How come the theme from Cops is a reggae song? An…

How come the theme from Cops is a reggae song? And is it any coincidence that the words are, “Bad boys … whatcha gonna do when they come for you”? How many, something like one-third of African-American men are behind bars now…?

Will there soon be a ‘Final Solution to the Palest…

Will there soon be a ‘Final Solution to the Palestinian Question’?Read all about it.

Laurels to those journalists (and copy editors?) w…

Laurels to those journalists (and copy editors?) who have, in the last couple years, started ‘reminding’ readers of who Mister or Ms. So-and-So is that they mention near the top of the article, and then much later also. There’s nothing like starting to read a piece on page 5, continued on page 25, or one of those long Web journalism pieces, about people who aren’t household names…and then referring to them on different pages simply by last name, forcing us to scour the small print all the way back to figure out, “Oh, ‘Smith’ is the neighboring township’s dog catcher!” Thanks from all of us!

Israel Supporting Hamas?—Read all about it.

Israel Supporting Hamas?Read all about it.

You know, Episcopal (i.e., Bishop-led) Churches Ar…

You know, Episcopal (i.e., Bishop-led) Churches Are Monarchies! Realizing this clarifies alot for this USA-born and bred (small-R) republican. Elective, Collaborative Monarchies, except for most of Catholicism, which, structurally, politically speaking, is a Feudal Empire of a society, its bishoprics handed out to papal favorites like fiefs…and taken away when the pope ‘is not amused.’

To generalize, a Diocese chooses its Bishop, Bishops ultimately choose their Metropolitan or Primate or Presiding Bishop, important Bishops/Metropolitans elect Patriarchs. And a Diocese is like a little Monarchy under its Bishop (or as Orthodoxy prefers, around him); a Church Province (in whatever form) is a permanent Federative Monarchy around its Metropolitan or Primate; a Patriarchate, a cluster of Provinces, is a permanent federation of federations around its Monarch, the Patriarch. A Diocese does nothing without its Bishop, and s/he nothing without them (ideally!); the Bishops of a Province do nothing outside of their own Dioceses without their Metropolitan or Primate, nor s/he without them; the other leaders of a Patriarchal Church do nothing without their Patriarch, nor he without them.

In case it needs to be stated, I don’t mean “monarch” in the international, diplomatic, sovereign sense (except in the case of the Pope of Rome!), but by analogy. “High Churches”–Dioceses, Provinces, Patriarchates or Communions–are Monarchical societies. Maybe that’s why James I of Britain said, “No Bishop, No King!” And remember his foes, the Presbyterians and Congregationalists, didn’t just want to “republicanize” England’s Church, but its State as well–as they did under Cromwell…sort of.

Some Bishoprics have been monarchically led since before the martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch shortly after AD 100. Before much longer they all were, ‘boards’ of priests or collective bishops everywhere giving way to the institution of the “Mono-Episcopate.” But it’s all in how it’s done, whether the Bishop is a petty dictator, or loving, collaborative, in-touch, pastoral, and facilitating in his (or her) approach. And maybe, too, whether the Bishop can be deposed!

Understanding these things can go a long way in explaining the quasi-mythic position of a Bishop, Primate, or Patriarch in the hearts of his Church…whether they really, really love him, OR really, supernaturally hate him. It’s said that nobody loves a synod (or a committee, or a board); I think it’s also true that nobody loves a Moderator, Stated Clerk, or President! A Monarch is sacramental (Greeley), reminds his or her people of their shared nature as a people, their heritage, their nationhood (or churchhood); a Monarch thus bears or embodies “majesty,” like a President, Prime Minister, Stated Clerk, or Moderator never can. Though in the Orthodox understanding this is no excuse for Bishops to go about like worldly Princes, the two jobs being always ideally separate. In fact, St. Symeon the New Theologian wrote a thousand years ago that in the beginning, it was required that Bishops be “glorified” (or “deified” as it is commonly rendered in English), that is, that they be saints basically, in complete harmony with God’s Will, mystically as it were, and humble, virtuous, ethical, even to not wanting the job. This is part of the reason Orthodox Bishops still are monks. (NB: In effect, an Orthodox Christian Diocese is a “monastic diocese,” not unlike those of the pre-Invasion Irish [i.e., Celtic] Church!)

Anyway, this “Monarchy” also explains the high opinion Bishops tend to have of themselves and episcopal institutions and ceremonies, for good or for ill. Knowing so might help one approach a Bishop more productively, at least….

Ransoming captives used to be considered a Christi…

Ransoming captives used to be considered a Christian virtue, a work of mercy. Now it’s just “caving in to kidnappers,” even “encouraging slavery” or “fraud” (e.g., in today’s Sudan). I think in the Middle Ages the practice was less concerned with controlling other people’s behavior–pirates, kidnappers, terrorists, slavers–than with doing good for the ostensible (Christian) victim. Maybe even witnessing Christian charity to their captors. But the Puritan economics of today was summed up in their slogan “Almsgiving is no charity” 400 years ago. That’s where “bootstraps” came from, and other manifestations of the War Against the Poor. We used to care more about our own virtue than about others’ (alleged) vice.

You know what the Orthodox Church in the Western w…

You know what the Orthodox Church in the Western world needs to help bring it together, as well as promote its continuation and growth, and even generate income?: A PAROCHIAL SCHOOL SYSTEM!

In the 18-1900s they helped (Latin) Catholic immigrants and their children become assimilated Catholic Americans, and helped bring together the different Catholic ethnic groups who almost launched overlapping ethnic dioceses of their own instead(!). See the experience of St. Louis, Missouri.

Furthermore, they held together the Catholic communities, rallying them around a shared alternative to (Protestant-majority-controlled) public schools (or homeschooling)–their own religious schools–providing a concentration of what sociologists call “social capital” for building-up the Catholic community, even becoming a source of marriage partners, new clergy, and religious vocations. They taught “the FOUR R’s: Readin’, ‘Ritin’, ‘Rithmetic, and RELIGION,” and even helped Catholics climb America’s social strata: Guess who have been the best-educated, wealthiest, and most socially-concerned Gentiles in America for the last 100 years or more?: Irish Catholics, believe it or not, statistically speaking, inaccurate stereotypes aside!

This comes from the writings of sociologist Fr. Andrew Greeley (the novelist). He’s also discovered that Catholic parochial schools are a moneymaker!!! It seems their graduates give more to the Church as adults than do Catholic alums of public schools (with or without the Catholic public-schoolers’ parish-based weekly religious education [“CCD”])…which would seem logical.

Even Eastern Catholic parishes (i.e., “Uniates”) often have parochial schools, so it’s not something alien to an Eastern Christian mind at all.

Parochial schools differ from “private schools” in that they usually charge less tuition, are an integral part of parish liturgical and spiritual life and the local community, and are part of a diocese-wide school system, achieving certain economies of scale and sharing of resources. They’re also financially supported by all parishioners, not just the parents of current students. And they often employ volunteers from throughout the parish to help the paid staff. They really become a local church community project!

Undoubtedly the Catholic project was helped in a big way by the fact that it used to be staffed by nuns, who worked for very little and didn’t have ‘other mouths to feed.’ Orthodoxy doesn’t really have “active Religious” like Catholicism does. But what about our own volunteers or persons (voluntarily) temporarily working for low pay to serve the Church? even a corps of lay teachers! Catholic school teachers usually work for less pay than public school teachers because they believe in what they’re doing. (And because the Church can’t afford to pay them at par!)

As the St. Louis article suggests, it also helped that there was the perception that the nation’s Catholic bishops could more-or-less require their faithful to send their children to Catholic schools, canonically or at least ‘morally.’ Whether or not that was actually true for Catholics here in America(!), Orthodoxy doesn’t work that way. People would have to be persuaded to do this…an excellent opportunity for leadership by Orthodox clergy, bishops, and other leaders.

Expensive? Maybe. But Catholic schools are also helped by money from two other sources: philanthropy (foundations, corporations, etc.), and just regular folks who might not give to other church causes, but will give to a school…even non-Catholics! Which brings in one more point: Catholic schools are open to non-Catholics; sometimes they might convert, but they pay tuition at least, and help spread the word about the church and school as good for the whole community.

It might be charged that ‘sectarian’ schools don’t expose their students to the diversity of the U.S. population, different races, nationalities, faiths, etc. Perhaps not directly. But Catholics do come out of their schools more tolerant than Protestants, more open to sharing the block they live on with people different from themselves (Greeley)…which is the whole point of sensitization to diversity! I have reason to believe Orthodox parochial schools (elementary and high schools!) would do the same: best embody and engender the spirituality and love of Orthodox Christianity at its best.

Plus, nonpublic-school kids kick ass in test scores!!!