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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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!

Is eHarmony a cult?

Yes, it’s true, I was rejected by eHarmony.  Now I know why: I’m not a wussy.  I’m a real human being, not some ’50s fundamentalist Ozzie-and-Harriet clone.  “Obstreporousness“?  What gall!  Basically you have to be a total doormat – or some cultist.  (I never knew Jim Jones’ full name was James Warren Jones.  Neil Clark Warren?  Hmmm … any relation?!!)

BTW, according to m-w.com, “obstreporous” doesn’t mean “can’t be pleased.”  Interestingly, it does mean “stubbornly resistant to control.”  Control, huh?  Especially when you look at the questions and the required answers, I seriously think some cult watchers should investigate this outfit.  What happens to these ‘shiny happy people’ long-term?  What happens to some of eHarmony’s ‘rejects’ short- and long-term?: I’m not a cult expert, but I do know that this kind of emotional manipulaton is typical of cults!  ‘Oh please I’ll do whatever you want just make me feel that hope again!’

F’KOFF!

There’s even at least one accusation of fraud against eHarmony, though obviously I can’t verify it.

Strangely, it’s a serious compromise of Warren’s Fundamentalism to make use of the term “soulmate,” since he must know it comes from reincarnation theology, but totally unChristian!  He must be really desperate for disciples, money, and/or deceiving non-Fundies who may actually believe in soulmates.

All of a sudden I’m glad they rejected me!

PS: A post here (search for text “eharmony cult”) suggests that eHarmony’s employees may be the cult, reminding me of that suicide cult of space-worshiping New Age computer techies from a few years ago….  OK, time for a serious probe, before they off themselves … and take God knows how many others with them!

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!

Could a State join Canada?

The article from the last post is about people in Maine interested in having that State secede to Canada.  The author lightly opines, “we would need to change our system of government to Canadian standards and start calling ourselves a province.”

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT.

A State is a sovereign, like “the State of Israel;” a province is a subdivision of a sovereign, like the provinces of the Roman Empire, or of many countries today.  When the UK colonies of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia (as we now call them, more or less) decided to get together in 1867, after watching the Union of sovereign States to the south go through a bloodbath of a  Civil War, they decided they wanted ‘a more perfect union,’ and so remained provinces (as all Britain’s North American colonies were sometimes called), legally giving more power to the central “Confederation” they were creating, Canada.  (Up there this word denotes the exact opposite of what it does for Americans, reflecting on the traditional propaganda about America’s previous “weak Articles of Confederation.”)

It’s true that after over a century of legal adjustments, court rulings (especially by the Brits aiming to protect the constitutive Provinces from Federal encroachment), and political compromises, Canada today seems among the world’s loosest federations, and it’s common to say the Provinces are “co-sovereign” with the Confederation (or Dominion), in almost American terms.  And while, in theologian Stanely Hauerwas’ perfect phrase, “there may be no denying the descriptive power of this statement,” and the Provinces of Canada may have evolved nearly into sovereign States, it still remains a bit of an exaggeration, constitutionally speaking.

Let me elucidate.  As described in their unilateral Declaration of Independence, 13 of the colonies / provinces to the south considered themselves “free and independent States” on or about July 4, 1776 – and they meant States, not State.  Over the next 11 years several wars among them almost broke out, one-on-one affairs IIRC, including New York vs. New Hampshire over the territory claimed by yet another one, the independent Republic of Vermont which everyone forgets, which wasn’t cooperating much with the other 13 at all, sought to exchange ambassadors with the Mother Country, and even to reunite with it!  So in 1787, when a mostly-secret “convention” proposed their “more perfect union,” one thing these “free and independent States” didn’t give up was sovereignty.  The new (written) Constitution merely delegated some of these States’ sovereign attributes or powers or rights to the Union, retaining all those not explicitly delegated.  In this arrangement, similar in species to the “pooled sovereignty” often referred to in connection with the European Union, these States and their Union were definitely co-sovereign (though the term isn’t used in the U.S., being of more-recent Canadian coinage), the Union in the areas delegated to it, and the States in every other way.  American law takes this very seriously, even though the States delegated to the Union powers the world usually considers primary reflections of sovereignty, such as international relations, defense, and currency … and even though there’s been some growth of Federal power due to Constitutional Amendments and court rulings down through the years.  Perhaps the best illustration of this is the fact that not just any case can be appealed to Federal courts; it has to be “a Federal matter,” otherwise the State courts have the last word.

(This came up after the 2000 Presidential Election.  As you may have heard, we don’t actually elect the President of [the Executive Branch of] the United States, Presidential Electors do.  And these Electors are State officers, not Federal.  Each State legislature is completely free to prescribe how to choose its Presidential Electors.  In the first place, as the mischievous Florida Legislative Republicans reminded us, Electors don’t have to be popularly elected; it’s up to each State.  [Though it’s debatable whether they would’ve gotten away with changing the rules after the fact. Would the U.S. Supreme Court have been that brazen?]  More importantly, how each State elects its officers is entirely its own business, and not normally “a Federal matter.”  Therefore, most of us considered that the Federal courts had no business hearing GW Bush’s appeal from the Florida Supreme Court regarding interpretation of Florida’s election laws and administration, by its own State courts.  To get around this, Bush had to concoct a laughable argument that his civil rights – a Federal matter – would be violated if every vote were counted in the counties in which Republican shenanigans were alleged by the Al Gore campaign and many others.  This was an argument of the proverbial “legal mind: the ability to think about something intimately related to something else, without thinking about that to which it is related”: Civil Rights, intended to protect Blacks from re-enslavement after the Civil War, used to deny many Florida Blacks and others the electoral franchise accorded them in this contest under Florida law!  [This is exactly the same area of law that supposedly bestowed human rights on corporations in the U.S., and of course the irony is identical. It’s also the kind of reasoning made famous by the medieval {Western, Catholic} Scholastic philosophers and theologians, now employed by a son of the Protestant Reformation, a Methodist: rationalizing about how many teeth a horse was allowed to have based on made-up prior principles … instead of opening his mouth and counting them!!!  Instead of rationalizing, Florida law provided that the winner of the election would be determined by counting the votes cast.  WHAT A F*CKING CONCEPT!!!]  In a tragic example of expansion of Federal power by court ruling, the Federal courts allowed Bush, and ultimately so did a partisan Supreme Court – although they sure didn’t want their ruling used against  Republicans, when they said, in flagrant violation of every legal principle and tradition this country – and all Common Law countries – supposedly stand on, that their ruling shouldn’t be used as a precedent in any future case.  So much for independent judiciary and rule of law … and the last 7 years of American and world history!  Yes, Canada, courts aren’t always legally correct.)

This is the opposite of what happened in Canada in 1867: the Fathers of Confederation delegated to the Provinces some powers, rights, and privileges, delineated others as shared by the Confederation and Provinces, with the rest remaining with the Confederation.  Arguably, legally, the Provinces are creatures of the Confederation – and hence Provinces – even though they antedated it!

For comparison purposes, in 1901 the drafters of the Australian Commonwealth constitution, fearful of a Canadian-style (theoretically) stronger center, went more with the American model again, on behalf of the federating colonies there.  And so Australia’s constitutive parts, like America’s, are sovereign States, not Provinces – and BTW, their State viceregal officers Governors instead of Lieutenant-Governors.  (Which brings up another illustration: Canadian Provinces have LGs because historically they are lieutenants to the Governor General, even Federal employees, appointed on Federal Advice, not Provincial employees, clearly subordinating the Provinces to the Federal Crown, in spite of the fact that they can have “Her Majesty In Right of” a Province … even suing “Her Majesty In Right of Canada”!)

This is not to say that a State can’t create additional sovereign States; in fact it’s alleged to have happened in a number of newer “federal” countries, essentially constituting their subdivisions Sovereigns in certain areas.  The Holy Roman Emperors even bestowed actual sovereignty on some of their subject principalities (while they remained subject).  I fully expect this century that some Canadian court will find Canada’s Provinces are, have always been, or have become, Sovereign States.  Whether this would require formally reopening the constitution, or could take effect by itself in the British tradition of uncodified constitutional evolution, I don’t know.  Or else Provinces will insist on (greater) involvement in nominating their LGs, and then, on the exclusive right.  Quasi-American Alberta might even be the first to declare itself a (Canadian[?]) State!

Nevertheless, the question before us for now is whether, as the words of the columnist quoted atop this post suggest, an American State would have to give up Statehood to join Canada.  (I doubt she had this question in mind, so I must take full blame myself!)

Before answering it, just for the record, let’s establish whether Maine and other things like it in the U.S. really are States.  After all, only 13 States formed the Union … Vermont joined having formerly been independent just as they … so did Texas, maybe California … that’s it.  The rest were carved out of Federally-controlled/occupied “Territories” (including Indian Lands), settled by Whites and others from elsewhere, then elevated to Statehood and “admitted to the Union.”  But if we accept that sovereigns can create other sovereigns, that’s OK.

So.  Could the Canadian Confederation include both Provinces and States?  Well apparently there’s such a thing as “asymmetrical federalism,” best illustrated by the Russian Federation at this time, the Holy Roman Empire previously (sort of).  But theoretically two ‘levels’ both claiming all but delegated powers would seem to cancel each other out!  Furthermore, Maine residents would be used to the theory of the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, saving an undetermined reservoir of rights to them even against the government of Maine … as well as the whole three centuries of experience with The Common Law of Maine (including Massachusetts before Maine’s separation from it).  Section 26 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms brings the 9th Amendment into Canada so to speak, but only insofar as it relates to “any other rights or freedoms that exist in Canada”: here’s one place where the competing “residual powers” doctrines collide head-on, because Mainers might not want to give up U.S. or Maine Unenumerated Rights, especially if they don’t know the extent of what they’d be giving up – kind of like the reluctance to codify the Royal Prerogative for fear of leaving out something that’ll become important in the future.  Then again, not knowing might make it easier for the Mainers!  Aside from this perhaps academic conundrum, in terms of legal systems it might go OK, since each Province does have its own version of the Common Law already, we’d just be adding Maine’s to the mix.  Maybe even the Residual conflict could be finessed with words saving as much of what each side is used to already as practicable.

What’s Admission look like?  Several of the relevantly-named documents here convey an idea, although they all cover admission of British territories … without a lapse of 250 years! 😉

Does Maine remain a State in all this?  I don’t see why not.  The physics of the balance of powers between State and Federal might be shuffled slightly in the move from the USA to Canada, and some shared powers would probably be introduced that America isn’t used to constitutionally … but then again, in reality America has evolved some degree of sharing via Federal mandates and/or funding, it’s just that the method and tone are very different, less ‘interactive’ you might say!

Then there’s the matter of the 3 Indian Reservations and associated Trust Lands in Maine (our example).  I don’t believe Canada holds lands in trust for First Nations groups or individuals like the U.S. Federal government does.  Quite a bit of the U.S. is actually Indian Trust Lands!  The U.S. exploits the land, pursuant to Treaties, and is supposed to collect the revenues and forward them to the Tribes or individual Indians who own them.  (They’ve been screwing this up for years though – so bad they even had to take down their website? – and Indians suing the government allege they’re out 12 Billion dollars all tolled!  Maybe they’d have better luck going to the Chinese!)  Especially Out West, Trust Lands have farms or ranches on them, or mineral extraction, or even towns, counties, railroads, highways, etc.  I don’t know how much land we’re talking about in Maine, but they originally claimed more than 2/3 of the State on the basis of unratified Treaties before a settlement agreement in 1980.  There’s also the matter of the Reserves themselves.  I’m not too familiar with Indian Law in Canada, and it’s pretty rough down here, but there’s the potential to consider that Reserves and Tribes are in fact subject sovereign States themselves (the 1800s Supreme Court’s “domestic dependent nations,” as bad as that sounds!), and my impression is that Tribal self-governance and Sovereignty are farther along here than in Canada.  For that matter, there are also a fair number of French-speakers in Maine … and the theory that most of them are Métis, facing potential recognition under the Canadian constitution as Aboriginal North Americans, and whatever that may entail – adjudication of Aboriginal Rights, Land Title, Sovereignty, hunting and trapping rights….

Does Canada accept a State though?  Well, talks with Maine might “call the question” of the Statehood of the other Provinces anyway.  OTOH, constitutional sticklers might consider it too great a risk to the union; as I’ve said, courts aren’t always legally correct.

As for the columnist’s other comment, “we would need to change our system of government to Canadian standards,” the British North America Act 1867 presumes the kind of government the Provinces have now, ie, the Lieutenant-Governor appointed by the Governor General (on advice of the Prime Minister) in The Queen’s name, governing with the advice of a Ministry retaining the confidence of (in Maine’s case I guess the lower house of) the legislature; and a legislature consisting of the LG and its one or two houses.  ISTM any deviation from this would require a Constitutional Amendment.

Another way might be a Treaty of Union between all Canada and Maine, or USA and Canada with respect to Maine, which Canada could simply receive into its law as constitutional legislation.

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.)

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.”)

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….

“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?! 😉

The Court of Star Chamber

Who do we hear from that the ‘infamous’ Court of Star Chamber was bad news?  According to Wikipedia, we might hear it from lower English courts, the powerful who could escape the judgment of lower courts (perhaps because they were on their own manor!), or who could get off on a technicality(!), libellors (sp?) and traitors and conspirators and rebels (ie, usually those who put themselves above the Common Good and loyalty and honor), the landed gentry, (big) landowners in Wales, of course its convicts and their partisans, Sectarian Protestants including Puritans (who of course later themselves tried “witches” and mutilated “blasphemers” and “adulterers/esses”!), early news media(!)….  Later on, Classical Liberals and modernists, American Revolutionaries and (small-R) republicans, Whig historians – ie, the dominant kind – on both sides of the Pond….

Of course, I don’t defend abuse of power, and the justice system has “come a long way, baby.”  But we tend to forget – or not know – four things:

  1. Constitutionally in Commonwealth Realms the Monarch is the Fount of Justice, a role they traditionally took very seriously and personally, especially regarding the depredations of their rivals for power, the nobility and the ‘politicians’ of the era, against us lower sorts and the Common Good.  In fact some say before Anglo-Saxon kings were rulers per se, they were supreme judges, and even early-on in the Middle Ages spent more time hearing cases than any other duty.  Now they delegate most of that responsibility to trained, (ideally) impartial judges, and juries when applicable.  But for a monarch to be that involved in justice – for good or for ill – was not unusual in that day and age.  (For that matter, Monarchs were still considered able to even make law by themselves, without running it through the Houses of Parliament!  Technically they still may, but normally wouldn’t risk it!!)
  2. The judges of Star Chamber were Privy Counsellors.  To this day the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council functions as a supreme court for the UK, and the supreme court for several other Commonwealth countries and territories, ie, The Queen in Council.  Not so weird there either.
  3. There was little if any sense of “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” before the Stuart Restoration and religious toleration (of Protestants) – late 1600s, post-Star Chamber.  Before that, active opposition to the Monarch in any way at all was considered disloyal, a sentiment sadly we’re not unfamiliar with in the States still today!  A king would’ve been seen as weak, and possibly taken further advantage of – even to the detriment of the Common Good and public order – if he didn’t prosecute those who undermined his policy.  Today Commonwealth democracy relies on Loyal Opposition to help it work right, so it’s easy to forget … and a lesson extreme partisans of the Chief Executive of the day in “presidential republics” would do well to learn.  (What does religion have to do with it?  After a century of tumult between “No bishop, no King,” and Puritan dictatorship, England was ready for the idea that people could disagree in good conscience without betraying the Realm.  Mostly-nonviolent, conscientious Quakers, a dissident sect who differed with, but got along with, both Cromwell and Charles II, had something to do with it.)
  4. A main purpose for Star Chamber was equity, justice when ‘the letter of the law’ failed to render justice.  Today most courts in England and America have been mandated to judge according to equity if necessary.

Just some things to think about….

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?

“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!)

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”)!