Monday, September 30, 2019

Fearing a resurgent and aggressive Russia, Sweden is rearming


...Like most European nations, Sweden cut its military spending sharply after the cold war ended, from about 2.5% of GDP in 1990 to barely 1% by 2010; equipment was scrapped and bases were closed down. The shipyard on Muskö was sold off to German engineering company Thyssen Krupp.

But the occupation and annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 “changed things completely”, Granholm said. “It showed that this is what Russia does to its smaller neighbours. Now it is proving a difficult and long-term task to rebuild the armed forces.”

Swedish defence company Saab bought out Thyssen Krupp in June 2014, after some arm-twisting that involved mass recruitment of Krupp’s staff and a dawn raid by the defence ministry on Krupp’s shipyards in Malmö, ostensibly to rescue military secrets.

A few months later, Stockholm was gripped with panic after an alleged Russian mini-submarine was spotted in its waters, reviving memories of a Soviet nuclear sub that ran aground in Karlskrona in 1981, sparking a decade of high-profile submarine scares.

The submarine hunt of 2014, details of which still remain unresolved, saw opinion polls swing towards Nato membership for Sweden and presaged the first of several boosts to defence spending. For the first time in more than two decades, the Swedish government embarked on a sustained expansion of the defence budget, pledging to increase spending from 43bn Swedish crowns (£3.5bn) in 2016 to 50bn in 2020.

Other recent moves to strengthen Sweden’s military preparedness include bringing back conscription, and a leaflet delivered to every household explaining what to do in case of a nuclear attack.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Irish Bishop Backs Female Priests as Diocese Votes to Ordain Women

KILLALA, Ireland (ChurchMilitant.com) - An Irish bishop has committed himself to a specially devised delegation process for ordaining female priests after 69% of Catholics in his diocese voted in favor of the ordination of women.

The vote was part of a "listening process" initiated by Bp. John Fleming of the Killala diocese in north Mayo and west Sligo, after an analysis of clergy numbers indicated that the 22 parishes of the diocese would be served by three to six priests by 2037.

One thousand and five hundred people across the diocese were surveyed on a range of questions as part of Bp. Fleming's "Placing Hope in Faith" project. The feedback was processed by the Institute for Action Research and turned into proposals that were voted on by a representative diocesan assembly.

The 300-strong diocesan assembly, which included delegates from the 22 parishes, voted on a range of issues, while 120 people participated in 10 focus groups, in the second phase.

Eighty percent voted in favor of women deacons, 69% supported women priests, 85% supported married priests and 81% cast their ballot supporting married priests returning to active ministry.

The assembly also voted 86% in favor of changing the Church's teaching on homosexuality to reflect the inclusion of all people regardless of sexual orientation, marital status or family status.

Read the rest here.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Vatican City Under Pius XII



A somewhat rare film documentary from 1941 (before the US entry into the war) made by the same people who did the Time Marches On newsreels. Oh how times have changed.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

UK: The radical proposals that Labour will debate

  • Green New Deal (Zero carbon by 2030)- Show me the money
  • Abolish Private Schools- In the finest tradition of class warfare
  • Four Day Work Week- With no loss of pay 
  • Abolition of Immigrant Detention Centers- Because Britain needs millions of illegal immigrants from cultures highly resistant to assimilation 
  • Compulsory purchase of empty houses with rents linked to local incomes- Private property? Whats that?
  • Give workers 1% of company stock every year for an as yet undefined period- Is it still red baiting if your favorite color really is red?
Details.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

What the Hapsburg Empire Got Right

...While few people were willing to stand up for the old empire after four years of world war, a century later scholars are rethinking its legacy, eager to assert its multifaceted attributes and surprisingly progressive institutions. Stretching from today’s western Ukraine to Switzerland and from the Czech Republic’s northern border with Germany down Croatia’s Adriatic coast, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy had no internal borders, one currency, two parliaments (in Vienna and Budapest), 11 officially recognized peoples/languages and almost as many religions, including Yiddish-speaking Jews, Bosnian Muslims and a variety of Orthodox Christians and Protestants to complement its Catholic majority. Formed and reformed through six centuries of feudal alliances, dynastic marriages, wars and Great Power bargains, the Hapsburg Empire was on its way to becoming a modern multinational state by the late 19th century. The army accommodated linguistic diversity in its regiments, schooling was available in different languages, and the bureaucracy was multilingual.

Although institutional changes for more political inclusivity and democracy moved slowly in the conservative monarchy, by 1907 the Austrian Parliament was elected by universal male suffrage, and a participatory public sphere was thriving. Hapsburg citizens were hardly living and working in isolated ethno-national enclaves. To this day, the turn-of-the-century architecture of train stations and other public buildings attests both to the population’s mobility and to the vast empire’s economic vitality. The similar layout of Central European cities is another visual reminder of a shared past.

The “outdated” old monarchy also produced a remarkably rich and innovative cultural life. In 1900, its multiethnic capital, Vienna, the world’s sixth-largest city, was home to such international luminaries as the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, the composer Gustav Mahler, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, the painter Gustav Klimt, the Nobel Prize-winning peace activist Bertha von Suttner, the Zionist leader Theodor Herzl, the architect Otto Wagner, the feminist/freethinker Rosa Mayreder and the writers Stefan Zweig and Arthur Schnitzler.

Read the rest here


Monday, September 09, 2019

Dr. A.B. Mohler: Can Christians Use Birth Control?

The effective separation of sex from procreation may be one of the most important defining marks of our age–and one of the most ominous. This awareness is spreading among American evangelicals, and it threatens to set loose a firestorm.

Most evangelical Protestants greeted the advent of modern birth control technologies with applause and relief. Lacking any substantial theology of marriage, sex, or the family, evangelicals welcomed the development of “The Pill” much as the world celebrated the discovery of penicillin — as one more milestone in the inevitable march of human progress, and the conquest of nature.

At the same time, evangelicals overcame their traditional reticence in matters of sexuality, and produced a growth industry in books, seminars, and even sermon series celebrating sexual ecstasy as one of God’s blessings to married Christians. Once reluctant to admit the very existence of sexuality, evangelicals emerged from the 1960s ready to dish out the latest sexual advice without blushing. As one of the best-selling evangelical sex manuals proclaims, marital sex is Intended for Pleasure. Many evangelicals seem to have forgotten that it was intended for something else as well.

For many evangelical Christians, birth control has been an issue of concern only for Catholics. When Pope Paul VI released his famous encyclical outlawing artificial birth control, Humanae Vitae, most evangelicals responded with disregard — perhaps thankful that evangelicals had no pope who could hand down a similar edict. Evangelical couples became devoted users of birth control technologies ranging from the Pill to barrier methods and Intrauterine Devices [IUDs]. That is all changing, and a new generation of evangelical couples is asking new questions.

A growing number of evangelicals are rethinking the issue of birth control–and facing the hard questions posed by reproductive technologies. Several developments contributed to this reconsideration, but the most important of these is the abortion revolution. The early evangelical response to legalized abortion was woefully inadequate. Some of the largest evangelical denominations at first accepted at least some version of abortion on demand.

Read the rest here.

[Dr. Mohler is an ordained minister and President of the Southern Baptist Convention.]

The traditional teaching of the Orthodox  Church on ABC is... no. In fact the Church generally will not marry those who do not want, or who are not ready for a family. In recent years there has been some movement towards a very limited tolerance based on economy (oikonomia) for specific situations such as when a family already has as many children as they can support and/or take care of or where serious health risks may attend pregnancy. Though even then the Church teaches that the ideal response is sexual abstinence. But acknowledging the reality that not all couples can live a life of complete continence this concession is sometimes made. Usually it must be discussed with your spiritual father in confession. When ABC is used it must never be abortificiant or involve self mutilation. This generally places the burden on the husband.

Unfortunately, and especially in the West, some of the Orthodox jurisdictions have in practice become quite lax on this point. And it must be admitted that among the laity, respect for the traditional moral teaching of the Church is generally no better than among other Christian denominations including Roman Catholicism which is even stricter and admits no exception at all. Which is to say that it is widely ignored.

Real US debt levels could be a shocking 2,000% of GDP

  • Total US debt including all forms of government, state, local, financial and entitlement liabilities comes close to 2,000% of GDP, according to AB Bernstein.
  • The biggest potential load comes from entitlements, but is being pressured from rising levels of federal government debt as well.
  • The warnings about potential debt hazards come as the total federal debt outstanding has surged to $22.5 trillion.
  • A debt reform advocate says now is the time for the U.S. to tackle the issue, before recession hits.
Read the details here.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Brexit and Boris Johnson


For those not keeping up on the news from the UK, here is the latest. Three years after the British people voted to leave the EU, Brexit is on life support. After Theresa May finally resigned and Boris Johnson won the Conservative leadership contest it looked like Britain was at along last going to exit the EU at the end of October. But the opponents of Brexit who have been plotting to obstruct, and ultimately kill it, have finally won what looks like the decisive battle. With the aid of about twenty Tory MP's who defied a three line whip, the remainers were able to strip the government of power over Brexit and then passed a law over the government's objection ordering it to seek yet another delay in Brexit. At this point that may require revoking article 50. 

In response, Johnson quite rightly stripped the rebel MPs of the whip, effectively expelling them from the party. But he now finds himself the head of a minority government, humiliated by the Commons and deprived of all authority to carry out the mandate of the British people. Indeed, the government stands compelled by law to act in a manner completely contrary to its stated policy and the democratically expressed will of the nation.

This, it must not do.

The only honorable course is for the government to resign. He should announce his refusal to accede and lead the Conservative party into opposition. On Monday morning he should go to the Queen and surrender his seals office advising Her Majesty to invite Mr. Corbyn to form a government.

Those individuals and political parties who have orchestrated this premeditated and calculated attack on British democracy should be required to bear full responsibility for it. And in the next general election this should be the sole issue placed before the people. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

An Orthodox Monk on the Modern Catholic Church: “Busy Dissolving All Memory of the Past”

Read it here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

This is not intended as a polemical post and I would encourage readers to approach it as a reflection on how the Orthodox East views the current crisis in the Western Church. Some of what is written may cause some discomfort, but setting aside the very real doctrinal differences between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, I suspect that many Catholics will find themselves in agreement (perhaps reluctantly) with some of the observations made.

I think the comments at the linked website are worth reading. A few are unfortunate, but many make good points.