Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Russia's naval window on the Gulf of Finland


In 1703 Peter the Great founded his new capital -- St. Petersburg -- at the eastern end of the Gulf of Finland. Sailing out from that harbor, you eventually bump into Stockholm. At that time in history the Swedes were a manly people, and they completely dominated the Baltic region. One of the reasons that Peter built his window on the West was to counter that threat.

Charles XII, with his relatively small Swedish army, invaded Russia in 1708. The most bitter winter in 500 years devastated the attackers; and, several months later in Ukraine, at the Battle of Poltava, the imperial era of the Swedes came to a calamitous end. [See this excellent overview].


When Peter the Great built St. Petersburg, the Swedes controlled the large island 20 miles out in the harbor. But the Russians seized it, and started laying out and fortifying Kronstadt, which has served as the headquarters of the Russian admiralty ever since.

The most stunning building on the island is the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral:

It is comparable in size to Istanbul's Hagia Sophia. The cathedral was fully restored and reconsecrated in 2013.

The holy John of Kronstadt (d. 1908) served as priest for many years at St. Andrew's Cathedral (which was later torn down by the Soviet authorities).

Today, St. Petersburg (Russia's second largest city) has about 5 million residents; Kronstadt has 43,000.

UPDATE: Lake Onega is east of St. Peterburg. On one of its islands, there is a famous church with 22 domes!


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Religion & Geopolitics Review: Saturday, August 26

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

                 A STRATEGY FOR AFGHANISTAN AND AMERICAN NATIONALISM  President Trump's speech on Afghanistan signalled  a significant change in strategy. His emphasis on an alliance with India and a targeting of Pakistan's bad behavior is a long overdue correction of one the great contradictions in our South Asia policy. We have advocated the same.   His talk began with the cultural heart of his movement. Our loyalties together as Americans are a form of patriotic love best evidenced by our soldiers. This is exactly the argument of the great book on America by the Mormon teacher, Matthew Holland, Bonds of Affection. His presidency really is about love and hate and President Trump is calling us beyond party loyalties to love one another as fellow Americans. This form of public civic love was a foundation stone of early Protestant America as it has become a forgotten affection in modern globalism. The President  needs Christians to amplify this deep truth that his campaign and our country were built on.  American Nationalism is religious, territorial, and economic. It is not racism.  

Steve Bannon is out of the White House. That will strengthen both the President and Mr, Bannon. He learned plenty there and like a good artillery man, sometimes you are most effective far away from the front lines.


RUSSIA AND VATICANFirst the Secretary of State, then the Pope?  Pope Francis believes that fraternal relations with the Orthodox Church can also foster fraternity among the nations. He and his diplomatic corps see no benefit in an exacerbation of hostility and suspicion between the western part of Europe and the eastern part as represented by Russia. For this, he is being derided in some Catholic circles as an accommodator to the Russian tyrants. This reminds them of the behavior of many Vatican officials in the Cold War. In their version of history, John Paul II put an end to all that.  

A BOOK REVIEW ESSAY ON CHRISTIANS AGAINST MODERNITY AND A WARNING ABOUT THE PAGAN RACISTS WHO ARE ALSO ANTI GLOBALISM: Benjamin Teitelbaum at LA Review of Books doesn't agree with Christians Cardinal Chaput or Rod Dreher in his review of their books but he gives coherent summaries of their arguments which they should thank him for. An Excerpt:
He (Chaput) indicates that his concern centers not on same-sex marriage per se, but rather on what it allegedly represents and perpetuates — namely, a society in which we are no longer able to orient ourselves because one of the most fundamental features of identity, gender, has been stripped of consequence. Any notion that certain features of who we are might be givens, that we could be born into one association or social role but not others, is now anathema. This drive to extinguish collectivizing instincts and practices, Chaput claims, is the logical conclusion of a democracy that lacks principles and ideals other than the absolute sovereignty of individuals. It requires citizens to disassociate from any institution or identity that could come between themselves and the state — be it a religious organization or a family — so that they can function as independent voices in democracy’s market of opinion. Furthermore, it pursues this hyper-individualism with fanatical intolerance of dissent.
Teitelbaum understands there is another anti modernist movement afoot.  It is not Christian at all but tribal and racist rejecting Christianity above all as the most global of all forces. (He has written a book on the subject Lions of the North: Sounds of the New Nordic Radical Nationalism.) For all of us Christian nationalists it is essential we understand this racialist force especially in European politics and more specifically in France's Marie le Penn and the Norwegian terrorist/mass murderer Anders Breivik. Professor Teitelbaum is an accomplished musician and ethnomusicologist. His review is an act of intelligence and perception. Another excerpt:
Christian anti-modernists may be the most tragic participants in the anti-modernist cause, however. Both Chaput and Dreher would do well to ponder more deeply the charges coming from other anti-modernists that their religion is the real driver of globalist liberalism. Some contemporary ethnic separatists — like, for example, Alain de Benoist — name Christianity itself as the enemy of community, identity, and spirituality. Modern liberalism’s claim to universal validity, its disinterest in roots and history, its yearning for a hyper-individualism, its contempt for religion — all of these features are, according to such thinkers, elaborations of a Christian model whereby God’s word is the singular, ultimate, and final revelation, where the past is sin and the future is salvation, where all are deemed equal before God and the divisions humanity has erected within itself are illusions to be transcended. The seeds of public secularism, they would argue — following Nietzsche — were sown by Christianity’s totalizing teleological vision, and by Christ’s edict to render unto Caesar. These anti-modernists may tolerate their Christian conservative allies for the time being, but fundamentally believe that a revival of Christian faith in American life will lead back to Pride parades, open borders, and godlessness. In the end, the tribes of anti-modernism may devour each other before the tiger of liberalism breathes its last.


ISLAM AND ISLAMISM: Do all Muslims look alike? A bill to distinguish types of Islam in terms of likelihood to commit terrorist acts was DEFEATED in the US House. The vote was close. Candidate Donald Trump once advocated a moratorium on Muslim immigration until we "figure out what the hell is going on." This was an attempt to make the kind of distinctions among Muslims that we have failed to do in making allies with Saudi Arabia in the Mideast and Pakistan in South Asia. Pakistan's brand of Islam explains their hiding Osama bin Ladin and the Saudi brand of Islam explains their desire to overthrow Assad in Syria, Maliki in Iraq, the elected government in Iran and the Shia Houthis in Yemen. We are starting to discuss this question properly. Only 214 House members left to convince there are some distinctions here that need to be made. One of the most important distinctions is to appreciate these four schools of law in Sunni Islam.

A VETERAN'S HISTORY OF IRAQ - RESOLVE VS. RETREATPeter Hegseth tells a real truth. He leaves out how US allies(most notably Saudi Arabia) disrupted the Iraq govenmemt in formation.

KURDISTAN - THEY SEEK NATIONHOOD THE OLD FASHIONED WAY. THEY FOUGHT FOR IT: For now US disagrees and forever Turkey will object but their claim is strong.  AOA's Map on Monday of Kurdistan.

REIDEL ON SAUDI-US ARMS DEAL AS FAKE NEWSThe article  shows the Saudis and the Israelis have had a pretty good run since 911 at American arms dealers and the US Treasury. President Obama sold the kingdom $112 billion in weapons over eight years, most of which was a single, huge deal in 2012 negotiated by then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. To get that deal through Congressional approval, Gates also negotiated a deal with Israel to compensate the Israelis and preserve their qualitative edge over their Arab neighbors. With the fall in oil prices, the Saudis have struggled to meet their payments since.  What is coming soon is a billion-dollars deal for more munitions for the war in Yemen. The Royal Saudi Air Force needs more munitions to continue the air bombardment of the Arab world’s poorest country.

SAUDIS IN ANOTHER BATTLE IN THEIR EASTERN PROVINCE BUT THE ENEMY IS THE SAME - THE SHIA: In the Eastern Saudi city of Awamiya, entire neighborhoods are destroyed with no breathless reports about "killing ones own people" Of course to the Wahabbis, the Shia are not part of the Umma. They are not "our own people." Isn't that a central categorical fact which helps us think clearly about the Mideast.

TO UNDERSTAND AFGHANISTAN, HOLD UP FOUR MORE CARDS: China, India Pakistan and Iran. A good perspective on Afghanistan comes from understanding the contending players determining Pakistan's place in South Asia. Both nations need a new regional multinational solutionPresident Trump's Afghanistan speech was insightful and very different from previous strategies. Last week we featured in R& G the Brookings Institute discussion on where to go with Afghanistan. Much of the President' s policy could have been written by them. It is extremely important and quite new that targeting Pakistan and allying with India is on the table. The role of Pakistan as the base of the Taliban is the major reason there has been such deadlock. Trump has finally targeted that. A role of India is the beginning of bringing in the other regional partners needed. Afghanistan allied with India over Pakistan is a very different ally. This huge change in emphasis seems lost in reportage on President Trump's strategic speech. There is no intention to make Afghanistan a liberal democracy but we do mean to leave a stable state. That is exactly the right idea but two nations are missing from the coalition that will be able to effect this--Iran and Russia. Remember Iran shares a long border with the Afghans.
President Trump said this policy was not his first instinct. He has learned something by being behind the desk. Another lesson to learn will be that Trump's instincts on Russia and President Obama's policies on Iran must come together to make both of these countries new allies. AOA Map and Book reviews on Pakistan. 

THE SOVIET UNION AND THE JEWS: If the revolution in 1917 had a dominate secular Jewish influence, the Purges in the 1950's took on an anti-Semitic bias of their own. This article is about "the night the poets died" in one of those killing purges. The relationship of Jews to Communism, to the Soviet Union and now to Russia is complicated and crucial. This article has a very interesting description of the anti fascist campaigns of WWII as well as the uneven reception of the founding of Israel by Jewish communists and other Soviets. This will be doubly true in the reaction of good communists after the Six Days War in 1967. It was a separating time for many Communist ethnic Russians and Soviet Jews akin to how the OJ Simpson trial exposed an emotional divide among the races in America.

THE DESTRUCTION OF STATES AND NATIONS - THE SOURCE OF REFUGEES: Sudan is a major source of the current refugees in the world today. Christians in the southern part of Sudan broke from Muslim Northerners and formed their own nation of south Sudan. Shortly after tribal rivalries erupted into a vicious civil war. A million refugees flee the tribal bloodbath and go south to Uganda. The old household of Idi Amin becomes a refuge for the homeless.


RUSSIAN COLLUSION WITH TRUMP, DNC HACKED, AND OTHER TALES - CHESTERTON RESPONDS: Chesterton said, “There are three ways in which a statement, especially a disputable statement can be placed before mankind. The first is to assert it by avowed authority; this is done by deities, the priests of deities, oracles, parents and guardians, and men who have “a message to their age.” The second way is to prove it by reason; this was done by the medieval schoolmen and by some of the early and comparatively forgotten men of science. It is now quite abandoned. The third method is this: when you have neither the courage to assert a thing, nor the capacity to prove it, you allude to it in a light and airy style, as if somebody else had asserted it and proved it already.” He followed that with, “this third method consists in referring to the very thing that is in dispute as if it were now beyond dispute.”

REPUBLICAN JEWS, SECULARISM, AND NEVER TRUMP: How American Jews fell in love with secularism. There is a deep truth which his search and study is approaching. However his conclusion that love of the Constitution would drive any reasonable man and especially an intelligent Jew to oppose Trump is part of the group think we have come to expect rom "social scientists". A six minute video lecture with Kenneth Wald. Rabbi Yoffie on the self-delusion of secular Jews.


CHARLOTTESVILLE: Two hate groups to be denounced. This was done on the day of the attack by the President. The identification of white racism as the basis of nationalism is especially to be denounced by those of us who proudly say we are Christians and American nationalists. This was done by the President two days after attack. Is this really a time to blame it all on Trump. Listen to Trump's elegy on love and loyalty in an America under God. Listen to his specific condemnation of neo-Nazis, KKK and white supremacists. Maybe it is time to come together over what we love.

RALLY ORGANIZER TRIES A PRESS CONFERENCEThe mob rules and they weren't white supremacists. Excellent video of some events in Charlottesville Where were the police? A reasonable assessment of Trump's statements and the hysteria greeting himTwo sides of a very similar coin. Pat Buchanan shows his worse side. While we consider Buchanan to be one of the most astute columnists of his day, he has always been an ethnic nationalist. This is not the Christian or American brotherhood that we advocate. Spain did not conquer in the name of white supremacy but as Catholic Spain.  Pat never got the memo sent loud and clear that the Irish are not really "white people" in the old Anglo Saxon working definition that ruled the east coast establishment for a few centuries. His pen is so clear and his heart is so pure that we miss him greatly in this battle. We need his Catholic mind that in this fundamental issue he has given to the WASPS. The American nation is a Christian multi racial brotherhood covenant. Why would Catholic Buchanan not assert that? A better look at the Southern culture our nation cannot lose - why Country songs are so sad.

ANTIFA - WHO ARE THEY? Antifa by Peter Biernat. Growing violence on the left - some players and history. President Trump says people who are against taking down Robert E Lee statue are not all white supremacists and neo-Nazis. He says there is a violent "alt left." Mainstream media and neocons are livid. Here is the transcript of his remarks in answering reporters on Aug 15.

REALITY AND THE SACRED: Popular essay in the Atlantic on how America is no longer "reality based." This is largely because of people who believe in a personal God and the reality of demons and the devil. How America Went Haywire.   Our own reality checklist: 1)There is One God; 2) There are two sexes; 3) America is one nation under God with a place among other nations.  4) It is a life and death matter that we understand our place in each relationship.

SACRED THINGS: David Carlin reminds us of religion and the prohibitions that surround and protect the sacred. He quotes and then recommends that his readers read the great sociologist of religion Emile Durkheim. Here is AOA on Durkheim. Here is AOA on the greatest modern writer explaining how prohibitions order the categories of religion and life - Phillip Rieff on Charisma and the great "no".



MALLORY MILLET (SISTER OF KATE MILLET AN EARLY 60's FEMINIST ICON) TELLS RIVETING STORY OF THE MOVEMENT AND ITS VICTIMS: A narrative that takes you there and reminds us that what we have lost was not from good intentions gone astray but bad intentions successfully implemented. Certainly the breakdown of sexual order wrought by feminism in America is at the heart of our religious ignorance and moral debasement.

PAY MOTHERS homemakers - let's get serious.

ERICH FROMM - A BELIEVING RABBI READS HIS BOOK ON LOVE: The great insights of Erich Fromm in his book The Art of Loving were often derived from his deep understanding of Jewish religious tradition. The reviewer here rightly wonders what the consequences will be for the next generation if they take Fromm's advice and cut themselves off from worship of the Source of all love. From's work is marred deeply by his lifelong campaign to eliminate the living personal God. Like many Jewish intellectuals, he reaped the benefits of generations transmitting a culture of study and prayer. This type of atheistic Jewish intellectual kept studying but quit praying. He then disavows God and proclaims himself a great thinker. Fromm was a prominent voice of the Frankfort school of exiled leftist Jews who advocated a godless humanism which would culturally enact the atheistic Marxist vision that the proletariat failed to produce.

Christopher Lasch died at age 61 (in 1994). We will review his incredible book on the  revolt of the elites soon. From WIKIFACTS:
In his last months, he worked closely with his daughter to complete The Revolt of the Elites: And the Betrayal of Democracy, published in 1994, in which he "excoriated the new meritocratic class, a group that had achieved success through the upward-mobility of education and career and that increasingly came to be defined by rootlessness, cosmopolitanism, a thin sense of obligation, and diminishing reservoirs of patriotism," and "argued that this new class 'retained many of the vices of aristocracy without its virtues.' Christopher Lasch analyzes the widening gap between the top and bottom of the social composition in the United States. For him, our epoch is determined by a social phenomenon: the revolt of the elites, in reference to The revolt of the masses (1929) of the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset. According to Lasch, the new elites, i.e. those who are in the top 20 percent in terms of income, through globalization which allows total mobility of capital, no longer live in the same world as their fellow-citizens. Globalization, according to the sociologist, has turned elites into tourists in their own countries. The de-nationalisation of business enterprise tends to produce a class who see themselves as "world citizens, but without accepting ... any of the obligations that citizenship in a polity normally implies."
Some excerpts from a 1980 interview:
What kinds of questions are people asking you these days?

Lasch - "Mostly about why I am so hard on liberals."

Why are you?

Lasch - "Because I think liberalism is an impoverished philosophy and it is causing all kinds of problems in our society."

Which liberalism is the villain? There are many varieties.

Lasch - "Think of the kind of liberalism that is currently identified with the Democratic party."

Of so recent a vintage?

Lasch - "As I interpret the history of liberalism it underwent a kind of sea change in the 1920s. Then liberals began increasingly to define their position in terms of a set of cultural values rather than any specific politics. H.L. Mencken was a leading figure in this change. He had nothing but contempt for the majority of Americans and developed the style of what I have called the civilized minority school of social criticism. It is a school that holds itself superior to the vast majority of Americans and is candidly elitist in outlook. Walter Lippmann called Mencken the most important thinker of his times. This elitist view came more and more to infect the liberalism of the Democratic party, which hasn't given a hoot for workers in decades, and especially to infect academic liberalism."

Presumably Lippmann himself was guilty of this elitism?

Lasch - "I think so."

What about the classical liberalism we associate with John Locke and John Stuart Mill?

Lasch - "I am worried about that too because it substitutes efficient organizations for virtuous citizens. People are left free to pursue their private interests so long as government is there to referee things with some modicum of fairness."

But you suspect that it is sometimes less than a modicum?

Lasch - "As it turns out, yes. It has become unmistakably clear that even a liberal social order requires a moral infrastructure - neighborhoods, families, churches and an array of institutions in which self-government actually works. No social order can get along without them."

I take it that you would not now call yourself a Marxist or even a socialist.

Lasch - "No. My faith in the explanatory power of the old ideologies began to waver in the mid-70s when my study of the family led me to question the left's program of sexual liberation, careers for women and professional child care. I saw a new form of socialization taking place as children were less subject to parental authority and more subject to the tutelage of the mass media and the so-called helping professions. I saw this inducing important changes in our understanding of personality and character, especially the decreased capacity for independent judgment, initiative and self-discipline upon which democracy had always been understood to depend. It was, broadly speaking, a crisis of authority but it included the degradation of work and the substitution of careerism for vocation, addiction for commitment and training for education. My experience as a parent exposed me to our society's indifference to everything that makes it possible for children to flourish and grow up to be responsible adults."

Friday, August 25, 2017

August 25: Saint Louis - Authority, the Ruler and Community

by David Pence

"Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee and I have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou shouldest  have no power against me  unless it were given thee from above."
On the same day Jesus rendered unto Ceasar what was his, He perfectly obeyed the authority of His Father. He conquered death in an act of authority over nature that reorganized the biological sphere under a new King. The alpha male of the human species having been born of a perfect Virgin drew a brotherhood of priests unto himself and conferred upon them the authority to maintain His Presence on earth. He made them a special band under a particular leader and ordained that communal hierarchical form of authority for public governance. The Kingdom of God was at hand. The victory of Christ is not a rebellion but a great act of authority and restoration of  proper rule. The great commission was a command to imbibe the new spiritual authority of the apostles in some way with the already existing authority of the civic rulers. The supernatural spiritual organism of the apostolic church was to transform the nations-kingdoms, republics, tribes and cities into a new level of accord.  "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth  has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.' "
King Louis IX of France
There is no personality so absent in contemporary Christian life as the ruler and man of authority. We have been blessed with priests and prophets. We have been cursed by charlatans and weaklings. We hunger for the Kings. Their absence is always a disaster for the weak and the poor. Saint Louis was a king who fought in the Crusades, cared constantly and publicly for the poor of his kingdom, and was a man of deep prayer and many fasts. Here is his beautiful instructive letter to his son that Catholics pray in the Office of Readings every year on his feast day. (A Review of Before Church and State:Social Order in the Sacramental Order of Louis IX)

It is a fundamental obligation of Christian men to rule our civic communities as well as our passions and households. How men participate in civic rule can entail faithful loyalty to a good king or taking up arms as a minuteman in a republic. The servant ruler does not mean that a ruler or citizen soldier relinquishes his sword against external enemies or internal criminals. It means the acts of the ruling authority are done for the good of the community, not the aggrandizement of the ruler. The Shepherd is not a nursemaid. Community without authority recalls the decadent Israel "when every man did as he pleased." Acts of authority are not limited to proclaiming doctrine by churchmen or laws by civil rulers. The actual body -- civic and ecclesial -- must be shaped, pruned, and ruled by the ruling authority. Men are called and promoted. Other men are released. Some men are punished and shamed. Rulers inspire loyalty that shapes men into communal bodies capable of great acts of protection and love.

Saint Louis (b. 1214) did not become a saint by laying down his sword or neglecting the punitive duties of his office. Men obeyed him and some men rightly feared him. Saint Louis, pray for us that God will once again give us men such as thee.
UPDATE:  "We know from Louis’s biographers that 'From the beginning when he came to hold his realm and knew himself of discernment, he began to build churches and many religious houses …' Most celebrated was the Sainte-Chapelle, his royal chapel on the Île de la Cité in Paris."

While on crusade in North Africa, Louis died from sickness in 1270 - four years before the death of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Perfecting the Body of Christ by Baptizing the Nations: Walls the Missionary and Wright the Theologian

Church construction in South Sudan

"Go to the periphery!" says Pope Francis. We hear the same message from "the dean of global Christianity," Andrew F. Walls. The former missionary to Sierra Leone and professor emeritus at the University of Edinburgh sees the Body of Christ on earth will only be completed when He is incarnated in the nations and peoples of the earth. To paraphrase Saint Augustine: Don't complain that you were not there to see the Head. We are witnessing the Body being completed. He said that 400 years after Christ was incarnated. Some 1600 years later, a lot more Body is being manifested. Here is a video of his talk on the transformation of Christianity in the 20th century; he speaks slowly, he is worth listening to.

An interview with Christianity Today.           

"The spread of the gospel is often presented as inexorable progress outward, like an inkblot, but Walls saw that time and again the real story was of ebb and flow. The loss of Christian territory happened not just on the periphery but at the heartland. Jerusalem was the first heartland until the Romans leveled it, and the Jewish church all but ceased to exist. Then came Rome, until the northern Vandals sacked it; Constantinople, until Islam overran it; northern Europe, before Enlightenment skepticism cut its heart out. At each turning point, the gospel made a great escape, crossing over into an unknown culture just before disaster struck. History suggested that Christianity lives by this pilgrim principle."

Andrew Walls

There is a resonance with this great Protestant missionary and the theology of NT Wright who complains that much of West/ North Christianity doesn't really know what to do with Easter. We won! A new creation is being established on earth! Salvation is not about a distribution of individual passes to check in on our deathbeds. It is about building the new Kingdom of Love on earth. The species is being restored to Life. He writes about this in his book, The Day the Revolution Began. Wright, like Walls, has a corporate, earth-filling, humanity-embracing vision of the meaning of Christ's Cross and Resurrection. Clearly, the new Christians of the global south see the relevance of establishing radically new relations as human beings in our local communities, tribes, and nations. Maybe Christians of the West/North are too comfortable with the present arrangement. NT Wright is not at all comfortable with what he thinks is a restricted understanding of salvation, justification ad the meaning of Christ. His understanding of the fullness of Christ, the pleroma, very much includes all the nations.

The Catholic stance toward this is a radical acceptance of the Spirit-filled Pentecostalism of the 20th century. Peter acknowledges what he sees with his own eyes: the reality of the presence of God in the household of Cornelius. But Peter must rule and unify; and, thus, the popes of the last 75 years have globally asserted the apostolic character of Church -- centered on the bishops and the Eucharist. The formal physical expression of the sacramental order of the priestly Eucharistic Church was called the Second Vatican Council. That event spurred a spasmodic reaction from Satan, and demonic forces often masquerading in clerical garb, to deface the liturgy and desecrate their lambs. But every pope of the last six decades has understood and presented that great ecclesial event as a work of the Spirit. From the bloody 20th century, the Body of Christ emerges through the sacramental order as well as gatherings of Spirit-filled Christians. In this fitting time, the Catholic Church renews her synodal apostolic universal character to draw Christians back into the priestly and Eucharistic form of worship that Christ commanded.

Two faithful Christian brothers are helping all Christians prepare for this deeper unity which will enlighten the nations and give glory to the Father.  

Eastern Orthodox believers in Uganda

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Drillmaster of Valley Forge

With over 30,000 combatants, what was the largest battle during the entire War for Independence? Brandywine (September 11, 1777).

The Continental Army was defeated at Brandywine -- allowing the British to soon occupy our national capital at Philadelphia. The Congress fled 80 miles west to Lancaster, but was forced to keep going to York.

With the December winds buffeting them, the Continental army eventually straggled into the wilderness of Valley Forge -- twenty miles from Philadelphia. Of the 12,000 soldiers, only a fourth of them had shoes. The men set to work building huts.

Things changed in February 1778 when a soldier from Prussia, Friedrich von Steuben, entered the Valley Forge camp. He had been educated by Jesuits before joining the Prussian army -- the best disciplined force in Europe.

General Washington gave von Steuben the authority to restore morale and to turn the men into stout-hearted soldiers. One historian says that it was "Steuben’s ability to bring this army the kind of training and understanding of tactics that made them able to stand toe to toe with the British."

As Steuben’s work progressed, "news of the United States’ treaties of alliance with France reached Valley Forge. Washington declared May 6, 1778 a day of celebration...

"Two weeks after the celebration, the Marquis de Lafayette led a reconnaissance force of 2,200 to observe the British evacuation from Philadelphia. When a surprise British attack forced Lafayette to retreat, von Steuben’s compact column formation enabled the entire force to make a swift, narrow escape. At the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, the American troops showed a new discipline. They stood their ground during ferocious fire and bayonet attacks, and forced the British to retreat...

"The Continental Army’s new strength as a fighting force, combined with the arrival of the French fleet off the coast of New York in July 1778, turned the tide of the war."


Take a look at the first ten minutes of this video narrated by Charles Kuralt.

One of the American cities named after the Prussian officer is Steubenville, Ohio -- home of Franciscan University.


From one of the final chapters of The Red Badge of Courage:
"The impetus of enthusiasm was theirs again. They gazed about them with looks of uplifted pride, feeling new trust in the grim, always confident weapons in their hands. And they were men."

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

August 22 -- QUEENSHIP OF MARY: Ruling from the Inside

[first published August 22, 2014]

by David Pence

Keeping sacred time with the Church means that the central events are always prepared for by a season -- Lent for Easter and Advent for Christmas. It also means that solemn feast days are never allowed to come and go with one rising and setting of the Sun. The great solemnities are celebrated as Octaves. Eight days has an ancient meaning as a unit of time signifying a new creation. So, eight days after we celebrated the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven... we are still contemplating her place in her new home as we celebrate her Queenship. A man who desires to love God our Father as a son and build brotherhood in the priesthood, city, and nation can never spend too much time contemplating the perfection of the feminine in Our Lady. These sacral sexual roles depend on each other and are clarified by contrast, complement, and communal context.

Our Lady lived the Trinitarian roles of the woman. She is the daughter of the Father, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and the Mother of Jesus. She humbly obeyed her Father. For all His life, she kept hold of her Son wrapped in swaddling at Bethlehem and draped in burial clothes at Gethsemane. Her perfect virginity established a perpetual barrier to the evil of sin while making her permeable to her Spouse: the Holy Spirit. She was "guarded by the angels, prefigured by the patriarchs, and promised by the prophets."

Feminism is the reigning atheist ideology of our day set against the person of Our Lady, as surely as the Dragon was set against her in Revelation. Wherever the confusing mist of feminism infiltrates the mind, statues of our Lady are put in the closet. Wherever feminist language is spoken, her songs are left unsung. Wherever she is photo-shopped into a picture of the Last Supper, the picture of her suffering heart is pulled from the wall as too gruesome. The "feminist implant" of atheist thinking has replaced the armed atheism of Marxism. This is a more devastating lie. Seven demons have filled the house that was swept clear of one. Wherever feminism reigns, Our Lady is dethroned.
It is hard for gentlemen to oppose even counterfeit femininity. But we must reject this anti-Marian heresy for the sake of women around the world. The white feminists of the West squandered the moral capital of the Christian interracial movement by twisting the just claims to be colorblind with the less virtuous desire to be sexually confused. The face-to-face sisterhood of Mary visiting Elizabeth was always too small a love for them. Thus they conjure the delusion that the coalition of selfish white female careerists in university, church, and government jobs is a worldwide sisterhood rivaling the masculine protective fraternity of priesthood and nations. Those who kill patriarchy multiply the widows and orphans, and at some point the dark skin of those victims will scream for justice against this racist trickery. Mary did not seek to be an apostle. She is a Queen. As Pope Francis said about women cardinals: "I don’t know where this idea sprang from. Women in the Church must be valued, not ‘clericalised.’ Whoever thinks of women as cardinals suffers a bit from clericalism."

It is an ancient tradition that after Christ’s death, the apostles hid Mary. The Roman soldiers and Jewish high priests could never lay a hand on her. Had they tried, the sword of Peter would not have stayed sheathed. Twenty centuries later the Church with her feast days, prayers, and contemplations tells the whole world who our Lady is and where she is. She is safe now, so the Apostolic Church can publicly proclaim what John and the apostles once held in secret, and the Catholic faithful affirmed in the glorious mysteries of the rosary. The Dragon and the violent world were too dominant for the apostles to speak too loudly and too clearly of her too soon. For it is always an imprudent risk to reveal a feminine beauty in an evil world if one cannot protect her from attack. But, now, let us rejoice and be glad.

Look up on this feast day and see the blue sky with white clouds in the daytime sun. Those are reflections of the Queen’s garments in Heaven. The Virgin Mother is safe up there in the midst of the Trinity, so the Church can now illuminate the world by explaining the nature of her rule. She is queen of the interior life. She rules in the vast expanse of the inner chambers opened by prayer and contemplation. The feminine rules from the inside. There is amidst the Trinity of masculine persons a feminine interior -- a whole, a beauty that is never spoken but is integral to God. That timeless feminine reality precedes Mary who is a creature. Mary is not the fourth person of the Trinity, nor is she the incarnation of the Holy Spirit. She is queen because she humbled herself before the Father. The whole world is at her feet because she opened a virgin’s heart to the wind of the Holy Spirit. In conforming herself to the will of the Father, she exercised the interior freedom of a soul in love. When men follow our mother in such acts of interior surrender we shall regain our stature as lords of creation. Only then will we fulfill the original mission of our species: to rule the Earth in his Name.


UPDATE: See the Assumption of Mary. And our review of Hildebrand’s classic study of purity and virginity in Catholic culture.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, August 19

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

A Charlottesville resident Jason Kessler organized a Unite the Right rally in his town on Saturday Aug 12 to gather around the statue of Robert E Lee in Emancipation Park (renamed from Lee Park in June 2017) to protest the decision of the City Council (Feb 6,2017) to remove the statue. Like the old leftist United Front campaigns, this was meant to garner wide support for a popular cause while giving cover to organizations with deeper ideological commitments(to white supremacy, racial purity, anti Jewish theories). Part of these groups are "white identitarians" who demand in the world of diversity identities to have one of their own. On Friday evening before the demonstration there was a dramatic torch parade led by the white supremacist anti Jewish forces through the campus of UVA. The best reporting of this was done by VICE news. This woman is a true reporter letting the participants tell the story by speaking themselves.

The leftist counter protesters had a permit for a neighboring park but brought their group close enough to direct their outrage at the the rightists. CNN has a good report on ANTIFA.  Here is a tribute to ANTIFA from  minsters who say ANTIFA  saved their lives. The counter protesters had multiple Communist and old left sponsors but identifying that sponsoring list is difficult to find in most news stories. (except for NYTimes behind a paywall).    The Governor declared the city in a state of emergency a few minutes after the demonstration was to start. The role of the police in keeping the peace is in dispute. There is significant evidence that the same troubling tendency of urban police to stand back as leftist protesters use violence against "the right" was a major part of the whole story in Charlottesville. What is different here from Trump rallies and college speeches by Ann Coulter is that many elements of the Unite the Right came prepared to fight back. With no police in between, they had plenty of opportunities.  James Alex Fields of Ohio is under arrest after driving his car into large group of the counter protesters and killing a 32 y.o. woman, Heather Heyer. Was the driver trying to kill as many people as possible or was he in fear of a Reginald Denny incident? That will be the question at his trial.  He was fatherless from childhood and has a significant history of violence and racism.

President Trump in his first press conference on the day of the violence condemned bigotry, hate and violence on both sides. At his next press conference, he condemned neo nazis and white supremacists specifically but again said there was violence on both sides and that there were plenty of good people opposed to removing statues of Robert E Lee from our public spaces. "Where will it end?  ...Washington? ... Jefferson?" .   None of this has been enough for the mainstream and neoconservative "never Trump" media. They tell a narrative of  Donald Trump supporting white supremacy and white supremacists supporting Donald Trump. The media have been repetitive in publicizing a David Duke tweet thanking the President for calling out left wing violence. This was reported as definitive proof that white supremacists are Trump men and Trump is in his heart  one of them.  Watch the VICE video though and see how white supremacists are anti Trump and livid that he would betray the race by allowing "his beautiful daughter" to marry the Jew Jared Kushner. That disavowal of Trump by a major racist player in the protest has yet to be noted by most media.
The alt right is a very loose term for all conservatives and libertarians who used the internet and alternative(alt) media to take on the "fake right" which they defined as the Republican party of Bob Dole and George Bush and the neocon saturated Fox News. Plenty of white racists include themselves in this broad term and in fact enjoy the big tent hiding space. But to call the alt right a white supremacist movement would be like calling  the US labor struggle a Trotskyite movement.  Ever since Donald Trump presented himself for the Presidency,  there has been a concerted widespread movement to identify American nationalism with racism. There are ethnic nationalists like Pat Buchanan who accept that label  without the Nazi addendum.  But there is a much bigger movement of American nationalists who believe that our borders define a territorial community which includes  every color and class--this is called civic nationalism. It was the creed of both John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King. The southern military tradition that fought for the Confederacy has also bled for the Union in the American revolution and disproportionally in our wars of the 20th century. Those statues have been redeemed by the blood of Southern soldier patriots. Those honored civic patriots can teach all of our young men about manly duty and the fraternity of citizenship. As Robert Lee knew, patriotism begins with the land around you. His example can help educate our young men who have been  tricked by black power and now are deceived by white power. They need to think like mature men-like protectors of a shared space and bounded community. That is what our cities and states as well as our nation really are.

 Black men and white men have carried our American flag and have died for it. We are American brothers under God.   Religious, civic, economic and territorial nationalism is not the enemy. There is a message here  for the Ivy League globalists who scoff at their unwashed countrymen to network with their white Swedish and Canadian counterparts in the media, universities and high finance. Quit defacing our flag by equating nationalism with white racism! Your careers in the WASPish power couple empire are not as important as jobs for black, brown and white men who work with their hands. Quit inflaming the men who will fight and do physical work  by deliberately confusing the discussion of national loyalty and identity. We must reorient our loves to God and country.  Only such a communal identity and purpose can socialize young males from the temptations of drug use, promiscuity and predation. Love of nation under God and a decent respect for the office of the Presidency is not the problem. It is the religious and interracial solution to the atheistic chaos of our troubled times. It is especially needed for our young men in search of that transcendent  communal duty which gives them their identity as men. Charlottesville is a great place to start talking about that.          


MARRIAGE AND CATHOLIC LAWExcellent article. Here is one of the comparisons of Canon Law 1917 and Canon Law 1983. Consent is called the “efficient cause” of marriage. Without it, there is no marriage. The Catechism explains it well:
1. 1626: “The Church holds the exchange of consent between the spouses to be the indispensable element that ‘makes marriage.’ If consent is lacking, there is no marriage.”

2. It has been a shift the 1983 Code took from its predecessor, the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code in this particular issue.
Let’s go back to the wording. The new Canon says that the content of marriage consent is the act of the will of a man and a woman to give and accept each other (as spouses) to establish marriage. Compare it to the previous wording of the 1917 Code, where it was established that marriage consent was the act of the will where the parties agreed to give and accept the rights to the body (ius ad corpus), perpetual and exclusive, for the purpose of performing the actions apt by their nature to procreate children. This is an example of the iuscorporalism that prevailed in the 1917 Code. The new Code reflects the vision of Vatican II, a personalist one. You accept the other person as your spouse, not merely a perpetual and exclusive right over his/her body to have children.


AFGHANISTAN - AN EXCELLENT HISTORICAL SUMMARY OF OUR PRESENT PREDICAMENT. POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS WERE LESS HELPFUL BECAUSE ROLES FOR INDIA (OF THE "OUTER CIRCLE") AND IRAN (OF THE "INNER CIRCLE") WERE LEFT UNDEVELOPEDThe Brookings report with good maps and dialogue format. Especially heed Bruce Reidel. Missing is a better discussion of a role for Iran. Iran is the western neighbor of Afghanistan. A water dispute is a present issue of contention. But there are much deeper ties between the neighbors, especially from central Afghanistan. Iran fought with the the US and Afghans in ousting Al Qaeda. But the long term resilience of the Taliban has led Iran to grant them some eastern hegemony as the Iranians' link to the Hazara in the central part of the country was well as the main government. The Hazaras are the third largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. They speak a Persian language variant and are overwhelmingly Shiite. What the Afghan Pashtuns are to Pakistan and southeast Afghanistan so are the Hazaras to Iran.

A few excepts from the discussion:
JOHN ALLEN: On the similarity of Taliban in Afghanistan and leftist revolutionaries in Columbia. ...the forensics on the Taliban as a threat. I would propose to you that the threat is a triangular one, where you have the ideological insurgency; you have, very importantly and perhaps even more prominent, the criminal patronage networks; and then you have the drug enterprise that fuels both of the first two. These three aspects of the threat have been present the entire time.

BRUCE RIEDEL: The Afghan Taliban is very resilient for many reasons, one of which is that they represent the aspirations in the Pashtun community—not all of the Pashtun community, but a significant portion of it. They also have successfully portrayed themselves as fighting against foreign interference—in particular, non-Muslim interference; this is why one of the problems of our allied force posture in Afghanistan is that there are always too many Christians and not enough Muslims, and it’s unlikely we are going to be able to fix that problem any time in the future. So the Taliban’s appeals to deeply-rooted Pashtun interests, to nationalism, and to Islamic values all at once, are an important part of their resilience.

But in my view, none of this would be as dangerous as it is if the Taliban didn’t have safe haven and sanctuary in Pakistan—and confidence that, no matter what we do to them in Afghanistan, they can reconstitute. It’s not just the Pakistani intelligence services; there is a sizeable part of the Islamic clerical establishment in Pakistan that is openly supportive of the Afghan Taliban, and sees the conflict as a righteous and holy war, and therefore facilitates fundraising in Pakistan, and even more fundraising in Dubai. While I think there’s a lot of fundraising in Saudi Arabia, Dubai seems to be at the heart of it.

So if these are the sources of the Afghan Taliban’s resilience, then we have to ask ourselves what among those things we can fundamentally change? We are not going to change Pashtun identity—not in 10 years, not in 20 years, not in 200 years.

BRUCE RIEDEL: The Saudis have some leverage in Pakistan. But they have lost the influence they once had due to the war in Yemen. Two years ago, Pakistan’s parliament voted unanimously to reject Saudi requests for Pakistani troops to fight in Yemen. Criticism of the kingdom has become widespread. So I’m skeptical that the Saudis will be a player. China is the most important player for the Pakistani military.

BRUCE RIEDEL: It seems to me there have been two concentric circles here. The outer circle is huge, and it includes Japan, Russia, China, India, the Gulf countries, and the Europeans. We have engaged fitfully with those partners. Former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke succeeded in creating a counterpart in nearly every one of those countries—and the few who still endure are desperate to find someone to talk to in Washington. That engagement is well worth doing and important to do. But it’s an outer circle.

The inner circle features the two countries—Pakistan and Iran—that have the longest borders with Afghanistan. One of our problems all along has been that one of those countries is beyond the pale. The one period where we were actually making a lot of progress quickly is 2002, when we enlisted the Iranians as a co-partner in Afghanistan. But if the current administration has now determined that Iran is the number-one threat to world peace, I don’t see how we’re going to get much help there. In fact, I already see signs that the Iranians are looking at Afghanistan as one of the places to stick it to the Americans if they want to pursue a significant anti-Iran policy; Iraq, obviously, is another. There’s a definite uptick in Iranian interaction with the Afghan Taliban, and that’s not good.

Then there’s Pakistan. There is no single Pakistani policy on Afghanistan; there are multiple Pakistani policies. Even within the Pakistani army, there are multiple Pakistani army policies on Afghanistan. I’ll save the “what-to-do-about-Pakistan” part of this until we get to policy recommendations. But I think the Iran problem is a big hole here, and it’s going to get worse.
CONGRESS AND AFGHANISTAN - ISN'T THAT ONE OF THEIR JOBS? Andrew Bacevich reminds Congress that Afghanistan is their Vietnam.

One brother out, another brother in. 


KOREA: ULTIMATELY IT IS A QUESTION OF WHOSE SIDE IS CHINA ON? Trump is clear about the consequences of any incursion on American soil (which means Guam most of all). Tillerson proposes diplomacy to escape the inevitable fury of war. Standard American Jacksonian foreign policy. A good history lessonDavid Ignatius unlike so many journalists understands history and it often shows in his writing about foreign policy. Graham Allison of Harvard has written on the likelihood of a US-China war. He sees the North Korean crisis in terms of a war with China. That is how every president saw it until the last decade and we should see it now. Mark Bowden lists options with Korea. None are good; some are catastrophic. From our Map on Monday series: Korea.

American targets for North Korea. US footprint. In South Korea there are 30,000 troops with 200,000 Americans in the whole country. Most of the troops are in the 35 mile area between the DMZ (165-mile boundary between North and South Korea) and Seoul, the South Korean capital with 25 million people in the metro area. There are 50,000 American troops in Japan. Half are on Okinawa, a Japanese island 470 square miles in size 1000 miles from North Korea. The US forces are not universally welcome (an understatement). There are another 50,000 American civilians throughout Japan.

Guam is a US territory unlike the bases our military and civilians occupy in South Korea and Japan. Guam has an 85% Catholic population (like their Philippine neighbors, this is a gift from their Spanish heritage). The target in Guam is not just the 4,000 military personnel and Anderson Airbase. The 160,000 US citizens who live there do not appreciate the way they have been discussed in the press. They are part of the Mariannas island chain (WWII marines remember Tinian and Saipan especially). The 53,000 commonwealth residents of North Marriannas qualify to be US citizens.

North Korea will not target the South Korean population. Their first target will be American military bases and ships, then possibly the American citizen population on Guam. North Korea must establish this as a fight between Asian nations and the American imperialist. "America wants your nuclear weapons," they will tell Pakistan and India. Look what happened to Gadaffi after he gave up his weapons and see how well the Iran nuclear deal is going for the Iranians who turned over weapons grade uranium. Asian nations all cheered when tiny Japan beat Russia in 1905. On August 10, 2017 the US provoked China by sailing within 12 miles of a Chinese naval island they built off their own coast in the South China Sea for border defense. The Chinese see the US threats to North Korea in light of a 200-year history of western powers meddling in the lives of the nations of the East. There is a possibility that China could help the US resolve this matter but the likelihood is that China will see the US disarmament project as quite self serving as the US threatens the much more modest defense building of China. Henry Kissinger has reminded us in his must-read China that the one issue China will go to war over is infringing on their borders or threatening their near neighbors (see Korean War 1950-53).

GUAM, THE PHILIPPINES, AND THE CARELESS APPROACH OF THE CATHOLIC HIERARCHY TO THE NATIVE BOYS OF ASIA: Their Catholic Church in Guam is in "episcopal receivership" after the Archbishop was relieved of his duties by Pope Francis in 2016. There has been a long history of homosexual clerical collusion at the highest levels in abuse of young males - many more male teens as usual than small children. This is mindful of the other Catholic Asian country we once counted as an American ally. Their Catholic clergy was also corrupt in these matters. The new President of the Philippines talked about this in a compelling interview on his leadership and his new foreign policy alliances with Russia and China. His experiences as an abuse victim of Catholic clergy is part of his sensibility that the US and Europe speak with a double tongue. He says the clergy didn't take seriously the abuse of native boys. He closed that part of the interview with this: "Let me clear. I believe in God but not in priests."

JAPAN - THE RISE OF NATIONALISMA critical video, but there is plenty here to learn from. Vox is left wing but often very reliable source of news based on history.

DUTERTE INTERVIEW ON USE OF VIOLENCE AS A RULERInterview on his "predicament of facing large contamination of drugs against children and country." He says America speaks with double talk, so does EU. So he seeks China and Russia as allies.


ST LOUIS - A KING AND A RULER: We need many more heroes and tales of men of authority. Without just men who will physically protect, the weak will always be vulnerable and the poor always oppressed. Without authority, there is no community.

THE STRATEGIC ALLIANCE OF FEMINIST DEMOCRATIC HAWKS AND REPUBLICAN NEOCONS: The female editor of Nation magazine has the best analysis of the anti-Trump Washington establishment driving us to war with Russia and Iran.

AT GOOGLE, A YOUNG MAN JAMES DAMORE WRITES A MEMO POSITING THERE ARE BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GENDERS WHICH MAY BE A BETTER EXPLANATION OF MALE PREPONDERANCE IN TECH INDUSTRIES THAN SEXISM: He was fired as a heretic against the abiding state religion of Diversity enforced primarily by Google, large corporations, and government employers through human resource firing practices. This "your job or your soul " blackmail is rampant in the national military as well as state and local law enforcement agencies. This human resource strategy has been one of the few enforceable ethics/thought systems which have transcended tenure claims in universities. His full memo with citations.

This recalls the firing of once Harvard President Lawrence Summers. He too thought gender differences might explain the lack of females in the highest positions in mathematics and engineering fields. His suggestions were mild. His punishment swift. Summers had an interesting relationship with Elena Kagan at Harvard. Though he first opened a big door for her, female careerists did a lot better than men who spoke too freely. Under now Supreme Court Justice Kagan, the US military was never given the fast track access that has marked her remarkable career rise.

His treatment is a prime example of ritual defamation. He is right about gender differences. "The no gender differences crowd are the young earth proponents of the left."

Friday, August 18, 2017

American Memory and Identity: Keeping Our Civic Days Sacred

1  Martin Luther King, Jr: Sacred Selma is No Bridge to Sodom
2  Memorial Day: Masculine Publics and Family Weekends      
          2b The Prayers of D-Day June 6, 1944 
          2c  Father's Day
          3  July 4: Patriotism of a Patriarch: John Ireland
4  July 4 American Covenant: Brotherhood under God
5  September 11 - Fighting a religious war as a religious nation 
6  September 17 - America's Bloodiest Day
          6b October 12 Columbus, Mary and Catholic Americans 
7  November 2 Assassination of President Diem: Losing the Mandate of Heaven
8  November 19 Gettysburg: Give Rest O Savior
9  November 22 John Kennedy and the Maturation of Christian Manhood
10  Thanksgiving: Don’t Call it “Turkey Day”
          11Presidents Day and George Washington-All Praise the Patriarch

Keeping Catholic Time: Living the Liturgy of Feasts and Seasons

  1. Advent and the Three Comings of Christ
  2. Dec 3: St Francis Xavier:  Completing the Body of Christ in the East
  3. December 8: The Immaculate Conception
  4. December 12: Queen of Mexico, Our Lady of the Americas
  5. Father and Sons Defending the Sacred: The Real Hanukkah Lesson
  6. Christmas: Mortals Shout the Mighty Chorus…
  7. December 28: The Feast of the Holy Innocents
  8. January 1: Consecrating masculine fraternity - the formalized covenant of circumcision 
  9. January 6: The Feast of the Epiphany and the true Age of Enlightenment
  10. Baptism of Christ - Theophany
  11. Baptism of Jesus
  12. January 28: St Thomas Aquinas - Priest and Scholar
  13. Candlemas: A Light to the Nations
  14. February 22: The Chair of Peter
  15. March 19: St Joseph Husband and Protector
  16. March 25: Lady Day
  17. Ash Wednesday: Inquisitions and Penitentiaries
  18. Holy Week
  19. Holy Thursday: He who cleansed the temple, now cleansed the priesthood
  20. Good Friday: The Anthropology of Sacrifice
  21. Holy Saturday: Christ the Conqueror of Hell
  22. Easter: A nation delivered from slavery; a species restored to life
  23. Divine Mercy Sunday: On that day are open…
  24. Good Shepherd Sunday: The Shepherd - Protector or Nursemaid?
  25. May 1: St. Joseph the Worker: Shopcraft and Soulcraft
  26. May 13: Our Lady of Fatima - The promise of the Rosary and Christian Russia
  27. Ascension Thursday: Thus, began man’s participation…
  28. Pentecost: Holy Spirit, Apostolic Church, Humanity and the Trinity
  29. Mary, Mother of the Church
  30. Solemnity of the Holy Trinity
  31. Corpus Christi: Lessons from Nature and History
  32. From Personal Piety to Social Kingship: the ordered loves of the Sacred Heart
  33. June 3: Ugandan martyrs, pray for us
  34. June 29: Solemnity of St Peter and Paul - What is an Apostolic Church?
  35. July 11: Memorial of St Benedict
  36. July 31: Memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola
  37. August 4: St John Vianney
  38. August 5: Dedication of the Basilica of Mary
  39. August 6: Feast of the Transfiguration
  40. August 8: Memorial of St Dominic
  41. August 15: Feast of the Assumption - Breaking the Glass Ceiling
  42. August 22: Queenship of Mary: Ruling from the Inside
  43. August 25: St Louis : Authority and the Ruler
  44. September 14: The Triumph of the Cross
  45. September 29: Feast of the Archangels
  46. October 4: The Feast of St. Francis
  47. October 7: Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
  48. October 12: Mary, Columbus, and Catholic America
  49. October 15: Theresa of Avila Virgin and Doctor
  50. All Saints Day: Four Men in Full
  51. All Souls Day: Remember, Venerate, Pray
  52. November 9: Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
  53. November 18: Dedication of Sts. Peter and Paul Basilica
  54. November 30: St. Andrew and the Holy Monks of St Athos
  55. Bend the knee to Christ the King

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Royal Order of Adverbs

We all want to become better writers, so that readers -- instead of being jolted by awkward phrasing -- sense a measure of grace in our lines. One way of doing this is by understanding the most natural way to space adverbs.

As a general rule, it works best to use adverbs of "manner" first in a sentence; and adverbs of "place" next. Followed by adverbs of frequency, time, and purpose.

Here's a sample sentence:

"Abraham swims... slowly... in the pool... every morning... before dawn... to keep in shape."

1. Manner (slowly, in the example above)
2. Place (in the pool)
3. Frequency (every morning)
4. Time (before dawn)
5. Purpose (to keep in shape)

Here is another example (which omits #3):

"The librarian was forced to hush the rowdy students... sternly... in the study alcoves... last night... in order to prevent anarchy."

For further explanation of adverbs, check out this article.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August 15 -- THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION: Femininity Shatters the Glass Ceiling

[first published August 15, 2014]

by David Pence

"By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly declaration of glory.”                (Pope Pius XII, November 1, 1950)

When Christ asked Peter who the apostles thought he was, Peter made the first infallible papal statement. He said, “Thou art the Son of the living God.” Christ made it clear it was not personal insight which allowed this Petrine testimony without error. “Not flesh and Blood but my Father in heaven” had allowed Peter to proclaim this central truth of our Faith for the brethren. And so again, 2000 years later, Pius XII did not wake up one November morning in 1950 and introduce to the flock a novel teaching he and some cardinals had been concocting about Our Lady. He stated what the praying Church had known devotionally for centuries. The pope, though, with a singular voice spoke the Truth from Rome as Peter had spoken for all the apostles at Caesarea Philippi.

The Pope in a few terse words described the perfection of matter -- the most perfect blossom of the tree of Jesse.  She was Immaculate -- conceived without sin. She is the Mother of God -- the locus of the Incarnation where God came into flesh to draw human flesh into his Body. She is ever Virgin -- an intact virgin not entered by man nor torn asunder by birth. And yet in the unity and holiness which the intactness of virginity represents there is a permeability to the Spirit which brings forth the Son. This moment in history of uncorrupted feminine flesh reminds all men of our original nature in Eden and of our present capacity for perfection. This Marian perfection of matter was never allowed to be corrupted by death. In this modern era when the corrupted mist of the world seems omnipresent, the Church reminds us that purity is possible. The person separated from Evil can bear Christ on earth and will be drawn into Him where he sits at the right hand of the Father. Purity on earth is possible and the spiritual ordering of the flesh leads to Eternal life. Humans are not evolving to some higher form; perfection comes from imitating a form who was already here in a specific time and place. Let us sing of Mary.

Of heaven there is less to say. How will she reign where her son is the King and the King has a Father? She might be drawn to some inner chamber where the feminine holds the three masculine persons of the Trinity in One.  C.S. Lewis described heaven as going higher and higher and deeper and deeper. Mary is not a Queen on a throne; she is the Queen of those depths. There is some inner chamber of the hidden God which we never name with a pronoun… but if we did it would be feminine. For the feminine is interiority.

There is an intact interior that separates God from all creation. This radical separation is the meaning of HOLY. Mary and the consecrated virgins of the Church seek not crowns for their heads, but an interior milieu where their hearts can come to final rest and ponder anew. Come, let us sing of Mary -- who on this day turns our eyes to Heaven where she abides with her Son. Let us admire from a distance the beauty of the Church’s consecrated virgins who keep us vigilant for our returning King by waiting for Him as their Bridegroom.

"Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life,
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb."

UPDATE: Take notice of what Christ is holding [click on the image above]: a small child clothed in white representing the soul of the Virgin Mary.
Taylor Marshall on the traditional teaching of the Church.

It is a good feast to remember  Dietrich von Hildebrand’s classic reflection on purity and virginity in Catholic culture. 

Here is an August 15th sermon by Monsignor Ronald Knox (d. 1957). A 2017 sermon by Fr Stravinskas.