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!

Advertisements

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.

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!

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.”)