Saturday, November 28, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 28

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


A working English translation from the original Italian (by Bishop Michael G. Campbell, OSA of the Catholic Diocese of Lancaster, England, on 7 November 2015) Bishops' document ('Relatio') for the October 2015 Synod on the Family.

No ifs, ands, or buts. Read the Document of the Synod. Marriage is between a male and female. It is indissoluble and that characteristic is a gift from Christ Himself as part of His great mercy which brings us back to "the beginning" and the natural order of things. The mercy of God is not just a characteristic in relation to our sins. Creation itself is an act of mercy. The male-female indissoluble capacity for lifetime unity and love is a delightful feature of God's favorite creature. The natural distinction of male and female is an essential fact in nature -- an ecological truth in the lexicon of Pope Francis. This truth about the created order is proclaimed by the fraternity of bishops acting as a synod. The Devil can twist Scripture and he can twist this document. As St. Peter said about the writings of Paul: "There are certain passages in them...the ignorant and the unstable distort them (just as they do with Scriptures) to their own ruin." When the Deceiver or his minions turn one phrase this way and twist another that way, faithful sons of the Church should not serve as a megaphone for distortion and distrust. We will see if this bracing teaching of the Synod receives a fraction of the CATHOLIC press that the skeptical splicing of 3 or 4 quickly translated secondary paragraphs did.

A talk on Crisis in Conservative Catholicism by Ross Douthat of the New York Times. This 35-minute talk is a masterpiece of Catholic erudition, good sense, good humor, and explanatory power. The author is witty, humble, intelligent, and faithful. He is so articulate in making his case that he deserves a serious extended response. He is quite right about a) conservative miscalculations about the "resiliency" of the progressive project -- especially their control of a huge job and patronage system and the land and buildings of wealthy institutions; b) the conservative tendency toward "papalotry" during the reign of the conservatives' good pontiffs, John Paul II and Benedict XVI; c) the failure to respond adequately to "the hierarchy of truths" objection to conservative apologetic and moral emphases, and d) the collapse of the "reform by biology" scheme whereby corrupted clergy and religious who needed exposure, metanoia, and punishment were going to fade away and be allowed to die out in retirement.

Mr. Douthat is quite wrong, however, in a) his "conservative" narrative of what the Council was about; b) his own ranking of a hierarchy of truths in which the restrictions at the communion rail are inviolate but the ordination of females to the diaconate is a possibility; c) the notion another Council may have to clean up the essential "failure of Vatican II"; d) his hyper-attentiveness to the Walter Kaspers of the Synod and his seeming blind eye to the Robert Sarahs.

Mr. Douthat gave an entertaining talk. He demonstrates the shortcomings of emphasis and perspective in conservative Catholicism which Pope Francis seeks to transcend. A faithful bishop, priest, or seminarian should answer Mr. Douthat and show him that the global fraternity ignited at Vatican II is just starting to pick up the wind of the Holy Spirit in the synods. One answer to the concerns of Mr. Douthat and many other Catholic conservatives is a more theocentric, spiritual, and episcopal reading of Vatican II. There was a Pentecostal event for the Fathers as the successor of the Apostles from across the globe prayed to God in front of a world that was growing farther away from the Lord of Heaven. The Council was first an act of apostolic prayer and liturgy centered on the Living God who is present to humanity in the Person of Jesus Christ. The documents and debates came later. Getting the news out is still going on. There is a very different view of the Council found in the Pope's biography (The Great Reformer) and Cardinal Sarah's God or Nothing. The Spirit of the Council is still at work, and He is not an agent of conspiracy nor a hijacker of doctrine. Let's hope  First Things magazine counters the Council of the Media, even if this time it was delivered by a good Catholic conservative who works at the New York Times.


THREE SUNNI STATES SUPPORTING SALAFIST SUNNIS: It is done in different ways in different theaters. In Turkey it is a double-dealing including very open borders for ISIS and a military campaign against effective enemies - the Kurds. In Saudi Arabia it is financing the ideology worldwide while keeping a familial dynasty free of revolution at home. In Pakistan there is a state within a state  with the intelligence and military institutions in the Salafist camp. The Salfist Sunnis in Pakistan are associated with Deobandi Islam. They are manifested by the Muslim movement against Kashmir, bombings in India, and the support of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California is Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Asia, and Emerging Threats. He calls for new strategy in defining friends and enemies in the Mideast. Forget Assad and Russia - go after ISIS.

TURKEY - DOES A SUNNI ISLAMIC POLITICAL CULTURE HAVE TO BE SALAFIST?: The slow, long religious revival in Turkey's public life against the oppressive but effective secularization national policies of Kemal Ataturk (President 1923-1938) has been led by the Justice and Development Party (AKP). This has been most successful in a well-organized effort to build education on Islam. Turkish AKP men like Recep Erdogan, the President of Turkey, and Abdullah Gull desire that their cultures be neither secular nor Salafist. It is not clear what middle road they can forge. What is clear is that Turkey does not consider their neighbor -- ISIS which is opposed to Shiite Iraq, Shiite Iran and the independent Kurds -- as an enemy to their own national interests. Erdogan once said. "Islam is Islam. To speak of a moderate Islam is very ugly. It is offensive and it is an insult to our religion." Or as St Augustine put it: "Be moderate in all things but your love of God." We are looking for an Islam that is radical in its love of God while being ready to create and live in the fraternity of civilizations in which all men are not Muslims.

CHINA JOINS THE WAR ON ISIS: Here is why they declared war on ISIS. China has a domestic Islamic threat in the western province of Xinxiang. Its foreign policy is built on extensive infrastructure projects abroad. The men killed in the Mali attack in Africa were railroad executives. China understands that Islam in South Asia is centered in Pakistan and is trying to buttress the most stable elements of Pakistan through massive infrastructure investments. This is called a foreign policy.

DEMOCRATIC OFFICIALS AND REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES AND A STRATEGIC IMPASSE: Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, in a short interview with NBC, outlined a strategy to fight ISIS which he says worked in Libya. He proposes a NATO alliance (treating the Paris killings as an act of war against the whole alliance) and Arab allies. He doesn't trust Iran or Russia but is more open to Russia. He calls Assad an international criminal. He says we must use ground forces to take territory from ISIS. Who will help us along with NATO? Panetta answers: "OUR MODERATE ALLIES - led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE." This thinking demonstrates the confusion which has caused our strategic problem. It is shared by most Republican candidates as well as Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton.


PARIS BOMBING - A SACRED STRATEGY OR THE NIHILISM OF A DEATH CULT: An Anglican minister corrects the religious illiteracy of European elites. Scott Atran at the Guardian has a good description of ISIS strategy and there is nothing nihilist about it. The ISIS recruiters know that young people want a religion that has meaning not moderation. A lot of secular European Union globalists haven't got the memo. The empathy gap between American reactions to the bombing in Lebanon and the killing in Paris is understandable. What is dangerously inexcusable is the strategic gap in failing to see that the front line facing ISIS are the "Shiite apostates" -- Muslims being killed for their religion.

BOKO HARAM - THE AFRICAN FRONT OF A WORLD-WIDE RELIGIOUS WAR: No terrorist group killed more people in 2015 than Boko Haram.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 21

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


WAHHABIS IN FRANCE: A Belgian neighborhood where one of the French terrorists lived is searched. A man on the street says that Muslim youth there are being radicalized by a form of Sunni Islam called Wahhabism in mosques primarily funded by Saudi Arabia. In this balanced piece of journalism, a Belgian "political scientist" is found who assures us it can't be that simple.

PUTIN - ALLY, NOT ENEMY: The French may be the first to say clearly that Russia is our ally and, a bit later, that Saudi Arabia is an enemy. Commentator Doug Tice at the StarTribune breaks the news gently that Putin may be the man.

PROBLEMS WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL RIGHT: Pat Buchanan takes apart the Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush plans to fight the wrong enemy. They criticize President Obama for no winning strategy against ISIS. They fail the same test. And as Russia has a plane taken down by ISIS and joins France in attacking them, Republican candidates Chris Christie and Ben Carson show their toughness by assuring listeners that Russian planes in a no-fly zone in Syria will get shot down. All the Republican candidates are ready to fight, but whom we should be shooting still needs to be worked out by cooler, more experienced, men than they.

IN THE PRESS: The 'American Conservative' magazine has been hands off IN THE BATTLE AGAINST ISIS but here they accept the necessity for war and realistically name allies that will define the shape of the battle.

UKRAINE, EUROPE, AND THE GAY LITMUS TEST: The author here declares the values of Europe and asserts Ukraine is not ready for the brave new world of atheism, abortion, and sodomy. The foreign policy establishment in the media and our State Department have drunk heavily of the Kool-Aid of the sexual left. To them, to accept modernity (European or Western values) is to reject traditional Christianity, Islam, and Judaism as well as the patriarchal structure of all the major eastern civilizations. This is not a clash among civilizations, but a clash of religious and ethnic civilizations of humanity against the technological prowess of Western nihilism.


SAUDIS LOSING GROUND AS GULF STATES LOOK FOR OTHER ALLIES: Last week we cited the beginning of talks between Qatar and Iran. This week we note Oman looking East. Oman has a population of three million. The majority are neither Sunni or Shia but Ibadi Muslim. They provided the site for the Iran - USA nuclear talks. Saudi Arabia seems stuck in Yemen where many more people have died this week from the hand of religious terrorists than in France.

THE SALAFIST SUNNI WAR COMES ALSO FROM THE PAKISTANI TALIBAN: You see a horrible headline that a nine-year-old girl is beheaded in Afghanistan. You hear she is a Hazari. Ask what that means. She might have been Houthi in Yemen. Why was she killed? It takes a while for the article to tell you, but remember violence is only senseless for those who have not developed deeper sensibilities. This is more evidence of the least discussed part of the religious war in both the Mideast and South Asia - the war of Salafist Sunnis against Shiites. In South Asia the source of that movement is in Pakistan. There is a strong anti-Salafist movement in Pakistan but it cannot be too loud. The most powerful forces who have fought and named this enemy are Afghanistan and India. The Pakistan military has always feared that those two countries could form an encircling alliance against them. China too wants to support the anti-Taliban parts of the Pakistan government and they are investing heavily in infrastructure there. As US policy attests, it is not always easy to know who you are helping and who you are fighting.

ISRAEL AND THE SAUDIS: Israel has always been forced to make allies with countries in the Mideast who have denied their right to existence and in public sought their destruction. Their present strategy of linking with Saudi Arabia may have run its course as some begin to ask if a shift to the Shia might be in order.

THE LEBANESE FRONT: The bombing of Shiites in Lebanon with no military objective other than killing Shiites was treated as a strike against Hezbollah in the press. We have all learned to hate Hezbollah as terrorists. Read this account of that bombing and a few chilling quotes about the religious extermination program against Shiites by ISIS. The next Mideast battleground is Lebanon. The Shiites (Hezbollah) and the Christian Maronites will be the primary targets (and natural allies) as ISIS and Al Qaeda battle to be the face of Sunni Islam. All who wish to defend Christian Maronites will accept an alliance with Hezbollah and other Shia as we search for Sunni states and coalitions to contend for the mantle of Sunni leadership. This will mean untying the bond with Saudi Arabia and condemning their bombing of Houthi Shia as one more front in their murderous campaign of Salafist purification.


BELGIUM VS NIGERIA: Guess which bishops embrace Christ and shun homosexuality? Guess which Church is growing and which is decaying?

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH: A Canadian Bishop says throw ladies a bone and make them deacons. A lady says let's elevate women and restore the order of virgins. I am pretty sure it is "inappropriate" to say I would like to hug this lady and give her a brotherly kiss, but what a beautiful article showing such a deeper wisdom than the stammering cleric. Pope Francis said that those who wish to give women Holy Orders do not understand the high nature of womanhood and are guilty of clericalism. Our heroine Jenna Cooper fleshes out his argument.

ECUMENISM OF FRANCIS: Meanwhile the Pope says what he thinks but cannot act upon in terms of communion for a Lutheran wife. He respects his office too much to give permission but he respects his conscience (a very prayer-filled one by the way) too much not to answer her honestly.

CHRISTIAN ECUMENISM: The Hall of Men - a great idea for men in Wichita.



POLITICAL TRIALS: Here are the most powerful New York liberals and legislators headed to jail for their peculiar take on cleaning up the environment. Keeping a bipartisan spirit the Republican State Senate boss and his son have a trial of their own.

BLACK LIVES MATTER: Black Lives Matter on Dartmouth campus takes a particularly virulent form.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday BookReview: G.M. Hopkins on CHRIST THE KING

"What a manly man is this chevalier!"

Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. (d. 1889) wrote this poem, 'The Windhover,' about the glory and majesty of the everlasting King of Kings. Take a listen.

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn
Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air,
and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! Then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend:
the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! And the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.


Mitchell Kalpakgian does a good job of explaining Father Hopkins' intent. An excerpt:
"Christ the King moves and acts in His dominion– all of Nature and Creation—with the same all-powerful, all-encompassing regality that the windhover’s flight encircles in the beautiful grace of its movements... 
"This 'brute beauty' of manliness that Christ the noble king, the chivalrous 'chevalier,' epitomizes is strength revealed in the form of love, service, sacrifice, and protection— the beauty of masculine goodness that is willing to die and shed blood for the ones it loves, to 'fall' and 'gall' and 'gash gold vermilion' in the ultimate act..."

And this from a reader review:
"When I was a freshman in college and completely out of my depth in Lit 1, the teacher assigned this among other works... I found my encounters with G.M. Hopkins to be the most profound. I wasn't religious and hadn't a clue about Catholicism, which informs his poetry, yet its intense, clotted rhyme schemes, the spikey spirituality and the way Hopkins invented terms to describe his method ('inscape' for one's interior psychological landscape) just clicked. 
"I recently met with a young Japanese national studying and working in Hawaii who had been given a copy of the same edition I had assigned to me in 1970. Her hands trembled as she opened the book to 'The Windhover.' She asked, in that way readers will, 'Have you ever read this?' I quoted the opening lines. Still magic."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 14

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


SAUDIS AND TERRORISM: The Saudis and 911. Lots of fingerprints remain. The Saudis' war against the Shia according to British Security head Sir John Dearlove. "Thank God for the Saudis" according to John McCain. The Saudis and Israel in an anti-Iran coalition - an odd couple no more.

PAKISTAN AND TERRORISM: Fareed Zakaria writes how Pakistan is the real base for the Taliban in Afghanistan. What Pakistan knew about bin Laden by Carlotta Gall, NY TIMES reporter/author of The Wrong Enemy. Her book (to be reviewed by AOA soon) depicts Pakistan, not Afghanistan, as the root of terrorism in South Asia.

Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan from 2006-2014 used his farewell speech to blast US/Pakistan inaction in addressing the real source of Taliban violence in Afghanistan - the Pakistan policy of intelligence agencies and the military supporting Salafist Sunnis as part of their anti-India foreign policy. The new president, Ashraf Ghani (elected 2014), promised to take a softer line against his neighbors in Pakistan. Now he sounds like his predecessor Karzai.

REALIGNING THE MIDEAST: Qatar and Iran. From our Gulf States Map on Monday. "Most Qataris follow a Wahhabi interpretation of Islam but they have had differences with the monarchs of Saudi Arabia, especially in favoring the more populist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The US CENTCOM regional headquarters are in Qatar at the Al Udeid Air Base. Qatar's government funds the most influential venture in Arab television - Al Jazeera Network."

CHRISTIAN REFUGEES - WHY SO FEW?: Our State Department has not yet addressed the situation in which Christians avoid the UN refugee camps for fear of continued persecution by fellow refugees. None dare mention the religious nature of this problem. though many recall the Christians Overboard tale of refugees crossing the Mediterranean in April 2015.


CANADA AND HER SIKHS: At the interaction of Islam and Hinduism arose the Sikhs. They are 4% of Canada's population but a much higher percentage of the diverse cabinet of newly elected Prime Minister Trudeau. The new defense minister got there the old-fashioned way - he fought.

BURMA (MYANMAR): Myanmar held elections on Nov 8, 2015, with the NLD party of Aung San Suu Kyi an overwhelming victor in the first open election in three decades. A short history for background explaining the role of her father in Burma's independence. She is barred from the Presidency because of a clause that says anyone with foreign children may not be president. That law was made with her in mind under the previous regime. She promises to rule from another perch than the presidency. Burma has 52 million people, 80% Buddhist, 7% Christian with ethnic dominance by Bamar 70% and Shan 10%. See Map on Monday (Southeast Asia).


WILL CHURCH FATHERS PUNISH THE GOMORRAH LOBBY: A new translation of Peter Damien's letter to the Pope on clerical depravity.

JEWS AND KEEPING SACRED SPACE: THE SEXUAL TABOO: The Rabbinical Council of Orthodox Jews has definitely stated there will be no female rabbis. A Yeshivat advocating female rabbis will keep graduating them to "change the facts on the ground."

NON-VIOLENCE AS RELIGION - THE DEATH OF RENE GIRARD: Rod Dreher at 'American Conservative' has a very good summary of the deceased philosopher's defining thesis concerning: 1) mimesis (the relation of the human drive to imitate and what we desire) and 2) sacral violence and scapegoating. Girard was controversial among secular academics because he claimed that Christianity was a "revealed religion" in exposing this fundamental human fault which leads to war and violence. He returned to the Catholic Church with his family, which is wonderful. His religious blindness, however, has misled many Catholic intellectuals who likewise are embarrassed by traditional notions of Satan and the Fall. Whenever I hear theologians talking about "non-violence as a biblical principle," I look for an inadequate description of Lucifer and an over-attachment to Girard as an "intellectual." Such theologians seeking intellectual credibility demonstrate their own misguided mimesis of a high status "great man." Sadly, the theologian mimics the anthropologist instead of correcting him. Rene Girard (1923 - 2015) R.I.P.

THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE: Trump and middle-aged white guys with rising death rate.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday BookReview: 19th-century debate of republicanism vs monarchy

[first published November 13, 2015]

by David Pence

"Monarchies and much of the world's aristocracies despised American democracy... Queen Victoria and British Prime Minister Palmerston, France's Napoleon III, Spain's Queen Isabella, and Pope Pius IX were happy to see conflict in the only nation on earth where people ruled themselves. 'Every friend of despotism rejoices at your misfortune,' wrote London Times correspondent William Howard Russell."          (from a reader review of Mr. Doyle's book)

The Cause of All Nations is subtitled "an international history of the American Civil War" by University of South Carolina professor Don H. Doyle. He wrote an earlier book comparing two nations with North-South regional differences -- the United States and Italy. That work introduced him to characters and European perspectives from the 19th century when Italians were forming a nation and Americans were testing one. Doyle emphasizes the Italian (and opposing papal) viewpoints of our Civil War, as well as describing the "return of the empires" by France and Spain in the Americas. There could have been a short chapter about how diplomatic recognition and free trade with the South for France, Britain, or Spain would have internationalized a world-wide naval conflict over the cotton trade. But the author leaves those matters to others while his interest is to place support for the North or South in terms of movements in Europe and the Americas pitting republican nations against monarchical empires. With American military forces in civil war, there was no one to enforce the Monroe Doctrine allowing "the empires' return."

In 1861 Spain annexed the Dominican Republic and France invaded Mexico. The annual 'Cinco de Mayo' celebration in Mexico is a memorial of the Mexican army's victory in the Battle of Puebla (the Fifth of May 1863) against the French invaders. That was one of the few early victories as Emperor Napoleon III was successful in establishing a Catholic monarch, Maximilian, as emperor of Mexico. The Mexican nationalists fought a sustained war against the Second Mexican Empire. The French troops eventually withdrew in 1866, and Maximilian was executed in 1867. He had accepted the Emperor title from Catholic Mexican aristocrats and saw himself as a true protector of the nation. As he bravely faced his execution he said, "Men of my class and station are meant to protect or be martyrs of the nation. I forgive all and ask all to forgive me. My blood is to be shed for the country." Maximilian had authored the Black Decree (October 1865) outlawing any gathering of armed men, with a penalty of execution to be carried out within 24 hours of the crime. More than 10.000 men were killed under that Decree and a generation of Mexican men were raised considering liberty and fraternity to be the cultural alternative to the tyranny of a Catholic order.

From series of paintings of the execution of Emperor Maximilian
 (Édouard Manet, d. 1883) 

The Dominican Restoration war (1861-1863) ended with an empire's withdrawal as well. The Dominican Republic was restored with the withdrawal of Spanish troops in 1863. In that republic the Catholic Church was tied to  both republican and monarchical national movements. This would always be true in "White Catholic and Hispanic" Dominican Republic -- which has always defined herself most sharply from her neighbor invaders from "Black, Catholic/voodoo and French-speaking" Haiti.  

In Italy, the republican nationalist movement was directed against foreign empires (Austria and France) that controlled major sections of the geographic boot of Italy. Those Catholic emperors and their armies protected the Pope and Papal States from the claims of Italian nationalists like Mazzini (1805-1872) and Garibaldi (1807-1882). The men of the Risorgimento (the resurgence) believed that liberty depended on men forming nations under God. They would unite the entire geographical peninsula under the new bonds of fraternity forming the Italian nation. They remembered the Roman republic. They wore red-shirts linking that color with revolution for the next century. The Italian nationalists and their bonds of  fraternity were not as godless as the French revolutionaries or many of the Mexican revolutionaries. When Pius IX ('Pio Nono') was first elected, Italian nationalists and Catholic "liberals" throughout Europe were elated. This did not last long after the papal Secretary of State was assassinated and the pope exiled during the six-month Roman Republic. He was restored by French troops of Napoleon III who repaid his conservative Catholic French supporters with military protection for the pontiff. The pope became the enemy of the republicans, modernists, and liberals as he allied with foreign Catholic monarchs and emperors. The Catholic Church, founded on the apostolic fraternity of Holy Orders, became the enemy of political fraternity from the Masons to extra-ecclesial political clubs. This has led to a devastating impoverishment of Catholic political thought in developing a communal masculine ethic of citizenship and republican fraternity. The Popes did however remind men of a central truth often lost in that revolutionary age of "the people." Fraternity apart from God would lead to murder by the mob.
Pius IX: reigned 1846-78

Professor Doyle shows how Southern diplomats cultivated the sympathy of Pius IX and Emperor Napoleon III of France. This was certainly not an obvious alliance springing from Southern religion. The diplomats painted the Northerners as the mob against authority and were aided by the Irish-born bishop of Charleston: Patrick Lynch. The bishop wrote successfully to the pope to enlist him in urging Catholics in every state to support a "bid for peace." When Jefferson Davis was in prison he had on his wall a signed papal missive to show support. The pope approved the replacement of the anti-clerical Benito Juarez (1806-1872) with the Catholic Austrian Emperor’s brother Maximilian to be the new Emperor of Mexico. This combination of support for the French invaders of Mexico and sympathy for the South to establish buffers against the "radical puritans" of the Anglo-Saxon Protestant United States is what Doyle called the "Latin Strategy." Doyle's book, one reviewer said, was like visiting a well-known restaurant but getting there by a completely new roadway. It is a road that uniquely presents crucial events and characters in the 19th-century emergence of political fraternity as an enemy to slavery and an advocate of national republics.

Garibaldi spent brief periods in the U.S. in the early 1850s

The book ends with a beautiful exposition of the Statue of Liberty -- originally named "Liberty Enlightening the World." This gift from the French people was erected in 1886 after being built in France in stages for many years. At her feet are the broken chains of slavery. In her left hand is a book representing the law necessary for freedom; and her outstretched right arm is the light pointing out toward the open seas. A free republic (government by, for, and of the people) with no slavery to bind its feet now lights the way for the rest of mankind. The New York harbor may be a home to the refugees of the world, but that was not the deepest meaning of the French gift. For Doyle and our French benefactors, the statue is a thankful reminder that the Civil War was about "a last best hope for earth." The Law in Lady Liberty's hand was not the Constitution of 1787, but the document of July 4, 1776, declaring all men are created equal. What the French memorialized twenty years after the Civil War, the old Italian freedom fighter Garibaldi had known from the onset. When he was asked early in the war to lend his name and possibly lead a force in the Union Cause he said, "Tell me also if this agitation is regarding the emancipation of the Negroes or not." Comparing Lincoln’s First Inaugural, the Gettysburg Address, and the Second Inaugural provides dramatic historical evidence that, for the best of America's leaders, it was late in the course of the war that the true meaning of the conflict emerged. That hiddeness of Divine Providence in the lives and wars of nations is one of the many lessons that can be learned from studying this book's exploration of emerging nations, the dying European empires, and the American Civil War.        

UPDATE: Here is an interview with Professor Doyle (conducted by Sidney Blumenthal, longtime adviser to the Clintons).

Some excerpts from a review in the 'Wall St Journal':

Americans tend to think of the Civil War in a kind of geographical vacuum, as a purely American contest at which other nations were mere passive spectators. Don Doyle, a professor of history at the University of South Carolina, vividly demonstrates that, far from being a “ ‘brother’s war’ fought by Americans over uniquely American issues,” the Civil War was an earthshaking event that threatened and engaged the governments and people of Europe, from the British Midlands to Rome.

So thoroughly have liberal political values today triumphed around the world, says Mr. Doyle, that it is hard to remember that, a century and a half ago, the United States was the world’s only significant republic. European reactionaries and defenders of a hierarchical status quo exulted when America’s “republican experiment” seemed to collapse in on itself. Lord Palmerston, the British prime minister at the time of the American Civil War, remarked of the embattled North that it “shows that Power in the Hands of the Masses throws the Scum of the Community to the surface,” while a French cabinet officer blithely told a visiting American: “Your Republic is dead, and it is probably the last the world will see.”

... The Union victory in 1865 emboldened popular democratic movements everywhere in Europe. The consequences of a Confederate victory, Mr. Doyle asserts, would have been far-reaching, not just for the United States but for the world. He writes that “it would have meant a new birth of slavery rather than freedom, possibly throughout the Americas.”



Saturday, November 7, 2015

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 7

by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch 


VATICAN ARRESTS: Arrests by Vatican police in anticipation of new books telling sordid tales of Vatican corruption.

CATHOLIC ACADEMICS WHO DISSENT FROM CHURCH TEACHING REALLY DISSENT FROM BEING CALLED HERETICAL: Ross Douthat is a generally conservative Catholic who writes for the New York Times. He is insightful and obviously a balancing voice for his paper. A recent column before the finish of the Synod on the Family accused the Pope and other Bishops of a plot to change Catholicism. I found it quite overblown in terms of his assessment of Pope Francis. This embroiled him in an argument with several Catholic theologians who very much would like to change fundamental teachings of the Church on sexuality (e.g. the goodness of homosexual relations, the dissolubility of certain marriages, and female ordination). Those academics wrote a short multi-authored letter objecting to Mr Douthat's qualifications and his accusing the "reformers" of heresy. Douthat responded.

Bishop Robert Baron answered the offended academics.

A woman student from Boston College Theology Department wrote a stinging insider's story of the scandalous and oppressive environment created by several of the writers so upset about charges of heresy. Her two years with liberal theologians is an indictment of the sexual revolutionaries who call themselves Catholic theologians and the bishops who let them continue the masquerade. The letter writers know if they were really outed as heretics, they might lose their jobs. Mr. Douthat should turn his guns on the heresy of academics who have undermined our purity codes. They want to hide behind the Holy Father. Douthat's misplaced charges are allowing them cover.

David Mills looks at 'conservative" dissent against Pope Francis as bitter sons.


WHO WILL DEFEND CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDEAST - THE CASE FOR PUTIN: Obama or Putin, with excellent historical links on the relations of Putin's post-communist Russia and Christian Orthodoxy.

SAUDI PLAN FOR EXTERMINATION OF SHIA - BRITISH MI6 HEAD SPEAKS: Sir Richard Deerlove, head of British MI6 from 1999-2004, gives a revelatory speech about Saudi intentions against the Shia-led Iraq government. The author compares the Nazi approach to Jews with ISIS approach to Shia. Sir Dearlove's speech advocated less security resources directed against Islamic terrorism by Britain. His argument is that the real danger is in the Mideast AMONG MUSLIMS. The country most responsible is Saudi Arabia. He compared the war in Syria with the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, which became a battleground for the struggle between Communism and Christianity. The larger struggle in the Mideast which he underestimated until 2014 was the Sunni-Shia war, and the drive of Saudis to maintain their place in the Mideast by supporting the authority of Wahhabi Islam throughout the region as the keepers of the Holy Cities and definers of what it means to be a Muslim. Meanwhile an execution looms to accentuate this fundamental Salafist-Shia conflict.


STRATEGY, POLICY, AND THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE: President Obama promised among other things to "reset" with Russia, use diplomacy not military threats with countries like Iran, and "tilt" toward Asia. Has he demilitarized foreign policy?

Dr Ben Carson on Seventh Day Adventists and female ordination.

FIGHTING CRIME - THE OFFICERS AND THE CITIZENS: FBI Director James Comey warns that aggressive anti-police movements are deterring the kind of aggressive policing needed to keep public order in large cities.

FIGHTING PRAYER - THE COACH AND THE SCHOOL BOARD: No praying at high school football games and we mean it.


A CATHOLIC PRESIDENT AND NOW PARLIAMENT IN POLAND: Here is one take on the stunning victory of nationalist Catholics (Law and Justice Party) in Polish Parliamentary elections.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday BookReview: "[No other poet] has the kind of deep, gut vitality that Roethke's got"

James Dickey insisted that no American had ever written better verse than Theodore Roethke (who died in the summer of 1963).

Dickey writes: "I think Roethke is the finest poet not so much because of his beautifully personal sense of form ... but because of the way he sees and feels the aspects of life which are compelling to him.”

Normal everyday Joes give him high marks as well.


Years ago I came across 'My Papa’s Waltz':

The whiskey on your breath   
Could make a small boy dizzy;   
But I hung on like death:   
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans   
Slid from the kitchen shelf;   
My mother’s countenance   
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist   
Was battered on one knuckle;   
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head   
With a palm caked hard by dirt,   
Then waltzed me off to bed   
Still clinging to your shirt.

Here's an audio of Mr. Roethke reciting the following poem:

"I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;   
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:   
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I’d have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek).

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,   
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and Stand;   
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin;   
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;   
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing we did make).

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;   
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;   
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,   
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved).

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:   
I’m martyr to a motion not my own;
What’s freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.   
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways: 
(I measure time by how a body sways)."

[Here is the comment of poet and translator William Seaton:
"Roethke’s well-known lyric 'I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,' is as perfect as a troubadour song or an Elizabethan sonnet. If the poem breaks no new ground for the language, it is nonetheless a rare achievement. Using erotic energy, one of the most traditional poetic dynamos, Roethke manages to devise new locutions to express the oldest and simplest themes."]

Whenever I visit the indoor tropical garden at Como Zoo, I stop to stare at the sloth in the tree -- and think of this poem:

"In moving slow he has no Peer.
You ask him something in his Ear,
He thinks about it for a Year;

And, then, before he says a Word                  
There, upside down (unlike a Bird),
He will assume that you have Heard

A most Ex-as-per-at-ing Lug.
But should you call his manner Smug,
He'll sigh and hive his Branch a Hug;

Then off again to Sleep he goes,
Still swaying gently by his Toes,

And you just know he knows he knows."

This is from 'Four for Sir John Davies':
Dante attained the purgatorial hill,
Trembled at hidden virtue without flaw,
Shook with a mighty power beyond his will, —
Did Beatrice deny what Dante saw?
All lovers live by longing, and endure:
Summon a vision and declare it pure.


 "The Pike"

The river turns,
Leaving a place for the eye to rest,
A furred, a rocky pool,
A bottom of water.

The crabs tilt and eat, leisurely,
And the small fish lie, without shadow, motionless,
Or drift lazily in and out of the weeds.
The bottom-stones shimmer back their irregular striations,
And the half-sunken branch bends away from the gazer's eye.

A scene for the self to abjure!-
And I lean, almost into the water,
My eye always beyond the surface reflection;
I lean, and love these manifold shapes,
Until, out from a dark cove,
From beyond the end of a mossy log,
With one sinuous ripple, then a rush,
A thrashing-up of the whole pool
The pike strikes.


"Any fool can take a bad line out of a poem; it takes a real pro to throw out a good line."