Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Indian Parliament Outlaws Triple Talaq

India's Parliament yesterday gave final passage to The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 (full text) (bill summary). The bill now goes to the President for his assent. The new law outlaws "triple talaq", the procedure under which a Muslim husband divorces his wife by uttering the word "talaq" three times to her.  The law makes talaq (including in written and electronic form) illegal and provides for a fine and up to three years in prison for anyone declaring talaq. It also allows award of child custody and subsistence to a wife against whom talaq has been invoked. The bill replaces a presidential Ordinance issued earlier this year.  In 2017, India's Supreme Court held that triple talaq is invalid and ordered the government to consider appropriate legislation on the mater. Rediff and Reuters report on the bill.

From Religion Clause

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Filioque (again)

FTR, the latest defense of the Filioque coupled with a call for the Orthodox to "come home" can be found here. Please leave any comments there.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Boris Johnson's First Appearance in the Commons as PM

I think he held up well in the more than 2.5 hours of questions and commentary. And yes, I did get the feeling that he was already campaigning in the next general election.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Quote of the day...

In their childish and vain attempt to attract the people, the modern clergy give socialist programs the function of being schemes for putting the Beatitudes into effect.

The trick behind it consists in reducing to a collective structure external to the individual an ethical behavior that, unless it is individual and internal, is nothing.

The modern clergy preach, in other words, that there is a social reform capable of wiping out the consequences of sin.

From which one can deduce the pointlessness of redemption through Christ.

- Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Russia's Total Gold Reserves Top $100 Billion As Central Bank Adds Another 600K Ounces In June

(Kitco News) - Russia’s gold reserves topped the $100 billion mark in July as gold prices rose and the country’s central bank continued to buy the yellow metal, according to the bank’s latest press release.

The Russian central bank bought another 597,000 ounces or 18.67 tonnes of gold in June, which put the total gold holdings at 2,208 tonnes as of July 1 ?r $100.3 billion, the Russian central bank said in the latest data release.

At the time of writing, August Comex gold futures were trading at $1,417.10, down 0.69% on the day.
Moscow has been actively buying up gold this year, adding more than 96 tonnes since the beginning of 2019.


Johnson takes the helm

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have sparked numerous comparisons, including their choice of barbers.

Boris Johnson has been appointed Prime Minister of the UK. A man who is almost as controversial within his party as he is outside of it, inherits one of the thinnest parliamentary majorities in modern British history. His first act in office appears to be to replace around two thirds of the cabinet. In fairness, at least five ministers announced they were unwilling to serve under him. But his appointments strongly suggest most of those would have been replaced in any event. In this Johnson seems to have forgotten one of Churchill's maxims about political rivals. He often said he preferred them in the tent pissing out, then outside the tent pissing in.

Having vowed that Britain will leave the EU on 31 October come hell or high water and refusing to rule out a no deal Brexit, it remains to be seen how this will happen when it is clear that the Commons is generally opposed to a no deal departure. Given where things are, my guess is that Boris will steam ahead at full speed, adopt a very tough line with the EU, who will in turn tell him very politely where to get off. He will then place a no deal Brexit before the House which will in turn vote it down.

I see Johnson as a placeholder who does not enjoy the full support of his own party. The EU knows this and they know that they have little to fear by defying Britain at the moment. The Tories are bitterly divided and if Johnson's government falls over this issue I don't see anyone who could succeed him with the solid support of such a fractured party, in such a fractured House. The only solution, one that neither the Tories nor Labour really want, is another general election. Both of the two main parties are divided by Brexit with only the Liberal Democrats united in their unequivocal pro Remain stand. (We shall ignore for the moment the SNP, fiercely opposed to the breakup of the European Union, while fiercely fighting for the breakup of the British Union.)

All the same, with Parliament effectively deadlocked on the only issue that anyone has been talking about for the last three years, a general election seems inevitable. My guess is early Fall.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Catholic Case for Communism

“It is when the Communists are good that they are dangerous.”

That is how Dorothy Day begins an article in America, published just before the launch of the Catholic Worker on May Day in 1933. In contrast to the reactions of many Catholics of the time, Day painted a sympathetic, if critical view of the communists she encountered in Depression-era New York City. Her deep personalism allowed her to see the human stories through the ideological struggle; and yet she concluded that Catholicism and communism were not only incompatible, but mutual threats. A whole Cold War has passed since her reflection, and a few clarifying notes are now worthwhile.

Communists are attracted to communism by their goodness, Day argued, that unerasable quality of the good that can be found within and outside the church alike, woven into our very nature. It might have been an easier thing to say back in 1933, when American communists were well known to the general public for putting their lives on the line to support striking workers, but it was also the kind of thing that could land you in a lot of trouble, not least in the Catholic Church.

By affirming the goodness that drives so many communists then and now, Day aimed to soften the perceptions of Catholics who were more comfortable with villainous caricatures of the communists of their era than with more challenging depictions of them as laborers for peace and economic justice. Most people who join communist parties and movements, Day rightly noted, are motivated not by some deep hatred toward God or frothing anti-theism, but by an aspiration for a world liberated from a political economy that demands vast exploitation of the many for the comfort of a few.

Read the rest here.
HT: Rorate Caeli

How long are orthodox Catholics going to put up with this crap? I am thinking it's time for the pitchforks and torches. I don't want to sound holier than thou because God knows we have our own problems. But rampant heresy at every (and I do mean every) level of the Church is not one of them. For all our problems we Orthodox have a long and glorious history of shouting "heresy!" at one another and breaking communion. Sometimes the reasons may look silly, but then I look at what's going on across the Tiber, and I am reminded that there are worse things than schism.

Russo-Sino joint military air exercises spark strong protests from Tokyo and Seoul

MOSCOW/SEOUL (Reuters) - Russia carried out what it said was its first long-range joint air patrol in the Asia-Pacific region with China on Tuesday, a mission that triggered hundreds of warning shots, according to South Korean officials, and a strong protest from Japan.

Read the rest here.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Ray Dalio: Paradigm Shifts

This is a longish read and may be somewhat dry for those not interested in economics and or investing. However, I believe it worth the time.

Read it here.

Quote of the day...

An elderly Chicago lady recently claimed, “If Jesus Christ were alive today, he would be ordaining women.”

To which I replied, “Jesus Christ is alive today, and he is not doing it.”

-Fr. Pat Reardon (via email)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Definitive Response to the “Female Priests” Issue

Even though I am an Orthodox Christian and not a Roman Catholic, I was very disappointed when I read Meg Catanzarita’s assertion that Jesus Christ would desire there to be “women priests.” I believe that, through the Holy Apostles, Jesus Christ had the entirety of the Christian faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). So, I too “cannot ’not’ respond.”

Her boasting of being educated in Catholic institutions from grade school to college does not prove her point. We have countless clergyman and scholars with far more impressive pedigrees that disagree with her. That does not make them right either. We can all enlist people with “educations” in support of “our” side, but this does not get to the heart of the matter: “What would Jesus do?,” as she asks.

Thankfully, we know what Jesus would do, because He is God and still speaks to us today in the Scriptures and the Church, “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim 3:16). These Scriptures tell us that Church leaders must be able to hold “fast the faithful word as he has been taught” (Titus 1:9). So, whatever the “correct” answer to the “women priests” question is, we cannot have one answer this year and another answer the next.

So, what is the answer? The Scriptures contain not a single example of a female priest. Instead, Saint Paul teaches that, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” within the Church (1 Tim 2:12). Whenever he gives requirements for priests and bishops, he is explicit that they must be men (1 Tim 3:1-2 and Tit 1:6-7). We know we are not misunderstanding Paul, because the entire ancient Church until recent times has always taught this, starting with Saint Clement of Rome. He is the Church’s third Pope and we still have a letter of his that reaffirms a male priesthood.

Those with novel new ideas like Catanzarita would have been condemned by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. He did not say vainly, “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men” (Mark 7:8).

Read the rest here.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy Plan Is Almost Done ...

...And bondholders are going to get screwed.

For the benefit of those w/o a subscription here is a summary of where things look to be heading.

* Pensioners are being treated as having first claim on the territory's resources, ahead of bond holders. This appears to contradict PR's constitution and laws.
* Under the current proposals, 61 percent of the retirees would keep receiving their full pensions and none will receive less than 91.5%.
* Bond holders will receive no more than 64 cents on the dollar. Many will receive less.
* The board intends to declare bonds sold in 2012 and 2014 unconstitutional and effectively null and void.
* Bonds issued before 2012 will be honored at 64 cents on the dollar.
* Those issued in 2012 would be offered only 45 cents on the dollar. And those issued in 2014 only 35 cents on the dollar in a take it, or leave it and get nothing settlement offer.
* Lawsuits are expected to challenge the basis for the settlement. But many bondholders are expected to take what they can, given that the recent Detroit bankruptcy essentially followed the same pattern of putting pensions ahead of bondholders.

Thoughts: If this goes through and survives the court challenges it's going to send a signal that municipal bonds are nowhere near as safe as hitherto believed. It will almost certainly encourage states in serious fiscal trouble like Illinois to try the same thing. And my guess is the bond market is going to have to recalibrate it's risk reward ratio for municipal bonds. All of which means that municipal bonds at all but the highest credit ratings, could take a hit in their market valuation. And that hit will also be felt by those seeking to borrow money who are suddenly going to find that their legal guarantees are being viewed with skepticism by potential lenders demanding higher yields for their paper.

Thank you

I deeply appreciate the messages of condolence posted on the blog and sent privately. As the period of mourning winds down I will be resuming blogging.