Monday, May 31, 2021

In Memoriam


Today is Memorial Day.  On this day I would like to reflect upon the ideas and topics that are no longer allowed, ideas and topics where discussion is not an exchange of ideas but limited to a recitation of approved talking points, those ideas and topics that gave their lives as the greatest sacrifice in service to our enslavement.

In some cases, the death of these topics has been building for years – the illness long-known but only recently realized as fatal; in others, the death was sudden, an illness unknown or barely known even a year ago.

Here are the items, with no further explanation and in no particular order:


Viruses (this one with many sub-topics, ranging from the efficacy of masks to travel and dining to seeing family and friends to injections)

Race (including critical race theory)

Gender (including all non-binary classifications and sub-classifications)

Sexual orientation



Christianity (ranging from God, the Bible, church attendance…unless the church supports the accepted narrative and condemns the alternative narratives on all of the above topics)

I will now pause for a moment of silence.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Converting the East


“…since our people rejected idolatry and came under Christian law, we have not had a teacher capable of explaining this faith to us in our own tongue.”

-          King Rastislav of Great Moravia, from his letter to the Byzantine emperor

The Age of Paradise: Christendom from Pentecost to the First Millennium, by John Strickland

Missions to the East – would these be conducted from the East and Constantinople, or the West and Rome?  The Frankish missionaries would require Latinization of Great Moravia, so King Rastislav wrote a letter to the Byzantine emperor.

The Byzantines were fine with evangelizing the Slavs in their own language, and in 863 sent two brothers, Cyril and Methodius, for this task.  History remembers them as the “enlighteners of the Slavs.”  Cyril would develop an alphabet; a subsequent Slavic alphabet would be named for him. 

The Franks, however, would not give up.  they came up with a doctrine known as trilingualism; only three tongues were proper for Christian worship: Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  To this, Cyril would reply that there are already many people who have their own script and give glory to God – among them, the Armenians and Syrians.

The pope would give his blessing to this mission of Cyril and Methodius, but the Franks paid little attention to this gesture.  With Cyril dying shortly after this visit to Rome, Methodius would return to Moravia – and would be immediately arrested.  Rastislav’s nephew had seized power with the help of the Franks, turning the religious tables.  Yet, the pope insisted on his release.

A new pope, Steven V, was not so generous.  Noting that the Slavs were not using the filioque in their liturgy (a pretext, perhaps), two hundred missionaries were arrested and expelled from Moravia, with some sold by the Franks into slavery.

Then there were the Bulgarians, who were successfully converted into the Eastern tradition:

Sadly, a common faith did not prevent the relationship between the mighty empires of Byzantium and Bulgaria from deteriorating in the years following [Tsar] Boris’s conversion.

Under a subsequent Tsar, the Bulgarians would invade Byzantium, even reaching Constantinople before being stopped.  Future battles would have the Byzantines on the attack and suffer defeat, and further battles ending the other way.  As the culmination of fifty years of fighting, the Battle of Kleidion in 1014 resulted in only fifteen-thousand Bulgarian soldiers surviving out of an army of forty-five thousand.  Perhaps better to have died:

The ruthless and vengeful Basil, thereafter known as the “Bulgar Slayer,” ordered that of every hundred men, ninety-nine should have their eyes gouged out.

The others were left with one good eye, to lead the others l back to the Bulgarian capital.  Upon seeing them, Tsar Samuel fell over dead in shock.

Russia Christianized under Grand Prince Vladimir.  The account given has Vladimir sending emissaries to look into the Judaism of the Khazars, the Islam of the Arabs, and Latin Christianity.  But it was in “Greece” where they would find “the edifices where they worshipped their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth.”  They were impressed by the liturgical worship, not any form of doctrinal debate.

Vladimir would be baptized in 988.  Immediately thereafter, he dismissed his numerous “courtesans,” and in exchange took a Christian wife, Anna – remaining faithful to her for the rest of her life.  He would institute regular distributions of bread to Kiev’s poor and he opened banquets for the common people; he worked to abolish capital punishment, but was dissuaded by the bishops!

After his death in 1015, a civil war broke out between some of his sons – including one born from one of his pre-baptismal liaisons.  His preferred sons meekly laid down their lives instead of fight, and became Russia’s first canonized saints: Boris and Gleb.

Altered by Christianity, yet the Russian culture remained, unlike in the Latin West where the culture of the Saxons disappeared or was absorbed.  By the mid-eleventh century, Kiev was the capital of a distinctly Christian state – Russia had come to the full inheritance of Christianity. 


Distinctions were becoming ever-clearer between East and West, yet we have not yet quite reached what is known as the Great Schism.  Despite these differences – the filioque, a common tongue for worship vs. local tongue for worship, the physical structure of the temple, etc. – both East and West shared one characteristic: continuous and regular battle.

By this time, the East had lost much territory to the Muslim Arabs; the West suffered a similar fate for a time, until the tables were turned and the Arab tide was stopped in the southwest and southeast of Europe.  However, by this time, during the tenth and early eleventh century, the Latin West and the relationship between Church and emperor was in significant turmoil. 

That will be a story for next time.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Time to Change Protestant Catechism….


…and I didn’t say it, Tim Keller did – beginning here and going for three-and-a-half minutes.  I will summarize it, but listen to the short section for further detail (extremely paraphrased):

All of the Protestant catechisms written during the Reformation – Luther’s, Calvin’s, Westminster, Heidelberg – were written not merely to teach what the Bible says, but to inoculate the people from the alternative dominant narrative – at the time, the alternative narrative was Catholic.  Where the two held the same beliefs, the catechisms are light; where they differ, the catechisms are heavy.

Today the dominant alternative narrative is quite different – it is the identity narrative, the freedom narrative, or the science narrative.  These are profound narratives that the kids are being bombarded with many times a day.  And we don’t catechize against these.

How does the doctrine of the Trinity differ from what people say about human life today?  What does the Bible say about the Gospel, how’s that different than the identity narratives that are out there, that your primary identity is something that you find in yourself, or your primary identity is a racial one?

Thomistic natural law: it addresses today’s meaning crisis; it addresses issues of identity; it addresses gender confusion; it addresses racial tensions; it addresses man’s purpose; it addresses the relationship of science and faith; it addresses the lack of effective intermediating institutions; it will return the teaching of ethics where it belongs – to the family and to the church; as it is discoverable by believer and non-believer alike, it transcends religious and cultural boundaries.

And my guess is that there are more than a few Catholics who would also suggest that their Church returns to this tradition as well!


Keller concludes his three-and-a-half minutes: “I haven’t seen almost any material that actually does that.” 

Well, here is a start.