Monday, December 30, 2019

New Archbishop of York: ‘Bible has to fit the current culture’

The incoming Archbishop of York believes biblical teaching on sexuality should come second to 21st century Western cultural beliefs.

Stephen Cottrell is currently the Bishop of Chelmsford and will take over from Dr John Sentamu next year to become the second most senior clergyman in the Church of England.

Bishop Cottrell made his comments on the Bible in 2017 as he welcomed the Archbishops of Canterbury and York’s plea for a “radical new Christian inclusion”.

 ‘Culture’

He said it would be wrong to ignore the “damage” that is done by rejecting Western society’s current view of human sexuality.

“I am not sure the church has ever before had to face the challenge of being seen as immoral by the culture in which it is set.”


Read the rest here.

Mass for the Feast of the Holy Innocents According to the Orthodox Western Rite


Friday, December 20, 2019

Christianity Today: Trump Should Be Removed from Office

It’s time to say what we said 20 years ago when a president’s character was revealed for what it was.

In our founding documents, Billy Graham explains that Christianity Today will help evangelical Christians interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith. The impeachment of Donald Trump is a significant event in the story of our republic. It requires comment.

The typical CT approach is to stay above the fray and allow Christians with different political convictions to make their arguments in the public square, to encourage all to pursue justice according to their convictions and treat their political opposition as charitably as possible. We want CT to be a place that welcomes Christians from across the political spectrum, and reminds everyone that politics is not the end and purpose of our being. We take pride in the fact, for instance, that politics does not dominate our homepage.

That said, we do feel it necessary from time to time to make our own opinions on political matters clear—always, as Graham encouraged us, doing so with both conviction and love. We love and pray for our president, as we love and pray for leaders (as well as ordinary citizens) on both sides of the political aisle.

Let’s grant this to the president: The Democrats have had it out for him from day one, and therefore nearly everything they do is under a cloud of partisan suspicion. This has led many to suspect not only motives but facts in these recent impeachment hearings. And, no, Mr. Trump did not have a serious opportunity to offer his side of the story in the House hearings on impeachment.

But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.

Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.


Read the rest here.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Beef Over Red Meat

 Just one more week (for most of us)

In case you haven’t consumed any health news recently, there is a big beef over research showing red meat is not bad for you. A huge study has contradicted decades of anti-red-meat advice, and the experts who gave that advice are red-faced and livid.

The new research was a systematic review of existing research, conducted by a team of interdisciplinary researchers with no conflict of interest. After eliminating many poorly done studies, and studies done on animals (which have unknown application to humans), the team concluded, “The panel suggests that adults continue current unprocessed red meat consumption (weak recommendation, low-certainty evidence). Similarly, the panel suggests adults continue current processed meat consumption (weak recommendation, low-certainty evidence).”

The problem is that this contradicts decades of research saying that meat, especially red and processed meat, is bad for health, allegedly causing heart disease and cancer. Virtually every medical organization has been telling people to stop eating meat for health reasons.

What are all these experts going to do now that the research studies they were relying on for their recommendations were flawed and biased? Experts hate to be told they are wrong. After all, they are the experts, so who can trump them?

This study did. And the response has been anger from the medical community, a very unscientific response.

In a story on the findings, and the reaction from the embarrassed and defensive medical community, the New York Times wrote, “Already [the study authors] have been met with fierce criticism by public health researchers. The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other groups have savaged the findings and the journal that published them.”

The Times explains, “While the new findings are likely to please proponents of popular high-protein diets, they seem certain to add to public consternation over dietary advice that seems to change every few years. The conclusions represent another in a series of jarring dietary reversals involving salt, fats, carbohydrates and more.”

Clearly, the Emperor never likes to be told he has no clothes. This is a major rebuke, not only of medicine, but of nutrition research and public policy. As the Times article continued, “Some [medical experts] called for the journal’s editors to delay publication altogether. In a statement, scientists at Harvard warned that the conclusions ‘harm the credibility of nutrition science and erode public trust in scientific research.’”

Harvard doesn’t want the public to realize that its public health recommendations are based on bad science. The public may lose trust. We can’t allow the public to realize that medical advice is sketchy, at best.

Some medical groups don’t like the implications of the study, since they philosophically oppose meat consumption. According to the Times, “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group advocating a plant-based diet, on Wednesday filed a petition against the journal with the Federal Trade Commission.”

Realize that these groups are calling for censorship of scientific information that goes against policy.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

SIGNOR MARCONI'S TRIUMPH

St. John's N.F. Dec 14.- Sengor Marconi announced tonight the most wonderful scientific discovery of modern times, in stating that he had received electric signals from across the Atlantic Ocean from his station in Cornwall, England. He explains that before leaving England he had made his plans for accomplishing the result, for, while his primary object was to communicate with ocean liners in mid ocean, he also hoped to succeed in attaining the wonderful achievement of wireless telegraphy across the Atlantic.
 

Sengor Marconi's station in Cornwall is most powerful. He possesses an electric force generated there a hundred times greater than at his ordinary stations. Before he left England he arranged with the electrician in charge of the station, which is located in Poldhu, to begin sending signals daily after a certain date, which Sengor Marconi would cable him upon perfecting his arrangements here. Sengor Marconi arrived here a week ago Friday, and selected Signal Hill, at the entrance of the harbor, as an experimenting station, and moved his equipment there. Last Monday he cabled the Poldhu station to begin sending signals at 3 p. m. daily, and to continue them until 6 p. m., these hours being respectively 11:30 a. m. to 2:30 p. m. St. John's time. During these hours Wednesday Sengor Marconi elevated a kite with an aerial wire, by means of which signals are sent or received. He remained at the recorder attached to the receiving apparatus, and, to his profound satisfaction, signals were received by him at intervals, according to the programme arranged previously with the operator at Poldhu. These signals consisted of repeating at intervals the letter "S," which, in Marconi's code, is made by three dots, or quick strokes. This signal was repeated so frequently, and according to the detailed plan arranged to provide safeguards against possibility of a mistake, that Sengor Marconi was satisfied that it was a genuine transmission from England. 

Read the rest in the Sunday December 15, 1901 edition of the New York Tribune here.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Blue Wave Sweeps Britain (well... except Scotland)

Boris Johnson won a general election by one of the widest margins in recent history. In doing so the Conservatives inflicted a stunning defeat on the Labour Party, which suffered losses projected to rival those of the 1935 election. The Liberal Democrats also suffered heavy losses including their leader who lost her seat to the SNP, which alone among the opposition parties, did well. Though their gains were of course, entirely north of the border. Mr. Corbyn, the head of the Labour Party announced he will stand down as his party's leader after "a period of reflection."

The leader of the Scottish National Party has already begun trumpeting her demands for another independence referendum, which will likely be approved by the new Conservative government somewhere around noon on the day after the Second Coming.

News coverage here, here and here or pretty much anywhere you choose to look on Google.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Meanwhile in Germany

The German Catholic bishops have agreed that their church has been wrong about a few things.
Details.

But not to worry. There are no doctrinal differences between Orthodoxy and Rome.

Brazil's Imperial Heir Slams Amazon Synod


Brazil's Catholic royalty is condemning the Amazon Synod's final document as an "enormous conspiracy" of emergent pantheism against Catholic tradition, Western civilization and the conservative government of President Jair Bolsonaro.   

In a scathing attack, His Imperial Highness Prince Dom Bertrand said that the end product of the synod was not Catholicism, but pantheism seeking "a complete change of the Roman Catholic apostolic Church and the Christian civilization that had existed through the Church's history."
 
"They want to extinguish all the progress that happened in the last 2,000 years thanks to Christian civilization," Dom Bertrand of Orleans and Braganza asserted in a video statement released Friday.

The traditionalist Catholic royal singled out paragraph 10 for a blistering critique, arguing that it would threaten Brazil's borders and the "soul of the Brazilian people," since the document was calling for "the complete transformation of Brazil and everything related to the Brazilian population and the indigenous population."

Paragraph 10 claims that "the Amazon today is a wounded and deformed beauty, a place of pain and violence."

Prince Bertrand hits back in the video: "The Amazon is a forest. The forest doesn't suffer. But this is part of a pantheistic vision that claims the forest can suffer because nature is Mother Nature or Pachamama or whatever."

Read the rest here.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Germany's hard-Left 'Corbyn problem' is only just beginning

Germany has a giant "Corbyn problem" of its own. The Social Democrat base has been captured by hard-Left youth activists and has repudiated the core policy positions of the party leadership and Germany’s post-war consensus.

The difference is that the venerable SPD is not in opposition. It is for the time being the second pillar of Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, with "co-determination" powers over economic policy and the strategic direction of Europe.

The weekend "revolution" of the SPD congress saw vows to reverse the free-market Hartz IV labour reforms of the Gerhard Schroder era and embrace a 2pc wealth tax, doubling down on a tax experiment abandoned in the 1990s as unworkable and economically destructive.

The SPD delegates voted for a rent freeze in the big cities, a stretch in unemployment benefits to 36 months, a 30pc rise in the minimum wage, and a much higher carbon tax.

They want to abandon the "black zero" straightjacket of a balanced budget and launch a fiscal blitz of 1.5 million units of social housing, with €45bn of extra infrastructure and investment spending (1.2pc of GDP) every year for the next decade.

Peter Ramsauer from the Bavarian Social Christians (CSU) called it a “fantasy socialist wishlist” that renders the coalition effectively impossible. “A wealth tax will drive productive capital out of the country. The SPD will ruin itself first, and then the German economy,” he said.


Read the rest here.

Investors are buying insurance against 2020 electoral chaos

Stock investors are hedging in a big way against something scary coming at them this time next year and it could be related to the outcome of the presidential election.

The price of buying downside puts, meaning a negative bet on the S&P 500 is at a historical level compared to the price for upside calls, or an opposite bet in the option markets for higher prices, according to Julian Emanuel, head of equity and derivatives strategy at BTIG.

By this time next year, the Nov. 3 election will have been over for a little over a month.

“To hedge out past the election, the price of downside puts relative to upside calls is literally pricing an election apocalypse,” said Emanuel. “We have said it forecasts either a less business friendly attitude or a civilizational conflict with China after the election.”

Emanuel said it’s unclear which way investors think the election would go. “The left, the right and the center are all worried about highly unstable electoral outcomes,” said Emanuel.

Read the rest here.

I don't blame them. In 2016, Trump repeatedly warned he might not recognize the legitimacy of an election where he lost.

RIP Paul Volcker


 Paul Volcker testifying before Congress

He was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1979 to 1987 and is remembered chiefly as the man who took the heroic (and brutal) steps required to break the high inflation that had dogged the country through the 1970's and early 80's. He gained a reputation for being the guy who said what needed to be said and did what needed to be done even if it was deeply unpopular. And jacking short term interest rates deep into double digit territory, thereby all but wiping out credit markets and plunging the country into two recessions (that could probably be classified as a minor depression) in order to arrest inflation was hugely controversial. But it worked and history has generally been kind to Volcker.

A staunch advocate of fiscal conservatism; he had a personal aversion to debt and spending that was legendary. He was so frugal that he was still driving an old Nash Rambler when the driver's seat collapsed. Rather than break down and buy a new car (or even a newer used one), he jammed a small chair under the driver's seat to prop it up and continued to drive the Nash for years. His only extravagance was his love of cigars, though even there he stuck to the cheap generic brands commonly found behind the checkout counter in gas stations and convenience stores.

Mr. Volcker died at the age of 92.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Leaked report alleges widespread anti-Semitism in UK Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of leading an “institutionally anti-Semitic” party as a leaked dossier argued he had been involved in a “cover up” of the problem in Labour.

A devastating submission of evidence to the equality watchdog compares the Labour Party to the Metropolitan Police in the 1990s, when the Stephen Lawrence inquiry found it was riddled with racism.

Whistleblowers have claimed that allegations of anti-Semitism were made to “disappear” following interventions by Mr Corbyn and his senior staff.

They also claim they were told to bypass the supposedly independent complaints process by taking cases directly to Labour high command then “told to lie” about what they were doing...

In a 53-page submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Jewish Labour Movement, which has been affiliated to the party for almost a century, said Mr Corbyn has made Labour “a welcoming refuge for anti-Semites” by protecting those accused of racism against Jews.

The dossier was described as “utterly damning” by one of Labour’s most senior figures...

The dossier - which includes evidence from 70 serving and former Labour officials - describes a “relentless” level of racial hatred experienced by Jewish members of the Labour Party “on a daily basis”.

It describes one incident at last year’s Labour Party Conference at which a Jewish member allegedly shared a breakfast table with two other delegates who agreed that Jews were “subhuman” and  should “be grateful we don’t make them eat bacon for breakfast every day”.

It also gives details of insults allegedly hurled at Jewish members during local party meetings. One man listed 22 different verbal attacks on him including “Zio scum”, “child killer” and being told “Hitler was right”.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

New York state government in three sentences

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on the state's looming $6B budget deficit.

“When there is a concern about having enough money, the two options always are: Do you cut spending or do you raise revenue? And for us in the Assembly, we always believe in raising revenue.”

HT:Brian

Monday, December 02, 2019

The Democrats may be in trouble

First the inevitable caveat: We are eleven months out from the general election and that is close to eternity in politics. Polls this far out tend to pick the winning party about 50% of the time. So toss a coin, your odds are about the same. And of course, we all know that when you are dealing with the chaos president, anything can happen right up to election day.

With that out of the way, there are two warning signs for Democrats, that all is not well. The first is that the public hearings on impeachment have thus far fallen flat. To the extent that public opinion has moved, it may actually have done so in Trump's favor. I would note that the moves are within the margin of error. But still this cannot be encouraging when considering the prospect of a Senate trial. At the moment it's extremely doubtful that they will get a single Republican vote in either the House or the Senate. More worrying is that a large number of moderate Democrats may vote against impeachment. That would be a political disaster for Democrats going into a national election year.

But the news may be even worse.

Two recent polls, one by Emerson College and one from Rasmussen, put black support for Trump above 30 percent. This produced shock waves discernible in every state in the Union and caused some political pundits to issue tsunami warnings. Assuming those polls are even remotely accurate, their significance cannot be overstated.

African Americans have been the Democratic Party's most reliable constituency since the 1960's. And it is one that they have come to rely on more and more as the party has alienated working class whites. Let me spell this out in very blunt language.

I don't care which candidate you are talking about. There is no realistic path for any Democrat to the White House that does not require around 90 percent of a heavy black voter turn out. If Donald Trump carries anything much over 15 percent of the black vote, it's game over.

Predictably, these polls have precipitated a variety of responses within the political left, ranging from denial ("fake news" was heard more than once) to despondency to some sober analysis of what may be going wrong.

On the latter point here are few thoughts. First, blacks are benefiting from the best economy since the 1920's. African American unemployment is at it's lowest level since reliable records have been kept. At slightly over five percent it's still higher than the national average, but by historical standards, it's not just good. It's really really good. Just who should get credit for the economy is a perfectly fair subject for debate. But Trump has been in office for three years and most Americans are giving him that credit, fairly or not.

Another factor may be that Democrats in their mad rush to the extreme left may have inadvertently alienated some of their supporters. The black community is nowhere near as liberal as some of the Democrats running for president. Polls have consistently shown that most blacks are uncomfortable with abortion on demand, and there is serious resistance to the left's victim group du jour. Namely those whom Dave Chappelle refers to as "the alphabet people."

It may surprise some to read this, but African Americans have one of the highest rates of religiosity of any demographic in the United States. (And at 87% self identifying with a religious church or denomination it is by far the highest among groups who traditionally vote Democratic.) I have long wondered how blacks can keep voting for a party that repeatedly and in so many ways disparages people of faith.

In any event, Democrats still have some time. But when a man like Robert Johnson (BET founder and the first black billionaire), a lifelong Democrat, warns they are on the path to defeat because they are abandoning the political center, you know things are not going according to plan.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Rumors from Philly

The Jesuit Fr. James Martin (yes, that one) is said to be on the short list of possible replacements for Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia.

Lord have mercy.

Report: Patriarch Bartholomew tells Athonites reunion with Catholics is inevitable

On November 12, Patriarch Bartholomew participated in the Vespers service at the Catholic Abbey of Our Lady of St. Rémy in Rochefort, Belgium, together with Archimandrite Alexios, the abbot of Xenophontos Monastery, and Hieromonk Theophilos of Pantocrator Monastery, both on Mt. Athos. 

According to a new report from the Union of Orthodox Journalists, during his trip to Mt. Athos the previous month, Pat. Bartholomew attempted to convince several Athonite abbots and monks that there are no dogmatic differences between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, and that reunion with the Catholic church is inevitable. 

Pat. Bartholomew expressed his personal convictions during a private talk at Pantocrator Monastery with the brethren and guests of the monastery, including other Athonite abbots. Eyewitnesses report that Pat. Bartholomew’s security did not allow anyone to record the conversation. 

In his opinion, the division that now exists between Orthodoxy and Catholicism is merely a matter of historical events, not dogmatic differences. 

Catholics “are just as Christian as we are,” Pat. Bartholomew emphasized, adding that the recent gift of the relics of St. Peter from Pope Francis is proof of the Catholic church’s nearness to Orthodoxy. 

According to the UOJ’s sources, Pantocrator abbot Archimandrite Gabriel, Xenophontos abbot Archimandrite Alexios, Vatopedia abbot Archimandrite Ephraim, the brethren of several monasteries, and other guests were all present for the talk. 

Most of the brethren were at a loss, hearing Pat. Bartholomew’s ecumenistic arguments, though none present objected. Some of those present reportedly began to weep when Pat. Bartholomew said that reunion with the Catholic church is inevitable. 

Recall that Xenophontos and Pantocrator Monasteries have been the most receptive to the Ukrainian schismatics. Abbot Alexios of Xenophontos concelebrated in the enthronement of Epiphany Dumenko as primate of the OCU, and Pantocrator was the first monastery where schismatics served Liturgy on Mt. Athos.

At a recent meeting in Constantinople with representatives of Tbilisi University, Pat. Bartholomew said that dialogue with other Christians, especially Catholics, is one of the priorities of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. 

Source

Caveat... The Union of Orthodox Journalists is editorially closely aligned with the Moscow Patriarchate. I'm not dismissing such a shocking report as untrue. But I would bear the source in mind.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Alice C. Linsley: Ten Objections to Women Priests

As a woman who served as a priest in the Episcopal Church for 16 years, I have some experience of the nature of the priesthood. In 1982, with the encouragement of my parish clergy, friends and family, it seemed the right course for my life. Over the years, I began to question the rationale for women priests. I remember feeling that I was standing in another's shoes, not appropriately mine. I wanted to explain this to my bishop, but he clearly did not want to hear it.

Galatian 3:28 has been used to justify the innovation of women priests: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." In the fourth century, St. Epiphanius remarked that the heretical Cataphyrgians (Montanists) employed Galatians 3:28 to elevate women as "bishops and priests and they say nothing makes a difference 'For in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female.'''

Reading Galatians 3:28 in context, it is apparent that Paul is speaking of the unity of the body of Christ. He is not promoting gender equality as it is framed today. As the Supper was intended to unite the participants to the Head, Jesus Christ, the idea of a woman presiding at the Feast would have been unthinkable.

My doubts made the priestly ministry increasingly burdensome and problematic. As a heterosexual, Bible-believing, Anglican Traditionalist, I found no affirmation in the Episcopal Church as it moved toward a radical revision of the Gospel, setting aside the Apostolic Tradition for its social justice agenda.

Eventually, I renounced orders in the Episcopal Church and left that body. This initiated a decade of reflection on the role of women in the Church and the historic priesthood. During that time, I was in conversation with three former women priests who were seeking clarity also. One entered the Roman Catholic Church and the others entered the Orthodox Church of America. I explored both traditions, but I am thoroughly Anglican and have been for forty-three years.

I have written on the question of women priests, exploring it through Biblical studies, Church history, and cultural anthropology. As with many Anglicans, I believe that the Episcopal Church erred in 1976 when it departed from the all-male priesthood. On a single day the General Convention of the Episcopal Church overthrew catholic orders, rejected the teaching of the Fathers, and denied the authority of Holy Scripture.


Read the rest here.

Why it matters that Canadian Anglicans are having a near-death experience

Years ago, while I was still an Episcopalian, I tried to get a circle of clergy and journalists to collaborate on what I thought would be a classic work of religion-marketplace humor.
The basic idea: The creation of the definitive collection of jokes about Episcopalians and their unique approach to Christian life and culture. As one priest put it, the Episcopal Church is “NPR at prayer.”
The book never happened, but I learned lots of jokes that I didn’t know in all of the basic categories, from “how many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb” quips to jokes featuring “Episcopalians at the gates of heaven and/or hell.” But here was my favorite joke, as I heard it in 1993 (but with a few updates):
The year is 2030 … and two Anglo-Catholic priests in the back of National Cathedral are watching the Episcopal presiding bishop and her incense-bearing wife, an archdeacon, process down the aisle behind a statue of the Buddha, while the faithful sing a hymn to Mother Earth.
"You know," one traditionalist whispers, "ONE more thing and I'm out the door."
The whole point was that it’s hard for religious communions to die. In the end, there are always reasons for true insiders to hang on and hope the pendulum swings back their way.
But I remember that someone else had a joke — I don’t remember how it went — that centered on the idea that, after a few more decades of declining statistics, Anglican churches would be empty, except for elderly clergy at the altars whose salaries would be paid with endowment funds.
That joke cuts to the heart of the news story discussed in this week’s “Crossroads” podcast (click here to tune that in).
As background, here is the top of the Religion News Service story I critiqued in an post with this headline: “Canada's Anglicans are vanishing and RNS can't find any conservatives to debate the reasons why.”

Story here.
HT:T-19

Opiate of the Theologians (Universalism)

Not until the nineteenth century did any Christian body make universal salvation its official teaching. The first to do so, the Universalist Church, later merged with another to form the Unitarian Universalist Association. Within the mainstream churches, medieval and early-modern universalists led a subterranean, catacomb existence—isolated figures, often concealing their views—while Christendom in all its major branches preached hell no less than heaven. Following Origen’s lead, universalists preserved a covert gospel, withheld from the masses, who needed hellfire to scare them straight, while a tiny cadre of religious intellectuals saw themselves as the only ones fit to know the truth. Dogmatic universalism—the notion that God must save all human beings—was for centuries not a public tradition but an esoteric one.

During the first half of the twentieth century, overt expressions of universalism were rare among acknowledged church teachers, with the exception of certain Russian thinkers such as Sergius Bulgakov. In the 1940s, Jacques Maritain confided to a notebook his private thoughts regarding a larger hope of salvation, and Emil Brunner affirmed without fear of contradiction that apokatastasis (universal restoration) is “a doctrine which the Church as a whole has recognized as a heresy.” At mid-century, Catholic theology showed no sign of changing. Yet something shifted during the 1950s and 1960s: Karl Barth’s affirmation of universal election in Church Dogmatics allowed universalism to come out of the shadows. Hans Urs von Balthasar acknowledged Origen’s influence and that of “Barth’s doctrine of election, that brilliant overcoming of ­Calvin.” In the 1970s and 1980s, Catholics discussed “anonymous Christians” and “the unchurched,” while Evangelicals pondered “the ­unevangelized.” Yet the Catholic-Evangelical pivot to inclusivism would prove to be merely a stepping-stone. By century’s end, the earlier debates over inclusivism had become passé, and the new arena of controversy was universalism, either in a hopeful, Balthasarian vein, which seeks to affirm the possibility of universal salvation, or in an assertive, Moltmannian version, which makes it a divine imperative. Among today’s young Christian theologians, Balthasarian tentativeness is fast yielding to ever more strident affirmations of the necessity of salvation for all—as in David ­Bentley Hart’s recent book, That All Shall Be Saved.

Hart charges those who believe in an eternal hell with “moral imbecility.” The language of rude dismissal was something of a guilty pleasure when he deployed it against the “New Atheists” more than a decade ago. Now he is denouncing Dante and every­one else who sustains the age-old tradition of the Church. By his reckoning, their view of God should evoke in us “only a kind of remote, vacuous loathing.” So much for Augustine, Chrysostom, John of Damascus, Aquinas, Pascal, Newman, Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, and Pope Benedict XVI—not to mention innumerable canonized saints of the Church, the great majority of ancient Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac writers, and such Protestant luminaries as Luther, Melanchthon, Bucer, Calvin, Hooker, and Edwards. Oddly, Hart now sounds very much like Richard Dawkins. No less than the aging atheist, Hart finds the two-thousand-year Christian tradition not just unbelievable but repugnant and inhuman.

Read the rest here.

Former Director of the Greek Archdiocese Accused of Theft

The onetime executive director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has been busted for pocketing more than $500,000 in church funds, according to prosecutors.

Jerome Dimitriou, 55, allegedly ran two separate schemes dating back to 2011, according to a Manhattan federal court complaint unsealed Monday.

Prosecutors claim he charged tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses to the diocese-issued credit card, while also instructing subordinates to cut him around $500,000 in bonus checks without proper authorization.


Read the rest here.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Good news... and bad.

Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem has issued an open invitation to the primates of the Orthodox Church to meet in Jordan in an effort to resolve the Ukrainian crisis and preserve the Eucharistic Communion within the Church.

Axios!

And...

His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael forcefully instructed his priests that they were no longer permitted to announce the parameters for receiving Holy Communion prior to its distribution at any time, even on festal celebrations such as Pascha and Nativity, when there are multitude of unknown persons in the Church.

Details.

This is alarming and completely contrary to the historic discipline of the Church. Frankly, it smacks of the kind of open communion practiced by liberal Protestants (sadly gaining traction in the Roman Church as well). For a variety of reasons I made the decision a while ago, that barring an emergency I will refrain from communing in the parishes of the Greek Archdiocese. This has not moved me to reconsider that decision.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Pat. Bartholomew and Athonite abbot and hieromonk attend Vespers with Catholics in Belgium

Bart has been doing this kind of thing for a long time. But the presence of an Athonite abbot may raise some eyebrows.

Details.

Ukrainian schismatics discuss adopting New Calendar Christmas to differentiate from Russia

 “Metropolitan” Mikhail Zinkevich of Lutsk and Volyn of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” has expressed his support for a group of Lutsk activists who asked a blessing to celebrate the Nativity of Christ according to the New Calendar on December 25 in order to differentiate themselves from Russia.

The request came from Provincial and Lutsk City Council Deputies, members of the “Prosvita” society, and other activists, reports the site of schismatic diocese. According to pershyj.com, it came from more than 300 activists altogether.

Although Ukrainian Orthodox Christians have always celebrated feasts according to the Old Calendar, with Nativity falling on January 7, the petitioners argue that this tradition keeps Ukraine too much like Russia and the Soviet Union, and so it should be changed.

“December 25 is not only the Catholic Christmas, but the general Christian Christmas. The pan-Orthodox Council in Constantinople decided in 1923 that Orthodox Christians, according to the more accurate Gregorian calendar, should celebrate Christmas on December 25. All countries except those that were under the influence of the Soviet Union agreed to it,” the petition reads.

“Most Local Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas on December 25. However, Ukraine still remains in the Soviet (now—Russian) paradigm, celebrating Christmas on January 7 in the company of the aggressor Russia,” it continues.

Accordingly, the activists asked to begin the Nativity Fast on November 15 rather than November 28. 


Read the rest here.

It's worth noting that the Greek Rite Catholics in Ukraine are still mostly on the old calendar.

UMC Next Plan: Liberalize Church, Protect Abusive Clergy, Crush Out Traditionalists

The ultra-liberal UMC Next caucus has released its “Next Generation UMC” proposal for the 2020 General Conference, consisting of 23 petitions across 33 pages.

UMC Next’s Convening Team includes celebrity pastor Adam Hamilton, Tom Berlin (lead submitter of the misleadingly named “One Church Plan” to the 2019 General Conference), Jasmine Smothers (another Commission on a Way Forward member and “One Church Plan” sponsor), Jan Lawrence (CEO of the LGBTQ liberationist Reconciling Ministries Network), Randall Miller (former head of RMN), Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson of North Georgia, Bishop Mike McKee of North Texas, Junius Dotson (CEO of our denomination’s official “Discipleship Ministries” agency), and key deputies of Chicago Bishop Sally Dyck and Florida Bishop Ken Carter.

This group largely consists of some of the most prominent advocates of the so-called “One Church Plan” (OCP). There seemed to be a lot of hubris among many liberals of being confident that their OCP would pass, because they evidently had not bothered to listen much to its traditionalist and genuine-centrist critics.

In response to our denomination’s highest representative body making clear that the OCP was a bridge too far, the UMC Next proposal represents leading OCP supporters refusing to make any compromises, but instead asking for something even more radical.

Here are key component of UMC Next’s “Next Generation UMC” proposal:
  • Dramatically liberalize church standards on sexual morality while stifling any room for dissent.
  • Dramatically erode accountability for clergy misconduct on all other standards.
  • Have traditionalist believers leave.
  • Repeat the “Way Forward” process.
  • Potentially dramatically change core doctrine.
  • Dramatically liberalize church standards on sexual morality while stifling any room for dissent.
Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Trump Isn’t the First President to Make War on the Federal Reserve



Nixon bullied his Fed chair into lowering interest rates — a political move that wrecked the economy for years.
 
Taking to Twitter late last month, President Trump made clear that when it comes to the economy, the real enemy is not in Beijing, but just down the street from the White House, in the headquarters of the Federal Reserve. The Fed’s chairman, Jerome Powell, had recently led his board in lowering interest rates by 25 basis points, a smaller increment than the president desired. “China is not our problem, the Federal Reserve is,” the president wrote.

Such audacity may feel uniquely Trumpian, but it isn’t. Though our modern political culture holds that the Federal Reserve is independent, other postwar presidents have bullied Fed chairmen just as egregiously. President Lyndon Johnson pushed Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin against a wall after Martin dared to raise the discount rate half a percentage point.

But the worst example is President Richard Nixon’s campaign to coerce “his” Fed chairman, Arthur Burns, into promulgating policy that guaranteed devastating inflation. Worst, because it worked — and demonstrated that this economically vital, supposedly apolitical agency is more vulnerable to presidential meddling than we’d like to believe.

Read the rest here

Amity Shlaes is no left-wing moonbat. She is an old right conservative whose recent biography of Calvin Coolidge is sitting on my bookshelf. But what even she dares not mention, is that the world is drowning in debt and the central banks are already up to their eyeballs in money printing and aggressive manipulation of interest rates and financial markets. Their sole function at this point is to keep the bubbles inflated for as long as possible. Trump really aught to read "This Time is Different- Eight Centuries of Financial Folley" by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff (also on my bookshelf). I'd offer to lend him my copy, but there aren't any pictures.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Venice stricken with catastrophic flooding



The historic squares of Venice were left deep underwater on Wednesday after most of the tourist mecca was inundated by the second-highest levels of flooding ever recorded, sending water into the historic basilica as more bad weather is in the forecast.

The high tide peaked at 74 inches late Tuesday, just short of the 76 inches set during record flooding of 1966. That meant more than 85 percent of the city was flooded, with water overtaking the famed St. Mark's Basilica, raising new concerns over damage to the mosaics and other artworks.

 "Venice is on its knees," Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said on Twitter. "St. Mark's Basilica has sustained serious damage like the entire city and its islands.

 Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Masons (again)

That two of the most controversial Patriarchs of Constantinople (prior to the current occupant) were Free Masons has been so widely reported that I have long accepted the claims as almost certainly factual. If any concrete denials that Meletius IV and Athenagoras I were Masons have ever been made by reputable sources, I am unaware of them. Still, and for the record, the evidence seems to be piling up.

For those who may be unaware, membership in the Free Masons is forbidden to Orthodox Christians.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Ross Douthat: An Interview With Cdl Burke

In mid-October, while the Catholic Church’s internal debates were reaching another crescendo at a synod for the Amazon region held in Rome, I sat down with Cardinal Raymond Burke, best known as Pope Francis’s most vocal critic in the church’s hierarchy.

Our conversations, which continued last week, covered Burke’s role in Francis-era debates about Catholic moral teaching, as well as the sex abuse crisis, the legacy of Vatican II, his relationship with Steve Bannon and the strange position of a conservative Catholic who is also a critic of the pope. The following is an edited, condensed version of our discussions.

This is well worth reading in its entirety.

HT: Fr. Z with whom I agree about what should have happened to ex-Cardinal McCarrick. Burke is one of the good guys. Unfortunately he is an American and is anathema to Rome's Magic Circle, so his chances of being elected as the next Pope are around zero. And of course it doesn't help that Francis has been stacking the College of Cardinals with blatant heretics, some of whom are also shockingly corrupt.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Athonite Elder Gabriel rebukes Patriarch Bartholomew

An open letter has been sent which I am not going to quote here as it is highly polemical. But for the record...

Details.

The backstory on HBO shelving the Game of Thrones prequel

THE Game of Thrones prequel starring Naomi Watts was axed after HBO decided the £30million pilot was “too woke”.

It was to feature the first White Walker as black, put lesbian characters at the heart of the plot and make one of Ned Stark’s ancestors mixed race.

The series, in which the main theme was to be colonialism, was being run by writer and producer Jane Goldman — married to TV and radio presenter Jonathan Ross.

But after three years of work, the show — which had the working title Bloodmoon — was suddenly shelved for good this week.

HBO instead announced a different prequel called House of the Dragon, said to be more similar to the original series.

The ten-parter will be based on George R.R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood.


Read the rest here.

Too woke for HBO? Holy $%^&!

Monday, November 04, 2019

Bitcoin's boom in 2017 was largely market manipulation

A forensic study on bitcoin’s 2017 boom has found that nearly the entire rise of the digital currency at the time is attributable to “one large player,” although the market manipulator remains unidentified.

Finance professors John Griffin and Amin Shams – instructors at University of Texas and the Ohio State University, respectively – analyzed over 200 gigabytes of data for the transaction history between bitcoin and tether, another digital currency. Tether is an asset known as a “stablecoin,” which has its trading value connected to the dollar.

The professors’ study found that tethers being traded for bitcoins revealed a pattern.

“We find that the identified patterns are not present on other flows, and almost the entire price impact can be attributed to this one large player,” Griffin and Shams wrote. “We map this data across both blockchains and find that the one player or entity (labeled as 1LSg throughout the paper) is behind the majority of the patterns we document.”

Griffin and Shams were able to follow the clusters of data to a source: “One large account at Bitfinex.” The digital currency exchange Bitfinex is one of the largest in the world. The study found that, through Bitfinex, the single player was able to manipulate demand for bitcoin via “extreme” flows of tethers. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the updated study’s results on Monday.

The manipulation occurred as bitcoin rose to an all-time high of nearly $20,000 in late 2017, the study found. Bitcoin traded at about $9,300 on Monday.

“One of the SEC’s top worries is that crypto is subject to manipulation. This study appears to lend credibility to that argument,” Cowen analyst Jaret Seiberg said in a note on Monday.

The study comes after an analysis published in March found that 95% bitcoin spot trading is faked. The survey, created by cryptocurrency asset manager Bitwise for the SEC, found that only $273 million of about $6 billion in average daily bitcoin volume was legitimate.


Read the rest here.

Polls: Trump remains competitive in key battleground states

Despite low national approval ratings and the specter of impeachment, President Trump remains highly competitive in the battleground states likeliest to decide his re-election, according to a set of new surveys from The New York Times Upshot and Siena College.

Across the six closest states that went Republican in 2016, he trails Joe Biden by an average of two points among registered voters but stays within the margin of error.

Mr. Trump leads Elizabeth Warren by two points among registered voters, the same margin as his win over Hillary Clinton in these states three years ago. 

The poll showed Bernie Sanders deadlocked with the president among registered voters, but trailing among likely voters. 

The results suggest that Ms. Warren, who has emerged as a front-runner for the Democratic nomination, might face a number of obstacles in her pursuit of the presidency. The poll supports concerns among some Democrats that her ideology and gender — including the fraught question of “likability” — could hobble her candidacy among a crucial sliver of the electorate. And not only does she underperform her rivals, but the poll also suggests that the race could be close enough for the difference to be decisive.

Read the rest here

I automatically assume that polls under report Trump's support by between 1-3% given the reluctance of some of his supporters to admit as much. So for Trump supporters this must be more than a glimmer of good news. That said, I remain dubious regarding the value of polls this far from the general election, recent exceptions notwithstanding.Too much can happen and one doesn't need to be a political junkie to grasp that this administration is a nuclear generator for "unanticipated events."

Sunday, November 03, 2019

La Croix: Amazon Synod means the ‘end of Tridentine Church’

The editor-in-chief of the French Catholic daily, La Croix, wrote a blog post on Tuesday announcing the “end of the Tridentine Church.”

Isabelle de Gaulmyn presents what she considers to be the outcome of the Amazon Synod, calling it a “real revolution” that will close the door on Catholicism as it has existed for five centuries.

Interestingly, she remarked that Pope Francis will probably not contradict the Synod’s conclusions insofar as he “quite largely encouraged the process.”

La Croix is owned by the French religious congregation of the Augustinians of the Assumption and is widely read by the French episcopate, so much so that it is considered the unofficial daily of the bishops. It runs a number of blogs, in particular for its own journalists and invited editorialists. In de Gaulmyn's capacity of editor-in-chief of the print version of La Croix, her blog gives a true reflection of the paper’s orientation, which is generally progressive.

La Croix is rarely if ever contradicted by the French episcopate, even when it takes up positions that are favorable to abortion or unfavorable to resistance against same-sex “marriage.”

De Gaulmyn’s take on the Amazon Synod as a break from “Tridentine” Catholicism is perfectly in line with La Croix’s enthusiastic reporting on the event. The paper’s permanent correspondent in Rome, Nicolas Senèze, recently published a book about opposition to Pope Francis under the title: How America wants to change Popes, accusing rich American Catholics and pressure groups of maneuvering to obtain Francis’ eviction.

De Gaulmyn argues that the Church as we know it is a product of the Council of Trent, which organized the response to the Protestant Reformation through the Counter-Reformation. If she is to be believed, the “structuring” of the Church around the central figure of the priest dates back to that 16th century time: hence the clericalism that is regularly decried by Pope Francis as the root of the sex-abuse crisis and other problems in the present-day Church. The Council of Trent condemned the laity to the role of a “flock of docile sheep,” she wrote. She called this a sort of new vision of priests, changing their status in the people’s imagination.

Presenting the Amazon Synod as the natural outcome of Vatican II and its renewed approach to the priesthood, de Gaulmyn jubilantly remarked – on an ecclesio-ecological note – that the Church is moving toward increased “biodiversity,” which is how she interprets married priests and women ministers.

It is interesting to note that de Gaulmyn would be prepared and happy to see the Church throw away and even contradict the rich inheritance of the Council of Trent, which in particular deepened the teaching of the Church on the Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments and codified the Latin Rite – not by revolutionizing it but by largely unifying its use by the will of Pope Pius V. The extraordinary form of the Latin Mass is also known as the Mass of Pius V or the “Tridentine” Mass (from Trent).


Read the rest here.

California Shows The Limits Of Progressivism

More than 2 million Californians recently were left without power after the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric—which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year—preemptively shut down transmission lines in fear that they might spark fires during periods of high autumn winds.
 
Consumers blame the state for not cleaning up dead trees and brush, along with the utility companies for not updating their ossified equipment. The power companies in turn fault the state for so overregulating utilities that they had no resources to modernize their grids.

Californians know that having tens of thousands of homeless in their major cities is untenable. In some places, municipal sidewalks have become open sewers of garbage, used needles, rodents, and infectious diseases.

Yet no one dares question progressive orthodoxy by enforcing drug and vagrancy laws, moving the homeless out of cities to suburban or rural facilities, or increasing the number of mental hospitals.

The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? 

Taxpayers in California, whose basket of sales, gasoline, and income taxes is the highest in the nation, quietly seethe while immobile on antiquated freeways that are crowded, dangerous, and under nonstop makeshift repair.

Gas prices of $4 to $5 a gallon—the result of high taxes, hyper-regulation, and green mandates—add insult to the injury of stalled commuters. Gas tax increases ostensibly intended to fund freeway expansion and repair continue to be diverted to the state’s failing high-speed rail project.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

HBO Passes on Game of Thrones Prequel

Details.

Somewhat surprised. But I'm still waiting for the books, so whatever.

Greek Church Recognizes Ukrainian Schismatics

While the stance of the Archbishop Ieronymos, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church, towards the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” remained unclear after the Bishops’ Council of the Greek Church on October 12, it has now been clarified. 

As Romfea and its English edition Orthodox Times both report, Abp. Ieronymos sent an “irenic letter” to “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic OCU on October 21. 

According to established tradition, every new primate of a Local Church sends “irenic letters” to the primates of the other Local Churches of the Orthodox Church, officially announcing his elevation. Response letters from the other primates constitute an official recognition of the new primate. 

Read the rest here

This, at last, appears definitive.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Washington Post is getting torched on Twitter


  1. Genghis Khan, accomplished horseman and indefatigable traveler, breathes his last.
  2. Maximilien Robespierre, pamphleteer and cutlery connoisseur, dies at 36.
  3. Saddam Hussein, successful politician, oil baron and noted tough boss, dead at 69.
  4. Charles Manson, devout family man and Beach Boys super fan, passes away at 83.
  5. Obituary: Psychologist and Wine Connoisseur Hannibal Lecter Dies After Lengthy Battle With Flesh Eating Disorder
  6. Robert Mugabe, founder of Modern Monetary Theory, dies at 95.

Read the rest here.