Thursday, December 31, 2015

Is Charlie Sheen in Russia?

A man in Russia’s Far East woke up in the morgue after having been declared dead, local media report. Before the incident, he had been doing vodka rounds with friends – and after the “miraculous awakening,” he went back to the party
The man who was mistakenly taken for dead passed out after drinking too much, local Khasanskiye Vesti newspaper reported Wednesday. However, it is not clear when exactly the incident took place. Khasanky Region is a coastal area in Russia’s Far East, which is home to some 35,000 people scattered over the territory of 4,100 square kilometers.

His friends called an ambulance and medical staff hastily declared the man dead before taking him to the morgue, according to the daily. However, the man eventually came back to his senses (somewhat) – only to find himself in a mortuary freezer.

That night the local morgue was filled to its capacity, the bodies were not only on the shelves, but also on the floor of the freezer room, where our ‘dead’ hero was allocated,” Aleksey Stoyev, a police spokesman, told the newspaper.

“At some point, the man woke up, failing to understand where he was. It was very dark and cold. In addition his brain was foggy due to the influence of alcohol. In the darkness, he felt someone’s completely cold limbs and in fear rushed to the door. But it was locked.”

He started screaming for help and pounding on the door. His calls drew the attention of the morgue’s guard, who reported the situation to the doctors. The latter thought that the guard was imagining things, according to the local report. Nonetheless, out of cautiousness the doctors called police.

Opening the door police were met by the ‘resurrected’ man who in panic ran out of the room, according to the department of criminal investigations. Police questioned the man and released him.

Returning to the place of the party, he found his friends were still drinking, but this time commemorating him. The person who opened the door was so shocked that he fainted, Khasanskiye Vesti says. The commemoration ceremony was quickly revamped into a re-birthday party.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

On this day in 1759...

Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease at £45 per annum to the St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin and began brewing beer. The rest is history.

The world's political and economic order is stronger than it looks

Stefan Zweig tells us in The World of Yesterday what it feels like when the wheels really do come off the global system

Readers have scolded me gently for too much optimism over the past year, wondering why I refuse to see that the world economy is in dire trouble and that the international order is coming apart at the seams.

So for Christmas reading I have retreated to the "World of Yesterday", the poignant account of Europe's civilisational suicide in the early 20th century by the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig - the top-selling author of the inter-war years.
From there it is a natural progression to Zweig's equally poignant biography of Erasmus, who saw his own tolerant Latin civilization smothered by fanatics four centuries earlier.
Zweig's description of Europe in the years leading up to 1914 is intoxicating. Everything seemed to be getting better: wealth was spreading, people were healthier, women were breaking free.

 He could travel anywhere without a passport, received with open arms in Paris, Milan or Stockholm by a fraternity of writers and artists. It was a cheerful, peaceful world that seemed almost untainted by tribal animosities.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven

In comments likely to enhance his progressive reputation, Pope Francis has written a long, open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences.

Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: "You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don't believe and who don't seek the faith. I start by saying - and this is the fundamental thing - that God's mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.

"Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience."

Read the rest here.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Limited Posting

As we enter the final week of the Nativity Fast there will be limited or no posting until after Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Metropolitan Hilarion celebrates Old Rite Liturgy at the Moscow Church of the Protecting Veil in Rubtsovo

On December 13, 2015, the 28th Sunday after Pentecost and the commemoration day of St. Andrew-the-First-Called, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR) and chairman of the Commission on Old Believer parishes and cooperation with the Old Believer community, celebrated Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Protecting Veil in Rubtsovo, at which the Patriarchal Center of the Old Russian Liturgical Tradition operates.

Concelebrating at the Liturgy according to the Old Rite were Archimandrite Irinarkh (Denisov), rector of the Common Faith church in the Mikhailovskaya Sloboda village, Moscow region; Igumen Kirill (Sakharov), rector of the St. Nicholas church on Bersenevka; Archpriest Georgy Krylov, rector of the church of the New Martyrs of Russia in Strogino and head of the Assumption deanery in Moscow; Archpriest Ioann Mirolyubov, head of the Patriarchal Center of the Old Russian Liturgical Tradition, a cleric of the church of the Protecting Veil in Rubtsovo and secretary of the Commission on Old Believer parishes and cooperation with the Old Believer community; Revd. Mikhail Zheltov, head of the chair of church practice sciences of the Ss. Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute of Post-Graduate Studies; Revd. Yevgeny Sarancha, a cleric of the Common Faith church in the Mikhailovskaya Sloboda village; Hieromonk Sergy (Gaponov), rector of the Common Faith church in the Maloye Murashkino village in the Nizhny Novgorod region; and clerics of the parish.

Attending the Liturgy were Vladimir Yakunin, a founder of the St. Gregory the Theologian Charity Foundation, and Leonid Sevastianov, executive director of the Foundation and member of the Supervisory Board of the Patriarchal Center of the Old Russian Liturgical Tradition.

After the Litany of Fervent Supplication Metropolitan Hilarion lifted up a prayer for peace in Ukraine and addressed the worshippers, telling them in detail about the life and ministry of St. Andrew-the-First-Called, including the story of his apostolic mission in our land. St. Andrew was "the first baptizer of the Russian people even before St. Vladimir. It was St. Andrew who sowed the seeds of Christian preaching that later bore abundant and blessed fruits," Metropolitan Hilarion said and congratulated all reverend fathers, brothers and sisters on the feast and wished them St. Andrew’s aid in their labors.



More craziness from the German Catholic Church.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Women in combat will put men at greater risk


This was the sound of the United States reacting to news this month that all military positions, including ground combat, will be opened to women.
It is axiomatic that the White House, and not just this one, makes controversial announcements when people are otherwise distracted. Usually, this means late Friday afternoons when there isn’t much time for the media to make trouble. This particular announcement came on a Thursday, the day after two vicious killers opened fire on a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. 

Ever since, all eyes have been on the assault and aftermath, as well as the antics of Donald Trump, while the notion of women in combat faded from the nation’s peripheral vision.

Arguments against this move are many, some of which I touched upon in a previous column that focused on women’s unequal opportunity to survive because of various physical differences. This time, I submit another crucially important but politically incorrect proposition: Men’s lives will also be put at greater risk if women are in combat.

The reasoning should be obvious. Plainly put, men tend to like women quite a lot and either will be tempted to express their attraction, and/or will want to protect their female companions.

Scoff if you must, but blame Nature.

Any combat veteran will tell you that unit cohesion is everything in battle. Common sense tells us that putting young men and women in the prime of their sexual lives together in the field, where the possibility of death is potentially imminent, is a potential — and unnecessary — gamble on unit cohesion. There is, after all, nothing like a funeral to remind the living of their mortal imperative.

Sexual tension is a most delightful distraction in civilian life. But in close quarters, where men likely would vastly outnumber the few women who qualify for combat, other human emotions — envy, jealousy and resentment — enter into a fray that’s already complicated enough.

Read the rest here.

Catholic Priest Receives & Distributes Episcopal Communion

Details at One Peter 5.

GOP preparing for contested convention

Republican officials and leading figures in the party’s establishment are preparing for the possibility of a brokered convention as businessman Donald Trump continues to sit atop the polls in the GOP presidential race.

More than 20 of them convened Monday near the Capitol for a dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, and the prospect of Trump nearing next year’s nominating convention in Cleveland with a significant number of delegates dominated the discussion, according to five people familiar with the meeting.

Weighing in on that scenario as Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) listened, several longtime Republican power brokers argued that if the controversial billionaire storms through the primaries, the party’s establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight in which the GOP’s mainstream wing could coalesce around an alternative, the people said.

The development represents a major shift for veteran Republican strategists, who until this month had spoken of a brokered convention only in the most hypothetical terms — and had tried to encourage a drama-free nomination by limiting debates and setting an earlier convention date.

Now, those same leaders see a floor fight as a real possibility. And so does Trump, who said in an interview last week that he, too, is preparing.

Read the rest here.

See also "What happens if Republicans have a brokered convention?"

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Sandro Magister: The next synod will be on married priests

ROME, December 9, 2015 - While waiting for Pope Francis to rule on communion for the divorced and remarried, which two synods discussed and split over, there is already a glimpse of the theme of the next synodal session: married priests.

The selection of the theme is up to the pope, as happened with the past synods and will take place with the next, independently of what will be proposed by the fourteen cardinals and bishops of the council that acts as a bridge between one assembly and the next.

And that married priests will be the next topic of synodal discussion can be gathered from various indications.

Read the rest here.

Venezuela Ran out of Other People’s Money

"The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money to spend." -Margaret Thatcher
Venezuelans rejected socialism. They’ve run out of other people’s money; the long lines to buy basic food and toilet paper did not help either. The mainstream media has glossed over this massive defeat of President Nicolas Maduro’s socialism.  In a great St. Nick gift, his opposition took back control of the National Assembly in a landslide election on December 6, 2015

According to the National Electoral Council, the Democratic Unity coalition won 99 of the 167 seats in the National Assembly, a legislative majority, while the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela won 46 seats.  If the opposition wins 13 of the 22 remaining races, it will gain a two-thirds supermajority, possibly running a referendum to get rid of Maduro before his term expires in 2019. A simple majority could amnesty all political prisoners.
Of the 19 million registered voters, 74 percent showed up to cast their ballots, a huge turnout, a sign that people have grown weary and tired of sixteen years of Hugo Chavez style socialism that brought Venezuela to the brink of destruction.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Supreme Court Asks Who is to be Counted in 'One Man One Vote'

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments in a voting rights case that has the potential to shift political power from urban areas to rural ones, a move that would provide a big boost to Republican voters in many parts of the nation.

The case, Evenwel v. Abbott, No. 14-940, will address a question many thought had been settled long ago: What is the meaning of the principle of “one person, one vote”?

The principle, rooted in cases from the 1960s that revolutionized democratic representation in the United States, applies to the entire American political system aside from the Senate, where voters from states with small populations have vastly more voting power than those with large ones. Everywhere else, voting districts must have very close to the same populations.

But the Supreme Court has never definitively ruled on who must be counted: all residents or just eligible voters?

The difference matters, because people who are not eligible to vote — children, immigrants here legally who are not citizens, unauthorized immigrants, people disenfranchised for committing felonies, prisoners — are not spread evenly across the country. With the exception of prisoners, they tend to be concentrated in urban areas.

Their presence amplifies the voting power of people eligible to vote in urban areas, usually helping Democrats. Rural areas that lean Republican, by contrast, usually have higher percentages of residents eligible to vote.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

150 Years Ago Today

Slavery in the United States is abolished following the ratification of the 13th Amendment.

Emory: Faculty Thoughtcrime Tribunals

A group of black student protesters at Emory University in Atlanta issued a hysterical list of strident “demands” — their word — to the university administration, and demanded that they respond by December 4, or else. You know the drill: race radicals say “jump,” university administrators say “how high?” I have posted the students’ entire list of demands below, as well as the university’s full response. Both are extraordinary documents that deserve full reading. The students’ demands are mostly a wish list written by spoiled brats, and the university’s response is a capitulation to them.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

American universities have long been notorious for their liberal bias. But they are now rapidly evolving into bastions of radical left wing bigotry. Forget the free exchange of ideas, freedom of speech itself has been all but abolished on many campuses. Anyone failing to kowtow to the orthodoxy of the race/thought police can expect no quarter from the red guards of the modern day Cultural Revolution sweeping across the landscape of higher education.

Unconfirmed Reports: Two kidnapped bishops are dead.

I have long suspected it. If they were not, we would have gotten some kind of demand or evidence of their being alive.

HT: Blog reader JL

Friday, December 04, 2015

Feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple

From Optina Monastery.

Peter Hitchens: Reflection on the British war debate

Robert E. Lee probably didn’t say ‘It is well that war is so terrible, lest we should grow too fond of it’. But his great opponent, William Tecumseh Sherman, almost certainly did say: ’I am tired and sick of fighting –its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands and fathers. It is only those who have never heard a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded and lacerated … that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.’

And a few years afterwards, to graduates of Michigan military academy: ‘I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here.

'Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!’

Sherman prosecuted war with merciless vigour and is nobody’s idea of a pacifist. I suspect him of believing (as Prussia’s elite military corps did) that the only mercy in war is a swift victory by one side or the other , an unpleasant truth especially hard to stomach if yours is the side that loses.

Almost all the people I have met who knew about war held opinions similar to Sherman’s.  As a small boy, rather in love with war and its alleged glory,  and as a callow youth, amoral about violence in what I thought was a good cause, I thought them soppy and foolish. And when, without meaning to , I blundered into the edges of a couple of war zones, and heard live firing for the first time, and saw corpses after bullets had passed through them, and dirty, overcrowded hospital wards full of wounded men, and buildings which had been hit by modern munitions,  I very much took that view myself.  I am not a pacifist. I believe war is sometimes necessary, mainly in self-defence - and I absolutely support the training and maintenance of strong and usable armed forces.

But if I by some chance I were an MP, and if I were asked to support a warlike policy, I would need to hear arguments far better than those advanced in Parliament yesterday.  I am amazed at the strange enthusiasm which war still seems to produce in so many adults. I think it immature and naive.  I suppose I must just be very lucky to have known the people I knew, and seen the things I have seen.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

An excellent read.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Memory Eternal

The Archpriest Gabriel (Seamore) has reposed after a long struggle with various illnesses. I knew him as a deacon when he served at the parish through which I entered the Church. He was a good friend to myself and my Godfather William of blessed memory. Most recently he was pastor emeritus of St. George the Great Martyr parish in Hesperia CA. 

May his memory be eternal!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Archimandrite Cleopa (Ilie): The Veneration of the Theotokos According to the Bible

We Orthodox Christians honor the Theotokos Mary more than all the saints and angels of heaven for she was found worthy to give birth to Christ, the Savior of the world by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. The honor we render to the Mother of the Lord is exceptional, most honorable and most revered, for she is not only "a friend of His,” as are the other saints, but she is Most Holy (Panagia) above all the saints and all the angels.

For this the angels as much as people venerate and honor her with prayers, hymns, church services and eulogies. Similarly the Archangel Gabriel greeted her at the annunciation (Luke 1:28-29) as well as Saint Elizabeth, the mother of Saint John the Baptist (Luke 1:40-43).

The Most Holy Virgin herself prophesied through the Holy Spirit For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; for He that is mighty has done to me great things (Luke 1:48-49). From these words we understand that the exceptional honor accorded to the Mother of the Lord is intentional and appointed by God Himself. This exceptional honor that is accorded by the Orthodox Church to the Ever-Virgin Mary forms the veneration of the Mother of the Lord.

In the framework of the veneration of the Most Holy Theotokos, we must firstly mention the great feasts of the Mother of God, which are: The Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Entry, the Annunciation, and the Dormition of the Theotokos. Then the services celebrated in the churches and the monasteries in her honor, the salutations, the canons of supplications, the hagiographic icons decorated so beautifully, especially the miraculous ones, and many other prayers through which we ask the help of the Mother of the Lord every day of our lives.

We honor the Mother of God because she is the mother who gave birth to the Son of God and the first one who intercedes for the world in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity. She helps us much more in the conquest of salvation by her holy prayers.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Pope Francis calls for full communion wiith Orthodox

In a message to the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, Pope Francis wrote that “there is no longer any impediment to Eucharistic communion which cannot be overcome through prayer, the purification of hearts, dialogue and the affirmation of truth.”

The Pope’s message to the Ecumenical Patriarch was timed for November 30, the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Constantinople see. Each year the Holy See sends a delegation to celebrate that feast with the Ecumenical Patriarch, just as the Orthodox leader sends representatives to Rome for the patronal feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29. This year Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, led the Vatican delegation.

In his message Pope Francis took note of the 50th anniversary of a joint declaration signed by Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I, which lifted the mutual excommunications that had been pronounced in 1054 and “consigned those painful memories to oblivion.” Church leaders today should draw inspiration from that anniversary, the Pope said.

Having restored fraternal ties, the Pope wrote, the Catholic and Orthodox churches should complete the restoration of full communion. He observed that “the symbol of the fraternal embrace finds its most profound truth in the embrace of peace exchanged in the Eucharistic celebration.”