Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Literary lions and their cheap-grace "mercy"

In 1962 -- five years after the disappearance of a high-school cheerleader in New Jersey -- William Buckley began corresponding with the inmate who had been convicted of her murder in the first degree. Through the influence of the famous conservative writer, Edgar Smith (who had always insisted on his innocence) was released from prison in late 1971.

Several years later Smith abducted a 33-year-old woman at knife-point; she escaped, and he was captured. He soon admitted that he had, indeed, killed the New Jersey teenager.

William Buckley hosting prison parolee Smith on his "Firing Line" show

Norman Mailer began his own correspondence with a prison inmate in 1977: Jack Henry Abbott. His crimes included forgery, escaping from prison, bank robbery, and killing a fellow inmate. But Mailer pushed and cajoled for Abbott to be paroled early, and he was soon walking the streets of New York as the toast of the literati. (Jack Henry Abbott -- just like Edgar Smith -- had written a book or two).

A couple months later Abbott got in an argument with a 22-year-old waiter/actor, and stabbed him to death.

Norman Mailer making his way to a parole hearing for Mr. Abbott,
accompanied by actors Susan Sarandon and Christopher Walken

One hopes that Messrs Buckley and Mailer were jolted into genuine contrition for the victims; and that each man sat down at his writing desk, and sent off a short note to the families -- along with a large check.

UPDATE: The words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died before turning forty (he was executed at Flossenburg concentration camp in April 1945):

"Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again... 
"Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: 'ye were bought at a price,' and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 25

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch 


"...with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience...we fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union."  
Abraham Lincoln establishing Thanksgiving as a national day of repentance and prayer.


PRIEST, JESUIT, LATIN AMERICAN: Understanding Pope Francis. It helps to read Spanish.

THE PERSON - WHERE THE WORD CAME FROM: Christians recruited the word "person" to describe the interpersonal nature of a Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That made the word much richer describing a much richer reality.  This divine vocabulary now helps us describe the phenomenon of man. Human persons are like the eukaryotic cells that make up multicellular organisms. We are like the three persons in the Trinitarian God. We are meant to live in a deep web of interlocking relations. At the deepest is the Mystical Body of Christ. The Nation and Marriage are two other sacred interpersonal covenants which demonstrate the communal nature of the person.

Roger Scruton is severely limited as a thinker because he cannot humble his mighty intellect to worship and submit to God. But he is intellectually honest enough to always lead his readers very close to the truth. From Roger Scruton's book On Human Nature:
The term persona comes to us from the Roman and Etruscan theater, where it denoted the mask worn by the actor and therefore the character whom the actor portrayed. The term was borrowed by Roman law to describe any entity that has judiciable rights and duties, including corporate entities and other more abstract constructions. It was borrowed again by early Christian theologians in order to explain the doctrine of the Trinity, by distinguishing the three persons of God. Discussions of the Trinity led to the view that personhood belongs to the essence of whatever possesses it, and the sixth-century philosopher Boethius took this as his cue in defining the essential nature of the human being.
CATHOLIC INTELLECTUALS AS NEOCONS: There is a certain kind of Catholic intellectual well tenured at secular universities who portrays himself as the "prophet" but does not really contend with the atheistic anti sexual anti culture of the Academy. A brutal takedown and rigorous analysis by Bruce Frohnen of the intellectual paucity of Princeton's Robert George.

THE REFORMATION 500 YEARS AGO: Luther split apart Christendom. He desacralized the Mass, the Monasteries and Mary.  The sacred liturgy, the priesthood and human nature were all deformed after the rebellion. Five Books reviewed by Frederick Blonigen tell this tale.

ON THE OTHER HAND: The translations of the Bible into German and English were followed centuries later by missionary movements translating the word of God for multiple cultures in their own tongue. How many men were brought closer to Christ because of these encounters with the Word? The great republican nations of the Netherlands and the United States are fruits of the preaching of the Reformation. So was much of the antislavery movement in the 19th century and the interracial Christian civil rights movement of the 20th century. The two great worldwide Christian movements of the 20th century are the very Catholic Second Vatican Council and the very Protestant Pentecostal outpouring. The price of the Reformation was paid most dearly in Germany. May a reformed Catholic Church and a repentant German nation find a way to redeem all the blood spilled in this ongoing conflict.

A SIGN OF THE SACRED: The black cassock of the priest.

LIVING AS A ZOMBIE: Why some men kill.

NOT LIVING AS A ZOMBIE: Fr. James Schall on sad songs.


YEMEN: The different interests in the war - good background and analysis.

IS THE SUNNI LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER: A hostage of the Saudis?  He is back in Lebanon but what really happened to the Sunni leader who was in a coalition with the Shiites of Hezbollah and the Maronite Christians of Lebanon.

 The Israelis are trusting a foreign prince and his wealth not the Lord. That has never worked out before.

ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER: We will not let Syria become a territory of Iran. The Palestinians are yesterday's sideshow. Today's question is: "Will the US join the Saudi war against Shiites and  Israel's war against Iran?

The murder of 250 Sufi Muslims at prayer in the Sinai (Nov 24, 2017) is a bloody reminder of the religious nature of the war in the Mideast. We continue to argue for a major reformulation of our allies and foes against the Salafist Wahhabi movement that treats Shiites and the more mystical Sufi Sunnis as apostates. This branding of fellow Muslims as apostates (and therefore deserving of death) is called takfir.  This purification movement within Islam is advocated by the Wahhabi clergy whose control of Mecca and Medina is protected by the Saudi royal family. There is no-one who knows anything about religion and the Mideast that believed this bombing was orchestrated by the Shiites of Iran. The "greatest worldwide state sponsors of terrorism" are those states that foster the Hanbali legal tradition of the salafists.


A SHORT HISTORY OF UNITARIANS AND: The desacralizing of the American elite. This story is the backdrop of the ideology that fed the American public education system from its East Coast progenitors. Then as now the religious progressivism of Men who were fleeing orthodox Christianity was taught to America's children as the American way.

NO ONE LIKE REGIME CHANGE BUT IF IT MEANS GOODBYE TO GRACE MUGABE - BRING ON THE MILITARY COUP: Mao's actress wife was part of the gang of four which afflicted China with the cultural revolution. Grace Mugabe was plucked from the steno typing pool and made President Mugabe's Royal Queen. She is no Evita. The Clintonian tactic of getting the Presidential office into the hands of the ambitious wife is not going to work in Zimbwabe.  

IS CHINA MEANT TO BE OUR CIVILIZATIONAL ENEMY? Pat Buchanan is not ready to sign on for that long cold war. Steve Bannon doesn't want war with Russia but he sounds like a China hawk.

HOW TO THINK ABOUT PUTIN: By Christopher Caldwell. The best single essay on understanding Putin and the fate of Russia after the Cold War.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 18

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

Proportion, Honor, and Outrage
An inversion ritual is a special event or time frame in which people are given license to violate normal customs of social order and propriety. Crowning the fool as king for a day or allowing the libations and license of Mardi Gras the day before the penitential season of Lent are inversion rituals.  The whole point of inversion rituals is that they are allowed and then discontinued as the social group returns to the customs necessary for communal living. From 1966-1976 Mao Tse Tung led the young people of China in an inversion ritual against elders, teachers and  authorities at every level of society.  The disastrous cultural revolution ended with the death of Mao, the jailing and suicide of his actress wife, the execution of the gang of four,  and the eventual "return of the adults." The  miraculous Chinese renewal of the last 40 years was the work of that noble maltreated generation.
  In America, we have not yet produced the religious or civic leaders who can rescind our own disastrous misadventure called the Sexual Revolution. An extended inversion ritual never gradually slides back into place. There are too many fools who have come to think they are kings. There must be a backflip-a complete reversal-a metanoia.  Those who held sway must be seen to quake. At first the words of restoration will sound jarring but the distortion of nature that took 50 years to disorient a people can be righted in five years as the forces of order assert their natural momentum.
God will not be mocked. The spiritual ecstasy and haze of drug taking cannot replace the shared attentive focus of people at prayer. Blowing one's  mind and taking a trip are disintegrating experiences. The integrating consciousness of honoring God's holy Name and submitting to the rule of His Fatherhood forms a spiritual foundation for community. Giving thanks to God for the sacred gift of life, men love one another by forming national bonds of protective brotherhood to guard the women and children within our territorial boundaries. Christian love among men forms a large disciplined body of brothers under the Father. This is how we overcome racism and social class by sharing a common identity as citizens-men who share a common duty toward a defined territory. Championing the public brotherhood of the nation is NOT racism. That is fake news. Disrespecting the nation and our flag is a residue of the inversion ritual. We honor our flag to declare our interracial covenant within well defined protected borders and we respect the flags and borders of others.  Public brotherhoods of men are always aided by women in special roles but all of our protective agencies have been  deeply disfigured by inserting women within the male ranks. Masculine love forms ordered public groups of shared duty. Male female love forms couples in the marriage covenant. To confuse the fundamental pattern of these relations is to undermine ordered love as the glue of social capital. The police and the military in a Christian republic have a fraternal relationship with the male citizens as fellow protectors. They are the officer corps of the male body politic of citizens. Young males recognize this clear masculine agreement as the group they must enter to become men. Male maturation is group socialization. Males are domesticated by marriage but that is not what perfects their masculine identity as a man among men. This socializing bond so necessary for our imprisoned, drug besot, unemployed and confused young males has been sacrificed to the sexual inversion ritual.
Motherhood is the protective duty of women. Just as baby boomer males like Bill Clinton said, "I won't be a soldier" so feminists like Hillary Clinton argued that women could treat a pregnancy as a career choice not a sacred gift and duty. That rejection of protective sex roles as the maturation of sexual identity was as much a part of the sexual revolution as divorcing sexual intercourse from the marriage act. In many ways the rejection of the link between protective duty and gender identity caused a more catastrophic sundering of social bonds than the sexual rutting.
What kind of culture has the 50 year inversion ritual left us? Taking God's name in vain is more common than public prayer. The created ecological order of masculine and feminine duties has been rejected. The domestic violence of mothers sacrificing their children is sanctioned by doctors and subsidized by government. The witchcraft of feminism still holds a spell over a whole people who have normalized what witches had always been burned for-the killing of children. Natural protective authorities in cities and states were emasculated in the name of civil rights. Elected State governments were prevented from penalizing sodomy as a crime against human nature. Soon they were mandated to recognize the abomination against brotherhood  as marriage. Tyranny never settles for tolerance. Nero made his horse a senator. The inversion ritual makes what is holy into the profane and what is an abomination into a requirement. If the outrage of the media and the mob toward past acts of heterosexual transgression or racial injustice seems excessive, it is a misdirected scream against far greater sins that have become commonplace. Burning the flag, paying women to strip in public, and desecrating God' name are all protected as acts of free speech from local and state communities who once used their legislative authority to outlaw such acts.  The emotional outrage of college age females and the attentive deficits of young males are fruits of living in a sustained inversion ritual. They have never known the calm that comes from complying with the sacred order and coming in contact with multiple interlocking institutions run by  beneficent authoritative adults.  Our public life is becoming emotionally unhinged because we have no hierarchy of goods. We have no tribal brotherhood of fathers to enforce the code that defines those goods.  We flattened the earth by evacuating the sacred. And now with no magnetic pole, the compass spins. We are outraged by sins of the past because we cannot articulate the present horror.          
We are so unhinged as a nation that while federal prosecutors are obsessing about "collusion with Russia"  the public and corporate officials who have colluded for decades with our true enemies in  Saudi Arabia are preparing to draw us into a war against Iran- the country that helped us defeat ISIS in Syria and helped protect the government we bled for in Iraq from its salafist enemies. A 32 year old Saudi prince is making his bid for power against his older more competent relatives by making war against Shiites throughout the Mideast (from Yemen to Bahrain to Lebanon to Iran) to win the favor of the Wahabbi clerics of his Kingdom. Killing Shiites is an acceptable form of religious genocide if you preface your victims' name with "Iranian backed." Even most Sunni governments  do not favor the brash course of Muhammed bin Salman. His goals do however coincide with Prime Minister Netanyahu's enmity against Iran and the resentment of US marines against Iran and Hezbollah for the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut 35 years ago.
We have to think clearly about religion and nations. The Saudis are the center of the worldwide Salafist terrorist movement, not Iran. The Bushes, Clintons and McCains for their separate reasons have always done the bidding of "our Saudi allies" even after 911.  We need true elder statesmen in the Senate to reevaluate our national interests as countrymen not party loyalists. Clarity in defining enemies in a religious war is very difficult. It is even harder in the midst of a domestic inversion ritual aimed at undermining the sexual protective roles of Christian culture.        


AMERICAN BISHOPSThe election by American bishops to decide who will lead their prolife committee was between Cardinal Cupich and Archbishop Naumann. The stakes were outlined in multiple pre election articles. It conjured the ghost of Joseph Bernadine. The victory of Archbishop Naumann should only remind us of the inadequacy of the "orthodox approach" vs the "seamless garment" approach. We must swim in deeper waters and speak much more fundamental truths.  A culture of life must be a culture of protection. Who will say we need to reassert our corporate Catholic identity by fostering the protective sex roles of civic military brotherhoods and baby protecting mothers. Who will say the brotherhood of fathers that is supposed to be the priesthood is deeply compromised by a blatantly homosexual subculture in alliance with the sexual revolutionaries of the urban Democratic Party. Both the Church and the party of the Catholic working man were betrayed by the careerist feminists, homosexuals and education/media lobby that became the new elite. A cultural renewal of mature Catholic character(masculine and feminine) is the necessary response to the confused personalities spawned by the sexual revolution. Properly ordered liturgy led by manly priests renewing their own sacred brotherhood of fathers to battle Satan will draw us into the bonds of love and communion. Before the Bishops can organize the laity into a true culture of life, they have to re-sacralize their own brotherhood. That would involve facing the horrific homosexual legacy of the Bernadine agenda. The Naumann-Cupich debate has not discussed that.

NAUMANN WINSThe split in the US Catholic Church is not between "Francis bishops" and old line culture warriors.

LITURGY AND PERSONALITY: A review of Hildebrand's masterpiece by Anthony Esolen.

CATHOLIC UNIVERSITIES - LOSING THEIR MISSION: Anne Hendershott is one of Catholic America's best historical sociologists. Her article at City Journal.


THE NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES IN SAUDI ARABIAThe factions at warA good summaryAnother good review of what happened Nov 4, 2017, in Saudi Arabia. Video analysis from the Caspian Report. Here is another video from the Caspian Report from two years ago on the change in royal succession - the event that would lead to November's purge.

Muhammed bin Salman has played to hardline clerics in his willingness to declare war against the Shiites in Yemen, the state of Iran and local Shiites as epitomized by the decapitation of Shi’ite leader Sheikh Al-Nimr. His isolation of Qatar is because Qatar will not join in his war against Iran. His arrest of clerics is because of their opposition to his Qatar policy. He is now adding Hezbollah-the Shiites of Lebanon to his enemy list.

When King Salman came to power: “Power was shared between three main clans: King Salman (and his beloved son Prince Mohammed); the son of Prince Nayef (the other Prince Mohammed), and finally the son of the dead king (Prince Miteb, commander of the National Guard).

Former Crown Prince Nayef was extremely popular in DC due to his counter-terrorism activities. His arrest earlier this year angered the CIA and factions of the House of Saud. Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, born in 1953, headed the Saudi Arabian National Guard, an elite internal security force originally based on traditional tribal units that was run by his father for five decades. As the Sandhurst-trained preferred son of the late King Abdullah, he was once thought to be a leading contender for the throne.His arrest is considered the most consequential of the latest purge because it removed a military source of opposition.

Prominent clerics have been arrested as well. Most of these disagreed with the war against fellow Salafists in Qatar which has stood against the Saudi/Israeli/American coalition targeting the Shiite State of Iran.

CLEARING THE DECKS IN LEBANON - THE STRANGE RESIGNATION OF THE SUNNI PRIME MINISTER OF LEBANONProbably not a coincidence he did it in Riyadh the night of many arrests and consolidation of power by bin Salman. An ethnic warning to Shiite Persian Iran - stop interfering in Arab affairs.

DON'T ATTACK IRAN UNLESS YOU ARE READY TO ATTACK HEZBOLLAH OF LEBANON (AND THEIR CHRISTIAN ALLIES, BUT THAT WILL NOT BE MENTIONED)The war drums begin against Lebanon. Will the next target of Saudi's bin Salman be in Lebanon? Maronite Patriarch's first visit to Saudi Arabia. Lebanese ask Saudis to give back their Prime Minister. Kushner, bin Salman, and Netanyahu - an anti-Iranian axis. Don't let a rogue prince lead our nation to war.

AFGHANISTAN - OPIUM PAYS FOR YOUNG MALE SOLDIERS AND THE AFGHAN-PAKISTAN PUSHTIN TRIBES REMAIN: The center of world opium trade funds the longest war in American history.

RAQQALetting some flee to end the battle.

TURKEY AND THE BREAK UP OF NATO: Some well told recent history by Stephen Kinzer about a military alliance that has lost its mission.


DOES IT MATTER THAT THESE SHOOTERS ARE ALL ATHEISTS? Does it matter? Devin Kelley was raised Christian but become rabidly anti Christian in the last year. His mother in law wasn't in the church but he hadn't exactly come with a single bullet for her. A local official said, "he came with a mission." A man who played dead and survived said Kelley's only words during the shooting were "Everybody die,". The Columbine killer, Eric Harris, wore a natural selection t shirt to the school massacre after writing in journals that he would like to create a game in which the strong live and the weak die. Another entry observed humans are nothing but atoms. Atheism can be tied to a movement and ideology like Darwinism or Marxism. Other times it expresses itself as Sartre said, "Hell is other people." Atheism was once lionized as a way of life for honest intellectuals. It was the official ideology of the Communist states of the twentieth century. The best article on the shooting WAS WRITTEN  by Regis Nichol. The killer was a zombie.

LEE HARVEY OSWALD WAS A MILITANT ATHEIST AS WELL: The "lone gunman" was judged by liberal experts as an example of "violence in America"(especially in the South)" . Countless editorials about why "we" are so violent missed the point that a Catholic warrior president was shot by an atheist Marxist in the midst of the great spiritual battle of that age. Maybe all that conspiracy ink has been shed because we never really did properly explain which world movements collided that day in Dallas.

DOES IT MATTER THAT COMMUNISM IS AN ATHEIST MOVEMENT DRENCHED IN BLOOD WINKED AT BY MEDIA EXCUSED BY THE ACADEMY AND ENDORSED BY UNCLE BERNIE? "25% of Americans think more people died under George Bush than Joseph Stalin." The Crimes of Communism by Paul Kengor.


HATING WOMEN - IT'S IN THE LEFTIST DNA: Elise Erhard explains at Crisis magazine. Reckoning with Bill Clinton - a feminist recants.




ARGENTINA: Mission - feed the world.

ROD DREHER AT AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE ON WHY LIBERALISM FAILED - BY PATRICK DEENAN OF NOTRE DAME: The heart of Deneen’s book is a chapter discussing liberalism as “anticulture.” Drawing a contrast between the political theory that emerged in classical culture, and that prevailed in some form in the West until the Renaissance ushered in the modern era, Deneen shows that liberalism depends on a fundamentally different anthropology. To put it crudely, premodern political thought was based on the belief that man could only be fully human if he learned how to restrain his base passions so that he could grow in virtue. Modern man — “modern” meaning from Machiavelli to the present day — believed, and believes, that man is fully human when he is free to make his own destiny, unencumbered by any unchosen obligations.

Deneen says that liberalism is a “comprehensive effort to displace cultural forms as the ground condition of liberal liberty.” He talks about how Tocqueville worried that people within liberal democracies would eventually be overcome by their individuality that they would forget that they had any obligations to the past or to the future. In time, liberalism might cause people to lose the capacity for self-governance, because they will have become cut off from a sense of being embedded within a culture, a tradition, a past, a future, or anything beyond themselves. In fact, they have to be, if they’re going to become a fully self-determined individual. This is why Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is the natural religion for an advanced liberal society. If you’re going to have a religion, it needs to be one that affirms the path one has chosen for oneself, and that buffers the anxieties of living without ultimate meaning and direction.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Reviewing the Reformation: Five New Books with Frederick Blonigen

      October 31, 2017, the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation has generated a plethora of books about Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Some of these books portray Luther as the great champion of Christian freedom; others present him as the arch heretic who led the rebellion against the Catholic Church that not only caused a massive rupture in Christendom but planted the seeds of the eventual secularization of the West. Speaking from the Catholic perspective, Gerhard Cardinal Muller, former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said in a recent book entitled The Cardinal Muller Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church, “Strictly speaking, we Catholics do not have any reason to celebrate October 31, 1517, the date that is considered to be the beginning of the Reformation that led to the rupture in western Christianity. If we are convinced that revelation has been preserved, in its entirety and unchanged, through Scripture and tradition in the doctrine of the faith, in the sacraments, in the hierarchic constitution of the Church by divine right, founded on the sacrament of holy orders, we cannot accept that there are sufficient reasons to separate from the Church.” In order to better understand Luther and the Protestant Reformation and the momentous effect this event has had on the course of Western history right down to the present age, I will recommend a number of recent and classic books on the subject.

     Joseph Pearce, the doyen of Catholic biographers, has authored highly acclaimed biographies of G.K.Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, J.R.R.Tolkien, C.S.Lewis, and many others. In his most recent book, Heroes of the Catholic Reformation: Saints Who Renewed the Church, Pearce has written a beautiful and inspiring work about the great saints of the Catholic Counter Reformation. He begins his book by clarifying the term “Reformation”: “One of the biggest mistakes that a student of history can make is to confuse the so-called English ‘Reformation’ with its namesake on the continent. Whereas the Protestant Reformation in Europe was animated by the genuine theological differences that separated those who followed Luther or Calvin from those who accepted the apostolic and ecclesial authority of Catholicism, the so-called ‘Reformation’ in England was animated solely by the political ambitions and lustful appetites of the king.” The central thesis of Pearce’s book is that the Protestant Reformation is a misnomer, for it was not a reform but a revolution that rejected the authority of the Church, promulgated many false doctrines, and caused a massive division among Christians. The true reform of the Church, contends Pearce, had already begun before Luther’s rebellion and continued in response to the Protestant Revolt. The book consists of short biographies of many of the major and some of the minor heroes and heroines of this historic period. There are portraits of the English martyrs Thomas More, John Fisher, Edmund Campion, Robert Southwell, and Margaret Clitherow. There are illuminating essays on the remarkable priest St. Philip Neri, the outstanding bishop Charles Borromeo and the wise and saintly Pope St. Pius V. And there are splendid portraits of the three of the most important Spanish Counter Reformation saints: St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, the two great Carmelite reformers and mystics. At a time when the Catholic Church desperately needed strong witnesses to the faith, God called forth these amazing men and women, true models of holiness, to renew and reform the Church.
John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila

     A unique historical survey that I would enthusiastically recommend is Benjamin Wiker’s The Reformation 500 Years Later: 12 Things You Need to Know. The author begins his book by announcing that after five hundred years the Reformation is coming to an end because Christians today are forced to focus on what unites us in light of the growing persecution of all Christians by the militantly secular culture of the West and the anti-Christian culture of Islam. The purpose of this enlightening book is to help the reader understand those historical factors that led to the Protestant Reformation: factors such as the temporal rule of the papal states and the papal corruption that ensued. Other events included the weakening of the papacy when popes abandoned Rome and lived at Avignon in southern France from 1305 to 1377. That was followed by the approximately 40 year Western Schism when three cardinals all claimed to be the legitimate pope. Wiker highlights the “bad popes”, especially that particular brand of corruption associated with the Renaissance.  He sets the ecclesial crisis within several historical movements of the day. There were the political leaders who were greatly enriched by the looting of Catholic monasteries and convents. There was the impact of the Islamic threat in Europe, the rise of atheism in the Renaissance, the important role played by the printing press, and the devastating effect of the Thirty Years War. It is Wiker’s intention that a deeper understanding of the historical background will allow us to see those old foes of Christianity in a contemporary light. Western secularism and radical Islam are still here.

     Luther and His Progeny: 500 Years of Protestantism and Its Consequences for Church, State, and Society is edited by historian John C. Rao. This work is a collection of essays from a group of international scholars.  It surveys the damage caused by Luther and his revolt on every aspect of civilization: politics, economics, education, and society in general. Unlike Wiker’s book which is an attempt to find common ground between Catholics and Protestants, these essays are without exception polemical, explaining (and quite  accurately) just how devastating the heretical views of Luther were in their destructive impact on the Church and society. Of the twelve essays in this book the three most impressive are: Thomas Stark’s :"Man as a Victim of a Divine Tyrant: Luther’s Theology of a Self-Contradicting God”; John C.Rao’s “A Necessary Reform, Depraved From Birth”; and Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro- Carambula’s “Negative Liberty, Protestantism, and the War on Nature." 
Here is the historian Rao on the intertwined defects of Luther's anthropology and ecclesiology.  “From the total depravity of men Luther deduced the necessity of viewing the church not as the visible Body of Christ, hierarchically organized , with a teaching and sacramental life guided by the clergy in aid of people seeking sanctity. The church, for him, was only a simple collection of baptized individuals ...who had to place all of their hope in an extrinsic and unmerited justification, offered from the pure will and grace of God, without the participation of men, who remained sinners even in Heaven itself. As a result, the international Mystical Body of Christ, with its cycle of penances, indulgences, and good works, became for him an enormous hoax of the devil.”
For philosopher Thomas Stark, it is Luther's confusion about sin, agency, and human nature that divorces him from the Christian tradition.  "What, then, is the very foundation of Luther’s thought? The whole theology of Martin Luther centers on sin and the possibility of justification of the sinner before God. However, an analysis of Luther’s concept of sin leads to the recognition that Luther—in contrast to the entire ecclesial teaching of tradition—does not base sin on an abuse of human freedom, because Luther denies freedom of the human will as such. The denial of human freedom is at the very heart of Luther’s anthropology....The second pillar of Luther’s anthropology, one that complements the complete denial of the freedom of the will: the doctrine of the total corruption of human nature. Luther sees a ‘deep crookedness and depravity and wickedness in our nature: yes, it is in itself a wounded nature, completely leavened by malice.’ The real reason for the corruption and wickedness of human nature is , according to Luther, however, not founded upon the original sin of Adam. Rather, the root cause for the depravity and sinfulness of man for Luther is the physical nature of man. In his anthropology Luther identifies the physical nature of man totally with that aspect of human corporeality that allows man to be inclined to sin, which St.Paul calls “the flesh” and which Luther calls ‘the most unsubstantial’ and ‘least valuable part’ of man.”


     To mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, a new English translation of Paul Hacker’s seminal work, (originally published in German in 1966) Faith in Luther: Martin Luther and the Origin of Anthropocentric Religion has recently been reprinted with a Preface by Joseph Ratzinger. Hacker, a world renowned scholar, especially in the disciplines of philology and linguistics, and a professor at both the University of Bonn and the University of Munster, was raised Lutheran but after an intense immersion in the writings of Martin Luther and an equally intense study of the Church Fathers entered into full communion with the Catholic Church in 1962. Hacker’s book on Luther’s theological concept of faith remains one of the most scholarly critiques of Luther’s errant view of faith ever written and a very important contribution to true ecumenism. The twin pillars of the Protestant Reformation were “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone) and “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone). Ironically, neither of these two pillars are biblical, but rather anti-biblical. Hacker’s emphasis is on the second pillar. And in a very carefully researched work Hacker demonstrates convincingly that Luther’s understanding of faith was a distortion of Scripture and, in effect, the foundational idea that started a new religion and launched a great split in the religion of western Christendom. Not only did Luther in his German translation of the New Testament add the word “alone” to Romans 3:28, a word not in the original Greek, but he invented his own concept of faith: what Hacker calls “reflexive faith”.  Hacker explains the traditional Catholic view of faith: “Pure Christian faith is an act of obedient self-donation. The believer surrenders himself to the transcendent God in the assent of adoration. The more his faith becomes mature through loving cooperation with God’s grace, the less is it possible for him to turn his attention back to himself within the act of faith.” But, says Hacker, Luther’s “reflexive faith, on the other directed to the Divine Person of Christ, but it is intended to recoil on the believer’s ego in order to evoke in him a consciousness of consolation and salvation.” It is not difficult to see in Luther’s new concept of faith the origins of subjective Christianity: each person will decide for himself what Christianity means. The over 40,000 Protestant denominations today should not be a surprise given the distorted view of faith espoused by Luther 500 years ago.

     Perhaps the single most impressive new book on Luther and the Reformation to appear this year is Brad Gregory’s Rebel in the Ranks: Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Conflicts That Continue to Shape Our World. Gregory, a professor of European History at the University of Notre Dame, is one of today’s finest historians on the period of the Reformation and Counter Reformation and the author of what is, I think, the single best book on this period: his magisterial 2012 work, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society. In this new work, Professor Gregory’s principal thesis is that while Luther did not originally intend to start a revolution that is what he caused and that the Reformation still matters greatly if we are to understand the modern world. To quote Gregory, ”Regardless of our religious views, the Reformation remains important because we can’t understand secular and religious ideas and institutions today without it. What happened five centuries ago affects us today. If we want to know why the early twenty-first century is the way it is—and how it got this way—we need to understand the Reformation and its impact. The Reformation ended the Middle Ages and made the modern world—but not in any simple or straightforward way.” As Gregory makes clear, Luther, as well as Calvin and the other Reformers, would be horrified by the long-term consequences of the Reformation he set in motion 500 hundred years ago. Though unintended, the reform he started quickly morphed into an all out revolt against the papacy and the Catholic Church. The long term consequence of the Reformation was to transform Europe from a continent where religion was the center of life to the situation today where public life has been all but totally secularized and religion has been relegated to each individual’s private world view. How and why this secularization took place since and because of the Reformation is the central theme of Gregory’s new work. If I could recommend just one new book on Luther and the Reformation it would be Gregory’s. His scholarship is comprehensive, his research is meticulous, and he writes with great lucidity and verve.

     In addition to these newer books, I would also encourage reading or rereading some of the classics on this important historical period. They include Hilaire Belloc’s two books: How the Reformation Happened and Characters of the Reformation; Fr. Louis Bouyer’s The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism; and Erik Erikson’s famous psychoanalytic study Young Man Luther. All of these works are engaging and enlightening and provide a deeper and richer understanding of the Reformation and its consequences.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Russian people begin returning to Holy Mother Church

Take a look at this half-hour documentary.
Another good introduction to Orthodoxy for Americans is the work of Fr. Alexander Schmemann.

Fulton Sheen wrote:
"The modern world, which denies personal guilt and admits only social crimes, which has no place for personal repentance but only public reforms, has divorced Christ from His Cross... It is our belief that Russia will find the Christ before the western world unites Christ with His Redemptive Cross."

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 11

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


Ninety-nine years ago on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month an Armistice (separation of armies and laying down of arms) ended World War One. The war began with the assassination of an Austrian archduke by a Serbian nationalist protesting an empire. By the end of the war, four empires had disintegrated. The Romanovs of Russia, the Hapsburgs of Austro-Hungary, the Hohenzollerns of Germany and the Ottomans were finished. The Polish nation reappeared on the map and the commitment to the self determination of nations thrilled colonized peoples from Africa to Asia. It was a "Wilsonian moment" of anti colonial nationalism for Egyptians under British rule, for Vietnamese under the French and for Koreans under the Japanese. The Soviet Empire was soiling its swaddling clothes while the British and French empires were enjoying their final century of spoils in Africa and Asia. Before China and Korea could function again as nations they would have to expel the emerging Japanese empire. That didn't happen until the end of World War Two. The liberators fought a civil war in China with the Communist Party under Mao Tse Tung emerging as victors in May 1949. Chiang Kai Shek and the Chinese Nationalists established a state  in Taiwan (the Japanese had ruled the island from 1895-1945 ).

The Korean people were never unified as Russian and American liberators split military control of the country in 1945. The Russians installed Kim Il Sung (1912-1994)  in their northern area of control. He was the grandfather of present supreme leader 35 yo Kim Jong-un, the second son of Kim Jong-il (1941-2011). The Americans installed Syngman Rhee (1875-1965) who ruled South Korea until 1960.  Kim Il Sung almost unified the Peninsula with his invasion of the South in June 1950. He was a brutal but competent nationalist dictator who used both Russian and Chinese support to consolidate his rule. The Chinese offensive in November 1950 saved him from defeat after the American counterattack (Inchon September 1950) drove back the North Koreans to their Yalu river border with China. The Korean War ended in 1953 where it began with the country split at the 38th parallel. 37,000 Americans, over two million Koreans and 600,000 Chinese were killed. Major population centers of the North were leveled by bombing.  Seoul in the South was captured twice.

After World War One, Woodrow Wilson had offered the war weary world of crumbling empires  a vision of a fraternity of nations determining their own fates. He said later he had no idea how many different peoples would hear that call. National self determination (not liberal democracy!) was central as well to FDR's War goals outlined in the Atlantic Charter in 1941. Throughout Asia, the nationalist call has been heeded. The emergence of economic nation states and strong national leaders is the ascendant political form throughout the East. (President Trump has an affinity with Modi of India, Abe of Japan and Xi Jinping of China that dwarfs his ties with Theresa May of Britain or Angela Merkel of German Europe. So much for "white nationalism"). Communist ideology is dead even if communist parties are continuing instruments of governance. Neither Capitalism nor Communism proved as powerful a glue as that biblical mandate of law, land and leader forming a people into a nation.

The Korean people remain divided a century later.  South Korea (pop: 50 mill) is one of Asia's most Christian cultures. North Korea (pop: 25mill) has a unique communal religion/ideology called Juche. Religious sentiment may become a guiding impetus for the restoration of national community.  The new South Korean President Moon Jae-in is a practicing Catholic. He was a candidate of national reconciliation which he will need to propose in the Confucian language of Juche.  The devastating loss of life and infrastructure that the Korean people paid during the Korean War was never repaid with national unity. Their continued division as a nation is a fundamental injustice which must not be lost in the fog of nuclear fears. Germany, Vietnam and China are reunited. Japan was never sundered. Korea-the Hermit Empire-- is still split along a line of latitude  drawn 80 years ago in the midst of great power conflicts that first enslaved and then divided a great nation.          


WHO WON THE REFORMATION? Russ Douthat, the NYTimes house Catholic helps us think about these last 500 years. He is best at debunking the standard secular tale.


US BISHOPS REQUEST HEAVYWEIGHT ADVISOR TO RESIGNTheologian Thomas Weinandy made public his highly critical letter to Pope Francis.   Was he right about a climate of fear?

FATHER ARNE PANULA (d 2017)“The lack of transcendence in secularism is its greatest weakness, alongside its carnality and its hubris of man-as-god. It fails to satisfy what’s deepest in us.”



THE REAL COLLUSION - US AND SAUDIS AND WAHHABISM: One of the best histories of the alliance which makes our war on terror incoherent, contradictory, and unwinnable. The author is a man of the left but has been given space on a website called The American Conservative. The truth shall set us free.

THE CROWN PRINCE RIDDING HIS OPPONENTS: Bruce Reidel is a longtime diplomat and student of Saudi Arabia. He says the most important man removed in the bin Salman purge is:
"Minister of National Guard Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, the favorite son of the late King Abdullah, is intended to remove a potential powerful rival of his own favorite son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Mutaib's ouster is the most crucial part of a large-scale wave of arrests in the kingdom that suggests deep opposition to the young prince's ambitions.

The Saudi Arabian National Guard was the creation of King Abdullah in the 1950s and 1960s. It has been the power center for the Abdullah wing of the family and the Shammar tribe for over a half-century. The National Guard was originally designed to be a counter-coup force to defend the royal family from revolutionary plots in the regular army. It is deployed in the capital and holy cities as well as along the borders. It was a crucial player in the forced abdication of King Saud in 1964 that brought Faisal to the throne, and it bore the brunt of the fighting for the recovery of the holy mosque in Mecca from religious extremists in 1979."
VOX explains the bin Salman purge.


U.A.E. BUYS A THINK TANK: Michelle Flournoy was expected to be Hillary Clinton's Secretary of Defense. The UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba and the Saudi Crown Prince have been cultivating America's think tanks and foreign policy elite for a while. This is why the US falsely targets Iran instead of the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Funny how feminist careerism plays the useful idiot in these international wars.

The Crown Prince continues to consolidate power. This time it is an anti-corruption campaign. The US is supporting a regime more and more isolated from its own people, as well as other Sunni allies not to mention Shiites of the Mideast. This is not a reform movement. (NOTE: The best source of news on Saudi, UAE, Israel collusion is increasingly from left wing outlets). Both Israel and the US are tied to a young leader in the Mideast whose penchant for warmaking and expulsion of rivals  has led to an isolation that cannot end well - for him or his allies.

THE SUNNI MEETING TO EXPEL WAHHABISM - PLAYING THE CHECHNYA CARDSeptember 2016 meeting provides a theological basis for the coalition needed. Sunnis disavowing the theological violence of Salafists is the necessary distinction.   Vladimir Putin understands this  if the US doesn't. Another description of this meeting. One Hundred Sunni scholars say the Wahhabi are not Sunni.

THE OTHER COLLUSION: US and Israel policy are not always the same. To point out that there are many Jewish intellectuals who use their positions in media and the universities to advocate Israeli policy which is sometimes against US interests is neither racist nor anti-Semitic. The American Conservative magazine has often been a voice against the Jewish neoconservative influences at the Weekly Standard, Commentary, the National Review and Fox News. The founding of the American Conservative was built around the silencing of Pat Buchanan in other publications because he saw the Iraq war as the implementation of Likkud policy from Israel rather than in American interests. The magazine editor Robert Merry recently fired a contributor Philip Geraldi for his suggestions regarding Jewish policy makers. I (Dr. Pence) think the editor, Merry, has a pretty good case that Geraldi's argument "crossed a line" deserving separation from the magazine. It remains true though that our inability to speak about the influences of Saudi Arabia and Israel in confusing our foreign policy has cost many American and Arab lives. It is leading us now  to the precipice of war against Iran.  Giraldi's explanation of the situation. Giraldi's offending article - America's Jews are driving America's Wars.

OSAMA BIN LADEN AND IRAN: The evidence is very sketchy but is it possible that a few quotes are going to be used to keep building case against Iran as the major source of terrorism in the world? The fact is that the goals of the Salafist Saudi Sunnis led by Osama bin Laden and the Shiite strategy of Iran were often at distinct cross purposes. It is also true that Osama bin Laden was willing to work with all Muslims including Shiites in the war against the larger "Satans" - the US and Israel. This release of documents is feeling less like transparency and more like cherry picking to link the name bin Laden to the country of Iran.  One significant difference between ISIS and the bin Laden movement is that ISIS made Shiites a principal enemy in destabilizing the Iraq government.

CHARLIE ROSE WITH THE EMIR OF QATAROctober 2017 interview with the 37 year old emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani. The Crown Prince (Muhammed bin Salman) of Saudi Arabia has initiated a devastating blockade against this tiny neighbor. All of the Qatar peninsula land border is with Saudi Arabia. 90% of their food and medicine came by land. Qatar is the richest country in the world by GDP. They are also Wahhabis but tend to support popular movements against monarchies. They took in the US Air Force when the Saudis bent to salafist pressure to evict the Crusader infidels. Qatar allows Christian worship. They share commercial relations with Iran. In the interview, the emir noted that it was Iran who fed their people after the unexpected blockade emptied their food shelves. The Saudis call this playing both sides in the fight against terrorism. Qatar is owner of the most exuberant form of freedom of the press in the Mideast called Al Jazeera. The Saudis want this shut down. Qatar has 2.2 million inhabitants but only 300,000 citizens. They will be home to the 2022 World Soccer Championship. A huge stadium for the event is being built by foreign workers who do almost all of the physical labor in the country.  A good way to understand the country is to look at these maps and short descriptions comparing the Sunni Gulf States.

HEZBOLLAHAn explanation.

UZBEKISTAN AND TERRORISTS. THE HOMELAND OF SAYFULLO SAIPOVA profile of a Muslim majority country run by adamant secularists. Uzbekistan has 32 million people, 81% Uzbek ethnicity, 21 million speaking Uzbek. 5% are ethnic Russians and Orthodox. The land was part of Czarist Russia or the Soviet Union for two centuries. The first post-Soviet leader was militantly secular, greatly restricting religious customs. Their legal tradition is the Hannafi school (to be distinguished from the Salafist Hanbali school). This is the home of the man who in the name of ISIS  killed eight people in New York City  by driving them down with a rental truck.


THE GOOD GUNMANHe tells his rifle story. God bless him. From the Texas Church shooting.

MICHAEL ORESKES EDITORIAL DIRECTOR OF NPR HAS BEEN A SERIAL SEXUAL HARASSER. AT NPR THIS IS NOT NEWS: The feminist OWN (old woman's network) has always proudly contrasted the face of their kind of female dominance vs. the blond foxes of Fox News. Judy Woodruff is the 70 year old wife of fellow liberal journalist Albert Hunt. Solid power couples with different last names and never a hint of sexual allure from Mrs W. But behind the scenes, same old Hollywood script - a male predator with excellent feminist credentials and plenty of power in career advancement is a sicko with the young ladies... and all the older well placed feminists know about it.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Thomas Frank of the Guardian describes a "certain kind of liberalism." Insights on the left from the left.

INCEST - COSMOPOLITAN IS FOR IT: This article is interesting for an inclusion of the arguments that Thomas Aquinas made against the most fundamental perversion. Christians should never discuss sodomy as a type of marriage but as a subset of incest.


THE AMERICAN SOUL AND RACEMyron Magnet reviews Reckoning with Race by Gene Dattel. from the review:
Dattel quotes Malcolm X, who noticed how much the change in elite white attitudes was harming blacks as early as 1963, just as the new white liberal worldview had begun “lowering the ‘moral standards’ of the black masses,” as Dattel paraphrases Malcolm. “Our young girls, our daughters, our baby sisters become unwed mothers before they are hardly teens,” Malcolm lamented. “And our community has tens of thousands of little babies who have no father to act as their provider and protector.”


AMERICA: We got the pluribuswhere is the unum? President Eisenhower on why he hung a picture of Robert E. Lee in the White House and Judge Clarence Thomas on the sundering of our nation.

JOSEPH EPSTEIN ON LEON WIESELTIER: An amazing biographic tale of the intersecting world of the Jewish left and right atheist intellectuals by one of America's best writers.

HOW HILLARY CLINTON TOOK OVER THE DNC AND FROZE OUT BERNIE SANDERSThe tale is told by long term Democrat Donna Brazille reported by Politico.


VICTOR ORBAN, PRESIDENT OF HUNGARY SPEECH ON CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION: In the name of liberal democracy, Christianity and the nations are being attacked. From Orban's talk:
"For wherever we may live around the world – whether we’re Roman Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians or Copts – we are members of a common body, and of a single, diverse and large community. Our mission is to preserve and protect this community. This responsibility requires us, first of all, to liberate public discourse about the current state of affairs from the shackles of political correctness and human rights incantations which conflate everything with everything else. We are duty-bound to use straightforward language in describing the events that are taking place around us, and to identify the dangers that threaten us. The truth always begins with the statement of facts".
THE WATCHMEN - ORBAN EXPLAINS WHY HUNGARY IS HOSTING CONFERENCE ON CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION: "We have come from different countries, yet there’s something that links us – the leaders of Christian communities and Christian politicians. We call this the responsibility of the watchman. In the Book of Ezekiel we read that if a watchman sees the enemy approaching and does not sound the alarm, the Lord will hold that watchman accountable for the deaths of those killed as a result of his inaction."

RUSSIA ONE HUNDRED YEARS LATER: In Soviet times, November 7 was an annual national holiday celebrating the Bolsheveik revolution. . But Russian President Vladimir Putin, the longest-serving Russian leader since Stalin, is not publicly commemorating the centennial. Instead, the former KGB agent unveiled a monument last week to the victims of the Great Terror of 1937-38, during which hundreds of thousands of falsely accused “enemies of the people” were rounded up and executed or sent to prison camps.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 4

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

Here is the best map depiction of control on the ground in Iraq and Syria as ISIS is being expelled.
President Trump will visit five Asian nations in the next two weeks: China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines. These are the surrounding nations of the East and South China Sea. Here is a map and summary of the dispute there. The willingness of the United States to allow China its sphere of influence in East Asia is the backdrop of the Korean conflict and one of the most important strategic questions of American foreign policy. After World War Two, the nations of Europe developed(or had imposed) two competing federations at the expense of national identities. That is now being reformulated. The Asian countries took a very different direction which Henry Kissinger emphasized in his books on China and World Order. They developed very strong nation states within which different versions of markets have emerged. The model for this was Singapore led by possibly the most important international relations thinker of the 20th century: Lee Kuan Yew. Even if the Communist Party remains as their administrative apparatus, it is a combination of nationalism and free markets that dominates in both China and Vietnam. Religion is a missing or submerged element as these countries search for their national souls ( see the Mystical Body of Japan and Finding the Elder Brother in China)  President Trump will find in the Asian nationalists (especially Xi Jinping of China, Abe of Japan, and Duterte of the Philippines) more kindred spirits than the female leaders of Germany and Sweden singing their diversity songs of the weakening atheist white west. President Trump will relate much better to Asian strong men than western eunuchs. Territorial nationalism is not a code word for racism-it is the communal form of historical maturation for humanity. Christianity has beget most of the nations and will baptize many others. President Trump is an enigma to the educated elites of America's East and West Coasts but he rides the crests of history and nature in the Pacific.          


RETHINKING EUROPE: At the Vatican, a conference is planned.   Let us hope the Vatican planners of that conference listen to this group of thinkers who offer a compelling vision of Europe based on Christianity, the nations, and marriage.  The Paris Statement - A Europe we Can Believe In. This cultural battle to determine the basis of public social life should not be reduced to an argument of pagan nationalists vs. atheist bureaucrats. The banner of the nation should be flown by Christians who see the political form of the nation within the ecclesial matrix of Christianity. This is the true genius of Christian Europe. They were real nations communicating (and often warring) within a larger shared culture. Christian Europe is not the Enlightenment's prodigy. Christian Europe is much older than the Enlightenment project.  The Modern West which bequeathed the Darwinism of Hitler, the scientific atheism of the Soviet Union and the atheistic sexual revolution of our present era is a tired and dying project. A Christian Europe of nations could play a huge role in harmonizing the emerging nations of global Christianity. A Christian Europe has a place for Orthodox Russia. It has as much a role for Hungary as Denmark. But a Europe with no God and no nations will find itself (as the Marxists used to say) in the dustbin of history. It is a significant problem that many of the Catholic intellectuals around the Vatican are neither exuberant in their defense of Christian nations nor steadfast in their insistence on the ordering principle of heterosexuality. These deficits are related. Cardinal Sarah is a notable exception to the usual bromides. We should also note while Pope Francis doesn't agree with Cardinal Sarah about centralizing liturgical translations, the two men are much more in agreement about the demonic nature of gender ideology and the colonizing hyper individualism of the rich North against traditional mores in the global South.

Cardinal Sarah on Europe. From his talk in Poland:
“The ideology of liberal individualism promotes a mixing that is designed to erode the natural borders of homelands and cultures, and leads to a post-national and one-dimensional world where the only things that matter are consumption and production.” Cardinal Sarah said that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when many nations regained their freedom and democracy, it seemed that a new, positive period had begun for Europe. However, the European Union decided not to revert to the continent’s Christian roots, but instead began to build its institutions on abstractions such as the free market, equality of individuals, and individualist human rights. That was a mistake, Cardinal Sarah said, because all laws should be based on the concept of human dignity, which can only come from God.
VATICAN AND THE NATIONS: Recognizing Palestine. There seems to be a deep confusion in the Vatican about the authority of nation states - except for the one that doesn't really exist. Nations are real spiritual organisms. They are not "imagined communities." Italy is a real nation though it took the Vatican a long time to recognize it. Israel is a real nation and the Vatican as a state was slow to that recognition. Palestine is not a nation but it is "recognized". Let us say this crucial biblical category of the nation has not been a strong suit over this last  century for Vatican diplomats.  Many Vatican intellectuals are arguing against the legitimate authority of the State in both the exercise of war and capital punishment. There has been little support for a deeper more fraternal understanding of national communities. This lack of a communal defense of the polity and nation is a huge defect in Catholic intellectual life. It is deeply related to the inability of most clerics to defend the patriarchal fraternity of the episcopacy/priesthood as the foundation stones of the Apostolic Church.

LITURGY AND AUTHORITY: A Catholic discussion of liturgical reform and modern man from  Dom Alcuin Reid.

THE LUTHERANS REACHED OUT TO THE ORTHODOX: Luther and the Reformation. Several books reviewed at Claremont by Algis Valiunis An interesting story of a dialogue between Lutherans and Orthodox early in the Reformation.

LITURGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY: Body, Soul and Spirit - essay by David Clayton at his very beautiful site Claritas: The Journal for Catholic Culture and Arts.

FIVE STRATEGIES IN EVANGELIZATION: Bishop Robert Barron gives First Things magazine annual Erasmus Lecture. His five strategies in evangelization: A) Lead with Beauty (the third transcendental with The Good and The True) B) Don't dumb down Christianity and don't think kids can't handle substance. Answer scientism with religion. Most "nones" believe that science has disproved religion. The development of the sciences occurs in the context of religion which renders the material world as something to be studied and mastered not worshiped. The Intelligent Creator is to be worshiped. The world is intelligible but not to be worshiped. C)Tell the Good News in terms of the Biblical story from Adam the Priest and King through Israel - the chosen people - to the fulfillment in the Priest-King Jesus. Priest, liturgy, temple and mission from Adam through the chosen People to Christ and the Eucharist. D) A proper theology of God is the Burning Bush--not one being among all beings. Do not be univocal in talking about God. (This is the one part of the talk I didn't understand. It seemed a perfect place to return to the Fatherhood of God and the filial priesthood of Jesus and his apostolic church. Sexual clarity(using masculine and feminine terminology) has never been a strong part of the Bishop Baron arsenal). Finally E) Be charitable, be a witness of love and mercy, they shall know us by our love. A terrific talk - there are no hints here of retreat or insecurity or being in a post Christian age. There are a lot of young unbelievers to teach and the Bishop has given a good blueprint to teach them.


THE WAR AGAINST SYRIA: Qatar starts telling what really happened. They admit they were part of "terrorism" against Assad but remind us that they were accompanied by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Is it the Shiites or Saudi salafists who are the real sponsors of terrorism. We asked this in 2015.


SAUDI PRINCE SAYS HE WILL RETURN SAUDI ARABIA TO MODERATE ISLAM: "30 years ago we reacted to Iranian revolution and didn't know what to do." This is a stunning rewrite of Islamic history. The crucial event in 1979 for Saudi Arabia was not the Iranian revolution but the Salafist take over of Mecca. Mohammed bin Salman has more Shiite blood on his hands than any three Saudi rulers in these previous thirty years. Will the religiously illiterate journalists allow this story to be so told? Our take.

We are fighting the wrong forces in Yemen. 
A geographical and historical background of Yemen.


THE CLINTONS URANIUM AND RUSSIA: This is an early New York Times story from April 2015. It is all here but... during the election of 2016 this excellent reporting had no legs. There may be enough Democrats and mainstream media reporters who want to see the Clintons go away that this particular tale of collusion will gain some traction. The details of this story do not lead to "selling 20% our uranium" as much as crony capitalism between the Clintons and rich donors.

JOHN MCCAIN AND THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Andrew Bacevich dissects the NY Times columns offered by these two men both "going off the deep end" about the Trump presidency.

NEOCONS AND DNC AFTER THE PRESIDENT: The dossier on Trump and origins of the Trump Russia collusion story. They all want to get him. William Kristol of the Weekly Standard founded the journal of his son-in-law Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon. They are the originators of the dossier against Donald Trump later picked up by the much larger cash cows of the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's opposition research team. The "Never Trump" neocons felt Trump was not interventionist enough in foreign policy and opposed him from the beginning 'from the right.". They are at the center of the secular Jewish wing of neoconservatives who came from the incestuous world of East Coast Jewish atheist intellectuals involved with leftist organizations until their "move to the right." Weekly Standard writers are regulars on Fox News opinion shows and have not emphasized this aspect of the dossier. Fusion GPS - the dossier and links to mainstream media.


HOLLYWOOD HASN'T REALLY TOLD ITS STORY YET ON THE ABUSE OF YOUNG MALES: Kevin Spacey, the homosexual Hollywood predator network and the eerie resemblance to the Catholic clergy: a good bit of linkage by Rod Dreher. AoA on the crimes of the sexual left from Weinstein to Jesuit James Martin.

OLD WHITE RICH MALES TRIED TO PULL A HARVEY WEINSTEIN: How the NFL publicity machine tried to re-brand America's most masculine sport as a champion of feminism is a depressing tale. First came the charges against the NFL the May 30, 2014 indictment as white male sanctuary. Here is a typical indictment from the sexual left. This was coupled with the general pacifist/health war against violence and head injuries in a physical contact sport. In 2014, NOW asked for football Commissioner Roger Goodall to resign. He responded with pathetic parade of players and public service announcements promising we are all feminists now. Rest assured that the most stunning acts of domestic violence in our culture - abortions - will not come under attack as Roger plays his Weinstein card by dressing up his players in pink. Maybe a guy could take a knee from that charade. The deepest sign of masculine civic brotherhood is the flag of one's country. Taking a knee in football of course is not genuflecting in a Catholic Church. It is a sign of disassociating from engagement, not reverence. The flag story continues. But certainly the hypersensitive kowtowing to feminism and the spiritual blindness to the flag as a sign of interracial brotherhood are related.

IT'S NOT GAY AND ITS NOT MARRIAGE: Dale Ahlquist and G.K. Chesterton show us the problem when a "perversion becomes a commonplace."

WHY NOTHING IS SACRED: John Horvat explains why the horrible flatness of modernity will not suffice

TALK TO YOUR FATHER: Anthony Esolen writes about young men and three loves. At AOA we think the male-male bond of Father and Son and brothers is more foundational than Mr. Esolen but our quarrel is one among brothers.

THINKING CLEARLY: A great interview by Rod Dreher with Baylor's Allan Jacobs on his little book about thinking clearly. Among many insights is a C.S. Lewis distinction between the inner circle and meaningful community.

JOHN BOEHNER - A PORTRAIT: An interesting interview with the ex-Speaker of the House teaching a lot about the governing class. One observation about his predecessor Denny Hastert, homosexual predator who was also a former Republican Speaker of the House: “Denny Hastert was the nicest guy,” Boehner says. “But you know what? His wife never came to D.C.” Did they ever notice anything unusual, I ask? “Only his staff,” Boehner tells me. “He had more gay staff than anybody I knew—at a time when it was a bit unusual.” He pauses. “OK, fine. I didn’t care. But when all this stuff broke a couple years ago, it took my breath away.”