Saturday, July 29, 2017

Long Break Ahead

We are rapidly approaching the point where I will be temporarily relocating back to the year 1975 (mentioned here). As much as I hate doing it, during this period I will have to enable comment moderation. So if you are leaving comments it could be a while before I get a chance to approve them.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Anthony Scaramucci’s vulgar New Yorker interview is beyond words (PG-13)

I'm not going to excerpt this but I will confirm that it is completely over the top. This isn't a presidential administration. It's a political coup d'état executed by escapees from a lunatic asylum.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Technology



It is my heart-warmed and world-embracing Christmas hope and aspiration that all of us, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage (every man and brother of us all throughout the whole earth), may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss, except the inventor of the telephone.
~ Mark Twain, Christmas 1890

Friday, July 21, 2017

Conservative Anglicans are close to despair. Is the CofE about to split?

As an Anglican, I used to think theological liberalism was on the wane. Not any more

Anyone with a lick of sense can see that the Church of England is in serious trouble. Congregational decline, child abuse scandals, and financially desperate cathedrals are just the most obvious symptoms of a very broad disease. As an Anglican, I have been confident that the Church would manage to turn things around in a few decades. After the most recent meeting of General Synod, however, I am no longer so confident.

On the face it, the Synod’s changes were all fairly minor. For all the fuss, the proposal to write official liturgies affirming the new gender identity of transgender people may well be ignored even by Church’s own bishops; and the changes on regulation of vestments merely rubber-stamps what already takes places across swathes of the Church.

But the most significant thing about the Synod was the manner in which it was conducted. The bishops stayed largely silent as Synod did theology by endless anecdote. The only notable episcopal contributions came from the liberal northern prelates (especially Paul Bayes of Liverpool). An outburst of anti-capitalism from the Archbishop of York provided comedy value amongst the general dour air of neo-Puritanism. The monotonous drumbeat of socialism and sexual liberalism was only broken by the ecumenical contribution of Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who warned Synod that it’s bad for PR and the soul to spend so much time talking about sex. His plea fell on deaf ears.

Leading conservative Synod members seem to have left in a state of mind verging on despair. They have suffered no major defeats, but seem confident that it’s only a matter of time. The general consensus is that the “middle third” of Synod has no more appetite for gruelling fights or media uproar, and will quietly acquiesce to liberal demands for church blessings of same-sex marriage, to be shortly followed by same-sex marriage itself.

Read the rest here.

I feel badly for Mr. Sabisky. Not so much because he is right in his despair about the future of his religious confession, but rather because he does not grasp it's current state. The CofE is, and has been for quite some time, deeply and profoundly heretical by any metric of small "o" orthodox Christianity. Arguably it is simply apostate. That he, as a self professed "conservative" Anglican, does not grasp this pretty much says all that needs to be said about how bad things have gotten there.

Monday, July 17, 2017

RIP Martin Landau

Probably best remembered for his Oscar winning performance in Edward Wood where he brilliantly played the aging Bela Lugosi and also for his role in the 1960's TV series Mission Impossible. However, I  remember him for his role in the campy 1970's sci-fi series Space 1999. At the time I was a kid  and loved the show. Ok ok. So they were a little off in predicting that people in 1999 would all be wearing two tone uni-suits and platform shoes. I've no idea what became of it, but I remember getting a giant sized play model of one the show's space eagles for Christmas one year. I bet that thing would be worth a mint today. Anyways, thanks for the memories Mr. Landau. Memory eternal.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bastille Day

For a Frenchman to celebrate the Revolution is akin to celebrating the day your mother contracted cholera. All of the great calamities of the modern world are the fruit of the Revolution. The two world wars. Social violence and class warfare. Communism and Nazism, the two most murderous ideologies in the history of the world are the bastard children of the French Revolution. The history of the French Revolution is written in blood and it is still being written. Gravilo Princip, Lenin, Mussolini, Franco (and the Spanish Republicans- two sides of the same coin), Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, any of the various Kims, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, & etc. are the spiritual heirs of Robespierre. The true symbols of modern liberalism are not liberté, égalité, fraternité, they are the guillotine and the abortion clinic.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Pope Francis is behaving like a Latin American dictator – but the liberal media aren’t interested

At the end of June, Pope Francis dismissed Cardinal Gerhard Müller from his position as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) – arguably the most important position in the Catholic Church after that of the Pope himself, since the CDF is in charge of doctrine.

Müller was given no notice that the Pope was breaking from tradition by not renewing his five-year mandate – and no explanation. A few days later, on July 4, he explained what had happened in a long phone call to his friend Cardinal Joachim Meisner, one of four cardinals who had challenged Francis on the question of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.

Meisner was horrified to hear the details of Müller’s humiliation. And, that night, he died in his sleep at the age of 83.

Now Müller – who has always been careful never to question the Pope – has also broken with tradition. He has spoken angrily about the way he was treated – drawing attention to the fact that a pope who never misses an opportunity to uphold workers’ rights plays by very different rules inside the Vatican.

This is what Müller told the Bavarian newspaper Passauer Neue Presse...

Read the rest here.

The Church of Modern Lunacy

I have a passing interest in the Church of England and its American variation, the Episcopal Church. An old friend is in the church so I get some first hand descriptions of what it is like to be in a dying institution. That’s the only way to describe the Episcopal Church. Attendance declines every year as old members die off and new members never materialize. Go into an Episcopal service and you can’t help but notice that most everyone is a senior. The actuarial tables are the church’s greatest enemy.

Of course, church attendance has always skewed a little older. Young people tend not to be attracted to the faith, even if their parents regularly attend services. As people get older, have families and begin to sink roots, they get more involved in their faith and attend services regularly. That’s the trouble with the mainline Protestant religions. The young are not coming back once they start having families. That means their children are not raised in the faith. As a result, these churches are now in a death spiral.

The story is familiar to anyone who has been paying attention. These churches made the decision to chase the latest social fads in the 70’s and 80’s, hoping to make themselves more appealing to the young. The only thing they did was make themselves less attractive to people interested in being part of a traditional Christian sect. It was not just in the pews, but in the clergy as well. Those feeling the call found that the church in which they were raised was not interested in defending and maintaining the faith.

The result is the clergy slowly radicalized. First came the women and then the feminist women. Soon they invited in the homosexuals and the clergy started looking like the faculty of a liberal arts college. That’s when the pews started to empty out. Why bother going to church, when you can get the same liberal lecture from television? That’s what started the decline in church attendance. Instead of offering a shelter from the storm, they decided to chase an over-served market – radical Progressives.

Read the rest here.

Shroud of Turin bears blood of torture victim according to latest research

New atomic resolution research indicates that the mysterious Shroud of Turin does in fact contain the blood of a torture victim, thus undermining theories that the shroud was painted, reports Catholic News Agency.

“On the basis of the experimental evidences of our atomic resolution TEM studies, the man wrapped in the [Shroud of Turin] suffered a strong polytrauma,” reads the conclusion of the new study. The research was carried out by the Instituo Officia dei Materiali in Trieste and the Institute of Crystallography in Bari, both under Italy’s National Research Council, as well as the University of Padua’s Department of Industrial Engineering, with the results published in the article “New Biological Evidence from Atomic Resolution Studies on the Turin Shroud” in the multidisciplinary open access, peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE. 

Read the rest here.

Russian Orthodox Church Launches New Missionary Radio Channel In North America


Of course it's only in Russian... sigh.

More here.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Turkey Takes Over 50 Churches, Monasteries

Close to 50 churches and monasteries were taken over by the Turkish government in Mardin, a city located in the southeastern part of the country, reported the news outlet Agos.

The move was made during the time that the villages that comprise the city were turned into an official municipality. As per legislation that established the city, a “liquidation committee” was established to distribute institutions of the city whose legal permits had expired.

“For years, minority foundations could not acquire property in Turkey,” explained Kuryakos Ergun, the chairman of Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation. “Then legislative amendments were introduced in 2002 upon which we engaged in a number of initiatives.” We were able to have some of the title deeds registered in the name of our foundation. And for others, the legal process was ongoing.

“It was not possible for us to follow-up on all the title deeds … we are (now) filing lawsuits to the extent possible. In places where we couldn’t follow up the situation, some monasteries and other property were given to the legal entity of the village.”

In the latest move, the liquidation committee gave ownership of the village’s churches, monasteries and cemeteries to the Treasury Department, which in turn transferred ownership to the Diyanet, the Religious Affairs Ministry.

Appeals have been filed but with no success to date.

Source

Cardinal Müller; the Head of the Vatican's Doctrinal Office is Sacked by Pope Francis

Multiple sources are reporting this though I believe it was Rorate Caeli that first broke the news. He was a moderate, but in the Bergoglian Vatican he might as well have been trying to revive the Inquisition.

According to Edward Pentin at NCR (the good one) the most likely candidates for the position are Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., Secretary to the CDF, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, and Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto. If I were still Catholic, I would be trembling.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

OK I Yield

Thanks to everyone who has posted such nice things about the blog. I appreciate the kind words. Also I am not ignoring the many messages posted in the preceding thread and sent to me privately asking that I reconsider my retirement. So I have decided to stick with it for a while longer. However I must caution that my posts may be less frequent. Also starting in August I am going to be stuck in a technological black hole, possibly for a couple of months. Mom is having surgery which will require my moving in to help out for between four and eight weeks. Her house is in small sheltered valley where even cell phones don't work. She does have satellite TV and a microwave oven. But otherwise it's like stepping into the 1960's. It's a twenty minute drive to the 21st century and internet access. So posting during that time frame will be very rare.

More to follow.

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!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Puerto Rico Seeks de-facto Bankruptcy Protection Under New Law

...Puerto Rico has roughly $120 billion of bond debt and unfunded pension obligations to restructure, which dwarfs the second-largest similar episode. When Detroit went bankrupt in 2013, it set the previous record, with about $18 billion of bond debt and retirement obligations.

The island’s case will not be formally called a bankruptcy, since Puerto Rico is barred from using Chapter 9, the bankruptcy route normally used by insolvent local governments. Instead, the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, petitioned for relief under Title III of a new federal law for insolvent territorial governments, called Promesa. It contains some bankruptcy provisions and has never been used before, so there is no road map to follow.

Read the rest here.

This is going to send shock waves through the bond market, and that may be a good thing. Too many people have been placing too much confidence in paper I.O.U's. The basic law of economics still applies. If a debtor doesn't have the money to pay you back, it doesn't matter how many legal papers you wave under their nose, you're still not getting your money back.

People buying bonds issued by Greece, New Jersey, Illinois, the city of Chicago and a few other entities take note.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Quote of the day...


"It is more or less incontestable that the artistic production of mediaeval and renaissance Florence, with a population a seventh of contemporary Akron, Ohio, or a quarter of that of the Croydon, was of greater value than the whole of the western world, with a population 7000 times greater at the least, for the last seventy years."

-Theodore Dalrymple

Timothy Stanley: Trump is right about media bias

Two parties, two different Americas. On Saturday night, the press gathered for the annual White House correspondents' dinner in Washington where, traditionally, they would roast the president. But this year the punchline was in Pennsylvania, at a rally President Trump held to celebrate his first 100 days in office.

"I could not possibly be more thrilled," said Trump, "than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington's swamp, spending my evening with ... much better people."

Thus are the battle lines drawn: the press vs. the president, liberal vs. conservative, Washington vs. the rest of the country.
It sounds compelling, but it's actually absurd. The press is not the white knight of democracy. The president is not the people's champion.

Let's start with the press. Trump is right: The correspondents' dinner is awful. It's an evening of self-congratulation, bad jokes and political bias, where Democrats go to get praised and Republicans to be lampooned. It was at this dinner where President Obama and "SNL's" Seth Myers famously roasted Trump in 2011. A few years later, the joke turned out to be on them.
What is the press? It's conservative, moderate, liberal; as objective as possible but sometimes not; struggling to survive in the age of the Internet.

Hard to define, in other words -- and yet in recent years it has developed a sense of itself, as if it had some unifying political purpose. Choosing Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the men who exposed the Watergate scandal that toppled Richard Nixon, to address the correspondents' dinner sent a clear message: the press is not only here to hold presidents to account but to bring them down.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

After hard-left turn, Britain’s Labour Party on course for historic defeat

 LONDON — In 2015, Britain’s Labour Party tacked to the left, repudiating the middle-way philosophy that had won it three elections under Tony Blair. Voters responded by handing the party its worst defeat in three decades.

Rather than scramble back toward the center, Labour lurched further left. The party elected as its leader Jeremy Corbyn, a white-bearded baby boomer from the back benches who, like Bernie Sanders in the United States, ignited an improbable movement among young activists with his attacks on the rigged capitalist system and unquestioned fidelity to socialist ideals.

Now, with less than six weeks to go before Britain votes once more, the Corbyn-led Labour Party is on course for an electoral beatdown so broad and deep it would make the drubbing the party took in 2015 look like a triumph.

The ruling Conservative Party has a double-digit lead over Labour in pre-election polls, and Prime Minister Theresa May stands to win a parliamentary majority that would have been the envy of Margaret Thatcher.

The grim outlook for Labour has prompted insiders to preemptively concede defeat; one former party leader has despaired that at 75, he’s unlikely to see another Labour prime minister in his lifetime. There’s even a chance that the party could fall apart altogether.

Read the rest here.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Queen to dress down for State Opening of Parliament

The Queen will undertake a dressed-down State Opening of Parliament for the first time in more than 40 years, as ceremonial plans suffer major disruption because of the general election.

The Queen will not wear her Imperial State Crown or robes for this year’s State Opening, with the annual service of the Order of the Garter also cancelled for the first time since 1984.

The changes to the Royal schedule, announced by Buckingham Palace today, will see the State Opening of Parliament take place on June 19, with the Order of the Garter service previously in the diary for the same day now cancelled.
 
Some observers were quick to note that the timing would allow the Queen to attend Royal Ascot, which runs from June 20th to 24th.

Sources said the 19th was the first suitable date after the election, with a quick turnaround of 11 days agreed to maintain continuity.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Portland rose parade canceled after ‘antifascists’ threaten GOP marchers

For 10 years, the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association has kicked off the city of Portland’s annual Rose Festival with a family-friendly parade meant to attract crowds to its diverse neighborhood.

Set to march in the parade’s 67th spot this year was the Multnomah County Republican Party, a fact that so outraged two self-described antifascist groups in the deep blue Oregon city that they pledged to protest and disrupt the April 29 event.

Then came an anonymous and ominous email, according to parade organizers, that instructed them to cancel the GOP group’s registration — or else.

“You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely,” the anonymous email said, referring to the violent riots that hit Portland after the 2016 presidential election, reported the Oregonian. “This is nonnegotiable.”

The email said that 200 people would “rush into the parade” and “drag and push” those marching with the Republican Party.

“We will not give one inch to groups who espouse hatred toward LGBT, immigrants, people of color or others,” it said.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

In case you haven't read a good old fashioned anti-Orthodox screed lately... (updated)

One of the biggest complaints against Pulpit & Pen we get consistently is that we somehow don’t “have all our facts,” or are “misrepresenting” someone or something. I received countless emails claiming that I “misrepresented” Greek Orthodoxy in my recent posts regarding Hank Hanegraaff and that I should do more research. Well, what better way to research than to go straight to the source in person? Saturday, April 15, known as Holy Saturday in the Orthodox tradition, I along with a couple of friends went to visit St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, NC–the church that Hanegraaff was recently chrismated in. The service began at 11:30 pm, and was still going strong showing no signs of slowing down when we decided to leave at around 2:00 am. While we hoped to have the opportunity to confront Hanegraaff in person, being that we all had to get up early the next morning to worship the living God on Easter morning, we decided to call it a night early. However, there are quite a few things that we can take away from this experience in this church.
1.) I have sat through many Catholic masses. I was married in a Catholic church, and I can definitely say I’ve “been there done that.” But I’ve never sat through anything so long and tedious as the Greek Orthodox mass. Perhaps being a special Saturday night “resurrection service,” this wasn’t the norm, but it was excruciatingly long. 2 1/2 hours in and no sign of slowing down.
2.) The cliche, “bells and smells” is actually a true reality. The burning of incense and ringing of bells was a noxious combination. It reminded me of being in a college dorm smoking weed and blowing the smoke through toilet paper rolls stuffed with dryer sheets.
3.) The liturgy was vain and repetitious. Literally, the same ritualistic prayers and chanting were sung over and over. Every prayer included an invocation of Mary and the Saints.
4.) While there was actually quite a bit of Scripture reading, there was absolutely no teaching. In fact, the vast majority of Scripture reading was sung in the eerie Byzantine chant. You’d really have to pay attention and try to listen really hard to even understand what they were reading or reciting.

Read the rest here if you must.

It's been a really long time since I have read such ignorant tripe. I don't know what denomination this man affiliates with but if their idea of "Christian behavior" is going to another church for their Easter service for the purpose of trashing it and "confronting" one of its new members, you may color me unimpressed. 

Update: And now there is this "apology" from JD Hall.  Be sure to put down your coffee before reading this.

HT: Bill Tighe

Friday, April 21, 2017

Damian Thompson: Francis will retire- but only after appointing enough liberal cardinals

Allies of Pope Francis are saying that he’s planning to follow the example of Benedict XVI and retire. But he’ll only do so once he’s appointed enough liberal cardinals to make sure that the next conclave doesn’t elected a conservative who will interpret Catholic doctrine more strictly than he does.

This, at least, is what allies of the Pope have been telling colleagues – claiming that they’ve heard it from the pontiff himself. (Francis himself is a notorious chatterbox and so are some of the cardinals close to him.)

The Pope, now 80, apparently wants to hold three more consistories at which he will bestow the red hat on bishops who share his vision of reform (whatever that may be: the details are still sketchy, four years in).

Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Met. Seraphim of Piraeus calls on Turkish President to abandon false religion of Islam and convert to Christianity

The staunchly traditional and outspoken Greek hierarch Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus has written an open letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in which, among other things, he calls upon him to turn from the false religion of Islam and accept “Christ the Savior and Redeemer of the world,” even advising him who to take as his godfather, reports AgionOros.ru.

Beginning with an analysis of the crisis situation in the Middle East, the metropolitan writes that good relations between Turkey and Russia are “very important,” and stresses that they are what allows Turkish authorities to speak equally with the US and the European Union.

The prelate goes on to express his confidence that in the case of Turkey’s failed attempt to join the EU, the president has already for many years been preparing “Plan B”—the recreation of the bygone glory of the Ottoman Empire.

“Every state would like to have a political leader who respects and confesses the religion of the majority of its people,” Met. Seraphim stressed, calling Erdoğan the destroyer of Kemal Atatürk’s secularized Turkey, and the restorer of Islam in Turkey.

However, the choice of Islam as a consolidating factor is, in the Greek bishop’s view, of course a mistake.

The metropolitan then goes on to offer in his letter a number of historical and theological examples demonstrating the “fallacy of the Islamic religion,” arguing that “it is based on a number of illusions.”

As a conclusion to the many-paged religious and theological study, the hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Church calls upon the Turkish president to denounce his “demagogic false religion,” and “for the sake of true benefit to [him]self and [his] family and [his] people… to repent, reject [his] delusions, and believe in the God-Man Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world.” He advises him to undergo catechism and accept Orthodox Baptism, further advising him to “ask [his] current ally, the president of Russia Vladimir Putin to become [his] godfather, and the Patriarch of Constantinople himself to celebrate the Mystery.”

Source.

Christ is risen!

Wishing all a blessed feast!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

If the Titanic Sank Today




For the record...

Noted evangelical Hank Hanegraaf, aka "the Bible answers man," along with his wife and two of his twelve(!) children were received into the Church on Palm Sunday. Predictably the blogosphere has lit up with commentary on this event. And also predictably, much of that commentary has ranged from highly critical to scathing.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
-Mark 13:13

Many years!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Turkish President Erdoğan to read Muslim prayers in Agia Sophia on Great and Holy Friday

President Erdoğan of Turkey has announced that he will read Muslim prayers in Agia Sophia in Constantinople on April 14, Holy Friday, one of the holiest days of the year for the Christian faith—a move that has provoked the Greek and broader Orthodox world. 

Furthermore, he has claimed that Kemal Ataturk’s order to transform Agia Sophia from a mosque into a museum is a fake, reports AgionOros.ru

The Agia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom) church is one of the greatest and most important churches for Orthodox Christians, serving as the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople from the time of its construction in 537 by Emperor St. Justinian, until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. Under the Ottomans it was converted into a mosque until 1931, being secularized and opened as a museum on February 1, 1935. The church is considered the apex of Byzantine architecture, and is home to many of the most famous mosaics in Christendom. 

Erdoğan is not the first to claim that the order to turn the building into a museum is a fake. Turkish historian and author Mustafa Armaga has also claimed that Ataturk’s signature under the act is a forgery, claiming the mosque became a museum due to “American machinations,” with American diplomats putting pressure on Turkish authorities. 

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will hold Muslim prayer on Friday, the eve of April 16, in Agia Sophia, together with all the government and leading officials,” stated a source within the Turkish government. The source also told Turkish media that the prayers “will be a performance against the Crusades,” and a symbolic act of transforming the museum back into a mosque...

Source

An unbelievable and obviously calculated provocation.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

100 Years Ago- The United States Declared War on the German Empire

One hundred years ago today, Congress voted to enter what was then the largest and bloodiest war in history. Four days earlier, President Woodrow Wilson had sought to unite a sharply divided populace with a stirring claim that the nation “is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured.” The war lasted only another year and a half, but in that time, an astounding 117,000 American soldiers were killed and 202,000 wounded.

Still, most Americans know little about why the United States fought in World War I, or why it mattered. The “Great War” that tore apart Europe and the Middle East and took the lives of over 17 million people worldwide lacks the high drama and moral gravity of the Civil War and World War II, in which the very survival of the nation seemed at stake.

World War I is less easy to explain. America intervened nearly three years after it began, and the “doughboys,” as our troops were called, engaged in serious combat for only a few months. More Americans in uniform died away from the battlefield — thousands from the Spanish flu — than with weapons in hand. After victory was achieved, Wilson’s audacious hope of making a peace that would advance democracy and national self-determination blew up in his face when the Senate refused to ratify the treaty he had signed at the Palace of Versailles.

But attention should be paid. America’s decision to join the Allies was a turning point in world history. It altered the fortunes of the war and the course of the 20th century — and not necessarily for the better. Its entry most likely foreclosed the possibility of a negotiated peace among belligerent powers that were exhausted from years mired in trench warfare.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

For the SSPX Bishop Williamson is like a bad cold that you just can't get rid of

A British Catholic priest who has been excommunicated twice by different popes is allegedly harbouring clergy accused of sexual abuse in his renegade religious order.

Richard Williamson, who was illicitly ordained as a bishop in 1988 by an ultra-conservative group, the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), and later convicted of Holocaust denial by a German court, is now head of the “SSPX Resistance”, based in Broadstairs, Kent.

Two Catholic SSPX priests who have been accused of sexual abuse have found a refuge in Williamson’s breakaway movement, according to an investigative documentary to be aired on Swedish television on Wednesday.

The Golden Jail, made by Ali Fegan, a Swedish journalist whose interview with Williamson about his Holocaust denial was broadcast in 2009, claims that the SSPX protected priests and failed to report claims of abuse to the police or civil authorities. Internal canonical trials of two men – one French, one English – were allegedly conducted with Vatican approval.

The English priest, referred to as Father S, left the SSPX before the conclusion of the trial to join the SSPX Resistance in 2014, going to live in Broadstairs. He declined to speak to the documentary team.

The French priest, Father P, was found guilty and banned from working with children. He joined the SSPX Resistance, and was filmed celebrating mass at a church in Bordeaux last November. He also refused to discuss allegations against him with the TV journalists.

Williamson’s movement, also known as Respice Stellam, describes itself as “a group of traditional Catholics who wish to practise their faith without compromise to liberalism or modernism”. It says reforms over recent decades have “contributed and are still contributing to the destruction of the church, to the ruin of the priesthood, to the abolition of the sacrifice of the mass and of the sacraments, to the disappearance of religious life.”

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Former Queen's Chaplain Gavin Ashenden quits 'liberal' Church of England

A former Queen's chaplain has quit as a Church of England priest after a long-running objection to what he saw as the liberalising trend of the CofE.

Canon Gavin Ashenden made the unusual move of resigning his orders on Friday, Christian Today can reveal, leaving more than 35 years of ordained ministry.
 
Gavin Ashenden used to present the BBC's weekly Faith and Ethics radio programme and was a member of general synod for 20 years.
 
An ardent conservative on both sexuality and women priests, Rev Ashenden confirmed to Christian Today he had signed the 'deed of relinquishment' under the Clerical Disabilities Act 1870. This starts a six-month interim period before he officially leaves the Church.

He declined to comment on the move until his six-month waiting time is up.

It comes after the long-standing critic of the Church left his post as Queen's chaplain in January following a row over a Quran reading in Glasgow Cathedral. The Shropshire-based priest criticised the decision by Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary's Cathedral, for inviting a reading from the Islamic holy book at the Epiphany service on January 6.

Read the rest here.

Monday, April 03, 2017

With the Queen about to turn 91 Britain quietly prepares for the inevitable

She is venerated around the world. She has outlasted 12 US presidents. She stands for stability and order. But her kingdom is in turmoil, and her subjects are in denial that her reign will ever end. That’s why the palace has a plan.

Read the rest here.

I think this is a generally good article that mostly (for a left leaning paper) deals with a sensitive topic reasonably well. But I do disagree with one point. The author characterizes The Queen's reign as a period of decline for Britain. I think that is inaccurate unless one is focused solely on the loss of the Empire. I don't view that as a negative. The Empire was hugely expensive and a great burden to the people of Britain. The modern day British Commonwealth is a vast improvement. Also the author completely ignores the dramatic improvement in the standard of living for most Brits over the last 65 years. When she took the throne the UK was still recovering from World War II and there were staggering gaps in income and standards of living. Rationing was still in effect for some items into the middle 50's. Housing for the lower classes was dreadful. And the country was effectively bankrupt. All of that has changed and the UK is the 2nd largest economy in Europe with one of the highest standards of living in the developed world. The Empire may be gone but Britain enjoys good relations with most of her former colonies and at least 15 still recognize The Queen as their head of state. So, I think the author got that part wrong. But otherwise it's a good read.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Hello Angry Losers



Don't you just hate people who won't say what they are thinking? Yeah, he's an atheist. But he is right far more often than not on other subjects.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Fifty Athonite cells cease commemoration of Ecumenical Patriarch

According to the Greek site vimaorthodoxias.gr, more than fifty Athonite monastic kalyves and cells have ceased commemoration of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, as reported by a monk of one of these cells. 

These small monastic dwellings have taken this step in response to the “ecumenical course” of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, especially following last June’s “Great and Holy Council” which gathered representatives of ten of the fifteen autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches, producing documents that several Synods, hierarchs, clergy, theologians, and monastics have taken issue with.

As previously reported, prominent theologian Archpriest Theodore Zisis announced on the Sunday of Orthodoxy that he was ceasing commemoration of his local hierarch of Thessaloniki, as had another priest, Fr. Nicholas Manolis. The same day, four Crete priests made the same move, although one has since resumed commemoration. Bishop Longin (Zhara) of Banchensk of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has taken a similar stand, as have a host of clergy of the Moldovan Church and of the Romanian Orthodox Church

Those who have ceased commemoration have not sought to join another or form their own synod, but rather have decided to practice a “walling off” as a form of protest, without committing the grave sin of schism. These hierarchs, monasteries, and fathers appeal to Canon 15 of the First-Second Council held in Constantinople in 861, presided over by St. Photios the Great, which states that if a bishop clearly preaches a heresy previously condemned by either a council or the holy fathers, priests are allowed to cease commemorating him in the Liturgy, and are to face no canonical penalties. 

Objections following Crete have mainly been focused on the text “Relations of the Orthodox Church With the Rest of the Christian World,” which many feel gives, at best, an imprecise understanding of the Orthodox Church as the one and only true Church of Christ, or at best, contradicts this self-understanding. 

Met. Athanasios of Limassol, who did not sign the controversial text, wrote after the council: 

I maintain that giving the title “Church” to heretical or schismatic communities is entirely incorrect from a theological, dogmatic and canonical perspective because the Church of Christ is one, as also stated in Article 1, and we cannot refer to a heretical or schismatic community or group outside the Orthodox Church as “Church”… I humbly maintain that texts of such importance and prestige as those of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church must be very carefully formulated with theological and canonical precision in order that these ambiguities or untested theological terms do not also give rise to incorrect expressions which could lead to misconceptions and distortions of the correct attitude of the Orthodox Church.
 
Cells and kalyves on Mt. Athos are smaller monastic dwellings that are dependencies of the ruling monasteries. It is also reported that two of these twenty ruling monasteries on Mt. Athos are also considering ceasing commemoration of the patriarch. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Venezuela is now a leftwing dictatorship

Not that there was much doubt about where things were heading, but it's pretty much official now. The so called Supreme Court (stacked with leftists loyal to Dear Leader Maduro) has declared the national legislature "illegitimate" and announced that it will now make all laws for the country or it will pass the legislative power to another entity. Three guesses who that would be. Things have gotten so bad that even Venezuela's neighbors are openly calling Maduro a dictator amidst talk of expelling the country from the Organization of American States.

Mike Pence doesn’t dine alone with other women...

...and people are flipping out.

Bill introduced into Ukrainian parliament to significantly restrict abortion

People’s Deputy of Ukraine Dimitry Golubov has introduced a bill proposing to ban abortions except in cases where the mother’s health is at risk or the conception was a result of rape into the Verkhovna Rada, reports strana.ua

Bill No. 6239 on amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine regarding restrictions on the artificial interruption of pregnancy (abortion) was registered in the Ukrainian Parliament on Monday, with the text being released on the Rada’s website on Wednesday, March 27.

The legislator has proposed to eliminate the Ukrainian civil code provision that allows for abortions by desire up to the twelfth week of pregnancy. The new proposal would allow abortions only in certain legal circumstances, up to the twenty-second week of pregnancy. 

If the proposed bill is passed, abortions may be carried out by health facilities if the pregnancy poses a direct threat to the life of the mother, if there is evidence of a serious abnormality in the child, or if the conception occurred due to rape. The bill’s author is a member of the parliamentary Committee on Legal Policy and Justice. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Are we entering a golden age of the conspiracy theory?

“I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s fake, phoney, fake. A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people. And they are. They are the enemy of the people …”

Donald Trump’s assault on “terrible, dishonest” journalists (“the lowest form of life”) has become one of the hallmarks of his fledgling administration. But as many have noted, this posturing echoes developments closer to home. It was Michael Gove, of course, who claimed during the Brexit campaign that “people in this country have had enough of experts”.
 
Scott Pruitt, the new chief of the US Environmental Protection Agency, certainly seems comfortable dismissing scientific consensus: “I believe that measuring, with precision, human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So, no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

From a certain perspective, this is knockabout political theatre. And a little scepticism is prudent, for sure. Blithely accepting whatever we’re told is clearly unwise. Information can be unreliable; cover-ups do occur. But if we dismiss everything we hear in the media, if we assume that scientists and scholars are untrustworthy, we leave ourselves vulnerable to manipulation, misinformation, and rumour. This makes us wonder: are we entering a golden age of the conspiracy theory?

Read the rest here.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Russian Church to continue adding Western saints to its calendar

At its March 9 session, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to add St. Patrick, the Enlightener of Ireland, St. Alban the Protomartyr of Britain, St. Genevieve of Paris, and twelve other Western saints from the first millennium, before the West departed into heresy, to its official calendar.

As Interfax-Religion reports, the Russian Orthodox Church intends to continue adding such revered Western Church figures to its calendar for annual celebration. Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk stated on the “Church and the World” television program that “This process is not completed. It has only started.”

According to the bishop, St. Patrick and the others were added to the calendar at the request of Russian dioceses in the diaspora which have already been venerating such saints. “There are other Western saints whom I hope will also soon be included in the calendar of our Church,” His Eminence stated.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Some Notable Anniversaries

Pope Constantine became Pope on this date in AD 708. He was among the last of the so called "Byzantine Popes" and would be the last to visit the imperial capital Constantinople until Paul VI.

In 1917, only days following the abdication of the Czar Martyr Nicholas II, the Georgian Orthodox Church unilaterally proclaimed the restoration of its autocephaly.

The great French Roman Catholic Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre reposed on this date in 1991. Whatever else one may say of him, the traditional Roman Rite of the Mass is alive today almost entirely due to his defiance of the modernists in Rome. Memory eternal.

A Tough Team

A local ball team from Indiana circa 1908

On consideration, I think I'd just let them win. I have a bad feeling about their idea of picking off base runners.View the photo full size here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Pope Francis to proclaim Fatima visionaries saints during Portugal trip

ROME - Two of the visionaries of the Marian apparitions of Fatima - young shepherds Jacinta and Francisco Marto - will be canonized by Pope Francis when he visits the Portuguese shrine in May.

The Vatican announced the pontiff approved the miracle attributed to their intercession on Thursday, the final step necessary before they could be made saints.
Francis had already been scheduled to be in Fatima for a two-day trip from May 12-13.

Italian media reports say he will canonize them at the Mass already scheduled for May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and the 100th anniversary of the date when the two children - along with their cousin Lúcia Santos - said the Virgin Mary first appeared to them.

Read the rest here.

Poll: Majority of Russians against revival of monarchy (1 in 3 support)

Two-thirds of Russians oppose the revival of Russian monarchy, believing that its historical time has passed, according to recent research from the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion. At the same time, 28% of Russians are not against reviving monarchy in their country, but say they don’t see a worthy candidate at this time, reports Interfax-Religion.

The overwhelming majority of respondents (82%) believe the current republican form of government is more suitable. Smaller towns and villages approved of the current form slightly more, at 84-86%. In specifically choosing between monarchy and a republic, only 11% inclined towards monarchy.

Were the monarchy to be restored, respondents favored looking to public figures and politicians to fill the role (13%), rather than to a Romanov descendant (6%). 70% say that the revival of the monarchy in Russia at this time would be impossible and incorrect.

According to the poll, among those who oppose the autocracy, most are supporters of the Communist party (74%) and elderly Russians (70%). Electorates of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia are more in favor of the monarchy (36%), and younger, 45-59 year-olds (31%).

The poll was conducted March 9-10, with 1,600 people in 138 locations in 46 regions and republics responding. The margin of error is 3.4%.

Discussion about the possibility of reviving the Russian monarchy has started up again after a March TV broadcast in which the head of Crimea Sergei Aksenov said, “We do not need democracy in this form, as it is presented in the Western media… We have our traditional Orthodox values… In my view, today, Russian needs monarchy.”

Source.

So, on the 100th anniversary of the Revolution somewhere near 1 in 3 Russians want the monarchy back. Times are a changin.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Of possible interest

There are several posts now up at Orthodox Ethos, mainly dealing with the recent controversies in Greece over the Creten Event, that may be of interest to readers. Do take a look.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

St. John of Damascus on the Veneration of the Cross

The word “Cross” is foolishness to those that perish, but to us who are saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:23). For he that is spiritual judges all things, but the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit. For it is foolishness to those who do not receive in faith and who do not consider God's goodness and omnipotence, but search out divine things with human and natural reasonings. For all the things that are of God are above nature and reason and conception. For should any one consider how and for what purpose God brought all things out of nothing and into being, and aim at arriving at that by natural reasonings, he fails to comprehend it. For knowledge of this kind belongs to spirits and demons. But if any one, under the guidance of faith, should consider the divine goodness and omnipotence and truth and wisdom and justice, he will find all things smooth and even, and the way straight. But without faith it is impossible to be saved (Hebrews 11:6). For it is by faith that all things, both human and spiritual, are sustained. For without faith neither does the farmer cut his furrow, nor does the merchant commit his life to the raging waves of the sea on a small piece of wood, nor are marriages contracted nor any other step in life taken. By faith we consider that all things were brought out of nothing into being by God's power. And we direct all things, both divine and human, by faith. Further, faith is assent free from all meddlesome inquisitiveness. 

Every action, therefore, and performance of miracles by Christ are most great and divine and marvelous: but the most marvelous of all is His precious Cross. For no other thing has subdued death, expiated the sin of the first parent, despoiled Hades, bestowed the resurrection, granted the power to us of contemning the present and even death itself, prepared the return to our former blessedness, opened the gates of Paradise, given our nature a seat at the right hand of God, and made us the children and heirs of God, save the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. For by the Cross all things have been made right. So many of us, the apostle says, as were baptized into Christ, were baptized into His death Romans 6:3, and as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27 Further, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). Lo! The death of Christ, that is, the Cross, clothed us with the enhypostatic wisdom and power of God. And the power of God is the Word of the Cross, either because God's might, that is, the victory over death, has been revealed to us by it, or because, just as the four extremities of the Cross are held fast and bound together by the bolt in the middle, so also by God's power the height and the depth, the length and the breadth, that is, every creature visible and invisible, is maintained. 

This was given to us as a sign on our forehead, just as the circumcision was given to Israel: for by it we believers are separated and distinguished from unbelievers. This is the shield and weapon against, and trophy over, the devil. This is the seal that the destroyer may not touch you (Exodus 12:23), as says the Scripture. This is the resurrection of those lying in death, the support of the standing, the staff of the weak, the rod of the flock, the safe conduct of the earnest, the perfection of those that press forwards, the salvation of soul and body, the aversion of all things evil, the patron of all things good, the taking away of sin, the plant of resurrection, the tree of eternal life. 

So, then, this same truly precious and august tree, on which Christ has offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sakes, is to be worshipped as sanctified by contact with His holy body and blood; likewise the nails, the spear, the clothes, His sacred tabernacles which are the manger, the cave, Golgotha, which brings salvation, the tomb which gives life, Sion, the chief stronghold of the churches and the like, are to be worshipped. In the words of David, the father of God, We shall go into His tabernacles, we shall worship at the place where His feet stood. And that it is the Cross that is meant is made clear by what follows, Arise, O Lord, into Your Rest. For the resurrection comes after the Cross. For if of those things which we love, house and couch and garment, are to be longed after, how much the rather should we long after that which belonged to God, our Savior, by means of which we are in truth saved. 

Moreover we worship even the image of the precious and life-giving Cross, although made of another tree, not honoring the tree (God forbid) but the image as a symbol of Christ. For He said to His disciples, admonishing them, Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven Matthew 24:30, meaning the Cross. And so also the angel of the resurrection said to the woman, You seek Jesus of Nazareth which was crucified (Mark 16:6). And the Apostle said, We preach Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23). For there are many Christs and many Jesuses, but One crucified. He does not say speared but crucified. It behooves us, then, to worship the sign of Christ. For wherever the sign may be, there also will He be. But it does not behoove us to worship the material of which the image of the Cross is composed, even though it be gold or precious stones, after it is destroyed, if that should happen. Everything, therefore, that is dedicated to God we worship, conferring the adoration on Him. 

The tree of life which was planted by God in Paradise pre-figured this precious Cross. For since death was by a tree, it was fitting that life and resurrection should be bestowed by a tree. Jacob, when He worshipped the top of Joseph's staff, was the first to image the Cross, and when he blessed his sons with crossed hands (Hebrews 11:21) he made most clearly the sign of the cross. Likewise also did Moses' rod, when it smote the sea in the figure of the cross and saved Israel, while it overwhelmed Pharaoh in the depths; likewise also the hands stretched out crosswise and routing Amalek; and the bitter water made sweet by a tree, and the rock rent and pouring forth streams of water (Numbers 20), and the rod that meant for Aaron the dignity of the high priesthood (Exodus 4): and the serpent lifted in triumph on a tree as though it were dead, the tree bringing salvation to those who in faith saw their enemy dead, just as Christ was nailed to the tree in the flesh of sin which yet knew no sin. The mighty Moses cried, You will see your life hanging on the tree before your eyes, and Isaiah likewise, I have spread out my hands all the day unto a faithless and rebellious people (Isaiah 65:2). But may we who worship this obtain a part in Christ the crucified. Amen. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Tragic Anniversary


Saint/Czar Nicholas II abdicated 100 years ago today setting in motion events leading to a century of brutal repression by Communists both in Russia and around the globe. In some places such as North Korea and Cuba, that repression continues today. Untold millions (some global estimates put the number at near 100 million when including China) were murdered for a variety of reasons, and in some cases for no reason at all. The number of New Martyrs will never be known with any exactness but in Russia alone it is almost certainly in the millions.

Disturbing News from Greece

Fr. Theodore Zisis, of whom I am a huge fan, has ceased to commemorate his bishop over disputes revolving around the Creten Event.

Update: More detailed report from Pravoslavie...

On March 5, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, well-known theologian Archpriest Theodore Zisis announced from the ambo of his church that he was ceasing commemoration of Metropolitan Athimos of Thessaloniki, reports Credo.ru.

After years of involvement in the ecumenical movement, since the 1980s Fr. Theodore has become one of Greece’s strongest and most-trusted outspoken critics of ecumenism. Most recently he has been a vocal critic of the June 2016 Pan-Orthodox Synod on Crete, both before and after its convocation. Critics of the council have mainly focused on the text “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World,” arguing that when the Church is coming together to give voice to its dogmatic self-understanding, it cannot use the term “church” in reference to any other confessions, but must strictly speak of the one Church confessed by the Nicene Creed.

In November, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew called upon Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens to defend the documents produced at the Crete Council and to quell criticism of them, warning that he would break communion with those individuals who vocally criticized the council, after which Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki instructed Fr. Theodore to cease expressing any criticisms of the council.

After a time of prayer and discernment, Fr. Theodore has decided that his conscience will not allow him to be silent about what he sees as a danger to the Church, and thus he has responded by ceasing commemoration of his ruling bishop, stating, that the metropolitan has shown “bareheaded” his alignment with the heresy of ecumenism through his acceptance of the Crete Council and his push for a Church-wide acceptance of it at the Holy Synod meeting of November 23-26, 2016.

In using the term “bareheaded” Fr. Theodore alluded to Canon 15 of the First-Second Council, held in Constantinople in 861 and attended by 318 holy fathers, including St. Photios, the Patriarch of Constantinople, which allows for a priest to cease commemorating a bishop who is “preaching the heresy publicly, and teaching it barehead in church.” The canon notes that this “walling off” is not an act of schism, but is indeed praiseworthy, done in defense of holy Orthodoxy.

Fr. Theodore also stated that the Crete Council cannot be justified as it was neither holy, nor a synod, nor representative of the mind of the fullness of the Church. Then directly citing Canon 15, Fr. Theodore announced that on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, when the Church proclaims its triumph over all soul-destroying heresies, he would cease commemoration of his bishop, as he is unable to commemorate all the great saints who have battled against heresy, while commemorating a bishop he believes has fallen into heresy.

His announcement was met with cheers and applause from the congregation.

Both Fr. Theodore and another Thessaloniki priest, Fr. Nicholas Manolis, who has also ceased commemoration, have been summoned to a spiritual court and face the possibility of being defrocked from the holy priesthood. In his announcement, Fr. Theodore asked Metropolitan Anthimos to defer to Canon 15 of the First-Second Council and to allow Fr. Theodore to continue his work.

Note that among critics of the Crete Council there is disagreement over how to proceed. In January, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), one of the most respected bishops and theologians in the Church today, who has offered several weighty critiques of the council, urged others not to cease commemoration of their hierarchs.