Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ted and Carly, McCain and Palin -- Why the Republican Establishment lost the Culture War

by David Pence

Most folks recognized that Ted Cruz naming Carly Fiorina as his running mate was an act of desperation. A week later they left the race together.

There was an odd but familiar ring about the couple. It was mindful of the American Catholic Bishops Conference pushing forward a nun as their spokesperson. Or John McCain, that old maverick, putting Sarah Palin next in line as commander-in-chief. For Mrs. Fiorina, she introduced herself by singing lullabies which she had previously sung on the campaign bus for Senator Cruz’s children. If that wasn’t enough embarrassment, at one of their last rallies, she suddenly fell off a public stage and Mr. Cruz just kept on waving and shaking hands. 'Male Protector' was not his theme. "Awkward and out of place" was hers.

What is it about Republican conservatives and women? Ronald Reagan gave us Sandra Day O’Connor as a Supreme Court justice because his daughter asked. President Ford signed on to destroy the all-male character of our service academies to show how progressive he was with the blessings of his new breed Republicans: Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. When Republicans find an elegant woman like Nikki Haley or Condi Rice -- they turn themselves absurd by suggesting she should be commander-in-chief of our military. When registering females in the Selective Service was broached at a Republican debate, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio pushed aside 300 years of colonial, state, and federal tradition and pushed their daughters to the front of the line.

One of the earliest descriptions of Christians in Roman times was that "Christians do not expose their children. They share at their tables but not in their beds." There is a table of brotherhood that Martin Luther King once dreamt about where the sons of slave-owners and the sons of slaves would sit together. Someday, he thought, men might share our common duties as men around that table and across the color line. He could see the American fraternity on the red hills of Georgia. But the dream of brotherhood turned nightmare when confronted with the huge inflated balloon figure of the white feminist demanding her rights. The feminist queen bee -- the mother who has the right to kill her own children -- demanded the table of brotherhood include her or be broken into kindling wood. The Republicans flinched and brought their wives and daughters into the club.  While the feminists took over the Democratic party behind the male leadership of baby boomers Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the Republicans became the party of stuttering men. They granted the hungry careerists every inroad that destroyed the male protective circle at the center of political agreement and the American nation. Even the all-male local Rotary club was outlawed. There is no table of brotherhood left to integrate. Unbelievably, as the male table was disassembled, a strange male bed was sacramentalized and no judges were impeached. Mother duty and masculine soldier duty are cut of the same religious cloth of sexual duty and sacral obligation. To rip up one is to negate the other.

When David offered to fight Goliath for Israel, King Saul offered him his armor to wear for the battle. But David was a shepherd -- he relied on agility and five smooth stones to take down his foe. He could not wear the armor of another king... already disgraced and so very different from him. He had to fight as the anointed one with his own weapons and garments. When will Republicans stop donning the armor of Saul? The fight for life has a formation that God ordained for protection: the public male group and the female domicile. Politics is the art of leading and evoking that male protective group into carrying out our common duties. We have to stop bowing to the feminist myth that male military and political groups are stronger when you insert a woman in the band of brothers.

"David and Goliath" by Titian


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Catholic Sociobiology: Patriarchal Fraternity and the Original Mission of Adam

by Dr. David Pence

The path to world order is for man to be restored to his relationship with God, and men to be restored to our fraternal relationships with one another. We have a clear view of the permanent intimate relationship that man and woman form in marriage (as it was in the beginning "with Adam and Eve.") Before Genesis, we can see an equally dramatic image of the masculine fighting group as Michael and his Angels cast Satan and his demons from heaven. We do not see "in the beginning" territorial groups of men, united under God, turned against the Evil One who prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls. The first brothers we see were disfigured by fratricide.  Because the Evil One slipped into the Garden and disrupted the first couple, we don’t appreciate how the world was meant to be the battlefield where the communal masculine form of Adam and his sons was meant to meet and defeat the Evil One. Not until Joseph reconciles with his brothers, and the the twelve tribes of Israel are united, do we get a hint of the masculine form of public communion inherent in our nature. There is a great deficit today in Catholic theology explaining the spiritual significance of a male priesthood. There is a corresponding anthropological deficit in explaining the fraternal character of nations and states by which male groups protect and provide for a culture of life. These deficits are exacerbated by the spiritual corruption in today’s priesthood which has disfigured the primary icon of ordered masculine bonds which Christ commanded (when He told the Apostles to love one another as the Father had loved Him, and He had loved them).  These deficiencies of imagination are deeply related to our anemic grasp of how central the Angels (particularly the Evil Angel) are in a realistic narrative of human nature and history.

Even if there had been no original sin, there was a fight which men were meant for, and a necessity for us to bond as brothers under the Father. Completing the exorcism by Michael and the Angels on this earth where Satan was the Prince of the World has always been part of man’s original job description. We know our natures were created for love and contemplation. It turns out that our natures were also created for contest. The public front of that contest is waged by men as a social body. And while the communio meant for intimate love and procreation is the male/female couple, the communio meant for public contest is the male group under a leader. The emotions men experience in search of social recognition as well as our thirst for justice and our anger at predators are meant to motivate the formation of social hierarchies engaged in protective action. It was all foreordained in The Original Mission of Adam and his sons. It has been perfected in the coming of the new Adam and his formation of the Church built on the living stones of the Apostolic Covenant in the priesthood. This sociobiological reality of the Father’s love made manifest in a holy brotherhood is promulgated in history through the sacred male covenants of the nations.

Monday, May 2, 2016


by A. Joseph Lynch

Although the above map only displays nations whose Anglican communities number at least 500,000 members, the map shows just how large Anglicanism is compared to its English homeland. A quick glance at the numbers reveals that Africa alone accounts for at least 38.6 million Anglicans. Compare this to the 26 million Anglicans living in England and it is easy to understand how the US Episcopal Church was voted out of the Anglican Communion for its stance on homosexuality. This is a topic Anthropology of Accord has written on numerous times:
Africans and Anglicans: A Catholic Anthropology for the Priesthood
Religion and Geopolitics Review: January 23
The map also reveals - again unsurprisingly - the correlation between the old colonies of the British Empire and the areas in the world that today have large Anglican populations. For a comparison, see our Map on Monday: THE BRITISH EMPIRE.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, April 30

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


OUR TRUE ENEMY - THE SAUDIS: Jeb Bush never heard of the 28 pages. It cannot be in our national interest nor soothing to our better angels that we are implicated so deeply in the starving of  Yemen. To fight terrorism, start with the Saudis.

ISRAEL’S COLD ALLIANCE WITH ARABS AGAINST IRAN: This is a good explanation of the thinking behind the Israel-Saudi truce. Whether it still applies is a major question. It was Israel’s view that Iran would unite their fellow Muslims  around the common objective of destroying Israel. The Persian Shiites knew they had many differences with the Sunni Arabs. Thus hatred of the common enemy would be their strategy for regional dominance.

ON SAUDI ARABIA - EXCELLENT TALK BY BRUCE REIDEL, A TRUE MIDEAST EXPERTMr. Reidel of the Brookings institute is as blinded by feminism as most Beltway experts but he is also very observant and articulate. He can describe complicated political situations in a way that all can learn from him. This speech is the best public description of the succession players in Saudi Arabia. The new King Salman (over 80), the Crown Prince bin Nayef (in his 50’s, competent anti-terrorist fighter, and pro-American), and the Deputy Crown Prince - King Salmon's favorite son in his 30’s. Muhammed bin Salman is not his oldest son, but his favorite, and he is culturally a Wahhabi enforcer. The bombing campaign against Yemen’s Shiites is his signature claim to warrior status. Reidel also outlines the Saudi relationship to nuclear weapons - they have in place delivery missiles, and the alliance with Pakistan who makes the warheads. Those missiles came from China.

Mr. Reidel places the momentary alliance with Israel in perspective by reminding us of the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem. It is interesting that the best book on Saudi Aarbia (Hatred’s Kingdom by Dore Gold) was followed by the same author’s The Fight for Jerusalem. Mr. Reidel was quite accurate in ascribing the brutal war against Yemen’s Shiites to the Deputy Crown Prince. He was quite accurate in saying the war could not be fought for a single extra day without the United States and United Kingdom’s technical aid. But he is utterly remiss in never mentioning that the "rebels" who are being killed are Shiites, and that is why they and not ISIS or Al Qaeda Sunnis in Yemen are being slaughtered from the air (video at 1 hour, 25 minute mark). A short article on main actors.


EUROPE AND ISLAM: HOW SPLITTING THE CHRISTENDOM OF THE MEDITERRANEAN LED TO NORTHERN EUROPE: Robert Kaplan at his geographic best reminding us how the Christendom which once surrounded the Mediterranean was cut in half in the seventh century and led to the Europe of differing states and increasing individual rights. Mr. Kaplan cannot even imagine that it is the reemergence of Christianity which will be the basis of the European nations capable of both integrating and converting immigrant Muslims. It is instructive to have someone  like Mr. Kaplan who is so blatantly anti-religion and nation to formulate the case for the West. It shows the paucity of the argument.  He properly identifies the central value of his godless West-"Individual Rights and Agency." Here is his conclusion about the dilemma of building the West without those retrograde nations.
Europe has responded by artificially reconstructing national-cultural identities on the extreme right and left, to counter the threat from the civilization it once dominated.

Although the idea of an end to history—with all its ethnic and territorial disputes—turns out to have been a fantasy, this realization is no excuse for a retreat into nationalism. The cultural purity that Europe craves in the face of the Muslim-refugee influx is simply impossible in a world of increasing human interactions.

“The West,” if it does have a meaning beyond geography, manifests a spirit of ever more inclusive liberalism. Just as in the 19th century there was no going back to feudalism, there is no going back now to nationalism, not without courting disaster. As the great Russian intellectual Alexander Herzen observed, “History does not turn back … All reinstatements, all restorations have always been masquerades.”

The question is thus posed: What, in a civilizational sense, will replace Rome? For while empire, as Said documented, certainly had its evils, its very ability to govern vast multiethnic spaces around the Mediterranean provided a solution of sorts that no longer exists.

Europe must now find some other way to dynamically incorporate the world of Islam without diluting its devotion to the rule-of-law-based system that arose in Europe’s north, a system in which individual rights and agency are uppermost in a hierarchy of needs. If it cannot evolve in the direction of universal values, there will be only the dementia of ideologies and coarse nationalisms to fill the void. This would signal the end of “the West” in Europe.
AUSTRIA: A PROTECTOR NATIONALIST SHOCKS THE REIGNING PARTIES: The first round doesn’t determine the presidency but a message is being sent.

RUSSIA, CHINA, AND THE SOUTH CHINA SEA: The Russians take a hands-off approach which China appreciates.

CALL US CZECHIA: (If you think there is still a country called Czechoslovakia, catch up here). A good historical and geo-political look at the world from the vantage of Prague.

IRISH EASTER RISING 100-YEAR ANNIVERSARY - A REFLECTION: The Easter Rising in 1916 was suppressed. The Anglo-Irish war (1919-1921) ended with an Irish Free State still inside the British Empire. There was a different settlement for the Protestant counties of Ulster-Northern Ireland. An even more bloody Irish civil war followed between Catholics who opposed and those who favored the treaty creating the free state. A good review and reflection on blood sacrifice and the nation.

GEOGRAPHY AND CURRENT EVENTS - KNOW YOUR CHOKE POINTS: This week at AOA our Map on Monday showed seven geostrategic choke points. In the last several weeks, we have linked to stories about China building small islands to control the South China sea; Russia defending their naval port in Crimea and their air dominance of the Baltic Sea; Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt agreeing to an island sale near the Gulf of Aqaba - all are current events built on choke points. "Teach your sons geography, and they will never be prisoners of ideology."


ANDREW JACKSON: The opponent of the Bank gets dissed by the Treasury. But never fear. Pat Buchanan and James Webb use the opportunity to remind us of a crucial time in the formation of the American republic, and the role Jackson played in that movement. Harriet Tubman is a great lady - a gun-toting evangelical Christian who risked her life that others may be free. But to set her against Jackson who also risked his life to set us free is like trying to fight Sunni Salafists by aiming pistols at Shia Iran and Christian Russia. Consolidate your friends and isolate your enemies - that must be our cry. At home that means linking fighting protective America with our drive for interracial brotherhood. What sick wily mind would set these two warriors against each other?


GENDER POLICE AND SPORTS: ESPN Fires Schelling for a manly defense of the girl's bathroom. The network should receive the JERRY SANDUSKY NOTHING HAPPENING HERE award for moral obtuseness.

PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS: Hillary Clinton: How she became a hawk. Mrs. Clinton cultivated certain military men to buttress her once and future claim to become their leader. There is no talk here of an overall strategic goal or vision of our nation among the nations, but a lot of concern over developing relationships and contacts for the next step up the career ladder.

Donald Trump - culture warrior. I do not quite understand the full import of this article but there is something very serious here. The author is arguing that the breakup of the politically correct leftist culture of death will not first be accomplished by saints. To establish sanctity and sanity we may have to welcome some very  unfamiliar  allies like right wing video games and bombastic nationalists. It is mindful of the crude fighting Irishmen who came to the aid of the Scottish warrior in Braveheart.
An excellent example of this is an article titled “A Counterproductive Alliance,” discusing the increasing friendliness to right-wing ideas among video game fans after the #Gamergate controversy. The gist of the article can be summed up as: “How will we maintain our air of moral superiority if people show up to CPAC in costumes instead of blazers and bowties?” Never mind that #Gamergate and movements like it were the most successful backlash against political correctness: for some “conservatives,” saying yes to potential allies was too much to bear if it meant hobnobbing with the sorts of people who’ve never read a Bible or owned a varsity jacket.

Beat Dominant Culture at Its Own Game

This leaves the Right in a vulnerable and very unenviable spot: the most anachronistic elements of right-wing politics have rendered us too unimaginative to create a counterculture of our own, and too snobbish to appropriate the elements of the dominant culture that could serve as building blocks.

What’s a conservative who wants to stop culture, and thus politics, from being dragged to the far Left do? Answer: He or she has to hope that some part of mainstream culture co-opts the Right. Pray, in other words, that some Prometheus comes along who’s willing to steal fire from his fellow cultural elites to give to the Right’s forgotten constituencies, even if it annoys their more refined leaders.

Oh look, it’s Donald Trump. Trump, alone among the 2016 Republican candidates, has been willing to seize the banner of the Right in the current culture war, and plant it straight in the backs of his fallen leftist antagonists. Trump did this the way countercultural warriors are supposed to win fights: he beat the dominant culture at its own game by rejecting their assumptions about what was allowed.

He does not play by the rules, and that makes him less predictable and more dangerous. What Ronald Reagan and Trump have in common is obvious: an incredible capacity to use the media to captivate the American people. One learned this in Hollywood, the other in reality TV, but both deployed this skill to great effect.

There is, of course, a big difference, as well: everyone knows Reagan cast himself as a sunny, heroic figure. Trump, on the other hand, is taking his cues from his time as a pro-wrestling heel personality, i.e., a comically larger-than-life villain. But there’s a neat thing about villains, or at least well-done ones: they get to show where people’s ideas of good and evil fall flat. Trump does this brilliantly to the Left. He has taken the humiliating mockery that the media has trained so effectively on “hicks,” Christians, and Republicans, and turned it round to expose the smug, mostly leftist Babbits and young fogies of the Acela Corridor as no less ridiculous.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday BookReview: "Bonds of Affection" by Matthew Holland

(first published July 6, 2012)

"We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies..."
                         (John Winthrop, governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony)

Some excerpts from a review by Dr. Pence of BONDS OF AFFECTION:

With most thinkers, Matthew Holland does not find eros in political life but neither does he build civic bonds on the philia of fraternal friendship. When he says 'civic charity' he means a civic life animated by agape -- that distinctive Christian love that "includes concern for another's standing before God even when others mean us harm." This of course has implications for how we treat our enemies and our fellow citizens...

Professor Holland finds agape informing the language and political goals of American leaders for two centuries by studying several key authors and texts: John Winthrop ("A Model of Christian Charity," 1630); Thomas Jefferson (rough draft of the "Declaration of Independence," 1776, and his "First Inaugural Address," 1801); and Abraham Lincoln ("Second Inaugural," 1865). Holland takes seriously Christian charity as a realistic way to deal with public life. He convincingly argues, that for both Lincoln and Jefferson, it was the realistic crucible of office which forged a deeper sensibility of the necessity of the bonds of charity in civic life. Holland's treatment of Jefferson is especially careful. Holland does not play the Christian alchemist turning Enlightenment rights into Christian love, but he reminds us that even the most rights-oriented of Jefferson's writings ends with a bond: "we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." Holland reminds us this was no idle pledge. To secure that bond, one out of every hundred Americans lost their lives.
Jefferson Memorial

If Holland finds "bonds to the death" where others only found rights, he also finds analogical political forms in the New Testament where others tend to look for political narrative in the Old Testament alone. He quite rightly locates the sacrificial duties of soldiers in a pivotal moment in the Christian narrative -- Christ's Last Supper when he commands mimesis [imitation] and then sets out to lay down his life for his friends. Christian military men have always seen this obvious link -- political scientists almost never do. This is one of the great strengths of the book: Holland is both attentive to religious sensibilities and appreciative of military sacrifice. In fact, quite unlike the pagan warrior crowd, he shows that the patriotism of soldiers and the sacrificial love of agape are interlocking constituents of civic charity...

Here are four important ideas I learned... I may have heard variants on these ideas before, but Holland's charity theme clarifies and deepens the political union of men as fellow citizens:

1) All men possess rights but the point is to exercise them. This can only be done if we secure rights; and this is done by entering into a bond of agreement -- for this, we institute governments. No agreement, no rights. No civic love, no individual liberty. Possessing rights might be universal but exercising rights only occurs where rights have been secured by forming a real government in some time and place. Because of evil in the world this can only happen when men pledge their lives to protect these liberties. This is not a contract calculation by an individual, but an entry into a community of shared affections pledging personal honor and lives to each other and a new corporate entity.

2) Secular tyranny does not fear religion because it separates people but because it might unite us. Holland taught this by reminding us of Tocqueville's insight: "A despot will forgive his subjects that they do not love him as long as they do not love each other."

3) Lincoln's 1838 speech to the young men in the Springfield Lyceum was about giving up hatred and passions by living inside the law. Men must be united by civic affection to governance as well as each other. I was newly struck in that speech (having read it at least twice before) how much Lincoln felt he had to deal with men's hatred. Thus his language is built on authority and affection more than rights. At the Lyceum, Holland emphasizes that Lincoln does not soothe, but is demanding of the assembled young men. See the brave acts of the ancestors -- you benefit from this but as of yet you have done nothing to continue their work. (If only leaders, especially so-called conservatives, would so speak to young men at our elite universities and think-tanks with such demands.)

4) Here is Holland's eloquent description of political prudence in Lincoln: "To do this effectively meant for Lincoln assiduously gathering facts, contemplating history, anticipating implication, working out an argument against its best counterattack, and allowing time, circumstance, public promotion and private negotiation to settle things into a workable solution. His self-chosen metaphor was pilots on a western river who knew they wanted to get downstream but only steered from point to point as they could see, which was often not far."

[Professor Holland also provides] a powerful and sympathetic treatment of the much-neglected, but most important, novel in American history: Uncle Tom's Cabin.

    John Winthrop, who died in 1649, served as governor for twelve years

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Christian Realism: Christianity and Civilization, NOT the West against the Rest

Mankind is engaged in a continual struggle to live in ordered communities under God. The spread of Christianity nourished the 18th and 19th century epiphany of nations leading to Woodrow Wilson’s 20th century advocacy for the self-determination of all peoples and nations against empire, tyranny, and the disorder of statelessness. History has a direction and a Director. There are certain forms which manifest the deepest communal order of the Trinity and build toward the culminating communal order of humanity as the Body of Christ. Every people and nation has some role to play in this unfolding of Providence. We have argued that Christian intellectuals and American foreign policy must free themselves from the lifeless paradigm of the West as a larger entity that we should defend. We don’t accept the temporal scheme that names the century which crowned Reason the sovereign over religion as an age of "Enlightenment." Nor do we advocate the spatial shrinking of worldwide Christendom and the erasure of particular nations in some entity called "the West." One of our favorite critiques of the "Grand Narrative of the West" was Plato to Nato by David Gress published in 1998. He critiques the post-WWII narrative of the West as distorting the earlier narrative (what he calls the 'Old West') which synthesized the Christian Religion and freedom tradition of German warriors. The university professors who crafted the post-WWII narrative of the West had little time for serious religion. and no time for Germanic warriors in their new tale. Greek philosophers and intellectuals replaced the priest/warrior archetypes of the old synthesis. Andrew Lynch reviews the book here. A few excerpts:
Gress writes: “The liberal Grand Narrative produced a Western identity that was modern, secular, and liberal and that rested on an imaginary direct line connecting the modern West to the ancient Greeks, an imaginary line from Plato to NATO, in which everything in between formed an orderly sequence culminating in liberal modernity.” 
Gress laments the derivative way in which the Grand Narrative treated religion, valuable only insofar as it spoke in favor of human dignity, rights, and equality. If Christianity were given any positive treatment, it would only be insofar as it supported the soft virtues of kindness and generosity and defending the rights of individuals. Proponents of the Grand Narrative generally treated religion as a hindrance to progress and therefore could not see Christianity’s contribution to the work of the Greeks and Romans.

If Christianity was overlooked in the Grand Narrative, the Germanic contribution to the “Old Western Synthesis” has been forgotten altogether. For Gress, “the West” is “truly defined” by “the ancient philosopher, the Christian priest, and the Germanic warrior.” The Germanic contribution to “the West” was popular for many years, especially among the WASPs. It was even held by some that the Germano-Aryan-Caucasian warrior must have comprised the majority of Greeks and Romans and that marriages with “lesser races” brought about a loss of martial vigor and decline. The early Grand Narrative also cited Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote that the German chief and his warriors would gather in grand assemblies to discuss and vote on important matters. Thus from the Germans came both the strong warrior and the democratic statesman.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

CATHOLIC SOCIOBIOLOGY: Religion and Natural History -- a Catholic narrative

by Dr. David Pence

Francis Fukuyama (shown here), in the first of his two-volume work on Political Order, began by weaving the evolutionary history of primates to the development of political states.

E.O. Wilson, the world’s leading 'myrmecologist' (student of ants), is also the father of sociobiology. He, too, has sought  to base the social sciences of history and sociology in the natural sciences of evolutionary biology.

Neither man believes in God. Both are intellectually dismissive of Divine Providence WHO reveals the bond of nature and history.  Both came from backgrounds deeply entwined in Christian belief. Both men are conversationally approachable as teachers and stunning intellectuals in their fields. They are honest prodigious thinkers. But they have lost the transcendent horizon. We attempt their task informed by religion: Natural Selection and Reproductive success: Catholic Culture as the Strategy for Life.