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


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, December 30

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

THE WEEKLY BRIEF
MYANMAR (BURMA): WHERE  BUDDHIST  NATIONALISM  OSTRACIZES   ETHNIC MUSLIMS

Myanmar is a South Asian country of 53 million. The largest ethnic group is the Bamar (70%). In 1989 the military government changed many English names (like Burma) to ethnic equivalents (Myanmar). 88% of the people are Theravada Buddhist. British colonization after the Anglo-Burmese wars (1824-85) brought many Hindus and Muslims from present day India and Bangladesh into Burma. (Best map explanations here). The Burmese nationalist movement in the 1920's saw the immigrants from the subcontinent as part of  British colonization. The newcomers dominated industries and the colonial government. They were never perceived as seeking a common Burmese citizenship with the locals. The Burmese nationalist movement  rooted their nationalism in indigenous precolonial ethnic identities and the Buddhist religion. A 1982 law defining Burmese citizenship deliberately excluded the Rohingya people( a Muslim ethnic group that settled in Burma during the colonization period) when defining the ethnic groups constituting the Burmese nation. They excluded as natives anyone who could not show ancestry before 1823. The 1 million members of the Northwest state of Rahkine (bordering Bangladesh) are thus considered stateless and were advised to return to their previous homeland. In the last two years close to 10,000 Rahkine Muslims have been killed and 400,000 to 900,000 have fled-- mostly to  Muslim Bangladesh. It is ethnic cleansing by exile fed by brutal whole village exterminations to threaten those who might wish to stay. It is mindful of the wholesale ethnic/religous slaughter and mass migrations of the Indian partition in 1947 (15 million displaced; 1.5 million dead). 
    The replacement of Burma's military government (ruled 1962-2011) by the NLD party led by female democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi has actually increased the ability of nationalist advocates to take to the streets and expel their Muslim neighbors. Like the Arab Spring, so called democracy movements often unleash deeper communal identities and hatreds which eventually shape the course of events. The American press has been fairly incoherent in explaining this story. The photo shots of Hillary Clinton toasting Aung Kyi attest to the poverty of the democracy plus female empowerment=progress narrative. In the 200 year struggle for Burmese nationhood, Aung San (1915-1947), the father of Aung Kyi and the Father of the Nation looms large. He was an organizer of the Burmese Independence Army(1941)  and sided with the Japanese initially in WWII as a fighting alternative to British colonialism. He was the founder of the Burmese Communist Party as well.  His assassination in 1947 left his daughter a symbolic figure of national identity. How that national identity will be formalized and who will lead the country is a work in progress. Here is one account that takes religion and history seriously in explaining the carnage and resettlement. 
     Religion, nations, and men--we must learn to speak the real grammar of history to understand these events so we might build brotherhood under God and fraternity among the nations.   

I. CULTURE OF LIFE, CULTURE OF PROTECTION

STAR WARS BETRAYED: Bishop Barron doesn't like the feminist rewrite.

THE PRIEST ANNOUNCES HE IS GAY, THE BISHOP ALLOWS HIM; THE CONGREGATION APPLAUDS: Any problem here? The campaign to make the Catholic Church more gay-friendly is not for confused teens but for well-entrenched homosexual clergy. Here is another highly popular  "gay priest " from Ohio who announced his proclivities in a slightly more dramatic way from a high hotel window in Chicago (the Midwest center for the American homosexual priest subculture).

THE POPE REFORMING THE CLIQUES OF THE CURIA: Seeking men with the universal mission of the Church over the cliques of careerists. Very well put.


II. AROUND THE WORLD R&G ROUND UP

IF CHINA ABANDONS NORTH KOREA: A Scenario.

WHAT GORBACHEV HEARD ABOUT THE EXPANSION OF NATO: After his multiple concessions, archives show he was promised no eastward expansion of NATO by multiple US leaders.


III. AMERICAN POLITICS AND FOREIGN POLICY

A QUICK ROUNDUP ON THE PLOT TO GET TRUMP: They were defending the country from a racist narcissist who was also a sexist idiot. What's a patriot to do?

GENERAL MCMASTER - HIS WORLD VIEW AND SOME SOURCES: A one hour talk from before he was National Security Advisor. The NSS document is quite faithful to his vision. He cites two major sources for his overall vision: 1) Margaret Macmillan's book and essay The Rhyme of History comparing today to pre-WWI.

Reading her essay there is nothing here other than boilerplate international order platitudes. She does have a favorable mention of General McMaster who has returned the favor. She quotes his insight that accomplishing military objectives in a situation without strategic objectives is a fools errand. The Oxford lady professor compares the US alone to the Concert of Powers pre-1914. That seems unhelpful. A real Concert of Powers would include Russia, China, and Iran. That's the idea of a concert of powers vs. a balancing act of regional allies against regional powers. Mrs. MacMillan treats religion as sectarianism and nationalism as atavistic. She does say a good leader must truly understand the "viewpoint of another nation"-either friend or foe. There is no evidence she shows of understanding the three great civilizational nations who have become the boogymen of international globalists: China, Iran and Russia.

2) The Unquiet Frontier by Jakub Grygiel and A. Wess Mitchell - Grygiel and Mitchell are the authors that introduce the language of the "revisionist nations" who are supposedly challenging the US as the keeper of the international order. Three challenged allies are Taiwan, Israel, and Poland against the regional revisionists China, Iran, and Russia. This is the three encirclements strategy (our term) at the heart of the NSS document and American foreign policy as understood by John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and George Bush. President Obama rejected the "surround Iran" part of the strategy.

Here is the blurb for The Unquiet Frontier - a synopsis of the globalist vision if there ever was one:
From the Baltic to the South China Sea, newly assertive authoritarian states sense an opportunity to resurrect old empires or build new ones at America's expense. Hoping that U.S. decline is real, nations such as Russia, Iran, and China are testing Washington's resolve by targeting vulnerable allies at the frontiers of American power. The Unquiet Frontier explains why the United States needs a new grand strategy that uses strong frontier alliance networks to raise the costs of military aggression in the new century.

Jakub Grygiel and Wess Mitchell describe the aggressive methods rival nations are using to test U.S. power in strategically critical regions throughout the world. They show how rising and revisionist powers are putting pressure on our frontier allies―countries like Poland, Israel, and Taiwan―to gauge our leaders' commitment to upholding the U.S.-led global order. To cope with these dangerous dynamics, nervous U.S. allies are diversifying their national-security "menu cards" by beefing up their militaries or even aligning with their aggressors. Grygiel and Mitchell reveal how numerous would-be great powers use an arsenal of asymmetric techniques to probe and sift American strength across several regions simultaneously, and how rivals and allies alike are learning from America's management of increasingly interlinked global crises to hone effective strategies of their own.

The Unquiet Frontier demonstrates why the United States must strengthen the international order that has provided greater benefits to the world than any in history.
BEST SUMMARY OF CHANGES IN THE TAX BILL - NOTHING BUT THE FACTS


  • Increases the standard deduction to $12,000 for single filers, $18,000 for heads of household, and $24,000 for joint filers in 2018 (compared to $6,500, $9,550, and $13,000 respectively under current law).
  • Eliminates the personal exemption.
  • Retains the charitable contribution deduction, and limits the mortgage interest deduction to the first $750,000 in principal value. Limits the state and local tax deduction to a combined $10,000 for income, sales, and property taxes. Taxes paid or accrued in carrying on a trade or business are not limited.
  • Expands the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, while increasing the phaseout from $110,000 in current law to $400,000 married couples. The first $1,400 would be refundable.
  • Effectively repeals the individual mandate penalty, by lowering the penalty amount to $0, effective January 1, 2019.
  • Raises the exemption on the alternative minimum tax from $86,200 to $109,400 for married filers, and increases the phaseout threshold to $1 million.
  • Reduces corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

December 28: The Feast of the Holy Innocents


[first published December 28, 2014]


David Pence writes:


The birth of a baby in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago revealed to chosen witnesses what his mother had kept hidden for nine months, and his Father in heaven had concealed before the foundation of the world. The angels sang hosanna from heaven, three wise rulers knelt to recognize a new kingdom was being established, and all wisdom would be recast in light of the star over the manger. The Jewish shepherds were there to acknowledge their Messiah and keep away the wolves. For whenever innocence and purity show their face in this still-fallen world, the wolves gather to destroy.

The day after Christmas, the Church reminds all whose hearts were warmed by the babe in the manger that Stephen was stoned for attesting to the baby-Savior’s true identity. Three days after Christmas, the Church liturgically remembers the Feast of the Holy Innocents. The three wise kings had bent their knees in homage and conformed their minds in faith. But a proud and ignorant Herod ordered a horrible bloodletting, so the screams of Jewish mothers losing their sons might erase the songs of joyous angels welcoming the Son of God.

Vigilant Joseph was warned in a dream of the danger and led his holy family hundreds of miles across hills and desert to the safety of Egypt. He must have pondered the death of so many of his countrymen as he guarded his sacred charges during the flight.

The Church also ponders their deaths on this day, and awards to those Holy Innocents the keys to the kingdom granted to martyred saints. Possibly their deaths and celestial fate may be a lesson for all who have suffered death as an "innocent:" the children at the time of Noah’s flood, the dutiful soldier drowned in the Red Sea, the cremated and tortured prisoners of the tyrants, the villagers buried by molten lava or a raging sea. This day we reflect on how deeply ingrained and inescapable is suffering to the Christian vocation. And, possibly, this day we can also find meaning in those other deaths of innocents -- the child or mother or father who appear on God’s strange and deadly list of patients afflicted by infection or malignancy. May all who experience the mysterious reality of human suffering know the crown of glory bestowed upon the Jewish baby boys who were killed at the births of Moses and of Our Lord.


UPDATE -- From a sermon by Saint Quodvultdeus (a student of Saint Augustine):
"When they tell of one who is born a king, Herod is disturbed. To save his kingdom he resolves to kill him, though if he would have faith in the child, he himself would reign in peace in this life and for ever in the life to come. 
"Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil...  
"How great a gift of grace is here! To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory."

FINALLY -- on this day, we Americans are mindful of our own slaughter of innocents. In some ways it is more horrible that Rachel, instead of weeping, is the one who brings her babe to be slaughtered for career or convenience. Feminism is a bloody Pharaoh. When the sacred goods and the innocents are defiled, sometimes we must cover our own and flee as did Joseph. Other times we must remember  the Maccabees at Hanukkah and gather our brothers under the Father to stop the evil. For sure, we need a new approach as a profile movement organizing a culture of protection not making one more claim for rights.

Monday, December 25, 2017

CHRISTMAS: “Mortals, join the mighty chorus / which the morning stars began”


[first published Christmas 2013]


David Pence writes:

On April 30, 1916, Germany and Austria introduced the first Daylight Savings Bill to reduce the evening use of lamplight fuel during the Great War. This resetting of clocks was to better harmonize man’s calculation of time with the physical experience of daylight in the summer months of the Northern Hemisphere.

On December 25th of every year, there is a world-wide resetting of our spatial-temporal and emotional clocks to an axial experience in the story of man. Every nation looks to Bethlehem, and remembers that in the time of Augustus Caesar a new Adam came to light their way. Our calendars pivot from B.C. (before Christ) to A.D. (annos Domini: the years of the Lord.) In the midst of that blessed night the Incarnation of Our Lord, which for months had been hidden in Our Lady, was made manifest to the Jewish shepherds of Israel. Days later the manifestation ('epiphany') would be experienced by the searching men of the Gentiles. It was a day that reordered the palette of human feelings by elevating joy in God’s presence over all the other emotions. The child in a crib reorganized the physical world bending a star toward Bethlehem to signal that all of matter had a new center of gravity.

Let angels and men sing the Good News – that the Creator of heaven and earth has come to pitch his tent among us. Let us rejoice and be glad.

                                         



UPDATE:

N.T. Wright on the word made flesh.


And finally, from Dale Ahlquist and the American Chesterton Society --


Why is celebrating Christmas an act of defiance?

We should not be surprised that Christmas is controversial. After all, as G.K. Chesterton points out, the word consists of the two most controversial and divisive words in the world: Christ and Mass. And so, in a culture that is increasingly anti-Christian, and especially anti-Catholic, we can expect that celebrating Christmas is going to be counter-cultural.

But we are not celebrating it in order to defy the culture. We are celebrating it because we are happy. We commemorate a joyful event, and we commemorate it joyfully. Of course we will sing and pray and worship. We will also eat and drink and laugh. But the celebration is still an act of defiance. What we are defying, however, is much bigger than our current culture. It goes back much further. It goes back to Pagan times.

“Why, course!” you say. “The pagans didn't like Christianity, and so naturally, celebrating Christmas was an act of defiance against the ancient pagan culture.”

No, that's not what I'm talking about. In fact, Christmas is not an act against the Pagan culture, it is an act very much in keeping with the Pagan culture.

“What?” you ask, slightly startled.

You heard me. Chesterton says it is the one celebration that survives out of all the ancient festivals that once covered the whole earth: “Christmas remains to remind us of those ages, whether Pagan or Christian, when the many acted poetry instead of the few writing it.”

“What?” you ask again, because you have no idea what that means.

I will try to explain, and I will keep quoting Chesterton, who says there is in this old festival something that is both Pagan and Christian: “... that trinity of eating, drinking and praying which to moderns appears irreverent, the holy day which is really a holiday.”

You still seem puzzled, so you ask: “Are you saying Christmas is a Pagan celebration? That the Christians simply borrowed it from the Pagans?”

No, that's not what I'm saying. The Christian meaning of Christmas is certainly not borrowed from anywhere. It is unique. We believe that a virgin gave birth to God Incarnate, that the divine babe was worshipped by angels and shepherds and eastern kings, that he came into the world to save the world from the eternal self-destruction of sin. It was this good news that changed the Pagan world forever. How did it change? It became Christian.

But the celebration of Christmas, a feast that has continued for two thousand years and has spread across the world like light from heaven, has fulfilled a need that men have had for at least the two thousand years that preceded it, that continued through the next millenia after it as the Gospel spread to lands where similar feasts were held in the names of gods who are now no more than footnotes. The feast remained after the Pagan gods were gone. It became the Christmas feast, but the feast itself had an important meaning that also remained even after it was christened.

“Explain,” you say, now losing your patience.

No, I respond. I will have Chesterton explain: “Christmas occurs in the winter. It is the element not merely of contrast, but actually of antagonism. It preserves everything that was best in the merely primitive or pagan view of such ceremonies or such banquets. If we are carousing, at least we are warriors carousing. We hang above us, as it were, the shields and battle-axes with which we must do battle with the giants of the snow and hail. All comfort must be based on discomfort. Man chooses when he wishes to be most joyful the very moment when the whole material universe is most sad. It is this contradiction and mystical defiance which gives a quality of manliness and reality to the old winter feasts which is not characteristic of the sunny felicities of the Earthly Paradise.”

A feast in the middle of winter is defiant of the winter. A fire blazing indoors is defiant of the cold world outside. It is a bold act of faith to have such when the circumstances are completely against it. It represented hope on the part of Pagans. It represents fulfillment on the part of the Christians, for Christ has come. And it is fitting that Christ should come in our “bleak midwinter.” He is the light that comes into a dark world. He is the hope that comes in the middle of despair. The lonely world has been crying out for him. And he has come. His name is Emmanuel. God is with us.

The darkness has not overcome the light. The brute cold has not quenched the flame. So of course we celebrate. And the celebration itself has warmed the whole world. Even the newly-polished pagans and the half-hearted heathens of the modern world, who avoid Christ, cannot help celebrating with the Christians at Christ's birth. They want to join the winter feast rather than pretend to prefer the cold. Christmas is lovable, and they know it. Love and joy come to you, and to you a wassail, too.

                                                     

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, December 23

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch 

 THE WEEKLY BRIEF
The Practical Peace of Christian Realism vs the Perpetual War of Globalism 
In this season of Christmas, Christians assert with joy that the God of the Universe has become man and is calling all nations to live as brothers. As a Christian nation let us formulate a foreign policy consistent with our spiritual nature. Let us live among the nations. We support the nation of Israel in her present defensible borders and with her ancient capital of Jerusalem. We do not however accept the foreign policy of Israel advocating war and regime change in the Shia nation of Iran. Likewise in the season of peace we must reject the hateful anti Shia ideology of the Wahhabi state of Saudi Arabia.  We reject especially the aggressive war against Shia Muslims led by Crown Prince  Muhammed bin Salman in his own Kingdom and throughout the region. As religious men we must understand the war against religious freedom at the heart of the Saudi-Wahhabi kingdom. It is directed today most virulently at Shia populations which is strangely and fatally off the radar of "religious liberty activists". We must understand the  Christians in the Mideast have much more in common with Shia states fighting the salafist Sunni jihadists than with the present war policies of  Saudi Arabia and Israel. We must also remind our allies in  Israel  that a temporary alliance with the Wahhabis will never lead to the acceptance of a Jewish nation in the lands of Islam.  American nationalists must reject the shortsighted Saudi-Israeli alliance just as President Eisenhower rejected the French-Britain-Israel alliance against Egypt in the Suez Crisis of 1956.
 We reject the globalist insistence that the US as "a sole superpower" must deny regional powers their own natural spheres of influence. We Americans constitute one nation among many nations under one God. We do not share the exaltation of our own arms that seems the organizing principle of our 2017 NSS strategy (see below). Such military overreach apart from spiritual purposes is not a Christian nationalist foreign policy. A nationalist policy recognizes that dominant nations in various regions will organize relations in their own  regions. The US is not called to be  the keeper of global order and the suppressor of regional hegemony.  This has never been the America First vision of Donald Trump proposed in his speeches (see below).  The globalization vision of America as a suppressor of regional powers often calls itself  "realism." This atheistic worldview of Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain was rejected in three Presidential elections by American voters who elected two very different foreign policy dissidents in  Barack Obama and Donald Trump. The rejected globalist policy (still very much alive in the 2017 NSS document) treats  Russia, Iran and China as "revisionist" regional powers to be opposed by the US and various "regional allies."  President Obama rejected this approach to Iran and President Trump hopes to reject this approach to Russia. We would add that the US should not contest China's preeminent role in the China Sea.  The globalist deep state, the huge military armaments industry,  Saudi Arabia and Israel are presently set against an emerging American nationalist policy in the Mideast. The largest Christian nation in the world can no longer leave American foreign policy to a toxic combo of careerists in the foreign policy establishment and the moneyed lobbyists of foreign nations. We suggest at Christmas a Christian alternative.   

I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

CHRISTMAS COMES: The centrality of Christ - John Piper. To receive Christ, first humility.

A RABBI, A BISHOP, AN IMMAN, A BLACK LEADER, A HISPANIC ACTIVIST, A LUTHERAN, AN ANGLICAN AND AN ORTHODOXMale and female He created them THEY ALL SAID TOGETHER.


II. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST

SAUDI-IRAN RIVALRY AND DECISION TO RECOGNIZE JERUSALEM AS CAPITAL OF ISRAELThe Iranians are looking like the defenders of Muslims and Arabs.

WAR DRUMS IN THE MIDEAST - A PIVOTAL MOMENT WAS THE 1996 NEOCONSERVATIVE "CLEAN BREAK" STRATEGY AIMED AT REGIME CHANGE IN IRAQ, SYRIA, AND IRANThis explains things well.

AFTER BEING BOMBED FOR A YEAR, THE HOUTHIS SHOT A MISSILE AT SAUDI ARABIAThis is being touted as conclusive evidence that the Houthi defense from foreign aggression by the Muhammed bin Salman-led Saudis is really Iranian terrorism. The abysmal public and journalistic ignorance of recent international history allows these fabrications.


III. AMERICAN POLITICS AND FOREIGN POLICY

ISIS IS GONE AND ASSAD IS STILL HERE. TRUMP WAS RIGHT AND THE GREAT FOREIGN POLICY THINKERS WERE WRONG: The foreign policy establishment who were so spectacularly wrong about Assad are also wrong about Iran. Reading their old quotes is chilling.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND - SENATOR FROM NEW YORK: Getting to know her.

ROY MOORE DEFEATED: Two takes. His white evangelical vote was lowest in two decades and is what beat him. Rusty Reno at First Things goes way too far in piling on Moore. He talks about Moore as a "transgressive" because he would not take down the Ten Commandments on Supreme Court grounds and he urged judges to disobey the federal imposition of marriage between same sex couples. Were the Maccabees transgressive? Reno has been one of the few writers at First Things who has been open to a more nationalistic view political loyalties in the Trump era. This article was not insight but piling on.

THE THREE ENCIRCLEMENTS. FOR MANY REALISTS THE FOREIGN POLICY OF A SUPERPOWER SHOULD BE ORGANIZING ALLIANCES AGAINST REGIONAL HEGEMONS - CHINA, IRAN AND RUSSIA:
1) Marco Rubio leads the way organizing the region against China.

2) Everybody against Iran in the Mideast is turning into Israel, the US, and Muhammed bin Salman against Iran. Our Secretary of Defense and UN ambassador are leading the charge. From DoD News-U.S. Defense Department:
"Everywhere you find turmoil [in the Middle East], you find Iran's hand in it," Defense Secretary James Mattis said Friday. Referring to U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley's briefing Thursday which included physical evidence that Iran is providing ballistic missiles to the Houthis, Mattis said, "What we are doing in that region is standing by allies and partners, and we're, on one hand, exposing, on the other hand, helping them build their own capability to reject Iranian influence."

"We find Iran actively engaged in keeping [Syrian President] Assad in power, despite the murder of his own people on the industrial scale, including the use of chem ical weapons. We see what [Iran has] done with Lebanese Hizbullah in Lebanon and the threat to peace and the support they've given to Assad and the threat to Israel, for example." Mattis added, "The reason Ambassador Haley was there, and not one of our generals, is this is a diplomatically-led effort to expose to the world what Iran is up to."
3) The failed post Cold War policy of isolating Russia continues in the hysterical anti-Trump resistance movement trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

CHINA - DEVELOPING CREDIT AND SOCIAL RANK: Another revolution by the most dynamic economic society on earth.

FOR MANY CONSERVATIVES THEIR PRINCIPAL PROBLEM IS THEY ADOPT THE STRAUSIAN ERROR THAT THE MODERN/CLASSIC DIVIDE IS THE FUNDAMENTAL AXIS MUNDI: It isn't - the Coming of Christ is the axis mundi. That is a major theme at AOA and is alluded to in this article at Public Discourse by Paul DeHart. His article becomes a long discussion of the natural law. DeHart is on to something much more fundamental. We have argued that the fall of the Modern West is not to be grieved. Christianity lives! At Crisis magazine an English writer speaks of the ethnic origins of nations and the possibility of stateless Europeans. He is missing the fundamental insight of Christopher Dawson that Christianity is the core cult of the European nations. The discussion among most of the neoconservative Catholic world on global Christianity and the nations is pretty thin gruel. This writer is stabbing at the right questions.

AMONG CONSERVATIVES YUVAL LEVIN OR VICTOR DAVIS HANSONA good review of two positions among conservatives.

NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY - A NATIONALIST PRESIDENT AND HIS GLOBALIZED MILITARY: A new President but this seems the old strategy. Regional analysis from the National Security Strategy of the United States of America 2017 (below):
ON CHINA: A geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of world order is taking place in the Indo-Pacific region. China’s infrastructure investments and trade strategies reinforce its geopolitical aspirations. Its efforts to build and militarize outposts in the South China Sea endanger the free flow of trade, threaten the sovereignty of other nations, and undermine regional stability. China has mounted a rapid military modernization campaign designed to limit U.S. access to the region and provide China a freer hand there. China presents its ambitions as mutually beneficial, but Chinese dominance risks diminishing the sovereignty of many states in the Indo- Pacific. States throughout the region are calling for sustained U.S. leadership in a collective response that upholds a regional order respectful of sovereignty and independence. China is gaining a strategic foothold in Europe by expanding its unfair trade practices and investing in key industries, sensitive technologies, and infrastructure.

ON KOREA: In Northeast Asia, the North Korean regime is rapidly accelerating its cyber, nuclear, and ballistic missile programs. North Korea’s pursuit of these weapons poses a global threat that requires a global response. Continued provocations by North Korea will prompt neighboring countries and the United States to further strengthen security bonds and take additional measures to protect themselves. North Korea seeks the capability to kill millions of Americans with nuclear weapons. Iran supports terrorist groups and openly calls for our destruction.

ON RUSSIA: Although the menace of Soviet communism is gone, new threats test our will. Russia is using subversive measures to weaken the credibility of America’s commitment to Europe, undermine transatlantic unity, and weaken European institutions and governments. With its invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, Russia demonstrated its willingness to violate the sovereignty of states in the region. Russia continues to intimidate its neighbors with threatening behavior, such as nuclear posturing and the forward deployment of offensive capabilities.

ON NATO AND THE WILLINGNESS TO GO TO WAR FOR ANY MEMBER: The NATO alliance of free and sovereign states is one of our great advantages over our competitors, and the United States remains committed to Article V of the Treaty.

ON THE MIDEAST: The United States seeks a Middle East that is not a safe haven or breeding ground for jihadist terrorists, not dominated by any power hostile to the United States, and that contributes to a stable global energy market. For years, the interconnected problems of Iranian expansion, state collapse, jihadist ideology, socio-economic stagnation, and regional rivalries have convulsed the Middle East. Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, has taken advantage of instability to expand its influence through partners and proxies, weapon proliferation, and funding. Iran continues to perpetuate the cycle of violence in the region, causing grievous harm to civilian populations. Today,the threats from jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.

ON SOUTH ASIA: We will deepen our strategic partnership with India and support its leadership role in Indian Ocean security and throughout the broader region. We will press Pakistan to intensify its counterterrorism efforts, since no partnership can survive a country’s support for militants and terrorists who target a partner’s own service members and officials. The United States will also encourage Pakistan to continue demonstrating that it is a responsible steward of its nuclear assets. We will continue to partner with Afghanistan to promote peace and securi in the region. We will continue to promote anti-corruption reform in Afghanistan to increase the legitimacy of its government and reduce the appeal of violent extremist organizations. We will help South Asian nations maintain their sovereign as China increases its influence in the region. We will insist that Pakistan take decisive action against militant and terrorist groups operating from its soil.

Pursue Threats to Their Source
Defeat Jihadist Terrorists

Jihadist terrorist organizations present the most dangerous terrorist threat to the Nation. America, alongside our allies and partners, is fighting a long war against these fanatics who advance a totalitarian vision for a global Islamist caliphate that justifies murder and slavery, promotes repression, and seeks to undermine the American way of life. Jihadist terrorists use virtual and physical networks around the world to radicalize isolated individuals, exploit vulnerable populations, and inspire and direct plots. The United States also works with allies and partners to deter and disrupt other foreign terrorist groups that threaten the homeland—including Iranian-backed groups such as Lebanese Hizballah. Jihadist terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al-Qa’ida are determined to Attack the United States and radicalize Americans with their hateful ideology. Non-state actors undermine social order through drug and human trafficking networks, which they use to commit violent crimes and kill thousands of American each year.

ON REGIONAL STRATEGIES: The United States must marshal the will and capabilities to compete and prevent unfavorable shifts in the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Sustaining favorable balances of power will require a strong commitment and close cooperation with allies and partners because allies and partners magnify U.S. power and extend U.S. influence.
PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SPEECH INTRODUCED BY VP PENCE TO MILITARY AND SECRETARIES TILLERSON AND MATTISThe speech. ISIS caliphate has crumbled. America First. A Wall and closing lottery and chain migration. In his speech, he called Russia and China "competitive rivals" who we could cooperate with. As an example he told of recent US warning Russia of terror attack in Russia which was foiled because of our information sharing. His speech opened many more paths than the written strategy which is a repetition of the triple encirclements of China, Iran, and Russia to prevent regional hegemony. This posing of America as a rival to regional powers in Europe, the Far East, and the Mideast is the globalist strategy which needs to be countered with an American nationalist and Christian realist approach that allows other large powers to dominate their own regional relations. The hate Trump movement is stopping a sharper discussion with the President about the contradictions in his policy. Again his speech was much less bellicose and more encouraging that a truly different approach is being considered. A major problem is certain personnel like his UN ambassador are deeply entrenched in the globalist four war paradigm (stalemate in Afghanistan, organize balancing coalitions vs. Iran, vs. China, vs. Russia).


IV. CULTURE OF LIFE, CULTURE OF PROTECTION

CARDINAL LAW IS DEAD: The former Archbishop of Boston resigned in 2002 following the discovery that he had participated in shielding predator homosexual priests in Boston since 1984. It was soon discovered that this was not an isolated practice. Read AoA's argument for the masculine anthropology and punitive approach needed to  restore the Catholic priesthood.

AUSTRALIAN SEXUAL ABUSE90% of the victims in the Catholic institutions were male. Certain orders of brothers were the worst perpetrators. 30% of the abusers were priests. 1 of every 14 priests was an abuser. The Royal Commission had two particular suggestions for the Catholics. 1) Get rid of celibacy laws and 2) disallow the seal of Confession. The deep infiltration of the priesthood and religious orders by active homosexuals deeply opposed to traditional Catholic codes of purity and fraternity was not mentioned as a possible source of the scandal. The final report of the Commission deals with many more institutions than the Catholic Church and the specifically homosexual preponderance in catholic institutions was present in the larger report but not as striking. The desertion of the flock by shepherds and the absence of a functioning fatherhood is a consequence of a brotherhood fatally compromised by a homosexual subculture.  .

POLITICS CRIME AND ESTABLISHING ORDERA look at crime and punishment in pre-revolutionary Russia. Many insights from this book by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, an emeritus professor of history at the University of California. There is something about this analysis of lawlessness in Petrograd that evokes CHICAGO.
"Hasegawa draws on the founder of sociology, Emile Durkheim, to explain these changes. Petrograd was in a condition of anomie, or normlessness, that arises from a breakdown in what Durkheim called organic solidarity. Organic solidarity are the systems of belief held in common by people of complex, modern societies characterized by the division of labor and social differentiation. It enables interdependence in an increasingly individualized world. The political and economic crises that fed the crime wave caused a breakdown in norms and significantly altered the body of conventions that had previously governed social relations. The meta rules of living together that had previously allowed for peaceful coexistence were no longer relevant. The revolution swept all of that away."

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Refueling above the clouds



An F-22 Raptor over Iraq


Ever wonder what's involved in refueling a military jet while in flight? Check this out.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, December 16

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

THE WEEKLY BRIEF
STOP SEXUAL HARASSMENT.  REPEAL THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION. 
RESTORE PATRIARCHY AND BROTHERHOOD. 
     It started with overthrowing patriarchy. The rule of the father is of course grounded in the deeply Christian understanding that the Trinitarian God is Father--a loving Protector and Authority who should be worshipped, thanked and obeyed. What His Son did, we should do as well--obey the Father; submit to the patriarchy. This is how we reverse the atomization of original sin and restore our interpersonal communal nature.  "Original sin" said Pope John Paul II attempted "to abolish Fatherhood." The bumper sticker said, "Well behaved women don't make history" so the modern Eves rejected the two petitions of the Our Father saying God's will and rule should be extended on earth as it is in heaven.  Overthrow the patriarchy! Hundreds of male theologians joined the revolution  saying God has no gender. 
     Step Two was abolishing all male institutions from seminary education to the military officer schools to civic service clubs, to fire stations,  to the Boy Scouts. The all male group was seen as a social evil to be destroyed. The male female singular character of marriage could not be assailed until the all male corporate character of civic, religious and workplace brotherhoods were undermined. Patriarchy and Fraternity are the Christian forms of love that turn boys into men and teach them to be protectors of women and reserve conjugal relations with a woman only after a formal ceremony of  giving consent called a wedding. The Marian ideal of virgin, mother, and Queen evoked from Christian men the chivalry of knighthood codes, courtship rituals, and the ethos of the gentleman. Let us return to our Christian roots.
   The leadership of the Chinese Communist Party in 1978  repealed the disastrous ten year social experiment called the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). It had been led by teenage rebels, Mao Tse tung and his ambitious careerist wife, Jiang Qing. The adult men led by Deng Xiaoping returned to power in 1978 after the death of Mao Tse Tung in 1976 to arrest Madame Mao and reestablish legitimate authority.
     We need an American repeal of our own peculiar era of sexual chaos that so desacralized our interpersonal relationships. The Sixties Sexual Revolution was not the completion of the Christian civil rights movement but its betrayal. We have our own Madame Mao. We must learn from the Chinese. We cannot go half way. It was a disaster. It hasn't worked-especially in our clergy, military, policing, and political institutions. We must not be overwhelmed. Let us restore first in our own language, our prayer lives and our own imaginations, the sacral order underlying sexual harmony. Drugs confuse the intellect. Prayer orders the soul.  Patriarchy, fraternity, marriage, motherhood, and virginity. Remove the feminist implant and the atheist cataract! Celebrate the fundamental categories of religious and sexual order.  No stammering and apologizing allowed.  


THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION HAD AN ALTERNATIVE TO MALE SOCIALIZATION UNDER THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD INTO THE BROTHERHOOD OF MALE CITIZENS

                                                                


                 


I. POPE FRANCIS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

THE REFORMATION THE CHURCH AND THE EUCHARIST: Abandon the Mass and Unitarianism is right around the corner. The Eucharist is the real locus in the battle about the Incarnation.

KEEPING THE LORD'S DAY IN POLAND: A bill to limit Sunday commerce.

THE POPE: and the Our Father.

FIGHTING SATAN: Fr. Barron on the Devil.

HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN AND SHOULD BE OUTLAWED: Did Roy Moore say that - Yes indeed.  A messenger compromised so the message didn't quite resonate. When will a southern black Democrat like Charles Barkley make a manly Christian case for care of the poor and racial integration  without a blurring of sexual differences or a repeal of sexual morality? How did the rich urban homosexuals and college feminists  hijack the real civil rights movement for interracial brotherhood and marriage born in the Baptist Bible Belt.

FITNESS FOR THE SENATEThe Kennedy-Moore axis.

FEASTS THIS WEEK:  Hannukah :the eight day remembrance and thanksgiving for the restoration of the sacred by fighting fathers and sons after a great desecration. It certainly is not the Jewish Christmas and it really isn't mostly about the oil miracle. For North American Catholics, this is becoming a major celebration.     Our Lady of Guadalupe: Queen of Mexico and Our Lady of the Americas.


II. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST

SAUDIS, ISRAEL, AND PALESTINE A CONVERSATION WITH JARED KUSHNER AND ANOTHER WITH REIDEL AND FRIEDMAN: The "Trump team" trying to make the deal between Palestine and Israel is three Orthodox Jews and a Coptic Christian. Interesting conversation. Bruce Reidel and Tom Friedman on Saudi Arabia.

Bruce Reidel on the Saudis after his recent book. He says the legislative and judicial branches of American government are turning against the Sauds. Muhammed bin Salman is deeply unpopular in the royal family. There is high probability that he would be assassinated if the King died today. MbS foreign policy is a disaster. Yemen is Mbs signature policy. It is a military quagmire and the greatest humanitarian disaster in the present world. GCC is dead because of Qatar blockade. Saudi foreign policy is much more sectarian than anything since second Saudi kingdom in 19th century. Removing the experienced Muhammed bin Nayef as Crown Prince for a 30 year old relative substituted kin for a legitimate anti terrorist hero. The sectarian part of the Wahhabi code is being pushed harder now than ever. Parts of the Eastern provinces with Shiite opposition are being plowed under. King Salman rebuilt Riyadh from 200,000 to 7 million people as the "most Wahhabi city" in the world. The Salmans have broken all rules inside the royal family. So where is their support? Reidel hints the obvious. The religious establishment will be the young ruler's base not his enemies. Reidel understands this at a much deeper level than the NYTimes reporter Tom Friedman. When MbS told Friedman that he wasn't trying to reform Islam but return to its original moderation, that didn't strike the religiously tone deaf Friedman as the standard definition of salafism. The Friedman article calling MbS an Arab Spring reformer has made the reporter the odds on favorite for this year's Walter Duranty Pulitzer Prize Award.    

Why no Saudigate? A good historical replay of collusion with the Saudi royal family from the Bushes through Clintons to President Trump.

THE UAE AND THE SAUDIS (AND ISRAEL?): A greatly reduced Gulf State alliance. A very dangerous new ally for MbS. The US should not be pulled into this bizarre trap of the young ambitious and doomed MbS with the Iran hating Netanyahu party in Israel.

EGYPT, THE SAUDIS AND ISRAEL - WILL THE GAZA BECOME THE REAL CENTER OF A SECOND STATE? An island swap that cements Israel and the Saudis. Is Jordan becoming the odd man out?

SAUDI CROWN PRINCE BUYS SALVATOR MUNDI: It is difficult to see how this will work out for the increasingly bizarre Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. MbS is waging bloody war against Shiites to hold support of Wahhabi clerics while he does window dressing reforms to keep NYTimes columnists in the reform column. But dropping 450 million for Christian art when he has arrested a portion of the royal family for corruption can't help his case. Before MbS isolated Qatar, the Saudi Wahhabi clerics denounced the regime as not Wahhabi enough. This picture purchase is important. What it means is not clear. The museum where it will be held is in Abu Dhabi, one of the emirates not ruled by the Hanbali school of jurisprudence. The other is Dubai. MbS is becoming the most isolated Muslim in the Mideast. His increasingly public alliance with Israel won't help.

ORGANIZING SUNNI AGAINST THE SAUDISMore on the 2016 Conference to isolate the Salafists.

ISIS ERADICATED ON THE GROUND. ISN'T THIS BIG NEWS? It is in Iraq as a national holiday declared. A month ago it happened in Syria. Could this have something to do with Mattis and Trump? The new US military strategy was important. Iran and Russia were even more important to the defeat of ISIS.

A REAL JOURNALIST - THE MOSUL EYEThe man who documented ISIS.


III. AROUND THE WORLD AND AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY

A PROFILE OF A POSSIBLE ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER: He says stop the immigrants. He is Catholic and believes in God but doesn't go to Mass and confess his sins as often as he should.

INDIA: How India sees its role in the world.

IT IS HARD TO GET CHINA TO HELP US WITH NORTH KOREA IF THEY THINK THEY ARE THE ULTIMATE TARGETS OF THE US TILT TO ASIA: John Pilger film - The Coming War on China.

THE US ADVENTURES ON THE BORDERS OF RUSSIA: Remember John McCain saying "we are all Georgians now"?

NADIA SCHADLOW KEY WRITER OF NATIONAL SECURITY DOCUMENT TO BE PUBLISHED SOON: Her connections for future references. The women at NSC under Trump. This is dated but it gives more information than more recent "profiles". The "gender doesn't matter" National Security professionals are doing quite well in the NSC. There are several documents required by law to help plot overall American foreign policy. The Worldwide Threat assessment by the US Intelligence Community put out by our intelligence agencies. Here is May 2017 report. The National Security Strategy is a document to be prepared by the executive branch to outline overall strategy. The Bush administration in 2002 put out such a strategy. The Obama administration outlined their very different strategic approach in 2010 and 2015. The Trump administration will release a NSS document in the next few weeks.

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. In the Babylonian Talmud there is the story of the miracle of the oil in which one day's supply lasted for eight.  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.
Pope Francis on a Church that is Mestizo, Native, and Black--the true meaning of celebrating diversity through reconciliation.

                                                           

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, December 9

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

THE WEEKLY BRIEF
JERUSALEM
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).



The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception  was recently crowned with its finally completed Dome of the Trinity. The Immaculate Conception is the patronal feast of the American Church. 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.