Monday, March 31, 2003

TROY - A priest took preaching too far for some parishioners at Sacred Heart Church over the weekend when he used his homily to voice displeasure over the war in Iraq.

The Rev. Gary Mercure told the congregation at four Masses Saturday and Sunday that the war in Iraq was evil, immoral and contradictory to Christian doctrine.

According to those who attended any of the services, Mercure called for parishioners to not support President Bush, and said the U.S. should work closer with the rest of the world.

As many as 60 congregants responded by leaving the church at one of the masses, several yelling comments in the priest's direction and heckling him on the way out.

Clem LaPietra, a Troy resident attending a mass for his father, was stunned when Mercure began the homily.

"Father Gary, I think he went a little bit over the edge," LaPietra said. "He said how morally wrong the U.S. was. He told us to remember the Germans, and the English, and the Roman Empire. A lot of the older gentlemen got up and left. Someone stood up and told him he was out of line. There was some heckling."

Rose Romano, a Wynantskill resident, attended the 8 a.m. mass on Sunday, the third time the homily was given. She claimed that Mercure called Americans bullies, and said the people shouldn't support the president.

Romano said the comments were so shocking she had to catch her breath. Three people directly in front of her left the Mass immediately.

"I was stunned. After a few minutes I was numb," she said. "I'm going to church for my own welfare and a place to pray. That's no place for a political platform."

Mercure said about three people walked out of that service, and said between 50 and 60 walked out of the following Mass at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Mercure said he was talking about the Ten Commandments, particularly, "Thou shalt not kill," and knew that some of his parishioners might not be of the same opinion. At that point, Mercure said, he offered everyone a chance to leave.

He said he also prefaced the homily by saying that, "we love those serving and want them out of harm's way."

While the war is a political matter, Mercure said it is a moral issue as well. He insists he was not using the pulpit as a platform for his own views, but as a servant of God.

"They don't have to think the way I think," he said. "But as a preacher of God, it is my role to enhance life, to bring more life, and God's life, to people."

He also dismissed the idea that he preached anti-American sentiments or judged the morality of the president. He said he used the phrase "our government" several times, but stopped short of making moral judgments on anyone.

He said it was also his privilege as a patriot to speak out against the war, and his duty as a priest to do so. Mercure said he received many calls Monday, most of them positive, thanking him for the sermon.

Troy resident John Browne was one of those who thanked him.

"I'm a veteran of the Philippines and was a prisoner of war for three-and-a-half years in Japan," Browne said. "The reason we fought over there is so people could do what they did in church yesterday. I went up to him afterward and said, 'I'm proud of you father.'"

News of the homily traveled fast, as calls were made to The Record Monday saying kids were being taken out of the Sacred Heart School by angry parents. Mercure said he was unaware of any children leaving the school.

The school principal sent a letter home to parents Monday explaining the issue to parents. While the letter was vague, it did say that all the school teaches is for the children to pray for peace.

Albany Roman Catholic Diocese spokesman Rev. Kenneth Doyle said he had heard of Mercure's homily, but did not want to address it specifically. He did repeat the church's stance on the war.

"I don't know exactly what Father Gary said," Doyle responded when asked for comment. "The position of the Vatican and American Bishops has been very clear against the war. In the church's mind there has not been the sort of imminent threat that would justify a preemptive and unilateral strike.

"Now that the war has begun," Doyle added, "I believe the important thing is to pray that it ends quickly, and with as few casualties as possible and that innocent lives be spared."
EU force deploys in Macedonia
Comment from Russian Catholic friend: A milestone for the New World Order.

This is just in from acquaintance David Virtue. I'd read somewhere that while many Americans are religious, more than Europeans, many also are abysmally ignorant, saying they're born again but also that Jesus committed sins. I'd think despite all their historical/theological problems that the bishops in the Anglican Communion, coming from a tradition of learning that included Oxford and Cambridge, would know better. I guess not.

To say that Jesus sinned is to deny He is God, and by so doing Mr Bennison is no longer a Christian - just like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses.

By David W. Virtue

"Jesus acknowledged his own sin. He knows himself to be forgiven," said
Bishop Charles E. Bennison, in his column, "The Challenge of Easter" to
Pennsylvania Episcopalians.

Writing in the Pennsylvania Episcopalian, the wraparound to the
nationally circulated Episcopal Life, the revisionist bishop who has
denied a number of basic doctrines of the Christian Faith, said that
while Jesus forgives sins, "He acknowledges his own sin. His call is to
preach repentance and forgiveness."

Bennison said that Jesus approached things ironically. "He lived with
the questions. He did not rush to judgment. He avoided the pitfalls of
imperialism. He was ironic."

"Anglicanism typically favors the ironic approach. It is the product of
an island nation whose people, long cut off from the European
Continent, had to figure things out for themselves - empirically,
experimentally, by trial and error. Whatever law they had would be
common law, based on precedence, and developed over time. For the most
part they simply "muddled through." It is how we manage still."

Bishop Bennison has emerged in recent months as the leading exponent of
post-modern "Christianity" in the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops,
having supplanted Jack Spong the retired former Bishop of Newark.

The bishop has written a Visigoth Rite of marriage for both
heterosexuals and homosexuals; failed to affirm basic doctrines of the
Christian Faith such as the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the
uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only way of obtaining salvation, the
authority of Scripture and more.

Bishop Bennison recently went on National Public Radio (NPR) to say
that numbers are not everything when it comes to faith. The bishop then
said that "just because there are millions of conservative Christians
who rally around issues like homosexuality, that doesn't mean they're
right." Adolf Hitler, he noted, had many followers as well.

At the same time Bennison has been pouring tens of thousands of dollars
into lawyers to snuff out the remnant of faithful orthodox priests in
his diocese.

The truth is there is no historic parallel in contemporary
ecclesiastical history for the bishop's latest outrage.

While a number of bishops publicly repudiate the efficacy of the
atonement, deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, scoff
at the Virgin Birth and much more, no bishop has publicly stepped
forward and said that Jesus himself was a sinner.

The bishop's statement goes against Holy Scripture and 2,000 years of
church teaching.

The writer to the Hebrews states categorically that "Jesus knew no sin,
neither was any deceit found in his mouth."

The bishop has gone on record as saying that the Church wrote the Bible
and can therefore re-write it, which he obviously is applying in his
latest theological inventions.

There are no fixed points of belief in Bennison's thinking. Everything
is up for theological grabs. If Jesus didn't bodily rise from the dead
then "your faith is in vain" said the Apostle Paul. Not so says
Bennison, you can believe in the 'spirit of Jesus' without believing in
bodies rising from the dead. He may want to choose chocolate bunnies
and Cadbury morsels, but the judgement palate finds them lacking.

Bennison has even offended some of his liberal clergy. A sharply worded
three-page letter from 20 priests in the Merion Deanery of the Diocese
of Pennsylvania accused the bishop of lacking "tolerance" and
"diversity" towards orthodox parishes, of having a non-pastoral
approach to church growth, "pushing boundaries" on sexuality issues to
the media and threatening the "glue" of the diocese by closing down
time honored committees for business consultants.

Bennison tried to ram a "sin of heterosexism" resolution through the
House of Bishops. It failed, but he has said he is ready to marry two
homosexuals in the cathedral.

He promised to allow the continuing promise of flying bishops for
Anglo-Catholic parishes in his diocese before becoming bishop, then
reneged on that promise.

"Bennison's statement goes against everything the Christian Church has
taught," said the retired Bishop of South Carolina Dr. C. FitzSimons
Allison, the brainiest bishop in the House of Bishops.

Quoting scripture, Allison said that, 'He who knew no sin, became sin
for us in order that we might become the righteousness of God.'
"Bennison's statement contradicts Holy Scripture, the 39 Articles,
denies the creedal affirmation, violates his oath of office as bishop
and his baptism vows, his confirmation and ordination on the basis of
no biblical evidence. His sole authority is his own solipsism."

"If the HOB believes in the historical faith and their consecration
vows, he [Bennison] should be censured, tried and deposed," said

Father David L. Moyer, the rector of The Church of the Good
, remarked, "Here we go again with an outrageous statement from
Charles Bennison that attacks the Christian Faith, and misleads people
who look to a bishop as a sound teacher and spiritual guide.

"This happens periodically, but is consistent with what he has stated
previously in other areas of theology - heresy and apostasy. If the
assertion that Jesus was a forgiven sinner is not heresy, then what is
it? Another point of sadness for me and alarm for the Church."

"What Charles Bennison has stated only confirms the stance that I have
taken against him as a false teacher; and I would hope that others will
finally realize that they cannot sit idle when the essence of who Jesus
was and is for us as Redeemer is being denied. Stand up, stand up for

Is it "The challenge of Easter" or, is it a challenge to otherwise good
people who yet remain in the Episcopal Church to wake up and stop
enabling ECUSA to continue its false teaching? asks Dr. Vince
Eareckson, an orthodox ECUSA theologian based in Philadelphia.

"I ask in disbelief where that is in Mark 2? Where does Jesus
acknowledge his own sin? Where does he know himself forgiven? This is
utter concoction, [it is] nowhere in the text of Mark 2."

"This 'teaching' of Bishop Charles that Jesus acknowledges his own sin
and knows himself forgiven is contradicted everywhere by the New
Testament witness, a witness to the sinLESSness of Jesus."

Dr. Eareckson, who has an earned Ph.D. from Princeton Theological
Seminary and is a lay ecumenical lay theological educator, cites three
biblical examples:

"First, on Jesus' own lips in the Fourth Gospel, Jesus says to his
opponents among the Jewish leaders: 'I tell the truth, and that is why
you do not believe me. Which of you can prove that I am guilty of sin?
If I tell the truth, then why do you not believe me?'
[John 8:45-46 TEV]. He in effect dares them to demonstrate that he
sins. He can do so because as he says of himself earlier: 'He who sent
me is with me; he has not left me alone, because I always do what
pleases him.' [John 8:29 TEV]

"Second, the witness of the Apostle Paul: 'Christ was without sin, but
for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him
we might share the righteousness of God.' [II Cor. 5:21 TEV]

"Third, the witness of the author of Hebrews: 'We have a High Priest
who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.' [Hebrews
4:15 TEV]

"This is the faith and teaching of the New Testament but not of
Charles Bennison, publicly and intentionally so," said Eareckson.

"The great New Testament scholar Joachim Jeremias called 'The Central
Message of the New Testament' i.e. the work of Jesus as the Son of God
and Son of man doing for us what we could not do for ourselves,
bringing us by his own unique Sacrifice back to God. It is this
message that Bishop Charles does not believe. He has to concoct
another Jesus [cf. II Corinthians 11:4 on that!], a sinful Jesus, cut
out of whole cloth fabricated by Charles Bennison himself. And anyone
wonders why we call him a "false teacher"?

Earlier this year, British theologian, the Rev. Canon Dr. Michael
Green, author and evangelist told delegates to the U.S. Anglican
Congress that Canadian Bishop Michael Ingham and ECUSA Bishop Charles
Bennison are so apostate that their Sees should be declared "vacant."

Green, who teaches at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford told more than 300 bishops,
priests and laity that Spong went unrebuked for his consistent denial
of every single Christian doctrine and Bennison and Ingham are simply
tarred with the same brush.

"These bishops have caused nothing but pain and a massive draining away
of godly people. They have caused schism and despair and their Sees
should now be declared vacant," said Green.

"Athanasius spent much of his episcopacy in exile. The Church Father
did it on several occasions. He would declare that the Sees of
Pennsylvania and New Westminster were vacant and believing candidates
are now needed."

"There is no overarching magisterium, no mutual recognition of
ministries and no accountability. The result of this is heresy and
tyranny can go unchecked or move into the secular courts.

Dr. Christopher R. Seitz, an Episcopal Theologian and professor of Old
Testament at St. Mary's College, University of St. Andrews in Scotland,
commenting on Bennison's repudiation of the sinlessness of Jesus said,
"No one in the Christian tradition claimed Jesus sinned, of course, and
even folk like Kazantzakis only entertained the notion to show, in some
measure, how ineffective would be such a Christ."

"I suspect he is just very confused on this and a very wide range of
issues. How men like this become actual apostolic figures boggles the
mind. This is what comes of such poor theological education in the

Professor William J. Tighe a College historian, says that what Bennison
is reported as saying outstrips anything that any of the "great
heretical Anglican bishops" of the last century have ever, to my
knowledge, said or written. Neither Bishop Ernest William Barnes,
Bishop of Birmingham (England) from September 1924 until his death on
29 November 1953. Barnes (d. 1950) of Birmingham (England), the author
of Should Such a Faith Offend?, nor Bishop Pike (d. 1968) of ECUSA nor
Bishop J.A.T. Robinson (d. 1983) of Woolwich (England), even in his
most revisionist work of Christology, The Human Face of God, nor
(probably) even Bishop Spong ever claimed that Jesus was a sinner, and
in need for forgiveness.

What Bishop Bennison has done is to align himself directly with the
Jewish enemies of the early generations of Christians, who in one of
the Talmud tractates declared Yeshu' to have been a sinner worthy of
death "because he sought to lead Israel astray", but at least these
people, unlike the bishop, did not claim to be followers of this

Charles Bennison may not be beyond repentance but he had better be
saving up to buy a Hubbell telescope so he can see his way back to the
cross, so far has this pathetic figure strayed.

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Sunday, March 30, 2003

3-bar Russian cross: Click here to learn its symbolism
Крестопоклонная Неделя  
[Encoding: Cyrillic (Windows)]
Кресту Твоему покланяемся, Владыко, и святое воскресение Твое славим.

Happy Lætare Sunday, traditional Roman Catholics: ‘Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and come together, all ye that love her.’

Did the President spike the investigation of bin Laden?

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Book pick
The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana
by Peter Hitchens

He's also against the war in Iraq.

Fr Lev (Gillet)
A curious entry yesterday:

March 29, 1980: Father Lev (Gillet), the 'Monk of the Eastern Church', died. Fr Lev tried to live the profound union of the eastern and western Church, and this made him somewhat enigmatic. Without renouncing his Catholicism, Gillet choose to become Orthodox. This made him somewhat enigmatic. His books breathe a depth of spirituality and authenticity. Some of these were published by a Catholic publishing house and written by him as the anonymous 'A Monk of the Eastern Church'.

Friday, March 28, 2003

In the gutter in Russia
WARNING: this is brutal, hardcore, stuff, definitely rated NC-17. I was on this American-made site from Russia and happened to see the link.

I don't know who/what to hate more: Mark Ames and tourists like him, the мамочки, pimps and others running the Russian sex trade or the conditions in Russia that cause this.

But it reminds me of something I wrote here another day, learnt from Mark Bonocore: that in Catholic and Orthodox societies you have extremes, incredible holiness and incredible evil, in the same society, while Protestant cultures flatten this out into mediocrity.

Из церковного календаря: По словам И. Шмелева, утвердит, что рядом с "окаянною Русью" (даже в одной душе), всегда стояла и Русь молитвенно домогавшаяся ко Господу и достигавшая его лицезрения ... Россия жила, росла и цвела, потому что Святая Русь вела несвятую Русь, обузывала и учила окаянную Русь, воспитывала в людях те качества и доблести, которые были необходимы для создания великой России. "Научись, Россия, веровать в Правящего судьбами мира Бога Вседержителя и учись у твоих святых предков вере, мудрости и мужеству!" - Св. Иоанн Кронштадтский

(In the words of I. Shmelyov, it confirms that along with 'damned Russia' - and even in the same soul - there always stood a Russia that sought the Lord in prayer and attained the vision of His countenance ... Russia lived, grew and flourished because Holy Russia carried unholy Russia along with it, restrained and taught damned Russia, nurtured in the people valour and those qualities essential for the formation of a great Russia. 'O Russia! Learn to believe in Almighty God, who governs the fate of the world, and from your holy ancestors learn faith, wisdom and courage!' - St John of Kronstadt)

From Russian Catholic friend
His comment on these stories: It is a lot easier to start a war than to end one. Please connect the dots, and pray. Kyrie, eleison.

CNN: Red China readies for future US fight
by Willy Wo-Lap Lam

US-Cuba tension mounts

Russia vs. US
MOSCOW (AP) - Reflecting a new chill between Moscow and Washington,
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov accused the United States on Wednesday
of trying to destroy Iraq and waging what he dubbed an information war
against Russia.

Ivanov also supported the proposal of some legislators to put off
ratification of a pivotal U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control treaty, saying
the war in Iraq could fuel unfair criticism of the pact.

``Maybe now is not the right moment psychologically to bring this document up
for ratification,'' Ivanov said. ``If we wait for some time, and concentrate
all our efforts on ending the war ... then at a more quiet moment we can
quickly deal with this issue.''

The treaty, signed in May by Russian President Vladimir Putin and President
Bush, calls on both nations to cut their strategic nuclear arsenals by about
two-thirds, to 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads, by 2012.

The Senate unanimously approved the treaty earlier this month in what was
seen as a diplomatic move to win Russian support for war in Iraq. But Moscow
has only hardened its stance.

In one of his strongest anti-war statements to date, Ivanov accused
Washington of hypocrisy and said its strikes were endangering the wider

``What democracy are they talking about when they are trying to completely
destroy the country?'' Ivanov said.

``If such massive bombardment continues, a humanitarian, economic and
environmental catastrophe will become inevitable in the near future, not only
in Iraq but in the whole region.''

Ivanov dismissed U.S. allegations that Russian companies provided Iraq with
anti-tank guided missiles, satellite jamming devices and night-vision goggles
in violation of U.N. sanctions.

``We are seriously concerned by the attempts of certain circles in the United
States to drag Russia into an information war over Iraq by making unfounded
accusations,'' Ivanov said. The two companies that have been implicated in
the transaction, Aviakonversiya and KBP Tula, have denied any role.

A senior U.S. diplomat countered that the United States has ``very hard
information'' contradicting Moscow's denials. Speaking on condition of
anonymity, the diplomat said that at least Aviakonversiya had dealt directly
with Baghdad and that it had employees tending to the equipment in Iraq.

The diplomat said it was unclear whether, after repeated U.S. demands to
investigate the alleged transfer of military equipment, Russian officials
``just didn't look hard enough or whether there were efforts to conceal
things.'' Washington is demanding that Russia punish the companies involved.

Despite his fierce criticism of the war, Ivanov emphasized that Moscow wants
to preserve good relations with Washington. ``We consider it inadmissible to
slide back into confrontation,'' he said.

The U.S. diplomat said neither side was ``mincing words'' over their
disagreement over Iraq, but speculated that at least some of the angry
rhetoric from Russian officials was ``tending to the home front.''

A poll conducted earlier this week showed a dramatic rise of anti-American
sentiments in Russia with 55 percent of respondents saying they view the
United States negatively, compared to 15 percent last summer.

Only 5 percent of 1,600 respondents in a nationwide poll completed earlier
this week by the respected All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center said
they sympathize with the United States in the war. Some 45 percent said they
side with Iraq, 46 percent said they supported neither side, and the rest
were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of 3.4 percent.

03/26/03 13:27 EST

[Me: Бог хранит Россию.]

Gorbachev: US-Iraq war a mistake
The stopped-clock paradigm in action.

Diplomatic implications of new, bogus ‘preventive war’ doctrine

North Korea Cuts Off UN Command Contact

PANMUNJOM, Korea (AP) - Claiming the United States may attack, North Korea on
Wednesday cut off the only regular military contact with the U.S.-led U.N.
Command that monitors the Korean War armistice.

The move will further isolate the communist North amid tensions over its
suspected nuclear weapons programs.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on Wednesday dismissed as ``groundless''
allegations by the North that American forces may attack.

``There will be no war on the Korean Peninsula as long as we do not want a
war,'' Roh was quoted as saying by his office, adding that Washington has
repeatedly pledged to resolve the crisis peacefully

Meanwhile, U.N. envoy Maurice Strong said that North Korean officials told
him in meetings in Pyongyang last week that they ``reserved the right'' to
reprocess their spent fuel rods that experts say could yield enough plutonium
for several atomic bombs within months. Such a move would spike tension even

North's Korea People's Army sent a telephone message to the U.N. Command
saying it will no longer send its delegates to the liaison-officers' meeting
at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom.

``It is meaningless to sit together with the U.S. forces side to discuss any
issue as long as it remains arrogant,'' the North's official news agency KCNA
quoted the North Korean message as saying.

North Korea claimed again Tuesday the United States may attack the communist
state after the war in Iraq and spark a ``second Iraqi crisis.'' It pledged
to beef up its defenses.

The U.N. Command, which has monitored the armistice since the end of the
1950-53 war, had no immediate comment. Without a peace treaty, the Korean
Peninsula is still technically at a state of war.

U.S. officials representing the U.N. Command have met North Korean officers
at Panmunjom almost weekly since the end of the war.

In Japan, space agency officials were preparing to launch their first spy
satellites into orbit on Friday. North Korea has condemned the move,
prompting fears it may retaliate and test-fire a long-range missile.

Meanwhile, North Korean lawmakers convened the country's rubber-stamp
parliament. The 687-member Supreme People's Assembly usually meets once or
twice a year to approve a new budget and discuss policies for the year ahead.

North Korea's Central Radio reported that the parliamentary session opened
with deputies paying tribute to the statues of leader Kim Jong Il and his
father, late President Kim Il Sung, vowing to remain loyal to the
totalitarian regime.

North Korea accuses Washington of inciting a dispute over its alleged
programs to develop nuclear weapons to create an excuse for invasion.
President Bush has branded the North part of an ``axis of evil'' with Iraq
and Iran.

Washington says it seeks a diplomatic solution to the crisis - but Bush has
said that if diplomacy fails a military solution may be considered.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan left Wednesday for Washington
to discuss North Korea with Secretary of State Colin Powell and other U.S.

During his four-day visit, Yoon also hopes to arrange a summit in the United
States between presidents Roh and Bush, which he said would take place in
late April at the earliest.

With the United States focused on Iraq, experts fear North Korea might use
the opportunity to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to make atomic bombs.

The standoff flared in October when U.S. officials said Pyongyang admitted
having a secret nuclear program in violation of a 1994 pact.

Washington and its allies suspended oil shipments, promised under that
agreement, and Pyongyang retaliated by withdrawing from the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty and taking steps to reactivate a nuclear facility
capable of producing several bombs within months.

03/26/03 04:26 EST

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Today the Julian-calendar Eastern Orthodox remember St Benedict of Nursia, the Italian father of Western Catholic monasticism.

From Samer al-Batal
Neocon-speak: a glossary

Jubilation turns to hate as aid arrives
Bush’s empire-building doesn’t play in Zubayr

Le spam

Je suis ELODIE, modératrice du site

Je vous contacte pour vous faire part d'une formidable nouvelle qui va peut-être changer votre vie...

Not surprising really as I hear the digital equivalent of French postcards has been online for some time now.

A beautiful conservative Lutheran church
Conservative Lutherans are not only strong Christians, but ironically they outclass and liturgically outcatholic US Roman Catholics these days.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Patriarch of Moscow is against this war
Early in today's morning, the British-American coalition has launched missile and bombing strikes against Iraqi cities. This happened in defiance to the opinion of the UN Security Council, the majority of the world community members and religious leaders who had opposed a military solution of the problems around Iraq.

The Russian Orthodox Church has exerted herself to establish dialogue with the Iraqi leaders.

It was immediately before the operation that our delegation together with Russia's Muslims visited Baghdad with a peace mission. This visit testified to the solidarity of the Russian faithful with the Iraqi people and showed that the use of force is not to be explained by the confrontation between Christianity and Islam and that this conflict has no religious roots. However, our efforts have proved vain. The military machine has been started up.

The operation has already caused first human victims in Iraq. If the operation continues, they will inevitably grow in number.

Civilians, both Muslims and Christians, will die not only of bombs, but also of deprivations that always accompany military actions.

It is foreseeable that cultural monuments and shrines associated with the biblical history will be damaged. The hearts of the Russian Orthodox faithful are filled with sympathy for the suffering Iraqi nation: children, women, old, sick and infirm people.

On this tragic day, our Church urges the countries neighboring to Iraq: Not refuse aid to refugees, give asylum to victims and comfort them with your sincere affection.

The Russian Orthodox Church once again calls upon the governments of the anti-Iraq coalition member-states: Stop bloodshed! Make your best to prevent military actions form expanding. Resume peace negotiations. Spare thousands of innocent people. I call everyone, who is capable to contribute to the cessation of war, to make his best to put an end to it as soon as possible.

I offer up my prayers to God that He may establish peace in the Middle East. May the Lord grant us wisdom for settling the situation in Iraq and around this country.
March 20, 2003

Missiles kill 14 Iraqi civilians, injure 30 in Baghdad
Господи, помилуй и прости.
Chechnya chooses to remain part of Russia

Military archbishop: Troops can carry out duties in good conscience
By Patricia Zapor
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services said in a March 25 letter to his priests that members of the armed forces should carry out their duties in good conscience because they can presume the integrity of the leaders who decided to go to war in Iraq.

"Given the complexity of factors involved, many of which understandably remain confidential, it is altogether appropriate for members of our armed forces to presume the integrity of our leadership and its judgments, and therefore to carry out their military duties in good conscience," Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien said in the letter.

Bishop John Michael Botean of the Romanian Diocese of St. George in Canton, Ohio, in a March 7 Lenten message told the people of his Eastern-rite diocese that "any direct participation and support of this war against the people of Iraq is objectively grave evil, a matter of mortal sin."

Although Archbishop O'Brien's letter did not directly refer to Bishop Botean's message, he told Catholic News Service that it was meant, in part, as a response to questions he has received about Bishop Botean's letter. He said he had only seen excerpts of the Ohio bishop's message.

In the letter the archbishop said the moral justification for the invasion of Iraq likely will be debated long after the hostilities cease.

"It is to be hoped that all factors which have led to our intervention will eventually be made public and that the full picture of the Iraqi regime's weaponry and brutality will shed helpful light upon our president's decision," he wrote.

His letter went on to praise the commitment and values of those in the military and their families and to thank Catholic chaplains, priests at home and those on deployment for their work. He also asked for special attention from priests serving at Veterans Affairs medical centers to those who still bear physical or psychological pain from their experiences of war.

Archbishop O'Brien told CNS he had heard from maybe half a dozen people who were concerned about Bishop Botean's message. He said, though he did not want to interfere with what Bishop Botean feels he needs to do, "my question is, does he have all the information he needs to make such a conclusion? I don't know if anybody does."

The three-page letter from the head of the Romanian diocese discussed the church's just-war theory, and the sections of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" that address the conditions for military force and the role of conscience when it comes to following "unjust laws or ... measures contrary to the moral order."

"Beyond a reasonable doubt this war is morally incompatible with the person and way of Jesus Christ," Bishop Botean wrote. "With moral certainty I say to you it does not meet even the minimal standards of the Catholic just-war theory.

"Thus, any killing associated with it is unjustified and, in consequence, unequivocally murder," he continued. "Direct participation in this war is the moral equivalent of direct participation in an abortion. For the Catholics in the Eparchy (Diocese) of St. George, I hereby authoritatively state that such direct participation is intrinsically and gravely evil and therefore absolutely forbidden."

Archbishop O'Brien told CNS that Catholics in Bishop Botean's diocese who are in the military also fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. military archdiocese, where Bishop Botean's declaration forbidding direct participation in the war does not take precedence.

"Certainly anyone in the uniform of our country has the right to weigh both perspectives," he said.

Bishop Botean's message "is putting a very heavy conscience burden on his people," Archbishop O'Brien said, adding that he "would hesitate" before putting such a burden on people about "such a serious matter."

In a March 25 phone call, Bishop Botean told CNS that he has received quite a lot of feedback on his message "and most of it is running quite positive." He declined to elaborate further on the effect of his message or his reasons for writing it, except to note that it was intended just for the people of his diocese.

Before he became a bishop, Bishop Botean served for a time as a staff member of Pax Christi USA's Center on Conscience and War in Cambridge, Mass.

Archbishop O'Brien's letter also asked his priests to focus all their efforts and prayers through Christ in the daily celebration of the Eucharist.

"Is not the most frequent request from our people that we pray for them?" he asked. "There is no prayer more effective, when offered daily and with due reverence on behalf of our people, than the one we pray at the altar."

He thanked the many Catholic congregations that have initiated hours of eucharistic adoration for the cause of peace, for the troops in danger and for the cause of vocations.

[Me: Regarding the part emphasized above, horse hockey, Your Grace. Oh, and in the Orthodox tradition that he, a Byzantine Catholic, follows, it's Bishop John-Michael, not Bishop Botean.]

Blog news
On average A conservative blog for peace far outperforms A conservative site for peace, getting at least 50 hits a day, and last Wednesday it became the first of my pages to get 100+ hits in a day. Many thanks!

Also, now you can post comments to the entries here by clicking SHOUT OUT below the entry.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ
Happy ‘Lady Day’, Roman Riters and new-calendar Eastern Orthodox.

Today, Julian-calendar Orthodox remember St Gregory the Dialogist, Pope of Rome, who is credited with the origins of the Byzantine Rite Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts used during this season of Great Lent.

Book pick
An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African-American Experience
While most black Americans are descended from West Africans, not related to the Oriental Orthodox Churches' members in Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea, this book is a great idea.

News of the weird?
I understand that a niece of Osama bin Laden lives in London and is trying to get a recording contract to become a pop idol. It’s said that she sings like Natalie Imbruglia (the Aussie gal from ‘Neighbours’). BTW, FYI, the rest of the family spell the surname Binladen and have nothing to do with Osama. Originally from Yemen (where Osama was born), they became rich living in Saudi Arabia, I think in the construction business.

If he’s still alive, why hasn’t he released some audio or video statement about the war? Either he’s keeping a low profile or al-Qaeda are playing ‘Weekend at Osama’s’.

At the opposite pole of Mr bin Laden, Aussie pop sweetheart of the ’60s Judith Durham now has an official website. Hey, there, Georgy girl.

Catholic and Anglican primates of England join in prayer and in condemnation of war
From The Guardian

My friends at the York Forum have described A conservative blog for peace’s stance as ‘classical Liberal’ - not to be confused with liberalism today. Thank you!

Michael Moore at the Oscars
I didn’t watch the Academy Awards so I heard about this after it happened, which is why it hasn’t turned up here until now.

I’ve seen and liked Roger and Me, Pets or Meat and The Big One. And while I don’t agree with Moore’s sophomoric remarks rejecting the Catholic moral teachings of his childhood, I agree with this:

‘We live in a time where we have a man who’s sending us to war for fictitious reasons, whether it’s the fiction of duct tape or the fiction of orange alerts. We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush. Shame on you.’

Sorry to dent your hip self-image, Mr Moore, but the Pope agrees with you.

The warmongers have been getting a lot of mileage out of this story. A conservative blog for peace and others opposing this war on Christian and libertarian grounds never have claimed stupidly that Saddam Hussein is a great guy. It’s still not America’s or Britain’s war.

Medieval English church building now Greek Orthodox
A little church with a big name, Holy Fathers of the First Oecumenical Council Greek Orthodox Church is housed in the former St John’s parish church in Sutton, a building more than 1,000 years old. Interesting fact cited on the site: it claims Eastern Orthodoxy is the only episcopal church in Britain that is growing. Claiming Britain was Orthodox pre-1054 seems dishonest, though - there was no split in the church but the West was known as Catholic even back then and the church of the eastern Roman Empire, culturally Greek, Orthodox. Britain never was in that part of the empire. But because Catholics and Orthodox were in communion then, a Greek monk, Theodore, became archbishop of Canterbury.

The pseudoconservative National Review: CIA front
And a little about Robert Taft, the man who deserved to be President

Obedience to orders
VMI vs. the federal military academies: the best vs. the worst of our military, plus a voice against the federal OK to torture POWs

Fact of the day
Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society, wrote an editorial opposing the Vietnam War.

Monday, March 24, 2003

James Landrith: taking the gloves off

An Iraqi blog

Beard lore
I grew mine initially, in my early 20s, to look older because I was skinny and had a baby face. Plus, both the very old-fashioned and distinguished-looking men I'd seen in Victorian photos and my hip celebrity heroes as a kid born in the ’60s, such as the Beatles, grew them as a statement of maturity and masculinity. So as soon as I could, I grew one and had have it ever since, shaping it and trimming it but keeping it full, resisting the temptation to goatee it and thus look like every other middle-aged man who's just latched onto 'that hip look the kids are into' (from Plus now with my involvement in the church I need the beard to really look and feel the part!

(My trying to grow ’70s-fashionable long hair was far less successful as my hair goes Jiffy-Pop instead of growing long.)

Bearded laymen seem to be a very convert thing among Russian Orthodox. Not that I'm complaining or criticizing - just an observation. Russians since Peter the Great have followed Western fashion on the matter.

More beard lore: St Tikhon from Russia, when he was Orthodox bishop of America circa 1900, gave priests permission to trim their beards.

Catholic priests and seminarians in old tin-type photos look remarkably contemporary because they were clean-shaven. In Anglican churchmanship, only the low-church Protestants copied the facial-hair styles of the day. Anglo-Catholic priests were clean-cut and clean-shaven.

Wild weekend: The aftermath (joke - don’t send me hate e-mail, PETA)

Zzzzzzzz... From Bob Wallace at

I’ll take Bob’s word for it that this cat fully recovered.

Songs heard live that I’d like on CD (obscure)
- October Project, 'See With Different Eyes' done as a bossa nova and sung by MaryAnne Marino - a musical moment lost forever
- Marina Belica with Julia Macklin on guitar covering George Harrison's 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' - uncannily a lot like George's own acoustic version on Anthology (yes, it's a coincidence!)

Did you know? ... bossa nova in Portuguese means 'new wave', which in English refers to a very different genre!

East-West reunion from a Catholic POV
by Dom Prosper Guéranger
Russia becoming Catholic would mean an end to Islamism, and the definitive triumph of the Cross upon the Bosphorus, without any danger to Europe; the Christian empire in the East restored with a glory and a power hitherto unknown; Asia evangelized, not by a few poor isolated priests, but with the help of an authority greater than that of Charlemagne; and lastly, the Slavonic race brought into unity of faith and aspirations, for its own greater glory. This transformation will be the greatest event of the century that shall see its accomplishment; it will change the face of the world.

Is there any foundation for such hopes? Come what may, St. Josaphat will always be the patron and model of future apostles of the Union in Russia and in the whole Græco-Slavonic world. By his birth, education, and studies, by the bent of his piety and all his habits of life, he resembled far more the Russian monks of the present day than the Latin prelates of his own time. [Me: Or of ours.] He always desired the ancient liturgy of his Church to be preserved entire and even to his last breath he carried it out lovingly, without the least alteration or diminution, just as the first apostles of the Christian faith had brought it from Constantinople to Kiev. May prejudices born of ignorance be obliterated; and then, despised though his name now is in Russia, St. Josaphat will no sooner be known than he will be loved and invoked by the Russians themselves.

Our Græco-Slavonian brethren cannot much longer turn a deaf ear to the invitations of the Sovereign Pontiff. Let us hope, then, that the day will come, and that before very long, when the wall of separation will crumble away for ever, and the same hymn of thanksgiving will echo at once under the dome of St. Peter's and the cupolas of Kiev and of St. Petersburg.
(From the Feeneyite website)

Sounds pretty outrageous to Russian Orthodox, and the unlatinized pristine Orthodox liturgy Guéranger attributes to Josaphat hasn't been the experience of Byzantine Catholics over 400 years - article. Other debating points: pre-Schism, Russia wasn't 'under Rome' the way the Byzantine Catholics are today, and nobody in Orthodoxy wants either the latinizations described in the linked article or the bogus 'renewal' of Vatican II.

A modern-day Becket
‘Will no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest?’
On the site today I read that on this day in 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero, the Catholic primate of El Salvador, was assassinated by soldiers, who may or may not have been following the ruler's wishes, in his cathedral while celebrating Mass because of his Christian opposition to the government's violations of human rights. He wasn't the religious dissenter the exploiters of his name today are. He not only parallelled St Thomas à Becket but also St Philip, the Russian Orthodox metropolitan of Moscow who was murdered in his prison cell for standing up to Ivan the Terrible for the same reasons.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

‘As’: Stevie Wonder song described on somebody else’s blog
What can I say? I like that song! Good album too.

Chaldean Catholic patriarchal HQ in Baghdad damaged
From the correspondent who sent me this news: Tonight, please remember the Chaldean and Assyrian Christians in your
prayers. Upon them rests the burden of bringing true comfort to their
Muslim neighbors that can only come through the saving Gospel of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ. May the Most Holy Mother of God spread her mantle of
protection over the people of Iraq.

Muslim US soldier accused of ‘fragging’ his own unit with grenades
To me, what doesn’t add up in this story is: it’s a volunteer Army (thank God), so if Sgt Akbar hates it so much, why did he join?

Maybe this is government propaganda spin, demonizing Muslims, to keep the masses supporting the war.

Cognitive dissonance
From the Net, written by a Byzantine Catholic

1. How could the Vatican II Council Fathers choose revolution/reformation for the Latin Church and restoration for the Eastern Churches in its Communion? This question is in regard to the Liturgy and ritual.

[Me: Been asking that question for many years - it is a big contradiction. I have never heard nor read a satisfactory answer. And for my trouble, amazingly I’ve had Byzantine Catholics online tell me to get lost - I was purged from the Ruthenians’ quasi-official message board in 2002. It seems the Catholic policy is to deny this contradiction exists.]

2. If the Council Fathers wanted the "updating" of the Church as a whole why have the Eastern Catholic Churches not seen the "aggiornamento" that has swept through the Latin Church? Since the Fathers saw that the traditional Roman Rite was in essence out of touch with modern man and its expressions antiquated, why have the Eastern Churches, whose Liturgical forms are even more esoteric and grandiose than the traditional Roman Rite, been encouraged to restore even further these traditions? Why the seeming discrepancy? Was this in essence the new triumphalism? Is not the underlying signal: We will make the Roman Rite new and dynamic and the Eastern Rites relics which adorn the since-sold triple tiara of the Pontiff? Has anyone else noticed this problem?

[Me: Yes. Not only me, either: check out Michael Davies, Pope Paul’s New Mass, and Thomas Day, Where Have You Gone, Michelangelo? Both Roman Catholics, they see the same contradiction we do. So does Fr Serge Keleher (in Eastern Churches Journal), a Russian Catholic who doesn’t go along with the denial being pushed in the ranks and is willing to point out that the emperor’s starkers, folks.]

3. And if Rome desires an "updating" for us as well, how could Eastern Churches update their liturgical forms to maintain the essence of an Eastern core without betraying its identity to either a Latin/Western liturgical paradigm and yet be made dynamic, relevant and modern?

[Me: Impossible. Copying aggiornamento BS would be a BIG mistake.]

4. And if, on our side, this updating is not intended, what can that possibly mean for the future of our Communion with the Latin Church? Was the aggiornamento of the Latin Church the work of conciliar genius which will only lead to its steady growth or was it the most perilous action in Church History only to possibly lead to grave errors and schisms/apostasies?

[Me: The latter, and, to use a phrase that was hip pre-Sept. 11, that’s my final answer.]

Are the Eastern Churches the salvation of the Latin Church while she plays with holy things or will we be relegated to the history books or reduced to nothingness because we did not as Episcopal retired bishop John Shelby Spong said, "Change or Die"??

[Me: I hope the former. A very holy Catholic man, on the margins of mainstream society by his choice, once told me so, referring specifically to the Byzantine Rite - very prophetic-sounding. The last priest celebrating the last Mass in a shattering universe as Christ comes again may well be using the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. As for Spong, that just isn’t so. As I wrote earlier, dissent is the ’60s generation’s game. Religious kids aren’t playing that. It’s Spong and his generation that changed and are dying off.]

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Fact of the day
The Japanese ‘Self-Defense Force’ navy is larger than the Royal Navy in vessel numbers and tonnage.

Imperialist Rhetoric: This Is to Help You
by Lawrence James, The Independent

LONDON, 21 March 2003 — The rhetoric of imperialism is back: Its reality may soon follow. “To stop is dangerous; to recede ruin”; President Bush justifying war against Iraq? No; an Indian proconsul in 1805 defending the East India Company’s policy of pre-emptive hammerblows against any native ruler who showed signs of intransigence. “Britain has always been the one friend of the oppressed. It has been our policy for generations, and we are known the world over as a race who love freedom and hate the oppressor.” British Prime Minister Tony Blair outlining his vision of liberated Iraq? No, a fictional officer in Somaliland 100 years ago, explaining the humanitarian mission of empire in a novel for schoolboys.

Each statement suggests parallels between past and present and the contradictions of imperialism. Can the miseries of war be outweighed by the blessings of peace delivered by a benevolent victor?

Like the modern United States, the East India Company was preoccupied with prestige. Its crab-like progress across the Indian Subcontinent was marked by wars which demonstrated that its modern, well-trained armies were invincible. But the margin of technological advantage was thin, and native princes did all in their power to narrow it further. In the 1790s Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore, decided on the path that would be followed by Saddam Hussein. He imported French muskets and artillery and European officers to train his men. Not quite weapons of mass destruction, but frightening enough at the time. They scared the company and the government in London, then at war with revolutionary France.

The upshot was an ultimatum: Disarm or be overrun. Mysore was invaded and Tipu killed at Seringapatam in 1799. The same formula was applied in the next 50 years against the Maratha states, Nepal and the Sikhs, who obligingly invaded the company’s territories, removing the need for an ultimatum. The principle was one that is understood in the White House: A dominant power’s authority rests on a monopoly of modern weaponry and the will to use it ruthlessly.
When the security of British India was imperiled, its rulers used force to neutralize the threat. Ironically this tactic was once applied against the United States. During the 1837 rebellion in Canada, a number of Americans collected arms for the insurgents and hired a vessel to carry them across the St Lawrence. Alerted, the British sent a small force across the river, landed at Buffalo, seized the ship, set it on fire and sent it downstream and over the Niagara Falls. Although its sovereignty had been violated, the US government conceded that this coup de main was legal on the grounds that Canada’s security was endangered.

This established a precedent in international law. More commonly, imperial powers turned to the pre-emptive strike as an instrument for enhancing prestige, maintaining a favorable balance of power, and to unnerve potential challengers. When the Zulu king Cetewayo began buying repeating rifles for his impis, a British Army invaded Zululand in 1879. The Zulu defeat at Ulundi by massive firepower was a warning to the region that Britain had the weapons to induce cooperation or submission. The same message was conveyed by the Allies in the first Gulf War.

While the redcoats trudged through Zululand, the press was demonizing Cetewayo. He was a warlike tyrant, master of a formidable killing machine, who ruled through fear and witchcraft. This was comforting news for the public, for whom the empire now represented the extension of peace and civilization. Sharp, unequal tropical wars were presented as a prelude to a golden age of impartial, honest government under which Queen Victoria’s new subjects would enjoy personal security and opportunities for moral and physical betterment.

[Me: The American Empire is the British Empire, Mk. II - the baton was passed to the cousins across the Atlantic during World War I. An article I read on my favorite political site compared Britain today politically to a mouse who's climbed onto the American eagle, vicariously still enjoying empire. It is all very like the Greeks in the Roman Empire.]
Iraq consecrated to Our Lady
From The Remnant

Though this already has happened, A conservative blog for peace joins in this with this prayer (Roman Catholics know it as Sub tuum præsidium or ‘We fly to thy patronage’, one of the oldest known Marian prayers):

Encoding: Cyrillic (Windows)

Под твою милость прибегаем, Богородице Дево. Молении наших не презри в скорбех но от бед избави нас, едина чистая и благословенная.

+ Пресвятая Богородице, спаси нас. (3x)
Ukrainian Catholic Church says it doesn’t intend to ‘conquer’ eastern Ukraine
But the highly symbolic move of its HQ to Kiev, the cradle of Russian Christianity, seems to be a claim on the whole country. I can understand this given the Catholic Church’s teaching that it is the true church, but it still seems to go against its stated goal of corporate reunion, not competition, with the Orthodox.

October Project concert, March 21
Translation of the second part (I can’t use Cyrillic on that board, so I defaulted to Slovak-style script and spelling, just like like I learnt from my very first Byzantine Rite prayer book): during the show there was a thunderstorm outside, a sort of natural, relatively safe pyrotechnics, as if somebody above enjoyed the music and wanted to join in. Check out OP’s new, improved website, updated only yesterday, with wonderful photos and a column by my friend Alan Roos.

Here is Gregory Douglass’ site.

It seems the war, like Gulf War I, will be short with relatively little loss of life, which of course is a good thing. (For example, only a couple dozen Americans and British have died since it began.) But it is still very bad precedent for the US.

Friday, March 21, 2003

More giveaways of vagantes
by 'a Counter-Reformed Roman Catholic'
The main characteristic of the episcopus vagans (pl. episcopi vagantes) is rootlessness. They preside over minuscule communities that are highly unstable, and the bishops themselves tend not to stay put.

Here are what I consider to be the distinguishing characteristics of the episcopi vagantes movement:

-Very small communities, often consisting of the bishop himself, maybe some family members, a "seminarian" or two, and a post office box.

-Churches having more clergy than laity, too many bishops for the size of the community, and inflated titles.

-Promiscuous conferrals of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

-Frequent "exchanges" of Orders when bishops meet.

-A lack of theological focus and expertise.

-Very loose and unstable ecclesiastical structures.

-Apostolic succession can traced back to Joseph Rene Vilatte, Arnold Harris Mathew, Jules Ferrette, or a pair of excomunicated RC bishops from South America.

-A tendency to appeal to alienated RCs and Anglicans.
‘Lucky Leprechaun’s Lane’
I didn't have to look at the URL to suss that this site is not from Ireland. Why animated GIFs have the reputation they have today.

Happy equinox
Send me light, send me dreaming, send me the changing of the seasons
- Julia Macklin

The relevance of our religion - evangelical Protestant commentary
Foreword from Catholic priest: I think this is very thought-provoking. It is from a Q&A column in an
evangelical publication, but I think it is easily translatable to our
churches. It would be interesting to pass this out to a number of progressive
parish staffs and renewal ministries and see what the reaction would be.


I am frustrated with the traditional service at my church. It is filled with
people in their 50s and 60s and the service is dead and there is little
response. When I go from that service to our more contemporary service it is
like leaving a funeral home and entering an electric atmosphere. I've come to
dread the traditional service and increasingly see it as mere practice for
the "real" worshippers in the contemporary service. We've tried everything
from a worship band to a motivating song leader to get some life into that
funeral but we've failed. Any ideas?


You've got the right word: "funeral." Yep, that's the right word. If you want
to understand this age group, start with the word "funeral."

I'll address "funeral" later, but first let me point out that few people
really try to understand people in their 50s and 60s. Go look in your local
Christian bookstore or Christian college library and count the books on
youth, or generation X, or the millennial generation, or the emerging post
modern generation. You'll lose count. Then go searching for books to help
you understand and adapt ministry to people in their 50s and 60s and you'll
be able to count them on one hand--two at the most if you're in a great
Christian library. But even if they are there--nobody buys them or signs them
out. Face it, we are keen to discover the interests and preferences of the
emerging generations but have little interest in people over 50, even though
they comprise a significant component/majority of many congregations.

Well that's not completely true. The church is interested in this
generation's money. This is the generation expected to pick up the tab, or at
least lots of the tab. However the church is not interested in their
preferences or needs. They are overlooked except when it comes to paying the
bill. When people in their 50s and 60s express a preference they are often
told "this service is not for you--it is for others--don't be selfish."
Emerging generations are not told this, of course. Many older Christians are
taking this message seriously and have quit coming so regularly--in fact most
statistics show this is the most sporadically attending group in the church.
Why not? They've heard the message: "it isn't for you--pay the bill and be

They've seen lots of death and destruction. Perhaps these folk in your
contemporary service act like they are in a funeral because they are! Even
the externally cheerful ones carry a deep sense of grief. They are not new
gung-ho recruits fresh from boot camp--they've seen plenty of warfare and
plenty of dead bodies littering the battlefield of life. They grieve--so
perhaps your traditional service is mournful because they are grieving.
They've been through some of life's tough battles. They gotten wounded.
They've seen their compatriots fall. They know all about divorce--perhaps their
own or maybe their children's. It pains them. They know about fallen leaders
too--most have seen several "Great-men-of-vision" who captivated them with
preaching and personality yet they discovered later that all the time they
were leading these 'great leaders' were committing adultery or lying to the
congregation. They have been burned several times like this so they aren't
too quick to join the cheerleading staff for the next captivating
preacher-personality arriving on the scene.

They've done their share of giving. They've been through several "Not equal
giving but equal sacrifice" capital campaigns and they anted up their
sacrificial gifts to the church--gifts the present pastor knows nothing about
nor recognizes as anything but "that was your duty." Many feel their giving
was taken for granted or even wasted by their church through frivolous
decisions or indecision. Perhaps they committed sacrificially to the
church's "new vision" only to discover after they gave the money the church
changed their mind and spent it for something else. The "new vision" they
are hearing from you is the fifth one they've heard in their life so
far--from the seventh pastor they've had. They were excited when the first
Moses went up the mountain and got God's vision for them - then cast the
vision to the congregation. But by now they've had a dozen Moseses getting
different visions from God casting it their way - they are not quick to cheer
for every new 'Vision from God'. They have seldom been thanked for
giving other than a once-a-year computer generated receipt. They sometimes feel
used. Like a spouse who is taken for granted they are tempted to get
resentful. And all those promises about God taking care of them and
rewarding their generosity? How does that square with a stock portfolio that
just halved, a social security program that seems in trouble, and an economy
heading south at breakneck speed? They still believe it but losing half your
net worth is a few years might make help them be a bit melancholy don't you

They are wounded physically. They or their friend have had a hysterectomy, a
mastectomy, or double mastectomy or prostate cancer. They have a friend
right now going through chemotherapy. Their back hurts and they took pain
medicine before church today and standing longer than ten minutes brings
tears to their eyes--but they don't want to cave in and look decrepit and old
by sitting down. Their sex drive has gradually diminished over the years, in
fact they don't feel any sort of energy in any area like they once did. They
sleep less than ever, but they wake feeling weary. While they are not sleepy
they are tired.

They think about death and dying. Women have passed childbearing age, men
can't do push ups and knock the softball over the fence anymore. Every new
ache and pain suggests two funerals that they dread more than all the others
put together - their spouses and their own. Many in this generation actually
read the obituaries every day--they really do--every day. They often do it
secretly and tell nobody. There they see a friend's name from time to time
reminding them their generation is beginning to die off. They check the birth
dates of the rest comparing it with own birth date, keeping a mental
scoreboard on how many people die each week younger than them. Their own
demise looms. Their mother died recently, or father. Or perhaps worse, a
parent is still living and requires demanding care from them. They watch
their parent die slowly in a nursing home with few people or pastors from the
church ever visiting. They die forgotten. Here the see the ghost of
Christmas future -- a person who has given their whole life to the church--but
is now forgotten and dies in a lonely room with few visitors. Old people no
longer are viable contributors to the church. They wonder if this is their
own final exit--an ignoble dribbling away of life in loneliness with few
caring. The bell tolls for them.

They are wounded emotionally. Most of them have experienced at least one
violation of trust -- spouse, child, business partner, pastor -- probably more
than one. They were ripped off. They were violated They are
wounded. They've been told to be loving an forgiving of others (especially of the
younger generation who has run roughshod over their feelings) but they see no
reciprocal tolerance and forgiveness for their own shortcomings. They may
smile broadly, but they hurt deeply.

They've been burned. Burned by preachers and the church too--so they don't
respond with flag-waving enthusiasm to every new idea or new minister. Face
it, they've had a sequence of preachers tell them truths that later preachers
told them weren't true. Their life has been a series of hearing truth from
ministers which is later reversed by other ministers. They are tired of 'You
may have always thought... however...' style preaching. They are on their
fourth or fifth iteration of truth since young adulthood. They wonder if the first
one was right, or the second -- or even this one. What can they believe? Is
it any wonder that they seem so skeptical when a thirty-something pastor
delivers the latest truth as if he or she has discovered something the church
has totally been misunderstanding for decades?

They are disillusioned spiritually. This generation grew up singing 'Every
day with Jesus is Sweeter than the Day Before' and now they know it isn't.
There are days that are bitter and they no longer deny it. Many coupled
youthful idealism with spiritual goals and really thought they had the victory that overcomes the world. And now they see many battles, both in
themselves and in the broader arena of society that have been lost. They
haven't reached the holiness they expected would come with time and age. The
church is not a holier and better church in spite of what they were promised
by umpteen programs and campaigns. Many have experienced unanswered prayers
for decades ­for healing, salvation for their children, good spouses for
their kids. They believe but not with the effusive excitement they once did.

They are politically pessimistic. Growing up the sixties, they wanted to give peace a chance. They witnessed social protest bringing an end to
segregation and the war in Viet Nam. But with (official) segregation gone
they see racial prejudice lurking yet in every community, and even their own
hearts. Viet Nam ended but their life has been a series of little wars ever
since and the world is not that less dangerous. They suspect that their
generation is leaving the world in worse shape than when they got it -- and
inwardly blame themselves.

They sense regret. They've made mistakes. They had dreams they never
achieved. Every time you preach a relevant sermon on child-rearing they have
no chance of implementing it--they can sense regret they didn't do it right
back then, and hope they can make up some with grandchildren. They hurt
every day for their lost daughter, or son who has rejected the faith. They
wonder if they caused this by being too strict, or by being to lenient.
They've made mistakes. They past opportunities that may have made a brighter life
for them now if they'd grabbed them. They still mourn the sins of their
youth. They wish they could take back some of their decisions or actions but
they can't. They regret it.

They have doubt. With the shifting sands of truth some launch a desperate
attempt to believe something -- anything--some settle on one particular
iteration of the truth they've been told -- and younger pastors consider them
stuck-in-the-mud traditionalists for doing it. Many appear they have their
faith-act together, but they don't. They have doubts. Sometimes they wonder
if all they've lived their life for is even true. They ask, 'Have I wasted
my life?' They recite their beliefs automatically--but they aren't always
sure of them. They desperately want someone to preach on things that have
always been true and that are still true -- things people used to die for -- the
core thing, the essentials. They agree that Evolution is untrue yet they
watch the Discovery channel and quietly wonder to themselves if the church has
been wrong about that. Of course, you will seldom hear them express these
doubts--they are tucked deep within their souls. But doubt is their constant
companion. A thirty-something preacher whose gospel is mostly focused on
being delivered from lust or giving practical tips on child-rearing doesn't
help their doubts. In fact they are tired of sermons on change and hunger
for sermons on God. They are desperate to know what is certifiably true and
always has always been true. What can they bet their life on? What can they
die for, or at least with. They hunger for truth about God and doctrine they
can cling to.

So, perhaps your 'Traditional service' is like a funeral because it is like
a funeral. Of course being in your 50s and 60s isn't as bad as I'm
portraying it -- there are bright sides too. But I'm trying to show why
group may be 'dead' in your service. It is like a funeral because it is what
they have experienced. Those attending it are far nearer their own funeral
than the younger folk in the contemporary service? Maybe that is why your
peppy songs and band don't work at bringing an ecstatic response -- after all a
peppy song and a band at a funeral might even be out of place?

So, here is the question for you to think about:

Does the gospel I preach have anything to say to people like this?


[Me: One shortcoming of this article is it doesn't reflect the reality in the Catholic world today. Dissent - heresy, apostasy - is an old person's game there. The kids are leading the way in the restoration (conservative and even traditionalist) movement.]

From Step aside, Vatican II generation - the restoration is under way

Liberal Christianity is self-limiting - it puts itself out of business as people realize straight-up secularism is more honest. Most kids are secular but the religious ones tend not to be liberal religiously.

Divine Liturgy of Syrian Church

From blog reader Samer al-Batal:
Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Law: An Unresolved Tension
by Thomas Woods
36-page paper in PDF (Acrobat) format on the site.
US Marine killed in combat
British soldiers killed in US helicopter accident in Kuwait

Hockey fans boo US anthem in Montreal

Great parallel
Seen on a bumper sticker this morning:

'No, Memorex'

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Bishop Ceslaus Sipovich
Byelorussian Catholic bishop, now deceased

From The Onion
Temp hides fun, fulfilling life from rest of office
Maronite Catholic patriarch on the situation
This is from today's Lebanon Daily Star.
Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir warned Wednesday against the dangerous consequences of the US “war machine moving in the Middle East” for Iraqis and international cooperation.

He was addressing students at Saint Joseph’s School in Aintoura during a visit marking the feast day of the school’s patron saint.

Sfeir called on the students to stand fast in the face of the “storm.”

The prelate said that US war plans had endangered the future role of the UN organization “after it was split between war and peace camps.”

The school’s principal, Father Jean Sfeir, earlier told the patriarch the Lebanese people had only to rally around him to say “yes to peace,” adding that the prelate’s “courage and wisdom,” had already strengthened Muslim-Christian dialogue.

Church of England bishops: no victory prayers will be said

Church chat
How to detect a vagante

Book picks
The Smoke of Satan by Michael Cuneo
Like Divided We Stand: A History of the Continuing Anglican Movement, about a phenomenon that parallels Catholic traditionalism, this book is a valuable history/exposé of the latter movement, and Novus Ordo conservatives as well, across the board by an unsympathetic but pretty objective outsider, a Canadian-born sociologist from New York (and incidentally AFAIK a born Catholic who remembers pre-Vatican II). The groups profiled range from the sane and straight-arrow (and probably very holy), whom Cuneo obviously dislikes but still respects, through 'there has been no Pope since 1958' groups and signs-and-wonders apparition-chasing hysteria (exploited by the tirelessly, tiresomely self-promoting Fr Nicholas Gruner and the late Veronica Lueken, a truly scary person) to the wackiest of the lot, the 'Apostles of Infinite Love' in Quebec with their self-ordained Pope and lady priests.

On The Death of the West
I take a couple of steps back from Pat's anti-immigration rhetoric and question Buchananomics too - see here - but:

1. A country's first obligation is to its citizens and practically speaking a country only can support so many people at a time - therefore some controls on immigration are necessary.

2. Right or left, race-based quotas are evil.

3. Part of the problem with 'multiculturalism' is while it appears charitable, it's relativistic, denying that according to objective principles such as those of Christianity, one culture is better than another. All people, all races, are equal in worth before God, but not all cultures are. (Example: The Aztecs practised human sacrifice, cutting out the heart of a living victim to please the sun god. Thanks, Hernán Cortez, for putting a stop to that and replacing it with the one Sacrifice of Christ in the Mass.) The decline and fall of European culture, which was Christian to the core - and Catholic and Orthodox to boot, can and should be decried. And Buchanan is not a racist for so doing.

Patriarch of Syrian Church speaks

On patriotism
Don't ever associate with politicians, dirty and corrupt men. The army
should have nothing to do with these. As enlistees in the RAF, your duty is to your country through the Crown, not to big shots in the halls of politics.
- a British veteran, remembering something an officer taught him

A conservative blog for peace reader on the war
by an Arab from Lebanon, Melkite Catholic, one of the Queen's Canadian subjects - and a better American, true to the principles of the republic, than a lot of Americans

The person being answered is a friend as well, even though we disagree.

He (Saddam Hussein) is evil, he kills his own people by violent torture, we have the power to stop him, we should, end of story. It's the Christian thing to do.

No. It's not Christian to incinerate Iraqis and destabilize a region, and rub shoulders with Turks who are looking for a piece of the pie, whom you have already permitted to bomb Kurds in the illegal no-fly zones, Kurds you betrayed in the past. There are also more ruthless tyrants than this one amongst countless others, who call for your attention. If human rights are America's concern, then Israel is the primary antagonist in that department. Maybe Mr. Bush should renege his commitment of friendship and lap-dog service to a bona fide butcher, who more than likely is clinically insane. Perhaps he should break ties with the fundamentalist nutcases who search Scripture for hidden meanings every time Sharon breaks wind. Also, I assure you that living under Saddam would have done me much less harm from a religious angle than the U.S. government's friends the Saudis, who would have me eat shit were I to merely step into Mecca. Who allied themselves with Pol Pot, for God's sake? Do you think Saddam amounts to anything in comparison to your government's former buddy?

The bizarreness of this entire propaganda blitz is how the spin doctors have so personalized Saddam. This tone of a global Crusade against an "Evil Man" (a truly insignificant one) is genuinely baffling in the world of Realpolitik where we know that interests are at play. Do the bureaucrats in Washington honestly believe the American people are that stupid? To not suspect that interests are at play?

[Me: Considering that one in five Americans is functionally illiterate and the average American reads at about a fourth-grade level, such that he can't understand the instructions to install a child car seat, they probably do.]

We can't let the French stand in the way of world peace just because they
want to earn the oil contracts.

World peace?... errr... "World Peace"? I'm sorry, but you're losing me, bud. You're not making sense anymore.

What are the objectives of this war again? And how does directly opposing an unnecessary war, death, and mayhem, rather than supporting them, stand in the way of world peace?

No, President Bush was right last night (17th March); the oil wells belong to the Iraqi people. Whoever says WE are just doing it for the oil never mentions the immense profit the FRENCH stand to gain if Hussein outlasts the embargo against him.

Casting suspicion on the motives of opponents of war does not undermine the argument against the war. Oil, Israel, imperial ambitions, securing military bases (please get out of Germany already) and with this President and his supporters, possibly religious nuttery and delusions of apocalyptic grandeur, are the interests being served from your end.

That's why I believe bishops should pray for peace but keep out of war politics.

You honestly don't understand the Middle East and the important role the bishops and patriarchs play in commenting on the political climate and affairs of such a nature. I am sorry, but the model you have in mind here is utterly surreal,
where I come from [Lebanon]. It is not necessary at all if you merely want hierarchs to remain a far cry from Communist Latin American bishops actively participating in politics and scandalizing the Church.

[Me: Isn't this the 'compartmentalizing' of religion apart from 'real life' that enthusiastic orthodox converts, including the neo-Orthodox I see on message boards, decry? As SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson puts it, is Christ merely the king of the sanctuary and not the king of the universe? Long may the social kingship of Christ reign.]

I think the bishops have every right to ask your government to stop sending your country's young men to their deaths, and have it leave us the hell alone.


I for one can't sit back and say "my views on war preclude me from supporting this intervention" while I look at the reality of what life is like in Iraq

Welcome to the world, my friend. Hurt and pain exist. Iraq is a drop in an ocean, if one likes to seek misery and persecution. Iraq should not be made a showcase just because the media's daily digest of propaganda happens to now focus exclusively on the career of this one man. There are places far worse in which to live if one wishes to speak of repression, and some of these are ruled by your allies. You possess the natural instincts that recoil in hurt and rebellion at the sight of suffering from which you and many folks living in First World countries are spared, but which to us is a natural state of affairs. That is good, but you are channeling these feelings in the wrong direction frankly, and I believe, allowing your emotions compounded with your inexperience with and lack of knowledge of the complexity of Middle Eastern politics and history to cloud your judgement, especially if you are intent at grasping at straws with this untenable myth that there is a link between Saddam and fundamentalist Islamic militants, a point laughable on its face for us who live there, and one that can only be made tangible in the twilight zone.

combined with the terrorist forces Saddam is training, etc.

The only "terrorist forces" that this man is training are the ones getting ready to defend their country. Don't be quick to believe anything some clod has to say. Defectors are notoriously inaccurate and even contradictory.

As for the claims of links between Hussein and fundies and mujahedeen, the British have an expression just for these kinds of things: a load of old cobblers. The reaction of laughter of Englishmen to such assertions would be fatal were they sitting on a terrace enjoying tea and eating cucumber sandwiches. Clinging now to any semblance of this idea is grasping at straws in the wind. These panic-stricken people are out of their league here in trying to set up any such pro-war argument based on this ridiculous premise. In fact, allow me to direct you to the Kurds for that one, the fundamentalists amongst whom are more likely to have ties with al-Qaeda types than the mustachio'd menace would. No one who lives in the region I come from can take such a crazy notion seriously, much less the assertion that Saddam has any intentions of actually attacking (!) the U.S. For someone from the Middle East to even consider this involves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the suspension of his rational faculties for the duration of the investigation.

A bit on intelligence. The squawks of Chicken Little defectors are and have always been a dime a dozen, including some hilarious ones warning of nuclear bombs to be found in a country that can barely let off a firecracker or defend its own airspace. Stirring up hysteria viz-a-viz danger to Americans, is ridiculous at this juncture when the only threat Saddam poses is to his political enemies within his country. Let me remind you that defectors are one of the most unreliable sources of information, and citing some individual from mukhabaraat as the article you provided for us has done, is hardly impressive. Also, these folks have their own interests to serve; they are not beacons of clarity and objective reporting. Any Middle Easterner, and anyone versed in the basics of politics understands this. Khidir Hamza, another defector, tried to place the blame of the anthrax episode-now known to have originated domestically-on Iraq. Don't just believe whatever some dolt has to say.

A point by the way: Saddam's son-in-law, a class A defector, himself stated that Iraq has no W.M.D.'s (in its inflated definition; in the past this category did not encompass biological and chemical weapons); this was evidence that wasn't flaunted out in the open, I'm afraid. I wonder why. Neither is the evidence against the official version of Halabja.

Understand that the U.S. government has been found guilty by many of sloppy intelligence, and some of the most crude, embarrassing, and clumsy incidents of misinformation and freshman level plagiarizing as to rival the predictability of Arabic state propaganda. (Look at the lengths these politicians went to in Gulf
War I with their bogus "babies in incubators" stories-and of course the recent slew of fabricated "intelligence"). There isn't a leg for these clowns in Washington to stand on where intelligence, and epiphanies and revelations derived therefrom are concerned. The government personnel couldn't see 11/9 happening under their very noses here in the U.S., and one expects them to discover in a country whose language few in intelligence can understand, clear incriminating evidence that even the inspectors can't get to, of an absurd plot to strike heavy at the U.S. Balderdash. I've seen the West's propaganda like its military deteriorate, and become ever more unsophisticated, careless, and ever more resembling plain bullshit since Gulf War I. Kosovo and now Gulf War II are two cases in point. The level of propaganda quality seems to be a good guage of either the aggregate intelligence of the American populace on world affairs, or of the contemptous degree the government condescendingly thinks the people under its jurisdictions to be saps. In respect for knowing that many conscientous and smart Americans exist, I will say the latter.

People die every day there

Bomb the abortion "clinics" then, by that logic. The unborn get slaughtered in the multitudes daily, and there's more killing of the unborn going on where you live than the people Saddam has ever killed.

and we can sit back and let it happen or take action.

Noble motives, but to paraphrase Thomas Woods, creating a world void of such suffering is beyond the capabilities of the angels themselves. This is the world, and as Serge and I have pointed out oftentimes before, if one is swayed to a side in the conflict, he is free to join or fund one side. Don't open the Pandora's box, and give licence to the American government to undertake a global crusade against whomever fits its description of an oppressor*. Believe me, if so, then America's work will never be done.

*which I certainly consider the American government to be towards those under its own jurisdiction--in fact, I see it as a monster that facilitates the killing of both the bodies and souls of many Americans, in some avenues having reached macabre extremes that surpass any tinpot dictator's crimes. Abortion and exporting this credo abroad is only one of them. Waco is another, an example of how the state can administer torturous deaths with gas, to kids AND pretend through endless justifications to the public that its shocktroopers did something heroic. I doubt even Saddam would stoop so low as to poison the souls of children like a sick puppy, by teaching them the wonders of homerasty. That's just the domestic; the foreign features a black track record miles long. Some unfortunate Japanese in ’45 come to mind, casualties of a despicable Mason** and of the only use of the ultimate weapons of mass destruction in the history of warfare. I would gladly love to see this usurping Leviathan that masquerades as the Republic of the Founding Fathers, crushed, and the localism that once identified the United States (in the plural) restored, but I won't advocate a war to that effect by other countries who have a chance against American forces unless they are attacked directly (in fact, were it not merely for the principle of proportionality, many countries would have a just case of war against your government). For the sake of genuine freedom from the little Caesar and all those to follow him, I would very likely support any local secessionist movement by any part of the country.

**a despicable man whose engineering of foreign policy favourable towards Israel, in binding the former nation to the latter by commitment, was decided on his asking how many Arab voters there were in America. My comment: a pox on democracy, a model made for tyrants. To the conspiracy theorists amongst Orthodox, if there's anything concering the late Patriarch Athenagoras that deserves worry, it is his having called Truman a "good man".

The world doesn't have to operate on a strictly "what am I gonna get out of it model"; no, we can take action based on principles.

Not governments I'm afraid. And those who think they can tame that monster for their own ends, no matter how laudable and commendable their motives may be, should disabuse themselves of this notion, and also take heed that they themselves do not be corrupted should the reins of power fall into their lap.

If I saw a person being killed on the street I would step in and try to save them.

Read Fr. Seraphim Rose, and note the contrast he would make between your Christian conduct in the matter of an individual case, in adherence to Christ's command to clothe the naked, feed the hungry etc., and the epic-scale statist enterprise of Pax Americana. He distrusted misguided attempts to "change the world" or fullfill Christ's commandments on the national scale you propose, only implementable through the instrument of the state.

If I am called to help save innocents in Iraq then I will do it.

You are not undertaking the task of thinking out of the narrow confines of this box, and of realizing the resultant consequences of your government's actions on the stability of the region. Things are never as simple as you think they are, and with all due respect, it takes more than the reading you have accomplished so far to grant you the necessary understanding of Middle Eastern affairs and politics that you need in order to confidently assert that it's time to shout "Bombs away." As for Saddam, the political aftermath that will accompany his fall may prove worse than him by far. Flashing Saddam's "ruthless dictator" credentials does absolutely nothing to further the argument for war. In fact it's bloody annoying and cynical, implying that there is a lack of acknowledgement on the obvious.

You are free to join or fund local resistance movements, but should refrain from using the State, with its gargantuan capacity for destruction, as your instrument. Plus it is fueled by stolen loot, otherwise known as tax dollars, for such purposes. Perhaps the money's rightful owners do not wish their hard-earned labour which produced their wealth to have gone in the service of something they disapprove of as murder. Build your own treasury of funds and go recruit combatants to join in the Iraqi battlefield.

I wouldn't have fought in the Vietnam war because that war was unjust not to mention unwinnable--the people of Vietnam were against it.

You bring the principle of proportionality into the equation. Well then, I highly suggest you take a good number of years living in and studying the entire Middle East and its modern history, so as you can start unravelling the subtleties and nuances behind the geopolitics of that region, and realizing what kind of a volcano you will cause to erupt once the bull elephant that is your military forces breaks into town. I also strongly recommend the history of the Balkans as a cross-reference. You have a whole decade of American intervention and blunders in that wretched, fractured part of the world to study, and a good idea of how a historically and geographically myopic, yet frighteningly strong world power can wreak havoc when it steps into these quagmires, especially when it waves the "humanitarian mission" placard as its credentials. You will also realize the depth of ignorance that the government is confident pervades the populace when you observe how the American government can make a mess of things and still call such a victory as was the case in Afghanistan and Kosovo for example. You will hopefully realize that this Iraqi campaign is not, and can not be a simple case of good guys beat bad guys, and liberated populace lives happily ever after. That's spiel.

The people of Iraq, however, are generally not against our intervention as report after report coming out of Iraq shows.

After the hell and misery your sanctions and bombing have put them through and the state to which they have been reduced, you find that surprising?! When you falsely promise them an end to the sufferings you caused (I say falsely in light of difficulties to come), but for which your government blamed Saddam, Americans are supposed to seek solace in the moral permissibility of their strikes supposedly given them by the miserable Iraqis' cries for relief from all this?

Regardless, concerning the quoted paragraph above, wrong, despite statements of defectors out of harm's way to the contrary. Three points need mentioning. Folks are not prone to welcoming liberation via incineration. Second, America (and unfortunately, as is sometimes the case, the people by association, another example of the danger the U.S. government poses to its own civilian populace) is loathed by Iraqis and many Arabs, and propaganda is entirely unnecessary for
that when you've seen the carnage caused by American military and economic weapons that I've seen. Third, for those who have experienced injustice or suffering by Saddam firsthand, and have been driven to despair and desparation by sanctions--a repugnant form of killing (which shares the same idiosyncracies as abortions in targeting the helpless) that aims at waging a sick Soviet-style psychological warfare against the populace to have them revolt against whomever Washington doesn't like--I can expect such to have had their suffering made so acute, that they will not be reflecting over the political ramifications of this strike. Everyone knows Saddam is a cutthroat, and I doubt you fill find more than a handful of Arabs who will not gladly slit his throat. Therefore, any commentary on his bad behaviour is a red herring and diversion from the core of the argument: the balkanization that will ensue, and the interests of fundamentalist Islamism and the butcher par extraordinaire, Turkey..and Israel! Keep your eye on Palestine in the coming days ahead.

If I am called to serve, I will go because that is my responsiblitity to my country.

Getting yourself involved in other people's wars is a responsibility you owe to no one. And it doesn't serve your country, but imperils it. Your country is your native sod, and you are bound to love and protect it. Your country is not Washington government headquarters.

I'm afraid at this point I will have to call your attention to the change in the mission objectives of your country as you see it. Notice how what first was supposed to be a war strictly for the purpose of eliminating a "threat" to
American security, is now, by your words, turned it into a "humanitarian" campaign. I'm afraid the upper echelons can't make up their minds on how to clearly define the purposes of this war, at least without telling the people the truth.

I do believe this is America's war. We are the world's superpower and there is no way we can "turn back." We created the world in which we live, so
now we have to deal with it. Arguments that "this doesn't concern our nation" don't hold water for me because we are all interconnected now. Globalism is here to stay. Nations were a 16th century Protestant thing, they were here for awhile, but now it's time to go back to multi-cultural "empires" like the Roman empire which have nothing to do with race, ethnicity, etc. People need to keep coming together and integrating more closely.

A neocon credo if I ever saw one.

I think a eulogy for the republic is fitting.

As one of a libertarian persuasion, I believe in free trade (not exporting "democracy" and New Dealish mixed economies [misnamed "capitalism"] at gunpoint)--though I, along with Austrians (followers of the economics school), see NAFTA to be to free trade what Sharon is to peace, imposters in drag--and cultural interaction and exchange such as what the Arabs engaged in in the past. We have always been merchants and traders and these commercial activities foster peace and goodwill.

And I believe this, quite frankly, frightening blueprint that you draw up here of military globalism, imperium Americanum, and the dissolution of national sovereignty, is the antithesis of the aforementioned principles. As for your plans regarding ethnicity, keep it to your parish, but keep it out of my country. Without advocating isolation or opposing healthy cultural interaction, I am certainly not too crazy about the idea of disasatrous social engineering ("integration") getting exported over there, or the structure of American society being used as a template for a global scale model of same.

In closing, no harsh remark was at all intended against your person, but I believe the foregoing had to be said. I think you have good motives, but your vision and perception of things I will have to disagree with vehemently. I pray for the lives of soldiers on both sides, and knowing a war veteran, I have respect for soldiers as opposed to their unscrupulous civilian commanders. However, should a U.S. soldier let off one bullet or bomb that would harm an Iraqi, I will hope to God his plane comes down or he takes the fall. Make no mistake; your forces are the enemy from our point of view, and without malice directed at their persons, I hope to see them defeated in combat, though that is an impossibility. This intention is in effect as of now, since your forces are already attacking as we speak.

[Me: I wish no harm to any American soldier who simply is following orders - he isn't acting of his own free will (one of the three criteria for mortal sin in Catholic theology). I don't want to emulate those despicable people 30 years ago who spat on Vietnam veterans.

As I have written before, had I been of age in the 1960s and knowing what the common man heard back then, I probably would have supported the war in Vietnam, seeing Communism as a threat. I wonder how today's younger armchair generals of draft age would feel if they had their student draft deferments taken away and, like many blue-collar Catholic and Orthodox boys during the Vietnam War, were conscripted into the American imperial army and sent to the desert.]