Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ocean Liners

For those who share my interest in archaic forms of transportation you may wish to check out Georg Link's YouTube channel. He has uploaded scores of short videos dedicated to passenger ships, both old and new, that are filled with photographs presumably from his private collection.

A liberal decries heresy

The time has come for a schism regarding the issue of women in the church. Those of us who know that women should be accorded full participation in every aspect of church life need to visibly and forcefully separate ourselves from those who do not. Their subjugation of women is anti-Christian, and it should be tolerated no longer.
Read the rest here.

A foreshadowing of things to come.

Friday, November 29, 2013

More on Neo-Reaction

There has been some considerable response to the Geeks for Monarchy post which I had linked on A/O (here). See this longish post over at Unqualified Reservations and another post by the Anti-Gnostic. Both are worth a read and contain a number of related links.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Illinois: Lawmakers announce plan to save state pensions - but no details

CHICAGO — Leaders of the Illinois legislature on Wednesday announced that they had found, at long last, a way to repair the state’s deeply troubled pension system, which has been deemed among the most underfunded public systems in the nation, has jeopardized the state’s financial stability and has become a political risk for state leaders. 

The leaders declined to make details of their plan public as they privately sought support from rank-and-file lawmakers before a special session called for Tuesday. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, praised the leaders — a group of top Democrats and Republicans — for what he described as a “critical agreement.” He said, without providing more details, that the deal met a crucial standard of eliminating the unfunded debt and fully stabilizing the system, which has an estimated $100 billion in unfunded liability. 
Read the rest here.

Churches should perform gay blessings, CofE says

The Church of England is poised to offer public blessing services for same-sex couples in a historic shift in teaching.
A long-awaited review of church teaching by a panel of bishops recommends lifting the ban on special services which will amount to weddings in all but name. 
Although the Church will continue to opt out of carrying out gay marriages, when they become legal next year the landmark report recommends allowing priests to conduct public services "to mark the formation of permanent same sex relationships". 
The report repeatedly speaks of the need for the Church to "repent" for the way gay and lesbian people have been treated in the past. 
Read the rest here.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you all the joy of the feast!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Reflections on the Birth Control Mandate

Anti-Gnostic has some reflections up in response to this post. Among his observations...
Insurance is the pooling of risk of unanticipated casualties. Outside the rare event of rape, coitus is entirely voluntary. Thus, there is no way to "insure" birth control. The mandate is equivalent to requiring your homeowner's insurer to cover your gambling losses in Vegas. The only way to avoid moral hazard would be to charge you for the entire amount of your own money you're prepared to risk. So, premiums must rise to cover the cost of these purely voluntary outlays, er, expenses.
Read the rest here.

Microsoft, suspecting NSA spying, to ramp up efforts to encrypt its Internet traffic

Microsoft is moving toward a major new effort to encrypt its Internet traffic amid fears that the National Security Agency may have broken into its global communications links, said people familiar with the emerging plans. 

Suspicions at Microsoft, while building for several months, sharpened in October when it was reported that the NSA was intercepting traffic inside the private networks of Google and Yahoo, two industry rivals with similar global infrastructures, said people with direct knowledge of the company’s deliberations. They said top Microsoft executives are meeting this week to decide what encryption initiatives to deploy and how quickly.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Supreme Court to Rule on Birth Control Mandate

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has agreed to referee another dispute over President Barack Obama’s health care law, whether businesses can use religious objections to escape a requirement to cover birth control for employees.

The justices said Tuesday they will take up an issue that has divided the lower courts in the face of roughly 40 lawsuits from for-profit companies asking to be spared from having to cover some or all forms of contraception.
Read the rest here.

Karzai moves to scuttle Afghan troop agreement

The man is a complete flake thank God. He has issued new demands that are unacceptable to Obama and may force a complete withdrawal of US forces by the end of next year.

Monday, November 25, 2013

For those still harboring doubts...

MCJ has still more evidence.

Consecration of a Village Church Near Moscow

24 November 2013

Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries

Many of us yearn for a return to one golden age or another. But there’s a community of bloggers taking the idea to an extreme: they want to turn the dial way back to the days before the French Revolution.

Neoreactionaries believe that while technology and capitalism have advanced humanity over the past couple centuries, democracy has actually done more harm than good. They propose a return to old-fashioned gender roles, social order and monarchy.

You may have seen them crop-up on tech hangouts like Hacker News and Less Wrong, having cryptic conversations about “Moldbug” and “the Cathedral.” And though neoreactionaries aren’t exactly rampant in the tech industry, PayPal founder Peter Thiel has voiced similar ideas, and Pax Dickinson, the former CTO of Business Insider, says he’s been influenced by neoreactionary thought. It may be a small, minority world view, but it’s one that I think shines some light on the psyche of contemporary tech culture.

Enough has been written on neoreaction already to fill at least a couple of books, so if you prefer to go straight to the source, just pop a Modafinil and skip to the “Neoreaction Reading List” at the end of this post. For everyone else, I’ll do my best to summarize neoreactionary thought and why it might matter.
Read the rest here.
HT: The Anracho-Monarchist

Orthodox Constructions of the West

Dr. Adam deVille really likes this book.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Major Nuclear Agreement Reached With Iran

GENEVA — Iran and six major powers agreed early Sunday on a historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions, diplomats confirmed.

The deal was reached after four days of marathon bargaining and an eleventh-hour intervention by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and foreign ministers from Europe, Russia and China, the sources said.
Read the rest here.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Liturgy on the Birthday of Patriarch Kirill

From Christ the Savior Cathedral 11-20-2013

Ukraine's hard line president rejects EU membership - will persue closer ties with Russia

MOSCOW — Prime Minister Mykola Azarov of Ukraine told enraged opposition lawmakers on Friday that the government’s decision to walk away from far-reaching political and free trade agreements with the European Union was prompted by excessively harsh terms demanded by the International Monetary Fund in a debt refinancing plan. 

In response to the decision to abandon the accords with Europe, which were due to be signed next week at a major conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, opposition leaders called for the resignation of the Ukrainian government and for the impeachment of President Viktor F. Yanukovich. 
Kiev was pulsing with emotion that officials and commentators said they had not experienced since the Orange Revolution of 2004. On Thursday night, more than 1,000 people demonstrated against the government’s decision, waving European Union flags, and chanting “Ukraine is Europe!” 
Read the rest here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Venezuela’s Maduro resorts to state-sponsored looting

LIKE A slow-motion car crash, the unraveling of Venezuela’s economy and political system is a fascinating, as well as sickening, spectacle. Last month we noted the attempt of Nicolás Maduro, the would-be caudillo who succeeded Hugo Chávez as president, to distract public attention from world-beating inflation, shortages, power outages and crime by expelling several U.S. diplomats who he claimed were engaged in nefarious sabotage. Now, with prices still rising as fast as his popularity is dropping, Mr. Maduro has adopted a drastic tactic: state-sponsored looting.

This month, Mr. Maduro, a former bus driver whose ignorance of economics is shockingly obvious, ordered the national guard to invade electronics stores and drastically lower the prices of goods. Mobs soon besieged the outlets, carrying away televisions and other appliances, sometimes without paying; even some of the soldiers helped themselves. More than 100 shop owners and other small businessmen were rounded up and jailed.
Read the rest here.

A leftist paradise on the rise.

The NY Times flip flops on the filbuster... again

Back when Mr. Clinton was President the New York Times fumed about the threat of a filibuster to some of his appointments and argued on its editorial page for the abolition or at least severe curtailment of the weapon of last resort for a minority party. Later (coincidentally after Mr. Bush took office) they reflected and in yet another op-ed admitted that they had been wrong. The filibuster, they said, should be preserved to prevent a president from appointing judges who were "outside the mainstream" of American jurisprudence and political thought. Now they are again flipping. As of tonight the filibuster is undemocratic and being abused by the minority party to advance its political agenda.

And in the latter case they are to some degree right. Although I think it could have near term negative consequences, limiting the filibuster was the right thing to do, even if it is being done for all the wrong reasons. Both parties have abused it, especially over the last ten years or so. And yes, the minority GOP was way over the line in their attempt to unilaterally reduce the size of the most important Federal Appeals Court just to prevent the president from appointing judges.

Memo to the GOP: That's his constitutional right. Elections have consequences.

But Democrats take note... One day, maybe sooner than you'd like, you will be in the minority and a Republican will be in the White House. And on that day, you had best fasten their seat belts. Because what comes around goes around.

The End of Roe v Wade?

Could the Democrats have just signed the death warrant for the worst Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott? Quite possibly. Although the Democrats exempted Supreme Court nominations from today's sweeping curtailment of the Senate Filibuster, the Republicans have understandably made it crystal clear that they will not respect that limitation once they regain the majority. The threat of a Filibuster is the only thing that kept Republican presidents from nominating openly anti-Roe judges to the high court.

Of course we have to get through three more years of Zero's presidency. But I don't see any voluntary retirements from the more conservative members of the Supreme Court in that time frame. In any event me thinks things are about to get interesting in the courts.

Senate Democrats Restrict Filibusters on Party-line Vote

The Democratic-controlled Senate on Thursday struck down the long-standing filibuster rules for most presidential nominations, voting mostly along party lines to alter nearly 225 years of precedent.

The rule change would allow federal judge nominees and executive-office appointments to be confirmed by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote super majority that has been required for more than two centuries. The change would not apply to Supreme Court nominations. It would dramatically alter the landscape for both Democratic and Republican presidents, especially if their own political party holds a majority of, but fewer than 60, Senate seats.
Read the rest here.

Beyond Conspiracy

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Politics of the Cup

Fr. Stephen Freeman writes in defense of closed communion. This a weighty piece that deserves to be read carefully and then shared far and wide.

Reid Preparing to Move for Limits on Filibuster

WASHINGTON — Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, is prepared to move forward with a vote that could severely limit the minority party’s ability to filibuster presidential nominees, possibly as early as this week, Democrats said Tuesday.

Exasperated with the refusal of Senate Republicans to confirm many of President Obama’s nominees, Mr. Reid has been speaking individually with members of his caucus to gauge whether there is enough support to change filibuster rules.

Given how much deference senators have traditionally shown to the rules and procedures of the institution — many of them in place since the 18th century — any modifications are a serious undertaking.

But among Democrats there is a strong consensus that Republicans have gone too far in their latest attempt to block White House appointments, by denying Mr. Obama any more judges for what is considered the most important appeals court in the country despite three vacancies.

On Monday, they denied him his third pick in less than a month to the court, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. If Mr. Reid determines he has the support, he could schedule a vote before Friday, an aide who has spoken with him directly said Tuesday.
Read the rest here.

Quote of the day...

“….Even if the parish had a billion dollar endowment that paid all the bills and funded every ministry, I would still need to give. Even if the parish had a staff of multiple clergy ready to serve everyone’s needs, I would still need to serve. Even if this church was completely full to the walls every time we held a church service, I would still need to attend. That’s because giving is a spiritual act and I am the only one who could become rich toward God for me…”
From a homily given by Fr. Andrew S. Damick
HT: Fr. Milovan Katanic

Wisconsin's Political Speech Raid

Americans learned in the IRS political targeting scandal that government enforcement power can be used to stifle political speech. Something similar may be unfolding in Wisconsin, where a special prosecutor is targeting conservative groups that participated in the battle over Governor Scott Walker's union reforms.

In recent weeks, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has hit dozens of conservative groups with subpoenas demanding documents related to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns to recall Governor Walker and state legislative leaders.

Copies of two subpoenas we've seen demand "all memoranda, email . . . correspondence, and communications" both internally and between the subpoena target and some 29 conservative groups, including Wisconsin and national nonprofits, political vendors and party committees. The groups include the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity—Wisconsin, American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

One subpoena also demands "all records of income received, including fundraising information and the identity of persons contributing to the corporation." In other words, tell us who your donors are.
Read the rest here.

Endless Afghanistan?

KABUL – While many Americans have been led to believe the war in Afghanistan will soon be over, a draft of a key US-Afghan security deal obtained by NBC News shows the United States is prepared to maintain military outposts in Afghanistan for many years to come, and pay to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan security forces.

The wide-ranging document, still unsigned by the United States and Afghanistan, has the potential to commit thousands of American troops to Afghanistan and spend billions of US taxpayer dollars.

The document outlines what appears to be the start of a new, open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan in the name of training and continuing to fight al-Qaeda. The war in Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be ending, but renewed under new, scaled-down US-Afghan terms.
Read the rest here.


Hollyweird's worst idea in a long time.

Britain: Internet providers to begin restricting access to porn

All 20million families with internet connections are to be forced within months to say whether they want access to online pornography. Hundreds of thousands are already signing up to have it blocked.

A scheme to combat the tide of web sleaze that is corroding childhood has been dramatically accelerated, David Cameron told the Daily Mail last night. Speaking ahead of a Downing Street summit with online giants next week, the Prime Minister revealed that huge numbers of households have already opted for family-friendly filters.
Read the rest here.

The World's First Church Dedicated to the Thief Confessor of Golgotha

From here where you may also read the story of the holy priest who inspired its construction.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Republicans Block Another Obama Nominee for Key Judgeship

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Monday denied President Obama his third nominee in recent weeks to the nation’s most powerful and prestigious appeals court and insisted they would not back down, inflaming a bitter debate over a president’s right to shape the judiciary.

By a vote of 53 to 38, the Senate failed to break a filibuster of a federal judge, Robert L. Wilkins, who was nominated to fill one of three vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, falling short of the 60 votes needed.

Unlike previous fights over judicial nominees, this one is not driven by ideology or divisive social issues like abortion. Republicans have raised few objections to any of the candidates’ qualifications or political leanings.

Rather, Republicans are trying to prevent Mr. Obama from filling any slots on the court, fearing that he will alter its conservative tilt.

Democrats accused Republicans of exercising a nakedly political double standard for confirming presidential nominees.

“Appointing judges to fill vacant judicial seats is not court-packing,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader. “It’s a president’s right as well as his duty.”

Republicans have argued that the court does not have the caseload to merit filling the vacancies, and they have proposed legislation to shrink it by three seats. But that legislation has no chance of becoming law in a Democratic-controlled Senate, so instead Republicans have vowed to block any nominees for that court.
Read the rest here.

Paul Krugman: We are in a depression, and it could be a long one

Spend any time around monetary officials and one word you’ll hear a lot is “normalization.” Most though not all such officials accept that now is no time to be tightfisted, that for the time being credit must be easy and interest rates low. Still, the men in dark suits look forward eagerly to the day when they can go back to their usual job, snatching away the punch bowl whenever the party gets going. 

But what if the world we’ve been living in for the past five years is the new normal? What if depression-like conditions are on track to persist, not for another year or two, but for decades? 
Read the rest here.

Women bishops: Anglo-Catholics run up the white flag

"Traditionalists ready to allow women bishops," says the headline in The Times today. Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England won't have to encounter lady bishops in their own parishes, but they are decisively throwing in their lot with a liberal Protestant denomination that consecrates them. Come on, guys, admit it! There will be some sort of fig-leaf "safeguard" to stop the women bishops… um, do you know, after 20 years of watching Anglo-Catholics slowly accommodating themselves to female ordination I've lost track and I'm not sure exactly what this will stop (apart from having the women bishops in their sanctuaries, for the time being).

Put it this way: the white flag is very near the top of the mast.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fred Reed Reflects on Veteran's Day

As I write, it is Veterans Day. Coincidentally last night, November tenth, the annual Marine Corps birthday party took place  at the Tratoria, a local Italian restaurant. I hadn´t gone before, not being much of a joiner, but went this time with Vi and Natalia. The assembled were nice people, well along in years, as am I. There were good food, patriotic speeches, and a birthday cake. We sang the Marine Corps Hymn, though “from the halls of Montezuma” was perhaps not a high point of diplomatic appropriateness in Mexico.

A camaraderie exists among Marines, into which I fit oddly. It starts with boot camp at Parris Island or, for the Hollywood Marines, at the recruit depot in San Diego. Men remember it because it was hard, demanding, a rite of passage to manhood. I understand that boot has been watered down as the country moves toward the goal of a non-violent Marine Corps, but in the Sixties it hadn´t been. If you got through it, you had done something, and you knew it. Those who hadn´t were an inferior species. We remember it with fondness, and a bond.

And then for Marines there are the wars, which we always have. I don´t know why. For most at the Tratoria, it was I suppose Southeast Asia. We had talk of sacrifice and duty. There is a romance to war that has called to men since well before the days of Marcus Aurelius wintering on the Rhine-Danube line, when Rome, not America, was Rome. War is another bond.
Read the rest here.

Students Ban 'R-word,' Get Sent to Principal

Classic court cases involving students and free speech usually involve teens trying to push the limits of provocative, political or even profane language.

But a looming clash of cultures at a suburban Philadelphia football powerhouse presents a new twist on the usual First Amendment fight.

Editors of a student newspaper are getting heat from school officials after banning the word "Redskins'' - their mascot at Neshaminy, a high school named for the creek where the Lenape Indians once lived.
Read the rest here.

Voter Suppression’s New Pretext

IRVINE, Calif. — IT’S the latest fad among state officials looking to make voting harder: We’re not racist, we’re just partisan.

Some background: In June, the Supreme Court struck down a core provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, under which nine states and portions of others had to get federal approval before changing their election laws.

One of those states, Texas, is again in court, facing a Justice Department suit seeking to get the state under federal oversight again. To do so, the Justice Department must prove intentional racial discrimination.

Texas’ defense? It’s discrimination, all right — but it’s on the basis of party, not race, and therefore it’s O.K.

Says Texas: “It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.”
Read the rest here.

A war story from Greece

Thus when Greek Orthodox Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens ordered his people to hide persecuted Jews, SS commander Jürgen Stroop threatened to shoot the archbishop. Rutler finishes the tale by recounting a striking example of episcopal sangfroid: “The archbishop replied by recalling the lynching of Patriarch Gregory of Constantinople by the Turks in 1821: ‘According to the tradition of the Greek Orthodox Church, our prelates are hanged, not shot. Please respect our tradition.’” The archbishop, happily, lived until 1949; Stroop was hanged after the war for his role in liquidating the Warsaw Ghetto.
From an article by George Weigel
HT: A blog reader

I had not heard this story before and found it uplifting.

“A Sign of Contradiction”: A Forgotten Reflection by Florovsky on the Pope and the Patriarch

Read it here.

Proposed ban on religious garb introduced in Quebec parliament

Bernard Drainville, Quebec’s Minister Responsible for Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship, has formally introduced controversial legislation that would prevent “personnel members of public bodies” from wearing “objects such as headgear, clothing, jewelry or other adornments which, by their conspicuous nature, overtly indicate a religious affiliation,” according to the text of the proposed legislation.

“Public bodies,” according to the measure, include government agencies, school boards, “health and social services agencies,” and “budget-funded bodies.”

Public hearings will begin in January, CBC News reported.
Read the rest here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Roman Catholic Bishop Plans Exorcism Prayers to Protest Gay Marriage

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said he will offer prayers for "exorcism in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage" at the same time Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the same-sex marriage bill into law next week.

Paprocki said he will offer the prayers intended to cast out evil at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the state's capital Wednesday.

"It is scandalous that so many Catholic politicians are responsible for enabling the passage of this legislation and even twisting the words of the pope to rationalize their actions despite the clear teaching of the church," Paprocki said in a statement.

This month, House Speaker Michael Madigan cited the pope's renowned "Who am I to judge?" phrase on the House floor to explain the lawmaker's support for same-sex marriage. Pope Francis' remark — "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?" — referred to gay men who seek to become priests, not to gay marriage.
Read the rest here.

A lonely quest to embarrass Congress

This week, once again, Sen. David Vitter did not get his way.

On Wednesday, in a speech on a near-empty Senate floor, Vitter (R-La.) returned to a lonely quest that has obsessed him since September. He is unhappy — very unhappy — with the health insurance plans available to Congress’s staff.

The problem, Vitter says, is that those plans are too good.

Under the president’s health-care law, Congress and much of its staff are supposed to lose their old health plans and instead buy coverage on the “exchanges” set up for individual Americans. But Vitter says that they are slated to get improper help, including money from the federal government, and that special loopholes allow some to keep their old coverage.

Vitter wants that to stop.

And so he has embarked on an improbable mission: to persuade other legislators to take valued benefits away from the very staffers who write their speeches, guide their votes, answer their mail, and remind them of the birthdays of spouses and the names of Rotary Club presidents back home.
Read the rest here.

House approves plan to let some keep their health plans

The House approved a plan Friday permitting health insurance companies to continue selling policies that do not comply with the health-care law, a proposal that would allow more Americans to keep their current health plans while significantly weakening part of the Affordable Care Act.

Thirty-nine Democrats joined with the Republican majority in support of the “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” a proposal by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) that would allow insurance companies to keep selling health policies that do not reflect the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SSPX Disrupts Interfaith Service Marking the Holocaust

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Ultra-traditionalist Catholics have openly challenged Pope Francis by disrupting one of his favorite events, a ceremony that he and Jewish leaders led in the Metropolitan Cathedral each year to promote religious harmony on the anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust.

The annual ceremony brings together Catholics, Jews and Protestants to mark Kristallnacht, the Nazi-led mob violence in 1938 when about 1,000 Jewish synagogues were burned and thousands of Jews were forced into concentration camps, launching the genocide that killed 6 million Jews.
A small group disrupted Tuesday night's ceremony by shouting the rosary and the "Our Father" prayer, and spreading pamphlets saying "followers of false gods must be kept out of the sacred temple."
Read the rest here.
 HT: Deacon Greg

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Note on the Philippines

Prayers are needed, but material aid is of critical importance if a great natural disaster is to be prevented from becoming a humanitarian catastrophe. There are huge numbers of people including women and children who are in want of the most basic necessities of life including food and safe drinking water. Please do not donate clothes or food. The logistics of moving donated items to major disaster areas is such that it is almost always better to give cash. The various charitable agencies with great experience in handling disaster relief know what is needed and how to get it quickly and cheaply from point A to where it is most needed.

If you can spare a little money please consider a contribution to a reputable charity.

Cardinal Scola in Moscow...

Moscow (AsiaNews) - First of all the issue of the "life of the Orthodox diocese of Milan", but probably also the "common work in dialogue with Islam" and the protection of the Christian communities in the Middle East; these are the issues at the center of the "courtesy call" paid by the Archbishop of Milan, Card. Angelo Scola, to the Patriarch of Moscow , Kirill tomorrow , November 12, the Cardinal told press yesterday, the first of his three-day visit to Moscow at the invitation of the Archbishop of Mother of God , Msgr. Paolo Pezzi . Despite "not being related" to the forthcoming audience of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, with the Pope - as the same Scola was keen to stress - the visit is framed within a flurry of exchanges between the two Churches. In fact, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk , chairman of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, is currently in Rome to meet Pope Francis and present the book "Word of God and the word of man," with contributions by the Russian philologist Serghei Averintsev . At the end of the month, then , the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family , Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia , is expected in Moscow to speak at a conference organized by the Orthodox Church, on the theme of family.

"The motive for my visit of courtesy to the Patriarch - said Scola -  is to speak to him about the situation of the Orthodox faithful in Milan, how we relate to them, giving them churches where they can celebrate the divine liturgy and our experience of a greatly fraternal relationship". The Cardinal notes that it is at this "grass roots level" that ecumenical dialogue is most effective. "Doctrinal and theological commissions are important as are commitment on issues common to the two Churches like the family, justice , life - he said , defining the presence of the Orthodox in the diocese of Milan as "constructive".  This offers another opportunity: for the faithful to meet and share the beauty , goodness and truth of their encounter with the Lord. "I think , in the last 30-40 years , there the firm conviction of the indispensability of ecumenical dialogue has arisen among all Christian denominations, encouraged by the current mixing of cultures" said the cardinal, who would not be drawn on the possibility of a meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow, long overdue. "I'm not a fortune teller", he joked , then added , citing the Gospel of St. John: "One thing is clear , as Jesus said : ' That they may be one so that the world may believe .'" "The prospect of unification - he pointed out at a press conference ahead of his intervention at the conference; "Identity, otherness, universality" at the Orthodox St. John Chrysostom University - must be in the heart of every Christian " .
Read the rest here.
HT: Blog reader Tim.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I'm back (sort of)

Just arrived late last night in Florida with mom after a four day drive. We made a detour to see the massive country house built by George Vanderbilt outside of Ashville North Carolina. For those who may have the opportunity to visit, it's definitely worth a look. Plan on at least half a day to see the house and grounds. Biltmore (the name of the house) was one of the more tastefully designed of the various Gilded Age monuments to obscene wealth that dot the East Coast. The Vanderbilts in particular seem to have had a thing for building giant mansions that were clearly intended to ape the country houses of European aristocrats. Most of them just ended up as rather tacky ways of telling the world that they were spectacularly rich. (See Newport Rhode Island's Marble House for an example.) George appears to have been the exception in the family. Biltmore is elegantly decorated in an eclectic style that announces wealth while not causing you to think of the price tag for each of the furnishings, at least not right away. And the house is situated right on the edge of the Smoky Mountains in some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. The views are breathtaking.

Alas that was our only real stop on a long road trip. This is the first time I have been able to even glance online and my email box is overflowing. If you sent me anything please give me a day or two to get back to you. Also we don't have internet hooked up at the house yet, so I'm using a public connection for the next couple days.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

On the road again...

Traveling for the next few days. Little or no posting for a while. Also please be patient with email.

Election Results

First off this was an off off year election. So I don't think anyone can read too much into it. 2014 will be far more important. That said it was not a good night for the Tea Party. In heavily Democratic New Jersey a charismatic center-right Republican won reelection in a landslide. In New York City, also heavily Democratic, a very left leaning Mayor was elected. No surprise there at all. But the margin of victory was breathtaking, even for a solidly blue city. More important races were farther south.

In Virginia's Governor's race the people had a choice between a Democratic sleazeball and a Republican hard right social conservative heavily backed by the Tea Party. It was closer than some had expected, but the citizens of the Old Dominion opted for the sleazeball. They also defeated the Tea Party's Lt Governor candidate who was an ideological wack job. The Attorney General's race is too close to call.

In solidly conservative Alabama, an establishment Republican defeated a Tea Party challenge for the GOP nomination in the First Congressional District in what was perhaps the most closely watched election among Republicans. The Tea Party candidate refused to endorse the winner and hinted he may bolt the party. The district has been safely Republican for a half century and the forthcoming special election is considered a formality.

All in all no big surprises last night. But perhaps a cautionary message to the far right that the country may be souring on the Tea Party's more extreme positions.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Why Orthodox Suck at Geography

"But they told me to fill in the map!"
HT: Hyperdox Herman

Pope Francis is Polling Catholics on Hot Topics

Vatican watchers say Francis' polling attempt is extraordinary on two levels: first, because it seeks input from rank-and-file Roman Catholics and second, because it touches on issues that might have been considered off-limits in past papacies.

The document sent to every nation's conference of bishops notes that the ancient church and its members are grappling with "concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago."

Same-sex unions, mixed marriages, single-parent families and surrogate mothers are all mentioned in the prelude to a list of questions that get into the nitty-gritty of 21st century life:

    "What pastoral attention can be given to people who live in these types of [same-sex] union?"
    "In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?"
    "Do [the divorced and remarried] feel marginalized or suffer from the impossibility of receiving the sacraments?"
    "In cases where non-practicing Catholics or declared non-believers request the celebration of marriage, describe how this pastoral challenge is dealt with."
Read the rest here.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Commemoration of Our Lady of Kazan

Pot, meet kettle

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s government acknowledged on Monday that its top intelligence agency had spied on diplomatic targets from countries including the United States, Iran and Russia, putting Brazilian authorities in the uncomfortable position of defending their own surveillance practices after repeatedly criticizing American spying operations. 
Read the rest here.

Bottom line here is that it's no fair because we are better at it than they are. Look, countries spy on each other. It's been going on since the days of the Old Testament and frankly, it's probably for the good. World leaders sleep better and are less twitchy if they think they have a clue what the other guy is up to.

(Video Removed)

Patriarch Kyril consecrates the tiny all wooden Church of the Ascension of the Lord.

Sorry, this video was classified as 'private' after I posted the link.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Robert Moynihan: “The Russians are coming!”

We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

—Russian President Vladimir Putin, open letter to the American people, September 11

In the countries of the former Soviet Union, in particular in Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia and Moldavia, an unprecedented religious revival is underway. In the Russian Orthodox Church over the past 25 years there have been built or restored from ruins more than 25,000 churches. This means that a thousand churches a year have been opened, i.e., three churches a day.

—Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, October 30

Pope Francis has said before that he likes Dostoevsky, and we would like to think that he might also like the spiritual tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church.

—Dimitry Sizonenko, Secretary of the Department of Inter-Christian Relations in the Russian Orthodox Church, March 22, 2013, just after the election of Pope Francis

In the Orthodox Churches they have kept that pristine liturgy, so beautiful. We have lost a bit the sense of adoration. They keep, they praise God, they adore God, they sing, time doesn’t count. God is the center, and this is a richness that I would like to say on this occasion in which you ask me this question. Once, speaking of the Western Church, of Western Europe, especially the Church that has grown most, they said this phrase to me: “Lux ex oriente, ex occidente luxus.” Consumerism, wellbeing, have done us so much harm. Instead you keep this beauty of God at the center, the reference. When one reads Dostoyevsky – I believe that for us all he must be an author to read and reread, because he has wisdom – one perceives what the Russian spirit is, the Eastern spirit. It’s something that will do us so much good. We are in need of this renewal, of this fresh air of the East, of this light of the East.

—Pope Francis, July 28, interview with press on flight back from Brazil

When it was the heart of the Soviet Union, Russia embraced a communist ideology that denied the existence of God and the eternity of the human soul, calling such beliefs socially harmful mystifications. Today, in 2013, Russia is quite dramatically preaching traditional Christian faith and values — to the consternation of many secular thinkers in the once-Christian West.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

Friday, November 01, 2013

Fred Reed: Keep those women away from our sons!

It is time to get women out of the schooling of boys. It is way past time. Women in our feminized classrooms are consigning generations of our sons to years of misery and diminished futures. The evidence is everywhere. Few dare notice it.

The feminization is real. More than seventy-five percent of teachers are women; in New York state, over ninety percent of elementary school teachers are women; in the US, over seventy percent of psychologists are women, with (sez me) the rest being doubtful. This is feminization with fangs.

I have just read Back to Normal: Why Ordinary Childhood Behavior Is Mistaken for ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, by a psychologist, Enrico Gnaulati, who works with children alleged to have psychological problems in school, usually meaning boys. I decline to recommend it because of its psychobabble, its tendency to discover the obvious at great length, and its Genderallly Correct pronouns, which will grate on the literate. (I mean constructions resembling “If a student comes in, tell him or her that he or she should put his or her books in his or her locker”) However, a serious interest in the subject justifies slogging through the prose. (The statistics above are from the book.)

The relevent content is that women are making school hell for boys, that they have turned normal boyish behavior, such as enjoyment of rough-housing, into psychiatric “personality disorders.” They are doping boys up, forcing them into behavior utterly alien to them, and sending them to psychiatrists if they don´t conform to standards of behavior suited to girls. The result is that boy children hate school and do poorly (despite, as Gnaulati, says, having higher IQs). This is no secret for anyone paying attention, but  Gnaulati  makes it explicit.
Read the rest here.

Why I dumped my smartphone for a dumbphone

It all started with the unthinkable. As I walked out of my apartment bathroom with my HTC First in hand, I slipped and dropped it on the tile floor. Glass shattered everywhere. My wife screamed for joy.
Why? Because I no longer had a smartphone to look at. As a geek, my eyeballs would always be stuck to my smartphone if not my laptop. She had long hated that I’d stare at my tiny screen more than her face. I tried to discipline myself to not use the smartphone when spending time with her, but couldn’t resist its chirps and buzzes.

As my smartphone lay shattered on the floor, I knew I didn’t want to get another one and continue ignoring my wife. I decided to buy a dumbphone for the first time in six years, and a 7-inch tablet for data purposes.

My social life and marriage have improved. I no longer stare at my phone during dinner time or bedtime. I converse more when hanging out with my friends. And my wife is a lot happier. (Happy wife, happy life.) Here’s how I made it happen:
Read the rest here.