Saturday, July 30, 2016

On Anglican Orders

Fr. Hunwicke has written something important on the subject of Anglican Holy Orders. I have made a few, though far less erudite, noises of a similar nature in the past. Read his post here.

P.S. It goes without saying that the Orthodox Church does not recognize Anglican Orders, though for different and somewhat less complicated reasons.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Democratic Conventions Odd inter-Faith Religious Service

Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation and being booed down at a breakfast of her state’s delegation was not an official event at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week, although given the coverage of the latest Hillary-related e-mail scandal, you could be forgiven for thinking it was.

What was one of the Dem confab’s first official events got little or no coverage. And it symbolized all that is bewildering about the Party’s approach to religion vis-à-vis the public square.

The event in question was the “Interfaith Service of Prayer for the Nation” held at Philly’s cathedral, the Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul. Planning for the event began in February by the Philadelphia Liturgical Institute, at the request and on behalf of the DNC.

The prayer service was … odd.

This was not because of anything that happened at it. The service itself was fine and actually quite lovely. It featured beautiful music. The service of readings was fitting and even inspiring.

Cathedral rector Father G. Dennis Gill gave an inspiring sermon in which he said our nation’s foundational documents are very clear about how the country is founded on the power and presence of God. Then he looked at our national situation today, which reminds us, he asserted, of a need for us to once again rely on that power and presence so that God’s ways are our ways. One of the ways we can do that is to pray, he noted, and also support each other in whatever works we can do.

All well and good.

What was odd was this.

The DNC specifically requested that a prayer service be held on the convention’s first day. It was to take place at the cathedral because of its proximity to the delegates’ hotels and the Convention Center, where many of the day’s official events took place (the televised evening events took place at the Wells Fargo Center, home to the 76ers and Flyers sports teams).

And yet on the convention website listing the day’s official events, it wasn’t listed. The meeting of the DNC’s Faith Council was listed and at a time conflicting with the interfaith prayer service.

And so it should not surprise that the event drew such a small crowd. (See picture.) It was hard to tell who were delegates (I’ll assume the woman with the stylish American flag scarf was one) and who attended just because. Several DNC volunteers were evident by their bright blue T-shirts proclaiming, “ASK ME.”

But there was not one Democrat bigwig. No Nancy “I’m a devout, practicing Catholic” Pelosi. No Donna Brazile (a fellow Catholic whom I love, despite our differences).

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Quote of the day...

"We denounce arbitrary interference by Federal authorities in local affairs as a violation of the Constitution of the United States and a crime against free institutions, and we especially object to government by injunction as a new and highly dangerous form of oppression by which Federal judges in contempt of the laws of the states and rights of citizens, become at once legislators, judges and executioners..."

-A plank from the platform of the Democratic Party Convention (1896).

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Political Agreement in an Election Year?

It's pretty astonishing, but the two parties actually agree on something, and IMO it's actually a very good idea. Both the Democratic and GOP platforms call for the reintroduction of the Glass Steagall Act as a sign of a strong (and rare) bi-partisan consensus that Wall Street's big banks are out of control.

Details.

It's been a while since I've said it, but do remember that banks are the enemy.

French Priest Murdered by ISIS in Church

Details.

Memory eternal!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Report: Beatings Torture Sexual Abuse and Lynchings in Post Coup Turkish Purges

Following the attempted coup in July 15, upon the calls of mosques all across Turkey and of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and PM Binali Yildirim to the Turkish people “to take to the streets and airports,” pro-government Islamists started hunting Turkish soldiers – their own soldiers – in the streets, beating, torturing, lynching them.

Torture and beatings of surrendering soldiers continued at police stations, too.

In a disturbing video published on social media and some Turkish newspapers, a police officer threatens a soldier with raping his 10-months-old baby.

The police officer asks a beaten and handcuffed soldier: “Do you have a child?” The soldier responds: “Yes, 10-months-old.”
The police says: “Do you want me to fuck her? I will bring her here. You can’t handle the police. Traitor!”

In another video shared on social media, soldiers are seen brutally tortured and beaten by police who continually insult and swear at them.

More videos and picture can be seen of a lynched soldier surrounded by a mob;  another lynching attempt, soldiers allegedly tortured in a mosque , Islamist crowds beating soldiers with their belts and trying to throw them off a bridge in Istanbul and a mob screaming “Allahu akbar” on the tanks.

Read the rest here.

Caution: Some of the content at the linked sites is graphic.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Sued for Rigging Primaries - Update: DWS Resigns amid growing scandal

On June 28, the Miami-based law firm Beck & Lee filed a class action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“There are essentially six legal claims we are asserting in this lawsuit on behalf of the composed class members,” said attorney Jared Beck in a YouTube video announcing the lawsuit. “The first is a claim for fraud—against the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz—based on the revelations from the recent Guccifer 2.0 documents purportedly taken from the DNC’s own computer network.” The Guccifer 2.0 documents include internal memos in which the DNC broke legally binding neutrality agreements in the Democratic primaries by strategizing to make Hillary Clinton the nominee before a single vote was cast.

The second claim filed is for negligent misrepresentation, a legal theory based on the first claim of fraud. The third claim alleges the DNC and Wasserman Schultz participated in deceptive conduct in claiming the DNC was neutral during the Democratic primaries, when there is overwhelming evidence suggesting favoritism of Clinton from the beginning. The fourth claim of the lawsuit seeks retribution of any monetary donations the DNC to Bernie Sanders‘ campaign. The fifth claim alleges the DNC broke its fiduciary duties during the Democratic primaries to members of the Democratic Party by not holding a fair election process. The sixth claim is for negligence on behalf of the DNC—for not protecting donor information—as hackers broke into the DNC networks, potentially compromising their personal information.

Read the rest here.

Please note that this legal action occurred weeks before the release of DNC's emails.

Update: DWS quits over growing email scandal

Saturday, July 23, 2016

And now for some really good news...

The Episcopal Divinity School of Massachusetts is going out of business. If this isn't the most heretical "seminary" in the United States (and it may be), it's damned close. Rod Dreher is practically doing a victory dance, and I don't blame him. Good news in the religion department has been a bit thin on the ground of late.

Oh my...

I'm not touching this one. Go here to comment.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Scandal: Wikileaks Publishes Near 20,000 DNC Emails

A few highlights uncovered so far (it's early yet)...

Plotting to expose Bernie as an atheist.

Constructing an anti-Bernie narrative.

Vetting BLM activist as official surrogates.

I think the Democrats may have just lost control of the narrative during their convention.

Search the emails here.

Trump's Speech: My first impressions


It was vintage Trump with lots of red meat for the party base. He excoriated Hillary Clinton while painting a picture of the state of the country that at times seemed unrealistically grim. Yeah we have problems, but there were moments when I felt like I was just discovering I live in a third world country. The speech was long on the dark vision of a lawless society with Clinton as the co-author of American decline both at home and abroad. It also presented Trump in a very personal way as the man who is going to fix things.

It has been suggested that inspiration was drawn from the angry acceptance speeches of Richard Nixon in 1968 and Ronald Reagan in 1980. Further it's worth noting that both of those men won. The lesson here is that the party out of power needs to explain why the party in power has made a hash out of things and therefore needs to be shown the door.

The highlights to my mind were the emotional moments when he spoke with what I thought was genuine feeling for families who had been the victims of violent crimes (committed of course by illegal immigrants), and his brutal dig at Clinton ('I've met with these people, you can bet Hillary won't.'). I particularly liked his shout out to the victims of the horrific night club massacre in Orlando. I don't think that would have happened in any earlier GOP conventions. Reasonable people can disagree on the morality of certain lifestyle choices, but no one has a right to hurt and or kill other people over such differences. His remarks on that topic really came across as just right, i.e. he raised the subject without belaboring it, and again, heartfelt.

Beyond that the speech was light on details, i.e. exactly how was he gong to deliver on all of these promises. Again that's OK. This was not a policy address at Harvard. A convention speech is an exercise in the art of political theater. Emphasis on vision is normal on such occasions. 

On to the mechanics. It was a speech delivered with the aid of teleprompters, and therefor a more formal address than what Trump is used to. They definitely helped to keep him from straying all over the place as he is want to do in his more customary off the cuff stump speeches. And he seemed more sober and on message than usual. But clearly this is not a form of address he is used to or comfortable with. At times he seemed to be struggling with the flow and the result was that he sounded like he was shouting during much of the speech.

There were also a number of pauses that really dragged on which in turn contributed to the one really serious failure, it was too long. A good public speaker knows that you have about 45 minutes in any formal address where you can reasonably expect the undivided attention of your audience. Once you start moving past that people are going to start to drift. Once you move past an hour, people are going to start wondering if you are ever going to shut up. This speech clocked in at just under an hour and fifteen minutes, the longest such address in forty or more years according to the talking heads.

So what do I think overall?

As an acceptance speech by a presidential candidate and the one address likely to be watched by millions of otherwise politically uninterested people I thought it was good to very good. Trump pushed pretty much all the buttons he needed to and at times he came across as quite sincere and empathetic in his desire to help the struggling people of our third world country.

On a scale of five, I give it four stars. The fifth was lost due primarily to the length. It started off strong and mostly stayed there. But once he went over the one hour mark, all I wanted was for him to wrap it up already.

P.S. Did it change my mind? Am I going to vote for him? No. The presidency is not an entry level position and I still think he lacks the temperament as well as the grasp of policy for the job. But it was still a good speech. One of the better ones I've heard.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ted Cruz pours gasoline on himself and strikes a match

Wow! I don't think I have ever seen a major political figure fall so far, so fast, and then turn around and commit political suicide on prime time national television.

Long time blog readers will know that I am no fan of the Donald for a variety of reasons. So given what passed between the two during an exceptionally rough campaign season I can absolutely forgive Ted for not endorsing Trump. There are more than a few stars in the GOP orbit who are maintaining a discreet silence and staying away from the convention.

But you don't accept an invitation to deliver a prime time address at the national convention, and then use it to directly undercut your party's nominee. This was not just bad form. It was dishonorable. There are a lot of political sins that can be forgiven with the passage of time and other factors. Gross disloyalty, some are calling it calculated treachery, is not generally one of them.

Cruz has two years left in his term as a US Senator. No, I don't think it's too early to begin updating his resume.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Turkey

Whatever it was before the farce that has been described as an attempted coup, today it is clearly a dictatorship in all but name. The United States needs to start rethinking our relationship with that country. I am assuming EU membership no longer rates serious discussion. But Turkey is still part of NATO. Is this a country that Americans should be prepared to die for?

FREE SILVER AND CHEAP WHISKEY

A front page headline from the New York Tribune July 20, 1896. How I hate the modern world.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Scary Rumors from the Vatican (or not?)

Cardinal Christopher Schönborn is rumored to be inline to replace Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). If true this will mean the breach of the last really effective line of resistance to the ultra-liberal agenda of Pope Francis. Schönborn is a well known Frankonian yes man and theological modernist who recently opined that all previous Catholic doctrine on the family must now be interpreted in conformity with the Red Pope's highly controversial Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Müller has been widely viewed as moderately conservative during his tenure at the CDF. But contrasted with the tenor of the current Pontificate he might as well have been the reincarnation of Torquemada. I assume that if the rumors are true that Schönborn is only getting the post because Hans Küng is unavailable.

Update on 07-20-2016: I haven't come across anything furthering these particular rumors, so perhaps there is nothing to them. Hoping...

Friday, July 15, 2016

Athonite Fathers Slam Council of Crete - Demand Break With Constantinople

An "Open Letter" from Athonite Fathers to the Holy Community of the Holy Mountain of Athos is calling for an immediate convocation of the governing body of Mt. Athos in order to condemn the "false council" of Crete and cease the comemoration of the Patriarch of Constantinople on Mt. Athos.
 
OVER 60 Hieromonk and monks, with a disciple of Saint Paisios, Elder Gabriel of the Kelli of St. Christodoulos (Holy Monastery of Koutloumosiou) at their head, have written an open letter to the Holy Community of Mt. Athos calling upon the Abbots to reject the Council in Crete and stating their intention to cease commemoration of the Patriarch of Constantinople on account of his leadership in the "false council" at which the pan-heresy of ecumenism was given a green light and bolstered in word and deed.

Read the rest here.

I would not get overly excited about this... yet. There are a lot more than 60 monks on the Holy Mountain. Still the more conservative wing in the Church is certainly not thrilled with the Council. We will have to wait and see where this goes.

Breaking News: Military Coup Reported Underway in Turkey

What took them so long? And while we are on the subject, why do I suddenly feel like the smartest guy in the room? (OK, so I am alone at the moment.) For at least two years I have believed that Erdogan has been playing with fire with his openly Islamist agenda and gradual suspension of basic civil liberties. Anyone who knows anything of Turkish history knows that the military is, and has been the source of final authority when the subject is Turkish government. And they have a history of acting as the guardians of a semi-progressive and thoroughly (at times almost militantly) secular state. All of the talking heads on TV are acting like this is a huge surprise. Maybe I should work for the CIA because, no joke, I've been waiting for this for a while.

“Islam - that theology of an immoral illiterate Arab bedouin is a decaying corpse that is poisoning all of our life”
- Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Pasha / Ataturk

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Church of Canada Votes Down Gay Marriage then Reveres Vote


TORONTO (AP) -- A day after the Anglican Church of Canada narrowly voted not to authorize gay unions, questions about the integrity of the voting process emerged Tuesday, leading to a reversal of the result with the church approving the measure.

More than 200 delegates attending the six-day General Synod 2016 narrowly rejected the resolution Monday night after hearing from more than 60 speakers, most of them in favor of gay marriage.

However, on Tuesday - the last day of the triennial conference - some members stood up to say their ballot had not been recorded during voting late Monday, when the resolution failed to pass by a single vote.

Read the rest here.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Great Britain: David Camerom to resign Wednesday - Theresa May to be next Prime Minister

The Tory leadership contest is over and Theresa May is the last man... er woman, standing. Mr. Cameron will go to the Palace on Wednesday to resign. Immediately after which the Queen will ask Mrs. May to form the next government.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Church of England Synod Faces Conservative Boycott Over Gay Marriage Talks


The Church of England's governing body may face a conservative rebellion over its discussions on gay marriage.

Despite pleas from senior bishops, a number of conservative Anglicans are considering boycotting the Church's private conversations over sexuality, designed to prevent a fracture over gay marriage. A deep fissure exists within the Church over whether or not to accomodate gay relationships in some way.

A memo sent round to some members of the Church's governing synod listed "reasons not to participate" in conversations, which aim to reconcile opposing factions. The note, seen by Christian Today, offers a damning assessment of the secret talks, known as "shared conversations".

Read the rest here.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Important: Rome's Top Liturgist Urges All Catholic Priests to Return to Ad Orientem Mass by Advent

Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Vatican’s liturgy chief, has asked priests to begin celebrating Mass ad orientem, that is, facing east rather than towards the congregation.

The proposed reform is arguably the biggest liturgical announcement since Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum gave greater freedom for priests to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.

Speaking at the Sacra Liturgia conference in London on Tuesday, the Guinean cardinal, who is Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, addressed priests who were present, saying: “It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction – eastwards or at least towards the apse – to the Lord who comes”.

The cardinal continued: “I ask you to implement this practice wherever possible.”

He said that “prudence” and catechesis would be necessary, but told pastors to have “confidence that this is something good for the Church, something good for our people”.

Read the rest here.

If this report is accurate, and the Cardinal is acting with the blessing of Pope Francis, then this is the best news to come out of Rome in a very long time.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Is the Catholic Church Inching Towards "Open Communion?"

Possibly, according to Sandro Magister...

ROME, July 1, 2016 – In his way, after encouraging communion for the divorced and remarried, in that it “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak,” Pope Francis is now also encouraging Protestants and Catholics to receive communion together at their respective Masses.

He is doing so, as always, in a discursive, allusive way, not definitional, leaving the ultimate decision to the individual conscience.

Still emblematic is the answer he gave on November 15, 2015, on a visit to the Christuskirche, the church of the Lutherans in Rome (see photo), to a Protestant who asked him if she could receive communion together with her Catholic husband.

The answer from Francis was a stupefying pinwheel of yes, no, I don’t know, you figure it out. Which it is indispensable to reread in its entirety, in the official transcription:


Read the rest here.

This Pope is a one man theological train-wreck.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Why the Mets Pay Bobby Bonilla $1.19 Million Every July 1st. (and will until 2035)

It's Friday, July 1, and we should be thinking about our Fourth of July weekend plans. But as baseball fans, we can't. Why? Because today is all about Bobby Bonilla.

A man who last played 5,381 days ago owns this day. Not just this July 1, but every July 1 through 2035. It's the day when the New York Mets pay him $1,193,248.20.

So with the water cooler and Twitter buzzing about the Bonilla deal, here's your primer.

How did the deal present itself?

Deferred-money deals have been going on for a long time, but the Mets did more of them than most. The first deferred-money deal we know about is Darryl Strawberry's 1985 contract, in which the Mets deferred 40 percent of his 1990 $1.8 million team option ($700,000) at a 5.1 percent interest rate. The deal, which pays out $1.64 million from 2004 to 2033, was obtained through a life insurance company.

Bonilla's agent, Dennis Gilbert, was an insurance agent at the same time he developed into a superagent (Gilbert's clients included Bonilla, Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco and Danny Tartabull), so he was more uniquely prepared to understand annuity-type payouts than other agents.

How does the deal actually work?

The Mets owed Bonilla $5.9 million for the 2000 season and no longer wanted him. So the club negotiated with Gilbert to attach an 8 percent annual interest rate to that money. With the clock starting in 2000, that adds up to $29.8 million. The first installment of the payout came on July 1, 2011, and the Mets will pay their sixth installment on Friday.

Read the rest here.

Poll: ‘Giant Meteor’ of death tied with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump among independents

Roughly 13 percent of Americans think extinction via “Giant Meteor” would be preferable to electing Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump the next U.S. commander in chief.

Public Policy Polling decided to gauge just how disaffected voters are with the presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential contenders. A survey conducted June 27-28 among 853 registered voters yielded telling results, particularly among independents.

“It’s a simple reality that both of this year’s Presidential candidates are unpopular. Clinton’s favorability is 39/54, and Trump is even worse off at 35/58,’ the pollster’s report reads. “This has given rise to the ‘Giant Meteor for President’ movement, and we find that the Meteor would poll at 13 percent — far more support than the third party candidates actually on the ballot — with Clinton at 43 percent and Trump at 38 percent. The Meteor is particularly appealing to independent voters, functionally in a three-way tie at 27 percent to 35 percent for Clinton and 31 percent for Trump. Maybe that’s who the Libertarians should have nominated.”

Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson polled at 5 percent.

Read the rest here.