Saturday, December 31, 2022
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Pope Francis has asked for prayers for his 95 year old predecessor, stating that he is "very sick." The Vatican has acknowledged the former Pope's health has deteriorated sharply in recent hours.
Update- A statement from the Vatican Thursday morning reported that Benedict rested well last night and that he is both conscious and lucid. His condition is described as grave, but stable at the present time.
Tuesday, December 27, 2022
It’s been a good run for the narcissists.
Over the past decade or so, a mix of shameless self-aggrandizement and self-confident charm has served certain people extraordinarily well, turning them into venture-capital darlings, licensed-merchandise magnates, Forbes cover models, social media superstars, Oprah confessors, business-conference keynoters, new-money plutocrats and, in one case, president. Elon Musk, Sam Bankman-Fried, Ye (né Kanye West), Elizabeth Holmes, Meghan Markle, Donald Trump: All of them used attention as currency and ego as fuel, and were rewarded, for a time, with what they craved. We’re drawn to people who love themselves.
But somewhere between the fifth and sixth hour of “Harry and Meghan,” the new Netflix documentary series produced by the former Duke and Duchess of Sussex and filmed at their California mansion — which suggests that there is no one more in love, no one more socially conscious, no one more aggrieved — my natural sympathy for the couple started turning to irritation, and it occurred to me that ego has its limits. And it struck me that the overreach that led to the Sussexes’ critically panned mega-series is the same impulse that turned Elon Musk into a terror on Twitter, that prompted Ye to up the ante of outrageous behavior until he crossed the line into blatant antisemitism, that sent Bankman-Fried from the top of the world to a Bahamian jail.
Some of these turns of fate are more dramatic and complete than others. But once we tally up the losses, it could be that 2022 marks the year our love affair with narcissists started to falter. Many of them met this year with declines in fortunes, falls from grace or newfound public skepticism. Many seemed to overstay their welcome in the public glare. And if this is the moment when we started to crave boring public figures for a change — well, to a large degree, the egotists did it to themselves. Maybe they couldn’t help it.
Monday, December 26, 2022
I have received belated news via email of the passing of Christopher Johnson, formerly of the Midwest Conservative Journal. Johnson's blog covered political and social topics of the day with the Anglican Communion's embrace of modernist apostasy being a particular target for his well-known and biting wit. Some years ago, Johnson lost his job as a librarian, and I heard rumors that this was connected to his openly conservative views. Following which he admitted to having fallen into difficult times and a mutual acquaintance reported that he was living in reduced circumstances. It was during this period that his blog faded and eventually went silent. Over the years we corresponded occasionally, and I always enjoyed his blog posts. Chris died in November of 2021, aged 66. Though this news is late in coming and I had not communicated with him in several years, it is none the less very sad and he will be missed.
Sunday, December 25, 2022
Saturday, December 24, 2022
Friday, December 23, 2022
Saturday, December 17, 2022
Thursday, December 15, 2022
Wednesday, December 07, 2022
Suit was filed last month in a North Carolina state trial court by 38 United Methodist Churches in North Carolina which are seeking to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church and retain their buildings and property. The complaint (full text) in Mount Carmel United Methodist Church v. Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, (NC Super. Ct., filed 11/10/2022), alleges in part:
Plaintiff Churches wish to disaffiliate from the United Methodist Church ("UMC") to pursue their deeply held religious beliefs. Defendants want to force Plaintiff Churches to stay affiliated with the UMC, and violate those beliefs by holding their church buildings and property hostage. Defendants claim Plaintiffs' Churches property is encumbered by an irrevocable trust for the benefit of the UMC and the only way for Plaintiff Churches to disaffiliate without surrendering the buildings and property that are central to their congregations is by the permission of the UMC and payment of a financial ransom.
Monday, December 05, 2022
Hundreds of Texas churches have voted to split from the United Methodist Church denomination this year for deviating from scripture on abortion, homosexuality and other issues.
On Saturday, representatives of the Northwest Texas Annual Conference of United Methodist Churches voted to allow 145 churches to disaffiliate from the UMC in a special session in Lubbock.
Because the conference represents 200 congregations, about 75 percent of which are leaving, the conference likely will dissolve next year, The Texas Tribune reports. The vote was 261-24.
Additionally, 294 churches also voted to leave the denomination on Saturday at the Central Texas Annual Conference in Houston, according to the report.
In total, 546 Methodist churches in Texas (about 45 percent) voted to disaffiliate this year, The Week reports. UMC churches in other states also are leaving.
"The Earth is round – discovery made by Galileo. Astronomy was not studied in Kremlin, giving preference to court astrologers. If it was, they would know: if something is launched into other countries’ airspace, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to departure point."
-Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor to Ukrainian President V. Zelenskyy
Playing the same broken record.
Aren't these the same people who wanted to live private lives unconnected to the Firm, a corrupt institution based on hierarchy and racism? And yet they complained bitterly at the prospect that their children might not be titled as prince and princess? Complained about being "cut off" while raking in an income well into the nine-figure range off their titles and by transforming themselves into professional victims? An income on which they don't have to pay UK tax because they are living abroad. If they really want to be credible, they should renounce their titles and declare themselves to be republicans and socialists. They could then give away all their money to the real victims of oppression and at the same time spare the King and William from having to smile and invite them to the coronation.
Speaking of which; I thank God that William was born first.
Sunday, December 04, 2022
La Maison Simons, commonly known as Simons, is a prominent Canadian fashion retailer. In late October it released a three-minute film: a moody, watery, mystical tribute. Its subject was the suicide of a 37-year-old British Columbia woman, Jennyfer Hatch, who was approved for what Canadian law calls “Medical Assistance in Dying” amid suffering associated with Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a group of disorders that affect the body’s connective tissues.
In an interview quoted in Canada’s National Post, the chief merchant of Simons stated that the film was “obviously not a commercial campaign.” Instead it was a signifier of a public-spirited desire to “build the communities that we want to live in tomorrow, and leave to our children.”
For those communities and children, the video’s message is clear: They should believe in the holiness of euthanasia.
In recent years, Canada has established some of the world’s most permissive euthanasia laws, allowing adults to seek either physician-assisted suicide or direct euthanasia for many different forms of serious suffering, not just terminal disease. In 2021, over 10,000 people ended their lives this way, just over 3 percent of all deaths in Canada. A further expansion, allowing euthanasia for mental-health conditions, will go into effect in March 2023; permitting euthanasia for “mature” minors is also being considered.
In the era of populism there is a lively debate about when a democracy ceases to be liberal. But the advance of euthanasia presents a different question: What if a society remains liberal but ceases to be civilized?
The rules of civilization necessarily include gray areas. It is not barbaric for the law to acknowledge hard choices in end-of-life care, about when to withdraw life support or how aggressively to manage agonizing pain.
It is barbaric, however, to establish a bureaucratic system that offers death as a reliable treatment for suffering and enlists the healing profession in delivering this “cure.” And while there may be worse evils ahead, this isn’t a slippery slope argument: When 10,000 people are availing themselves of your euthanasia system every year, you have already entered the dystopia.
The public embrace of this heresy is rampant in the Roman Catholic Church. But although not as widespread, its advocates are becoming more and more open in the Orthodox Church with almost no correction from our bishops.
Friday, December 02, 2022
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Thursday a coming major crackdown on the operation of Moscow-affiliated Orthodox churches in Ukraine. The move came after weeks of raids on Orthodox rectories and chanceries have reportedly uncovered stocks of Russian propaganda, which denies the right to Ukrainian independence.
“The National Security and Defense Council has instructed the government to propose to (parliament) a bill to prevent the activities in Ukraine of religious organizations affiliated with the centers of influence in the Russian Federation, in accordance with international law in the field of freedom of conscience and Ukraine's obligations in connection with accession to the Council of Europe.”
“National security officials should intensify measures to identify and counteract the subversive activities of the Russian special services in the religious environment of Ukraine,” the president added, highlighting the Ukrainian government's view that some Orthodox churches have become distribution centers for propaganda, and intelligence sources for Russian spies and collaborators.
Zelensky’s decree obliges Ukrainian cabinet ministers to submit within two months a bill to the country’s legislature that would could see Ukrainians face “personal, economic, and restrictive sanctions,” for continued religious activity overseen by Moscow.
The plan takes aim squarely at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), which exists under the leadership of Orthodox Patriarch Kiril of Moscow.
The president's announcement came hours after Ukraine’s Security Service, an intelligence and counterintelligence service, raided a monastery of Orthodox nuns in Transcarpathia, a far-Western region of Ukraine.
According to a government briefing after the raid, agents “found a large number of propaganda materials. Most of the literature is authored by Russian figures and published by Russian printers.”
“The law enforcement officers discovered books of xenophobic content with offensive fictions about other nationalities and religions. The pamphlets found deny Ukraine's right to independence and emphasize that Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus ‘cannot be divided.’”
Hardly surprising in the circumstances. There is a good likelihood that Putin will be remembered as the John Ireland of Ukrainian Orthodoxy.
Thursday, December 01, 2022
Russian media are giving considerable prominence to a statement by Father Alexander Volkov, a prominent representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, who stated that Ukraine is a “phenomenon” (явление) rather than a country, and cannot be independent.
Father Volkov is the executive editor of the “Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate,” which is the official organ of the Russian Orthodox Church, and on November 26 he spoke in the TV program “The Church and the World” on “Russia 24,” which in turn regularly conveys the opinions of the Patriarchate.
It seems to be a new step, or a new low, in the anti-Ukrainian and pro-Putin propaganda campaign of the Moscow Patriarchate, whose excesses are widely regarded internationally as both ridiculous and tragic.
“You have to understand, Volkov said, that Ukraine in itself is a phenomenon that cannot be independent, it should be attached to something else.” Ukraine was a “positive” phenomenon, according to Volkov, when it was attached to the Czarist and then the Soviet Empire. “When Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, it was great: great culture, great economy, great people. Because they had something to be attached to.”