Friday, October 20, 2017

The Witness to Truth

And it was written in Hebrew, in Greek and in Latin. John 19:20

That is the summary of the Person and Life of Jesus Christ, according to His own testimony.

It is in the dialogue during his trial with Pontius Pilate. He declares that the reason his followers did not fight for Him not to be delivered to the Jews is that His kingdom is not of this world, thereby implying that He is a king. Pilate therefore asks whether He is a king, and He answers that Pilate says He is a king: "Thou sayest it; I am a king. This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice." Pilate said to him, 'What is truth?'" John 18:36-38

Christ's purpose on the earth is to answer the question regarding truth. He came to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears His voice.

It is interesting to note in this regard how Pilate hears the voice of Christ, the truth, in composing the sentence for the cross: "Jesus the Nazarene, the Jews' King" (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudæorum). A king, yes, and yet not just a king, but the King. The King of the one true God. The King from heaven. God Himself in the flesh. The Truth. "Quod scripsi scripsi!" John 19:22

That continues to be Christ's purpose on the earth, to witness to the truth. He does it supremely through the sacramental ministry of the Church: the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Laudetur Jesus Christus!

Cf. Deus caritas est, Benedict XVI, 2005.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Our Debt to Saint Luke

Salus Populi Romani
Attributed to Saint Luke

The "Hail Mary" (in its essence)
Magnificat
Benedictus
Nunc dimittis

Just to name a few giants among the texts which he uniquely recorded and/or composed for posterity, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

To him also we owe the accounts of the Annunciations of John the Baptist and of Christ, The Visitation, the Presentation of the Child in the Temple.

Saint Luke, pray for us.

χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη Μαρία


Monday, October 16, 2017

Weinstein, Planned Parenthood Donor, Tip of the Iceberg of Hollywood Sexual Abuse


Please! Is anyone at all surprised at Hollywood sexual predators? an industry which itself is built on lust and nudity.

One thing that is grossly under-reported in this is the homosexual abuse and pedophilia.

As was done with the Church, so it should be with Hollywood, away with the statutes of limitations on sexual crimes. That would surely be an end to the film industry of America.

N.B. President Bill Clinton was the icon of corporate sexual abuse.  E.g The Lewinsky Scandal. After that, in 1996 the nation elected the perverse president to a second term!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Spanish Dance

In Honor of La Virgen del Pilar, Patroness of Spain, October 12th.


The Apparition, La Salve.


Then there is this.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SEX-CHANGE BILL “CONTRADICTS GOOD MORALS AND COMMON SENSE AND DESTROYS MAN”—GREEK HOLY SYNOD


Athens, October 6, 2017

The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church met yesterday under the presidency of His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, addressing, among other things, the sex-change bill that was recently adopted by the Greek parliament upon first reading, reports Romfea.

The bishops are closely monitoring the intense debate surrounding the bill, which is causing an upheaval in society and in the Church. To this end, it submitted its views in lieu of an open consultation to a representative of the relevant parliamentary committee.

As previously reported, in accordance with the new “On the Free Change of Sex” draft law, it is enough to simply provide a written declaration in order to receive a legal change of gender.

As an expression of the Church’s love for the people, and in view of the forthcoming debate in the House, the Synod expressed its basic positions on the issue:

1. Sex is a sacred gift to man and serves as the basis of psychosomatic complementarity in the mystery of life and love. In this sense, it is not eligible to be changed, but is a Divine gift to man to be used in his sanctification.

2. The Synod considers that the case-law of Greek courts covers, where necessary, existing problems, given that gender is neither freely chosen nor altered at will, but is determined on the basis of anatomical, physiological and biological characteristics which define the identity of a man as established by medical reports to the court. The law can't be content with just the scientifically unsubstantiated statement of the citizen, which may later be changed.

3. The proposed bill arouses emotions in society, attacks the sacred institution of the family, contradicts good morals and common sense and destroys man. Instead of diminishing confusion and mental disorders, it will increase them and give rise to a dangerous social phenomenon, especially when it creates an explosive situation in schools as well.

4. The Synod does not see behind all these efforts an interest in the afflicted and wronged fellow man, but the existence of powerful groups, resulting in the dissolution of social cohesion and the spiritual death of man.

5. The Synod makes a final appeal to the political world as a whole to lift its responsibility and mission beyond political ideals, prejudices and the invocation of uncontrolled rights, to withdraw the bill, to show similar interest in solving the most serious problems which plague our society, our nation and the people, and instead of strengthening tension, division and absurdity, to contribute to the spiritual uplifting of our citizens.

The Church surrounds all people with love and understanding indiscriminately, but always desiring their salvation must demonstrate the failure of critical decisions.

The Sacred Community of Mt. Athos has also raised its voice on the matter, in a letter to the Ministers of Justice and Education and Religious Affairs Stavros Kontonis and Konstantinos Gavroglou, as well as the members of the Greek Parliament.

The group of representatives of each of the 20 ruling monasteries on the Holy Mountain state they also feel the anxiety and concern of the Orthodox faith of the Fatherland over the developments surrounding the sex-change bill.

“With reference to the bill that is to be voted on, we wonder what is left for our future,” the Athonites’ letter reads.

The primate of the Greek Orthodox Church Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens has also spoken out against the bill, saying, “All that is game playing. The Church has its own views. Our homeland has its own traditions, it has the family, everything else is just contrivances so that we waste our time.”

For his turn, Metropolitan Kosmas of Aetolia indignantly stated in an open letter to deputies of the Greek parliament, “You are promoting a bill which denies the Triune God and Creator and casts blasphemy upon Him. This new law is unnatural, it encroaches upon the psychosomatic identity of the person, fosters depravity, and aims to thwart a person on his path to sanctification and deification.

“The bones of our saints and heroes are trembling! The great liberator of Greece the equal-to-the-apostles Kosmas of Aetolia and our other saints are weeping.”

“Today they tell us that God did not create man and woman, driving the idea from the minds of our children. Every man can easily become a woman, and every woman a man. Do you know why they are doing this?” His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Phthiotis rhetorically asked. “They want to ensure, at any cost, that homosexuals will be able to adopt children,” he answered.

The majority of Greek parliamentary parties have spoken out in favor of the scandalous bill. Only members of the Communist party and the “Golden Dawn” movement have wholly voted against the bill.

Bishop Barron at Facebook: "How to Have a Religious Argument"


Faith is not irrationality.

"Faith is the decision to trust in the revelation of God's own heart."

and

"Faith is the reasoning of a religious mind." --Newman

"There is plenty of space where we can do rational exploration of God."

In this talk Barron is answering "the YouTube heresies" he addresses in his pioneering talk here.
1. That faith is accepting foolishness.
2. Scientism. That all knowledge is comprised of the scientific form of knowledge. Scientism is self refuting. That claim itself is not a scientific claim but philosophical. This gives way to "The Yeddie theory of God:" That God is an item in the universe.
3. We must be intolerant of mere toleration. "The great compromise." --Stanley Hauerwas
The Christian religion is no mere hobby! but is based on truth claims. And truth claims have a universal intent. If you privatize religious claims you disrespect your intellocator.
4. Avoid "voluntarism:" the trumping of intellect by will. e.g. Casey vs. Planned Parenthood "It belongs to the very nature of my liberty to determine the meaning of my own life, of existence, and of the universe." This destroys argument because it devolves into a mere clash of wills: the rule of violence! Voluntarism breeds violence. That was the theme of the Benedict XVI Regensburg Address.
5. Seek with great patience to understand your opponent's position. Try to get to the bottom of what is being said, because "Religion is ultimate concern." --Tillich. e.g. "Unconditional Positive Regard," mirroring back can help. Find the kernal of truth in the opinion.

The quest is important, but the answer is the point, barring nothing that is true. cf. Thomas Aquinas Summa.

"The open mind is like the open mouth, it is meant to bite down on something nourishing."

Monday, October 9, 2017

Happy Columbus Day! Christopher, the "Christ Bearer!" The Man Who Bore Christ to Our Shores!


May God bless the men who brought Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and the Word of Salvation, with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and true devotion to Santa María de la Immaculada Concepción to our hemisphere and to our people! May their reward be great in heaven and may we, in gratitude for this supernal gift, worthily follow Jesus Christ in faith and holiness according to the Gospel and the Cross which they bequeathed us.

¡Bendito sea Dios por los Reyes, Fernando e Isabel, Católicos!

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Fundamental Error Which Haunts the USA: Starvation of Souls, Destruction of the Moral Conscience


In light of the October 1st Las Vegas massacre, I came across a text in Ratzinger which mentions that the greatest catastrophe of our materialist social system is "the starvation of souls and the destruction of the moral conscience."

Ratzinger warns that the geatest danger to the West is to continue the basic error of communism. And the basic error of communism was not economic but human. Communism's error is a lie about the human person: that man does not have an immortal soul, i.e. that man is just material.

"Commentators have...ignored all too readily the role in [the collapse of the communist systems] played by the communists' contempt for human rights and their subjugation of morals to the demands of the system and the promises of the future. The greatest catastrophe encountered by such systems was not economic. It was the starvation of souls and the destruction of the moral conscience.

"The essential problem of our times, for Europe and for the world, is that although the fallacy of the communist economy has been recognized--so much so that former communists have unhesitatingly become economic liberals--the moral and religious question that it used to address has been almost totally repressed. The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man's original uncertainties about God, himself, and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is still our problem today. Left untreated, it could lead to the self-destruction of the European conscience, which we must begin to consider as a real danger--above and beyond the decline predicted by Spengler."*
Without Roots, Joseph Raztinger, New York: Basic Books, 2006, 73-74."

*"The obligatory reference here is to the following words of Erwin Chargaff: 'Where everyone is free to play the lion's part--in the free market, for example--what is attained is the society of Marsyas, a society of bleeding cadavers.' Ein zweites Leben. Autobiographische und andere Texte. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1955, 168."
Ibid., 155, n 13.

How many "shades or grey" are there? None!, when it comes to a decision between right and wrong, truth and error.

In a nation which now glamorizes sadomasochism and every other perversion, and we deliberately slaughter our progeny, it should not surprise any of us when the lion we create of ourselves comes back to devour us. If there is no right and wrong then the passions reign supreme. And if the passions are supreme then the law of the jungle (viz. lawlessness) is the only law.

Morality concerns the truth regarding right and wrong. Evil exists. Man is capable of evil because he has a soul which makes him free to decide what he will do, whether good or evil. That is a choice which no man can escape, no matter how many times you are told that you are simply a product your circumstances. Everything you do as a person you decide freely to do, and that choice includes a moral weight, with all of the consequences thereof upon you, upon others and upon the world, and upon eternity--good or evil.

The USA Policy in the Middle East: "Push the Christians Out"


Having seen yesterday and the past few month repeated reports on the decimating of the Christian populations of Iraq and Syria and the zero help for those persecuted and destroyed communities (genocide) by the US, it reminded me of a couple of things. (It has been so during the past three Washington administrations, including the present Trump administration. For example, in Iraq non of the US money goes to helping the post-ISIS Christians rebuild!)

One was the dire warnings and predictions both from a few Washington politicians, by the Pope, the Archbishop of Bagdad (who was killed in the war, one of the 600,000 masaquered) and by the international community that an US invasion of Iraq would be a disaster, especially for the Christians.

The other idea that came to mind was what a missionary priest in Palestine told me during my 5-week studies there in 2012, viz. that the Israeli policy in Israel was to "push the Christians out of the Middle East" so that they could destroy Palestine without any Western push-back.

It appears that the US policy coincides with that of Israel, get rid of the Christians.

80% of the Christians of Iraq and Syria have been eliminated since 2003! That is genocide and the USA made it happen and is doing nothing, to date, to stop the completion of the Middle-Eastern genocide of Christianity. Call it a reverse "Crusade." It is an anti-Christian Crusade.

By their fruits you shall know them.

Below are two articles. First the state of the question. Next is an 2003 article expressing why the Iraqi War (before it began) would not help Christians in Iraq, Iraq or the Middle East. It would obviously be colonization by destruction. And so it has been.


We Are Witnessing the Elimination of Christian Communities in Iraq and Syria
BY PETER FEAVERWILL INBODEN
SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 - 11:45 AM
http://foreignpolicy.com

Do we want to be the generation that stood by as Christians disappeared almost entirely from the ancient homelands they have occupied since the days of the New Testament?

Will the Trump administration and this Congress let this historic and preventable tragedy happen on their watch?

We are on the precipice of catastrophe, and unless we act soon, within weeks, the tiny remnants of Christian communities in Iraq may be mostly eradicated by the genocide being committed against Christians in Iraq and Syria.

Other global crises such as North Korea’s nuclear adventurism may be dominating the headlines, but this tragedy has been unfolding in agonizing slow motion over the past decade, an unintended consequence of the turmoil and sectarian strife unleashed by the Iraq war of 2003. Saddam Hussein was hardly a protector of Christians, but the power vacuum that came after his fall made the plight of Christians in Iraq dramatically worse. The George W. Bush administration tried to help persecuted Christians and other religious minorities, but had its hands full avoiding defeat in the larger civil war. Whatever respite Bush’s surge decision bought soon gave way under the Obama administration to an even more terrible extermination campaignlaunched by the Islamic State, leading to a charnel house of death and displacement for Christians. In turn, the Obama administration found itselfmaking its own painful tradeoffs as it tried to fight the Islamic State while relying on local militias that had designs on Christian lands. The result was an accelerated Christian exodus and extermination of those who stayed behind.

Bureaucrats in the Obama administration compounded the problem by blocking efforts to direct some funding to help local church groups and other religious organizations that were providing almost all of the humanitarian assistance to the suffering Christian communities. Their rationale stemmed from a benighted misinterpretation of humanitarian principles and a desire to avoid the appearance of favoritism when there were so many suffering groups. Such head-scratching punctiliousness prevailed despite the Obama administration’s own public recognition that the Christian and other religious minorities like Yazidis were the victims of genocide and faced extinction unless they were helped.

The counter-Islamic State campaign launched belatedly by Obama and intensified under Trump is reclaiming land, but the Christian minorities are benefiting little from U.S. and U.N. humanitarian and stabilization assistance. The other various factions in the anti-Islamic State coalition seem all too willing to entertain other plans for the newly freed territories. Some communities, such as the tiny Christian pockets in Mosul, are almost certainly lost forever. A few nascent Christian villages in the Nineveh Plains are clinging to viability, beginning the painful process of rebuilding with funds donated principally by a few international relief organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need, and the Hungarian government, and kept alive by emergency aid from the local Catholic and Orthodox dioceses.

Years of humanitarian assistance through the local Catholic and Orthodox churches have provided food, shelter, medical and educational assistance for Christian, Yazidi, and some Muslims internally displaced people and refugees, but those resources have been exhausted and now the eyes of the local communities have turned to Washington, where American political leaders are considering stepping up with significant humanitarian assistance from the U.S. government.

The clearest, best path to rescue involves the bipartisan H.R. 390 – “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017,” co-authored by representatives Chris Smith and Anna Eshoo, which would explicitly authorize the Trump administration, and future administrations, to direct some existing funds for immediate assistance on the ground to religious and ethnic minority communities that have been victims of genocide. Its passage would also to signal to our local partners the priority the United States places on protecting these most vulnerable victims from extinction. Despite passing unanimously in the House, the legislation has languished in the Senate. Unless Senator Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senate leadership recognizes the existential urgency for genocide survivors on the ground and therefore prioritize moving on H.R. 390 now — or unless other entrepreneurial senators figure out a way to act regardless — this bill may fall victim to the Senate’s already overcrowded calendar (made even more crowded by the obvious and all-consuming-crisis of Hurricane Harvey relief). The White House should send an unequivocal message to Corker and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to act on H.R. 390 and ensure it is transmitted to the Senate floor as a top-level priority after reconvening this week.

An additional path would be for the Trump administration to use existing congressional authorization for the fiscal year 2017 omnibus, along with executive prerogatives, to direct urgent aid and assistance to imperiled Middle Eastern Christians and Yazidis now. Their plight is a tragedy that many on the Trump team understand viscerally, and many senior officials have spoken of their concern for the issue, beginning with president himself (see also here, and here).

But the administration has multiple other challenges vying for its attention, so dealing with this one will require focus and perseverance — and perhaps some explicit guidance to overcome resistance at lower levels in the bureaucracy, especially at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, about acting on behalf of endangered religious and ethnic minority communities in this way.

Meanwhile, the Senate should confirm Kansas Governor Sam Brownback as ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom as soon as possible, so that he can join the State Department’s capable Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia in serving as Foggy Bottom’s lead advocates on this issue.

The situation is bleak, but it is not yet beyond hope. Some refugees are returning, and if they receive adequate, targeted assistance immediately, this might be enough of a remnant to keep the Christianity alive in its New Testament birthplace for another generation.

But that may require U.S. politicians taking a page out of the Old Testament. The Book of Esther tells the story of a well-placed favorite in the king of Persia’s court. In those days, local political factions were conspiring to exterminate another religious minority, the Jews, and Queen Esther was challenged by her adopted father to use her political clout to intervene on their behalf. Mordecai’s words ring down through the ages, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

The alternative is a bleak one that should sear the conscience of people of every faith and conviction. Unless we act soon, we may bear witness to the final chapter of a genocide that we could have prevented.


Best Argument Against Invading Iraq
by Keith Preston

Proponents of an American military assault on Iraq, from President Bush all the way down to Joe Sixpack armchair warriors, typically state their case in a manner somewhat resembling the following: Saddam Hussein is not supposed to have "weapons of mass destruction". Saddam has not indicated that he has fully disarmed. He has defied inspectors. He has ignored UN resolutions. He is not a nice guy. He might give some of his weapons to Osama bin Laden, or some similar figure, thereby creating the possibility of more September 11-style disasters for this country. And by the way, Saddam oppresses the Iraqi people. An American invasion and occupation of Iraq will be quick and easy. This occupation will allow the Iraqi people to experience the glories of parliamentary democracy which will in turn enrich their lives, fatten their wallets and inspire their Arab and Muslim brethren throughout the world to love America and all the good she does in her selfless efforts to improve the human condition.

Virtually every presumption behind this line of argumentation is false. However, it would be helpful if war critics did a better job of exposing the depth of the fallacies behind the administration's rhetoric. Typically, critics will argue that war with Iraq should not be pursued, at least not yet anyway, because Saddam has already been effectively disarmed (the Scott Ritter argument), or because the inspections have not been given enough time to "work" (the typical argument offered by limousine liberals like Susan Sarandon), or because the US is not militarily prepared (as Norman Schwarzkopf claims), or because such a war "is not in the national interest" (Pat Buchanan's perspective). All of these arguments ignore one basic question: Who exactly is the US government to insist that another nation disarm itself and initiate military force against that nation when its fails to comply with Washington's demands?

I am willing to concede, for the sake of argument, that Saddam is still doing everything within his power to obtain formidable weaponry. I am willing to concede that Saddam is attempting to evade UN inspectors at every step of the way. It is also theoretically possible, though I think unlikely, that Iraq may be a source of weaponry for free lance terrorists at some point in the future. I am even willing to concede that if clear, unmistakable proof were received that Iraq was indeed planning a serious, specific attack on the US at some specific future point, then a case for a "preemptive strike" could indeed be made. I also aknowledge that Saddam Hussein is a despotic head of state. None of this resolves the central issues behind the dispute.

The fact is Iraq has a legitimate defensive interest in obtaining the forbidden weapons. Iraq has in the past been attacked by three nuclear-armed nations (Israel, England and America) and threatened by a fourth (Iran) that is believed to be seeking, and might already possess, such weapons. As for Iraq's failure to comply with UN orders to disarm, the entire disarmament program is a farce. The program was imposed on Iraq in a Versailles-like arrangement by an international quasi-governmental body that is, by all reasonable standards, illegitimate, even if one believes in government. The United Nations is simply a front for First World imperialism and has been ever since it was created by the victorious Allied powers of World War Two, who proceeded to grant themselves permanent seating on the Security Council, for the purpose of managing the affairs of the world on their own behalf.

If at some point in the future Iraq were to sponsor a terrorist assault on the United States, this would only be in retaliation for ongoing American terrorism against Iraq. There is no reason whatsoever for the US to even be in conflict with Iraq. I remember watching television network news coverage of the Iraq-Iran war twenty years ago where Saddam Hussein was depicted as a faithful American ally and a benevolent friend of peace, democracy and freedom. Saddam has never practiced imperialism outside of his own backyard. Iraq invaded its border state of Iran in 1980 only after Iran threatened to export its Shiah fundamentalist revolution to secular Iraq. Iraq invaded its border state of Kuwait in 1990 only after Kuwait was found to be stealing oil from Iraqi oil fields and only after having been given an implicit go-ahead by the US. This is not to say that Iraq's aggression against its neighbors has been justifiable. However, this aggression has been no more comprehensive than aggression by the American state against border nations (Mexico and the Indian nations) early in its history. Certainly, the US has had no legitimate defensive interest in inserting itself into conflicts between Iraq and its neighbors. The effective way for the US to reduce the risk of potential future terrorist threats from Iraq would be a unilateral cessation of hostilities with Iraq and the undertaking of a peace intiative towards that nation.

Saddam Hussein is a despotic ruler but no more so than many, if not most, other heads of state. Until their nation was reduced to a pre-industrial state by the US/UN military assault of 1991 and twelve subsequent years of tyrannical sanctions, the Iraqis maintained the highest standard of living of any Arab nation. Christians and other religious minorities continue to enjoy greater freedom of worship and higher social standing in Iraq than in virtually any other Muslim country. From what I understand, firearms are sold retail and over the counter in Iraq. This is certainly not the case in allegedly "free" or "pro-American" nations such as England, Australia or Japan. The conservative journalist Taki Theodoracopulos observed during his many visits to Iraq that ordinary citizens are typically left alone so long as they do not threaten or publicly attack the government. Such is the case in most Third World nations. Among America's formal or tacit allies in the Middle East and South Asia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia prohibit public worship by any non-Islamic religious community, India is ruled by a Hindu-fascist party that sanctions private mob violence against its Muslim and Christian minorities, Egypt allows police torture of criminal suspects, Pakistan is a one-man military dictatorship, Indonesia has engaged in Pol Pot-like genocide against the Timorese people and, of course, there is Israel's ongoing brutalization of the Palestinians.

Last year, Saddam granted amnesty to virtually all prisoners in Iraq, foreign spies excepted. Thieves were pardoned on the condition that they repay victims. Even murderers were given clemency provided the victim's mother agreed. This is far more magnanimous a gesture than Dubya would ever agree to. Mr. Bush presides over a federal prison system where thousands languish. More than three quarters of these people are imprisoned under byzantine federal tax, firearms, drug or environmental laws or became snared in the legal maze that typically accompanies federal regulatory schemes. Bush has the power of executive pardon and could, with a word, order the release of all of these people. Of course, Mr. Hussein's granting of near universal amnesty was not done out of his own innate goodness. Saddam likely needs his prison guards, and probably the prisoners as well, for his regular army and civilian militias that are currently being mobilized to resist a US invasion.

Whenever the state begins to beat the drums of war, real or imaginary atrocities perpetrated by the official enemy begin to be played up and blown out of proportion, usually with a good deal of hypocrisy on the part of the war propagandists. Thus far, I have heard, from various sources, tales of Saddam publicly beheading his political rivals. Saddam rules his regime the way mob bosses run their respective crime "families" — merciless to enemies but generally ignoring everyone else. I suspected most of these decapitatees were simply rival political thugs seeking to replace Hussein's state with a tyrannical regime of their own so I see no reason to be concerned about their fate. Recently, I heard a story about how Saddam allegedly had his operatives shoot schoolchildren who failed to cheer loudly enough at a state-sponsored rally. While it would not surprise me a bit if this were indeed true, it should be remembered that even the UN has aknowledged that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children have died needlessly from malnutrition or preventable diseases as a direct result of Western sanctions targeting Iraq's civilian population, an acceptable cost according to former US Secretary of State Madeleine Half-Wit.

War propaganda often takes on absurd characteristics. The current war is no exception. Recently, White House Secretary of Lies Ari Fleischer, an Israeli citizen (hey, no conflict of interest there), insisted that the President "knows things" that we ignorant commoners do not and therefore we should simply follow the Maximum Leader blindly into war. I was immediately reminded of a television interview with Richard Nixon I watched years ago where the interviewer (Mike Wallace, if I remember correctly) pointed out that Mr. Nixon had campaigned for the Presidency in 1968 on a promise that he possessed a "secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam. When asked if there had indeed been such a plan, Nixon matter-of-factly shook his head to indicate a "no" answer and stated that the alleged plan was simply a "figment of the imagination". Bush continues to insist that this a war for "freedom", as if he had any conception of the idea, and as if Saddam is going to invade the US and declare the Bill of Rights null and void, something that George's buddy John Ashcroft is doing quite well on his own.

The proposed invasion of Iraq is also presented as an effort to "liberate" the Iraqi people which will doubtlessly be met with unceasing gratitude on their part. Perhaps this is why gun shops in Iraq are selling out their inventory to private Iraqi citizens preparing for the invasion and civilian militias, some created by the state but others organized privately by tribal and clan leaders, are beginning to form. Few people welcome a foreign invasion of their country, no matter how much they may hate their own government. Even Soviet citizens living under the arch-tyrant Stalin rallied to the defense of "mother Russia" when the German invaders came. Speaking of Germany, the Hitler analogy is once again being invoked to justify an assault on Iraq. Saddam must be stopped lest the mistake of failing to curb Hitler's ambitions in time to prevent World War Two and the Holocaust be repeated. Aside from the fact that Hitler commanded one of the most powerful states in history while Saddam controls a militarily and economically crippled Third World country, there are some other problems with this argument. Hitler was actually moving eastward toward the Soviet Union and away from the Western democracies when militarily unprepared England and France initiated a declaration of war against Germany. Subsequently, France was militarily defeated after six weeks and the Germans almost made it across the English channel into England itself before being turned back at the Battle of Britain. The Western nations could have slowed down the escalation of the Holocaust considerably by simply bombing and disrupting European railroad lines and allowing Jewish refugees into their respective nations and colonies, both of which they failed to do, although England and America both engaged in large scale terror bombings of civilian targets at Dresden and elsewhere while the Holocaust was in progress.

No doubt there are many reasons why the Bush administration wishes to conquer Iraq. After months of denying that oil was in any way a factor in the formulation of Iraq policy, administration sources have now indicated that they might be interested in Iraq's oil deposits (the second largest in the world) after all, but only for the purpose of "rebuilding" an Iraq that the US has spent a dozen years trying to destroy and "sharing the wealth" allegedly denied to Iraqis by Saddam Hussein, but not by US/UN sanctions, of course. The picture becomes more complete when we recognize the ties of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to the Haliburton oil corporation, which rushed to do business in Iraq following a partial lifting of sanctions in 1998. Israel has predictably been a leading cheerleader for a US war with Iraq, and with the Israeli lobby being one of the strongest of all US lobbies and prominent Israeli partisans like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz holding high-level positions in the administration, the Israelis are likely to get their way. There is also the matter of the fanatically pro-Israel dispensationalist Christian elements among Bush's grassroots support base, the influence of neoconservative ideology on the administration, the ongoing family feud between the Bushes and the Husseins, the President's concern for his own legacy, possibly Iraq's outstanding international debts and, of course, the US government's desire to consolidate the New World Order under its own rule and to eliminate NWO-resistant nations like Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, et al. The biggest gang in town wishes to eliminate its smaller, less powerful rivals. Consequences of a US attack on Iraq are potentially catastrophic.

The best possible scenario that has any chance of actually transpiring would be a short and quick war, with few civilian or military casualties on either side, followed by the replacement of Saddam with a regime that is at least tolerable to the average Iraqi with a US military withdrawal following soon afterward and the avoidance of both internal ethnic or religious skirmishes in Iraq or terrorist retaliation against America. Of course, this is the least likely scenario. It is quite possible that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians or conscripts will be killed in the invasion along with thousands of American soldiers who have been seduced into military service under largely fraudulent pretenses. The invasion could escalate into ethnic cleansing or civil war within Iraq or even a large scale regional war in the Middle East. Reportedly, the Pentagon has been ordered to draw up plans for a potential invasion of Iran or Syria as well. If such a plan is carried out, the US would likely find itself immersed in World War Three with the entire Muslim world and facing ongoing terrorist assaults of the 9-11 variety. Neoconservative ideologues and Zionist fanatics, such as the repulsive Norman Podhoretz, have expressed hopes for precisely such a scenario. With nothing left to lose, Saddam may well unload his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons on American troops, Israel, surrounding nations or even his own people, or maybe he will secretly ship these weapons to whatever bands of terrorists express an interest in them. Even those arch-doves at the CIA have argued that this is the main danger posed by Saddam Hussein, in direct contradiction of the Bush administration's rhetoric.

From an anarchist perspective, one of the most intriguing aspects of the US-Iraq conflict is the magnificent way in which the true nature of the state is being exposed. The great sociologist Franz Oppenheimer argued that the state is fundamentally rooted in conquest and slavery and exists for no real purpose other than the maintenance of its own power. Rothbard, echoing Augustine, insisted that the state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large. One of the most important aspects of libertarian theory is the idea that ordinary rules of civilization ought to apply to states as well as private individuals. It is just as unacceptable for the state to engage in murder, robbery and slavery as it is for an ordinary citizen to do so. With this in mind, the solution I might favor to the US-Iraq conflict is the one suggested at one point by the Iraqi Vice-President. Namely, an old fashioned duel between Bush and his cronies and Saddam and his cronies. These two teams of degenerates, leaders of criminal gangs that they are, should simply meet at some neutral location, like the Swiss Alps, and "have it out" in the same manner as the Clantons and the Earps at the OK Corral. Whichever side came out the loser, it would not exactly be a tremendous loss to mankind.
The most cheerful aspect of Bush's drive to war is that so many people are already on to him. Most other nations have refused to endorse his agenda and much of the US public is skeptical as well. An antiwar movement, the largest to date to form prior to the commencement of an actual war, is already beginning to grow and develop. Even the likes of General Schwarzkopf have expressed doubts about the administration's motives and competence and called for granting the inspectors more time. Inspections or no inspections, a US military assault on Iraq would be an act of naked aggression with all of the usual, predictable consequences of aggression for both victim and perpetrator alike. And this is the best argument against invading Iraq.

Source: http://www.anti-state.com

Cuba and Urban America Destruction

Live Direct Footage of Saint Peter's Square on YouTube

Thursday, October 5, 2017

"Nihil Operi Dei praeponatur": Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI New Preface on Liturgy


Français, Italiano

"The renewal of the liturgy is the foundation for the renewal of the Church"


Nothing should be put before divine Worship. With these world Saint Benedict, in his Rule (43:3), establishes the absolute priority of divine Worship with regard to every other task of monastic life. Even in the monastic life this was not to be presumed because agricultural and scientific work were also essential for the monks.  In agriculture, in guilds or in formation there might be temporal emergencies which might seem more important than the liturgy. In the face of all of this Benedict, with the priority given to the liturgy, emphasizes the priority of God himself in our life: "As soon as the signal for the Divine Office has been heard, let them abandon what they have in hand and assemble with the greatest speed." (43:1). LaStampa.it

BENEDICT XVI

In the mind of men today, the things of God, including the liturgy, do not appear urgent at all. There is urgency for every possible thing. God's thing does not seem urgent. Now, it could be said that the monastic life is, in any case, something different from the life of men in the world, and that is right of course. Nevertheless, the priority of God which we have forgotten, applies to all. If God is no longer important, the criteria to establish what is important are removed. Man, putting God to the side, subjects himself to demands which make him a slave to material forces and which are thus opposed to his dignity. 

In the years following the Second Vatican Council I again became conscious of the priority of God and of the divine liturgy. The widespread misunderstanding of the liturgical reform in the Catholic Church led to the placing of instruction and of one's own activity and creativity ever more in first place. The doing of men rendered the presence of God almost forgotten. In such a circumstance it becomes always more clear that the existence of the Church lives from the right celebration of the liturgy and that the Church is in danger when the primacy of God no longer appears in the liturgy and therefore in life.

The deepest cause of the crisis which has upset the Church consists in the darkening of the priority of God in the liturgy. All of this led me to dedicate myself to the theme of the liturgy more than the past because I know that the true renewal of the liturgy is a fundamental condition for the renewal of the Chruch. The studies which are collected in the present volume 11 of the Opera omnia were born on the basis of this conviction. But, at bottom, even with all the differences, the essence of the liturgy in East and West is one and the same. And thus I hope that this book may also help the Christians of Russia to understand, in a new and better way, the great gift which is given us in the Holy Liturgy.

Vatican City, on the Feast of Saint Benedict, 11 July 2015 (plinthos translation from Pierluca Azzaro Italian version of Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

Conversation and Converts: "Converso" the Movie


«Converso» triunfa en el fin de semana de su estreno y el filme llega a siete nuevas ciudades

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Laudes Creaturarum: Saint Francis of Assisi (Umbrian and English)


Original text in Umbrian dialect:

Altissimu, onnipotente bon Signore,
Tue so le laude, la gloria e l'honore et onne benedictione.

Ad Te solo, Altissimo, se konfano,
et nullu homo ène dignu te mentouare.

Laudato sie, mi Signore cum tucte le Tue creature,
spetialmente messor lo frate Sole,
lo qual è iorno, et allumini noi per lui.

Et ellu è bellu e radiante cum grande splendore:
de Te, Altissimo, porta significatione.

Laudato si, mi Signore, per sora Luna e le stelle:
in celu l'ài formate clarite et pretiose et belle.

Laudato si, mi Signore, per frate Uento
et per aere et nubilo et sereno et onne tempo,
per lo quale, a le Tue creature dài sustentamento.

Laudato si, mi Signore, per sor'Acqua,
la quale è multo utile et humile et pretiosa et casta.

Laudato si, mi Signore, per frate Focu,
per lo quale ennallumini la nocte:
ed ello è bello et iucundo et robustoso et forte.

Laudato si, mi Signore, per sora nostra matre Terra,
la quale ne sustenta et gouerna,
et produce diuersi fructi con coloriti fior et herba.

Laudato si, mi Signore, per quelli ke perdonano per lo Tuo amore
et sostengono infirmitate et tribulatione.

Beati quelli ke 'l sosterranno in pace,
ka da Te, Altissimo, sirano incoronati.

Laudato si mi Signore, per sora nostra Morte corporale,
da la quale nullu homo uiuente pò skappare:
guai a quelli ke morrano ne le peccata mortali;

beati quelli ke trouarà ne le Tue sanctissime uoluntati,
ka la morte secunda no 'l farrà male.

Laudate et benedicete mi Signore et rengratiate
e seruiteli cum grande humilitate.

Notes: so=sono, si=sii (you are), mi=mio, ka=perché, u replaces v, sirano=saranno


English Translation:

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,
and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.

And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.[3]

N.B. The video is Decus morum, an ancient hymn from the vespers of the office of Saint Francis of Assisi.

The Christian Future of Europe: Metropolitan Hilarion Of Volokolamsk, Moscow


On 22 September 2017, an international symposium on the Christian Future of Europe took place at the residence of Russia’s Ambassador to Great Britain. The keynote address was delivered by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations.

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants,

I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples’ lives, their faith and their values.

Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe. Among the reasons for this is the greatest migration crisis on the continent since the end of the Second World War, caused by armed conflicts and economic problems in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. According to figures by the European Union agency Frontex, more than 1.8 million migrants entered the EU in 2015 alone.[1] Figures from the UN International Migration Report show that the number of migrants in Europe has increased from 49.3 million people in 2000 to 76.1 million people in 2015.[2]According to research by the UN International Organization for Migration, throughout the world about 1.3 percent of the adult population, which comprises some 66 million people, in the forthcoming year intend to leave for another country in order to live permanently there. Approximately a third of this group of people – 23 million – are already making plans to move. 16.5 percent of potential migrants who were questioned responded that the countries at the top of their list are Great Britain, Germany and France.[3]

The other reason for the transformation of the religious map of Europe is the secularization of European society. Figures in a British opinion poll indicate that more than half of the country’s inhabitants – for the first time in history – do not affiliate themselves to any particular religion. 2942 people took part in an opinion poll conducted in 2016 by Britain’s National Centre for Social Research: 53 percent of those who responded to the question on religious allegiance said that they do not belong to any religious confession. Among those aged from eighteen to twenty-five, the number of non-religious is higher – 71 percent. When similar research was carried out in 1983, only 31 percent of those questioned stated that they did not belong to any confession.[4]

We can see an opposite trend in the Eastern European countries, in particular in Russia. A July opinion poll conducted in Russia by the Levada-Center showed a sharp decline in the number of atheists and non-believers from 26 percent in December 2015 to 13 percent in July 2017.[5] This, of course, does not mean that all the remaining 83 percent are practicing believers. Many defined themselves as “religious to some degree” or “not too religious”, but nevertheless affiliated themselves with one of the traditional religions. However, the number of people who define themselves as being “very religious” is growing steadily.

The contemporary state of religious life in Russian society is directly linked to the tragic events of one hundred years ago. The historical catastrophe of 1917 embroiled Russia in a fratricidal civil war, terror, exile of the nation’s best representatives beyond the confines of their homeland, and the deliberate annihilation of whole layers of society – the nobility, the Cossacks, the clergy and affluent peasants. They were declared to be “enemies of the people,” and their relatives were subjected to discrimination and became the “disenfranchised,” which forced them to the edge of survival. All of this terror took place under the banner of a communist ideology that fought ferociously against religion. Millions of believers were subjected to the cruelest of persecution, harassment, discrimination and repression – from mockery and dismissal in the workplace to imprisonment and execution by firing squad. The Church in those years produced a great multitude of martyrs and confessors for the faith who, as St. Paul said, “were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment” (Heb 11.35-36).

Discussion on the future of Christianity in Europe is impossible without understanding the prospects for the survival of religiosity among its inhabitants. Research carried out by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Cornwell Theological College, USA, indicates that the number of Christians in Europe will be consistently falling: from 560 million people in 2015 to 501 million by 2050.[6] The calculations of the Pew Research Center are more pessimistic and foretell a reduction in Christians in Europe from 553 million people in 2015 to 454 million people by 2050.[7]

These are alarming prognoses, but they reflect the current trends in the transformation of the religious picture of Europe, and they cannot be ignored. Some are suggesting that, unless special force is applied, Europe cannot simply cease to be Christian on the grounds that Europe has for many centuries been Christian. I would like to remind you all that in Russia before 1917 nobody ever proposed that the collapse of a centuries-old Christian empire would happen and that it would be replaced by an atheistic totalitarian regime. And even when that did happen, few believed that it was serious and for long.

The modern-day decline of Christianity in the western world may be compared to the situation in the Russian Empire before 1917. The revolution and the dramatic events which followed it have deep spiritual, as well as social and political, reasons. Over many years the aristocracy and intelligentsia had abandoned the faith, and were then followed by common people. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia spoke of this in January 2017: “The fundamental rupture in the traditional way of life – and I am now speaking… of the spiritual and cultural self-consciousness of the people – was possible only for the reason that something very important had disappeared from peoples’ lives, in the first instance those people who belonged to the elite. In spite of an outward prosperity and appearance, the scientific and cultural achievements, less and less place was left in peoples’ lives for a living and sincere belief in God, an understanding of the exceptional importance of values belonging to a spiritual and moral tradition.”[8]

In the immediate post-war years Christianity played a huge role in the process of European integration, which was viewed in the context of the Cold War as one of the means of containing the expansion of atheist propaganda and communist ideology. The Vatican relied in its anti-communist propaganda upon European unity, upon the Christian democratic parties of Western Europe. The latter firmly believed that Western civilization is closely tied to Christian values, and had to be defended from the communist threat. Pope Pius XII supported the creation of a European community as “Christian Europe’s historical mission.”

The first president of the Federal Republic of Germany Theodor Heuss said that Europe was built on three hills: the Acropolis, which gave her the values of freedom, philosophy and democracy; the Capitol, which represented Roman legal concepts and social order; and Golgotha, i.e. Christianity.[9] It must be noted too that the founding fathers of the European Union were deeply religious men – for example, the French foreign minister Robert Schuman, the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Konrad Adenauer and the Italian foreign minister Alcide De Gasperi.

And when half a century after the creation of the European Union its constitution was being written, it would have been natural for the Christian Churches to expect that the role of Christianity as one of the European values to have been included in this document, without encroaching upon the secular nature of the authorities in a unified Europe. But, as we know, this did not happen. The European Union, when writing its constitution, declined to mention its Christian heritage even in the preamble of the document.

I firmly believe that a Europe which has renounced Christ will not be able to preserve its cultural and spiritual identity. For many centuries Europe was the home where various religious traditions lived side by side, but at the same time in which Christianity played a dominant role. This role is reflected, particularly, in the architecture of European cities which are hard to imagine without their magnificent cathedrals and numerous, though more modest in size, churches.

A monopoly of the secular idea has taken hold in Europe. Its manifestation is the expulsion of the religious worldview from the public expanse. Article 4 of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion and Belief, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1981, affirms that “All States shall take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the recognition, exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all fields of civil, economic, political, social and cultural life.”[10]

The architects of the secular society have seen to the legal aspect of the issue: formally one can confess any religion, but if one attempts to motivate one’s actions through religious belief and freedom of conscience and encourage others to act in accordance with their faith, then at best one will be subjected to censure, or at worst to criminal prosecution.

For example, if one is a doctor and refuses to perform an abortion,[11] or euthanasia,[12] by referring to one’s religious principles, then one is breaking the law. If you are a Protestant pastor and live in a country in which same sex unions are legal, then you have little chance of refusing this couple the right to a church wedding while remaining unpunished by the state. Thus, for example, the Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven recently stated that all pastors of the Church of Sweden ought to be obliged to perform church weddings for same-sex couples, adding that “I see parallels to the midwife who refuses to perform abortions. If you work as a midwife you must be able to perform abortions, otherwise you have to do something else… It is the same for priests.”[13]

Such political figures are the complete opposite to those who were at the foundations of the European Union, and this type of rhetoric, in my view, is suicidal for the continent of Europe. The legalization of abortion, the encouragement of sexual promiscuity, and the systematic attempts to undermine family values have led to a profound demographic crisis in many European countries. This crisis, accompanied by an identity crisis, will lead to a situation whereby in time other peoples will inhabit Europe with a different religion, a different culture and different paradigms of values.

Often the language of hatred in relation to Christians is used when Christians insist on their right to participate in public affairs. They enjoy the same right as much as it is enjoyed by adherents of any other religion or by atheists. However, in practice it is not like this: dozens of instances of discrimination against Christians on the grounds of their beliefs are registered every year. These instances are highlighted by the media and become a topic for public discussion, but the situation as a whole does not change as a result.

In modern-day Europe militant secularism has been transformed into an autonomous power that does not tolerate dissent. It allows well-organized minority groups to successfully impose their will on the majority under the pretext of observing human rights. Today human rights have in essence been transformed into an instrument for manipulating the majority, and the struggle for human rights into the dictatorship of the minority in relation to the majority.

Unfortunately, we should note that these are not isolated incidents, but an already formed system of values supported by the state and supra-national institutions of the EU.

In a situation where we have aggressive pressure of the groups which propagate ideas unacceptable from the perspective of traditional Christian morality, it is essential to unite the Churches’ efforts in opposing these processes, to act jointly in the media, in the sphere of legal support, as well as in propagating common Christian values at all possible levels. It is important that the Churches share their experience in this sphere, and develop cooperation between church human rights organizations and monitoring centers.

I believe it important that Christians of Europe should stand shoulder to shoulder to defend those values upon which the life of the continent has been built for centuries, and that they should view the afflictions and dismay of Christians throughout the world as their own.

[1] Frontex Risk Analysis Network Quarterly Report. Q4 2015. http://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Publications/Risk_Analysis/FRAN_Q4_2015.pdf

[2] International Migration Report 2015. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/PopulationDivision.

http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/publications/migrationreport/docs/MigrationReport2015.pdf

[3] Measuring Global Migration Potential, 2010–2015. Issue No. 9, July 2017. http://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/gmdac_data_briefing_series_issue_9.pdf

[4] Число неверующих в Великобритании впервые превысило 50%. http://www.bbc.com/russian/news-41154931

[5] https://www.levada.ru/2017/07/18/religioznost

[6] http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/research/documents/StatusofGlobalChristianity2017.pdf

[7] http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/

[8] Presentation by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill at the opening of the XXV Nativity Educational Readings http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/4789256.html

[9] Христианские церкви и европейская интеграция: параметры взаимодействия. http://orthodoxru.eu/ru/index.php?content=article&category=publications&id=2012-09-17-1&lang=ru

[10] http://www.un.org/ru/documents/decl_conv/declarations/relintol.shtml

[11] http://www.intoleranceagainstchristians.eu/case/medical-directors-dismissal-reversed.html

[12] Catholic care home in Belgium fined for refusing euthanasia. http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/07/04/catholic-care-home-in-belgium-fined-for refusing-euthanasia/

[13] http://www.intoleranceagainstchristians.eu/case/swedish-prime-minister-priests-should-perform-same-sex-marriages.html

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Remembering Hugh Hefner the way I Remember Fidel Castro: Good Riddance!


Ross Douthat, The New York Times, September 30, 2017

[Hugh Hefner died last Wednesday at the age of 91], ...a pornographer and chauvinist who got rich on masturbation, consumerism and the exploitation of women, [and who] aged into a leering grotesque in a captain’s hat, and died a pack rat in a decaying manse where porn blared during his pathetic orgies.

Hef was the grinning pimp of the sexual revolution, with quaaludes for the ladies and Viagra for himself — a father of smut addictions and eating disorders, abortions and divorce and syphilis, a pretentious huckster who published Updike stories no one read while doing flesh procurement for celebrities, a revolutionary whose revolution chiefly benefited men much like himself.

The arc of his life vindicated his moral critics, conservative and feminist: What began with talk of jazz and Picasso and other signifiers of good taste ended in a sleazy decrepitude that would have been pitiable if it wasn’t still so exploitative.

Early Hef had a pipe and suit and a highbrow reference for every occasion; he even claimed to have a philosophy, that final refuge of the scoundrel. But late Hef was a lecherous, low-brow Peter Pan, playing at perpetual boyhood — ice cream for breakfast, pajamas all day — while bodyguards shooed male celebrities away from his paid harem and the skull grinned beneath his papery skin.

This late phase was prettied up by reality television’s “The Girls Next Door,” which kept the orgies offstage and relied on the girlfriends’ mix of desperation, boredom and charisma for its strange appeal. The behind-the-scenes accounts were rather grimmer: depression and drugs, “dirty hallway carpets and the curtains that smell like dog piss,” the chance to wait while Hef “picked the dog poo off the carpet — and then ask for our allowance.”

Needless to say the obituaries for Hefner, even if they acknowledge the seaminess, have been full of encomia for his great deeds: Hef the vanquisher of puritanism, Hef the political progressive, Hef the great businessman and all the rest. There are even conservative appreciations, arguing that for all his faults Hef was an entrepreneur who appreciated the finer things in life and celebrated la différence.

What a lot of garbage. Sure, Hefner supported some good causes and published some good writers. But his good deeds and aesthetic aspirations were ultimately incidental to his legacy — a gloss over his flesh-peddling, smeared like Vaseline on a pornographer’s lens. The things that were distinctively Hefnerian, that made him influential and important, were all rotten, and to the extent they were part of stories that people tend to celebrate, they showed the rot in larger things as well.

His success as a businessman showed the rotten side of capitalism — the side that exploits appetites for money, that feeds leech-like on our vices, that dissolves family and religion while promising that consumption will fill the void they leave behind.

The social liberalism he championed was the rotten and self-interested sort, a liberalism of male and upper-class privilege, in which the strong and beautiful and rich take their pleasure at the expense of the vulnerable and poor and not-yet-born.

The online future his career anticipated was the rotten side of the internet — the realms of onanism and custom-tailored erotica, where the male vanity and entitlement he indulged has curdled into resentment and misogyny.

And his appreciation of male-female difference was rotten, too — the leering predatory sort of appreciation, the Cosby-Clinton-Trump sort, the sort that nicknames quaaludes “thigh openers” and expects the girls to laugh, the sort that prefers breast implants to female intellect and rents the charms of youth to escape the realities of age.

No doubt what Hefner offered America somebody else would have offered in his place, and the changes he helped hasten would have come rushing in without him.

But in every way that mattered he made those changes worse, our culture coarser and crueler and more sterile than liberalism or feminism or freedom of speech required. And in every way that mattered his life story proved that we were wrong to listen to him, because at the end of the long slide lay only a degraded, priapic senility, or the desperate gaiety of Prince Prospero’s court with the Red Death at the door.

Now that death has taken him, we should examine our own sins. Liberals should ask why their crusade for freedom and equality found itself with such a captain, and what his legacy says about their cause. Conservatives should ask how their crusade for faith and family and community ended up so Hefnerian itself — with a conservative news network that seems to have been run on Playboy Mansion principles and a conservative party that just elected a playboy as our president.

You can find these questions being asked, but they are counterpoints and minor themes. That this should be the case, that only prudish Christians and spoilsport feminists are willing to say that the man was obviously wicked and destructive, is itself a reminder that the rot Hugh Hefner spread goes very, very deep.


Monday, October 2, 2017

"Success of Schools" Crisis: Disorientation

I saw yesterday on Facebook this excellent video (44 million views!) on the enormous success of the Finland school system, but afterwards what did not add up was the blatant moral dysfunction. These "bright" students have nails in their faces and look like freaks.

If you have to "find your own happiness, what makes you happy"; if there is no standard of right and wrong; if there is no morality, no objective truth for everyone, confusion which is played out in every manner of sexual perversion and with anti-man laws (e.g. abortion and euthanasia), then why not go on a shooting spree? It is all very logical. If the human body is not sacred, if human life is not sacred, then you do not know the first thing about the human person, imago Dei, and you can thus do with man as you wish!

I agree that Finland is on to something, but men cannot be formed in a religious and moral vacuum. Culture cannot be invented by the schools, civilization even less. That only comes from men with God. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, is the One Who makes men saints. Men in denial of God will necessarily end up confused regarding who they themselves are and their ultimate purpose.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Christian Civilization Urgently Needs to Revive and Redevelop the Doctrines of Creation, Metaphysics and Eschatology


Difficulties confronting the faith in Europe today
Joseph Card. Ratzinger, Prefect
Meeting with the Doctrinal Commissions of Europe, (Laxenburg, 2 May 1989)[1]

As bishops who bear responsibility for the faith of the Church in our countries, we ask ourselves where especially do the difficulties lie which people have with the faith today and how can we rightly reply to them.

We need no extensive search in order to answer the first of these questions. There exists something like a litany of objections to the practice and teaching of the Church, and nowadays its regular recitation has become like the performance of a duty for progressive-thinking Catholics. We can ascertain the principal elements of this litany: the rejection of the Church’s teaching about contraception, which means the placing upon the same moral level of every kind of means for the prevention of conception upon whose application only individual “conscience” may decide; the rejection of every form of “discrimination” as to homosexuality and the consequent assertion of a moral equivalence for all forms of sexual activity as long as they are motivated by “love” or at least do not hurt anyone; the admission of the divorced who remarry to the Church’s sacraments; and the ordination of women to the priesthood.

As we can see, there are quite different issues linked together in this litany. The first two claims pertain to the field of sexual morality; the second two to the Church’s sacramental order. A closer look makes it clear, however, that these four issues, their differences notwithstanding, are very much linked together. They spring from one and the same vision of humanity within which there operates a particular notion of human freedom. When this background is borne in mind, it becomes evident that the litany of objections goes even deeper than it appears at first glance.

What does this vision of humanity, upon which this litany depends, look like on closer scrutiny? Its fundamental characteristics are as diffuse as the claims which derive from it, and so it can be easily traced. We find our starting point in the plausible assertion that modern man would find it difficult to relate to the Church’s traditional sexual morality. Instead, it is said, he has come to terms with his sexuality in a differentiated and less confining way and thus urges a revision of standards which are no longer acceptable in the present circumstances, no matter how meaningful they may have been under past historical conditions. The next step, then, consists in showing how we today have finally discovered our rights and the freedom of our conscience and how we are no longer prepared to subordinate it to some external authority. Furthermore, it is now time that the fundamental relationship between man and woman be reordered, that outmoded role expectations be overturned and that complete equality of opportunity be accorded women on all levels and in all fields. The fact that the Church, as the particularly conservative institution that she is, might not go along with this line of thinking would certainly not be surprising. If the Church, however, would wish to promote human freedom, then ultimately she will be obliged to set aside the theological justification of old social taboos, and the most timely and vital sign of such a desire at the present moment would be her consent to the ordination of women to the priesthood.

The roots of this opposition continue to emerge in various forms and make it clear that what we are dealing with in our imaginary but quite pointed litany is nothing less than a very coherent reorientation.

Its key concepts present themselves in the words “conscience” and “freedom,” which are supposed to confer the aura of morality upon changed norms of behavior that at first glance would be plainly labelled as a surrender of moral integrity, the simplifications of a lax conscience.

No longer is conscience understood as that knowledge which derives from a higher form of knowing. It is instead the individual’s self-determination which may not be directed by someone else, a determination by which each person decides for himself what is moral in a given situation.

The concept “norm”—or what is even worse, the moral law itself—takes on negative shades of dark intensity: an external rule may supply models for direction but it can in no case serve as the ultimate arbiter of one’s obligation. Where such thinking holds sway, the relationship of man to his body necessarily changes too. This change is described as a liberation, when compared to the relationship obtaining until now, like an opening up to a freedom long unknown. The body then comes to be considered as a possession which a person can make use of in whatever way seems to him most helpful in attaining “quality of life.” The body is something that one has and that one uses. No longer does man expect to receive a message from his bodiliness as to who he is and what he should do, but definitely, on the basis of his reasonable deliberations and with complete independence, he expects to do with it as he wishes. In consequence, there is indeed no difference whether the body be of the masculine or the feminine sex, the body no longer expresses being at all, on the contrary, it has become a piece of property. It may be that man’s temptation has always lain in the direction of such control and the exploitation of goods. At its roots, however, this way of thinking first became an actual possibility through the fundamental separation—not a theoretical but a practical and constantly practiced separation—of sexuality and procreation. This separation was introduced with the pill and has been brought to its culmination by genetic engineers so that man can now “make” human beings in the laboratory. The material for doing this has to be procured by actions deliberately carried out for the sake of the planned results which no longer involve interpersonal human bonds and decisions in any way. Indeed, where this kind of thinking has been completely adopted, the difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality as well as that between sexual relations within or outside marriage have become unimportant.

Likewise divested of every metaphysical symbolism is the distinction between man and woman, which is to be regarded as the product of reinforced role expectations.

It would be interesting to follow in detail this revolutionary vision about man which has appeared behind our rather haphazardly concocted litany of objections to the Church’s teaching. Without a doubt this will be one of the principal challenges for anthropological reflection in coming years. This reflection will have to sort out meticulously where quite meaningful corrections to traditional notions appear and where there begins a truly fundamental opposition to faith’s vision of man, an opposition that admits no possibility of compromise but places squarely before us the alternative of believing or not. Such reflection cannot be conducted in a context which is more interested in discerning the questions which we have to pose for ourselves today than in looking for the answers. Let us leave off this dispute for now; our question instead must be, how does it happen that values which presuppose such a background have become current among Christians?

It has become quite evident at the present time that our litany of objections does not turn upon a few isolated conflicts over this or that sacramental practice in the Church, nor is it over the extended application of this or that rule. Each of these controversies rests upon a much more far-reaching change of “paradigms,” that is, of the basic ideas of being and of human obligation. This is the case even if only a small number of those who mouth the words of our litany would be aware of the change involved.

They all breathe in, so to speak, the atmosphere of this particular vision of man and the world which convinces them of the plausibility of this one opinion while removing other views from consideration. Who would not be for conscience and freedom and against legalism and constraint? Who wishes to be put into the position of defending taboos? If the questions are framed in this way, the faith proclaimed by the Magisterium is already manoeuvred into a hopeless position. It collapses all by itself because it loses its plausibility according to the thought patterns of the modern world, and is looked upon by progressive contemporaries as something that has been long superseded.

We can then give a meaningful answer to the questions raised, only if we do not permit ourselves to be drawn into the battle over details and are able instead to express the logic of the faith in its integrity, the good sense and reasonableness of its view of reality and life. We can give a proper answer to the conflicts in detail only if we keep all the relationships in view. It is their disappearance which has robbed the Faith of its reasonableness.

In this context, I would like to list three areas within the world-view of the Faith which have witnessed a certain kind of reduction in the last centuries, a reduction which has been gradually preparing the way for another “paradigm.”

1. In the first place, we have to point out the almost complete disappearance of the doctrine on creation from theology.

As typical instances, we may cite two compendia of modern theology in which the doctrine on creation is eliminated as part of the content of the faith and is replaced by vague considerations from existential philosophy, the 1973 edition of the ecumenical “Neues Glaubensbuch” published by J. Feiner and L. Vischer, and the basic catechetical work published in Paris in 1984, “La foi des catholiques.” In a time when we are experiencing the agonizing of creation against man’s work and when the question of the limits and standards of creation upon our activity has become the central problem of our ethical responsibility, this fact must appear quite strange. Notwithstanding all this, it remains always a disagreeable fact that “nature” should be viewed as a moral issue. An anxious and unreasonable reaction against technology is also closely associated with the inability to discern a spiritual message in the material world. Nature still appears as an irrational form even while evincing mathematical structures which we can study technically. That nature has a mathematical intelligibility is to state the obvious, the assertion that it also contains in itself a moral intelligibility, however, is rejected as metaphysical fantasy. The demise of metaphysics goes hand in hand with the displacement of the teaching on creation. Their place has been taken by a philosophy of evolution (which I would like to distinguish from the scientific hypothesis of evolution). This philosophy intends to discard the laws of nature so that the management of its development may make a better life possible. Nature, which ought really to be the teacher along this path, is instead a blind mistress, combining by unwitting chance what man is supposed to simulate now with full consciousness. His relationship to nature (which is, to be sure, no creation) remains that of one who acts upon it; it is in no way that of a learner. It persists as a relationship of domination, then, resting upon the presumption that rational calculation may be as clever as “evolution” and can therefore lift the world to new heights. The process of development up to this point had to struggle along without human intervention.

Conscience, to which appeal is made, is essentially mute, just as nature, the teacher, is blind, it just computes which action holds the best chances for betterment. This can (and should, according to the logic of the point of departure) occur in a collective way, for what is needed is a party which, as the vanguard of history, takes evolution in hand while exacting the absolute subordination of the individual to it. Otherwise, things occur individualistically and conscience then becomes the expression of the subject’s autonomy which, in terms of the grand world picture, can only seem absurd arrogance.

It is quite obvious that none of these solutions is helpful, and this is the basis for the deep desperation of mankind today, a desperation which hides behind an official façade of optimism. Nevertheless there is still a silent awareness of the need of an alternative to lead us out of the blind alleys of our plausibilities, and perhaps there is also, more than we think, a silent hope that a renewed Christianity may supply the alternative. This can be accomplished, however, only if the teaching on creation is developed anew. Such an undertaking, then, ought to be regarded as one of the most pressing tasks of theology today.

We have to make evident once more what is meant by the world’s having been created “in wisdom” and that God’s creative act is something quite other than the “bang” of a primeval explosion. Only then can conscience and norm enter again into proper relationship. For then it will become clear that conscience is not some individualistic (or collective) calculation; rather it is a “consciens,” a “knowing along with” creation and, through creation, with God the Creator. Then, too, it will be rediscovered that man’s greatness does not lie in the miserable autonomy of proclaiming himself his one and only master, but in the fact that his being allows the highest wisdom, truth itself, to shine through. Then it will become clear that man is so much the greater the more he is capable of hearing the profound message of creation, the message of the Creator. And then it will be apparent how harmony with creation, whose wisdom becomes our norm, does not mean a limitation upon our freedom but is rather an expression of our reason and our dignity. Then the body also is given its due honor: it is no longer something “used,” but is the temple of authentic human dignity because it is God’s handiwork in the world. Then is the equal dignity of man and woman made manifest precisely in the fact that they are different. One will then begin to understand once again that their bodiliness reaches the metaphysical depths and is the basis of a symbolic metaphysics whose denial or neglect does not ennoble man but destroys him.

2. The decline of the doctrine on creation includes the decline of metaphysics, man’s imprisonment in the empirical, as we have said. When this occurs, however, there is also of necessity a weakening of Christology. The Word who was in the beginning quite disappears. Creative wisdom is no longer a theme for reflection. Inevitably the figure of Jesus Christ, deprived of its metaphysical dimension, is reduced to a purely historical Jesus, to an “empirical” Jesus, who, like every empirical fact, contains only what is capable of happening. The central title of his dignity, “Son,” becomes void where the path to the metaphysical is cut off. Even this title becomes meaningless since there is no longer a theology of being sons of God, for it is replaced by the notion of autonomy.

The relationship of Jesus with God is now expressed in terms such as “representative” or the like, but as regards what this means, one must seek an answer by the reconstruction of the “historical Jesus.”

There are today two principal models for the alleged figure of the historical Jesus: the bourgeois-liberal and the Marxist-revolutionary. Jesus was either the herald of a liberal morality, struggling against every kind of “legalism” and its representatives; or he was a subversive who can be considered as the deification of the class struggle and its religious symbolic figure.

Evident in the background are the two aspects of the modern notion of freedom, which are seen embodied in Jesus; this is what makes him God’s representative. The unmistakable symptom of the present decline of Christology is the disappearance of the Cross and, consequently, the meaninglessness of the Resurrection, of the Paschal Mystery. In the liberal model, the Cross is an accident, a mistake, the result of short-sighted legalism. It cannot therefore be made the subject of theological speculation; indeed it really should not have occurred and a proper liberalism makes it in any event superfluous.

In the second model Jesus is the failed revolutionary. He can now symbolize the suffering of the oppressed class and thus foster the growth of class consciousness. From this viewpoint the Cross can even be given a certain sense, an important meaning, but one which is radically opposed to the witness of the New Testament.

Now in both these versions there runs a common thread, namely, that we must be saved not through the Cross, but from the Cross. Atonement and forgiveness are misunderstandings from which Christianity has to be freed. The two fundamental points of the Christian faith of the New Testament writers and of the Church in every age (the divine sonship understood in a metaphysical sense and the Paschal Mystery) are eliminated or at least bereft of any function. It is obvious that with such a basic reinterpretation all the rest of Christianity is likewise altered—the understanding of what the Church is, the liturgy, spirituality, etc.

Naturally these crude denials, which I have described herewith all the severity of their consequences, are seldom spoken of so openly. The movements, however, are clear and they do not confine themselves to the realm of theology alone. For quite some time they have entered into preaching and catechesis; on account of the ease of their transmission, they are even more pronounced in these fields than in strictly theological literature. Quite clearly, then, the real decisions today fall once again in the field of Christology; everything else follows from that.

3. Finally, I should like to refer briefly to a third field of theological reflection which is threatened by a thoroughgoing reduction of the contents of faith, namely, eschatology. Belief in eternal life has hardly any role to play in preaching today. A friend of mine, recently deceased, an exegete of note, once told me of some Lenten sermons he had heard at the beginning of the 1970s. In the first sermon, the preacher explained to the faithful that Hell does not exist; in the second, Purgatory went the same way; in the third, he eventually undertook the difficult task of trying to convince his hearers that even Heaven does not exist and that we should seek our paradise here on earth. To be sure, it is seldom as drastic as that, but diffidence in speaking about the hereafter has become commonplace.

The Marxist accusation that Christians justified the injustices of this world with the consolation of the world to come is deeply rooted, and the present social problems are now indeed so serious that they require all the powers of moral commitment. This moral requirement will not at all be called into question by the one who views the Christian life in the perspective of eternity, for eternal life cannot be prepared for otherwise than in our present existence. Nicholas Cabasilas, for example, expressed this truth in a wonderful reflection in the fourteenth century. Only those attain to it (that is, the future life) who already are its friends and have ears to hear. For it is not there that friendship is begun, that the ear is opened, that the wedding garment is readied and all else prepared, it is rather this present life which is the work place where all this is fashioned. For just as nature prepares the embryo, even while it leads a dark and confined existence, for living in the light and forms it, as it were, according to the pattern of the life that is to come, just so does it happen with the saints. Only the exigency of eternal life confers its absolute urgency on the moral duty of this life. If, however, heaven is only something “ahead” of us and no longer “above” us, then the interior tension of human existence and its communal responsibility are slackened. For we indeed are not “ahead,” and whether this prospect of what is ahead is a heaven for those others who appear to us to have gone “ahead,” we are not in a position to determine, since they are as free and as subject to temptation as we are ourselves.

Here we find the deception inherent in the idea of the “better world,” which, nonetheless, appears today even among Christians as the true goal of our hope and the genuine standard of morality. The “Kingdom of God” has been almost completely substituted in the general awareness, as far as I can see, by the Utopia of a better future world for which we labor and which becomes the true reference point of morality—a morality which thus blends again with a philosophy of evolution and history, and creates norms for itself by calculating what can offer better conditions of life.

I do not deny that it is in just this way that the idealistic energies of young people are unleashed and that the results are fruitful in terms of new aspirations to selfless activity. As an all-embracing norm for human endeavor, however, the future does not suffice. Where the Kingdom of God is reduced to the “better world” of tomorrow, the present will ultimately assert its rights against some imaginary future. The escape into the world of drugs is the logical consequence of the idolizing of Utopia. Since this has difficulty in arriving, man draws it to himself or throws himself headlong into it. It is dangerous, therefore, if the better world terminology predominates in prayers and sermons and inadvertently replaces the faith with a placebo.

All that has been said here may appear to many to be all too negative. It was not intended, of course, to describe the situation of the Church as a whole, with all her positive and negative elements. It was rather a case of setting out the obstacles to the faith in the European context.

Within this limited theme, I have not claimed to present an exhaustive analysis. My sole intention was to examine, beyond the individual problems which are constantly surfacing, the deepest motives which give rise to the individual difficulties in ever changing forms.

Only by learning to understand that fundamental trait of modern existence which refuses to accept the faith before discussing all its contents, will we be able to regain the initiative instead of simply responding to the questions raised. Only then can we reveal the faith as the alternative which the world awaits after the failure of the liberalistic and Marxist experiments. This is today’s challenge to Christianity, herein lies our great responsibility as Christians at the present time.

[1] Communio (US) 38 (2011), p. 728-737.
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