Friday, December 31, 2021

Don’t Overreact


Taken from a video entitled “Paganism vs. Christianity,” a discussion including Jonathan Pageau and someone named Styxhexenhammer 666 (make of that name what you will).  I don’t think I need explain which of the two presented for which position.

I am not going to review all of it, but one part is worth touching on, time-stamped here.  This portion struck me because it touches on something that I have been thinking a lot about lately.

Jonathan Pageau is asked to describe his path to Orthodox Christianity: 

I think that if we look at Western Christianity, we kind of see a change happen in the late Middle Ages, through nominalism and through different things when the Reformation happens and the counter-Reformation happens, it kind of crystalizes all of this.

As you all know by now, I (and countless others) have pointed to this turning, identified with men like Occam and Scotus, as a key point in moving the West away from Thomistic natural law and toward the overwhelming view that came to full fruition in the Enlightenment.  The point being that what we today call science – hard science, provable and falsifiable claims, subject to mathematical equations, propositional learning – is the only science that is valid. 

As Pageau points out, this has also affected Christianity in the West.

What we see is what I call a kind of de-incarnation, a Christianity that becomes very basic, very literalistic, very moralistic as well. 

To combat the science of the age, Western Christianity (and, especially, Protestants) turned the Bible into a science and history book: hard science, provable and falsifiable claims, subject to mathematical equations, propositional learning. 

Pageau continues that Orthodoxy did not follow this same path, retaining the mystical.

So, what have I been thinking about lately?  As regular readers know, I appreciate aspects of each of Protestantism, Orthodoxy, and Catholicism.  Yet, I have found myself considering why the appeal of Orthodox Christianity had such a significant pull on me (and many others) in the last several years.  Was I unfairly diminishing the value of Protestantism – the focus on teaching the Bible, i.e., propositional learning?

What I am concluding is that I, like, perhaps, much of broader society, am reacting against the result of taking nominalism and propositional learning to the extreme.  Was I overreacting?  (As an aside, taking nominalism to the extreme is the same issue that is also behind the meaning crisis.)

Coming to this understanding has helped me to remain solid in the value of Protestantism – to not allow myself equally to overreact away from the propositional.

We learn in different ways, and different people learn in ways other than how others learn.  If for no other reason, it is for this that I am grateful for all well-grounded Christian traditions – and it is also why I really don’t like it when some individuals of one tradition or another strongly criticize those who are walking a different path.

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity.  As long as one is accepting of what is to be found in the hallway, this really is sufficient.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Ultimate New Age Religion


We are Satan's people

Knights in Satan's service

-          Thanatorture

…the Revolution…has a theological and spiritual foundation, even if its “theology” is an inverted one and its “spirituality Satanic.”

Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age, by Eugene (Fr. Seraphim) Rose

What is at the root of the nihilistic doctrine?  What are its theological sources?  What is its ultimate program?  These are the questions that Fr. Rose intends now to explore.  And for this, he turns to two people: Nietzsche, who he describes as a “systematic Nihilist,” and Dostoyevsky, “whose insights strike to the very heart of Nihilism and strip aside its masks.”

Regarding Nietzsche, well-known phrases are offered: there is no truth, God is dead.  Nietzsche describes well the state of modern man.  “God is dead” means that we have lost our faith in God; “there is no truth” means that we have lost the divine and absolute.  But Fr. Rose offers that Nietzsche does more than merely observe the reality of the situation:

Zarathustra is a “prophet”; his words are clearly intended as a counter-revolution directed against the Christian Revelation.

It isn’t just that God no longer exists; men wish Him to no longer exist.  Men are not merely agnostic; the death of God is not merely some kind of “cosmic catastrophe.”  Men are also not merely atheist.  No one is atheist, as no one denies God except to accept and serve another false god in His place.

Citing Pierre-Joseph Proudhon:

The first duty of man, on becoming intelligent and free, is to continually hunt the idea of God out of his mind and conscience.  For God, if he exists, is essentially hostile to our nature… Every step we take in advance is a victory in which we crush Divinity. …God, if there is a God, is [humanity’s] enemy.

Albert Camus and Mikhail Bakunin are cited as well, with similar sentiments.  In men such as these, the theological forerunners of today’s nihilism, Fr. Rose sees as faith as strong as one will find in Christian faith: “its success, and its exaggerations, are explicable in no other way.”

This faith and its distinctive spirit give meaning and power to Nihilistic doctrine.  But what is the nature of this Nihilist faith?  As opposed to a Christian faith which is “joyous, certain, serene, loving, humble, patient, submitting in all things to the will of God,” the Nihilist faith is contrary in every aspect: “full of doubt, suspicion, disgust, envy, jealousy, pride, impatience, rebelliousness, blasphemy….”

In other words, a total dissatisfaction with this world, a repudiation not merely of God (as if this isn’t enough), but of everything good seen around them.  It is a spiritual attitude; and, as should be clear, animated by a dark spirit:

It was well described by Bakunin as “the sentiment of rebellion, this Satanic pride, which spurns subjection to any master whatever, whether of divine or human origin.”

To seek the origin of this animating spirit anywhere or in anyone other than “the primal Satanic will to negation and rebellion” will lead us down a wrong path.

If I may interject…here we find “the prince of the power of the air,” with whom “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Returning to Fr. Rose, this systematic campaign, which he labels Bolshevik (accurate for his time, but fully Westernized in ours), is not satisfied with merely uprooting the Christian faith.  It has achieved this long ago.  This continuing drive “has no rational explanation”:

Monday, December 27, 2021

A Fallen Rome


Even in Pessinus itself, Cybele’s hold was slipping.  The great bulk of her temple, which for centuries had dominated the city, increasingly stood as a monument not to her potency, but to her fading.

Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, by Tom Holland

The time is the latter part of the fourth century.  Pessinus, a city with Hellenistic roots, was located in Asia Minor and would become an archbishopric.  In Roman times, Cybele would come to be known as Magna Mater ("Great Mother").

Flavius Claudius Julianus was not at all pleased with the condition of the temple; Rome, after all, by now and after Constantine, had turned decidedly Christian.  Julianus, however, had repudiated Christianity despite having been raised a Christian: Julian the Apostate is how the Church remembers him.

I have written of Julian before.  He believed that if the temple was rebuilt in Jerusalem (thus re-establishing the legitimacy of Judaism), this would take away one of the strongest arguments from the upstart Christians – that their faith traced its lineage all the way back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  From my earlier post:

In the winter of 362 – 363, Julian appointed his close friend, Alypius, to oversee the rebuilding of the temple.

The construction, however, was abruptly cut short later in the spring by an earthquake or some other disaster.  The pagan historian Ammianus Marcellinus said that balls of fire burst from underneath the foundations, and Christian historians reported that fire came down from heaven to burn the site and the workers.  The project was abandoned.

In June, Julian was killed in battle. And that was that.

Returning to Holland, Julian faced another uphill battle: these Christians supported not only their own poor, but the poor of pagan Romans and Greeks as well.  Collections for orphans and widows, for the imprisoned and shipwrecked.  With many women converting (given their status recognized by the Apostle Paul when compared to their status under Roman law), their children would be raised Christian and soon enough their wealthy husbands would follow.  Even more aid to the poor would result.

Basil and Gregory, two brothers, each would be elected bishop of different regions in Asia Minor.  Coming from a wealthy family, they would devote their lives to the poor.  Basil would open what might be known as the first hospital; Gregory would denounce slavery as an unpardonable offence against God.

But it was the babies who were the most vulnerable and least valued members of Roman society.  Left at the side of the road or on a pile of rubbish, dropped down drains and sewers.  Those rescued would be brought up as slaves, or to work in brothels.  Aristotle lent the practice his prestige.  Other than the Jews or the odd German tribe, few ever questioned these practices – some cities even proclaimed such practices virtuous. 

Until the Christians.  It was Macrina, the sister of Basil and Gregory, who would devote herself to the rescue of these abandoned infants.

Within a century or so of Julian’s anger regarding the neglect of the temple to Cybele, many of the temples devoted to the Roman gods would be neglected – converted not to churches, but left to the weeds and wild animals.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Our “Great Reset”


Like every year, in the cycle of seasons and of history, the Holy Church now celebrates the birth according to the flesh of Our Lord Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, conceived by the work of the Holy Spirit by the Virgin Mary. With the solemn words of the liturgy, the Birth of the Redeemer imposes itself on humanity by dividing time into a “before” and an “after.” Nothing will be the same as before: from that moment, the Lord incarnates himself to carry out the work of Salvation and definitively snatches man, who fell in Adam, from the slavery of Satan.

Taken from Abp. Viganò’s Christmas 2021 message

This, dear children, is our “Great Reset” … 

These words.  When I first read these words…our Great Reset, I was struck.  Of course, this is so.  A reminder that the course of history does not always move in a straight line, but we know who is in control and the direction it will move.  No man-made great reset can compete.

Fitting enough for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Nihilism of Destruction


Four centuries and more of modern thought have been, from one point of view, an experiment in the possibilities of knowledge open to man, assuming that there is no Revealed Truth.

Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age, by Eugene (Fr. Seraphim) Rose

We are living in the conclusion of this experiment.  As Fr. Rose puts it, “if there is no Revealed Truth, there is no truth at all….”  It can’t be, you say.  Well, when a man can choose to be a woman, and vice versa, when a flu can cause the world to panic, when box cutters can lead to the greatest (at least until then) power grab in human history, when the right to choose overcomes the right to life…. there is no truth.

But there are those who continue to seek truth from the bottom, unaccepting of revealed truth.  This is the path of modern philosophy.  “Common sense” and the current opinions of the “in crowd” – whether that in crowd is made up of fellow academicians or cocktail party companions.

In fact, no one lives but by the light of some revelation, be it a true or a false one, whether it serve to enlighten or obscure.

And false revelations lead to the abyss.  It is not logic that stands as an obstacle to this Revealed Truth – logic tells us that men are men, and women are women, after all.  It is, instead, an opposed faith – call it an alternative narrative.  Man lives in a story.

As one who embraces the non-aggression principle, I once believed that factual and logical arguments would win the day for this proper, Christian, method by which to determine when violence is justified.  Yet, if all it takes are facts and logic, libertarian political theory would win in a landslide.  But this is insufficient – we live in a story.

We see this even in the Christian Church, divided on the social justice warrior and critical theory lines of today.  Facts and logical arguments make clear the situation, but these don’t win the day.  Instead, there are distortions of truth offered in the various causes promoted by those claiming to seek racial reconciliation, affirmation of alternative choices, etc.  But there is not complete Truth.

Fr. Rose continues with an examination of the stages of the nihilist dialectic.  He offers the French Revolution, Communism, and National Socialism as episodes that exemplified the successes of nihilism, but these examples have not dissuaded men from continuing on the path.  But, how did we get here?  For this, he considers four steps.

Fr. Rose sees the first step in Liberalism.  This will be tough sledding, but it is ground previously covered at this blog – ground that suggests that libertarianism (or liberalism) without a proper cultural grounding in Christian ethics and Natural Law leads us away from, not toward, liberty.

The Liberalism we shall describe in the following pages is not – let us state at the outset – an overt Nihilism; it is rather a passive Nihilism, or, better yet, the neutral breeding-ground of the more advanced stages of Nihilism.

I offer the following, from Murray Rothbard:

What I have been trying to say is that Mises’s utilitarian, relativist approach to ethics is not nearly enough to establish a full case for liberty. It must be supplemented by an absolutist ethic – an ethic of liberty, as well as of other values needed for the health and development of the individual – grounded on natural law, i.e., discovery of the laws of man’s nature.

Liberalism, without this objective ethic, has no defense against nihilism – it is, as Fr. Rose writes, a neutral breeding ground.  This is the point made by Rothbard, and it is the point made by Fr. Rose (although Fr. Rose will not use the term “natural law”). 

Yet we see many defenders of this Liberal order – free markets and trade, travel, free speech, property rights – fighting to hold on to these values while ignoring the foundation on which these were built.  Returning to Fr. Rose:

The incompetent defense by Liberalism of a heritage in which it has never fully believed, has been one of the most potent causes of overt Nihilism.

We have seen the results of this in the liberal Bret Weinstein and Evergreen State College, or the liberal Jordan Peterson at the University of Toronto, attempting to defend the liberal order they rightly cherish without leaning on the foundations upon which it was built.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Jiminy Cricket


A most curious tidbit is offered at The Rest is History podcast, hosted by Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook, and taken from episode 129, entitled “Cricket.” 

Apparently, Jesus played cricket!

I couldn’t just let that pass…I had to do some digging, and found…

Dr. Abraham Terian writes:

"The most amazing part of the story of the nine-year-old Jesus playing a form of cricket with the boys at the sea shore, is that he would go on playing the game on water, over the sea waves.''

Actually, the walking-on-water part is the least amazing part of the story.  But regarding cricket…from where does he arrive at such a view?

Dr. Terian was a visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as Fulbright Distinguished Chair in the Humanities, and he points to a rare manuscript as his source:

…the Armenian Gospel of the Infancy, translated into Armenian in the 6th century from a much older lost Syriac original….

There’s something you won’t find in the King James….  This apocryphal gospel was housed at the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

Fr. Vazken Movsesian is a priest in the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church.  He wrote a short booklet on The Bible in The Armenian Church, devoting a long paragraph to this text:

It is one of the more fascinating books of what is called the New Testament apocrypha or “hidden books.”

Fr. Movsesian offers: Jesus, still in the cradle, looks up to his mother and says “Mary, I am the Son of God”; the oil used by Mary Magdalene came from a box of old oil that included Jesus’ “naval string”; Jesus and some other boys made clay animal toys, and His toys came to life – walking and flying.  You get the idea.

More is offered from a compilation of the Apocryphal New Testament, published by Oxford University Press in 1924:

Joseph finds Mary through and with the help of Eve – yes, that Joseph and Mary, and that Eve; the magi are from Persia, India, and Arabia; Jesus, accused of causing the death of a child, is saved when the dead child comes to life and exculpates Jesus; Jesus learns from Gamaliel, who is confounded by His wisdom (presumably the same Gamaliel that was the teacher of the Apostle Paul when he was still Saul).


Today is Sunday.  I suggest that you bring this up with your pastor or priest only if he is tremendously high in openness…or if you attend an Armenian Church.

After all, just because it isn’t canonical doesn’t mean it isn’t true!