Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Catholic soldier, French martyr

"The Christian is not simply a student of Christ; discipleship consists not simply in hearing and applying the teachings of Christ, as if he were simply another sage. To be a disciple of Christ is to imitate Christ, and the key event in the life of Christ was his death and resurrection. The Christian who is most fully conformed to that death and resurrection is the best imitator of Christ: the martyr therefore most clearly fulfills the Christian call...  
"The two great martyrs, Ignatius of Antioch [d. 107] and Polycarp of Smyrna [d. 155], left their imprint on all later accounts of martyrs. The martyr is the new athlete, the new soldier. His passion is not passive, but active, a battle. The Church felt, therefore, that martyrdom was, properly speaking, a masculine activity."   (Leon Podles)

This article sums up the life and death of a modern man, who came to realize he needed to honor and follow the Eternal Son of God -- the Savior of mankind who vanquished the dragon.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

'Good Shepherd Sunday' -- The Shepherd: protector or nursemaid?

[first published April 26, 2015]

by David Pence

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesn't own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees. The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them. The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, and doesn't care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I'm known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep."  
                                     (from the Gospel of John, read on Good Shepherd Sunday)

The heart of the shepherd is that of a protector ready to shed his own blood in the face of wolves attacking the sheep. It is unfortunate that the dominant iconography of the good shepherd is not a man standing in front of his flock taking on a wolf, but the image of a usually mawkish Jesus cuddling a lamb in his arms. Now, Christ himself said in Scripture that he would leave the ninety-nine sheep to go find the lost one, and "lay it on his shoulders, rejoicing." That image was also well known in the ancient world as the kriophoros—the “ram bearer” as a figure preparing for sacrifice.

But the shepherd in today's Gospel is in a different stance. There are many traits of the Shepherd which Scripture teaches, beginning with the clarity and recognition of his voice by his sheep. Abel and Abraham and the first Christmas witnesses were all shepherds. I always think of those noble shepherds of Christmas night coming to protect the babe in the cave from wolves and beasts, who in nature often sense the vulnerability of birthing. Certainly, Satan might have thought to send an animal precursor to Herod’s men. But Joseph had his shepherd brothers there. Like so many times in history when strong good men are present, there is no vicious tale to tell, and thus the work of the protective peacemakers is unheralded.

The greatest of the shepherds until Christ was, of course, King David. He has never been confused with a nursemaid. David was consecrated by Samuel, but he won the allegiance of the men of Israel by his courage against a wolf-giant that had frightened Saul’s soldiers into their tents. When King Saul berated David as no match for Goliath, the son of Jesse reminded him:

“When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and [attacked him], and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.”


The pope wears a pallium over his shoulders made of lamb’s wool to show his authority as a shepherd. Let us make for every bishop a new icon of the Good Shepherd—a picture or statue of a man seizing and striking a lion or bear to protect his flock. The feast of the Good Shepherd reminds us that the first service of the ruler is to protect—even if that means death. For today’s priesthood that means to risk reputation and career pathway to clean out the soft wolves among the shepherds, those men who have emasculated the apostolic fraternity. This corruption of the masculine protective personality has paralyzed the nations of Christendom. Our fathers have left us wealthy, well-organized, and well-armed; but as our fellow Christians are slaughtered in Africa and the Mideast, we watch like hirelings behind the bushes.

The evil we are hiding from was foretold in the Book of Revelation. Satan was infuriated that he could not harm the woman who was giving birth to her Son. "Enraged at her escape, the dragon went off to to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep God's commandments and give witness to Jesus."

Lest we allow ourselves to become too comfortable that this bloodletting from afar is an inevitable work of the Evil One causing us sadness but no protective response, we should look to Revelation again for the last of the Biblical references to the Shepherd: "She gave birth to a Son -- a boy destined to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod."

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, April 21

By Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


Rather than give our own commentary this week, we ask all to listen to the words of the patriarchs and our brother Christians in Syria. While the Russian collusion witch hunt continues to investigate "Russian meddling" in the U.S., the fathers of Syria's Christians demand that the U.S. military stop American meddling in Syria. Read the statement below:

A Statement Issued by the Patriarchates of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Greek-Melkite Catholic (Damascus, 14 April 2018)

God is with us; Understand all ye nations and submit yourselves!

We, the Patriarchs: John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Aphrem II, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, and Joseph Absi, Melkite-Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, condemn and denounce the brutal aggression that took place this morning against our precious country Syria by the USA, France and the UK, under the allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons. We raise our voices to affirm the following:

  1. This brutal aggression is a clear violation of the international laws and the UN Charter, because it is an unjustified assault on a sovereign country, member of the UN.
  2. It causes us great pain that this assault comes from powerful countries to which Syria did not cause any harm in any way.
  3. The allegations of the USA and other countries that the Syrian army is using chemical weapons and that Syria is a country that owns and uses this kind of weapon, is a claim that is unjustified and unsupported by sufficient and clear evidence.
  4. The timing of this unjustified aggression against Syria, when the independent International Commission for Inquiry was about to start its work in Syria, undermines of the work of this commission.
  5. This brutal aggression destroys the chances for a peaceful political solution and leads to escalation and more complications.
  6. This unjust aggression encourages the terrorist organizations and gives them momentum to continue in their terrorism.
  7. We call upon the Security Council of the United Nations to play its natural role in bringing peace rather than contribute to escalation of wars.
  8. We call upon all churches in the countries that participated in the aggression, to fulfill their Christian duties, according to the teachings of the Gospel, and condemn this aggression and to call their governments to commit to the protection of international peace.
  9. We salute the courage, heroism and sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army which courageously protects Syria and provide security for its people. We pray for the souls of the martyrs and the recovery of the wounded. We are confident that the army will not bow before the external or internal terrorist aggressions; they will continue to fight courageously against terrorism until every inch of the Syrian land is cleansed from terrorism. We, likewise, commend the brave stand of countries which are friendly to the Syria and its people.

We offer our prayers for the safety, victory, and deliverance of Syria from all kinds of wars and terrorism. We also pray for peace in Syria and throughout the world, and call for strengthening the efforts of the national reconciliation for the sake of protecting the country and preserving the dignity of all Syrians.


GAUDATE ET EXSULTATELet us Rejoice and be Glad - Six takeaways from Pope's Exhortation on the feast of St Joseph, 2018. That was his five year anniversary as Pope.

1) The communion of saints reimagined: "The saints now in God’s presence preserve their bonds of love and communion with us. Nor need we think only of those already beatified and canonized. The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance... in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness”.

2) Salvation in community: "In salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in a human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people."

3) Continuously Centered on God, Rooted in Baptism and the Holy Spirt, Be holy where you are! "Let the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness. Let everything be open to God; turn to him in every situation. Do not be dismayed, for the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, and holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by labouring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain'"

4) The Devil is Real. Deliver us from the Evil One: "We will not admit the existence of the devil if we insist on regarding life by empirical standards alone, without a supernatural understanding. It is precisely the conviction that this malign power is present in our midst that enables us to understand how evil can at times have so much destructive force. in leaving us the Our Father, Jesus wanted us to conclude by asking the Father to “deliver us from evil”. That final word does not refer to evil in the abstract; a more exact translation would be “the evil one”. It indicates a personal being who assails us. Jesus taught us to ask daily for deliverance from him, lest his power prevail over us." "...Hence, we should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea."

5) To be Holy is to be with God - Pray Always and Everywhere: "Finally, though it may seem obvious, we should remember that holiness consists in a habitual openness to the transcendent, expressed in prayer and adoration. The saints are distinguished by a spirit of prayer and a need for communion with God."

6) Scripture and the Eucharist: "Meeting Jesus in the Scriptures leads us to the Eucharist, where the written word attains its greatest efficacy, for there the living Word is truly present. In the Eucharist, the one true God receives the greatest worship the world can give him, for it is Christ himself who is offered. When we receive him in Holy Communion, we renew our covenant with him and allow him to carry out ever more fully his work of transforming our lives."

                                    II. CULTURE OF LIFE, CULTURE OF PROTECTION

DAWSON ON EUROPE“It is difficult to exaggerate the horror and confusion of the Dark Age that followed the collapse of the Carolingian experiment,” Dawson summarizes. “The one principle of the new society was the law of force and the need for protection. Personal freedom was no longer a privilege, for the man without a lord was a man without a protector.” That is still true - break down protection and life is lost. A culture of life is a culture of protection. A real civilization of life does not begin by asserting "the right to life." We begin with gratitude to the Source of all life and then swear to to protect our section of the garden.

THE POPE WAS LIED TO. HE APOLOGIZES FOR HIS FAILURE "IN PERCEPTION AND JUDGMENT" IN CHILE. HE NEEDS MUCH TOUGHER AND MORE TRUTHFUL ADVISORS: There are many grievous instances of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI being misled about scandal often very close to them. What has happened here with Pope Francis and the Chilean Bishop Juan Barros Madrid is extraordinary. What is different here is the clarity of the personal apology by the Pope. He did not apologize for the Church but for his own failure. His quick dispatch of a serious investigator (Archbishop Scicluna) corrected him after judging the local situation. May the Pope and bishops around the world find an Elliott Ness (or Charles Scicluna) and seriously go after the bad guys. They are legion. Raymond De Souza explains at National Catholic Register about one papal advisor who failed the Pope:
"Much closer to home, the Holy Father will have to consider the position of Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz on the “council of cardinals,” the group of his closest advisers. Cardinal Errázuriz was chosen for the council in 2013, when he was already retired and almost 80 years old. Now 84, he spends several days with Pope Francis every few months when the council meets. It is impossible that he did not advise Pope Francis on Barros. Even more, he was the archbishop when the Father Karadima scandal first came to light and has already admitted that he dismissed the victims. All that was known in 2013 when Pope Francis chose him for the council. Now it will be very hard to explain his continuing presence. Even more, it raises the question of how well the council is serving the Pope if Cardinal Errázuriz failed him in such a grave matter."
WHILE RAYMOND BURKE MAKES THE ROUNDS CRITICIZING POPE FRANCIS, THE ARCHBISHOP OF GUAM HE WAS ASSIGNED TO JUDGE GETS A PRETTY GOOD DEAL: From the Apostolic Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, April 16: The tribunal, which is composed of five judges appointed by the Prefect of the Congregation, “has issued its sentence of first instance, finding the accused guilty of certain of the accusations and imposing upon the accused the penalties of privation of office and prohibition of residence in the Archdiocese of Guam.” He retains his clerical office and monetary support.  It is not clear for which crimes he has been found guilty. Apuron has been credibly accused of multiple charges of sodomy against teen age males. His "penalty" of early retirement was already imposed before the "Court" came.  Leaving Guam may protect him from the local police who will probably be harsher than Cardinal Burke and his fellow judges. Cardinal Ray Burke is no hanging judge in clerical sodomy cases. Apparently Aprun will suffer no restrictions in his priestly role offering the Holy Mass. This seems a horrific desecration much worse than the dubious Dubia  by which Cardinal Burke postures as a protector of the sacred.

SENATOR CORY BOOKER GRILLS MIKE POMPEO ABOUT THE PERVERSION OF GAY MARRIAGE: The imperialism of gender ideology and imposition of abortion and sodomy as human rights was a major tenet of international relations in the Obama administration. The American bishops have not caught up with the Pope yet in highlighting the injustice and confusion of these policies. Cory Booker a Senator from Maryland and presidential hopeful was aggressive in his demands that any new Secretary of State enforce the new imperialism. Opposition to this arrogance remains all too muted.


TRUMP AS SAMSON: The Syrian dilemma and the globalist war party surrounding the President.

TRUMP AND WAR IN SYRIA: Buchanan reminds us why the Shiites are fighting in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Don't they get their nations, too? He thinks Trump is being captured by the War Party.

IRVING BABBITT AND THE ATHEISM OF INTELLECTUALS: Brad Birzer takes University intellectuals way too seriously and the reality of God not enough. A major problem in the American conservative movement is how many atheists were considered leading lights. The real "court of reputation" was university faculty culture. American universities and "intellectuals" turned against God way before the sixties. Irving Babbitt's "respectable atheism" was a luxury most men and cultures cannot afford.

VICTOR ORBAN - EUROPE'S MOST IMPORTANT LEADER WINS BIG IN HUNGARY: His "state of the nation" 2016 and Christmas address 2017. His electoral victory in April 2018.

AMERICA AND THE DESTINY OF ISRAEL. ZIONISTS BEFORE ZIONISM: From an excellent First Things article on Theology and American Foreign Policy: In 1891, William E. Blackstone presented to President Benjamin Harrison a petition titled “Palestine for the Jews.” A Chicago businessman and the author of Jesus Is Coming, one of the bestselling books of the nineteenth century, Blackstone believed that Scripture predicted the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The role of the United States was to follow in the footsteps of Cyrus, king of Persia, and help the Jews reclaim their birthright. “What shall be done for the Russian Jews?” the petition asks. “Why not give Palestine back to them again? According to God’s distribution of nations, it is their home, an inalienable possession, from which they were expelled by force.”

ISRAEL, RUSSIA, AND TURKEY AT ODDS OVER SYRIA: The Israel foreign policy of demonizing Iran as Syria and Lebanon establish more effective military control over their countries is not sustainable. Here is a very good pro-Israel writer explaining the growing dilemma. Those of us who favor a strong territorially defensible Israel must acknowledge the same claims to national sovereignty of Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Iran. A truly nationalist foreign policy hasn't sunk in yet.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Principal Arguments of AOA

The principal arguments of Anthropology of Accord are presented below. Follow the links to a table of contents page for each series:
1.   Catholic Sociobiology: A New Paradigm
2.   Christian Realism for American Foreign Policy
3.   Masculine Anthropology and the Reform of the Catholic Priesthood
4.   Profiles of the Nations (Maps on Monday)                                    
5.   One Hundred Book Reviews
6.   Religion, Sex, and Politics Podcast
7.   Marian Femininity vs Feminism: A Video Lecture
8.   Apostolic Priesthood and Masculine Fraternity: A Video Lecture
9.   Keeping Catholic Time: Living the Liturgy of Feasts and Seasons
10. American Memory and Identity: Keeping Our Civic Days Sacred
11. President Trump and American Culture
          12. Defending Pope Francis by Listening to Him

Oliver O'Donovan: The Desire of the Nations

by David Pence

Oliver O'Donovan (b. 1945) is an Anglican theologian who has written this dense and seminal work on political theology. Here is a good introduction to the author and his other important works in Christian ethics. He argues that Christian political theology must always begin from the reality that God is King. He believes Christian political thinking has been swamped by modern thinking and thus he and his wife edited a spectacular resource book From Irenaeus to Grotius: A source book in Christian Political Thought (1999). There he makes clear that constitutionalism and multiple authorities in civic and religious life are not inventions of the Enlightenment but gifts from Christendom. The Desire of the Nations is very hard to read. Even reviews of the book are hard to read, but there are realities which O'Donovan articulates which are too essential to leave him to academics. Here is the best review.


The template of political authority is God ruling Israel. They have a unique destiny as the elect but they are also the template of other nations. The rule of God over Israel culminates in the life, death, resurrection and rule of Christ. God acts in history to establish Israel. He judges them at different times separating righteous from unrighteous behavior and he maintains them as a continuous body acting in time. Power, Judgement, and Sustenance. These are the rudiments of God's rule over a nation.

Christ too is a definitive act of authority by the Father. Christ too renders a  judgment on the world separating the living from death and sin on the cross. Christ sustains by ordering a Liturgical church that retains a continuous identity and memory of the Kingdom of God on earth. (The Church is a nation of priests.) God acts. God judges and saves. God sustains and remembers. He has done this through Israel. He has done this through  Christ and the Church. He is now doing this through the nations.

Christendom is an interaction of the priestly and kingly roles of the church and the nations. Christendom is not to be dismissed as a past era not to be lived again. There are two powers: the Church and the states. This we accept. But there is only one God and He is King of both domains. To say a state is secular is not to say it is godless. The opposite of "secular" is not the sacred. It is "the eternal".  Secular is an age- an era, a unit of time-an acceptance of contingency.  A secular state understands its limitation in time and a territorial state accepts its limitation in space.  These limits are not the acts of public atheism but express a piety to a larger order best expressed as allegiance to the Sovereignty of God.  A nation as a historical territorial community is not the ultimate corporate body.  The best state creates a just order in which the deeper communal bonds of men with God and the wider bonds with other men and God can flourish. The best state protects the smaller sacred bond of marriage and family as well.   Christendom will have many professedly Christian states, and many civilized states structured within the field effect of the Christian order. These states may be grounded in Confucian, Hindu, Buddhist or Islamic traditions. Amidst the nations lives a global transcendent flourishing Church.

In O'Donovan's depiction of political theology based on biblical revelation there is a recurring necessary character type who employs the Word to bring order amidst national decline or collapse. The prophet plays a role in speaking clearly about his nation and bringing it back to its deepest identity and memory. This especially happens in times of sin when the nation falls from its righteous path and must be called to judgement. One man obedient to God can bring a nation to its true identity usually through speech that evokes a public memory of a sacral past or mission.

Man is meant to be reunited with God in harmony. This was the original state of humanity. Now we are being drawn back into order under the kingship of Christ who was always intended to rule the humans. But we are drawn back in the territorial communal "attention forms" of nations. The desire of the nations is to be bound together in a way that all can be fraternally and peacefully bound under the King. The search for a political order that is in harmony with other polities is a deep communal desire. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God. Unlike Social Darwinists and foreign policy "realists" Christians know and assert that men are not meant for perpetual war and international anarchy. We were created and are called for Communion in Christ under the rule of the Father. The high calling of politics is to realize the desire of the nations.

This book is not about citizenship and the nature of the political bond. It is about God calling corporate bodies into existence by acts of authority, judging them in terms of law, and sustaining them through sacral acts of memory. The ongoing relationship of the Church and these states is Christendom and the culmination of this drama will come when Christ returns to consummate His rule through the Church. Men desire to be part of some communal body undertaking a mission of meaning and purpose. We are hard wired to build nations as sacred covenants participating in a great Drama. Let us build the Body of Christ. Let us baptize the nations. Let us bring the tranquility of order among all nations still desiring to live in peace under Providence.
The Christian movement for Greek Independence (1821-1830), celebrated on Mar 25th,
 was deliberately initiated on the feast of the Annunciation 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A good wife and loving mother survived the 1968 cultural hurricane, but now prays alone

Daniel and Sidney Callahan

The Callahans attended the finest schools in the land. While carving out brilliant careers, they raised a large family an hour north of New York City.

Daniel was a pioneer of biomedical ethics, and was sometimes called the most influential Catholic layman of the 1960s. He evolved into an atheist who defended abortion rights.

The Second Vatican Council finished its work in late 1965. Its unintended message to millions of the faithful: everything is up for grabs. 

Here is a "cry of the heart" written a few years ago by Mrs. Callahan. The winds of 1968 jolted her, just as surely as Dorothy was upended in The Wizard of Oz:

Today alienated Catholics do not gently "lapse" or nostalgically "fall away," they decisively and definitively leave for good. Forget "once a Catholic, always a Catholic" or a "Come Home for Easter" campaign. Every poll shows the nonreligiously affiliated—now called "nones"—increasing in number. That number includes all my grown children. But it wasn’t always this way.

In 1967, my husband Dan and I, along with our five sons and one daughter (all born between 1955-65), could be found each Sunday at Mass. Everyone was baptized, the three oldest confirmed. I had been teaching in the CCD program for seven years. We were a full-court-press Catholic family, members of the Christian Family Movement (observe, judge, act), Catholic Worker enthusiasts, and eager advocates of Vatican II reforms. Dan was an editor of Commonweal and we both wrote for and participated in exciting Catholic intellectual circles. Forty-six years later, I sit alone in the same pew on Sundays, and have been doing so for decades. I remain a grateful Catholic convert, while everyone else in the family is long gone from the church.

I date 1968 as the onset of the cultural hurricane that beset our family and New York City suburb. One year we were a ’50s-style American family with suits, ties, and dancing lessons; the next we were battling countercultural chaos and hippie mayhem. The ’60s’ swirl of riots, protests, assassinations, promiscuity, drug use, and dropouts could not be held at bay. This produced predictable disasters. My children’s classmates died from drug overdoses, jumped out of windows on LSD, and got arrested for smoking pot in the woods. Quite a few were carted off to jail, rehab, and mental hospitals. The schools, police, church, and most middle-class families were not prepared for this youth revolt. Certainly, our ordinary and relatively conservative parish could not cope.

As each of our children got older they were captured in turn by the counterculture, stubbornly refusing to cut their hair, dress properly, work in school, or attend church.  One son, a devotee of Nietzsche, departed from our CCD program with a Nazi salute and a “Heil Hitler, I quit.” No more Catholic Family of the Year after that! I was deeply shamed by this out-of-control adolescent behavior, but I was even more frantic and fearful for their physical and mental survival. To this day that era’s walking wounded can be seen around town. Many never recovered. Thank God our children, like most others, came through alive, but that was only after years of struggle.

Our parental battle was to fight against the moral relativism and permissiveness of the youth culture. I still loathe Jimi Hendrix. Using every stratagem at our command, we urged dropouts to go back to school, others to stay in school, and all to stay away from addicted and aimless peers. We devised ways to expose our children to attractive young adult worlds and included them in our own work activities. Our affectionate family bonds were strengthened by frequent celebrations, trips, and happy vacations. But church was a lost cause. Since my husband’s faith had faded, he wasn’t worried over the religious defections of the children. In fact, he wanted all of us to leave the church when he did. Now he hardly remembers all the grief he gave me for staying, and those long-ago arguments about Catholicism have gradually evolved into a general détente. Mom is the designated believer in the family—and that is that. Let’s all just love, support, and be grateful for one another every day.

When it comes to Catholicism and my children, I have learned humility from parental failure. But I have also learned about hopefulness. Hopefulness, patience, and perseverance are now at the top of the list of the virtues I esteem. If death or permanent damage at an early age can be avoided, disasters can be turned around, rifts healed, and weaknesses overcome. Today my middle-aged children are happy, morally upstanding people. Our five grandchildren are blessed with super parents. Our children all love and help one another and seem devoted to their old parents.

Here, amidst the remains of the day, we who believe are confronted with the mystery of faith. Clearly, no one can answer God’s call for someone else. But social and cultural factors can play a part in nurturing faith. In hindsight, I can now see how crucially important Catholic peer groups are for faith development. In our town the educated professionals were mostly secular or Jewish, the Catholics mostly working-class people. Going through the excellent public schools, none of my children had a close Catholic friend or peer group that could support his or her faith. Did we choose the wrong town, the wrong parish, and the wrong schools?

Looking back I see that there was no structured way in our parish for my children to get what I had gotten in my intellectual journey to the Catholic faith. I always had access to the sophisticated historical, intellectual, and theological dimensions of the faith. I’ve always known exemplary, magnetically attractive Catholics who inspire me. With these wellsprings of truth and joy, the faith and the Sunday liturgy sing. But I can’t seem to communicate such religious experiences to my skeptical family and friends. For many of them the church remains a medieval, male-dominated, and authoritarian institution that’s focused on unintelligible rituals. Worse still, it is repressive, corrupt, and power-hungry. Needless to say, the horror of the sexual-abuse crisis has confirmed such anti-Catholic attitudes among many people.

Fortunately, despite their rejection of religion, my children have continued to develop in moral sense and sensibility. With the aid of providence, conscience and morality can still flourish outside religious communities. Reason, experience, and goodwill generate good people. Through trial and error persons discover for themselves that virtuous commitments to love and work do indeed lead to happiness. The Holy Spirit continues to transform the hearts and minds of believers and nones alike. Where love is, God is. As the gospel says, "A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not quench."

Jimi Hendrix died from drugs at 27

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Religion and Geopolitics Review for April 14, 2018

By Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

In response to the use of chemical agents in Eastern Ghouta on April 7, 2018, President Trump ordered a one time attack on select Syrian targets in conjunction with Britain and France.
 "Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, said the April 13 nighttime airstrikes "took out the heart" of Assad's chemical weapons arsenal. He said 105 U.S. and allied missiles were fired, of which 66 were Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from aboard three U.S. Navy ships and one Navy submarine. U.S., British and French attack aircraft, including two U.S. Air Force B-1B strategic bombers, launched stealthy, long-range missiles from outside Syrian airspace."
  On April 12, Russians announced that rebels in the village of Douma were given safe passage and the Eastern Ghouta region would come under the full control of the Assad government. Russian troops were instrumental in the safe passage and separation of forces. This is a huge step toward the reassertion of governmental authority in Syria.
The US attacks were done in a manner that minimized civilian and Russian damage.  This attack will give President Trump breathing room from US neoconservatives, Israel, Saudi and British forces who want US troops to commit to regime change in Syria.  The rebel forces in the southwestern part of Syria seen in the map below are serving as a buffer between Israel and Syria. Israel will not want to see those areas of Syria return to Syria. The Golan Heights are essential but an added buffer is even better.  Israel's goals with Syria are much more bellicose and destabilizing than ours. Nor can we minimize the aversion that the British security establishment has against any new alliance between the US and Russia. When the Brits say "The WEST"  they meant the White English Speaking Twosome and whoever else will go along.
 The President has actually given himself some room to meet with the Russians. There was a punitive gesture while there was also US Russia cooperation (none dare call it collusion) which limited the interaction. We are closer to ending the Syrian Civil War than a week ago. The overwhelming fact in a news world that doesn't care for facts is that the only legitimate government of Syria is now in control of a region that has been in a state of rebellion since 2011.  Nationalists believe that America and Israel should be safe and secure within defensible borders. Nationalists should also be clear that Syria, Lebanon, and Iran are sovereign nations as well. They must be allowed to establish authority within their own borders and be secure from foreign attacks.          



GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE - THE POPE ON THE CALL TO HOLINESS: In this beautiful and poetic exhortation, Pope Francis reminds us there is a real devil but first he grounds the universal call to holiness in our shared life with the saints and martyrs who have gone before us. He acknowledges the hidden stream of holiness all around us and reminds us of mother and grandmother who while not perfect kept us on the path. Read this beautiful message. It seems the best manifestation of how Pope Francis wants to proclaim the Good News of Christ's resurrection and his continued presence on earth in the Eucharist and our fellow humans in need. He reminds us there is no " God without Christ; no Christ without the Church ; and no Church without the people."  The Catholic conservative talking class lent a tepid reception. They are to the Pope what CNN is to the President.

Raymond de Souza at National Catholic Register.

"CONFERENCE ON CONFUSION" CHANNELS  "THE VOICE OF THE FAITHFUL"Final statement from those speaking with their authority as the baptized and confirmed.

AT CHRISTMAS THE WHOLE WORLD JOINS US, BUT FOR EASTER THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH BEARS THE WITNESS: Michael Pakaluk on the apostolic character of the Easter season - a penetrating insight from the Catholic University professor. Chesterton said Christianity is an empirical religion based on a fact reported by credible witnesses. Materialism is an ideology that asserts as a dogma there are no supernatural beings and no-one can rise from the dead. The facts of the matter as reported are to be dismissed in deference to the dogma which must believed. .. Ideology rules out the empiric event. Which approach holds better to the principles of knowing we associate with the sciences? When light was observed to act as BOTH a particle and a wave, it was the old dogma not the observed fact that was discarded.

THE FEMINIZATION OF CHRISTIANITY: The problem not the solution says Rod Dreher at American Conservative.


INTERVIEW WITH MbS BY JEFFREY GOLDBERGAn interviewer who has heard of the Wahhabis - though the Crown Prince hadn't. Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic magazine is the best foreign policy interviewer in journalism. He is a standard Democratic party liberal but he is also a serious journalist.

HOW THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION MADE A DEAL WITH MUHAMMED BIN SALMAN: Excellent reporting - a believable and frightening story.

PRESIDENT TRUMP AND UAEA very tiny base supports the young leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Israelis see them as all they have got. The US has many more options.

PRESIDENT TRUMP, SYRIA, AND THE GENERALS: Since his campaign President Trump has had a different take on Syria then the Republican and military establishment. They want a long term presence for US with goal of overthrowing President Assad. As nationalists we must learn that national sovereignty applies to more nations than our own. The legitimate state authority in Syria is the Assad government. Shall we ally with Saudi Arabia and Israel and overthrow Assad or give him back his country as ISIS is finally being removed? Pat Buchanan presents the crucial policy dispute.
Syria was bombed today (see above).


DAY OF DELUSION AT PENTAGONA roundtable of female officers.

CARDINAL BURKE AND A PREDATOR BISHOP: IS EARLY RETIREMENT A SENTENCE? Homosexual clerics are safe with that prissy fellow they called "gay Ray" in his seminary years. The "scourge of Pope Francis", the "courageous defender of orthodoxy," Cardinal Ray Burke is unfortunately very much of the ilk of deposed Archbishop John Nienstedt of St Paul and well-fed capitalism guru Fr Robert Sirico of Acton Institute. Why Archbishop Apron of Guam was treated so politely by the Burke-led court has much more to do with the character of Cardinal Raymond Burke than the crimes of Anthony Apron (which are revolting). This story is just beginning. Cardinal Burke will be featured at the "Confusion in the Church" conference in Rome. He is all in on condemning the Pope on the "Hell interview". We had a somewhat different take.

T.H. WHITE AUTHOR OF THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING: “The Destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees.”

YADIER MOLINA STANDS UP FOR HIS MOMMA AND TEACHES AMERICA A LESSON ON LANGUAGE: St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina was surprised when Arizona manager Torey Lovullo came out to protest a strikeout and in arguing with the umpire looked at Molina and referred to him as a mother...r. Molina went after the Diamondback manager and in doing so had contact with the umpire. Sportswriters in this "no hit, no spank, no touch" era interviewed Molina on the possibility of his being fined for the "physical contact" with the umpire. Mr. Molina was much more focused and still angry about the "fighting words" which led to his anger. The umpire got between him and the object of his charge. Molina took the expression as a profound insult against his mother. Indeed his English is impeccable because the phrase is meant as an accusation of incest. It is a fighting insult. In the 1960's as the black civil rights movement became the black racial pride movement, the widespread use of that deeply transgressive and misogynist phrase became a badge of blackness. What a deep degradation of our language that the f-word became the ultimate utility player as an all purpose part of speech. That horrific phrase of "mf" once shocked. The abomination became commonplace. Words lost their meaning and the truth was slain again. God bless you, Mr. Molina. (The umpire said he understood he had placed himself between the men and he saw no reason to punish Molina. Lovullo apologized to Molina after the game.) A new series - Baseball as a Road to God.

BELGUIM AND EUTHANASIABelgium and Euthanasia - a very ugly tale of an ex-priest playing Dr Death. An excerpt:
In Belgium, euthanasia is embraced as an emblem of enlightenment and progress, a sign that the country has extricated itself from its Catholic, patriarchal roots. Distelmans, who was brought up as a Catholic and then rejected the Church, told me that his work is inspired by an aversion to all forms of paternalism. “Who am I to convince patients that they have to suffer longer than they want?” he said.


JORDAN PETERSON: A classical liberal is a better description than a modern conservative.

JACOB REES-MOGG OF THE UK: That peculiar blend of Catholic traditionalist and libertarian capitalist. An Acton Institute profile.

HUBERT HUMPHREY - A MORAL AND JOYOUS LIBERAL: A good reminder of the anti-Communist pro-civil rights "happy warrior" by James Traub.

THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND: Here is a good remembrance of that 1969 book about the destruction of souls in American universities.  It was an era in which the canonical works of western civilization were being abandoned and the demands of violence threatening radicals were being embraced. The other truth in this story is that the 1950's intellectual life of the atheist European influenced professors (like the author) was not strong enough to quell rebellious teens. The Great Books professors shorn of religious authority and national loyalties were easy pickings for black male students who came from tough neighborhoods and their white male counterparts who were looking for action. The author of the book, Allan Bloom (1930-1992) was a homosexual and non-believing Jewish University professor. He was a student of Leo Strauss and a friend of Saul Bellow (Bellow's book Ravelstein was based on Bloom.) Bloom described his intellectual life as "beginning with Freud and ending with Plato". He was admitted to academic life at age 15. Allan Bloom passed as a "conservative thinker" in those days of rage. He never used that label for himself.  His fame as a "conservative" reveals the poverty of intellectual life divorced from religious, military, and masculine sensibilities.

JOHN BRENNAN AND THE KILLER DRONES: There was once a time that the liberal media saw CIA head or "Deputy President" John Brennan as a highly dishonest purveyor of the drone warfare. This "kill from the air" program minimized US casualties but made a lot of enemies in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. It was first initiated as the feminist way of war under Madeline Albright and Bill Clinton bombing the Orthodox Christians of Serbia.  When anyone writes about the "war on males" of the feminist left they might recall the peculiar foreign policy version of the Obama/Brtennan strategy. All males 18 and over killed in drone strikes were counted as combatants.

VIKTOR ORBAN OF HUNGARY: probably today's most important European national leader. In preparation for the Hungarian elections in April 2018, this Washington Post profile was meant to be a severe criticism. However, it is factual enough to show why Christians and nationalists would reelect him. (He and his nationalist party was reelected in a landslide).

Of special importance is his concept of spirit (Geist: sometimes also translated as "mind") as the historical manifestation of the logical concept. 
{This is closely allied with the Christian notion of the Logos acting out Divine Providence.}

His notion of  "sublation" (Aufhebung: integration without elimination or reduction) of seemingly contradictory or opposing factors; examples include the apparent opposition between nature and freedom and between immanence and transcendence. 
{This is a very Catholic and sacramental sensibility. It applies to the most fundamental reality-- the three in one Trinity. Pope Francis employs this synthetic approach to many problems he associates with "Mary, the Untier of knots." }

Hegel has been seen in the 20th century as the originator of the thesis, antithesis, synthesis triad. That is a misreading of a phrase originating with Johann Gottlieb Fichte. "
That notion is actually  quite different than  Aufehebung.