by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch
I. POPE FRANCIS, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, AND CHRISTIANITY AROUND THE WORLD
VATICAN CULTURE AND GAY CAMP: On the strangely mourned death of David Bowie. Behind the bureaucracy, there is a deep sickness which Pope Benedict knew he could not alter and Pope Francis has decided can only be reformed by sidestepping and establishing alternative councils of authority.
A CARDINAL SPEAKS ON THE GAY LOBBY: Cardinal Rodrigues of Honduras is the head of the nine-cardinal council that Pope Francis established to clean up the Curia. The council is an example of a SYNODAL FORM that Francis has introduced to restore the apostolic order to Church governance. Here is his top cardinal explaining there really is a gay lobby in the Vatican. Just think for a minute why this is so significant. Can we imagine Cardinal Wuerl or his Washington predecessor Cardinal McCarrick ever acknowledging this fundamental problem in the religious orders and chanceries of the US Catholic Church? Can we imagine Cardinal Burke on the problem of homosexuals in high positions? Can we imagine the intellectuals at First Things magazine seeing that there is an orthopraxy problem more than orthodoxy which is affecting the New York presbytery as much as the Vatican? It is hard to do. It means reforming priestly male relationships into brotherhoods under God instead of individualism that serves the progressive and intellectual right in much the same way favoring careerists, sycophants, celebrities, and small coteries of "friends."
SUSPENSION OF EPISCOPALIANS: The primates of the worldwide Anglican church met for four days (January 11-15, 2016). The initial speculation was that many African bishops who represent ten times the number of Anglicans as US bishops were going to walk out of the meeting because one cannot pretend communion with churches that treat sodomy as a marital act. Much better than a walkout by the faithful, the worldwide communion suspended the offenders in the American Church. "It was," says the Archbishop of Canterbury, "a consequence not a sanction." The primates also allowed the head of the Anglican Church of America to participate in the meeting. The ACA was formed as an alternative for Anglicans in America who resisted the abdication of their church to the reigning gender ideology of America's media and educational elite. A summary from Christianity Today. For all those who mistake the passing aberration of gender confusion for the future of mankind, this worldwide meeting provides a cold splash of reality. Human nature and Christianity are potent worldwide allies against a geographically narrow middle class deviance projecting itself as the inevitable fulfillment of progressive history. In fact, gender ideology is an endpoint in a historical process: it is the final decay of human relations launched by the enlightenment project against tradition and sacral authority .
BRAGUE AND DAWSON OUTLINE CHRISTIAN HISTORY: A good synthesis at Imaginative Conservative - Dawson and Brague.
II. ISLAM OUTSIDE THE MIDDLE EAST
ABOUT THE SHIITES: The yearly commemoration in Karbala shows the centrality of Shiite history and customs in Iraq. These kind of public religious commemorations are anathema to the Salafist Sunnis.
THE JEWISH ISIS: There are lessons to be learned from studying the small and violent anti-state Israeli Hilltop Youth. Members of this organization were recently found to be behind the fires at the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes last summer (a beautiful 5th century church marking the place of the biblical miracle).
DO THE MUSLIMS NEED AN ENLIGHTENMENT? - IT DIDN'T IMPROVE CHRISTIANITY: From a German Muslim, Navid Kerman:
We read so often that Islam must be cleansed by the fire of Enlightenment, or that modernity must win out over tradition. But that is perhaps too simplistic when we consider that Islam’s past was so much more enlightened, and its traditional writings at times more modern, than the current theological discourse. Goethe and Proust, Lessing and Joyce were not out of their minds, after all, to have been fascinated by Islamic culture. They saw something in the books and monuments that we no longer perceive so easily, brutally confronted as we often are by contemporary Islam. Perhaps the problem of Islam is less its tradition than its nearly total break with that tradition, the loss of its cultural memory, its civilisational amnesia.THEOCRACY - NOT JUST THE MUSLIMS - ONLY THE MODERNS ARE EXCEPTIONS: An illuminating essay by Remi Brague. We are at war with a movement in Islam, but it isn't theocracy which is alien to us. Living in accordance with Divine Law is not an Islamic aberration. It is the language of the entire Christian natural law tradition.
All the peoples of the Orient experienced a brutal modernisation imposed from above in the form of colonialism and secular dictatorships. The headscarf – to name one example – the headscarf was not abandoned gradually by Iranian women: in 1936, the Shah sent his soldiers out into the streets to tear it from their heads by force. Unlike Europe, where modernity – in spite of all the setbacks and crimes – was ultimately experienced as a process of emancipation and took place gradually over many decades and centuries, the Middle East experienced it largely as violence. Modernity was associated not with freedom, but with exploitation and despotism. Imagine an Italian president driving his car into St Peter’s Basilica, jumping onto the altar with his dirty boots and whipping the Pope in the face: then you will have a rough idea of what it meant when, in 1928, Reza Shah marched through the holy shrine of Qom in his riding boots and responded to the imam’s request to take off his shoes like any other believer by striking him in the face with his whip. And you will find comparable events and pivotal moments in many other Middle Eastern countries which, instead of slowly leaving the past behind, demolished that past and tried to erase it from memory.
III. US POLITICS AND THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE
REPUBLICAN DEBATES AND A RELIGIOUS NATIONAL GEOSTRATEGY: If we understand that the Cold War was about fighting armed atheism, then we can better see how the single demon of Marxism-Leninism has morphed into the unarmed atheism of the gender ideology in the West and the armed religiosity of Salafist Sunnis in Africa, the Mideast, and Asia. How we get at reformulating this situation and the role of America as a Christian nation will take an appreciation of President Obama's foreign policy and Donald Trump's rejection of political correctness. Here is Dr. Pence on Rubio, Cruz, and Trump.
TERRITORY, PARENTAGE AND NATURAL-BORN CITIZENS: The place of birth is more than your Mama. Another view from the Law of Nations written before the Constitution. It was actually good advice from Donald Trump that Mr. Cruz should get this settled by the Supreme Court. Mr Cruz was born in Canada of American citizens. His mom is from Delaware, and his father fled Cuba in his late teens to settle and receive citizenship in Texas. Mr Cruz has a powerful argument; natural law and parentage are deeply linked. This is why we have courts, and it can only help him to have this defined.
IV. THE NATIONS
REFLECTIONS ON NATIONS BY BENEDICT ANDERSON: Benedict Anderson wrote "Imagined Communities," a quasi-Marxist interpretation of nationalism. This excerpt of his memoir from the London Review of Books has a lot of interesting intellectual history as he talks about how he came to his formulation. Here is a terrific summary:
Almost all the important theoretical works written on nationalism after the Second World War were written and published in the UK (Miroslav Hroch’s pioneering comparative study of ‘small nationalisms’ in Central and Eastern Europe, written in German in Communist-governed Prague, had to wait a long time to be translated into English). Almost all were written by Jews, though of widely differing political outlooks. On the far right was Elie Kedourie, who was born and raised in the old Jewish community of Baghdad, moved to London as a young man, and came under the influence of Michael Oakeshott, then Britain’s best-known conservative political philosopher. On the moderate right was Anthony Smith, a British-born practising Orthodox Jew, who taught history in London throughout a long career. Convinced that the Jews were the most ancient of nations, he consistently argued that modern nationalism grew out of long-standing ethnic groups. On the liberal left was the philosopher, sociologist and anthropologist Ernest Gellner, a Czech Jew brought up in Prague, who made his way to London just after the end of the war. A sturdy Enlightenment liberal, he pioneered the so-called constructivist view of nationalism, arguing that it was strictly a product of industrialisation and modernity. On the far left was the grand historian Eric Hobsbawm, of partial Jewish descent, born in colonial Egypt and substantially educated in pre-Nazi Austria. Hobsbawm was a constructivist as well as a communist, and made a striking contribution to the growing debate on nationalism in the UK with 'The Invention of Tradition' (1983), a collection he compiled with Terence Ranger. The odd man out was Tom Nairn, strictly Scottish.
All these people more or less knew one another. All except Nairn were very attached to the UK, partly because it was largely uncontaminated by fascism and violent anti-Semitism, and partly because the state, including England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, was felt to be more like supranational (if now defunct) Austro-Hungary than standard European nation-states such as France, Italy and Sweden.PRESIDENT OBAMA ON AMERICA AS A CHRISTIAN NATION: A short video clip.
CHINA TAIWAN: ONE NATION OR TWO? Taiwan elected a female President representing a political party that has demanded formal independence from China. At this point she is not pushing the matter. China and Taiwan have each argued since 1947 that there is one China and each claims to be the legitimate government. When Nixon recognized mainland China, they took the China seat in the UN. Taiwan is not recognized by the UN as an independent nation, though they have a separate currency and 24 million people. They went from holding a powerful seat on the Security Council as China, to no representation. Their population would make them about the 50th largest of 194 countries. This is the kind of sensitive issue that is best not debated in a Republican primary.