Friday, December 07, 2018

Report: Constantinople plans to keep Ukrainian Church under its jurisdiction

Kiev, December 5, Interfax - The statute regarding Ukraine's "unified local church" drawn up by the Constantinople Patriarchate does not actually provide for this church's autocephaly, contrary to Kiev's expectations, the online Ukrainian publication Vesti reported on Tuesday.

According to Vesti, some key provisions of this statute show that there is no reason to expect the autocephaly (independence) of the new church; it will be fully subordinate to Constantinople as a metropolitanate.

One of the key provisions of the statute stipulates that the Ukrainian church will be inseparably linked to the Constantinople Patriarchate and, through it, to all other Churches. This is essentially the current status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is linked to the Orthodox world via the Russian Orthodox Church.

The draft statute says that the Orthodox church in Ukraine will be led by a metropolitan, not a patriarch, Vesti reported.

The Ukrainian church's assembly of bishops would be required to consult the Constantinople Patriarchate on all important matters; the latter would share whatever it saw as essential with the assembly and would not be required explain its decisions, according to Vesti.

What is more, the Ukrainian church would receive chrism used during sacraments only from Constantinople, which is regarded as one of the main indicators of the absence of real autocephaly, it said.

The "unified local church" would also be unable to canonize saints on its own, but would have to submit their names to Constantinople for endorsement.

The draft statute also stipulates that the Constantinople Patriarchate would act as the top appellate institution.

It was reported earlier that the Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate had approved a draft statute for a nascent church independent of Moscow at the Synod's meeting on November 27-29.

Source

If this is true (and that is a big "if")... the EP appears to be planning to annex the Ukrainian Church and turn it into a Greek religious colony. Wow. Just wow.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Memory Eternal

G H W Bush was an imperfect man who made his share of mistakes. But he was all class and one of the last of the old school (and old money) aristocrats with a strong sense of noblesse oblige. Whatever one may think of his presidency, on balance I think it was pretty good, it's hard to fault the man's character.

In the end I think his last great act of public service was dying when he did. In an era where our politics have become toxic, our president profoundly narcissistic, venal and morally corrupt, Mr. Bush reminds us that selfless public service, honor and common decency are not incompatible. He leaves us with a glimpse of what once was, and can be again.

Far from the despondency expressed by many pundits who saw this as a funeral for all that was good in the Republic, I was left cautiously hopeful. I refuse to believe that Mr. Bush represents the last gasp of a dead world. Rather I see something that we can aspire to. The trick is to look not for demagogues who will tell us whatever they think we want to hear, but rather men of honor and character who will tell us what we need to hear. Men who seek the greater good, standing for something more than self and without trying to enrich themselves and their relations in the process.

To be clear, I am not trying to canonize President Bush. But in a world temporarily disordered by the ascendancy of lesser men, one cannot help but note the contrast and hope that in due course this too will pass.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Episcopal cathedral in San Francisco to host “Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Rite”

“Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Rite” will have its San Francisco premiere on Nov. 16 & 17 at Grace Cathedral. The piece is an evening-length choral work by singer-composer Holcombe Waller, created to honor those who have suffered persecution due to their sexual orientation or gender expression. “Requiem Mass” is presented by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in collaboration with Grace Cathedral’s Ghiberti Foundation.

“‘Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Rite’ is a radical appropriation of a European, patriarchal tradition, the formal Latin Mass, which we reinterpret through the lens of the marginalized LGBTQ experience,” Holcombe Waller told the Bay Area Reporter. “In many ways, the result is like an alternate universe in which the millennia of queer leadership in communities of faith have been out all along, shining their example of loving equity across all people. This is what the piece seeks to dream into being.”

Waller said that it was the Mormon and Catholic Churches’ support for Proposition 8, the California ballot measure of a decade ago that sought to define marriage as between one man and one woman, that inspired him to create the work.

Read the rest here.

Yet again, I will ask the question. Why in His name do we still recognize the baptisms of these pagans?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Conservative Order of Catholic Nuns Resign en Masse

Almost all of the members of a conservative order of nuns that serve the elderly in French nursing homes have announced that they have asked to be released from their vows following attempts by the Vatican to force them to alter their way of life and to “modernize” their order.

According to their lay supporters, the sisters have been accused of engaging in “too much prayer” and concerns have been expressed that they wear the guimpe, a traditional form of religious head covering used by nuns that is no longer in vogue among the Church’s liberal elite. The sisters say that they are accused of a “deviant authoritarianism,” of being “too classical” in their thinking, and of being guilty of an “immobilism” in their devotion to their institute’s charism.

A total of 34 of the 39 members of the the Little Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer say they want to quit the order after a Vatican dicastery removed their superior general and attempted to impose three “commissioners” on them who were hostile towards their more traditional practices.

The three commissioners are led by a religious sister and theology professor with a short haircut who does not wear a habit, one who defends Amoris Laetitia and whom the sisters have said does not understand their religious charism.

The sisters say that their protests against the choice of commissioners and their request that they receive someone else more suited to their charism have fallen on deaf ears, leading them to the conclusion that they could no longer carry out their vocation within their institute.

“After having acquired the moral certainty throughout this year that the reception of the apostolic commissioner within our Institute would cause serious and certain harm, both regarding the understanding of the charisma bequeathed by God to Mother Mary of the Cross, our Foundress, and the way of living it, after many times proposing solutions of appeasement without any answer ever having been given to us, after consulting with authorized and competent persons, after having prayed much and always with the desire to remain daughters of the Church, wanting to remain faithful and obedient to the truth, it seemed to us that we had no choice but to renounce our vows,” the sisters wrote in a public statement issued on November 7 (PDF here).

“We are therefore 34 out of 39 Sisters who are members of the Institute, who have asked to be relieved of our vows by the Dicastery for Religious,” the sisters add. “We do not make this sacrifice lightly: we desire to remain in full communion with the Church, but we cannot indicate more clearly, nor more painfully, our impossibility, in conscience, to obey what is imposed.”

Read the rest here.

Unbelievable. Those orchestrating the evils now convulsing the Roman Church are playing with a fire that does not go out.

Nation's Prosperity Gospel Preachers Celebrate 'Taking Tuesday'

U.S.—The nation's prosperity gospel preachers announced today they are enjoying their favorite holiday of the year: "Taking Tuesday," in which they get to cajole their followers into giving them even more of their money.

Prosperity theologians encouraged their followers to donate exorbitant amounts of cash to their ministries under the hashtag #TakingTuesday, calling the idea of enriching a few already ridiculously prosperous pastors a manifestation of the "true holiday spirit."

"In the midst of this season where it's so easy to get distracted by giving and generosity, it's nice to have a single day in which we charlatans can focus on stealing more money from people than ever before," Creflo Dollar said in a video posted to his ministry's Facebook page. "Now start sending me checks. That latest Gulfstream isn't gonna pay for itself, you know—and I'm certainly not going to work for the money."

Other prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, and Paula White also sponsored the holiday, posting on their social media accounts that "the Christmas season isn't just for remembering Christ's birth—it's about increasing our net worth."

According to inside sources, the prosperity gospel preachers had originally heard today described as "Giving Tuesday," but they were literally unable to parse the phrase, causing them to launch this new alternative holiday.

Source.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Foreigner Killed Attempting Illegal Entry

A 27-year-old American tourist was killed by members of one of India’s most isolated hunter-and-gatherer tribes, according to police in the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The American man, John Allen Chau, paid five fishermen to take him to North Sentinel Island, said Deepak Yadav, a senior police official in the city of Port Blair.

The island is home to the tiny Sentinelese tribe, whose members reject contact with the wider world and react with hostility and violence to attempts by outsiders to interact with them. The island is off-limits to visitors under Indian law.

Yadav said that Chau and the fishermen arrived at the island around midnight on Nov. 14. The next day, Chau used a kayak to approach the island and attempted to speak with the islanders, who have been known to fire arrows at interlopers. The fishermen told police that they last saw Chau alive on Friday.

The following morning, they saw his body “being dragged and then buried,” Yadav said.

Read the rest here.

Trump Wanted to Order the DOJ to Prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey

He backed off only after being warned by staff he might be impeached.

Details

Trump is not the worst President in history. But he is easily the most corrupt.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

From a blog reader...

...who I think wishes to remain anonymous.

An Orthodox man came to his Priest and asked if he would serve a funeral for his dog who has died.

The Priest replied that the Orthodox Church does not serve funerals for animals and perhaps the man can go down the street to the local Episcopalian church, they may serve the funeral.

The man asked, “Father, do you think that $5,000 will be enough of a stipend for the funeral?”

“Why didn’t you tell me that your dog was Orthodox?”

A Glimpse Back at a Doomed World



Original film footage shot in the Jodenbuurt, the centuries old Jewish neighborhood in Amsterdam in January 1932. It is estimated that more than 90% of its residents were murdered by the Nazis. Today little remains of the culture and people who dwelled there for so long.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

On this World War I anniversary, let’s not celebrate Woodrow Wilson

On the Nov. 11 100th anniversary of the Allied victory in World War I, I’m celebrating the heroism of American warriors in Europe. Perhaps 116,000 of them died in that struggle. Their commander in chief, Woodrow Wilson, did not match the quality of their service. During the conflict, Wilson made serious mistakes as a political leader that should never be forgotten.

Wilson’s missteps in wartime were hardly his only defects. His most disgraceful flaw was his racism. Given his high-flown rhetoric as a professor about elevating humankind, Wilson especially stood out in his white supremacy. He was not a man of his time but a throwback. His two predecessors, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, had looked far kindlier on African Americans and their rights.

In 1916, Wilson, a Democrat, narrowly won reelection, campaigning under false pretenses with the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War.” Privately, however, he knew it was quite possible that he would take the nation into the European struggle soon after starting his second term.

As an academic, Wilson had emphasized the need for presidents to explain military setbacks and other complex or mystifying events to Americans. Yet he spent much of 1917, the first year of U.S. engagement in the war, in kingly isolation, rarely using his luminous oratorical gifts to explain to his countrymen why they needed to make severe sacrifices for a conflict that wasn’t an obvious, direct threat to America’s national security.

Wilson, who preened as a civil libertarian, persuaded Congress to pass the Espionage Act, giving him extraordinary power to retaliate against Americans who opposed him and his wartime behavior. That same law today enables presidents to harass their political adversaries. Wilson’s Justice Department also convicted almost a thousand people for using “disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive language” against the government, the military or the flag. Wilson is an excellent example of how presidents can exploit wars to increase authoritarian power and restrict freedom, some arguing that criticizing the commander in chief amounts to criticizing soldiers in the field.

In the 1918 midterms, with the Great War heading to its climax, Wilson shamelessly exploited the military struggle for domestic politics, urging voters to support his party “for the sake of the nation itself” because Republicans were trying to take “the conduct of the war out of my hands.” This cheap maneuver backfired. Roosevelt and Taft charged that Wilson was asking for “unlimited control over the settlement of a peace that will affect them for a century.” Partly out of disgust with Wilson’s presumptuousness, voters switched control of both the House and Senate to the Republicans.

Read the rest here.

I regard Wilson as one of the worst presidents in American history.

(Note: I am still traveling and comments remain on moderation. I hope to be back on a more regular basis Wednesday.)

A War Story (reposted)


One of the great cemeteries populated by the First World War

(I wrote this essay ten years ago but think it worth reposting.)

From my grandmother and my cousin Sarah Jane (memory eternal) I gleaned the story of my great-uncle Francis Guy (known as Guy in the family). He was one of the older children (14 in all) of my great-grandparents who lived in Endicott New York at the turn of the last century. My great-grandfather was by all accounts a good man, hard working and God fearing as they used to say in those days. But he also had a reputation for being stubborn with a "my way or the highway" mentality.

By contrast my uncle Guy was a shy youth in his middle teens who had been born with some minor disfigurement on his face to which no one really paid any notice other than him. But he was very self conscious about it. In 1914 my great grandfather wanted him to get a job at the local shoe manufacturing plant run by the Endicott Johnson company, then the biggest by far employer in my home town. Guy was perfectly OK with this. But he asked if he could set aside a small amount of his earnings to save for an operation which he felt would remove the offending birth mark. My great-grandfather said no. He was a man who believed that if you were born that way, it’s what God intended and that’s the end of it.

Well he was also not very diplomatic about it and there was an argument, a real barn burner by all accounts. When it was over an ultimatum was given to the boy; do as you’re told or get out and make your own way in the world. In the heat of anger and hurt Guy left home.

Now at this time what would become known as the Great War had just broken out in Europe. Guy like a lot of kids of his generation had rather romantic notions about war. The United States had not fought a really serious one in almost sixty years and memory dulls with time. With the United States still neutral and in need of a job Guy struck out for Canada where he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army (Canada was part of the British Empire then). I am not sure if he lied about his age. He landed in the Princess Patricia Regiment which would gain great fame in the war. After preliminary training the regiment was shipped to England and then over to the continent where it joined up with the British Expeditionary Force holding the left wing of the Allied line with the Belgian Army in one of the few parts of Belgium not occupied by the Germans.

In February of 1915 during one of the innumerable back and forth battles near Ypres his unit assaulted the German trench works. The attack was repelled with the customary horrific casualties but Guy made it back to his own trench unharmed. When he looked back over the battlefield known as no man’s land between the opposing trench lines he saw amongst the human wreckage of war one of his close friends lying wounded. The odds of surviving in no man’s land were not good since neither side respected stretcher bearers or medics. The wounded were usually left to die. Guy leapt out of the relative safety of his trench and rushed forward to save his buddy. He reached him and under heavy fire dragged him back to the trench. After lowering the wounded soldier down Guy turned to drop down himself when he was shot in the stomach. He died several days later at a military hospital and was buried in one of the vast cemeteries near Ypres created by the carnage of the War to End All Wars.

My great-grandparents received the telegram while watching a silent movie at the local cinema house. The lights were turned on and half the town showed up to express their sympathy. The Canadian Army later (and retroactively) conferred the Military Medal on him posthumously which my great-grandmother was buried with. I am told that in Ottawa there is a book on display with the names of all of the dead of the Princess Patricia Regiment inscribed in it. A page is ceremoniously turned each day. On one of those pages is the name of an Irish-Catholic kid with a birth mark from a small town in upstate New York, Francis Guy Dwyer. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

The next worse thing to a battle lost, is a battle won.

-The Duke of Wellington


Old men declare war.  But it is the young who must fight and die.

-Herbert Hoover




In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

Royal Canadian Army



IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.



We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.



Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Traveling (again)


Once again I am off. With some luck, I should be back in about a week (your time).

P.S. Due to some inappropriate comments in the recent past and the fact that I will not be online much over the next week or so and thus will be unable to keep an eye on things, I have enabled comment moderation. I apologize for the inconvenience. 

Lutheran Minister: Porn is OK if "ethically sourced"

From the "you can't make this up" file.

HT: Blog reader Tim

Friday, November 02, 2018

Constantinople Abolishes Ukrainian Orthodox Church

In case anyone was thinking (as briefly was I) that this business in Ukraine was a nasty tiff and maybe with some help from the other local churches this would get smoothed over...

The self governing Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP) has been abolished according to one of the exarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Additionally all former hierarchs and clergy of the former UOC (MP) are to now consider themselves under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Archbishop Job of Telmessos also asserted that if necessary the Ecumenical Patriarchate could rescind the autocephalous status of the Russian Orthodox Church as it has the authority to do so with any church whose autocephaly was not granted by an Oecuemnical Council.

I don't see much hope for reconciliation after that. Moscow is not going to ever reenter into communion with a "mother church" that thinks it can revoke the independence of the Russian Church at will. How can the EP climb down from these kinds of statements?

"Sorry guys. The Turks slipped some acid into our drinking water."

I will be fascinated to see how the rest of the Orthodox world reacts to this.

Sources...
1 & 2

Gold buying by central banks hits its highest level in almost three years

 
Central banks around the world have upped their spending on gold to the highest level in almost three years, according to the World Gold Council (WGC).

More than 148 metric tons of gold were bought by the national banks in the three months to the end of September, a rise of 22 percent on the same period last year.

Using the current spot price of $1,223 per troy ounce, the gold purchases by the banks added up to a $5.82 billion spending splurge on the precious metal.

Russia’s central bank led the buying, purchasing more than 92 tons of gold. This marked the country’s biggest quarterly net purchase on records that stretch back to 1993.

In May this year, the Russian central bank’s First Deputy Governor Dmitry Tulin told lawmakers in the lower house of parliament that gold was “a 100 percent guarantee from legal and political risks.”

Read the rest here.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Primacy and Identity A Response to ‘First Without Equals’ and the Tragedy of Deficient Ecclesiology

 The paper that follows was originally drafted in 2015 as an internal reference document for members of various theological commissions, as a response to documents that had then been somewhat recently published and generated debate over the preceding years. The more recent events of 2018, centred in Ukraine but relating to questions of ecclesiological primacy that affect the whole Orthodox world (and which, at the present moment,1 are still very much ongoing), have given cause to disseminate the text more broadly, as a small study of some of the core ecclesiastical and theological principles involved.

We are witnessing, at the present moment, a fuller realisation of the disastrous theological and ecclesiological positions outlined in the text below, which were already nascent three years ago (and indeed further back). Improper theological visions of Church hierarchy and primacy have since led beyond the bold assertion of the unsupportable concept of a Primate who is ‘first without equals’, to the actual implementation of this flawed ecclesiology in one See’s direct violation of canonical order, based precisely on its insupportable belief that it has ultimate authority to act in its own right, in a manner binding upon all others.2 That this position, and the dire actions associated with it, is contrary to canonical order is the subject of many studies already; that it is the ‘logical’ fruit of a flawed vision of primacy and authority, rooted in misapplications of Trinitarian theology and a failure to understand episcopal-sacramental participation in the Body of Christ, is the object of what follows below.

Read the rest here.

Happy Reformation Day (late)

The Church Fathers were mostly heretics. Really.

HT: Bill Tighe

Quote of the day...

Violence is not necessary to destroy a civilization. Each civilization dies from indifference toward the unique values which created it.

- Nicolás Gómez Dávila