Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Great White North

 

An interesting discussion between Jordan Peterson and Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) – a relatively new Canadian political party.  The relevant election happened yesterday, September 20.  But my point isn’t to get out the vote – but to give a bit of publicity to Mr. Bernier and this party.

Perhaps the most important thing to know: on the Wikipedia page regarding this election, his party is not even pictured in the right-hand column.  So, the party must be doing something right.

More specifically, and to give you an idea of Bernier:

“I one-hundred percent agree with Mises, Rothbard, Hayek….”

He says the right things on decentralization, money, gold, crypto-currencies, free markets, private property, gender insanity, climate change policies, government deficits, and policies toward Canada’s “first nations,” regarding their lack of property rights. 

Most importantly, these days, he says the right things about everything related to Covid policies, vaccinations, vaccine passports, etc.

He knows that the best hope for his party is to gain a few seats in parliament such that they can be a voice in the political debate.  These results will be known by the time my post is published.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Heavenly Immanence

 

“What if it’s not true?”

Martin Luther, as he reached the top of the Holy Stairs (Scala sancti)

The Age of Division: Christendom from the Great Schism to the Protestant Reformation, by John Strickland

Luther was not questioning if Jesus climbed these marble stairs, relocated to the Lateran Palace.  He was questioning if climbing these stairs on his knees had accomplished anything.

…by the time he reached the landing, the entire ritual suddenly seemed profoundly hollow.

Could direct communion with God, which had nourished Christian civilization since Pentecost, depend so entirely on such a heavy-handed system of penance?

Luther would spend hours in confession, continuously concerned that he had forgotten to confess some minor sin or another, and that this would raise God’s anger toward him.  One confessor said to him, “Man, it is not God who is angry with you.  You are angry with God.”  Luther confirmed this in his writing: “Love God?  I hated him!” 

This came to a head with the 95 Theses and what we now know as the Protestant Reformation.  Yet, according to Strickland, this was not a reform against 1,500 years of Church history and teaching, but only five hundred – since the time of the Great Schism.  Most of the problems Luther was addressing can be traced to the previous several centuries in the West.

Indulgences, traced to the First Crusade in 1095; purgatory, proclaimed after the Second Council of Lyons in 1274; the celibacy of priests, to the eleventh century; the restriction of the Scriptures and Liturgy to Latin, most recently evidence regarding Wycliffe’s translation; finally, papal supremacy, dating to the time of the Schism in 1054.

It is therefore remarkable that so little attention has been given by historians to the “common cause” the reformers naturally had with the Orthodox Church.

Strickland describes the other “protests” as closely related to these: faith alone, Scripture alone, grace alone.  All, it seems, a reaction to abuses in the Church as noted above: “only this, and nothing more!”  And there continued the leaning on Augustinianism, a strong contrast to the Orthodox grounding.

Luther claimed knowledge of God is not participatory or cooperative but submissive and passive.  It is not grounded in an experience of divine glory, but in faith alone.  This was in some ways the outcome of his study in nominalism, with its categorical rejection of the optimistic epistemology of Scholastics like Thomas Aquinas.

Which brings me back to a point: Strickland writes often of the errors of scholasticism while at the same time writing favorably regarding Thomas.  It seems quite clear that his reaction is to the nominalism of later scholastics, Occam being most famous, and not the universalism of Thomas.

Luther would write that all the world is subject to the devil’s malice, that all are subject to sin and to the devil.  All true.  But then, a curious statement: “When Christ is absent, then the evil world and the devil’s kingdom are present.”  All of the gifts we have are just “the instruments and slavish weapons of the devil’s infernal tyranny.”

I am not sure what to do with this statement.  Christ isn’t absent from this world, nor is He absent in the lives of believers.  What is the context of Luther’s statement?  Is it as Strickland portrays, or is there something left out?  I cannot speak to the understandings of Lutherans, but for Protestants generally, I cannot attribute such a statement – that Christ is absent from this world or from the lives of Christians. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

The Queen of Cities

 

Why did Constantinople get the works?

That's nobody's business but the Turks

-          Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

From the days of Alp Arslan, the Turkish march through Eastern Christendom had never come to a halt.

The Age of Division: Christendom from the Great Schism to the Protestant Reformation, by John Strickland

The time is nearly four centuries after the Battle of Manzikert, in 1071.  The Byzantine forces suffered a significant defeat, resulting in the capture of the emperor and the loss of Byzantine authority in Anatolia and Armenia.

The Crusades had done little to stay the onslaught – delaying actions at best, while making jihad a more compelling call for the Muslims.  And, now, the final onslaught; by now the mantle had moved to the Ottomans.

The foothold in Europe came earlier, in 1354, with the capture of Gallipoli.  A few years later, Adrianople – to become the capital of an emerging Ottoman Empire.  An arc would begin to form around Constantinople; in 1389, the Serbian army was wiped out at the Battle of Kosovo.  In 1396, Bulgaria was lost at Nicopolis.  Christian boys were taken as slaves to the Sultan’s court.  These would be trained as the fiercest warriors, to be known as janissaries. 

Then, a slight reprieve: Tamerlane would attack the Turks in Anatolia in 1405, hence diverting their gaze from Constantinople.  Perhaps a chance for rapprochement with Rome – and military support?  There were many who favored the repair of the schism, and not only for military reasons.  There were also those in the East who demonstrated an interest in scholasticism.

Emperor John Kantakouzenos would preside over the Council of Constantinople in 1351.  This council would confirm hesychasm.  He would then abdicate the throne, to live in monastic retirement and to act as a patron of theology and intellectual life. 

…he also supported the study of Western scholasticism and encouraged the translation of Thomas Aquinas into Greek.

The time was ripe to attempt a repair, and the Council of Florence was held in 1438 – 1445.  To come to the point: while the representatives of the Eastern Church were given a full opportunity to speak, little was accomplished in terms of reconnecting the Church.  Even with this, a document was produced that was signed by almost everyone.  Almost…

The document would assert papal supremacy, with the pope assigned universal rule over the entire Church; purgatory was established dogmatically; the filioque was confirmed – with an assertion that this was consistent with the early Greek fathers.  There was one concession to the East: the eucharistic bread could be offered in either leavened or unleavened form.  An almost unequivocal victory for the Latin Church.

So, what happened – if almost everyone signed this document, known as Let the Heavens Rejoice?  Metropolitan Mark of Ephesus did not sign, leaving Florence and returning to an East threatened with destruction.  But it was not only this:

…the reaction to the treaty in Constantinople was nearly revolutionary.  When the emperor and his loyal supporters returned, they were greeted with widespread outrage.  Public disturbances broke out, and some of the signatories were attacked on the streets.

Former supporters of the document would repudiate it; other supporters would move to Rome.  The pope would order the promised crusade, but the army of Hungarians and Poles would be wiped out by the Turks at the Battle of Varna in 1444.  All that remained was Constantinople.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Orthodox and Protestant

 

Needless to say, such views were ahead of their time.  Or, to put it differently, they were a return to an earlier time before the millennium.

The Age of Division: Christendom from the Great Schism to the Protestant Reformation, by John Strickland

The time is the late fourteenth century. The place was the Christian West.  The views were almost Protestant – proto-Protestant as Strickland puts it.  And the views greatly conformed to a return to Christendom as it was practiced (if not understood) during its first one-thousand years.

The first individual noted is John Wycliffe, calling for…

…the elimination of clericalism; the preeminence of scripture over papal decretals and canon law; the rendering of the Scriptures and liturgy in the vernacular; the repudiation of the doctrine of transubstantiation; the abolition of mendicant orders; the demonasticization of normative spiritual life; and, of course, an end to papal supremacy.

And it is precisely to these views that Strickland notes “a return to an earlier time before the millennium.”  It seems, at least according to Strickland, the proto-Protestant views against various practices of the Roman Catholic Church were quite similar to what was held universally until the Great Schism.

Next came Jan Hus, who endorsed Wycliffe’s criticisms, except for that of transubstantiation (and I will refer, on this specific point, to the work done by Brett Salkeld; it seems to me that this entire topic became most confused when nominalism overtook Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics in the West).

[Hus] declared, in agreement with the early Greek fathers, that the apostles shared equally in their ministries and that Peter was not preeminent over them.

He therefore denied papal supremacy, noting that only Christ could be assigned such status.

In short, many of Hus’s views were simply those of the ancient Church, which continued in the contemporary East to practice conciliarity and reject the innovation of papal supremacy.

Hus further attacked the practice of issuing indulgences, questioning the view that the pope, as Vicar of Christ, could draw on merits amassed by Christ and His saints. 

In 1411, one of three rival popes issued an indulgence to those who would make a financial contribution for a crusade against his enemies.  Hus rallied his supporters in Prague against this.  He cited Scripture in his defense, and attacked the papacy for organizing bloodshed.

In one of his most audacious acts, Hus composed a list of six errors that demanded reform and publicly fixed it to the wall of the church where he regularly preached in Prague.

All were ultimately aimed at the sale of indulgences – the one issue that raised Luther’s 95 Theses to a fame completely unknown to his earlier (and quite unknown and disregarded by the Church at the time) 97 Theses. 

In 1415, Hus was burned at the stake.  His condemnation came at the same Council of Constance that asserted conciliarity against the pope – one of the complaints of these same proto-Protestants.  But it was, ultimately, the financial issue of indulgences that brought on Hus’s demise as well as raised the Church’s ire against Luther (and tore the Western Church apart) one hundred years later.

Hus’s execution brought on a rebellion in his homeland.  Led by Jan Zizka, the forces quickly gained control of the region.  Altogether, five crusades were launched against the “Hussites.”  None were successful.  Ultimately, a settlement was reached, and partial autonomy was achieved for the Bohemian Church.

Conclusion

Anyone want to tackle a Venn diagram that incorporates Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant?  But which factors?  What we agree on?  What we disagree about?  And whose understanding of Orthodoxy or Catholicism do we use – let alone the infinitely impossible task of narrowing down Protestant understanding on such views?

Strickland here paints a picture, on a specific set of issues, where Protestants and Orthodox agree regarding certain practices.  Of course, attending a service at each of these two traditions would leave one confused as to any commonality whatsoever.

Except for, maybe, the Pentecostals….

Monday, September 13, 2021

Well, Who Didn’t See This Coming?

 

Especially after this: Biden says he would not make coronavirus vaccine mandatory (HT Zero Hedge):

I don’t think it should be mandatory, I wouldn’t demand that it be mandatory, but I would do everything in my power….

Yeah, the devil was in that “do everything in my power” part….

---------------------------------------------

Biden gave a speech….

Scapegoating is the practice of singling out a person or group for unmerited blame and consequent negative treatment. Scapegoating may be conducted by individuals against individuals, individuals against groups, groups against individuals, and groups against groups.

Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated… This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated…

That’s nearly 80 million Americans not vaccinated. In a country as large as ours, that’s 25% minority. That 25% can cause a lot of damage, and they are.

For the vast majority of you who’ve gotten vaccinated, I understand your anger at those who haven’t gotten vaccinated.

Sacrificial lamb: someone or something that is deliberately sacrificed to promote a cause or for the benefit of others.

We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal.

Tyranny: government by a ruler or small group of people who have unlimited power over the people in their country or state and use it unfairly and cruelly; a situation in which someone or something controls how you are able to live, in an unfair way.

…I’m announcing that the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees that together employee over 80 million workers to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated, or show a negative test at least once a week.

Authoritarianism: the belief that people must obey completely and not be allowed freedom to act as they wish.

This is not about freedom or personal choice.  You’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.

The safest thing for your child 12 and older is to get them vaccinated. They get vaccinated for a lot of things. That’s it, get them vaccinated.

If they’ll not help, if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way.

And, perhaps most frightening of all…

Today, I’m announcing that the Defense Department will double the number of military health teams that they’ll deploy to help their fellow Americans in hospitals around the country.

---------------------------------------------

List of Top 10 Most Brutal Dictators in Modern History

The concept of dictatorship, as well as the use of force and systemic persecution of political opponents to stay in power, dates back to the ancient Roman civilization. However, it was the modern history dictators who made it virtually a synonym for gross human rights violations and brutality. Sadly, some of the most brutal dictators in modern history held power not so long ago.

As long as “not so long ago” includes…well…like now.

---------------------------------------------

The most predictable headline: Here's who loves Biden's vaccine mandate: The companies that have to enforce it

President Joe Biden gave a gift to every major company in America by forcing them to mandate vaccines or stringently test their employees for Covid. Their reaction to the new rule: glee.

Corporate America had been trying to navigate two competing pandemic realities: Companies are desperately trying to get back to business as usual, and mandating vaccines is among the best ways to accomplish that. But a labor shortage had tied their hands, as businesses have been worried that forcing people to get the shot would send some desperately needed employees and potential new hires packing.

What does this remind me of…?

The Gulag was a system of forced labor camps established during Joseph Stalin’s long reign as dictator of the Soviet Union. …At its height, the Gulag network included hundreds of labor camps that held anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 people each.

Today, gulags can be as small as 100 people each.  As to these corporate leaders?  Let’s just call them Biden’s willing executioners….