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Saturday, February 22

THE BURNING:

German refusal to support the US in putting military pressure on Iraq is not based solely on the terrorist background of officials like Foreign Minister Joshka Fischer. Societies that undergo horrendous calamities will often refuse to think about them for decades, just as children who have been sexually molested will not think about it until they are adults.

Germany is just coming to terms with the horrors it experienced at the end of WWII. Germans had to accept their own responsibility first, but now they are beginning to think previous forbidden thoughts: That they too were victims of War crimes. The Ref Army massacred civilians by the thousands, after the war millions of German civilians died in forced relocations. The British and Americans revenged themselves on the German people by destroying German cities. Der Brand, a book about the destruction of German cities, has made a sensation, especially in the current political climate;

One reviewer on Amazon.de writes:

Nichts f˘r Amerikafans
Das Buch ist wirklich eine Bombe, denn wer bis jetzt noch Amerikafan war, wird nach der Lekt˘re dieses Buches die aktuelle Politik im Nahen Osten aus einem anderen Blickwinkel sehen.

Not for fans of America.
The book is really a bomb, because someone who was a fan of America will after the reading of this book see the current politics in the Near East through different eyes.


6:48 PM


ABORTION AND THE VANISHING RUSSIANS:

Abortion destroys not just a child, but a nation. The Russians are facing the consequences of their acceptance of abortion:

Russians Feel Abortion's Complications (Washington Post)

According to Vladimir Serov, chief gynecologist at the Health Ministry, abortions are one of the primary causes of infertility in a country that is desperate to raise a plummeting birth rate.

Russia is disappearing.

Like other countries in Europe, Russia has been experiencing a falling fertility rate for most of the last half-century. It is now the sixth-lowest in the world, according to U.N. studies. On average, Russian women now bear just more than one child.

In other words, each generation is only half the size of the previous generation.

Many Russians don't want to have children, and some of those who want to can't.

About 5 million -- or 13 percent -- of Russian married couples are infertile, and doctors report that diagnoses of infertility are on the rise. In nearly three out of four cases, infertility is attributed to the woman, typically because of complications from one or more abortions, according to Serov and other health experts.

Communism entrenched abortion in Russia and several other countries:

A study of mid-1990s data by a group of health researchers showed Russia's abortion rate was the fourth-highest of 57 countries, after only Vietnam, Cuba and Romania.

National suicide is the result:

U.N. population experts predict that in 50 years Russia will be the world's 17th-most populous country; it is now the sixth. Projections show Russia will lose more than a quarter of its population, dropping from 143 million people to 104 million by 2050.

A nation that kills its children has no future.


4:02 PM


Friday, February 21

CHRISTIANS UNDER ISLAM:

Some helpful lectures by Bat Ye'or, an historian and author of The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996) and Islam and Dhimmitude. Where Civilizations Collide (same press, 2002):

The Decline of Eastern Christian Communities in the Modern Middle East;

Past is Prologue: The Challenge of Islamism Today; and

Persecution of Jews and Christians: Testimony vs. Silence.

Other lectures and a description of her three books can be found at www.dhimmi.org.

"Dhimmitude," a word Bat Ye'or coined, refers to the state of Christians and Jews under Islamic rule. As she describes it in "Persecution of Jews and Christians":

Islamic law, the shari'a, provides "protection" and security for the People of the Book - the Bible; it is indeed a basic theological principle. However, Muslim theologians and jurists attached so many conditions and humiliations to this real protection that the status of the protected Jews and Christians - the dhimmis - soon became a status of oppression, deprivation and insecurity.

This status was regulated by several laws that bound them within a social pattern of discriminations and insecurity. Instead of "Islamic tolerance," or of "toleration," I have called this vast political, religious and cultural world - from Arabia to Spain and the Balkans, including for some time, part of Hungary and Poland - the realm of "dhimmitude," from the Arabic word dhimma: a treaty of submission for those peoples conquered by jihad. The laws that were applied to the dhimmis, I have called the laws of "dhimmitude," and the special type of civilization that dhimmis developed, I have call the civilization of dhimmitude.

The civilization of dhimmitude is based on two main elements: jihad - that is, a compulsory religious war of conquest that brings non-Muslim lands into the realm of Islam; and the subjugation of its native populations. In other words, the choice is between perpetual war or submission. The civilization of dhimmitude developed in the context of subjugation and insecurity. Its main features were the payment of the jizya, a koranic tribute that became a poll-tax.

For early Muslim jurists, the jizya had two purposes: to enrich the umma, the Islamic community; and a symbolic meaning: it suspended the jihad threat, which was death, slavery or the expulsion of non-Muslims. The payment of the jizya procured for the dhimmi the security for his life, his family and his personal possessions.

One important aspect of dhimmitude is the principle of the dhimmi's inferiority to Muslims in every walk of life. This civilization of dhimmitude expanded on three continents, representing millions of peoples. Over the centuries, populations and entire civilizations disappeared, or barely survived. The civilization of dhimmitude is composed of numerous ethnic groups, mainly Christian, and rival Eastern Churches. Documentation abound, and a few sources may be found in my books.

The civilization of dhimmitude is based on the principle of "protection," which is the security for life and property pledged by a Muslim ruler to non-Muslims, who are subjected to certain conditions - tribute money, or as a temporary protection (aman). This concept implies that the right to security of life and property are denied to non-Muslims and are only granted by the Muslim community according to its own conditions.

In other words, the principle of natural rights for all human beings is denied. The civilization of dhimmitude is engendered by wars and conquest.


10:30 AM


Thursday, February 20

A FRUIT OF LIBERALISM (UNPLANNED):

After the Archbishop of Uppsala, who is the primate or head of the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden, declared that one need not believe in Jesus's miracles, his Virgin Birth, or his Resurrection to be a Christian or a member of the Church of Sweden, the leader of the Catholic Church in Sweden and the leader of the Pentecostal movment issued a joint statement they called the "Jesus Manifesto." The statement follows, as translated by Dr. Chris Barnekov. You will find it cheering.

Jesus Manifesto

As Catholics and Pentecostals we have a history of mutual distrust. This began to change about thirty years ago when the charismatic renewal brought about contact between Christians in both groups who had similar spiritual experiences and who also realized that we stand on the same biblical ground, share the same faith in Jesus, and have the same basic understanding in important ethical questions.

We rejoice over this and view this newly discovered unity as a gift of the Spirit └ but also as a commission we are obligated to fulfill. We must share our common faith with all those └ and there are many in our land └ who have never discovered Jesus as Savior and friend and who have never understood that in Him God has revealed His truth.

There is something that is True in a world of subjective opinions and thoughts! Jesus himself says that he is "The Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6).

Unfortunately there are Christians who have lost the understanding of the Bible's and the Christian faith's claims of truth. This gives us sorrow.

This has also given us the reason for writing this Jesus Manifesto. We want to try to describe briefly what we see as unique and essential in Christianity and to express our respect and reverence for the message of the Bible.

For us the meaning of life is to believe on Jesus Christ, who from all eternity is the Father's only begotten Son, but is born into time and history by a virgin.

When the early Church summarized its message about Jesus in the Apostles' Creed, it was entirely convinced that in a unique sense Jesus was "God's only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary . . .".

We rely entirely on the fact that what the New Testament tells about him, and what the early Christian Church summarizes in the Confessions of Faith, is really true. The fact that in the Mediterranean culture of that time poetry, myth and legend were used to describe reality does not mean that the authors of the New Testament had the same approach.

Historical events had an entirely different significance in the world of Hebrew thought. Jesus' thought and speech bears little resemblance to that of his surroundings. In contrast, what we might call the "New Age" of that time has many striking similarities with the "New Age" today. The first Christians believed fully and firmly that what the evangelists wrote about Jesus had actually happened. So do we.

Both the Old and the New Testaments speak about a God whose most essential being transcends all that we are able to understand. But this God makes Himself known through perceptible and concrete events in history. He reveals himself as a God of love, who wants the best for people. He intervenes in the course of nature and time through miracles, signs and mighty works. In the Old Covenant He leads his people Israel out of slavery in Egypt, through the desert and into the Promised Land. The miracles contain a symbolic and deeper message └ they are signs of God's care for his people └ but if we are not open to the fact that they actually happened, we also miss the message.

We believe in a God who intervenes in the course of the world and turns history into salvation history. God enters into the midst of the ordinary life we live to heal and save us weak and vulnerable people.

When the Gospels relate Jesus' miracles and signs, we rely on the fact that they actually took place. They help us to trust in the Savior who heals the sick and raises the dead to life, in the Good Shepherd who heals sinners and forgives those who betray Him.

When Jesus walks on the water, quiets the storm, makes water into wine └ and transforms wine into his blood and bread into His flesh (see John 5:48-58; Luke 22:19-20) └ the message becomes something that pulses with life and enables us to put our trust in Him.

If all this is simply a poetic or mystical message, then it remains poetry and myth. If it has really taken place, then it is a revolutionary message of joy.

The fact that, as so many witnesses affirm, Jesus really has risen from the dead gives us the basis to believe in our own eternal salvation.

The importance of the question of the truth to the apostles in this connection is made especially clear, when St. Paul, after having referred to the many witnesses and rebuked those who said that there is no resurrection from death, says: "But if Christ has not risen, then your faith is meaningless, and you are still in your sins. And those who have died in the faith in him are lost. If our hope in Christ is valid only in this life, we are of all men most to be pitied" (I Corinthians 15:17-19).

Belief in God's incarnation in Jesus Christ └ "And the Word became flesh!" └ and in his bodily resurrection └ "The Lord is risen indeed!" └ is the basis for our faith.

All men of good will can stumble toward a type of faith in God through reading Nature's book and reflecting on our human existence. The other religions hold great treasures of wisdom and truth. But the full truth and revelation of God is found only in Jesus Christ. The Bible's message about Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world └ and of each person └ is trustworthy.

It is therefore with both great humility and frankness that we want to testify that every individual person can learn to know Jesus as his Savior through faith and baptism. He not only was, but is and shall be the only way to fellowship with God. He leads us to His and our Father in the power of the Spirit. We want to build our entire lives on Him.

Anders Arborelius
Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockholm

Sten-Gunnar Hedin
Head of the Filadelphia Congregation, Stockholm


7:25 PM


LEWIS STUDIES:

Those interested in C. S. Lewis will enjoy two articles appearing in the lastest issue of the Catholic quarterly Communio:

Lawrence D. Goodall's "Of Universals, Angels, and Inklings"; and

Thomas Howard's "Providence in C. S. Lewis' 'Space' Trilogy."

Unfortunately, they are not offered on the "latest issue" page of the journal's website, but are worth tracking down if you have a seminary library near you, or ordering through interlibrary loan.


1:59 PM


NEWS FROM MIDDLE EARTH:

Go to Peace in Middle Earth in our time. It begins:

MINAS TIRITH (Gondor News Network) - Thousands of peace activists took to the streets of Minas Tirith and other cities of Middle Earth today to protest what they termed a rush to war with Mordor.

"We need more time for diplomacy," said a key member of the Middle-Earth Security Council, Saruman the White. "I am not convinced by the evidence presented by my esteemed colleague, Gandalf the Grey, or that the Dark Lord Sauron presents an imminent danger to the peoples of the West."


1:55 PM


DOUBTS PERSIST, BUT WHOSE?:

Archbishop Rowan Williams, the head of the Church of England, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy McCarthy, the head of the Church in England, have just issued a joint statement on the possibility of war in Iraq. It is no more interesting than such statements tend to be, but includes the line

The events of recent days show that doubts still persist about the moral legitimacy as well as the unpredictable humanitarian consequences of a war with Iraq.

As I tell my students, beware the passive voice. It is often the mark of people who do not want to say what they mean, which is to say, who want to say something and influence other peoples' thinking but do not want to be held to account for their words. In this case, who doubts the moral legitimacy of the war? Do the archbishops mean "We do"? Do they mean "X, Y, and Z, whose opinions we trust, do"?

The statement is of no value unless we know who doubts it and can judge whether their doubts can be taken seriously. They are making an official statement about a critical matter, and they ought to be clear about the grounds and authority upon which they are making it.

And I'm not even discussing the logical confusion of "doubts persist about . . . the unpredictable humanitarian consequences of a war with Iraq." Don't either of them have someone on their staff who will say "Your grace, that doesn't make sense"?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The whole statement, for those of you who might want to see it, goes:

Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop of
Westminster

EMBARGO: 12:01am 20 February 2003

Joint Statement from Archbishop and Cardinal

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor have, following a recent private meeting, issued the following statement about the crisis involving Iraq:

"War is always a deeply disturbing prospect; one that can never be contemplated without a sense of failure and regret that other means have not prevailed, and deep disquiet about all that may come in its train.

"We are very conscious of the huge burden of responsibility carried by those who must make the ultimate decision in these matters. They are daily in our thoughts and prayers, as are all those who would find themselves caught up directly or indirectly in a war.

"The events of recent days show that doubts still persist about the moral legitimacy as well as the unpredictable humanitarian consequences of a war with Iraq.

"We recognise that the moral alternative to military action cannot be inaction, passivity, appeasement or indifference. It is vital therefore that all sides in this crisis engage through the United Nations fully and urgently in a process, including continued weapons inspections, that could and should render the trauma and tragedy of war unnecessary.

"We strongly urge the government of Iraq to demonstrate forthwith its unequivocal compliance with UN resolutions on weapons of mass destruction.

"The season of Lent is now approaching, a time when all Christian traditions encourage us to examine ourselves honestly, to acknowledge our shortcomings and to seek reconciliation with God. We must hope and pray that, with God's guidance, an outcome that brings peace with justice to Iraq and the Middle East may yet be found."


1:14 PM


Wednesday, February 19

LIFE BEHIND THE CURTAIN:

In "The curtain will come down on the peaceniks", one of my favorite journalists skewers the peace protesters' inability, or unwillingness, to face reality. They would, Mark Steyn writes in The National Journal, much rather believe in what he calls the "new Universal Theory," which "is that, whatever the problem, American imperialist cowboy aggression is to blame."

The confrontation of Churchill and Hitler in World War II shows what happens when you don't face reality. Referring to Andrew Roberts' new book Hitler And Churchill: Secrets Of Leadership, Steyn writes:

As Philip Hensher neatly put it in his review of Roberts' essay, "Churchill knew very well what Hitler was like, but Hitler had no idea what sort of man Churchill was."

Just so. When you read Hitler's private assessments of the man who stood between him and world domination, they're just silly: Churchill was "that puppet of Jewry." OK, that's fine as a bit of red meat tossed to the crowd when you're foaming at Nuremberg, but as a serious evaluation of your opponent made in the quiet of your study it's simply ... inadequate.

This failure to engage with reality is particularly telling when you look at how each leader dealt with setbacks: During the Blitz, Churchill would stand on the roof and watch the Luftwaffe bombing London; in the morning, he would walk through the ruins. Hitler, by contrast, never visited bombed-out areas and, just in case the driver should take a wrong turn, he drove the streets with his car windows curtained. His final days were spent in a bunker - the perfect ending for a man whose worldview depended on keeping reality at bay no matter how relentlessly it closed in on him.


To believe what the peace protesters believe - Steyn quickly exposes the irrationality and untruthfulness of their claims - you must keep

reality at arm's length or beyond: You're metaphorically driving around with the curtains drawn. Perhaps that's why so many of the "peace" crowd get ever so touchy if you question their slogans. If you ask a guy with an "It's All About Oil" sign what he thinks of the recent contracts signed between Iraq and France's Total Fina Elf, he looks blank for a moment and then accuses you of wanting to crush dissent. It's not fair, you're trying to pull back his curtain.

I am not saying that there are no good arguments against America going to war with Iraq. I am saying that the arguments presented by the anti-war left are not good ones, to the extent they are arguments at all and not self-serving fantasies presented in simple, easily-memorized, and not terribly bright slogans.


11:52 AM


AN ART BORN NAKED:

For the movie fans among you, The New Republic's website has posted an article on movies by Virginia Woolf, first published in 1926, "The Movies and Reality". In it she develops the insight that

a strange thing has happened - while all the other arts were born naked, this, the youngest, has been born fully clothed. It can say everything before it has anything to say.


9:18 AM


GERMAN JUSTICE:

For being an accessory to the murder of 3,000 people in New York, the German court gave a terrorist

15 years in prison.


8:05 AM


Tuesday, February 18

THE BALLAD OF PETEY THE PARROT:

I got the following from a friend, who was passing it on from a writer who remains anonymous. You will enjoy it.

The Ballad of Petey the Parrot: An Uplifting Poem for Children

Petey the Parrot served twenty-one months
Of a rap for indecent exposure.
His Bishop paroled him and give him a perch
On his pear-wood episcopal crosier.

He scolded the skeptics who labelled the bird
Unsuited for pastoral placement:
"I'm giving him charge of the CCD staff
And an office in Barney Frank's basement."

Chorus:
Hide the eggs, Gwendolyn, hide the eggs Tom!
Hide the eggs Kate and Kareem!
Petey the Sinister Young Adult Minister's
back on the pastoral team!
With an aawk! and a squawwk! twenty months and you walk,
back on the pastoral team!

Petey was therapized, pampered, prepared,
Pronounced cured by professional weasels
Who shortly thereafter were found to have died
From a sorrowful shortage of T-cells.

The cops nearly nabbed him at Cock-a-Two's Bar
But Petey was just enough quicker
To fly through the window, and home, where he found
He'd been named archdiocesan vicar.

Chorus:
Hide the eggs, Gwendolyn, hide the eggs Tom!
Hide the eggs Kate and Kareem!
Petey the Sinister Young Adult Minister's
back on the pastoral team!
With an aawk! and a squawwk! twenty months and you walk,
back on the pastoral team!

When the parents complained that his ministry style
Included non-standard relations,
The kindly old bishop asked Petey to screen
First his phone calls, and then his vocations.

It didn't take long for the entering class
To grow from near thirty to -- zero.
Not Petey's a bishop himself, don't you know,
and described as "The NCR's hero."

Chorus:
Hide the eggs, Gwendolyn, hide the eggs Tom!
Hide the eggs Kate and Kareem!
Petey the Sinister Young Adult Minister's
back on the pastoral team!
With an aawk! and a squawwk! twenty months and you walk,
back on the pastoral team!


7:59 PM


PROF. SINGER LAYS IT OUT:

Writing in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine, in an article titled "Unspeakable Conversations", Harriet McBryde Johnson, a lawyer who herself suffers from severe disabilities, recounts her recent discussions with the Princeton philosopher Peter Singer, who thinks parents ought to be able to kill their disabled children after they are born as well as before.

In a lecture in Charleston,

Singer lays it all out. The ''illogic'' of allowing abortion but not infanticide, of allowing withdrawal of life support but not active killing. Applying the basic assumptions of preference utilitarianism, he spins out his bone-chilling argument for letting parents kill disabled abies and replace them with nondisabled babies who have a greater chance at happiness. It is all about allowing as many individuals as possible to fulfill as many of their preferences as possible.

Johnson is an atheist, who goes out of her way in the article to tell us that there is no God and describes an offer to pray for her as a "decidedly negative" response to her disability. She seems, unless I misread her, to be pro-choice. She objects to Singer's logic, and the article fascinates, and also saddens, because she has nothing substantial to argue against it, other than the assertion that her life is worth living because she enjoys living it.

I think, by the way, that this is enough of a response for the Christian, who accepts her words as testimony to the Divinely-guaranteed worth of each life. But it is not enough of a response for the pro-choice atheist. Whatever she intends, she has made consciousness of a certain sort - the ability to articulate one's belief in the value of one's life - the criterion for judging its value. The only real difference between her and the unborn child whose life or death she thinks ought to be left to someone else's decision is that she can say "No" and the unborn child can't.

She does, however, score some points against Singer, who is not quite so thorough in his thinking as he seems to be.

Singer seems curious to learn how someone who is as good an atheist as he is could disagree with his entirely reasonable views. At the same time, I am trying to plumb his theories. What has him so convinced it would be best to allow parents to kill babies with severe disabilities, and not other kinds of babies, if no infant is a ''person'' with a right to life? I learn it is partly that both biological and adoptive parents prefer healthy babies. But I have trouble with basing life-and-death decisions on market considerations when the market is structured by prejudice.

I offer a hypothetical comparison: ''What about mixed-race babies, especially when the combination is entirely nonwhite, who I believe are just about as unadoptable as babies with disabilities?'' Wouldn't a law allowing the killing of these undervalued babies validate race prejudice? Singer agrees there is a problem. ''It would be horrible,'' he says, ''to see mixed-race babies being killed because they can't be adopted, whereas white ones could be.'' What's the difference? Preferences based on race are unreasonable. Preferences based on ability are not. Why? To Singer, it's pretty simple: disability makes a person ''worse off.''


She points out that this is a matter of opinion and depends on a particular definition of "worse off." But the exchange reveals that even someone of Singer's thorough utilitarianism must speak with some idea of ultimate value that they cannot defend objectively. In this case, why should anyone else care about Singer's definition of "worse off" and his idea of what is reasonable and unreasonable? Suppose the parents of a mixed-race baby feel that the child will not be happy enough in life to let him live? Why is that, on Singer's grounds, unreasonable?

The article goes on for several more pages in the magazine, and includes the story of her trip to Princeton to address the students on the subject (at which she encountered at least one nitwit, who wanted to know how she could justify eating meat and still argue for the right of disabled people not to be killed). It is well worth reading, and indeed sometimes rather moving. The writer is not far from the Kingdom.


1:54 PM


FINDING FR. WILSON:

Fr. Joseph Wilson is one of the peppier commentators on the life of the Catholic Church in the United States. He has just written to say that some of his articles can be found at Nordog.com. Fr. Wilson, a priest of the Diocese of New York, wrote "Our Not So Glorious Selves" for the September 2002 issue.

The site includes a very funny parody of the Catholic bishops' pastoral letter on the economy from 1986.


12:01 PM


YET MORE ON V-MONOLOGUES:

A reader sent another useful link, following up on the links on the performance of "The Vagina Monologues" at Catholic colleges, which I posted on Monday, February 10th. If you are interested in the subject, or just fascinated by human foolishness, you will want to read E. Michael Jones' report in the April 2000 Culture Wars on the performance of "The Vagina Monologues" at St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, "V-Day at St. Mary's College".

St. Mary's presents itself as the top Catholic women's college in the country, by the way. One of the lead roles in its production is played by a nun from the faculty, who leads the student actresses - sorry, actorpersons - in chanting . . . well, something you would not want your daughter saying in private, much less on stage.

I should warn you that the article begins with a warning that it contains "explicit language," quoted from the play, and "explicit" means "really vile."

St. Mary's has been sending my daughter, a high school junior and a real catch for a school like that, if I may say so, lots of promotional material, none of which suggests the college sponsors things like this. I do not think we will be sending her there. We won't be paying that much to send one of our children to a school apparently run by moral imbeciles and nuns who hate Catholicism.


9:19 AM


AN INNOVATION TOO FAR:

St. John's Episcopal Church in San Francisco, which describes itself as "a community of faith welcoming all colors, cultures and sexual orientations," has split after a fight between the "traditionalists" and the Divine Rhythm Society, "a group of mostly young and straight seekers with roots in the ecstasy-fueled rave scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s" who for six years have sponsored "All Night Dance Celebrations [that] have packed the church with hundreds of young people seeking connection and community."

These celebrations seem to have included the use of drugs like Ecstasy, though people disagree on the extent. The drug is part of

a family of drugs known as "entacogens," . . . [which] produce feelings of euphoria, empathy and increased energy. Unlike LSD and other psychedelics, they rarely cause users to hallucinate or to lose control of themselves. They are also illegal and potentially dangerous.

Some users of ecstasy and similar drugs consider these substances to be "entheogens" - a chemical door to greater spiritual or psychological awareness.

Van Aelstyn quoted several parish members who said Pearson admitted that ecstasy helps fuel the All Night Dance Celebration.

Pearson [the now ex-rector] reportedly said, "We use entheogens to reach for God, not to get high."


The Society now outnumbers the "traditionalist" congregation of 80, and the result of their fight has been that the rector and vestry have resigned and the DRS will have to find a new home. The story of the split is told in From rhythm and blues: Fight over dances and drugs tearing S.F. church apart from the San Francisco Chronicle. The ex-rector

who is gay, said conservatives inside and outside the parish are using the unorthodox nature of the rhythm society to attack him and Bishop Swing, who has ordained many gay and lesbian clergy. . . .

"We are a progressive parish that is predominantly gay and lesbian," Pearson said. "They are opposed to all that."


This is, to say the least, unlikely. The article reports that St. John's has been a "predominantly gay congregation" for two decades, and in such parishes moral conservatives do not survive long enough to cause that much trouble, nor do they get the ear of the vestry or the bishop. But even when homosexual people become the establishment, they tend to blame their troubles on prejudice against homosexual people. Being a victim is habit-forming, and makes life easier.

At any rate, the Divine Rhythm Society is worth noticing as a good example of this sort of experiential religion, with or without drugs. (Though I don't see why, having decided you think this sort of thing a way to reach God - or Whomever it is you think you're reaching - you could object to chemical help.)

Many of the events have had special themes or distinctive party favors such as mirror ball necklaces on New Year's Eve 1998 or a seed planting ceremony in the Spring of 1999. There was a "WombRoom" in the summer of 1998 and "alchemical transformation" on New Year's Eve 2001.

"I've never had any chemical assistance to dance through the night," Perry [an older parishioner and DRS member] said. "We are experiencing rhythm, which is a way to reach the divine. There's a wonderful feeling of inclusion and support. People are unself-conscious."
.

As far as I can tell, people who believe in this sort of thing think that if it feels good and seems to take you out of yourself, it must be religious. You find God (or Whomever it is you think you're finding) through intense emotional experiences. I can understand the attraction of this sort of religion: you can experience this God (Whomever it may be) without having to listen to Him. You may eat your cake and keep it too.

I think, by the way, this kind of thing illustrates the argument I gave in my "Choosing Love & Making Life" in the January/February issue. Once you start innovating without any clear guiding principle, other than some vague idea of "liberation" or "freedom" or "self-fulfillment," you cannot logically say no to anyone whose innovation is more daring than yours. If you have taken the freedom to do X, he can justifiably take the freedom to do X + Y.

According to a man who is both a parishioner and a member of the DRS,

'The core issue is a split in the congregation with the traditionalists and people who want some change," he said. "There's a dynamism and energy in the rhythm society, but some people feel the influence of the rhythm society is pernicious."

Notice that the "traditionalists" here are people who think sodomy a perfectly good thing to do and who consider themselves "progressive," and were happy to host the Divine Rhthym Society. They are "traditionalist" only in their taste for Anglo-Catholic liturgy.

I am sure they would say of their revision of the Christian moral teaching that in it "We are experiencing love, which is a way to reach the divine. There's a wonderful feeling of inclusion and support. People are unself-conscious." What they say of themselves the DRSers say of themselves, and who is to judge between them?


8:57 AM


Monday, February 17

C AND L ON THE WAR:

Communion and Liberation, a Catholic movement, has issued its critique of the possibility of war against Iraq.

Unlike much of what is emanating from Europe, it is at least polite, and doesn't accuse Americans of being warmongers (the Germans! accusation).

However, it still bears an aroma of arrogance.

No, President George W. Bush does not convince us, just as his father, President George H.W. Bush, did not. We cannot understand why Saddam is the most wicked of them all, why he is the most dangerous, why his overthrow is so indispensable to the fight against terrorism. As a matter of fact, Saddam's tyranny seems "moderate" when compared with other regimes. Christian churches should be shown tolerance everywhere; in Iraq they exist, but not in certain other countries.
We are against this war. We are on the side of the Pope, who sees this war as being out of all proportion, both in method and in aim, and is resorting to all licit means to avoid it, to spare the poor Iraqis not only human and political oppression, but exposure to the far more lethal aerial bombardments, and to spare all of us the consequences of a useless conflict
.

Bush does not have to prove that Saddam is the worst tyrant in the world, because he is not claiming that. Bush is claiming that, according to the intelligence that he has been given, that Saddam is an imminent threat to the United States, and is able and willing to unleash an attack worse than that of September 11.

There is nothing in just war theory that says that a government has to prove to other governments that the war satisfies the conditions for a just war. It may be prudent, but it is not necessary, and sometimes full information cannot be released.

Only part of American intelligence has been and can be released to the public. The most useful part of intelligence is that concerning not the capabilities but the intentions of an enemy. Such intelligence can be best obtained from sources close to the enemy leader; revealing specifics of that intelligence will lead to the death of the source.

In C and L's comments, and in that of other Europeans, is the assumption that Bush and other members of the American government have a moral judgment inferior to that of Europeans. This frankly is arrogant on C and L's part, and doubly so on the part of European governments. They let a massacre occur in Bosnia without doing anything effective to prevent it. I also will not forget that practically while the Twin Towers were still falling and the Pentagon was still in flames, European governments fell over themselves in announcing all the things they couldn't do to help the United States: alter their immigration or terrorism laws, or put suspected terrorists under surveillance. The Pope himself said immediately after the attack that he hoped the United States would not start a war └ we presumably should allow our cities to be destroyed and not lift a military finger to stop it because that would be a war, and war is evil └ at least if it is in defense of America. Ingratitude is never a lovely thing. Remember the graves of Normandy.


4:37 PM


THOSE CHARMING EUROPEANS:

My daughter in Bologna reports rising anti-Americanism. Millions demonstrated against the US throughout Europe: it was not just Bush that they dislike: it is America.

I once visited Normandy and prayed at the graves of the thousands of young men who died there. The French woman who was our guide wept for all those young men who came to free her country at the price of their deaths.

Bush may or may not be making a mistake in threatening war against Iraq, but he is trying to protect the American people for whom he is responsible. For the Europeans to slander and attack him is despicable. We should have left them to the tender mercies of Mr. Hitler, who was (proportionately) less murderous than Hussein is.


1:06 PM




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