by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch
I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
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.
II. PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS
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.
THE ELECTION WAS A SPIRITUAL REPRIEVE; LET THOSE WHO HAVE EARS HEAR
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)
III. NATIONS AND SOCIAL ORDER R&G ROUND UP
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 COMMUNISM: Ryszard 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."And:
"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, 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. Asabiyyah is most strong in the nomadic phase, and decreases as civilization advances. 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.