Thursday, November 23, 2017

THANKSGIVING: Don’t call it Turkey Day

(first published November 22, 2012)

Pence writes:

Thanksgiving Day is an embarrassing holiday for the atheists. Whom shall one thank?

Nonbelievers first turned this day of formal national prayer into a rekindling of an earlier bliss betwixt Pilgrims and Indians. A little rewriting, and secularists turned the feast into a memorial of Pilgrim settlers thanking the native-born Americans for their ecological wisdom that allowed us a full table and survival through the winters. As usual, the guilt-ridden white folk reminded us of something true but missed the real story.

The Pilgrim parable was soon debunked by Indian activists who reminded the well-meaning storytellers that the only gifts white men gave Indians were smallpox blankets. "Who wants to celebrate that, white man?"

Instead of returning to the first Congress or Washington or Lincoln to get the holy day back on track as a civic duty to God, our adaptable consumer culture had a new answer. Let the appetites be sacralized! There was a surge to elevate not "Whom We Thank" but "What We Eat." Turkey Day was proclaimed!

No more messy cross-cultural narratives. Instead of asking that our sins be forgiven and as a nation we bow to God,  a turkey was pardoned and the whole affair was consummated in a next-day orgy of shopping called Black Friday. That spin-off Feast Day is demanding a vigil service of its own, which may drive the whole embarrassment of public thanksgiving to God  back in the memory hole where school prayer now abides.

Contrast our evolving celebration of  Black Friday Eve with George Washington’s understanding of Thanksgiving Day in the first sentence of his 1789 Proclamation:
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to recognize the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor…” 
Contrast Turkey Day with the content of his prayer:
“And also that we may unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions -- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually…” 
This is a day as a nation we are supposed to perform a religious duty -- to ask forgiveness and give thanks to a Divine Ruler who governs not only the lives of men, but the public communal forms of men: the nations. That is what Congress requested Washington to declare; and that is what this national day of prayer for forgiveness and thanksgiving is still meant to be. Let us assemble in our houses of worship, at community kitchens, and at our family tables. Let us ask God forgiveness for turning away from Him and allowing these sacred goods to be defiled: His holy Name, our sacred flag, our national brotherhood, the institution of marriage, the protective love of mother for child, and the sacred virginity and innocence of our young. Let us repent our sins and renew our sacred covenant. Let us, as fellow Americans, give thanks to God; for the nation that prays together stays together.

UPDATE: Be sure to check out Andrew Lynch's essay.

And the Thanksgiving proclamation of our First Continental Congress. A nice historical reminder from War on the Rocks that Thanksgiving is a Holiday forged in national wars.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

NOVEMBER 22 -- The Maturation of Christian Manhood: John Kennedy and the Spiritual Destiny of Nations

[first published 11/22/13]

Dr. David Pence writes:

"A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket." 
         (Charles Peguy)

A half-century ago, on the feast of Saint Cecilia, an armed atheist assassinated the first Catholic President of Christian America. It was a well-aimed blast. Those ringing shots of death silenced the voice of an elected Knight who was calling his nation and other nations into an articulate and armed defense of the ordered liberty that is the hallmark of Christian civilization. 

John Kennedy was a masculine liberal. He went forth to lead the land he loved, knowing that establishing a just political order amidst the nations was an assignment that God had given the laymen of the Church that claimed him since infancy. Deep in his heart, in his mind, and in his soul he understood that our shared identity as Americans was built on a band of brothers who had fulfilled a sacred obligation. When he spoke, the timbre of his voice called men into that band of brothers. Women cheered that such a bond would protect them.

When he spoke in 1960 to the Houston Ministerial Association on the religious question, he turned their eyes outward to the atheist menace that threatened Protestant and Catholic alike in our shared nation under God. He reminded them there was a military oath that secured religious liberty in the dangerous world of tyrants and the mass armies of paganism. That same military oath drew together Catholic and Protestant men at the Alamo. Only the record of their last names would attest their ancestral faiths, for "there was no religious test at the Alamo." It was this brotherhood of battle that Washington had hoped would leaven the national feelings of affection among Americans. It was such bonds that Lincoln proposed as the sinews of a new nation baptized in the bloodshed of Gettysburg. It was such bonds that the patriarch Abraham marked in that first shedding of male blood to forge a public. All nations were blessed in Him when he fathered the masculine covenant that sustains every nation.

On that day in Houston, Kennedy reminded the religious men of duty who gathered to hear him that he, his fallen brother, and they were bound by a common civic duty. He offered himself to fill the office, which would govern the military brotherhood, which secured their liberty as ministers to fulfill their religious obligations to God. He ended his oration reminding his listeners that the presidency was an oath, and he had taken oaths before -- "so help me God."

A decade before his speech to the Protestant ministers, Kennedy explained his understanding of the person, national loyalty and the Kingdom of God to students and faculty at Notre Dame.  

“You have been taught that each individual has an immortal soul, composed of an intellect which can know the truth and a will which is free.  Because of this every Catholic must believe in the essential dignity of the human personality on which any democracy must rest… A Catholic’s dual allegiance to the Kingdom of God on the one hand prohibits unquestioning obedience to the state on the other hand as an organic unit.”

Five months before his assassination, Kennedy demonstrated his providential view of the role of nations in the destiny of mankind during his visit to Ireland.


“For the Ireland of 1963, one of the youngest of nations and the oldest of civilizations, has discovered that the achievement of nationhood is not an end but a beginning. In the years since independence, you have undergone a new and peaceful revolution, an economic and industrial revolution, transforming the face of this land while still holding to the old spiritual and cultural values…

"Self-determination can no longer mean isolation. No nation, large or small, can be indifferent to the fate of others, near or far. Modern economics, weaponry and communications have made us realize more than ever that we are one human family and this one planet is our home.

" 'The world is large,' wrote John Boyle O'Reilly.
'The world is large when its weary leagues two loving hearts divide,
But the world is small when your enemy is loose on the other side.'

"The world is even smaller today, though… across the gulfs and barriers that now divide us, we must remember that there are no permanent enemies. Hostility today is a fact, but it is not a ruling law. The supreme reality of our time is our indivisibility as children of God and our common vulnerability on this planet.

"Some may say that all this means little to Ireland... It may be asked, how can a nation as small as Ireland play much of a role on the world stage?

"I would remind those who ask that question, including those in other small countries, of the words of one of the great orators of the English language:
'All the world owes much to the little five feet high nations. The greatest art of the world was the work of little nations. The most enduring literature of the world came from little nations. The heroic deeds that thrill humanity through generations were the deeds of little nations fighting for their freedom. And oh, yes, the salvation of mankind came through a little nation.' "

John Kennedy as a Catholic man of the Irish tribe integrated the male citizenship of powerful and accomplished Anglo-Saxon Protestant America. He furthered this integrative work by proposing immigration reform no longer linked to racial ancestry quotas. He, slowly but then surely, argued the case for racial integration. Like Eisenhower before him, he sent federal troops to save black students from the fury of the huge popular protest movements against integration. The first cries of “power to the people” against authority in the 1960s were white mobs opposing integration.

Catholic Kennedy had argued that public offices could have no religious test. In his televised address to the nation on civil rights he proposed that America could not fight tyranny abroad if it was not colorblind at home. “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution… I want to pay tribute to those citizens North and South who have been working in their communities to make life better for all. They are acting not out of a sense of legal duty but out of a sense of human decency. Like our soldiers and sailors in all parts of the world they are meeting freedom's challenge on the firing line, and I salute them for their honor and their courage.”
Always he spoke of honor, courage, and shared duty.

That November when he died had begun with the assassination of two Catholic brothers who were fighting for their Asian nation in the struggle against the armed atheism of state tyrannies. On All Souls Day the president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu were assassinated in a military coup inflamed by newspaper reporters, and instigated by the new US Ambassador and members of our State Department. The CIA, the US military, and the Catholic Attorney General opposed the killing. President Kennedy mismanaged the rift in his government leading to the killing he called "abhorrent." The Mandate from Heaven was removed from both Catholic Presidents that month of the dead in 1963.

John Kennedy, like King David, marred his public life by sins of infidelity. Like King David he wept at the death of an infant son; and like David, his older son would die hanging between heaven and earth. He paid for his sins against marriage with the deaths of his male heirs. He paid for his betrayal of his Asian Uriah with his own death by the hand of their common atheist foe.

An ancient Roman liturgy, which he attended on Sundays and Days of Obligation, shaped John Kennedy. He knelt to pray and went to auricular confession. He lit candles in churches all over the world for the soul of his brother killed in a naval plane crash over the English Channel. He saw religion as a public duty to the Sovereign of the nations. He saw the nation as a brotherhood of protectors, and he understood an alliance of nations as the agents of History. He had a deep Catholic sense of humanity as one, and a sailor’s view of the earth as a small ship upon the sea of the universe. He knew what Nikita Khrushchev knew and Mao Tse-tung did not appreciate. He knew nuclear war must be prevented. He also knew what both of them knew: that there was a great conflict about how mankind should be organized. He wanted the flourishing of free nations under God. The Communists would use "national fronts" to re-institute the Tower of a Globalist Atheist Babel, which needed no god and would in time dispense of the churches, nations, and families.

A hero like Kennedy has many descendants who claim his name but few men who share his heart. He tried to replace the overwhelming technology of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) with Special Forces of men who would fight on the ground and win the hearts and minds of the new national leaders of Africa, South America, the Mid-east and Asia. He would replace the fleets of nuclear bombers with Green Berets and helicopters for security; and the Peace Corps and water wells for infrastructure and education. Launching unmanned drones inside Muslim nations and bombing the Orthodox cities of Serbia as a substitute for foot soldiers countered his legacy.    

He was no stuttering king in the war against the armed atheists of state tyrannies. Archbishop Philip Hannan, the combat veteran who gave JFK’s funeral homily, built it on Kennedy’s Scriptural syntax. The celibate combat bishop and the biblical fighting liberal are men our nation needs again. Their world was one of embedded un-chosen obligations, marked by protective duties assigned by gender, and priestly piety and purity proclaiming the supernatural order. On this feast of the virgin martyr, whose sweet life made her the patron of music, let us remember the warrior king who made words beat to move the hearts of his countrymen:  
“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

November 19: “Give rest, O Savior, to the soul of thy servant”

“…whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet…”   
                           (Ishmael in Moby Dick)

Entering this week of high anniversaries of President Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg (Nov 19, 1863) and of John Kennedy’s death in Dallas – as well as the liturgical year drawing to a close, with the Church bowing before the authority and power of Christ our King – the opening scene of Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago came to mind:
They walked and walked and sang “Memory Eternal,” and whenever they stopped, the singing seemed to be carried on by their feet, the horses, the gusts of wind. Passersby made way for the cortege, counted the wreaths, crossed themselves. The curious joined the procession, asked: “Who’s being buried?” “Zhivago,” came the answer. “So that’s it. Now I see.” “Not him. Her.” “It’s all the same. God rest her soul. A rich funeral.” The last minutes flashed by, numbered, irrevocable. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and those who dwell therein.” The priest, tracing a cross, threw a handful of earth onto Marya Nikolaevna. They sang “With the souls of the righteous.” A terrible bustle began. The coffin was closed, nailed shut, lowered in. A rain of clods drummed down as four shovels hastily filled the grave. Over it a small mound rose. A ten-year-old boy climbed onto it. Only in the state of torpor and insensibility that usually comes at the end of a big funeral could it have seemed that the boy wanted to speak over his mother’s grave. He raised his head and looked around from that height at the autumn wastes and the domes of the monastery with an absent gaze. His snub-nosed face became distorted. His neck stretched out. If a wolf cub had raised his head with such a movement, it would have been clear that he was about to howl. Covering his face with his hands, the boy burst into sobs. A cloud flying towards him began to lash his hands and face with the wet whips of a cold downpour. A man in black, with narrow, tight-fitting, gathered sleeves, approached the grave. This was the deceased woman’s brother and the weeping boy’s uncle, Nikolai Nikolaevich Vedenyapin, a priest defrocked at his own request. He went up to the boy and led him out of the cemetery.

“Alleluia. Weeping at the grave creates the song.”

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 18

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

Proportion, Honor, and Outrage
An inversion ritual is a special event or time frame in which people are given license to violate normal customs of social order and propriety. Crowning the fool as king for a day or allowing the libations and license of Mardi Gras the day before the penitential season of Lent are inversion rituals.  The whole point of inversion rituals is that they are allowed and then discontinued as the social group returns to the customs necessary for communal living. From 1966-1976 Mao Tse Tung led the young people of China in an inversion ritual against elders, teachers and  authorities at every level of society.  The disastrous cultural revolution ended with the death of Mao, the jailing and suicide of his actress wife, the execution of the gang of four,  and the eventual "return of the adults." The  miraculous Chinese renewal of the last 40 years was the work of that noble maltreated generation.
  In America, we have not yet produced the religious or civic leaders who can rescind our own disastrous misadventure called the Sexual Revolution. An extended inversion ritual never gradually slides back into place. There are too many fools who have come to think they are kings. There must be a backflip-a complete reversal-a metanoia.  Those who held sway must be seen to quake. At first the words of restoration will sound jarring but the distortion of nature that took 50 years to disorient a people can be righted in five years as the forces of order assert their natural momentum.
God will not be mocked. The spiritual ecstasy and haze of drug taking cannot replace the shared attentive focus of people at prayer. Blowing one's  mind and taking a trip are disintegrating experiences. The integrating consciousness of honoring God's holy Name and submitting to the rule of His Fatherhood forms a spiritual foundation for community. Giving thanks to God for the sacred gift of life, men love one another by forming national bonds of protective brotherhood to guard the women and children within our territorial boundaries. Christian love among men forms a large disciplined body of brothers under the Father. This is how we overcome racism and social class by sharing a common identity as citizens-men who share a common duty toward a defined territory. Championing the public brotherhood of the nation is NOT racism. That is fake news. Disrespecting the nation and our flag is a residue of the inversion ritual. We honor our flag to declare our interracial covenant within well defined protected borders and we respect the flags and borders of others.  Public brotherhoods of men are always aided by women in special roles but all of our protective agencies have been  deeply disfigured by inserting women within the male ranks. Masculine love forms ordered public groups of shared duty. Male female love forms couples in the marriage covenant. To confuse the fundamental pattern of these relations is to undermine ordered love as the glue of social capital. The police and the military in a Christian republic have a fraternal relationship with the male citizens as fellow protectors. They are the officer corps of the male body politic of citizens. Young males recognize this clear masculine agreement as the group they must enter to become men. Male maturation is group socialization. Males are domesticated by marriage but that is not what perfects their masculine identity as a man among men. This socializing bond so necessary for our imprisoned, drug besot, unemployed and confused young males has been sacrificed to the sexual inversion ritual.
Motherhood is the protective duty of women. Just as baby boomer males like Bill Clinton said, "I won't be a soldier" so feminists like Hillary Clinton argued that women could treat a pregnancy as a career choice not a sacred gift and duty. That rejection of protective sex roles as the maturation of sexual identity was as much a part of the sexual revolution as divorcing sexual intercourse from the marriage act. In many ways the rejection of the link between protective duty and gender identity caused a more catastrophic sundering of social bonds than the sexual rutting.
What kind of culture has the 50 year inversion ritual left us? Taking God's name in vain is more common than public prayer. The created ecological order of masculine and feminine duties has been rejected. The domestic violence of mothers sacrificing their children is sanctioned by doctors and subsidized by government. The witchcraft of feminism still holds a spell over a whole people who have normalized what witches had always been burned for-the killing of children. Natural protective authorities in cities and states were emasculated in the name of civil rights. Elected State governments were prevented from penalizing sodomy as a crime against human nature. Soon they were mandated to recognize the abomination against brotherhood  as marriage. Tyranny never settles for tolerance. Nero made his horse a senator. The inversion ritual makes what is holy into the profane and what is an abomination into a requirement. If the outrage of the media and the mob toward past acts of heterosexual transgression or racial injustice seems excessive, it is a misdirected scream against far greater sins that have become commonplace. Burning the flag, paying women to strip in public, and desecrating God' name are all protected as acts of free speech from local and state communities who once used their legislative authority to outlaw such acts.  The emotional outrage of college age females and the attentive deficits of young males are fruits of living in a sustained inversion ritual. They have never known the calm that comes from complying with the sacred order and coming in contact with multiple interlocking institutions run by  beneficent authoritative adults.  Our public life is becoming emotionally unhinged because we have no hierarchy of goods. We have no tribal brotherhood of fathers to enforce the code that defines those goods.  We flattened the earth by evacuating the sacred. And now with no magnetic pole, the compass spins. We are outraged by sins of the past because we cannot articulate the present horror.          
We are so unhinged as a nation that while federal prosecutors are obsessing about "collusion with Russia"  the public and corporate officials who have colluded for decades with our true enemies in  Saudi Arabia are preparing to draw us into a war against Iran- the country that helped us defeat ISIS in Syria and helped protect the government we bled for in Iraq from its salafist enemies. A 32 year old Saudi prince is making his bid for power against his older more competent relatives by making war against Shiites throughout the Mideast (from Yemen to Bahrain to Lebanon to Iran) to win the favor of the Wahabbi clerics of his Kingdom. Killing Shiites is an acceptable form of religious genocide if you preface your victims' name with "Iranian backed." Even most Sunni governments  do not favor the brash course of Muhammed bin Salman. His goals do however coincide with Prime Minister Netanyahu's enmity against Iran and the resentment of US marines against Iran and Hezbollah for the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut 35 years ago.
We have to think clearly about religion and nations. The Saudis are the center of the worldwide Salafist terrorist movement, not Iran. The Bushes, Clintons and McCains for their separate reasons have always done the bidding of "our Saudi allies" even after 911.  We need true elder statesmen in the Senate to reevaluate our national interests as countrymen not party loyalists. Clarity in defining enemies in a religious war is very difficult. It is even harder in the midst of a domestic inversion ritual aimed at undermining the sexual protective roles of Christian culture.        


AMERICAN BISHOPSThe election by American bishops to decide who will lead their prolife committee was between Cardinal Cupich and Archbishop Naumann. The stakes were outlined in multiple pre election articles. It conjured the ghost of Joseph Bernadine. The victory of Archbishop Naumann should only remind us of the inadequacy of the "orthodox approach" vs the "seamless garment" approach. We must swim in deeper waters and speak much more fundamental truths.  A culture of life must be a culture of protection. Who will say we need to reassert our corporate Catholic identity by fostering the protective sex roles of civic military brotherhoods and baby protecting mothers. Who will say the brotherhood of fathers that is supposed to be the priesthood is deeply compromised by a blatantly homosexual subculture in alliance with the sexual revolutionaries of the urban Democratic Party. Both the Church and the party of the Catholic working man were betrayed by the careerist feminists, homosexuals and education/media lobby that became the new elite. A cultural renewal of mature Catholic character(masculine and feminine) is the necessary response to the confused personalities spawned by the sexual revolution. Properly ordered liturgy led by manly priests renewing their own sacred brotherhood of fathers to battle Satan will draw us into the bonds of love and communion. Before the Bishops can organize the laity into a true culture of life, they have to re-sacralize their own brotherhood. That would involve facing the horrific homosexual legacy of the Bernadine agenda. The Naumann-Cupich debate has not discussed that.

NAUMANN WINSThe split in the US Catholic Church is not between "Francis bishops" and old line culture warriors.

LITURGY AND PERSONALITY: A review of Hildebrand's masterpiece by Anthony Esolen.

CATHOLIC UNIVERSITIES - LOSING THEIR MISSION: Anne Hendershott is one of Catholic America's best historical sociologists. Her article at City Journal.


THE NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES IN SAUDI ARABIAThe factions at warA good summaryAnother good review of what happened Nov 4, 2017, in Saudi Arabia. Video analysis from the Caspian Report. Here is another video from the Caspian Report from two years ago on the change in royal succession - the event that would lead to November's purge.

Muhammed bin Salman has played to hardline clerics in his willingness to declare war against the Shiites in Yemen, the state of Iran and local Shiites as epitomized by the decapitation of Shi’ite leader Sheikh Al-Nimr. His isolation of Qatar is because Qatar will not join in his war against Iran. His arrest of clerics is because of their opposition to his Qatar policy. He is now adding Hezbollah-the Shiites of Lebanon to his enemy list.

When King Salman came to power: “Power was shared between three main clans: King Salman (and his beloved son Prince Mohammed); the son of Prince Nayef (the other Prince Mohammed), and finally the son of the dead king (Prince Miteb, commander of the National Guard).

Former Crown Prince Nayef was extremely popular in DC due to his counter-terrorism activities. His arrest earlier this year angered the CIA and factions of the House of Saud. Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, born in 1953, headed the Saudi Arabian National Guard, an elite internal security force originally based on traditional tribal units that was run by his father for five decades. As the Sandhurst-trained preferred son of the late King Abdullah, he was once thought to be a leading contender for the throne.His arrest is considered the most consequential of the latest purge because it removed a military source of opposition.

Prominent clerics have been arrested as well. Most of these disagreed with the war against fellow Salafists in Qatar which has stood against the Saudi/Israeli/American coalition targeting the Shiite State of Iran.

CLEARING THE DECKS IN LEBANON - THE STRANGE RESIGNATION OF THE SUNNI PRIME MINISTER OF LEBANONProbably not a coincidence he did it in Riyadh the night of many arrests and consolidation of power by bin Salman. An ethnic warning to Shiite Persian Iran - stop interfering in Arab affairs.

DON'T ATTACK IRAN UNLESS YOU ARE READY TO ATTACK HEZBOLLAH OF LEBANON (AND THEIR CHRISTIAN ALLIES, BUT THAT WILL NOT BE MENTIONED)The war drums begin against Lebanon. Will the next target of Saudi's bin Salman be in Lebanon? Maronite Patriarch's first visit to Saudi Arabia. Lebanese ask Saudis to give back their Prime Minister. Kushner, bin Salman, and Netanyahu - an anti-Iranian axis. Don't let a rogue prince lead our nation to war.

AFGHANISTAN - OPIUM PAYS FOR YOUNG MALE SOLDIERS AND THE AFGHAN-PAKISTAN PUSHTIN TRIBES REMAIN: The center of world opium trade funds the longest war in American history.

RAQQALetting some flee to end the battle.

TURKEY AND THE BREAK UP OF NATO: Some well told recent history by Stephen Kinzer about a military alliance that has lost its mission.


DOES IT MATTER THAT THESE SHOOTERS ARE ALL ATHEISTS? Does it matter? Devin Kelley was raised Christian but become rabidly anti Christian in the last year. His mother in law wasn't in the church but he hadn't exactly come with a single bullet for her. A local official said, "he came with a mission." A man who played dead and survived said Kelley's only words during the shooting were "Everybody die,". The Columbine killer, Eric Harris, wore a natural selection t shirt to the school massacre after writing in journals that he would like to create a game in which the strong live and the weak die. Another entry observed humans are nothing but atoms. Atheism can be tied to a movement and ideology like Darwinism or Marxism. Other times it expresses itself as Sartre said, "Hell is other people." Atheism was once lionized as a way of life for honest intellectuals. It was the official ideology of the Communist states of the twentieth century. The best article on the shooting WAS WRITTEN  by Regis Nichol. The killer was a zombie.

LEE HARVEY OSWALD WAS A MILITANT ATHEIST AS WELL: The "lone gunman" was judged by liberal experts as an example of "violence in America"(especially in the South)" . Countless editorials about why "we" are so violent missed the point that a Catholic warrior president was shot by an atheist Marxist in the midst of the great spiritual battle of that age. Maybe all that conspiracy ink has been shed because we never really did properly explain which world movements collided that day in Dallas.

DOES IT MATTER THAT COMMUNISM IS AN ATHEIST MOVEMENT DRENCHED IN BLOOD WINKED AT BY MEDIA EXCUSED BY THE ACADEMY AND ENDORSED BY UNCLE BERNIE? "25% of Americans think more people died under George Bush than Joseph Stalin." The Crimes of Communism by Paul Kengor.


HATING WOMEN - IT'S IN THE LEFTIST DNA: Elise Erhard explains at Crisis magazine. Reckoning with Bill Clinton - a feminist recants.




ARGENTINA: Mission - feed the world.

ROD DREHER AT AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE ON WHY LIBERALISM FAILED - BY PATRICK DEENAN OF NOTRE DAME: The heart of Deneen’s book is a chapter discussing liberalism as “anticulture.” Drawing a contrast between the political theory that emerged in classical culture, and that prevailed in some form in the West until the Renaissance ushered in the modern era, Deneen shows that liberalism depends on a fundamentally different anthropology. To put it crudely, premodern political thought was based on the belief that man could only be fully human if he learned how to restrain his base passions so that he could grow in virtue. Modern man — “modern” meaning from Machiavelli to the present day — believed, and believes, that man is fully human when he is free to make his own destiny, unencumbered by any unchosen obligations.

Deneen says that liberalism is a “comprehensive effort to displace cultural forms as the ground condition of liberal liberty.” He talks about how Tocqueville worried that people within liberal democracies would eventually be overcome by their individuality that they would forget that they had any obligations to the past or to the future. In time, liberalism might cause people to lose the capacity for self-governance, because they will have become cut off from a sense of being embedded within a culture, a tradition, a past, a future, or anything beyond themselves. In fact, they have to be, if they’re going to become a fully self-determined individual. This is why Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is the natural religion for an advanced liberal society. If you’re going to have a religion, it needs to be one that affirms the path one has chosen for oneself, and that buffers the anxieties of living without ultimate meaning and direction.

The Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul

[first published November 18, 2015]

by David Pence

The Catholic Church on this day each year  celebrates the dedication of the churches of St Peter and St Paul in Rome.  St. Peter and St. Paul drank of the Lord's Chalice and were both martyred in Rome.  “Those two famous shoots of the Divine Seed burst forth in a great progeny.” Their sacral brotherhood of blood served as the foundation stones of the apostolic Church.
 Their tombs were pilgrimage destinations from the beginning. The basilicas were built over their sacred remains by Constantine in the 4th century, and then refurbished and rededicated in later centuries. Christianity’s priesthood  is centered in Rome where the graves of the martyred blood brothers signal the early development of Christ's Body as surely as Bethlehem and Nazareth. The reclamation project of winning back territory from the Prince of this world is celebrated especially when a sacred space is carved out of the land and stone to consecrate a church.  

Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls

Interior of St Paul's

Basilica of St Peter

The Chair of Peter upheld by
Saints Ambrose, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, and Augustine

Friday, November 17, 2017

Reviewing the Reformation: Five New Books with Frederick Blonigen

      October 31, 2017, the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation has generated a plethora of books about Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Some of these books portray Luther as the great champion of Christian freedom; others present him as the arch heretic who led the rebellion against the Catholic Church that not only caused a massive rupture in Christendom but planted the seeds of the eventual secularization of the West. Speaking from the Catholic perspective, Gerhard Cardinal Muller, former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said in a recent book entitled The Cardinal Muller Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church, “Strictly speaking, we Catholics do not have any reason to celebrate October 31, 1517, the date that is considered to be the beginning of the Reformation that led to the rupture in western Christianity. If we are convinced that revelation has been preserved, in its entirety and unchanged, through Scripture and tradition in the doctrine of the faith, in the sacraments, in the hierarchic constitution of the Church by divine right, founded on the sacrament of holy orders, we cannot accept that there are sufficient reasons to separate from the Church.” In order to better understand Luther and the Protestant Reformation and the momentous effect this event has had on the course of Western history right down to the present age, I will recommend a number of recent and classic books on the subject.

     Joseph Pearce, the doyen of Catholic biographers, has authored highly acclaimed biographies of G.K.Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, J.R.R.Tolkien, C.S.Lewis, and many others. In his most recent book, Heroes of the Catholic Reformation: Saints Who Renewed the Church, Pearce has written a beautiful and inspiring work about the great saints of the Catholic Counter Reformation. He begins his book by clarifying the term “Reformation”: “One of the biggest mistakes that a student of history can make is to confuse the so-called English ‘Reformation’ with its namesake on the continent. Whereas the Protestant Reformation in Europe was animated by the genuine theological differences that separated those who followed Luther or Calvin from those who accepted the apostolic and ecclesial authority of Catholicism, the so-called ‘Reformation’ in England was animated solely by the political ambitions and lustful appetites of the king.” The central thesis of Pearce’s book is that the Protestant Reformation is a misnomer, for it was not a reform but a revolution that rejected the authority of the Church, promulgated many false doctrines, and caused a massive division among Christians. The true reform of the Church, contends Pearce, had already begun before Luther’s rebellion and continued in response to the Protestant Revolt. The book consists of short biographies of many of the major and some of the minor heroes and heroines of this historic period. There are portraits of the English martyrs Thomas More, John Fisher, Edmund Campion, Robert Southwell, and Margaret Clitherow. There are illuminating essays on the remarkable priest St. Philip Neri, the outstanding bishop Charles Borromeo and the wise and saintly Pope St. Pius V. And there are splendid portraits of the three of the most important Spanish Counter Reformation saints: St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, the two great Carmelite reformers and mystics. At a time when the Catholic Church desperately needed strong witnesses to the faith, God called forth these amazing men and women, true models of holiness, to renew and reform the Church.
John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila

     A unique historical survey that I would enthusiastically recommend is Benjamin Wiker’s The Reformation 500 Years Later: 12 Things You Need to Know. The author begins his book by announcing that after five hundred years the Reformation is coming to an end because Christians today are forced to focus on what unites us in light of the growing persecution of all Christians by the militantly secular culture of the West and the anti-Christian culture of Islam. The purpose of this enlightening book is to help the reader understand those historical factors that led to the Protestant Reformation: factors such as the temporal rule of the papal states and the papal corruption that ensued. Other events included the weakening of the papacy when popes abandoned Rome and lived at Avignon in southern France from 1305 to 1377. That was followed by the approximately 40 year Western Schism when three cardinals all claimed to be the legitimate pope. Wiker highlights the “bad popes”, especially that particular brand of corruption associated with the Renaissance.  He sets the ecclesial crisis within several historical movements of the day. There were the political leaders who were greatly enriched by the looting of Catholic monasteries and convents. There was the impact of the Islamic threat in Europe, the rise of atheism in the Renaissance, the important role played by the printing press, and the devastating effect of the Thirty Years War. It is Wiker’s intention that a deeper understanding of the historical background will allow us to see those old foes of Christianity in a contemporary light. Western secularism and radical Islam are still here.

     Luther and His Progeny: 500 Years of Protestantism and Its Consequences for Church, State, and Society is edited by historian John C. Rao. This work is a collection of essays from a group of international scholars.  It surveys the damage caused by Luther and his revolt on every aspect of civilization: politics, economics, education, and society in general. Unlike Wiker’s book which is an attempt to find common ground between Catholics and Protestants, these essays are without exception polemical, explaining (and quite  accurately) just how devastating the heretical views of Luther were in their destructive impact on the Church and society. Of the twelve essays in this book the three most impressive are: Thomas Stark’s :"Man as a Victim of a Divine Tyrant: Luther’s Theology of a Self-Contradicting God”; John C.Rao’s “A Necessary Reform, Depraved From Birth”; and Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro- Carambula’s “Negative Liberty, Protestantism, and the War on Nature." 
Here is the historian Rao on the intertwined defects of Luther's anthropology and ecclesiology.  “From the total depravity of men Luther deduced the necessity of viewing the church not as the visible Body of Christ, hierarchically organized , with a teaching and sacramental life guided by the clergy in aid of people seeking sanctity. The church, for him, was only a simple collection of baptized individuals ...who had to place all of their hope in an extrinsic and unmerited justification, offered from the pure will and grace of God, without the participation of men, who remained sinners even in Heaven itself. As a result, the international Mystical Body of Christ, with its cycle of penances, indulgences, and good works, became for him an enormous hoax of the devil.”
For philosopher Thomas Stark, it is Luther's confusion about sin, agency, and human nature that divorces him from the Christian tradition.  "What, then, is the very foundation of Luther’s thought? The whole theology of Martin Luther centers on sin and the possibility of justification of the sinner before God. However, an analysis of Luther’s concept of sin leads to the recognition that Luther—in contrast to the entire ecclesial teaching of tradition—does not base sin on an abuse of human freedom, because Luther denies freedom of the human will as such. The denial of human freedom is at the very heart of Luther’s anthropology....The second pillar of Luther’s anthropology, one that complements the complete denial of the freedom of the will: the doctrine of the total corruption of human nature. Luther sees a ‘deep crookedness and depravity and wickedness in our nature: yes, it is in itself a wounded nature, completely leavened by malice.’ The real reason for the corruption and wickedness of human nature is , according to Luther, however, not founded upon the original sin of Adam. Rather, the root cause for the depravity and sinfulness of man for Luther is the physical nature of man. In his anthropology Luther identifies the physical nature of man totally with that aspect of human corporeality that allows man to be inclined to sin, which St.Paul calls “the flesh” and which Luther calls ‘the most unsubstantial’ and ‘least valuable part’ of man.”


     To mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, a new English translation of Paul Hacker’s seminal work, (originally published in German in 1966) Faith in Luther: Martin Luther and the Origin of Anthropocentric Religion has recently been reprinted with a Preface by Joseph Ratzinger. Hacker, a world renowned scholar, especially in the disciplines of philology and linguistics, and a professor at both the University of Bonn and the University of Munster, was raised Lutheran but after an intense immersion in the writings of Martin Luther and an equally intense study of the Church Fathers entered into full communion with the Catholic Church in 1962. Hacker’s book on Luther’s theological concept of faith remains one of the most scholarly critiques of Luther’s errant view of faith ever written and a very important contribution to true ecumenism. The twin pillars of the Protestant Reformation were “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone) and “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone). Ironically, neither of these two pillars are biblical, but rather anti-biblical. Hacker’s emphasis is on the second pillar. And in a very carefully researched work Hacker demonstrates convincingly that Luther’s understanding of faith was a distortion of Scripture and, in effect, the foundational idea that started a new religion and launched a great split in the religion of western Christendom. Not only did Luther in his German translation of the New Testament add the word “alone” to Romans 3:28, a word not in the original Greek, but he invented his own concept of faith: what Hacker calls “reflexive faith”.  Hacker explains the traditional Catholic view of faith: “Pure Christian faith is an act of obedient self-donation. The believer surrenders himself to the transcendent God in the assent of adoration. The more his faith becomes mature through loving cooperation with God’s grace, the less is it possible for him to turn his attention back to himself within the act of faith.” But, says Hacker, Luther’s “reflexive faith, on the other directed to the Divine Person of Christ, but it is intended to recoil on the believer’s ego in order to evoke in him a consciousness of consolation and salvation.” It is not difficult to see in Luther’s new concept of faith the origins of subjective Christianity: each person will decide for himself what Christianity means. The over 40,000 Protestant denominations today should not be a surprise given the distorted view of faith espoused by Luther 500 years ago.

     Perhaps the single most impressive new book on Luther and the Reformation to appear this year is Brad Gregory’s Rebel in the Ranks: Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Conflicts That Continue to Shape Our World. Gregory, a professor of European History at the University of Notre Dame, is one of today’s finest historians on the period of the Reformation and Counter Reformation and the author of what is, I think, the single best book on this period: his magisterial 2012 work, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society. In this new work, Professor Gregory’s principal thesis is that while Luther did not originally intend to start a revolution that is what he caused and that the Reformation still matters greatly if we are to understand the modern world. To quote Gregory, ”Regardless of our religious views, the Reformation remains important because we can’t understand secular and religious ideas and institutions today without it. What happened five centuries ago affects us today. If we want to know why the early twenty-first century is the way it is—and how it got this way—we need to understand the Reformation and its impact. The Reformation ended the Middle Ages and made the modern world—but not in any simple or straightforward way.” As Gregory makes clear, Luther, as well as Calvin and the other Reformers, would be horrified by the long-term consequences of the Reformation he set in motion 500 hundred years ago. Though unintended, the reform he started quickly morphed into an all out revolt against the papacy and the Catholic Church. The long term consequence of the Reformation was to transform Europe from a continent where religion was the center of life to the situation today where public life has been all but totally secularized and religion has been relegated to each individual’s private world view. How and why this secularization took place since and because of the Reformation is the central theme of Gregory’s new work. If I could recommend just one new book on Luther and the Reformation it would be Gregory’s. His scholarship is comprehensive, his research is meticulous, and he writes with great lucidity and verve.

     In addition to these newer books, I would also encourage reading or rereading some of the classics on this important historical period. They include Hilaire Belloc’s two books: How the Reformation Happened and Characters of the Reformation; Fr. Louis Bouyer’s The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism; and Erik Erikson’s famous psychoanalytic study Young Man Luther. All of these works are engaging and enlightening and provide a deeper and richer understanding of the Reformation and its consequences.