Saturday, December 31, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, December 31

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


KEEP THE OCTAVES - IT IS STILL CHRISTMAS AND HANUKKAH: A blessed Christmas and remember the real lesson of Hanukkah.

AFTER TWO ARABS AN ITALIAN AS APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATOR OF JERUSALEM PATRIARCH: There are no two state negotiations right now. A new man for a new age?

 Opus prelate dies.

CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION IN EGYPT: Egypt’s Christians and the source of persecution. By Gabriel Said Reynolds, a professor of Islamic studies and theology at the University of Notre Dame. He knows the difference between Shiites and Sunni and understands the Salafist Sunni as the principal force for terror.


CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER - WRONG FROM THE START:  Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer has an enthusiastic fan and media base praising him as a great conservative intellectual. I have watched him for years and find him tendentious and narrowly single minded. He seems the opposite of a serious intellectual but in the land of the blind, he is called perceptive. He never understood Trump. His views on foreign policy tend to mimic the Likud Party with no attribution. He has been for multiple military interventions in the Mideast and has seldom distinguished Shia from Sunni in his commentary. He is always willing to depict Putin as a bully and Obama as a wimp. His take on Syria shows no understanding of the huge change taking place in relations in the Mideast. He treats a good thing (the reestablishment of Syrian state rule in Aleppo) as a disaster. As usual, he pulls out President Obama for one last tongue lashing. His highly personalized emotional commentary  is a big reason the Mideast seems so confusing to so many who watch the news every night at Fox.

TURKEY AND RUSSIA - AN ASSASSINATION: This assassination may cement the Russian Syrian Turkey alliance rather than disrupt it. If Turkey’s Erdogan is to reconcile with Russia, he will have to change his long standing opposition to Syria’s Assad. He may be joining the coalition of the established states which includes Iran and Syria against the jihadist revolutionaries. This Wash Post story describes what is happening very well but it can not see that the way President Trump will respond to this is not by weaning Turkey back to the West but by joining the Russo-Turkey alliance. When will it begin to strike the established media that Donald Trump's understanding of international relations is far more reality based than the think tanks who so uniformly opposed him?

TRUMP AND ISRAEL: Trump's new envoy to Israel - not wedded to two state policy. David Goldman, Spengler, on Jewish neocons and election. No serious nationalist will ask Israel to surrender the territory that gives it defensible borders.

BRITAIN CONSERVATIVES WILL HELP THE GULF MONARCHIES AGAINST IRAN: When Iranians finally overthrew the colonially-imposed Shah, they made enemies of America, Israel and Britain. Britain returns to make deals with the Gulf Monarchs. The US should not go down this path. Iran should not be treated as a pariah state because they overthrew an emperor propped up by foreigners. They have established a religious nation state. Welcome to the future.


QUIT POKING THE BEAR: An excellent review of US-Russian relations since the end of the Cold War by Robert Merry at the National Interest. From the comments to his article are some facts about Soviet leaders to distinguish them from the Russian nation. "I also remind you that Soviet Union and Russia are different countries. The Soviet Union was led by Lenin (half Russian - half Tatar), Stalin (Georgian), Khrushchev (Ukrainian), Brezhnev (Ukrainian), Andropov (Russian), Chernenko (Ukrainian) and Gorbachev (Russian). It was a system, not a nation."

TRUMP AND RUSSIA, McCAIN AND CLINTON ON DISRUPTING ELECTIONS: Pat Buchanan continues as one of the two or three most perceptive journalists of our time. By far the most consequential aspect of a Trump foreign policy will be a new emphasis on diplomacy with the other major world powers.

A RUSSIA R&G ROUND UP: Gorbachev, Russia and US - the rise of a new union? Niall Ferguson on Russia and US. He is a historian and calls this “the Russian question.” We can't agree with his conclusions but he is formulating a big part of the story on a basic question. Orthodox Church, Putin’s Russia,  and one of the world’s highest abortion rates. The attempt by Putin to bring religion and nationalism to revitalize a people corrupted by a century of atheism should not be criticized because the popular culture is so depraved.


FAMILY OF FRENCH NATIONALISM: Excellent depiction of three generations of the Le Pen family. The youngest is the most seriously Catholic of France's first family of the Right.

FROM PORTUGAL, A NEW UN SECRETARY, PRO-LIFE, PRO-MARRIAGE PRO-REFUGEE: William Kirkpatrick thinks those aren’t three equal goods.

POLAND RETURNING TO GOD AND NATION AS THE WEST FRETS. THEIR REVOLT AGAINST A SUPREME COURT RUN AMOK: The Polish Law and Justice Party is attempting to weaken the sovereignty of its high court which uses its oversight role to significantly restrict the kind of laws allowed in Poland. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who holds no office but is the leader of the party, has called the court “the bastion of everything in Poland that is bad” for obstructing what he sees as the popular will. This sounds familiar to Americans who have seen the police power of states abolished by courts in matters of sexual conduct. The New York Times and European commission are distraught that the nation of Poland is emerging again to fight the culture of death spread by a superstate. This is not a revolt against the rule of law as the Times says. This is a movement to replace the bipolar tyranny of the sovereign individual and the superstate with a rule of law by political communities of fellow citizens. The institution favored most by the superstate is the Court which in the name of individual autonomy destroys the policing function of local communities and the religious basis of laws regulating sexual behavior.

The man who describes this best is Polish philosopher and public official Ryzsard Legutko author of The Demon in Democracy. This book is a brilliant depiction of how communism and the new sexual ideology of the West are both offspring of the atheist modern project for egalitarianism. No sovereignty of God, no hierarchy of nation or church, no distinction of male and female---these characteristics of the egalitarian project reveal the modern West and Communism as two faces of that same old serpent.

Anne Applebaum wrote very important pieces on the Soviet Gulag. She is married to a progressive western style Polish official now out of office. She joins the western chorus praising women’s freedom to abort and a primacy of press and courts that is being challenged by the new religious patriots and Polish nationalists. Not everyone who was reliably anti Soviet is now pro religion and nation.

CHINA AND PAKISTANDevelopment as Policy.

NIALL FERGUSON ON TRUMP, KISSINGER, AND THE WORLD: Ferguson is probably one of the best historians in the world today, certainly the best British historian. After lucid works on the history of finance and the British empire , he has devoted over a decade to the life and work of Henry Kissinger. Here is an interview with him on the new Trump administration. He sees the cabinet as very strong and is very much in favor of new less confrontational relations with Russia and China and a more focused fight against radical Islam. American Interest (the online journal) has been very disappointing in the last few years as a place to learn. They upgraded their content by tapping this historian on diplomacy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

CATHOLIC SOCIOBIOLOGY -- The Sacred as Reality: The Religious Insights of Mircea Eliade

by David Pence

"Christ entered history as a community, a society not simply as a message. The form taken by the community’s life is Christ within society. The Church does not simply infiltrate culture. The Church is a culture in its own right. Christ creates culture by forming another city, another sovereignty with its own social and political life..."

"At the beginning of the third century the building of catacombs--they were not hideouts during persecution; they were burial grounds and places of worship and their locations were not secret. The transition from models of accommodation and adaptation that were materially invisible to a new level of Christian identity that was palpable and visible. Christians created a material culture that was tangible occupied space, was public and was distinctively Christian."

"For the early Christians there was only one day, the day of the Resurrection celebrated each time the community gathered, normally on Sunday...Over time other feasts were celebrated. The Christian year was organized into two major cycles-one centered on his birth; the other on his suffering, death and resurrection. Like the earliest (and later) Christian art, the liturgical year had a narrative shape drawn from the Scriptures, particularly the Gospels. Through ritual it imprinted the Biblical narrative on the the minds and hearts of the faithful, not simply as a matter of private devotion but as a fully public act setting the rhythm of communal life."

These descriptions of sacred time and sacred space in Catholic culture are by Robert Louis Wilken. His brilliant book, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, explains why Christianity was best described not so much as a Belief, as a Way.

To better appreciate the categories of sacred time, space, and person, it is instructive to learn from one of the great students of worldwide religious practice. A thinker shaped by the Eastern tradition of Orthodoxy has looked at multiple ancient religious traditions. His unique formulation allows us to understand man in his seeking, God in His revelation, and the Church in its sacralizing mission in an ever more profound way.

Romanian émigré Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) taught at  the University of Chicago, writing novels and books including two classics on the nature of religion: The Myth of the Eternal Return (1949) and The Sacred and the Profane (1957). His influence on current political thinkers is unfortunately limited but Professor Francis Oakley carries his mantle well in this reflection on mankind's most durable form of government-the sacral office of  Kingship.  

Professor Eliade in 1959

From The Myth of the Eternal Return:

"Archaic ontology is the conception of being and reality which can be read from the behavior of the man of the pre-modern societies. It is useless to search archaic languages for terms like "being" and "non being" or "real" and "unreal"… But if the word is lacking, the thing is present -- in a coherent fashion -- through symbols and myths."
"Objects and acts acquire a value and in so doing become real because they participate, in one way or another, in a reality that transcends them. A stone becomes sacred – and hence is saturated with being – because it constitutes a hierophany (a manifestation of the sacred higher order) because in some way it commemorates a mythical act."

"For archaic man, reality is a function of the imitation of a celestial archetype. Reality is conferred through participation in the "symbolism of the Center" …  "Cities, temples, houses become real by the fact of being assimilated to the center of the World (axis mundi)."
"Rituals and gestures acquire meaning only because they deliberately repeat such an act posited ab origine by gods, heroes, or ancestors."
"The man of traditional culture sees himself as real only to the extent that he ceases to be himself and is satisfied with imitating and repeating the gestures of a Divine Other."

"A second aspect of primitive ontology -- that a being attains reality only by the repetition of certain paradigmatic gestures and acquires reality only through that action alone, there is an abolition of profane time or history. He who reproduces the exemplary gesture thus finds himself transported to the mythical epoch in which the revelation took place.  'In illo tempore' at that sacred time 'once upon a time.' --

"The abolition of profane time and the individual’s projection into mythical time do not occur except at essential periods when the individual is truly himself -- on the occasion of important acts of eating, generation, ceremonies, hunting, fishing, war and work. The rest of his life is spent in profane time which is without meaning and in a state of becoming."
[A previously performed Act of God -- ritually repeated by man -- is what reunites man’s being with reality]

"Archaic man sets himself in opposition to history -- he lived in conformity to extra human models, in conformity with archetypes that respected the 'law' of hierophany -- a revelation of some sacred act that occurs in illo tempore (at that particular sacred time)."

Thus the norms of real existence were "exemplary acts that the divine beings did first. Man realized his real identity by repeating those sacred acts throughout the course of his life."

The Myth of the Eternal Return provided a language and perspective for the Christian to better understand his own tradition. The liturgical ordering of sacred space, time, and matter  imitates the work of God in Creation -- and Christ in his life, death, and resurrection.
The book was Eliade’s attempt to argue against the historical determinism of his time. He tried to shake sense into homo ratio that archaic man knew something about human nature that modern man was losing. The sacred is reality; and man is most man when he is homo religiosus.

The Sacred and the Profane is an even more accessible book for the Christian. If archaic man tried to conform himself to sacred acts already performed, the Christian liturgically participates in the historical divine act whereby God entered into history.  Thus, in the Eucharist, the Christian is no longer abolishing historical time but bringing it into union with Christ who is both the Perfection of Nature and the Lord of History. While the Eucharist is a kind of "sacred time machine", The Mass also reconfigures space.   The altar at the time of the Eucharist becomes the axis mundi--the center of the world.  The Christian priest establishes sacred order out of chaos. He expels the Evil One. That is how man participates in God’s initial (ab origine; in illo tempore) work of creation and His subsequent cleansing of Heaven.
 We are perfected in acts of the liturgy but like ancient man, daily life takes on a sacred dimension as well. Eliade’s reflections show why men love sports, war, fishing, and hunting. The thrill of the chase and the exaltation of the kill are primordial acts which link man in the Divine Drama. Those primal acts of contest (no less than acts of communion like eating, marrying, and worship) mimic actions already performed by God and perfected in the Body of Christ.

From The Sacred and Profane:
"The abyss that divides the two modalities of experience -- sacred and profane -- will be apparent when we come to describe sacred space and the ritual building of human habitation or the varieties of the religious experience of time, or the relations of religious man to nature and the world of tools or the consecration of human life itself, the sacrality with which man’s vital functions (food, sex, work, and such) can be charged. Simply calling to mind what work and home and tools have come to mean for modern non-religious man will show with the utmost vividness how this distinguishes him from archaic man or even from a peasant of Christian Europe."

[Keeping liturgical time incorporates the Christian personally into a communal history, which binds the Church as a Body into the Divine unfolding of God’s Ultimate Plan for creation]    

Our essays on Catholic Sociobiology

Friday, December 23, 2016

Friday BookReview -- Calvin and Geneva: Light for the City

(first published August 26, 2011)

by David Pence    

This 130-page book by a late professor of speech at Calvin College is a masterpiece of religious and political argument. If you think America's Protestant past has made us libertarian individualists, this book might reorient your mind to the deep communal roots of that peculiarly American patriot -- with his gun, his plow, and his Bible.

The Russian communist Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) called Marx and Calvin the two greatest revolutionaries of the West. Professor De Koster reminds us that one's Utopia and "new man" led to the Gulag; while the other's obedience to the Word Proclaimed led to the civic bonds of city and nation.

John Calvin (1509-1564), the French-speaking theologian of the Protestant Reformation, had studied Latin and philosophy to become a priest but turned to law school at age 16. It was there that "God, by a sudden conversion, subdued and brought my mind to a teachable frame... " At age 27, Calvin fled the Catholic persecutions in France that followed the Affair of the Placards (Oct 17, 1534). All over France (including on the bedchamber door of the King), anti-Catholic posters deriding the "horrific abuses of the papal Mass" appeared that morning in the best-orchestrated street theatre of the religious wars. The Catholics of the time were not so appreciative. They took the desecration of the Mass a good deal more seriously than Catholics in our own age. Calvin and many other known Protestants fled for their lives. How God works His ways!
It was Calvin's fate that before reaching the "scholarly seclusion of Strasbourg" to continue work on the seminal governing text of the Reformation (Institutes of Christian Religion) he would encounter a French-speaking Swiss town in need of civic and ecclesial organization after the expulsion of its Catholic bishop. "It was to be town, not gown, as his destiny."

De Koster adds, "God chose to demonstrate through Calvin, Calvinists, and their impact upon the western world that His Word can be preached into that highest aspiration of human wisdom, old and new and Divine -- the City... the civis of Cicero, the polis of Aristotle, the civitas Dei of Augustine."

Professor De Koster finds in the Calvinist religious doctrine of predestination the soil for a Christian life of liberty in the City. The question of individual salvation which so inflamed the Lutheran/Catholic debates was settled for Calvin by God's foreordaining salvation or damnation for each individual soul. Calvin's perspective is found in his letter answering the Catholic cardinal Sadolet (who had urged the citizens of Geneva to return to the Catholic sacraments for the good of their souls):
"It is not a very sound theology to confine a man's thought so much to himself and not to set before him as the prime motive of his existence -- zeal to illustrate the glory of God. For we are born first of all for God and not for ourselves. This zeal ought to exceed all thought and concern for our own advantage... It certainly is the part of the Christian man to ascend higher than merely to seek and secure the salvation of his own soul."

This startling claim condemns tent evangelism as the best way to save souls, in the same breath that it derides Catholic sacramental grace dispensaries.

What then is Christianity about? "Let each of us remember," Calvin says, "that each has been created by God for the purpose of laboring and of being vigorously employed in His work, and that not only for a limited time, but till death itself and that he should not only live but die to God." Besides useful labor the Christian is meant to give glory to God by living in a highly ordered civic community -- to make a shining "city on the hill." Calvin's signature masterpiece -- his Institutes which was published in 1559 -- culminates in the fourth book with a dissertation on both ecclesial and civic organization.

Because one's salvation is already determined,  the Christian living in the interim is to give glory to God by carrying out his task in the church, at work, and in the civic community. The City is not the Church, but Calvin's City is shaped by the Word and disciplined by the civil government:
"The function (of government) among men is no less than that of bread and water, sun and air; indeed its place of honor is far more excellent. For it sees to it as all these do that men breathe, eat and drink, and are kept warm. It embraces all these activities when it provides for them living together. It does not look to this only, I repeat, but also prevents idolatry and sacrilege against God's name, blasphemies against the truth and other public offenses against religion from arising and spreading among the people. It keeps the public peace, and provides that each man keep his property safe and sound, that men can carry on blameless intercourse and that honesty and modesty may be preserved among men. No one ought to doubt that civil authority is a calling not only holy and lawful before God but also the most sacred and by far most honorable of all callings in the life of mortal man."
This city is not the church. But the city is the communal day-to-day way men give glory to God. De Koster explains: "God's Word comes to all upon the pages of Holy Scripture, incarnate in the language there prevailing. The sermon is the divinely prescribed manner of broadcasting that Word into time, world, and history. It is God's way for getting His Will incarnate in human behavior. The goal of the ordained preacher is to bring God's word into incarnation in the creation of the city and the maturation of the soul."

This is not a narrow notion of church employees lobbying legislators for favorite bills or churchmen "speaking out on the issues." This is making new men through obedience to the Word of God and those new citizen-men shaping a particular kind of City. It is the opposite of Utopia.

This richly textured vision of Christian men shaping the city for the glory of God is the super glue of social capital. All men in the city are meant for the same common good: to know and love God, and we are all bound to one another in mutual love and concern as we carry out that high-minded goal. The city in time and history can never repudiate God as Sovereign, or it will fail in its appointed role in the Divine Drama -- and cities and nations have real roles in Salvation History.

Calvin, Augustine, and all Christian citizens of their own nations and cities are builders of proper cities if the civic order provides for all men a setting in which we can know God. This transcendent common good is what overcomes factional self-interest and guards against the hubris of powerful cities and nations who mistake the sources and ends of their own prosperity. The question for the city is the question for man: do you live for yourself or do you exist for God? The so-called "realists" of our own day promote self-interest and the 'will to power' to replace love of God, love of neighbor, and the pursuit of justice as our national ends. The nation bent on negotiating self-interest amidst the nations in the name of realism has abandoned the fundamental reality -- the sovereignty of God and the common destiny of all men to know and carry out His Will.  Not too realistic.

This book is written with a clarity and verve of a man who has listened to the Word and had his heart circumcised by its sword. His voice reminds us that the great souls who shape nations and cities are first forged in the setting in which "pulpits loyally proclaim the lordship of Christ after the manner of Geneva." The City is spoken into existence from the pulpits.  First there was the religious Great Awakening, then there was the American Revolution.

Professor De Koster closes with a chapter called 'Mother of Cities: a Glimpse of the Record.' It is a series of succinct paragraphs describing the cities and countries shaped by the Calvinist "world power" -- Scotland, the Netherlands, Cromwell's England, New England, and the city which shaped our American civilization as surely as London, Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem -- Calvin's Geneva.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christian Realism: Learning from Huntington while teaching him Religion

(first published June 23, 2016)

by David Pence

Last week we reviewed Samuel Huntington’s paradigm-shifting book on The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. This week we want to redraw his map by asserting his fundamental thesis more aggressively than his Harvard-educated mind would allow him. In his book’s last chapter ('The West, Civilizations, and Civilization') he lays out his concluding two mandates. First, America must reassert itself as a "Western People" (against multiculturalists who do not accept the American Creed, and immigrants who will not assimilate). If America cannot defend the West then there will be no West, he says. He, strangely, does not see the loss of a living allegiance to God as a major problem. "The erosion of Christianity among westerners is likely to be at worst only a very long-term threat to the health of western civilization." He cites the "declining proportions of Europeans who profess religious beliefs, observe religious practices, and participate in religious activities. This depicts not hostility to religion but indifference. Swedes are probably the most un-religious people in Europe, and yet you cannot understand the country unless you see all its practices fundamentally shaped by Lutheran heritage." The Harvard professor approves of a West created by a religion, but maturing away from it. He does see a threat, however.

"A more immediate and dangerous challenge to the American Creed (liberty, democracy, individualism, equality under the law, constitutionalism, and private property)… is the challenge from intellectuals and publicists in the name of multiculturalism." Their assault, he sees, as "substituting the rights of individuals with the rights of groups defined largely in terms of race, ethnicity, sex, and sexual orientation." He argues further that if Americans lose their western identity, the West cannot survive. America is the indispensable core state of the West.

While he circles the western wagons, he warns that the West is NOT a universal civilization and cannot try to be one. "The Western belief in the universality of Western culture suffers three problems: it is false, it is immoral, and it is dangerous." Other than that, go for it!!

With all respect to the professor he has developed a major blind spot in his thinking. Call it the "atheist cataract." It can be environmentally induced from the air and water of Ivy League colleges. Those colleges themselves are beautiful communal institutions of learning which have betrayed the mother religions which gave them birth. Those once-Christian institutions now perpetuate the theories that Huntington knows are dissolving our national identity. Huntington shows graphs with a straight linear relationship of belief in God and national identity. He incisively depicts the de-nationalization of the elites and their loss of religion. He posited at the beginning of his book on civilizations that the most essential element in civilization is religion… and yet… and yet.


In his world map showing the new paradigm he splits three huge Christian civilizations -- the Orthodox, the Latin, and the West from each other. There are three persons in One God says the Christian, just before the jihadist cuts off his head. But the Harvard professor immersed in the acids of modernity could not profess our baptismal Ummah. He split what is one into three, and if we follow him we will lose them all. The last time we let this happen, the Nazi and Soviet monstrosities were spawned. How very Protestant of him to not see the Latin Catholics and Eastern Orthodox as Christian brothers; how very Harvard-like indeed.

And yet much of the material Huntington highlights in his work is a powerful argument for Christian realism. His blind spot is that he cannot see the full living reality of global Christianity. That same blind spot significantly diminishes his understanding of American identity. He cannot see that our common religion and allegiance to a Living God binds Protestant college professors to the southern immigrant Christians who roof our houses and grow our food. We are Christian brothers and can be American citizens together. The same pinched view of Christianity which blinds Mr. Huntington to our common links with the Russians stops him from seeing that immigration from Latin America makes the United States more Christian not less. Apparently, he does not meet these fellow Christians and future citizens at church on Sundays; and they are outside the building mowing the lawn during faculty meetings.

Huntington is absolutely correct that the West should not seek to universalize itself. For his depiction of the West has lost the transcendent reality which allows universality -- a relationship with a God who created humanity, and Christ who has come to return all the nations to the House of the Father. Christianity is universal and the nations who have grown out of her soil can form deep bonds with one another and peaceful bonds with other nations who come forth from the same Creator. We are not Darwinists plotting a war of all against all. It is deeply woven into the Christian biblical narrative that there will be many nations. That is the wide-radius trust that Christianity engenders. Christianity is the soil of our liberal democracy, but as Eisenhower said in his first inaugural: "Honoring the identity and the special heritage of each nation in the world, we shall never use our strength to try to impress upon another people our own cherished political and economic institutions." God is really very big and he can handle the many political and economic forms which develop among the different nations.

There is a huge blind spot in this great teacher. Let us learn from Mr. Huntington and take his thesis seriously. But we must remind him there is no Western civilization without Christ, and there is no Body of Christ without the baptized nations -- Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. Let us take the professor seriously. Let us speak of civilizations and regional powers but let us properly define the civilizations. Among the emerging civilizations, America is built on global Christianity and we are part of a tapestry with many national forms. The "West" is a dying alliance of states without souls who are using their technological advantage against more robust cultures in an expensive and destructive death rattle. Of course, the West shouldn't universalize. The West should dissolve and let the nations of Europe reemerge as Christian nations in consort with the American nations and Russia- that other great regional and national manifestation of Christianity.  Global Christianity in many national forms is ready to make peace among the nations whenever possible, and decisive war when necessary. Huntington’s paradigm is very rich indeed. He has that great honor of writing something that so corresponds to the truth that its full import can only be understood when new students discover its most profound implications.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Catholic Sociobiology: A NEW PARADIGM

I. Catholic Sociobiology and Natural History

  1. Introduction to Catholic Sociobiology: Chardin and de Lubac
  2. Catholic Sociobiology: EO Wilson and Henri de Lubac
  3. Catholic Culture as adaptation and natural selection
  4. Getting the Universe Right 
  5. Infinite Dissipation and Hell:The Realism of Pope Francis
  6. Man and Cosmos: A Review of Remi Brague   
  7. The Fundamental Categories
  8. God, Nature, and Violence
  9. When God Created Matter
  10. Spooky Action at a Distance: Non locality and the Original Unity
  11. Was there an Adam and Eve? 
  12. Max Planck on God, Religion, and Science
  13. The Evolution of Christic Conciousness and Owen Barfield
  14. Dominance Hierarchy, Jordan Peterson, and Catholic Sociobiology 
  15. Feast of Corpus Christi and a Lesson from Nature

II. Communio Theology

  1. Being as Communion: John Zizoulas
  2. Communio theology: Rowland and Popes
  3. Marital Love: Three Popes   
  4. Trinity Sunday and Masculine Communio
  5. The Church and the Culture War: Joyce Little on Sacred Order and Sexual Anarchy
  6. The Three Peoples of God: The Human Species, The Jews, The Church. A Reflection on Lumen Gentium and Thomas Wilson O. P.
  7. Robert Nisbet: In Quest of Community. 
  8. Personalism in Metaphysics and Epistemology - Paul Tyson (Why Augustine is a better personalist model than Aquinas)
  9.  Henri de Lubac SJ and Thomas White OP on Catholicism by Frederick Blonigen 

III. Patriarchy, Fraternity, and Communio

  1. Patriarchal Fraternity and the Original Mission of Adam
  2. Consecrating Masculine Fraternity
  3. What is an Apostolic Church?
  4. Fraternity as Political Category
  5. Russell Hittinger and the Polity in Catholic Social Teaching
  6. Fatherhood, Filiation, and Fraternity: Scripture on the Beloved Son and Brotherhood
  7. Sacred Order; Sexual Order      
  8. The Heliand: The Saxon Gospel
  9. She Dogs and Tomcats-a Poem 
  10. The Apostolic Priesthood: An Icon of the Trinity and a Template for the Nations.

IV. Visual and Liturgical Representation 
of Catholic Sociobiology

  1. Icons of Catholic Sociobiology
  2. The Challenge of Elijah: Protect Life and The Distinctions of God's Law. Reject the Muddled Mayhem of Modernism
  3. Apostolic Fraternity and Marian Femininity (two audio-talks with visuals)
  4. Feasts of Communio: Trinity and Corpus Christi
  5. Eucharist in Holy Week: Space/Time/Person
  6. The Three Comings of Christ 

V. Nature of Religion

  1. The Sacred as Reality: Mircea Eliade
  2. Idea of the Holy: Rudolph Otto
  3. Durkheim and Douglas: Religion as the Solidarity of Shared Classifications
  4. Mary Douglas: Purity as Danger and How Institutions Think
  5. Phillip Rief on Prohibitions and the Sacred; on the Jew in Culture  

VI. Liturgy, Culture and Character

  1. Liturgical Theology: Chan and Schmemann
  2. Liturgical Theology: Fagerberg, Kavanaugh, Schmemann
  3. Authority, Character, Culture: Lasch, Adorno, and Rief
  4. Liturgy and Personality by Hildebrand
  5. Trinity, Eucharist, and Person: Insights of Philosopher/phenomenologist Robert Sokolowski

VII Perfecting the Person: Virtues, Emotions, Ordered Desires and Love

  1. Morality the Catholic View: Servais Pinckaers, O.P.
  2. The Logic of Desire: Aquinas on Emotion by Lombardo
  3. Spiritual Reality and a Full Palette of Human Emotions
  4. Whet, Suppress and Reorder: Aiming virtues at the emotions
  5. Purity, Virginity and the Meaning of Sex by von Hildebrand
  6. The Heart by von Hildebrand
  7. The Social Order of Honor and Shame; Aligning the sacred and social emotions of Awe, Fear and Disgust. Jordan Peterson and Jonathan Haidt
  8. From Personal Piety to the Kingship of Christ: The Ordered Loves of the Sacred Heart
  9. Status, Sacraments, and the State of Grace: Integrating the Alienated and Restoring Sinners through Sacramental Realism

VIII Culminating in Christ-Alpha Male of the Species, King of the Jews and Nations, Lord of Nature and History, Son of God

  1. The Sacred Heart:the Loves of Christ and Social Kingship
  2. When God became King
  3. Fatherhood, Filiation and Fraternity-the Return of the  Beloved Son
  4. Christ the King - Culminating the Church Year-the Alpha Male Completes the Species

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, December 17

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


MEN WITH DEEP-SEATED HOMOSEXUAL TENDENCIES SHOULD NOT BE ADMITTED TO SEMINARY FORMATION FOR PRIESTHOOD: A new document from the Vatican on seminaries and priestly formation is very clear. It should also be clear that abbots and bishops should wash out monks and priests in active ministry who are homosexuals, and remove this debilitating presence from the collegial priesthood or monastery life. The abuse of young males throughout the Church was perpetrated by homosexual bishops and priests, and their continued presence in the priesthood and episcopacy is seriously undermining the deepening of a dynamic fraternal priesthood and synodal episcopacy. The patriarchy, filiation,  and fraternity needed in the missionary work of the apostles are deeply compromised by men afflicted with a tendency to spiritual incest.

Certainly it is the height of contradiction that many priests involved in the formation of priests are plagued by the impediments which the Church says once again are unacceptable in seminarians.

The document says when it comes to gay men who want to enter the seminary, or discover they have "homosexual tendencies" during the formation years, the Church, "while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’"

It also says that the Church can’t overlook the "negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies."

This reiterates the 2005 document released under the pontificate of Pope Benedict. Many seminary directors and religious order formation directors opposed that ruling and said the prohibition applied only to men actively and presently involved in homosexual relations. Some went so far as to celebrate "the gift of gay celibacy." The huge homosexual lobby in the North American and European Church missed the point then and we can expect they will miss the point now as we hear about the thousands of current faithful "gay celibates" in today’s priesthood. The attempt by European bishops to praise homosexual relations was a scandal thwarted by African, Australian, and Eastern European bishops during the Synod on the Family. That corruption should have led to an inquiry and discipline. But it has been completely overlooked as the fastidious conservative dissenters go after Pope Francis while the 'lavender priest' lobby in New York, San Diego, Chicago and Washington DC goes unreported and unconfronted. Many of us have long said that among the "super orthodox" there is a type of homosexual personality which is the opposite of great-souled magnanimity. That personality, that tendency to rigidness is a problem that strikes at the core of priestly formation.  Here is one of the better doctors who writes seriously about homosexuality. We live in an era presenting a unique opportunity for a reconfiguration of the nations in light of the fraternity of global Christianity. But half the Catholic "public intellectuals" are trying to foment discontent against the pope and his pastoral initiative to divorced Catholics. It is pathetic and mindful of how many of the same conservative intellectuals could not relate to Donald Trump as he established civic leadership. The bubble of the "principled elite" is obvious; their inability to understand either Pope Francis or President-elect Trump is in some way related. How to explain that is not so obvious.

POPE FRANCIS ON HELL - NOT A TORTURE CHAMBER: "Eternal damnation is not a torture chamber. That’s a description of this second death: it is a death. And those who will not be received in the Kingdom of God, it’s because they have not drawn close to the Lord. These are the people who journeyed along their own path, distancing themselves from the Lord and passing in front of the Lord but then choosing to walk away from Him. Eternal damnation is continually distancing oneself from God. It is the worst pain, an unsatisfied heart, a heart that was created to find God but which, out of arrogance and self-confidence, distances itself from God."


THE UNSEEMLY WAR AGAINST POPE FRANCISPart One of a National Catholic Reporter series that is seeing the Catholic "neocon" project quite clearly. The conservative dissenters are creating a kind of media-centric univocal alternate magisterium. Their insular band of experts centered around a shrinking net of conservative Catholic media outlets has a very different spirit than the face-to-face give and take of the last synods under the Holy Father.

POPE FRANCIS AND THE WOMANLY SIDE OF THE YOUNG RIGIDS: I find this a beautiful reflection and his implications about the masculinity of certain Daughters of Trent are right on. An example on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the blog entry of Fr Z was all about his rose vestments with lots of pictures of himself. Self-absorption is what Pope Francis means by priests adopting a "worldliness" that is devastating to the priesthood. From his reflection:
"About rigidity and worldliness, it was some time ago that an elderly monsignor of the Curia came to me, who works, a normal man, a good man, in love with Jesus – and he told me that he had gone to buy a couple of shirts at Euroclero [the clerical clothing store in Rome] and saw a young fellow – he thinks he had not more than 25 years, or a young priest or about to become a priest – before the mirror, with a cape, large, wide, velvet, with a silver chain. He then took the Saturno [wide-brimmed clerical headgear], he put it on and looked himself over. A rigid and worldly one. And that priest – he is wise, that monsignor, very wise – was able to overcome the pain, with a line of healthy humor and added: ‘And it is said that the Church does not allow women priests!’. Thus, does the work that the priest does when he becomes a functionary ends in the ridiculous, always."
As an antidote to frilly priests playing the orthodox card let us ponder the Americas and the significance of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the emerging era of religious nations.

IN VIETNAM, CHRISTMAS WILL BE ABOUT THE BIRTH OF CHRIST, AND JOY WILL RESOUND: A church hardened by battle will be a light to the nations. A report on Catholics in Vietnam.



EGYPT COPTIC CHURCH BOMBED: President al-Sisi declares three days of mourning. Egypt has the largest Christian population of any Mideast country - about 10% of Egypt’s 82 million people. The Muslim Brotherhood won a clear victory in the national elections of 2012. The winner of that election, Mohamed Morsi, was overthrown in a military coup in April of 2013. He is in prison under a death sentence. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led the coup and won the subsequent election. Just after the coup in August 2013, the Rabaa massacre of 650-1000 Brotherhood protesters solidified the hold of Sisi over the government. Christians largely supported the coup and subsequent election of Sisi. They saw their security eroding under the elected Brotherhood government. Egypt is the prime example in the Arab Spring where democracy did not lead to freedom. There was an institutional Egyptian State that could reassert itself after the election, but obviously the conflict persists. Several times President el-Sisi has called on imams to lead “a religious revolution" to reject the jihadist ideology of the Salafist Sunnis and others.

See our 'Map on Monday' on Syria for geography, communal loyalties and history of the country. At the end is an excellent 10-minute Vox video explaining the Syrian civil war and players since 2011. The US decided after bloody anti-Assad demonstrations to covertly (then openly) support demonstrators turned rebels and seek to overthrow the Syrian government. Our support goaded on by the Saudis has added to the death and destruction that comes with failed rebellions. Arming demonstrators to turn protests into regime change has ended in disaster in Syria. This is a bipartisan failure with Hillary Clinton and John McCain both in the "overthrow Assad club." President Obama fortunately did not deepen our involvement in 2013 over the chemical weapon controversy. The US people were heavily opposed to intervention at the time, though the think tank establishment and Arab Spring politicians wanted a formal attack. President Obama could never, however, fully break with the anti-Assad  policy. He left Syrians in the worst of all worlds with enough money and arms to wage war but not enough support to win it. Mr Trump has implied he will significantly change the Republican interventionist policy on Syria.

(An historical aside: many believe the CIA post in Benghazi overrun in September 2012 was facilitating arms flows to the Syrian rebels.)

UN Ambassador Samantha Powers has filled the UN halls with her plaintive lament for the children dying in Aleppo. She blames the evil Russians and the legitimate government of Syria for all the dead bodies. She quizzically shrieks, "How can you kill your own people?" We might evoke President Lincoln to remind her that is always the sad reality in civil wars. You kill your own people because that is who is shooting at you. Her sentimental unhistorical "career" as a tough feminist fighter comes to a close as she neglects to report that the jihadist rebels who opposed President Assad wouldn’t let the women and children Aleppo flee as the battle drew to an end. She made no mention of the disastrous US policy that fomented this bloody no-win rebellion.


IRAN AND THE SHIITE CORRIDOR: A very helpful primer.





DEATH PENALTY AND POLICE POWER: California voters were very clear.

FINALLY SHUTTING DOWN THE 'VAGINA MONOLOGUES': Mt Holyoke pulls a defeat from the jaws of victory with its weird, ever weirder, morality play.

NFL FOOTBALL PLAYER TELLS HIGH SCHOOL MALES TO PROTECT WOMEN: That’s when he got in trouble. This disagreement highlights the most fundamental clash in the culture war. Ricardo Lockette, the man and the message is the winning strategy to socialize males as protectors and citizens. This is what feminism has been thwarting for forty years. If the Trump victory means anything culturally it must be that blue collar workers and male athletes are granted their identity as male protectors again. This can start with the NFL throwing away their pink shoes and adopting a "real men are protectors, American brothers and fellow citizens" theme.

TWO BEAUTIFUL WOMEN SAY WHY THEY ARE PRO-TRUMP: One is a daughter of AOA so we have breached our usual impenetrable wall of leaving family in private.

MILO Y INTERVIEWS THE PIZZA OWNERS IN INDIANA AFTER TRUMP ELECTION: Remembering the sexual left terrorism against a small town bakery. Milo Y helps us get the next laugh if not the last one. His own brand of humor should be an epiphenomenon, not the culture of a Christian nation.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday BookReview: IRAN

[first published February 20, 2015]

by David Pence
The changing of the portraits 1979

Two of the most articulate foreign policy experts who strongly favor closer U.S. relations with Iran have laid out their case in Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran. This hour-long interview with professors Flynt Leverett and his wife Hillary Mann is the best summing up of their views.

The holy city of Qom

Here is a reaction to the book by a Russian immigrant to America:
This is a well-written, frank, and courageous book. The master idea is that there are unpleasant times ahead for the US unless it changes its policy from a hegemony-oriented policy to a modus-vivendi-oriented policy. The conclusion of the book is: it's time for an American president to go to Tehran.
It offers an unorthodox analysis of Iran and is a scathing criticism of the US's foreign policy. The authors argue that the US is simply on the wrong trajectory leading to very unpleasant outcomes. The Grand Strategy of the Obama's administration (like the administrations before him) has been to effect a "regime change" in Iran. It has been endorsed and pursued semi-silently, not openly. The strategy is to topple the Iranian regime "by other means" and replace it with a puppet regime made of the Iranian émigrés, cranks, Saudi-backed militant lunatics and double-agents. This unpleasant compote we can observe today in Syria. The strategy is extremely ill-advised. The "other means" are: 1] a run on the Iranian currency; 2] sanctions and embargoes against Iran; 3] cyber-weapons and "worms" targeting Iran's nuclear facilities; 4] targeted assassinations of top Iranian nuclear scientists; 5] sanctions against Russia, its banks and firms doing business with Iran.
This strategy may prove successful. But the collateral damage will be very unpleasant for the US. Apart from putting the world of international relations in flames, one of the victims will be the relations with Russia -- my former country -- which has been already much frayed because of the conflict in Syria and the US's support of the anti-Putin opposition last year.

Among the many antagonistic reviews in the mainstream media was one written by Laura Secor in the 'NY Times.' An excerpt from that essay of March 1, 2013:
The concluding pages of Going to Tehran argue that American policy makers cannot resolve their impasse with Iran’s government so long as they imagine they can isolate it, strangle it, bombard it, dislodge it or simply wait for it to fall. Rather, a visionary American administration should take the Islamic Republic seriously as a strategic partner and negotiate a comprehensive agreement covering all outstanding issues between the two nations. 
The Leveretts compare such a diplomatic enterprise with President Richard Nixon’s opening to China. They suggest that outreach would start with assurances that the United States will not seek to invade or topple the Islamic Republic; that Iran can enrich uranium on its own soil, but with international safeguards; and that the Arab-Israeli peace process will include the Iranians and take account of Iranian interests...
Going to Tehran is too one-sided to illuminate much about the history of relations between the United States and Iran. For that, readers would be well advised to pick up Becoming Enemies, a fascinating collection of declassified documents and expert and participant commentary from the time of the Iran-Iraq war, co-authored by six scholars... 

Here are portions of a long 'Foreign Affairs' essay by Miss Secor on two other books regarding Iran:

Days of God: The Revolution in Iran and Its Consequences. By James Buchan. Simon and Schuster, 2013, 432 pp. $27.99.

Revolutionary Iran. By Michael Axworthy. Oxford University Press, 2013, 528 pp. $34.95.

"There is something irresistible about the story of Iran’s last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The pampered, foreign-educated son of a dour autocrat, Mohammad Reza ascended to the Peacock Throne in 1941, at age 21. He was weak and malleable, surrounded by sycophants and schemers, beholden to foreign powers that treated him with contempt. Nearly unseated by his popular prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq, in 1953, the shah retained his throne with American and clerical connivance...

"The story of the shah is compelling in the way of fiction: the tragic antihero friendless in his gilded palace, unable, for want of character and common experience, to see the shadow he himself has cast. But if the monarchy is the stuff of literature, the story of Iran’s postrevolutionary Islamic Republic calls for sociology instead. Reading Iranian history as written by Westerners, it is impossible to miss this dramatic reversal of emphasis. Inevitably, accounts of prerevolutionary Iran foreground the shah, his court, and its foreign patrons. But the revolution forced Iranian society, with all its cleavages and complexities, its aspirations and refusals, into the light of historical explanation. For all the Western intimacy with the Pahlavi court, and for all the opacity of the Islamic Republic, Westerners see Iran more clearly now.

"Two magisterial new books by British scholars of Iran make the best of this historical divide and the continuities that span it. James Buchan’s Days of God, a survey of the Pahlavi years, with spectacular detail on the revolution itself, includes some deft portraiture and notes of literary grace. Buchan, who lived in Iran in the late 1970s, writes with an irreverence and confidence born of long familiarity, and the Iran of his history feels vibrantly present. Still, his history moves largely from the top down until 1979, when the revolution forces the old protagonists from the scene. Michael Axworthy’s precise and judicious Revolutionary Iran carries the country’s history forward as a contest among political visions and social forces. Axworthy’s Iran is less lived-in and more abstract than Buchan’s, but in another sense, more fully dimensional.

"To read these two books together is to understand the revolution as something other than a historical rupture. It is to sense that when looking at Iran before and after the revolution, one is turning a kaleidoscope, reconstituting a new picture from the same elements...

"Mohammad Reza, as Buchan portrays him, was a stateless creature of an international aristocracy to which he never properly belonged, perched awkwardly atop a country that never properly belonged to him. His father founded the Pahlavi dynasty from nothing, having seized power as a low-level military officer of obscure origins...

"Beyond the palace gates, Iran convulsed with social upheaval that threw its inequities into sharp relief. Hundreds of thousands of rural Iranians, displaced by land reform, swelled the country’s cities, many of them settling in slums and shantytowns. Between 1930 and 1979, Tehran’s population leapt from around 300,000 to about five million (today it is close to 14 million), poor youth from traditional families living cheek by jowl with the cosmopolitan sons and daughters of the modern middle class and with casually entitled foreigners. The structures of old Iran -- the bazaar as the center of commerce, the low houses turned in on private courtyards, the neighborhood cleric as moral arbiter -- heaved beneath the pressure of the emerging megacity...

"Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a charismatic cleric distinguished as much by his mystical cast of mind as by his ferocious opposition to the shah... first rose to prominence when he organized opposition to a 1963 law conferring on women the right to vote and to run for city councils. Not long after, he tapped into the rich vein of public indignation by speaking out ringingly against the shah’s apparent capitulation to American whims. As early as 1943, he had envisioned an Islamic state governed by a learned cleric and with no legislation but the word of God...                              

"Buchan portrays Khomeini as a lifelong radical, an aggressively political man within a clergy that was largely quietistic. Khomeini exuded a cold-blooded ambition that the head of SAVAK once said made his hair stand on end. In his presence, writes Buchan, one felt “as if some figure of fathomless authority had appeared and with a single glare brought modernity . . . to an end.” Forceful and uncompromising, Khomeini conceded nothing to courtesy, to diplomatic niceties, or, in the end, to the softer yearnings of his own people. “Within Creation, he seemed to be but imperfectly detained, like a passenger in an airport lounge in thick weather,” Buchan muses. “In the West, having done with Scholasticism long ago, we cannot understand a man who could know so much and, at the same time, so little. His mystical writings pass over our heads and his political statements . . . beneath our notice.”

"Axworthy’s Khomeini cuts a strikingly different figure. According to Axworthy, as the first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, Khomeini acted with a detached impartiality, often wincing at the application of violence. Axworthy contends that Khomeini sought to end the Iran-Iraq War in 1982, after Iran regained the territory it had earlier lost, and only reluctantly acceded to the Revolutionary Guards’ judgment that it would be better to invade Iraq and pursue the ouster of Saddam Hussein. Axworthy believes that judgment was sound...

"Throughout the 1980s, the Islamic Republic forged itself in the white heat of conflict, both foreign and domestic. The Iran-Iraq War cost hundreds of thousands of lives... At home, the revolutionaries who had toppled the shah found themselves divided over the very fundamentals of the new regime: whether it should embrace theocracy or republicanism, socialism or mercantilism, liberty or justice. As the radical clerics around Khomeini closed ranks, opponents of the new revolutionary order faced everything from firing squads to street combat, culminating in the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. The opposition that the Islamic Republic did not decimate, it intimidated into silence. Prisons that had been built by the shah filled to many times their capacity, such that cellmates had to take turns sleeping because there was not enough room to lie on the floor. Although the new regime discontinued methods of torture deemed un-Islamic, it came up with new ones. By the time of Khomeini’s death, in 1989, a stable order had emerged from a level of violence unprecedented in Iranian history."


Of the few Islamic nations with a majority Shiite population, Iran is the biggest (followed by Iraq and Azerbaijan). 

Iran is the 17th largest country with almost 80 million people, more than twice the number in Iraq.

[Saddam Hussein -- whose party was basically secular Sunni -- welcomed the Iranian revolution, but the two countries soon were fighting. Their long war ended in a 1988 stalemate.]
[Iran and Israel have been at war since the revolution when Israel lost an ally in the Shah. This war with multiple fronts and acts of sabotage has greatly confused the ability of the United States to center anti terrorism efforts on the Wahhabi source in Saudi Arabia. Israel has struck a de facto alliance with the Saudis in their mutual disdain for an Islamic Iran. This war between two nations has  not been explained well by journalists or policymakers in American foreign policy. This conflict has been a source of great confusion in which Israel’s aims and ours are not the same. It really is not enough to depict two sources of terrorism -one Shia from Iran  and another Sunni from Saudi Arabia. A Shiite Islamic Iran is a fact like the Jewish State of Israel is a fact. We need to deal with them both.]

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christian Realism: The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

[first published June 16, 2016]

by David Pence

Samuel Huntington (1927-2008) was a Harvard professor in International Studies and a member of the National Security Council in the Carter administration. He taught such important foreign policy thinkers as John Mearsheimer, Frances Fukuyama, and Fareed Zakaria. In 1993 he wrote an article in Foreign Affairs magazine arguing that the "central and most dangerous dimension of emerging global politics would be conflicts along civilizational fault lines." The article became a 1996 book called The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.

He argued that the three blocs of the Cold War (US and allies, Communist USSR/China and allies, and a third group of nonaligned nations) would give way to a new multipolar multi-civilizational order. "In the new world order, the most important conflicts will not be between social classes but between peoples of different cultural entities. In this new world, local politics is the politics of ethnicity and global politics is the politics of civilization. The rivalry of superpowers is replaced by the clash of civilizations. The bloody clashes of clans in Somalia or tribes in Rwanda pose no threat to spread farther. But conflicts along civilizational fault lines can become bigger wars... The most important countries of the world belong to different civilizations. Patterns of political and economic development differ from civilization to civilization. Power is shifting from a dominant West to a still predominant West but emerging civilizations with their core states challenging the hegemony of the West."

Huntington proposed 9 civilizations: the West (America, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand); the Orthodox(Russia, Sebia, Greece, Georgia) ; Sinic (China, Vietnam Korea); Hindu (India, Nepal); Islamic; Buddhist(Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar); Japanese; Latin American; and African.

In his chapter on the nature of civilizations he defined blood, language, religion, and way of life as key elements. "But of all the objective elements that define civilizations, however, the most important usually is religion." In his subsequent book on American identity, Who Are We?, he would identify the core American identity as Protestant, Anglo-Saxon, and English speaking.

Huntington explained that his civilizational model is a Map -- a paradigm.  A paradigm is an explanatory conceptual map that provides a pattern of interpretation and prediction. He borrows the notion from Thomas Kuhn’s classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The Huntington paradigm was given added credence as an explanatory model with the fight of the West against Orthodox Serbia, the massing of an expanded NATO against Russia, and the Islamic jihad from 9/11 to the Orlando massacre.

Huntington questions some of his own classifications like Africa and Latin America as separate civilizations. He countered his own civilizational paradigm with three other conceptual maps: 1) Us against Them; 2) One-world harmony; 3) 190 nation states -- more or less; and 4) sheer chaos. He defended his use of the West by showing (p. 55) how the term "free world" is declining, and the West is being used more in citations of the New York Times, and the Washington Post. In the Congressional Record he shows a great decline of references to "the free world," but not a corresponding adaptation of "the West."

Civilizations often coalesce around some dominant core state. Core states of the different civilizations will replace the superpowers, he says. He discusses France and Germany as a European core, as well as the US as the West’s core. He shows that the old line drawn to define the Iron Curtain has moved several hundred miles east to demarcate Orthodoxy from western Christianity. He sees Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia as aspirants for Islamic leadership. He admits an Islamic north divides Africa but he does not record the Christian revolution in the rest of Africa. He alludes to Brazil and Nigeria as large states, if not core. His paradigm is a work in progress.

 In an incisive grouping, he labels Australia, Turkey, and Mexico as "torn countries." Turkey, which belongs to Islam, seeks European integration. Mexico, which is culturally Latin (read 'Catholic'), looks North to belong to the West. Australia, tied to the white West in its mind, is yoked to yellow Asia in its geography. They are all torn betwixt civilizations.

Another useful category he introduces describes strategic approaches of surrounding states to emerging core states -- 'bandwagoning' or 'balancing.' Bandwagoning implies a degree of trust that allows emerging regional powers a certain dominance and deference. It is making friends with the big guys and acknowledging their preeminence. (In Henry Kissinger’s book On China, he basically proposes that is the best way to deal with mighty China.) Balancing is forming alliances to counter the emerging power so it cannot establish hegemony. That is the strategy of organizing all the little guys, hopefully with an outside big guy as a partner/guarantor. These are useful concepts in thinking about both Russia and China. Both core civilizational nations have strong sensibilities of their own region in which they are the dominant power expecting some deference. The massing of land troops by NATO on Russia’s western front and the US maneuvers in the South China Sea are clear challenges  to the core state’s regional hegemony. The fact that both of these countries lost millions of soldiers and civilians in World War II from invasions through these entry points is not an added plus for US historical sensitivity. Huntington warned: "In the coming era, the avoidance of major intercivilizational wars requires core states to refrain from interfering in conflicts of other civilizations." If one adds the US backing of Saudi Arabia to prevent the emergence of Iran as the principal Islamic power in the Mideast, the United States is 3 for 3 in not heeding Huntington’s warning.

Professor Huntington’s book could only be written by an older man. It is a powerful explanatory tool -- a true paradigm shift. This essay is written in admiration. Next week we will raise a substantial objection which redraws his map quite significantly, but safeguards the principal religious insight of the new paradigm.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

One of Mother Russia's great modern saints: John of Kronstadt (1829 - 1908)

"Do not be despondent when fighting against the incorporeal enemy, but even in the midst of your afflictions and oppression praise the Lord, Who has found you worthy to suffer for Him, by struggling against the subtlety of the serpent, and to be wounded for Him at every hour; for had you not lived piously, and endeavored to become united to God, the enemy would not have attacked and tormented you." 
                                                      (St. John of Kronstadt)


"John of Kronstadt was a nineteenth-century Russian Orthodox priest at a time when alcohol abuse was rampant.  None of the priests ventured out of their churches to help the people. They waited for people to come to them.  John, compelled by love, went into the streets.  People said he would lift the hung-over, foul-smelling people from the gutter, cradle them in his arms and say to them, 'This is beneath your dignity.  You were meant to house the fullness of God.' I love that phrase: you were meant to house the fullness of God.  That describes you and me.  Knowing that this is our true identity is the secret to walking in holiness."

[from The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith]


Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev: "I would like to quote one of the greatest of Russian saints who lived at the turn of the twentieth century, St. John of Kronstadt:
‘The church and worship are the embodiment and realization of all Christianity: here in words, in persons and actions is conveyed the entire economy of our salvation, all sacred and church history, all that is good, wise, eternal and immutable in God… his righteousness and holiness, his eternal power. Here we find a harmony that is wondrous in all things, an amazing logical connection in the whole and its parts: it is true divine wisdom accessible to simple, loving hearts.’
These words express the essence of Orthodox worship as a school for prayer, theology and discourse on the divine..."


From Saint John's spiritual diary:
"What do I need? There is nothing on earth that I need, except that which is most essential. What do I need, what is most essential? I need the Lord, I need His grace, His kingdom within me. On earth, which is the place of my wanderings, my temporary being, there is nothing that is truly mine, everything belongs to God and is temporal, everything serves my needs temporarily. What do I need? I need true and active Christian love; I need a loving heart which takes compassion on its neighbors; I need joy over their prosperity and well-being, and sorrow over their sorrows and illnesses, their sins, failings, disorders, woes, poverty... One must love every person, both in his sin and in his shame. One should not confuse the individual, who is an image of God, with the evil that is within him."