Saturday, March 01, 2003

Bush and Sharon Nearly Identical On Mideast Policy (

Foreword from Russian Catholic friend:

This article makes clear the influence that Protestant evangelical dispensationalists and Israeli religious extremists have on US policy now. These people believe in Armageddon, and are doing their best to make it happen.

Kyrie eleison.

Me: Then again, as my priest says, God may say, 'This is your "Armageddon", not mine.'

Trotskyites in pinstripes
A short introduction to the neoconservatives, by Paul Gottfried

What I’m reading
My Childhood by Maxim Gorky
Russia about 100 years ago, the way it really was. Vivid writing. Readers of my site know I'm as anti-Communist as the John Birch Society but, seeing where he was coming from, I can understand why he (like Paul Robeson in America) made his ideological mistakes and ended up where he did.

On I Kissed Dating Goodbye
An evangelical Protestant book popular in that circle

I've read articles online from the writer and his wife. There is a lot of Christianity and common sense in their approach, especially for teens, but a lot of it is idealistic and hard/impossible to practice in our damaged, fragmented society, nor am I strict about no-kissing-before-engagement like these and some other evangelical Protestants are. (Some well-meaning Catholics in the charismatic movement have taken this on board.) In my scrolling headlines or my News Archive there should be a link to an interview with Connie Marshner, who worships at a Byzantine Catholic church, BTW, and who says many of the same things. Chaperoned groups are the ideal for teens, who in our society aren’t ready to handle the commitments of marriage and so have no right to have sex.

However, getting idealistic again, the best-case scenario would have a radical reform of society, back to familial, neighborhood, small-town, agrarian roots (self-sufficiency and the Catholic principle of economic subsidiarity), where childhood isn't unnaturally prolonged as it is in our society (where at the same time, perversely, sex is promoted, promoted, promoted to kids). People could marry not long after reaching physical maturity, nice and natural. There would be apprenticeships for young people (yes, women can and should be able to have careers if they want), and vo-tech wouldn't be looked down on by the upper and middle classes as it is now. College would be a classical, great-books education only for people suited for it, not a meaningless, expensive social promotion for the middle and upper classes. The whole extended family, neighborhood, town, etc. would help support these couples made up of young, inexperienced adults (but adults, no less). Yes, ‘it takes a village’, but I’m talking traditionalism AND libertarianism here, not Hillary Clinton socialism.

Bare bones, or mere Christianity with icons
In an online conversation recently about the 1928 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (and I too am a fan of the 1662 and 1928 books for their daily office), someone mentioned the book’s (and one can assume, classical Anglicanism’s) ‘bare-bones approach to dogma’. I think I understand what he meant and understand the appeal. Basics (you could even call them fundamentals) like God, Trinity, divinity of Christ, Resurrection, apostolic ministry, Eucharist. Things the Anglo-Catholics 100 years ago had a bead on. The trouble with classical Anglicanism, though, is it cut through some bare bones of apostolic Christianity and became Protestant (though still Christian).

However, ISTM that paradoxically, for all the prolixity of its ritual and ceremonial, Eastern Orthodoxy has a similar back-to-basics appeal. See the entry on Mary on my Orthodoxy page. Dogma in Orthodoxy seems very simple and straightforward compared to Latin Scholastic explanations of same (no, I'm not knocking Scholasticism or Latin Catholicism) or systems like Calvinism. Whenever a part of the faith was challenged, a council was called by the eastern Roman emperor and dogmas defined - only as needed.

So as Bishop Kallistos (Timothy Ware) wrote, 'Orthodoxy claims to be universal - not something exotic and oriental, but simple Christianity'. 'Mere Christianity' with icons and a prolix rite?

Vagante folly and dishonest liberal rhetoric
From an online forum
A liberal, who is a born Roman Catholic and ex-Jesuit who now claims he is Byzantine Catholic (and dishonestly claims to be a born Byzantine because he says he is half-ethnic Greek), wrote the following about one of those silly vagante churches pretending to be Orthodox:

My first thought is: these folks are really desirious of being a "faith community" (I know people HATE that term) as well as seekers of how to integrate their daily realities with legitimate paths of spiritual progress and union with God. They accept anything and everything that is legitimately orthodoxly Christian, but they make allowances for folks whose lives have put them outside the pale of orthodox Christian community. Divorced folks, gay/lesbian folks, interracial couples, etc. And they say: we are a legitimate Christian community (proved by Apostolic succession and valid "orders") but who perceive the Gospel to include these "outsiders".

This is one of the dumbest things I've ever read. I don't know the terms in logic and debate for what he is doing, so I'll just say he is lying. The writer is making the outrageous claim that orthodox Churches (be they Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental or Assyrian) are uncharitable, and racist to boot.

Let's rip this thing apart.

1. 'Divorced folks'. AFAIK the divorced are welcome to worship at the orthodox Churches and receive the sacraments. It's when such remarry outside the church that sacramental sharing becomes impossible. Still, all are welcome to come pray and have fellowship.

2. 'Gay/lesbian folks'. One must make a distinction between orientation and practice as far as the sacraments are concerned. Orientation doesn't bar one from communion and isn't anyone's business except perhaps for one's father confessor. However, if one chooses to engage in sexual sins of this or any kind, he or she excommunicates himself/herself. Again, all are welcome to come pray and have fellowship.

3. 'Interracial couples'. Here our ersatz Zorba really has stepped into the realm of fiction. I know of NO ancient Church, Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental or Assyrian, that bans interracial dating and marriage. Sure, there are racists who go to these and other churches. But that isn't because of orthodoxy - just fallen human nature.

I know that I'll get in trouble for this with the more "traditionalist" theological groups, but: canonicity and legitimate orders do NOT depend upon lineage, but rather upon one's affiliation and "good standing" with one or another of the ancient patriarchates. That is: one can be as BYZANTINE (bold, caps, underline) as one proposes and lives, but if the group is NOT accepted by the Byzantine Patriarch (or some other patriarch of legitimate status) then --- it's just Halloween. The "magic" of apostolic orders is nice; but it doesn't suffice to bring one into the real Church. One has to be part of the CHURCH (as divided and schismed as it may be!) with communion with one or another of the communion of bishops that constitutes the apostolic Christian community.

Going to Madame Stein's Costume Emporium, and purchasing all sorts of regalia does NOT mean one is an X or Y or Z Christian. It's the communion within the sacraments that counts.

Nice CYA move, Zorba. The Jesuits taught you well. This is exactly what Eastern Orthodoxy teaches. I'm guessing by the diss of 'traditionalists' you are referring to groups of former EOs who left their churches over the adoption of the Gregorian calendar. But such groups usually don't play games with 'lines of succession' - they really think they ARE the Church and the group that ordained them isn't the Church anymore. They're wacky but sincere.

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