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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recruiting, not reproducing

More on the shrinking American Church, from Byzantine, Texas.

The book reviewed at the link is more of the apologetic that the Church in America is still insufficiently Orthodox: "He argues that this parish structure, radically opposed to Orthodox ecclesiology, is what has allowed and even encouraged the attitudes and problems that continue to plague Orthodox Christianity in America."

This should seemingly doom the efforts of the Protestant churches in the US with zero ecclesial structure. But it doesn't. From what I can see, the Protestant tide just keeps rising and rising.

Traditional Orthodox ecclesiology enjoyed something that the Church in the United States will never have: a State-backed monopoly on Christian worship. Otherwise, the sheep scatter into a dozen competing sects, hence the argument for a national church. How can our Faith with its arcane theology and elaborate liturgics compete with a democratic faith that tells everybody they're priests and every two people are a church? I don't think she can.

The prior waves of immigration from Orthodox countries are over. The prior wave of converts to American Orthodoxy is over; people just have too many options at this point. The commentary I'm seeing is from relatively affluent, higher-g folks with enough energy and forward-thinking to ponder individual spirituality. Most people are just looking for something that can help them knock some of the sharp corners off of life.

I don't see anybody giving any thought to the most immediate source of growth: extended, multi-generational families. Again, we've lost the advantage of imperial and national status which the Faith previously enjoyed, but maybe we should give some thought to our own little 'nations.' Shouldn't we be as concerned with driving down the cost of family-rearing? That seems to be the sort of thing people are actually crying for.

As the secular institutions (the State, the Market) become increasingly rapacious and anti-human, people (in particular the non-affluent and non-intellectual) are more just looking for community. An institution that puts collective effort into helping them raise good Orthodox families would have more appeal than an institution that tells you good bye and good luck with your individual praxis out there in the cruel World.

To give a concrete example, we lecture our young people on Orthodox chastity and marriage. Then we send them out into a sex-saturated culture and tell them to postpone marriage and childbearing while they acquire marketable skills (going in debt to do so). After all this, they get put in head-to-head economic competition with prospective spouses, and the Church offers no respite. We should not be surprised when our children don't take us seriously, and freely exercise any of their dozens of options when they grow up and get to decide these things for themselves.

In sum, the Church in America seems focused on recruiting, not reproducing. This is cult-ish thinking.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Extinction

The last time I had a puppy, I was 9 years old. This might as well have been in the Mesozoic era, since life with a dog was so primitive then. If Buck was good, he got Gaines-Burgers and maybe a Milk-Bone. Bad, we’d deliver stern admonitions over the half-eaten sneaker. But within hours of adopting our fuzzy, adorable Pi, I sensed that being a pet parent today — nobody uses the word “owner” anymore, apparently — means cultivating intelligence, manners and communication skills the way the parent of, say, a small human might.
--NYT, via Marginal Revolution and iSteve.

People unable to differentiate between an animal-pet and human child-offspring will go extinct.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

"This is conservative?"

College loans tough? Rubio will screw you harder!
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a possible 2016 White House contender, unveiled legislation on Wednesday to broaden the use of financial vehicles known as "income share agreements" that students can use to fund their higher education costs.

Under the agreements, which are marketed as an alternative to traditional student loans, private investors or organizations provide students with financing for their education costs in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings.

In other words rather than address the reason that college credit hours have gone up 600% faster in cost than the minimum wage has risen, taking college from something you could buy with a minimum-wage job in the summer to something you can't, what Rubio wants to do is add more and more ways for you to destroy your financial future.

This is "conservative"?

Like hell.

The entire reason we have such a problem with college costs in the first place is that the government made "free money" the order of the day. By grossly-expanding the ability to borrow beyond Stafford loan limits and Pell Grants (which by themselves had ratcheted up costs!) the spiral was on.

The free market -- or if you prefer conservative -- solution is to remove the special privileges that these loans "enjoy." Specifically, return them to the same status as any other unsecured debt -- like a credit card...

The original push to make bankruptcy unavailable came from the outrageous amount of debt that was taken on by some medical students, who (quite-rationally) decided that the harm done by a bankruptcy was small in comparison to the economic advantage of doing so. The answer to this "problem", rather than allowing the market to work (which would have dramatically cut the cost of said education as support for that outrageous level of cost would have disappeared) was to make doing that illegal.
Rubio's plan, skewered here by Karl Denninger at the Market Ticker, is what passes for "conservative" thought these days.

Conservative thought, in the sense of deference to tradition and venerable institutions, would recognize that no more than a quarter of high schoolers are realistically qualified for college-level coursework, and the government has zero justification for involving itself in the education of legal adults. A fortiori, the government has zero justification for involving itself in the education of legal adults in the upper percentiles of intelligence.

Really, the only thing movement conservatives are conserving at this point is 20th century American Progressivism.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

More busywork in the fields of the Lord

Father Oliver wrings his hands:
People are leaving our church and are leaving in droves. My prediction is that unless we get another large convert movement into Orthodoxy, we will find our gains in the 1980s and 1990s were simply the “one step forward” to our “two steps back.” We even have a seminary of a particular jurisdiction with a monastery and I have been told that in terms of numbers and participants, it is a shadow of what it used to be (even while still functioning well enough over all for the moment). This is not just a Greek problem. It is an American Orthodox problem and the solution is not to make Orthodoxy an increasingly niche religion.
So I asked Father Oliver, "You say your starting point is engaging the world so tell me, what does your religious sect offer the world that none of the other religious sects do?" His response:
Look, the focus of Orthodoxy is on Christ crucified and risen. That is expressed in our theology and our liturgics in a profound and beautiful way and it inspires much that is, as you note, phenomenologically similar to other religions, such as helping the poor, etc. At least, when done properly it does–and that’s what we’re discussing here–how can one develop the kind of place that does these things while keeping what is good and true about the Orthodox Church. There’s no need to have a long, drawn out exchange over this, much less one that could be read as defensive or snippy by others. I think you’re right that there is a general pattern of health, but we Orthodox seem unable to inculcate it deeply across the board. We’re losing people because of it. What I hope we can explore here, are ways that the patterns you mention can be applied to our parishes.
In other words, he hasn't a clue.

The comments are as predictable as the OP: be loving, be devout, be charitable. Fast. Pray. Which is no different from what numerous Protestant and Catholic pastors are exhorting their flocks to do. For that matter, it's also what Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Zoroastrian clerics are exhorting their flocks to do. I know people from a number of religious backgrounds, even those awful Christian Evangelicals, and they put my pathetic praxis to shame. But really, all the devout (pardon my crudity) dick-measuring is irrelevant. The pious Muslim with his fear of God and defense of traditional family stacks up just fine against the Athonite monk. So what's the difference? And if your answer is, "the True Faith," well, they say the same thing. If your object is to grow the numbers of the Faithful in addition to being the communion of Saints, you will have to do better than that.

Let's get down to some brass tacks here. It's easy to lecture teenagers on the Orthodox view of chastity and marriage. It's easy to sign up bastard grandchildren for welfare when your teenagers don't listen. It's much harder to build a community from the ground up that gets horny young people into marriages before they ruin their lives over sex. It's much harder to provide jobs and status to young men and make sure young mothers aren't isolated and alone with a couple of screaming infants.

Christians imagine themselves as speaking the truth to power as St. Paul to Herod Agrippa or, much to be preferred, as advisors and counselors to Herod Agrippa. Merely carving out a space for Christians to be Christian is beneath everybody.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Not actually as bad as Pat thinks

Brendan Eich, homophobic bigot.

“There is a gay mafia,” said Bill Maher, “if you cross them you do get whacked.”

Maher, the host of HBO’s “Real Time,” was talking about the gay activists and their comrades who drove Brendan Eich out as CEO of Mozilla. Eich, who invented JavaScript and co-founded Mozilla in 1998, had been named chief executive in late March.

Instantly, he came under attack for having contributed $1,000 to Proposition 8, whereby a majority of Californians voted in 2008 to reinstate a ban on same-sex marriage. Prop 8 was backed by the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church and the black churches, and carried 70 percent of the African-American vote.

Though Eich apologized for any “pain” he had caused and pledged to promote equality for gays and lesbians at Mozilla, his plea for clemency failed to move his accusers. Too late. According to The Guardian, he quit after it was revealed that he had also contributed—“The horror, the horror!”—to the Buchanan campaign of 1992.

That cooked it. What further need was there of proof of the irredeemably malevolent character of Brendan Eich?

"Mozilla" has a complicated corporate structure. From Wikipedia:
The Mozilla Corporation (abbreviated MoCo) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation that coordinates and integrates the development of Internet-related applications such as the Firefox and SeaMonkey web browsers and the Mozilla Thunderbird email client by a global community of open-source developers, some of whom are employed by the corporation itself. The corporation also distributes and promotes these products. Unlike the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, and the Mozilla open source project, founded by the now defunct Netscape Corporation, the Mozilla Corporation is a taxable entity. The Mozilla Corporation reinvests all of its profits back into the Mozilla projects.[3] The Mozilla Corporation's stated aim is to work towards the Mozilla Foundation's public benefit to "promote choice and innovation on the Internet."[4]

A MozillaZine article explained:

"The Mozilla Foundation will ultimately control the activities of the Mozilla Corporation and will retain its 100 percent ownership of the new subsidiary. Any profits made by the Mozilla Corporation will be invested back into the Mozilla project. There will be no shareholders, no stock options will be issued and no dividends will be paid. The Mozilla Corporation will not be floating on the stock market and it will be impossible for any company to take over or buy a stake in the subsidiary. The Mozilla Foundation will continue to own the Mozilla trademarks and other intellectual property and will license them to the Mozilla Corporation. The Foundation will also continue to govern the source code repository and control who is allowed to check in."

Mr. Eich was apparently escorted out of Mozilla Corporation by the head of the Mozilla Foundation, Mitchell Baker:


The Mozilla Foundation is non-profit, which means it's a business that doesn't have to pay taxes. Businesses that don't have to pay taxes can get away with all sorts of things, like having batshit-crazy lesbians as their chief executives. If Mozilla had to pay taxes, it would lose its advantage in the marketplace and have to hire some non-pathological individual to run things instead.

And that is all that is happening here: a cloistered, non-profit foundation has been taken over by homosexuals so the straight men are leaving or being driven out. It happened with the Episcopal Church. It happened with Broadway. It's happening in, of all places, the AKC and the US military. Mozilla will become increasingly radicalized and dysfunctional, because that's what happens when pathological people take over an organization.

Eventually, nobody in their right mind will do business with Mozilla. It will be an insane organization run by and for the insane, supported (if at all) by rent-seeking and transfer payments. When Mozilla runs out of externalities to support itself, it will either re-tool and get the straight guys who invent and maintain things back, or it will disappear.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Evil Empire


(It's been a while since Reagan was in the White House, so here's some context.)

Pat Buchanan wonders.
In 2013, the Kremlin imposed a ban on homosexual propaganda, a ban on abortion advertising, a ban on abortions after 12 weeks and a ban on sacrilegious insults to religious believers...

In the new ideological Cold War, whose side is God on now?
Good question. I have conservative Christian friends who are starting to get real uncomfortable when I ask it.

What do you call a place where you can get fired from your job for opposing homosexual marriage? Or sued for damages in some Star Chamber quasi-court for refusing to photograph a homosexual wedding? Or that issues parade permits for this? Or calls Carter Heyward a "priest?"

Brawling, redneck, drunken Russia seems at least headed in the right direction. And I know exactly where St. Paul would say we're headed.

At busy-work in the fields of the Lord


Truly the laborers are many, the latest from Contra Niche.

Please click through to a blog worth exploring. My comment:

I go to an Orthodox parish that is literally across the street from an Episcopal parish. Through a long-ago fluke of zoning, our parish has neighbors who can look out their windows and see our processions. And we ring a bell for the start of Divine Liturgy. So far, no Episcopalians or neighbors wandering in.

The hilariously obvious rebuke to Christian evangelism: Muslims coming to the US to be good Muslims.

"Backwards-looking" is a new term I've started using. Mention "the poor" to most clergy, and they think about London chimney-sweeps and Okies living in tents, not loud, fat women with hoop earrings or schizophrenic vagrants with broken brains. "Immigrants" brings up images of Tevye packing up ahead of the Cossacks, not Mexicans for whom $300/week and 6 people to an apartment is astounding good fortune. That's a PS3/Grand Theft Auto-lifestyle, right there. So with the evangelists. They think "Paul before Herod Agrippa." They're actually just "Anti-Gnostic ranting on the internet."

Time for the Church to look inward, and shepherd her flock through the coming Pagan epoch.

Contra Niche is commenting on an OP from the Ochlophobist blog, which has some follow-up here. Suffice to say I don't think ecumenicism is going to be breaking out all over any time soon. Personally, a few minutes of ecumenicist happy-talk and my fight-or-flight instincts start kicking in.