Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday BookReview: 'Papa' and Mailer on Huck

From Hemingway's Green Hills of Africa --
"All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. If you read it you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating. But it's the best book we've had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since."

Norman Mailer gave his appraisal (including the irony of an anachronistic tribute) on the novel's centennial anniversary:
"I suppose I am the 10-millionth reader to say that 'Huckleberry Finn' is an extraordinary work... Flawed, quirky, uneven... -- all the same, what a book we have here!  
"[Twain] had managed to give us a circus of fictional virtuosities. In nearly every chapter new and remarkable characters bounded out from the printed page as if it were a tarmac on which they could perform their leaps. The author's confidence seemed so complete that he could deal with every kind of man or woman God ever gave to the middle of America. Jail-house drunks like Huck Finn's father take their bow, full of the raunchy violence that even gets into the smell of clothing. Gentlemen and river rats, young, attractive girls full of grit and ''sand,'' and strong old ladies with aphorisms clicking like knitting needles, fools and confidence men - what a cornucopia of rabble and gentry inhabit the author's river banks. 
"Who can declare to a certainty that a large part of the prose in 'Huckleberry Finn' is not lifted directly from Hemingway? We know that we are not reading Ernest only because the author, obviously fearful that his tone is getting too near, is careful to sprinkle his text with 'a-clutterings' and 'warn'ts' and 'anywheres' and 't'others.' But we have read Hemingway -- and so we see through it -- we know we are reading pure Hemingway disguised: 
''We cut young cottonwoods and willows, and hid the raft with them. Then we set out the lines. Next we slid into the river and had a swim . . . then we set down on the sandy bottom where the water was about knee-deep and watched the daylight come. Not a sound anywheres . . . the first thing to see, looking away over the water, was a kind of dull line - that was the woods on t'other side; you couldn't make nothing else out; then a pale place in the sky; then more paleness spreading around; then the river softened up away off, and warn't black anymore . . . by and by you could see a streak on the water which you know by the look of the streak that there's a snag there in a swift current which breaks on it and makes that streak look that way; and you see the mist curl up off of the water and the east reddens up and the river.'' 

"In 'Huckleberry Finn' we are presented... with the best river ever to flow through a novel, our own Mississippi, and in the voyage down those waters of Huck Finn and a runaway slave on their raft, we are held in the thrall of the river. Larger than a character, the river is a manifest presence, a demiurge to support the man and the boy, a deity to betray them, feed them, all but drown them, fling them apart, float them back together. The river winds like a fugue through the marrow of the true narrative which is nothing less than the ongoing relation between Huck and the runaway slave, this Nigger Jim whose name embodies the very stuff of the slave system itself - his name is not Jim but Nigger Jim. The growth of love and knowledge between the runaway white and the runaway black is a relation equal to the relation of the men to the river for it is also full of betrayal and nourishment, separation and return... 
"Reading 'Huckleberry Finn' one comes to realize all over again that the near-burned-out, throttled, hate-filled dying affair between whites and blacks is still our great national love affair, and woe to us if it ends in detestation and mutual misery." 


Thursday, October 30, 2014

"His eye is on the sparrow"

Father Zuhlsdorf recently visited an art gallery in the Palazzo Barberini in Rome, where he was impressed by a painting of Guercino (d. 1666) -- called the Madonna of the Sparrow.


An art critic described it as "an exquisitely tender, deeply shadowed image of Mary with a little bird on one finger and her pudgy baby on one knee. Gazing raptly at the bird, the child holds a string that is tied to its leg."

Gesù bambino, have mercy on us. Here is another photo.

And a South Korean group singing the Gospel hymn, "His Eye Is On The Sparrow."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Sacred and the Taboo: A Lesson from the Synod

by David Pence

Pope Francis in October 2013 called for a world-gathering of bishops in what was labeled an Extraordinary Synod (held in Rome October 5-19, 2014) to prepare reflections for a larger Ordinary Synod of Bishops to be held in October 2015. The synod included bishops, fraternal delegates (observers from the Orthodox Church and Protestant communities), and auditors (including lay couples).
There were 191 bishops representing five continents, including the heads of 114 Episcopal Conferences (national bishop groups), 13 heads of Eastern Catholic Churches, and 25 Roman Curia heads of dicasteries. Synods of Bishops are an ongoing instrument of governance and consultation uniting the Pope with the unique Catholic fraternity of local bishops across the world. If you want to find a social organism that thinks cosmically and acts locally, then observe the eucharistic and episcopal structure of the Catholic Church. The Pope meets with his fellow bishops as another local bishop (of Rome) but he is also Peter, the first among the apostles. As Pope Francis put it in his closing remarks to the bishops: "…I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquility, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.”

                                            Meeting with bishops of Ethiopia & Eritrea

This renewed collegial tradition of synods grew out of the worldwide Ecumenical Council of Bishops called by Pope John XXIII -- known as Vatican II -- from 1962 to 1965. The fraternal spirit of mutual recognition, formative dialogue and shared mission of the Fathers of that Council was a palpable spiritual experience. While it is the case that many have abused the “spirit of Vatican II,” it is also certain that there was a true Spirit of Vatican II that linked the world’s 2000 bishops in communion with each other and the first Apostles under Peter in service to Christ. To maintain that international spirit of apostolic fraternity, Pope Paul VI instituted synods so bishops could come together at the call of the pope, to pray and reflect on problems of the Universal Church.  There have been 13 Ordinary Synods and two Extraordinary Synods in the last fifty years. Extraordinary synods are called when a matter needs immediate attention or there is a special urgency. This extraordinary session was called to prepare and initiate worldwide discussion for the ordinary Synod of Bishops on the family and evangelization scheduled for October 2015.

In this synod the apostolic brotherhood took up their duty to provide a protected space for the Holy Family. The apostles have always honored that workingman hero Joseph, and the virgin mother Mary, who raised Jesus in the familial form of human community, which the Church dares propose for every culture and nation. Joseph and Mary by example, and Christ through the sacramental order, have brought man and woman back to the garden where the perfected union of the first couple can be lived again. The Catholic ideal of marriage -- faithful, forever, and fruitful -- is not one thing in Africa and another in Germany. God imprinted this form of communion in our mutual parents. It is part of the shared human nature of Asians, Africans, Australians, and Americans. Jesus granted that Moses had allowed divorce because of the hardness of hearts but he reminded his questioners that “it was not so in the beginning.” The Church under the priestly brotherhood protects and honors the countless couples who have shown us the beauty and sacrifice in this communion. Their witness points to the deep social union in which all humans will be reunited in the Body of Christ. Their lived out fidelity bequeaths their children the gift of stability in a mother and father to guide them in life. When the marriage of men and women of every land and class is treated as sacred, the Divine purpose of humanity is elevated. It is an ideal that is not easy, but it links the poor and the rich under a common discipline that lends the poor a high sacramental status and demands of the rich the leveling of sexual discipline. Ask Henry the Eighth, the patron saint of the divorced and remarried.

Marriage is first a gift of sacramental grace -- but then guarding our eyes, purifying our thoughts, and avoiding intimacy (where intimacy is forbidden) must protect it. Such a particular communion binding such a volcanic force can only be sustained if there are commandments, prohibitions, and taboos.

Catholic culture protects the indissolubility of this bond with a sacral brotherhood of celibate fathers. The same church with such a high view of "the marriage act" honors the virgin as the Church’s most fragrant blossom. It is a beautiful and serious teaching set against the brutality of some lands and the adolescent frivolity of others.

Before the bishops ever got to tell the Church’s symphonic tale of sexual love and duty, a mid-synod report was released to the world press with sentences treating homosexual relationships as worthy of esteem. Several European bishops engineered the report that besmirched marital love with an association that once “dared not speak its name.” For many it seemed a category error that bespoke a fundamental misconception of married spousality and an obsession with homosexuality. Why would anyone even bring up homosexuality in a synod on marriage? Italian Archbishop Bruno Forte (who authored the phrase) dared "speak its name" and sing its praises. From 'America' (the magazine and the country) came a hosanna from media star Father James Martin, S.J.  From Vienna came an alleluia from Cardinal Christoph Schonborn.

It is good that this has happened. The purpose of the Synod was to deepen concord among brothers through honest discussion. It was to be a continuation of the lived-out collegiality expressed among the fathers at the Vatican Council. Pope Francis has often said that collegiality was spoken of, more than practiced, since the Council. He decided to give brotherhood a chance.

Many conservatives were highly critical of the Pope for allowing the chaos of such publicized and confusing messages. But sharp debate does not trouble brothers. The Pope told the bishops in his opening remarks to act like brothers and “speak fearlessly and listen humbly.” In his closing homily he affirmed: “Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as Saint Ignatius called it.” We should remember that the temptations he refers to here are false arguments. But the arguments MUST BE HEARD, as Christ allowed himself to be tempted by the words of the devil. The Pope was quiet and listened. He wanted a movement of spirits. He wanted fathers to correct errant sons when education was needed, and shepherds to refute hirelings when discipline was required. Wasn't it better that the scarlet-robed carriers of intrigue were confronted by the giants of the South -- Cardinals Pell and Napier -- rather than be allowed to magnify their import through secular press conferences and their NGO affiliates? Isn't it better that, for once, a 'rainbow bishop' was not the only authority in the room and was forced to confront a fellow bishop in an open forum? Isn't it refreshing that bishops finally were angry at deceit instead of sad about abuse? The synod corrected the intramural publishing duels of the pre-synod media campaign. The international fraternity of bishops particularly sifted out the figure of Cardinal Kasper, who in the run-up cast a large shadow in the secular press, but was considerably less formidable in the actual face-to-face. An honest Catholic journalist (Edward Pentin) played his important role, as well, during an interview showing the well-heeled prelate to be unfamiliar with the role of sexual taboos in protecting the sacred. The Kasper media bubble finally burst when he lied about what he had said about the African bishops, and was exposed by a tape recording in his own accent. The lesson for the evangelization portion of the Synod is that it is hard to preach a gospel dependent on the credibility of the witnesses when you are shown up as a public liar.

There is a great divide in the apostolic fraternity of the bishops. It is the central problem impeding the Church as a credible evangelical witness to the gospel. It is the major impediment of clerical witness to the heroic purity which protects the sacrality of married love and family life. It is the central problem which allowed a minority of sexual wolves to bypass the majority of emasculated shepherds to ravage the young teenage males of the flock. The divide is between those bishops who are deepening the fraternal love of fathers and sons which Christ willed for his apostles, and those bishops who would defend spiritual incest as a form of fraternity. This has nothing to with marriage between man and woman, and everything to do with fraternity among men. If we can clear the satanic smoke and look patriarchal fraternity in the face, there will be many fruits. Ordered masculine relationships strengthen the citizen bonds of male protectors for the cities and nations. Ordered fraternity cements in Christ the living stones of the pope and his bishops, an abbot and his monks, and the local bishops and their priests for the Church. What father with sons does not appreciate this?

We fathers must clarify what temptation has entered the garden. Throughout the modern West,  bishops, priests and seminaries of the Catholic Church have absorbed the sexual inversion ritual. The demonization of patriarchy and fraternity was an assault on Christ’s apostolic church, as well as the monarchical and republican forms of Christian nations. We have just lived through an unprecedented era of “welcoming ‘gays’" in our schools, chanceries, single-sex religious orders, and most disastrously the seminaries of our priesthood and episcopacy. Never have so many proudly-identified homosexuals been promoted to so many high offices in the richer precincts of the institutional Church. Precisely because the Catholic Church has built its clergy and religious orders on single-sex institutions and communal love relationships – this has been a disaster. The Lutherans have no sisterhood of virgins witnessing to Christ’s Second Coming. The Unitarians have no male celibate brotherhoods forgiving sins and casting out demons. Homosexuality does not strike at the heart of their organized love relations.

The homosexual subculture is so deceitfully entrenched in the priesthood that the despisers of brotherly solidarity often masquerade as straitlaced traditionalists or free-market libertarians. Open fraternity is the light that exposes them. They use the bread of the gospel as a stone against the poor and are especially disdainful in dismissing Latin models of solidarity as discredited Marxism, and poor countries' protests against global finance as organized envy. Their words seem right -- “rigidly right” -- but they know not brotherhood. And while they can be media stars to selected constituencies, they cannot be spiritual fathers to men or loving pastors to a parish. They continually pit the dispute in the clergy as one of fidelity or doctrinal adherence. They can never organize a cleansing brotherhood among their fellow priests because that is not how they relate to men. The debate is intellectual: the orthodox against the dissenters, the Nat'l Catholic Register against the Nat'l Catholic Reporter. They are media stars with circles of private companions. They know not public  brotherhood. Tradition certainly requires that the creed have a formula, but to transmit the Creed it must be spoken in a father’s voice. Christ is the Logos: the Word made flesh. But it is also true the word can be made brittle -- a stone to crush the sinner. Pope Francis described a “hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter).” Let those who have ears, hear.

It was not the "traditionalists," though, who disrupted the bishops' Synod on the Family. It was those who Francis said want to “pull Jesus down from the cross” to “please the people and serve a worldly spirit rather than the will of the Father.” The disrupters were men who felt they could “disregard the deposit of the faith rather than safeguard it.” They took the hard stone of sexual autonomy and tried to mingle it with the bread of life. They tried to bind the wounds “without first curing and treating them.”

In 2005 the Vatican issued a statement ordering that men with homosexual orientation not be allowed in seminaries. Ad limina visits to the seminaries were ordered; and significant reform followed. Many religious orders and diocesan seminaries, however, pushed back against the notion that seminarians who did not have the psychological integrity to be spiritually affective fathers should be barred from the priesthood. That hit too close to home. Pope Francis, on the day before the synod, emphasized the same truth in speaking of candidates for the priesthood: "Examine closely whether he belongs to the Lord, if that man is healthy, is balanced, if that man is capable of giving life, of evangelizing, if he is capable of forming a family and turning that down in order to follow Jesus."  

The very few bishops who used the transmitting tower of the synod to send a false signal to the world in the engineered mid-term report were not ministering to laypeople in second marriages. The divorced/remarried laypeople issue was, as Cardinal Pell said, "a stalking horse." The real fight was about the homosexual revolution of much greater interest ("obsessive" as the Pope has said ) to so many clerics of our time. Their rhapsody to the disoriented was stark evidence of shepherds caring for their own interests instead of their flock. Their quest was as transparent as James and John, and the brothers' status-conscious mother. They were trying to secure their place at the table. This was not about being kind to a confused adolescent, but about keeping life comfortable for well connected middle-aged homosexual clerics. The pedophiles are being run out of the priesthood. But homosexuals are not interested in children. They are interested in adult homosexuals and teenage males. The pedophiles are exiled while the "chicken hawks" abide.

The bishops have never faced the obvious corollary of the 2005 seminary reform by separating out the disordered priests already in the priesthood. What would be the consequences for the homosexual cabals in so many of our local dioceses and throughout the Vatican? The failure to deal with this huge network of deceit reared its head at the synod. It is the primary cause of an abuse culture in which 80 percent of the victims were not pre-puberty children, but teenage males. Let us thank God that Pope Francis has allowed the wolves to emerge. Let us discern the spirits. Let us hope that the bishops and priests, who are clearly being allowed to talk now, speak the truth about the wolves in their midst. Even if it is one's bishop -- the priest must speak up. Speak directly to your bishop "like a man," said Pope Francis, even if there might be a consequence. For bishops the duty is even more pressing. The soft forms of evil do not look like wolves. They almost always present themselves as champions of  someone else’s cause. The Psalmist warned: "His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords."

We should be quite confident that the final document which will come from the October 2015 Synod on the Family and Evangelization will be scripturally and sacramentally sound. But the family cannot be protected by a document. The domicile needs a strong bond of men in public protective formation to safeguard its natural vulnerability in a dangerous world. This is true in the temple and true in the city.

The family needs the res publica. Just as marriage is based on the sacralized intimacy of the male/female couple, the res publica is based on the public communio of a duty-bound male group.There are two sacraments dependent on the sexual identity of the recipient. They both initiate a person into a deep communion. The male/female union of marriage joins spouses till death, while the sacral brotherhood and Divine filiation of the priesthood imprints a communal mark that conforms men to Christ and the original Twelve. Even death cannot wash it away. These communions are based on the anthropological truths of male-female original unity, and male group patriarchal fraternity that Jesus consecrated in His apostolic church.
We don’t speak enough of true public brotherhood in the Catholic Church. Our vision of the papacy and episcopacy has often been more monarchical than fraternal. Fraternity in the 1800's was a very dirty word evoking bloody memories of the severed heads of royalty and priests alike. But guillotines aside, the Church is a fraternity meant to establish the patriarchy of a Kingdom. That fraternity was experienced in the citizen militias of the American Revolution as well as the Grande Armee of the French. Brotherhood was evoked at the Second Vatican Council as an authentic part of its true spirit.

The initial failure of the bishops' synod to defend marriage was caused by men deeply confused about masculinity, fatherhood, fraternity, and the priesthood. This confusion emitting from a desacralized West is particularly disastrous for Christians of the global South. Hopefully, the African and Asian bishops will remind the modern northern intellectuals that male incest is always better treated with prohibition and taboo than dialogue and welcome mats. The social prescriptions known as taboos are not primitive practices from which we must evolve. Quite the contrary, they often represent social wisdom which is transmitted in a praxis -- not a principle. What good is it to have an international church, if we decide from the beginning that whole cultures "have nothing to say to us"?

Christians of the Mideast and Africa have a particular interest that the men of established Christian nations regain spiritual sensibility and moral courage. Much more than marriage counseling, Christians of the global South need the protective presence that only ordered brotherhoods provide. They face a brotherhood armed. They wonder where are the Christian nations who might come to their aid. They look to the atheist West, and they see fraternal protection dissipated by the spirit of incest among males and careerism among females. Marriage and family cannot be protected unless there is a strong fraternal bond guarding the domiciles and integrating young fathers into communal protection and production. The rupture of the priestly Eucharistic bond, no less than the fratricide of Cain and Abel, has separated men who should be brothers. May we restore that deep spiritual communion of male fraternity and build the Kingdom of God. Pope Francis has allowed his first synod to be a real Synod. Now, the bishops of the world can imitate Saint John Paul II and call their own synods in each diocese. The priests and bishop of every diocese have a lot of honest soul-searching and cleansing to do. Restoring the credibility and purity of the priestly fraternity would be the greatest gift our priests could give every family in the Church -- especially Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

"Holy Family of Nazareth, may the approaching Synod of Bishops
Make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family, and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, graciously hear our prayer."
                 (Pope Francis prayer to Holy Family for the Synod)


Monday, October 27, 2014

Map on Monday: East Asian Demography

As the text on the map indicates, the circled area contains over half of the world's population. Some of the nations within the circle include:
  • China (population: 1.367 billion, #1 overall)
  • India (population: 1.261 billion #2 overall)
  • Indonesia (population: 252 million, #4 overall)
  • Pakistan (population: 188 million, #6 overall)
  • Bangladesh (population: 157 million, #8 overall)
  • Japan (population: 127 million, #10 overall)
  • Philippines (population: 100.5 million, #12 overall)
  • Vietnam (population: 89 million, #13 overall)
  • Thailand (population: 65 million, #21 overall)  
  • Burma (population: 51 million, #25 overall)
  • South Korea (population: 50 million, #26 overall)
Although the above list of nations does not include every nation circled on the map, these eleven nations alone total 3.7 billion people, which is over half of the world's 7.125 billion people.

With over half the world's population located within this circled area, many goods are shipped into this region from the outside world. The Strait of Malacca (see map below) is the main shipping route which connects the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. About 25% of all the world's shipped oil passes through the Strait of Malacca. Its enormous strategic importance makes the smaller nations of Malaysia (population: 30 million, #43 overall) and Singapore (population: 5.4 million, #115 overall) major geopolitical players, despite being significantly smaller in geography and population than their regional neighbors.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, October 25

Religion and Geopolitics Review this week includes:
This week's Religion and Geopolitics Review focuses on the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family. Jeff Mirus and Phil Lawler provide commentaries on the synod. While both agree that it was, like many other synods, messy and machination-filled -- the two men see lively debate among the bishops as a good thing; and that Pope Francis ensured that the bishops acted, in Francis' own words, "cum Petro et sub Petro" [with Peter and under Peter].
(Dr. Mirus and Mr. Lawler have been doing great things for years with their CatholicCulture website; with these current essays on how we should view the fraternal disputes in Rome, they are leaving the rest of the ecclesial commentariat in the dust.)

Pope Francis' speech at the conclusion of the synod further dispels any notion that the Church will "bow down to a worldly spirit" or "neglect the 'depositum fidei'" [the deposit of faith]. This is further echoed in a recent interview with Cardinal Pell of Sydney, Australia. At the other end of the theological spectrum is the man who authored the homosexual passages contained in the leaked Relatio: Archbishop Bruno Forte. For those who might want to know more about Forte, here is one perspective.

The synod was not without a light from the east. Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, the head of Poland's bishops' conference joined the voice of the global south in response to the Relatio. Gądecki, however, was not the only important prelate from the east. Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion observed one session of the synod and spoke with Pope Francis in an hour-long meeting. On October 17, Hilarion gave an impressive talk to the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Southern Italy in which he spoke of the meaning of authentic freedom, the relationship of church and state, and the ensuing conversion of Russia.

Note: We linked last week to an article responding to an interview with Cardinal Kasper in which he identifies himself with the atheist West regarding homosexuality and rejects the views of the Church's growing global south.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday BookReview: The many ways we trip over Africa

“I prefer clarity over agreement.” (Dennis Prager) 

One of the best smackdowns to appear in the 'New York Times' in recent years was when travel writer Paul Theroux took on Irish musician Bono.


The opening line, plus a few others:
"There are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of one at the moment." 
"I got a dusty reception lecturing at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation when I pointed out the successes of responsible policies in Botswana, compared with the kleptomania of its neighbors... Mr. Gates has said candidly that he wants to rid himself of his burden of billions. Bono is one of his trusted advisers. Mr. Gates wants to send computers to Africa - an unproductive not to say insane idea. I would offer pencils and paper, mops and brooms: the schools I have seen in Malawi need them badly." 
"Africa is a lovely place - much lovelier, more peaceful and more resilient and, if not prosperous, innately more self-sufficient than it is usually portrayed. But because Africa seems unfinished and so different from the rest of the world, a landscape on which a person can sketch a new personality, it attracts mythomaniacs, people who wish to convince the world of their worth. Such people come in all forms and they loom large. White celebrities busy-bodying in Africa loom especially large. Watching Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently in Ethiopia, cuddling African children and lecturing the world on charity, the image that immediately sprang to my mind was Tarzan and Jane."

What happens when an American newspaper sends a black reporter to cover Africa, and it turns out his allegiance to political correctness is negligible? A fine book results: Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa.

Author Keith Richburg, a native of Detroit, says:
"I'm tired of lying. And I'm tired of all the ignorance and hypocrisy and the double standards I hear and read about Africa, much of it from people who've never been there, let alone spent three years walking around amid the corpses... Talk to me about Africa and my black roots and my kinship with my African 'brothers' and I'll throw it back in your face... Thank God that I am an American [and] thank God my ancestor survived [the] voyage [to America on the slave ship]..."

Some excerpts from a review by Arch Puddington (1997):
[I]t is his observations on the pathology of African politics, and how that pathology intersects with our own racial perplexities, which ultimately make Out of America not only a provocative but an important book. Richburg has a powerful and very American sense of right and wrong, and he is especially sensitive to the cynical and manipulative use of the racial trump card in relations between Africans and Americans. The brazen exploitation of racial guilt by the thieves and murderers who are the continent’s despots especially appalled him...  
Richburg was present at a 1993 conference in Gabon attended by leading black American civil-rights activists. Among the guests of honor, he reports, was the continent’s youngest dictator, Valentine Strasser of Sierre Leone, a twenty-eight-year-old soldier who had seized power through a coup and proceeded systematically to arrest and execute officials of the previous regime. When Strasser strode into the hall, garbed in the standard-issue outfit of African strongmen—a camouflage uniform and Ray Ban sunglasses—the Americans erupted into cheering and frenzied applause...  
From Douglas Wilder, the first black governor of a Southern state, came the observation that “We cannot and should not expect [African governments] to undergo a metamorphosis in seconds . . . our job is not to interfere.” Benjamin Chavis (now Chavis Muhammad), then-director of the NAACP, warned against attempting “to superimpose a Western standard of democracy.” And Jesse Jackson heaped accolades on the ruthless Nigerian dictator Ibrahim Babangida, calling him “one of the great leader-servants of the modern world in our time.”

Jesse Jackson in Ivory Coast

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Africans and Anglicans: A Catholic Anthropology for the Priesthood

[Editor's note: It is a good time to look back at this relevant article in the wake of the Vatican discussion of family life. We will soon write specifically about the synod, and the pregnant lessons of African taboos.]

by David Pence (published October 24, 2012)

Archbishop Rowan Williams will end his ten-year term as Archbishop of Canterbury in December 2012. He is the primate of the Church of England, and holds a special place of honor among the other primates of the 44 autonomous national and provincial churches in the 80-million-member Anglican Communion.

His final General Synod of the Church of England will be held in November; and Williams has published a letter strongly advocating a resolution to allow female bishops.  He wrote:
"A Church that ordains women as priests but not as bishops is stuck with a real anomaly, one which introduces an un-clarity into what we are saying about baptism and about the absorption of the Church in the priestly self-giving of Jesus Christ.  Wanting to move beyond this anomaly is not a sign of giving in to secular egalitarianism – though we must be honest and admit that without secular feminism we might never have seen the urgency of this or the inconsistency of our previous position.”
Thanks be to secular feminism, indeed! While the first Anglican female bishops came from overwhelmingly white churches (USA, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand), the Anglican provinces who have resisted any female ordination (deacon, priest, or bishop) are from the growing churches of the global South: Central Africa, Melanesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia, Tanzania. (The Anglican church of South Africa is an exception.) The Church of England has not yet joined the other white churches because a compromise to accommodate traditional parishes was deemed too hurtful to the feminists, and thus they ended up voting against the last resolution allowing female bishops. 

A general rule in Anglican and Protestant churches has been that a failure to defend the masculine communal nature of the ordained priesthood has been followed by an incoherence in defending the heterosexual character of marriage. American Episcopalians led the way in this peculiar form of progress. It is not really a surprise that one of the new female bishops is an open lesbian. 

Archbishop Rowan Williams wants to finish his term without the glaring contradiction of accepting female priests and deacons while denying women access to the episcopacy. Most Asian and African Anglicans agree this shows a deep ontological inconsistency. They, too, choose not to split out sacred offices of the deacon-priest-bishop hierarchy as bargaining chips in the battle of the sexes. Williams finishes on a note of consistency in a full capitulation to the heresy of his day; while the more Biblical primates fight to build their churches on a more stable form.

Catholics have not helped our African brothers enough in facing down this last most sinister form of white racism and cultural poisoning. We have not vigorously provided an anthropological and biblical defense of hierarchical masculine communal forms.

[Pope Benedict has taught that original sin "falsifies the fundamental relationships: with God, between man and woman, between man and the earth."  Pope John Paul II saw original sin as an attempt to "abolish fatherhood."  Proper relationships bind and perfect man.  Disrupted relations leave us our wounded nature.]

Adam and his sons never completed their ruling role on earth – which was part of the original mission of Adam.  They never properly joined one another in a patriarchal fraternity to contest and exorcise the dominion of the Evil One.  Fallen and broken man had to wait until the second Adam showed the filiation of an obedient Son, and instituted the public apostolic fraternity shaped by that love. While the Catholic priesthood under the episcopal hierarchy has not always been the best sacrament of manly public love, it is that Christic priestly love which still shapes its essential character after all these years.  

Five centuries ago, Anglicans broke from that sacramental fraternity but maintained much of its form. Now they watch the communal fraternal form dissipate, and can mount neither an apostolic nor anthropological defense.  After years of discussing the “theology of the body,” Catholics need to contribute a theology of the corporate body which explains the ordained masculine philia of Christian brotherhood. This is about the sacred manner in which men love one another unto sacrificial death. It is the unpolluted love that ties Christ to the most newly ordained of His priests today. It is the ordered public love that built our church and inspired our nations. It is the socio-biological fact that explains the territorial and communal masculine affiliations – which distinguish humans from lower animals.

Our Christian brothers in Africa are unafraid in staring down the bizarre new theologies of the imperial white Anglicans.  (Contrast this with American Catholic men who stutter at explaining to twelve-year-old girls why they don’t belong on the altar). The African men are unafraid because a more troublesome enemy is at their doorstep. They rub shoulders with an armed male presence. They have smelled the wreckage of a bombed church on Sunday morning. If African men seem impatient with the “justice claims” of mitered feminists, it may be the unsheathed swords they see outside the bedroom windows of their wives and children that turn them rude.

Is it not time that Catholic men in ecclesial apologetics and civic military policy lend them a hand? We are entering a war and we are not assembled as organized publics in the proper liturgical and military order to protect our women, our children, and our Holy Mother the Church.  The African Anglicans are warning us. Let us see them clearly as our brothers in their fight against the urbane and sophisticated Rowan Williams, making his last bow to the feminist mistress of the modern age.  The archbishop may look like our uncle and sound vaguely harmless in an English sort of way. But he speaks for the great delusion of our age: the comfortably familiar, but perversely sinister, program of the white sexual revolutionaries.  Let us serve the more sacral brotherhood.