Sunday, December 24, 2023

Merry Christmas

I want to wish my readers a very  Merry Christmas.

From Charles Peguy's, Temporal and Eternal:

Originally, in principle, as they were founded, the Secular and the Regular were not distinguished, either in theory or in practice; they were not separated. Their destinies were not distinct. Your City of God was not as yet cut in two, divided into two functions, by a fault, by a longitudinal fissure. Your eternal city was not split in two. The world was the object: that which had to be saved. The Rule, what subsequently be-came the Rule after the specialization, was the matter and the power, the living source. From that source life flowed indistinguishably: invading, inundating and submerging the world; nourishing the age, the times. It was essentially a vital operation. A river of inexhaustible mystical life flowing from that mystical source and nourishing the world. Saving the age. One single movement, always flowing in the same direction, infinitely fertile, from the Rule to the World, at least from what became the Rule. 

Jesus did not come to dominate the world. He came to save it. Quite a different object; an entirely different operation. And he did not come to separate himself from the world. An entirely different method. You see, my friend, if he had wanted to withdraw from the world, to retire from the world, he had simply not to come into the world. It was as simple as that. In that way he could have withdrawn in advance. There was never to be such a chance again. Such a good opportunity: of remaining at the right hand of the Father. As long as he was seated at the Father's side he was withdrawn from the world, in a certain sense, in a way you will never be, infinitely more than you will ever be. Had he wanted to withdraw from the world, if that was his object, it would have been perfectly simple; he had simply not to go into it.

 The centuries had not yet opened, the gate of salvation was not open, the great story had not begun. And if not to be in the world was his object, then he had merely not to start. That short tour was unnecessary. But, on the contrary, he did go into the world, into the centuries, to save the world. He even went twice. Or rather he only went once, but doubly, twice in once. The intention being doubly underlined. First of all, in a first movement, making an infinite movement, an infinite leap as it were, as God he became man. et homo factus est, which you must admit, my friend, is not exactly a way of withdrawing from the world. It was perhaps, on the contrary, a way of entering into it infinitely, in full: to be there, to become part of it by incarnation. In corpus, in carnem. Might it be said that no one ever went into the world so fully?

I"ll leave the rest to Mr Handel:

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Wither Justice

 From the Gospel according to Luke:

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us."

The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?  And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom."

 He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise"

Not how I intended to return but an article in today's Pillar finally gave me the push.

The above passage of scripture is worth a thought for a few moments. If we truly believe that Christ was the Son of God and voluntarily gave his life for the forgiveness of our sins, you have to come to the conclusion that Christ--in foreseeing his crucifixion--chose to die on the cross. In other words, while He was on the Cross, Christ could have come down from it an any time if he chose, the implication being that He was in full command of His divine powers.

So when the penitent thief said his piece why didn't Christ let him down off the Cross? The guy clearly had expressed repentance of his acts and acknowledged the justice of his punishment. Why wasn't Christ "merciful"to him? It's an interesting thing to ponder since Christ could have miraculously lowered him from the Cross, healed his wounds and sent him on his way. After all, isn't that what Mercy's about?

And yet He didn't.

He let the good thief die next to him.

Now,  I can't explain Christ's motivations for his course of action but I can observe the following facts:

1) Christ retained the power to do pretty much anything he liked while on the Cross.

2) The criminal was repentant and by his own admission was punished justly.

3) Christ assured him a place in paradise.

4) Christ did not in any way avert or mitigate his punishment even though he had the power to do so.

What we see here is that at a bare minimum Christ did not interfere in the Roman judicial process even though the thief was repentant. Now, I wouldn't draw a broad principle from this instance but it does give you something to think about.

I turn now to C.S. Lewis, who in writing about repentance wrote:

If you had committed a murder, the right Christian thing to do would be to give yourself up to the police and be hanged. It is, therefore, in my opinion, perfectly right for a Christian judge to sentence a man to death or a Christian soldier to kill an enemy. I always have thought so, ever since I became a Christian.....
Notice what both Lewis and the Good thief are asserting is the rightness of justice in their act of repentance.  It's one of the reasons why people, when they are truly sorry for something, try to make it right.  There is a sense that the natural order needs to be restored at least in some way.

That's why today's Pillar article was profoundly disturbing.

As he is recovering from bronchitis, Pope Francis did not read his prepared speech, but instead handed it over to be read afterwards. 

“Those who work at the Holy See and the Vatican City State certainly do so faithfully and honestly,” the Pope's speech read, “but the lure of corruption is so dangerous that we must be extremely vigilant.”

“I know you dedicate much time to this,” the Pope added, stressing the need to balance “absolute transparency in every action” with “merciful discretion”, since scandals “serve more to fill the pages of the newspapers than to correct behaviour in depth.”[ED]

“in addition to this,” the Pope concluded, “I invite you to help those responsible for the administration of the Holy See's assets to create safeguards that can prevent, ‘upstream’, the insidiousness of corruption from materializing.”

As one of the commentators in the Pillar stated:

I'm struggling to find a generous, positive reading of this directive.

Replace "financial corruption" with "sexual abuse" and then try arguing that this is defensible.


What has happened in the broader Catholic Catholic culture has been the erosion in the value of other virtues such as prudence and justice and the elevation of Mercy to supreme virtue. For Francis, and for many senior clerics, what matters is the conversion of the sinner. No matter what the consequences are for their victim or the institution. In real life with this approach is that you lose a hundred to save one, and even that is not guaranteed. Furthermore, forgiveness without repentance --despite being theologically dodgy--is just a license to sin.

Now I understand that media sensationalism is par for the course when it comes to reporting Church affairs but it was also media sensationalism that bought to light the years of sexual abuse that wasn't being dealt with. The line between merciful discretion and cover-up is one that can be mis-stepped, misused and misinterpreted quite easily. Some institutions need to be inherently transparent due to the nature of their mission. Opacity has not helped the Catholic Church.

Part of the reason I have not been writing as much over the past few years is that I've been trying to understand what has led to the current situation. And I'm of the opinion that Christian faith is seriously compromised by a malignant form of pseudo-Augustinianism that masquerades as orthodoxy and has gained ascendancy. Much like in Arian days, the senior clergy seem to have become infected by this heresy and it is the laity despite all their faults that are more legitimately orthodox.

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Service Announcement.

 Although it may appear that way, this blog is not yet dead.

The last few months have been very busy, I've been suffering from writers block and I have been reading a lot.

I'm going on break for the next six weeks.

I hope to have something then.

Friday, April 21, 2023

The Wall

The other day an interesting graphic was posted on twitter which got me thinking about a post I wanted to write for a long time.

Back in 2014, The Pew Research conducted a Religious Landscape Study in the U.S. The study is interesting for its extensive demographic data which, when looked at a bit deeply is quite informative with regard to today's state of affairs.

In particular I'm interested in the data concerning households earning more than one hundred thousand dollars a year. This group or class constitutes the majority of the country's governing class. And by governing, I mean it in its most expansive context.  Within this group are found senior and middle bureaucrats, lawyers, doctors, journalists, businessmen, accountants, virologists, business men, community elders and so on. Much attention is directed towards billionaires and media celebrities but the yeoman's work of day to day governance and organising the country is done by far less notable men. It's the values of this class that set the "tone" of the country.

In theory, Democratic government grant's sovereignty to the people and technically this is true, but in reality the issues that the people get to vote on and how their day to day affairs are run are largely based on the the decisions and values of the governing class.  In a democracy some people are more equal than others.

Firstly, some Basic Demographic data.

What I've decided to do is concentrate on the major sized groups as I'm time limited and this isn't a full blown statistical survey. This covers 92% of the greater than $100K demographic. Interestingly, the impression that I've formed trawling the data is that the remaining 8% tends to cancel each other out on various values metrics. The Buddhists and the Hindus tend to be very permissive with regard to homosexuality and abortion, the Mormons and the Orthodox their opposite.  

What I've tried to do is calculate the absolute number of each religious group in the  >100K class and then determine their proportion in it. For example the Jewish community makes ups 4% of the U.S. population yet it makes up 5% of this class. If there are any errors in my calculations they are unintentional. 

If we take the above minority groups out, then the composition of the governing class in the U.S. can be broken down as follows.

The majority of the U.S. governing class is still nominally Christian. Let that sink in. The U.S. rot is a majority "Christian" affair. Jewish conspiracy theorists can also take note, the governing class of the U.S. is 95% not-Jewish.
The question of religious orthodoxy was quite difficult to determine based upon the questions in the survey but I concentrated on two:

a) Do you oppose/favor gay marriage.
b) Abortion should be legal/illegal in all or most cases.

I took these two questions as proxies for religious orthodoxy.  Orthodoxy being defined as what was considered broad social consensus before the Sixties revolution. I am old enough to remember when the concept of gay marriage was thought to be a laughable joke.  Things have obviously moved on a bit.
With regard to gay marriage the response for the class in 2014 was as follows:

Quite frankly I was shocked when I crunched the numbers and I really didn't think it was so bad. Now Obergefell was in 2015, and it's obvious to me that when the the U.S. Supreme Court decided to recognise gay marriage they were affirming what many of their social peers had already come to accept. The decision was not an impost on the country as much as a recognition that the ruling class had changed its mind. Within the leadership class the moral base and understanding of traditional conceptions of marriage had completely eroded. Also remember that the demographic that was sampled here are the "best and brightest" of their cohort.  These are the people who have the most natural ability and have been afforded the best education. We're not talking about the proletariat. From a Christian perspective, it's truly a disastrous situation.

With regard to the question of Abortion the situation is not much better:

It's pretty much the same and suggests a common causal link.  Interestingly though, in its reversal of Roe v Wade, the members of the Supreme Court would have probably earned a lot of personal and social opprobrium as a result of their decision. Say what you want about Trump, but his nominations made the difference and his crew are pushing against the tide.

Now if we accept that the above two questions as normative for what is considered "sound" Christianity,  then we can say that by 2014 the U.S. leadership class was critically de-Christianised. If you want to understand why Christians are starting to be persecuted, the pie charts above are your answer. The majority of governing apparatus does not share your view of things.  And remember, this was 2014, things have gotten a lot worse since then.

So who exactly is supporting the "slouch towards Gomorrah".

The figures are virtually identical. From what we can see the majority support is still from self-professed Christians.  A few things to note. Support for both abortion and homosexual marriage is roughly proportionate to the religious demographics of the 100k class with the exception of the "Nones", who over represented and the Evangelicals, who are under-represented.

So who is "manning the gates" and not supporting the abandonment of traditional mores.