Sunday, June 25, 2017

Thanks for the memories

I hesitate to speak or write in absolutes, but after more than eleven years, I think it likely that this will be my last post. I've been thinking about folding the tent for a couple of years now, as my heart really isn't in it anymore and the state of the world grows more depressing by the day. That and I have other interests which are increasingly taking up my time. It seems to me that this is a good stopping point. Ten + years is a good run as blogs go.

In saying au revoir I would like to thank all of my regular and occasional readers. This blog was never anywhere near being in the top tier of the Orthodox/political blogosphere but we had some good conversations. And while I did not always agree with every comment, I rarely found them unreasonable and often walked away more enlightened for them. My intention is to leave the comments open for another couple of weeks after which I will turn the lights off.

Finally, I ask forgiveness for any injury or hurt I may have caused as a result of anything I posted here.

Goodbye and God bless each of you.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

What do with Illinois?

llinois is like Venezuela now, a fiscally broken state that has lost its will to live, although for the moment, we still have enough toilet paper.

But before we run out of the essentials, let's finally admit that after decade upon decade of taxing and spending and borrowing, Illinois has finally run out of other people's money.

Those "other people" include taxpayers who've abandoned the state. And now Illinois faces doomsday.

So as the politicians meet in Springfield this week for another round of posturing and gesturing and blaming, we need a plan.

And here it is:

Dissolve Illinois. Decommission the state, tear up the charter, whatever the legal mumbo-jumbo, just end the whole dang thing.

We just disappear. With no pain. That's right. You heard me.

The best thing to do is to break Illinois into pieces right now. Just wipe us off the map. Cut us out of America's heartland and let neighboring states carve us up and take the best chunks for themselves.

The group that will scream the loudest is the state's political class, who did this to us, and the big bond creditors, who are whispering talk of bankruptcy and asset forfeiture to save their own skins.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The USS Fitzgerald

 -- Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia -- Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego -- Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut -- Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas -- Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California -- Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland -- Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio

O God of spirits and of all flesh, Who hast trampled down death and overthrown the Devil, and given life to Thy world, do Thou, the same Lord, give rest to the souls of Thy departed servants in a place of brightness, a place of refreshment, a place of repose, where all sickness, sighing, and sorrow have fled away. Pardon every transgression which they have committed, whether by word or deed or thought. For Thou art a good God and lovest mankind; because there is no man who lives yet does not sin, for Thou only art without sin, Thy righteousness is to all eternity, and Thy word is truth.

For Thou are the Resurrection, the Life, and the Repose of Thy servants who have fallen asleep, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever unto ages of ages. Amen.

Memory eternal! Memory eternal! Memory eternal!

Many Years!

To HM The Queen on her (official) 91st birthday.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Baseball

It's not a good sign when an article on your team includes this line...

"At least Mr. Met hasn't flipped off anybody in a couple of weeks."

Friday, June 09, 2017

Contraception and the Orthodox Church: Contemporary Theology and the Sources of Tradition

 Introduction

The early twentieth century saw the rapid growth of technologies intended to help prevent the conception of children. As these became more widely available and more broadly accepted in the culture at large, questions began to arise among Christians as to the morality of these products. The problem of contraception in turn uncovered deeper questions about the nature of love, marriage, and the conjugal act. A substantial and satisfying response to these questions is found in the Tradition of the Church, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). By the indwelling grace of the Spirit she not only preserves the truth, entrusted by the divine Savior to his apostles and maintained throughout the centuries by the holy Fathers, but her timeless mind remains accessible in every exigency. This applies to moral as well as theological questions, for her teaching is comprised of both dogmatic definitions and ethical standards.1 Part of the ascetic struggle of faith of every Christian is to assimilate these divine truths and live them. In this regard the flock of Christ relies on its pastors for guidance and looks to educated teachers and theologians for clarification. And this is precisely what many Orthodox Christians have done in the midst of an eruption of a contraceptive culture. Laity and clergy alike have turned to synodal statements and theological literature looking for the mind of the Church on this serious issue that touches the most intimate element of the married Christian life. Yet, to their detriment, the faithful have been deprived of the gold of Tradition on this issue and have instead been handed counterfeited accommodations to modern life that fall far short of the Church’s patrimony. The Fathers of the Church, and Orthodox theologians and writers as recently as the 1960s, were unanimous in their condemnation of artificial contraception. Yet in the past several decades a growing number of authors and authorities have departed from this inheritance and put forward a novel perspective on the issue, ranging from qualified permissibility to near endorsement. Today a majority of Orthodox Christians has seemingly accepted this newer teaching, so that in less than a century the Church has witnessed the dramatic reversal of a consensus that had lasted nearly two millennia—so strong is this cultural force we call contraception. But modern apologists for contraception do not represent the mind of the Church. When they are aware of the teaching of the Fathers they either misunderstand it or dismiss it, whether in principle or in particulars. Furthermore, their treatment of the issue has generally been superficial and lacking in philosophical and theological rigor. These flaws, combined with the extreme novelty of the new morality, allow for a straightforward analysis and critique of contemporary opinions about contraception.

*This essay is indebted to Dr. Timothy Patitsas, professor of Ethics at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, as well as to Mother Nectaria McLees and John Taylor Carr. I am also grateful to Fr. Maximos Constas and William Goldin for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of the paper. Since this paper was first written, the author has learned of an earlier study on the issue: Fr. John Schroedel, “Orthodox Christianity and Contraception: Perspectives on the Contemporary Discussion” (M.Div. Thesis, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, 2002). The present paper obviously covers much of the same ground.

This paper is intended to expose the fallaciousness of the new morality through comparison with the fountains of truth preserved in the Church and handed on to every generation.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

British Election Upset

Nothing official... yet. But exit polls indicate the Conservative Party may lose its majority in the House of Commons leaving the country with a hung parliament. If true this would cap an epic electoral collapse, given that as recently as last month there were expectations of a Tory landslide. Also if true, Mrs. May's days a PM may be numbered as there is certain to be serious finger pointing both within the government and among backbenchers. The Prime Minister has already been under sharp criticism for running what might charitably be described as a lackluster campaign. Less than charitable descriptions have labeled it as among the worst in modern British politics.

And of course this is going to give a huge bump in credibility to the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a radical leftist and known terrorist sympathizer. In a perverted sort of way that might be the best news to come out of this. If the exit polls are accurate Corbyn is likely the only reason that Labour isn't going to win the election outright. He has alienated most of his party's more moderate supporters and if he retains the leadership, which now seems extremely probable, it is unlikely that Labour will be able to win an outright majority in any general election.

Again, working on the assumption that the exit polls are accurate, the question will be whether a coalition government similar to that fashioned by Mr. Cameron can be formed or if there will be a quick call for another election. Mr. Corbyn has already pledged "no deals" in the event of a hung parliament, a pledge made perhaps rashly when it looked like there was virtually no chance of the Tories bleeping this up. The real danger is if the SNP throws its support to Labour. Depending on the final composition of the Commons, it is not completely beyond the realm of possibility that Corbyn could end up in No. 10. But we shall see.

For now, expect chaos. Even if the Tories manage to hang on to a narrow majority I expect that the long knives will be coming out for Mrs. May and her job security is now very weak.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Those who reject transgenderism banned from adoption, working with children in Illinois

June 1, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has instituted sweeping changes to its policies and procedures in caring for children who experience gender dysphoria that essentially weed out all employees and volunteers who cannot in good conscience support and promote transgender ideology.   
Illinois now "requires that all LGBTQ children and youth be placed in an affirming safe housing, receive LGBTQ competent medical and mental health services, and have equal opportunity and access to care."

However, in order to assure consistent achievement of that goal, the new policy requires "any person who is involved with DCFS children/youth will complete mandatory training in LGBTQ competency." This will be an integral part of DCFS core training and will be a requirement to attaining a child-welfare license.  

Read the rest here.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

RIP: Zbigniew Brzezinski

A fierce anti-Communist in an administration that could never quite bring itself to see Communism as truly evil. Memory eternal.

P.S. I'd like to buy a vowel.

The Church of Scotland Formally Apostatizes

Details.

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust...

Friday, May 19, 2017

Traveling

I will be on the road and out of town for the next week at least (see previous post). Expect little or no blogging until I get back.

Memory Eternal

My uncle Tom was a man with a great joie de vivre, characterized by a fondness for good food and drink (scotch whiskey single malt), gambling, an often irreverent sense of humor and social/political opinions that put him slightly to the right of Archie Bunker. When I was eleven on a family camping trip he pulled out a deck of cards and told me it was time I learned to play poker and acey duecy. I think I still owe him ten thousand or thereabouts. He met my aunt Cathy while working as a bouncer in a West Endicott bar that had a reputation as... well let's just say that calling it a dive would be giving it a dignity it did not deserve. Their long and happy marriage produced two great kids and a few grandchildren. He passed suddenly yesterday while on the golf course having fun with his friends.

May his memory be eternal!

P.S. He never tried to collect the ten grand. What a guy.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Relic from the Golden Age of Hollywood



The 1951 Cadillac Series 75 formal limousine (coachwork by Delmar) of the late Hollywood costume designer Edith Head. Over the course of her career she won eight(!) Academy Awards for costume design beginning in 1949 with The Heiress and ending in 1973 with The Sting (a personal favorite).

Is Humanae Vitae under threat?

In a recent missive Dr. Robert Moynihan notes that several sources that are usually well informed about the goings on within the Vatican believe that Pope Francis has appointed a secret committee to review Paul VI's famous and controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae. Adding fuel to this speculation is that the Vatican, given the opportunity to deny these reports, pointedly declined to do so. Hmm...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump

This administration is about one serious revelation away from a full blown crisis. If they (and in particular the President) can't get themselves under control this is not going to end well. The alarm is no longer confined to the lunatic left. Questions about basic competency and integrity are starting to be raised across the political spectrum. With a credible allegation that the President may have tried to interfere in an ongoing FBI investigation, the only reasonable recourse is to appoint an independent counsel. Assuming there is nothing to hide, this would  give the administration a chance to get back on an even keel and lower the political temperature a couple degrees by removing the various investigations from closely divided and highly partisan congressional committees.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Apostolic Succession

“Apostolic Succession is not merely a historical pedigree, but also requires Apostolic Faith. This is because Apostolic Succession is not the private possession of a bishop, but is the attribute of a local Church. A bishop who goes in schism or is cast out of office due to heresy does not take his Apostolic Succession with him as a private possession.”

-Fr. John Morris (AOANA)
From here. Via here.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Quote of the day...

"Fearing no insult, asking for no crown, receive with indifference both flattery and slander, and do not argue with a fool." - Aleksandr Pushkin

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Patriarch Kirill could visit US in near future

In Washington, DC for the May 10-13 World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians, convened by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, told TASS on Thursday that His Holiness Patriarch Kirill could visit America sometime in the near future. 

“I really think the patriarch’s visit to the US is somewhere on the horizon,” the metropolitan stated, noting that the primate has already visited all of the autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches except for the Orthodox Church in America, currently under the leadership of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon. Such a trip would be Patriarch Kirill’s first to America, and would be especially noteworthy as it was the Moscow Patriarchate that granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America in 1970. 

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Cardinal Coccopalmerio: Anglican Holy Orders may not be invalid

Sigh. There is so much disturbing news coming out of Rome these days that I am consciously trying to ignore most of it. But I do think this is significant.

As I was saying...

Monday's post appears to have been remarkably prescient. A few quick observations. No, this is not Watergate v2.0. Most of the hysteria (and that's what it is) is being manufactured by the usual suspects, i.e. the Democrats and their mouthpieces in the msm. Nothing illegal was done here and if the truth is to be told bluntly, Comey was not up to the job. Further, until approximately 24hrs ago his name was an epithet among rank and file Democrats.

That said, this was politically stupid and yet further evidence that Trump is in way over his head. He has repeatedly demonstrated that he is utterly clueless about how Washington works and is ignorant of things that any graduate of an 11th grade US History/Civics class would be expected to know. That's bad enough. But where the hell is his staff? Is there no one who could explain how these things are handled? Namely you send a friend of a friend with a discreet and strictly verbal message to Comey giving them a polite tip that the President is not thrilled with their job performance and it would be best if they wrapped up their ongoing investigations as soon as practicable and consider an early retirement "for family reasons" sometime after the new year. If they don't take the hint then they can still be dismissed, but ONLY after the Russian investigation is resolved or shown to be going nowhere.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Trump's rough start is probably only going to get worse

There is a longish piece in the New Yorker discussing the Donald's problems and where they might lead, including quite possibly an early termination of his presidency. Some of the speculation is silly, including the idea that Congress might declare him mentally unfit under the 25th amendment.

But a lot of this is serious. Trump has deliberately chosen to walk into a legal minefield with his decision not to put his vast business empire into a blind trust. The number of lawsuits are already piling up and it is only a matter of time before he is compelled to answer questions under oath. For a man of his temperament and history of playing fast and loose with facts, that could be a moment of extreme peril.

His campaign is under investigation for potential collusion with a hostile foreign power. His former, and very short lived National Security Advisor could be facing a criminal indictment. And he has already stated he is prepared to give testimony if granted immunity. It seems unlikely that Flynn has any dirt on the president. If he did I suspect the FBI would have already given him immunity. But he could inflict incalculable damage on an administration that is already in disarray.

Whatever his support among a core group of people, his overall popularity is hovering around 40% and it's unlikely that he has anything even close to that degree of committed support in either house of Congress. That level of public support, or rather hostility, can be politically crippling.

Anyways, while it is far from perfect, the article is a good read and does demonstrate that Donald Trump is facing challenges that put him in an historical class of one.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Prince Philip Announces Retirement at 95

H.R.H. Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh has announced he is stepping back and will no longer perform any royal functions beginning in the fall. The prince is 95 and while generally believed to be in good overall health for a man of his age, he is still er... a man of his age.

Reporter: "What are the most important rules for being a successful prince consort?"

Prince Philip: "Always wear comfortable shoes and never pass a chance to step into the loo as you never know when your next one will come along."

Many (more) years!