Friday, April 29, 2016

What Christ Accomplished on the Cross

The topic of today’s talk—what Christ accomplished on the Cross—is of course a prime subject of contemplation during the Lenten season, as we prepare to prayerfully commemorate Christ’s passion, death, and the inevitable consequence of His death: His holy Resurrection. As we call to mind and repent of our sins during the Holy Fast, we also call to mind that which has saved us from the eternal consequences of sin. We call to mind Christ’s life-creating death on the Cross, which He underwent for the salvation of each one of us.

The Orthodox dogma of our redemption—which includes the doctrines concerning Christ’s incarnation, death and Resurrection—is the chief dogma of our Faith, together with the dogma of the Holy Trinity. I have been especially contemplating and reading Patristic writings on this subject for a few years now. It is a vast subject. In this lecture I will try to outline its main points in a linear and chronological fashion. I will speak about the state of man before the Fall and after the Fall, and then speak about how Christ saved us from the consequences of the Fall through His incarnation, death and Resurrection. Finally, I will summarize all the present and future accomplishments of Christ’s redemptive work. 

Read the rest here.

The 15th Antiphon for Great and Holy Friday

Thursday, April 28, 2016

No blogging until Pascha

Wishing everyone a blessed Holy Week and Easter!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Vatican Radio: Anglicans and Catholics discuss recognition of ministry

Catholic and Anglican theologians have been meeting together near Rome to discuss ordination rites within the two communions, as well as the significant ecumenical implications of Pope Francis’ recent document ‘Amoris Laetitia’.

A meeting of the Malines Conversation group took place from April 17th to 22nd at Rocca di Papa, south of Rome, culminating in an ecumenical evensong celebrated by Archbishop Arthur Roche of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

A communique issued after the encounter said the theologians from seven different countries discussed “contemporary and historic ordination rites” and the developments that have taken place in both communions since Pope Leo XIII declared Anglican orders to be “null and void”.

To find out more about the conversation and about prospects for progress in the dialogue, Philippa Hitchen spoke to one of the Catholic participants, Fr Tony Currer of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Encyclical on just war theory ‘plausible’, says Cardinal

Cardinal Peter Turkson, the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has called for a “broad and deeply felt” debate on the question of just war theory and said a papal encyclical on the issue was possible. He also said that proposals to drop the concept of just war were “legitimate”.

Cardinal Turkson spoke to the Sunday Times after a conference sponsored by Pax Christi International, the Catholic peace movement, and the Vatican’s justice and peace office, earlier this month. At the conclusion of the conference participants called for the Catholic Church to renounce its just war doctrine and for Pope Francis to write an encyclical on nonviolence and “just peace.”

In a closing statement, attendees at the conference said that too often the doctrine had been used to justify and endorse military action rather than prevent it.

Cardinal Turkson said he hoped “the debate on these issues, now as pressing as ever, will continue.”

Read the rest here.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Liberal Catholic's Complaint on Amoris Laetitia

His thesis on the synod of the family is perfect in every way - except the vital topic of communion for divorced and remmarieds.

Still they argue, argue, argue. Yes he did; no he didn't. He can; he can't. What exactly did Pope Francis intend to convey by chapter eight of his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia? Conservatives say Pope Francis cannot have meant that "divorced and remarried Catholics could be admitted to Holy Communion in certain circumstances", as many have interpreted the document, because that would be plain contrary to long-standing Catholic practice sanctioned by the magisterium.

But that would have meant that he too is a conservative, and we know he is a liberal. We are free to interpret his words in the light of that. But why the uncertainty? Why couldn't he have spelt it out with a simple statement such as the one above? Was he under pressure, for instance facing threats of resignation from senior cardinals in the Vatican, so he had to create a smoke screen so everyone could claim a victory? How does that help the rest of us, or at least those of us who aren't conservative curial cardinals? He has created confusion precisely where there needs to be clarity.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

The Twenty Dollar Bill

I see that some people are getting a little bent about what they perceive as politically correct tampering with our currency. I however, view things somewhat differently. A homicidal and racist sociopath, who was also coincidentally the founder of the modern Democratic Party has been bumped from the $20 bill in favor of a black female gun toting Republican.


Barack Obama breaks promise to call Armenian killings ‘genocide’

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama declined Friday to call the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, breaking a key campaign promise as his presidency nears an end.

Obama, marking the upcoming Armenian Remembrance Day, called the massacre the first mass atrocity of the 20th century and a tragedy that must not be repeated. Yet he stopped short of using the word "genocide," a phrase he applied to the killings before he became president in 2009.

 "I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed," Obama said.

Armenian-American leaders have urged Obama each year to make good on a pledge he made as a candidate in 2008, when he said the U.S. government had a responsibility to recognize the attacks as genocide and vowed to do so if elected. Obama's failure to fulfill that pledge in his final annual statement on the massacre infuriated advocates and lawmakers who accused the president of outsourcing America's moral voice to Turkey, which staunchly opposes the genocide label.

"It's a Turkish government veto over U.S. policy on the Armenian genocide," Aram Hamparian, head of the Armenian National Committee of America, said in an interview. "It's like Erdogan imposing a gag rule very publicly and an American president enforcing that gag rule." He was referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Many Years!

The Queen is 90. May God grant Her many (more) years!

Realism and Islam

Our leaders cannot comprehend what is going on, either when a whole Western civilization loses its faith and moral standards or when Islam reawakens to the implications of its own faith and its vision of world conquest.

 Political realism, long associated with Augustine, constrains us to consider what Machiavelli later recommended to us—namely, to look at what men “do” do and not at what they “ought” to do. This advice would be more persuasive if, in fact, some men did not do what they ought to do or others do what they ought not to do. Both sides usually persuade themselves that they ought to follow their convictions. Machiavelli thought that if men did what they “ought” to do they would not survive the onslaughts and cunning of those who did what they had power to do whatever they could do. However, Augustinian realism did not, as in the case of Machiavelli, justify this careful look at what men “do” do as a reason to deny the distinction between good and evil so that any means could be used to accomplish their purposes.

The “realistic” look was “realistic” for Augustine precisely because good and evil were included in the look itself, in the reality as seen. To see and act on the reality of good or evil is to see reality in its fullest dimensions. Practical truth, in terms of acting according to an accurate description of what is there, is the first principle of realism as well as of political action. Thus, Maritain could rightly maintain in the Augustinian tradition that “justice, brains, and strength” need not be separated. They belong together. Or, to refer obliquely to Lord Acton, the lack of power can also corrupt absolutely. Not to possess and use responsible power in defense of what is right is itself an evil, a cowardice.

With this background in mind, we recall recent events from “9/11”, the bombings in Spain, England, Mumbai, Bali, Fort Hood, San Bernardino, twice in Paris, Lahore, and Brussels, not to mention the persecutions and beheadings in Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria, Libya, Somalia, Chad, Syria, and the Sunni/Shiite inner-Muslim battles. What is the most plausible way to judge such continuing violence and its origins? To make this assessment, we have to acknowledge that Islam, in principle, is actually and potentially violent throughout its entire history. The basic reason for this method is obedience to the Law of Allah, not love for violence itself.

On the basis of evidence and theory, we cannot conclude from the fact that Islam is a “religion” that therefore it is not “violent” or is so only by abuse of its own founding. It is possible to be a religion and to espouse violence. (Were this not so, we would have to exclude many key passages on the Old Testament itself.) We cannot obscure what is there and affirmed to be there by Muslims themselves. Realism means that we can and should call what happens by its proper name. It also means that, if we cannot or will not make this proper naming, we are not realistic. We will inevitably suffer the consequences of our failure to state the truth of what is there.

These things are said not to promote counter violence against Muslims or to justify Muslim violence against others. Rather it is to respect Islam’s insistence that all those inside and outside of its enclosure be subject to the law of the Prophet. Whether we like it or not, this vision of world rule that is proper to Islam can only be called “religious” in nature. It is rooted in and promoted as a worship of the god called Allah. Not to take this wording seriously is unrealistic. The Muslims who claim that they can read their religious texts as if such violence is not advocated and justified may be applauded for trying to mitigate the historic record. But the fact is that those who see this violence as essential to the religion have the better side of the argument and are the better witnesses to what historic Islam stands for.

Read the rest here.
HT: Dr. Tighe

I can't believe the author is a Jesuit!

The Great Schism: When The Catholic And Eastern Orthodox Churches Split

Now it's time for a regular segment Words You'll Hear. That's where we try to understand stories in the news by parsing some of the words associated with them. Today's word is schism. We expect to hear that word this week as Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, and Patriarch Bartholomew, head of the Eastern Orthodox Church, traveled to Greece to meet over the plight of refugees. But that meeting raises the question of why there's an Eastern and Western church to begin with. That divide is called the great schism. To help us understand this, we invited Monsignor Paul McPartlan to stop by our studios. He's a professor of systematic theology and ecumenism at the Catholic University of America...

Read the rest here.

This is really a rather unfortunate piece.

Monday, April 18, 2016

ROCOR Holy Synod on the Proposed Texts for the Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Synod

 To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and Pious Faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia:

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!

In light of the welcome publication of the documents to be considered by the forthcoming Pan-Orthodox Council, scheduled to take place on Crete from 16-27 June 2016, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has undertaken to examine these texts, together with a multitude of other Hierarchs, clergy and laity who are doing the same as preparations for the Council continue, and to communicate with our God-preserved flock and others the manner of suggestions we are proposing, since the documents of the Council are the cause of interest and questioning to very many. We are reminded, in this as in all things, of the words of the Lord to the Holy Apostle St. Peter, when He pronounced that the future shepherd’s work would be to feed My sheep (John 21:17); and likewise that the food for those who love Him is to diligently preserve what Christ has taught them: If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15), and If a man love me, he will keep my words (John 14:23).

It is with zeal for such divine commandments that the whole plenitude of the Hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church seeks to apply the counsel of the Righteous Solomon: incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding (Proverbs 2:2), scrutinizing the documents that have been made available to us with humility, diligence and obedience. This task is undertaken in a spirit free from fear or worldly worry, since we fervently trust that God Himself is ever the helmsman of the Church, and as He has guided her through the many centuries to our day, so He will continue to guide and preserve us now and until He comes again. Rather, we offer reflections on a few of the texts as a means of conjoining our thoughts to those of many others who are working for the good of all our inter-Orthodox endeavours, including His Holiness the Patriarch and those members of our Russian Orthodox Church who labour with him in these preparations.

While certain of the documents—which have been prepared by the Pre-Conciliar Conferences for the Council’s consideration, but which are of course not final texts and are necessarily preliminary—do not give rise for concern in our reading, and indeed contain elements of useful clarification (for example, the document “Autonomy and the Means of Proclaiming It”), the employment in others of ambiguous terminology, a lack of theological precision, and ecclesiological language foreign to the sacred tradition of the Church, demand commentary that may lead to their correction. This is most notably the case in two documents: “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World”, and “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World”; and a few issues arise also with the procedural text entitled “Organisation and Working Procedure of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.”

Read the rest here.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Haunting Look at Life in Britain at the Turn of the 20th Century

The Grandaddy of All Contested Conventions: The Great Klanbake of 1924

The pundits are all talking about the Republican Convention of 1880. That's not the historical precedent that worries me. In 1924 the Democrats showed up in NYC, in the middle of a heat wave (long before AC) with the Ku Klux Klan comprising the largest block of delegates, and all hell broke loose....

 Many historic precedents of contested conventions can be cited, but the most contested of all was without question the Democratic Convention of 1924. By the time convention delegates convened in New York City on June 24, there was ample evidence that the Democratic party was deeply divided. As the leading quipster of that day, Finley Peter Dunne (“Mr. Dooley”), wrote, “The Dimmycratic Party ain’t on speakin’ terms with itself.” Former president Woodrow Wilson’s son-in-law (and Treasury secretary), William Gibbs McAdoo, and the governor of New York, Al Smith, had squared off over the main issues, with a generous portion of personal animosity thrown in. Each held enough delegate votes to prevent the other from being nominated. At that time the Democratic party labored under the requirement of a two-thirds nominating majority, and it was clear neither Smith nor McAdoo could achieve it.

To make matters worse, the hot-button social issues of the day were enmeshed in religion and evoked a white-hot fervor on all sides. Prohibition, immigration, and the KKK were the issues, and there appeared to be no room for compromise. The convention opened with an explosive floor fight over the party’s platform. Record-setting temperatures outside produced what reporters called “furnace-like air in the draped hall that kept fans and straw hats waving vigorously.” By the third day the Washington Post was reporting “Delegates in Fist Fights on Floor Over Klan.”

Al Smith and his anti-prohibition forces had the whiskey flowing, while McAdoo and his pro-prohibition delegates piously called for divine retribution against the “big city wets.” Former secretary of the Navy and veteran Democratic warhorse Josephus Daniels wrote from the convention to the folks back home in North Carolina: “This convention is chock full of religion. It eats religion, dreams it, smokes it.” He warned the Democrats not to forsake “the denunciation of Republicans for religious warfare among themselves.”

After endless wrangling and grandstanding, the convention staggered to the adoption of a platform that was noteworthy only for its failure to confront the big issues. Nothing of substance was said about prohibition, immigration, the League of Nations, or the KKK. It did make a gracious acknowledgement of President Harding’s recent death; but even that was contested. The original wording stated, “Our Party stands uncovered at the bier of Warren G. Harding. . . . ” But the prohibitionists insisted on substituting “grave” for “bier,” lest some of their supporters back home take offense.

Read the rest here.

British Muslims becoming a nation within a nation

British Muslims are becoming a nation within a nation, the former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned.

Commenting on a ground-breaking survey, Trevor Phillips said we are “in danger of sacrificing a generation of young British people to values that are antithetical to the beliefs of most of us, including many Muslims”.

He called for a new, tougher approach to integration and the abandonment of “the failed policy of multiculturalism".

Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

The Coming Train Wreck

Yes, the big Wisconsin story is Ted Cruz’s crushing 13-point victory. And yes, it greatly improves his chances of denying Donald Trump a first-ballot convention victory, which may turn out to be Trump’s only path to the nomination.

Nonetheless, the most stunning result of Wisconsin is the solidity of Trump’s core constituency. Fundamentalist Trumpism remains resistant to every cosmic disturbance. He managed to get a full 35 percent in a state in which:

● He was opposed by a very popular GOP governor (80 percent approval among Republicans) with a powerful state organization honed by winning three campaigns within four years (two gubernatorial, one recall).

● He was opposed by popular, local, well-informed radio talk show hosts whose tough interviews left him in shambles.

● Tons of money was dumped into negative ads not just from the Cruz campaign and the pro-Cruz super PACs but from two anti-Trump super PACs as well.

And if that doesn’t leave a candidate flattened, consider that Trump was coming off two weeks of grievous self-inflicted wounds — and still got more than a third of the vote. Which definitively vindicated Trump’s boast that if he ever went out in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot someone (most likely because his Twitter went down — he’d be apprehended in his pajamas), he wouldn’t lose any voters.

The question for Trump has always been how far he could reach beyond his solid core. His problem is that those who reject him are equally immovable. In Wisconsin, 58 percent of Republican voters said that the prospect of a Trump presidency left them concerned or even scared.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Sorry for the dearth of posting lately

It's been a little busy around here. Hopefully I will get a little free time in the near future.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Some thoughts on a contested or brokered convention

I think it’s even odds that we will end up with a brokered convention and probably about 4:1 that we will at least have a contested one. And I think it likely that if no one is nominated on the first ballot and we go into full brokered mode, break out the cigars and whiskey and start looking for back rooms, that the odds of either Cruz or Trump getting the nomination are slim. One of them needs to win on the first ballot or I think the delegates will look for a fresh face.

And that’s fine with me.

Both Trump and Cruz (who I had very reluctantly supported because… he isn’t Donald Trump) are damaged goods. They have both been enthusiastically rolling in the mud and behaving like 3rd graders. Neither has a snowball’s chance in the hot stinky bad place of beating the wicked witch in November.

So who might the convention turn to in this unpleasant situation?

Despite all the talk of drafting Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney, I don’t see it. They are unpopular with the tea party crowd and if you are going to deny the nomination to the two men who actually arrived in Cleveland with a serious number of delegates then you need to show some consideration for the angry voters that sent them there. And there is no shortage of sound conservative alternatives out there that I think would be acceptable to both the establishment and the right wing of the party.

Here are a few that have come to mind as possible nominees from a brokered convention…

Sen Jeff Sessions of AL
Sen. John Thune of SD.
Former Sen. Tom Coburn of OK (I have always really liked him.)
Sen. Tim Scott of SC (the only African American Republican in the Senate)
Gov. Nikki Haley of SC
Gov. Greg Abbott of TX
Former Gov. Haley Barbour of MS (He is conservative to the core but also has cordial relations with the GOPe)

I doubt any of these people would be perfect. But I do think most would be acceptable to both the establishment and more ideological elements of the party. And most importantly all have strong conservative credentials and I feel confident that they could thump the wicked witch in November.

If either Trump or Cruz is the nominee I will skip that line on the ballot or vote for Gary Johnson.