Saturday, August 20, 2016

I only sort of like Ike

A young David Eisenhower asked his grandmother Mamie whether she felt she had really known Dwight David Eisenhower.

"I'm not sure anyone did," she replied.
I'm reading Jean Edward Smith's largish one-volume biography Eisenhower in War and Peace. Better eras in America, from late Victorian on the prairie through our peak in the '50s, as seen through one man's extraordinary life.

You have to filter out personality (Ike was fairly personable, blessed with looking more affable than he was, but so what?), nostalgia, the natural affinity of military and conservative values thus my liking of the military (I'm no pacifist but an isolationist without apology so Ike would have thought me stupid), and Allied World War II propaganda ("the saintly FDR and Ike saved the world; we'd be goose-stepping and speaking German if not for them") to ask the real questions, such as did we even have to be in the war? Pre-nukes, Ike strikes me as an Army careerist who ambitiously wanted war. (Madeleine Albright decades later: "You have this big, beautiful military, so why not use it?") It so happened that FDR and the Reds in his government really wanted war too. Along comes likable, reliable Ike, the good staff member (smart, level-headed, got things done) who never saw combat, and he's suspiciously leapfrogged over scores of senior officers to command of the European theater of operations. I give Smith credit for hinting that the British, who once war broke out were literally defending their homes, deserve far more credit for doing the actual fighting (real fighting generals such as Montgomery); in lots of battles, including Normandy, they were the majority. Guess it didn't look good in American movies. (Our narrative/national myth: we saved the world for democracy while the British were our charming, ineffectual sidekicks, like a butler in a screwball comedy.)

From my reading of Smith, it seems the early European war (the invasions of North Africa and Italy) was political theater, but Ike deserves credit later on for taking his responsibility for his men seriously, visiting them and "looking them in the eye" before Normandy.

Some well-meaning apologists for the American narrative think we went to war in Western Europe really to keep it out of the Soviets' hands. I'm not convinced. Ostensibly we (starting with the British in 1939) went to war to free Poland, but as most know, FDR and his men handed half of Catholic Europe, including Poland, to the Soviets at Yalta.

The Communists killed far more than the Nazis but the narrative gives them a free pass, even during and after the Cold War.

Joe McCarthy was (accidentally?) right about there being Communists in our government. We were played.

Here's the real story. Smith doesn't get into this because it's not part of Ike's legend; doing the right thing wouldn't have advanced his career. The isolationists, Lindbergh and America First, were dead right. Not pacifist; they were for a strong military for its real purpose of defense. I understand that Hitler had spelled out his intentions, none of which threatened American sovereignty or citizens. He wanted to clear out Eastern Europe for a continental German empire; nefarious but not our problem. He didn't even want war with Britain, whom he respected as equals (envisioning them as a junior partner of the Reich, keeping its big overseas empire). The Germans had neither plans nor means to invade the United States, which they envisioned as controlling the Western Hemisphere pretty much as it already did. So the real story of World War II was the Eastern Front: Germany vs. the USSR. Operation Barbarossa. A smart president who actually cared about the American people would have let the Nazis and the Communists destroy each other. (Japan? No plan to conquer us. They wanted a local empire too. Revert to our military's original Plan Orange to defend American territory, make a deal with them, and that's that. FDR's war with them was an excuse that stooped to racial hatred to justify itself.) Stay out of it like that underrated, maligned Catholic gentleman, Franco.

Also, if Wilson hadn't gotten us into World War I, the emperors of Europe would have remained so there would have been no Communist revolution and no Nazis, thus no World War II. The Central Powers should have won.

So I'm suspicious of Ike, a shadowy New World Order figure handed power during the war and again in '52, stealing the Republican nomination from the worthy Robert Taft, a real conservative (who would have died months into his term). Another NWO aspect: his rise seems part of the top-secret shift of the center of the old British Empire from Westminster to Washington (decades in the making as the British saw the limits of the empire; a secret wish of FDR?).

Interesting how Ike's parents' radical Protestantism (his mother apostatized to the Jehovah's Witnesses) seemed to naturally lead to their sons' irreligion as adults. Ike had no use for church, only joining his wife's Presbyterianism because it was good politics.

But for all that, Ike literally peacefully governed America at its peak, acting like the experienced soldier who hated war that he said he was: getting us out of Korea, not being provoked even by Communists (he hated McCarthy but I don't think he was a com-symp), at Dien Bien Phu, Quemoy and Matsu (but deftly showing force and speechmaking; he was a skillful liar, "good at bluffing" being a nice way of saying that), Hungary, etc. So of all the hallmarks of his administration I like the New Look in defense ("peace through strength," rightly defense, not war) best, or nukes changed everything.* Moralists argue the rightness of doomsday weapons and they should; the end doesn't justify the means in Catholic theology. But now that nukes exist, better a strong deterrent than lots of brush-fire wars. (Son John, a general himself and lifelong Republican, voted for Kerry in 2004 in disgust over George W. Bush's Iraq war.) His big no to the military-industrial complex was right. His domestic policy? Opening opportunity to blacks and building infrastructure such as the interstate highways (partly inspired by the Autobahn) sound good. Back when a liberal was often just a civic-minded social conservative. That government seemed bland during his terms is to his credit.

P.S. I believe Kay Summersby. Understandable as Smith explains. I believe that Marshall squelched it when, right after the war, Ike told them he wanted a divorce; ambitious Ike obeyed.

*The U.S. Air Force's case for independence from the Army and postwar military doctrine putting air first, arguable now that nukes were in the picture, but a study by John Kenneth Galbraith (my source: an interview with him in Studs Terkel's The Good War) showed that strategic bombing wasn't decisive in the victory; a long-slog land war was.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Religious ramble

Happy feast day. "I believe in... the resurrection of the body." Mary is assumed into heaven.

The flashpoint of all rebellion against God is where he and his creation meet: who Jesus is, what the Eucharist is, and sex.
One reason for growth in Black Masses all over is Communion in the hand (a reason Bernardin fought for it). The host is grabbed and pocketed for Black Mass...The devil knows his enemy; why there are no black Protestant services.
Most of Satanism is theatrics by apostate Christians to make us react; so obvious it's easy to ignore. I'm more worried about Tim Kaine-ish heretical Catholics trying to subvert the church, which they really can't do but they can drag a lot of people down with them.

There are no "Black Protestant Communion services" (black meaning Satanic, not black people) because with Protestants it's not really the Sacrament, per their own beliefs. What a backhanded witness! Communion in the hand in Catholic churches in modern times was a move to Protestantize the people's faith, against the rules but the Pope caved when it was a fait accompli, which of course has almost worked. Good thing the church is indefectible.
It isn't a sacrament in Catholic terms yes, but that is hardly informative. Whether the Pope caved or not isn't really relevant. What the magisterium normatively permits or proscribes is.
All matters of rite such as Communion in the hand are matters of discipline only. I'm Catholic because we don't idolize one culture. Traditionally we were hands-off about liturgical development and should be again; the Novus Ordo was an anomaly and, practically speaking, a mistake. Our teachings can't change; the Protestantized liberal Catholics didn't get that.
Paul VI caved — he even stated he knew it was wrong — but that was Vatican II. Bernardin's goal was to diminish respect for the sacrament. The grabbing away the host was an added benefit...
Vatican II didn't change that rule. Some Dutch and American liberals started doing it, breaking the rule, and Paul VI gave in.

I much prefer the 19th-century Anglican way I learned to receive the Host in the hand and sip from the chalice to the Catholic liberals' way, literally grabbing the Sacrament, outprotestanting the liturgical Protestants.
I can't stand Communion in the hand. Can't stand it!!!
Right. I never do it.
Rome approves the new Mass as valid. Done.
Sure, it's valid. The actual text in Latin isn't heretical. All I'm saying is before the Novus Ordo (only a nickname, by the way; the church doesn't give the new Mass a special name, saying it's the normative form of the Roman Rite), churchmen weren't sure where the parts of the rite came from so they didn't dare change any of it, lest they mess it up, losing something essential, making it invalid. I think that more reverent approach is better but I also believe that studying the liturgy as history is good.

I prefer the old rites, Roman and the Eastern ones, but thanks to Benedict XVI, just like a Catholic 60 years ago I can go to Mass anywhere in the English-speaking world. Thanks to him, it's Catholic in spite of the local liberals; they have to say it right or else. I know the church. Any funny business is the local liberals' fault, not the church's.
I also hate the casualness most Catholics have about it. I want to scream at their non-reverence.
Right; thanks to the new Mass, before Benedict's reform in English, the liberals had only a third of English-speaking Catholics knowing what the Eucharist really is. Catholics had been protestantized.

The late Msgr. Klaus Gamber brought up the interesting idea that since the Novus Ordo uses other Eucharistic prayers besides the Roman Canon (which is rarely used), although it is a Western and Latin rite, like the Ambrosian in Milan for example (which only used the Roman Canon, traditionally), it is no longer the Roman Rite.
John, it's sad that in many, many dioceses they are still the ones running the show. People will continue to swim over to Orthodoxy for some meat among the Catholic rainbows.
Few Catholics do but it's an understandable reason; hey, I fell for it. On the corridor walls on the way to the hall at my part-time (monthly) Ukrainian Catholic parish are signs blown up from a church tract trying to teach people that the Novus Ordo in most parishes and the Byzantine Rite are both Catholic and good. One has Mass facing the people with guitars. If I didn't know better I'd say it's a great negative advertisement for Orthodoxy!

And sure; I've been to liberal parishes. Guitars, pianos, a squad of women readers, cantors, and Eucharistic ministers; in fact the whole sanctuary party is female except the slightly older effeminate priest. (Altar girls in albs carrying torches remind me of the Swedish Lucia Fest, a 19th-century Romantic custom.) They won't go gently. They hijacked the American church (but of course nobody can hijack the Catholic Church, not even the Pope) and liked it. But Benedict the Great knocked the wind out of them with his English-language reform. They can be the biggest blowhards but they still have to say the Mass right. Plus they're not my employers so I don't care what they think. Another reason I'm glad I'm not a priest; I'd hate to depend on a liberal bishop for my livelihood. I imagine such dioceses kick orthodox vocations out of seminary, but the joke's on them, because the few orthodox vocations are the only vocations.

By the way, the lay head of the British Latin Mass Society argues for a theory that starting around 1800, Western Christianity was feminized. Protestants swung from misogyny pre-1800 to putting girls on a pedestal; Catholics fell for it too. You see it in political correctness, itself a bastard of Christianity. Nothing about feminine vices; all about feminine virtues, so men are told that to be a Christian is to act like a woman, which of course turns most men off. The thing is, the traditional Mass pre-dates all that; at heart it's still masculine (offering a sacrifice on a stone altar), even as devotional piety arguably got too girly.
I think that started someone in the 1700s, John. That's why I focus so much attention on medieval Catholicism — because that's the really good stuff.
You're entitled to your opinion and Pugin is among my formative influences; I read Contrasts on my own when I was in college. But I'm Catholic because the church doesn't make me choose one culture (though you are assigned to a rite) and forsake all others as un-Christian, be it Byzantine, medieval Western, or baroque.

Interesting to see the phases Anglo-Catholicism went through. At first, in the early 1800s, it was nothing to do with ceremonial; it was just a younger, more assertive version of the old high churchmen's claim to the early and medieval church's authority. Then, influenced by Romanticism, it got together with Pugin's revival (Pugin had more Anglican fans than Catholic), which arguably was as Romantic as it was theological, and went through a Sarum ceremonial revival phase. Some wanted to reconcile with the church even then but most were pushing a true-church claim against us. Then in the late 1800s, even though most didn't want to reconcile with the church, they started mimicking our good practices at the time, including baroque etc. stuff you might not like.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

On trying to make America great again, as in Eagleton's day, and why Anglicans claim to have bishops

  • A mainstream article sort of sympathetic to Trump supporters. Its starting point is J.D. Vance's book Hillbilly Elegy. A little condescending but what did you expect? Money quotes: Americans who built the postwar glory ... now feel they’re being ignored or outright mocked. They do want to turn back the clock, but not because they’re racist or afraid of modernity. They want to go back to having good-paying jobs. They want to go back to being proud of themselves and the things they produced. For years, they’ve essentially been told to sign up for welfare and shut up.
  • Missing Tom Eagleton. I've just read Call Me Tom, a biography of Sen. Tom Eagleton, not always right but a liberal gentleman from a better era when a liberal was often a civic-minded social conservative. A neo-New Deal (Great Society) Democrat who didn't fall for the Sixties' craziness (pro-life as a senator but wrong in retirement about embryonic stem cells; against racial quotas); never mind the Reagan-era Republicans' accusations. What much American Catholic politics (except the German Republican Midwest) used to be like. (Eagleton was an iffy Catholic and honest about that, fond of Vatican II liberals. My guess is he was a typical guy turned off by a Christianity feminized since the 1800s so he wasn't a churchgoer.) He was right about asserting Congress' power to declare war vs. presidential undeclared wars; good constitutional strict constructionism that conservatives can support. I dare say that, like Eugene McCarthy, he could have been a decent president but because of his then-underdiagnosed manic-depressive disorder (now called bipolar), nothing to do with his views or his character, he wasn't well enough.
  • The real reason Anglicanism is episcopal. From an anti-ordinariates, clerical-gossip blog I won't link to. Too good to pass up: I believe it was Diarmaid MacCulloch who pointed out that the Church of England emerged as a Reformed, congregational denomination that retained bishops and cathedral chapters because they provided opportunities for political patronage.
  • The quotable Theodore Dalrymple at Takimag:
    • It is hardly surprising that newspapers nowadays more and more resemble magazines that are produced weekly or monthly instead of daily. With modern technology they can hardly any longer be the first to break news; as their circulations fall and journalists are “let go” — to use a delightful euphemism for dismissal so dear to more refined or sensitive bosses — they cannot do much investigative journalism, either. What is left is gossip about celebrities, explanations of the obvious, speculation about the future based on what has happened in the recent past, drivel about sport, and articles catering to modern man’s fathomless narcissism. Glad I'm out of the business. I only pick up papers to do the crossword on the train.
    • Perhaps answering J.D. Vance and the New York Post writer on Trump supporters: I have spent much of my life among the poor or relatively poor. I can honestly say that it never occurred to me for a single moment that any one of them was not a true human being. Indeed, if they were not true human beings, their poverty would be nothing to worry about. I neither romanticized them as the fount of all goodness and wisdom nor saw them as mere objects.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Anglo-Catholicism again

From an Episcopalian in 1932: Anglo-Catholicism: What it is and what it is not. Really, "lame arguments against the church." I'm grateful to the movement for a lot of knowledge and culture, which is partly why I'm not Novus Ordo, but the truth is. Outsiders assume they're wannabe Catholics; insiders think they're theatrical, aesthete male homosexuals. Actually, as this article says, historically they usually weren't would-be Catholics but pushing a rival true-church claim against us. Some, particularly a very few in England, were: Anglo-Papalists; plus you had the more numerous Romanizers, who Romanized the liturgy and sort of wanted to reconcile with the church but on their own terms, whatever they were. The homosexuality has always been a part of the movement (which I didn't know for a couple of years; I was that innocent) but it wasn't the whole story, and to be fair, it wasn't their teaching. Before the Sixties' hit on religion, families, with kids, went to Anglo-Catholic parishes too: Sunday school, etc.

People in the church know we're not the cult of the Pope's person or opinions. His so-called "autocratic Catholicism" (the Anglicans keep saying that like it's a bad thing) has always defended the essentials (such as belief in God, Christ, the Trinity, the hypostatic union, Mary the Mother of God, bishops, the Mass, and the option of using images in worship); the Anglicans haven't. In fact they killed people in the 1500s for defending the Mass. (Protestants: Christ's saving work is in the past; you're saved by believing you are; "he is not here" so the Mass is a blasphemous fable.) So they're not the church. (Anglicans are Reformed, not Catholic. Articles XIX and XXI: fallible church, really no church.) And as Fr. Hunwicke points out, now that they are in communion with other Protestants, they've proved Leo XIII right; their claim to the episcopate is out the window. The English are still sad and confused because of the "Reformation."

Got the best of the culture in my little corner of the church and I'm not even in the ordinariates. (I use Anglican English when worshipping in English but nothing by Cranmer.)
...if we had the time and the means, we might call one hundred and fifty to two hundred million Eastern Orthodox ... to the witness stand to testify that [Eastern Orthodoxy], with which Anglo-Catholicism is almost identical in fundamentals, does not logically lead to submission to Rome. Not for one day in the last nineteen hundred years has it ever done so, a fact which Western Christians are too prone to overlook or ignore.
They think their culture IS the church and are Erastian besides; do you really want to adopt that idolatry as a defense?
The importance of the laity in matters of faith has always been very real, although too often forgotten or overlooked.
Good point we need to be reminded of. The laity as defenders of the faith. Lay pushback can be a hedge against liberalism.
...democracy, in spite of being prone to inefficiency, is the best form of government yet discovered by which men can in fullest measure develop their personalities and bring to fruition the latent powers, talents and capacities with which God has endowed them. Dictatorships may sometimes be expedient for a season, but it is not too much to say that democracy is of divine order and most akin to the Mind of Christ.
Nothing to do with Christ. Masonic (which has long been big among Episcopalians), not Catholic.

So-called "democratic Catholicism" voted to ordain women and marry the same sex. And next to nobody goes to it; its assumptions are better served by secular humanism, now a given in our society now so people aren't conscious of them and don't need to go to church to hear them.