by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch
I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
POPE VISITS SYNAGOGUE IN ROME - A JEWISH PLEA FOR THE FEAST OF THE CIRCUMCISION: One of our favorite feast days in which Christ was enrolled in the Jewish nation gets a plug at Pope Francis' Rome synagogue visit from a Jewish elder brother.
POPE ALLOWS WOMEN IN THE FOOT-WASHING: Meanwhile the Pope shows he is no longer taking marching orders from his loyal and cheering sons at AOA. He says, as did Pope Benedict before him, that the foot washing on Holy Thursday is a sign of universal service. If that is true, then washing men and women (as well as non-believers) would make lots of sense as a sign of the missionary Church serving all of humanity.
We have made a much less recognized argument that the foot washing was a priestly apostolic act aimed at washing clean a Satan infected priesthood. We think the ritual should return to the Chrism Mass and be centered on bishops and their priests.This ritual is very old, but its reintroduction into the Holy Thursday liturgy is recent (1955) -- and significant theological discussion of its meaning is surprisingly scant. The Pope is following the example of Peter who also thought it was an act of service and tried to forbid Christ from washing him. The best theological-scriptural argument we have seen that Christ's washing of the apostles' feet was an exorcism of the priesthood, not a sign of universal service, can be found here. This disagreement with our Holy Father about the primary meaning of the ritual is no disrespect to him. Many parishes and priests have opened the foot-washing to males and females, though the 1955 instructions was clear about men. Most of those insistent that the washing be male-only have never made a convincing argument that the gesture is about something other than humble service. Pope Francis is bringing the gesture in line with the present teaching.
It turns out that the previous rules of the ritual were carrying a truth which our present teachings have not yet discovered. We all live in a day that the anthropological arguments for the masculine character of the priesthood and the distinct corporate duties and identity of men are quite weak. In fact, one might venture that suppressing the ancient feast of the Circumcision (which is a male-only incorporation into a national bond) and missing the masculine priestly character of the foot-washing stem from a similar blind spot.
II. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST
EGYPT - A NON-ELECTED PRESIDENT, BUT HE OFFERS RELIGIOUS RECONCILIATION: He overthrew an elected Islamist government. He courageously defends and befriends the Christian Copts. Is Egyptian President Abdel el-Sisi the Sunni ally we must cultivate? Is religious liberty more crucial than democratic elections?
PAKISTAN - FORCES WITHIN FOR REFORM: Pakistan is different than Saudi Arabia. Can it divorce itself from the Salafist movement that runs its intelligence and military? Can they break the Saudi alliance? Pakistan is 5 to 15 percent Shia, so the Salafist movement promises civil war if instituted at home.
PEW 2009 REPORT ON SHIA AND SUNNI MUSLIMS BY COUNTRY: 1.6 billion Muslims. What are the big four (each with over 100 million believers)? Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh.
IN LEBANON TWO COMPETING CHRISTIAN FACTIONS HAVE ALLIED UNDER ONE CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT WHO ALSO WOULD BE FAVORED BY SHIITES: The next battleground against Salafist Sunnis will be Lebanon, and Christians there do not see Hezbollah as their enemy. A new Christian alliance paves the way for a Shiite-Christian alliance. To understand the coming fight for Lebanon, we must understand there is a battle among Sunnis for the soul of Sunni Islam. Meanwhile Christians and Shiites must unite to oppose Salafist Sunni groups and ally with Sunnis who are not salafist. The US is unfortunately propping up the two governments who institutionally support the terrorist/jihadist type Sunnis. Those States are Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
IN SUDAN THE RISE OF SALAFIST GROUP MEANS TROUBLE FOR SHIITES: Sudan's new line against Shiites -nothing to do with their old ally Iran.
ISIS MAGAZINE - A WHOLE ISSUE TO WIPING OUT THE SHIA; A LESSON HERE FOR CHRISTIANS ABOUT OUR NATURAL ALLIES? The latest issue of ISIS magazine is centered on the Rafidah - eliminating the Shia. All the multiculturalism courses we have taken, and no one can see that one branch of Sunnis,the Salafists, is waging a religious war against a religion called Shia Islam! There is no significant branch of Shia Islam that calls for the purification of Islam by eliminating the Sunni non-believers.
SOUTHERN SUDAN - BREAKING APART BY MEN, TRIBE AND LAND: Christianity and a new national identity are not as deeply embedded as the older loyalties that split the country again. Southern Sudan (12 million population Christian and animist) became independent from Sudan (population 33 million Islamic and Arab) in 2011. The South Sudanese Civil War began in December 2013. It is drawn along tribal fault lines.
III. AMERICAN POLITICS
DONALD TRUMP AT LIBERTY UNIVERSITY ON REV. KING DAY: A quote from Trump's speech:
“We are going to protect Christianity. I don’t have to be politically correct. From Two Corinthians: 'Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.' Isn't that the one you like - isn't that the one? I love it. We are going to protect Christianity and if you look at what is going on around the world; you look at Syria ,where if you are a Christian, they are chopping off heads. You look at the different places and Christianity is under siege. I’m a Protestant, Presbyterian to be exact and very proud of it and we have to protect because bad things are happening. Very bad things are happening and I don’t know what it is. We don’t band together maybe. And frankly other religions are banding together and using it… here we have, if you look at this country its gotta be 70%, 75% , some people say even more. The power we have to band together, we have to unify. We have to really in a very large version what they have done at Liberty. Somehow we have to unify… Liberty has banded together and created one of the great universities…"Entire one hour video of speech: Religion comments are at the 19:00 to 21:00 minute mark.
BE A NATIONALIST, NOT A CONSERVATIVE: Advice from an old conservative, Sam Francis, twenty years ago in a Chronicles article to Pat Buchanan seems to be the campaign strategy of Donald Trump. The key loyalties of men are Religion, Nation, and Family. The Trump campaign appeals to corporate identities as Americans and Christians. He is not running as the best Christian, but as the candidate who will defend Christians the best (and we mean the Christians being beheaded, not those disputing insurance coverage policies).
R&G ROUNDUP: SOLZHENITSYN AND THE UNIVERSITY
TO RESET RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA, REMEMBER THE LESSONS OF ALEXANDER SOLZHENITSYN: Excepts from the 'CWR' article, Revisiting Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's warnings to the West:
"Following writers such as Fyodor Dostoevsky and N.M. Karamzin, the Russian conservative tends to interpret modern history as a struggle between those who would preserve Russia’s spiritual integrity and those who would impose Western culture upon the motherland. It is no coincidence that the most frenzied and destructive characters in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Brothers Karamazov, and Demons are those most intoxicated with trendy European ideas. Nor is it a coincidence that in his Memoir On Ancient and Modern Russia Karamzin, fervent monarchist though he was, ventured to make a negative evaluation of the celebrated Peter the Great [died in 1725 at the age of 52]. “We became citizens of the world,” said Karamzin regarding Peter’s campaign to Westernize his empire, “but ceased in certain respects to be the citizens of Russia.” To Karamzin the Europhile sovereign’s heavy-handed attempt “to transform Russia into Holland” reflected more zeal than prudence.
Solzhenitsyn went further and openly detested the reformist tsar, for he doubted that Peter had really appreciated anything about Western culture aside from its most superficial trappings: wealth, glamour, gunpowder. The Petrine program had caused Russian elites to abandon their roots, and had even set the stage for Bolshevism. How could those incapable of relating to their own people hope to understand those of faraway lands?"AND WHEN WE WONDER WHY IT IS SO HARD TO EXTRACT THE FEMINIST IMPLANT, HE EXPLAINED IN HIS HARVARD COMMENCEMENT (1978):
"Without any censorship, in the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those which are not fashionable; nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges. Legally your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashion of the day. There is no open violence such as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to match mass standards frequently prevents independent-minded people from giving their contribution to public life."THE UNIVERSITY AND THE ORGANIZATION OF KNOWLEDGE - HUBRIS OR WORSHIP: An essay on the organization of the disciplines and the overweening hubris of the modern empiricists by a young Villanova teacher of literature and religion, James Matthew Wilson. In Practicing Catholics, Educational Reform we make a similar argument that the Catholic school is centered on worship, and then organizes the disciplines of study. The Catholic University should breathe a very different spirit than the German research university. That mighty institution of Germanic intellectual hubris crowned the atheistic enlightenment, and prepared the way for the militarization of that hubris in German empire and Reich.