Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The 2,000 Byzantine monks on the Holy Mountain

MOUNT ATHOS in northeastern Greece is one of the powerhouses of prayer that keeps our tired old world going -- because sturdy men of faith submit their hearts to God.

On this feast day of the Holy Apostle Andrew, it's appropriate that we deepen our understanding of our Christian brothers in Greece and Russia.

"There are 20 monasteries on Mount Athos of which 17 are Greek, one Russian, one Serbian, and one Bulgarian. There are also twelve Skites (similar to monasteries but much smaller), a large number of Kellia (large farm houses), Kalyves (smaller houses), Kathismata (small houses for a single monk) and Hesychasteria (hermitages or caves in desolate cliff faces, for the most austere hermits)."



From the parish bulletin of a Russian Orthodox church in Minneapolis:
Last October, Fr. Andrew and I visited Mt. Athos, affectionately known as the Garden of the Theotokos. As we experienced this beautiful place where God’s glory seems to radiate from everything, we were made aware of her presence. When we spoke to the monks in that holy place, they would refer to her and say things like: "Whatever the holy Mother wants." They live in humble submissiveness to her and understand the value of her intercessory prayers and guidance. We met an older monk on one of the remote walking paths by his hut (it was very old and abandoned-looking), who explained to us that he had lived 30 years alone with the Mother of God in "her garden." 

Sit back and enjoy one of the finest segments that has ever appeared on "60 Minutes."


UPDATE: Here is a short video of one of President Putin's visits to Mount Athos. He was joined by the Patriarch of Moscow.

Let us praise Andrew, the herald of God, / the namesake of courage, / the first-called of the Savior’s disciples / and the brother of Peter. / As he once called to his brother, he now cries out to us: / "Come, for we have found the One whom the world desires!"

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 26

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


POPE FRANCIS - SIX EXPERIENCES THAT SHAPE HIS WORLDVIEW: A writer from Time magazine is very perceptive in describing the milieu of Jose Bergoglio's first twenty years. Our review of an excellent biography The Great Reformer. The Pope ends his Year of Mercy with the Pope on Abortion and Mercy. He extends the practice during the Year of Mercy that priests could lift the automatic excommunication which punishes women who have procured abortions. Previously, only bishops could remove this penalty for a penitent. This does not in any way change the Catholic Church teaching on the seriousness of abortion as a sin, nor the punishment of excommunication. It extends a juridical power of the bishop to his priests. This is very similar to the Pope granting priests the authority to employ "the internal forum" in making judgments about annulment for civilly divorced and remarried Catholics. That authority was previously restricted to diocesan marriage tribunals. There was no change in the teaching on the indissolubility of marriage nor on the necessity to be in the state of grace to receive communion.

CATHOLIC BISHOPS' NEW LEADERSHIP: US Bishops elected Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, as the conference's first Latino vice president. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas was elected president for the next three years. DiNardo was one of thirteen cardinals who signed a letter to the pope more than a year ago objecting to how he organized a synod, or high-level summit, on family life. Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles is orthodox on dogma. He has just the spiritually rich view of citizenship that America needs.


STEVE BANNON - HOW HE SEES THE WORLD: Politics as War - why he doesn’t go on talk shows. Politics as war and building alliances. A transcript of a talk to a conference held at the Vatican he gave several years ago. He understands the civilizational crisis is about Christianity and nations. We keep seeing his unshaven face. Don’t be fooled. He says it is always best when your opponents don’t understand you.

John Horvat gets it exactly right at Imaginative Conservative. This was a work of the Spirit and demands a deep moral conversion of our nation.

THE BEAUTIFUL DEMOCRAT WHO TALKED WITH TRUMP: Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, of Hawaii, met with Trump and “discussed my bill to end our country’s illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government, and the need to focus our precious resources on rebuilding our own country, and on defeating al Qaeda, ISIS, and other terror groups.” The natural allies for Mr Trump’s foreign policy position should be antiwar Democrats. Representative Gabbard is Hindu and understands the radical Sunni nature of the sources of terrorism (think Pakistan as well as the Sauds). There will definitely be a tilt toward India in a Trump administration. Her being a Hindu is treated as an esoteric curiosity in the diversity conscious strategically clueless mainstream media. Anyone who understands the Pakistan-India world was not surprised at the Hindu nationalist support for his candidacy. One wonders where the antiwar left was in the Democratic primary. Rep Gabbard switched to Bernie Sanders after he lost South Carolina because she was so opposed to the Clinton/Weekly Standard foreign policy. The rest of the antiwar Democrats were in hiding, supporting the hawkish Mrs Clinton as they feared for their places in the pecking order of the brave new Clinton world. Mr. Trump is going to be aggressively opposed by Senator John McCain and insulted by Lindsey Graham as he changes our course in the Mideast. He needs to develop a solid base of Democratic senators and representatives who will help him pull away from war with Russia and assemble the forces (Russia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran?) which can crush ISIS. When it comes to who are our allies and who will be against us,  Rep Gabbard is a good trade for Lindsey Graham.

ISRAEL AND TRUMP - ISRAEL AND RUSSIA: President Putin sees Israel as part of the Russophone world (Russian is the third most common language in Israel). He himself must be considered philosemitic. As this relationship develops, don’t forget the Russian-speaking Secretary of Defense for Israel: the nationalist Avigdor Lieberman. He was appointed in May 2016.
"Mr. Lieberman, an immigrant from Moldova, then part of the Soviet Union, who lives in a West Bank settlement... also said that Israel should seek other allies and work to strengthen ties with Russia." (NY Times)


SEXUAL ORDER, SACRAL ORDER: Female Ministers and Gay Marriage - one is a “gateway drug” to the other.  Whenever a religion can no longer defend an all-male clergy, they eventually cannot defend the male/female character of marriage either. A most sincere lady minister goes rogue (Jen Hatmaker). In another inversion, a critic says why a memorial to Dwight Eisenhower should not be to the general but depict Ike as a boy: "Philip Kennicott, the Washington Post culture critic, praised the design: 'Gehry has produced a design that inverts several of the sacred hierarchies of the classical memorial, emphasizing ideas of domesticity and interiority rather than masculine power and external display. He has 're-gendered' the vocabulary of memorialization, giving it new life and vitality.' So far, millions of dollars have gone to the self-absorbed architect, Frank Gehry, but the monstrosity has not been built.

A POLISH PHILOSOPHER LOOKS AT MODERNITY AND COMMUNISMRyszard Legutko’s book The Demon in Democracy takes up a theme we have argued often. He sees the European superstate and libertine ideology of the West as the new institutional carrier of atheism. Legato is a Polish philosopher and details how much more successful the libertarian atheism of the west has been in dissolving the bonds of religion and family in Poland than the old Communists. Indeed, we would say that Communism -- like its successor, feminism -- is the fruit of the modern West defining itself as a culture without God. These quotes were highlighted by Rod Dreher:
"Very quickly the world became hidden under a new ideological shell and the people became hostage to another version of the Newspeak but with similar ideological mystifications. Obligatory rituals of loyalty and condemnations were revived, this time with a different object of worship and a different enemy. The new commissars of the language appeared and were given powerful prerogatives, and just as before, mediocrities assumed their self-proclaimed authority to track down ideological apostasy and condemn the unorthodox — all, of course, for the glory of the new system and the good of the new man. Media — more refined than under communism — performed a similar function: standing at the forefront of the great transformation leading to a better world and spreading the corruption of the language to the entire social organism and all its cells."
"If the old communists lived long enough to see the world of today, they would be devastated by the contrast between how little they themselves had managed to achieve in their antireligious war and how successful the liberal democrats have been. All the objectives the communists set for themselves, and which they pursued with savage brutality, were achieved by the liberal democrats who, almost without any effort and simply by allowing people to drift along with the flow of modernity, succeeded in converting churches into museums, restaurants, and public buildings, secularizing entire societies, making secularism the militant ideology, pushing religions to the sidelines, pressing the clergy into docility, and inspiring powerful mass culture with a strong antireligious bias in which a priest must be either a liberal challenging the Church of a disgusting villain.
NATIONS: A Religious Historical Tribute to Spain - this short pungent reminder of the nation that defended the Cross against both Islamic conquerors and the atheist pillage. Joseph Pearce has both a world map and a historical timeline in his beautiful mind. The nations and the different languages were both ordained as divisions in mankind that are to baptized, not abolished. Intelligence and Communicability in the Universe - the purpose of language.
Cuba’s Castro is dead--a good review of his life. 

SOCIAL CONCORD: Will the Bough Break? We have learned a lot from both Jonathan Haidt (author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Religion and Politics) and Rod Dreher of The American Conservative, but we don't agree with their pessimistic take on American politics in the age of Trump. That's why our project is called the Anthropology of Accord. They are both retreating just when a daring charge is in order. It is better to learn from a Muslim than these two writers so trapped in the journalist/writer bubble that they cannot see the rise of religion everywhere. An End to the End of History by Shadid Hamid of the Brooking Institute understands Islamic culture in a much more profound way than most of his colleagues there. He understands that religious identity is not going away in the Mideast nor should it. The lesson for the US should be clear. We are not in a post-Christian age -- not at all. It is the atheist individualistic project that has failed and is being repudiated. We are going to have a Christian Spring, and once again define our nation by its spiritual bonds.
In my book Islamic Exceptionalism, which discusses Islam’s tensions with liberalism and liberal democracy, I argue that some public role for religion is necessary in religiously conservative societies. Religion, unlike secular nationalism or socialism, can provide a common language and a kind of asabiyya — a 14th-century Arabic term coined by the historian Ibn Khaldun meaning roughly “group consciousness.” Asabiyya was needed to bind states together, providing cohesion and shared purpose.

In less religious or “post-Christian” societies, a mainstream Christianity is no longer capable of providing the necessary group identity. But that doesn’t mean other ideas won’t fill the vacuum. In other words, be careful what you wish for: An America where religion plays less of a role isn’t necessarily a better one, if what replaces religion is white nativism. Whether it’s nativism, European-style ethno-nationalism, or, in the case of the Middle East, Islamism, the thread that connects these disparate experiments is similar: the flailing search for a politics of meaning. The ideologies might seem incoherent or hollow, but they all aspire to some sort of social solidarity, anchoring public life in sharply defined identities. During the Arab Spring, for instance, the Muslim Brotherhood hoped, at least in the long run, to transform Egypt into a kind of missionary state.

The essence of politics then isn’t just, or even primarily, about improving citizens’ quality of life — it’s about directing their energies toward moral, philosophical, or ideological ends. When the state entrusts itself with a cause — whether based around religion or ethnic identity — citizens are no longer individuals pursuing their own conception of the good life; they are part of a larger brotherhood, entrusted with a mission to reshape society. (How can your revamped cap-and-trade proposal compete with that?)
Asabiyya or asabiyah (Arabic: عصبية, ʻaṣabīya) refers to social solidarity with an emphasis on unity, group consciousness and sense of shared purpose, and social cohesion,[1] originally in a context of "tribalism" and "clanism". It was a familiar term in the pre-Islamic era, but became popularized in Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah where it is described as the fundamental bond of human society and the basic motive force of history. `Asabiyya is neither necessarily nomadic nor based on blood relations; rather, it resembles philosophy of classical republicanism. Ibn Khaldun uses the term Asabiyyah to describe the bond of cohesion among humans in a group forming community. The bond, Asabiyyah, exists at any level of civilization, from nomadic society to states and empires.[3] Asabiyyah is most strong in the nomadic phase, and decreases as civilization advances.[3] As this Asabiyyah declines, another more compelling Asabiyyah may take its place; thus, civilizations rise and fall, and history describes these cycles of Asabiyyah as they play out.[3]

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday BookReview: ROBERT CARO on LBJ as Joe McCarthy

[first published June 21, 2014]

You may remember the Havana-born Miss Ruiz, that Artful Dodger who was cheered to victory across the Boston finish line, before it became clear that she had run only a portion of the twenty-six mile race. (Her best line: "I got up with a lot of energy this morning.")

She sometimes comes to mind when I hear Lyndon Baines Johnson mentioned in the same breath as Abraham Lincoln. (One of those who accepts the comparison is the estimable Robert Caro.)

There is no question that LBJ was a legislative genius, but much of his power lay in his viciousness and absence of normal scruples. President Kennedy's death was the only thing that saved the Vice President from probable indictment at the time of the Bobby Baker scandal. Years earlier when the IRS was closing in on the criminal corruption of one of Johnson's campaigns, it was President Roosevelt who saved his bacon by calling off the investigators [see chapter 35 of Mr. Caro's The Path to Power].

LBJ was as self-aggrandizing and crude as Lincoln was humble. (As one commentator said of Johnson's preferred mode of humiliating Hubert Humphrey and many others: "In the full flush of his egotism, a toilet for LBJ was just another seat of power.")

He consistently voted with the segregationists during his congressional career. As a new senator in the spring of 1949, Johnson's first speech was a ninety-minute defense of the South against President Truman's anti-lynching law.

Lyndon Johnson shamelessly employed McCarthyite tactics -- months before the Wisconsin senator rose to prominence -- as he set out to destroy the reputation of Leland Olds and drive him from the chairmanship of the Federal Power Commission. The Texas oil and gas interests didn't cotton to Mr. Olds (an Amherst-educated economist who had worked for FDR during his governorship of New York) or his push for more cooperative public-power systems.

[Take a look at Caro's Master of the Senate for the details of the Olds case, and the spineless reaction of the New Deal crowd to the character assassination. No wonder that Joe McCarthy came tearing out of the scoundrel gate with a full head of steam!

LBJ railed and ranted on the Senate floor against Mr. Olds, who had been chairman of the power commission for more than a decade: "Shall we have a commissioner or a commissar?"

And despite Democratic control of the White House and both houses of Congress, the vote against Olds was overwhelming -- with only 13 of the 53 Democratic senators supporting him.]

Folks can make up their own mind about President Johnson -- you won't find a nobler guide than Mr. Caro -- but the image that's left with me is of a jumbo sleazeball crashing the civil-rights party, basking in applause as he carries the torch of equality into the winner's circle.

"If you want the truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it... It is well said in the old proverb, 'A lie will go round the world while truth is putting its boots on.' "   (English preacher Charles Spurgeon, d. 1892)

UPDATE: From a profile of Mr. Caro several years ago in 'Smithsonian Magazine':
It has become one of the great suspense stories in American letters, the nonfiction equivalent of Ahab and the white whale: Robert Caro and his leviathan, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Caro, perhaps the pre-eminent historian of 20th-century America, and Johnson, one of the most transformative 20th-century presidents—in ways triumphant and tragic—and one of the great divided souls in American history or literature. 
When Caro set out to write his history, The Years of Lyndon Johnson, he thought it would take two volumes. His new Volume 4, The Passage of Power, traces LBJ from his heights as Senate leader and devotes most of its nearly 600 pages to the first seven weeks of LBJ’s presidency, concluding with his deeply stirring speeches on civil rights and the war on poverty. 
Which means his grand narrative—now some 3,200 pages—still hasn’t reached Vietnam. Like a five-act tragedy without the fifth act. Here’s where the suspense comes in: Will he get there?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

THANKSGIVING: Don’t call it Turkey Day

(first published November 22, 2012)

Pence writes:

Thanksgiving Day is an embarrassing holiday for the atheists. Whom shall one thank?

Nonbelievers first turned this day of formal national prayer into a rekindling of an earlier bliss betwixt Pilgrims and Indians. A little rewriting, and secularists turned the feast into a memorial of Pilgrim settlers thanking the native-born Americans for their ecological wisdom that allowed us a full table and survival through the winters. As usual, the guilt-ridden white folk reminded us of something true but missed the real story.

The Pilgrim parable was soon debunked by Indian activists who reminded the well-meaning storytellers that the only gifts white men gave Indians were smallpox blankets. "Who wants to celebrate that, white man?"

Instead of returning to the first Congress or Washington or Lincoln to get the holy day back on track as a civic duty to God, our adaptable consumer culture had a new answer. Let the appetites be sacralized! There was a surge to elevate not "Whom We Thank" but "What We Eat." Turkey Day was proclaimed!

No more messy cross-cultural narratives. Instead of asking that our sins be forgiven and as a nation we bow to God,  a turkey was pardoned and the whole affair was consummated in a next-day orgy of shopping called Black Friday. That spin-off Feast Day is demanding a vigil service of its own, which may drive the whole embarrassment of public thanksgiving to God  back in the memory hole where school prayer now abides.

Contrast our evolving celebration of  Black Friday Eve with George Washington’s understanding of Thanksgiving Day in the first sentence of his 1789 Proclamation:
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to recognize the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor…” 
Contrast Turkey Day with the content of his prayer:
“And also that we may unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions -- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually…” 
This is a day as a nation we are supposed to perform a religious duty -- to ask forgiveness and give thanks to a Divine Ruler who governs not only the lives of men, but the public communal forms of men: the nations. That is what Congress requested Washington to declare; and that is what this national day of prayer for forgiveness and thanksgiving is still meant to be. Let us assemble in our houses of worship, at community kitchens, and at our family tables. Let us, as fellow Americans, give thanks to God; for the nation that prays together stays together.

UPDATE: Be sure to check out Andrew Lynch's essay.

And the Thanksgiving proclamation of our First Continental Congress. A nice historical reminder from War on the Rocks that Thanksgiving is a Holiday forged in national wars.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

NOVEMBER 22 -- The Maturation of Christian Manhood: John Kennedy and the Spiritual Destiny of Nations

[first published 11/22/13]

Dr. David Pence writes:

"A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket." 
         (Charles Peguy)

A half-century ago, on the feast of Saint Cecilia, an armed atheist assassinated the first Catholic President of Christian America. It was a well-aimed blast. Those ringing shots of death silenced the voice of an elected Knight who was calling his nation and other nations into an articulate and armed defense of the ordered liberty that is the hallmark of Christian civilization. 

John Kennedy was a masculine liberal. He went forth to lead the land he loved, knowing that establishing a just political order amidst the nations was an assignment that God had given the laymen of the Church that claimed him since infancy. Deep in his heart, in his mind, and in his soul he understood that our shared identity as Americans was built on a band of brothers who had fulfilled a sacred obligation. When he spoke, the timbre of his voice called men into that band of brothers. Women cheered that such a bond would protect them.

When he spoke in 1960 to the Houston Ministerial Association on the religious question, he turned their eyes outward to the atheist menace that threatened Protestant and Catholic alike in our shared nation under God. He reminded them there was a military oath that secured religious liberty in the dangerous world of tyrants and the mass armies of paganism. That same military oath drew together Catholic and Protestant men at the Alamo. Only the record of their last names would attest their ancestral faiths, for "there was no religious test at the Alamo." It was this brotherhood of battle that Washington had hoped would leaven the national feelings of affection among Americans. It was such bonds that Lincoln proposed as the sinews of a new nation baptized in the bloodshed of Gettysburg. It was such bonds that the patriarch Abraham marked in that first shedding of male blood to forge a public. All nations were blessed in Him when he fathered the masculine covenant that sustains every nation.

On that day in Houston, Kennedy reminded the religious men of duty who gathered to hear him that he, his fallen brother, and they were bound by a common civic duty. He offered himself to fill the office, which would govern the military brotherhood, which secured their liberty as ministers to fulfill their religious obligations to God. He ended his oration reminding his listeners that the presidency was an oath, and he had taken oaths before -- "so help me God."

A decade before his speech to the Protestant ministers, Kennedy explained his understanding of the person, national loyalty and the Kingdom of God to students and faculty at Notre Dame.  

“You have been taught that each individual has an immortal soul, composed of an intellect which can know the truth and a will which is free.  Because of this every Catholic must believe in the essential dignity of the human personality on which any democracy must rest… A Catholic’s dual allegiance to the Kingdom of God on the one hand prohibits unquestioning obedience to the state on the other hand as an organic unit.”

Five months before his assassination, Kennedy demonstrated his providential view of the role of nations in the destiny of mankind during his visit to Ireland.


“For the Ireland of 1963, one of the youngest of nations and the oldest of civilizations, has discovered that the achievement of nationhood is not an end but a beginning. In the years since independence, you have undergone a new and peaceful revolution, an economic and industrial revolution, transforming the face of this land while still holding to the old spiritual and cultural values…

"Self-determination can no longer mean isolation. No nation, large or small, can be indifferent to the fate of others, near or far. Modern economics, weaponry and communications have made us realize more than ever that we are one human family and this one planet is our home.

" 'The world is large,' wrote John Boyle O'Reilly.
'The world is large when its weary leagues two loving hearts divide,
But the world is small when your enemy is loose on the other side.'

"The world is even smaller today, though… across the gulfs and barriers that now divide us, we must remember that there are no permanent enemies. Hostility today is a fact, but it is not a ruling law. The supreme reality of our time is our indivisibility as children of God and our common vulnerability on this planet.

"Some may say that all this means little to Ireland... It may be asked, how can a nation as small as Ireland play much of a role on the world stage?

"I would remind those who ask that question, including those in other small countries, of the words of one of the great orators of the English language:
'All the world owes much to the little five feet high nations. The greatest art of the world was the work of little nations. The most enduring literature of the world came from little nations. The heroic deeds that thrill humanity through generations were the deeds of little nations fighting for their freedom. And oh, yes, the salvation of mankind came through a little nation.' "

John Kennedy as a Catholic man of the Irish tribe integrated the male citizenship of powerful and accomplished Anglo-Saxon Protestant America. He furthered this integrative work by proposing immigration reform no longer linked to racial ancestry quotas. He, slowly but then surely, argued the case for racial integration. Like Eisenhower before him, he sent federal troops to save black students from the fury of the huge popular protest movements against integration. The first cries of “power to the people” against authority in the 1960s were white mobs opposing integration.

Catholic Kennedy had argued that public offices could have no religious test. In his televised address to the nation on civil rights he proposed that America could not fight tyranny abroad if it was not colorblind at home. “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution… I want to pay tribute to those citizens North and South who have been working in their communities to make life better for all. They are acting not out of a sense of legal duty but out of a sense of human decency. Like our soldiers and sailors in all parts of the world they are meeting freedom's challenge on the firing line, and I salute them for their honor and their courage.”
Always he spoke of honor, courage, and shared duty.

That November when he died had begun with the assassination of two Catholic brothers who were fighting for their Asian nation in the struggle against the armed atheism of state tyrannies. On All Souls Day the president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu were assassinated in a military coup inflamed by newspaper reporters, and instigated by the new US Ambassador and members of our State Department. The CIA, the US military, and the Catholic Attorney General opposed the killing. President Kennedy mismanaged the rift in his government leading to the killing he called "abhorrent." The Mandate from Heaven was removed from both Catholic Presidents that month of the dead in 1963.

John Kennedy, like King David, marred his public life by sins of infidelity. Like King David he wept at the death of an infant son; and like David, his older son would die hanging between heaven and earth. He paid for his sins against marriage with the deaths of his male heirs. He paid for his betrayal of his Asian Uriah with his own death by the hand of their common atheist foe.

An ancient Roman liturgy, which he attended on Sundays and Days of Obligation, shaped John Kennedy. He knelt to pray and went to auricular confession. He lit candles in churches all over the world for the soul of his brother killed in a naval plane crash over the English Channel. He saw religion as a public duty to the Sovereign of the nations. He saw the nation as a brotherhood of protectors, and he understood an alliance of nations as the agents of History. He had a deep Catholic sense of humanity as one, and a sailor’s view of the earth as a small ship upon the sea of the universe. He knew what Nikita Khrushchev knew and Mao Tse-tung did not appreciate. He knew nuclear war must be prevented. He also knew what both of them knew: that there was a great conflict about how mankind should be organized. He wanted the flourishing of free nations under God. The Communists would use "national fronts" to re-institute the Tower of a Globalist Atheist Babel, which needed no god and would in time dispense of the churches, nations, and families.

A hero like Kennedy has many descendants who claim his name but few men who share his heart. He tried to replace the overwhelming technology of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) with Special Forces of men who would fight on the ground and win the hearts and minds of the new national leaders of Africa, South America, the Mid-east and Asia. He would replace the fleets of nuclear bombers with Green Berets and helicopters for security; and the Peace Corps and water wells for infrastructure and education. Launching unmanned drones inside Muslim nations and bombing the Orthodox cities of Serbia as a substitute for foot soldiers countered his legacy.    

He was no stuttering king in the war against the armed atheists of state tyrannies. He called his fellow countrymen to stop our stammering in the face of the unarmed atheism of scientific materialists and the sexual Left. Archbishop Philip Hannan, the combat veteran who gave JFK’s funeral homily, built it on Kennedy’s Scriptural syntax. The celibate combat bishop and the biblical fighting liberal are men our nation needs again. Their world was one of embedded un-chosen obligations, marked by protective duties assigned by gender, and priestly piety and purity proclaiming the supernatural order. On this feast of the virgin martyr, whose sweet life made her the patron of music, let us remember the warrior king who made words beat to move the hearts of his countrymen:  
“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Bending the knee to "Christ the King of Fearful Majesty" as the Church Year ends with the final Drama

(first published November 25, 2011)

"Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice."  (Gospel of St. John)

Dr. Pence writes:

The liturgical year of the Church ends with this feast day to remind us how sacred history will come to its fulfillment with the return of Christ as King. Yes, Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior. He is also the Ruler of Nature, the Lord of History, and the Slayer of the Leviathan.  We know Him in the Eucharist as we are becoming not his friend, but incorporated in His Body. We remember his Incarnational transformation of physical nature at the Annunciation, and we await his triumphant coming again as Head of the Mystical Body incorporating all of humanity in Himself. Catholics are always living within these three comings of Christ. Maybe because the Eucharist is such an intense physical personal event, we don’t emotionally emphasize our personal relationship with Christ -- but we look, instead, both backward and forward to the actions of the Cosmic King.
          The feast of Christ the King was  instituted by Pope Pius IX in 1925 as atheistic movements were persecuting Catholics in Spain and Mexico and the Orthodox in Russia. In his encyclical Quas Primas he asserted the independent authority of the Church in relation to States. He also asserted that political communities were subject to the authority of Christ as well. Christ is King of the whole man and the whole of his social relations. This feast calls Christian men to understand that civic life cannot be divorced from God. As we deepen our bonds in the church we must shape our nations as well in a fraternal international order in consonance with Divine Providence. Politics is one of man’s  highest callings when understood as forming fraternal bonds that will honor Christ as King and Lord. A man is a sign of Christ when he exercises legitimate authority. This feast is a good day to reflect on this dimension of Christian identity. We are meant be rulers over ourselves first. The father and mother are to rule over their children. Politically men are called to establish law and order to rule our civic communities and lastly as a human race we are ordered to have dominion over the earth. It is a great threat to both Church and State that the ruler as an integral part of the Christian personality has become so neglected.

Christ shows us not only the face of God, but He has enlightened us to our own true nature as well. Man is by nature a eusocial organism in which all of humanity is united in  an interpersonal union headed by the alpha male. That is our final perfection as creatures truly made in the image of an interpersonal Trinity. On our way to that final union we live in the communal forms of marriage and nations. Christ’s Kingdom on earth is His Father’s Kingdom. Christ is King, but he is a Son as well. We are incorporated in his sonship-filiation. This is what we pray for in the prayer He taught us, that the rule of the Father would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let us bow to the king and accept the order of patriarchy. A particular concern of Pius IX in declaring this feast was to reassert that modern man is not an emancipated individual but still a subject to the authority of the one true King. Let us contemplate this final feast in the Church calendar, in order to better greet the baby at Christmas and receive His Body in the Eucharist -- remembering that when the trumpet finally sounds, indeed, he will "bestride the narrow world like a Colossus" and Eternal King


UPDATE -- A stanza from a translation of the 'Te Deum':

"From Thy high celestial home,
 Judge of all, again returning,
 we believe that Thou shalt come
 in the dreaded Doomsday morning;
 when Thy voice shall shake the earth,
 and the startled dead come forth."

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 19

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


ANALYZING THE VOTE: PEW Research by race and gender. Trump’s margin among whites without a college degree is the largest among any candidate in exit polls since 1980. Two-thirds (67%) of non-college whites backed Trump, compared with just 28% who supported Clinton, resulting in a 39-point advantage for Trump among this group. In 2012 and 2008, non-college whites also preferred the Republican over the Democratic candidate but by less one-sided margins (61%-36% and 58%-40%, respectively). Because Trump did not do as well with college educated white women  as Romney, his margin of the overall white vote was similar to Romney. However by turning working class whites in the Rust Belt he took new states. His loss of college white women in the Democrat’s big states ran up victory margins for Clinton but won her no new electoral votes. AOA Maps of what happened by A. Joseph Lynch. 16 lessons from 16 election by Larry Sabato.

THE NEXT PRESIDENT - WHAT MIGHT IT MEAN:         Paleocons and the Election.
 Mr Trump’s God Whisperer - interesting profile of a lady Pentecostal who crosses color lines for Christ.  Donald Trump's post-secular win - the return of Christian America. This short, very perceptive, article by Stephen Turley at Imaginative Conservative seems right-on to us. It starts with this racist sexist homophobic xenophobic quote from Mr Trump: “Imagine what our country could accomplish if we started working together as one people, under one God, saluting one American flag. Cain Pence in Washington Examiner on Election and Shakespeare.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Robert Reich on their leaving the working class. From Debbie Wasserman to Keith Ellison - is this the DNC chairman who will win back the working class? Powerline’s Scott Johnson knows Ellison well, as he remembers the Democrats who opposed him in his initial rise as a Minneapolis congressman. They knew Ellison, and told reporter Johnson the Ellison story as Democrat insiders. They have gone silent as the left seeks to take the Democratic Party from the Clinton syndicate, but Mr. Johnson remembers.

The YWCA, like most WASP institutions, is neither young nor Christian anymore but is reliably feminist. Here is some of their trenchant analysis of the presidential election in which "the glass ceiling remained as the floor fell in." This is part of a series on institutional freakouts at the Trump election from the excellent political blog Powerline. Stay at the site to explore how the corporate world is responding to their fellow citizens' exercise of their franchise. Freakout at the YWCA.

FDR was am upper-class guy who was "a traitor to his class" as he put the working class to work and to war as fellow Americans. The Clintons were lower middle-class who became upwardly mobile themselves, at the expense of manual laborers. They too were traitors to their class, but as grifters not nationalists.

The 'Feminist Implant' is America's Blue Angel Syndrome - a deadly infatuation leading to humiliation, emasculation,  and sinning against God the Father.

An Englishman on the left gives the best tirade yet to fellow leftists on why the left can no longer make arguments. Johnny Pie on Why Trump beat Clinton (LANGUAGE ALERT).

SAYING GOODBYE TO HILLARY: Tim Kaine picked Langston Hughes to hold fast. This celebration of a hardline Communist poet is significant because the atheist project of overthrowing the rule of the Father is now being carried by feminism. All sorts of middle-class women  are telling us they can't wait to overthrow the patriarchy, and insert a female in our military command. They may agree that Hillary was the wrong woman, but a woman president is still a great idea. This national psychosis that we should break up all male hierarchical groups in the name of justice for women  has not yet been cured.  Defeating Hillary Clinton was a huge miraculous step in extracting the feminist implant and reasserting sacral and sexual order. But our work is just beginning. 

General Flynn - a profile. Another profile during campaign.
Steve Bannon according to Cosmo magazine. They are harsh critics but still informative.
Here is a better article about Bannon who is the big idea and historical/cultural thinker who so resonates with Trump. He sees a working man’s party that cuts across color lines. "I am an economic nationalist, not a white nationalist." He thinks of himself as a Kennedy Democrat who saw the Clintons and other social movements steal the Democratic Party from the working man. A transcript from a speech he gave by telephone to a conference on poverty at the Vatican in 2014. A Vanity Fair profile during the campaign.

 Trump during WSJ interview Nov 11, 2016:
"I've had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria. My attitude was you're fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS. “Russia is now totally aligned with Syria, and now you have Iran, which is becoming powerful, because of us, is aligned with Syria. Now we're backing rebels against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are.”
The most important foreign policy difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was the different anti-terror strategy that Trump showed in the Republican primaries. Mrs Clinton was much more allied with the Republican neocon hawks that he so soundly defeated. This was under-reported during the campaign and in the early transition, but it will become a great foreign policy debate. Certain Republican hawks will be the major opponents of the president (look for Senators McCain and Graham as early critics). Some Democratic senators will emerge as his advocates. Our first analysis.
Our short explanation of Trump change in American policy in Syria and with Russia. President-elect Trump’s national security pick (General Flynn) and his top strategic advisor (Stephen Bannon) are fully on board with his initiative to normalize relations with Russia.

ISRAEL AND U.S. IN TRUMP ERA: A good summary of Israel’s Priorities. Could Trump adopt the one-state solution? A nationalist who allies with Israel will first protect the territorial integrity of the Jewish state. Our prediction is that the two-state paradigm (an independent Palestine cut out of Israel’s West Bank of Judea and Samaria) will be abandoned as a failed historical fantasy. The most dramatic evidence of this will be the restoration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  

Thinking about the Mystical Body of Christ with Evangelicals -- hard to do. A Totalizing Discourse: Classical Education and Christian Culture -- Turley at Imaginative Conservative.

The Genius of St Albert the Great, teacher of St Thomas Aquinas, patron of scientists. His feast day celebrated Nov 15.
 From a 2010 talk by Pope Benedict XVI:
"His encyclopedic interests led him not only to concern himself with philosophy and theology, like other contemporaries of his, but also with every other discipline then known, from physics to chemistry, from astronomy to minerology, from botany to zoology. For this reason POPE PIUS XII Pope named him Patron of enthusiasts of the natural sciences and also called him "Doctor universalis" precisely because of the vastness of his interests and knowledge.

... His method consisted simply in the observation, description and classification of the phenomena he had studied, ...A man of faith and prayer, as was St Albert the Great, can serenely foster the study of the natural sciences and progress in knowledge of the micro- and macrocosm, discovering the laws proper to the subject, since all this contributes to fostering thirst for and love of God. The Bible speaks to us of creation as of the first language through which God who is supreme intelligence, who is the Logos reveals to us something of himself. This is one of the great merits of St Albert: with scientific rigour he studied Aristotle's works, convinced that all that is truly rational is compatible with the faith revealed in the Sacred Scriptures. In other words, St Albert the Great thus contributed to the formation of an autonomous philosophy, distinct from theology and united with it only by the unity of the truth. So it was that in the 13th century a clear distinction came into being between these two branches of knowledge, philosophy and theology, which, in conversing with each other, cooperate harmoniously in the discovery of the authentic vocation of man, thirsting for truth and happiness: and it is above all theology, that St Albert defined as "emotional knowledge", which points out to human beings their vocation to eternal joy, a joy that flows from full adherence to the truth."

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul

[first published November 18, 2015]

by David Pence

The Catholic Church on this day each year  celebrates the dedication of the churches of St Peter and St Paul in Rome.  St. Peter and St. Paul drank of the Lord's Chalice and were both martyred in Rome.  “Those two famous shoots of the Divine Seed burst forth in a great progeny.” Their sacral brotherhood of blood served as the foundation stones of the apostolic Church.
 Their tombs were pilgrimage destinations from the beginning. The basilicas were built over their sacred remains by Constantine in the 4th century, and then refurbished and rededicated in later centuries. Christianity’s priesthood  is centered in Rome where the graves of the martyred blood brothers signal the early development of Christ's Body as surely as Bethlehem and Nazareth. The reclamation project of winning back territory from the Prince of this world is celebrated especially when a sacred space is carved out of the land and stone to consecrate a church.  

Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls

Interior of St Paul's

Basilica of St Peter

The Chair of Peter upheld by
Saints Ambrose, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, and Augustine

Friday BookReview: Saudi Kingdom and the spread of jihad

[first published February 6, 2015]

by David Pence

After serving as the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations in the late 1990s, Dore Gold wrote Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism.


Mr. Gold (talking here with Henry Kissinger) grew up in Hartford, Connecticut; and attended Columbia University.

This is an interesting video: Mr. Gold strolling for 20 minutes through Jerusalem, explaining the four quarters of the Old City to Sean Hannity. After his book on Saudi Arabia, Gold wrote The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, The West and the Future of the Holy City.

Here is a review of the Saudi Arabia book that appeared in 'Commentary' magazine (written by Alex Alexiev):
After a year and a half in which the war on terrorism consisted essentially of large tactical operations—liquidating the Taliban regime, destroying al Qaeda’s base in Afghanistan, rounding up Islamist agents around the world—the U.S. finally took its first step of truly strategic significance. Operation Iraqi Freedom was intended to deny to the Baghdad regime and its Islamist fellow-travelers the ability to develop and use weapons of mass destruction, thus removing one of the most urgent long-term threats to America and its allies. 
What will the next strategic stage in the war against terrorism look like? One might hope that it would be a campaign to destroy the vast infrastructure that begets, nurtures, and sustains Islamic extremism. To do that, the U.S. would have to accept a fact it has so far refused to face: that Saudi Arabia, our putative ally, has been and remains the chief ideological and financial enabler of our most virulent enemies. After Saddam, a showdown with the House of Saud is, or should be, inevitable. 
Hatred’s Kingdom, a timely new book by the Israeli scholar and diplomat Dore Gold, lays out the grounds for this looming confrontation more powerfully than any other recent writing on the subject. Gold’s lucid, dispassionate, impressively researched narrative debunks much of the conventional wisdom, establishing in a systematic way the dark reality of Saudi involvement in fomenting terror. 
To find the root causes of Arab terrorism, Gold argues, we must examine not mainstream Islam but Wahhabism, the hate-filled, extremist fringe of the religion that is the official Saudi creed. As he points out, many of the “innovations” introduced by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-91), the founder of Saudi Arabia’s state religion, were, in fact, major distortions and even outright falsifications of Islamic tradition. By declaring, for instance, that Muslims who rejected his own teachings were infidels who deserved death, al-Wahhab reversed two major tenets of Islam—that “there is no compulsion in religion” and that jihad against other Muslims is strictly prohibited. Yet, as the history of the House of Saud shows, the Wahhabis have almost invariably directed their murderous fury at fellow Muslims and, to this day, treat Shiites and Sufis like apostates. 
As for Jews and Christians, al-Wahhab explicitly rejected the (partial) measure of preference and protection that other monotheists had long received in Muslim lands. He insisted that these supposed “peoples of the book” were nothing more than sorcerers and devil-worshippers, fit for annihilation—a venomous dictum that Saudi mosques spew out to this day. 
Gold also explains the central role played by the Wahhabi sect in shaping the broader current of Islamic extremism. As he extensively documents, the Saudis have sheltered and co-opted virtually every Islamist ideologue and movement of the past century, from the leaders of previous generations like Muhammad Rida, Hasan al-Banna, and Abu al-Ala Mawdudi to more contemporary figures like Abdullah Azzam and Muhammad Qutb, the mentors of al Qaeda’s leadership. Wahhabism remains the prototype ideology of all violent Islamists. As Gold quotes one radical cleric, “Osama bin Laden is a natural continuation from Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.” 
As the Saudis began to grow flush with petrodollars in the 1970’s, Gold writes, they became the chief international financiers of Islamic extremism. Operating through a bewildering array of interlocking charities and front organizations, Riyadh provided most of the funding for a vast network devoted not just to indoctrination but to anti-Western violence. Gold guides us through this sinister network, on which, as the Saudis themselves have admitted, they had spent the gigantic sum of $70 billion by the end of last year. There can be little doubt that this money has been a key factor in creating the terrorist threat we now face. 
A further service performed by Hatred’s Kingdom is to dismantle the self-serving propaganda of Saudi Arabia and its apologists. Since the attacks of September 11, the Saudis have maintained, for instance, that terrorism is a result of America’s cruel indifference to the suffering of the Palestinians, a position to which many European governments and the American Left uncritically subscribe. Apart from the inconvenient fact that the vast majority of the more than 150,000 recent victims of Islamic terrorism have been Muslims, it is clear, as Gold demonstrates, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has never mattered much to Riyadh. Despite their visceral dislike of Jews, the Saudis historically have paid little attention to them, feeling much more threatened by rival Arab powers like the Hashemites in Transjordan and Iraq, Nasserite socialism in Egypt, Syria, and Yemen, and, more recently, the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein. Indeed, the Saudis contributed no more than token aid to the Arab side in its various armed conflicts with Israel. 
In exposing the Saudi connection to the world of Islamic terror, Gold might have gone still farther. His brief analysis of Saudi activities in the United States is a bit disappointing. There is much more to be said about Wahhabi dominance of the American Muslim establishment and the considerable influence of the Saudis in Washington. Virtually all of the Muslim leaders who posed for photographs with President Bush after the attacks of September 11 have been shown to be part of the Wahhabi lobby and to have extremist connections. Nor does Gold have much to say about the increasing penetration of Saudi-funded terrorist groups in the Indian subcontinent, which has become a hotbed of violent Islamic activities. 
Still, these few oversights detract very little from Dore Gold’s outstanding contribution. For the general reader interested in the origins of Middle Eastern terrorism, Hatred’s Kingdom will shed a great deal of light; for policy-makers in Washington, it ought to be required reading.
President Obama with King Salman 

Don't miss our Map on Monday about Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.
Another: Mapping the schools of Islamic Law and locating the epicenter of terror.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Christian Realism -- Insights and Blindspots: learning from historian Tim Snyder

[first published June 2, 2016]

by Dr. David Pence

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) is a historian from Yale specializing in Central and Eastern European history and the Holocaust. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the European Institute for the Human Sciences. He is head of a special focus group at the Institute to tell history in a novel way to overcome fractured national narratives.

Dr. Snyder has studied the construction of nations and the destruction of states in the bloodlands of Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic states. In 2003 he wrote The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999. This multinational approach has set him apart from the increasingly narrow studies of academia. It gave him a much wider historical canvas to write the Bloodlands (2010) which deals with the 14 million civilians killed in those lands from 1933-1945. Dr. Snyder also brings a more vivid linguistic palette to his studies. He can speak and write in English, French, German, Polish, and Ukrainian. He reads Czech, Slovak, Russian, and Belarusian. His work crosses many specialty lines, and he has notably disturbed the jealously guarded enclave-holocaust studies experts with his most recent The Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015). To learn from Mr. Snyder, one might begin by listening to several of his lectures which lay out the whole of his narrative. He is trying to explain a particular spatial/temporal occurrence—lands from the Baltic to the Black Sea from 1933-1945.  He tells a coherent story and tells it differently than we have heard before. He is deliberately avoiding history as a memory motif or identity claim. This is a contribution toward the truth in itself and is a fitting use of his prodigious intellectual gifts.  In talking about Russian religion and his promiscuous use of the fascist pejorative toward national identity parties throughout Europe, he reminds us that he is indeed a Yale professor.

Here are three lessons for a Christian realist:

1) The political history of the 20th century in Europe is a movement from empires to nations to the ideological land-based colonialism of Nazi Germany and Soviet Union to new types of unions of states. This is a political history of emerging communal forms. Because of his leftist biases, Snyder can barely talk about religion and disparages the nation as it remerges. But he is a recovering leftist, and while he has retained his old blind spots he is no longer driven to shape the narrative toward a socialist utopia. Thus, he is an irritating but great reporter. He incorrectly treats the reemergence of nations as a fascist throwback, but he is describing  political history in a most useful form. He knows the nations of this region as separate but intertwined political entities and he tells their stories with a sense of historical geography that marks the great teacher.

From the Baltic to the Black Sea: The Bloodlands 
(Poland, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Ukraine)

2) The emblem of the Holocaust is not the  mechanical gassing at Auschwitz by an efficient bureaucratic state. Less than 1 percent of Germans were Jews and more than 95% of European Jews lived outside of Germany. The great majority of deaths were mass killings, often in fields and forests in the lands which became stateless as Stalin and Hitler colonized them. To know where the Jews died in the Holocaust one must pay history and geography their due, and study where the Jews lived. Above all, that is to study the Pale of Settlement where Catholics and Jews lived in the western portion of the Czarist Russian Empire. To know why these lands had to be cleansed of racial and class enemies one must understand the different agricultural strategies of Stalin and Hitler toward the Black Earth of the Ukraine.

The Pale of Settlement percentage of Jews in region 1905
3) The most important lesson that emerges from this literary triptych is the profound understanding of the racial ideology of Adolf Hitler which rises from the professor’s insistence on a serious engagement with Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  No historian can understand the unique roles of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in ending the Cold War without understanding the humanist Marxism of the one and the Protestant Christianity of the other. No one can understand the Bloodlands or the Holocaust or Nazi Germany without understanding the Darwinian worldview of Adolf Hitler.
[That will be our subject on the Thursday after Thanksgiving].

Three excellent talks by Professor Snyder: 

The Twentieth Century: Empires, Nations and Unions

Ukraine and The Bloodlands

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Trump Strategy to protect Christians, end the Syrian War, ally with Russia, and destroy ISIS

[It will help most readers to understand the change in Syrian policy if they review a short video on the history of the conflict. It is embedded at the bottom of our Syria 'Map on Monday.']

by David Pence

Donald Trump ran an aggressive primary campaign criticizing the befuddled and bloodied neo-con Republican strategy in the Mideast. He condemned the Bush error of attacking "the wrong country" after 9/11. He repudiated the plan of making enemies of Russia, Syria, and Libya -- all of whom were enemies of ISIS. While he vowed to destroy ISIS, he was truly an antiwar candidate compared to his opponents. His desire to focus on a single foe was in stark contrast with the exhausting list of enemies that John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Jeb Bush were naming as dire threats to America. When Carly Fiorina and John Kasich offered themselves as different kinds of candidates, their foreign policy ideas were expressed in even more stridently bellicose fashion to show they too were "serious."

After Trump won the Republican primary he downplayed his foreign policy strategy as he tried to win back the support of a Republican establishment he had just steamrolled. Now that the election is won, the remarkable change in foreign policy he has advocated is emerging. Christians of both parties, Rand Paul-type Republicans, and antiwar Democrats (who were silent in deference to Mrs. Clinton) should help Mr Trump effect his daring policy change.
President Assad

Christians in Syria are being protected by the Assad government, not the "rebels." That has always been true, but the security of Mideast Christians has never been a priority of Republican war hawks. That is about to change under Mr. Trump who was truly angered by the beheading of Christians for their faith. Possibly, the intellectuals who were too pure to vote for him could help him in this cause. Eliminating ISIS will stop real Christian persecution -- so much more deadly than the tiny sleights in America that cringing souls confuse with the end of religious liberty.

The first step in Trump's policy is to normalize relations with Christian Russia, and withdraw support for "rebels" trying to overthrow the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. Mr Trump correctly sees the rebels as a forerunner of Sunni jihadists who will rule if Assad falls. Mr Trump and his advisors learned the real lesson of deposing Gaddafi in Libya and unleashing the killers of  Benghazi. This is a dramatic change in policy and will be opposed by the Republican war faction and think-tank specialists who have staked their reputations on their mistaken analysis of both the Libyan and Syrian  versions of the Arab Spring. President Obama broke with the Washington think tanks when he resisted escalation against Assad in 2013. Since then, he has been a half-hearted supporter of certain rebels. Hillary Clinton campaigned to escalate  support for the Saudi-financed "rebels" by enforcing a no-fly zone against Russian and Syrian planes.

Julian Assange of Wikileaks says the most important of all the emails he has revealed was Hillary Clinton’s note to John Podesta showing her understanding that ISIS was funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Such was the abysmal ignorance of journalists about foreign policy that the $10-25 million in Saudi donations to the Clinton Foundation was never considered a topic worth investigating. Congress opened the way for families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government, but even that didn’t pique media interest in the foreign policy dimension of the story. This bizarre approach to an enemy government was better than calling them "our dear friends," but it fell short of how our nation and the families of the Pearl Harbor attack responded to Imperial Japan. We certainly didn’t ask families of the servicemen to hire a lawyer, and go looking for individual Japanese pilots to sue.

The realignment of allies advocated by President-elect Trump is good for Christians and good for America. But the task before him is full of danger and uncertainty. We are talking about changing sides on an active battlefield in which the influential Saudis are major funders. The consequences of this election are just beginning to appear. We should no longer isolate Mr. Trump, his family and his band of loyalists to fight alone against the entrenched foreign and domestic interests who have harmed our country so grievously in the war against the salafist jihadists of ISIS and the Wahhabi ideology of Saudi Arabia. Mr Trump will need his countrymen (including journalists) to form a new American alliance because his enemies in the Republican and foreign policy establishment are reappearing to foil his leadership.



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

An Iconic Presentation of Catholic Sociobiology

[first published May 10, 2016]

From the Feast of the Ascension through a nine-day novena to Pentecost, through its Octave to Trinity Sunday, the Holy Spirit inspires the Church to follow Christ who draws man into the Trinitarian Reality. Below is an iconic presentation of Catholic Sociobiology - the forms of communio which express and reveal the Trinitarian nature of reality:







Monday, November 14, 2016


by A. Joseph Lynch

President-elect Donald Trump held the red Romney states, regained Ohio, Florida, and Iowa, smashed the Blue Wall Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and threw in Maine's 2nd Congressional District for a 306 electoral vote blowout.

In our pre-Election Day Map on Monday article, we identified the Blue Wall states where Democrats had won the previous six presidential elections along with the red Mitt Romney states which Donald Trump needed if he stood any chance of winning.

As things turned out, President-elect Trump held on to all the red Romney states while tearing down the Blue Wall across the Rust Belt. This came as quite the surprise to pollsters like Larry Sabato (and his famed "Crystal Ball") who projected a Clinton blowout of 322 votes to Trump's 216. Our map above shows the likely electoral finish as 306 votes for Trump and 232 votes for Clinton. The election was indeed a blowout - just not quite as expected.

Readers of our previous article may recall we noted that Trump's flipping of Ohio and Florida still put him sixteen votes away from a tie and seventeen votes away from a win. In our examination of the map, we thought it most likely for Trump to get his final sixteen votes from the states of Iowa (6), Nevada (6), and New Hampshire (4). Had this been the case, however, Trump would have lost since Nevada and New Hampshire did hold for Clinton. Iowa alone put him ten votes shy. Then came the avalanche no one expected. The utter collapse of the Blue Wall in the Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania - liberal bastions that have stood for years - made Nevada and New Hampshire unnecessary.

The stunning Rust Belt result can partially be explained by the raw numbers. Of the three states only Pennsylvania had a higher voter turnout than that of 2012 - and the lower turn out surely helped Trump. In all three states Trump out-performed Romney; and Clinton far under-performed Obama (by margins of about 150,000-300,000 votes). The story is also told by the counties nationwide that Trump flipped from Obama's elections. Of the 676 counties that voted for Obama twice, Trump managed to flip 209 - but of the 207 counties that voted for Obama once (in either 2008 or 2012), Trump turned 194. Clinton on the other hand struggled to flip a mere 6 counties of the 2,200 counties Obama failed to win.

President-elect Trump flipped about one third of the counties that voted for Obama twice while taking 194 of the 207 counties won by President Obama in either 2008 or 2012.

The map below gives further evidence of this by displaying the Romney-Trump performance (right) and the Obama-Clinton performance (left):

Another county-by-county comparison can be made between how Bush did in 2004 to how Trump did in 2016. The map looked pretty red in 2004 - but Trump has made it much redder.

President-elect Donald Trump flipped the election - and the electoral map - on its head. However things go from here, Donald Trump has changed the political landscape of this country both literally and figuratively.