Friday, October 31, 2003

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Old news
I had no idea 'Prime Suspect' silver fox Dame Helen Mirren is an ethnic Russian!
Public-service announcement from sixsixfive
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
One, two, three, what are they fighting for?
by Robert Fisk
As reported here earlier, American soldiers understandably and rightly are fed up.
Gnostic nastiness
My acquaintance Fr Paul Hewett remembers the ’70s
Exciting news from today
Is partial reversal of autism possible?
Not as long as the US government orders mercury shots
by Vin Suprynowicz

Monday, October 27, 2003

Could this be the end of TV game shows like ‘Joe Millionaire’?
Let’s hope so.
In Pope John Paul II we have seen greatness
by Eric Margolis
Duly noted
It's a slow news day at least based on input from the 'fab four' correspondents, Dave, John, Lee and Samer, so here are some acknowledgements.

Many thanks to for listing this blog and for the front-page link today, which has got me a load of traffic.

And to everybody who came here last week, especially for the discussion of Palestine, making it one of the busiest (most heavily trafficked) weeks in this blog's history.

Congratulations to Fr Deacon Lance Weakland of the Byzantine Catholic Church, who was ordained yesterday. He wrote this version of his rite's hours/divine office for home use.
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
An appeal to President Bush
by Bishop Pat Power, Canberra, Australia

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Pacificus vocabitur
He shall be called † the Peaceful, and his throne shall be established for ever and ever. - 1st antiphon, Vespers

Happy feast of Christ the King (Roman Rite) - the King of PEACE - from this blog.

Also today, on the Julian church calendar used by Russian Orthodox, is the feast of Our Lady of Iveron, significant to the Churches of Russia and Georgia. I mentioned her and added a link here earlier this month - a search using the tool at the bottom of this page should turn it up. Съ праздникомъ!
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
German plans for Euro-army ‘show Blair is deceiving Britain’

Saturday, October 25, 2003

After the antiwar demonstration this afternoon I rode my bicycle to one of the Russian Orthodox churches in the city and went to the Vespers part of Vigil (Vespers, Matins and Prime strung together), all in Slavonic and with a priest who has an impressive basso voice. (And he's not Russian!) All I can say is the Middle Ages lives on and for that I am glad.

Fr Andrei Urusov
Scroll down in this article to read about him. Fascinating. I know that in the 1950s he was at the Catholic Russian Center in San Francisco, the church of our own Lee Penn. I think he eventually reverted to the Russian Orthodox Church and it seems, as described here, he was living pretty much as a hermit in Oregon. He is no longer with us - died fairly recently, within the last three years.

A note about this man's anecdote - performing a wedding for two people who aren't Orthodox isn't standard operating procedure. But it seems Fr Andrei was a wise, good-hearted old soul, with the same mix of orthodoxy/conservatism/strictness in religion, eccentricity and charity that is so appealing about sound Anglo-Catholics.

The mother of a former friend had a photo of him from the early ’60s, signed and with this note: 'Tell the baby I'm Santa Claus!'
From Carrie Tomko’s blog
Sydney Anglican synod tells church members they can’t be Masons
Hooray! Sydney, under Archbishop Peter Jensen, is Protestant - always Low Church, they are playing with the idea of lay celebration of Communion - but Christian.

Holy sex
You read that right.
My fourth antiwar march
In a usually placid city park on a brisk American autumn day. I rode my bicycle in and soon found a group of cute kids, earnest teen/20-ish people and a magnificent hippyish grey-haired lady who'd probably done the protest thing 35 years ago when it was hip. They had some wonderful antiwar signs and when I asked if they could lend me one I found myself drafted into the afternoon's main event, a huge multi-act piece of performance art (OK, a glorified skit) acted out on a field! I got myself a sign saying 'IRAQI CHILDREN ARE BEAUTIFUL' and gladly did my bit. It seemed like a perfect seasonal festival complete with musicians (lots of percussion* - rhythm-band stuff) and costumed people with big papier-mâché masks. Like medieval miracle plays (this too was big on symbolism, this time political), mummery (in the old English sense) or Carneval in French and South American cultures. And the local little kids had loads of fun!

The big sponsors of the thing turned out not to be a Commie front group as I've become used to but a sweet-natured Quaker youth group! With a goodly number of adults of varying ages** and cute dogs.

*One instrument, an interesting antiwar touch, got my attention not only for its cowbell sound but for military-history reasons! It was the casing of a World War II 500-pound bomb, with fins, etc. - these were dropped from planes.

**If by chance you're reading this, hi, Victoria! Glad you made it home to Brooklyn OK.
Ex-POW blasts ‘special treatment’ of Jessica Lynch
Fun with spam
With these pills you can shoot curn like a porn star!

What did poor curn ever do to me? LOL.

As you all know, spelling tricks like that - to fool filters - are one way spammers get into your e-mail inboxes.
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Kurds are finally heard: Turkey burned our villages
A New York Times story: they make you sign in.

S al-B: And the US wants to bring in these fine examples into Iraq? According to some reports, the Kurds of Iraq aren't new to the taste of relatively recent Turkish attacks. Apparently, regular American sorties over the no-fly zones were sometimes paused to allow the Turks to initiate some bombings of their own.

A book by Dalrymple was recently suggested as a read on this blog. His trip takes him to the war zone of southwest Turkey, and to Diyarbakir. He visits an important monastery also. I recall his book was written in the mid-nineties, when the threat to the Suriani Christians of the region was already very grave. I have no idea what's left of them today, and by how far the community has diminished in numbers since the writing of the book.

His trip takes him to the war zone of southwest Turkey, and to Diyarbakir.

S al-B: Southeast Turkey.
From today
The PC war against RP
Received Pronunciation in British English - that is, the cultivated, homogenized, often upper-class southern English voice you used to hear on the BBC but don't anymore really. I don't think anybody under 40 uses it in pure form. You can hear echoes of it in the speech of people two generations older.

One might argue similarly that in the States gangsta culture is a plot to keep blacks oppressed.
15 of 46 trapped Russian miners rescued

Friday, October 24, 2003

Don’t be so quick to ‘forgive’!
by Dr Laura Schlessinger
A shocker, isn't it? But there's a reason why I added mock inverted commas.

'Look, I said I'm sorry! Now since you're a big fan of Christ (chortle), you have to forgive me!' is a crock.

And this tough Jewish-Italian lady has the guts to say so.

If you do wrong and aren't truly sorry for what you did, even God in the Sacrament of Confession or otherwise won’t forgive.

Why should we be different?
From today and Common Dreams
Impeach Bush now
by John MacArthur

From LRC yesterday
Christendom revisited, part II
Growing up in Germany
by Sabine Barnhart
Wisdom, be attentive
From the Net: 'Inclusiveness pursued as an end in itself inevitably results in dissolution.'

Back to the future
Some ancient authority for 'Prayer Book Catholics'. From 'padwork': 'It was after reading (Archimandrite Robert) Taft (Byzantine Catholic liturgist) that I realised if someone was saying Cranmer's morning or evening office they were doing virtually the same as some obscure Egyptian monastery in the 4th century.'

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Съ праздникомъ
Prayer of the Optina Elders

Молитва оптинских старцев

Also sometimes attributed to St Philaret, metropolitan of Moscow.

Perhaps it's where Reinhold Niebuhr got the idea for the Serenity Prayer.
On praying the psalms
by St Athanasius
Guantánamo guano
by David Holford
Labour expels Galloway
Political martyr?

Mr Sharon, tear down this wall
Palestine fact, from Dr Naim Ateek: before 1993 there were no suicide bombers.

Bush heckled in Australian parliament
Who I've been hearing in person
Fr Philip North, administrator, Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
Last saw him in England 13 years ago when we both were kids in our early 20s. How far he has come! Looks and sounds every bit the 'sound!' priest, complete with 39-button cassock.

Bishop Keith Ackerman, Diocese of Quincy, Illinois, Episcopal Church
Ordinary of one of the three remaining relatively good dioceses in that church and episcopal visitor elsewhere. A guardian of the shrine, His Grace assured me that lady clergy don't officiate there.
From Rome correspondent John Boyden
Curtains ordered for media coverage of returning coffins
JB: Hey, don't like negativity in the press? Well, cover it up! Literally!

Mr Bush’s government covers up the horror of war — literally. They'd rather you see Saving Jessica Lynch instead.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

In case you didn’t know
From Nicholas Stanosheck's blog: Monastery Icons (whose products have been described as the McDonald's of icons for their quality and ubiquity) isn't Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox or Catholic - it's New Age.
Two bits of good news
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush orders Terri Schiavo saved

US Senate OKs partial-birth abortion ban

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

What an original idea for a war-propaganda film, LOL.
Princess Diana feared staged car accident
It's widely believed in the Arab world that British intelligence had her killed ’cos she was pregnant by Dodi al-Fayed.

In my and others' opinion, FWIW Prince Harry obviously isn't Prince Charles' son. He looks like the riding instructor who wrote a book, Diana's boyfriend before Mr al-Fayed.
Three from this week’s The Onion
For Halloween: Eating generic candy corn will give you AIDS
by Patrick Carlin, CEO, Brach's Confections

Mommy’s wedding more fun than Daddy’s
Ties in with this entry on El Camino Real (the King's Highway), the blog of my good friend Jeff Culbreath. The ecclesiastic in me can't help noticing the mainline Protestant minister in the photo stage-smiling along with the whole charade.

Muscleman put in charge of world’s fifth largest economy
Funny, but seriously, from an American, libertarian POV his not being a politician is good. The idea was not to have career pols but rather gentlemen citizens who'd do their bit in office and return to private life, which is what he'll do.

Speaking of returning to private life, isn't it funny how it seems nobody is asking Bill Clinton's advice on world politics?

Dick Dale
He's shown up on the television recently in a car commercial. Turns out he's the guy who played 'Miserlou' (the theme of Pulp Fiction), the father of surf guitar (and of heavy metal!) and, amazingly, plays guitar left-handed by holding it upside down and playing it backwards - he taught himself to play 50 years ago by changing the chords in his head. Brilliant.
Florida Senate voting to have governor save Terri Schiavo
US Senate debates partial-birth abortion ban
From today
Franco ≠ Hitler
by Christopher Manion
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
From many gods to one?
S al-B: Interesting article. The theory of primitive monotheism brings to mind Islam's theological worldview, which sees the prophets as men who were charged with the task of renewing God's revelation every time mankind strayed from the original and primordial revelation of tawheed (unification--God is One), revealed to Adam, the first man, to the error and deadly (arguably the most deadly) sin of shirk (sharing--meaning assigning to other than God His absolute attributes and assigning partners to him in His absolute rule and divinity). As the cosmic scenario of Fall and Redemption is absent from Islamic theology, hence negating the need for a Saviour, the prophets' mission is not to herald the coming of the Messiah as the Redeemer mankind has been waiting for since the time of Adam. Rather, the prophets are a corrective device; they steer the wayward back on track as they branch off from at'tareek al-mustaqeem (the Straight Way) that was followed at the very beginning of history, the primordial monotheism. Therefore, Jesus is sent with the Gospel, a fresh new draft and renewal of Revelation, as a response to the Jews' having corrupted the Torah and strayed from the path of God; he is not the Saviour Whose coming is necessitated from the very beginning due to the curse with which Adam has beleaguered the human race. Christians commit the sin of shirk and also corrupt their sacred texts. Revelation is once again renewed, and is delivered by its seal: Mohammad. Islam's simplicity and absence of a scenario of cosmic restoration and redemption of sinful man has it focusing more in its essence on the concept this article describes: a primoridal religion and revelation, a monotheism that existed before the Old Testament, and before Noah, back to the first man. To focus on this concept from a Christian perspective makes this article a very interesting and intriguing read.

Anonymous: The primordial element (particularly when mixed in with apocryphal lore--think Adam and Lilith) seems to greatly entice goths, at least in my view. It seems to be one of their biggest fetishes. Whether what passes as "ancient" to them is the paganism of the pre-Christian era or an ancient, apocryphal monotheism is anyone's guess.

From Lew Rockwell’s blog
Heroic, clever American kid outsmarts federal creeps
The apostolic ministry at work
Coptic Orthodox Church condemns homosexuality

Monday, October 20, 2003

Who I’ve been hearing in person
The Revd Canon Dr Naim Ateek
Sometime canon, St George’s Anglican Cathedral, Jerusalem, and a Palestinian.

Heard him speak for about an hour and a half last night and so from a firsthand source got confirmation of everything I believe about Palestine.

Very good - he seems Christian and preaches nonviolence (so perhaps, gladly, it really isn't Communist 'liberation theology') - but from the passion with which he speaks you can tell underneath he'd love to see Israel (the government, not the people - again, he is a Christian) wiped off the map and I don't blame him.

He and his large extended family were kicked out of their Galilean village in ’48 by the Zionists. 'Ethnic cleansing': the Israelis rolled in one day and told the townspeople they had two hours to get out. Then they separated the people by religion, dumping the Muslims in Jordan and the Christians in Israel around Nazareth.

Most of the many, many Palestinian villages were destroyed. His hometown, Basan, was taken over and repopulated by the Israelis. There is a bank where his boyhood home was. He joked, 'Oh, sure, give me the bank!'

A born Christian, Dr Ateek is Anglican because when the Israelis dumped him and his family in Nazareth, the Anglicans took them in and gave them a place to stay, in a school classroom. I didn't ask him if he was Catholic or Orthodox to begin with. Didn't want to pry.

He made much at the beginning about the historic Eastern churches, all of them, to bring home the point that not all Arabs like him are Muslims, saying that many Americans assume he is a convert from Islam.

He explained dispensationalism (the modern Protestant notion that the Abrahamic covenant is still in force), how it began in the early 1800s so it partly got Zionism started (Jews didn't think of it first) and how it's fuelling the Protestant religious right today. He says it's their real reason for the war in Iraq, because they (mis)interpret the Bible as saying the present-day Jews have a divine right to all the land from the Nile (Egypt) to the Euphrates (Iraq). And Syria is in between so they think they have a divine right to attack Syria next.

And today's version of dispensationalists - again, the Prot religious right - believe that the Jews have to be in Israel to trigger the Second Coming, when 2/3 of them will be killed and the remaining 1/3 will convert.

The Israelis realize this, hold their noses and proceed to milk the Prot right to keep that American money and weaponry coming in as it has for decades.

Yes, this is partly what's behind Mr Bush's handlers' foreign policy - and it is entirely outside of apostolic Christianity, which most Arab Christians belong to and which these heretics don't consider really Christian.

I know dispensationalism is a crock according to historic Christianity but agree that the Jews, as the People of the Book, of the Old Testament, have a special place and they are a mystical presence in history that will continue always and only will be understood by us at the end of time.

The fact that Hitler hated them so much attests to this IMO. He hated the God of revelation, which was why he feared the Old Testament people. Don't blame Christianity! The Nazis wanted to replace Him with revived Germanic pagan religion (the hammer of Thor), nature worship - in short, occultism or New Age!

(Amazing how the country in Europe long the most hospitable to Jews - Yiddish is a dialect of German, which attests to this - suddenly 180'd.)

Dr Ateek also explained how the Israelis have built a literal wall around the Palestinian territory carved out of the West Bank.

In 1947 there were over 1 million Arabs in Palestine. A year later there were only about 100,000.

They didn't mind the Jews living there. It was the Zionists' demand for a 'pure' Jewish state (ironic, ja?) that ruined everything.

55 years on some people are still living in refugee camps. Keys to houses are kept in families and passed down the generations.

The place would have been better off remaining a distant province of a weak Turkish empire. (World War I was evil.)
Passing on true religion
by the Revd Louis Tarsitano
Terri Schiavo site
Guess who’s working at Tesco’s now!

Baby-boomer bishops
by Terry Mattingly
A pretty good explanation of what's wrong.

Speaking of boomers, I watch 'American Dreams'. The cute blonde teenager's (too limp and curly) and the kid brother's (much too long) hair are all wrong but otherwise the characters, props and stories seem pretty authentically 1965 - including such things as the black community in America starting to self-destruct, managing to destroy what slavery couldn't (the black family, for one). And, I've got to say it, Patricia O'Grady's a dish! (Once again, boomers are most nostalgic about the culture right before they destroyed it. Fascinating.) Anyway, teen Brittany Snow goes to RC high school, where the villain (natch) priest teacher has forbade her from doing her book report on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The college-student boyfriend gets it right, telling her such freedom is for university. (But of course she doesn't listen - the boomers vicariously relive their rebellion.) Here's my take. Part of it well could be narrow Irish-American parochialism, which the show is seething against and has nothing really to do with the faith. It's a good book, Brittany's character is bright, and if she wants to get it at the library or buy it and read it, fine with me. But let's look at Father's side of this. High-school religious formation is still at the level of teaching kids the catechism, especially if they aren't particularly interested in the subject (common for teenagers!) and - let's be honest - if most of the priests' and nuns' charges aren't that bright. For such people, Ken Kesey well could be a dangerous read! Perhaps Fr Villain has got the common good to think of - quite Christian actually. Not leading the little ones astray. The university is by nature a whole different game - one has the freedom to debate and dissect everything, including every point of the catechism.

Distinctions the boomers didn't and don't want to hear.

Finally, again about baby-boomers, it's interesting and a little sad how time (and fickle public opinion) has been a leveller for the former Beatles, with talented Paul McCartney and less talented but nice bloke Ringo Starr both left doing the same thing, playing off boomer nostalgia for decreasing audiences.
From today (a great read every day)
From England (part of Airstrip One): the decline and fall of the mother country
And how the US is becoming like it
by John Langley
It's no wonder really - the British Empire didn't collapse; it just morphed with the de facto capital shifting from London to Washington right after World War I. (The people didn't know it and the maps didn't show it until after World War II.) This under-the-radar continuation of the empire was what the Rhodes Group, now the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), was specifically all about. And perhaps such was the ultimate plan with World War I, paid for with the blood of British troops, Australian troops at Gallipoli, and ultimately millions (outnumbering the Holocaust) of Russian civilians.
Throughout this Iraq business I have supported France's opposition, but this is just terrible:

Convicted murderer Mumia abu-Jamal made honorary citizen of Paris
Once again, my take on the abu-Jamal case. Maybe, just maybe, this black militant was provoked - perhaps Officer Dan Faulkner was less than perfect and was pushing Mr abu-Jamal's brother around needlessly, or Mr abu-Jamal misunderstood what was going on. (Did the man resist arrest or provoke Officer Faulkner?) Because there is room for doubt, I think it's fair that Mr abu-Jamal not be executed. But he deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison - 'Free Mumia!' is just stupid - and most certainly does not deserve to be celebrated by the French or the radical chic.
USA Today researchers back up the faith and common sense
Trend to live together, not marrying, not good for kids
Quick fact
At the beginning of the 20th century, Christians comprised over 20 percent of Palestine's population. Today Christians number about 10,000, or less than two percent.
Dazed and confused
Gene says it loud - he's black and he's proud.

'"Asked by one parishioner to explain what's behind the anger over his election, Robinson said he believes it's a sign that patriarchy is ending in the church as women, people of color, and gays and lesbians are more fully included."'

'"The election of a gay man as bishop is a "threat to the way things have been done, when white men have pretty much been in charge of everything," he said."'

< sarcasm >Yes, down with musty old 'patriarchy'. 'We' know better than the God of the Old Testament... just like Adolf and friends did. < /sarcasm >

Pssst... Your Grace... you're white. And a man.

What makes this attempt to latch sodomy onto the real suffering of blacks through history even funnier and more pathetic is many of his opponents, such as Archbishop Peter Akinola, happen to be, in fact and not in imagination, black.

News flash for this middle-aged wigger*: Trevor Huddleston you ain't.

The logical fallacy of course is that never does the Christian Church teach that being a certain ethnicity is a sin. Certain sexual practices, however, are sins.

*Not a racist word - it means a white person who pretends he's black to try to be hip.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
A ‘gay’ foreign policy? Gimme a break!
by Justin Raimondo

Still more from

Satan defends Rumsfeld, Gen. Boykin
by Matthew Barganier

Andrew Sullivan’s soap opera of self-pity
From The New York Times (you have to sign in).

An old episode of 'Neighbours' has more substance and is more entertaining - at least it's got Kylie Minogue or Natalie Imbruglia.
My take on the aftermath of the Lambeth meeting
The primates' statement was a joke - the English version of giving the erring liberals 'the frowning of their lives', as if that would do anything.

So I hope the American Episcopalians do go ahead and make Gene Robinson one of their bishops next month, because maybe then the lines will be clearly drawn and those Anglicans who are still Christians will formally break away, leaving a tiny and shrinking Anglo-American denomination with lots of endowment money and not very many people in church. Those who are still Christians can regroup, perhaps around the archbishop of Singapore or Lagos, making a denomination far bigger than what would be left of the original. The empire strikes back - an 'Anglican' communion minus England (’cos you know the C of E is still only one step behind America in approving a sodomite bishop).
What I’m watching

'Takes place in the first days of World War II in Karelia, a Russian town by the Finnish border. A young lieutenant is sent on a reconaissance mission behind enemy lines, leaving his beautiful fiancée behind. During his mission he receives the tragic news that she has been killed by the Russians. The war becomes personal and the young blue-eyed officer changes into an unstoppable killing machine.'

It looks pretty recently made and is in Finnish with English subtitles.

Interesting antiwar statement - always a good thing - but watching it what struck me was locally this was a just war. The Finns literally were defending their homes against the invading USSR. (Much like the British were resisting the Germans.) I've been acquainted with Ukrainians who essentially did the same thing, putting on German uniforms like the Finns did to do so. And I don't blame them. (The enemy of my enemy is my friend, etc.)

Cultural note: the only words I could understand were a few loan words the Finns used and a bit of Russian spoken by the other side's soldiers. Finnish (Suomi) isn't really European, not at all related to the European family of languages, but like its sister Estonian and its distant cousin Hungarian was really a central Asian language to begin with. Culturally, Finland and nearby Estonia may be Scandinavian, but ethnically and linguistically they're not!

Saturday, October 18, 2003

From The Remnant
Another RC priest deep-sixes the new Mass
Good for him.

Needs comment:

Eastern schismatics, protestants, Jews, Muslims, and pagans are in need of the Sacraments, ecclesial unity, and faith in Christ Crucified for the salvation of their souls.

•The salvation of non-Catholics is a matter of speculation, says the Vatican. The narrow view echoed above is in the spectrum of allowable opinion.
•Even at his narrowest, the worst thing somebody like Fr Smith can call members of the historic Eastern churches is 'schismatics'. He has to believe that they have basic orthodoxy, which is why he has to believe they have real bishops and the real Eucharist.
•And to be fair, which this blog tries to be, really it does, there is far more obnoxious stuff written from the Eastern side about the RC Church - again, in the spectrum of those churches' allowable opinions.
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow congratulates Pope on silver anniversary

Friday, October 17, 2003

From Rome correspondent John Boyden
Russia to rebury tsar’s mother
The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna: readers of Robert Massie might remember her, Princess Dagmar of Denmark, the merry wife of the formidable Alexander III - who didn't like her daughter-in-law, the reserved, saintly German-English empress Alexandra.

I remember laughing when I saw the children's cartoon Anastasia (yes, I saw it, and not because I was taking any kids) and Angela Lansbury voiced the part with a Russian accent - she was Danish!

You can support this blog by buying the Massie book - read it and be convinced by it that the tsar and his wife are saints. Used copies are only 75 cents US + S&H!

The children's English tutor, Sidney Gibbes, escaped and made it back to England. His contact with the family all those years influenced him so much that he ended up not only converting to Russian Orthodoxy but becoming a priest and monk.
From the lefty mag The Tablet
Waugh the Catholic
by Fr Ian Ker
I heard Fr K speak once in Oxford, hosted by the wonderful Ronald Knox Society there at the time. Fascinating article. Fr K obviously isn't sympathetic to traditionalism, something I sussed from his talk, but in England at the time (the 1980s) it was still a living presence to be reckoned with... which is perhaps why he mentions it in his lectures and writing.

Filtering out the condescension (after all, it's The Tablet)...

•Waugh was right about Vatican II.
•He was right about objectivity and Godwardness in worship and theology (ex opere operato). BTW, one needn't use 'the box' to have that in Confession - the Byzantine Rite way is just as objective.
Brideshead Revisited is a great book - I've read it (you can support this blog by buying a copy through the link - used for as low as 34 cents US + S&H!).
•Interesting lack of sympathy for the Christian East from Waugh... not that the East in practice is perfect either, but an Eastern critic might take that lack of sympathy (for 'mystery') as a sign of being only one jump removed from the destruction he saw and rightly hated.

This is fundamentally what appalled Waugh about the new rite which, in its flexibility and lack of detailed rubrics and exact ritual, struck him as incoherent, formless, and shapeless, introducing anarchy and chaos.
One of my peeves is seeing this end-stage dissolution in the West, into liberalism, passed off as Eastern Christian mysticism - something vagantes, some New Agers and a few people online (a half-Greek fellow on a so-called Catholic message board comes to mind) are fond of doing.

In Brideshead Revisited (1945), the pious Lady Marchmain is “popularly believed to be a saint”, but Cordelia makes the necessary distinction: “she was saintly but she wasn’t a saint”. Waugh fully understood that holiness is all about love, and this Lady Marchmain for all her piety and virtues lacks.
An ex-friend married somebody like that.

And of her children it is not the Jesuitical Bridey, who acts as the family theologian, nor Cordelia, whose matter-of-fact Catholicism is so attractive to her author, who is the saint. Rather, it is the alcoholic Sebastian who is the real saint, as Cordelia recognises. She explains to the astonished Nanny Hawkins (“Brideshead was one for church, not Sebastian”): “I’ve seen others like him, and I believe they are very near and dear to God.” Sebastian has by now entered a monastery in Tunis as a lay brother but is still suffering from alcoholism: “One can have no idea what the suffering may be, to be maimed as he is – no dignity, no power of will. No one is ever holy without suffering.” The non-Catholic narrator Charles Ryder had equated religion with morality, but now he understands that holiness is not the same as virtue.
Waugh 'got' the mystical after all.

The main point: this objectivity wasn't a 'straitjacket' to be 'transcended' after all but the very thing that freed up Waugh to be creative! I forget who said it but one can't play tennis without a net or lines on the court.
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
A gem from today:

Trade sanctions are evil
S al-B: Ron Paul's words to the House of Representatives concerning sanctions against that other unlocatable Middle Eastern country that isn't interested in making threats to bomb or attack the U.S.

Available at Congress sittings: free punch provided and donated by the Strangle Syria Sorority.

Sick of conflict
by Charley Reese
S al-B: Be Swiss, be neutral (and by all means, do stay armed for purposes of defence).

Do the truly American thing. "Isolationist" Charley proffers a dose of common sense.

Googling the war party
S al-B: Justin Raimondo googles out a profile and details of the man responsible for the fake soldiers' letters. The highly active propaganda shill in uniform breaks a cardinal rule by putting soldiers in whatever small way at the service of the administration's propaganda blitz. To quote Justin, "...when it comes to the political arena, the military must be strictly neutral in the battle between the contending parties."

Tangential thought? In cricket a googlie is like a curve ball in baseball - a trick pitch.

It would be fitting at this point to repost an archived entry of this blog:

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

More from LRC today:

Fiji villagers to say sorry for eating British missionary (no, this isn’t from The Onion)
Cannibal chutney, esteemed sir?

The truth about the Pledge of Allegiance
by Thomas DiLorenzo

Thursday, October 16, 2003

In better days

Patriarch Meletios of Alexandria and Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Gordon Lang, 8th July 1930
Terri Schindler Schiavo
Lord, in thy mercy: hear our prayer.
Indefinite detention at Guantánamo unacceptable
The US government has reached a new low... worst thing I've heard of since it depicted the Japanese as monkeys, stirring up racism to support US involvement World War II:

Gen. William Boykin: God is on our side
And Donald Rumsfeld is defending him.

'Kill a raghead for Christ.' Not my kind of 'conservatism', Protestant religious right.
The latest from Lambeth
The English trying to be English about apostasy and rank evil
A big nothing. Or, as G.K. Chesterton explained 80 years ago, the (very English) virtues of charity and tolerance knocked off base - à la liberalisme.

Official statement

P.J. O'Rourke once described a statement from HM's Government regarding 'the Troubles' about 'an acceptable level of violence' as 'the British trying to be British about Northern Ireland'.

As friend Joseph Oliveri says, 'Can we imagine a real bishop, a true pastor of souls like St Athanasius sitting down to chit-chat with Arian bishops and saying, for example, "It's okay for us to disagree about the nature of Christ's divinity, because diversity and embracing our differences is what the Church is all about"??'

UN approves US resolution on Iraq
• &%$#!
• The empire is in control
• Money talks
Pope John Paul II celebrates silver anniversary
• First Slavic Pope
• Credited with helping destroy Communism
• Lightning-rod for liberal attacks in the culture war

US and British troops: bring them home now
More book picks

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Stopped clock?
Right twice a day, you know. Quotation: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, yesterday urged America to recognise that terrorists can "have serious moral goals".

He said that while terrorism must always be condemned, it was wrong to assume its perpetrators were devoid of political rationality. "It is possible to use unspeakably wicked means to pursue an aim that is shared by those who would not dream of acting in the same way, an aim that is intelligible or desirable."

He said that in ignoring this, in its criticism of al-Qa'eda, America "loses the power of self-criticism and becomes trapped in a self-referential morality." [End of quotation.]
I missed these when they were new:

Pope rebukes Rowan Williams

Cardinal Laghi to Mr Bush: Vatican right about Iraq war
'At the end of the encounter, Cardinal Laghi recounted, Bush said that although they disagreed about many points at least they held common positions on the defense of human life and opposition to human cloning. The cardinal replied that those issues were not the purpose of his mission.'

His Eminence demonstrates how not to get snowed by the Protestant religious right. Good one.

PM John Howard censured by Australian Senate for lying to get the country into the Iraq war

About all three: good.
Good call
by Stuart Koehl
Actually both he and Ed DeVita are right (the Catholic Church does take the heat in the culture war) but Stuart says in a nutshell what this whole page does.
More statistics
It seems Eastern Catholic numbers - not just percentages of a changing larger population - are down too.

Also seems like a slow news day — BTW, FYI, this blog has three regular volunteer correspondents in New York, Montreal and San Francisco and an occasional one from Rome. Bank holiday on two continents? (Of course with Web-based news services, location doesn't matter much.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Great comment about the entry below
'But according to the history books in use today in public schools six million Jews (and a handful of gays) were the only people to be persecuted in the 20th century....'

Right. Everything I know I learnt from the government schools and TV... like how the Civil War was a righteous cause to free blacks (it wasn’t), how Roosevelt fought World War II ’cos he cared about the Jews (he didn’t), how the US got into the war because of ‘those sneaky Japs’ (codswallop), how the US Navy singlehandedly won the war in the Pacific - the Army had nothing to do with it except maybe for Douglas MacArthur, and on the flip side the US Army singlehandedly won the war in Europe (don't you watch ‘Hogan’s Heroes’?) - the US Navy, the Russians and the British had nothing to do with it except maybe Dickie Dawson as Bob Crane’s sidekick.
The New York Times today compares percentages of the world's Christians in 2000 to what they were in 1900. The bad news is for Eastern Orthodox, who were about 22% then and have shrunk to just below half that today - 10% of the pie. The biggest drop of any grouping in the stats. (Anglicans took the second biggest cut, down a third, from under 6% to under 4%.) I dare say they've got bigger problems than a calendar, nationalism and jurisdictional turf wars.

A possible cause is that in 1900 many in Russia's vast imperial population (but not all) would have been listed as Orthodox; not so now after Communism secularized that country. But half? I don't think the change in Russia can account for all those people, but I could be wrong.

My guess is the Oriental Orthodox are included under 'Orthodox'.

Apostolic Christians still far outnumber Protestants - the number of Christians is still half Catholic, quoth the Times - but are down from about 73% in 1900 to 60% in 2000.

I wonder who they call 'Independents' (the group that mushroomed) - wouldn't these simply be Protestants? They might mean Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, but not many people realize these groups aren't Christian churches.

Protestants have shrunk from about 20% to about 16% but if you count the 'Independents' as Protestants then their number has shot up to just over a third of the total.
From David Virtue
What probably will happen in London
'To placate the conservatives, who are threatening a mass walkout, he [Dr Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury] will uphold the Church's traditional ban on gay marriages and the ordination of active homosexuals, despite his more liberal private views on the issue. But Dr Williams will resist pressure to expel the liberal American Episcopal Church over its decision to appoint Anglicanism's first openly active homosexual bishop.'

But 'some 25 of the 38 can safely be thought to be biblically orthodox on matters of faith and morals, with perhaps one or two of the remaining 13 persuaded to vote with them.' So who knows? Maybe at long last 'the empire will strike back' and those Anglicans of the Two-Thirds World who are still Christian will ditch England and America.

Speaking of whom...

The real leader of Anglicanism?
Meet Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, whose province has over four times more people than the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada combined.

Going straight?
About controversial therapy to change sexual orientation from homosexual to healthy. I agree that some people can do it and should have the option - just like cures for anybody with any other handicap. But coercion here would be cruel, like throwing a paraplegic into a lake, and the ideas behind some therapies - going beyond sex and into ideals of masculinity - seem off.* If not having a strong relationship with one's dad while growing up and not being into sports make one homosexual, then why, if he were at liberty to do so, could my father confessor and several ladies tell you I'm not? Plus, once again (putting on my libertarian hat), as citizens people have the right to be wrong, as long as other's rights are respected. (It only becomes a matter for the law when it becomes a public health hazard.) Some of these ideas sound vaguely fascistic and eugenic, forcing the 'odd' into one mold. (Yes, what a better world this would have been if, instead of wasting time on art, Peter Tchaikovsky, Noël Coward and Cole Porter had hung out at a sports bar like 'normal' guys are supposed to.)

Once about a completely different matter - what I discovered on my own years later is Asperger syndrome - I went to a renowned therapist who's written about this stuff. Sorry to say, he was a complete quack who'd discovered that spouting orthodox things in print, while ripping off conservative Christians understandably afraid of secular therapists, was easier to do than and as lucrative as actually practising medicine.

Caveat emptor.

*Not an excuse for homosexual sex acts - of course their wrongness is a non-negotiable.

Monday, October 13, 2003

From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Turks trade troops for hard US cash
by Eric Margolis

Once-hesitant Damascus now chases EU deal

Book pick: From the Holy Mountain: A Journey Among the Christians of the Middle East
by William Dalrymple
I've seen this book and like it. An in-depth, historically minded travelogue.
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Many soldiers, same letter
S al-B: Contempt for servicemen's families... through cheap and increasingly unsophisticated propaganda ploys.
A look at Christendom
In one rural part of Germany only about 40 years ago
by Sabine Barnhart
A cloud of witnesses
Today the Eastern Orthodox using the Julian calendar remember St Gregory the Illuminator, the bishop-evangelist of Armenia (Hayastan in their language), the world's oldest Christian country, and founder of what is now the Armenian Apostolic Church, part of the Oriental Orthodox communion.

Today's Roman Rite and Book of Common Prayer saint is St Edward the Confessor, who embodied several Christian and English virtues. He is the only famous English saint whose relics (body, bones) are still in their original shrine, in Westminster Abbey (once the chapel of a Benedictine community the king refounded).

(Though I remember seeing a slab in Durham Cathedral a friend told me is the tomb of St Cuthbert. It wasn't a shrine, though. See Keble's entry in the comments for more on all this.)

About the myth of a 'Saxon Orthodox Church' in England that was destroyed by the 'evil' French in 1066, I read in that late orthodox sceptic (regarding saints' legends) Donald Attwater's book on saints that Edward, who died in 1066 (he may have been the last king before Harold, who lost to the French at Hastings), had a Norman French mother and spent the first ten years of his life in... France.

Anglo-Saxon England was never ruled by or in the sphere of influence of the Byzantine Empire. (The early Russians were in its sphere of influence.) So while there was some crossover in the early medieval Church as a whole - St Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury, was Greek - England never was Byzantine Rite and thus not in the specifically imperial, capital-O Orthodox Church! Though both west and east used and use both words, Catholic and Orthodox*, each side respectively was known by each word before the medieval estrangement of the sides.

Today is also the 86th anniversary of the last apparition of Mary at Fátima in Portugal, which I interpret as condemning Communism, which was about to take over Russia a month later, not Russian Orthodoxy.

*In the Gregorian canon (anaphora, consecration prayer) at the heart of the traditional Roman Mass, the priest prays for 'all the orthodox' (omnibus orthodoxis), just like the priest does in the litanies and great entrance of the Byzantine Rite.
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
US Army investigates soldier suicides in Iraq
by Gregg Zoroya, USA Today
Warning: USA Today will try to ambush you with multiple popup adverts - turn on whatever popup-killer software you've got.
From Rome correspondent John Boyden
US troops bulldoze Iraqi farmers’ crops
by Patrick Cockburn, The Independent
Hooray for the red, white and blue.

US Army scientists recreate deadly 1918 flu virus
Uh, why?

Sunday, October 12, 2003

From Fr Mark, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Resolution passed by clergy conference of the Diocese of Detroit & Chicago, Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
Scroll down to the second posting.

Photo of conferees
Конец раскола между РПЦЗ и РПЦ-МП очень скоро наступаюший! ‘Да вси едино будут’ - одная апостольская вера, одная русская церковь. Это - часть духовного, великого русского воскресения! И на небесах все святые и ангели празднуют. Аллилуя!

Below, on Oct. 4, there is a link to a story - interview with Bishop Kyrill - about talks between the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (Outside of Russia - ROCOR) and the Church of Russia (Moscow Patriarchate - MP). The word is out - things are moving fast. The latest I've heard is the councils of the ROCOR dioceses of Detroit and of Germany/Western Europe have voted unanimously to join the Church of Russia.

In December there will be more meetings - it seems only a matter of time before this separation in the Russian Church, by necessity for 70 years owing to the Communist occupation of Russia, will be over.

What probably will happen is both sides will sign an agreement and for the foreseeable future each will carry on as usual, except they will concelebrate. Multiple bishops in overlapping sees would be tolerated as long as the current hierarchs live.

How a merger might happen will be interesting. It would make sense, since ROCOR has established sees in the US with many congregations, for the few 'indult' MP churches in that country simply to join those dioceses. But when the MP agreed to create the Orthodox Church in America in 1970 it agreed not to expand, not to 'compete' with its daughter church. That's a tough one.

In any event, it really feels like the Soviet regime is gone and a restoration of apostolic church life among the Russians both there and here really can get under way.
The apostolic ministry in action:

From the site of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

Saturday, October 11, 2003

What I’m watching
Scott Houston’s ‘Piano in a Flash’ workshop
When it comes to playing pop songs for fun or to show off, just to sound pretty or cool, it's simply a matter of learning to read a lead sheet, just playing chords with your left hand. Brilliant! I could do that. Makes me want to buy his lessons and a cheap toy Casio keyboard and have a go at it.

What Scott Houston is to pop piano playing, I'm finding G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy is to one's philosophy/worldview. Literally awesome, that little book. My regret is I haven't read it until now. He had modernity, PC and all that totally sussed - and he was writing in the 1920s! Makes me wonder, as somebody had the answers back then, how and why on earth so many people, particularly in the Catholic Church where Chesterton* settled in after writing this masterpiece, were so clueless and/or caved at the onslaught of the 1960s. I can't imagine anybody who'd read Chesterton acting like such ninnies.

Kind of puts things within Christendom into perspective, too. While what Fr Seraphim (Rose) had to say about these subjects - in endless magazine articles, condensed into a 1,000-page biography which I've read cover to cover - was also true and could be brilliant too, it wasn't unique. (Chesterton did it using 850 fewer pages. Save a tree, man.)

*An Anglican, he spoke at the first Anglo-Catholic Congress in 1920.
From blog correspondent Dave McLaughlin
Why isn’t the truth out there?
Or why the press parrot the establishment about Sept. 11
A few words on the Kobe Bryant case
1. He's a pig, and it sounds like he deserves to be convicted. 2. She acted stupidly, like a tease. Forget feminism, please - she is responsible for her actions as well.
Saw the free-TV version of 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' for the second time last night - yes, scenesters, I was home - and again was underwhelmed. The whole thing seemed so fake, ’cos it was like the roles were reversed. The supposedly clueless guy obviously would have no problems socially, romantically, etc. - a training pro at a gym, he looked like he'd stepped off a paperback romance-novel cover. All his apartment needed was a little tidying up. As for the five style consultants, at least two of them look like 1) confused fashion mistakes my 20-years-younger, Asperger's-hobbled self would have made, which means 2) they look about 20 years out of date (wake me up before you go-go). (Probably some ironic retro thing — sorry, it just looks stupid.) Too bad there wasn't such a thing as 'Sharp Eye for the Asperger's Guy' back in the mulleted ’80s. The only one who looks remotely cool is the food expert, who with his specs looks like recent-vintage Elvis Costello.

Now I know there are stylish men of that persuasion not at all like these clowns. A good friend/mentor to (straight) me in the late ’80s had conservative style down - he was like a smarter version of Jack from ‘Will and Grace’ with Waylon Smithers and a little Michael J. Fox thrown in, plus he had the right kind of religion. The young-fogey™ thing. So even though I was slow on the uptake at the time, I am for ever grateful for his example.

The good side of this new 'metrosexual' fad - and there is a good side to it - is that it can be construed as hip status for 'gay' men in the traditional, not homosexualist, sense as Joe Sobran describes.
From David Virtue
Anglican Communion will split, say primate, newspaper

It appears that over half of the 38 world Church leaders are ready to
take a stand. "Our plan is to break," the Primate said, adding that
they would form a new traditional Communion that was identified for
standing by Scripture. "This has been coming."


Diocese of Fond du Lac (Wisconsin) resolution supports orthodoxy
Well, that's nice, but considering this diocese, once part of the Episcopal Church's former 'biretta belt' of Anglo-Catholic dioceses, already has sold out on lady priests, from over here it looks like a case of closing the barn door after the horse has run away.

Which of course leads to the sincere question from Protestants, non-Christians and secular people: why on earth object to lady clergy?

Well, of course the answer is partly 'not of this world'. Like the old Hebrew National kosher hot-dog commercial said, 'we answer to a higher authority'.

As for what's wrong with lady clergy, that's a tough one! Frankly, I don't understand all the issues myself and from my end it's certainly not about misogyny. As a healthy man of course I think women are among God's finest creations!

There are the dogmatic arguments - the priest as an alter Christus or icon of Christ (depending I suppose on which side of the Danube your speaker is from) - which of course I accept, but since you can read that elsewhere, here is where I stand in my own words.

Part of it is a gut feeling that the sexes are complementary, not 100% interchangeable cogs the way secular culture likes to pretend they are, and part of it is obedience to something bigger than me or modernity - the Church Catholic, East and West, yesterday and today. It's never been done, and the consensus is it can't be done.

The sacrificing priests - the kohani* - of Old Testament Judaism were men, and God deliberately took human form as a man to become the one great Priest, Christ. That has to count for something.

*Whence we get the Jewish last name 'Cohen'.

More of the apostolic ministry at work:

Chapel in Russia torn down after ‘gay wedding’
This already has been commented on, under the original story below.

Friday, October 10, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
More sabre-rattling by ‘top US official’ John Bolton
Lee Penn: Money quote:

"Bolton, considered a hawk within the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, said that if unchecked, Iran may have nuclear arms ''towards the end of the decade'' though he noted ''some people have theories that put the Iranians much closer.''
''The risk of outward Iranian proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to other countries in the region is also a risk we take very seriously,'' he added.
Bolton, who was recently called ''human scum'' by North Korea for describing its leader Kim Jong-il as a dictator, suggested that U.S. President George W. Bush's so-called ''axis of evil'' - Iraq under Saddam, Iran and North Korea -- should be widened to include other ''rogue, loser states.''
''I think there are other candidate members for the axis of evil...Libya, Syria and Cuba and a variety of places.''


Asked why Washington did not take a similar line on Israel's nuclear programme, Bolton said: ''The issue for the U.S. is what poses a threat to us and to our allies...We are not Platonic guardians, we are representing American interests.''
Quizzed in a similar vein on media reports that Pakistan may have supplied materials for North Korea's nuclear programme, Bolton noted that Islamabad had roundly denied that.
''We take them at their word -- at this point,'' he said."

Lee Penn: Put this together with Bush's promise, made today, to tighten sanctions against Cuba, and the movement through the House of the "Syria Accountability Act" and the US/Allied plans to start interception North Korean ships on the high seas to seek illicit weapons.

On the Syria Accountability Act, see:
IHT: House unit votes for sanctions on Syria

This bill has passed the House International Relations Committee, 33-2, and hias 275 co-sponsors in the House ... enough to ensure passage in the 435-member House.

On Bush's plan to crack down on Cuba:
US to tighten Cuba sanctions

So the US government thinks it can save the whole world, after fighting and defeating half the world? The job of World Saviour, however, is already occupied ... and "He will come again in glory, to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdon will have no end."
Alan Keyes on the California election
From the man who deserves to be president. I know - Schwarzenegger isn't really a conservative.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Rush to judgement
by Darrell Greenwald
On Messrs Limbaugh and McNabb - this will be up through Oct. 14
O Captain, my Captain
by Tom Tomorrow
Part of it was the Navy hat - I thought at first he was spoofing The Caine Mutiny. Understandable, considering the subject.
Films that time forgot
Dated but still funny
From David Virtue
Pope sends letter of support (through Cardinal Ratzinger) to American Anglican Council meeting in Texas
David Virtue: '...the first time in living memory that the head of the Roman Catholic Church has publicly acknowledged an orthodox group within the theologically liberal Episcopal Church USA.'

Gaudent angeli.

But what would be far better is if this happened to the Anglo-Catholic group, Forward in Faith. The AAC, while Christian, is Protestant - they've got lady clergy, for example.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Съ праздникомъ
A word about St Sergius of Radonezh, today's Julian-date Russian Orthodox saint. And scroll down a bit here to read about a Eucharistic miracle of the saint.
Fun stuff
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Japanese TV commercials
Even though I don't agree with him on some things - and it may well be a win built on emotion and not on substance - I'm happy for the guy (California's new governor, in case you didn't know). Nice fellow. Though at the same time I feel a bit for Gray Davis - from this it sounds he has some of the same frustrations with people's (wrong) perceptions of him as somebody with Asperger syndrome might have. (He may well have it!)

It seems to me der Governator is the first big-star entertainer to hold a high political office in the US - in showbiz neither Ronald Reagan nor Jesse Ventura were as successful or world famous.
To blog reader Aakash Raut, who in these comments has included several links to blogs from college students against the war in Iraq.
The apostolic ministry at work
Pro-‘gay’ Russian Orthodox priest expelled

From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Benefit of the doubt
S al-B: Fred Reed reflectively addresses the interconnected topics of religion, the sciences, and atheism, investigating more deeply than usual as the absence of his standard and effectively caustic style of prose seems to indicate. He concludes with, "And the sciences, though not intended to be, have become the opiate of the masses."

US fatalities in the conquest of Iraq
S al-B: Well, looking at these statistics, I can see how soldiers' lives all of a sudden seem as nothing more than insignificant numbers and chess pieces.

Turkey plans to deploy troops in Iraq
S al-B: Trouble.

US troops confront protesters at Baghdad mosque
S al-B: Silly me for thinking that opposing the U.S. occupation might actually constitute a legitimate opinion for an Iraqi in the new free Iraq to hold. Plastic bags and rifle butts seem to be needed to disabuse the minds of the silly rabble of this ridiculous notion.

S al-B: ...on the news stories concerning Israel's strike against my country... I naturally expected the absence of any condemnation by the American government, which provides the Israelis with the weapons used in attacking us. But I frankly was not prepared for Bush's implicitly approving and exonerating comments any more than I was anticipating the first attack on our soil since the last war with Israel. Some relevant links:

Israel could launch new attacks on Syria: Sharon spokesman
S al-B: This is insane rambling by an emboldened Sharon and Likud, and neoconservative Washington gives the green light through its mumbling ventriloquist dummy. If this is an indicator such as those that signal impending stock market movements, it does not bode well for Syria in the future.

Israel's attack is a lethal step towards war in Middle East (Fisk weighs in)

Bush: Israel air strike ‘essential’

Bush asserts Israel’s right to defence

Israel is ready to strike anywhere, says Sharon

Text: Syrian draft resolution

Prising open the Syrian file

Bush stance on Syria hit shows neocons still hold sway

And Justin Raimondo's input:

Israel is the problem
Our problem…

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
Spiritual counterfeit watch: Entheogens, or doing drugs as a religion
Huston Smith, New Age and the CIA
by... Lee Penn!
Fun site for language geeks like me
Model Languages & The Art of Language Making
Includes the equivalent of Ethnologue (list with descriptions of all the world's languages) for fictional languages and the chance to create a possible future English by imagining new words.
Where Mr Bush’s inherited fortune came from
And perhaps some of his handlers' ideas on running the country and its foreign policy. Sieg heil.

Neophyte George
by Karen Kwiatkowski
Loads of links in this one.

The conservative message of horror fiction
by Bob Wallace
Makes sense - I think I agree. Once knew an older university lecturer in English literature who specialized in the stuff, which I thought odd at the time but not now. The right kind of Roman Catholic, he became a priest after he retired from teaching! Also learnt recently that Anglo-Catholic stalwart Viscount Halifax was a huge fan of ghost stories and I think wrote or compiled a book of them. More recently, in my sporadic looks at 'The X-Files' I saw something I think very unusual for popular science fiction - it believed in the supernatural and didn't rule out God as a cause. (And it encouraged people not to trust the US government - thanks, Chris Carter!) The very lovely Gillian Anderson's FBI agent character was a Catholic and by the series' end wore a gold cross all the time.

Popular (pulp) science fiction, on the other hand, seems overwhelmingly liberal in the modern political sense, an exception being the wonderful first 'Star Wars' movie with its classical-liberal story about liberty. A possible worst offender is 'Star Trek', once described quite lucidly by an 11-year-old guest writer in Liberty magazine as 'a pinko TV show'. The good guys are obviously really the US government, the UN or perhaps even farther to the left of them - a messianic liberal fantasy of government as Capt. Kirk makes the galaxy safe for, well, his government's control of it. (How many viewers realized their heroes were really totalitarian?) Typical story line: Zap! We've destroyed your god, formerly happy planet - now we can teach you the American way. There was that strong whiff of antireligious content - producer Gene Roddenberry hated Christianity and signed the Humanist Manifesto with real science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov. Part of the reason for the show's laughable lapses in logic is R. didn't really understand or care about science fiction - he just used the Buck Rogers genre (perfect for slipping his anti-religious theme under the radar of 1960s American TV network censors) to preach his worldview to the masses and make some money as well.
The Pope’s unfinished projects
From The Washington Post (they make you register before you can read this)

His failing health may nix his plan to return his historic copy of the icon of Our Lady of Kazan to Russia.
Fun with spam
Your Soma Refill is Ready ioabcobhiz w u u
Praise the almighty Ford. What a brave new world this is becoming.

Now it seems the spammers are not only glomming onto my former forwarding e-mail address to send me their sewage but also pasting it (as the sender) into their BCC blasts all over the world, which get bounced back to me by various people's filters. It's like being mail-bombed.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Did the Shroud of Turin serve as an original model for many Byzantine icons?
What a relief
They can take me off the suicide watch - Ben Affleck has announced he will marry Jennifer Lopez after all.

Oh, joy, f***ing unbounded.

They're among many celebrities whose influence on my life is, I'm happy to say, nonexistent. As is pretty much true of anybody on cable television as I haven't got it. I understand she claims to be a pop singer - I'll take her publicist's word for it. All I can say with any authority is, in passing, I don't find her particularly pretty.

Fun with spam
After literally weeks of exhortations to buy generic ***Viagraa*** (sic), something different:

Order Anti-depressants weight loss

Sounds like one dangerous drug cocktail. No, thanks.

You CAN Feel Better!! xobzpcve sgss...

Oh, I know. And I shall - once you stop sending me this crap.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
International treaty rules can trump US Bill of Rights
by Eugene Volokh

US probes possible moonlighting by FBI agents in Red China, Mideast

Putin beefs up ICBM capacity
Might not be a bad thing - he warns NATO against pre-emptive strategy

Putin has accused lower-level US government officials of meeting with known Chechen terrorists
Well, after all, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein used to work for the US government too.

Yabloko Party Vice Chairman: General Staff preparing for global nuclear war
Lee Penn: Money quote: "...just as before the main threat to Russia is considered to be the US and NATO. The General Staff is predicting a global nuclear war and anticipating large-scale military activity, said Arbatov." [Note: the US has, since 9/11, talked about making nuclear first strikes, and is planning to expand our own arsenal. This story is a reminder that the other side can play the game, too.]

NATO: Russia's military warns on pull-back
Lee Penn: Russia is warning NATO against its "offensive military doctrine," and a list of circumstances in which Russia could use military force.

Lee Penn: And to round out the case, there is this book, which deals with the attitudes of the Russian military from the early 1980s to the present:

War Scare
by Peter Vincent Pry

The Library Journal review, on Amazon, says this about the book: "Drawing on his experience with the Agency and a close review of public sources, Pry argues that we have been closer to nuclear war with Russia than top U.S.
officials dare to admit. Pry's accounts of five war scares since 1983 and his review of the profound internal crisis in Russia are not for the faint of heart. Even if we disagree with him on just how close to nuclear Armageddon we actually are, his book reminds us that Russia's nuclear force poses a genuine threat to U.S. national security far into the 21st century."

Lee Penn: This is not a problem to be solved by building more of our own ICBMs, or installing an anti-missile system. The solution is - as the message of Fátima says - to repent and pray for conversion of sinners.

Holy coincidence
Lee Penn was told by a parishioner at his Russian Catholic church in San Francisco that Oct. 13 is not only the anniversary of the last Marian apparition at Fátima but also, in some Orthodox churches, the feast day of the Iveron (Georgian?) icon of Our Lady.
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Bishop Kyrill on the ROCOR* meeting with Putin
And on relations with the Church of Russia: 'we must not seek our own will, but the will of God'.

*The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
From David Virtue
RC bishop withdraws invitation to Frank Griswold
Hurrah, hurrah, but why on earth would a bishop rent out or lend one of his consecrated churches - let alone his own cathedral, the 'mother church' of the diocese and powerful symbol of the Church - to people who technically are Protestants, who objectively are in heresy, in the first place?

The bishops of ancient Italy or North Africa wouldn't have let the Arians, Donatists, Novatianists or Valentinians use their churches out of misplaced charity.

I appreciate charity to born members of other sects but this is going too far!

The Eastern Orthodox, to their credit, know better than to pull this stuff.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
by David Holloway

Friday, October 03, 2003

The idiot box
Saw America's 'Must-See TV' last night: 'Friends' has a black character now. Guess the producers read all the criticism that these characters had lived a decade in an all-white New York. 'Scrubs' is good - gimmicky and quirky like David E. Kelley's comedies, except it's funny, and the blonde playing one of the young doctors is adorable. (The older supporting characters are all funnier.) 'Will and Grace' still has some wit and style, but I don't see how on earth Debra Messing got an Emmy. Mannequins could play Will and Grace with comical Karen and Jack acting in circles around them. Made myself sit through 'Coupling' and remembered hearing the script the first time in the British original. Without the veneer of British actors and characters with some personality (however undesirable), American viewers can see it for what it is: a stupider, smuttier, more vicious version of 'Friends'. No, thanks. (What redeeming qualities there are in 'Friends' and 'Will and Grace' - besides the styles and some of 'W & G's dialogue - are that for all the hip immorality on the edges they are really conventional romances*: 'W & G' is just that only with a lot of gay jokes thrown in.) 'ER' is pretty good but the three 'Law and Order' series are the best. (Best this week: a murder story with a Jayson Blair clone, in which Dworkin the world's greatest annoying brilliant lawyer blasts affirmative action.)

*The law of God is written on the heart of every man, and so even today's dumbed-down, debased secular people want objectively good things - which is probably why at the end of the day these shows are hits.
What I’m reading
A birthday present from anastasios: Our Father by Fr Alexander Schmemann. Less than 100 pages, it feels like it's directly plugged into God. Like much of St Vladimir's Seminary's stuff, an authentically Catholic (in this sense) book - by a born Orthodox. Sounds like the Quiet Days Fr Peter Laister would give - perhaps he'd read it. Or both used the same Church Fathers as source materials for their notes. Fr Alexander wasn't a liberal - he never advocated changing Russian Orthodox ceremonial, just a different way of looking at it. Tradition with an inner light on. (Actually the whole churchgoing experience at St Vladimir's is like that.) Historical note: Fr Alexander originally gave this little talk on the Our Father in his native Russian as a Radio Liberty broadcast to the then-USSR.

If you can't order the book through the bold link, try buying it direct from St Vladimir's.
From blog correspondent Samer al-Batal
Different kinds of chant
Lists a lot of categories and recommended titles of both Eastern and Western church chants.

Clear it up now, Mr President
Or clear off - either one's fine with me

Cheney chief of staff named as spy leak

Samer seems like my undercover correspondent as he is the only one who hasn't got a link to a site of his own.
From Forum 18
Old Believers harassed by state in Belarus

Another link

Technically Forum 18 are spammers as I didn't ask to be put on their mailing list but now and then they send interesting stories.

The Old Believers historically are a good example of being orthodox but crazy - a point taken too far, even though to be fair Patriarch Nikon was hamhanded in the way he tried to impose the very slight changes to the Russian Orthodox services in the 1600s.
Mr Bush’s socialist sympathies
by Ilana Mercer
Much like Ronald Reagan made conservative noises in the ’80s while pushing up the deficit
Happy feast day of St Thérèse of Lisieux, traditional Roman Catholic readers. I've read in more than one place that Russian Orthodox living in France have a private devotion to her. (One may privately venerate anybody.) Her style seems startlingly modern, not the structured, liturgical way I like (a full-fledged nun*, she didn't like chanting the office in choir), but some people have drawn a parallel between her free-form, small-c charismatic spirituality and St Seraphim of Sarov.

*Many so-called nuns weren't/aren't true nuns! True nuns are monastics, cloistered, living in community and praying the full divine office. (Eastern Orthodox nuns are one example of this.) Most so-called were/are 'religious sisters' doing active works who, so the good old understanding went, were given the privilege of wearing full habits like real nuns.

From blog correspondent Lee Penn
World War III watch: Russia powers up its military
Lee Penn: Both the US and Russia are adopting more aggressive military postures, and the US is totally overextended.

Watch and pray. [End.]

Church of England and BBC plans to ‘spin’ sodomite controversy
By doing puff pieces on 'Rowan Williams, poet', for example. (Hey, look, everybody - a distraction!)

Lee Penn: In June, the PR man for the Archbishop of Canterbury proposed that the Church of England use American "spin doctor" tactics to divert peoples' attention from the crisis now dividing the Anglican Communion. What a far cry from the way of Christ, who said, "Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No;' anything more than this comes from evil." (Mt. 5:37)

In one of Karl Marx' few accurate predictions, he said in 1867, "The English Established Church, e. g,., will more readily pardon an attack on 38 of its 39 Articles than on 1/39 of its income." (Karl Marx, Capital, vol. I, "Preface to the First German Edition," p. 10 of the International Publishers edition, 1967). His prophecy is still true, nearly 140 years later, as we watch the Church of England and ECUSA abandon the Faith and hold onto their property and endowments. [End.]

Reminds me of Lisa Birnbach's satirical, fad-establishing Official Preppy Handbook 20 years ago on the Duck Motif - 'real ducks don't matter; it's the picture of the duck that does'. So it is with such perversions of 'church' - worship the system, the process, the buildings, the money, and exalt it over content.

Good blog about Anglican doings
by the Revd Kendall Harmon