Friday, May 27, 2016

Patriarch Kyril: American, European de-Christianization is ‘apocalyptic’

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church received a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople on May 24 and lamented the secularization of Europe and the United States.

“We are deeply worried to see what is going on in the Christian world,” said Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who referred to the “ongoing de-Christianization of the European and American civilization” as “an apocalyptic scene: sin is affirmed by law.”

“As you know, we underwent a period of state atheism,” he said in reference to over seven decades of Soviet Communist rule. “However, the moral paradigm remained Christian in its major aspects. This is what saved us: our literature and fine arts were permeated with Christian ideas, hence the morality of our people remained Christian.”

Patriarch Kirill added that today the Russian Orthodox Church “has universities of her own, as well as over 40 seminaries, a thousand monasteries, Orthodox TV channels, journals, newspapers.”

From here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Memo to My Fellow Trump Haters: Libertarianism isn’t Republicanism

Now that Donald Trump has all but wrapped up the Republican nomination — and, with it, foreclosed any lingering claims that the GOP is the party of limited-government conservatism — a small cohort of notable Republicans have signaled that they are shifting their affiliation to the Libertarian Party. The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney, already leaning that way, tweeted that he’s making the switch and longtime Republican strategist Mary Matalin recently explained that she would “never vote for Hillary and never Trump means always liberty. Hence, Libertarian.”


If all that these converts see is a safe house where they can ride out the storm, they’re missing the point: The libertarian ideal and the Libertarian Party stand as reminders that neither of the two major parties is committed to the principle that individuals are superior to the state. And in this election year, if fear of a President Trump results in libertarianism morphing into Republicanism-lite, it would cease to serve that purpose. While I’m not active in Libertarian Party politics, as a small-“L” libertarian, I want no part of diluting this core principle just to boost electoral success.

But I get it. The GOP has been taken over by a know-nothing vulgarian. For Republicans still invested in their party’s traditional priorities — big military budgets, tax cuts and morality-based social policy — Trump’s ever-changing views on nearly every issue present a real dilemma.

Libertarianism, though, isn’t a subsidiary of Republicanism. Like Republicans, we want limited government, but we reject the corporate welfare of auto-industry bailouts, the military adventurism of the Iraq War and the interference with individual liberty represented by initiatives such as North Carolina’s H.B. 2 — all policies that Republicans embrace. Matalin, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, and other Republican expats surely believe in liberty as a concept, but her support for Bush’s big-government conservatism suggests that at heart, she’s a statist. Which is her prerogative. But it places her, and many other Republicans, at loggerheads with libertarianism.

Read the rest here. The comments are also quite interesting.

There is a lot about libertarianism that I really like and admire. My problem is that when you dig down you find that most of the hardcore libertarians are really closet anarchists. Sorry, but that is a bridge too far for me. An orderly society can't function without some sort of authority.

I guess I just have to accept that there is no perfect system for the organization of society and go with the least bad.

Met. Saba on the Orthodox Diaspora

I commend to the reader's attention this excellent post over at Notes on Arab Orthodoxy dealing with the perennial question of the so called Orthodox Diaspora. Please leave your comments there.

HT: Byzantine Texas

Sunday, May 22, 2016

On the Road Again

I will be traveling for the next month or so. During this period blogging will be on a when I can get to it basis.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Why Some Teachers Prefer a 401(k) Over a Pension

n 2012, the Michigan Legislature passed a bill that kept open the teacher pension system but began allowing school employees to choose a 401(k)-type defined contribution retirement account.
Since then, around 18,000 school employees have chosen the 401(k) instead of the old pension system, according to a FOIA request. Their reasons for making the switch range from concerns about future pension cuts and underfunding to wanting more control over retirement funds.

“I chose the defined contribution option for a number of reasons. One of which … [is] the pension program is underfunded and may or may not be existent when it comes my time to collect,” said Adam Hastings, a math teacher at Athens High School. “ I also was told that the 401(k)-type option was more portable under the circumstance that I should decide to move to another state.”

Read the rest here.

See also part II...

Fears About State Pension Underfunding Drive School Employees to Other Options

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Top Catholic Nun Wants Women Deacons

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Catholic sisters globally would be better-equipped to carry out their work if they could become deacons, the head of a global network of nuns has said, an important marker in the sharp debate over women deacons that Pope Francis opened last week.

“We are already doing so many things that resemble what a deacon would do, although it would help us to do a bit more service if we were ordained deacons,” Sister Carmen Sammut, president of the International Union of Superiors General, or UISG, told RNS.

Francis put a spring in the step of women religious on Thursday (May 12) when, in talking with Sammut and hundreds of UISG delegates, he agreed to set up a commission to examine whether women should be ordained as deacons — something that arguably hasn’t been done since the early years of Christianity.

Read the rest here.

If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans

HT: Bill over at MCJ

One of the funnier videos I have seen in a while.

The Confessions of Congressman X

"A devastating inside look at the dark side of Congress as revealed by one of its own! No wonder Congressman X wants to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. His admissions are deeply disturbing. . .

"Most of my colleagues are dishonest career politicians who revel in the power and special-interest money that's lavished upon them."

"My main job is to keep my job, to get reelected. It takes precedence over everything."

"Voters are incredibly ignorant and know little about our form of government and how it works."

"It's far easier than you think to manipulate a nation of naive, self-absorbed sheep who crave instant gratification."

"Fundraising is so time consuming I seldom read any bills I vote on. Like many of my colleagues, I don't know how the legislation will be implemented, or what it'll cost."

"We spend money we don't have and blithely mortgage the future with a wink and a nod. Screw the next generation. It's about getting credit now, lookin' good for the upcoming election."

"The average man on the street actually thinks he influences how I vote. Unless it’s a hot-button issue, his thoughts are generally meaningless. I’ll politely listen, but I follow the money."

From here.

"America has no distinctly criminal class... except Congress." -Mark Twain

South Carolina passes bill banning abortion after 19 weeks

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Legislature passed a bill Tuesday prohibiting abortion after 19 weeks, becoming the 17th state to pass the restrictive ban.

The legislation will now head to Gov. Nikki Haley's desk. The Republican said in March she will almost certainly sign it, but wants to look at the details once it reaches her.

Similar laws are in effect in 12 states. They've been blocked by court challenges in three others, and the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on the ban's constitutionality. A South Dakota law signed in March takes effect this summer.

In Utah, a related law, also signed in March, requires doctors to provide anesthesia to a fetus at least 20 weeks in the womb.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sears Sold 70,000 Homes From Their Catalog. Are You Living in One?

(click to enlarge) That looks pretty nice and I think I can cover it without a mortgage!

Not long ago, the Sears, Roebuck and Co. mail-order catalog was the ultimate marketplace, much like Amazon is today. You could even buy a house straight from the catalog. Just pick out the home you like, and voila, Sears would deliver it just for you. (The best Amazon can do is either a DVD box set or houses that, uh, would have some size and space issues for most people.)

These Sears homes weren't cheap low-end houses. Many of them were built using the finest quality building materials available during that time. It's not uncommon to find Sears homes today with oak floors, cypress siding, and cedar shingles. As with most old homes, the tough part is finding one that has been well maintained, and with the youngest of Sears homes going now eight decades old, they all require a significant amount of care. From 1908 to 1940, Sears sold between 70,000 to 75,000 homes, so there are plenty out there, you just need to know where to look.

Read the rest here

I can remember when I was a kid (many years ago) thumbing through my grandmother's copy of the Sears Roebuck catalog (and Montgomery Wards). I am still in awe at all of the things they had in there. Someone told me once that those old catalogs are now collectibles and people are actually selling them online.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Pope Francis: Let’s study idea of ordaining women as deacons

VATICAN CITY (RNS) In an opening with historic import, Pope Francis has said he wants to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons, a step that could for the first time open the ranks of the Catholic Church’s all-male clergy to women.

The order of deacons was reinsitituted in the Catholic Church following the reforms of the 1960s, and while deacons cannot celebrate the Eucharist like a priest, a deacon can preach at Mass, preside at weddings and funerals, and perform baptisms.

But in restoring the diaconate, the church also restricted ordination as a deacon to “mature married men” over 35.

Read the rest here.

Ignore the conflation of "deaconess" with deacons. The former was a purely lay office and not considered as part of Holy Orders.

Mass Baptism in the Sea

Video scenes from a mass baptism in the sea at the medieval town of Herceg Novi in Montenegro presided over by the Serbian Orthodox Archbishop.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ecclesiology and non-Orthodox Baptisms

I draw the reader's attention to this post over at Byzantine Texas where there is a lively and (unusual for Orthodox blogs) sober discussion of non-Orthodox baptisms and their ecclesiological implications. Please leave any comments there.

San Francisco may double down on its illegal alien "sanctuary" policy

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is set to vote Tuesday on an ordinance tightening the city’s sanctuary city law. Introduced by Supervisor John Avalos, the measure would prohibit local law enforcement from responding, except in very limited cases, to requests from federal immigration officials for an inmate’s personal information or release date. Supporters say that the change is necessary following findings earlier this year that police violated the sanctuary city law by releasing San Francisco resident Pedro Figueroa-Zarceno to federal immigration agents. Critics say that local agencies should have greater latitude to cooperate with federal authorities. We discuss the proposed legislation and how it might impact the city’s immigration policies.

Listen to the rest here.

Britain ‘sleepwalking to catastrophe’ over race

Britain risks “flames” of racial and religious conflict because of a “liberal self-delusion” over the impact of mass immigration, the former head of the equality watchdog Trevor Phillips claims today.

In a startling assault on decades of official multiculturalism and diversity policy, the founding  chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission argues the UK is being allowed to “sleepwalk to catastrophe” by leaders too “touchy”, “smug”, “complacent” and “squeamish” to talk about race.

Drawing a direct parallel with Enoch Powell’s notorious “rivers of blood” speech, he likens Britain’s politicians, media and educated elite in general to the Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome burned, unable even to recognise the “dark side of the diverse society”.

Read the rest here.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Pat Condell's latest

Warning: If you have a PC bone anywhere in your body, do not watch this.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

How bad is it in Venezuela?

The situation in Venezuela has become so bad that even soldiers are struggling to support themselves.

Over the weekend, six members of the Venezuelan military were detained by local authorities for stealing goats, the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional reported Sunday. It said the soldiers confessed to stealing the goats and said they did it to feed themselves, since they had no food left in their barracks.

"It's not a good sign when your military doesn't have enough food, and when the military has been relegated to guarding and protecting food lines," said Jason Marczak, director of the Latin America Economic Growth Initiative at the Atlantic Council. "This is endemic of the problems going on across the country."

Venezuela has been hard hit by food shortages, a dizzying inflation rate of about 181 percent and a collapse in the price of oil — its most critical export.

Read the rest here.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Disaster: Historic St. Sava Cathedral in New York is Destroyed by Fire on Pascha

A historic Serbian Orthodox church in Manhattan that plays an important role in New York’s Serbian community was gutted by flames on Sunday, just hours after parishioners had filled its pews for Easter services.

The New York Fire Department said it received the first report of the blaze at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, on West 25th Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas in the Flatiron district, shortly before 7 p.m. It grew to a four-alarm fire that took 168 department personnel to tame, fire officials said.
It was not clear if anyone was at the church when the fire started, officials said. The priest had left before the blaze began to go on a bicycle ride after an Easter luncheon that stretched into the late afternoon and capped several busy days of religious celebrations, officials said. A caretaker who arrived after the fire started was treated for smoke inhalation but was not hospitalized, they said.

Frank Gribbon, a department spokesman who was at the scene on Sunday night, said the blaze did not appear to be suspicious. He said the department would investigate the cause, but cautioned that the amount of damage could complicate that effort.

“There is so much damage you can’t find the point of origin,” he said, adding, “The whole roof is a wooden truss. It’s gone.”

Read the rest here
See also the parish website here.

Prayers are requested. Lord have mercy!

Bright Week

The icon for Bright Monday

Bright Week and the forty days of Pascha (Easter) are a period of celebration as we rejoice in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In recognition of this we observe certain customs, and relax various disciplines as an expression of this joy. To whit there is no fasting until the second Wednesday following Pascha.  Penitential disciplines of any kind are a no no during Bright Week as we are feasting with the Bridegroom. This is true even in monasteries. While monastics will keep their abstinence from meat, they too will be feasting on fish, cheeses and sweets.

In our church temples the royal doors will be open throughout Bright Week, even during liturgies.

And finally both kneeling and prostrations, whether at home or in church, are prohibited for forty days following Pascha.