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”….)

“Settler” irony: Muslims in Europe

An email purporting to represent a speech given by a Dutch ultranationalist MP, making the rounds, includes the following:

Muslim demands are supported by unlawful behavior, ranging from petty crimes and random violence, for example against ambulance workers and bus drivers, to small-scale riots. Paris has seen its uprising in the low-income suburbs, the banlieus. I call the perpetrators ‘settlers’. Because that is what they are. They do not come to integrate into our societies; they come to integrate our society into their Dar-al-Islam. Therefore, they are settlers.

Ain’t colonial/imperialist blowback a b*tch?  I hear some Mexican Indians (ie, Native Americans) are converting to Islam too.  I don’t celebrate at all … but what goes around does come around.  Is it too late for any other solution besides war or genocide this time?

“Muslim-Americans”

Why do MSM use an expression, Muslim-American (with or without hyphen), as if it’s an ethnic background or something?  We don’t hear about Protestant-Americans or Catholic-Americans or even Orthodox-Americans or Mormon-Americans (though arguably many Mormons, like most Jews, are an ethnic group, not just — or even necessarily — religious).

I think maybe they’re trying to be sensitive, if unknowledgeable.  Remember when NJ Gov. Jim McGreevey came out of the closet as “a gay American”?  I dunno….

The fact is, American Muslims may be immigrants, or born here.  They may be Arab-Americans, Iranian/Persian-Americans, Afghan-Americans, Pakistani-Americans, Turkish-Americans, Kosovar-Americans, Albanian-Americans, Indo-Americans, Bangladeshi-Americans, Indonesian-Americans, Malaysian-Americans, even African-Americans … again, born here, or immigrants.  And lots more.

The plot thickens.  Arab-Americans may be Muslim, Orthodox Christian, Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, Protestant, atheist, Syriac Christian, Sufi, etc. (listed only in the order they occurred to me, without any prejudice … except in favor of the Orthodox!).

It’s like a-whole-nother world!!!  And most of us are clueless….

Real Healthcare Reform: A Medical Mission to *America*

I’ve previously advocated for a religious order of lawyers and inspiring Orthodox Christians to similar kinds of social service/philanthropia(Of course, a religion doesn’t have to be Catholic or Orthodox to do these kinds of things. Do they?)

Well, as I’ve pointed out, one of Catholicism’s great works in its Third World missions and service commitments has been medical.  Yes, the Medical Mission Sisters sang (and apparently still do!), but they and/or their coworkers also did/do alot of stuff we in this country ourselves now go poor paying others to do.  I won’t call most U.S. medical professionals “mercenary” … but among the most-loved Orthodox Saints are the Holy UNmercenary Physicians and Healersanargyroi in Greek, “without silver/money” literally.  Well, not literally, because somebody had to help them pay the farmer, the baker, and the candlestick maker; but it often wasn’t their impoverished, sick patients.  And the Catholics just declared the sainthood of the famous and much-loved Fr. Damien de Veuster of Molokai, who (apparently coincidentally) bore the name of one of the greatest Orthodox Unmercenaries, and went there from his native Belgium to serve the leper colony even without a medical qualification, only to die of the disease himself there years later.  More pointedly, perhaps the other best-known Unmercenary (besides Cosmas and Damian), Panteleimon, was martyred for undercutting his fellow physicians, pagans, on account of his Christianity!  (Talk about a patron saint of Healthcare Reform!)

There are still Catholic Sisters and Brothers doing medical service here, but I’d guess far fewer than in former generations, amid the plummeting numbers of Catholic Religious and priestly vocations in general, and the aging of those who remain.  Today they may have secular lay (in the religious sense) coworkers and collaborators, and lay boards of trustees running Catholic hospitals and such, but as I’ve said previously, you can’t beat Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, for “cost-cutting” measures, and in any case Catholic medical institutions without a doubt, just like Catholic schools, are part of the skyrocketing cost of healthcare (or education, respectively) in this country.  We’re not exactly Third World (mostly, though visit Southern Appalachia, the Deep South, and some key Indian Reservations), but as has been said, we’re not getting our money’s worth either, especially compared to the rest of the so-called Developed World, and even some countries not first thought of under that label.

Obviously the Latin Church’s traditional 3 “Evangelical Counsels,” the vows most members of religious orders take, are of less appeal today than in former times, especially to American Protestants and non-Christians.  But  if Third World service doesn’t appeal to some, maybe service closer to home will.  And as I suggested in both previous articles, even halfway measures approaching “the vows” — for a few years if not for life, maybe married or marrying, in (prudent) shared housing or at home, more-organized and “religified” associates and collaborators, even fundraising to support those who serve — would help economically.

Maybe even spiritually!

([BLEEP!]  We Orthodox better do it before the Latins think of it and stage a comeback!!! 😉 )

But think of it: 1/3 of a billion people, fully 5 percent of humanity, being bled dry by the structural evils* of their healthcare system … the world’s leading economy, whose ups and downs influence the economic downs of the rest of humanity as we see today….  What good, what caritas, what philanthropia could be done for the world even here….

(*–Scroll down to the mention of the Brian Wren lyric … including the warning about how to observe the unquoted rest of that hymn.)

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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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Was England’s claim to N. America pre-empted by Norway?

At its recent Church convention, the Episcopal Church of the United States, traditionally America’s branch of the Anglican Communion, denounced the late-medieval “Discovery Doctrine” which encouraged / justified (Western) Christian nations’ annexation and exploitation of newly-discovered non-Christian lands, nations, peoples, and persons.  This appears to be at this time an unofficial or ‘semifinal’ version of the adopted resolution, minus the strikeouts.  They also call on the Successor of one royal perpetrator of this legal doctrine, in her capacity as “Supreme Governor” of their Sister Church, the Church of England, Queen Elizabeth II, to also repudiate it … for their government lobbyists to press overturning this legal basis for a kind of suzerainty over Native American Tribes with the U.S. Government … and for their member dioceses and adherents to support Tribes’ struggles for their God-given rights as Indigenous Nations.

As Wikipedia relates, this “doctrine” backed-up Western European overlordship of Indigenous Peoples not previously Christianized.  Commonly it was considered for the “heathens’ ” own good, as well as providing cover for all the depredations Indigenous have suffered at their hands and those of their “legal successors,” including the United States, down to the present.  More to the point, also for the seizure of their lands and resources, especially all the gold that was rumored to be here.  I don’t know enough about the claimed legalities beyond this, for Spanish- and Portuguese-claimed territories … but for English, “the rule of law,” i.e., the English Common Law, eventually developed at least a legal fiction of respect for existing inhabitants of lands they were interested in acquiring, as having actual legal rights to or in those lands, as long as they lived in them — rights to which ambitious English rulers and explorers needed to at least pay lip-service.  (Remember, this is the system wherein the lawyer asks his client, “What do you WANT the law to say?”!)  This was an evolving thing, as I’ve said previously here.

American relevance was nailed down (supposedly) by Chief Justice John Marshall in an 1823 case.  He stated that on the plot of land at issue, in Illinois, England/Great Britain had “discovered” and taken precedence over the Natives, whether directly or by treaty(!) from France, and the United States succeeded to British “rights” therein.  Therefore, Native Nations had limited rights to their own lands and resources, Britain/America having ultimate determining legal authority, at least vis a vis other European powers.  The idea included reducing the Europeans’ habit of going to war with each other; Indigenous didn’t matter!  (Though England came preferring to acquire their rights by “treating with them,” i.e., treaties — even if these, too, often became “legal fictions”!)

Here’s Marshall’s language I want to focus on (emphasis added by me):

The states of Holland also made acquisitions in America and sustained their right on the common principle adopted by all Europe. They allege, as we are told by Smith in his History of New York, that Henry Hudson, who sailed, as they say, under the orders of their East India Company, discovered the country from the Delaware to the Hudson, up which he sailed to the 43d degree of north latitude, and this country they claimed under the title acquired by this voyage.

Their first object was commercial, as appears by a grant made to a company of merchants in 1614, but in 1621 the States General made, as we are told by Mr. Smith, a grant of the country to the West India Company by the name of New Netherlands.

The claim of the Dutch was always contested by the English — not because they questioned the title given by discovery, but because they insisted on being themselves the rightful claimants under that title. Their pretensions were finally decided by the sword.

No one of the powers of Europe gave its full assent to this principle more unequivocally than England. The documents upon this subject are ample and complete. So early as the year 1496, her monarch granted a commission to the Cabots to discover countries then unknown to Christian people and to take possession of them in the name of the King of England. Two years afterwards, Cabot proceeded on this voyage and discovered the continent of North America, along which he sailed as far south as Virginia. To this discovery the English trace their title.

In this first effort made by the English government to acquire territory on this continent we perceive a complete recognition of the principle which has been mentioned. The right of discovery given by this commission is confined to countries “then unknown to all Christian people,” and of these countries Cabot was empowered to take possession in the name of the King of England. Thus asserting a right to take possession notwithstanding the occupancy of the natives, who were heathens, and at the same time admitting the prior title of any Christian people who may have made a previous discovery.

Here’s the problem: Since around the Millennium, North America* had been “known to the Christian people” of Norway, as mentioned here.  The Norse main settlements were in Greenland.  But knowledge of the lands to Greenland’s west is undeniable from approximately then, which was about the same time those colonists became Christians.  Even if you give no credence whatsoever to my foster-kinsman St. Brendan, Carthaginian Early Christian monks in Connecticut, the alleged succession of Catholic Titular (absentee) Bishops of the village of Gardar, Greenland and Vinland, and as-yet-undiscovered Icelandic Sagas, etc etc etc, living knowledge came down to the first Lutheran bishop of Greenland before he attained to that title by venturing there in 1721 in hopes of rescuing the many-centuries-old and long-isolated colony from Catholicism(!–or Orthodoxy!!) or apostasy … not finding them (as far as he knew!) … and setting out to evangelize the Native Inuit (Eskimos) instead(!).

But Britain did not treat with Norway or Norway’s sometime sovereign Denmark for any of its North American rights (under European law), nor did it acquire them “by the sword.”  Now, it is not currently known that any Norse (or their Mixed-Blood descendants) survived here until 1492 or ’96.  However, the Cabots’ charter did not say, as later English ones, “not actually possessed by any Christian prince,” merely “unknown to all Christian people.”  Christian Norway’s “knowledge” of this northern landmass may have been obscure at that time, but it was knowledge:  Norway “discovered” North America before England did!

So what?  As one commentator to the story at the website of the newspaper Indian Country Today reminds us all,

Just better be careful that you don’t also overturn our sovereignty while overturning Johnson v. M’Intosh. Too many times, an unideal but working scenario gets scrapped when ‘reformers’ come in and start changing things. I present as evidence term limits, ‘independent’ legislative redistricting and other such ‘reform’ scenarios that have contributed mightily to the current state of ideological gridlock that grips both federal and state governing bodies.

I know enough about law and history, and more about courts, judges, lawyers, and politicians, to take this counsel seriously!  Also, although today Norway is a rather politically correct place, who knows about the future?  Is it a case of The Devil You Know over The Devil You Don’t Know?!  Though it might be interesting to see Washington and Ottawa have to re-negotiate their independence with PC Oslo!

One might say that Norway has never pressed its claim, challenging Britain, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, or anybody else.  But with the discovery of the Sagas and their settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, in a possibly-improving climate of International Law and politics, especially Norway being a NATO ally of both the U.S. and Canada (and let’s remember the last bits of New France), Norway itself may have a “Native Claim” needing respect and recompense!  Even the US Supreme Court awarded huge money to the Lakota for the Black Hills!

No one ever said the ‘Piskies don’t know how to make life interesting sometimes!!!  😉

(*–Presuming Marshall is associating Spanish and Portuguese “discoveries” with OFF North America.)

Advice on Native American spirituality

Of course, if we’re to take this writer seriously, maybe we shouldn’t even take him seriously! 😉

McCain above his own law?

Apparently the campaign that’s calling us “socialists” and “communists” wants Russian money for itself?!  So much for the McCain-Feingold “maverick” Repug!

BTW, it shows what kind of people they are when they put down as socialism and communism, what many of us consider basic Christianity!

Weird names, not just Black after all

this piece from Salon (you can tell I’ve just been there) reminds us.  Although the author should’ve come across the fact that even the ancient Romans sometimes named their children numbers after their birth order – Secundus/a, Quartus, Quintus, Septimus, Octavius – which sounds alot more impressive if you don’t know Latin – Second, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Eighth…!  (I’d give in to the temptation to claim that Augustus and Julius Caesars were named after months, but of course it’s the other way around!!)  The only thing weirder is George Foreman and his five sons named George.  But understanding the “weird Black name” phenomenon as liberating, yeah, I get that.

Electa, Valantine, and Zebedee are religious names: one or more of St. John’s Epistles were formally addressed to a parish he called the Lady Electa (ie, Chosen, or perhaps Elect, ie, predestined, from Calvinism); Zebedee was father of the Apostles Sts. James and John; and Valantine is just Valentine, the early Christian martyred bishop and patron saint of February 14.

I think I can understand “unique” names (though the Orthodox Church usually insists on Orthodox Saints’ names, for role models, Holy t/Tradition, and Heavenly intercessors for the named), but do they have to sound as ridiculous as some of them do?  Worse, they often defy English-language spelling conventions, as an old radio hand leaving some doubt as to pronunciation, with or without apostrophes, post-initial capital letters, or strings of consonants without a vowel where needed (outside of Polish, of course!).  (And as an Irishman, I must insist that the correct spelling of one common name or name-particle is Sean! 😉  Though I was impressed to meet a young lady named Shavaun, which is simply Siobhan with the spelling anglicized!  Tho I didn’t realize it until I sounded it out in my head … a problem with innovative spellings.)  In any case, is a name truly “unique” simply by changing one letter?  Computers think so, but I don’t know….

As for Arabic-language names, it’s no big deal in itself, though of course alot of people these days have issues with the religion usually suggested, Islam.  Senator Obama’s name, of course, came from his father, a lapsed Muslim who still wanted his kid named after him.  (My legal name is similar in that respect.)  His native Kenya’s Muslim population, like that of other near-Sahara countries, continues to grow.  (But its Orthodox population even faster!)  But critics seem to forget that King Hussein of Jordan was a great friend of the United States; OTOH, Hussein was Saddam’s last name, not his first name … and neither the king nor the future President were named after him!!!  It just happens to be a relatively common Arabic name in various spellings.  For that matter, as Obama has reminded us, (Ehud) Barack was an Israeli prime minister – so I guess it goes both ways, eh?!!

Some of these names are, or seem like, surnames, being used as given names.  This practice of course is well-known in the White Protestant community, though even Catholics have been known to use them for middle names though rarely first names, like John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  Speaking of English Protestants, let’s not forget Praisegod Barebones, and another 17th-century Puritan whose given name was – I swear I am not making this up – “Christ Died To Save Us.”

What’s unfortunate about “Luxury Latch-on” names is that increasingly the original corporate names themselves are totally made up words, and not real names at all, rendering the personal names based on them a second-generation phenomenon, or twice-removed from the real world.

Orencio sounds Shakespearean, like those fake Italian names some of his characters had.

Other than that, my biggest concern as someone who hopes to acquire naming rights over someone someday in the not-too-distant future, is how they’ll deal with the name for the rest of their lives … something that doesn’t seem to enter into as many other parents’ or would-be parents’ minds as I would expect.  Was their own childhood so long ago?  Not longer than mine in most cases, except maybe Dave Letterman and Donald Trump….  But I figure weirdness is for nicknames, totally optional, appearing in no government databases or legal documents (unless they’re in the Mob of course).

“My friends call me Xfrkgyuip.”
“Gee, that’s interesting. Why do they call you that?”

And so on.

Then again, since I learned it, I’ve always thought the Irish Gaelic name for Wednesday, Ceadaoin (Céadaoin), pronounced something like kay-DEEN, would make a pretty girl’s name: hmm, Céadaoin Ó Faoláin….**  [As for its meaning, “First Fast-day,” it refers to the ancient Christian (and continuing Orthodox Christian) practice of cutting-back on food on most Wednesdays of the year; Fridays also, Aoine, meaning simply “Fast-day,” suggesting the Irish didn’t do Wednesdays at first.]  And speaking of Irish names, I dislike the growing trend of giving girls Gaelic boys’ names: Murphy Brown, McKenzie Phillips, even Phelan, an English form of my last name.  I suspect these parents (or writers) aren’t aware that these Irish (or Scottish) surnames are based on (in most cases) ancient men’s given names … witness the constant attention in Irish surname / family history recitations to the supposed derivation of the surname, as faolan, little wolf, rather than the more real and relevant reference to an eponymous ancestor!  There’s also Rory Kennedy, an almost unforgivable sin considering that the last reigning High King of All Ireland bore that name, Rory (Roderick) O’Connor, King of Connacht – variously spelled Ruaidhri, Ruairi.  (Also because she didn’t marry me! 😉  )

But by all means visit this site the Salon writer points to.  It’s so funny you just might cure cancer!  I laughed so hard I cried and had a coughing fit, probably the hardest laugh of my life, no kidding!

(I remember the Black comic who told us a couple years ago about the crap he took for “fighting the good fight” and then turning to dating White women for a while, before again reversing himself.  “A Loqueeda makes up for two Megans and a Becky.”)

(**–Though in proper Irish she’d have to be Céadaoin ní Fhaoláin.)

Orthodox vision of human rights?

Last week the quadrennial Council of all Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church from throughout the world promulgated a statement, The Basic Principles of the Russian Church Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights, discussed here by Interfax’ religion service.  It’s been a topic of discussion and continuing work since the release of the year 2000 Council’s The Basis* of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as of course ongoing human rights criticism of Russia, Serbia, and some other Orthodox and neighboring countries, the spread of the U.S./NATO/EU eastward into the former Warsaw Pact and the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Western-backed ‘color revolutions’ in Georgia, Ukraine, and threatening in Belarus and Mongolia, as well as notable contradictions in Western human rights and election practices itself.  It doesn’t seem available on the Web in English yet, but Interfax emphasizes its confrontation with what some Russians, using a term echoing the “militant atheism” reference to Communism, are now calling “militant secularism”:

According to the authors of the Orthodox vision of human rights released Thursday, “blasphemy shall not be justified by the rights of artist, writer or journalist.” Under the pretence of human rights protection, civilizations “should not impose their lifestyle patterns on other civilization{s}” and the human rights protection “should not {be used cynically to} serve interests of certain countries.”

The right to education provides for gaining knowledge with a view to cultural traditions and visions of a family and a person. Most world {cultures} are based on religion, therefore, any comprehensive education and upbringing should include the basics of religion which created the culture where such person lives,” the Basics read.

The document also states that private life, vision and people’s will should not be subject to “total control”. “Manipulation of people’s conscience and choice by government agencies, political powers, economic and information elites is dangerous for the society. It is also unacceptable to collect, concentrate and use information on any aspects of person’s life without his/her consent,” the Basics’ authors believe.  {Corrections, emphases, and clarifications Tiernan’s.}

Of course, most Russians living today well remember the abuses alluded to in the last paragraph!  I can’t endorse it without seeing it in detail, but I commend its reading, at least, to all of us who seek to deal rightly with Eastern Europe, the Orthodox World, and ultimately the whole Two-Thirds World.

(*–Sometimes translated as Bases, the plural of Basis.)

Dobson: Obama Distorts Bible. But Dobson distorts Obama!

Oh, I see, it’s coming down to a sectarian battle now?!

Fortunately for America, most Christians by definition don’t consider Conservative Evangelical Protestants authoritative on the subject!!!  Only a quarter of Americans belong to these sects, ie, less than half of Protestants.

BTW, when Dobson refers to “the traditional understanding of the Bible” on “Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply,” he means his tradition.  There are other Protestant sects that disagree with him on OT laws!

Obama’s point that people who base their politics on their religion – like me! – need to try to appeal to people who won’t necessarily buy their religion’s interpretations, isn’t persecuting anybody or denying anybody’s rights, it’s simply good advice!  Dobson distorts Obama!!!!!

Is McCain a Christian Zionist like Hagee?

That’s the worry of English journalist Victoria Clark, author of the recent book Allies for Armageddon.

Will McCain try to do what W. has (so far) failed to do, and “bring back Jesus“?!?!?!  (Yes, it’s total heresy – see here for a little info – but that doesn’t stop them from screwing the rest of the world!)

See also “McCain’s Christian Zionist, Subprime Mortgage Pimping Problem” for some more people and more importantly, THINGS HE HAS TO REPUDIATE.

McCain has TWO preacher problems!

This from bravenewfilms.org:

You may have heard of Rev. John Hagee, the McCain supporter who said God created Hurricane Katrina to punish New Orleans for its homosexual “sins.” Well now meet Rev. Rod Parsley, the televangelist megachurch pastor from Ohio who hates Islam. According to David Corn of Mother Jones, Parsley has called on Christians to wage war against Islam, which he considers to be a “false religion.” In the past, Parsley has also railed against the separation of church and state, homosexuals, and abortion rights….

John McCain actively sought and received Parsley’s endorsement in the presidential race. McCain has called Parsley “a spiritual guide,” and he hasn’t said whether he shares Parsley’s vicious anti-Islam views. That’s because the mainstream media refuses to ask. And so, we’ve taken matters into our own hands, joining Mother Jones to present the truth about McCain’s pastor:

Watch the video: http://bravenewfilms.org/watch/27395636/38133?utm_source=rgemail

Since the media won’t question McCain about his deeply bigoted pastor, it’s up to you to call attention to this issue. Make McCain’s pastor problem a major story by forwarding this video to your family, friends, and colleagues. Digg it! Anything to spread the word.

We can’t let McCain get away with aligning himself with a religious leader who’s called for an all-out war on Islam, someone who draws no distinctions between Muslims and violent Islamic extremists. Now is the crucial time to act.

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!

Wright = Lewinsky. Move on!

Yes, this Rev. Wright thing has been too long a distraction in the most important election in ages.  Media-driven, racist, religious persecution.  Or should we put all candidates’ preachers under the microscope?  They’re Protestants, so they’ve probably said a thing or two to pee-off half the country or more (PDF)!

There’s a reason why the Constitution outlaws “religious tests” for public office….

Religious Establishment conundra II

What if we funded ALL primary and secondary schools, those of all religions and none?  Then it wouldn’t be “an establishment of religion,” just universal funding of education.  Might not even need a Constitutional Amendment!

I would imagine schools would retain their existing governance structures, just requiring public fiscal accountability, ‘strongly encouraging’ economies-of-scale, and retaining a minimum of educational expectations like now for reading, math, science, etc.

This might result in a reduction in, though not elimination of, the need for non-elitist, nonsectarian schools, ie, the remnants of today’s “public” schools, governed by the same local Boards of Education or whatever.  But then, ALL schools would be public schools, so to speak!

I also don’t envision parsing the money so it doesn’t pay for religion-class-hours, chapels, etc., as sometimes happens now with nonsectarian aid to sectarian schools.  Most of that is driven by the (mistaken) Constitutional issue anyway.  Education is for educators and parents to decide, broadly speaking.

Could we bar aid to White Supremacist schools?  Muslim-Fundamentalist Madrasas?  Schools that teach against “race-mixing”?  “Afri-centric” schools?  Gay-affirming schools?  Atheist schools?  Polytheist schools?  Satanist schools?  Conspiracy-theory schools?  Legal, constitutional ways might be found to approach such questions rationally….

One thing this might do is spread “the most segregated hour of the week” – Sunday morning – to Monday-through-Friday, 8-to-3.  Then again, forming children really is a religious / moral / ethical task, is it not?  ALL education is religious in one way or another, even ostensibly non-religious education.  And national surveys say although Catholic parochial school alumni/ae have attended rather White schools (in this country), at-large they turn out among the most progressive, tolerant adults in America … so that way may lie hope after all!

And just as now, all these “public” schools should certainly be free to raise additional funds on their own voluntarily.

IOTM that all the non-public-school-aid Supreme Court cases I’ve ever heard of involved a single denomination or at most two at a time, namely America’s (despised) Catholics and Jews.  Has any State or school district or city ever proposed to fund ALL primary and secondary ed. in its borders???

All this education is being paid for already.  My proposal would merely spread the burden over the entire society that benefits – the whole country or State – and at the same time solve the old School Choice conundrum, the religion-in-school conundrum, the at-the-same-time-great-and-miniscule-expectations-of-public-schools paradox, maybe even much of the youth-sex-and-violence problem and the Melting Pot ideal (though this last indirectly, as I said above) … with all their unnecessary costs to everyone….

Of course, funded schools would have to be nonpartisan and not involve themselves in campaigns for or against candidates.

A way out of Religious Establishment conundra?

Back in 1989 someone suggested the following:

Nor does the Constitution seek to create a secular public sphere. Religious pluralism and diversity — not secularism — are the animating principles of the First Amendment. [Emphasis Tiernan’s.]

The article provides a piercing analysis of conflicts over the First Amendment’s clause, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”  Are we ‘excessively entangled’ in “excessive entanglement” concerns?!  I’m not 100 pct. certain about this approach, but I think it raises necessary questions.

“Muslim leaders want to curb ‘Islamophobia'”

From MSNBC.  Though they could start by working on their own people who give their faith a bad name, like the Saudis and their highly sectarian and provocative Wahabbism (a minority among the world’s Muslims), bin Laden and his ilk, get Ahmadinejad to tone it down a scooch, introduce those radical madrasa schools a little bit into the Reality-Based Community, stuff like that.

Then, just try to understand where “libertarian” Westerners are coming from: today’s Western Christianity and “post-Christianity” are built on the foundation of the Rennaissance of Classical pagan Greek and Roman culture, which was much aided by translations of Classics via the Muslim world at the height of its own culture.  As an Orthodox Christian, I see alot of problems with this too, but it’s there and it’s highly influential around the world now.

If the Islamic Conference just tries to beat countries over the head it doesn’t like with international law, they’re more likely to drive more countries into the U.S. camp, which largely disdains international law.  Then nobody benefits, as the Iraqis and Saddam Hussein have learned, and the Iranians may yet learn, sadly.

Maybe what they should do is work domestically, within countries, based on their own existing legal systems and parliaments.  Form “Anti-Defamation Leagues” in each country, like Jewish folks have in the U.S.

I personally have a growing problem with growing Muslim influence in the West, in particular the retrograde influence of Saudi / Wahabbist and other radical ideologies who take advantage of “liberal” Western immigration, speech, and publishing laws to oppose Western values, societies, and people’s lives and safety, and so-called honor killings (aka revenge vendettas).  But I oppose all false rhetoric, and favor critiques based only on truth.  In a Western country, if you can prove slander or libel in court, you can win some kind of award.  As for non-Muslim cartoonists or their publishers who violate Muslim rules, well, you shouldn’t just expect people who don’t belong to your religion to follow its rules, any more than Jews expect non-Jews to keep kosher; you have to inculcate genuine sensitivity.  We do that with White police; there’s no reason rational Muslim representatives can’t peacefully ask to meet with Western periodical publishers, etc., and help them voluntarily become more sensitive to your religion’s concerns, just like any other growing minority religion here.  But does a problem in Denmark have to provoke violence in Pakistan and the East Indies?  Is that reasonable?  Isn’t that just “Westophobia”?

OTOH, if you come to the West, you implicitly agree to the rough-and-tumble of Western democracy and political “dialogue,” which sometimes is “in your face” and offensive.  I oppose gratuitous, senseless offensiveness, but sometimes legitimate critique and questioning will offend, but in the end is helpful.  Where’s the rationalism and reasonableness of Medieval Islam, the cultural height of your civilization?  There were limits to potentially-scandalous criticism, but there was also literary give-and-take.  Embrace the best of your heritage; we’re supposed to embrace the best of ours as Westerners; challenge us to do so.

There’s productive confrontation, and there’s just unproductive point-scoring.  The latter feels good only for a short time, like self-gratification; the former can bring significant, permanent improvement for everybody concerned.  Ask American Jews and Blacks.

Insofar as “Islamophobia” is a “phobia,” it is an irrational fear, one not based in reality, and so in theory has a psychotherapeutic treatment and cure, even on a societal scale.  Outlawing it through the UN won’t cure it, only make it worse.  Treat the phobia, show it to be irrational and not based in reality.  What Westerners fear is terrorism, war, weapons of mass destruction, violence, unruly mobs, senseless property damage, intolerance, any real loss of rights or freedom or democracy, threats to their elected governments and to what they value in their own historic cultures, etc.  Is this unreasonable, irrational?  Don’t Muslims fear the same things?  Yet Westerners feel these things are being threatened by some people in the name of Islam, rightly or wrongly.  Help us out, please.

Then again, if all you’re going to be about is avenging 800 years of Western victories over Muslims, well then I guess it’ll be World War 3 and the end of everything.  Then the Promised One will come, and we’ll see who was right.  Is that it?  Do you want the same thing as American Fundamentalists, Armageddon?

Why can’t we both choose peace?

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….

The cause of clergy sex abuse

Power. That’s all.  Not liberalism, homosexuality, or in Catholics’ case, mandatory celibacy (or Vatican II).  Many have been married, Straight-identified, and conservative … and it’s been going on the whole time, long before the ’60s.

Makes sense when you think about it.  What causes it in the workplace, government offices, businesses, clubs and organizations, locker rooms, POW camps (Abu Ghraib), etc.?

There’s no denying that it’s especially disheartening when it’s people who spend their lives (and our money) telling us to control ourselves – or telling others to control themselves.  That’s why it’s called scandal – it tempts you to throw in the towel on your faith or virtue or morality, or makes you feel confirmed if you already have done so for other reasons.

Media spin against Democrats

Maybe I’m missing something.  MSM keep saying the Democratic race between Rodham Clinton and Obama is “mudslinging” and bitterness, etc.  I don’t see it or hear it.  I think they’re still mad at having to even follow primaries this “late,” that there really is a race rather than some foreordained outcome.

Look.  Just the facts, man, alright?

I even just heard Obama’s middle name for the first time.  I predicted it.  To say the Muslim world will be dancing in the streets because of his middle name is plainly stupid and ignorant.  He’s a liberal Protestant, OK?  What about his first name, Barack?  It’s an Arabic form of the Proto-Semitic for some principle part of “blessing,” the same as Egyptian President Mubarak and Israeli politician Ehud Barak.  Big woop.  There was Saddam Hussein, but there was also King Hussein of Jordan, OK?  It’s a common Arabic name; his father was a secular Muslim from Kenya.  Ironic, but no big deal.

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!!!

Arranged marriages

I’m not endorsing them – not yet anyway! – and neither is this Orthodox Jewish guy in NYC.  Just something to think about, like what we’ve gained vs. lost in transitioning into Modernity / Classical Liberalism / individualism.

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.”)

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!

More on Norman Mailer’s “Left-Conservative”

I didn’t know he’d died.  God be good to him.

Anyway, this Google seems to hold some promise!  Looks like one will have to poke around a bit, if one is not familiar with him, like me.

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 truth about Carolyn Parrish

She was the Canadian Member of Parliament who, we’re to believe, was a witchy, bitchy, shrill (you know: all the stereotypes) anti-American, went ballistic on a W. doll, and after Washington pressure was booted from the parliamentary Liberal Party just before they themselves (just barely, for all their troubles) fell from power.

Believe it or not – horrors! – it was all overblown.  This is just Wikipedia, but it looks pretty factual, not much commentary for or against there.  And if you peruse the famous(?) video from This Hour Has 22 Minutes, it looks to me like the business with the voodoo doll was set-up by the show, not her, and she’s actually back-pedaling from her harshest past comments (seen in the cue-cards).

Now, I know nothing about her politics apart from criticism of Bushie war-mongering, and invoking a Cuomo Doctrine in opposing same-sex marriage (‘personally supportive, but my constituents oppose it,’ like former New York Catholic Governor Mario Cuomo’s “personally opposed to abortion but don’t feel I can impose my religious views on others”).

So I’m just saying, she was railroaded, at White House bidding.  A better U.S. foreign policy would be to try to make peace with whomever is in foreign governments, rather than trying to change them, especially when they’re reasonably-democratically elected (or constitutionally succeeded, in the case of Monarchs) … and OURS AREN’T!!!  It used to be called diplomacy.

Yes, even humor about Orthodoxy!

From OrthodoXCircle’s “Traditional” group – a little mean-spirited actually – not the humor group! (with some editing and rude comments by yours truly):

You Might Be An ‘Orthodox Fundamentalist’ IF…

10) Your parish church-school curriculum consists of: The Rudder.

9) You’ve not shaved in years, but are spending your child’s inheritance on hair conditioner.

{Actually I’ve let my beard go, though not for religious reasons; it’s still quite a mess and often literally a pain!!!}

8) Your church services are longer than the Super Bowl, but shorter than “Roots.”

7) You save toenail clippings in hopes of … well … you know … glorification.

6) Your daughter can play with Barbies as long as they’re wrapped in DuckTape, clothed in black, and referred to as “Barbara the Ballyhoo” (in Slavonic).

{Sorry, I almost got this one….}

5) Your priest wears a cassock all the time. (Mainly because even the “Big & Tall” clothes no longer fit him.)

4) Birkenstock is the only proper name — not ending in “us,” “os,” or “es”– not subject to suspicion.

{What, they’re “CrunchyCons”???}

3) Your favorite theologian’s name is: “Reader __________.”

2) You believe hair brushes, combs, tweezers, and mirrors are for sissies.

{That’s just scary!}

And, the number one sign that you might be an “Orthodox Fundamentalist” is …

1) There are no chairs in your home; you haven’t sat in years!


Top Ten Signs You Might Be an Orthodox Christian Fundaminimalist:

10) During the three-day Sts. Peter & Paul Fast (New Calendar), you did without meat (only).

9) Sunday’s Divine Liturgy lasts longer than the Nightly News but shorter than “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

8) When it comes to Confession, you believe: “All may, some should, none must.”

7) You think Antidoron is for the birds (literally), not to mention the non-Orthodox.

6) You’ve seen your priest vested with cuffs around bare wrists because he’s wearing a short-sleeve shirt underneath his rasson.

{And what did they wear under them in the old days exactly?!!!}

5) You ask questions like, “What’s a cassock?,” and, “Why is she wearing one?”

4) Your bishop eats meat. On Friday. During fasting periods.

3) You’ve seen your priest swimming. In a crowded pool. In a Speedo.

2) Your priest wears a Rolex. At the Altar. Over the cuffs.

And, the number one indication that you might be a fundaminimalist:

1) Your priest’s wife goes by the title, “Reader ______ .”

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.

Holiday Blues = Low Testosterone?

This AOL article claims human (male – with sperm counts – but also I presume female, as she points out) testosterone, linked to sexual desire, peaks in November and early December, suggesting Fall is our traditional mating season, if Homo sapiens sapiens ever had one.*

But I have to wonder also if Holiday Blues then, or post-Holiday Blues, aren’t related to a decrease in T, and not just to Christmas/ Hanukkah/ solstice-related disappointments, shorter days (in the Northern Hemisphere at least), bad diets, etc.  Even “Seasonal” Affective Disorder!

For that matter, do people in the Southern Hemisphere even get this?  Yes, they say they get S.A.D., but in June-July.  So we Northerners get it on top of the Holidays, mate!  But do they get the lowered T then too?

(*–Certainly a number of old calendars started in Fall – Celtic Samhain, Jewish Rosh haShanah, Orthodox Ecclesiastical New Year.  Some Orthodox Christians say Creation was created in September; as some Russians say, apples ripen then – as in the Garden of Eden’s traditional forbidden fruit!! – at least in the Northern Hemisphere.  [Actually, the Scriptures don’t say “apple,” just “fruit”!])

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?! 😉

Windshield flyers

You don’t stick flyers under my wipers, I won’t bust your windshield, deal?

Flyers left under windshield wipers cause permanent damage to them, making it harder for them to clear rain, snow, mud, etc., off them, thus making it harder, sometimes impossible, to drive safely.

Just like if I bust your windshield.

Got it?

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!)

Men’s Fertility Kits

WARNING ADULT CONTENT:

Maybe I don’t get out enough, but I just saw in a drugstore (Do we even call them drugstores anymore?!!!) a home kit for determining if you produce at least 20 million sperm per milliliter (That’s cubic centimeter or “cc,” for those of us who grew up before the metric system!) of semen, considered by someone the “minimum fertility standard.”  (I am not making this up.)  It also includes two non-spermicidal condoms, I guess for guys who consider masturbation wrong or undesirable, so they can catch a semen sample during intercourse.

Honestly, I didn’t know we could count ’em without a microscope!  “One… two… three… 20,000,000….”  Just might’ve cured my insomnia!

Actually, what constructive purpose could be served by knowing?  OK, maybe then you’d know you should adopt.  There’s nothing I know of that can boost sperm count, is there?  (Maybe Mountain Dew! “Obey your thirst!” Actually, this is the exact opposite of the Urban Legend… or maybe we can start a new one! You guys OWE ME!!!)  Or get a sperm donor?: ooh, that’s pretty personal for a would-be father.

Or become a monk… it’s a great way to be saved, I hear, honestly – why not focus on it, eh?

I guess it’s only fair, what with home-based pregnancy kits and all.  Take some of the pressure off the woman: after all, it may not be her fault.  Although as one writer in the NY Times Magazine recently shared with us (link may require free registration), it’s possible to put sperm and ovum right next to each other in a petri dish, and still have nothing happen.  (Like many dates! Whatever that means….)  Apparently Desmond Morris was right: some sperm are dumb and some are dumber… or at least have different jobs.  OR maybe the writer’s husband’s sperm didn’t want to cheat on her.  OR maybe it was God’s Will (I say this in all seriousness).  It’s OK: apparently they eventually managed to conceive the traditional way, ie, with alcoholic lubrication!  (It’s in her book title. OK, actually, it’s not. I imagined it. Though I haven’t read the book, so who knows?)

(NB: By “alcoholic lubrication,” I definitely was NOT recommending using any form of alcohol on one’s genitals, or those of one’s partner.  As Frank McCourt’s first love would tell us had she lived, it’s quite painful.  I was merely humourously referring to the oft-joked-about tendency of intoxication to lead to risky behaviour: “HIGH = HIGH RISK”: risk of AIDS, risk of other sexually-transmitted diseases with or without symptoms, risk of pregnancy, risk of ending-up with someone you don’t want to end up with, etc etc etc.  Remember this.)

“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.)

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”)!

“The Redcoats are coming”?

NOT!

Paul Revere (and two other friends with him) also didn’t yell, “The British are coming,” because most of the colonists still thought of themselves also as a form of British!  (Remember “the rights of free Englishmen” the rebels thought they were losing [and sometimes cost themselves – and us]?!)

Therefore, they would’ve most commonly thought of His Lawful Majesty’s forces as Regulars, as in Regular Army, as opposed to “irregulars.”

(Not to be confused with Fr. Andrew Greeley’s fictional “North Wabash Avenue Irregulars”!  [730 N. Wabash Ave. is the address of the rectory at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral, where fictional sleuth {and recently promoted! See how recently?} Coadjutor-Archbishop Blackie Ryan, and his alleged boss, Cardinal Sean Cronin, live.])