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


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Father and Sons Defending the Sacred: The Real Hanukkah Lesson for Christians


by David Pence


Hanukkah begins this evening. It will end in eight days. It is not "the Jewish Christmas." Several hundred years before Christ, the Greeks, the very cosmopolitan educated Greeks, ruled over Palestine. When Antiochus had become the ruler he sought a uniformity of customs and loyalty. Circumcision -- that sign between Abraham and G-d that all the males would shed their own blood to be united as a people in Covenant with the Almighty -- was banned. The sacred precincts of the temple were defiled. Women who had their sons circumcised "were publicly paraded with their babies hanging at their breasts and then thrown from the top of the city wall."

                             

"... the Gentiles filled the temple with debauchery and revelry; they amused themselves with prostitutes and had intercourse with women even in the sacred court. They brought into the temple things that were forbidden, so the altar was covered with abominable offerings prohibited by the law." Most defilements were done by consenting adults and there were plenty of Jewish collaborators. "There was great mourning for Israel. Virgins and young men languished and the beauty of the women was disfigured. Her sanctuary was desolate as a desert. She became a stranger to her own offspring. Her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths to shame, her honor to contempt. Her dishonor was as great as her glory had been and her joy was turned into mourning."

Against this sexual perversity so deeply linked with the defilement of sacral things, Mattathias and his five sons withdrew from the over-educated Greeks who scoffed at their ancient purity codes and rituals of divine worship. Before they organized to fight, the patriarch and the brothers "tore their garments, put on sackcloth and mourned bitterly." They knew the evil that had befallen their fellow Israelites followed their infidelity to G-d. They also knew they must organize to fight. They had seen a group of Israelites come before the Greeks and "refuse to profane the sabbath. Then the enemy attacked them and they did not retaliate... and they died with their wives and their children and their cattle to the number of a thousand persons." Mattathias resolved: "If we all do as our kinsmen have done and do not fight the Gentiles for our lives and our traditions they will soon destroy us from the earth. Let us fight against anyone who attacks us on the sabbath so that we may not all die as our kinsmen died in the hiding places." Mattathias and his men tore down the pagan altars. They also forcibly circumcised any uncircumcised boys they found in the territory of Israel." They stitched back together the only bond capable of ridding the land of abominations. They conscripted their state anew to guard the sacred of old.      
                
Sculpture of Mattathias by Boris Schatz (d. 1932)


"When the time came for Mattathias to die, he said to his sons, 'Arrogance and scorn have now grown strong, it is a time of disaster and violent anger. Therefore, my sons, be zealous for the law and give your lives for the covenant of our fathers." He appointed his son Simeon because of his wisdom to be "like a father to them," and appointed his son Judas (called Maccabeus, the 'hammer') to be "the leader of your army and direct the war against the nations." His sons and the men they gathered around them defeated the Greeks. They tore down the defiled altar and built a new one with uncut stones. They repaired the sanctuary and purified the courts. On the anniversary of the day the Gentiles had defiled the temple they reconsecrated the sacred precinct with song and acts of worship. For eight days they celebrated the dedication, and then "Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days…"

There are many tales of noble martyrs who refused to profane the commands of the Lord before the Maccabees restored a civic order in consonance with G-d's decrees. In the Book of Maccabees the most notable was the mother and her seven sons who refused to defile themselves by eating pork. The holy mother watched her sons be tortured and killed and urged them one after another to persist in courage. Then "her womanly heart with manly courage" was pierced as well. When the Church recounts this re-dedication of the temple in her late November liturgy she couples the reading from Maccabees with the Gospel of Jesus cleansing the temple. Two centuries after the Maccabees, the Jewish convert from Tarsus asked Christians, "Do you not know that you are a temple of the  Holy Spirit?"

For eight days let us Christians look for the lights of the candles shining forth from Jewish homes. They are not lit for the use of the household, but to give glory to G-d by reminding all who see them that the sacred practices of a culture can only be protected if there are fathers and sons who will covenant together under God to fight for them.
                             
Hanukkah candles in Jerusalem

December 12: Queen of Mexico, Our Lady of the Americas


[first published on December 12, 2014]



by David Pence


On October 12th of that seminal year of 1492, Cristóbal Colón named the land he sighted on the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar after her son: San Salvador. Thirty years later (1519-1521) Hernando Cortez would defeat Montezuma and the Aztec Empire, establishing the new Spain and eventually the nation of Mexico. Ten years later (1532-33) his second cousin, Francisco Pizarro, would defeat Emperor Atahualpa of the Incas in Peru. These military victories would set the groundwork for the Spanish nations of South and Central America.

In the same era another event would lay the "true spiritual foundation of America -- and of all the nations of the Americas -- North and South." The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Nahuatl convert Juan Diego (December 1531) would synthesize the indigenous natives and Spanish warriors into a single La Raza. She appeared as an Aztecan beauty and told Juan Diego’s uncle (whom she healed) that her name would be Santa Maria de Guadalupe. This was the same name as the black Madonna of Castile – an inspiration to the Catholic warriors who established the nation of Spain through the Reconquista against the Muslims. That centuries-long war ended in 1492 just as Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon) planted the Christian vine in the Americas. She said she would be “the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind.” She was both of the natives and of the Spaniards, and she left Castilian roses and the name of a river in Spain to accompany her beautiful native countenance.

As Catholics gather in ever growing numbers on this American feast day, let us honor Mary and her Son by deepening our public bonds of religion and  national citizenship. Our Lady of Guadalupe integrated cultures in her very person and provided a path to the syncretistic national identities of 8 million converted Aztec Indians and the evangelizing Catholic conquistadors.  Gathering to acknowledge her loving motherhood, hundreds of miles north and half a millenium later, may our liturgical actions forge the new personalities of Catholic nation men who belong to the supernatural organic community of the Eucharistic Church as well as the covenanted civic brotherhoods of our respective nations.

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, who called her appearance “the spiritual foundation of the Americas,” has written a little masterpiece on immigration.  He categorizes immigration reform as a religious project, for America is a spiritual adventure. It is here in America that Chesterton says a “cosmic commonwealth” is being formed by “molding many peoples into the visible image of the citizen.” Archbishop Gomez, unlike all too many immigration proponents, sees a restoration of the idea of citizenship and an integrating Americanization as the necessary spiritual alternative to the "anarchy of diversity" and the destructive bias of "our elites" against "the ideals of citizenship and integration around a common national identity."

On this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Catholics across the Americas will unite as brothers and sisters under our common mother. On other days our civic task will be to reestablish the distinct religious national brotherhoods of the United States and Mexico, which have been so frayed and torn in this age of atheism. May we mend our sacred flags and meet our complementary destinies as Christian nations acting in history to fulfill God’s Providence. We must ask the Queen to bring forth new Cristeros. Authoritative masculine civic personalities will be the blessed "peacemakers who will be called the sons of God.”  A strong Catholic Mexican leader must regain control over outlaw provinces and diabolic criminal networks. A renewed Christian America will be led by men reasserting the police power of  states to once again outlaw those federally sanctioned abominations that would make an Aztec blush.  May Our Lady of Guadalupe provide the spiritual ground where brother nations can stand in fraternity to do the Will of Our Father.

                                                           

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, December 9

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

THE WEEKLY BRIEF
The Lord shall write in the book of the nations:
  “Here is their birthplace.”
They will sing as in joyful processions:
  “All my being springs from you.”
So writes the Psalmist of Jerusalem. At the heart of a nationalist foreign policy for America is dealing honestly with other nations as nations. Israel is a real nation with borders that it won in several wars against enemies trying to eradicate their existence as a nation state. To carve out of of Israel a "second state" called Palestine as a real state with its own military and foreign policy would be to eliminate the physical ability of Israel to defend itself. One honest look at a topographic map shows that fantasy is a death wish. It is true that Israel could wreck havoc on its enemies in a war, but it could not defend itself as a territorial entity. It is one of the great ironies of the surreal world of globalists that the one nation they will defend and lionize is the one that doesn't exist and never has: Palestine. America should not join Israel in their adventure with Muhammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia against Iran, but as a Christian nation ourselves we must defend the miraculous return of God's chosen people to the Holy Land. (See below on President Trump's speech, Russian recognition and the European approach. To help think more clearly about "the two State solution" see this excellent 15-minute  CBN documentary: Who are the Palestinian people?)



I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

ADVENT BEGINS - SEEK GOD FIRST AND ALL THINGS WILL BE ORDEREDThe Pope on putting God first. The Three Comings of Christ from AoA.

PRIESTLY FRATERNITY VS. CARBON MONOXIDE CLERICALISM: A young priest writes: "For the Year for Priests in 2009, Pope Benedict issued a letter that I believe was prophetic but under-appreciated. He wrote that 'the ordained ministry has a radical "communitarian form" and can be exercised only in the communion of priests with their bishop.' "

ETHIOPIA - A BASTION OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY: The amazing resilience of Africa's oldest Christian nation. The longstanding churches in Africa are the Egyptian Copts and Ethiopian Orthodox. In this old Orthodox country, however, there is a remarkable Protestant presence as well. The Lutherans went to the least Orthodox of regions, and set up health and educational institutions allowed by the Orthodox king. Today, only Germany has more Lutherans. (The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus now has 8 million members. In 2013 they broke communion fellowship with the ELCA over the North American endorsement of homosexuality.)


II. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST

TILLERSON, KUSHNER, IRAN, ISRAEL, AND SAUDI ARABIA: Is the US preparing a war cabinet?

SAUDIS, YEMEN, AND IRAN: How MUHAMMED BIN SALMAN (MbS) helped Iran in his war against the Houthis. Analysis of Muhammed bin Salman the reformer.

SAUDI ARABIA STREET LIFE MORE RELAXED: The veteran Saudi women’s rights activist did not know whether to laugh or cry. “Everything is so much more relaxed now,” she said. “You can feel it on the streets.” Then she paused, and added: “Except for the men. They are in prison.” From the Times of London.

IRAN, SYRIA, RUSSIA, AND TURKEYDiscussing their different goals in Syria.

YEMEN: DEATH OF SALEHHe has played every side. In the last week he turned against the Houthis and opened to the Saudis. He was killed days after his betrayal.


III. PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

TRUMP RECOGNIZES JERUSALEM AS ISRAEL'S CAPITAL: President Trump formally announced US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Read the speech. The first country to recognize (West) Jerusalem as Israel's capital was Russia (eight months ago). The European Union agreed that Jerusalem should be a capital - the capital of Palestine.

THE LOGAN ACT: A clear narrative on how the Obama administration got after the Trump transition team.

IS THERE A MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX? Does it run through the think tanks?


IV. CULTURE OF LIFE, CULTURE OF PROTECTION

RUSSIA - CHRISTIANITY VS GODLESS FEMINIZED WESTThe deeper conflict.

KENYA - A MICROCOSM OF AFRICA, CHRISTIANITY, AND TRIBAL ANIMOSITIES: John Allen reports. The failure of Catholics to propose an armed national civic strategy of protection leaves the people trapped by those loyalty systems willing to use guns - the ancient tribes and Islam.

MEXICO - BEHEADINGS BY CARTELSThis is a Catholic country in need of an armed Catholic civic response to the rule of violent predators. The poor are paying the price for the pacifist public formulations of European and North American prelates comfortable with their wealth and oblivious of their duty as shepherds at war with wolves. The bishops should not wield the sword, but they should readily encourage nationalist Catholics who will fulfill the protective punitive duties of governance. Otherwise in places of violence, only the pagans will govern.

AUSTRALIA - LIVE WITH CHINA OR ALLY WITH US IN NEW INDO-PACIFIC AXIS: Should the East and South Pacific be dominated by China or should China be encircled by an alliance organized by the United States? An Australia government white paper makes a choice.

RESTORING THE SACRED AND THE NATIONS IN THE WESTBy David Goldman. Illuminating writing about both Catalonia and Germany. It is long, but worth reading. Goldman understands the need for the sacred.  His definition is divorced from the reality of the supernatural. Thin gruel indeed! Another Jewish intellectual who cannot bow to the Living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is a great writer but he should bow his head in prayer and learn from Eliade the meaning of the sacred.

THE CHRISTIAN LEADER IS OFTEN NOT A POLITICIAN PASTOR BUT A HERO-SINNER WHO WILL FIGHT THE EVIL FORCES: An excerpt from Goldman (above):
Our “America First” President stands squarely in the mainstream of American culture. Donald Trump, I argued on the day of his Inauguration, “is instantly recognisable as the protagonist in a Christian drama: the lone avenger who stands up to the wicked powers of the world and calls them out for combat. Ted Cruz, though an engaged and enthusiastic evangelical Christian, failed to understand the religious impulse of the American electorate. They did not want a politician-pastor to preach to them what they already knew. They wanted a hero, sinner though he be, to give battle to the forces of evil — a Jephtha or a Saul.” No matter how far it strays from conventional religion, American culture remains stamped delibly with the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity. It does not look for saints who live exemplary lives but for sinners in search of redemption.
THE CHRISTIAN RES PUBLICA IS BUILT ON MEN SHARING A LOVE OF THE SACRED - NOT A CONTRACT OF SHARED SELF INTERESTS: Another excerpt:
"Augustine (in City of God XXIV) famously took issue with Cicero’s definition of a res publica as an association founded on common interest, arguing instead that it was founded on a common love. It might be more accurate to say that it is founded on a common sense of the sacred, for the sacred embodies not only love but also awe and fear, specifically the fear that by violating the elements of tradition that define us we will lose ourselves."
ON THE GERMAN NATION: From Goldman essay above:
"All of this was said before and better by the earliest German Romantics in the immediate aftermath of the French Revolution. It was Germany’s bad luck to fight its way to nationhood in response to the Napoleonic conquests, at a time when its intellectuals largely had abandoned religion in favor of philosophy. The modern notion of self-invention erupts into history through the Cult of Reason. Its prophets were Rousseau and Kant, who were armed by the French Revolution. In Germany, the first salvo against the Cult of Reason came from J. G. Fichte, who argued that Kant’s transcendental reason could only exist in human consciousness, and that this consciousness must arise from nationality. Fichte’s young student Novalis inquired rather how national consciousness might be formed in the first place. Consciousness, he argued long before Heidegger, is time-consciousness, and our sense of ourselves in the present moment was an ecstatic unity of memory and anticipation. But upon what memory might the Germans draw? In his 1799 essay “Christianity or Europe,” Novalis proposed a return to the Christianity of the early Middle Ages, but a Christianity that would ennoble the tales (Märchen) of the past. The disenchanted world which Schiller bemoaned in his poem “The Gods of Greece” would thus become reenchanted (wiederverzaubert) through the fairytale world that underlay medieval Christianity.

That in summary was the Romantic programme, and a very bad idea it turned out to be. Where Schiller and Hölderlin hoped to re-enchant the world with Hellenism, the Romantics succeeded only in dredging up the raw material for a revived paganism. Heinrich Heine warned in 1834 that “if ever the Cross — the taming talisman — were to fracture, then the wildness of the old warriors will clatter to the surface, their mad berserkers’ rage . . . and the old stone gods will raise themselves up out of the forgotten dust and rub the dust of a millennium from their eyes, and Thor with his giant hammer will at last rise up and smash the Gothic domes.” In the hands of Richard Wagner, the Nibelungenlied became an anti-Christian manifesto. In the 19th century Germany brought forth a peerless high culture in literature, music and the sciences, but its national sense of the sacred lost its way in the land of Märchen and was bewitched by the pagan past.

Germans continued to look to their high culture as a wellspring of identity until the end of the First World War. Most of its leading intellectuals, including a dozen Nobel laureates, signed the Manifesto of the Ninety-Three of 1914, alleging that the war was an attack on German culture. Thomas Mann famously contrasted German Kultur with the mere commercial civilisation of France and Britain. Max Weber supported the war wholeheartedly and, after the defeat, looked forward to Germany’s victory in a future war. The identification of war aims with Kulturdiscredited high culture among the defeated German people. That is why Nazi playwright Hans Johst has a character say that when he hears the word “culture,” he releases the safety catch on his pistol."

Friday, December 8, 2017

Dec 8th -- IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: She who is the greatest instrument of the Holy Spirit


[first published December 8, 2013]



In a pure act of mercy and grace God called Mary into existence free of original sin  to be the new Eve. This truth was long held by Christians, but formally acknowledged by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

Amidst these years of too many corrupted churchmen, it is no coincidence that the two infallibly declared papal dogmas of the last two centuries  define the spotless beginning and the incorruptible end of Mary’s life when she shattered the ultimate glass ceiling. These truths remind us that at her core the Apostolic Church is Marian, and she hath not sinned. It is a singular gift to the Catholic imagination that we have a feminine beauty to inspire our poems, our songs, and our prayers. Her ever-pure life cleanses the mind that contemplates her. Our understanding of Mary is a school in which we learn to understand our own human nature. For those of us who love her, humans are never by nature either neutered or depraved.


"Mary Immaculate, star of the morning,
  Chosen before the creation began,
Chosen to bring in the light of thy dawning,
  Woe to the serpent and rescue to man.

Here, in this world of both shadow and sadness
  Veiling thy splendour, thy course hast thou run:
Now thou art throned in all glory and gladness,
  Crowned by the hand of thy Saviour and Son.

Sinners, we worship thy sinless perfection;
  Fallen and weak, for thy pity we plead:
Grant us the shield of thy sov’reign protection,
  Measure thine aid by the depth of our need.

Bend from thy throne at the voice of our crying,
  Bend to this earth which thy footsteps have trod:
Stretch out thine arms to us, living and dying,
  Mary Immaculate, Mother of God."
                                                     



                       

On this feast of the Immaculate Conception, here is part of a prayer by Saint Maximilian Kolbe:
O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you…
For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
V. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin. 
R. Give me strength against your enemies.
Amen.

                                             
Father Kolbe organized his spiritual Militia in fealty to her who "cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array" (Song 6:9).



Ponder this prayer that Pope Francis wrote to the Immaculata:

"O Mary, our mother,
today the People of God feast in hailing you as Immaculate,
preserved forever from the contagion of sin.
Receive the homage I offer you in the name of the Church
that is in Rome and across the whole world.

To know that you, who are our Mother, are totally free from sin
gives us great comfort.
To know that, over you, evil has no power, renews our hope and strength
in the daily struggle that we must undertake
against the threats of the evil one.

But in this fight we're not alone, we are not orphans, because Jesus,
before dying on the cross,
gave you to us as our Mother.
We, then, while being sinners, are your children,
sons and daughters of the Immaculate one,
called to that holiness which shines in you from the beginning by God's grace.

Enlivened by this hope,
we today seek your motherly protection for us,
for our families, for this city, for the entire world.
May the power of God's love, which preserved you from original sin,
through your intercession, free all humanity from every spiritual and material slavery,
and make victorious, in our hearts and in events, the design of the salvation of God.

Make it so for us, your children, that grace might prevail over pride
and that we might become merciful
as our heavenly Father is merciful.
In this time that leads us to the feast of the Birthday of Jesus,
teach us to go against the current:
to strip ourselves, to lower ourselves, to give of ourselves;
to listen, to be quiet, to focus away from ourselves,
so to make space for the beauty of God, the source of true joy.

O our Immaculate Mother, pray for us!"



UPDATE -- It is on this day in 2015 that the Holy Father is instituting a Year of Mercy:
"I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words: 'Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (cf. Lk 6:36).' "

Sunday, December 3, 2017

ADVENT and the three comings of Christ


(first published December 1, 2013; edited 2017)


by Dr. David Pence



The Church year begins today as we enter into the Advent season to prepare for the Coming of Christ in History, in Mystery, and in Majesty.

First we recall the long period of history before He came to Mary at the Annunciation and was born in Bethlehem the first Christmas night. We reflect on the setting aside of Israel and the setting aside of Mary – the perfect temple who is a template for our souls. But the significance of Christ's entrance into history cannot be confined to the short time humans have been on earth. His coming is the cosmic culmination of matter itself.  The Incarnation of Christ is the epicenter of natural history, in that physical matter now has a new interpersonal center of gravity in Christ and His Queen Mother. The great mass of the physical universe dissipates into space while the tiny earth is set aside for life. The garden is set aside for man, the Israelites for Mary, and Mary for Christ.  His life and death will form the center of human history as he makes holy the forms of interpersonal communion that will be the foundation stones of a Living Temple. He establishes his holy priesthood. His sacred brethren will man the Ark of the Church and lead the hunt to separate the Evil One from the communion of the living.  Christ has come in history.

The separative and unification acts which characterized His coming in history are continued in the liturgy. The Holy Spirit draws mankind into the Trinity by incorporation in the Body of the Son. The Apostolic Church fishes for men dispersed at sea and reconstitutes mankind through Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. This present-day coming of Jesus is fully experienced only in the sacramental life of the Church. His Real Presence is still with us here on earth. We are not just with Him but becoming Him through the Eucharist. Being in the state of grace secures us to an ark of angels and saints amidst the floodwaters about us. The unspeakable intensity of this Eucharistic incorporation has always made Catholics less likely to discuss our day-to-day "personal relationship with Christ".  Theosis  or becoming a member of the Mystical Body of Christ through sanctifying grace seem better ways to express this sacramental reality.  Christ comes today in mystery. 
                               

Christ has established His Kingdom on earth and is reorganizing all social relations around the Eucharistic priesthood, the sacrament of marriage, and the covenants of the nations. He is moving history to its culmination when He will return amidst his angels and the Church to fully restore His kingship by uniting the submitting nations and dispersing the Evil One from the earth. We are not waiting for our individual souls to go to heaven. We are working to draw humanity into the Body of Christ. That is truly the Opus Dei which Christians share. Led by the Holy Spirit, we conspire to make humanity fit to be the Body of our returning Head. This is the one true world wide conspiracy. We have put on the Heart of Christ and are building the Kingdom on earth to be consummated in the fitting time of the Lord. Our mission is to be sure at that time of the final separation and expulsion, the Devil gets as few of our people as possible.   Christ is coming in majesty. 

So let us begin our Advent – the little Lent in which we set aside some part of ourselves to better attend these three comings.

                                               

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, December 2

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

THE WEEKLY BRIEF
                               A POST COLD WAR NATIONALIST FOREIGN POLICY:                                                         BANDWAGON REGIONAL POWERS; DON'T ENCIRCLE THEM WITH NEIGHBORS
The elitist rebellion against the legitimacy of the Trump presidency has poisoned our ability
 to focus our national attention on America at the brink of war with nations in Asia and the Mideast. If love is blind, hatred is both blind and drunk. President Trump's policy of an emerging nationalism against the atheist globalism of a decaying western elite is very much a work in progress. He needs Democrats and Republicans acting as American statesmen as well as religious men with a sense of world history to help him see anew the post Cold War landscape. There is a lot to sort out and a lot of well entrenched hatreds that must not be allowed to substitute for strategy in foreign policy.
The two nations in the Mideast who most need their borders and governments to be secure from foreign attack are Shiite Iran and Jewish Israel. Unlike the Palestinian fantasy, they are both real nations who won their boundaries the old fashioned way-they fought for them. It was the singular achievement of the Obama-Kerry Diplomacy initiative to pull back from US foreign policy of incoherent support for Saudi Arabia: the spiritual home of  anti Shiite salafists. Their attempt to reintegrate Iran as a sovereign nation in the diplomacy of the region was a realistic necessary move in sorting out the real religious sources of 9/11 and worldwide salafist terrorism. President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry carried out a policy that none of their presidential opponents could have imagined-not Hillary Clinton, not John McCain and not George Bush. Foreign governments came to the halls of Congress to undermine them. None dared whisper collusion. The Democratic leadership is so busy hating Donald Trump that they are not mounting a defense of the singular greatest act of Democratic Party diplomacy since the end of the Cold War. Just when our country needs the eloquent public policy criticism of Minnesota's Eugene McCarthy, we look to that venerable Senate seat and find a coarse pornographic comedian doing his thing.  Articulate non hating anti war Democrats are needed to prevent our country from being drawn into war by a 32 year old Saudi Prince. President Trump has a blind spot toward one of the great nations of history. This is fed by his military advisors and the Prime Minister of Israel. He and his advisors need their fellow countrymen to remind them that a nationalist foreign policy includes respect for the civilizational bulwark that is Persian Iran.
In Asia the antidote to war with North Korea will pass through China and South Korea. We must accept that region is going to dominated by China.  This of course is anathema to "China hawks" one of whom is Steve Bannon. The US cannot expect China to play its stabilizing regional role with North Korea if our overall strategic policy is to organize an alliance of India, Australia, and Japan to contain China. Our foreign policy is still trapped by the three great encirclements of the post Cold War era. We have organized alliances against Russia, against China and against Iran. We actually need all three of those major regional powers to build world peace--one region at a time. But we will have to accept that they too are nations with their own spheres of influence and relations. We must bandwagon with the regional powers not organize the little guys in a balance of power encirclement. This is the difference between a big man  policy made by executives Donald Trump and  Rex Tillerson and a recipe for perpetual war stirred up by the likes of little Marco Rubio and wee Willie Kristol.             


I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

POPE SAYS GENDER IDEOLOGY IS IDEOLOGICAL COLONIZATION: Preaching on the Maccabean defense of the sacred against colonizers, Pope Francis treats gender ideology and abortion as a foreign oppression imposed on the traditional communities of the globe. The Jews were mistreated in the same way two centuries before Christ by the desacralizing oppression of the Greeks. This is the brilliant reformulation by which the Pope opposes the sexual revolution. The conservative Catholic press should take his lead and treat the sexual left as white rich kids oppressing the Southern poor. The Maccabeean tale of fathers and sons defending the sacred is a model for our times. This is a very different strategy than building battle ramparts against contraception and abortion. The sexual left in the Catholic universities, chanceries and religious orders will not oppose the Pope's analysis. They will bury his arguments with deliberate neglect. Sooner or later he will say a sentence they can clip out and hoist as a flag to wave for the whole world to see he is "their pope."

BISHOP BARRON - MUST THE NEW EVANGELIZATION BE NEUTER? In a new book interview with Bishop Barron and John Allen, Bishop Barron says the sexual culture war is like the WWI British attack at Gallipoli. It is a battle already lost which has consumed too many resources with no gain.  Thus we should mobilize our troops and attack  on different fronts. From the review:
In a similar way, Barron claims that the Church has been fruitlessly pouring resources into promoting the Church’s teaching on sexuality in the past generation. The campaign, no matter how well-intentioned, has not yielded the hoped-for results and it is time to deploy our resources elsewhere. This diversion of resources does not amount to abandoning the Church’s demanding sexual ethic, he said. Rather, it involves employing a new strategy in evangelization and trying to find more favorable terrain on which to engage in the evangelical enterprise. It is better to divert our resources into more winnable battles. After all, says Barron, who in the world would put down the Gospel of Saint Matthew after having read it and conclude that the first thing that he needs to do is get his sexual life in order?
At AOA we have argued for a deeper engagement with the sexual anarchy of the modern West with the Catholic Symphony of Fatherhood, Brotherhood Marriage and the Virgin Mother. Bishop Barron was formed in one of the most homosexually besot diocese in America--Chicago. In the face of such deep perversion and confusion, many orthodox good-hearted men became neutered proponents of orthodoxy. That really will not do. A culture of life is a culture of protection and the Christian strategy of protection has a;ways ben based on sex roles.  Gallipoli could have been won says Churchill if larger resources would have been applied. The way Churchill describes Gallipoli it was a failure of nerve by his superiors to commit the full resources needed to win on the new front.  The culture war has never seen the full Catholic arsenal of patriarchy(the rule of the Father), the male priesthood as a fraternity of fathers, male-female monogamy as a sign of sacral unity (not modernist equality)  and virginity and motherhood as the highest expressions of feminine maturity. Bishop Barron is a true son of cowardly Chicago clerics. His failure to find a way to capture Gallipoli is like the spies who came back to Moses and said we are grasshoppers and our foes are giants. We cannot take the city. For their lack of trust in God, the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years.

PROVIDENCE AND THANKSGIVING: John Horvat II is a clear thinker and eloquent pen arguing for a return to order needed in this era of chaos. He never omits the author of all order in his reflections and prescriptions.


II. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST

FIRST THEY KILLED THE SHIITES, THEN THEY KILL THE SUFIS: THE ONGOING TAKFIR: This is a religious war. The Salafist Sunni jihadists are state-based in the Wahabbi clerics of Saudi Arabia. They have control of Mecca and Medina. When 235 Sufi Muslims were killed in the Sinai, was Iran a suspect? Of course not! The Cromwellian Muslims who wish to return to the ancestors and purify Islam are trying first to eliminate the homegrown apostates (Accusing a fellow Muslim of not really being a Muslim is called takfir). The group to be condemned and slaughtered is first and foremost Shiites, especially Shiites who form states to protect themselves. This is why the new Saudi strategy aimed at Shiites in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen was willing to make an alliance with Jews (Israel) and Christians (America) to purify the region. We must think clearly. We must think religiously or we will continue to be played by those who swim in deeper waters.

KILLING SHIITES IN YEMEN: It is not enough to call this a humanitarian disaster - though it certainly is. To face what is happening in Yemen, we will have to pull out of the war against Iran. We will have to unhook our arsenal and support from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

DEOBANDIS MEET IN VIRGINIA: The Deobandi of South Asia are a faction in Sunni Islam like the Wahabbis of the Mideast, They are the Salafist brand of Islam in Pakistan as the Wahabbis are in Saudi Arabia. A report on a meeting.

TILLERSON, KUSHNER, AND THE SAUDIS: Interesting speculations.

THE TARGET OF SAUDIS AND ISRAELIS IN LEBANON IS HEZBOLLAH BUT THE VICTIMS WILL BE CHRISTIANS: and the traditional Lebanese solution of a multi confessional state.


III. R&G ROUND UP

JONATHAN HAIDT ON OUTRAGE: Powerline's Scott Johnson recommends a video of Haidt talk.

CHARLES MANSON AND THE CHICAGO LEFTISTS WHO LIONIZED HIM: by Paul Kengor.

CHINA AND RELIGION: Worship God but don't threaten national security. China needs a spiritual core but it can never allow another Taiping Rebellion. Religion in China must present itself in the name of a proper communal duty, not individual autonomy. Getting this right will be measured in thousands of lives - millions of souls.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Nov 30: Saint Andrew and the 2,000 Byzantine monks on the Holy Mountain


[first published November 30, 2016]



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 is right that we deepen our understanding of our Christian brothers in Greece and Russia. East and West, the bonds of a praying brotherhood define the monastic and Apostolic Church. But in the heart of this all-male environment where even the animals must be male, there is a special presence and she is decidedly feminine.

"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!"


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Literary lions and their cheap-grace "mercy"



In 1962 -- five years after the disappearance of a high-school cheerleader in New Jersey -- William Buckley began corresponding with the inmate who had been convicted of her murder in the first degree. Through the influence of the famous conservative writer, Edgar Smith (who had always insisted on his innocence) was released from prison in late 1971.

Several years later Smith abducted a 33-year-old woman at knife-point; she escaped, and he was captured. He soon admitted that he had, indeed, killed the New Jersey teenager.



William Buckley hosting prison parolee Smith on his "Firing Line" show




Norman Mailer began his own correspondence with a prison inmate in 1977: Jack Henry Abbott. His crimes included forgery, escaping from prison, bank robbery, and killing a fellow inmate. But Mailer pushed and cajoled for Abbott to be paroled early, and he was soon walking the streets of New York as the toast of the literati. (Jack Henry Abbott -- just like Edgar Smith -- had written a book or two).

A couple months later Abbott got in an argument with a 22-year-old waiter/actor, and stabbed him to death.




Norman Mailer making his way to a parole hearing for Mr. Abbott,
accompanied by actors Susan Sarandon and Christopher Walken



One hopes that Messrs Buckley and Mailer were jolted into genuine contrition for the victims; and that each man sat down at his writing desk, and sent off a short note to the families -- along with a large check.




UPDATE: The words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died before turning forty (he was executed at Flossenburg concentration camp in April 1945):

"Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again... 
"Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: 'ye were bought at a price,' and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Sunday, November 26, 2017

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 less like friendship and more like incorporation, we don’t emotionally emphasize our "personal relationship with Christ" -- but we look, instead, from the vantage of Holy Communion, 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 to provide for the civic common good by enforcing justice. Such a city on a hill gives honor to 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 25, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 25

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch 

THE WEEKLY BRIEF

"...with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience...we fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union."  
Abraham Lincoln establishing Thanksgiving as a national day of repentance and prayer.


I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

PRIEST, JESUIT, LATIN AMERICAN: Understanding Pope Francis. It helps to read Spanish.

THE PERSON - WHERE THE WORD CAME FROM: Christians recruited the word "person" to describe the interpersonal nature of a Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That made the word much richer describing a much richer reality.  This divine vocabulary now helps us describe the phenomenon of man. Human persons are like the eukaryotic cells that make up multicellular organisms. We are like the three persons in the Trinitarian God. We are meant to live in a deep web of interlocking relations. At the deepest is the Mystical Body of Christ. The Nation and Marriage are two other sacred interpersonal covenants which demonstrate the communal nature of the person.

Roger Scruton is severely limited as a thinker because he cannot humble his mighty intellect to worship and submit to God. But he is intellectually honest enough to always lead his readers very close to the truth. From Roger Scruton's book On Human Nature:
The term persona comes to us from the Roman and Etruscan theater, where it denoted the mask worn by the actor and therefore the character whom the actor portrayed. The term was borrowed by Roman law to describe any entity that has judiciable rights and duties, including corporate entities and other more abstract constructions. It was borrowed again by early Christian theologians in order to explain the doctrine of the Trinity, by distinguishing the three persons of God. Discussions of the Trinity led to the view that personhood belongs to the essence of whatever possesses it, and the sixth-century philosopher Boethius took this as his cue in defining the essential nature of the human being.
CATHOLIC INTELLECTUALS AS NEOCONS: There is a certain kind of Catholic intellectual well tenured at secular universities who portrays himself as the "prophet" but does not really contend with the atheistic anti sexual anti culture of the Academy. A brutal takedown and rigorous analysis by Bruce Frohnen of the intellectual paucity of Princeton's Robert George.

THE REFORMATION 500 YEARS AGO: Luther split apart Christendom. He desacralized the Mass, the Monasteries and Mary.  The sacred liturgy, the priesthood and human nature were all deformed after the rebellion. Five Books reviewed by Frederick Blonigen tell this tale.

ON THE OTHER HAND: The translations of the Bible into German and English were followed centuries later by missionary movements translating the word of God for multiple cultures in their own tongue. How many men were brought closer to Christ because of these encounters with the Word? The great republican nations of the Netherlands and the United States are fruits of the preaching of the Reformation. So was much of the antislavery movement in the 19th century and the interracial Christian civil rights movement of the 20th century. The two great worldwide Christian movements of the 20th century are the very Catholic Second Vatican Council and the very Protestant Pentecostal outpouring. The price of the Reformation was paid most dearly in Germany. May a reformed Catholic Church and a repentant German nation find a way to redeem all the blood spilled in this ongoing conflict.

A SIGN OF THE SACRED: The black cassock of the priest.

LIVING AS A ZOMBIE: Why some men kill.

NOT LIVING AS A ZOMBIE: Fr. James Schall on sad songs.


II. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST

YEMEN: The different interests in the war - good background and analysis.

IS THE SUNNI LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER: A hostage of the Saudis?  He is back in Lebanon but what really happened to the Sunni leader who was in a coalition with the Shiites of Hezbollah and the Maronite Christians of Lebanon.

ISRAEL DEFENSE CHIEF INTERVIEWED IN SAUDI PRESS: We will share info in battling Iran.
 The Israelis are trusting a foreign prince and his wealth not the Lord. That has never worked out before.

ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER: We will not let Syria become a territory of Iran. The Palestinians are yesterday's sideshow. Today's question is: "Will the US join the Saudi war against Shiites and  Israel's war against Iran?

KILLING SUFIS AND SHIITES: MORE VICTIMS OF THE SALAFIST PURIFICATION 
The murder of 250 Sufi Muslims at prayer in the Sinai (Nov 24, 2017) is a bloody reminder of the religious nature of the war in the Mideast. We continue to argue for a major reformulation of our allies and foes against the Salafist Wahhabi movement that treats Shiites and the more mystical Sufi Sunnis as apostates. This branding of fellow Muslims as apostates (and therefore deserving of death) is called takfir.  This purification movement within Islam is advocated by the Wahhabi clergy whose control of Mecca and Medina is protected by the Saudi royal family. There is no-one who knows anything about religion and the Mideast that believed this bombing was orchestrated by the Shiites of Iran. The "greatest worldwide state sponsors of terrorism" are those states that foster the Hanbali legal tradition of the salafists.


III. R&G ROUND UP

A SHORT HISTORY OF UNITARIANS AND: The desacralizing of the American elite. This story is the backdrop of the ideology that fed the American public education system from its East Coast progenitors. Then as now the religious progressivism of Men who were fleeing orthodox Christianity was taught to America's children as the American way.

NO ONE LIKE REGIME CHANGE BUT IF IT MEANS GOODBYE TO GRACE MUGABE - BRING ON THE MILITARY COUP: Mao's actress wife was part of the gang of four which afflicted China with the cultural revolution. Grace Mugabe was plucked from the steno typing pool and made President Mugabe's Royal Queen. She is no Evita. The Clintonian tactic of getting the Presidential office into the hands of the ambitious wife is not going to work in Zimbwabe.  

IS CHINA MEANT TO BE OUR CIVILIZATIONAL ENEMY? Pat Buchanan is not ready to sign on for that long cold war. Steve Bannon doesn't want war with Russia but he sounds like a China hawk.

HOW TO THINK ABOUT PUTIN: By Christopher Caldwell. The best single essay on understanding Putin and the fate of Russia after the Cold War.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

THANKSGIVING: Don’t call it Turkey Day


[first published November 22, 2012]



David Pence writes:


Thanksgiving Day is an embarrassing holiday for the atheists. Whom should 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. There were formal acts of prayerful thanksgiving before we became a nation but unfortunately for the Protestant imagination the first such acts were in that old liturgical  form of the Catholic Mass.

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 of a repentant nation to a Sovereign 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 but remember we are acting as members of the larger national political community.  Let us ask God forgiveness for turning away from Him and allowing these sacred goods to be defiled: His holy Name, our sacred flag, our national brotherhood, the institution of marriage, the protective love of mother for child, and the sacred virginity and innocence of our young. In Lincoln's words: "with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience...we fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union."




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

The Thanksgiving proclamation of our First Continental Congress.
 A reminder from "War on the Rocks" that Thanksgiving is a holiday forged in national wars.
  Lincoln declared the last Thursday of every November as a national holiday at the bequest of Sara Josepha Hale, editor of the popular magazine, Godey's Lady's Book. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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. 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 19, 2017

November 19: “Give rest, O Savior, to the soul of thy servant”

“…whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet…”   
                           (Ishmael in Moby Dick)



Entering this week of high anniversaries of President Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg (Nov 19, 1863) and of John Kennedy’s death in Dallas – as well as the liturgical year drawing to a close, with the Church bowing before the authority and power of Christ our King – the opening scene of Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago came to mind:
They walked and walked and sang “Memory Eternal,” and whenever they stopped, the singing seemed to be carried on by their feet, the horses, the gusts of wind. Passersby made way for the cortege, counted the wreaths, crossed themselves. The curious joined the procession, asked: “Who’s being buried?” “Zhivago,” came the answer. “So that’s it. Now I see.” “Not him. Her.” “It’s all the same. God rest her soul. A rich funeral.” The last minutes flashed by, numbered, irrevocable. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and those who dwell therein.” The priest, tracing a cross, threw a handful of earth onto Marya Nikolaevna. They sang “With the souls of the righteous.” A terrible bustle began. The coffin was closed, nailed shut, lowered in. A rain of clods drummed down as four shovels hastily filled the grave. Over it a small mound rose. A ten-year-old boy climbed onto it. Only in the state of torpor and insensibility that usually comes at the end of a big funeral could it have seemed that the boy wanted to speak over his mother’s grave. He raised his head and looked around from that height at the autumn wastes and the domes of the monastery with an absent gaze. His snub-nosed face became distorted. His neck stretched out. If a wolf cub had raised his head with such a movement, it would have been clear that he was about to howl. Covering his face with his hands, the boy burst into sobs. A cloud flying towards him began to lash his hands and face with the wet whips of a cold downpour. A man in black, with narrow, tight-fitting, gathered sleeves, approached the grave. This was the deceased woman’s brother and the weeping boy’s uncle, Nikolai Nikolaevich Vedenyapin, a priest defrocked at his own request. He went up to the boy and led him out of the cemetery.
   
                                                 



“Alleluia. Weeping at the grave creates the song.”