“Don’t Forget Medicaid”

See the whole thing from Congressman Chris Murphy of Connecticut:

“As we wait for the white smoke to emerge from the ‘grand bargain’ negotiations at the White House, most Americans are already aware of the Republicans’ plan to dismantle and privatize Medicare and Social Security. But what many people may not realize is just how dangerous it would be to slash funding for a program that 60 million Americans rely on for their basic health care needs: Medicaid.

“While it seems that just about every major industry or interest group has teams of lobbyists in Washington looking out for them, some of our most vulnerable citizens simply don’t have a voice in a town where unfortunately, money still talks the loudest.

“Why? Medicaid covers only the impoverished and disabled, so it lacks a traditional advocacy base. This may be news to Republicans — but most poor people I know are spending all their time trying to find a job and put food on the table.”

Westboro Supreme Court mis-rule

SUMMARY: This isn’t Free Speech, it’s freedom of politico-(pseudo-)religious gang-persecution organized on a national basis against random mourners (as such) uninvolved in the grievances supposedly being protested by Funeral Invasion.


Mob pseudo-religious persecution of mourners’ Free Exercise of Religion — the Baptists’ “speech” is usually not on-point, but irrelevant to the life and death circumstances of the decedent at funerals they INVADE — is just like the mob persecution of Christians in Turkey, long winked at by a supposedly-secularist State.  It violates the civil rights of decedents and their grieving survivors.  Only an unholy alliance between the Court’s fellow-fundamentalists and its (this time) misguided “liberals” would rule that the civil rights of off-topic, political, media-hog, worship-invaders trump Freedom of Religion.

Yes, all defenses of Westboro defend their protests as political, though they are veiled in religion.  If (Westboro) politics now trumps (everybody else’s) religion, maybe the rest of the Religious Right IS right, that religious freedom is being flushed down the toilet with the politicization of everything — IRONICALLY, BY THEM!

Another way of approaching it is that the Religious Right, a vast well-organized group, may now abuse its “rights” to violate the rights of usually-tiny groups of mourners anywhere in the country — not unlike the invasive, disgusting, terroristic tactics of Operation “Rescue” abortion-clinic protesters and their incited gunmen / bombers / racketeers / conspirators.  If the Bill of Rights is about anything, it’s about protecting the rights of the oppressed — not only those oppressed by governments or officials, but by their fellow human beings in this country generally, especially by groups bigger than them.  Look for other hate groups to go back to the Courts now for vindication against explicit civil rights legislation — the Ku Klux Klan, “sovereign citizens,” (neo?)Nazis, self-appointed “militias” and border guards, “Dot Busters,” ‘crosshairs’ assassins, the whole sorry, scary lot of them.  What will the lawless Scalia/Roberts Court say then?  Cross-burnings and lynchings are OK again?  Literacy tests and poll taxes for voting?  Forced segregation of public schools?  ‘The disabled or mentally ill, gay or “different,” should be neither seen nor heard’?  Torching Catholic churches?  Slavery?  Human females as their males’ property?  State-Established religions again?  Swastikas scrawled on synagogues’ outside walls are OK because they don’t violate the “privacy” of the interior of the building??!!  It seems the Court liberals, including two Jewish women and a “wise Latina,” have been tricked into signing on to the rollback of the whole 20th century, if not worse.  (And Clarence Thomas? Nevermind!!!)

Ironically, this unholy alliance represents the difference between Classical Liberalism, in all its forms, and Classical Conservatism, ie, progressive conservatism … the former represented by the whole near-unanimous Court Westboro majority, the latter represented by most Americans’ gut-reaction to Westboro’s atrocities, and this ruling, more bad law, ie, incorrect law, from the Republican Courts and Party.

Learn about the ascendant hate groups and domestic terrorists from the  Southern Poverty Law Center, and support the SPLC.

And how did this case become merely about “privacy and emotional distress“?  The mourners’ lawyers should be disbarred for incompetence!  Were they law students?!  Was this one of those volunteer, workshop, law school projects they do???


Furthermore, does the ruling consider that funeral “privacy” only applies inside a building-of-worship, funeral parlor, chapel, mausoleum, etc.?  What about processions outdoors, burials, cemeteries, motorcades, even the going TO the funeral by the mourners — Some Protestant services even sacralize this with a “Gathering for Worship” recitation or song.  What about Neopagans, adherents of Indigenous religions, or other “outdoorsy” faiths, which might not often even USE a building with a real “indoors” component?  Obviously outdoor portions of a funeral share the vicinity with the neighbors, if any, of the funeral sites, so that’s presumed within Free Exercise.  I’m not sure being attacked, verbally assaulted, or finding yourselves involuntarily amid a political demonstration, controversy, or riot, especially one featuring offensive language, IS presumed within Free Exercise, except during times of Persecution of your freely-chosen (or -retained) religion … something the Court seems to endorse today, even its Fundies!  (Appropriate, I suppose, since their fellow Repugs drove the President out of the church of his choice, then complained he wasn’t Christian enough!  “I played you a tune but you did not dance, I sang you a dirge but you did not wail….”)

I’m willing to consider that baptisms/circumcisions, funerals, and weddings aren’t the same as routine religious services which might be invaded by hecklers urging you to change your religion.  I’m not sure though!  When I was a Quaker in the 1990s I admired George Fox and his Friends’ doing so in 17th-century Anglican and other Protestants’ “meetinghouses.”  Maybe they would’ve really converted  England if they’d just waited till after services, and stumped outside the buildings as the faithful were leaving!  But IIUC these Baptists aren’t recruiting, merely advocating for their ethical or political positions.  And often their protests seem aimed not at anyone present, except the newsmedia.  That’s just rude … Supremely rude.

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Clergy re-victimization of a rape, incest victim?

Beware what kind of chaplain you seek counsel from in our Armed Forces (maybe even anywhere else).  In this disturbing account, a “conservative” “evangelical” Protestant minister seems to say that when a gay woman in the Navy came to him about being raped by a male Sailor, he did two things to her I’ve never heard of in a lifetime of theological study:

  • he supposedly got her to agree, through that bizarre Scholasticism that only his branch of Christianity does so well anymore, to be “married to Jesus” on the spot,* and
  • supposedly he involuntarily, unsolicited, imposed on her an “exorcism” of her homosexuality.

I’m not a lawyer, nor an expert in Clergy Malpractice, and I guess as long as the young woman is satisfied with his treatment of her and its effects in her life, he won’t face that lawsuit, and she’ll join the list of the — for now at least — “ex-gays.”  But his superior officers in the Corps of Chaplains at least, his Denominational Judicatory (if applicable), and/or his therapeutic credentialing body (if applicable), should look into the clerical, religious, and professional ethics of his own claimed behavior towards a woman who was within the military structure, already forced once to submit to heterosexual, male impositions recently therein, and he claims, also a victim of repeated incestuous heterosexual abuse previously.

This isn’t about my opinions concerning “evangelicalism” or demonology, simply what I believe to be — yes, the re-violation of a rape and incest victim by a minister she’d turned to for counsel and not, apparently, for a “wedding,” nor for a “cure” for her lesbianism, about which she had not, by his own account, complained.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this preacher involuntarily “baptized” playmates with water balloons or the garden hose in younger days.

He as much as admits to manipulating her: “And she had to answer ‘well, of course they’re full of the devil'” (emphasis mine).  Now, that one question-and-answer might have legitimate use in a ministry situation such as this, but not to catapult someone in an apparently fragile state into actions of dubious therapeutic, professional, or theological nature.  (I pray he didn’t also take it upon himself to ‘stand in for Jesus’ and “consummate” this “wedding” with her physically.)  Furthermore, he doesn’t tell us about her “renouncing” lesbianism: Did he make it up, lie to “the spirit of lesbianism”??  Or did he consider that the root of the presenting issue, the recent rape, would be legalistically removed if the victim were of an orientation not so disinclined logically, fundamentally, to reject male impositions, ie, straight?  Was it just more “evangelical” Scholasticism?  If so, was that his commission, basically to collaborate in her being ‘raped straight,’ as we’re seeing recently in other parts of the world?

I’m fully aware that Protestantism, today and historically, is full of such pietistic, emotional manipulation, as are certain streams of Catholicism and probably Orthodoxy also.  We’ve all seen the movies, TV dramas, read the books.  But even if we were to simplistically ask “What Would Jesus Do?,” did He ever do so with a woman, a victim of any kind, innocent or guilty?  I could be wrong, but I can’t recall that He did.  Did He ever work Himself and His beneficiary into the kind of frenzy of guilt feelings we’re all too familiar with — in this case turning the victim into the defendant, as she may well have been undergoing in the trial of her assailant already, as often happens in rape trials?

Tragically, many Americans, faced with the 40,000 sects of this land, would be hard-pressed to distinguish between one kind of Protestant chaplain and another.  Furthermore, in chaplaincy situations often clergy of one stripe are theoretically required to do double or even triple duty, serving patients or charges of a diversity of denominations on any given base, ship, or unit; often there aren’t many different chaplains to choose from.  If you’re from a small denomination, you’re at the mercy of whoever got stationed with you — and the Pentagon too is at the mercy of whoever volunteered after ‘having it put upon his heart by the Lord’ to go and do something for/to somebody(ies).

I’m not seriously trained in counseling either.  But I know what not to do, Lord have mercy on me.

A couple more quick points: 

  • Can exorcism ever be voluntary?  Well, someone might have a relatively mild problem — no head spinning, no projectile vomit, etc. — and go to a cleric asking about it, but is that then demonic possession, or maybe something else?  Otherwise, someone else might bring the supposedly-possessed person to the clergyperson, figuratively or literally kicking and screaming.  Neither is reported as happening here.
  • I won’t discuss Orthodoxy’s approach to homosexuality in this post, because I don’t believe it would be constructive or helpful to do so at this time or in this context.
  • In another, less-detailed allusion to this incident, this chaplain claimed that during it the evil one left the woman’s heart and Jesus moved into it, in the context of the “wedding.”  Actually this is said to happen Traditionally, not as such during the Orthodox Mystery of Holy Matrimony, but of Baptism / Chrismation** / Communion.  Orthodox Tradition goes on to say that previously, the evil one acted on you from within, and the All-Holy Spirit of God, One of The Trinity, from without; afterward, the Spirit of God acts on you from within — a position of strength for Him if you will — but the evil one may still act upon you from without — a relatively weaker position for him.
  • It seems this chaplain has become a political figure since late in his military career (sic).  Information about that is available through the linked page and elsewhere.  I’m so concerned about the particulars I’m discussing in this post that I’ll leave out the political angle, as well as his apparent or possible personal issues.

(*–Apparently, though, this didn’t make her a nun: Roman Catholic piety used to consider Religious Sisters “married to Christ,” but this preacher says his charge “started dating boys” openly.)

(**–likened to the Western Sacrament of Confirmation)

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Catholic Bishops attack Obama again

Let’s be clear: I deplore Embryonic Stem-Cell research or usage in any way at all except for a good-faith attempt to bring to those embryonic human beings to birth.  This is because, as an Eastern Orthodox Christian who aspires to be a member of Christ, ie, one of His body-parts, I don’t consider endorsing human destruction of unborn humans — even disabled ones (I am Disabled, perhaps from birth or before) — to be in keeping with Christ’s body-parts.*

However, the U.S. Catholic bishops go out of their way to attack the democratically- and Constitutionally-elected Obama Administration in recent news releases on the issue.  They’ve been indignant that we elected him and VP Joe Biden (himself a Catholic), as they made clear at their winter meetings days after the 2008 Elections, televised live on cable.  But as any Civics student could have told them, the Executive Branch of the US Government doesn’t lawfully appropriate money, Congress does.  The Executive Branch does nothing with money that Congress has not authorized.  This is the bishops’ national release; this is from one of their most “conservative” divisions, Pennsylvania.

Their Eminences and Excellencies could be forgiven (if I had the power!) their confusion, after their boy in the White House, George W. Bush, appropriated money without Congressional authorization several times, occasionally with active deceit on the part of the corrupt then-Republican leadership of both Chambers.  (And they wanna come back?!?!?!)  False or cowardly Federal judges or Congressmembers allowed this ACTUAL theft of taxpayers’ money to fly almost completely under the radar.

What do I want?  President Obama and Vice-President Biden are no more nor less a threat to advance abortion or its related horrors than a Congress that hasn’t brought to the floor a Constitutional Amendment to reiterate the protection of unborn Americans in 27 years in the Senate, and EVER in the House, NOT EVEN UNDER REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP!  Instead, Republican alleged “pro-lifers” spend their time and money (and yours) fighting [PDF] real Democratic proposals (and candidates) to eliminate nearly all abortions voluntarily by addressing their causes — showing that they view the lives of Unborn Americans less sacred than their own political power (witness their last-minute, repeated deceptions over [lack of] abortion funding in America’s Healthcare Reform).

What I want is for the bishops and other non-Democratic pro-lifers to understand that specific parties and candidates clearly aren’t how to prevail, but bona fide proposals on the floor of Congress.  Based on that, who’s the REAL pro-life party?  THE DEMOCRATS, AFTER ALL!!!

And what about the bishops’ dioceses’ tax exemptions for targeting Obama/Biden?  After all, a partisan church’s tax exemption is like spending YOUR TAX DOLLARS ON THEIR FAVORED PARTY OR CANDIDATE.  (There are Orthodox Church clergy who could be called on the carpet equally and worse than these. But Catholic bishops tend to have more resources on which to call, and lawyer friends advising them, so they should know better. Orthodox, not so much yet.)

(*–The only exception I can see is, in shorthand, to save the life of the mother: where the best available medical opinion[s] is that continuing the pregnancy will kill her in and of itself, not via suicide or threats thereat, or financial impoverishment [falling through our coarse Social Safety Net], her own mental illness or disability, etc.  Because I don’t believe we can require mothers by law to actually — not metaphorically — lay down their lives for their babies; that must be voluntary.)

PS: I’m not “an anticatholic;” I’m a convert from Catholicism with extensive graduate work in Catholic and other (Western) Christian theological ethics.  I don’t “hate Catholics;” some of my best relatives and old friends are still Catholic.  Just for the record.

Biblical Judges: Chiefs?

So say some Jewish scholarsOne per “Tribe” of the traditional 12 Tribes of Ancient Israel?  Maybe even a permanent office in each Tribe, versus the occasional charismatic commander we’re told about?  Some of whom were more noteworthy than most?  (How many Presidents, Monarchs, or Prime Ministers of any one country can you name?!)

I know enough Hebrew to know Professor Sarfatti isn’t out on a limb here (no pun intended!).  Conflating shevet and shofet?  Consider that every Sunday School class — or Hebrew School — has been asked, “Why are they called judges?”  We see them as military commanders, prophets, philosophers, power-lifters, lovers….  The answer is, They might not have been called “judges” as the word has been most commonly understood in the centuries since then!

Maybe King James should’ve sent the Old Testament by his translators one more time!  Then again, a Biblical book of “Chiefs” or “Chieftains” around that time, the early 1600s, might’ve made Irish or American Indians look too favorable for His Majesty’s comfort … or rather, that of his wicked counsellors….

It’s a minor semantic point.  The roles and deeds of the particular Israelite Chiefs upheld in Judges are clear enough for Scriptures’ purposes.  But since the English words chief, chieftain, chiefdom, etc., are today so identified with Indigenous Peoples, Scottish Clans, Irish Septs, and other oppressed people, “Speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”

What do we see, then, in pre-Monarchy Israel?  Twelve or so loosely-affiliated “Tribes,” or rather, Chiefs, each with his “staff” or “scepter,” literally and figuratively — the Tribe.  “Tribal Sovereignty,” even!  With him, various officials, aides, counselors.  And within each Tribe, Clans, Houses, and so forth.  And a God Who opposed a permanent royal federation under an earthly king: The Israelites’ problem in Judges isn’t that they keep getting harried by their neighbors, but that they keep slacking-off in their devotion to Him Who Is, so He lets them have their way, and they get the stuffing beat out of them — rightly, we are to believe, since who knows better than God how to do anything?!  Their problem isn’t geopolitics, it’s Theology.  (Even these gentlemen agree today.)  Doesn’t God say so often throughout Scripture?  Early Israel’s throne was atop the Ark of the Covenant, not in “a cedar palace.”

And so should we who are “Judeo-Christians” today continue to adjudge the ups and downs of our favorite “nations”: My sins, not anybody else’s, not any other nations either.

(I know: “Joshua Chiefs Ruth” doesn’t have the ring of “Joshua Judges Ruth”….)

Insurance cos. promote abortion to save money, killing disabled babies?

Looks mighty suspicious here.  I speak as a disabled person!

IOTM also to ask who’s more “disabled”: a person with special needs who maybe drives his family and neighbors and teachers and acquaintances crazy … or a world that would rather do without us?

“Suffering”?  I know a little about that subject, though definitely not as much as many of us disabled.  But killing us in the wombs of our mothers denies us even the chance that we’ll struggle and overcome it, or others will cure it or at least lessen our suffering.  Who ever said life was supposed to be free of suffering?

I also speak as an Eastern Orthodox Christian.  In original Christianity suffering has an honored place: it can make us more like our Founder, who suffered a bit Himself.  I don’t mean ‘Suffer like Jesus suffered’ — that’s just masochism.  But Orthodoxy teaches that suffering* may help cure us of our own will and inadequate understanding … and Orthodoxy itself directs us to the Will and Understanding of One Whose Will and Understanding are infinitely perfect.  In fact, many ancient Christians envied the original Holy Martyrs, and found the real and difficult Struggle was ordained for those who lived in the Faith to a ripe old age.  Furthermore, Orthodoxy says that even though we Orthodox with long-term illness/disability might not or ought not, for instance, participate in the Church’s fasting rules and Traditions (i.e., abstaining from certain foods at certain times), God Himself has as it were fitted us with this special ascesis to purify us of sinfulness,** He has allowed this to happen to us.  Some admired, sick Orthodox have taken this teaching so to heart that they have ceased desiring to be cured — again, understanding that it may be easier than the “normal” Orthodox ascetic spiritual path, and blessed by God.  If I may paraphrase St. Raphael of Brooklyn, ‘Man — or demons — may have meant this to me for bad, but God means it for the good.’  Orthodoxy also still teaches that miracles do happen, by the Graciousness of God.

(I don’t say this as someone who has reached such wisdom or dispassion himself yet.  But it does seem most reasonable.)

I also have some expertise in Western Christian ethics or moral theology.

As for calling aborting someone saving his or her life, that reminds me of “destroying the village to save it,” or “killing the Indian to save the man” — real Orwellian, and I don’t say this lightly to a rabbi who survived the Holocaust, even as an infant.  More than 40 million Americans have been electively aborted under color of law, few without the dubious benefit of genetic testing of them or their parents.  Now it’s being sold to us as a large-scale, historic, positive good?

(*–This is ‘redemptive suffering.’  In Peace Studies they talk about some “myth of redemptive violence,” which however I never heard of till then.  Violence does not redeem!  [And real “martyrs” don’t die killing others intentionally, even vengefully!])

(**–Orthodoxy also remembers and teaches that all creatures suffer sinfulness from the first moments of their lives, thanks to the choice of our first parents — what one Western wag once called “Christianity’s only self-evident doctrine.”)

Harper Catholic Communion: IT *IS* A SCANDAL!

Near as I can tell from the NY Times’ unusually dense syntax, self-righteous Canadian theocon minority Prime Minister Stephen Harper received, and an archbishop administered to him, Roman Catholic communion, a no-no since Harper’s Evangelical Protestant, specifically the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination.

The fact that it was at the funeral for former Governor General Romeo LeBlanc July 3 just magnifies the technical scandal — theologically speaking — of this joint action by Harper and the unnamed “archbishop,” identified by Canada’s Catholic Register (a weekly newspaper owned by the Archdiocese of Toronto) as Moncton, New Brunswick, Archbishop Andre Richard, who ISTM (they don’t say) may have been chief celebrant of the Mass, since it took place in his archdiocese.

I don’t know why they’re “covering the controversy” rather than the main story; maybe I just missed that.  ISTM that putting the consecrated host in his pocket might have been the least-worst thing Harper could’ve done, especially if afterward he or a flunkie returned it respectfully to the Church, which regards it as truly though mystically (and not symbolically) Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood.  After all, it’s not exactly a State secret that, with very few exceptions applying mostly to certain Eastern Christian Churches,* NON-CATHOLICS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO RECEIVE CATHOLIC COMMUNION!!!!!  In the U.S. an announcement to this effect is commonly made at mass vocally or in print, especially if a significant number of non-Catholics are known to be in attendance, such as would have been the case at His Excellency’s State funeral (presumably in Both Official Languages … and I don’t mean Latin!).

As the Register tells us:

During the Mass, Moncton Archbishop Andre Richard approached the front row where Harper and other VIPs were standing and distributed Communion to everyone, including the Protestant Harper. Though video shows Harper receiving Communion, it does not show him consuming it. Harper insists he did and told CCN in a July 11 interview he made a decision when entering public life not to seek Communion in Catholic churches but to accept it if offered.

Having served in my Catholic days as an altar boy or music minister at many “big Masses,” and also as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, I can easily imagine Abp. Richard being preoccupied with many things that day.  In addition, Latin Rite clergy aren’t commonly tasked with “guarding the chalice” in quite the same way Eastern clergy are (unless Democrats in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania are concerned! [scroll down]); it’s just a different approach or attitude toward administering communion, though the fundamental principles are outwardly similar.  Nevertheless, IT’S THE FRIGGING PRIME MINISTER, NATIONAL TV, A “STATE” FUNERAL, WITH AN ARCHBISHOP, not some summer cottage chapel in the woods with some anonymous guests of uncertain affiliations wearing cutoffs and flipflops!  A deacon or “master of ceremonies” could have taken some of the worry out of the occasion for the Archbishop and helped guide him discreetly around ‘landmines’ such as prominent non-Catholics in the VIP pew.

Ironically, although many of today’s “conservative Catholics” attack the Latin Rite’s modern option of communion-in-the-hand, receiving it in his hand instead of right on his tongue left Harper with the option of saving the Archbishop’s face as I’ve suggested above, even voluntarily taking some temporary heat himself from attack-dog media and politicians, coming up roses in the end if he returned the host respectfully at an opportune moment, even a “teachable moment.”  IOW, Major Brownie Points with Catholic voters!

Of course, more points if Harper had been able to say not that he made himself a unilateral theological decision to receive forbidden Catholic communion if mistakenly (or improperly!) offered, but that he’d consulted his local Latin Rite bishop in Calgary “when entering public life,” and even gotten a second opinion when he became a national figure from, as the kosher hot dog ad used to say, “an even higher authority.”  Don’t they have Protocol people in Ottawa anymore?!!!  In any event, Catholic authorities would have kindly and gently explained the impropriety to him, ways to politely decline or step aside when approached by a priest or EM, even thanked him for his concern to inquire … and probably gossipped about it, increasing his “cred” in their midst!  (Not that I want to help the man politically or anything!)

Now, I’m not a Latin canon lawyer or approved theological ethicist, though I have plenty of background and training.  But ISTM holding the host for later respectful return would have been at worst a mild sacrilege in Catholic eyes, with good intentions.  Eating it is pure scandal, the worse because of how publicly it was done (even if not shown on TV, but hyped in the media for days afterward).  And there are really considered to be no other options: Even dissolving it in water would require disposing of the now-sacred water in a sacrarium, a special sink in a Latin church’s sacristy that empties directly into the ground by sacral arrangement, rather than the sewage system or septic tank.  (‘Can’t dump Jesus in the sewer, dawg!’)  While water may be more easily portable, as in an empty bottle, if it had to be returned in another city … bottles of water are too easily discarded or otherwise mishandled.  An undissolved host is unmistakable, and can be carried reverently in any suitable container. 

Of course, Catholic Church sanctions are useless against non-Catholics, unless they want to try to physically lock Steve-o out of their churches and ceremonies.  From his perspective, it should be about respect for Catholic faith, just like you take your shoes off when visiting a mosque and wear a yarmulke when visiting a synagogue, and if the Orthodox parish you’re visiting stands males on one side and females on the other, going along without protest.

This piece, seemingly drawing from wire copy, suggests there was indeed protocol confusion of an uninformed variety on the part of both the Prime Minister and the Archbishop, who I’m certain doesn’t have such high-level guests in his archdiocese every day!:

Richard said a protocol officer told him before the ceremony that anyone who wanted to take part in communion would signal their willingness to do so.  “I’m sure he (Harper) didn’t mean any desecration or nothing of the sort,” the Archbishop said. “Somehow, the gesture was misunderstood. I think he should have been briefed by the protocol of what has to be done in a Catholic ceremony.”

OK, I have a guess about what’s going on here now.  If there was a huge crowd — and it’s just a parish church, not a large cathedral — and VIPs were seated in the front pew, it was probably arranged, by government staffers, for the Archbishop to serve them in-place, while everybody else who wished and was able to receive, would leave their pews farther back, get in line, and receive from him and/or other ministers in the building.  Rather than have the GG, the PM, etc., standing in line when the missiles come over the North Pole (or the foreign navies intrude in Nunavut).  It’s not a question of special treatment, merely reasonable logistics given the 24/7 responsibilities of these specific attendees, halfway across the country from the National Capital.  Similar accommodations are often made with communicants with mobility challenges.

An added issue would be the presence of M. LeBlanc’s coffin near the front of the church, probably where communion is often administered to people standing in line on normal Sundays and weekdays, etc. … as well as the unfamiliarity of many if not most of the attendees with how to receive communion in this particular building with its architecture, internal furnishings, etc., since it’s not their own parish.

For their part, the VIPs were probably briefed generically by a government (not Church) staffer, without regard for their denominations or (if Catholic) specific communion intentions (which ISTM Canadians more than even Yanks would consider intensely private matters, perhaps not to be “signaled” in advance through a flunkie: a cultural thing).  I could see this adding to the confusion of a ‘principled’ Evangelical Protestant Canadian like the PM who at least once in his life considered just such a scenario … hence his perceived hesitation, a kind of sacramental “decisijig” owing to miscommunication, or what tabloids might style a “miscue.”

This doesn’t appear to have been the only such, if my friends at the Monarchist League of Canada are right.

Last word: While it’s common for Protestants to use the verb take in connection with communion, for Catholics it’s receive — though the actions commonly involved are outwardly the same.  The would-be communicant approaches or in special cases like this is approached by the minister, and the minister gives him or her the communion.  (Unless your denomination does the trays and little cups served from pew to pew like on an airline — no disrespect meant.  Also, sometimes there’s more ‘self-help,’ like the bread and/or wine left on the altar for folks to administer to themselves as invited by the minister.)  If you find yourself about to be given communion when you believe you should not, for whatever reasons, you are permitted, hoped, and/or expected to “signal” your intention not to receive without making a big fuss, yelling, gesticulating grandly, turning your back, running away, or anything of the sort.  Like they say in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, DON’T PANIC.  Remain calm.  “No thanks,” a small but clear hand gesture, fingers over the lips, something like that.  Remember that when you’re in that situation, it’s just you and him (or her), two fallible human beings, face to face.  Most Latin Rite clergy these days are less anal about the flow of the almighty ritual than in former days perhaps, and will be understanding; the Vatican II Mass / in English (I can’t say for sure about French! 😉 ) is less pompous than its Tridentine / Latin predecessor — relatively more laid-back, as its critics will tell you(!).  I received in an Episcopalian cathedral once (while Protestant, on a normal Sunday, even with a “priestess” presiding — a cute one too!), and I’d guess the same there.  Most other situations, even more so. 

Even a State funeral on national TV.

This extended meditation on the pitfalls and pratfalls of public life has been sponsored by the letter Q, the number 69, and the word Sniglet!

(*–Without having consulted Eastern Christian bishops or councils!  Orthodoxy, my Church, forbids receiving non-Orthodox Mysteries [“sacraments”], and administering them to non-Orthodox, for reasons familiar to most Catholics my age or older.)

PS: For the record, Catholicism excludes non-Catholics from communion because they believe the sacrament properly reflects the “communion” of the main participants in the church service itself, to wit, Catholics.  It’s not a question of hospitality or inhospitality, “ecumenism,” “liberalism” or “conservatism,” “niceness” or “meanness.”  Catholics consider themselves the Body of Christ “mystically,” and communion as I said, also, though in a different way.  And non-Catholics, in varying degrees of “communion” or out of communion with them, especially with the Pope of Rome at their head.  This is all Catholic theology, not church politics per se.  They take the same attitude towards us Orthodox — as we do them and all non-Orthodox — although Rome permits us in extremis, as well as permitting their own people to receive our Mysteries in extremis, though they did that unilaterally.

PPS: Then again, given that LeBlanc was formerly a Liberal MP and Senator, and/or that Maritime Tories — even Catholics? — are likely to be Red Tories vs. Harper’s Blues (aka “American [GOP] Republicans”), maybe it WAS a conspiracy against Harper!!!  😉  (Just kidding; I know nothing.)

PPPS: Communion-in-the-hand is not an option in Orthodoxy, for the simple reason that Communion is served thusly: The priest has previously sunk a large piece of the Bread into the chalice and poured the Wine and water over it, filling the chalice.  As each communicant approaches, they tip their head back (or their baby’s head!) and open their mouth.  Father takes a long-handled spoon with a tiny bowl at the end, obtains a tiny piece of this mixed Bread and Wine, and tips the spoon’s contents into the person’s mouth.  So if Harper was at LeBlanc predecessor Ray Hnatyshyn‘s funeral in ’02 … well, it wouldn’t have been an issue, because Orthodox funerals don’t include Communion!  I’ve seen Orthodox priests serve communicants in wheelchairs by approaching them, but most of the time we line-up for Communion, so you can’t get in line by accident, so it’s no problem either. 

So … Go Orthodox, sir!

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ROUNDUP: Fitzmas II et cetera

Remember Fitzmas carols?!  They’re singing U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s praises again for accusing Rod Blagojevich – remember, innocent till proved guilty, and it’s possible not all us Eastern Orthodox Christians are saints (yet!) – but let’s remember all we got out of him in the Plamegate Treason case was a token conviction of Scooter Libby who took the fall for probably Cheney and many other scum, then walked unconstitutionally.  I have a feeling Blago’s right, and we haven’t seen the end of this, and there’s more to be revealed.  Meanwhile let’s get the Bu’ushists on their way out the West Wing, so they don’t get away with all their High Crimes, and nobody else in the future thinks they will either….

Did you hear about the White Racist vigilantes during Katrina in New Orleans killing poor Blacks escaping the flooding Lower Ninth Ward while cops batted an eye?  Me neither.  (Yeah, OK, it’s Katrina vanden Heuvel from The Nation….)  Sign the petition.

Did you hear Orthodox, former Evangelical bigwig, Frank Schaeffer sounding almost like a progressive conservative?!!!  (What those he calls “conservatives” and “progressives” have in common is Classical Liberalism, as he articulately characterizes without using the term.)  Alright, a pissed one, who forgot in that particular article to take some of the blame himself for driving the Religious Wrong all these years.  (That may be in his new autobiography, thankfully.)  He owes most of us a big honkin’ apology, quite frankly (no pun intended).  But, hell, welcome aboard, Franky, the water’s warm!  Besides, you’re my brother in Christ now, so I have to forgive you.  Do any of us get to retract our mistakes (or any do-overs, to use W’s typically-childish boxball analogy)?

Cheney: If President does something during war, it’s legal.  “Go F*@# yourself,” “Dick”!  Or let your cellmate do that for ya….

Finally, for something completely different(?), “Ten Ways to Make Your Kids More Likeable (and Yourself Too)” or something like that.  Happy Solstice!

The phrase “one-world government” is ungrammatical.

Unless it’s preferring to limit government to a single world, say Earth, so it doesn’t also cover, I dunno, Mars, the Moon, Europa, Venus….

Why do they use the hyphen, making “one world” a single adjective instead of part of a phrase, as in, “I support (or oppose) one world government” or even just “a world government”?

My first encounter with the expression was I think on the back of a Keith Green album (along with anti-Catholicism) when I was spinning Christian Contemporary music on my college radio station in the early ’80s (I also spun Adult Contemp, Classic Rock, Classical, and read and wrote news), and it sounded as conspiracy-theorist then as it does now … even with some religious tilt I don’t quite comprehend, even after spending most of the ’90s among Protestants.

Inquiring minds wanna know!

“With Islam there is no coercion in religion”

Not to be unduly provocative, but North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia Minor used to be pretty much all Christian.  Where are they all now?  I’m not talking the last couple generations, but basically since the 7th century AD!  The Arabs burst out of Saudi asking them if they were saved?!!!  I don’t think so.  If the Pope of Rome could apologize, why not others?

This isn’t bigotry, just historic facts.

Protestant America not quite dead yet

The Pew Religious Landscape survey that came out recently trumpeted that America, originally overwhelmingly Protestant, is about to become half or less so.  Well, maybe, but not as fast as they say, IMHO.

Here’s the quickie data.  When they say only 51.3 pct. of U.S. adults are now Protestant, they leave out Mormons (1.7 pct), Jehovah’s Witnesses (0.7 pct), Unity and “Other Christian: Metaphysical” (0.3 pct), members of the denomination formally known until recently as the Unitarian Universalist Association of Churches and other “Liberal faith” (>0.3 pct – my redaction of their numbers) – who I think most people would consider Protestant, a total of approx. 54.4 pct.  Also, let’s be honest, significant numbers of the “Nothing in particulars,” atheists, agnostics, Don’t knows, and Refuseds are essentially Protestant, pushing us back up in the neighbourhood of 60 pct., closer to two-thirds than to half after all.

For sociology to be useful, it has to be applicable across decades and generations.  Modern sensitivities to folks who claim not to be Protestant anymore, or who claim others aren’t Protestant anymore, isn’t helpful to the science of the thing.

Long story short, the overall numbers aren’t that much different from those historically after all.

In a related story, White Evangelical denominations are gaining on Mainline denominations, but not because of conservative Mainliners ‘voting with their feet’ as commonly believed, but mostly because of Evangelical women’s later adoption of artificial contraception.  (Who knew?  I figured that since the Pope hates it, they’d embrace it enthusiastically.  Shows what I know!)  Sociologists Andrew Greeley and Michael Hout believe that Evangelical relative growth is about exhausted, barring the unforeseen.  But the country’s adults are still overwhelmingly some sort of Christian: 78.9 pct. once you add-in Catholics and Orthodox … not counting those “Nothing in particulars,” atheists, agnostics, Don’t knows, and Refuseds, many of whom I said above are essentially Protestant.

Only 4-5 pct. non-Christian, plus some percentage of the “Nothing in particulars,” atheists, agnostics, Don’t knows, and Refuseds.  Frankly, I expected more!

One other caveat: extrapolating national percentages for small groups – as many of the ones they mention are – is hazardous to your health, so there has to be some margin of error; it’s not a census after all.  For example, there are none, to 4 million Orthodox adults here, but one is talking to you right now, so, so much for that!

Taking marriage seriously

Here’s to it!  As we Orthodox say, Many Years to them both!

That’s the thing about old-fashioned marriage: you presumed this was the person you were going to spend the rest of your lives with, and so you operated out of that presumption.  Now, as divorce spreads, that presumption weakens in alot of people, or so you hear.  That’s a problem, and it probably has an untold impact on our society.

I’m not talking about staying if there’s physical abuse or outright emotional torture going on.

It probably helps that these two are reasonably-devout Catholics.  Divorce wasn’t a sin in Catholicism (though remarriage while your ex-spouse is still alive is), but frowned upon, and relatively rare, rarer I think than in Protestantism.  I think still Protestants are more likely to divorce than Catholics, though divorce is spreading among Catholics.  Andrew Greeley might say that traditionally, Catholicism’s “social capital” helped reinforce its principles among its adherents: neighborhood, parish, church, school, organizations (Knights of Columbus, Ajax Ladies, Ancient Order of Hibernians, etc.), back then even parish quasi-banks.

For Catholics traditionally this wasn’t really a “doctrinaire” approach like for “family values” Protestants today, it was just their religious culture.  As a Greeley character put it, tongue mostly in cheek, “Homicide, maybe. Divorce, never!”

I’d have to do more homework, but I’m not sure the vaunted increase in Catholic annulments of marriages in recent years is a percentage increase.  Their population numbers have grown in step with the nation’s population – they’ve been steadily approximately a quarter of the population for a century or more.  Have annulments outpaced population growth?  Or has there really been no change in the rate of annulments, just that the numbers have now grown so large?  Remember, despite their minority status here, the U.S. is one of the biggest Catholic countries in the world, up there with Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines….

Feed everyone

The Orthodox Herald in December pointed to recent statements by the Popes of Rome – John Paul and Benedict* – that we have a moral obligation to provide food and water – “nutrition and hydration” the doctors call it – to patients in a “vegetative state.”  (I guess if babies in the womb are no longer babies in the womb, food and water is merely “medical treatment”….)

But IOTM that what we have is a moral obligation to provide food and water to EVERYONE unable to provide it for themselves!  Whether they’re paralyzed, sick, poor, unemployed, frail, Disabled, children, drought-stricken, plague-stricken, unlucky or unskilled in agriculture, fulltime parents, mentally ill, retarded, insufficiently intelligent, underpaid, whatever.  We have so much wealth…!  And as St. Basil the Great said, Whatever of it we don’t need belongs to the needy.

How about a little human solidarity, love, sharing, generosity, philanthropy (yes, even in your voting and lobbying and taxpaying … unless you can come up with a better way), “consubstantiality,” God-like-ness (Think about “the liberality** of God“!), self-discipline, etc.?

(*–The O.H.’s readership includes Eastern Catholics [“Uniates”] in communion with Rome, traditionally possessing Orthodoxy theology, liturgy, spirituality, etc. … just not part of The Orthodox Church.)

(**–That’s liberality, not liberalism!)

Kosovo II

Lemme make sure I got this straight: Serbs and Albanians go to war inside Serbia, we take the Albanians’ side, bomb Serbia back to the Stone Age, dismember their country … and threaten to hold their government ministers “personally responsible” when their people by the hundreds of thousands don’t take it lying down?  Serb Christians, and Albanian Muslims – some of whom have been implicated in international Islamic terrorism and insurgency IIRC?

What are we gonna do, kidnap them?  “Rendition” them to Poland?  (Romania won’t work this time because they’re Orthodox like the Serbs, and not thrilled with our “Balkanizing” their neighborhood.)  Afghanistan?  Egypt?  Syria?  Israel?

Look, what we’ve done to Serbia in another time would be ACTS OF WAR.  Sure, we have the nukes and bombers (and we have schoolkids write Happy Easter on bombs before dropping them … on Orthodox Easter … while we honor Ramadan and Eid) and NATO and the EU (not looking down your noses at “Old Europe” just now, are ya) … but does might make right?  Excuse bad faith negotiations?  What, was the Treaty of Dayton too difficult?

What was the better solution?  At least trying good faith peace and final status negotiations.

Speaking of Jonah

When I linked to the opening of the Book of the Prophet of Jonah in the previous post, I had deja vu about his line, “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; their wickedness has come up before me,” which only goes to show that Quakers should read their Bibles more.

Quaker founder George Fox once felt a divine impulse to go to the English town of Litchfield and cry out repeatedly, “Woe unto the bloody city of Litchfield!”  He even had a vision of the streets flowing with blood.  IIRC (I can’t seem to find the account of it with which I am familiar at this time), he claimed to have learned at a later time that that town claimed a number of “martyrs” – though merely Christian, or Protestant, I don’t remember – hence “bloody.”

Is it too much to think that a man of whom it was said that if the printed Bible had been lost, it could be reconstructed from his preaching, was inspired even by that most comic-book of Scriptures, Jonah?

Time/Putin, ‘the rest of the story’

With apologies to Paul Harvey, this commenter on another blog offers useful counterpoint to the Bu’ushist propaganda we’re getting on Russian President Vladimir Putin from Time Magazine and other sources official and (supposedly) unofficial.  Prior commitments delay any analysis I may contribute here myself on Time’s “Person of the Year” edition.

By way of preview (maybe), I don’t wanna channel Samuel Huntington here, but Russia IS different from the Catholic (Latin) and Protestant West, the Rationalized Capitalist West, the earlier-industrialized – and longer-suffering therefrom – West, the Classical Liberal West, etc. … and many Russians like the difference overall!  You know what Russians have always called contiguous land to their west?: EUROPE!  Now, (Western) geologists consider the ethnic heartland of Russia part of the continent of Europe, but Russians have always been conscious of a difference, Westernizing influences of such Western “heroes” as Peter and Catherine “the Great” – equally “Autocrats” with Ivan the Stern (whom the West never fails to call “Terrible”), Nicholas II, and everyone else in-between – notwithstanding.  But seemingly even “neocons” think a little autocracy, pogrom, persecution, purge, repression, national betrayal, apostasy, anti-democracy, etc., in pursuit of Westernization – or at least pro-Americanism – is AOK – just like in newly-Democratic Iraq, newly-Democratic Palestine, newly-Democratic Afghanistan, Democratic Kenya, “Liberalizing” China, the “Republic” of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, formerly-dictatorial Taiwan and South Korea and the Philippines and South Vietnam and Nicaragua and Panama and Argentina and Chile and Brazil and so on and so on and so on.

If there’s no objectivity involved in such allegedly professional analysis, let’s not pretend, but be up-front about our biases, OK?  But then aren’t you playing into the hands of the “post-modernists” who say there’s no objective truth?!!

One thing Russia does have, as they’re reminding us to their chagrin, is Orthodox Christianity, which isn’t afraid of objective truth, unlike their hardline Catholicism and Protestantism and “militant secularism.”  Their own Orthodox heritage, that of the West, generally ended around 1,000 years ago, just as Russia’s began in earnest.  And many of their ancestors hadn’t been Christian long enough to be Orthodox more than a fraction of the time most Russians have been.

I will say this for now: Orthodoxy’s role in a country is no more to stand up for Westernization / Americanism – what they sometimes call Snickerization (Russ. snickerizatsiya, similar to other cultures’ Disneyfication, etc.) – than for anything else other than The Truth, The Faith, The Common Good as they, limited human beings, see it, experientially guided by the All-Holy Spirit of God, One of the Trinity.  And many Russians have had quite enough of Western innovations – the Filioque, Papal supremacy, Uniatism, philosophizing, high-falutin intelligentsia of the West’s left OR right, Marxism, industrial slavery, Communism (aka “militant atheism”), the constant threat of American nuclear annihilation known as the (First) Cold War, Rationalized Capitalism, “militant secularism,” the current Second Cold War(?), etc etc etc.

Maybe I really am starting to become Orthodox, because I read Putin quotes and know what he’s talking about or hinting at, when it’s clear over their heads!  Maybe they should consult Orthodox when covering or analyzing Orthodox countries, cultures, histories, leaders, persons … and The Church itself of course!!!

Almsgiving IS charity

Though our “puritans” of today probably won’t take it from the Pope of Rome!  Not only is it good for the needy and objectively a good idea, but a good spiritual discipine, encouraging detachment from things, and actual “participation in the Divine Life” (as the Good Book says, I think in an Epistle of St. Peter) – which may be why the Lord said, “It is more blest to give than to receive.”  Which is why Rationalized Capitalism and Trickle-down/Voodoo Economics is the exact opposite of Christianity … not to mention very bad for you, eternally speaking!

Almsgiving is the soul of charity!

Soldiers evangelizing, harassing?

So says one of those Gay-looking men’s magazines I saw in the supermarket the other night.  Apparently nearly half “the troops” in Iraq and vicinity are “Dominionists,” ie, real theocrats (vs. those who just want “conservative” Evangelicalism to be the Established Religion) – think Christianized Jewish/Old Testament ‘Sharia’ law* – and they’re preaching their gospel to Iraqi Muslims, and non-Dom comrades in arms – and harassing and/or shunning the latter in their units if they don’t convert!

Because of the danger to whatever “the mission” in Iraq is this week, and more importantly to the non-conformist troops, and to the future of U.S. and “Coalition” foreign policy throughout the Muslim world, this near-total breakdown in military discipline has to be stomped out.  This behavior is entirely inappropriate for soldiers and officers in a Theater of Operations.  Unit solidarity is the whole point of armies, boot camp, Drill Instructor abuse, etc.  When you’re out doing one thing 24/7, you can’t be doing other things, especially when lives and nations are at risk (humanly speaking, of course).  You may evangelize, harass, and shun Stateside, not on the battlefield.  Period.

Classical Conservatives don’t have to be hawks or imperialists to respect war, soldiering, sacrifice for the Common Good (hopefully for the CG), etc.

(*–Yes, that’s the sound of Martin Luther turning over in his grave.)

FREE CANADA!, or, What else American Red Tory means

Many Canadians feel economically dominated by the United States, the 800-pound gorilla to the South.  Though what should be done about that should probably be guided by Canadians who have that country’s best interests at heart.  For instance, letting them tear-up NAFTA and US-Canada Free Trade as well as other agreements prejudicial to Canada – or reopening them for fairer negotiations – and impose domestic corporate ownership quotas.

Some Canadians also feel culturally dominated by us.  Certainly they get all the American TV shows, books, movies, and music – though somehow they don’t seem to affect them like they do us, ie, making us kill each other and others different from us!  Also, Canadian influence on U.S. TV, movies, music, etc., is strong, or at least, the influence of Canadian-born persons (Pamela Anderson, Michael J. Fox, Lorne Michaels, Neil Young, Peter Jennings, etc.).  Interesting question for further examination.

But worst of all is U.S. influence on Canadian politics.  Not merely keeping an eye on the 49th Parallel since we are the local 800-lb. gorilla, but putting up with us exporting American republicanism, Republicanism, Classical Liberalism / irrational libertarianism, political Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, other ideologies, horse-race campaign news coverage and attitudes, greed and Rationalized Capitalism, giving orders to Canadian Forces behind the back of their own government, dictating policy to Ottawa, our government influencing their elections, Bay Street a carbon copy of Wall Street, the question of Fort Drum,* etc etc etc.  Now, ‘children must play,’ but must America muck around with such a loyal ally and generous neighboUr, when instead we should be learning from them?!!!  MAKE AMERICA IN CANADA’S IMAGE!!!

PS: Why don’t Canucks, with more guns per capita than us, kill each other like we do?  Why don’t our TV and movies have such a bad influence on them if any at all?  Why do they have health care, multiple parties, Responsible Government (read accountable executive),** hand-marked paper ballots, profounder education, more peaceful diversity, nicer cities, less-“concentrated” Indians, recognized Mixed-Blood Indigenous, true friends in all parts of the world, etc etc etc.  They’re not perfect.  But the answers must lie in their culture, their heritage, their history, even their legal tradition.  (Conversely, our late friend Marc Chaitlin firmly believed our violence today was rooted in our violent Revolution and replacement of legitimate government with “the Slavemaster Republic.”)  How do they differ from us?  Monarchy, peaceful evolution vs. violent revolution (They’re ‘the American Evolution’!), Classical Conservatism, gradual independence, British tutelage (vs. enmity) in statecraft and soldiery and diplomacy, “Peace, Order, and Good Government” more important than mere “Pursuit of Happiness” (sounds like a motto for Hedonism!), a sense and tradition of the Common Good as an active not passive thing, national solidarity even in peacetime, self-restraint, a check on politicians even in the appointive offices of Governor General and Lieutenant-Governors, greater High-Church influence (Roman Catholic and Anglican), an Empire-cum-Commonwealth of Nations, etc etc etc.

(*–Rudmin alludes to the “unprecedented” Congressional appropriation behind the initial construction of Ft. Drum, unprecedented because it was unconstitutional!  Being for three years, it violated Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which limits military appropriations to two years!  Somebody in Washington really wanted Ft. Drum, bad enough to risk public exposure and a court case, neither of which apparently came.)

(**–Think about how our elite structure their own corporations.  There isn’t a Board of Directors in the land that would give a CEO the carte blanche any U.S. President has for 4 or 8 whole years, unless he was already majority owner or the inventor of the product or something, of course.)

Israel: a Mideastern country?

Has Israel become a Middle Eastern country?

I think we’re used to thinking of it as a sort of European / American island in that region, kind of a Jewish / semi-Anglophone version of the former French Lebanon.  But has it turned more into a Jewish version of, say, Syria, or Egypt?

Christians are certainly freer to be Christians in (secular) Ba’athist Syria, as they were in (secular) Ba’athist Iraq, than they are in Israel, or (Islamist) Bu’ushist Iraq for that matter.  But even generally, Israel’s treatment of dissidents, ‘liberals,’ peaceniks, or even Reform Jews, nevermind the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Arabs in Israel Proper and the West Bank (Gaza is clearly currently a special case, though even there, they’re way excessive), is really wanting.  “Democratic island”?  Sure, there are elections, and discos, and newspapers, and kibbutzim, and multiple political parties (in this last sense more democratic than America).  But not so much on human rights after all: ask Mordechai Vanunu.  [That’s Vanunu, not Sununu!]  Speaking of him, Israel is the only clear and present nuclear weapons danger in the region (besides the Bush regime), and (like the Bush regime) has frequently threatened to attack Iran (admittedly, no poster-child).  Conventionally, Israel has frequently invaded or attacked Lebanon, occupying its southern portion for a generation, accomplishing nothing while doing so.  And it has shown consistent bad faith in its relationship with the incipient Palestinian State, and with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem (Greek-ruled, but traditionally predominantly-Palestinian in makeup), the Mother Church of Christians.

Rogue state?  Typical bully, if a formerly abused bully?

In the end, very like many other Mideastern countries?

Huckabee crossed a picket line; Late night shows

…even if he doesn’t want to admit it.  When he went in a back door to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to avoid “crossing a picket line,” he either didn’t know or didn’t care that you don’t have to physically walk through a barricade of striking workers to “cross a picket line.”  All you have to do is help a struck workplace perform struck work.  IIUC, Leno, who is himself a Writers’ Guild member and theoretically still on strike, believes as long as he ad-libs and doesn’t “write,” he’s not scabbing himself.  But IIUC, the Guild – who are supposed to be his authority in such matters – disagrees, and was indeed picketing the taping of his show.  (If the Guild kicks Jay out, he’d be barred from writing for his own show!)  If Huckabee really supports the writers, he should’ve foregone the temptation to make political hay by going on Jay’s first new show since the strike began, on the eve of the Iowa straw poll.  But he either doesn’t understand, or doesn’t really care.

Catholic theologian David Tracy and sociologist Andrew Greeley have a theory that might explain Rev. Huck’s behavior.  They say Protestants have a congenital difficulty comprehending analogy – the idea that something is like something else – rooted in their Biblicism and centuries-long opposition to Latin-Rite Catholic material “sacramentalism.”  Thus, Huck wouldn’t have understood that the taboo against “crossing a picket line” isn’t necessarily literal.  It has nothing to do with a face-to-face challenge to the picketers on-duty at that moment, and everything to do with the total aim of the job action by all the employees.

Then again, maybe it’s just because he’s a Republican … which may be the same thing.  Greeley tells the one about the two old Irish-American ladies in Chicago: One says, “I hear Alderman O’Leary has become a Republican.”  The other replies, “Ridiculous!  Wasn’t I after seeing him in church just last Sunday?!”  😉

Of course, Leno calls himself a Catholic of some kind….  Conan O’Brien and Carson Daly, too.  (Daly even majored in Theology at Loyola Marymount … calling into question the Jesuit education available there!!)  So I guess we should boycott them and their advertisers!?  (I must confess that, last night, eating at a turnpike service area, their two TVs were blaring Fox News and O’Brien/Daly. Tough choice. I went with the latter, for which may God have Mercy on me! In Orthodoxy, we seek forgiveness even in a dilemma, rather than seek to justify ourselves before God – before Whom no creature can justify himself. But I saw it as the lesser of two evils!)

Catholic Dave Letterman* did the right thing, reaching an “interim agreement” with the Guild on behalf of himself and Craig Ferguson (aka Worldwide Pants Inc.), before returning to production.

(*–As Dave told fellow Catholic Ray Romano a year or two ago, “I have a season ticket, but I don’t make it to all the games.”)

Golden Compass, Harry Potter, etc.

How come material that’s been acceptable kiddie (and adult) entertainment for thousands of years in all cultures including “Christian” ones, all of a sudden is objectionable?  Nobody thinks that stuff is real, after all.  And I know a thing or two about real Paganism, and it’s nothing like that!

Another take on Canada’s ‘conservative progressiveness’

from a Boston Globe writer who seems to just about ‘get it’!

I would just add a comment on this paragraph:

The differences between the two countries are captured in their founding documents. As Canadian textbooks often note, Canadian politicians deliberately avoided the eloquence found in the Declaration of Independence, which ringingly celebrates ”life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Instead, Canada’s much more prosaic bedrock document, the British North America Act of 1867, promises ”peace, order, and good government.”

I wouldn’t call “peace, order, and good government” prosaic, or even excessively deliberately anti-demagogic vis a vis the Declaration of Independence.  Isn’t “POGG” the proper basis for “LLPH”???  Isn’t LLPH “a house built on sand” without POGG?  Couldn’t we use some POGG in America today, after all these years of so much of the opposite?!!!  As the writer says at the end, Canada’s progressive Classical Conservatism is “a conservative worldview – albeit a type of sober-minded conservatism that has few parallels in an ever more radically right-wing America” (emphasis mine).  And of course, most Americans have had to keep struggling for LLPH even since 1776: most Catholics, women, Blacks, non-landowners, the poor, workers, the disabled and elderly, the sick, Classical Conservatives, radicals, cities, immigrants, pacifists, progressives, gay people, Indigenous people/s….

Stephen Harper is no Tory

This piece says a little more about what this blog is about.

U.S. liberals’ progressive conservatism(!)

To hear “conservative” politicians and “pundits,” we try to get government to help the needy, sick, and disabled, as a way of buying their votes, that is, bribing them.  Same with labor and workplace rules for workers and unions … public education for kids(?) and the teachers’ unions … a little more social justice, for city people’s, women’s, people of color’s, immigrants’, and gay people’s votes … reduced censorship and looser broadcast content guidelines for, well, pornographers’ and bohemians’ and atheists’ votes, I guess … Evolution and equality and compassion in said public schools, for, I dunno, Unitarians’, “social engineers’,” and wimps’ votes? … environmentalism for the treehuggers’, EarthFirsters’, and eco-terrorists’ votes … “well-regulated” firearms control for the “jack-booted thug” vote I guess? … and peace, for the huge Muslim vote in this country!

They talk as if we’ve all devoured the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, the Quran, Gustavo Gutierrez and Chairman Mao and Madalyn Murray O’Hair, all ‘baddies’ like that.  We’re all free-loving, swinging, acid-dropping, rock-and-roll-listening(!), non-breeding stereotypes from the ’60s – just like they sound!

With my own life’s study and observation, I think the large number of native-born Americans – I don’t have alot of in-depth exposure to Americans born elsewhere at this time – being American (small-R) republicans, *are* somewhat ‘ideological,’ very much attached to the words of this country’s individual liberties, to the vote (preferably free and clean and counted correctly – How hard is that?!), to the Constitution of 1787 as amended and generally as interpreted, and to our accustomed, historical/evolved form of Rationalized Capitalism.  I also think the large number of them, being what might be called center-left in social ethics(!), or such awful terms like ‘caring’ or ‘sensitive’ or ‘polite,’ also believe this status quo isn’t perfect yet, has generally been getting better through the labor of alot of people in our society over the years, and can always be tweaked and improved: “Our best days are yet to come.”  We care about the Common Good, generally for those worse-off than ourselves in this country and abroad, even those different from ourselves.  On a personal basis we are the most philanthropic in the world (though as I’ve said, that may be in part because morally we have to be, since per population or economy, our government is not; in any case, it’s not enough to meet the need and the Common Good).  We generally support fairness especially to those worse-off, even some extra help if they really need it and we can give it.  Our biggest problem is such a disconnect with our government that we always feel overtaxed, but when we’re correctly informed, we’re often even ready to adjust our stances in politics, economics, ecology, society, etc., not because we “flipflop,” but because we discover we didn’t know as much as we thought we did about this or that situation.  It’s a big country, after all, and an even bigger world!

Therefore, when our critics and (supposed) ‘betters’ accuse us of mere cynical angling for power for power’s sake, such charges are patently false.  We don’t wage “class war,” though some of us seek to *end* the one being waged against us!  And we certainly didn’t make up Global Warming because we thought it’d put us back in power, but we espouse doing what we can about it because we just don’t want the planet to FRY as much over the next couple thousand years!!!  I don’t want to engage in potentially false gainsaying, but in the era of Karl Rove, it seems our critics doth protest too much!

In fact, IOTM that the large number of native-born Americans display qualities of progressive conservatism or Red Toryism, of a kind not entirely unlike what I’m constantly discussing in this blog!  Obviously relatively few have studied the British, Canadian, and Australian constitutions and legal and political systems, or other comparative government, or consider themselves Monarchists at this time, or explicit critics so much of Classical Liberalism or Modernity, or, obviously, Orthodox Christians.  But this is only to be expected in an environment of over two centuries of school and media brainwashing.  But the large number of native-born Americans show signs of convinceability, if the truth, the facts, the history and the causes of things, can be gotten out to them, and they can be reminded to think carefully before they vote or lobby, and to remember that what unites us is far greater than whatever may be perceived as dividing us.  Their real ‘conservatism’ manifests itself as it is able, in a country where we exiled or suppressed our true Classical Conservatism, and where heartless, brainless, even unFaithful and traitorous actions masquerade under the name of “conservatism” today.  Actually, as I recently read someone else suggest, we are the ones, in the absence of any other relatively-viable alternative at this time, seeking to ‘conserve’ what good there may be from the republic as described above, while our critics and ‘betters’ defy the agreed Constitution, undermine its interpretation, neuter Congress and the States, and risk “World War 3” several times over, in the last few years alone.

Which is why I blog.

OTOH, our critics are the ones who show signs of blind faith in innovative, false, artificial, unrealistic, inhumane, lethal, unChristian, Classically Liberal and Modernist ideologies … of hypocrisy, cynical manipulation, divisiveness, and incivility … of sinister agenda on behalf of a minority of vested interests … of moral and ethical corruption … of military, foreign policy, fiscal, and intelligence-management malfeasance, misfeasance, and/or nonfeasance … of lost Sovereignty over our own and other countries’ created corporations … of “voodoo economics” which basically are the single biggest cause of most of our people’s real material problems for the whole last generation, such as increased hunger and homelessness, falling wages and health-care coverage and assistance to the needy, rampant profiteering and offshoring instead of the promised reinvestment of corporate and wealthy tax giveaways, etc.

Obit: First Nations “Picasso,” shaman

Norval Morrisseau, Ojibwa (aka Chippewa) from northern Ontario (which has been called Canada’s Alaska – and no, that’s not really redundant!! 🙂 ).  Sounds fascinating (NY Times link will break w/o $$$) … but this even more so.*  Do yourself a favour and Google himImages too, of course!

(*–Although note that the form of Christianity that devastated his people’s culture was Roman Catholic; Orthodoxy doesn’t treat evangelized peoples like that [the Church doesn’t, anyway…], witness the Alaska Native Orthodox! [LA Times archive fee required for this article]  Why did Catholicism have to destroy Native cultures of the Americas, when it didn’t destroy Irish culture, for instance?  Catholicism became Irish.  Why couldn’t it become Ojibway??)

The Number One reminder for anything involving a computer

Stolen from OrthodoXCircle’s humor group, who probably stole it from somewhere else:

Jesus and Satan were having an on-going argument about who was better on the computer. They had been going at it for days, and frankly God the Father was tired of hearing all the bickering.

Finally fed up, the Father said, ‘THAT’S IT! I have had enough. I am going to set up a test that will run for two hours, and from those results, I will judge who does the better job.’

So Satan and Jesus sat down at the keyboards and typed away.

They moused.

They faxed.

They e-mailed.

They e-mailed with attachments.

They downloaded.

They did spreadsheets!

They wrote reports.

They created labels and cards.

They created charts and graphs.

They did some genealogy reports

They did every job known to man.

Jesus worked with heavenly efficiency and Satan was faster than hell.

Then, ten minutes before their time was up, lightning(!) suddenly flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, rain poured, and, of course, the power went off.

Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld.

Jesus just sighed.

Finally the electricity came back on, and each of them restarted their computers. Satan started searching frantically, screaming:

‘It’s gone! It’s all GONE! I lost everything when the power went out!’

Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the past two hours of work.

Satan observed this and became irate.

‘Wait!’ he screamed. ‘That’s not fair! He cheated! How come he has all his work and I don’t have any?’

God just shrugged and said,

‘JESUS SAVES’

Genocide in Turkey

Now that the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee has recognized the Ottoman Empire genocide of Armenians in the 1910s, how about the ongoing genocide of Greeks in the Republic of Turkey?!!!

For that matter, why is Ankara so upset?  Ataturk drew a firm line between the Empire and the Republic, right?  So they should be as condemnatory of the Ottomans’ genocide of Armenians as anybody.  In fact, they proclaim a French-like ethnicity-free Turkey, so such ethnic-focused politics as the Teens’ genocide of Armenians, and the continuing genocide of Greeks, should be repugnant to them, right?

Obviously, something else is going on in Turkey, something that unites the “secularist” military and the current “Islamist” government there.  What else could it be but… underlying ethnic Muslim Turkishness?  You mean Turkey really is all about ethnic Muslim Turks, and not some ethnicity-free egalitarian non-Fundamentalist paradise?  That the “secularist, modern, Westernist, EU-aspirant republic” is a sham?!!!  That there really has been, and is still, genocide against anyone NOT ethnic Muslim Turkish?!!!

Tell your U.S. Representative to condemn ALL the Turks’ genocides.

“Human rights” groups, Bushie-backed govts, and Orthodoxy

A brief, insightful – and therefore unheard-of! – 4-year-old article by the Eastern Orthodox Moscow Patriarchate’s Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin, analyzes certain aspects of international “religious-freedom” activism.  (See highlighted “Helsinki” and “anti-Orthodox” text near bottom of this page.)

Such groups’ endorsement of “free market religion” places them in a global minority, and calls into question their understanding of the role of religion in a society – even their realization that religion HAS a role in society, and not just in individuals’ ‘private life.’  Or even Protestantism’s very PUBLIC role in U.S. life….

Of course, that presumes they’re trying to be sincere, and not simply advancing the U.S. global agenda in every way imaginable… and some unimaginable!  After all, their zeroing-in on Orthodoxy not only in the Former Soviet Union but also the Former Yugoslavia in other “reports” I’ve browsed, betrays a definite pro-Washington, pro-“globalization,” pro-Rationalized-Capitalism, anti-Orthodox, anti-Christian bias.

World religions

is a misleading term.  Perhaps, due to widespread Western European imperialism and missions, Latin (ie, Western Rite) Catholicism and Protestantism qualify, or Christianity as a whole (especially since adding-in Orthodoxy, Eastern Catholicism, the Oriental Churches, and the Assyrian Church, adds-in Eastern Europe, Asiatic Russia, half of Kazakhstan, half of Lebanon, Armenia, Georgia in the Caucasus, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Kerala state in India – together a large part of the “world”).

Anything else has spread relatively little beyond its home ‘zone,’ with comparatively little emigration and evangelization.  Islam certainly straddles the globe, from Morocco to Indonesia, but outside that region is not so well represented.  The religions at home in India are still overwhelmingly there and vicinity; elsewhere by comparatively little emigration and conversion.  Buddhism: East Asia.  Judaism is certainly well-scattered, but due to conversion, persecution/genocide, and lapse, is so small in numbers… though its influence far outstrips its numbers…. 

Which brings up the matter of influence beyond actual adherents.  Certainly Buddhism and Hinduism have had unexpected influence on “Westerners” in the last couple centuries, in part on account of the British Empire, and also Liberal Protestantism’s opening-up to “dialogue” with “Eastern religions,” as well as celebrity conversions and explorations in them.  “New Age,” Neopaganism, and the rising profile of the world’s Indigenous peoples, for that matter, have revived or magnified the influence of numerous old and new esoteric and other kinds of faith-practices, philosophies, and concepts among Westerners, aided by seemingly-rampant religious illiteracy in the West(!).

So maybe instead of the term “world religions,” we should talk more clearly, on the one hand, of the largest religions, and on another hand, of influential religions.

Or am I seeing it as a Westerner, and overestimating “influence,” say, deep in India or Africa or China or Japan?! 😉

Ontario Elections: Funding “Christian” private schools?

That’s one proposal of the province’s Progressive Conservative Party.  I’m not there, and don’t have time to research the matter more fully, but here’s the PCs’ page on it, here’s the Liberals’, and here’s another groups’, pro-funding.  The Liberals seem to fear diverting funding from currently-funded schools with less demand, such as in rural areas or Francophone communities.

First of all, I take exception to the proponents differentiating “Catholic” and “Christian/faith-based”: Catholics consider themselves Christian and faith-based, even if conservative Protestants don’t, so that’s a bad sign right there.  And this cursory examination leads me to believe we’re mostly talking about conservative Protestants, not primarily Jewish or Muslim schools like they’re making it out to be: could this be a “Tory” sop to their new Reform / Alliance constituency?  I don’t know about Catholic schools in Canada, but as a child I got *my* anti-Protestantism outside of parochial school; what are Ontario “faith-based” schools teaching their students about Catholicism, I wonder?  I can only guess….

Second and not unrelated, they forget that where there’s a Catholic school system, the non-Catholic school system in a Protestant-majority province is already Protestant, at least traditionally, though probably a bit more diverse today than in former generations in Old “Orange” Ontario.  Just like in Northern Ireland.  In both places minority Catholics didn’t want Protestantism pushed on their kids.  So is this an intra-Protestant struggle after all’s said and done?

Thirdly, concern about Muslim education in this volatile time is not necessarily misplaced, especially with Saudi Arabia exporting Wahabbism to North America.  And what do Jewish schools teach about Arabs, Palestinians, Muslims, Christians (of all sects), etc.?  I honestly don’t know: maybe they’re OK, especially in Canada, especially in Ontario.

All that said, I prefer another approach for here in the States: let’s fund ALL education – child-care, pre-school, primary, secondary, tertiary, graduate, religious, not-explicitly-religious, secular, atheist, liberal, technical, vocational – except that promoting (or teachers or sponsoring organizations / sects / clergy promoting) racism, bigotry, violence, intolerance, misogyny, bullying, and (violent) revolution or war against the United States or its treatied allies, and possibly, explicit parish / congregational ministry training (eg, priests / pastors / rabbis / imams as such, preachers for whom that is their only job or training, unlicensed religious counselors, missionaries / proselytizers, youth ministers, etc.).  Let’s hold that this doesn’t constitute “an establishment of religion.”

Does this approach help the Ontario discussion any?

Fight Global Warming, Peak Oil, and Obesity: Eat less!

(Those of us who are able, that is.)

Drink less non-human animal milk, too.  (Unless you need what’s in it, like calcium, and can’t find it anywhere else.)

See, factory farming on land – cows, pigs, chickens, etc. – may be America’s Number One source of Greenhouse Gases.  Factory farming in water – many seafoods – is a very bad scene for other reasons: diseases, unhygienic, pollution, etc.  But demand for flesh-foods of all kinds is going through the roof, with big parts of the Third World (China, India, etc.) now ‘coming online’ in that regard.  And many natural fisheries are already in danger of being ‘fished out.’  Hence, we need to eat less of all flesh foods.

But substituting plant foods is problematic because the recent “Green Revolution” was mainly wrought by petro-fertilizers, and they’re going the way of the dinosaurs, so more plants is not an option.  And I think letting GMOs out into the planetary gene pool – eg, to increase crop yields or selected nutrients that way – is way too big a threat without knowing the long-term and even very-long-term consequences; we’ve only got one planet folks!  (For now.)*  And increasing arable land by burning forest adds carbon dioxide and other Greenhouse Gases to the atmosphere, and takes away trees that help remove these gases from the atmosphere.

Hence, eat less of everything if we can.

Obviously people with eating disorders who don’t eat enough, or with malnutrition or simply true hunger (vs. psychologically-induced pseudo-hunger) or certain health problems, or perhaps who are elderly and/or frail, etc., shouldn’t worry about this.  But the rest of us, especially the 2/3 of Americans who are overweight (Canadians and Brits are up there too), could use this for extra motivation, if overeating is a problem.

Also, let’s not stop partying, people!  But is every meal a party? every supper?  Not where I come from!!!

And let’s not cold-turkey it and drive ourselves crazy and set ourselves up for failure.  Perhaps a good program to start with/build up to (in the beginning) is the Orthodox Church’s “fasting” schedule.  (That’s “abstaining,” for you Catholics and High Church Protestants.)  Most Wednesdays and Fridays of the year, the 40 days before Christmas, the 40 days before Holy Week, Holy Week itself, the period between Pentecost and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29), the first half of August, and a few other “fast” days throughout the year.  (Old Calendar or New Calendar.)  Before I became Orthodox, but was considering it, I was told I shouldn’t try to fast; spiritually it wasn’t a good idea.  But I see no reason why people not currently considering Orthodoxy couldn’t adopt some or all of its fasting practices as a simple eating program.  Like I’ve said, Orthodox “ascesis” may turn out to be a great idea for the whole human race and the earth!  Fortunately or unfortunately, the decentralized structure of the Orthodox Church means there is not in every sense a uniform practice of fasting.  I could point you to websites that might seem to conflict, or in going overboard in describing the strictest forms of the fast may discourage and demoralize.  What you might want to do is consult an Orthodox parish near you; I’m sure they’d be glad to help!

(*–An experimental community should move to a bubble-enclosed island and mess around with GMOs for a few centuries to make sure they’re safe.  I mean it.  Otherwise, we could f— ourselves for good!)

Emblem for Anglicanism?

Again is a U.S. Orthodox Christian monthly mostly aimed at would-be and recent converts to Orthodoxy from Protestantism.  Its roots are in the former Evangelical Orthodox who joined the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America en masse beginning in 1987, as recounted in the book Becoming Orthodox.  Increasing ‘official’ “liberalism” in the Episcopal Church and Church of England are sending a number of their “conservatives” towards Orthodoxy… one thing I’m sure this particular issue is talking about.  I try to read Again occasionally, but find it mostly ‘too Protestant’ and uncritically (big-R) Republican for my Roman-Catholic-formed tastes, “progressive conservatism,” and Orthodox aspirations.

Be that as it may, as an Irishman I’ve had mixed feelings observing the use of the Celtic cross by Anglicans, in churches, in cemeteries, etc.  Is this like when they put on kilts, after outlawing them and other evidences of Highland life and culture for so long in Scotland?  Or like when White Americans “play Indian” after wiping out as many of us and our cultures as they could?

Fundie Brownshirt mercenary militia contractors “engage” Iraqis?!!

It’s time to stop outsourcing our wars.  Blackwater is clearly doing more than just “personal security,” and it must be a war crime.  Only a nation’s soldiers are allowed to “engage.”  Ironically, these guys are just “unlawful combatants”!!!

Liberal and Conservative, Right and Left, in Canada

Here I’ll help clarify things… or further muddy them!  See, Canadian (and by extension any country using the Classical meanings of “liberal” and “conservative,” ie, most of the world) “liberals” can be what many people consider “right”- OR “left”-wing… and so can Canadian “conservatives.”  I offer this because some discourse in Canada has been infected with American ideologism, which is doing its own muddying of the waters up there!

Left-wing Classical Liberal is what I believe a significant minority of the Canadian Liberal Party’s supporters – though not many of its leaders – are: similar to American “liberal Democrats.”  That’s why its successful leaders have “campaigned from the Left, and governed from the Right.”  Political and social progressivism with individual liberties, a fair bit of government regulation and intervention.  In terms of current Canadian issues: Afghanistan, same-sex marriage, marijuana decriminalization, peacekeeping, English AND French, proto-republicanism/anti-monarchy, health care, etc.  The New Democratic Party (NDP) would mostly fit under this rubric, but being social democratic, go farther in a progressive and labor-oriented direction; and the Bloc Quebecois in the non-nationalistic aspects of its agenda, though somewhat less so – see below.

Right-wing Classical Liberal is what I believe the former Reform/Alliance members and supporters of today’s Conservative Party of Canada are, as well as “Blue Tories,” ie, Peter MacKay and other former Progressive Conservative Party of Canada members and supporters who share much of the Reform/Alliance agenda, and in a big way though not completely, the perrennial leaders of the Liberal Party; identifiable with the U.S. Republican Party as it has increasingly become after Eisenhower.  Political and social regressivism with fewer individual liberties, pro-business, pro-American, more militaristic, very little governmental intervention except in favor of business and against labor, anti-European, North American/isolationist, “red meat” for “conservative” religion, (small-R) republican/anti-monarchy.  Commonly called “neo-conservative” in North America (sometimes “neocon,” even “theocon”), more correctly called “neo-liberal” elsewhere.  To be clearer, the Reform/Alliance are the most right-wing, the Blue Tories less so, and the leading Liberals even less so, but definitely still there (except probably their new Leader, Stephane Dion, and his [very small] coterie).

Right-wing Classical Conservative is almost non-existent in the U.S. and Canada.  Some Roman Catholic traditionalists/ monarchists in both countries would qualify, including some political (as opposed to solely cultural) Jacobites, and some of the radical Papal-loyalists nurtured by the current Pope of Rome and his predecessor.  Anti-democracy, anti-civil liberties, anti-constitutionalism, politically and socially regressive, moralist, very religious and clericalist, aristocratic and monarchist (some might say “absolutist”), medievalist.

Left-wing Classical Conservative is this blog, most Canadians I believe, most Western Europeans I believe(!), even most Americans I think if they knew it was an option – part of why I write!  As I once saw written on a church wall (roughly), “Conserving what needs to be conserved, progressing in what needs to be progressed in.”  I think most recent Liberal Party voters in Canada have done so out of misunderstanding of the former Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, or disgust with its increasingly “Blue” leadership after Diefenbaker; and now since the successful movement (misnamed!*) to “Unite the Right,” because the Liberals seem the only realistic option, the small NDP not yet considered a realistic political option.  (The Liberals lost their majority in the House of Commons mostly because of the Sponsorship Scandal… but only just barely! It was like most of the Palestinians who voted for Hamas to punish Fatah for corruption. Some choice!! The problem with a virtual [or actual] two-party system!)  As I said, the NDP is Canada’s labor/social democratic party, but more than one analyst has detected Classical Conservative notes in socialism, such as a restored sense of society/solidarity and not just individualism, and a restored sense of trying to apply right and wrong in public affairs versus laissez-faire/ dog-eat-dog/ war-of-all-against-all.  And the Bloc Quebecois may be in some ways the exception that proves the rule: Quebec separatism aside, its agenda is very much like the NDP’s.  Why?  Because they’re “socialist”?  Or because they’re Catholic?!! or both?!!  The Catholic Church and faith in traditional senses have had a lower explicit profile in La belle province since its “Quiet Revolution” in the ’60s, but you don’t kill an ancient culture that quickly, and contrary to popular (mostly Protestant) opinion, most First-World RCs are center-left politically and socially today, and may even have been in their own way – the Classical Conservative way – since ancient times!  So Quebec’s Catholicism may still be very implicit in its politics… even if some of them don’t go to church as often as they used to!

In fact, here’s something to think about: Canada has even had some prominent “progressive conservatives” who were considered Marxian!  I guess they’d be the really “Red” Tories!!

(*–Or maybe not, since so many Red Tories have been left homeless by the PC/Alliance party merger!)

Meat-eating causes Global Warming? (Got milk? That too!)

So said the head of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on TV the other day: factory-farming of livestock is a major cause of greenhouse gases, with them farting and burping and pooping so much.*

(My apologies to that lawyer-kid, although in fairness, what we’re talking about here is not “natural processes,” but the astronomical increase in livestock by humanity in recent centuries, now even in the Third World as it too “modernizes” and eats lots more meat.)

In addition, she pointed out that the fires from burning away forest for pasture and farming to feed the beasts, and in so doing taking away trees that remove carbon dioxide from the air, compound the effect.  And of course, it takes alot more crops to produce meat than to feed humans directly with the crops.

Turns out last November the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO [not Schwarz!!]) reported on this.  The animals’ poor diets are part of the problem, and that can be improved with positive benefit GW-wise, but it sure looks like “prosperity” will outstrip those efforts easily:

“With increased prosperity, people are consuming more meat and dairy products every year, the report notes. Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 1999/2001 to 465 million tonnes in 2050, while milk output is set to climb from 580 to 1043 million tonnes.

The global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector. It provides livelihoods to about 1.3 billion people and contributes about 40 per cent to global agricultural output. For many poor farmers in developing countries livestock are also a source of renewable energy for draft and an essential source of organic fertilizer for their crops.”  [Emphasis added.]

Oh, yeah, dairy products too: milk, butter, cheese, casein, yogurt, (sodium) caseinate, lactose, etc etc etc.

But what’s clear is that once again, we “prosperous” of the world consuming all that meat and dairy, are screwing the whole planet, especially the poorest.  But of course, if we consume less meat and dairy, some real people (Screw corporations!) will get less money and thus be harmed.  Therefore what’s needed is a coordinated campaign to consume less meat and dairy, AND “economic conversion” help for the real people harmed thereby.

Makes me think of an idea from recent(?) Catholic and Orthodox fasting/abstaining practice, like for Lent/the Great Fast: The money you “save” from giving up meat (and for Orthodox, dairy also), you don’t bank, but do something better with – traditionally, give to the poor or charity; how about a more direct connection to the real people who make the stuff?!

It can be done.  I don’t eat alot of meat, and I’ve been lactose-intolerant since my religious-inspired vegan stint in the ’90s.  Many flavored soymilks actually taste better than cow’s milk now, and apparently lots of people are foregoing cheese on their pizzas or Mexican food already because of the fat content, so you won’t stick out as much as you/I did even a few years ago!  They’re even fortifying some soymilks with calcium (and other nutrients it lacks), and there are other sources for calcium too.

As for milk for human babies… and even their daddies**…!  For that matter, apparently it’s even possible for many women to “induce lactation” without a recent pregnancy or birth, so they could donate their milk to interested families, reducing human use of cow’s milk even further.  And doing so is real natural birth control, during lactation and for two months to two years after stopping… sure to appeal to many!

(*–This choice of words will bring the kiddies running!!)

(**–As far as I’ve looked into the “adult nursing relationship” concept – by reading only! – the common idea that the partner has to suckle 6-8 times per day around the clock doesn’t seem necessary, as long as the other times the lactating woman expresses instead [to keep the milk flowing]. ISTM the extra milk can be donated, used in cooking – what about cheesemaking? [After all, “Blessed are the cheesemakers“!] – or simply discarded.  NB: Breast milk does contain lactose, so if you’re lactose-intolerant, you might need to see if you can do something about that. The guys quoted on the first page of this PDF seem to think it’s easy, though their research is ten years old, so if it worked you’d think we’d have heard more about it since then, eh? I’d try it, for nothing else but the sake of my next relationship or marriage, but dairy stinks to me since I went off it, like, even fresh milk smells sour to me – not much motivation there!)

“How to Talk to Ann Coulter (If You Must)”

Poignant, funny, ironic… and supposedly not a Leftie!

“True patriot love”

O Canada, our home and native land,
True patriot love in all thy sons command

–Opening lines of the nation’s National Anthem


The next time you as a U.S.’er hear the Canadian national anthem [as opposed to its Royal Anthem, “God Save The Queen”] at a hockey game or Bluejays or Raptors game, be sure and hear the boldface or underlining under “True.”  The rebels who usurped the 80-pct.-Loyal*  13 Colonies called themselves Patriots, and everyone else traitors.  Now, a patriot is someone who loves his or her country.  One may argue over whether British North Americans’ “country” was the nascent British Empire which sponsored and defended them, or its provinces of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, Georgia, or whatever.  But the so-called Patriots loved neither.  They fought for their own “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” – nobody and nothing else … especially anyone who didn’t go along with them.  Maybe most Loyalists stayed, by choice or were unable to afford to leave.  But those who went North, did they set up a similar, narrow, partisan, anti-American state in Canada?  No.  Their only goal, as always, was eventually embodied in three other, older, wiser principles: “Peace, Order, and Good Government.”  This brief discussion of Canadian philosopher John Farthing – I swear that’s his real name – speaks to this too.  The Common Good, the wisdom of the ages, a vote for one’s ancestors, even health care paid for, for those who need it: Then again, maybe it WAS anti-American; “UNamerican,” anyway! ;)Before he died, Canadian-American newsman Peter Jennings – who could nevertheless only bring himself to adopt U.S. citizenship in his final couple years – once offered a poignant image of contrast between his natal and adopted countries, reflecting poorly on the former he thought: If one Mountie stood in front of a crowd surging out of a stadium in Canada, he could stop them in their tracks, whereas no U.S. cop would dream of trying such a feat!  Jennings favored the American ‘free’ spirit and rebelliousness and skepticism … even as he chronicled its sad, tragic results night after night for so many years on TV.  [And they gave him the Order of Canada?!!]  Now, anyone who knows Canadians knows they are far from sheep; in fact, many are more free-spirited and skeptical than many Yanks.  But as someone else pointed out, they don’t pit themselves against their country like the so-called Patriots did; like “true patriots,” they “love” their country, desire to improve it (like “true,” “honourable” Members of the Order of Canada do), don’t worship it ideologically and self-destructively.  If “O Canada … commands … true patriot love,” it’s only because it’s earned it from its people in the first place, not just since 1783 or 1867, but from time immemorial, since “British North America” as an entity, no less than Britain itself, was born on those rainy fields of Great Britain and Ireland millennia ago – a “traditional,” Monarchical system of protective Sovereign, noble persons, and Commons, with no pretense of, but the growing FACT, of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for everyone, even eventually the conquered French and Métis in North America with little claim to the sodden soil of those two Isles of the Northeast Atlantic, as well as their “non-conforming” Irish and Scottish co-religionist immigrants and refugees in Canada, and the unconquered, treatied First Nations there.

Critics of Michael Moore’s new HMO-critical documentary SiCKO call Universal Health Care as practiced (diversely) in Canada as well as the UK and France “communist,” but as he points out, its origins have nothing to do with Marx.  At least for Canada and the UK, ‘progressive conservative’ social democracy has more to do with preachers than with Marx.  There’s real “compassionate conservatism”!  In the end, it’s not ideology or “class warfare,” it’s just the Common Good, the wisdom of the ages, “peace, order, and good government,” “a better country” … even what one British columnist has called “the care ethic” to balance the tired, overworked, underpaid, sick, injured-on-the-job “work ethic”!

So please, think some more about what a “true patriot” is, then and now.

(*–That recent NY Times Magazine piece, and most of the propaganda passing for “American history,” make much of the alleged one-third “Neutral” Americans, “neither Patriot nor Loyalist.”  But by anyone’s definition, someone who doesn’t rebel is Loyal, whether they join a Loyalist Regiment, write pro-King [and Country!] pamphlets, or ‘just’ till their farm quietly hoping to stay out of the way.   Anyway, as I’ve said, I believe John Adams’ one-third estimate of “Patriots” was closer to 20 percent in reality, based on my own research … and that he cooked the books, a practice which of course continues in America today.)

“Canadians fought their wars of independence against the U.S.”

Think about it: 1776, 1812….

From Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor as quoted here: “Since Canadians fought their wars of independence against the United States, it is logical that we should feel a strong suspicion of the mercantilist Whiggery which won the American Revolution.”

That’s a different way of looking at it for us below the 49th Parallel!

(NB: The article and website to which the linked article links seems to reflect more the historical, elitist, Ontario Orangeist,* ‘bootstraps’ Red Toryism, which also had less respect for individual liberties than I propose as an American Red Tory.  The thing is, many internet discussions of Red Toryism cover this old-fashioned, elitist perspective, though it is far from dominant in RTism since, say, WW2.  But this is why it took me so long to find a good discussion of it, though brief… and the need to write my own!)

(*–Ironically, one of the RT philosophical stalwarts these days has been an Anglo-Catholic – even arguably Anglo-Orthodox – Ron Dart!)

Stem-cell “breakthrough” called dangerous, unusable, and is probably still unethical

Read the WHOLE story – it’s short – not the MSM story and the unquestioning “spin.”

What seems problematic to me is this: They reprogrammed skin cells into what?  “Stem cells”?  or EMBRYOS!!!  They produced MICE, not just “cells.”  They seem to be trying to cloak that reality, or hide it through misdirection, like the sleight-of-hand magician.  A “stem cell” that produces a whole individual is more commonly called AN EMBRYO.

The only ethical stem cells would be those that can produce “tissues,” NOT PEOPLE!!!  And not through disabling the embryos either, like that bizarre, morally-bankrupt Rick Santorum proposal from last year.  They have to produce pluripotent stem cells that never had the ability to grow into/BE a person.  What we seem to have here – though I could be corrected – is merely a NEW METHOD OF CLONING, nothing more, nothing less, nothing other.

Where they’d probably have to go ultimately is to be able to reprogram cells into, NOT pluripotent stem cells, but the specific type of tissue-stem-cell needed for the patient involved; ie, take skin cells or cheek cells or whatever, and turn them directly into whatever tissue the patient needs at that time – nerve stem cells, bone stem cells, muscle stem cells, etc. – without passing through a stage that could (have) or did result(ed) in producing a clone.  ISTM this research suggests that may be doable, we’d just have to find the right genes to turn on, and limit the damage from the retroviruses, tissue cancers, accelerated tissue aging (Dolly, etc.), etc.  And find them without creating clones by accident along the way… or if we do, letting them live.

There’s my positive, constructive challenge to the scientific community.  OK?

Aussie Cardinal probed by lawmakers on cloning threat

Catholic Cardinal of Sydney threatens Catholic members of New South Wales state legislature (called Parliament) with “consequences” if they vote to end state ban on therapeutic cloning.  The upper chamber of this parliament, called the Legislative Council (the lower chamber is called the Legislative Assembly), opens probe to see if his public comments violate any laws.

I don’t understand calling it “contempt of parliament,” since it doesn’t sound like he was testifying to parliament when he made the statement, just speaking publicly… nor refusing to testify under subpoena… the only times I believe contempt of Congress could be charged in the U.S.

Nevertheless, maybe he should look to Rome for marching orders, since there are ‘safer’ ways of making the point that, as recently raised in connection with pro-choice legislation in Latin America by various Catholic officials and even the pope, they might view not toeing the party line as self-excommunication.

He has every right to provide spiritual and ethical guidance to his adherents, even politicians among them, even publicly and broadly – though if he and others like him were better pastors and teachers, they might not have to.

Can you imagine the New York Legislature investigating Cardinal Egan?!!

Assorted Monarchy, etc., reflections

If everybody’s sovereign, nobody’s sovereign, and nobody’s subject, so those who can, will do whatever they wish, to whomever they wish.

For Christians, the Christian God is sovereign (hence the title “Lord”) over all Creation, and human sovereigns serve subject to Him, accountable to Him.

The Monarchy in England/Britain was always among the people, representing the Sovereignty of the people, the Nation.  They weren’t “angels in the form of men,” and they weren’t perfect, but they were part of a system.

In the American Constitution what we have is less a system where different branches, divided branches, and levels of government, check each other’s abuses, than a CABAL – ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine.’  (At least in Britain acts of government need the Sovereign’s assent, somebody who can say NO to the cabal.  If government acts needed “the sovereign’s” assent here, we’d all get to vote on every government measure – which of course would be inefficient.)  But this may be how the “Founding Fathers” and “Framers” intended it, wealthy White planters and traders – CABAL – that they were.  Certainly no President of the Executive Branch has ever been removed from office – have we really finally “found angels in the form of men to govern us”?!!! – and no State has ever stood in the way of Federal abuses.  (Though I’m not against the Federal government blocking State abuses, as happened not infrequently in the second half of the 20th century.)  Deals between the Houses of Congress and the Executive Branch go on all the time, and the politicization of the Supreme Court and the rest of the Federal Bench has become legendary.

“In a republic the people reign, they do not rule.”  Who rules?  Our cabalistas, the influential persons connected with our all-but-sovereign corporations, our ignoble rich, the pseudo-educated “neocons,” the big media barons, and the power-mad, hypocritical leaders of conservative Evangelical and Fundamentalist sects… as well as all who truly follow or emulate any of these.

If government excludes Nobles, then the ignoble will predominate!

“Law” used to be a combination of judicial precedent/”wisdom of the court,” legal and political custom, tradition, faith, morality, learned analysis, justice, solidarity, ‘what should be,’ the needs of society, as well as the interplay among Monarchy, Royal advisers and generals, governmental Administrators, Church Hierarchy (bishops and abbots), Lay Nobility, and elected Representatives of the Commons; etc.  Now it’s whatever a short-sighted, selfish, activist, falsely-influential minority from day to day says it is.  Such false democratism needs to be balanced by other things.

There is no “people of the United States” outside the non-legally-binding Preamble to the Constitution of 1787.  There are only the peoples of the Several States.

Maybe the Monarchy Party should change its name to the Crown-and-People Party!

Restoring the representation of State legislative houses in the U.S. Senate would restore the dignity of the U.S. House of Representatives and of the States, and provide more check on the Executive Branch.  But no statewide campaigning or “non-binding” elections should be allowed, so Senators truly represent the States as States again, as bodies politic, ie, their legislative chambers, and not campaign contributors/bribers.

Then we institute full public campaign financing for the House of Representatives, to remove their beholdenness to contributors/bribers also.

Either House of Congress should be able to Impeach, requiring the other House to try its Impeachments.  The present model is based on the UK Parliament, where the Commons impeaches, and the Lords, who traditionally include a judicial function, try impeachments; but the U.S. Senate has never had a judicial function otherwise.  (Of course now in the UK, where they look fixed to remove the Law Lords from Parliament into a new Supreme Court, this distinction between even the Houses of Parliament would cease to exist, giving even less reason for it in America.)

Responsible Government (ie, “parliamentary”) needs limitations on it to mitigate the occasional phenomenon of virtual “elective dictatorship.”

There are more guns per capita in Canada than in the U.S.  Why do more Americans than Canadians shoot each other, or die of accidental gunshot wounds?

It’s easier to prevail upon the morality, wisdom, etc., of one Monarch, than of 218 (or 290) out of 435 members of the House of Representatives, 51 (or 60, or 67) out of 100 Senators, one President, and five out of nine Supreme Court Justices.  On the other hand, it’s easier to suborn the latter than the former, especially if she is unbribeable and not subject to electoral politics.

The Founders and Framers were two-faced.  When it served their purposes, they treated the King of Great Britain as an absolute despot when even in the late 18th century he was limited by his Council and relations with Parliament; yet they treated many Colonial governors as limited by their Councils, when they were ultimately answerable only to London.  So why didn’t they give the President a Council?  They gave him more power than the Kings of England had since the Reformation!  They didn’t even limit him to two terms!!

Was Communist Albania history’s first “atheistic state”… or was (small-R) republican America?!

The ethnic nationalism that grips Orthodox Churches has to be overcome.  Maybe Victoria Clark has it right after all: ‘Phyletism vs. Hesychasm,’ ie, Tribalism vs. inclusive, pan-Orthodox repentance and humility and prayer and faithfulness and communion (koinonia).  OCs in the West aren’t supposed to be so distinguished by immigrant background, nor Orthodox countries in ‘the East’ by pseudo-religious flag-waving, nor their hierarchies by whining and prostrating to the West.  Of course, these phenomena are common in the West too – in fact they’ve been furthered by the West for two centuries – but that’s not my Church, mine by choice is Orthodoxy.

Commandments to humanity at Creation?

In the Book of Genesis, God tells humanity to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion.”  Some “Christians” use this as religious cover to dismiss concern about the apparent ability of the planet to sustain many more human beings [or at least, many more First-World human beings!!!], and to destroy the environment.  But it occurs to me that these commands were given before the Fall.  After the Fall, humanity’s chief concern is different: to reunite with God in His Uncreated Energies/Activities.

Traditionally more than a few Orthodox have tried to collaborate with God through monasticism, ie, a lifestyle of NOT multiplying, and of using as little of the earth as possible.  Even practicing Orthodox laity try to include some of this asceticism in their lives, including abstaining from marital relations most Wednesdays and Fridays, during the four Fasting Periods (“lents”) of the year, several other prescribed days each year, any nights before and after receiving Communion… as well as the fast-related dietary self-restrictions during these periods, and in the weeks leading up to the Great Fast (ie, Great Lent, or just Lent, the pre-Pascha/Easter fast).  I believe many of these practices persist among Eastern Catholics, and some of them persisted among Latins (Catholics of Western Rite) before the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, and among many older Latins even afterward – though since the ’60s they have all retained the practices of fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent, and some bishops seem to want to bring back the year-round “fish on Fridays” practice.

Furthermore, a number of Protestant groups embrace what might be called a certain neo-asceticism, such as Amish, Mennonites, some Quakers, some individual liberal mainstream Protestants, and even some “conservative” Protestants, under the rubric of “How ought a Christian to live?”  Some pacifists extend their ethic to “simple living,” or at least advocating it, in the spirit of 1700s New Jersey Quaker John Woolman, who sought to remove from his life anything containing “the seeds of war,” including profiting from slave labor and foreign trade in unnecessary clothing accessories.  (In fact, he predicted the U.S. Civil War.)

As I have reflected previously, greater asceticism may be the lifestyle of the next two thousand years, as we face Global Warming, Peak Oil, and the other coming difficulties – lest we destroy ourselves even before the Lord returns in Glory!  Though as He said, ‘Don’t go around moping, unwashed, in ratty clothes, but smile, clean up, dress adequately’ (more or less!).  For Orthodox, asceticism is the privilege of collaborating with God in this world, and becoming more God-like (NOT “god-like”)!

Unanswered Prayers???—In my extensive research o…

Unanswered Prayers???—In my extensive research only Orthodox Christianity knows what’s up with “unanswered prayers.” Orthodox petitions to God in their fullest and best form say things like “grant their saving petitions” (for other people) or “which conduce to salvation” or “worldly and spiritual goods” and so forth.

The first concern of Orthodox Christianity is “the salvation of our souls and bodies.” That is, that God the Trinity–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit–may “have mercy on us and save us,” restore us to harmony with Him, to God-like-ness, to the way He made us originally (Adam and Eve) and still intends for us–soul and body–here and now or at least in the hereafter. So this is kept in mind whenever Orthodox use the above petition-formulae. It’s not just gimme, gimme, gimme; it’s, “I’d like this perceived good, Lord, but most of all, Thy salvation, so Thou callest the shots!”

Another point is placing the expressed concern of the petition under God’s care and administration, as our entire life should be, versus being a control-freak: “Got this problem, Lord, take care of it, OK? It’s under Your protection anyway, and You know best.” Like the old Quaker once said, “I’m not always of my own opinion!”

Finally, the “answer” may be in a form you’re not looking for, or it may become clearer years later. As St. Paul said, “Consider that God’s patience is directed toward your salvation.”

Any of these points can be expressed in a repressive way. My experience of Orthodoxy is different from that, because it’s so different from and alien to Western Christianity, and so much better, if you give it a chance. “Come and see!”