Sunday, August 31, 2003

Russian nuclear sub sinks on its way to scrapyard; nine sailors killed
Looks like it was of the same age and class as the one shown last year in K-19. Those things were deathtraps even when they were new!

The Barents Sea is the same dangerous place where the Americans lost a spy sub, the USS Cochino, in 1949.

Remembering a friend
He died yesterday afternoon: one of 'the greatest generation' Tom Brokaw talks so much about, he was as Russian as he was American and proud of his Cossack heritage. His parents were post-1917 exiles, his father an Orthodox priest. (He didn't learn till after the collapse of the USSR that he still had family over there.) He was born in an East Coast city, in a rectory next to the ethnic-Ruthenian church his Great Russian father served. (The family spoke and read Russian, the congregation a kind of Ukrainian and couldn't read Cyrillic.) There was a move to another church in the city, this time one that shared his Great Russian heritage, then World War II meant two years' service in the Army Air Forces, stationed in England as the ground crew for big four-engine B-24 bombers. (Including for the bombing of Dresden, which haunted him even when I knew him. Another Christian for peace.) A career as a prison guard followed, and he looked and could act the tough-guy part! But the man I knew had been retired a long time, blessed with family and a lot of time to read and think: about all those Bible readings and Russian Orthodox prayers he'd heard all his life, and what they really mean. (This fierce-looking fellow was known even to cry at funerals!) I dare say he was well on his way to becoming a saint. Glad to have known you, Alyosha!

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

Saturday, August 30, 2003

From today
The Quiet American

One of my formative books — read it when I was 17. You can buy it here.

Neocons admit they’ve blown it — is the draft next?
by Paul Craig Roberts

The WMD hoax
by R. Cort Kirkwood
'An impeachable offense? We impeached Bill Clinton for fibbing about floozies*. Bush sent men to die. Time to decide which is worse**.'

*I knew the reason was stupid — it was like getting Al Capone for tax evasion, a technicality. But Clinton supported baby-killing. (Which is why you had the spectacle of high-profile feminists defending a man accused by multiple women of rape.)

**I have thought about that and it will affect the way I vote, or don't vote, for ever.
Needless to say, nyet
The apostolic ministry at work: a group of America's Eastern Orthodox bishops say no way, no how to 'gay marriage'

Friday, August 29, 2003

From forum18 (semi-spammer)
Russian Catholic priest harassed by local government
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
North Korea vows test to prove it’s got nukes

Theosophists interview Dennis Kucinich
Proabortion Democratic (redundant?) candidate for US president

Mr Kucinich:

My view of the world is a holistic one. I view the world as being interconnected and interdependent. All things have a way of expressing their identity through one powerful immanent reality. ... My views are consistent with the strains of thinking that created this nation, the thoughts about human liberty of Thomas Jefferson, the American Transcendental movement, the English Romantic poets, certainly my own connection to Catholicism, but beyond that, to all religions. All this results in a kind of synthesis, leading to a world view of the possibilities of human unity and human potential.

Sounds largely true but 1) transcendent God and objective truth aren't mentioned and 2) it's knocked off kilter and turned into modern-sense liberalism, the counterfeit Catholicity.

Quote from a 'Master' with the organization:

How can the nations keep America in check? ... The USA today is led by men responsive to a nefarious energy which prompts their actions and puts peace in jeopardy. It stimulates their glamour for power of an international extent, and threatens the peace of the world. It has outposts in Israel and Eastern Europe, Israel being the major focus.....

I see nothing in this part of the quotation that's not true! Stopped clock, you know. Just because SI are barmy doesn't mean the pathetic fallacy is true.
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Another enemy of the cross

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Happy feast day of the Assumption to those using the Julian church calendar and of St Augustine of Hippo to those using the traditional Roman Rite or the Book of Common Prayer (a black-letter feast today).

What can I say about the Assumption? When I was at a 'Catholic' college a secularized acquaintance (Catholic schools: 'you'll value the values' — if you're on your way to being a secular person) mocked it saying it was irrelevant. ¿Qué? The hope of everlasting life, both body and soul, shown as something all mankind can hope for someday, irrelevant? Rubbish. That this sign would first be shown through the Mother of God (made possible, of course, by the Resurrection of her Son) makes sense.

The western baptismal creed, called the Apostles', says, 'I believe in... the communion of saints, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting'.

Blessed be her glorious Assumption.

I'm not sure how much of the story is required belief, though. As described in the Byzantine Rite liturgical prayers, the story obviously parallels Easter, but with details like the apostles being brought to the tomb on clouds.

Another Latin word, Dormition ('falling asleep', Russian успение), is often used for it among the Eastern Orthodox, because the older tradition (500s?) was simply to celebrate Mary's death — the story about her body being raised to heaven was spread later. The icon for the feast, which figures prominently in my icon corner at home (the description is about a year out of date), shows the Eastern tradition that says she died but becomes very vague and symbolic when it comes to her assumption. But, though it never was dogmatized in a council, Eastern Orthodox do believe in it.

The new iconoclasts have theology degrees
by Sandro Magister

Amid lots of other good stuff, finally a statement about the hypocrites who make fun of western Catholic religious images, and demand Calvinist-plain meetinghouses as churches, yet claim to looooooove icons:

Western fashion for Russian icons, to which everyone or almost everyone succumbs, is symptomatic of this problem. It accompanies the theological decrepitude of the persons and communities that display them. One pretends to compensate for the iconophobia reserved for the world of visible Catholicism (note the elimination of devotional images and the near complete reduction of great church art to something like a museum collection) with the ‘pure’ sentiment of the sacred icons. But this is entirely a 20th century sentiment, absolutely distant from the sacramental theology and the ‘religio’ of icons in the Orthodox world, which, if anything, is much closer to our realistic devotion for statues and Marian images, or the Sacred Heart, or the saints. I say ‘20th century’ because setting Greek or Russian icons against the sacred art of Renaissance Italy is a typical Western fruit of the avant garde’s primitivistic and anti-Renaissance hostility, apart from being a polemical use of Burkhardt’s theories about the anti-Christian character of modernity.

Grazie, Signore Magister! Yes, it's PC posturing and not at all related to the actual traditional practice of using icons (more on that on this page — scroll down). But among the sincere and orthodox in the West, too, one sees that (as friend Brendan Ross puts it) 'icons are hip right now'. Of course that can be a good thing, but the Catholic prohibition of mixing and matching rites to protect the Eastern Rites seems justified by the well-intended misuse of icons as described in this piece by Archimandrite Serge (Keleher).

A bone fragment of St Augustine is in a reliquary on the wall of my icon corner.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Съ праздникомъ
St Maximus the Confessor

Catholic biographical entry
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Russian priest criticizes ‘Harry Potter’
I've never read the books or seen the movies but I think that while Fr Alexander means well, the books are like folklore — no problem.

But this observation of Fr Alexander is true: ‘Why do you think the number of drug addicts, criminals and alcoholics has so considerably increased among children and teenagers? This fact is mostly explained with the lack of spirituality and much cruelty we see on TV.’
In memoriam
Michael Babatunde ‘Baba’ Olantunji
‘Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe revolves in rhythm. Everything and every human action revolves in rhythm.’
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
News about human chip implants
Lee Penn: 1. Years ago, we put collars and dog tags on pets. Then we started putting
chips into pets. Now we are starting to put chips - electronic dog
tags/collars - into people. Another step away from seeing mankind as made in
God's image, toward seeing manking as a smart form of livestock, to be bred and
controlled at the will of the decision-makers.
2. Tyranny has been part of human history since the Fall. These new
technologies will - absent Divine Intervention - make New Tyranny more total,
and harder to dislodge, than before. [End.]

Step right up! Live human target
As I was saying, most people in the younger generations aren't very nice. No wonder. From incredibly violent video games to this. Gladiatorial games and snuff films as mainstream entertainment are just around the corner.

Monday, August 25, 2003

From Reuters
Finnish researchers claim to have found dyslexia gene
Wonderful! If they have, that's one brain-damage disability down and several more to go... hope they figure out what exactly causes AS next, and how to fix it.
From 665
An experiment in group psychology

Saturday, August 23, 2003

More from Lee Penn
Young columnist blasts ‘zero tolerance’ policies in government schools
Lee Penn: Can anyone explain what the idiots who make and enforce these policies are
thinking? What ever happened to common sense?

Could it be that there are Federal regs, CYA policies to please insurers, or
similar things that are the basis for these actions?

It is part of a larger trend in social decay.
1. With the multiplication of laws and regulations, almost anyone can be
hauled away for any reason. Laws change so rapidly, and new theories extend the
laws' reach, to a degree that no layman can predictably stay on the right
side of the law.
2. State, local, and federal bodies are producing tens of thousands of pages
to enforce Ten Commandments.
3. As the law becomes more unpredictable and arbitrary, its moral authority
declines .... moving us toward a dystopian future in which the only restraint
to crime is force, also known as "enhanced security."
4. Real crime and terrorism are a necessary part of the emerging
anarcho-tyranny. With crime and terrorism, the people are afraid, and trade
freedom for
safety. The Authorities oblige ... and somehow crime and terror continue, to
justify ever more aggrandizement of power for the State. The Authorities get
more power that it can use to control everyone.
5. Think about the kind of people who are attracted to careers in Enforcing
the Rules. They want the jobs so they can tell people what to do .... why
should we imagine that they would use their powers wisely and with respect for
either freedom or tradition?

Of course, my criticism applies alike to tyrannies of the Left, or of the
Right, or of the Center. [End.]
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
US government in new effort to develop paperless health care system
Lee Penn: In one sense, this is a good idea; anyone in health care knows that the
system is drowning in paper, and that slow access to patient care data, or
illegible data (including illegible prescriptions) costs lives.

However, this initiative is brought to you by the same efficient,
peace-loving, liberty-protecting entity that gave us the IRS and the Patriot

How long will it take before everyone's medical records (including purchase
information information that may be associated with high-risk behaviors) are
online and available for review by the Bureaucracy? [End.]

More weird science:

Artificial wombs being developed
Lee Penn: Aldous Huxley, call your office ...

Chinese doctor arrested for selling patients as wives
Lee Penn: Money quote:
"China has 70 million bachelors unable to find wives. Men outnumber women as
a result of a one-child policy which led to many fetuses of girls, traditionally discriminated against, being aborted."

1. More of the fruits of Communism. And of the Western population
controllers who support these policies.
2. What will be the social effects on that country of having lots of young
men who can never hope to marry?

Moonies demand Christians stop using cross
It's 'divisive', critics say. Hello? The New Testament says it is: a stumbling-block to the Jews and folly to the Greeks. Our Lord predicted all this: divisions among men for His sake.

Lee Penn: Several notes:
1. The Moonies spawn new front groups and new affiliates as readily as the Communist Party once did. [A cult for neocons?]
2. Stallings, one of the principal speakers against the cross at the Moonie-led symposium, used to be a Catholic priest. [A self-promoting showboater in the Marcus Garvey mold.] He left late 1989, and formed his own [miniscule] black breakaway church, the Imani Temple. [And after that was allegedly consecrated a bishop by some vagante joker, thus joining that little fraternity.] In 2001, he participated in a Moonie wedding, tying the knot in an arranged marriage to a Japanese woman. ([The probably mad] Archbishop Milingo got married at the same service, but later abandoned the union and returned to the Church after a direct appeal from the Pope.) [Bracketed comments by me.]

The second story ran in The Christian Challenge, a traditionalist Anglican
magazine, in January 2003. It describes the ongoing cooperation between the
United Religions Initiative and Moonie interfaith activists.

Episcopal bishop accepts ‘Moonie’ group’s award
By Lee Penn
The Christian Challenge (Washington, DC)
January 21, 2003

Conflict has arisen within the United Religions Initiative (URI) after its
founder, California Episcopal Bishop William Swing, accepted an award from an
organization started by the founder of the controversial Unification Church, the
Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

The group in question, the World Association of Non-Governmental
Organizations (WANGO), gave an "Interreligious Cooperation Award" to Swing and
the URI at
an October 2002 banquet in Washington. (Non-Governmental organizations, or
NGOs, are private charities and advocacy groups recognized by the UN.)

The Rev. Sanford Garner, a retired Episcopal priest and a founding member of
the URI in Washington D.C., accepted the award on behalf of Swing, offering an
acceptance speech written by the bishop.

Since 1992, WANGO's founder, Rev. Moon, has declared that he and his wife are
"the Messiah and True Parents of all humanity."

The award has sparked bitter controversy within the URI, despite the fact
that this trendy seven-year-old interfaith movement--which some critics believe
is aimed at producing a one-world religion--has opened its doors widely to all
types of belief systems, including even those of the neo-pagan or New Age
genre. Members of the Unification Church, and organizations aligned with it,
been active in the URI since 1997.

One URI activist expressed "horror and deep disappointment" over the "Moonie"
connection, describing the Unification Church as a cult that engages in
"threats, brainwashing techniques, marriages to pre-arranged strangers," and
to outsiders.

URI Executive Director Charles Gibbs said: "I don't believe there as been as
much passion and opposition expressed since we were struggling to finalize the
Purpose statement in 1999."

But Gibbs reiterated the decision of the URI Standing Committee (which he
described as "the equivalent of a Board's Executive Committee") to have Garner
accept the WANGO award on Swing's behalf.

The award reflects a relationship between the URI and the Unification Church
which has grown increasingly friendly in recent years.

In India in 1997, the URI co-sponsored interfaith events with--among other
groups--the Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP), which was
founded by Rev. Moon.

In Mumbai, India, the next year, the URI co-sponsored a "Dialogue on
Conversion from Hindu and Christian Perspectives" with the World Conference on
Religion and Peace (WCRP), a mainstream interfaith organization--and, yet again
the IRFWP.

Gibbs also has said that he knows of URI Cooperation Circles (CCs) which
"have valued members who come from the Unification Church." (Cooperation Circles
are the equivalent of local or regional URI chapters; there are about 200 CCs

Karen Smith, a Unificationist who now works with the Interreligious and
International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) at the UN, stated that "some
individuals who are now significant in IIFWP did attend some of the early
of the URI, and that some IIFWP members are also active in URI Cooperation

The home page of the IIFWP offers links to "Other Peace
Organizations"--including the UN, the URI, the Action Coalition for Global
Change (a gathering of
"progressive" globalist organizations) and the UN-sponsored University for
Peace in Costa Rica. The home page of the Religious Youth Service, a youth
interfaith service group under the IIFWP, likewise links to the URI and the
American Interfaith Network (a mainstream interfaith organization).

WANGO actively supports adoption of the Earth Charter, a radical
environmental code now being considered at the UN. Thus, the Moonies' entry into
the URI
appears to be part of a broader-range effort on their part to shed the
conservative, anti-communist image that they have had in the past, and to appeal
the left as well as to the right.
Sources available upon request

Friday, August 22, 2003

What I’m watching
The Magdalene Sisters

1. 'Why, they're a bunch of bloody Jansenists.' — A priest, talking about an institution with a few things in common with this historical horror.
2. You'd think, for all the historical details Peter Mullan (an ethnic-Irish Scot) got right, including the cruelty, he'd have got the liturgical things right.
3. A good friend grew up with American Sisters of St Joseph in the 1950s, before everything was ruined, and doesn't remember anything like this — he has nothing but good things to say about those nuns in that period.
4. In my life, I've been demeaned similarly though certainly not in kind or degree — by secular people, almost never by orthodox religious ones.
5. I've seen conservative Catholic stalwarts who are active in prolife treat unwed mothers, more than once, exactly the opposite of this.
6. There are some irritating lapses of honesty. Over the closing credits, Mullan invents a potted "what-happened-to" story for each character, implying that they are in themselves real. Mullan lied? Not cool.
Lew Rockwell on the row re: the Ten Commandments
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
On my (pretty much dormant) original site I have a page describing the Orthodox tradition as 'saving medicine for the whole church'. The Eastern Orthodox scene online isn't the friendliest or healthiest place in the world*, virtual or real, but here is an example of that 'saving medicine' that Lee found on it:

The anathemas read on Orthodoxy Sunday

Lee Penn (who is Russian Catholic): Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholics use this service on the first Sunday of Great Lent. It is balm for the soul, and a preparation for spiritual effort. Imagine a service in the Anglican Communion or in the western Catholic Church in which the Anathemas were believed and read.

Yes, get into the spirit of Nicæa II, man.

The Anglicans used to use the Athanasian creed similarly.

*Put simply, a lot of it is orthodox but nuts. Reminds me of people who have AS but don't know they have it, and so act out their problems (ab)using religion.
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
The gaying of a once-great church
And, perhaps more important, the replacement of the faith with the heresy of liberalism including the misuse of the tool of psychology. (Of course there's nothing wrong with the 'helping professions' per se.)

Civilizations in decline typically take on the characteristics of Bonobo monkeys, Nero's Rome being the most lurid example.

Ha ha, well put.

Few American boys, however, are so poor as to consider the Church a vehicle for social advancement. Americans become priests out of conviction — but conviction about what? Eighty percent of American Catholics do not believe in transubstantiation (the transformation of wafer and wine into the body and blood of Christ during the Mass). They are religious in a general sort of way, but no longer can believe in the mysteries of the Church.

Or yet another reason, on top of but not directly related to my probably having Asperger syndrome, why I don't have a lot in common with 80% of American Catholics. They're as different from me as honestly secular people.

To cut off in advance any tries, from any enemies who might read this blog, to throw AS in my face to discredit my views, surely the historic mainstream of Christendom didn't all have that handicap!

The historic mainstream has been sidelined. Non serviam.

In the United States, priests no longer are the mediators of the great mysteries of death and rebirth, of sin and forgiveness, of damnation and salvation. The priesthood has become what Americans quaintly call one of the "helping professions", such as psychology, social work, nursing and so forth...

The lapsed-Protestant American middle class has taken Aslan to the vet to get snipped.

All traditional religious dogma is tragic; man suffers in this life because of sin, and through great struggle can achieve redemption despite his sinful nature. Religion does not expect life to be pleasant; it exists precisely because life is unpleasant (at least to the extent that it leads to the unpleasantness of death).

Well put. This orthodoxy applies to everyone, including the 'normal' (remember original sin?), and is reflected in everything from the sad-eyed Russian icons in dark colors on my walls (Russians are famous for 'getting' what suffering is about) to the theology of the prayers I read, be they from the Byzantine Rite, (old) Roman Rite or Book of Common Prayer (I usually just read Coverdale's psalms and the gospel canticles from the last — nothing Protestant).

Many Catholic priests are not traditional Christians, but Utopian radicals whose goal is to eliminate conflict by purging humanity of its aggressive instincts (Freud to his credit did not believe this could be done). In other words, they are homosexuals out of principle. They share with the radical feminists the idea that man's aggressive instincts supposedly arise from sexual repression, whose source is the patriarchal family. The combination of an all-male fraternity with a Utopian agenda provides a magnet for male homosexuals.

Never thought of it that way before — it explains a lot. The heresies of the perfectibility of mankind and the denial of sin... chiliasm/millennarianism (not to be confused with an obsession with hats), Pelagianism...

But it doesn't necessarily apply to the kind of male homosexual who doesn't buy into this utopian heresy and instead likes my kind of religion — they do exist!

'Everything's related to sex' sounds more like a sitcom or chat-show platitude (think Oprah) than a worldview worth taking seriously, but a fallen humanity following the rules on sex is the difference between promiscuous societies, literally still in the Stone Age, and ex-Christendom, which discovered penicillin and invented the jet engine.

In June, the Swedish parliament passed a law forbidding speech or writing critical of alternative sexual lifestyles. No criticism will be forthcoming from the rest of Europe, whose male population sincerely hopes that all Swedish men (but not women) will become homosexual.

LOL! Even though Swedish women are really no more beautiful than women usually are, as P.J. O'Rourke wrote.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Old feminist screams for attention again
'Germaine Greer is a big name with a big mouth.' — William Feaver, British art critic and biographer of Lucian Freud

I've never read her books (I get the feeling I wasn't in her intended readership anyway) but AFAIK she's not funny and on the mark in spite of herself like Camille Paglia can be.

What strikes me is if she's serious, I'm sure the same radical-chic people who were outraged (along with everybody else) by the gay-priest scandals last year (which they carefully mislabelled 'pædophile' to keep their PC credentials) will give her a pass on it.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Gen. Wesley Clark: Bush lied to send America to war
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
The green patriarch
Lee Penn: The story is worth reading, and the Orthodox are being ... Orthodox and orthodox.

Stewardship of God's creation, including good old-fashioned conservation, is of course orthodox but this might be shading into PCness and political naïveté.

Jerusalem touted as world capital

UN irreplaceable for international dialogue, says Archbishop Martino
Vatican official comments on the next World Day of Peace

VATICAN CITY, JULY 22, 2003 ( The United Nations is 'irreplaceable' as a forum for international dialogue and world peace, and 'the Holy See has not stopped supporting it,' says a Vatican official, Archbishop Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace...

Lee Penn: Go figure. This 'irreplaceable' body is promoting population-control policies that oppose Vatican teachings ...

At least they tried to stop the war in Iraq. Stopped clock and all that.

Zenit, by the way, is owned by the conservative Novus Ordo RC group described by Paco.

< sarcasm > Get with the program, Lee — you expect consistency from these people? What are you, some kind of integrist wacko? < /sarcasm > (You are? Good!)

Sunday, August 17, 2003

What I’m watching
Mississippi Burning (1988)
Saw most of it recently, for the first time — first time I've seen Frances McDormand in something older than Fargo. The truth is probably somewhere between blog reader Joe Zollars' romanticism and this pro-federal government propaganda. One conservative observation: you can thank modern-sense liberalism, not the real injustice in the old South, for the cultural difference between the good-hearted, religious Southern blacks depicted in it and the goings-on up North depicted in rap. Modernity managed to do what slavery and Jim Crow couldn't: erode the American black family.
From Spintech, 2000
What the next Pope should do
by Lew Rockwell
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Russian Orthodox bishop blasts liberalization of Western churches
by Bishop Ilarion (Alfeyev) of Vienna and Austria, representing the Church of Russia

Saturday, August 16, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Greek Orthodox and Melkite Catholics rebuild church together in Syria
Lee Penn: Here is an instance of true ecumenism. One other thing leaped out at me:

According to Syrian law, when a new community is being developed, the
government allocates a plot of land for Christians, free of charge, so a
church can be built. The thinking behind this ensures a just and equitable balance
between newly constructed mosques and churches.

Lee: Remember, the Syrian government is part of the US-designated 'Axis of Evil'.
So ... go figure. Maybe they are less evil than the Israelis or the Bush Administration say that they are.
From today
Defending the Assumption
by Christopher Howse, The Spectator
From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Cloning yields human-rabbit hybrid embryo
From The Island of Dr Moreau to real science.

Friday, August 15, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Is Bush getting political advice from a dispensationalist doomsday televangelist?
From today
The marriage strike
by Wendy McElroy
How feminism's inciting Marxist class hatred between the sexes has boomeranged on women.
Some things are better now
As far as I know New York City isn't being torn apart by looters like it was in the 1977 blackout.
From Nicholas Stanosheck
Sanctified sodomy
by Charley Reese
Vs. real Christianity. I was wondering aloud recently — talking to central-churchpeople Charley (not Mr Reese) and Byrd — which was worse for the Catholic movement and for Anglicanism in general, the attempted ordination of women or Gene Robinson. The former, not just Barbara Harris* but the 1970s ordinations, effectively disposed of any Anglican claim to Catholicity — its ministry is Protestant. The latter? While there have been plenty of unworthy prelates historically in many churches, none have been elevated with the explicit, dogmatic approval of what they did. Not so Mr Robinson. The lady clergy confirmed Anglicanism's Protestant identity, but at least some in that camp are still Christians. If Charlotte Allen (see story Aug. 11) is right and belief in the divinity of Christ is 'optional', then it is in the same position as Unitarians: not a Christian church. (*'Affirmative-action' racism as well as Protestantism: if she were a white man there is no way that person would have been promoted to the episcopate.)
Happy Gregorian-calendar feast of the Assumption.

From Forum 18 (quasi-spammers who send me these stories)
Serbs: Prots, go home!

Thursday, August 14, 2003

From Mike Russell
The war network is mainstreaming porn
No surprise. I haven't got cable so I've seen neither on Fox.

Mike Russell: I've always believed that Faux News and the Faux, er, Fox network were
cut from a common bolt of sleazy cloth.

Just because they don't churn out a steady stream of elitist Marxist
bilge, Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp./Sky/Fox networks are no more
conservative than nominal Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger is. It's
incomprehensible to me how so many otherwise good, sensible Americans
still believe that that the Fox brand signifies some meaningful
alternative to nihilist pop culture, simply because its "fair and
balanced" [sic] news arm airs a continuous drumbeat of DoD-approved war

When delivered by models/newsbabes in micro-miniskirts, apostate
blowhard Bill O'Reilly, or the unspeakable Geraldo Rivera, this is
apparently supposed to be perceived as some sort of working Joe's
populist "conservatism." In reality, Fox is one of the preeminent
polluters of the ever-more toxic Kultursmog.

Of course, for the equally gullible yet better educated, we get Fred
Barnes and Mort Kondracke, the lookalike Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee of
beltway neoconservatism, serving up large daily helpings of
"conventional wisdom" on a variety of matters moral and political. It's
never disclosed, however, that PNAC founder and neocon sofa samurai Bill
Kristol, another Faux News regular, is directly on Murdoch's payroll via
his News Corp.-owned Weekly Standard magazine.

Now, with its dandy new show about pornographers, perhaps Fox should
consider re-branding itself and changing its name to some other word
beginning with "F." (Hmmm... I wonder if this means they'll be
supporting Larry Flynt over Arnold Schwarzenegger in the California recall
election?) [End.]

Speaking of f-ing and Rupert Murdoch, remember when Pat Robertson f-ed over his evangelical Protestant viewers sending donations and sold his network to Mr M?

Of course the beltway neocons want 'working Joe's populist "conservatism"' to mean things like invading Iraq.

Panem et circenses. Or as Natalie Merchant sang with 10,000 Maniacs about 10 years ago in 'Candy Everybody Wants':

Hey, hey, give ’em what they want.
If lust and hate is the candy,
if blood and love [
sic] taste so sweet,
then we give ’em what they want.

Seems whoever wrote that had Mr Murdoch and both parts of Fox sussed.

Reminds me: on American TV Aaron Spelling, who brought you 'The Love Boat' and 'Beverly Hills 90210', also still makes the gooey '7th Heaven' to patronize the 'family-values' viewers, but it's really PC of course. (Funny how, the couple of times I've seen it, a Protestant minister dad never mentions Christ.) As cynical as a non-Christian selling Christmas trees.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
BBC: Walsingham voted Britain’s favourite spiritual place

Dave also notes that the Eastern Orthodox have been part of the Marian shrine there since its restoration by Fr Alfred Hope-Patten in 1931.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

From the Live Journal of Orthodox Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist)
Godwardness: an illustration

Monastery of Christ the Saviour (Anglican), Hove, England

They look Benedictine.

This could be criticized for mixing and matching rites but it works.
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Obituary: Fr Constantin Galeriu
Romanian Orthodox priest.

He was also a ''duhovnic,'' or spiritual father, a title the church gives to older priests who are spiritually mature.

Romanian is a Latin-based language, a sister to Italian, and sounds it, but this is really a Russian word, духовник, as is the Romanian word for yes.

Monday, August 11, 2003

A spike who doxed
by Fr Chad Hatfield (whom I've met)
Well-written, even if one doesn't agree with his conclusion. Makes lots of good points.
From today and The LA Times
The church of what’s happenin’ now
Charlotte Allen on the dwindling Episcopalians vs. the Godward, thriving Anglicans of the Third World.

I've seen some of what's described, regularly riding my bike through what the English would euphemistically call an 'urban priority area', past a stately ca. 1900 Gothic Episcopal church left over from when the neighborhood was populated by comfortable middle-class families. I imagine those who go there — stately older black ladies with hats like the Queen Mother used to wear — are a lot like the congregation of another slum church I used to ride past — you could tell it used to be Anglo-Catholic, as it'd always been a poor section and such priests used to specialize in those. Wonderful priest and congregation: older black people with an accent like Bob Marley.
From the news
The ending of Saddam's regime in Iraq must be the starting point of a new dispensation for the Middle East. — George W. Bush

Sounds like he's been reading Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye.

Be afwaid — be vewy afwaid. — Elmer Fudd

Sunday, August 10, 2003

From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Return to Godwardness
'We need a return to the piety of our religion that acknowledges the supremacy of God, rather than insisting, as we have since the Second Vatican Council, on the supremacy of humankind in the church... The church is a divinely established institution, and God does not require our assistance to maintain, to change or alter that design.' — Bishop Thomas Doran (RC), Rockford, Illinois

He gets it. Of course, when it comes to worship, the churches that use the Byzantine Rite never forgot that.

'Don Balsam of Roscoe ...was encouraged in the 1960s by the Second Vatican Council, which allowed girl altar servers, Masses in English and a stronger lay voice.'

Did it now? That reporter didn't check facts. Sure, the thing was a mistake but it didn't do that.

Bible quotation from Dave:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. — II Paralipomenon VII:14
The brogue wears off
by J.P. Zmirak
He makes lots of good points here. is anti-open immigration and could be construed as racist but that's obviously not where I'm coming from. There should be restrictions, not based on race at all of course, simply for pragmatic reasons: 1) a country's first obligation is to its citizens and 2) a country can handle only so many new people at a time.

Two basic forces driving fallen human history: sheer lust, and rank inequality. Feel compelled to suppress one, and (unless you’re a saint) you’ll probably give yourself a pass on the other.


Irish immigrants built the infrastructure and guided the development of the Roman Catholic Church in America for over 100 years, manning and nunning the parishes and schools. As a result, the attitudes of other Catholics in America were Hibernicized (Hiberneated?). Even the Italians in America are effectively half-Irish.

True. Thomas Day has described this well. See his excellent book Why Catholics Can't Sing.

Makes sense culturally — despite being despised even on made-up racial grounds by the Protestant majority in the 1800s, the Irish had an advantage over other immigrants since they really belonged to the majority culture. They came from the British Isles and, in most but not all cases, came over already speaking English.

Non-Irish immigrants were treated shabbily by the Irish bishops. Those who resisted such hibernicization left — Byzantine Catholics understandably turned to the Russian Orthodox and there were little Polish (this still exists), Lithuanian and even Italian schisms. The RCs started 'national parishes' and the Vatican set up a Byzantine Rite bishopric in America after the horse had run out of the barn, an attempt at damage control after the fact. To this day among them 'Irish' is assumed to be 'normal' and everything else is 'ethnic'.

I've always liked people from Ireland I've met, both in the UK and the States, but Irish-Americans are usually different. The Irish have been described as 'friendly, humble' people, I'd say still part of a mediæval Catholic culture, whereas the Irish-Americans are cut off from those roots. It's the difference between a holy-day-of-obligation Mass in Ireland on St Patrick's Day and the plastic-Paddy, green-beer and parade-fest in America, really nothing to do with the saint or even Ireland, but rather pride (in both good and not-good ways) and ego: about the immigrants' children mastering the American way.

...increasing numbers of young Catholics in America are leaving aside the Church’s teachings on moral issues—not with the guilty conscience of their fornicating forebears, but with a shrug and a smile—and becoming warriors on behalf of multiculturalism.

... these post-Catholic youth still go to Mass sometimes, even plan to send their kids to Catholic schools.
They don’t believe in key Catholic doctrines, but they wish to “stay Catholic.”

Yes, the people and the crap I remember from college: prime example of the yawning gap between 'common-knowledge Catholicism' today and what I believe. Mainline Protestantism without the consolation of Anglican aesthetics — the only other difference is the people have non-Anglo last names.

One youthful post-Catholic witnessed his faith as follows:

“On issues such as immigration, concern for the poor, economic justice, racism and relationships with other world religions, the majority of young Catholics can and do line up right behind [Pope John Paul II]… He’s a spiritual celebrity, right up there with the Dalai Lama and Bono.”

'Post-Catholic': good one, sir. Of course, all this is the distortion of Christianity knows as liberalism in the modern sense — indistinguishable from mainline Protestantism. Aye, the Irish have 'arrived' in American society. A lot of it is true at face value (like the most dangerous lies are) but as a standalone substitute creed it's heresy and it doesn't work.

In fact, of course, the broadly leftist positions identified with “social justice” by the Catholic Left have no basis in Catholic tradition. Most were adopted by America’s bishops’ committees, I believe, to counterbalance the seemingly “right-wing” stances on life issues which the Vatican pressured them to maintain.

True and true. Want to see real 'social justice'? Read about Catherine de Hueck, Dorothy Day and Fr Trevor Huddleston 50-60 years ago and forget the pseudo stuff from 'post-Catholics'.

It didn’t hurt that the bishops’ staffers were largely drawn from Democratic hiring halls—for instance, ex-employees of the Carter Administration

Right, the old immigrant workingman/Democrat connection, exploited to this day. Understandable, if shortsighted and wrong, once upon a time.

As in most developed countries, the Church has simply failed to pass along the Faith to the younger American generations.

And I thought this attrition was just a problem among the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholics! What an epiphany. It's happening to the RCs too! One difference is a lot of the apostates stayed behind and morphed the institutions. Also, the attrition hits the Eastern churches harder because they are so much smaller, due to immigration patterns many years ago.

The fact is by the third generation after immigration the Old Country culture is gone: it's why the Eastern churches hæmorrhage people and it turns out, says Zmirak, why the RCs lose them too. I'm too honest to say I'm not a part of modern society and not about to turn in my libertarian ideas but it makes me wonder if critics like the Society of St Pius X and hardline Eastern Orthodox are ultimately right after all about the imcompatibility of the faith and this society. I'm still trying to walk the tightrope and hold the faith and classical Liberalism. It's an American thing.

So Catholic bishops have lurched to the Left, and embraced open borders—in part, simply to draw in more young Catholic immigrants from developing countries, Catholics who have not yet had their beliefs eroded by life in post-Christian America.

A couple of problems with this argument: 1) the liberals (they sometimes slip and admit this) would find the beliefs of such immigrants abhorrent — but maybe Zmirak is right and they put up with this just to keep the institution (and their jobs) going. 2) The immigration from Latin America, which should have been a windfall for them, wasn't because they often turn evangelical Protestant, partly out of sincere religious feeling and conviction and partly to Americanize themselves... and partly because they're aggressively solicited.

'Post-Christian' — I hate that expression. Talk about throwing in the towel.

These impoverished recent arrivals will fill the pews and seminaries for one generation—until they too are seduced by the siren songs of modern life, and allowed to drift away by a weak and divided American Church. Then they, too will be replaced by fresh recruits from Vietnam, the Philippines, Mexico, and Africa…and so on, presumably ad infinitum.

True. SS, DD — 'same stuff, different diocese' as the Eastern churches! Immigration from Eastern Europe (thanks in part to no more Iron Curtain) plus the unexpected, unsolicited 'convert boomlet' of disaffected Americans to Eastern Orthodoxy are keeping them afloat — for one generation.

Does the real harm done to low-income Americans by mass immigration justify the temporary uptick in church-goers and seminarians?

I dare say no.

And to raise a purely spiritual matter—are poor people drawn into U.S. cities, with all their urban pathologies, awash in American pop culture, more likely to get to heaven than if they’d stayed at home?

Excellent point.

The American Catholics who’ve lurched to the Left have, in effect, founded a whole new church. I suggest we call it “Reform Catholicism.”

Or as the late Fr Malachi Martin and Bishop Richard Williamson call it, using a fittingly Orwellian-sounding contraction, 'AmChurch'.

Eighteen months on I still can't believe that I — who learnt Russian, have otherwise committed to the Byzantine Rite and agree that latinization is wrong — was driven off a Byzantine Catholic message board where I'd been for three years prior and told by the drivers-off on that board (who were Catholics, putatively Byzantine) to get out of Eastern Christianity, in truth a conservative tradition by nature opposed to 'AmChurch'-ness, for talking about this stuff. I admit I'm obsessive and not the best spokesman for a cause but I think the real issue was covering up and/or defending the thing being opposed — attacking my credibility personally was a means to those ends.

So because of all that I usually don't use the term on this blog or bring up the subject much, but it's exactly what Zmirak is talking about here.

But liberal creeds rarely carry on to the third or fourth generation. Intermarriage, apathy, and other evangelical faiths tend to carry them off. No normal person swears onto celibate poverty to tend a watery, Bobo creed.

I admit I enjoy and selectively take from 'Bobo' (bourgeois bohemian) culture but this is entirely true. The orthodox are losing people but the ageing hippies and church dissenters haven't got generational followers either.

Reminds me of something Fr George Rutler once said: one doesn't hear of deathbed conversions to the local United Methodist conference, and one doesn't buy one's 'fire insurance' from the Unitarian Universalists!

The liberal clerics who promote post-Catholicism are mostly middle-aged or older, folks who joined up in the 1950s to say the rosary, fight Communism, and obey the pope—then lost their Faith or nerve, but decided to keep their jobs.

'Right on' as members of that generation might say. They're dying out but not going gently into that good night. Like I said above, in the RCs' case, a lot of the apostates stayed behind and morphed the institutions instead of coming clean and leaving.

But they will fail.

Indeed. They're dying off and the next generation isn't interested in their brand of church.

A new generation of “Likud Catholics”—as I think I’ll call myself henceforth—will shove them aside, like New Yorkers making their way down Second Avenue. Just as liberal mainstream Protestantism has been numerically upstaged by the harder-line sects.

Though I don't like the state of Israel, well put. There is a kind of restoration under way, maybe part of a larger phenomenon with the American convert boomlet to Eastern Christianity.

And the money quote:

Serious Catholics could never mistake the American nation for an earthly incarnation of a universal creed. They already have such a creed. And it doesn’t depend on this or any nation.


Both the open left (the government can and must cure all society's problems) and the neoconservatives (spread the American way — invade Iraq) make this mistake. The orthodox don't.
Our Lady of Smolensk
Съ праздникомъ! Today Russian Orthodox remember this icon, one of many in the Hodigitria style, with Our Lord enthroned on Our Lady's left arm. Apparently this one too has a legend about St Luke painting it. A version of it I've seen and liked is Russian, very solemn with dark yellows, dark reds, deep blues and almost brown faces, and has Our Lord facing His Mother and, like a small adult, seeming to have a conversation with her.

St Lawrence
Whose Gregorian-calendar, Roman Rite and Book of Common Prayer (1662) feast-day is today. A shout-out to any Larrys who read this blog!
The article on rap whose link I posted yesterday — as E. Michael Jones or one of his writers once put it, when did black music become so mean? — reminded me of this short piece online about 'wiggers' or as one acquaintance described the 12-14-year-old version, 'DJ Jazzy Trevor':

Two Beer White Guy
(Warning: foul language.)

Saturday, August 09, 2003

A shout-out to blog readers and new friends Charley and Byrd, intelligent and down-to-earth people who happen to be middle-church Episcopalians (not Anglo-Catholic but still Christian and not part of the Gene Robinson fiasco) and great examples of the Christian life. Thanks for the jam and the dinner!
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Orthodox repentance vs. Modernist arrogance
According to the late Fr Seraphim (Rose)
You might have to register and log in on this person's site to read it.
From Mike Russell
How hip-hop holds blacks back
Or, how Marxist ’60s politics of hate changed American black culture: from the beautiful songs of Berry Gordy's Motown (see quotation below) and Kenny Gamble's Philadelphia International to vicious 'gangsta' *&%!

Mother, mother, there's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother, there's far too many of you dying
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today, hey

Father, father, we don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today, oh...

— Marvin Gaye, 'What's Goin' On', 1971
St Panteleimon (Pantaleone)
The doctor who cured people for free and was martyred for Christ
His feast day is July 27 so Eastern Orthodox who use the Julian reckoning remember him today. The orthodox but sceptical Catholic Donald Attwater noted that the only thing we know for sure about him is that the Byzantine emperor Justinian rebuilt a church named after him in Nicomedia, Bithynia, where he was from; the rest is legend. Might be true but as far as I know not required belief. (Beliefs that the communion of saints can pray for you and that you can invoke them are.) Attwater also wrote that like St Januarius (San Gennaro) in Naples in September, in the town of Ravello, Italy a relic of his blood liquefies. He is so popular among Orthodox that if I recall correctly the one Russian monastery on Mt Athos is named after him.
Swimming Pool
The first movie I've gone out and seen all summer. An enjoyable 'art film' treading familiar ground — repressed English vs. freewheeling French, sexuality, rivalry between an older and a younger woman, writer gets caught up in a story out of her own book. Definitely not for the easily offended and/or tempted. (Warning: in my opinion one little scene — 'real' or 'dream'? — crossed the line into X/NC-17.) Charlotte Rampling, whom I saw on screen for the first time in this, with her world-weary, worldly-wise hooded eyes and well-spoken, icy deadpanning, is still attractive in that Helen Mirren older-woman way. Her character seems meant to personify (caricature?) much of Englishness, good and bad. (Interesting mannerism I of course picked up on — in beautiful rural France at the holiday villa she keeps taking down the cross from above her bed, as if being in Catholic France is as uncomfortable to her as her young housemate's, ah, loud activities downstairs.) Ludivine Sagnier, whom the film depicts as 'all that', is serviceable in the part but not as, well, interesting as Rampling — her character is basically just bratty Eurotrash (and a little outdated with the permed hair and the denim, like a time-traveller out of the ’80s). Rampling's mostly subtle scenes with local hunk 'Franck' (maybe, just maybe, a hint of romance and not just lust?) are far sexier than all the explicit stuff Sagnier is supposedly doing — she could make S's 'Julie' jealous without really trying.

I can imagine how an American big studio would have ruined this: have all the locals speak English with exaggerated French accents instead of speaking French, throw a big, soggy musical score on it and make a female 'buddy picture' out of it — sort of a pseudo-Euro Thelma and Louise or Weekend at Bernie's.

Friday, August 08, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Billionaire George Soros launches get-out-the-vote campaign vs. Bush
Decisions, decisions... for me it's a choice of throwing my vote away (voting Libertarian or writing in Joe Sobran or somebody else worthy) or staying home.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Col. David Hackworth
Another online news source on the Iraq war. Also, an article on the colonel and the war from today.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Guardian obituary for Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom)
Remembering Hiroshima
A war crime, committed 58 years ago today.
SS Boris and Gleb
While those using the Gregorian calendar celebrate Our Lord's revelation of His divinity to Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor, those on the Julian-reckoning church calendar remember two of Russia's first saints, sons of that nation's first Christian king, St Vladimir. Hard to believe that in a history, both Byzantine and Russian, full of violence, these two princes (resembling King Edward V and Richard, the boys Richard III of England had die in the Tower of London) chose to be 'passion-bearers', passively suffering rather than stand up to their brother, Svyatopolk. While Christianity and this blog aren't pacifist (force in self-defence is fine), these two are amazing witnesses to peace.
This news parody site seems pretty good.

From ‘Cranmer’, the Catholic Message Board
On Gene Robinson
At this point, I'm glad that the gay bishop has been ordained*. It is high time the Episcopal Church showed its true colors**, and my hope is that orthodox Anglicans within it will now make a true stand and disassociate from ECUSA completely.

*Not yet — he's been elected and will be made a bishop in November.

**'Somewhere, over the rainbow...' Or perhaps a shade of brown. Ugh.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Съ праздникомъ
Happy vigil of the Transfiguration to all following the Gregorian calendar.

Not much to report really except this week has a beautiful picture of Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) on its front page announcing his death.

It seems to me it's not a question of if but when the Episcopalians elect a 'gay' bishop.

Fr Seraphim (Rose) vs. democracy
'[Fr Seraphim] was especially intolerant of what he for some reason called "Lucies" — people of the shallow "herd" mentality who have nothing to say and yet are always talking... 'Democracy', [Fr Seraphim] said, 'is government according to the opinions of Lucies.'" — Not of This World, p. 88

Might the herd mentality, like liberalism in the modern sense, socialism and political correctness, be a counterfeit of Catholicity?

'The first stage [of the nihilist mentality] Eugene [Fr Seraphim] described was Liberalism, a passive rather than an overt Nihilism, a neutral breeding-ground of the more advanced stages... The liberal view of government is also weak, arising from an attempt at compromise between two irreconcilable ideas: government as Divinely established, with soveriegnty invested in a monarch, and government with the "people" as sovereign. the chief representatives of the Liberal idea are the "republics" and "democracies" of Western Europe and America."' — Not of This World, p. 135

This pretty much mirrors what some western Catholic critics of modernity, including Bishop Richard Williamson, believe. It's an allowable opinion, perfectly orthodox, but not the only option for the apostolic Christian. My beliefs on this — see — basically would be classed as Liberal in the classical, not the modern, sense, and so fall short in Fr Seraphim's view, but then again he was fallible.

'Communism, it seems clear, is nearing a transformation itself, a 'humanizing', a 'spiritualizing'... [Fr Seraphim died in 1982, before the 'fall of Communism'.] The 'democracies,' by a different path, are approaching the same goal...' — Not of This World, p. 234

Monday, August 04, 2003

From Dustin Anastasios Hudson
Daryl Cagle’s Professional Cartoonists Index
He doesn't agree with a lot of these political cartoons (except that they're funny) but knew I'd like them, so here they are.
From ekklesia
On the road to nowhere
by Giles Fraser
Anglican Bishop Riah Abu el-Assal of Jerusalem condemns 'road map' to a Palestinian state as a piece of US propaganda going nowhere.
Вечная память
David Holford has written again with the news that Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) died this afternoon.
From today
Where US conservative Christians go wrong
by William Anderson
My point exactly yesterday re: 'gay marriage': adopting the secular world's coercive politics is going to boomerang on you.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin has his own live journal (basically the same thing as a Web log, or blog).
From Mike Russell
Irish Times: Clergy who distribute Vatican document on homosexuality could face prosecution under Irish ‘hate crimes’ legislation
You read that right: in Ireland.
Of your charity pray
Blog reader David Holford writes that Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) in Britain is about to die: 'Our bishop ... of Sourozh (the diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate in the UK) is very, very near to passing from this life into the next, if he has not already received his crown.

'As of Friday night, he had already passed into unconciousness and he has been anointed.

'Please pray for him.'

I've been to the Russian Orthodox (Moscow Patriarchate) cathedral in London* a handful of times, the last in 1993 on St Thomas Sunday, the week after Pascha (Easter), and got to hear the metropolitan** preach.

*The Cathedral of the Assumption and All Saints in Ennismore Gardens, housed in a handsome 19th-century ex-Anglican church that looks like a Roman basilica. The congregation is largely Russian, but while in the late 1980s almost everything was in Slavonic, I remember more English in the early 1990s (including this wonderful 'Anglicanized', if puzzling to the non-churched, translation of the Glory Be: '... now and ever, world without end. Amen'). The Russian Orthodox metropolia in England has made an effort, it seems, to reach out beyond its ethnic borders to the English, as has the Russian Church Abroad there.

**Renowned even among non-Orthodox as a religious writer. Born to Russians abroad, he came to Britain by way of France, where he was a medical doctor and served in the Resistance during World War II.
‘Banzai’ on Fox
Can't blame the Americans for this — it's British-made, satirizing frenetic Japanese TV game shows (and probably way dumbed down from same) — but even though it features some clever graphics (with kanji Japanese characters) and a few ethnic-Asian actors, I thought such things went out with minstrel shows and Mickey Rooney or Jerry Lewis appearing on film with false buck teeth and tape on their eyes. Evidently not on Rupert Murdoch's TV channel.
OK, I’m back
Was going to join my friends from for the weekend but had to deal with an emergency at home (if you're really curious, I was replacing a dying car) that kept me off this blog for a few days, all the same.

From the news
Ashcroft: al-Qaida could strike again
(Striking own cheek in disbelief as jaw drops.) Nooooooooo!

Well, just when almost all the American sheeple had been stirred up about Saddam Hussein again, thanks to the Two Minutes' Hate on 'Faux News', etc., he had to blow his cover and remind everybody that Osama bin Laden is still at large.

OK, brain-box, perhaps if you'd 1) told the American powers that be to stop propping up the Israelis and stay out of Palestine, and just send the US troops in the Mideast home, thus taking away Mr bin Laden's motive, 2) not wasted American lives and resources beating up a scapegoat country with a tinpot dictator that had nothing to do with Sept. 11 and 3) instead, done 1) and actually concentrated on catching the surviving people really responsible for the 2001 attacks on the US, you wouldn't have had to issue this warning...

... but then again, without perpetual war there'd be no excuse for gutting what's left of the American republic and Americans' liberty with things like the Patriot Act, yes?

On possibly OKing so-called ‘gay marriage’ in the US
I think Mr Bush’s words on this may be partly sincere (from his evangelical Protestant beliefs) and partly a sop to cultural conservatives including the Protestant religious right to bolster his chances in 2004.

Sometimes it feels like juggling pieces of Wedgewood china whilst walking a tightrope, but here is an attempt to balance a commitment to the faith with American libertarianism (the best American way of politics).

For the sake of being impartial and defending everybody's rights, including the rights of Christians, and including the right to be wrong, should/must American government give homosexual unions the same status as marriage?

For several reasons — the common good (actual families with children build up society), simply reflecting plain common sense (the natural order of things reflecting the divine law), as well as the pragmatic matter, as reported in a news story linked here recently that said male homosexual unions only last a year and a half on average anyway — the faith beats morally indifferent politics. The answer is no.

Here is the balancing act.

Does this mean the government should snoop around in people's bedrooms? No again.

Historically the Church Catholic has always recognized that the state ≠ the Church, though the two should be in sync (symphonia as the Byzantines put it). In fact if I recall correctly, confusing/equating the two is heresy! The world ultimately is not perfectible by our efforts (believing otherwise is again, I think, heresy) — people are always going to sin, and even Christian states pragmatically have allowed for that, hence a libertarian approach to prostitution, for example, while at the same time trying to promote what is moral both for its own sake and for the common good.

Such vices only become the government's business if they become a public health hazard.

If what Chad and Tyler do in their lovely restored Victorian house in San Francisco isn't such a hazard, as a citizen I can say live and let live. (And chances are they're going to do it anyway so why get the government involved at all?)

But as both a citizen and a churchman I won't say it's OK for the state to reject common sense and provoke the anger of God (yes!) by pretending it's the same as a natural and/or a sacramental marriage.

In the natural order people have a God-given revulsion to this stuff, which, given that this is a fallen natural order (enter sin), can manifest itself in ugly and cruel ways (Matthew Shepherd, for example). Wrong? Of course, just like any other sin. But understandable? Yes. (Before anybody sends me hate e-mail, understanding why something happens ≠ approving what happens.)

(I wonder if the paragraph above is going to get the troll started again — the one who'd been impersonating me online on message boards and e-mail lists. Since he's been 'outed' (ha ha) here and on my old site, let's hope not.)

So much of modernity's take on God's gift of sexuality — doing everything from pretending homosexual couples can conceive and bear children and having oneself surgically mutilated, then getting shots of the other sex's hormone the rest of one's life to maintain the illusion, to the far commoner practice of using potions and devices to prevent conception and the 'final solution' (jawohl), killing one's baby in the womb — is simply about dodging reality!

Speaking of such issues, it seems the Episcopal Church is about to go ahead with its first-ever consecration of an openly 'gay' bishop, the Revd Gene Robinson. (At its General Convention this was approved by the House of Deputies and it seems sure to be OK'd by the House of Bishops.) Whether there will be any sizeable conservative reaction that's taken seriously remains to be seen, but the attempted ordination of women didn't do it back in the 1970s, so my expectations aren't that great. However, considering that what's being approved is so outrageous even mainstream Episcopalians who are still Christians object to it, anything's possible.