Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Modernity, Church, Tribe

These issues continue to pop up in surprising (to me) places. Priest Richard Rene over at the ecumenical-obsessed Red River Orthodox takes a stab at it. And seems to be well along the process of talking himself into jumping ship ("our newly-adopted Orthodox narrative comes into conflict with other narratives, such as those of the LGBT or feminist communities" - Father, please.)

It is modernity which is the heretical aberration, not tribalism. The Nation is coming back wherever you look. The secular State, suffering no other gods before it, must attempt to stamp out this instinct wherever it appears.

Anglo-Americans who join the Orthodox faith save their souls and lose their families and neighbors. It takes generations of extended family and community, baptized, married and buried in the Faith, to build a Local Church. I do not think America will ever have an autocephalous Local Church (notwithstanding the OCA's press releases) because America is not a real nation. Our Patriarchs may in fact be taking the long view: let's see what shakes out when the American federal state devolves into its constituent nations, then we'll see what the Church is over there.

We Anglo-Americans actually had our American Church, the Episcopal Church, formerly the Anglican Church, the Church of the English. Schismatic, un-orthodox in crucial areas, competing with every other Protestant sect, but it recited the Creed and it was "our" Church. Then it left us. A number of us became Orthodox, because we saw the issues with a Latin Church that thinks she rules the whole planet. Interestingly, the Roman Church is strongest where she actually behaves like a Local Church: Croatia, Poland, Ireland, Italy, even France (NB: Rome no longer elects French Popes).

I am in the Antiochian Archdiocese, the only member of my family in the Church. What a terrible paucity of experience not to be in communion with your own blood and kin. Let me repeat that: not to be in communion with your own blood and kin. In the old countries, they picnic in cemeteries.

All we can do is pray and hope time solves the issue for our descendants. But there are so terribly few of us.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Enemy Of The People

It's the rich, says Porter.

The very rich, as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, are different from you and me. That photo is a good illustration. The very rich drive different cars, wear different clothes, shop at different stores and hang around different people.

There is a strong classically-liberal ethos in the Anglo and European spheres which says we will allow you to make as much money as you want, and in return, you will not use your incredible wealth to screw the rest of us over.

Unfortunately the very rich, like the very poor, seemingly cannot help themselves. They must exploit every loophole in the tax code. They must park billions of dollars which rightfully belong to their shareholders in overseas banks. They must lobby for a cheaper workforce. They must fund "color revolutions" and "Arab Springs" which are really just advance payments to rival governors so their particular multi-national can be first out of the gate once the new government settles in.

The very rich do not care about building anything lasting beyond a leg up for their own progeny. They do not care if your neighborhood gets transformed into a barrio; their neighborhood will always look great. They are not loyal to the American, British, French or other nations; they carry their nation with them wherever they go. They don't cut their losses, pay down debt and tighten their belts; they get bailouts. Their companies don't extend forested space or actually reduce their ecological footprint; they just haggle over LEEDS certifications and carbon credits. You are just a consumer among a zillion other consumers whose aggregate transactions make them incredibly wealthy. Governmental relations are just another line item in the business plan.

In sum, the concerns of the very rich are no longer conservative causes, and the Republicans should abandon them.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

God rest the soul of His servant, +Philip

Memory Eternal.

The old lion passes away.
...ONE, Despite the vitality and the dynamic nature of Orthodoxy in North America, no member of SCOBA, not even the chairman of SCOBA, was consulted about what was discussed in Geneva. We received rules from our brothers in Switzerland which we have nothing to do with. We have been on this continent for more than two hundred (200) years. We are no longer little children to have rules imposed on us from 5,000 miles away. Orthodoxy in America has its own ethos. We have our own theological institutions, and we have our own theologians, authors, publications and magazines. We do not intend to be disobedient to the Mother Churches; we just want to dialogue with them and give them the opportunity to know us and understand us. We have been here for a long, long time and we are very grateful to the Almighty God that in our theology and worship, we do express the fullness of the Holy Orthodox faith.

Fifty years ago our hierarchs, may their souls rest in peace, founded SCOBA which has done a splendid job despite our external limitations. We have established the Orthodox Christian Education Commission which is chaired by a Greek Orthodox gentleman. We have established the International Orthodox Christian Charities which is directed by Constantine Triantafilou, a very good Greek Orthodox. We have established the Orthodox Christian Mission Center which is doing an excellent job and we have done many other things which time does not permit me to enumerate.

My dear brothers,

We are faced now with a very serious procedural nightmare. We are, supposedly, here to discuss a new organization to replace SCOBA. The question is: Was SCOBA dissolved and if so, by whom? And when?? SCOBA has a constitution which is fifty years old. If this constitution has to be amended, let us then amend it according to correct procedures. No one can dissolve SCOBA except SCOBA itself. SCOBA has organized Bishops’ Assemblies before Chambesy told us to do so. The first Assembly was held at the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, Pennsylvania in 1994, under the chairmanship of our brother, Archbishop Iakovos, of blessed memory. The second Bishops’ Assembly was convened in Washington, D.C. and the third Bishops’ Assembly was convened in Chicago, Illinois, both under the auspices of SCOBA and the Chairmanship of His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios.

TWO - The second point which I would like to note is concerning the term “Diaspora” which was used several times in the literature which we received from Geneva. I remember, there are many of you who were at the Antiochian Village in 1994 and should remember that the term “Diaspora” was unanimously rejected by our assembly. We are not in Babylon; we are in North America, the new world. We are dealing here with second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth generations of American Orthodox and they refuse to be called “Diaspora.”

I believe that some of our churches in the Old World are in “Diaspora.” In Jerusalem, for example, we have 2,000 Orthodox Christians left. In Constantinople, the glorious capital of the Byzantine Empire, I was told that there are only 2,000 Greek Orthodox left. And the Turkish Government, until now, refuses to let us open that famous Theological School of Khalki, despite the intervention of the presidents of the United States. In Iraq, hundreds of Christians were slaughtered and thousands had to flee Iraq to the Syrian Arab Republic. We are free here in North America -- free to teach, free to preach, free to worship, free to write books and sometimes criticize even the presidents of the United States. We have the full freedom of expression in accordance with the United States Constitution. It is important to note here that the Holy Synod of Antioch, to my knowledge, never discussed the Chambesy decision and the rules of operation in order to formally bless this effort.

THREE - Some of the communiqués which were issued by the fathers in Geneva were good. I don’t understand, however, why Central America was joined to North America. The Antiochian Metropolitan of Mexico and Central America informed me that he wanted to be with the Orthodox Bishops of South America. The reason is: he has nothing in common with North America because he represents a different culture all together. As a matter of fact, he traveled to Brazil to attend the Bishops’ Assembly which met at the Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Sao Paulo.

I hope that, in the future, this matter could possibly be addressed. In the communiqué which was issued from Geneva dated June 6-12, 2009, I read something very interesting and very hopeful. It says and I quote: “The conference expresses the common desires of all Orthodox Churches for a solution to the problem of the canonical organization of the Orthodox “Diaspora,” in accordance with the ecclesiological and canonical tradition and practice of the Orthodox Church.” The same communiqué includes these bright words: “The mission of the Bishops’ Assemblies is the proclamation and promotion of the unity of the Orthodox Church, the common pastoral ministry of the Orthodox faithful in the region, as well as the common witness to the world.” Here we see a clear emphasis on the unity of the Orthodox Church. What is needed is the translation of these inspiring words into concrete action...

If I have a vision for the future, it is this: Jerusalem has less than 2,000 Orthodox left. Istanbul has 2,000 Greek Orthodox left. The future of Orthodoxy in the Middle East is uncertain. Thus, for the sake of international Orthodox unity and Orthodox unity in North America, we should with one voice, beg His Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch to leave Istanbul and move to Washington, D.C. or New York City and head a united Orthodox Church in this hemisphere. All of us, I am sure, will be blessed to be under his omophorion and Orthodox unity in North America will cease to be a dream, but a reality.

My dear brothers,

If we do not bury the burdens of the past between certain autocephalous churches, such burdens will bury us, and Orthodoxy in this country and throughout the world will become an insignificant dot on the margin of history.

Blunt, heavy-handed and with a memory that ground both long and exceedingly fine, history will be kind to +Phillip.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Rethinking Capital Punishment

Via Ad Orientem.
But as Ron Sider noted in The Early Church on Killing (Baker Academic, 2012), those Fathers who discussed capital punishment found it unthinkable that a follower of Christ could take a life, even as part of a judicial sentence. Lactantius said that a Christian should not even accuse someone of a capital crime, "because it makes no difference whether you put someone to death by word or by sword since it is the act of putting to death itself which is prohibited." Origen, recognizing that capital punishment had a place under the Old Covenant, drew a stark contrast between the law of Moses and the law of Christ. Christians, he said, cannot "condemn [someone] to be burned or stoned." Tertullian asked whether a Christian could be a civil magistrate and concluded that believers must avoid "sitting in judgment on someone's life."
Way back when, sociopaths were exiled or killed or died in the course of short, brutal lives. In the modern era, non-criminals, including crime victims, have to come up with $20K/yr per prisoner to keep sociopaths clothed, housed and fed and protected behind high walls from extra-judicial retribution.

The linked article draws a parallell with slavery, another institution which was said to be unworkable with Christian praxis. People with very low marginal product used to be slaves, because otherwise they were vagrant beggars. When they got sick or the weather got too cold or they couldn't find food, they died. Then we outlawed slavery and gave low marginal producers welfare so they wouldn't die. Now, the poor are obese and have children they can't afford.

These debates only take place in that interregnum between the institution of the welfare state and the point at which net consumption outpaces the capacity or the will of net producers to fund it. After that, what's old is new again and these debates don't happen.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Preliminary results are in

A couple of folks have commented that California will make an interesting test case for seeing how this grand experiment of replacing that State's Anglo-European population with a Latino population will work out. Via iSteve, the L.A. Times has made some preliminary observations.
Sixteen-year-old Monica buried her face in a pillow, trying to rest for school the next day, as the clock ticked past 11 p.m.

Sleep was a battle in the tiny apartment. Hunched at the other end of the family's only mattress, two of her brothers played a video game while a third lounged next to her, watching virtual soccer players skitter on screen. Her 2-year-old niece toddled barefoot near the door, toying with a pile of pennies.

In all, seven people live in this wedge of space in Historic South-Central, including Monica's mother and the mother of the little girl — the longtime girlfriend of one of her brothers. They squeeze into an apartment roughly the size of a two-car garage, sharing a bathroom, a small kitchen and one common room. "We're not comfortable," Monica's mother, Josefina Cano, said in Spanish. "But what can we do? It's better than being on the street." ...

The cramped conditions echo an earlier era, when urban reformers railed against teeming tenements. After World War II, bigger homes and better incomes afforded Americans more space, and the shrinking size of families fueled the trend by 1970. But crowding rates began creeping higher again after the immigration wave of the 1980s, census data show...

Mexican and Vietnamese Americans tend to have different views than whites or blacks do of what is "crowded," according to a 2000 study, but they still suffer worsening anxiety and depression as crowding increases.

Gabriel Guerrero, for instance, complains that the noise is too much. Twelve people crowd the two-bedroom house in South Gate that he bought decades ago. After school, the clamor of the television and the chatter on phones overwhelms him.

"To go to the bathroom, you have to take a number," the 60-year-old grandfather said with a sigh. At times, his son heads to the nearby grocery to use its restroom.

Sometimes Guerrero daydreams of selling the house and finding an apartment for just a handful of them. But then he thinks of his grown children, and their growing children, muddling along with meager paychecks or measly hours.
He sets the daydream aside. "They have nowhere to go," Guerrero said.
Okay, so here is how this works: a prosperous area attracts lots of newcomers from non-prosperous areas who bid up land prices and depress wages, resulting in the living arrangements which the LA Times is shocked and appalled to find exist.

In other words, mass Third World immigration eventually results in replication of the immigrants' living conditions back home.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Orthodox eye candy

From Primatial Service at the Church of Archangels in Istanbul.

I don't know who all is behind the Orthodox Cognate PAGE, but they seem to be gathering steam as an Orthodox news portal.

Update: More photos, Hierarchical Liturgy. Also, the Antiochian delegation apparently left early over the dispute with the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

Mohammed to the mountain

That is, +Kyrill to +Bartholomew.

A great Synod of the Primates of the Orthodox Local Churches has been in the works for some time. I had been reading the carefully couched announcements from the Ecumenical Patriarchate very skeptically. But an important preparatory meeting (Synaxis) is rolling right along, and it appears every Patriarch except Antioch's +John was there (Antioch sent a South American Metropolitan). Onward to the Great and Holy Council.

I had also found it very hard to imagine "Third Rome" (Moscow) and her retinue, and Serbia, Romania, Georgia, Bulgaria and their retinues all crowding into the apartments in which the Turks allow +Bartholomew to stay so the Greeks could lecture them on how world Orthodoxy is to be run. But yes, Mohammed has come to the mountain.

+Bartholomew gave his view of things here and +Kyrill made his pitch here. And here is how things will apparently turn out.

I read it so you don't have to: the Russians are on a roll these days.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

As A Thief In The Night

So comes the day of Reckoning.
James Eccleton remarked on how the mighty have fallen. “Brazil is becoming Argentina, Argentina is becoming Venezuela, and Venezuela is becoming Zimbabwe.” The question that always puzzles historians about the fall of great and rich countries is: ‘why didn’t they say it coming?’ How did they let disaster sneak up on them?

Adam Smith once remarked that “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation”. That is usually understood to mean that it takes a long time to break things...But it is more correct to say ‘a great deal of ruin’ means “it takes a long time to realize that things are breaking”.

The clue is the total finality of the crash when it comes. The victim when examined for postmortem is drained of blood; his organs are all twisted and perverted. The dead man was not ‘a little weaker than yesterday’ but in a far more fragile than was supposed. The damage was hidden as if the final day of reckoning was put off by eating the seed corn, pawning the family jewels and finally, selling the family members to buy the final meal — in a word as if everything was consumed to counterfeit the appearance of normalcy.

Thus, the collapse when it comes is unexpectedly complete. When National Intelligence Director James Clapper says Syria has become an ‘apocalyptic disaster’ it doesn’t simply mean that Syria is a little worse than in 2011, but far, far worse than we thought it was even in December 2013. The husk of Syria has not only consumed its final supplies of food, but also its reserves of comity, good will, human capital and luck.

The real damage was internal. A society can survive the loss of things, but it cannot survive without institutions or the destruction of culture. Culture is to nations what an immune system is to people. Nations under siege fall back on some atavistic condition. Thus, occupied Poland becomes more Catholic, as does Ireland, and as Egypt perhaps becomes more Muslim. They fall back on the known and the comforting. City Hall might collapse and the factory temporarily closed but if culture and identity survive these things can be reopened again.

The apocalypse of Syria means that many people don’t even want to reopen things any more. They hate their neighbors, individually and collectively.

The linked columnist, Richard Fernandez, is writing about a group of slow-motion trainwrecks around the world. And this comment about Argentina caught my eye:
Regarding the discussion on Argentina below, after traveling around the country a bit, my conclusion was that the root cause of its woes is institutionalized racism and exploitation. Remain in the city centers and you will see nothing but faces that could come from Barcelona or Milan. But take a bus out of town and you will view mile after mile of shanties filled with poor mestizos. The European elites don't give a rats ass about them, don't educate them, and don't value them even as consumers. How can you grow a prosperous industrial state when 80% of the population is on the dole and and lacks the basic literacy and math skills to be prosperous.
The author is obviously unable to connnect the human biodiversity-dots from what he saw firsthand but given the OP is PJ Media, it's about as candid a statement as you're likely to see.

Several decades ago, my father's rugby team played Argentina's Club Puerrydon. They were and are extraordinarily handsome and civilized people; rugby in Argentina is clearly an upper caste activity. Outside the southern European-style cities, Argentina apparently looks a lot more like Peru.

I don't know this, but I think the same thing that commenter observed playing out in Argentina is what played out in Syria. An urbanized, K-selected, Byzantine and Assyrian remnant lived their refined Mediterranean lifestyles while an r-selected, Sunni Arab underclass was quietly having all the babies and listening to Wahabbist sermons. The Assad nuclear family and their lackeys are not the most forward-thinking group, and they have been stealing, brutalizing and doing whatever else to feather their own nests for decades. Long term investment and planning are impossible in such a place. The high-g professionals and entrepeneurs have been streaming out, because that's what K-selected people do in environments which are so hostile to family formation: they withdraw or they shut down. All sorts of social and financial capital was being eroded and then, poof, the civil order vanished. I know Syrians who came piling over into the US when it happened. They didn't see it coming, and they still can't believe it. They think something will work out and they'll be back enjoying their easygoing lifestyles. They won't, not ever. The Syria they knew is gone.

This is why I rail about low-g immigration and transfer payments so much, because those trainwrecks that we think only happen in other people's countries can happen here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Whacky American lawsuits

NJ teen suing parents won't get immediate support
(The one on the right.)
A northern New Jersey honor student who has sued to get her parents to support her after she moved out of their home had her initial request denied Tuesday by a judge who cautioned that the case could lead to a "potentially slippery slope" of claims by teenagers against their parents.

Rachel Canning had sought immediate relief in the form of $650 in weekly child support and the payment of the remainder of her tuition at Morris Catholic High School, as well as attorney's fees.

State Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard denied those motions but ordered the parties to return to court on April 22, when they will present evidence and testimony on the over-arching question of whether the Cannings are obligated to financially support their daughter. Rachel Canning, a high school senior, has already been accepted by at least one college and is seeking to have her parents pay some or all of her tuition, attorney Tanya Helfand told Bogaard Tuesday.
This "teen" is a legal adult. She is good-looking and smart and has tons of options. I'm not sure what exactly is up for debate in further proceedings. However, if this lawsuit is successful I would like some serious re-thinking of the voting age in this country.

Why does our society keep extending juvenescence further and further past sexual maturity? It seems to result in a huge disconnect with psychological maturity--children in adult bodies.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


I get the sense that a primary element missing from the liberal (as in "generous" or "free-thinking") mind is a developed, coherent sense of boundaries. This is not an original thought from me. Sailer has talked about it in terms of leapfrogging loyalties, as opposed to a more ordered view of society as concentric circles of diminishing loyalties, from individual to family to clan to township to nation, etc. There's also the view of liberalism as ingroup status competition unique to modern Anglos and northwest Europeans, by which one gains status by more enthusiastically embracing ever more remote and exotic Others.

The common theme among liberal individuals seems to be a lack of any sense of external proportion or boundaries, like people who can't appreciate why the first gesture toward strangers shouldn't be to move within one foot of them. A person with no sense of limiting principle would be perplexed over why I might prefer my surplus wealth go toward people within my concentric rings of loyalties, instead of to strangers via a middleman in Washington D.C. Christ said to love others, right? God's love is infinite, and so should be ours.

Thus, it seems the most righteous thing in the world that, in the mind of this French Catholic bishop, restrictive immigration policy is nothing less than a betrayal of Christ:
It would be betraying Christ not to proclaim over and over again today his message of love for all, without discrimination of any sort. Remaining silent would be to renounce him. Is the Church like one of those luxury hotels rising arrogantly over shanty towns where everything is arranged so that tourists don't have to come into contact with the misery and poverty? And are the walls of our cathedrals too thick to be permeated by the voices of those who suffer? God speaks through immigrants also. And what if it were the face he takes on to make us rediscover that which is essential? While our indifference and our disdain do not grasp the full relevance for today of Christ's words: "They have eyes that don't see and ears that don't hear." (Via Oz Conservative, who provides his own critique.)
But what's the limiting principle which keeps the Vatican from opening its gates as well? There are plenty of Africans who would be grateful just to pitch a tent in St. Peter's Square. And having brought them to St. Peter's Square, who could deny them the hospitality of the surrounding buildings. And having let them in the buildings, surely you can find some place for them to roll out their prayer rugs. And is it too much to ask that one of their elders be given some time to say a few inspirational words. Say, isn't that a pulpit over there?

The lack of limiting principle comes from casting immigration in terms of a categorical imperative ("betraying Christ"). Immigration becomes not just a "mere" matter of public policy, something to be weighed for its effect on the citizens to whom the State owes its first duty. Rather, immigration becomes the Eleventh Commandment. If France is good, and sharing is good, then goodness demands we share France. The fact that such a process can only end with no France left to share is not considered. Categorical imperative.

Presumably the bishop would argue that if the Vatican (or his own cathedral) let Muslim immigrants swamp the place, then it would no longer be the Vatican. So why is he calling for French Christians to extinguish their own culture? The bishop is a shepherd with no sense of boundaries. The entire planet is his flock: the sheep, the goats, the fleas on the sheep and the goats, the wolves that attack the sheep and the goats, and on and on. No boundaries, lest we betray Christ Himself.

This lack of any sense of proportion or boundary struck me while browsing another part of the Internet, where some are suggesting joint Catholic-Orthodox Forgiveness Vespers. For those who don't know, this is an Orthodox evening prayer service which culminates in the parishioners all walking the gauntlet of clergy and laity, greeting each other with the kiss of peace and asking each person's forgiveness. It is a moment of communal and sacred intimacy which marks the start of Lent. And to the liberal mind the thought springs, surely this moving and beautiful ceremony could be extended to our Roman Catholic brethren. What stingy soul could possibly think otherwise? And so the categorical imperative-snowball just keeps on rolling. Why stop there, as one commenter enthusiastically points out. Invite the Protestants too. Invite the whole town.

Intimacy is a tonic and surely, the generous spirit thinks, must needs be shared. But once you knock all the barriers down--if to use a crude and admittedly extreme example, I sleep with my wife, and then my sister-in-law whom I know and love, and then some other women I'd like to know and love--then it's no longer intimacy. Rather, it's a perverted simulacrum of intimacy. Even Lady Gaga has figured that out.