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


Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday BookReview: Marie Arana's BOLIVAR



[first published January 2, 2015]




Here is the beginning of historian Joseph Ellis' review of Bolívar: American Liberator --
In the elegiac correspondence of their twilight years, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson liked to debate the legacy of the American Revolution they had fought and wrought. Jefferson, anticipating Alexis de Tocqueville, claimed that the core legacy was democracy, which he regarded as a universal principle destined to spread throughout the world.
Adams preferred to call the legacy republicanism, and he did not believe that it was easily transportable. As an example, he cited Latin America, which was burdened with three centuries of Spanish oppression that left no residue of representative government; a toxic mixture of races — European, Creole, African, Indian; and the entrenched hierarchical values of the Catholic Church.
The career of Simon Bolivar suggests that Jefferson and Adams were at least partly correct. With a combination of Jeffersonian felicity and Napoleonic audacity, Bolivar was almost single-handedly responsible for ending the Spanish Empire in South America. Six new nations — Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Bolivia and Peru — owe their existence to Bolivar the Liberator, who also did more to end slavery than any North American founder.
But his vision for what he called New Columbia was hijacked by an endless parade of dictators, warlords and petty tyrants, all products of the hostile conditions that Adams had so accurately described. The arc of Bolivar’s life, then, is truly Shakespearean, from its glorious ascent to its tragic end, when he was reviled and slandered in every republic he had liberated. Unlike Adams and Jefferson, who could look back on their achievement with patriarchal serenity, Bolivar warned his followers that “eventually you’ll find that life is impossible here, with so many sons of bitches.”
Simón Bolívar (born 1783) rode 75,000 miles, "across a vast, inhospitable terrain," to win the freedom of what are now six nations.

He attended the crowning of Napoleon as emperor in 1804. Later in life, he was denounced by Karl Marx as the "meanest of blackguards."

After his triumphs in Peru and Bolivia, Bolívar basked in adulation. "Priests would refer to him in ceremonies as Simon Macabeo, the great Biblical leader of the Israelites against the Babylonian armies."

"Bolívar did not end his days revered and worshiped like George Washington; he died in 1830 on his way to self-imposed exile, despised by many."
                                     
Statue in Venezuela
                                                                                   

Some excerpts from an interview with biographer Marie Arana (the former books editor for the 'Washington Post' who was born in Lima, Peru):

And so, Bolivar was very much on my mind as I grew up, as was the Argentine independence leader Jose de San Martin [d. 1850], and the whole business of revolution even into the twentieth century.

The revolution was also very much on everybody’s tongue, somehow. Everyone was aware of how Spanish you were or how Peruvian you were. Nobody here talks about how English or American you are. We’re past that, but in Peru that sense of the colonial was very much alive...

And Bolivar was not particularly loved in Peru. In the process of writing this biography, I have come to admire and respect him. But I grew up in a country that resented him because, in the course of liberating Peru, he actually reduced it. Before the revolution, Peru was grand and sprawling. It had been the heart of South America when it was a colony. It was rich and important, the power center of the empire. Bolivar called Peru the land of gold and slaves.

But when Bolivar liberated Peru, he shrank it. Peru went from being a great hub to being a republic among many others, and its power was reduced drastically. So Peruvians resented that and couldn’t help but ask, Why do we have these borders that we didn’t have before? Why don’t we have the influence that we had before?

Certainly my father was not a fan of Bolivar. Peru ended up glorifying Jose de San Martin, which is ironic, because San Martin couldn’t get the job of independence done. San Martin came from Argentina and he liberated one city, Lima, but he was stalled, and couldn’t liberate the rest of Peru. So he went begging to Bolivar, and Bolivar essentially said that there was not room for both of them in Peru.

The Peruvians love San Martin for stepping aside and letting Bolivar finish what he started, and it’s San Martin’s statue that is biggest in the center of Lima, but that’s certainly not the case in Venezuela, Colombia or Ecuador, where Bolivar is the hero...

The Spanish colonial system was so much more entrenched than the English colonial system in early America. It had existed much longer with laws that lasted for centuries -- harsh and limiting laws. Race became important and very clearly defined, and the color of one’s skin was registered at birth and monitored...

Q: Race is an important aspect of the story you tell. Bolivar eventually recruited Indians and mixed race people to his ranks and abolished slavery in 1816, almost a half century before abolition in the United States.

Race was a huge part of the wars of independence. The wars could not have been fought and won without engaging all of the races. That was not true in North America where it was as if we pushed race aside and carried on the revolution with race outside the picture.

By the time the wars of independence began in Latin America, it was a cauldron of 300 years of race mixing even though there had been strict laws to keep the races separate. All you need to do is look at the records of birth in Spanish colonial America, and you’ll see that race was clearly recorded. You were fined if you were darker. You had to pay fines or taxes if you were black or Indian, either by producing gold or currency or by enslaving yourself for a while to pay off the debt. So it was a very harsh system.

Bolivar’s revolution was started by the Creoles, the rich whites, who were irked because they didn’t want to pay taxes to a foreign power and because native-born Americans were not in charge of their own destinies, leading the businesses. The rich white Creoles asked, Why aren’t we in power here? We are often more knowledgeable than the Spanish who are sent here to rule us. They were very much like the United States founders in that respect. 

But they couldn’t get the revolution off the ground. It took Bolivar three times to get it going. The third time, he came back from self-exile in Haiti where President Petión had told him that unless he engaged all the races, he would never get the revolution off the ground. Bolivar understood that so profoundly that, after his exile, he said it was clear that he had to emancipate the slaves and get all the races on his side. As far as he was concerned, the enemy was Spain and every color of man needed to unite against that enemy force.

In a methodical fashion, he set out to unite the races, which hadn’t been done before. Spain, in fact, had been trying to get the slaves to oppose the revolution, but Bolivar managed to win many of them to his side. In some respects, South Americans are ignorant of this fact. They don’t realize that the armies that won the revolution against Spain were largely colored, led by Bolivar and his generals.

Q: What was the role of the Catholic Church in Bolivar’s campaigns for independence?

It was a confusing time for the Church and institutionally they knew they had to stick with Spain. At that time, Spain was the most Catholic nation in the world, and certainly the most successful in spreading the Catholic faith.

At the beginning of the revolution, the Church was very close to Spain and any time something happened to crush the revolution they’d say, “Aha. You see God is on Spain’s side.” But as time went on, and throughout the Church history in Latin America, there were divisions. The Jesuits were famously on the side of the indigenous people, although they were also very strict with them. That political involvement was a departure from the Church’s official line, and that’s why the Jesuits were booted out of Latin America in 1767.

The moment that the revolution was over, the Church immediately went over and supported independence. And indeed, nobody had been fighting the Church. It would always be on the side of the powerful. After the revolution was won, it supported Bolivar.

We don’t know how faithful or religious Bolivar was, but he was very respectful of the Church. When he was in power, he always supported the Church because he knew it was the glue that kept the Latin American nations together. He wanted to unite all the republics of South America and he knew the Church would be useful in this, because it was the one thing (along with language) that united all of the people of South America.

Q: Bolivar’s resilience was incredible. It’s almost painful to read of his many military defeats... 

It was well known that Bolivar was greatest in defeat. When he suffered a loss, he came back like a raging bull. And it was after a defeat that he’d have his greatest victory...

Q: Bolivar liberated the colonies but North Americans may be surprised that he favored an authoritarian form of government and he served as a dictator... 

That’s what he feared. He was devoted to liberation. As he fought, he installed schools and government institutions, but the actual work of governing bored him.

He was not a deskman and didn’t like the process, but he realized by the time he got to Ecuador that there was chaos behind him in lands he had liberated and left for others to rule. There was chaos because the Spanish oppression had been so deep that the great masses were not educated. They were unprepared for self-government.

Even as Bolivar liberated lands, the revolution didn’t stop. He understood that the populations were not ready for democracy. They weren’t equipped to vote or organize cogent institutions.

Q: I wondered if your writing [of novels] has been influenced by the vivid magical realism of writers such as Garcia Marquez?

I’m a great debunker of magical realism! Reality itself is so staggering in Latin America that it may strike you as almost magical. But what does that say to you? That the reality itself is so terrible and so overwhelming that it seems dreamlike. The Latin American experience has been so vivid and cruel that it becomes like a dream or nightmare at times.

If you talk about magical realism in that way, I can understand it. But the term as a literary device is damaging to Latin American literature. It ends up heaping a wide variety of literature into one camp...


                                                     

[The six nations that 'El Libertador' helped free from Spain]

Thursday, March 30, 2017

AOA INTERVIEW -- Peter Rieth: How the Souls of Eastern Nations may save the Unity of Europe


by David Pence


[AOA  found Peter Rieth's writings at the Imaginative Conservative blog where he has an extensive set of essays on the nations of eastern Europe. We submitted these questions to him.] 

Can you begin with a biographical short story version —birthplace and year, religion, nationality, education and languages. 

Peter S Rieth: My family history combines American and European traditions. I am an alumnus of Hillsdale College, where I majored in political science. I am a Catholic. I have recently started to write a blog called Afterthoughts on Literature. I was brought up and completed my studies in the United States and I now live in Europe. I am fluent in Polish and English, with my French a work in progress.



At Anthropology of Accord we take a Christopher Dawson approach to history and the life of nations as an unfolding of Divine Providence. We were taken by several of your articles at Imaginative Conservative and another at American Greatness. You seem to have a feel for nations and religion that I don’t see in most conservative Catholics writing on public matters. So, we want you in this interview to help us think about the nations and religion in Europe. I am going to ask you more pointed questions, but how about an opening statement? 

Peter S Rieth: Thank you. It is a pleasure to be able to discuss these matters. I have not read Christopher Dawson. I have only read of him. The notion of the life of nations as the unfolding of Divine Providence is not foreign to me. The best exploration of this theme that I have read is a speech delivered at the invitation of St. John Paul II in 1974. The speech was given by one of the most formidable Catholic thinkers in post-war Europe, Major Henryk Krzeczkowski. I highly recommend it. The principle theme of the text is the romantic poetry of Zygmunt Krasiński and the exploration of the tragic consequences for Europe of the establishment of states that took no notice of nations.

Yes in that piece which you translated at Imaginative Conservative,  he says nations are called by God to play some role in Revelation. He seemed to say the practical way a man works out his duty in carrying out Divine Providence is by his role within his nation. He said nations are "notes in the chord of humanity" and without the living members of nations, humanity would be something dead. I went back and read that again and remember that was one of your writings (actually translations) that made us want to interview you.

We thought the Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo at the Synod on the Family and the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban in general have been eloquent defenders of a sanctified view of sexual roles and the spiritual nature of the nation. How do you see Hungary? Are they dismissed by Europeans more easily than the Poles?  

Peter S Rieth: Hungarians, like Poles, are Europeans. Therefore it is not a question of what Europeans think of them. At best it is a question of what western Europeans think. The West does not understand Eastern Europe, but as the recent EU Council elections demonstrated, they would rather keep the Eastern Europeans close than alienate them further.
Prime Minister Orban is more intelligent than his Polish counterparts and harder to dismiss. The present Polish government lacks any deeper grasp of European affairs. Reading Viktor Orban's speeches, some of which have been made available in English at The Imaginative Conservative, one spies a good thinker at work.
He has gone from an iconoclast in the eyes of western Europe to a man to be reckoned with. His views, once considered fringe, are now visible in official statements from EU leaders. This is because his rhetoric tends to be thoughtful. He argues Hungary's case as Europe's case. Mr. Orban understands the limits of politics and is careful how he expends his political capital.
Hungary's political virtues are more durable than Poland's romantic flights of world-historical fancy. Poland can achieve radical, transformational change in European affairs - the fall of communism comes to mind - but she lacks prudent statesmen capable of the daily bread of political life. Hungary is both a firm Western ally in NATO and the EU as well as the only EU nation state besides Germany to have correctly forged a partnership with Russia.
Hungarian political virtue is not new. One spies it in their history dating back to Austro-Hungary. The Magyar is often in a situation similar to the Pole but is capable of political realism.
                   
Turkish leader Erdogan (L) met with Mr. Orban in Budapest (2013)

And what of the Poles? I see they dedicated the country to Christ the King. I also see they are not following the JPII path of reconciling with the Slavic East. They certainly have reasons to hate the Russians. Anne Applebaum is read by a lot of American conservatives. She is married to a Polish intellectual turned government officer. She has turned all her good work on the Soviet crimes to the less noble work of demonizing post Soviet Russia. I am going to ask you three questions about  Poland. First: What of their relation to Russia; and can you explain the 2010 airplane crash in Smolensk, Russia, which wiped out so much of the Polish government going to commemorate that other slaughter of Polish leaders in the Katyn Forest? That crash was so devastating and sickening -- does it still resonate? 

Peter S Rieth: The state of Polish- Russian relations is terrible and its improvement has been one of the primary aims of my political writing in recent years. Regarding Smolensk, I have written an analysis of the causes of the Smolensk catastrophe for the Polish branch of the Russian Sputnik News service. The title of my piece is 'The Ambivalence of Executive Power as the Cause of the Smolensk Catastrophe.'
As to Mrs. Applebaum: I have not read her books on communism, but from listening to her and reading her articles, I have formed the opinion that she has a very shallow understanding of communism and Eastern Europe. I find both her political opinions and credibility as a historian of eastern Europe dubious.
I am of the opinion that anyone with a serious interest in communist Poland or the Cold War in general ought to read Major Henryk Krzeczkowski. As the Major's last surviving named heir, I have tried in vain to find an American publisher for his excellent essays.
I take some satisfaction in knowing that insofar as Major Krzeczkowski is virtually unknown in America, he had the honor of serving as then General Dwight D Eisenhower's translator in Warsaw, a fact later acknowledged by President Eisenhower in a very courteous letter to the Major, who likewise translated Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe into Polish.It was my privilege to convey a copy of that letter to the Eisenhower Presidential Library.

When Americans read about Ukraine and Poland we bring little historical sensibility to their inter meshed history. Can you point us with a few broad strokes about what not to forget? Is there a Slavic undercurrent in all these discussions that we never think about across the ocean? 

Peter S Rieth: The best essay on this subject was written by Major Henryk Krzeczkowski and translated by myself for The Imaginative Conservative. The title of the essay is 'Ukrainians and Polish Statehood.' It traces the causes of the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and the subsequent genocide committed by the Ukranian UPA against Polish civilians. The essay is a rare gem of detailed historiography covering the period from 1918 to 1943. [Mr Rieth also wrote several unique essays on the Russia-EU-Ukraine crisis.]



We often write that European nations must find their Christian souls or they will seek ethnic/racial myths to sustain them. Poland became all the more ethnic after WWII. Can you describe the great migration and re-settlements that defined the territorial limits and ethnic composition of Poland and Germany after WWII? Do you distinguish between an ethno-nationalism and a religious civic nation?  
  
Peter S Rieth: The re-settlements and postwar borders are subjects I wrote about during the anniversary of the battle of Lenino in an article titled 'The Slave Army that Liberated Europe.'
I do not believe there is such a thing as ethnicity except in a very vague sense. Certainly republicans from Plato to Montesquieu have argued for the desirability of homogenous political units. Homogeneity as a racial category is rather ridiculous. Cultural, political and linguistic homogeneity, attachment to place and history - these are more natural human categories. Tribes are not nations.
Nationalism properly understood cannot fall into tribalism. Christian personalism is important in this regard. The entire idea of European civilization rests on the proposition that nations are not synonymous with tribes, and that Christian national cultures opposed to ethnic nationalism are made for the human person and the organelles of humanity: nations. It is a distinction that has proven very difficult to practice. It may be impossible where there is no piety.

Pope Benedict was very much a modern German. He thought of himself as speaking that language but not a nation man in any sense. Is there a German guilt complex that is being unfairly imposed on other nations as Germans search for a new communal identity?

Peter S Rieth: German guilt is unquestionable. Germany must return to its Eastern roots. Germany dreamed of a thousand year Reich, now it must go East and commit itself to one thousand years of penance and tears for its crimes. Germany should embrace Belarus especially, which suffered horrific loss of life at German hands. Germany must become an Eastern nation again and it must follow Benedict XVI and become a Humble Servant in the Vineyard of the Lord. The Vineyard of the Lord is in Poland, Belarus, the Ukraine and Russia.
German policy must make a pilgrimage of eternal friendship to the Slavic lands. German economy and German might must integrate with Slavic culture with the same systematic determination as it once liquidated it. This is the German destiny. Germany must erase the scar of the second world war from Europe. These are my imponderabilia.

If a great Christian German leader stepped on the world stage would he be Lutheran or Catholic? 

Peter S Rieth: Christianity is at a stage in its historical evolution where such distinctions are no longer essential. They are not essential because Western Christianity is in the throws of the same crisis, whether in the Catholic or Lutheran church.
Nietzsche describes the genesis of this crisis very well in his Genealogy of Morals. Max Scheler's Resentiment and Morality is a worthy commentary to Nietzsche's work, particularly in its focus on agape. Scheler's religious thought goes to the heart of the crisis of faith because Scheler understood what Nietzsche had discovered.
Nietzsche and Scheler are examples of the direction one hopes German religious thinking will take, whether Lutheran or Catholic.

Angela Merkel’s father was a minister who moved EAST to have a church in East Germany. I don’t think he did that out of a Pentecostal like spirit to the bring Christ to the atheists.  I don’t know. Who was he? Who is she?  

Peter S Rieth: Mrs. Merkel, whose biography I do not know, seems to exemplify the German fear of oratory that has come to characterize the nation after the catastrophe of the second world war.
German rhetoric today is banal and uncharismatic. This makes German rhetoric safe, but uninspiring. Can it be otherwise? Germans must find a voice and this voice must speak to all of Europe and particularly all of the Slavic peoples.

Chancellor Merkel with her parents

Germany has always had a special relationship with the Turks. Ataturk’s nationalist project in defiance of Versailles was a great inspiration to Hitler. You have written very perceptively that the real issue in immigration is the nature of citizenship. (By the way, so has Los Angeles Archbishop Gomez in his booklet on immigration reform). Can the immigrant Turk become a German citizen?

Peter S Rieth: I do not know the content of German immigration and naturalization laws. The article I recently wrote on citizenship indicated an essential difference between American and European concepts of what it means to be a citizen.
My point in writing about immigration was not to suggest the best legal forms of immigration policy, but only to remind everyone that citizens have a right to make immigration policy and governments a duty to enforce it. Whether this policy is more or less liberal is a prudential judgment that can and should change as circumstances change.
There is another very important factor which will forever frustrate any attempts to understand immigration law in Europe: unlike the United States of America, Europe experienced two devastating world wars and the intermittent period of Soviet Communism between those wars. Between 1914 and 1946, several million people were dislocated, murdered or otherwise removed either by force or necessity from their historical habitat.
Nations now exist within nations in Europe because of the war, and questions of citizenship are far more complex – they require an intimate familiarity with history to unravel. The problem is magnified in Western Europe by colonialism. Much as Western Europeans are right to defend their borders, it was they who violated the realms of their once colonial subjects first. This is why there is a moral case to be made for Western responsibility for post-colonial migrants (which I underline is quite different from support for illegal unchecked migration) but this case cannot apply to Eastern Europe.
In general, Europe struggles today to define itself – as does Germany. Recent ideas about admitting Turkey into the European Union are indicative of this struggle. To my mind, it is far more important to create a European Union with Russia and the Slavic East. The question is whether this Eurasian Union can be born from a marriage of the existing Union to the Slavic east and then China, or whether the European Union must first collapse?
At this juncture, there is a great intellectual and political struggle afoot to define Europe, to define the European Union. Insofar as the British can resign from this political struggle due to their geopolitical localization – Germany cannot. Poland cannot. France cannot. Yes – they can decide to dismantle the European Union, but in the immediate aftermath they will be compelled to answer the same questions which plague the EU: what now? What forms of association should bind us?

What are the right questions to ask about Germany?

Peter S Rieth: When will Germany rise to its historic duty and turn its sights East? When will it begin its one thousand year penance? When will it become a Humble Servant in the Vineyard of the Lord? I do not mean to ignore the great progress already made since the famous letter from the Polish Bishops. Rather, I believe German-Slavic relations to be a very literal work in progress.

Whenever Europe is ready to come apart, one solution always seems to arise: "Bomb the Serbs." America’s first baby-boomer President and his female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright thought they were preventing a Munich to a Slavic Hitler but in reality they were replaying a century old tune of a multinational western super state  against  Serbian nationalism. What can you say of Serbia and that first post-Cold War NATO exercise? 

Peter S Rieth: The event should be seen in the wider context of Russian President Putin's opinion that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a great geopolitical catastrophe.
The war in a crumbling Yugoslavia, like the current war in Ukraine and the tensions between NATO and Russia along the Inflanty and Ukraine, are all indicative of the extent to which the European architecture agreed at Potsdam and Yalta was rooted in history, not ideology.
The ideological struggle between democracy and communism has come to an end. Yet the historical tensions between the various nations endure and are more pronounced now than during the existence of the Warsaw Pact. These historical tensions must be overcome if a Europe of nations is to survive.
With the unification of Germany, the restoration of the Yalta order is impossible and remains undesirable to the European public at large. Europe is again at a crossroads, much like in 1945 and then 1989. We shall see what is decided.

Secretary Albright called Putin "smart but truly evil"

The Italian nation was born by seizing Rome and dissolving the first Vatican Council in 1870. Roman pontiffs developed an antipathy to the nation state and fraternities of men gathered together in our civic loyalties even if we bowed to God. Do you think, compared to our rich teaching on marriage and family, there is a deficit in contemporary Catholic teaching on the public life of nations?  Have you read Russell Hittinger on the "scissors approach" to the polity in modern Catholic social teaching? 

Peter S Rieth: I have not read Mr. Hittinger and cannot say that there is a deficit in Catholic teaching on nations. Only that there is a deficit of Catholic thought in America and the West.
I observe with some despair that American Catholics at times do not accept Pope Francis's invitation to enter into dialogue with Catholic teaching. American Jesuits like Robert Taft understand these things much better, so there is some hope so long as Jesuits remain the vanguard of the Church.
Many Western Catholics seem not to understand that what was once known as the Latin rite and is now the Roman rite is not the Catholic rite as such. It is, as Pope Benedict XVI would say, an example of the acclimitization of Catholic teaching to the particular culture, in this case Western.
The Catholic church is not and never has been merely Roman. St. Peter made his Church in Syria before Rome, as the Acts clearly record. The word "Christian" was first spoken at Antioch. The patriarchs there and the rites used in the Syrian Catholic churches predate the Latin and Roman rites and are fully respected by the Roman pontiff.
The Roman Catholic church is in full or partial communion with several other Catholic churches. The Coptic Catholics predate Rome. The Greco-Catholics are another example. Westerners got a glimpse of the internationalism of the Catholic church during St. John Paul II's funeral. Western Catholics were a bit perplexed by the sight of so many clerics who looked odd in Western eyes. We tend to forget that seven popes, including St. Peter, were Syrian. The Jesuit Joseph A Jungmann's work on the origins of the Roman rite is an authoritative text with regards to the roots of Catholic liturgy.
I do not think we can say that Roman pontiffs developed an antipathy for nations. If anything, some nations developed an antipathy for Roman pontiffs. There is ample evidence for how organic to Catholic faith nations have always been.
A simple glance at the apparitions of Mary should suffice to demonstrate this. Not only her titles differ, so does her visage.She appears to each nation as one of them, as distinctly national. Yet it is always Mary. That is essentially the definition of Catholicism.

Our position at AOA has been that the civilization we belong to is Christianity and Russia is one powerful expression of the Christian culture. We consider the West -- like modernity -- to be an intellectual abstraction divorced from religion, nature and the nations. We are not trying to defend the West which is constricting in it decadence. We will defend Global Christianity through that biblical form of brotherly love - the nations.  Aren’t you more sympathetic with the Russian Orthodox nation recovering from its atheist nightmare than the EU trying to impose its globalist project of the administrative superstate in service of the autonomous individual? 

Peter S Rieth: Certainly I believe Solzhenitzyn was right; communism and the war have made the Slavic heart too pure, too realistic to ever decay under political correctness.
However, I refuse to surrender the European Union to Western nihilism. Some in the European Union have an unsettling habit of describing anyone who does not conform to their ideology as "un-European." I refuse to embrace this label and likewise refuse to find my place in the Hamlet-like dualism of Euro-enthusiasm versus Euro-skepticism.
I do not support Orthodox Russia instead of the globalist European Union. I support that part of the European heritage which is Orthodox Russian and I do so as a European Catholic.

Thank you for our discussion and the work you are doing.  What is it that you think you are doing? How you would describe your intellectual project?    

Peter S Rieth: When young Henryk Krzeczkowski lost his family during World War II, his sister passed him a note in the last moments before they were separated for ever. On the note it said: "No matter what happens, remain human." I hope that I am contributing to the effort to remain human.

{Ed note: This article by Rieth published  a few months after our interview is a much better answer: The Life of Europe will come from turning to the East}

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

When the roll is called, echoing off the castles of Spain, Don Quixote always shows up




Viva Cristo Rey!

What can one man accomplish when he continues to faithfully labor for the love of God? Take a look.


This recent news story fills in more of the details of the quixotic dream of Señor Gallego.


Here are six more minutes of video.

                         

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Catholic Sociobiology: God, Nature, and Violence


by David Pence 


"You thunder your judgments upon me, O Lord; you shake all my bones with fear and dread...
If you discovered iniquity in the angels and did not spare them, what will become of me? The stars fell from heaven, and I, mere dust, what should I expect?...
There is no holiness where you have withdrawn your hand, O Lord... no helpful strength if you cease to preserve it. If you forsake us, we sink and perish; but if you visit us, we rise up and live again. We are unstable, but you make us firm; we grow cool, but you inflame us."
                                      (from the 15th-century Imitation of Christ)



The earthquake in Catholic Italy on August 24, 2016, has now claimed 300 lives. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake on All Saints Day, immediately followed by a tsunami, may have claimed 100,000 lives. Why such horror in a world ruled by God?

The Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778) scoffed at a fellow philosopher, Leibniz (1646-1716), who had taught that all natural disasters work toward the Good because the world created by an all-powerful rational God is the best possible world. Voltaire countered that the Lisbon quake might provide work for the stone masons, but not the children buried in rubble or drowned by the seas. Voltaire, the rational Deist, said there is evil in the world and there are accidents which do men harm  – deal with it.
                   

What does the Christian say? Let us partially agree with Voltaire. There are evil forces in the world and they often act against us. There are impersonal natural forces in the world which often act against us as well. Thus is the world structured. Death is always close. Life is a gift, not a guarantee. The spiritual world has many death-dealing agents. Nuns who care for the sick  can be wantonly murdered. The physical world has certain natural situations in which the most virtuous and innocent of humanity can be killed. Be careful at the side of a cliff. Be wary of the ocean shore on a stormy day. We live in a world full of both spiritual evils and impersonal natural events which can be the death of us. Be vigilant and you might be spared, but even the most vigilant can be destroyed. When news arrived that eighteen were killed from a tower falling in Siloam (in southern Jerusalem), Jesus said:
"Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13)
Life is spiritual warfare in which many are slain. Life is also physical warfare in which many are slain. There are angels of death-some sent by God. God is certainly the God of peace but He is most certainly not the god of non violence. That is one of the great modernist heresies meant to defang the Christian Lion within the wilderness. It is a flight from realism peculiar to the rich, the famous and the comfortable.  The physical world is both full of gardens where we can flourish, and places where the earth will swallow those in the vicinity. Five miles above the earth’s surface and a few miles into its crust, there are no gardens – only consuming heat below or searing cold above where life has no chance. This is our reality; very violent indeed. If there is a lesson for the living from the death of innocents, it is to keep a holy fear -- a sense of the holy -- of the mysterium tremendum et fascinans.

The physical world has been structured replete with violence since the beginning. The Universe teaches us there is a life and death struggle of much more powerful entities than ourselves. It teaches us that we can perish. Be vigilant, be aware. Draw close to Him who is Life Eternal. He is the one whom we should both fear and love:
"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him!" (Luke 12)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Map on Monday: MAPPING GREAT BRITAIN

MAPPING GREAT BRITAIN

by A. Joseph Lynch

In a previous Map on Monday post, we mapped the British Empire as it stood in its height and as British holdings look today. The "Brexit" vote for Great Britain to leave the European Union, however, leads us to look at the history of Great Britain's formation and its potential dismemberment.

England has and remains the core of Great Britain. Some make the mistake that England and Britain are synonymous. "Britain" comes down from the Roman name for the island: Britannia. England is a name for the kingdom of the Angles: "Angle-land" - which became England. The formation of England is a history in and of itself, with important moments taking place during the reign of Alfred the Great "King of the Anglo-Saxons" and defender against the Vikings (d. 899), the Norman Conquest under King William the Conquer at the Battle of Hastings (1066), and the signing of the Magna Carta (1215).

The rugged topography of Wales and Scotland naturally brought about independent development from England. But where the comparatively gentle terrain of England led to royal consolidation, the terrain of Wales and Scotland made internal unity and cohesion difficult (the mountainous Balkans historically suffered from the same problem). English influence increased in both areas and gradually brought both into London's orbit. Although Wales had long been deeply connected to England, the Act of Union in 1536 fully integrated Wales and England, bringing with it the English administrative system.

Ireland had also come increasingly under English sway. Henry VIII made Ireland a full kingdom in 1541, and he was soon declared the King of the Irish by the Irish parliament. As England, Wales, and Scotland moved into the Protestant camp, however, Catholic Ireland refused political conversion in fear it would lead to religious conversion. The 1603 Union of the Crowns gave England, Wales, and Scotland a common king and effectively made Ireland a subject nation of the English crown.

The Acts of Union in 1707 created the Kingdom of Great Britain. Both kingdoms of England and Scotland were abolished, along with their respective parliaments. In their place was Great Britain and a single Parliament. At this point, the old island of Britannia had become officially united.

1801 witnessed the merger of the Kingdom of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland (which had been a kingdom since 1541). With it came a new title: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This union lasted until the rise of the Irish Free State of 1922. This, however, left Ireland divided between a Protestant-dominated Northern Ireland and a Catholic south, known today as the Republic of Ireland. The official titled of the U.K. today is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This name, however, might undergo a new revision. With the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, Scotland might seek independence. Though it favored remaining in the U.K. by a vote of 55-45 in the 2014 Scottish Referendum, the map below (blue = stay, red = leave) reveals that Scotland heavily favored remaining in the E.U. North Ireland also sought to remain in the E.U. - and a movement is underway to reintegrate North Ireland into the Republic of Ireland so that it may return to the European Union under a reunited Ireland. Meanwhile, Spain seeks the return of Gibraltar.

The areas in shades of blue sought to stay in the European Union. They include London, North Ireland, and Scotland. In addition to this, polls showed that around 75% of the young wanted to remain in the European Union.

The formation of Great Britain is a relatively recent phenomena that began to break down within  about a hundred years of its fullest formation. The future of Great Britain remains to be seen, but it is not altogether unlikely that it may soon encompass only England and Wales.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

March 25: LADY DAY


[first published in 2015]



Some questions for Dr. David Pence on this Feast of the Annunciation:



If we had lived in England during the period between the 12th and 18th centuries, we'd be celebrating today as the beginning of the New Year, right? 
                                   
Yes, here we are, exactly nine months before Christmas. This is the day that Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit -- and the Word was made flesh.

Jesus Christ who has always existed as the Son of God is now, with the Virgin's "fiat," incarnated. He is begotten, not made.


Creation -- and specifically, the human species -- had reached its epitome!  (It will take about eight weeks for Baby Jesu in the womb to become half an inch in size.)

We need to have some rough figures in our head. Matter (the protons, neutrons, and electrons in all atoms) was created almost 14 billion years ago. The first life on earth—the first bacterial cell was imprinted by the Holy Spirit about 4 billion years ago.

The first parents of the human species were probably created around 150,000 years ago. But it is 2000 years ago that the fulcrum event of humanity occurred. This is the true Enlightenment--when God's plan becomes incarnate in a person. The Head takes form and the rest of history is us filling in His Body.  


Where is our species heading?

Our biological destiny is not to eventually produce some new successful mutant that will evolve into a higher form of life. Quite the contrary.

Our highest male and female forms have already appeared and the task before us is to now conform to them more perfectly. At the Annunciation the feminine form was so receptive, so attentive to the Spirit, so submissive to the will of God that her own flesh was incarnated by the Spirit begetting the Son. All of us, as males and females, are trying to bring our souls to that level of responsiveness to the Spirit and submission to the Father so we can play our roles.
                                     
Click here for an explanation of the Greek icon



You say that humans are a 'eusocial' species. What does that mean, and what does it have to do with Christianity?

Actually it has a lot  to do with the Body of Christ, the nature of the Eucharist, the meaning of the Church, and the analogical reality between the Trinity and the destiny of the human species. First, I must apologize that I have been unsuccessful in communicating this biological truth which is so clear to me in my head, but which I always fall short at explaining in print or during our conversations.

"Eusocial organism" is a descriptive term from sociobiology, which is the study of the social structure of animals. It's a kind of subset of the larger term ecology. You know how fish swim in schools and wolves run in packs with certain social roles. Well, there is a group of insects called eusocial insects in which the ties of sociobiology go way beyond the pack and herd structures of other animals. The eusocial insects tend to act as a single organism. Reproduction is highly restricted and (wonder of wonders) what distinguishes one sex from the other is not the presence of a sex chromosome (like the 'y' chromosome distinguishes human males from females), but one gender comes from fertilized eggs and the other are "virgin births." Unfertilized eggs become, for instance, male bees. The perfection of bees occurs in how they function as a single organism. The perfection of  human beings will be realized in how we participate as eusocial members of the Body of Christ.

Our alpha male whom we worship is of a virgin birth (parthenogenesis in biology). Our most basic sacrament binds us together by eating the flesh that makes us one Body. We are still persons but we are incorporated persons. In ecology there is another term called symbiosis: organisms living together in some deeply interrelated union. Let me just say these biological phenomena are deeply suggestive of the Trinity, and the interpersonal destiny of human beings in the Body of Christ.

On this feast day of the Incarnation we are celebrating the "engraftment" of the human species into the Second Person of the Trinity. It is true that God comes into the womb of the Virgin and develops, but this is just as Christ comes into us now as the food of the Eucharist. We are emerging as the eusocial organism which the human species was destined to be from the beginning. There are all sorts of physical lessons written in the book of nature which help us see how man's nature is so much more "plastic" (capable of being conformed) than the angels. Lucifer, to his great consternation, recognized what great things the Almighty had planned for His lowly ones.


What's the connection between the Greeks achieving their independence from the Turks, and the feast day we're celebrating?

Ever since the sack of Constantinople in 1453 (marking the demise of the Byzantine Empire's thousand-year run), Greece had been under the thumb of Muslim rule.

On this day in 1821, however, the war of Greek independence against the Ottoman Turks began when Bishop Germanos raised the flag of revolution over a monastery -- and 'Freedom or death' became the motto. The struggle took years but when all seemed lost, the British and the French and the Russians came to the aid of the Greeks. Finally in 1829, Greece became an independent state; and March 25th is their high holy celebration each year.

When you think of the Greek nation, it is fine to remember Pericles and the polis of Athens and Sparta. However, it is the height of ancestral impiety and religious amnesia to forget that the blood and arms that set the Greek nation free came in the name of Christ, not Socrates!




"Through the bottomless mercy of our God,
  one born on high will visit us
to give light to those who walk in darkness..."
              (Gospel of St Luke, chapter 1)




UPDATE: Take a look at this article on the Orthodox patriarch, and how the Russian believers celebrate the feast in Moscow's Cathedral of the Annunciation.

It will be a great American tragedy if we insist on blinding ourselves to the common Christian ties we have with the better and deeper part of Mother Russia.




A line from Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop:
"A life need not be cold, or devoid of grace in the worldly sense, if it were filled by Her who was all the graces; Virgin-daughter, Virgin-mother, girl of the people and Queen of Heaven: le rêve suprême de la chair [the highest ideal of the flesh]."

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Book review: AFGHANISTAN -- Charlie Wilson and the old-style Dems and Afghan jihadists who helped win the Cold War


by David Pence


There are many lessons in George Crile’s book, Charlie Wilson’s War. about the role of the Texas Congressman, the CIA, a Texas socialite, our brave allies in Pakistan and the courageous mujahideen of Afghanistan. Muslim jihadists who gave their lives to defeat the atheistic ideology of Communism and the Soviet superstate were essential as well, and we are all in their debt. A captivating writer and a diligent reporter reminds us of how much a journalist can teach us about an era we lived through, but never quite understood. George Crile (1945-2006) was a producer of CBS' "60 Minutes." He had been educated in the Georgetown school of foreign service, so he brought a sense of geography and history to his stories that seems so absent in our own era. Walter Cronkite said that when Barbara Walters began her rise as superstar interviewer, that the old newspaper reporter graduating to TV anchorman was going to change form forever. George Crile has died; and Megan Kelly has moved to a larger viewing market.

       
Congressman Wilson in 1988

This story reminds us how much the actions of committed personalities can alter large historical events. It reminds us that the martial virtues of courage, initiative, and perseverance are often carried by men like Charlie Wilson and his CIA co-conspirator Gus Avrakotos. What they lacked in purity and piety they compensated for with practical resilience and audacity that got the right thing (and it was a big thing) done when it needed to be done. What needed doing was to beat the Soviet military in the field -- to smash the mystique that was still about the Red Army defeating the Nazis. True men of God from the world of Islam, and true men of liberty from America and Greece, would unite to arm those great souls with the right technology to cost the Russians 20 million dollars every time a shoulder-held Stinger found its target in the fearsome Soviet Hind Helicopter.

The Pakistanis were our true friends in this battle. If we do not agree with their goal for Afghanistan after the Soviet expulsion, we cannot deny we were locked arm-in-arm as they risked much more than we to open a bleeding wound in the Russian Bear’s southern flank. The pivotal year for the Russian General Valentin Varrennikov was 1985 as a Polish pope and President Reagan were revitalizing a Christian western front in the Catholic nation of Poland. His offensives in Afghanistan were supposed to end the conflict there. But he was defeated by the well-prepared forces described so well in this book.

The tiresome narrative of Western conservatives about how "we" won the Cold War always grants an outsized role to Britain's  Lady Thatcher, the conqueror of the Falklands. She looms tall while the mujahideen seem an uncomfortable footnote. Mrs Thatcher certainly played an important role in shaping the interpersonal dynamics of agreement that emerged among Reagan-Gorbachev-Thatcher. Ronald Reagan was a huge force for peace, but more as the man who found enough spiritual kinship with Mikhail Gorbachev to convince him to let the captive nations vote freely to reform socialism. They voted instead  to reassert their national identities, and the Soviet Union was no more. It was Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski who devised the military strategy that deprived Gorbachev of military control over their far-flung empire. We remember the obstructionist peacenik Democrats almost quitting the Cold War in the 70’s and 80’s. But this book reminds us there are Texas Democrats as well. They never stopped the fight and they helped win it where it did the most damage.

This story reminds us we don’t know the Cold War if we think Carter was a wimp, and Reagan scared the Russians into surrender. Let us not forget those "non-principled" practitioners of realpolitik: Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. They closed off the East to the Soviets with their stunning diplomatic move toward China. Kissinger was despised by the conservative right, and Nixon was loathed by the radical left -- but without them, there would have been no collapse of the Soviets.

Mr. Crile helps us see that last very bloody battle we might have missed watching headlines and T.V. news.   In the end, it was the religious fervor of men in arms who put their boots on the ground that won the definitive battle in that great contest. Charlie Wilson became the unlikely hero in this story because he was the kind of Texan who, after meeting an Afghan warrior, was converted to realize that his battle and America’s battle were one. He made the warrior’s bond with Pakistan’s Muhammad Zia because each knew the jihadists were fighting for God and freedom. Zia loved God, and Charlie loved freedom, and they both loved the men who died for those sacred goods. Mikhail Gorbachev played a heroic role closing the Cold War with his dramatic and unprecedented concessions. But when we hear that phrase "winning the Cold War," remember the Afghan warriors! What was coldest for them about the "Cold War"  were their brothers' bodies retrieved each night as they counted their one million dead.      

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Pentecostalism, the Civil Rights Movement, and Vatican II -- The Holy Spirit in the 20th Century


by David Pence


It was a bloody century. Darwin, Marx, and Freud, the matured intellectual fruit of the godless West, corrupted our sensibilities of nature, history, and the human soul.

Darwin played out first. The free trade companies and national armies of the white races divided up Africa and Asia until they were shocked by the Japanese who went beyond Darwin and Adam Smith to defeat the Russians, expel the British, and bloody the Americans. Imperial Japan presented themselves to their fellow plundered Asians as a divinely ordained fighting super race from the East. After stunning victories they were mired in China; and were eventually bombed into submission by the U.S. The Germans grasped the military implications of Darwin before the rest of Europe, and organized themselves as an armed race. Hitler had contempt for Christianity and considered Jews not as a competing race but a kind of infection polluting racial identity. He played by the ground rules of Darwin’s chief works -- animals do not act for their species; the strongest race wins. Like the Japanese, the Nazis achieved a brief period of military domination. They too were destroyed.

The second scientific idea of the modern West replaced the universal sensibilities of religion and the political loyalties of citizenship with the class loyalties of the proletariat ruled by a party of intellectuals. Scientific socialism reigned in two non-western lands -- turning Russia from an Orthodox multinational empire into the Soviet Union, and serving as an organizational ideology for the unification of China under Mao Zedong. In the western countries the Marxists took more turf in the universities and movie industry than the national militaries or manufacturing plants. But in the east, this western ideology organized the states.

When the communist structures gave way to the more fundamental bonds of religion and nations, the last death gasp of the godless West desacralized the sexual order in the name of female equality and individual autonomy. The European Union, the UN, and the Democratic Party in the United States constructed administrative states and courts to enforce their strange ideology of globalism, democracy, sexual confusion, and individualism. That ideology still reigns in the universities, news bureaus, and Hollywood but the empress no longer emits the hormonal confidence of a ruler. We are witnessing what is called in the world of queen bees and drones "a colony collapse." The bloody century of the soulless West which gave humanity Darwinian racism, scientific Communism, and gender ideology is passing. No one should weep for this collapse and no one should confuse the demise of a soulless western woman with her attendant geldings as the eclipse of Christendom.

There is one great conspiracy that continually and ubiquitously acts in history. It is the movement of the Holy Spirit to draw men into communion with the Son to obey the Will of the Father. There is always a sharp limit to the conspiratorial powers of evil. The spirit of the Nazis did not play well with the Slavs; and the Han Chinese never really thought the Japanese were establishing a Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere that would bind the two as brothers. But the Spirit of Life who animated the first cell to develop into all the plants and animals of our earth is never done drawing life together on our space ship Earth.

Early in the 20th century -- in Topeka, Kansas, and in Los Angeles -- the Spirit began to penetrate the souls of men and women. There were gifts of tongues as well as healings and conversions. There was a sensitivity to the soul and Spirit and a disregard of skin color and social class. This Pentecostal movement has now covered the globe in a century. The fastest growing form of Christianity, they are 500 million strong. They are found in the big cities and small hamlets of America. They are shouting for joy in Latin America and singing God’s praise in Asia and Africa. The Western intellectuals have constructed ever new ideologies to battle the sacred order, but their constructs have failed. Christianity animated by the Spirit and submitting to the Will of the Father grows and lives.

In the middle of the 20th century in the middle of the United States, another movement of the Spirit in black Pentecostal as well as more traditional black Baptist Churches stirred believers to demand that the spiritual dignity of all souls taught by biblical Christianity be realized in the civic life of Christian America. That message was old as the Scriptures but the returning black veterans, the blowing winds of the Holy Spirit, and the leadership of godly pastors converged in place and time to sound a more clarion trumpet. It was the fitting time of the Lord and you could hear it in the music: "A Change was Gonna Come." Like the first Pentecostal movement in Los Angeles, it was a sign of the Spirit that black and white would be struck together by the same Spirit and would overcome together that old Liar.
 
There was another Spirit-driven meeting across the ocean in 1962 led by an 80-year-old Italian peasant. He listened to the Spirit and called together 2500 bishops, abbots, and fathers of the worldwide Catholic Church. In their opening statement they announced themselves as an apostolic brotherhood of fathers: "This very conciliar congress of ours so impressive in the diversity of races, nations and languages, does it not bear witness to a community of brotherly love and shine as a visible sign of it? We are giving witness that all men are brothers, whatever their race or nation.... We trust the Holy Spirit, call on our brethren, fellow Christians and all men of good will that through love God’s kingdom may shine out on earth in some fashion as a preview of God’s eternal Kingdom."

John XXIII

The Second Vatican Council was called to renew the Catholic Church so she could better show herself as the Body of Christ drawing the nations of humanity into our common destiny as a common people of God. At the heart of the Council was a renewal of the sacred liturgy in which the Catholic faithful led by their local bishops in over 2,000 dioceses around the world would pray to the Holy Spirit that He would draw them into the presence and sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. This liturgical renewal deeply tied to social justice movements was to reject the individualism of the Enlightenment revolutionaries and the totalitarian impulses of atheistic communism. The liturgy of the Mystical Body of Christ shaped the communal personalities of Catholics to lead families and nations in the way of the Lord. The Spirit had whetted the souls of other men outside the Catholic fold to hunger and thirst for this apostolic presentation of the Eucharistic presence of Christ. In the Charismatic movement of fifty years ago, the Spirit opened the hearts of Catholics to other Christians praying to the Father under the direction of the Spirit. Now He has given us a Pope who has prayed and been inspired in the halls of Christian Pentecostals in his native Argentina. Peter has come again to the house of Cornelius.

The Church brings to the Pentecostals in this age of formlessness the apostolic bonds of public masculine brotherhood; the monogamous sacramental bonds of male/female marriage; and the persona of Mary, Virgin and Mother. In her biography the less public features of Christian culture are given form as spiritual interiority and the acts of mercy. The Spirit is the bond of communion but the living forms of communion are transmitted by the ecclesial authorities of the Church, the civic authorities of the nations, and the perfection of femininity in the person of Our Lady.

In the Acts of the Apostles we read of Peter speaking to the household of an Italian centurion Cornelius. As the head of the apostles was speaking to them, "the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word." He baptized them with no further rituals (circumcision) performed. When he returned to Jerusalem and was criticized, Peter answered: "…the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us in the beginning. If then God gave to them the same gift He gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, then who was I to withstand God?"

The Second Vatican Council began in October of 1962. The atheist peasant premier of the Soviet Union and the Catholic president of the United States were in a nuclear showdown over missiles in Cuba. In February of 2016 a Roman Pontiff (Francis) and Russian Orthodox Patriarch (Kirill) met for the first time in 1000 years. They, too, met in Cuba.  "Finally," said Francis, "we are brothers."

Patriarch Kirill and President Putin

Our Lady of Fatima appeared to peasant children in Portugal in 1917, promising the conversion of Russia if the Church turned her heart back to Our Lady and the will of the Father. For decades Catholics prayed special prayers for such a conversion after every Mass. Multiple popes have consecrated Russia and the nations to the heart of Mary. Patriarch Kirill has described the openness of President Putin to the Christian ordering of Russian society as "a miracle." In the United States a presidential candidate has defeated the foreign policy establishment of both parties and all the think tanks and media outlets with a simple proposal to continue the work of Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, James Baker, and Eduard Shevardnadze and work for peace among the Christian superpowers. But who will take seriously this world of Marian apparitions, the universe of Pentecostals speaking in tongues, and a president who says it's time to make real peace with Russia?

As Christianity has spread like a fire from heaven among the adults of poor countries, and as the Russians rid themselves of their atheist ideology, the rich countries promulgated the last atheistic revolution of the West: feminism for females, sexual libertinism for males, and gender ideology for all. The baby boomer presidents and their power partners made changing gender roles the litmus of social status at home, while declaring gender inequality abroad as a threat to American national security. The Chinese youth led by their aging tyrant and his younger fanatical actress wife were in their own rebellion against all traditional forms of authority and the natural order. For them it was Mao’s 'Little Red Book' and the sentiments of young mobs who would rule. It would be a dozen years before the restoration of Deng Xiaoping signaled the return of adult authorities to rule that country. In the declining West, the return of patriarchy and sacred order would take longer.

The Second Vatican Council ended just before the Chinese Cultural Revolution began. The Council was a meeting of male authorities -- a proposal not for revolution, but concord under God. There was no attempt to rid the world of national borders or destroy patriarchy or public fraternity. The rule of God the Father is the very definition of patriarchy, and this they unashamedly affirmed. The loyalties and duties of men as citizens to their respective fatherlands was considered a natural communal form to be baptized and strengthened, not destroyed. Sixty years after the Council, that sensibility of a brotherhood of fathers in either Church or civic life is considered an enemy of progress by the adolescent West.

The Spirit, however, has plowed amidst the great field of humanity and raised up souls ready to hear more of God’s plan for the Church and nations. These souls have experienced the Spirit and now wait for Peter and the apostles to confirm their experience by drawing them into an even deeper form of communion in the Eucharistic Church.

The prayer of the Council was that there be peace among the nations and greater unity among Christians. But real unity among Christians always depends on a purification of the apostles. Judas must be washed out. Mathias and Paul must be welcomed in. There can be no clear thinking about men, nations, and religion in America unless American Catholics can rid themselves of the unpunished homosexuality corrupting its episcopacy and the feminist implant poisoning the intellectual life of our universities, high schools, and chanceries. It is not America which has become post-Christian, but Christian institutions which have adopted gender ideology as their new religion. It isn’t auto plants or plating factories where gay marriages are touted. It is in Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Episcopal Churches. Especially in the single-sex institutions of American Catholicism, a significant number of the paid careerists (clergy and staff) are adherents of an incestuous satanic gender ideology masquerading as Christianity. The Marian Church blushes as the Apostolic body putrifies.

Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles

Public Christianity is a brotherhood of fathers under God. But the mainline Christian churches of America and the all-male clergy of the Catholics has rejected public brotherhood as a sin of exclusion, like racism, rather than a form of communion that overcomes race and class distinctions.  Brotherhood can be betrayed by a murderer like Cain or the incestuous kiss of a Judas. Black, white, and brown Christianity is coming back. It was that very interracial mark that signaled the Spirit during the Azusa Street Revival in 1906. It is that spirit that will celebrate a masculine multicolored nationalism that will bring the peace of order to our inner cities again. And it is that spirit of Godly fraternity that could bring a new  spirit to international relations in gathering a concert of great powers and state authorities to crush the Salafist jihadists who war against Shia, Hindu, Christian, and Jewish peoples in the hijacked name of Sunni Islam.

Let us heed the Holy Spirit of Vatican II and the worldwide Pentecostal movement. Let us face with courage what Cardinal Robert Sarah called the twin demonic forces of our age: the gender ideology of the West and the demonic jihadists of Salafism. May our nation repent and reform; and let us join Christians and men of good will in every land to make great again God’s Holy Name.

 

"Come, let us return to the Lord;
    for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
    he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will raise us up,
    that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
    his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
    as the spring rains that water the earth."
                 (the prophet Hosea, whom the Lord directed to marry a prostitute and endure her unfaithfulness)
    

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Catholic Sociobiology: 'Being as Communion' and John Zizioulas


[first published June 28, 2016]


by David Pence


When the first-ever papal encyclical on Ecology was presented in June 2015, the unconventional subject matter chosen by Pope Francis was introduced at the opening press conference by the preeminent Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas. When the Eastern Bishop gave his packed-house introduction, there was nary a word about global warming but a reflection on the spiritual and Eucharistic dimension of man, nature, and God. He emphasized the priestly role that man plays in a proper ordering of matter in time and space. This dimension was missed by secularists and conservative Catholics alike. But Rev. Zizioulas sees relations that others miss, and he applauded the prayer of Francis the saint and the initiative of Francis the pope.
                                   

The contribution of Bishop Zizioulas to Catholic Sociobiology is fundamental. He has had an uncanny ability to present the Trinity, the person, and the Eucharist as interlocking truths which never lets one think of them in isolation again. He did the same thing with the Eucharist, the Bishop and the Church in his 1965 thesis (later published as a book). As he was finishing his thesis, the bishops of the Catholic Church were completing the Second Vatican Council which was a significant meditation on a more liturgical definition of the Church and Eucharistic understanding of the bishop in the local Church. Many Catholics who had been shaped by the Vatican II formulations were driven into even more profound reflection by the searing light that came from the Eastern bishop. A strikingly similar intellectual synergy occurred as the Polish philosopher Pope John Paul II emphasized Christian personalism as uniquely necessary for modern man emerging from the twin totalitarian ideologies of race and class. Just as that radical Christian personalism was being exploited by the individualization of libertine atheism, Zizioulous gave a renewed emphasis to relation as the heart of personhood. He showed how the Greek development of personhood came from the theological grappling with the Trinitarian nature of God. How best to describe what was being experienced and revealed – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Person as mask gave way to person as relational. Person was further marked by an interiority directed to some Other. By studying God and Christ, man found out who man was. Pope John Paul had promised just that.

Some younger readers are not as struck by Zizioulas as we were thirty years ago because so many of his insights are now so deeply incorporated in our theological grammar. Because of the good metropolitan I know:

a) I will never look at a bishop as an administrator again.

b) When we say that man is made in the image of God that means we are many persons in the One Body of Christ, as there are three Persons in the one God.

c) The Bishop and his priests and the diocese constitute the local church, not the parish. Where the Bishop is; there is the Eucharist. The Eucharist makes the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist. The Eucharist was left in a body of men: the Apostles. They are still here in the bishops.  

d) To say the local Church is Catholic is not just to say it is linked in space and time to the universal Church in the world through the ages. The Greek expression Katolik implies that "the whole is contained in this part." There is something about retaining the fullness of Christ and his Church in the locality without devolving into congregationalism. It is the Bishop who safeguards this essential ingredient of Catholic ecclesiology.

Let the Metropolitan speak:

"The question that preoccupied the Fathers was not to know if God existed or not - the existence of God was a "given" for nearly all men of this period, Christians or pagans. The question which tormented entire generations was rather: *how* he existed. And such a question had direct consequences as much for the Church as for man, since both were considered as 'images of God'."
― John D. Zizioulas, Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church


"The person is otherness in communion and communion in otherness. The person is an identity that emerges through relationship; it is an 'I' that can exist only as long as it relates to a 'thou' which affirms its existence and its otherness. If we isolate the 'I' from the 'thou' we lose not only its otherness, but also its very being; it simply cannot be without the other."

"The Church is not simply an institution. She is a 'mode of existence,' *a way of being*. The mystery of the Church is deeply bound to the being of man, to the being of the world and to the very being of God.
Ecclesial being is bound to the very being of God...it cannot be realized as the achievement of an individual, but only as an ecclesial fact.

"The fall consists in a refusal to make being dependent on communion in a rupture between truth and communion. In a fallen state communion is no longer constitutive of being. Death is not a punishment for an act of disobedience as much as an effect of individualization."


Paraphrasing:
To be interiorly oriented to the Other is not an act of the will—it is an ontological characteristic of the being.

To be aware of being but not communion is the fallen state -- it is individuation. It is the modern existentialist with his understandable preoccupation with suicide. The individual has life but not the true life which is unending. The fallen state is a status -- a state of sin -- a social position separated from the Trinity who made us for communion. The sacraments beginning with baptism and culminating in the Eucharist draw us back into the joy of personhood and communion. They change our status-- we have been drawn into the "state of grace."

Baptism is then an ecclesial act which draws the individual into communion. Confronted with the reality of the Trinity true personhood is possible as one is interiorly awakened to the Divine Other. We begin to be neurobiologically wired into the organism (the Body of Christ) that the human person as a species is meant to participate in. Christ made himself visibly present in one place in one era to one set of witnesses. He makes himself present through the ages. Once again he is here in a physical, limited way -- the sacramental Church. The Spirit works to draw all toward this common breathing living organism.


John Zizioulas was born in 1931; and is the Eastern Orthodox Titular Metropolitan of Pergamon (in modern Turkey) and chairman of the Academy of Athens.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Solemnity of Saint Joseph: Husband and Protector


[originally published March 19, 2015]

                     


On March 19, 2013, the pontificate of Francis (the first non-European to sit in the Chair of Peter in 13 centuries) was inaugurated.  In his homily he accepted as his mission that of St. Joseph--to be custos: the protector. 

It is inspiring to read of his trust in Joseph, who taught our Lord what manliness and fatherhood looked like:

"... I would like to tell you something very personal. I like St Joseph very much. He is a strong man of silence. On my desk I have a statue of St Joseph sleeping. While sleeping he looks after the Church. Yes, he can do it! We know that. When I have a problem or a difficulty, I write on a piece of paper and I put it under his statue so he can dream about it. This means: please pray to St Joseph for this problem."


Pope Francis went on to say: “In the Gospels, St. Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness... [Exercising the role of protector as St. Joseph did] means doing so discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand... [The bishop of Rome] must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked St. Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people."




UPDATE: Two other holy men who had a deep devotion to Joseph the Worker: Pope John XXIII (see his prayer); and Josemaría Escrivá (d. 1975), the Spaniard who founded Opus Dei. 

Father Escrivá wrote: "I don't agree with the traditional picture of St Joseph as an old man... I see him as a strong young man, perhaps a few years older than our Lady, but in the prime of his life and work."

                           
                                  

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, March 18

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


I. THE WEEKLY BRIEF

The purpose of this week's review is to step back from hyper-partisanship and learn from the previous president and his advisers. Only presidents have to face the whole of the international landscape. As President Trump considers bolstering the traditional US-Saudi-Israel alliance against Iran, there is much to learn from perceptive journalists and reflective statesmen.


II. PRESIDENT OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY INTERVIEW

GETTING ALLIES AND ENEMIES STRAIGHT IN THE MIDEAST: On the battlefield it is Iran, not Saudi Arabia, who has helped our ally Iraq sustain their government against the same Salafist jihadist violence that struck the US on 9-11-2001. The great contribution of the Obama administration was to NOT widen the war with Syria, and to open negotiations with Iran who are also the sworn enemies of the salafist jihadists. It is informative to listen to President Obama and his chief foreign policy spokesman Ben Rhodes about how they came to reject "the Washington playbook" on Mideast alliances. The "Washington playbook" is written by the interests of other countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and Israel. It is advocated by John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and George Bush, along with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Two men who have not totally bought the playbook are Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Interviews with President Obama and his alter ego speechwriter Ben Rhodes proved much more revealing than the reflections of their immediate predecessors. We must learn from the men who had to deal with all the players in this confusing drama. Here are some excerpts and comments on Obama's interviews with Jeff Goldberg:

What follows below is from an excellent long article by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic. The author has tried to "enter into his mind."

The President's decision to back off from the use of force against Syria's Assad came after the use of chemical weapons seemed to cross a previous presidential "line in the sand." Obama was heavily criticized inside and outside of his administration for not militarily striking Assad.
Obama also shared with McDonough a long-standing resentment: He was tired of watching Washington unthinkingly drift toward war in Muslim countries. Four years earlier, the president believed, the Pentagon had “jammed” him on a troop surge for Afghanistan. Now, on Syria, he was beginning to feel jammed again.

When the two men came back to the Oval Office, the president told his national-security aides that he planned to stand down. There would be no attack the next day; he wanted to refer the matter to Congress for a vote. Aides in the room were shocked.

The president asked Congress to authorize the use of force—the irrepressible Kerry served as chief lobbyist—and it quickly became apparent in the White House that Congress had little interest in a strike. “I’m very proud of this moment,” he told me. “The overwhelming weight of conventional wisdom and the machinery of our national-security apparatus had gone fairly far. The perception was that my credibility was at stake, that America’s credibility was at stake. And so for me to press the pause button at that moment, I knew, would cost me politically. And the fact that I was able to pull back from the immediate pressures and think through in my own mind what was in America’s interest, not only with respect to Syria but also with respect to our democracy, was as tough a decision as I’ve made—and I believe ultimately it was the right decision to make.”

This was the moment the president believes he finally broke with what he calls, derisively, the “Washington playbook.”

“Where am I controversial? When it comes to the use of military power,” he said. “That is the source of the controversy. There’s a playbook in Washington that presidents are supposed to follow. It’s a playbook that comes out of the foreign-policy establishment. And the playbook prescribes responses to different events, and these responses tend to be militarized responses. Where America is directly threatened, the playbook works. But the playbook can also be a trap that can lead to bad decisions. In the midst of an international challenge like Syria, you get judged harshly if you don’t follow the playbook, even if there are good reasons why it does not apply.”
The Syria decision showed Obama's judgment was more reality-based than the "foreign policy establishment" (the same group who have come out so unanimously against Donald Trump):
I have come to believe that, in Obama’s mind, August 30, 2013, was his liberation day, the day he defied not only the foreign-policy establishment and its cruise-missile playbook, but also the demands of America’s frustrating, high-maintenance allies in the Middle East—countries, he complains privately to friends and advisers, that seek to exploit American “muscle” for their own narrow and sectarian ends. By 2013, Obama’s resentments were well developed. He resented military leaders who believed they could fix any problem if the commander in chief would simply give them what they wanted, and he resented the foreign-policy think-tank complex. A widely held sentiment inside the White House is that many of the most prominent foreign-policy think tanks in Washington are doing the bidding of their Arab and pro-Israel funders. I’ve heard one administration official refer to Massachusetts Avenue, the home of many of these think tanks, as “Arab-occupied territory.”
President Obama's 'Long Game': tilt toward Asia (the new geopolitical center of gravity), pay attention to Africa and South America, don't get caught in the Mideast; climate change is real.
I’ve spent several hours talking with him about the broadest themes of his "long game" foreign policy, including the themes he is most eager to discuss—namely, the ones that have nothing to do with the Middle East.

“ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States,” he told me in one of these conversations. “Climate change is a potential existential threat to the entire world if we don’t do something about it.”

He started by describing for me a four-box grid representing the main schools of American foreign-policy thought. One box he called isolationism, which he dismissed out of hand. “The world is ever-shrinking,” he said. “Withdrawal is untenable.” The other boxes he labeled realism, liberal interventionism, and internationalism. “I suppose you could call me a realist in believing we can’t, at any given moment, relieve all the world’s misery,” he said. “We have to choose where we can make a real impact.” He also noted that he was quite obviously an internationalist, devoted as he is to strengthening multilateral organizations and international norms.

I asked Obama about retrenchment. “Almost every great world power has succumbed” to over-extension, he said. “What I think is not smart is the idea that every time there is a problem, we send in our military to impose order. We just can’t do that.”

“He applies different standards to direct threats to the U.S.,” Ben Rhodes says. “For instance, despite his misgivings about Syria, he has not had a second thought about drones.” Some critics argue he should have had a few second thoughts about what they see as the overuse of drones. But John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, told me recently that he and the president “have similar views. One of them is that sometimes you have to take a life to save even more lives. We have a similar view of just-war theory. The president requires near-certainty of no collateral damage. But if he believes it is necessary to act, he doesn’t hesitate.”

President Obama did not come into office preoccupied by the Middle East. He is the first child of the Pacific to become president—born in Hawaii, raised there and, for four years, in Indonesia—and he is fixated on turning America’s attention to Asia. For Obama, Asia represents the future. Africa and Latin America, in his view, deserve far more U.S. attention than they receive. Europe, about which he is unromantic, is a source of global stability that requires, to his occasional annoyance, American hand-holding. And the Middle East is a region to be avoided—one that, thanks to America’s energy revolution, will soon be of negligible relevance to the U.S. economy.

Advisers recall that Obama would cite a pivotal moment in 'The Dark Knight,' the 2008 Batman movie, to help explain not only how he understood the role of ISIS, but how he understood the larger ecosystem in which it grew. “There’s a scene in the beginning in which the gang leaders of Gotham are meeting,” the president would say. “These are men who had the city divided up. They were thugs, but there was a kind of order. Everyone had his turf. And then the Joker comes in and lights the whole city on fire. ISIL is the Joker. It has the capacity to set the whole region on fire. That’s why we have to fight it.” The rise of the Islamic State deepened Obama’s conviction that the Middle East could not be fixed—not on his watch, and not for a generation to come.

But he has never believed that terrorism poses a threat to America commensurate with the fear it generates. Even during the period in 2014 when ISIS was executing its American captives in Syria, his emotions were in check. Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s closest adviser, told him people were worried that the group would soon take its beheading campaign to the U.S. “They’re not coming here to chop our heads off,” he reassured her. Obama frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than handguns, car accidents, and falls in bathtubs do.

The president also gets frustrated that terrorism keeps swamping his larger agenda, particularly as it relates to rebalancing America’s global priorities. For years, the “pivot to Asia” has been a paramount priority of his. America’s economic future lies in Asia, he believes, and the challenge posed by China’s rise requires constant attention. From his earliest days in office, Obama has been focused on rebuilding the sometimes-threadbare ties between the U.S. and its Asian treaty partners, and he is perpetually on the hunt for opportunities to draw other Asian nations into the U.S. orbit. His dramatic opening to Burma was one such opportunity; Vietnam and the entire constellation of Southeast Asian countries fearful of Chinese domination presented others.

In Manila, at APEC, Obama was determined to keep the conversation focused on this agenda, and not on what he viewed as the containable challenge presented by ISIS. Obama’s secretary of defense, Ashton Carter, told me not long ago that Obama has maintained his focus on Asia even as Syria and other Middle Eastern conflicts continue to flare. Obama believes, Carter said, that Asia “is the part of the world of greatest consequence to the American future, and that no president can take his eye off of this.”

“Right now, I don’t think that anybody can be feeling good about the situation in the Middle East,” he said. “You have countries that are failing to provide prosperity and opportunity for their people. You’ve got a violent, extremist ideology, or ideologies, that are turbocharged through social media. You’ve got countries that have very few civic traditions, so that as autocratic regimes start fraying, the only organizing principles are sectarian.”

He went on, “Contrast that with Southeast Asia, which still has huge problems—enormous poverty, corruption—but is filled with striving, ambitious, energetic people who are every single day scratching and clawing to build businesses and get education and find jobs and build infrastructure. The contrast is pretty stark.”

In Asia, as well as in Latin America and Africa, Obama says, he sees young people yearning for self-improvement, modernity, education, and material wealth.

“They are not thinking about how to kill Americans,” he says. “What they’re thinking about is How do I get a better education? How do I create something of value?”

He then made an observation that I came to realize was representative of his bleakest, most visceral understanding of the Middle East today—not the sort of understanding that a White House still oriented around themes of hope and change might choose to advertise. “If we’re not talking to them,” he said, referring to young Asians and Africans and Latin Americans, “because the only thing we’re doing is figuring out how to destroy or cordon off or control the malicious, nihilistic, violent parts of humanity, then we’re missing the boat.”
Rethinking friends and foes: the treaty with Iran, the narrow enemy in Islam, Saudi allies as enablers of terrorism.
To a remarkable degree, he is willing to question why America’s enemies are its enemies, or why some of its friends are its friends. He overthrew half a century of bipartisan consensus in order to reestablish ties with Cuba. He questioned why the U.S. should avoid sending its forces into Pakistan to kill al-Qaeda leaders, and he privately questions why Pakistan, which he believes is a disastrously dysfunctional country, should be considered an ally of the U.S. at all. According to Leon Panetta, he has questioned why the U.S. should maintain Israel’s so-called qualitative military edge, which grants it access to more sophisticated weapons systems than America’s Arab allies receive; but he has also questioned, often harshly, the role that America’s Sunni Arab allies play in fomenting anti-American terrorism. He is clearly irritated that foreign-policy orthodoxy compels him to treat Saudi Arabia as an ally. And of course he decided early on, in the face of great criticism, that he wanted to reach out to America’s most ardent Middle Eastern foe, Iran. The nuclear deal he struck with Iran proves, if nothing else, that Obama is not risk-averse.

“It is very clear what I mean,” he told me, “which is that there is a violent, radical, fanatical, nihilistic interpretation of Islam by a faction—a tiny faction—within the Muslim community that is our enemy, and that has to be defeated.”

He then offered a critique that sounded more in line with the rhetoric of Cameron and Hollande. “There is also the need for Islam as a whole to challenge that interpretation of Islam, to isolate it, and to undergo a vigorous discussion within their community about how Islam works as part of a peaceful, modern society,” he said. But he added, “I do not persuade peaceful, tolerant Muslims to engage in that debate if I’m not sensitive to their concern that they are being tagged with a broad brush.”

He also believes that the intensified Muslim fury of recent years was encouraged by countries considered friends of the U.S. In a meeting with Malcolm Turnbull, the new prime minister of Australia, Obama described how he has watched Indonesia gradually move from a relaxed, syncretistic Islam to a more fundamentalist, unforgiving interpretation; large numbers of Indonesian women, he observed, have now adopted the hijab, the Muslim head covering.

Why, Turnbull asked, was this happening?

Because, Obama answered, the Saudis and other Gulf Arabs have funneled money, and large numbers of imams and teachers, into the country. In the 1990s, the Saudis heavily funded Wahhabist madrassas, seminaries that teach the fundamentalist version of Islam favored by the Saudi ruling family, Obama told Turnbull. Today, Islam in Indonesia is much more Arab in orientation than it was when he lived there, he said.

“Aren’t the Saudis your friends?,” Turnbull asked.

Obama smiled. “It’s complicated,” he said.

Obama’s patience with Saudi Arabia has always been limited. In his first foreign-policy commentary of note, that 2002 speech at the antiwar rally in Chicago, he said, “You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East—the Saudis and the Egyptians—stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality.” In the White House these days, one occasionally hears Obama’s National Security Council officials pointedly reminding visitors that the large majority of 9/11 hijackers were not Iranian, but Saudi—and Obama himself rails against Saudi Arabia’s state-sanctioned misogyny, arguing in private that “a country cannot function in the modern world when it is repressing half of its population.” In meetings with foreign leaders, Obama has said, “You can gauge the success of a society by how it treats its women.”

His frustration with the Saudis informs his analysis of Middle Eastern power politics. At one point I observed to him that he is less likely than previous presidents to axiomatically side with Saudi Arabia in its dispute with its archrival, Iran. He didn’t disagree.

“Iran, since 1979, has been an enemy of the United States, and has engaged in state-sponsored terrorism, is a genuine threat to Israel and many of our allies, and engages in all kinds of destructive behavior,” the president said. “And my view has never been that we should throw our traditional allies”—the Saudis—“overboard in favor of Iran.”

But he went on to say that the Saudis need to “share” the Middle East with their Iranian foes. “The competition between the Saudis and the Iranians—which has helped to feed proxy wars and chaos in Syria and Iraq and Yemen—requires us to say to our friends as well as to the Iranians that they need to find an effective way to share the neighborhood and institute some sort of cold peace,” he said. “An approach that said to our friends ‘You are right, Iran is the source of all problems, and we will support you in dealing with Iran’ would essentially mean that as these sectarian conflicts continue to rage and our Gulf partners, our traditional friends, do not have the ability to put out the flames on their own or decisively win on their own, and would mean that we have to start coming in and using our military power to settle scores. And that would be in the interest neither of the United States nor of the Middle East.”
His lesson from Libya -- and the great paradox of integrating women in war planning was that most feminist advisers were hawkish advisers.
But what sealed Obama’s fatalistic view was the failure of his administration’s intervention in Libya, in 2011. That intervention was meant to prevent the country’s then-dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, from slaughtering the people of Benghazi, as he was threatening to do. Obama did not want to join the fight; he was counseled by Joe Biden and his first-term secretary of defense Robert Gates, among others, to steer clear. But a strong faction within the national-security team—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, who was then the ambassador to the United Nations, along with Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, and Antony Blinken, who was then Biden’s national-security adviser—lobbied hard to protect Benghazi, and prevailed. (Biden, who is acerbic about Clinton’s foreign-policy judgment, has said privately, "Hillary just wants to be Golda Meir.") American bombs fell, the people of Benghazi were spared from what may or may not have been a massacre, and Qaddafi was captured and executed.

But Obama says today of the intervention, “It didn’t work.” The U.S., he believes, planned the Libya operation carefully—and yet the country is still a disaster.
Obama on Latin America: don't inflate the adversary -- moving beyond the Cold War paradigm.
Obama then cited America’s increased influence in Latin America—increased, he said, in part by his removal of a region-wide stumbling block when he reestablished ties with Cuba—as proof that his deliberate, nonthreatening, diplomacy-centered approach to foreign relations is working. The ALBA movement, a group of Latin American governments oriented around anti-Americanism, has significantly weakened during his time as president. “When I came into office, at the first Summit of the Americas that I attended, Hugo Chávez”—the late anti-American Venezuelan dictator—“was still the dominant figure in the conversation,” he said. “We made a very strategic decision early on, which was, rather than blow him up as this 10-foot giant adversary, to right-size the problem and say, ‘We don’t like what’s going on in Venezuela, but it’s not a threat to the United States.’ ”

Obama said that to achieve this rebalancing, the U.S. had to absorb the diatribes and insults of superannuated Castro manqués. “When I saw Chávez, I shook his hand and he handed me a Marxist critique of the U.S.–Latin America relationship,” Obama recalled. “And I had to sit there and listen to Ortega”—Daniel Ortega, the radical leftist president of Nicaragua—“make an hour-long rant against the United States. But us being there, not taking all that stuff seriously—because it really wasn’t a threat to us”—helped neutralize the region’s anti-Americanism.
On Russia: the interviewer surprised by Obama's measured portrayal of Putin:
The president’s unwillingness to counter the baiting by American adversaries can feel emotionally unsatisfying, I said, and I told him that every so often, I’d like to see him give Vladimir Putin the finger. It’s atavistic, I said, understanding my audience.

“It is,” the president responded coolly. “This is what they’re looking for.”

He described a relationship with Putin that doesn’t quite conform to common perceptions. I had been under the impression that Obama viewed Putin as nasty, brutish, and short. But, Obama told me, Putin is not particularly nasty.

“The truth is, actually, Putin, in all of our meetings, is scrupulously polite, very frank. Our meetings are very businesslike. He never keeps me waiting two hours like he does a bunch of these other folks.” Obama said that Putin believes his relationship with the U.S. is more important than Americans tend to think. “He’s constantly interested in being seen as our peer and as working with us, because he’s not completely stupid.
Back to Asia: A peaceful rise of China is his approach, but he strangely does not see Chinese nationalism as the positive force which will replace atheistic communism. Mrs.Clinton's had a much more conventional 'yellow peril' view of China than Obama ("the child of the Pacific").
What country does he consider the greatest challenge to America in the coming decades? “In terms of traditional great-state relations, I do believe that the relationship between the United States and China is going to be the most critical,” he said. “If we get that right and China continues on a peaceful rise, then we have a partner that is growing in capability and sharing with us the burdens and responsibilities of maintaining an international order. If China fails; if it is not able to maintain a trajectory that satisfies its population and has to resort to nationalism as an organizing principle; if it feels so overwhelmed that it never takes on the responsibilities of a country its size in maintaining the international order; if it views the world only in terms of regional spheres of influence—then not only do we see the potential for conflict with China, but we will find ourselves having more difficulty dealing with these other challenges that are going to come.”

Many people, I noted, want the president to be more forceful in confronting China, especially in the South China Sea. Hillary Clinton, for one, has been heard to say in private settings, “I don’t want my grandchildren to live in a world dominated by the Chinese.”

“I’ve been very explicit in saying that we have more to fear from a weakened, threatened China than a successful, rising China,” Obama said. “I think we have to be firm where China’s actions are undermining international interests, and if you look at how we’ve operated in the South China Sea, we have been able to mobilize most of Asia to isolate China in ways that have surprised China, frankly, and have very much served our interest in strengthening our alliances.”
Finally, Obama on the destructiveness of tribalism. Again. this journey "inside his mind" applied across a wide range of historical events shows his thoroughly western cosmopolitan paradigm of religion, male-female relations, and social structure.
One of the most destructive forces in the Middle East, Obama believes, is tribalism—a force no president can neutralize. Tribalism, made manifest in the reversion to sect, creed, clan, and village by the desperate citizens of failing states, is the source of much of the Muslim Middle East’s problems, and it is another source of his fatalism. Obama has deep respect for the destructive resilience of tribalism—part of his memoir, Dreams From My Father, concerns the way in which tribalism in post-colonial Kenya helped ruin his father’s life—which goes some distance in explaining why he is so fastidious about avoiding entanglements in tribal conflicts.

“It is literally in my DNA to be suspicious of tribalism,” he told me. “I understand the tribal impulse, and acknowledge the power of tribal division. I’ve been navigating tribal divisions my whole life. In the end, it’s the source of a lot of destructive acts.”
BEN RHODES INTERVIEW AND OBAMA VS. FOREIGN POLICY ESTABLISHMENTGood dissection of the interviewer and reactions by Fred Kaplan. A response from the author - David Samuels. From Jewish magazine FORWARD - a peek into the Byzantine world of Jewish journalists. The long narrative interviews with President Obama by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic and Ben Rhodes by David Samuels in the NYTimes magazine show a daring move by the President, Secretary of State Kerry, and his communications aide to realign the Mideast and pull America from the Saudi/Pakistan-Sunni embrace that has made our foreign policy incoherent. They never articulated this major alternative in public, so they too seem incoherent. These two articles are remarkable works of investigative and interpretive journalism. What seems very clear is that Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and Robert Gates had roles in all of these machinations but they were not the drivers of policy and may have been figureheads inadvertently covering a policy not made by them. Those old establishment fronts played a similar fig leaf role in the Obama administration that Secretary of State Colin Powell was unfortunately forced into at the Bush White House. These articles also show that while Obama filled high positions with females, his soul mates in international decision making were white men of his own generation or younger.


III. ISLAM AND THE MIDDLE EAST

RUSSIA AND ISRAEL - A FORCE TO HELP ISRAEL AND PERSIA: Putin tries to focus Netanyahu on a new world.

SAUDI LOBBY -REAL NEWS ABOUT A FOREIGN POWER TAMPERING WITH US POLICY : This is an entry from September 2016 two months before the US election. Once the search for Russians stealing our election subsides, we might turn our eyes to the Saudis buying our public officials and foreign policy establishment. Lots of alligators in that swamp!
FROM AOA SEPT 2016   "The kingdom added another three lobbying contracts to its roster, retaining the services of former Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi and former Democratic Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana as part of a $100,000 monthly contract with Squire Patton Boggs [law firm], according to documents filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act." Anthony Podesta, a major financial bundler for Hillary Clinton, is a paid lobbyist for the Saudis. Podesta’s brother, John, is HC campaign chairman, and previous chief of staff for President Bill Clinton. Norm Coleman, the former Republican Senator from Minnesota, is also a paid lobbyist for the Saudis. He helps head up the Congressional Leadership Fund - a super PAC to influence Republican House races. The Saudis were a significant source of money for ads opposing the Iran nuclear deal.

IS MECCA FOR ISLAM OR WAHHABIS?  A city of Saudi constructions and Salafist constrictions.

A BOMBING IN DAMASCUS AT A RELIGIOUS SITE: The rest of the story: "The Levant Liberation Committee, an al-Qaeda-linked group, claimed responsibility Sunday for twin suicide blasts near holy shrines frequented by Shiites in the Syrian capital Damascus that killed at least 40 people and wounded over a hundred on Saturday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll had reached 74. The Levant Liberation Committee, dominated by Fatah al-Sham, said the blasts were a message to 'Iran and its militias.'" (AP-Washington Post)

THE DRONE WAR AGAINST MALE GROUPS: WHAT IS A "SIGNATURE STRIKE"?: From FP journal: "While the Obama administration imposed rules on the drone program, it still held on to some controversial -- and very deadly -- programs, including the 'signature strike' effort that allowed strikes on groups of unidentified men thought to be terrorists. FP’s Dan De Luce and Paul McLeary reported that “the tactic had sparked fierce criticism from human rights groups and some lawmakers, who said it effectively gave the CIA carte blanche to bomb groups of men in countries ranging from Yemen to Pakistan simply because of where they lived and whether they showed any behavior commonly associated with militants.” In 2013, Obama suggested he wanted to curb the program, but by 2016 the administration had "abandoned any pretense of reining in its use of signature strikes," and was dispatching drones to strike at targets in Yemen and Somalia.


IV. CULTURE OF LIFE, CULTURE OF PROTECTION

THE GRAND BARGAIN OF US FOREIGN POLICY DRIVEN BY GENDER EQUALITY: From Christopher Caldwell First Things review of Walter McDougal's book on The Tragedy of American Foreign Policy:
"McDougall describes the “millennial” American civil religion of the Obama years as a “grand bargain, according to which big business agreed to support radical social equality, in exchange for which cultural authorities agreed to tolerate radical economic inequality.” He is right. He does not even touch on what the political scientists Valerie Hudson and Patricia Leidl have called the “Hillary Doctrine,” promulgated through the Office of Global Women’s Issues established by Mrs. Clinton at the State Department, and according to which any denial of gender equality anywhere in the world is a threat to American order. As this new doctrine has been elaborated, it has meant delivering a series of shocks to traditional sexual morality in the remotest places. There have been attempts to create an international right to “reproductive health services” and family planning, starting with the Cairo population and development conference of 1994. There have been admonitory communiqués to the Russian government about its high school sex-ed curriculum. Czechs have complained that the top priority of the U.S. embassy in recent years has been Prague’s gay pride parade. Meanwhile, the wealthiest percentile, in the U.S. and elsewhere, has prospered to an unprecedented degree."
LADY DAY: What a beautiful article by a beautiful woman.

THE UNDERSIDE OF AN ABOMINATION: Austin Ruse has a way of telling the truth.

ORTHODOXY AS A COVER FOR PERVERSION: More often than we think, the traditional conservative in the Catholic hierarchy (Burke, Nienstedt, Spellman) is someone very different. The traditional face of homosexuality in Catholic clergy in the 1950's was the super rigid. The 70's face was the sensitive liberal. The most recent manifestation is a return to the past led by the "Daughters of Trent" variety. The split in the Catholic clergy is not over orthodox teaching on communion for the divorced, any more than contraception was the issue in the 70's and 80's. The great crisis in the Catholic priesthood is the substantial homosexual subculture of bishops and priests corrupting the protective culture of Fatherhood. If it takes married priests and a return of the SSPX (which is much cleaner from homosexuality than most chanceries), then let us do what must be done to get a critical mass of priests who will expel the Judas priests who betray with a kiss. Do Catholics really believe that practicing homosexuals are saying valid masses? Pope Francis calls the masses of predators "Black Masses." It isn't Donatism to question the validity of Baal's priests. That may be the only question that will drive priestly reform to the top of the Church agenda.The Donatist heresy was about the validity of masses said by priests who had sinned and reformed, not priests who brazenly used the collar as a cover for CONTINUED sexual perversion and monetary gain. It does not protect the faithful to treat the unrepentant corruption of priests as a matter not affecting our sacramental life. It protects the masquerade priest.