Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Royal Order of Adverbs

We all want to become better writers, so that readers -- instead of being jolted by awkward phrasing -- sense a measure of grace in our lines. One way of doing this is by understanding the most natural way to space adverbs.

As a general rule, it works best to use adverbs of "manner" first in a sentence; and adverbs of "place" next. Followed by adverbs of frequency, time, and purpose.

Here's a sample sentence:

"Abraham swims... slowly... in the pool... every morning... before dawn... to keep in shape."

1. Manner (slowly, in the example above)
2. Place (in the pool)
3. Frequency (every morning)
4. Time (before dawn)
5. Purpose (to keep in shape)

Here is another example (which omits #3):

"The librarian was forced to hush the rowdy students... sternly... in the study alcoves... last night... in order to prevent anarchy."

For further explanation of adverbs, check out this article.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August 15 -- THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION: Femininity Shatters the Glass Ceiling

[first published August 15, 2014]

by David Pence

"By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly declaration of glory.”                (Pope Pius XII, November 1, 1950)

When Christ asked Peter who the apostles thought he was, Peter made the first infallible papal statement. He said, “Thou art the Son of the living God.” Christ made it clear it was not personal insight which allowed this Petrine testimony without error. “Not flesh and Blood but my Father in heaven” had allowed Peter to proclaim this central truth of our Faith for the brethren. And so again, 2000 years later, Pius XII did not wake up one November morning in 1950 and introduce to the flock a novel teaching he and some cardinals had been concocting about Our Lady. He stated what the praying Church had known devotionally for centuries. The pope, though, with a singular voice spoke the Truth from Rome as Peter had spoken for all the apostles at Caesarea Philippi.

The Pope in a few terse words described the perfection of matter -- the most perfect blossom of the tree of Jesse.  She was Immaculate -- conceived without sin. She is the Mother of God -- the locus of the Incarnation where God came into flesh to draw human flesh into his Body. She is ever Virgin -- an intact virgin not entered by man nor torn asunder by birth. And yet in the unity and holiness which the intactness of virginity represents there is a permeability to the Spirit which brings forth the Son. This moment in history of uncorrupted feminine flesh reminds all men of our original nature in Eden and of our present capacity for perfection. This Marian perfection of matter was never allowed to be corrupted by death. In this modern era when the corrupted mist of the world seems omnipresent, the Church reminds us that purity is possible. The person separated from Evil can bear Christ on earth and will be drawn into Him where he sits at the right hand of the Father. Purity on earth is possible and the spiritual ordering of the flesh leads to Eternal life. Humans are not evolving to some higher form; perfection comes from imitating a form who was already here in a specific time and place. Let us sing of Mary.


Of heaven there is less to say. How will she reign where her son is the King and the King has a Father? She might be drawn to some inner chamber where the feminine holds the three masculine persons of the Trinity in One.  C.S. Lewis described heaven as going higher and higher and deeper and deeper. Mary is not a Queen on a throne; she is the Queen of those depths. There is some inner chamber of the hidden God which we never name with a pronoun… but if we did it would be feminine. For the feminine is interiority.

There is an intact interior that separates God from all creation. This radical separation is the meaning of HOLY. Mary and the consecrated virgins of the Church seek not crowns for their heads, but an interior milieu where their hearts can come to final rest and ponder anew. Come, let us sing of Mary -- who on this day turns our eyes to Heaven where she abides with her Son. Let us admire from a distance the beauty of the Church’s consecrated virgins who keep us vigilant for our returning King by waiting for Him as their Bridegroom.

"Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life,
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb."

UPDATE: Take notice of what Christ is holding [click on the image above]: a small child clothed in white representing the soul of the Virgin Mary.
Taylor Marshall on the traditional teaching of the Church.

 It is a good feast to remember  Dietrich von Hildebrand’s classic reflection on purity and virginity in Catholic culture. 

Here is an August 15th sermon by Monsignor Ronald Knox (d. 1957).

Saturday, August 12, 2017

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

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, August 12

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

Kim Jong Un, the 34 yr old leader of North Korea, is not old enough to be a US President. Like 31 yr old Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, he has brought a young man's assertiveness to his country's foreign policy. North Korea has 25 million people while South Korea has 50 million people in a land mass 5/6 of North Korea. China with 1.4 billion people and Japan with 126 million people are neighbors with histories of conquering this ancient people. Both South Koreans and North Koreans believe a united Korea is the eventual political goal and Koreans on both sides of the 38th believe Korea needs the technology of advanced weapons to balance the threats of their larger neighbors. All of those considerations have nothing to do with America.
Turning to the US, the North Koreans see South Koreans as their countrymen in occupied territory. Kim Jong Un notes that when a small nation like Libya gave up their nuclear weapons, the leader was soon decapitated (Gadaffi killed in 2011 after US inspired NATO intrusion in country). He sees a hostile American Congress to Iran even after Iran gave up weapons grade uranium in a deal sanctioned by Europe, Russia and China. Korea has been split along the 38th parallel since the end of WWII. In the Korean War of 1950-1953, the Chinese allied with the North Koreans after American led UN troops drove to the Yalu River-a demarcation of China and North Korea. More than 80% of North Korean trade is with China. In Asia, Kim Jong Un is not a great statesman but he is a real leader.  He is most definitely not seen as a crazy little oriental dictator ridiculed by the Hollywood media and then cyber-revenged in real life.  It is not at all clear that a US attack on North Korea would be seen by the Chinese as anything but continued border infringement by US. It didn't help when on Aug 10 US warships sailed within 12 miles of the new Chinese airfields on the man made isle they have constructed to display their claims in the South China Sea. Henry Kissinger warned in his book China that the most likely scenario for China going to war would be infringement on their borders or foreign encroachment on a neighboring country. China has much more in common with North Korea trying to defend itself than the US projecting culture and weapons 7000 miles away from our homeland.  North Korea is not targeting the continental US  or Asian population centers.  Much better strategic targets are the unpopular US military bases throughout Asia and 160,000 US citizens on Guam next to Anderson Air base.  Guam has been called "an aircraft carrier posing as an island". 
The US wants this conflict to be seen as a young bellicose dictator disrupting Asian stability and threatening world order. North Korea wants to depict the US as a continuing reminder of the 19th century of shame when western white nations colonized and disrespected all the great civilizations of Asia. It is doubtful that North Korea would aim its firepower at Asian populations--- not even their traditional enemy Japan. They say to China (and they whisper to nuclear armed Pakistan), "Why is the one country in human history who laid waste to Asian population centers with nuclear weapons now contesting  Chinese borders, emasculating Japan and South Korea with military occupations, and threatening us because we are developing nuclear weapons to deter them? Is there no man or country to resist them and reclaim our honor?"  The Philippines have a strong leader who is establishing order at home and has changed sides in the China-US dispute over Chinese territory claims in the South China Sea. This geopolitical transformation of a once dependable ally in Asia is treated in the US press as an opportunity to scold the elected Rodrigo Duterte as a sexist and a thug. We must see the Asian nations and their leaders clearly. The division of Korea is the last "nation tragedy" of the Cold War. If Russia, China and the US cannot come to a long overdue real Cold War peace than once again the small nations will serve as killing grounds. It will be full of sound and fury.   And it may well "signify nothing."     


POPE FRANCIS S.J. IS NOT JAMES MARTIN S.J. Deacon Jim Russell at Catholic World Report e explains how the Pope sees the Trans-Gender movement as anti-ecology.

The New York Times reported this in August 2016 better than Catholic conservatives:
"Leaders of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups expressed dismay on Wednesday after Pope Francis said that schoolchildren are being taught they can choose their gender as part of what he called an “ideological colonization.”

Francis was meeting privately with bishops in Poland last week when he broached the matter. “Today, in schools they are teaching this to children — to children! — that everyone can choose their gender,” he said, according to a transcript released by the Vatican on Tuesday.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, the executive director of DignityUSA, a leading organization of L.G.B.T. Catholics, said the comments represented a “dangerous ignorance” about gender identity, which is no more a choice than height or hair color.

“It’s very troubling that the pope would say this,” Ms. Duddy-Burke said on Wednesday. “It also shows that the pope doesn’t understand the danger that his words can mean for gender-nonconforming people, particularly those who live in countries with laws or cultural pressures that put these people at risk for violence.”
VATICAN OPENING TO RUSSIATop diplomat goes to Russia. This is a priority that the Pope and the President share. Forget the Jesuit and Protestant journalists who do not understand America. Watch the actions of the Pope and his diplomatic corps.

A CATHOLIC STATESMANAn Englishman with a top hat and six kids.


THE TRANSFIGURATION AND POPE PAUL VIA profound Christological and historical reflection.

THE PARISH - THINK COSMICALLY AND ACT LOCALLY; THE BENEDICT OPTION IN PRACTICEReflection of August 4, Memorial of St John Vianney. Fr George Rutler - advice for a young priest.

"On social issues they generally tend to be moderate to liberal. I have never to my knowledge met a high officer who was pro-life. They largely thought Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell a reasonable policy, but they’re realists: Time moves on, salute and execute. They don’t want to damage or retard their careers being on the wrong side of issues whose outcomes seem culturally inevitable. You don’t die on a hill that is not central to the immediate mission."
There was no place in American culture where honest discussion of sex roles was shut down earlier and more definitively than the military. To speak against women soldiers could be a career ending statement showing inability to "lead the new modern army." Catholic all-male seminaries experienced the same paradox. If seminarians (candidates for the priesthood) spoke too loudly against women priests that was taken as evidence those "rigid" fellows were incapable of "working collaboratively with the newly empowered laity." The all male seminary forbade assertively masculine public discussion. Military bases where even intramural sports teams had to be female inclusive were similar to the seminaries--these male groups could not speak AS MEN in public speech.


A NEW ONLINE VIDEO VOICE LOOKING AT 9/11 AND SAUDI ARABIAA video laying out a few basics.

PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS AND MIDEAST: A book review and AOA essay in the StarTribune stressing the obligation of our Christian nation to protect Christians.

RUSSIA, CHINA, EUROPE, AND BRITAIN GO TO IRAN INAUGURATION - WHOSE NOT COMING TO DINNER? The US policy of ignoring civic functions of crucial nations  deprives us of ritual  acts of international diplomacy that a nation state must employ to build fraternity among peoples. Saudi Arabia and Israel are both at war with Iran. We are not.


SCANDALS TO INVESTIGATE NOT MANUFACTUREReal stories seeking light from Victor Davis Hanson.

MCMASTER CLEANING HOUSE AT NSC - AN OBJECTION FROM ISRAELI RIGHTEverything that bothers Carolyn Glick here. Seems like a useful and necessary balance in American policy. Israel's intent is to ally with Saudi Arabia and bring down the Shia government of Iran.That should not be US policy.

IN RUSSIAA Statue to Gorbachev and Reagan.

WHILE IN THE US - CONGRESS SANCTIONS LAW HOBBLES EXECUTIVE AND STRIKES OUR EUROPEAN ALLIESEurope Uneasy as Congress lets its anti-Trump anger hamper American diplomacy.

TRUMP IS LOSING HIS RUSSIA POLICY TO REPUBLICAN STAFF AND MILITARY HAWKSBuchanan explains. When will an anti-war Democrat or a Christian public intellectual come to the President's aid and shake off the grip of the war interests? Listening to the effeminate Lindsey Graham talking about destroying North Korea should raise the ire of every Christian man and honest patriot. Asians will not think US bombing of an Asian population(North Korea) is an act of protection. Emotionally many see the antics of North Korea the way their ancestors saw the Japanese defeat of Russia in 1905 - finally a yellow nation resisting the white foreigners. Unfortunately Diversity Training has not yet taught American policymakers to see the world through the eyes of other countries and cultures.

THE COLLUSION TO OVERTHROW THE AMERICAN ELECTION: It is not the Russians but illegal "spies and traitors" inside the government in collusion with the major East Coast media who are engaged in illegal acts trying to overthrow the legitimately elected President Trump. Did the Washington Post have a "duty" to publicize transcripts of presidential calls? Doesn't that greatly reduce the ability of the President to deal with foreign leaders in a trusting confidential manner which makes war and conflict less likely?

REVEREND HILLARYWill Mrs. Clinton turn to Methodist preaching?


HITTINGER ON DAWSON AND SAVING THE WEST: An essay from the Imaginative Conservative.

BLACKS, THE IRISH, AND BOXINGThe way men should write sports stories. he is a white writer in the black press. Multiple white editors would not take his piece.

"In late 1860s Russia there was an unusual level of political unrest caused by student groups influenced by liberal, socialist and revolutionary ideas imported from Europe. In 1869, Dostoevsky conceived the idea of a 'pamphlet novel' directed against the radicals." 

According to translator Richard Pevear, the demons are "that legion of isms that came to Russia from the West: idealism, rationalism, empiricism, materialism, utilitarianism, positivism, socialism, anarchism, nihilism, and, underlying them all, atheism."

The counter-ideal to the demons (expressed in the novel through the character of Ivan Shatov) is that of an authentically Russian culture growing out of the people's inherent spirituality and faith.

In a letter to a friend, Dostoevsky alludes to the episode of the Exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac in the Gospel of Luke as the inspiration for the title: "Exactly the same thing happened in our country: the devils went out of the Russian man and entered into a herd of swine... These are drowned or will be drowned, and the healed man, from whom the devils have departed, sits at the feet of Jesus."
An important correction of the title from another book review:
The title is a case in point. The Russian word means evil spirits, not the people possessed by them. Had Dostoevsky wanted to name this work "The Possessed," he could easily have done so, Russian having an exact equivalent. There is also a perfectly good Russian word for devils, and it is not the word Dostoevsky chose to use.

"Demons" is the Dostoevsky novel for our age; in fact, it is a key novel as such for an age that has come to recognize the evils of ideology--any ideology. At the time it appeared in Russia, it could be read as the other sort of "key novel," a roman a clef , based as it was on the ideologically rationalized murder of a party member who had strayed from the fold. Millions and millions of ideologically rationalized murders later, it is infinitely more timely. Dostoevsky could not be published at all in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist years, and even in the relatively liberal post-Stalinist period this novel remained taboo and thus virtually unavailable in popular editions. Now that Russia has renounced its ideology it is being read with a vengeance: "Demons" tells Russia's story in microcosm, and in advance.



AP REPORTER ON LEAVING: Venezuela.  In South America, the capitalism vs. communism debate is an atheist knot to be untied by a host of Catholic Bolivar/Peron/Franco nationalists rising in each country to ally with a Christian nationalist United States to the north. Establishing police order and justice in land and labor are paramount.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Luther and Calvin -- then and now

Martin Luther (d. 1546) and John Calvin (d. 1564) -- why are their beliefs and practices so different from their modern adherents?

What's remarkable is that big differences showed up even by the time of the First Great Awakening (mid-18th century), represented by the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield.

One of the most knowledgeable students of these matters is David Anders, a longtime Calvinist who ended up converting to Catholicism.

From an essay of Anders about his deepening study of Calvin's theology:
"Calvin shocked me by rejecting key elements of my Evangelical tradition. Born-again spirituality, private interpretation of Scripture, a broad-minded approach to denominations – Calvin opposed them all. I discovered that his concerns were vastly different, more institutional, even more Catholic. Although he rejected the authority of Rome, there were things about the Catholic faith he never thought about leaving. He took for granted that the Church should have an interpretive authority, a sacramental liturgy and a single, unified faith."

Take a look at this interview with Dr. Anders, conducted by the Jesuit priest Mitch Pacwa.

[The most interesting segment is from the 9:00 mark to 27:00].

"Calvin believed that the Eucharist provides an undoubted assurance of eternal life.
Resembling the Roman Catholic view, Calvin stated that the sacrament of the Eucharist provided the 'undoubted assurance of eternal life to our minds, but also secures the immortality of our flesh.' "

"Luther made an attempt to remove the books of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation from the biblical canon.
He did so because he believed these books went against certain Protestant doctrines.

"Luther believed that human free will didn’t exist. He wrote:
'With regard to God, and in all that bears on salvation or damnation, (man) has no free-will, but is a captive, prisoner and bondslave, either to the will of God, or to the will of  Satan...
We do everything of necessity, and nothing by free-will; for the power of free-will is nil...' "

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

August 8 - MEMORIAL OF SAINT DOMINIC: Teacher and Priest

[first published August 8, 2014]


Dominic (pictured meeting with Francis of Assisi early in the 13th century) gathered a fraternity of preachers and teachers. He recognized that heresies could only be countered by knowledge of the Real Truth and delivery of this Truth by holy preachers. Thus the Dominican motto: VERITAS.

What was particularly lacking in Saint Dominic's day was articulate and intelligent doctrinal preaching. The whole reason of being for the Dominicans was spreading the Good News of our Lord.
(A good summary of his life and an explanation of why Dominicans celebrate another feast day for their founder.)

I came across a sermon by a Polish preacher in which he described Dominic as "God's athlete" for his implacable struggle against the Dragon who tries to deceive us and deliver us to eternal darkness. He mentioned three ways that the Spanish saint did this:

  • as is shown by the painting (below) by Blessed Fra Angelico – St. Dominic eagerly adored the cross as the venue where Christ defeated death;
  • through the preaching of the Word of truth and life for the conversion of others, St. Dominic tied up the demon by the Word of God, giving to the seekers the light of the true Gospel;
  • as one of the Dominican legends says, when Satan visited one of the first convents, he got scared of the 'capitular' – the place where brothers confess their faults; the life rooted in humility, the awareness of the fact of how much a person needs the Savior, this is the moment when Satan loses.

"A man who governs his passions is master of his world. We must either command them or be enslaved by them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil."                                (St. Dominic, d. 1221)

Fra Angelico (d. 1455) was one of the countless simple  souls whose spiritual gaze became more luminous through their association with the Dominicans. Pope John Paul II beatified the Florentine painter, naming him the patron of Catholic artists. Here is his free rendition of the Transfiguration of the Lord, with the inclusion of the Virgin Mary and Saint Dominic on either side:


Sunday, August 6, 2017

AUGUST 6 -- Feast of the Transfiguration: "We were eyewitnesses of His majesty on the sacred mountain"

[first published August 6, 2014]

"Send forth your light and your truth...
  let them lead me up your holy mountain,
  up to your sanctuary.
 I shall go in to the altar of God,
  to the God of my gladness and joy."
              (Psalm 43)

Our Lord climbed Mount Tabor with Peter, James, and John -- and revealed his glory as he spoke with Moses and Elijah. As someone has said: we can be transfigured by the love of God or we can be disfigured by the love of sin!

"... and it is indeed appropriate that the greatest God-seers of the Old Testament should be present at the glorification of the Lord in His New Testament, seeing for the first time His humanity, even as the disciples were seeing for the first time His Divinity."

This article explains more of the meaning of the Greek icon above.

["Although the event celebrated in the Feast occurred in the month of February, forty days before the Crucifixion, the Feast was early transferred to August because its full glory and joy could not be fittingly celebrated amid the sorrow and repentance of Great Lent. The sixth day of August was chosen as being forty days before the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14th, old style), when Christ’s Passion is again remembered."]

Saint Helena (the emperor Constantine's mother, pictured) erected a church on Mount Tabor in honor of the Transfiguration, 'the excellence of His hidden dignity.'

"On the mountain wast Thou transfigured, O Christ God, and Thy disciples beheld Thy glory as far as they could see it; so that when they would behold Thee crucified, they would understand that Thy suffering was voluntary, and would proclaim to the world that Thou art truly the Radiance of the Father."

"In the spirit, the angel took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. The city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it."    (Apocalypse 21)

One of our writers spent time in the Holy Land and took the photo below of the Church of the Transfiguration, which sits atop Mt. Tabor just south of Galilee. The church itself has two altars: the lower for daily use and the upper to which no stairs ascend. The latter altar has been reserved for the Second Coming. Also noteworthy is the fact that Mt. Tabor overlooks the Valley of Armageddon - the location of the final battle between the heavenly army and the forces of Satan.