RELIGION, NATION, MARRIAGE: THE LOYALTIES OF MEN
PRAY, WORK, STUDY, PROTECT: THE DUTIES OF MEN


Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday BookReview: Whitefield and Asbury -- great American evangelists


Washington DC statue of Bishop Asbury 

During his active ministry, Francis Asbury (1745-1816) rode about 6,000 miles each year -- preaching the Gospel in any tavern or farm field where he could gather a crowd.

Born in England to a working-class family, he dropped out of school before he was 12 to work as a blacksmith's apprentice.

"Asbury was sent to America by John Wesley in 1771 and was the only Methodist minister to remain in America when the War for Independence broke out."

Here is a four-minute video summarizing his life.




George Whitefield (1714-1770) was one of the most famous men of his day. His friend Benjamin Franklin (d. 1790) was also his publisher.

Whitefield [pronounced 'wit-field'] probably preached "something like 18,000 or 20,000 sermons in his career, often speaking two or three times a day, every day of the week." 



If you drive northeast out of Boston for about an hour, up near the New Hampshire border you come to the town of Newburyport -- where the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was born, and George Whitefield is buried.

Whitefield died five years before Paul Revere's ride and the start of the Revolutionary War.




Baylor professor Thomas Kidd wrote a biography of him a couple years ago. Here is a review by George P. Wood:
George Whitefield is not well known by Americans today, including American evangelical Christians, his spiritual heirs. In the eighteenth century, however, Whitefield was well known not only in America, but also in his native England—well known, well loved, and widely criticized... 
Whitefield was born in a Gloucester inn on December 16, 1714, to hardworking though not particularly religious parents. He secured a work-scholarship to Oxford University, where he fell under the spiritual influence of John and Charles Wesley and entered ministry in the Church of England. Together with the Wesley brothers, Whitefield led the trans-Atlantic evangelical revival that came to be known as the 'Great Awakening' through ceaseless itinerant evangelism, innovative use of print media, and development of personal and institutional relationships across denominations. [John Wesley died in 1791; his brother had died three years earlier].
"Whitefield’s colleague and frequent rival John Wesley left a greater organizational legacy," Thomas Kidd writes, "and his ally Jonathan Edwards made a more significant theological contribution. But Whitefield was the key figure in the first generation of evangelical Christianity." Kidd concludes: "Whitefield was the first great preacher in a modern evangelical movement that has seen many. Perhaps he was the greatest evangelical preacher the world has ever seen." 
Reading Kidd’s biography of Whitefield—which will be the standard work for years to come—I was struck by several similarities with contemporary American evangelicalism that are worth noting, both positive and negative. 
The first is Whitefield’s blend of principle and pragmatism. Whitefield was an ordained priest in the Church of England and a convinced Calvinist. This did not prevent him from working with English Dissenters and Arminians (at least of the Wesleyan variety), Scottish Presbyterians, or American Congregationalists, however. Rather, with them, he emphasized the experience of the "new birth"—that is, being born again—and the doctrine of justification by faith. These expressed the essence of the gospel. 
To proclaim that gospel, Whitefield pragmatically utilized a variety of innovative techniques. These included itinerant evangelism, field preaching, personal discipleship (the hallmark of Methodism), and the use of newspapers to promote the ministry. The result was a trans-Atlantic revival united by a powerful spiritual encounter and a theology that explained it, far more than by ecclesiology or denominational distinctives. 
The second is Whitefield’s emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, both as the One who brings about regeneration (the technical term for the new birth) and the One who empowers ministers to proclaim the gospel. Wesley’s journals are filled with descriptions of people experiencing the throes of spiritual conviction, not to mention the experience of breaking through to the peace of conversion. He also routinely speaks of the Spirit prompting his actions and words. Kidd even notes a handful of occasions where Whitefield, his colleagues, or his followers may have spoken in tongues. Ironically, in light of the cessationist theology that characterized evangelical Calvinism in the early twentieth century, Kidd points out that the revivalists believed in the contemporary work of the Holy Spirit—though not as Pentecostals do today—while their non-evangelical critics were the ones who were cessationists, believing that the gifts of the Holy Spirit had ceased in the Apostolic Era. 
This emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit was often a help to the emerging evangelical movement, rooting God’s work in the heart and not merely the head, but it was also occasionally a hindrance. Critics routinely accused Whitefield and his followers of "enthusiasm," a mindless religious ecstasy detached from good theology, good taste, and good sense. Sometimes, they were right. In turn, under what Whitefield assumed to be the prompting of the Spirit, he often criticized non-evangelical ministers for being "unconverted," that is, not even Christian. This won him few friends among that group. As Whitefield and his followers matured, they learned to distinguish the fire of genuine revival from "wild-fire." 
The third is the paradoxical combination of unity and division. As noted above, the Anglican Whitefield partnered with ministers of other Protestant denominations to promote revival. This is true of evangelicalism to the present day. But just as there are sharp theological disputes today between Calvinist and Arminian evangelicals, there were sharp theological disputes between the same two groups in the eighteenth century. Whitefield was a staunch Calvinist, as was the Welsh evangelist Howell Harris. The Wesley brothers, on the other hand, were equally staunch Arminians. The theological debates between those four individuals, and their respective followers, were intense and often nasty. Nevertheless, throughout his ministry, Whitefield found his way toward cooperation with the Wesleys in gospel ministry.
The fourth is the confusion of the gospel and patriotism. Whitefield came to prominence during Protestant England’s seemingly endless wars with Catholic powers. Like other Protestants in his age, he viewed the Reformation dispute with Rome as both theological (How are we saved?) and political (Who will rule us?) in nature. During the War of Jenkins’ Ear with Spain and the Seven Years War with France, Whitefield preached pro-English, anti-Spanish, anti-French, and anti-Catholic sermons that are embarrassing to read today. My guess is that in two hundred years, the patriotic sermons of today’s evangelicals will cause readers to blush too. 
It has been said that the past is a foreign country. Reading Whitefield’s biography reminds us that his age was vastly different from our own. Like many in America in the eighteenth century, Whitefield owned slaves, a fact for which he can (and should) be criticized. (His marriage was also nothing to write home about.) 
On the other hand, the past is not so foreign that it is unable to teach us lessons about our own time. This is especially true of contemporary American evangelicalism. The trans-Atlantic evangelical revival of the eighteenth century initiated patterns of spiritual experience, theological doctrine, and ministry methodology that are still recognizable among American and British evangelicals today, for better and for worse. 
As evangelicals move forward in the twenty-first century, it is thus reasonable to ask: Who will be our Edwards, to teach us in this postmodern intellectual milieu? Who will be our Wesley, to organize, network, and disciple us? And who will be our Whitefield—the evangelist whose preaching of the gospel will draw men and women to Christ? 

                     
The crypt of  George Whitefield 



UPDATE: Take a listen to some of this tribute to Whitefield given by John Piper to a conference of pastors.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

SEPTEMBER 29: FEAST OF THE ARCHANGELS


[first published 29 September 2012]




On this feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael -- some thoughts of Doc Pence on our angelic partners.  He begins with an anecdote:

   About a year ago when I was arguing with a theology professor at St. John’s in Collegeville MN about women priests and homosexuality -- it struck me.  I asked him, "Do you believe there was a first man and woman, Adam and Eve?”  He said, "No, science has proven that wrong."  I asked, "Do you believe there is a wicked angel, Lucifer, who is the devil; a real being, dedicated to evil and not redeemable?”  He said, "No, there is definitely evil in the world and in all of us but not an actual powerful spiritual evil being."  "Well, how about angels in general -- another order of beings -- purely spiritual who can know and love and who are actors in the domain of nature and history?"  I asked.  He hedged and hemmed and asked to be excused.

   I told myself, "I have been in the wrong discussion -- the problem is a lot of these guys don't have the cast of characters or central events of the Divine Drama in place.”

   What is priesthood, and who cares if it is all-male, if there is no Satan and the story of Salvation History is just a hodgepodge of Semitic texts?  I haven't gotten into arguments over women priests for a long time because I find those who favor them have a much bigger deficit that has to be first addressed.  


  Today we give thanks for the angels -- pure spirits organized in hierarchical orders -- our great elevated partners in the Divine Drama. 



God is an eternal Being outside of time: one Divine nature in three Persons. The angels are pure spirits. They have the two characteristics of spiritual beings: they can know and love.

The material world is mineral, vegetative, and animal. The minerals (atoms, chemical elements and molecules, and all non-living matter) do not have souls.  The vegetative and animal beings are living, and thus have souls. Souls are the central unifying principles of living things. All physical living beings have souls, but their souls are different. The souls of bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals die with the creature. Spiritual souls are immortal and rational. We don’t talk about an angel’s soul because a soul is a form in a material being.
 
Living Beings have interiority and agency and hierarchy. Living things act for themselves in a way that rusting iron and eroding rocks don’t (agency). All living things have an inside and an outside, from cell structure to internal body cavities to the interior spiritual life of man (interiority). All life comes from life, and exists within a structured sacral order (hierarchy).

Man is the one material being with a spiritual soul -- he can know and love. Thomas Aquinas thought one could logically argue to prove the existence of angels. He said there needs to be a created being which is spiritual but is not made of matter. (This balances the material world in which there is matter without a soul, material creatures with a “material soul,” and material beings with a spiritual soul.) Angels perfect the universe because they are created immaterial beings, which are spiritual. They too can know and love.

Angels know directly (they intuit), and desire and decide instantaneously. Their decisions are irrevocable. Angels use matter for appearances but do not become living material beings. Each angel is his own species. Angels are organized into hierarchical orders: some worshiping, some in charge of movements in nature, and some personally involved in the lives of men and nations.

When we contemplate the angels this brings us in closer contact with the hierarchical nature of the cosmos, the reality of Satan, the heroism of Michael, the ongoing active dialogue between the spiritual world and human development. We are part of a cosmic drama that started long before we got here. In this drama, the sons of Adam are given a major participatory role in the restoration of Justice after Satan’s rebellion. Man is part of a cosmological reality and so are the angels. Man cannot fully understand his role here without a robust and clarified view of the Angels in the Drama.


UPDATE: In both Jewish and Christian tradition, every nation has been assigned a guardian angel through which Divine Providence works out His purposes in history. While Pope Francis suggested that Catholic discussion be less preoccupied with homosexuality, abortion, and contraception, he has continually emphasized the present-day reality of the evil angel Lucifer. 

St. Michael, St, Raphael, and St. Gabriel: pray for us.   

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hillary and Holt take Round One -- Lessons for Mr. Trump


by David Pence


In football when a coach is asked what went wrong after a defeat, he often waits "to look at the film." Hillary Clinton dominated the September 26th presidential debate. Much of the time, Donald Trump and a huge TV audience were listening to her well-prepared explanations of US policy and government. The possibility of a first female president was normalized. Indeed, for an hour that evening, the probability of this monumental change in American sex roles seemed assured. Her well-prepared zinger on being prepared was the best line of the night. Her surprise introduction of a woman whom Mr. Trump had called "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeping" was amplified with a post-debate release of video interviews with the beautiful Miss Venezuela. Even Mr. Trump was asking, "Where is this coming from?"

To radio listeners, Mr. Trump’s sniffles were distractingly diminishing; and on TV, Mrs. Clinton seemed the more vigorous and healthy of the two.

The moderator Lester Holt was serious, authoritative, and professional. He got out of the way when the candidates were sparring. He let the candidate exchanges dominate. On first impression he was impressively unobtrusive. After reviewing the film and watching the referee, a different conclusion emerges. Mr. Holt introduced the discussion of our nation's longest war by stating as a fact that Donald Trump was for the Iraq War. Mr. Trump, who took over the Republican primary by opposing the Bush/Rove/ McCain /Romney/Rubio narrative on Iraq and the Mideast, spent the next few minutes disputing the moderator who sidelined the important policy debate by blowing up a single comment of Mr. Trump on a Howard Stern radio show as his "support for the war." This 'fact' did allow Mr. Trump to explain his very early role in opposing Fox News (and his friend Sean Hannity) and the Republican foreign policy establishment on their strategy in the Mideast. Mr. Holt introduced (and Mrs. Clinton reiterated) that President Obama’s birth certificate controversy was a "racist" attack on America’s half white/half black President. Mr. Trump did not answer that this was a question of nationality, not race -- even though he once explained away Ted Cruz leading him in Maine because it is so close to Canada (Mr. Cruz’s birthplace.) Mr. Trump’s whole nationalist campaign is based on his ability to lead all Americans as a common territorial community against others with globalist loyalties, racial identities, and no concern for territorial integrity and nationalist identity. Mr. Holt identified such territorial concern with racism. He has a lot of journalistic company in making that assumption. For Mr. Holt the right of Americans to see Mr. Trump’s tax returns was more pressing than our claim on Mrs. Clinton’s destroyed emails, and her ties to foreign donors at the Clinton Foundation. Very unobtrusive, indeed.

Mr. Trump squandered openings by not turning the cyber question and his tax question to Mrs. Clinton’s security record. He lost the debate to two people, but he has beaten 17 before so we will cut him no slack in our halftime analysis. The only question (and it is a presidential one): will he and his team learn from the battlefield to make adjustments that win the game?
                                     

If your beauty queen gains weight while still representing the pageant you cajole her into regaining her discipline because her looks matter for the whole year. So Mr. Self-Centered, no sniffling! Get back on Hillary’s lack of stamina during the Benghazi attack when she went to bed early, sent Susan Rice to lie on talk shows because of "her fatigue in talking with families," and missed the Congressional hearing because she fainted. And remind us again that America can defeat ISIS and rebuild our economy because your leadership will unlock the fighting power of American men and the productivity and love of all Americans. You are running to make America great again by organizing protection and production -- the tasks of governance. You say you are a "winner" because you know how to set high goals and then figure out how to accomplish them. Hillary and Bill Clinton in their open marriage and their closeted criminal syndicate of foundation, public office, and a segment of the Democratic party have been preparing to take back the presidency for a decade. She is prepared not to govern well or organize protection, but to win the election and be the first woman president. The baby-boomer power couple thinks that is the ultimate achievement in itself. They are aiming to complete the baby-boomer sexual revolution. It is not governing, but becoming president that is her goal. The Clintons and the many cultural revolutionaries that accompany them really do believe that overthrowing human nature is being on the right side of history. They aim to fracture our masculine protective republic under God our Father. The "Moral Outrage against Donald Trump" Emmy Show was best summed up by one starlet leaving the stage smugly announcing their real slogan: "Smash the Patriarchy." No more beauty pageants for these ladies or all-male military units for our country, or safety from the domestic violence of abortion for our children. The culture of protection and life shall be subverted and the protectors shall be called bullies, whether they are husbands or local police or young males in the military. Donald Trump stands for all those protectors and he must be shamed. Give a big smirk and call him "Donald" as he addresses you as "Secretary Clinton." Then paint him the monster bully  with millions of dollars of TV ads. Crush the men who get "off the reservation."

Like Israel of old, our country must choose. There is before us an elaborate new pageantry of crashing glass ceilings and crowning the feminist Queen of careerism and abortion. The sexual license and moral anarchy unleashed by this electoral inversion ritual will make the revelry at the Golden Calf look like a Baptist picnic. For some unknown reason in God's Providence, Mr. Trump is the instrument afforded us to stop that unholy revolution masquerading as Moral Outrage. Let us all learn from Round One.  

Monday, September 26, 2016

Map on Monday: NATIONS WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND GEOGRAPHY OF NUCLEAR TESTING SITES (1945-2016)


By A. Joseph Lynch

Image of first nuclear explosion
The United States tested its first nuclear warhead - named "Trinity" - on July 16, 1945. It would be the first of 2,000 nuclear detonations on planet Earth, including the two used on Japan in August 1945. Today there are seven nations in addition to the United States that have developed and tested nuclear weapons: Russia (1949, then the Soviet Union), the United Kingdom (1952), France (1960), China (1964), India (1974), Pakistan (1998), and North Korea (2006). Israel has not tested its own nuclear weapons, but it is a well-known secret that Israel has a stockpile of nuclear weapons from the United States for self-defense. Although the above map shows Israel as having roughly 80 nuclear weapons, a leaked email written by Colin Powell reveals that the number is really around 200.


While many are familiar with the list of nuclear powers, few know anything about the vast number of nuclear bomb detonations or where they occurred. The map above is a screenshot of a video called "A Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945." The video is somewhat lengthy (and it ends before North Korea's testing), but it is a very good representation of the temporal-spatial dimensions of nuclear testing.

If you asked someone where the United States tested its nuclear weapons, most would say the American Southwest. Although this is true, few are familiar with the two underground nuclear detonations that took place in the state of Mississippi in 1964, or that the United Kingdom also tested nuclear weapons in the United States. In fact, the last British nuclear detonation took place in the state of Nevada. French nuclear testing in Algeria and British nuclear testing in Australia make sense given their colonial holdings -- yet it is not well-known that the Sahara and the Australian Outback were home to many nuclear blasts.

Oceanic Testing: Operation Crossroads (July 25, 1946)

The oceans have also hosted nuclear tests. One such example, Operation Crossroads, took place on July 25, 1946, at Bikini Atoll. Nuclear detonations have not only taken place under the Earth's surface, but even high above. An American test called "Starfish Prime" took place in outer space on July 8, 1962. It was the largest nuclear blast to take place in space (the detonation occurred at an altitude of 250 miles). The blast was seen through cloud cover in Honolulu almost 900 miles away.

The blast of Starfish Prime - 250 miles above and almost 900 miles away from Honolulu.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, September 24

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

INCREDIBLE GROWTH OF CATHOLIC CHURCH: Worldwide the boom continues.

RETHINKING RUSSIA AND REMEMBERING THE ATHEISTS WHO BUTCHERED THE ORTHODOX: Rod Dreher distills two excellent articles on Russia vs. the Soviets.

RUSSIAN ORTHODOX IN FRANCE: Not all are pleased.

POPE BENEDICT GAVE A SERMON TO THE WEST AND A NUN WAS KILLED IN SOMALIA: What he was saying in his address at Regensburg, 2006.

AN INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT SPENCER AND AN ORTHODOX PRIESTSpencer is excellent teacher when moderated by the presence of this priest. Lots to learn, lots to disagree with.

TIM KAINE PROMISES CATHOLIC CHURCH WILL CHANGE ON MARRIAGE: Something happens when Democrats talk to LGBT groups.

PRAYING AT ASSISI: The original intent of St. John Paul II and a long, helpful reflection.


II. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST

PUTIN, BIBI, AND TRUMP: What we can learn from Israel-Russia relations.

ISRAEL, NUKES, AND ANOTHER COLIN POWELL EMAIL: A Colin Powell email defending the Obama Administration nuclear deal with Iran stated that Israel has 200 nuclear weapons pointed at Iran. This highlights a little-known peculiar anomaly in American-Israeli relations. The fact that Israel has nuclear weapons is considered "secret intelligence" so US officials cannot discuss the matter in public. Thus, the US has a huge debate about denying Iran centrifuges for the making high grade nuclear material but cannot discuss Israel nuclear weapons and a delivery system already in place. The lack of proportion in discussing the danger of Iran to the Mideast feeds the obfuscation plan of Saudi supporters and aids the warlike posture of the Israeli government. Those two powers (one our natural ally and the other our greatest foe) have dictated and confused our own understanding of who our friends and enemies are in the war against Satanic  jihadists.

HOW DOES JIHADISM END -- THE LOGIC OF NATION BUILDING: A substantial argument about military strategy and compromise proposing a military strategy that must end with established nations to keep the order.
"Compromise between opposing preferences is the key to success in politics but to failure in military strategy. Political leaders…tend to resolve political debates about whether to use force massively or not at all by choosing military half-measures, which serve no strategic objectives at all.”
THE MAN WHO SAVED US FROM WAR WITH IRAN OVER A NAVIGATION MISTAKE HAS BEEN PUNISHED: Interview with Naval Officer David Nartker. He seems to have a point that Fox News is missing.

THE WAR IN SYRIA - REPORTERS MISS THE KEY PLAYERS: Mr. Kinzer at the Boston Globe has told this story better than anyone.

CHINA NOW AN ALLY OF SYRIAN GOVERNMENT:  Consider the support for Syria from Russia, Iran, and China as well as Syrian Christians - doesn’t an obvious alliance take shape?

THE KILLING IN YEMEN - BRITAIN AND US AID A HUMANITARIAN DISASTER: Part of the great "Saudi smokescreen" is that stories like this just don’t get told. This week 27 US senators voted against further arm sales to Saudis in their brutal war against the Shiites of Yemen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky, Chris Murphy (D) of Connecticut and Al Franken (D) of Minnesota are in the lead. There is also a real possibility that families of the 9/11 victims will be able to make a court case against the Saudis for their involvement in the Twin Towers attack. A sea change in our policy toward Saudi Arabia is coming no matter who is elected president!
It is unfortunate that instead of the Senate recognizing our national enemy (71 senators sided with the Saudi arms deal), we have to resort to a lawsuit to attain a serious public forum to rectify the misdirection that has so confused our war against the jihadists.

SAUDI LOBBY -- NOT FOR LOVE
"The kingdom added another three lobbying contracts to its roster, retaining the services of former Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi and former Democratic Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana as part of a $100,000 monthly contract with Squire Patton Boggs [law firm], according to documents filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act." 

Anthony Podesta, a major financial bundler for Hillary Clinton, is a paid lobbyist for the Saudis. Podesta’s brother, John, is HC campaign chairman, and previous chief of staff for President Bill Clinton.  
Norm Coleman, the former Republican Senator from Minnesota, is also a paid lobbyist for the Saudis. He helps head up the Congressional Leadership Fund - a super PAC to influence Republican House races. 
The Saudis were a significant source of money for ads opposing the Iran nuclear deal.

TERROR AND WAHHABIS - THE IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MAKES THE AOA ARGUMENT IN THE NY TIMESThe problem is Wahhabism - this should be the foreign policy issue of the campaign.

ISRAEL WARS IN LEBANON AND THE GAZA STRIP: An interesting review.

A CHRISTIAN HOMELAND? A Nineveh proposal.

MUSLIMS WOULD LIKE THE RECONQUEST OF EUROPE. THAT DOESN’T MEAN WE SHOULD DEFEND EUROPE WHIMPERS THE CARDINAL: The Cardinal of Vienna, Christoph Schonborn, is one of the more public and passive cardinals in the Church today. He was a principal writer of the Catechism and had the trust of several popes. He is "gay friendly" to a fault, and is hopelessly pacifistic in his understanding of the nation-state. A great beauty of the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church is that all of us are reminded by our feast days that once there were Catholic personalities who ruled in a more masculine and religious era. Cardinal Schonborn got a little tongue--twisted on the feast of the "Holy Name of Mary." The holiday commemorated the victory of several Catholic princes over the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 (most notably that fighting Polish leader - Jan Sobieski - King of Poland and Archduke of Lithuania).The cardinal noted that Muslims see that Europe is dying and many of them desire that its culture will be filled with a more theo-centric way of life -- think Islam. The cardinal lamented that Europe has lost its Christian character. He then showed his own utterly emasculated sense of public Christianity by reassuring all that this doesn’t mean we should regulate the young male refugees flooding Europe or in any way fight back.

It is the soft princes of the Catholic Church like Schonborn who remind us that when Christianity collapsed as a public force in governance, the fascists took Italy, the Nazis got Germany, and the Soviets captured Russia.

THE FIRST DRONE: A short history in the war against al Qaeda.


III. PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

ON HILLARY: You cannot learn about people if you don’t start with some empathy. So this article is a good place to learn more about Mrs. Clinton.

COLIN POWELL EMAIL ON HILLARY: "A 70-year person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still d---ing bimbos at home (according to the NY Post)," Powell wrote.


IV. AROUND THE WORLD R&G ROUND UP

SHORT HISTORY OF INDONESIA - MALAYSIA WAR (1963-66) THAT LED TO A.S.E.A.N.: Malyasia Independence and Indonesia opposition.

THE UN - WHO SHOULD RUN IT? Very seldom is there an interesting article about UN inner workings. But this piece on Chinese and Russian attempts to wrest some high offices from the American-Euro axis is different. The Pope has actually joined forces with the global South in advocating that the ruling structure of the UN begin to look like the world of nations as they exist. Why are England and France, but not Germany or India or Indonesia or Japan or Brazil or Nigeria part of the Security Council? Asia is underrepresented; and Africa, South America, and Islamic nations are all absent from the Security Council. To make the UN a more international organization, the US should quit paying so much money and argue for a less "Western, victors of WWII-approach" to our international forum.

'FIRST THINGS' EDITOR RUSTY RENO BREAKS THE MOLD - ON NATIONALISM AND DISRAELI: There was a time that First Things magazine was the place to go for incisive blending of religion and politics. Then there was a period after the death of Fr. Neuhaus (and actually in his last years) where there seemed a stricture on the writing - maybe a combination of bowing to a subtle feminism and not so subtle neocon bias. It seems George Weigel and Robert George are still evidence of such "petrified and principled" writing. But the editor of First Things is R.R. Reno and he suddenly seems to dealing the cards a bit differently. Two excellent essays - on nationalism and on Disraeli.

FIGHTING  SATAN: Christian brotherhood is a fundamental form of Christian love because one of the mandates to the apostles was to "cast out demons." To fight and expel such a mighty and devious foe from the earth will take a fellowship of holy priests and righteous nations.
Brotherhood is not a sexless formless sentiment. Political brotherhood is made of men who take up their cross and risk death to provide protection in a particular time and space -- a tribe, a city, or a nation. The two ways of  brotherhood -- the liturgical road of the priests and the political road of the Christian nationalists -- will meet in the end at the Lord’s Coming. I always think in 'Lord of the Rings' that Frodo is the priest doing a liturgical act (destroying the ring) while the laymen are gathering as the national armies of different allies. Two paths to fight the same enemy and serve the same King.

WHY THERE IS NO MIDDLE WAY ON SACRALIZING SODOMY: The Civil Rights Commission tells us what’s in store.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday BookReview: PADRE PIO (d. 1968)



[first published May 29, 2015]


"When you feel despised, imitate the kingfisher, who builds its nest on the masts of ships. That is to say, raise yourself up above the earth, elevate yourselves with your mind and heart to God, who is the only one who can console you and give you strength to withstand the trial in a holy way."
                                                       
                                            


In an isolated mountain village on the east coast of southern Italy, Padre Pio lived for 50 years in a Capuchin friary. Often hounded and persecuted by Church officials, he submitted to their restrictions with patience -- saying, "Let God's will be done."

Pio was declared a saint by Pope John Paul II in 2002. His shrine is visited by millions each year; in popularity, it is second only to Mexico's basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

"The fascination of his gruff manner and the magnetism of his extraordinary saintliness drew people to him... The only way to talk to him personally was through the medium of confession."

I've enjoyed paging through Magic of a Mystic by the Duchess of St. Albans -- stories of Padre Pio told in a folksy way (her sister lived for many years in the priest's village of San Giovanni Rotondo), along with photos of the people and landscape. A huge Franciscan hospital rose up during the priest's lifetime, "built exclusively with mule and bullock transport." 

Pio suffered greatly, literally bleeding for his flock. Things were always exciting in his orbit as he thundered, when necessary, at folks in the confessional; made simultaneous appearances in two places; and converted violent Communists.


An opera star (L) sings for his friend Padre Pio

"If you can talk with the Lord in prayer, talk to him, offer him your praise; if, due to great weariness, you cannot speak, do not find displeasure in the ways of the Lord. Stay in the room like servants of the court do, and make a gesture of reverence. He will see you, and your presence will be pleasing to him. He will bless your silence and at another time you will find consolation when he takes you by the hand."

[When asked if his stigmata hurt, he replied:] "Do you think that the Lord gave them to me for a decoration?"


An excerpt from the Duchess' book:

"Father Pasquale Cattaneo also gives us a testimony showing Padre Pio’s ability to read hearts. Fr. Cattaneo had received permission from his superiors to visit San Giovanni and to go to confession to Padre Pio. During his bus trip he prepared himself with a good examination of his conscience so as to be ready to make a sincere confession of his sins. With the help of the Holy Spirit he looked into every corner of his soul, and made new promises of amendment. However as the bus going to the Gargano was on the last part of the journey and the town came into view, he ended his examination perplexed thinking: 'The spiritual life at times seems like trying to climb glass.'

"When he arrived at the friary, he went into the sacristy and told the friar who helped with the confessions that he had come to confess to Padre Pio and afterwards he patiently waited for his turn. When the time came he entered the confessional, greeted Padre Pio and made his confession. After confessing his faults, Padre Pio gave him absolution. He then arose, feeling happy that he had made a sincere confession, when he turned one last time and glanced at the Padre -- the Padre smiled at him and with an amused look he wittingly said: 'So, the spir­itual life seems like climbing glass, eh?'

______________


The Duchess of St. Albans wrote Magic of a Mystic 15 years after Pio's death. Several times at her home in France, she experienced (though, earlier, she had been skeptical hearing of it from others) the sweet spicy "odor of sanctity" that emanated from him -- in life and death, in rural Italy and far beyond.

With no hesitation, if someone asked me the craziest year I've witnessed in the world, my answer would be 1968. It surely is more than coincidental that Padre Pio (the most unique of all modern saints) was taken to heaven then, to fulfill his prediction that he would be able to do more for humanity after his death than he had in life.





UPDATE -- This excerpt is from an essay by Patricia Snow:

Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was not a philosopher like John Paul II or a lawyer like Thomas More; he was not a teacher like Elizabeth Ann Seton or a subtle theologian like Thérèse of Lisieux. He was a religious and a priest, an alter Christus even to the wounds in his hands, feet, and side. Coarse and unsophisticated as he was, in his person the vertical of the cross—the love of God above all created things—was manifest. Writing to a friend after a visit to San Giovanni Rotondo monastery, Don Giuseppe De Luca, an Italian historian of Christian spirituality, shared his impressions of the wounded friar:
Padre Pio, dear Papini, is a sickly, ignorant Capuchin, very much the crude southerner. And yet (bear in mind that besides making confession to him, I also dined with him and we spent a great deal of time together), and yet—God is with him, that fearful God that we glimpse in reverie and which he has in his soul, unbearably hot, and in his flesh, which trembles constantly . . . as if battered by ever more powerful gales. I truly saw the holy there, holiness not of action but of passion, the holiness that God expresses. Although he is a man of very meager intelligence, he offered me two or three words that I have never found on the lips of other men, and not even (and this is harder to admit) in the books of the Church. . . There is nothing of ordinary spirituality about him, nor is there anything extraordinarily miraculous, stunning, or showy; there is merely intelligentia spiritualis, a free gift from God. And there is a passion, even a human passion, for God, dear Papini, that is so beautiful, so ravishingly sweet that I can’t tell you. The love of woman and the love of ideas are nothing by comparison, they are things that do not go beyond a certain point, whether near or far. While the love of God, how, I do not know, burns, and the more it burns the more it finds to burn. I have the absolutely certain sensation that God and man have met in this person.


Parish procession in Boston's North End several years ago

The celebration in this year of 2016 will be especially memorable for Boston:
"I’m very excited to announce that the Capuchin Friars who run the Shrine of St. Padre Pio have offered to come to Boston with the heart of Padre Pio for his feast day this year," Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston announced in a Sept. 2 post on his blog. 
"This is the first time any major relic of Padre Pio has left Italy, and we are so pleased that they have offered to come to Boston for this historic visit..."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Christian Realism: The Mystical Body of Japan


by David Pence


Many historians lump Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, Mussolini’s Italy, and Franco’s Spain as the "fascists" of the twentieth century. Such a lumping was convenient for the anti-fascist coalition of Joseph Stalin, and is perpetuated by critics of the "authoritarian personality" today. This leaves us, though, quite ignorant of the Catholic nationalism of Franco, the Hegelian fascism of Mussolini, the Darwinian racism of Hitler, and the religious racialism of Shinto Japan. Each of these was a distinct type of social organization shaping a people in response to the bloody twentieth century.
                               

Shinto Japan was a spiritual military response against the West’s armed materialism and Social Darwinism poisoning Asia. Integrating mass participation with a revitalized Shrine Shintoism centered on a Divine Emperor is called "radical Shinto ultranationalism" in Walter Skya’s 2009 book, Japan’s Holy War. Skya's fidelity to Japanese sources untapped by previous scholars and his willingness to treat religious and spiritual forces as major determinants in social organization have given us the best intellectual history yet of the spiritual organism that was the 20th-century Japanese nation. (Review of book -- scroll down to page 144).

Revitalizing its centuries-old religion into a more organized  hierarchically ordered shrine-centered Shintoism was a fundamental aspect of the Meiji restoration (1857). This was deeply intensified in the first decades of the 1900s as state and familial theories of the sovereign gave way to a more organic sense of a Divine Emperor linked to the mass participation of the people in a Holy Nation. Shinto means the way of the Kami, or spirits or gods. The original creation narrative was centered on sexual order, the physical islands of Japan, and the ethnic continuity of the Japanese people. The Kokutai, or form of the Japanese polity, has been ruled by an unbroken chain of emperors "come from the same womb" of Amaterasu Omikami — the Sun goddess. The emperors are, in fact, the living reincarnation of Amaterasu. All of the people of Japan are meant to unite as one body under the head of the Emperor, breathing with the same lungs, beating as a single heart. The army, especially, becomes his limbs and the farmers his working arms. The Japanese are not a chosen people called from the many peoples created as a single humanity. The Japanese are a unique creation separated from other peoples by their story of origin.

The binding of the person in the sacred order of the Kami occurs through rituals consecrating  different life events. These must be performed in set aside holy ground. At the official and hierarchically ordered shrines there are different Kami to encounter. Coming to a shrine and performing the proper rituals brings a person in contact with the spiritual order. The goal of life is to become one as a people, as the people become one with the Kami. To die for the Emperor is to more fully enter into union with him. Die to self and become a true being.

Mr. Skya describes an important Japanese thinker: "Being was being only in so far as it formed an organic part of an irreducible aggregate of Beings. The affirmation of the existence of one's own being was possible only in the recognition of the interdependent existence of the self with the other selves in an organic reality …The movement of being related in a cause and effect relationship with other beings in a spatial environment was called man’s sokan. There also was the interrelationship with other beings in time, which he called man’s renzoku. Each being mutually and interdependently developing and perfecting the self in relation to other selves in a definite spatial temporal matrix was called hito no sokan to renoku. The mutual development and perfection of beings in this spatio-temporal matrix is called morality. Useugi’s concept of being was not limited to living beings with the living...It also included spiritual beings..the spirit of those who had come before us…"

This was not the atheist Darwinian racism of Hitler!

(From the linked review): "Another of Skya’s key themes pertains to the worldview of Shinto ultra-nationalists. Their goal was the establishment of a new world order based on the concept of Japanese imperial rule that was to replace the Wilsonian-inspired world order of 'democratic internationalism' that had been institutionalized through the League of Nations after World War I. Again, it was this so-called 'divine oneness' of the Japanese nation that was an attribute not shared by any other people. “ China, for example, was not one nation, but "a space where five major competing ethnic nations (Han, Manchu, Mongol, Uighur,and Tibetan) vied for dominance." (Doak, 2001). "Therefore, the rule of the Japanese emperor should have encompassed the globe since no other people could stand on an equal level with the pure Japanese in their sacred land. Thus, the worldview of these proponents of Shinto ultranationalism was that the war that they waged in the Pacific was a civilizational and religious conflict between a divinely governed theocratic Japanese empire and a secular global order created and controlled by the imperialist nations of the West."
             

Christopher Dawson has written about Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union: "The racialist ideology like the Communist ideology... was an attempt to find a substitute for the spiritual reality in some other social element which is primary and indestructible. But Europe... was a spiritual reality and cannot be replaced by a biological or economic unit, for these belong to a different plane of social reality."

His words do not as aptly describe the Japanese who were consciously organizing a spiritual principle "opposed to western individualism and materialism."

When we consider Japan in the language of "social capital" we contrast their incredible ability to "bond within the in group" and their spectacular failure to "bridge to the out group." Certainly, though, there is more of a lesson to be learned here than painting Japan as just another fascist state. They achieved a deep level of human cooperation that defended the Eastern peoples from the rapaciousness of their foreign invaders. When one reads from the seminal 1937 document, Kokutai no Hungi (Fundamentals of Our National Polity), of botsuga kiitsu ("casting aside self to return to the One" or "dying to self and returning to the one") one is brought into the temporal/spatial sacred matrix of the Catholic Mass. The description of the spiritual and organic union of the Japanese under the Emperor is striking to anyone familiar with the ecclesiology of the Mystical Body of Christ. The Japanese who wrote the document were fully conscious that they were attacking the entire intellectual structure of the European Enlightenment, which as religious patriots they saw as a well-armed human catastrophe. The Japanese felt Western thinkers had adopted the social Darwinism model of humanity that held perpetual conflict -- not harmony -- as the basic reality in nature. They saw Western thinking as based on individuals and families with a mechanistic view of the state. They considered this lack of a more organic sense of the polity as a great impoverishment of the West; and they blamed Christianity for positing universal loyalties over the nation, and the Enlightenment for elevating the individual over the social group. They employed Aristotle to scold the Western thinkers for forgetting that man gains his true identity in the polis. Without that, he is an idiot (idios—entirely unto oneself). This deficit in more organic thinking about the polity remains a serious problem in Catholic social teaching today.

There are powerful Kami in Japan. So many great souls loved and died. So many killed others so harshly. We cannot lose their social courage or their spiritual sensibilities of union, beauty, and natural order. We cannot overlook the terrible slaughter. Certainly the Japanese spiritual and intellectual thinkers were right that the individualism and materialism of the Western empires couldn’t be the principle of social organization for humanity and the nations—not then and not now.





[Sketches of Shinto shrines by Russell Stutler, a Protestant missionary to Japan who converted to Catholicism several years ago.]

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Two of the leading lights of Russian Orthodoxy


Of all the Christians in the world, the Eastern Orthodox comprise only about 12 percent.


By far, the largest of the Orthodox Christian branches is the Russian Church.


(And who ranks second in number of Orthodox believers? Not Greece, but Ethiopia!)


Patriarch of Moscow KIRILL, flanked by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
        BARTHOLOMEW, and by Dmitry Medvedev (former president, and now prime minister) 


Among the bishops who may one day succeed Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus':


Metropolitan Hilarion 


This interview with the musical composer (that appeared in 'Crisis' magazine a couple of years ago) is a fine introduction to Hilarion.

Elsewhere he made this remark about our Lord's suffering, Cross, and Resurrection:
"People often ask: why did God save man in this manner? Could he not have chosen a less painful method? Why was it necessary for God to endure the Cross? This is my answer: there is a difference between the person who sees someone drowning overboard a ship, throws him a life ring and looks on sympathetically as he struggles free of the water, and the person who for the salvation of another, at the risk of his one life, plunges into the stormy waters of the sea and surrenders his life so that another could live. God resolved to save us precisely in this way. He plunged into the stormy sea of our lives and gave his own life so that we may be saved from death."






Archimandrite Tikhon



Tikhon, as a young man, studied film screenwriting. Nowadays -- often referred to as President Putin's confessor -- he creates films such as this on the world's longest-lasting empire [the narrator of the English version is very distracting], books such as this bestseller, and an extensive website.



He has also organized the construction of a new church in Moscow (sketched above) which will be dedicated to the thousands of martyrs during the Soviet era.

Tikhon says: "After 80 years of militant atheism, Russians have gained unique experience not only in preserving Orthodoxy under the conditions of a totalitarian state, but also of an active contemporary Orthodox mission within one's own nation, in a society which is often called 'post-Christian.' The main bearers of Orthodox spirit were the new martyrs and confessors of Russia. Amongst those confessors were those who have lived even to our own days. One of these was my spiritual father, Archimandrite John (Krestiankin), who lived through the Stalinist camps. He remained unbroken, and was an example of the greatest Christian love and faith to the end of his life..."

                         

Monday, September 19, 2016

Map on Monday: SUNNI ARAB STATES

LINGUISTIC AND COMMUNAL LOYALTIES OF THE MIDEAST AND CENTRAL ASIA: A THREE-PART SERIES ON THE ARABS, PERSIANS, AND TURKS


PART I: THE ARAB STATES

by A. Joseph Lynch

The map above depicts the Arab world in terms of language rather than ethnicity or in terms of the Sunni-Shia division of Islam. While the term "Arab world" is often haphazardly used to connote the entire Islamic world, defining the actual geographic limits of the Arab world is difficult to determine. The nations of the Mashriq ("the place of sunshine"), or Islamic lands between the Mediterranean and Persia, may be Arab ethnically and linguistically but they are not all Sunni Arab states. Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon all boast either Shia majorities or large minorities. Given the recent turmoil in the region we may consider the following list as the Sunni Arab states of the Mashriq: Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.

The nations of the Maghreb ("where the sun sets") are considered "Arab" states despite their Berber ethnic ancestry. The Arabic language and Sunni Islamic faith, combined with its history in the first century of Islamic expansion between AD 632-732, roots the Maghreb firmly in the Arab world.
Sharing in a strong regional identity, the states of the Maghreb forged the Arab Maghreb Union in February 1989 (Algeria: 39 million pop.; Libya: 7 m; Mauritania: 3 m; Morocco: 32 m; Tunisia: 11 m.)  Although there are rivalries and conflicts within the union, particularly over the fate of Western Sahara (part of Morocco or an independent state?), the AMU boasts a collective population of 88.5 million, and significant amounts of phosphate, oil, and gas. Its geographic location near western Europe and past relationship to the former French colonial empire makes it an important connector to mainland Europe.

With a population of 86 million, Egypt is by far the largest Sunni Arab state (Algeria by comparison ranks #2 at a population of 38.7 million, less than half that of Egypt). Although it is geographically in the Maghreb, its cultural and history tie it more closely to the Mashriq. Rather than being identified with either half, however, Egypt is treated as the center or heart of the Sunni Arab world. It is for this reason that the Arab League - the regional organization of Arab states - is headquartered in Cairo.

MEMBER NATIONS OF THE ARAB LEAGUE
The Arab League was founded on March 22, 1945; it has grown steadily over the decades to include twenty-two member states (Syria, however, has been suspended since November 2011). The total population of the Arab League member states stands at about 366 million. Although the League has no official military body, its leaders in 2007 reactivated a joint defense and peacekeeping force (the former Arab Liberation Army) which had been dissolved since the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. This force includes over 3 million active duty men and another 2.2 million in reserve. While it is highly unlikely that this pan-Arab military force would be brought to bear as a unified whole, ten Sunni Arab nations of the Arab League have begun military operations in Yemen -- not against the Sunni Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula but, rather, against Shiite Muslims.

It is to these Shiites and to the Persian civilization that we shall turn in part two of this series.

See also our previous Map on Monday posts on the following nations comprised largely of Arab, Sunni Muslims: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria.


This article first appeared on Anthropology of Accord on April 27, 2015

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, September 17

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

HENRY VIII WAS THE FIRST BREXIT: A terrific short piece on the spirit of Charlemagne, Catholic social thought, European bureaucracy, and the protest of Protestant Britain.

LUTHER AND ISLAM: From Fr. Rutler.

HUNGARY TO PROTECT CHRISTIANS WORLDWIDE: A national fund that commits the nation to the protection of Christians.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: A review of the past - a practice hard to revoke.

DO WE WORSHIP THE SAME G-D? Orthodox Jewish rabbinic statement on Christianity. "The emergence of Christianity in human history is neither an accident nor an error but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations."

A CATHOLIC ICON OF THE FEMININE:SEXUAL ORDER BASED ON SACRAL ORDER: Let us be thankful and pray for Phyllis Schafly the activist. A tribute from Buchanan. Even the opposition gives a curtsey. A last interview -why the feminists hate her. Excerpts:
Why did they hate me so much? And I really don’t think it was because I led the battle against the Equal Rights Amendment. I think it’s because I stood up for the full-time homemaker that they want to eliminate. In fact, if you read the literature of the feminists, which you don’t want to have to do, but Carolyn Graglia who wrote 'Domestic Tranquility' has done a good job of reading all that tiresome stuff and their main goal is to get rid of the full-time homemaker. And you kind of have to ask yourself why do they hate the full-time homemaker. You would think if they were looking for some fancy career in the workforce, they’d be glad not to have the competition of all these women who prefer to stay home. But that isn’t the way they look at it. The way they look at it is when they get to the position of a promotion and second class and partner class and so forth, their competition is a man and he has an asset that she doesn’t have. He has a wife and she doesn’t have that and she can’t have a wife. And they want to take that. The wife is such a big asset to the man and they want to take that away from him. And so you find that all the women’s studies courses are all programmed, designed to program a young woman’s life with no space for marriage and children.
In answer to my question, “Do you think feminism got anything right, looking back over the years?”
No. I think it’s completely destructive because it starts out with the notion that American women are victims of the patriarchy. And if you start out thinking you’re a victim, you’re not going to get very far. But that’s what they teach: victims of the patriarchy, and they’re out to abolish the patriarchy. (chuckles)

II. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST

SHIA RELIGIOUS LEADERSHIP IN IRAQ: Sistani is not Iran's puppet. Shia Islam’s leading religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani lives in Najaf, which lies 100 miles south of Baghdad. The Iraqi city is the heartland of Shia Islam and home to a seminary established in the early 11th century. It is the seat of the Marja’iyya – the influential religious establishment led by Ayatollahs. He does not agree with the same theory of State clerical rule that the Iranian clerics exercise.

ALLEPPO - AGAIN THE US IS BEING PLAYED. ASSAD AND RUSSIA VS ISIS. WHY DONT WE JOIN THEM: The best report I have see from the Christian perspective inside Aleppo shows again how the US (whose strategy is driven by Salafist Sunnis) is hurting more than helping.

REMEMBERING 9/11: To commemorate our dead, we must define and defeat our enemies.

III PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS 

TRUMP AND NORMAN VINCENT PEALE: Some history from the unfriendly 'NYTimes'.

WHAT TRUMP SAYS IN BLACK CHURCHES: "Imagine what our country could accomplish if we started working together as one people, under one God, saluting one flag," he added. "It is time to break with the bitter failures of the past, and to embrace a new American future.”

WHAT TRUMP SAID TO WHITE EVANGELICALS: "But we are going to protect Christianity. And if you look what's going on throughout the world, you look at Syria where if you're Christian, they're chopping off heads. You look at the different places, and Christianity, it's under siege…

"And we've got to protect because bad things are happening, very bad things are happening, and we don't -- I don't know what it is. We don't band together, maybe. Other religions, frankly, they're banding together. And if you look at this country it's got to be 70 percent, 75 percent, some people say even more, the power we have, somehow we have to unify. We have to band together... the country has to do that around Christianity. So get together, folks, and let's do it because we can do it."

CLAREMONT INSTITUTE: Is home to highbrow but real conservatives. They are steeped in the classics and American history. They write more about manliness and prudence as fundamental political virtues than most conservatives. However, they have been tepid or opposed to the Trump candidacy... Until this brilliant article - The Flight 93 Election.

From the article:
Second, our Washington Generals self-handicap and self-censor to an absurd degree. Lenin is supposed to have said that “the best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.” But with an opposition like ours, why bother? Our “leaders” and “dissenters” bend over backward to play by the self-sabotaging rules the Left sets for them. Fearful, beaten dogs have more thymos.

...This is insane. This is the mark of a party, a society, a country, a people, a civilization that wants to die. Trump, alone among candidates for high office in this or in the last seven (at least) cycles, has stood up to say: I want to live. I want my party to live. I want my country to live. I want my people to live. I want to end the insanity.

Yes, Trump is worse than imperfect. So what? We can lament until we choke the lack of a great statesman to address the fundamental issues of our time—or, more importantly, to connect them. Since Pat Buchanan’s three failures, occasionally a candidate arose who saw one piece: Dick Gephardt on trade, Ron Paul on war, Tom Tancredo on immigration. Yet, among recent political figures—great statesmen, dangerous demagogues, and mewling gnats alike—only Trump-the-alleged-buffoon not merely saw all three and their essential connectivity, but was able to win on them. The alleged buffoon is thus more prudent—more practically wise—than all of our wise-and-good who so bitterly oppose him. This should embarrass them. That their failures instead embolden them is only further proof of their foolishness and hubris.

The election of 2016 is a test—in my view, the final test—of whether there is any virtù left in what used to be the core of the American nation. If they cannot rouse themselves simply to vote for the first candidate in a generation who pledges to advance their interests, and to vote against the one who openly boasts that she will do the opposite (a million more Syrians, anyone?), then they are doomed. They may not deserve the fate that will befall them, but they will suffer it regardless.
THE COLLAPSE OF THE QUEEN BEE: We have argued that queen bees are never defeated for leadership (they are not like bulls). They collapse. September 11th was the fitting day for the preposterous notion of President Hillary Clinton to lose its plausibility. In one image of collapse, it has become clear that the old queen bee shall never govern the American hive. The tide has turned and another story must begin.



Friday, September 16, 2016

“Another story must begin!” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables



Friday BookReview: LOMBARDI

    

[first published October 3, 2014]



From a 1999 column by George Will:


America had seen something like Vince Lombardi’s Chiclets-teeth grin before. His face often radiated competitive fury, but when it crinkled with happiness, you saw the visage – and spirit – of Teddy Roosevelt, apostle of the strenuous life, who could have said, as Lombardi did, that fatigue makes cowards of us all…

[In his decade in Green Bay], stalking the sideline in his camel’s-hair coat and fedora, he would become emblematic of the counter-counterculture…

David Maraniss says in his new biography, When Pride Still Mattered, that Lombardi is the "patron saint of American competition and success"… Maraniss was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin when it was a roiled sea of radicalism and Lombardi, 130 miles north, was vivifying martial virtues. He imbibed those values as assistant to coach "Red" Blaik at West Point in the early 1950s. In those days Lombardi took game film down to Manhattan, to the Waldorf Towers, to delight a former superintendent of the academy, Douglas MacArthur…

Lombardi’s grandparents came in the wave of immigrants drawn to America by ads seeking workers to build the Brooklyn Bridge. Lombardi grew up in Brooklyn, became muscular carrying slabs of meat [for his butcher father], then traveled to the northern Bronx to play football at Fordham. There the coach was Jim Crowley, one of the "Four Horsemen" of Notre Dame’s 1924 backfield. Crowley’s high school coach in Green Bay, Curly Lambeau, founded the Packers…

Fordham’s Jesuits taught Lombardi to understand virtue in terms of freely chosen subordination to a collective enterprise…

In chaotic 1968, both Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon, Maraniss says, considered Lombardi as a running mate. (Lombardi was a Kennedy Democrat, having met Jack during the 1960 Wisconsin primary)…

Football, writes Maraniss, blends elegance and violence into contact ballet, but at bottom football is hitting, and hitting causes pain to most players on most plays. Hence football fit what Maraniss calls Lombardi’s premodern heritage from southern Italy’s "history of pain": earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, revolts, famines, invasions, "a communal memory of the works of man collapsing."

Lombardi’s Packers were such a work. Having won Super Bowls I and II, the Packers next won Super Bowl XXXI.

                         



UPDATE: Here is a video giving the background to the famous "Ice Bowl" championship game. The Packers hosted the Dallas Cowboys on the last day of the year 1967. The temperature at kickoff was 15 below, with a wicked wind.


And a video with family members and biographer Maraniss discussing Lombardi's deep Catholic faith.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

France's noble leader showed how to react to a mob


Many of us still vividly remember 1968. That was the year of the heaviest American presence in Vietnam (more than 536,000 troops) and our highest military casualties (almost 17,000).

These are some of the events that played out:

January 31: the Tet Offensive begins in South Vietnam

March 16: more than 300 civilians are slaughtered in My Lai hamlet by U.S. soldiers

March 31: President Johnson declines to run again

April 4: Reverend Martin Luther King slain

June 6: Bobby Kennedy slain  

late August: Democratic convention against the backdrop of street battles in Chicago



What was the situation in France at that time? The chaos of revolution was in the air, and the month of May brought the nation to its knees. But when President DeGaulle addressed his countrymen (almost exactly two months after President Johnson conceded), he told them:
"I will not step down... 
"France is threatened with dictatorship. There are those who would constrain her to abandon herself to a power that would establish itself in national despair...  
"No, I say! The Republic will not abdicate. The people will come to its senses."

What a contrast between the LBJ abdication and the pluck of Charles DeGaulle! He rallied Frenchmen to vote for common sense, and the self-absorbed revolutionaries were cashiered.

(Events would prove fortuitous in America as well, as Richard Nixon arose to provide adult leadership.)



[Take a look at this stirring video of President Kennedy's visit to Paris in the spring of 1961.]




In China, their cultural revolution officially lasted from 1966 to 1969. But it continued longer, as Chairman Mao fomented and cheered the mobs!

"In 1966, China’s Communist leader Mao Zedong launched what became known as the Cultural Revolution in order to reassert his authority over the Chinese government. Believing that current Communist leaders were taking the party, and China itself, in the wrong direction, Mao called on the nation’s youth to purge the 'impure' elements of Chinese society and revive the revolutionary spirit that had led to victory in the civil war 20 decades earlier and the formation of the People’s Republic of China. The Cultural Revolution continued in various phases until Mao’s death in 1976, and its tormented and violent legacy would resonate in Chinese politics and society for decades to come."





UPDATE: It's high time our nation made friends with the other armed guys. The five strongest armies of the future: India, France, Russia, China, and America.