher disillusioned with his native Russian Orthodoxy borrowed bad 19th-century Catholic propaganda (not bad because it was Catholic — it was just bad!) to produce what was basically hackwork. Knowledgeable, sound conservative Catholics today wouldn’t use his anti-Orthodox screed. That Hahn does so doesn’t speak well of Catholic Answers.

Crocker writes:

“As Newman might have said, but didn’t, ‘To be deep in history is to realize that the Eastern Orthodox are crazy.’ They are now, they were then, and they always have been.”

Thanks, brother Christian. The irony is men like Crocker get slammed by fellow Catholics the exact same way for pretty much the same reasons he is slamming the Orthodox.

“Wherever you find Eastern Orthodox, there you will find people who live not by the words of Jesus – ‘forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who trespass against,’ words admirably embodied by Pope John Paull II – but by the grudge and the ‘narcissism of small differences,’ to use Freud’s apposite phase (sic). In their surly defensiveness, hatred, and envy of the West, the Eastern Orthodox are the Islamicists of the Christian world. The West offers the the hand of friendship, the East responds with intemperance, abuse, and fear.”

To be fair to the East, it doesn’t want the sickness of the West — everything from atheism, secular humanism and the New World Order to guitar Masses in iconoclastic churches. My guess is Crocker has no time for Byzantine Catholics either, unless they’ve been latinized beyond recognition.

“For readers who are dyspeptic, antiquarian, nationalist, cranky, bearded fanatics, it [Solovyev’s book] might even offer inspiration to join the Eastern Orthodox. But if you, like me, yearn for the Sack of Byzantium to become a feast day of the Church, and feel wistful when you muse on that one brief moment when there was a French-speaking Catholic Crusader kingdom there, this book will be a pleasure and confirmation.”

Hmmm... Crocker is saying theft, sacrilege, rape and murder should be commemorated in a church feast day?! (Somewhere I read Pope Innocent III condemned the conduct of the Fourth Crusade.)

Getting back to the main point, it seems to me Crocker is sawing the branch on which he sits. When I hear (and I have had similar things said to my face, and by supposed conservative Catholics like him) or read such things, I wonder if another 19th-century Russian called Vladimir, V. Khomiakov (whom I’ve read at some length), was right that the Catholic Church is only one side of the same coin as Protestantism (liberalism, secularism). (Easy there, Catholics — I’m being rhetorical.) Crocker sounds just like Call to Action types making fun of him. ‘Get rid of all that glittery, smoky old-fashioned stuff (and those stupid, outdated dogmas) and get with the program!’ Is his position only the right wing of the same hideous creature that CTA represents? For all Crocker’s (and the self-satisfied types at Catholic Answers) conservative posturing, are he (they) and Hans Kьng really on the same team? Enquiring minds want to know.
Slavic Catholic congressman sells out on abortion
The Rust Belt Democrats just lost a little more of my respect
Stereolab’s Mary Hansen killed in bicycle accident
Old news (from December 2002) but still deserving a note here.
Requiescat in pace/Вечная память.
Nation mag story on war
Foreword from my Russian Catholic friend with long excerpts as highlights:

This is a long story. A few things caught my attention - including the reference to the Cuba anomaly at the end of the story:

"The lesson so far? Exactly the opposite of the intended one: If you want to
avoid "regime change" by the United States, build a nuclear arsenal--but be
sure to do it quietly and fast.
As Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of
the International Atomic Energy Agency, has said, the United States seems to
want to teach the world that "if you really want to defend yourself, develop
nuclear weapons, because then you get negotiations, and not military action

"Although the third of the "axis" countries presents no immediate crisis,
events there also illustrate the bankruptcy of the Bush policy. With the help
of Russia, Iran is building nuclear reactors that are widely believed to
double as a nuclear weapons program. American threats against Iraq have
failed to dissuade Iran--or for that matter, its supplier, Russia--from
proceeding. Just this week, Iran announced that it had begun to mine uranium
on its own soil. Iran's path to acquiring nuclear arms, should it decide to
go ahead, is clear. "Regime change" by American military action in that
half-authoritarian, half-democratic country is a formula for disaster.
Whatever the response of the Iraqi people might be to an American invasion,
there is little question that in Iran hard-liners and democrats alike would
mount bitter, protracted resistance."

"The collapse of the overall Bush policy has one more element that may be
even more significant than the appearance of North Korea's arsenal or Iran's
apparently unstoppable discreet march to obtaining the bomb. It has turned
out that the supplier of essential information and technology for North
Korea's uranium program was America's faithful ally in the war on terrorism,
Pakistan, which received missile technology from Korea in return. The
"father" of Pakistan's bomb, Ayub Qadeer Khan, has visited North Korea
thirteen times. This is the same Pakistan whose nuclear scientist Sultan
Bashiruddin Mahood paid a visit to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan a few
months before September 11, and whose nuclear establishment even today is
riddled with Islamic fundamentalists. The BBC has reported that the Al Qaeda
network succeeded at one time in building a "dirty bomb" (which may account
for Osama bin Laden's claim that he possesses nuclear weapons), and Pakistan
is the likeliest source for the materials involved, although Russia is also a
candidate. Pakistan, in short, has proved itself to be the world's most
dangerous proliferator, having recently acquired nuclear weapons itself and
passed on nuclear technology to a state and, possibly, to a terrorist group."

"The reductio ad absurdum of the failed American war policy was illustrated
by a recent column in the Washington Post by the superhawk Charles
Krauthammer. Krauthammer wants nothing to do with soft measures; yet he, too,
can see that the cost of using force against North Korea would be
prohibitive: "Militarily, we are not even in position to bluff." He rightly
understands, too, that in the climate created by pending war in Iraq,
"dialogue" is scarcely likely to succeed. He has therefore come up with a new
idea. He identifies China as the solution. China must twist the arm of its
Communist ally North Korea. "If China and South Korea were to cut off North
Korea, it could not survive," he observes. But to make China do so, the
United States must twist China's arm. How? By encouraging Japan to build
nuclear weapons. For "if our nightmare is a nuclear North Korea, China's is a
nuclear Japan." It irks Krauthammer that the United States alone has to face
up to the North Korean threat. Why shouldn't China shoulder some of the
burden? He wants to "share the nightmares." Indeed. He wants to stop nuclear
proliferation with more nuclear proliferation. Here the nuclear age comes
full circle. The only nation ever to use the bomb is to push the nation on
which it dropped it to build the bomb and threaten others. As a
recommendation for policy, Krauthammer's suggestion is Strangelovian, but if
it were considered as a prediction it would be sound. Nuclear armament by
North Korea really will tempt neighboring nations--not only Japan but South
Korea and Taiwan--to acquire nuclear weapons. (Japan has an abundant supply
of plutonium and all the other technology necessary, and both South Korea and
Taiwan have had nuclear programs but were persuaded by the United States to
drop them.) In a little-noticed comment, Japan's foreign minister has already
stated that the nuclearization of North Korea would justify a pre-emptive
strike against it by Japan. Thus has the Bush plan to stop proliferation
already become a powerful force promoting it. The policy of pre-emptive war
has led to pre-emptive defeat. "

"We cannot know, but we do know that White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card
has stated that if Iraq uses weapons of mass destruction against American
troops "the United States will use whatever means necessary to protect us and
the world from a holocaust"--"whatever means" being diplomatese for nuclear
attack. The Washington Times has revealed that National Security Presidential
Directive 17, issued secretly on September 14 of last year, says in plain
English what Card expressed obliquely. It reads, "The United States will
continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with
overwhelming force--including potentially nuclear weapons--to the use of
[weapons of mass destruction] against the United States, our forces abroad,
and friends and allies." Israel has also used diplomatese to make known its
readiness to retaliate with nuclear weapons if attacked by Iraq. Condoleezza
Rice has threatened the Iraqi people with genocide: If Iraq uses weapons of
mass destruction, she says, it knows it will bring "national obliteration."
(Threats of genocide are flying thick and fast around the world these days.
In January, Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes threatened that if
Pakistan launched a nuclear attack on India--as Pakistan's President Pervez
Musharraf has threatened to do if India invades Pakistan--then "there will be
no Pakistan left when we have responded.") William Arkin writes in the Los
Angeles Times that the United States is "drafting contingency plans for the
use of nuclear weapons." STRATCOM--the successor to the Strategic Air
Command--has been ordered to consider ways in which nuclear weapons can be
used pre-emptively, either to destroy underground facilities or to respond to
the use or threats of use of weapons of mass destruction against the United
States or its forces."

"We do not have to wait for war in Iraq, however, to consider the likely
impact of Washington's new policies on democracy's global fortunes. The
question has already arisen in the period of preparation for war. The Bush
Administration has not forced the world to read between the lines to discover
its position. It proposes for the world at large the same two-tier system
that it proposes for the decision to go to war and for the possession of
weapons of mass destruction: It lays claim to absolute military hegemony over
the earth. "America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond
challenge, thereby making the destabilizing arms races of other eras
pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace," the
President said in his speech at West Point. The United States alone will be
the custodian of military power; others must turn to humbler pursuits. The
sword will rule, and the United States will hold the sword. As the Yale
historian John Lewis Gaddis has pointed out, the policies of unilateral
pre-emption, overthrow of governments and overall military supremacy form an
integral package (the seizure of Middle Eastern oilfields, though officially
denied as a motive, also fits in). These elements are the foundations of the
imperial system that Ignatieff and others have delineated. However, empire is
incompatible with democracy, whether at home or abroad. Democracy is founded
on the rule of law, empire on the rule of force. Democracy is a system of
self-determination, empire a system of military conquest. The fault lines are
already clear, and growing wider every day. By every measure, public opinion
in the world--its democratic will--is opposed to overthrowing the government
of Iraq by force. But why, someone might ask, does this matter? How many
divisions do these people have, as Stalin once asked of the Pope? The answer,
to the extent that the world really is democratic, is: quite a few. In a
series of elections--in Germany, in South Korea, in Turkey--an antiwar
position helped bring the winner to power. In divided Korea, American policy
may be on its way to producing an unexpected union of South and
North--against the United States. Each of these setbacks is a critical defeat
for the putative American empire. In January, the prime ministers of eight
countries--Italy, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Poland, the Czech
Republic and Hungary--signed a letter thanking the United States for its
leadership on the Iraq issue; but in every one of those countries a majority
of the public opposed a war without UN approval. The editors of Time's
European edition asked its readers which nation posed the greatest threat to
world peace. Of the 268,000 who responded, 8 percent answered that it was
North Korea, 9 percent Iraq and 83 percent said the United States. Britain's
Prime Minister Tony Blair is prepared to participate in the war without UN
support, but some 70 percent of his people oppose his position. The
government of Australia is sending troops to assist in the war effort, but 92
percent of the Australian public opposes war unsanctioned by the UN. Gaddis
rightly comments that empires succeed to the extent that peoples under their
rule welcome and share the values of the imperial power. The above election
results and poll figures suggest that no such approval is so far evident for
America's global pretensions. The American "coalition" for war is an alliance
of governments arrayed in opposition to their own peoples."

The passage of time since the failure in 1946 has also provided us with some
advantages. No insuperable ideological division divides the nuclear powers
(with the possible exception, now, of North Korea), as the cold war did.
Their substantial unity and agreement in this area can be imagined. Every
other nonnuclear nation but one (the eccentric holdout is Cuba) already has
agreed under the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to do without
nuclear weapons. Biological and chemical weapons have been banned by
international conventions (although the conventions are weak, as they lack
serious inspection and enforcement provisions)."

Monday, February 24, 2003

Rod Dreher on the gay-priest disaster
Former Beatle plays private gig for fan — for $1M
Which he gave to charity
Porn spam auf Deutsch
This came in my dummy e-mail account:

Ich hab dich lieb

Hi mein süsser,
na wie geht es dir? Ich hoffe du hast dich von unserer ersten gemeinsamen Nacht erholen können ;-) Es war wirklich wahnsinnig aufregend mit dir! Ich hab sowas noch nie erlebt! Ich habe unsere Aufnahmen auf meine Seite gestellt, hier hast du den Link: Censored — somebody abusing lycos
Wünsche dir viel spass beim angucken!

Bis nächstes mal

Deine Jule
What I’m listening to

'Glass Candle Grenades' by the Cocteau Twins, from Head Over Heels

I can't believe it's 20 years old — it sounds cutting-edge to me. Elizabeth Fraser could chant the Edinburgh phone book and make it sound profound and hip. For all we know, maybe she was.
Emergency-room true stories
Yuk, yuk.
The relevancy of Organized Religion - a sobering warning

Foreword from Russian Catholic friend:

Here is a sobering comment on the pending war, and the situation of the Churches in relation to it, from a Catholic mystic in Portugal.

You may find his analysis hard to accept. But ... consider:

1. The US is openly discussing first use of nuclear weapons in the coming war, and Israel promises nuclear retaliation if it is hit with chemical or biological weapons. Meanwhile, the North Koreans have the bomb already.
2. The sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has greatly reduced the credibility of the church leaders - now, even if they say something truthful and prophetic, they are not likely to be heeded. (Case in point: the RC bishop who made a strong antiwar statement for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops last November was ... Cardinal Law.) And the abuse problem, and the coverup, is global. The truth is coming out.
3. In the West, the mainline Protestant and Catholic churches are shells of what they were 50+ years ago. Decades of stupid and faithless leadership have squandered the moral capital that the churches once had. Their leaders may warn (rightly, I believe) against war and imperialism ... but who listens anymore? And how many of their flocks are still in the fold, and still believe? How many of the shepherds believe?

Even if you accept only a part of what the mystic from Portugal is saying, use what he says as a reminder of the gravity of the peril we all face.

It is too late for politics. Prayer is our last, and best recourse ....
including prayer for the conversion and salvation of our enemies, whoever
and wherever they may be.



Below is the typical quandary in which organized religion finds itself today.

An excerpt from the news...

statement was signed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster, and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury after a private meeting a few days ago. (ZENIT Catholic news service, 19th February, 2003)

What moral grounds or, shall we say, stature have either O'Connor or Williams to make that pronouncement or, for that matter, any pronouncement worthy of respect in light of what has been revealed about their behavior and ideas/philosophies in recent months.

Only when organized religion has been bathed in, and purified by, its
own blood it will be able to serve as a vehicle that leads to God and a beacon of Justice and Peace. In the meantime it does not even deserve our passing attention.

We must not forget for one moment why the world is in the situation it finds itself in today.... and should anyone forget.... we are here to remind them:

If anyone think of us being harsh... they should wait and see how harsh will be the One Who sent us ahead of Himself. We will sound like wimps...

US considers total war against North Korea


Dispensationalist Craziness
How nutballs on the Protestant religious right see Mideast war

Foreword from Russian Catholic friend:

Read the following to see how the Dispensationalists - the Rapture cheerleaders - view the coming war. They are 100% pro-war, and believe that war would advance Israeli interests.

I can't dismiss this stuff as News of the Weird, since the following viewpoint has a loud voice in Washington DC.

Kyrie eleison.

The article:

Below are excerpts from four very encouraging articles covering this week= =92s news in Israel.

There is a very positive assessment of the U.S. -Israel relations and what could happen after the war with Iraq.

Also, Ariel Sharon said there will be no Palestinian capital in Jerusalem and no return of Palestinian refugees to Israel.

Moreover, Sharon's meeting with Labor party chairman Amram Mitzna ended in no unity deal. Sharon spoke with Mitzna by telephone Sunday morning to upda= te him on the details of the agreement, according to which the center-right government will include 61 MKs from Likud, 6 from NRP and 15 from Shinui. Among other things, Sharon pointed out that the deal includes a political outline for the creation of a Palestinian state. Sharon told Mitzna that the Likud could not keep a nationalist, Zionist party like the NRP out of the government, as Labor was demanding.

Despite Sharon's outline for the creation of a Palestinian state, he has a coalition of many members who oppose a Palestinian state. Also, the pro-settl= ement NRP party which represents Jewish settlers in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is joined by pro-settlement Likud members.

Additionally, Israel received the largest amount of rain in many years, with a week of heavy rain. Moreover, snow is expected to fall in Jerusalem after midnight Monday and in the course of Tuesday morning, and it could continue for much of the day until Wednesday morning.

The Jerusalem Post article stated for the first time in over a decade, the two sluice gates at Naharayim were opened one after another to prevent the river from flooding its banks and allow the swollen waters to flow down to the severely depleted Dead Sea.

Praise the Lord!!!


The Celebrations Have Already Begun

Ha'aretz - February 20, 2003

The "National Explainer," Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, explained this week that Sad= dam and Arafat "believe in the same path, the path of terror meant to break Israel" and he expressed hope that the elimination of the Baghdad dictator w= ill be a precedent for dealing with "similar dictators who live not far from= here, like the one living in Ramallah." Gilad said if there is a positive c= hange in the wake of the war in Iraq, "Arafat won't be here by the end of th= e year and that's something we should welcome and know how to exploit well."

Gilad represents a broad consensus in the top echelons of the political and security establishment, which is showing enthusiastic anticipation for the American assault on Iraq. Israeli officials are convinced Israel is on the right side, with the strong Americans, who will settle their accounts after the war with the Europeans, the Arabs and everyone else who tried to get in the way. They see the Bush administration's lack of interest in the Israeli-Pa= lestinian conflict and believe that after the war, the Americans will leave Ariel Sharon alone, and not demand he compensate the defeated Arabs with Israeli concessions.

In conversations with Sharon's representatives, the Americans don't even put= on a show of pressure. The settlements aren't mentioned. The Israeli-Arab portfolio in the White House has been handed over to Elliott Abrams, a right-wing Jew close to the Pentagon hawks. His deputy, Flint Evert, who had been promoting the "road map," was thrown out after failing in a report on the preparations for the January conference in London, to which the British sent invitations through Yasser Arafat. State department officials who backed pres= sure on Israel were worn down on bureaucratic struggles.

In the eyes of the prime minister, the war in Iraq is an opportunity to change the balance of power in the area. Sharon proposes a division of labor: Is= rael will take care of Arafat. America will smash the sources of Arab power: terrorism, missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Sharon reminds U.S. visitors that a victory in Iraq won't solve all the problems in the region and that Syria, Libya and Iran have to be dealt with. This week, Undersecretary of State John Bolton visited Jerusalem. He's an administration hawk. There was no sign of any difference of views in the conversations he had with his Jerusalem hosts.

But the Israeli optimism is not only about the future. It's also about the present. There are already cheers of victory over the Palestinians ("the worst is behind us"). The signs are encouraging: Mubarak is courting Sharon, Arafat announces he'll appoint a prime minister, European and UN diplomats are ready to "waste" Arafat, their former protege, and admit privately that Sharon has beaten his veteran rival.

Sharon, a political marathoner, keeps surprising his eulogists. He reoccupied the territories and defeated Arafat in the arena of international legitimacy, which in the past tilted toward the Palestinians; terror is at a tolerable level; Sharon won a landslide election, and is now trying to worm the Labor Party into the government (not a priority after the NRP deal). This was all achieved without giving up a millimeter or tree of the territories, but at a heavy price to the economy and society in Israel. Over and over, Sharon avoids the difficult decisions with the help of his friend in the White House, and it appears he will succeed in dissolving the "road map," which is inconvenient for him.


Sharon: No Palestinian capital in J'lem, return of refugees into Israel

Jerusalem Post, February 20, 2003

Speaking to visiting US Jewish leaders in Jerusalem Thursday evening, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rejected two key Palestinian demands - a capital in Jerusalem and return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their original homes in Israel.
"I don't think there is any right to anyone to make any compromise when it comes to Jerusalem," he said, adding that allowing millions of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel "means the destruction of Israel as (an) independent, democratic Jewish state."


Mitzna: I was ready for a historic move; Sharon refused to pay the price

Labor party chairman Amram Mitzna and his aides unleashed a fierce attack on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Shinui and the National Religious Party on Sunday afternoon Mitzna accused Sharon of working behind the Labor Party's back to reach an agreement with the NRP and an impending one with Shinui. Mitzna and his aides said that Sharon never really intended to form a national unity government with Labor, and was just using Labor to lower the demands of Shinui and make it look to the world as if Mitzna was at fault for lack of a unity government.

" I was ready for a historic move but Sharon was not prepared to play the price," Mitzna told the Jerusalem Post from the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Sources close to Mitzna revealed that Sharon's bureau chief Uri Shani offered Mitzna a secular national unity government consisting of just Likud Labor and Shinui in a meeting at Sharon's office last Monday night The offer was hidden from the press until today because Sharon said he needed time to make sure the move would pass within the Likud, the sources said.

However, from Monday until the next meeting between Sharon and Mitzna on Friday The Likud brokered an understanding between the NRP and on religious and state issues that was a last barrier to forming a government of 61 that could last without Labor.

Mitzna's aides said that he told Sharon he would not be willing to join a government with the NRP. Sharon, however said it was unacceptable to rule out another Zionist party.


Rivers surge - at last

Jerusalem Post, February 23, 2003

"After a crazy week of heavy rain and strong winds gusting up to 100 kph, the winter has yet to peak," Robert Olinsky, duty forecaster at the Beit Dagan weather bureau, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday.

"We expect local rain, mainly in the North, in the course of Sunday and this will strengthen on Monday and spread to central districts," he said. The temperatures will be sufficiently low for the rain to turn to snow, not only on Mount Hermon, but also on Galilee peaks and the upper reaches of the Golan Heights.

"Snow is expected to fall in Jerusalem after midnight Monday and in the course of Tuesday morning," said Olinsky, noting that it could continue for much of the day until Wednesday morning.

Elsewhere, there is slated to be very heavy rain, thunderstorms, hail, and a resurgence of strong winds, which could be even more fierce than those last of week, as well as a marked drop in temperatures.

"With the ground already thoroughly soaked, there will be a lot of water run-off, so there is likely to be some quite extensive flooding in many parts of the country," said Olinsky.

"It has been many years since we've had a winter like this one. Precipitation has reached the annual average and above in many areas, including the North, the Jezreel valley, the Tel Aviv plains, and around Lod and Beit Dagan."

More than 100 mm. of rain fell in the North on Thursday and Friday, causing the extensive flooding in Kiryat Shmona and Turan and turning part of the Beit Netufa Valley in the Galilee into a mini-lake.

The heavy rain filled all the streams on the Golan and Upper and Western Galilee - those that flow into the Jordan and directly into the Kinneret, and those that flow into the Mediterranean. The Yarmuk River, which flows through Jordan into the southern reaches of the Jordan River below Lake Kinneret, was also near to overflowing.

For the first time in over a decade, the two sluice gates at Naharayim were opened one after another to prevent the river from flooding its banks and allow the swollen waters to flow down to the severely depleted Dead Sea.

"The [southern reaches] of the Jordan River basin is being washed out, which is also something that has not happened for many years," said Olinsky.

Torrential rain in the North caused flooding in Kiryat Shmona and swamped several homes in Turan village in Lower Galilee over the weekend, while filling streams and rivers to nearly overflowing. According to the Israel Meteorological Service (IMS), more heavy rain, along with the prospect of snow in Jerusalem as well as on northern peaks, is expected in the coming days.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Old news, but oh, man, not another one!
More of the gay-priest scandal
I'm really shocked when someone who serves the Orthodox liturgy (rich in content and, of course, orthodox), as Byzantine Catholics do, sinks to this. Frankly, when it happens in mainstream Roman Catholic churches with their content-challenged modern services, I'm less surprised.
The Rhode Island nightclub disaster
I think the management of Great White are to blame, setting off pyrotechnics without the club's permission, like they did at two other venues. (Indoors?! What were they thinking?) The Station's owner was on TV crying yesterday - I think he meant it and is innocent. The survivors and families have a humungo lawsuit, IMO.
Dar Williams
After church and Indian food I went to a free Dar Williams show at Borders recently. Lots of pleasant baby-boomers and cute college-age girls. (The youth contingent surprised me.) Dar is cute, curvy and a talent. Seems the college lesbians like her but she's normal. She's got a good folkie voice, just tuneful enough, one of those not-refined voices but with character, and she can play the guitar well. Her songs (the ones I've heard) are wistful and apolitical.
Gay Ruthenian priest suspended
See 'AAAAAAAGH!' posting below


My guess is this joker was a child of the ’60s. Want to see what aggiornamento really looks like? Have a look (not for the easily offended) at this guy's personal-ad pic. Ugh.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

The Rite Switch:
why Roman-rite Catholics become Eastern rite

by Regina Doman

The writer, whom I met once briefly 11 years ago, AFAIK is a sweet, orthodox Roman Catholic. Nice article, and I've met Fr Rick Rohrer and been to SS. Cyril and Methodius in Cary (note the spelling), a great place and indeed a magnet for upstanding conservative refugee Roman Catholics. Which is a good thing. One thing I didn't like about the article is it seemed to call everybody who doesn't like the Novus Ordo a 'malcontent', as if the NO is OK and the problem is with the people who don't want it. Horsefeathers. Plus it allies Easterns with the disdain of the Roman mainstream towards Catholic traditionalists. Foul! The rude refugee 'trad' at an Eastern church is, in my experience, a myth, and I've met several refugees, including at Fr Rick's church. Friendly, profoundly Christian people with a well-developed worldview. Then again, the writer, though orthodox and nice, AFAIK is a handwaving charismatic, the kind of Catholic who thinks Vatican II was neat, so the bias isn't surprising. Toeing the quasi-Orwellian party line.

Also, Fr Rick's church is an anomaly among Ruthenian Catholics, externally almost entirely Orthodox. Most rank-and-file Ruthenians don't really want to be Eastern.
UK government urges under-16s to experiment with oral sex
Sad and sick, but not surprising. The Church of England has been a doddering, toothless old tiger since the 'Enlightenment'.
What’s new on the site
• On the East page, a summary of what Eastern Orthodox believe about Mary.
• On the Faith page, links to an article about St Benedict and to Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church in Philadelphia, some fine people with a renowned choir. The background music on their site is worth the download wait.

Article: Edgy Orthodoxy 4 Seekers by Terry Mattingly, who is Eastern Orthodox.
A lot of the newer Protestant churches are dropping the word 'church' from their names - some of the slum churches near me call themselves 'Christian Lifestyle Centers' (huh?) and I understand the rich, white megachurches do the same thing. Americans don't like churchiness, a trend that has got worse — it's part of the anti-Catholic bias in the culture.

Friday, February 21, 2003

I am acquainted with a congregation this man once served. What a crying shame — those dear, profoundly Christian people (and yes, orthodox) deserved better than this.
Resurrectio linguæ latinæ
In American high schools

Thursday, February 20, 2003

A petition I signed today

An exchange with an 'independent Catholic'

Reproduced with his permission

Original letter:

Dear Serge,

I looked on the Faith page and saw two links to vagantes (which is, by the way, a derogatory term not unlike the derogatory term "uniate"). I would agree with the assessment guidelines for determining if a church is "fly by night" or not but this is not a unique thing to independent Catholic churches. I didn't see anything from you though.

The second article, while one point of view, ignores the fact that there have been many, valid apostolic churches which were not independent of the body of Christ but were not established under one of the 5 Patriarchal Sees -- they predate them. The term "Independent Catholic" usually refers legitimately to churches whose Apostolic Successions lead to St. Peter but not under the jurisdiction of the See of Rome (ex. Antioch -- at least 3 valid claimants to the See and 4 divisions!), St. Matthew (Companion of St. Peter whose converts were also in India), St. Thomas, The Celtic lineages (which preceded the establishment of the See of Rome by at least 25-75 years) which are by tradition attributed to the evangelism of St. Joseph of Arimethea, and the Gallican lineages which also preceded the establishment of the See of Rome which are attributed to the evangelism of St. Mary Magdalene, St. Mary of Bethany and St. Lazarus.


Fr. Jay DiCotignano M.Div., M.S.

Holy Innocents American Catholic Church


Dear Fr DiCotignano,

Thanks for (re)visiting A Conservative Site for Peace's Faith page and reading my comments and two linked articles (not by me - sorry for the misunderstanding). Obviously we don't agree about vagantes but this is fuel for an interesting discussion.

I would agree with the assessment guidelines for determining if a church is "fly by night" or not but this is not a unique thing to independent Catholic churches.

Sure, there are plenty of Protestant and New Age con men out there too.

The second article, while one point of view

The universally held view of the Eastern Orthodox Church if I recall correctly.

ignores the fact that there have been many, valid apostolic churches which were not independent of the body of Christ but were not established under one of the 5 Patriarchal Sees -- they predate them.

Well, 'valid apostolic churches outside the patriarchates', in other words, outside the Eastern Orthodox communion, aren't a fact. They're a peculiarly Roman Catholic theological opinion held as dogma. EOs don't hold a dogma claiming 'validity' outside the Church.

The term "Independent Catholic" usually refers legitimately to churches whose Apostolic Successions lead to St. Peter but not under the jurisdiction of the See of Rome

Sounds like they want to have it both ways - they are former Catholics who still want to be Catholic really bad but Rome won't let them do something or other (probably related to sex) so they play this game instead.

(ex. Antioch -- at least 3 valid claimants to the See and 4 divisions!)

According to the Roman Catholic Church but not according to the Eastern Orthodox.

St. Matthew (Companion of St. Peter whose converts were also in India), St. Thomas, The Celtic lineages (which preceded the establishment of the See of Rome by at least 25-75 years) which are by tradition attributed to the evangelism of St. Joseph of Arimethea, and the Gallican lineages which also preceded the establishment of the See of Rome which are attributed to the evangelism of St. Mary Magdalene, St. Mary of Bethany and St. Lazarus.

I am familiar with the lines-of-succession game, again a byproduct of Roman Catholic theology on which vagantes base all their claims (even when, as they increasingly do, they pretend to be Eastern Orthodox).

If I recall correctly the Catholic Church recognizes such men's orders - 'valid but illicit' - as long as they weren't conferred for money.

The Eastern Orthodox Church sees things more holistically, in the context of the Church - outside that communion of the Church 'lines' don't mean anything.

If it's not under the Pope, it's not RC. If it's not in the Eastern Orthodox communion, it's not Orthodox. If it's not under Pope Shenouda III, it's not Coptic. If it's not in the Malankara Church of India (a pose favored by some vagantes), it's not 'Syrian Orthodox', 'Syro-Malabar' or 'Mar Thoma Orthodox'. If it's not in the Utrecht union like the Polish National Catholic Church (an American church, BTW) is, it's not Old Catholic.

Thanks again.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

New domain name!

After three years my site has 'found itself' and now has a clearer domain name that reflects its purpose:!


So long, old chap

1. Too many people thought the old URL (which still will work for the next 11 months) was 'Old World R Us' like Toys R Us. Ugh. Another one I heard — only once — was ‘your Old Walrus site’. Goo goo ga-joob.

2. The old forwarding e-mail address (again, still good for nearly a year) got spammed by spiders and because I naïvely posted it on e-mail lists (Yahoo being the most notorious). Live and learn. The new address will be coded on my site!

Alas, no more offers for 'shiny f**ks'.

3. Thanks to technology, namely the free Site Meter service, I know that out of the average of 30 hits a day the site has been getting recently, about 27 readers are in North America, and more than half its readers are on the US East Coast for some reason. While the site draws a lot of its message and inspiration from the Orthodox and Roman Catholic cultures of Russia and other countries of the Old World, this site is about American and world issues (though the principles advocated on it are universal). Some have called it anti-American for some reason — you decide! For the 10 percent or less who read and enjoy the small amount of Russian content, don't worry — it's not going away.
Церковный Юмор

In Russian - Cyrillic (Windows)

By me

Сегодня в моем городе много снег идет (и очень быстро). По-этому немного людей могли приехать в церковь и наш хор очень малый — меньше чем 5 человек. (И служба — меньше чем 1 час! УРА!) Молодая американка, кто сегодня вела хор нехорошо понимает по-русски. И в Литургии во время причащения она открыла календарную книгу и показывала нам словам, что хотела нас петь. И поем так: «Хвалите Господа с небес, хвалите Его в вышних. В сию неделю не соблюдается пост в среду и пяток. Аллилуия, аллилуия, аллилуия!» Что больше могу сказать? В одном смысле это правда, да? «Не пост! УРА!»
‘Global Ethic’ Aiming to Supplant Christian Ethic, Warns Vatican Official

‘Universal ethic’ — the secular world’s counterfeit of a universal church!

Natural religion already is universal — every ‘real’ religion (not recently made-up ones) has some form of the Golden Rule and commandments — but revealed religion is unique, though its content of course is meant for all and so is also universal.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Сретение Господне

Presentation of the Lord, Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Candlemas — Julian calendar

С праздником! — Cyrillic (Windows)

The National Arts Club, New York

Venue of October Project concert, 13 February

I call this room 'what I would do if I were really rich':

My stint as an antiwar activist

After church I acted according to my online advocacy and marched briefly in one of the many anti-Iraq war marches worldwide today. My first antiwar rally. Glad I ‘did my bit’. The huge crowd was a charming mix one would expect — aging granolas, agitator Commie-front groups and lots of sincere college students, including some very pretty ones. (P.J. Rourke once wrote that a successful cause — not necessarily right, but successful — always has beautiful women as spokespeople.) A lot of them are wrong on economics and domestic issues but we are united on this issue.

Interesting note on geopolitics

Turkey is an ally of the United States, and will remain an ally of the United States for one reason, and one reason only. There's a thing called Masonry, the Freemasons, the Lodge, and the Turkish Lodge is bound with American and British Lodges, that is a firm, firm, cemented friendship which, until they all perish, if they do perish, will always support each other. Masonry is the bond there. Turkey is very important because it is a key state in the Middle East. It's a linchpin.

Malachi Martin, from

Friday, February 14, 2003

In the post

This came in yesterday via mass e-mail from a former friend who was a formative influence on my views:

While Jesuit Fr. (James) Schall (of National Review, a pro-war neoconservative magazine) makes some very valid points about past peace-and-justice posturing by our (Catholic) bishops and others, he essentially repeats the same, unpersuasive pseudo-conservative/neocoservative arguments that have little if anything to do with /authentic/ Catholic Just War doctrine. His mind-numbing statement that alternatives to waging unprovoked, pre-emptive war on Iraq would be "unconstitutional and imprudent" and "against the stated principles of most Christian social thought" is utterly surreal. (Apparently Fr. Schall is unaware of the Vatican's own statements about the matter, which hardly mirror his own.)

...Fortunately, for every war-crazed, six-figure-salaried, wine-and-cheese Washington policy wonk (most of whom have never seen a minute of battlefield combat), there are the Chaldean Catholic and Antiochian Orthodox bishops, and conservative laymen like Patrick Buchanan and (Joseph) Sobran who, I believe, see this immoral, unconstitutional, geopolitical fool's errand for what it really is.

You've got to laugh at the feeble propaganda attempts to link (the undeniably miserable and despotic) Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda as a pretext for war. No sooner was Colin Powell done lecturing the world from the UN Security Council chambers about the supposedly "close, indisputable ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda," when along comes Osama bin Laden on Al Jazeera TV, publicly denouncing Hussein as an liberal "infidel." Some ties.

As one Chaldean bishop said, "Please tell the U.S. they can have all our oil. Just leave us in peace."

All I can add is AMEN!

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Old news, a lovely film star from the past and spiritual hokum

While surfing the Web this afternoon I learnt these facts: Richard Bach, who wrote what has been described as 'one of the wettest artefacts' of an insipid decade (the ’70s), Jonathan Livingston Seagull, 1) married, fathered six children and then dumped his wife and kids ’cos he ‘didn't believe in marriage' (quite a guy), 2) met ’50s-’60s bombshell Leslie Parrish in the ’70s, married her (‘I don’t believe in marriage unless it's to a hot ex-model'?) and wrote a book (popular but unknown to me before now) about their romance called Bridge Across Forever — whence American popular culture got notions about finding one's soul mate, etc., and finally 3) despite the aforementioned soul-mate thing, the couple divorced after about 20 years.

Hello? The man abandoned his wife and children — wasn't that fair warning he wasn't husband material? Based on Parrish's bodaciousness ISTM ol’ Rick (Dick?) really talked a good game with that soul-mate business. I'll admit that years ago during a brief 'secular' phase I actually read Seagull (easy to do if you've got half an hour) — (yawn) nothing memorable. I also once heard an orthodox Catholic priest describe it as gnostic. And I will concede there is something to the whole notion of soul mates. God made each person unique and some are well suited to each other. Nothing unorthodox about that. But Bach seems like a fraud. (BTW, FWIW, apparently he is a descendent of J.S. Bach.) Purveyor of narcissistic crap in a decade when orthodox Christianity was under attack, the scepticism of the elite and of the counterculture having filtered down to mainstream, middle-class society (in about the same way hippie couture was recycled about five years after the hippie fad, but in polyester form). Feh.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003


From one of my favorite sites,, quoting a letter to the editor of Physics Today written at the time of the Challenger disaster:

Unfortunately, there is another safety problem that has no easy remedy. The problems with the insulating tiles are well known, and the potential for disaster if a tile is lost over a critical area of the shuttle reentry is obvious. What is not so well known is that such a disaster has almost occurred. One shuttle on the reentry came within seconds of burning through a main wing support due to loss of tiles. The failure of this support would have caused the shuttle to crash, killing all on board.

Given the size of the shuttle, it is not feasible to return to the proven heat-resistant alloys used on previous manned space vehicles. Given the problems with keeping the tiles attached during launch and reentry, it is inevitable that despite NASA's best efforts a critical tile will someday fall off and another shuttle crew will go up in flames with their shuttle.

Monday, February 03, 2003

The holy Mother of God
Some orthodox living among the Orthodox

Anglican expats in Belgrade, led by Anglo-Catholic rector

Did you know the Anglicans have official ambassadors — apokrisarioi — to the local Orthodox churches in Orthodox countries?

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Rest in peace: Fr Werenfried van Straaten, O.Præm.
In the news

Со святыми упокой, Христе, душы усопших раб твоих, идеже несть болезнь ни печаль ни воздыхание, но жизнь безконечная.

Of your charity pray for Rick Husband, William McCool, Ilan Ramon, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Kalpana Chawla.

From 14 years ago: What really happened to the Challenger

To read Cyrillic letters here, right-click the screen and change the ‘Encoding’ to ‘Cyrillic (Windows)’.