Tuesday, December 25, 2012


A blessed and happy Feast to all. Christ is born! God became Man and dwelt on Earth.

I have posted this before but this rendition of the Coventry Carol always moves me.

A single set of short verses from an entire medieval pageant of English Mystery Plays is all that is left from history. That's how it works out sometimes. I am hearing it more often in stores and on radio. Three years ago I had never heard of this carol.

Here is a Nativity hymn from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church:

This Church was granted autocephaly by the Copts in 1959. The Chalcedonian/Non-Chalcedonian issue continues to divide us. However, the debate is ongoing over how much of the dispute was or is semantic and logistical. This is the sort of mess we Orthodox need to sort out for ourselves before undertaking more ambitious projects, but that's just my opinion. Anyway, this particular video illustrates true Orthodox mission: the Church takes her people as she finds them, revealing to the extant culture the Truth hidden in its pre-Christian solstices and cycles.

It is a day for family and feast, so I'll just post this other selection from last year.

Today is born of a Virgin He who holds the whole Creation in His hand.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

From +John X of Antioch

Via Notes On Arab Orthodoxy:

[Excerpt:] My fathers and brothers, I ask for your prayers and supplications so that hand in hand we will make God's Church of Antioch a fitting image of the Bride of Christ and the Church that we all know she is. ... We all realize that our people are are a good people and that their service is sweet for our hearts. We are from this country. Our soil is a part of us and we are a part of it. I say to you, let us remember the prayer of our Lord to His Father, "Make them one as We are one." Let us be one, so that we may pastor our people, so that we may strive to make our Church that Church that is adorned in a white bridal garment that testifies to our Lord, so that people will see this Church and praise our Father who is glorified in heaven...

Blood and soil stuff, by golly. I can't imagine an Archbishop of Canterbury saying anything like that much less, say, the US Episcopals' presiding bishop.

Further to my comment in the +Bartholomew thread, Antioch's newly elected Patriarch articulates what it means to be the local expression of Christ's universal Church. A people in their geographic redoubt accept the Church and over generations are wedded to the Church as the Church to Christ, an indivisible part of a particular people, place and culture, and eventually standing as a unique and autocephalous expression of Christ's Church in the global Communion.

Until America (or any other locale) can show successive, sustainable generations baptized, married and buried in the Church, over time having the people, the culture, the land conjoined to the Church as the Church to Christ, the Orthodox Church in America will remain a diaspora mission, regarded by outsiders as no more than one particularly idiosyncratic (and not really American) option among many.

Having Metropolitans who are essentially sojourners, always subject to recall back to the authentic place--the one with the blood and soil in it--is probably not helpful to this evolution. Of course, this is a two-way street. If America or other locales do not consider nationhood as befitting them, then they really are not sufficient soil for their own Church, and are best left as missions.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

+Bartholomew seeks to restart ecumenical progress

Via Byzantine, Texas
CONSTANTINOPLE (OCL) – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is attempting to inaugurate a new path and new dynamics of rapprochement and reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church in conjunction with the Theological Dialogue working towards the Eucharistic Union of the Churches...
The patriarch revealed that “our Holy Orthodox Church finds itself in the delightful position of announcing that the preparation of its Holy and Great Synod has almost been completed, that it is in its final stages and will be convoked in the near future. It will pronounce upon the issue, among others, of the dialogues of Orthodoxy with the other Churches and it will take the fitting decisions in unity and authenticity so that we may progress toward the ‘unity of faith’ in the communion of the Holy Spirit in the surety that ‘To lovers of the truth nothing can be put before God and hope in Him’ (Basil the Great, To Eustathius the Physician, Letter 151, PG 32.608B; NPNF2-8:604).”

From my seat way, way in the furthest spot of the furthest pew in the very back row of Orthodoxy, this seems terribly naive and premature. First, Rome does not need ecumenicism. Rome has declared her universal jurisdiction and acts like it, with her Eastern Rites and established, august dioceses across the globe. Rome need not cede an inch on a single point of doctrine, so why would she. Second, Orthodox ecclesiology is a train wreck, with its multiple jurisdictions and seeming inability to grapple with the reality of the modern secular state.

Tend to our own flock first. Is the Orthodox Church in America autocephalous or not? If so, what is ROCOR, and why? What is Antioch, the Greeks, plus a few others I'm surely forgetting and why? Are we missions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate or still the Churches in diaspora? (Ask that question on Rorate Caeli and let me know what they say. I'll save you the time and tell you it won't be either of the foregoing.)

Maybe these questions are on the Great Synod's agenda but surely they have to be answered first. Then we can start thinking about ecumenicism.

God's will be done, and these are just a sinner's rantings.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bruce Charlton is an angry man

An angry man indeed, for a godless, narcissistic and destructive trend is loose in the land. I speak, obviously, of...

weightlifting. (Via Vox Popoli).

Now, apparently this is qualified by intensive and extreme weight-training. From the comments, "moderate" weight-training is apparently kosher but I'm still not sure at what point a weightlifter is beyond the pale. Probably, we can agree these guys are narcissistic freaks but Bruce doesn't seem to grasp the distinction between bodybuilding and weightlifting either. Cardio seems to have escaped Bruce's critical eye, and it generates at least as much degenerative joint disease. It's also not terribly effective for a lot of obese people who (1) often lack the frames for effective running, and (2) are generally training their bodies to store fat.

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but the overall tone strikes me as hostile to the very idea of weightlifting. I think the more important point to draw is a broad hostility to any expression of masculine strength. Contrary to Bruce's point, it is this hostility which is actually gnostic and anti-human, as in the popular culture's implausible butt-kicking babes and fat-acceptance. In the political realm, dominated by comfortable, aging Boomers, any form of male energy triggers the panic button, as with the Republicans' hysterical response to the Ron Paul movement. The lisping, effeminate Lindsey Graham, famed scold of angry white guys is by contrast considered a Republican icon.

"Weight-training" seems an odd target for traditionalist ire, given the modern epidemic of obesity, manifest to an appalling degree in Christian churches.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Add money and stir

Macro-economics seem largely devoted to coming up with justifications for why micro-economics don't apply to certain aggregates. I’m not sure why people who agree you can’t mess with the supply-demand curve for bread think you can with money and credit. But then, I’m not an economist and they assure me they know what they’re doing.

Exhibit A.

Here's the article at The American Conservative that's got academic economists like Scott Sumner so upset - How the Rich Rule - and my comment at TAC (spoiler - the befogged readers at TAC don't get it either).

'Monetary policy' is important; the elites know how important, hence the uproar whenever some nobody like Sheldon Richman starts criticizing the Great And Good Fed. Please click the links for some contrarian perspective.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

And so it begins

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Thursday that intelligence about Syrian chemical weapons "raises serious concerns" that the regime of Bashar Assad may use them against the country's own citizens.

"The whole world is watching, the whole world is watching very closely," Panetta said. "And the president of the United States has made it very clear, there will be consequences — there will be consequences if the Assad regime makes the terrible mistake by using these chemical weapons on their own people."

His comments came a day after U.S. officials told NBC News that the Syrian military had loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped from dozens of fighter-bombers. The defense chief, who was speaking at a news conference at the Department of Veterans Affairs, would not elaborate on what the potential consequences would be.

Via Ad Orientem.

The Nobel Peace Prize President, using the same CIA, the same Defense Department, the same game plan as his predecessor is laying the groundwork for war in the Christian holy land of Syria. The die is cast from this point. Syria is already being brutalized by sanctions. A chemical weapon will be detonated, and the US will be off and running on its third war since 2001. The rebellion, financed by the repulsive Wahhabist Gulf Arabs, is hopelessly stalemated. Its protagonists are Sunni rabble and fanatical thugs drawn from Chechnya, Afghanistan, the Saudi peninsula and north Africa. Culturally, the Syrians themselves are more Greek and prefer house parties and red wine to firefights in the streets. For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, it has apparently been decided that the US will step up to the plate. The Shia will be slaughtered, Christians--the lucky ones--will flee and Syria will be bombed back into the Stone Age. A Sunni puppet will be installed and billions of dollars will be extracted from US taxpayers for an occupation that advances no American interest.

May God have mercy on us, and He won't.