Saturday, July 15, 2006

things which Episcopalians get right

  1. The need for bishops, priests, and deacons.
  2. They have nice port.
  3. Their bishops are nice fellows, but they never remember to pass the port.
I'm sorry, I really can't go in that much more detail besides this because of the staggering variety. Feel free to pick and choose from the Protestant and Catholic lists as you see fit because they try to be broader than both [except the Protestant one was written specifically to include Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses because they are, historically speaking, Protestant movements, even if they are arguably not Christian [though they are, historically speaking, Christian movements]], but be forewarned, of course, that not all on either list always applies [see Spong, compare to NT Wright].

FOOTNOTE: Dr. Johnson says of claret: "Poor stuff! No, Sir, claret is the liquor for boys; port, for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy. In the first place, brandy is most grateful to the palate; and then brandy will do soonest for a man what drinking can do for him. There are, indeed, few who are able to drink brandy. That is a power rather to be wished for than attained."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

things which Protestants get right [a non-exhaustive list]

  1. Many of them love Jesus Christ, who is truly God and truly man, and believe in the one God in Trinity.
  2. All of the books most of them put in the Bible belong there.
That's about all I can think of, but suggestions are welcome. The movement is too broad, really, to categorize meaningfully.

EDIT: changed "they" to "most of them".

things which Catholicism gets right.

  1. They will not ordain women ever. Even if it is possibly permissible to ordain women to the diaconate in some way, they almost certainly aren't going to do it. They have, at least, definitively stated that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood.

  2. Liberalism is a sin. They provide coherent critiques of modernism which the rest of us can only piggy-back onto. True, they may have spawned that demon child, but they're certainly the only ones capable of killing it.
  3. Cassian's thoughts on chastity and exomologesis/exagoreusis were far more influential in the West than the East, to the East's detriment [in our defence, however, much of what he says on the latter subject may be from Eastern influence and has precedent in the East which did have a considerable flowering and remains influential]. His discussion of chastity is far more helpful than anything else I've seen, though some [especially of the female persuasion] might be put off by his lengthy discussions of nocturnal emissions which come along with every talk on chastity. "Helpful" intentionally used because of the therapeutic intent of his works.
  4. St. Augustine is rightly venerated as being friggin' intense.
  5. Solesmes-style Benedictine monasticism doesn't seem like pretense, despite the existence of the counterpart "POD" to Orthodox "uberfromm". I mean, it seems possible.
  6. Eastern Rite Catholicism can often seem acceptable, while Western Rite Orthodoxy just doesn't fly [must be the latent Anglicanism of it all]. A real Tridentine Mass vs. an Orthodox version will fail to be comparable in a way which a real Divine Liturgy vs. a Catholic Eastern Rite version might not.
  7. They make good art.
  8. They make good beer.
  9. If you know anything about history, you know most of the stupid things said about them are false.
  10. They're not [at least the good ones aren't] Protestants.
That might be an offensive-enough list. If you feel the need to be more offended, I can oblige.

a couple thoughts on the ochlophobist.

[the link above is due to the "your dog (cat) can't actually love you" t-shirt ideas] I don't have the resources to engage in a full exposition of my thoughts on the ochlophobist's four pieces, especially as my thoughts aren't fully exposited. So I will present a short list of points or questions that I might think about later and invite interested and informed readers to comment on them.
  • I'm curious about the monasticization of the clerical ranks and the clericization of monasticism in the West and how it relates to what the o.phobe is saying, esp. as the former occurred to some extent in the East as well. For instance, St. John of Kronstadt is pretty much the first Russian married saint who wasn't a martyr [find another and I owe you a Coke]. And he was celibate!
  • When the local parishes and communities have connections to the monasteries and the monasteries have connections to the community, I do not think the criticism of a separation between the elite vs. the masses in re monasteries vs. parishes has much purchase. Keeping in mind the many imperfections of Tsarist Russia in the periods most relevant to the uberfromm critique [keyboard set up for French, not German, so no umlauts], at least then monasteries were ubiquitous and would have regular enough contact with the lives of the hoi polloi that I have a hard time swallowing his accusation of gnosticism, though my interpretations [or even knowledge] of history on this point could be woefully inadequate.
  • The accusation becomes salient, however, with the industrialization [though there are many urban monasteries even in the Eastern tradition, monasticism is a mostly agrarian phenomenon], the Revolution, and the diaspora. In America, there were almost no monasteries until quite recently and the American way of life combined with the Orthodox population density certainly would not afford many opportunities for the interpenetration of villages with monastic communities as in the Old Country. Hence Schmemann's comments about the falsity of modern monks, Evdokimov's criticisms of modern asceticism and the need for a new monasticism, St. Maria Skobstova's attempts at a new way, and [slightly different, but related to clericalism] Lossky's refusal to be ordained as a testimony to the possibility of a layman being a real theologian.
  • Suppose one grants for the moment that Überfrömmigkeit exists as a phenomenon of the same sort as consumerism and that it is satanic. Is it true that it is indeed as widespread as the o.phobist claims it is? Or as big a deal as he claims it is? There are plenty of modern satanic delusions which the Church will pay for in the end and even more sins. Each one is grave, certainly, and we should work by the grace of God to overcome them all, but I'm not seeing how knowledge of this particular phenomenon [as opposed to other popularly-analyzed phenomenon such as "convertitis" or other criticisms of modern Orthodox praxis such as those by Schmemann or Hopko] would have much of an effect on what I am supposed to be doing. Fine. I'm uberfromm to some extent because of my participation in modern forms of Orthodox piety. Mea culpa. Now I'm going to listen to Benoît XVI discuss antitheologies of death and Schmemann's discussion of similar issues and consider how I've swallowed modern American lies about what man is and forget about Überfrömmigkeit 'cause I've got bigger fish to fry.
My main issue is really that his reading of history is considerably more radical than, say, Meyendorff's, and while I'm willing to accept Meyendorff's reading tentatively despite my vast ignorance, I tend to avoid controversial readings of subjects I'm not well-versed in. I'd rather just read about 5th century French monasticism some more its influence on parish life or some other completely irrelevant junk.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

re: jibs.

i like the cut of this man's jib. i don't agree with everything he says, but it's food for thought.

animals are machines made of meat.

They do not suffer, at least not in any way commensurable to human experience. Certainly, they have souls [read yr Aristotle]. Having a "soul" merely means that it can move of its own power [it doesn't even necessarily mean the thing is alive only when it has a soul, which is why most modern propagandistic pro-abortion readings of ancient medical texts are irresponsible]. Beware of anybody with too strong an attachment to their pets.