Saturday, November 30, 2019

Religion, Nations, and Geopolitical Review: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30

by A. Joseph Lynch


Impeachment is failing. Time for Plan B. Don't take it from AoA; that's the headline from Left leaning, The Week. The hard-Left outlet, The Washington Post, hasn't had much better to say with their piece entitled, the Democrats' impeachment obsession is backfiring, which opened by saying their obsession with impeachment "could prove to be the biggest political blunder in modern times." In more news from the hard-Left news site, Mother Jones is admitting, "Yep, Impeachment Is a Yawner," and reporting that "the impeachment hearings appear to be a bust." During Thanksgiving week, Congressional Democrats from Trump districts were hammered by anti-impeachment ads and slammed at town hall meetings.

While the impeachment boondoggle is becoming an anvil around the necks of Democrats, it has become a boon for GOP fundraising and for Trump in particular. Congressional fundraising reports revealed that - no surprise - celebrity Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised the most money of any congressional Democrat. At $1.42 million this past quarter, Cortez out-raised Nancy Pelosi ($1.26 million) and Adam Schiff ($1.14 million). Yet many Republicans congressmen out-raised Cortez. It's reported that Steve Scalise ($3.45 million), Devin Nunes ($2.6 million), and Kevin McCarthy ($1.6 million) all out-raised the Democrats' biggest celebrity in Congress. With Trump out-earning Obama at the same period of their respective presidencies, we might soon see a repeat of 2004 and 2016, when the GOP swept the House, Senate, and Presidency.

Impeachment is becoming a no-win scenario for Democrats.

If the Democrats can muster enough impeachment votes from Trump district Democrats the Senate trial will not bode well for them. The GOP will now set the rules. After rejecting testimony based on hearsay, virtually every witness called by Schiff will be dismissed outright while Republicans will undoubtedly call the so-called whistle blower, Adam Schiff, and the seemingly corrupt father-son Biden duo to testify. The timing of course will also be terrible. While destroying the Biden candidacy, the trial will certainly keep the presidential contenders from the Senate - Booker, Harris, Warren, Sanders, and Klobuchar - tied quietly to their Senate season and off the trail during the heart of the campaign season. In the end, Trump will be found innocent and the Democrats - along with the Left wing media - will look like fools. Swing district Democrats - who ran on fixing America's problems - will certainly face a swift and terrible backlash at the ballot box come November.

The Democrats could instead opt not to vote on impeachment in the House and instead censure President Trump. The time for censuring, however, is past. As one columnist put it: A censure is "[n]ot happening. If Democrats walk away from impeachment now, Schiff and his enablers will not just have egg on their collective faces, they will have an entire omelet."

One way or another, the end of impeachment is nearing.


THANKSGIVING: Don't call it Turkey Day. Another article about the Puritans from Trevor Thomas.

EX-NFL PLAYER'S ANTI-CATHOLICISM: Ex-NFL star Larry Johnson took to social media to reject celebrating Christ's birth on December 25. Johnson repeated a tired myth (refuted by apologist Jimmy Akin) that the Catholic Church is pagan, commemorating Christ's birth on date common to paganism.

THE FAITH OF CHILDREN: Scientific research indicates belief in God is built in.

LIFE COMES FROM LIFE: You can't give what you don't have - biological life cannot exist without spiritual life preceding it.

POPE FRANCIS IN JAPAN: Pope Francis is the first pope in nearly forty years to visit Japan. Read our book review of Silence, a Catholic novel about 16th century persecution of Catholics in Japan.

FEAST OF ST. ANDREW: Read and reflect on the Apostle and the monks of Mt. Athos.


HURD'S BOGUS WARNING? Retiring Never-Trumper, Will Hurd, is warning the GOP that it must diversify if it is to survive. When the fellow Never-Trumper, Mitt Romney managed to win only 6% of the black vote while President Trump is currently polling at 34% approval among blacks, we can all tell where the diversity deficit can be found.

RECORD MARKET: The markets closed for their 100th record high under President Trump. If markets predict elections, Trump is looking very good for 2020.

IS ANYONE WATCHING? As liberal politicians, along with CNN, MSNBC, and the broader left wing media continue to cry wolf - first in the Russia hoax, and now in the Ukraine hoax - their loss of credibility is leading to a loss of viewers. Viewership of the impeachment inquiry dropped day by day while viewership of the latest Democrat debate hit another low of only 6.5 million viewers. Axios is reporting that the hit character "Baby Yoda" from the new Star Wars TV series is beating every 2020 presidential contender combined with the exception of President Trump.

THE FART HEARD AROUND THE WORLD: One Democrat member of the House Intel Committee let it slip that impeachment really is a bunch of hot air.


SYRIA FALSE FLAG: Last June we covered false flag allegations behind the chemical weapons attack in Syria. More allegations have been made and largely left uncovered - with the exception of Tucker Carlson (FoxNews' best newsman).

NO GAY MARRIAGE IN CHINA: Last May Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage. Meanwhile China recently affirmed it's adherence to traditional marriage. Why are we defending Taiwan again?

HINDU-INDIAN POLITICS: Modi of India continues to press home a Hindu nationalist agenda with particular animus to it's old enemy Pakistan and its Islamic population. He is now moving to extend citizenship to non-Muslims immigrants in India as a census is prepared that might undercut Muslim representation and lead other Muslims to expulsion from the predominantly Hindu nation.

NATIONALIST WINS SRI LANKA: A Buddhist nationalist has been elected to lead the tiny island nation off the coast of India. Dr. Steve Turley explains this results and the nature of Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka.

BREXIT TO WIN BIG? The Brexit party has evaporated as the Brexit vote is falling behind Boris Johnson's conservatives - who now hold a 19 point edge in the polls ahead of next month's elections. The numbers indicate the biggest win for British conservatives since Thatcher.

"BRAIN DEAD" NATO: Macron of France recently declared NATO "brain dead." Pat Buchanan concurs.


HAIDT ON RITES OF PASSAGE: Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explains the needs for initiation rites, especially for males.

BINGE DRINKING UP, BIRTHS DOWN: Binge drinking among childless women in their 30s and early 40s has doubled in the past ten years. Meanwhile the US fertility rate hit an all time low in 2018. Other reports have shown that wealthier zip codes have markedly lower birth rates. Careers and houses come at a cost more terrible than money.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL DEMOTED: Lieutenant General - make that Major General - Lee Levy was demoted and discharged after making comments he'd make to any other male officer... except it was to a female officer. Our language should change when speaking to ladies, but is the US military the appropriate place for "ladies and gentlemen" language or is the place where men learn how to speak to other men?

CRYING FOWL: Cambridge has removed the 17th century painting, The Fowl Market, after its depiction of butchered animals offended vegan students. If university is meant to help us prepare to enter the world, pulling down the fine art is not helping these students one iota.

Nov 30: Saint Andrew and the 2,000 Byzantine monks on the Holy Mountain

[first published November 30, 2016]

MOUNT ATHOS in northeastern Greece is one of the powerhouses of prayer that keeps our tired old world going -- because sturdy men of faith submit their hearts to God.

On this feast day of the Holy Apostle Andrew, it is right that we deepen our understanding of our Christian brothers in Greece and Russia. East and West, the bonds of a praying brotherhood define the monastic and Apostolic Church. But in the heart of this all-male environment where even the animals must be male, there is a special presence and she is decidedly feminine.

"There are 20 monasteries on Mount Athos of which 17 are Greek, one Russian, one Serbian, and one Bulgarian. There are also twelve Skites (similar to monasteries but much smaller), a large number of Kellia (large farm houses), Kalyves (smaller houses), Kathismata (small houses for a single monk) and Hesychasteria (hermitages or caves in desolate cliff faces, for the most austere hermits)."



From the parish bulletin of a Russian Orthodox church in Minneapolis:
Last October, Fr. Andrew and I visited Mt. Athos, affectionately known as the Garden of the Theotokos. As we experienced this beautiful place where God’s glory seems to radiate from everything, we were made aware of her presence. When we spoke to the monks in that holy place, they would refer to her and say things like: "Whatever the holy Mother wants." They live in humble submissiveness to her and understand the value of her intercessory prayers and guidance. We met an older monk on one of the remote walking paths by his hut (it was very old and abandoned-looking), who explained to us that he had lived 30 years alone with the Mother of God in "her garden." 

Sit back and enjoy one of the finest segments that has ever appeared on "60 Minutes."


UPDATE: Here is a short video of one of President Putin's visits to Mount Athos. He was joined by the Patriarch of Moscow.

Let us praise Andrew, the herald of God, / the namesake of courage, / the first-called of the Savior’s disciples / and the brother of Peter. / 
As he once called to his brother, he now cries out to us: / "Come, for we have found the One whom the world desires!"

Thursday, November 28, 2019

THANKSGIVING: Don’t call it Turkey Day

[first published November 22, 2012]

David Pence writes:

Thanksgiving Day is an embarrassing holiday for the atheists. Whom should one thank?

Nonbelievers first turned this day of formal national prayer into a rekindling of an earlier bliss betwixt Pilgrims and Indians. A little rewriting, and secularists turned the feast into a memorial of Pilgrim settlers thanking the native-born Americans for their ecological wisdom that allowed us a full table and survival through the winters. As usual, the guilt-ridden white folk reminded us of something true but missed the real story. There were formal acts of prayerful thanksgiving before we became a nation but unfortunately for the Protestant imagination the first such acts were in that old liturgical  form of the Catholic Mass.

The Pilgrim parable was soon debunked by Indian activists who reminded the well-meaning storytellers that the only gifts white men gave Indians were smallpox blankets. "Who wants to celebrate that, white man?"

Instead of returning to the first Congress or Washington or Lincoln to get the holy day back on track as a civic duty of a repentant nation to a Sovereign God, our adaptable consumer culture had a new answer. Let the appetites be sacralized! There was a surge to elevate not "Whom We Thank" but "What We Eat." Turkey Day was proclaimed!

No more messy cross-cultural narratives. Instead of asking that our sins be forgiven and as a nation we bow to God, a turkey was pardoned and the whole affair was consummated in a next-day orgy of shopping called Black Friday. That spin-off Feast Day is demanding a vigil service of its own, which may drive the whole embarrassment of public thanksgiving to God  back in the memory hole where school prayer now abides.

Contrast our evolving celebration of  Black Friday Eve with George Washington’s understanding of Thanksgiving Day in the first sentence of his 1789 Proclamation:
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to recognize the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor…” 
Contrast Turkey Day with the content of his prayer:
“And also that we may unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions -- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually…” 
This is a day as a nation we are supposed to perform a religious duty -- to ask forgiveness and give thanks to a Divine Ruler who governs not only the lives of men, but the public communal forms of men: the nations. That is what Congress requested Washington to declare; and that is what this national day of prayer for forgiveness and thanksgiving is still meant to be. Let us assemble in our houses of worship, at community kitchens, and at our family tables but remember we are acting as members of the larger national political community.  Let us ask God forgiveness for turning away from Him and allowing these sacred goods to be defiled: His holy Name, our sacred flag, our national brotherhood, the institution of marriage, the protective love of mother for child, and the sacred virginity and innocence of our young. In Lincoln's words: "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."

UPDATE: Be sure to check out Andrew Lynch's essay.

The Thanksgiving proclamation of our First Continental Congress.
 A reminder from "War on the Rocks" that Thanksgiving is a holiday forged in national wars.
  Lincoln declared the last Thursday of every November as a national holiday at the bequest of Sara Josepha Hale, editor of the popular magazine, Godey's Lady's Book. 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Bending the knee to "Christ the King of Fearful Majesty" as the Church Year ends with the final Drama

[first published November 25, 2011]

"Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice."  (Gospel of St. John)

Dr. Pence writes:

The liturgical year of the Church ends with this feast day to remind us how sacred history will come to its fulfillment with the return of Christ as King. Yes, Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior. He is also the Ruler of Nature, the Lord of History, and the Slayer of the Leviathan.  We know Him in the Eucharist as we are becoming not his friend, but incorporated in His Body. We remember his Incarnational transformation of physical nature at the Annunciation, and we await his triumphant coming again as Head of the Mystical Body incorporating all of humanity in Himself. Catholics are always living within these three comings of Christ. Maybe because the Eucharist is less like friendship and more like incorporation, we don’t emotionally emphasize our "personal relationship with Christ" -- but we look, instead, from the vantage of Holy Communion, both backward and forward to the actions of the Cosmic King.
          The feast of Christ the King was  instituted by Pope Pius IX in 1925 as atheistic movements were persecuting Catholics in Spain and Mexico and the Orthodox in Russia. In his encyclical Quas Primas he asserted the independent authority of the Church in relation to States. He also asserted that political communities were subject to the authority of Christ as well. Christ is King of the whole man and the whole of his social relations. This feast calls Christian men to understand that civic life cannot be divorced from God. As we deepen our bonds in the church we must shape our nations as well in a fraternal international order in consonance with Divine Providence. Establishing the Kingship of Christ is more a matter of ordered loves than creedal assertion. Christ the King and devotion to the Sacred Heart are deeply tied. Pius IX ordered on this day every year that MANKIND be consecrated to the Sacred Heart.  Politics is one of man’s  highest callings when understood as forming fraternal bonds to provide for the civic common good by enforcing justice. Such a city on a hill gives honor to Christ as King and Lord. A man is a sign of Christ when he exercises legitimate authority. This feast is a good day to reflect on this dimension of Christian identity. We are meant to be rulers over ourselves first. The father and mother are to rule over their children. Politically men are called to establish law and order to rule our civic communities and lastly as a human race we are ordered to have dominion over the earth. It is a great threat to both Church and State that the ruler as an integral part of the Christian personality has become so neglected. This is particularly true in the priesthood which is the primary Christian template of a fraternity of ordered love and authority.

Christ shows us not only the face of God, but He has enlightened us to our own true nature as well. Man is by nature a eusocial organism in which all of humanity is united in  an interpersonal union headed by the alpha male. That is our final perfection as creatures truly made in the image of an interpersonal Trinity. On our way to that final union we live in the communal forms of marriage and nations. Christ’s Kingdom on earth is His Father’s Kingdom. Christ is King, but he is a Son as well. We are incorporated in his sonship-filiation. This is what we pray for in the prayer He taught us, that the rule of the Father would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let us bow to the king and accept the order of patriarchy. A particular concern of Pius IX in declaring this feast was to reassert that modern man is not an emancipated individual but still a subject to the authority of the one true King. Let us contemplate this final feast in the Church calendar, in order to better greet the baby at Christmas and receive His Body in the Eucharist -- remembering that when the trumpet finally sounds, indeed, he will "bestride the narrow world like a Colossus" and Eternal King


UPDATE -- A stanza from a translation of the 'Te Deum':

"From Thy high celestial home,
 Judge of all, again returning,
 we believe that Thou shalt come
 in the dreaded Doomsday morning;
 when Thy voice shall shake the earth,
 and the startled dead come forth."

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Religion, Nations, and Geopolitical Review: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23

by A. Joseph Lynch


The House "investigation" inquiry has reached the end of its testimony with the House now going on Thanksgiving break for the next week. Many agree that the Democrats failed to make their case. Will moderates return home from their swing districts able to risk reelection and vote in favor of impeachment? Most think impeachment will happen by December 20, but we believe much will be decided in the next week while House members hear from their constituents. There will certainly be no bipartisan support for impeachment and virtually no chance of the Senate removing President Trump.

Much focus this week went to the testimony of US Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, who said both that there was a quid pro quo and that President Trump told him directly: "I want nothing [from Ukraine]. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell [President] Zelensky to do the right thing." Sondland tried to appease both sides and has found himself alienated.

What has gone relatively unnoticed is the way in which foreign born members of the State Department and US military are imposing their foreign policy demands on the nation. The testimony this week from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill revealed two members of the intelligence-military-foreign affairs bureaucracy angry that their policy positions were not shared by the duly elected President of the United States.

What's more, little mention has been given of Hill's British birth or Vindman's Ukrainian birth.

This week we learned that Hill is a close associate of Christopher Steele, the writer of the debunked, virulently anti-Trump Steele dossier. While conservatives have attacked the dossier's ties to Hillary Clinton, the DNC, and Russia, we have repeatedly noted its connection to Steele himself and British intelligence. After losing her empire, British strategy often seeks to co-opt the "special relationship" between the UK and the US, manipulating the US into acting in accord with British interests. Trump's "America First" policy is diametrically opposed to this strategy, which is why Steele - and now perhaps Hill as well - sought to bring Trump down.

Despite winning a purple heart, we also learned that Lt. Col. Vindman was not above reproach. His demand to be called by his rank revealed the high esteem in which he holds himself and the disregard he has has for elected officials, be they US representatives or presidents. After it was revealed that Vindman was thrice offered the job of Ukrainian defense minster, we are not surprised that Vindman has such an elitist view of himself. We are also not surprised, given his Ukrainian birth, that he holds such anti-Russian foreign policy views. Vindman, however, needs to be reminded that our nation's foreign policy is "America First" not "Ukraine First."

As Pat Buchanan reminds us, when did Ukraine become critical ally of the US? The British and the Ukrainians may have a beef with Russia, but we do not. We must not allow them to interfere with our internal political affairs and threaten a coup against our president so that they can manipulate our government into serving their foreign policy interests. Should impeachment go the Senate, we hope the real foreign interference in our elections is revealed.


POPE FRANCIS IN ASIA: Pope Francis took a four day trip to Asia, where in Thailand he met with the supreme Buddhist patriarch. Despite anger from conservatives that the Pope is treating other religions or religious leaders as equal to Catholicism, we should always cheer when two men of faith speak to each other as brothers rather than as enemies.

A CURVED UNIVERSE: Scientists are 99.8% sure the universe is positively curved, making it more like the shape of an expanding balloon.

CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION UP: A recent study on the persecution of Christianity in Europe has revealed “a rise in the number of churches, Christian symbols, and cemeteries across Europe being vandalized, desecrated, and burned, compared to previous years." Read the full report.

DEFENDING A NUN - BUT WHAT ABOUT ALL WOMEN? French officials are defending a nun's right to wear the habit when under French law she is not allowed to wear religious attire in certain public areas - such as her retirement home. Two questions remain: 1) Why is she living in a retirement home rather than a convent? and 2) Why can't French officials defend the right of all women - Muslims included - to wear religious veils in public?


CHICKEN FINGERS: Mayor Pete mistakes a cinnamon roll for chicken wings. See the photo here. Somehow he's leading in Iowa.

EXECUTIVE CANDIDATES: Mayor Bloomberg and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick are now in. With mayor Pete in the lead, it may be becoming an executive race. With two new candidates, it might also be a sign of a weak field. We're not sure the two candidates will help - Deval recently cancelled an event because only two people showed up.

BILL MAHER PULLS BACK: Bill Maher recognizes how polarized our nation is in and fears a creeping civil war. For the good of the country he's announced he's cutting back on his own vicious attacks on the president. Maher should be applauded.

TOO FAR LEFT: Bill Maher is not the only Democrat to see the danger. Even former-President Obama is warning Democrat presidential candidates they are going too far to the Left, saying "We have to be rooted in reality," and that We need not"completely tear down the system and remake it." Sadly the candidates largely rejected his wise words.

WHO CARES?: A recent focus group study of independents revealed that few care about impeachment and would rather our political leaders focus on fixing America's real problems. Another recent pool revealed that independents have swung against impeachment by ten points. Will impeachment be able to get past the House?

PERJURED DIPLOMAT?: Did the ex-ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, commit perjury during her testimony to Congress?


BERLIN WALL - THIRTY YEARS LATER: From our R&G on November 15, 2014Another speech at the Berlin Wall should be listened to as carefully as the JFK and Reagan speeches that helped tear down the wall. Mikhail Gorbachev, on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, warned against a new and dangerous barrier being erected by NATO and the West against Russia. This interview is a good introduction to the thinking which underlies the animus of many prominent US Catholics to Vladimir Putin, Russia and leaders of the Orthodox Church.

NETANYAHU FACING CHARGES: But do the charges add up? Time will tell.

PILLSBURY ON CHINA: Michael Pillsbury is a China hawk and author of The Hundred Year Marathon, in which he argues China has a hundred year plan towards hegemony. Given China's tepid economy and its inching ever nearer to a Hong Kong Tiananmen Square, we at AoA hold a less fearful view of China. Nevertheless it's good to hear both sides on China. Here is a short video interview with Pillsbury and a transcribed interview by Hugh Hewitt.

JAPANESE EMPEROR & SHINTOISM: The new Japanese emperor is maintaining his people's traditional religious rituals as he ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne. The throne rituals came to an end with a ritual meal held between the emperor and Japan's sun goddess. Despite the rise of secularism, the nations and civilizations of the world are still fundamentally religious.


SANDMAN VS MEDIA: In another win for the Nick Sandman and the young men of Covington Catholic High School, a judge is allowing discovery to move forward in their suits against NBC, CNN, and the Washington Post. We await to hear what will be revealed in discovery.

"ME TOO" ON SURVIVOR: Not long after a contestant was scolded for complaining women in the game show Survivor could collude against the men, two women on the show were caught exaggerating the "inappropriate touching" of a male contestant in order to emotionally manipulate the votes of other contestants and vote him off the island. If Survivor is a kind of microcosm of society, this wasn't the best of moments.

MORMONS AND SCOUTS: A Mormon leader says the Boy Scouts left the Mormons, not vice versa.

GET WOKE, GO BROKE: It's happening to Starbucks and movies like Charlie's Angels and Terminator: Dark Fate. The latest Star Wars film - a series now marred by woke feminist politics - is not expected to do well next month. Will the same happen to Chik-fil-a after they bent the knee to the homosexual agenda and cut support to groups such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and The Salvation Army?

DECRIMINALIZING INCEST? As Ireland considers decriminalizing incest and lowering the age of sexual consent, it's legalization of abortion signaled its rapid downfall into sexual chaos.

Friday, November 22, 2019

NOVEMBER 22 -- The Maturation of Christian Manhood: John Kennedy and the Spiritual Destiny of Nations

[first published 11/22/13]

Dr. David Pence writes:

"A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket." 
         (Charles Peguy)

A half-century ago, on the feast of Saint Cecilia, an armed atheist assassinated the first Catholic President of Christian America. It was a well-aimed blast. Those ringing shots of death silenced the voice of an elected Knight who was calling his nation and other nations into an articulate and armed defense of the ordered liberty that is the hallmark of Christian civilization. 

John Kennedy was a masculine liberal. He went forth to lead the land he loved, knowing that establishing a just political order amidst the nations was an assignment that God had given the laymen of the Church that claimed him since infancy. Deep in his heart, in his mind, and in his soul he understood that our shared identity as Americans was built on a band of brothers who had fulfilled a sacred obligation. When he spoke, the timbre of his voice called men into that band of brothers. Women cheered that such a bond would protect them.

When he spoke in 1960 to the Houston Ministerial Association on the religious question, he turned their eyes outward to the atheist menace that threatened Protestant and Catholic alike in our shared nation under God. He reminded them there was a military oath that secured religious liberty in the dangerous world of tyrants and the mass armies of paganism. That same military oath drew together Catholic and Protestant men at the Alamo. Only the record of their last names would attest their ancestral faiths, for "there was no religious test at the Alamo." It was this brotherhood of battle that Washington had hoped would leaven the national feelings of affection among Americans. It was such bonds that Lincoln proposed as the sinews of a new nation baptized in the bloodshed of Gettysburg. It was such bonds that the patriarch Abraham marked in that first shedding of male blood to forge a public. All nations were blessed in Him when he fathered the masculine covenant that sustains every nation.

On that day in Houston, Kennedy reminded the religious men of duty who gathered to hear him that he, his fallen brother, and they were bound by a common civic duty. He offered himself to fill the office, which would govern the military brotherhood, which secured their liberty as ministers to fulfill their religious obligations to God. He ended his oration reminding his listeners that the presidency was an oath, and he had taken oaths before -- "so help me God."

A decade before his speech to the Protestant ministers, Kennedy explained his understanding of the person, national loyalty and the Kingdom of God to students and faculty at Notre Dame.  

“You have been taught that each individual has an immortal soul, composed of an intellect which can know the truth and a will which is free.  Because of this every Catholic must believe in the essential dignity of the human personality on which any democracy must rest… A Catholic’s dual allegiance to the Kingdom of God on the one hand prohibits unquestioning obedience to the state on the other hand as an organic unit.”

Five months before his assassination, Kennedy demonstrated his providential view of the role of nations in the destiny of mankind during his visit to Ireland.


“For the Ireland of 1963, one of the youngest of nations and the oldest of civilizations, has discovered that the achievement of nationhood is not an end but a beginning. In the years since independence, you have undergone a new and peaceful revolution, an economic and industrial revolution, transforming the face of this land while still holding to the old spiritual and cultural values…

"Self-determination can no longer mean isolation. No nation, large or small, can be indifferent to the fate of others, near or far. Modern economics, weaponry and communications have made us realize more than ever that we are one human family and this one planet is our home.

" 'The world is large,' wrote John Boyle O'Reilly.
'The world is large when its weary leagues two loving hearts divide,
But the world is small when your enemy is loose on the other side.'

"The world is even smaller today, though… across the gulfs and barriers that now divide us, we must remember that there are no permanent enemies. Hostility today is a fact, but it is not a ruling law. The supreme reality of our time is our indivisibility as children of God and our common vulnerability on this planet.

"Some may say that all this means little to Ireland... It may be asked, how can a nation as small as Ireland play much of a role on the world stage?

"I would remind those who ask that question, including those in other small countries, of the words of one of the great orators of the English language:
'All the world owes much to the little five feet high nations. The greatest art of the world was the work of little nations. The most enduring literature of the world came from little nations. The heroic deeds that thrill humanity through generations were the deeds of little nations fighting for their freedom. And oh, yes, the salvation of mankind came through a little nation.' "

John Kennedy as a Catholic man of the Irish tribe integrated the male citizenship of powerful and accomplished Anglo-Saxon Protestant America. He furthered this integrative work by proposing immigration reform no longer linked to racial ancestry quotas. He, slowly but then surely, argued the case for racial integration. Like Eisenhower before him, he sent federal troops to save black students from the fury of the huge popular protest movements against integration. The first cries of “power to the people” against authority in the 1960s were white mobs opposing integration.

Catholic Kennedy had argued that public offices could have no religious test. In his televised address to the nation on civil rights he proposed that America could not fight tyranny abroad if it was not colorblind at home. “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution… I want to pay tribute to those citizens North and South who have been working in their communities to make life better for all. They are acting not out of a sense of legal duty but out of a sense of human decency. Like our soldiers and sailors in all parts of the world they are meeting freedom's challenge on the firing line, and I salute them for their honor and their courage.”
Always he spoke of honor, courage, and shared duty.

That November when he died had begun with the assassination of two Catholic brothers who were fighting for their Asian nation in the struggle against the armed atheism of state tyrannies. On All Souls Day the president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu were assassinated in a military coup inflamed by newspaper reporters, and instigated by the new US Ambassador and members of our State Department. The CIA, the US military, and the Catholic Attorney General opposed the killing. President Kennedy mismanaged the rift in his government leading to the killing he called "abhorrent." The Mandate from Heaven was removed from both Catholic Presidents that month of the dead in 1963.

John Kennedy, like King David, marred his public life by sins of infidelity. Like King David he wept at the death of an infant son; and like David, his older son would die hanging between heaven and earth. He paid for his sins against marriage with the deaths of his male heirs. He paid for his betrayal of his Asian Uriah with his own death by the hand of their common atheist foe.

An ancient Roman liturgy, which he attended on Sundays and Days of Obligation, shaped John Kennedy. He knelt to pray and went to auricular confession. He lit candles in churches all over the world for the soul of his brother killed in a naval plane crash over the English Channel. He saw religion as a public duty to the Sovereign of the nations. He saw the nation as a brotherhood of protectors, and he understood an alliance of nations as the agents of History. He had a deep Catholic sense of humanity as one, and a sailor’s view of the earth as a small ship upon the sea of the universe. He knew what Nikita Khrushchev knew and Mao Tse-tung did not appreciate. He knew nuclear war must be prevented. He also knew what both of them knew: that there was a great conflict about how mankind should be organized. He wanted the flourishing of free nations under God. The Communists would use "national fronts" to re-institute the Tower of a Globalist Atheist Babel, which needed no god and would in time dispense of the churches, nations, and families.

A hero like Kennedy has many descendants who claim his name but few men who share his heart. He tried to replace the overwhelming technology of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) with Special Forces of men who would fight on the ground and win the hearts and minds of the new national leaders of Africa, South America, the Mid-east and Asia. He would replace the fleets of nuclear bombers with Green Berets and helicopters for security; and the Peace Corps and water wells for infrastructure and education. Launching unmanned drones inside Muslim nations and bombing the Orthodox cities of Serbia as a substitute for foot soldiers countered his legacy.    

He was no stuttering king in the war against the armed atheists of state tyrannies. Archbishop Philip Hannan, the combat veteran who gave JFK’s funeral homily, built it on Kennedy’s Scriptural syntax. The celibate combat bishop and the biblical fighting liberal are men our nation needs again. Their world was one of embedded un-chosen obligations, marked by protective duties assigned by gender, and priestly piety and purity proclaiming the supernatural order. On this feast of the virgin martyr, whose sweet life made her the patron of music, let us remember the warrior king who made words beat to move the hearts of his countrymen:  
“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

November 19: “Give rest, O Savior, to the soul of thy servant”

“…whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet…”   
                           (Ishmael in Moby Dick)

Entering this week of high anniversaries of President Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg (Nov 19, 1863) and of John Kennedy’s death in Dallas – as well as the liturgical year drawing to a close, with the Church bowing before the authority and power of Christ our King – the opening scene of Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago came to mind:
They walked and walked and sang “Memory Eternal,” and whenever they stopped, the singing seemed to be carried on by their feet, the horses, the gusts of wind. Passersby made way for the cortege, counted the wreaths, crossed themselves. The curious joined the procession, asked: “Who’s being buried?” “Zhivago,” came the answer. “So that’s it. Now I see.” “Not him. Her.” “It’s all the same. God rest her soul. A rich funeral.” The last minutes flashed by, numbered, irrevocable. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and those who dwell therein.” The priest, tracing a cross, threw a handful of earth onto Marya Nikolaevna. They sang “With the souls of the righteous.” A terrible bustle began. The coffin was closed, nailed shut, lowered in. A rain of clods drummed down as four shovels hastily filled the grave. Over it a small mound rose. A ten-year-old boy climbed onto it. Only in the state of torpor and insensibility that usually comes at the end of a big funeral could it have seemed that the boy wanted to speak over his mother’s grave. He raised his head and looked around from that height at the autumn wastes and the domes of the monastery with an absent gaze. His snub-nosed face became distorted. His neck stretched out. If a wolf cub had raised his head with such a movement, it would have been clear that he was about to howl. Covering his face with his hands, the boy burst into sobs. A cloud flying towards him began to lash his hands and face with the wet whips of a cold downpour. A man in black, with narrow, tight-fitting, gathered sleeves, approached the grave. This was the deceased woman’s brother and the weeping boy’s uncle, Nikolai Nikolaevich Vedenyapin, a priest defrocked at his own request. He went up to the boy and led him out of the cemetery.

“Alleluia. Weeping at the grave creates the song.”

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul

[first published November 18, 2015]

by David Pence

The Catholic Church on this day each year  celebrates the dedication of the churches of St Peter and St Paul in Rome.  St. Peter and St. Paul drank of the Lord's Chalice and were both martyred in Rome.  “Those two famous shoots of the Divine Seed burst forth in a great progeny.” Their sacral brotherhood of blood served as the foundation stones of the apostolic Church.

Their tombs were pilgrimage destinations from the beginning. The basilicas were built over their sacred remains by Constantine in the 4th century, and then refurbished and rededicated in later centuries. Christianity’s priesthood  is centered in Rome where the graves of the martyred blood brothers signal the early development of Christ's Body as surely as Bethlehem and Nazareth. The reclamation project of winning back territory from the Prince of this world is celebrated especially when a sacred space is carved out of the land and stone to consecrate a church.  

Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls

Interior of St Paul's

Basilica of St Peter

The Chair of Peter upheld by
Saints Ambrose, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, and Augustine

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Religion, Nations, and Geopolitical Review: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16

by A. Joseph Lynch


We are now two days into the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. Thus far the Democrats have rolled out three supposed star witnesses, none of whom are eye witnesses to any wrongdoing.

On Thursday we heard from George Kent and William Taylor. Kent, a career member of the State Department and former diplomat at the US embassy in Ukraine, disagreed with the president's policy in the eastern European nation. While he had no direct evidence of any impeachable offense, he was asked about his warnings to Biden's staff about a potential conflict of interest regarding Hunter Biden's bizarre business dealings in Ukraine. In the end, Kent agreed that an investigation into Biden might be warranted after all. Yet congressional Democrats believe that any investigation called for by President Trump - the nation's chief law enforcement officer - is somehow impeachable.

William Taylor's testimony drew much more attention, though not in ways favorable to the Democrats' impeachment efforts. Taylor is the acting ambassador to Ukraine since the firing of Marie Yovanovitch. In a fiery exchange with Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Jordan eviscerated Taylor's testimony. It was revealed that in his three meetings with Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, never once was any quid pro quo mentioned. Jordan also pointed out that Taylor's "clear understanding" of a quid pro quo arrangement was based on hearsay of hearsay. If this were a court of law, Taylor's testimony would have been thrown out. Indeed, Talyor could only smile and nod his head as Jordan asked: "And you're their star witness?"

Yesterday's testimony from Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, was more lackluster. She had no direct dealings with President Trump, who removed her from her position in May 2019, long before he had his controversial phone call with Zelensky. Yovanovitch had absolutely nothing to add to the inquiry beyond sharing the same concerns as George Kent regarding potential Biden corruption. When during a decisive cross examination by Rep. Chris Stewart she was asked outright if she knew if President Trump committed any crime, her response in the negative should have earned her an immediate dismissal from testimony. What we learned was that she is a bureaucratic careerist and disgruntled former employee who is upset with President Trump for her termination. While she acknowledged ambassadors serve at the will of the president, who requires no reason to end their service, the reporting of John Solomon reveals many good reasons to dismiss Yovanovitch, including potential violations of Geneva Convention rules surrounding foreign interference in a nation's political life.

Bloomberg News best summed up the real reason for the impeachment investigation. In a recent headline, the news agency declared that President Trump's team was guilty of undermining the bureaucrats in the State Department, going against what the careerists and the elites believe is the best course of action. How dare he think he has a right to steer the ship of state as the elected President of the Unites States!

There's no evidence of an actual impeachable offense. The real question is not about impeachment but rather who makes decisions about America's place in the world: elected officials or the bureaucratic elites?


NEW USCCB LEADERSHIP: The USCCB has two new leaders. Archbishop Jose Gomez has been elected as the new President of the USCCB. We have written about his little masterpiece on immigration - worth the read. Archbishop Vigneron is a much more troubling choice. He has a mixed record in Detroit and is likely to be the new USCCB President in 2022.

USCCB & GUN CONTROL: The USCCB is pushing for new laws on guns in America. One danger the bishops will always face is the temptation to make itself into a kind of congressional sub-committee on morality. While the bishops must speak on political issues when necessary, they have much, much work to do in their own back yard.

USCCB WANTS MCCARICK UPDATE: In a request for an update on the investigation into ex-Cardinal McCarrick, Cardinal O'Malley says news may come by Christmas or shortly into the New Year.


NO CONDITIONS: President Trump has released another transcript of a call with the president of Ukraine, Zelensky. The phone call was the first between the two men and and it concerned a potential meeting between the two presidents. Surprise, surprise, there were no conditions attached to the meeting.

MODERATE DEMOCRATS: The current congressional math shows that Democrats can only lose 16 defectors and still pass articles of impeachment. Two days into the inquiry with nothing to show for it is now putting pressure on the thirty or so Democrats who won in Trump districts. How they vote may effect control of Congress in 2020.

TLAIB INVESTIGATION: The far Left "Squad" member is under investigation for breaking campaign finance rules.

NEW WHISTLE BLOWER COMPLAINT: An actual "whistle blower" complaint has now been filed with the ICIG (Intelligence Community Inspector General) against the hearsay whistle blower, suspected to be Eric Ciaramella, over a Go Fund Me account.

MORE ON BIDEN: We suspect more evidence of Biden corruption to be forthcoming in the weeks ahead. We already know George Kent feared possible Biden corruption. Now we know that others in 2014 attempted to raise a warning flag as well.


NATIONALISTS IN SPAIN: The Vox nationalist party in Spain has now jumped to third place in recent Spanish elections, more than doubling the representation it had going into the election.

NO BREXIT-CONSERVATIVE PACT: In more troubling news, Britain's conservatives of Boris Johnson and the new Brexit Party of Nigel Farage, were unable to reach a deal going into December's elections. The hope was that Brexit would compete in areas that the conservatives couldn't win while the conservatives competed in areas unlikely to be taken by Brexit. The fear now is that the two will split many key votes, this giving pro-EU liberals a chance to block Brexit after the elections.

BLACK SEA CRUISE CANCELLED: Trump cancelled a Black Sea patrol cruise by the US Navy for being seen as hostile to Russia. When we imagine the Russians sending their navy to patrol our Gulf coast, we know Trump made the right call.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Religion, Nations, and Geopolitical Review: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9

by A. Joseph Lynch


In a column released this week, Pat Buchanan examines the current impeachment mess, asking: Where Are the ‘High Crimes’? Buchanan rightly points out that there was no quid pro quo, that Trump gave arms assistance to Ukraine when Obama would not, and that it's Joe Biden who is responsible for his own quid pro quo. "In the end," Buchanan argues, "it will be about what it has been about since the beginning: An attempt by the deep state and its media, bureaucratic and political allies to overturn the democratic verdict of 2016 and to overthrow the elected president of the United States. The establishment’s coup attempt is now approaching end game."

But will the end game result in what Democrats hope?

After a successful push in the Senate to garner votes for quashing impeachment over due process violations proved successful, Democrats in the House were finally forced to hold a vote on impeachment investigations. As we reported last month, three votes on this topic have already been held since Trump took office. In the most recent vote, held this past July, 137 Democrats voted with Republicans against impeachment investigations. Although the newest vote proved successful for Democrats, the only bipartisanship that took place was when two Democrats in swing districts voted with every Republican against investigating the President.

This is the first impeachment investigation not to win a single vote from across the aisle.

The Democrats who won in Trump districts should be feeling very wary now. If impeachment backfires, Democrats might have just lost the House going into 2021. The cracks in impeachment are already appearing. The Hill is now reporting that support for impeachment has slipped four points since October. with a majority now opposed to it. Meanwhile, Trump's support has edged upwards.

Although Republicans still maintain the rules governing the impeachment are unfair, the transparency they have brought are already harming the Democrats' case. It is now being reported that a chief witness against Trump - the former ambassador to Ukraine - may have lied under oath. We have also learned that the supposed whistle blower's lawyer called for a coup against the president only days after he took office.

The optics look bad. Time will tell, but we suspect them to get worse.


BIDEN - NO COMMUNION: After former Vice President and current presidential hopeful, Joe Biden, was rightly denied Communion for his public opposition to Church teaching on abortion and both the scandal and confusion it brings the faithful, Cardinal Dolan said he would have given him the Eucharist, saying, "If only saints could receive Holy Communion, we wouldn’t have anybody at Mass..." We would hope the cardinal could contend with the issue with more substance than fallacious "straw man" reasoning, restating the argument in a way that makes it easy to refute. No one argues that only the saints can receive Communion, and it doesn't take a saint to know that denying Communion to those in public support of murder is red line worth defending.

BARR ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: AG Barr delivered a fantastic speech at the University of Notre Dame Law School on religious liberty. Watch or read his address.

CATHOLICS AND COHABITATION: In troubling, if not unsurprising news, some 74% of US Catholics disagree with Church teaching on cohabitation.

JAMES MARTIN & POPE FRANCIS: Martin speaks of his meeting with Pope Francis. We believe he's honest when he says that Francis wanted to Martin to keep the contents of their meeting private, but we question Martin's account. A great deficit in conservative Catholic journalism it's willingness to accept liberal spin when it happens to support conservative talking points. In this case, conservatives are happy to take Martin's word as "Gospel truth" when we know his words are often anything but Biblical.


PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDERS: The field of Democrat presidential hopefuls seems weaker by the day. Beto O'Rourke, darling of the Democrats until homosexual mayor Pete Buttigieg entered the race and took all the air from his sails, has now dropped out. Kamala Harris, crippled by Tulsi Gabbard in a debate, is shuttering her campaign in New Hampshire and plans to make her last stand in Iowa. Bernie Sanders is now swinging harder to the Left while Elizabeth Warren proposes blowing $52 trillion on medicare-for-all. Biden is the closest thing to a moderate among the front runners, but his age, poor fundraising, gaffs, and the Ukraine scandal continues to damage his aspirations. All this seems to be leading to a Bloomberg candidacy. Talk runs strong that Eric Holder or Hilary Clinton might yet jump in as well. Presidential chaos on the Left seems eminent.

INTERVIEWING A REAL WHISTLE BLOWER: Far-Left comedian Jimmy Dore interviewed a whistle blower behind the use of waterboarding. Neither believes the "whistle blower" against Trump is anything more than a political tool and certainly not a legitimate whistle blower. Watch the interview but beware of some language.

EPSTEIN MURDERED? MEDIA COVER UP? A renowned pathologist thinks he was killed. Meanwhile a leaked video at ABC revealed they had the whole story on Epstein in 2016. It was canned over threats from the royal family - but we suspect the "royal family" was as much the Clinton dynasty as the English monarchy. And now CBS has fired the suspected leaker - or shall we call her a whistle blower? - who had worked at ABC before joining CBS. Is this ABC-CBS collusion? But let's not leave NBC out. Rowan Farrow's new book is revealing how NBC may have helped cover up for Harvey Weinstein.

TWITTER BANS POLITICAL ADS: With President Trump breaking fundraising records, Twitter will not be letting him spend his war chest on Twitter ads. Political ads are now banned - but will this only last through the 2020 election?

OBAMA SLAMS WOKE POLITICS: Former President Obama scolded the Left for the damage being done by woke politics. We applaud his efforts.

GUESS WHO TRUSTS THE CIA? Democrats, Liberals, and Clinton voters. How things have changed since the liberals slammed the agency over WMDs.

PHOTO CONTROVERSY: As SCOTUS shifts right, the liberals grasp at straws. Homosexual activists want Alito and Kavanaugh to recuse themselves in cases related to homosexuality after a photo was posted of them with the leader of National Organization for Marriage and the International Organization for the Family. Has anything similar been said about Ginsburg on abortion with all her connections to pro-choice organizations like NOW?


DEATH OF BAGHDADI: The twin killings of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi along with his likely successor, should be Trump's bin Laden moment. The media quickly downplayed the success, with one outlet calling him an austere religious scholar and columnist Max Boot backtracked after claiming Baghdadi's suicide bombing with his three children wasn't cowardly. Some attempted to create a conspiracy theory over the timing of Trump's situation room photo. Others in the media complained that Trump said Baghdadi died "whimpering and crying" since there was no audio in what he viewed. Whether or not Trump heard Baghdadi in his final moments, the president was in many ways speaking to Mideast Muslims in the traditional language of honor and shame - the kind of language that will help keep others from taking on the mantle of ISIS and continuing their demonic acts of terror. The media knows not this language, and their contempt for the President keeps them from acknowledging the death of Baghdadi as a great day for both America and the Islamic world.

WAR ON CARTELS: After Americans were brutally killed in Mexico's drug war, President Trump declared his willingness to wage war on the cartels. We hope Mexico's president re-considers the offer. The Monroe Doctrine means American troops defending the nations of the New World, not just the nations of the Mideast.

MIGRANTS GOING HOME: In other Mexico news, it is being reported that thousands of Latin American migrants seeking asylum in the US are abandoning their quest. As legitimate asylum cases are moving quickly, those with rocky claims appear to be giving up and going home.

BRITISH ELECTIONS: Coming December 12. More from Dr. Steve Turley.

SALVINI COMEBACK? Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy's ousted nationalist Lega party, is continuing his party's comeback after winning in a liberal stronghold.


THE BOY REMAINS: After a divorced mother demanded gender reassignment treatment for her seven year old son, a Texas judge has ruled that both parents must agree before moving forward. The father is adamantly opposed and his son has decided to attend school dressed like the average boy. According to one story on the matter, studies show that "as many as 98 percent of gender-confused boys and 88 percent of gender-confused girls eventually accept their biological sex."

COVINGTON LAWSUIT RESUMES: A judge has decided to allow discovery to move forward in the Nicholas Sandman case. As information is released to Sandman's lawyers, the process could be quite damaging to the Washington Post's defense. We're sure other media outlets are worried as well.

IN-FLIGHT SEX SCENES: Delta Airlines will now be showing unedited gay sex scenes in their in-flight movies. Why are any sex scenes needed on in-flight movies?

Nov. 9th -- Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome: Sacred Space and the Cleansing of the Temple

(first published November 9, 2014)

by David Pence

It may seem odd that a feast day celebrates the consecration of a church. Think of it as a time to reflect on all the ways God and his Church have set aside sacred space to bring Creator and man in closer union. Out of nothingness, he set a platform of matter where man could stand and know and love. In the hostile expanding universe, He set the solar system and earth in just the right place for life. Then, from inanimate matter he enclosed a cell: a set-aside enclosed space which is the structure of all physical life. He set aside a garden amidst the earth for the best of his handiwork.

After man was cast out from the holy place because he defiled it, Noah and his sons were instructed to set aside an ark where they could survive the Deluge. God made all the men under Abraham a set-aside sacred brotherhood when he ordered them circumcised. When He gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He also instructed him in building a new sacred space: the Ark of the Covenant. There God would dwell amidst his elected people. That holy chest of the desert wanderers eventually became the Temples of the Promised Land. And from that Jewish culture came the Virgin-Mother, the new sacred Ark. She was set aide in her beginning by her Immaculate Conception and at her earthly end by her Assumption into Heaven. She was the ultimate sacred space. And He dwelt among us.

There is a setting aside of sacred spaces, and days and persons, because the whole of matter and living beings is not destined to be drawn into the Body of Christ. There is a separation which makes this ground here, holy; and that ground over there, profane. There is a separation that will send the devil to Hell, while drawing the poor in spirit into the Body of Christ. Maintaining this separation is so crucial to the divine plan that spaces and persons which have been consecrated must be destroyed or purified if they become contaminated. The root of the word "holy" actually means "set aside or separated."

The celebration of Hanukkah by the Jews is an 8-day commemoration of the Purification of the Temple after it had been defiled by a desecrating Greek king. When the Maccabees cleansed the temple altar from the Greek abominations, they destroyed the old altar and then rebuilt a new one. The Maccabees could end the desecrations only by warfare. They were led by a father and his sons. Once again we hear the biblical lesson that without a fighting patriarchal fraternity there is no defense of the sacred center. (Hanukkah really isn't "the Jewish Christmas.")

The liturgy of this day reminds us that human beings are temples of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of God dwells within us. Ezekiel has his vision of the sanctifying sacramental graces flowing like a river from the new temple of the Church. This day's Gospel recalls the Maccabees. Christ swings a purging whip to cleanse his Father’s house. In that same week on the night before he dies, he will do his other great pre-Crucifixion purifying act when he cleanses his sacred Apostles of the Judas-priest and orders them to do the same through the ages. Today, let us reflect on sacred spaces and our duty to keep them pure.

by El Greco (d. 1614)

UPDATE: The Lateran in Rome  was dedicated in November 324. It was the first  Church built in Rome after Constantine's Edict in 313 allowed Christianity a recognized public identity.  Emperor Constantine convoked the first Ecumenical Council - at Nicaea -- the following May.

"The beauty and harmony of the churches, destined to give praise to God, also draws us human beings, limited and sinful, to convert to form a “cosmos,” a well-ordered structure, in intimate communion with Jesus, who is the true Saint of saints. This happens in a culminating way in the Eucharistic liturgy, in which the “ecclesia,” that is, the community of the baptized, come together in a unified way to listen to the Word of God and nourish themselves with the Body and Blood of Christ. From these two tables the Church of living stones is built up in truth and charity and is internally formed by the Holy Spirit transforming herself into what she receives, conforming herself more and more to the Lord Jesus Christ. She herself, if she lives in sincere and fraternal unity, in this way becomes the spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God.
Dear friends, today’s feast celebrates a mystery that is always relevant: God’s desire to build a spiritual temple in the world, a community that worships him in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23-24). But this observance also reminds us of the importance of the material buildings in which the community gathers to celebrate the praises of God. Every community therefore has the duty to take special care of its own sacred buildings, which are a precious religious and historical patrimony. For this we call upon the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that she help us to become, like her, the “house of God,” living temple of his love. "
— Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, November 9, 2008

Saturday, November 2, 2019

NOVEMBER 2: The assassination of President Diem

[first published November 22, 2012]

The tumultuous November of 1963 began with the assassination of a Catholic president: Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam. Three weeks later, another fell.

For years the U.S. strongly supported Diem, but the turning point was JFK’s appointment of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (Nixon’s running mate in 1960) as our ambassador – replacing Frederick Nolting.

Lodge – with allies such as Averell Harriman and newspaper reporter David Halberstam – completely undermined the Vietnamese leader.

Diem’s younger brother and top advisor, Ngo Dinh Nhu, was killed along with him. The widow of the latter, Madame Nhu, had acted as first lady since 1955 when the unmarried Diem had become the country’s first president.

(The always colorful Madame Nhu lived long in exile; she died last year in Rome on Easter Sunday.  After the Saigon assassinations on the second day of November, All Souls Day 1963, she said: "Whoever has the Americans as allies does not need enemies.")

Dr. Pence says that JFK’s greatest failure as a public leader was his betrayal of our ally, President Diem. Kennedy was never proud of having allowed his underlings to give the green light to the coup; and in a mysterious way, it marked the loss of the American leader’s ‘Mandate of Heaven’

[Diem’s older brother, Thuc (d. 1984), was the archbishop of Hue. One of the nephews of Diem was Cardinal Thuan (d. 2002), who after being imprisoned for years in the North, served as head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace].

Check out this interview with Ambassador Nolting, in which he calls our involvement in Diem's overthrow "disastrous."

 Here is a review of Philip Catton's book, Diem's Final Failure: Prelude to America's War in Vietnam.

2017 UPDATE: Interview with Geoffrey Shaw, the author of  The Lost Mandate from Heaven: The Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam. This is the definitive account of the greatest blunder of the Vietnam war-the American inspired assassination of President Diem in Nov, 1963.  The man with the heart of darkness was Averell Harriman of the State Department. The young atheist news reporter David Halberstam could never understand the Catholic Confucian president who was much more an authentic nationalist than Ho Chi Minh. Replacing Ambassador Nolting with the Brahmin Henry Cabot Lodge left no one to counter Halberstam's prejudicial reporting and Harriman's sinister machinations. The champions of secular liberal democracy orchestrated the murder of the one leader who could have negotiated a settlement in Vietnam. This  primal political lesson of the Vietnam War was hinted at but inexcusably misrepresented by the Ken Burns PBS series. It is easier to paint an Asian Catholic as a tyrant than accuse a liberal Democrat and secular journalist of leading roles in a generation's greatest tragedy. The wrenching Last Man Out account of the fall of Saigon.

Here are State Department documents and analysis-Did JFK order Diem assassination? by John Prados.