Review: The Benedict Option
5 minutes ago
On October 3, 1993 a group of US Rangers and Special Operations soldiers set out on a mission into the heart of the Bakara market in Mogadishu. What started as a mission that should have lasted 30 minutes turned into a battle for their lives. Known by these men as the Battle of the Black Sea and later portrayed in the motion picture Black Hawk Down, here is the untold story of that battle. Coming soon in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and streaming from the Panteao website.Featuring Paul Howe. Pic of the box cover here.
And, to be perfectly frank, I could never stand to watch Charlie Brown's Christmas and I do not like Vince Guaraldi's music. Two thousand years of art, literature, and music, and people are still watching Peanuts? Schulz is often praised for the Christian themes in his comics, but he was an ex-Christian and a self-described secular humanist. In my view, he was a board member of that sinister Northeastern syndicate.
I hate all Christmas specials, especially the Grinch who did not so much steal as profane Christmas with Seussian inanity. I did get a bang out of the Andy Williams specials for which he hired actors to play his family, while his wife was doing life for murdering her faithless lover the Croat-American skier Spider Sabich. "Ain't that America?"
I am also sick to death of the anti-Christian Charles Dickens' rewrite of Christ's Nativity as a a softcore Marxist parable without Christ or angels but with a new pantheon of bogus deities--the deeply offensive Ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. How dare such a man pen such a line as "God bless us, everyone." The nasty hypocrite should have been on his knees praying to escape the fires of Hell.
With the blessings of His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP of North America and His Eminence, Metropolitan ELIAS of Beirut, and thorught the generosity of The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch (the charitable arm of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America), 12 members of the St. Romanos the Melodist Choir of the Archdiocese of Beirut, Lebanon toured the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in mid-September, 2012. Under the direction of their leader, Father Romanos Joubran, Dean of St. George Orhtodox Cathedral of Beirut, Lebanon and instructor of Byzantine Music, the choir spent two weeks performing concerts and singing at liturgical services from the Midwest to the East Coast. The tour culminated on Sunday, September 22, 2012 in an historic concert attended by more than 450 people at the Mother Cathedral of the Archdiocese, St. Nicholas Cathedral of Brooklyn, NY. With the additional blessings of His Eminence, Archbishop DEMETRIOS of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Archdiocesan Byzantine Choir of the GOA, under the direction of Dr. Demetrios Kehagias, made a special guest appearance and added to the beauty of the evening. This 2-CD digitally mastered set of hymns in Arabic and Greek consistst of th esets performed by the Beirut Choir and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Choir as well as the combined set where they performed together. In addition, there are two tracks from the Divine Liturgy that the Beirut choir chanted the following day in the Cathedral and a few bonus selections from their concert in Boston, MA that were not include in the Brooklyn concert due to time constraints. We hope you enjoy the beauty of this ancient and sacred music.
Each 2-CD set is $20.00 plus $5.00 shipping for each of the first two CD's and $2.00 for each CD after that. Quantity discounts of 10 or more are available.
Catholics affirm that the state has the authority, within limits, to recognize marriage and to protect people who enter into it; to recognize the sanctity of life, and to do no harm to it; to recognize the dignity of the human person, and therefore ensure an economy in which every person can flourish according to their capacities without being debilitated by poverty. Yet currently, the Catholic is being asked to divide her affirmations and denials more or less equally between political parties that may or may not finally represent these concerns at all. It is like asking King Solomon, or a mother, to tear a child in half.
That means that we are beyond the Churchillian “least bad” problem in choosing between parties. The political culture we inhabit has exceeded that problem. Ours is not only a polarized politics, it is also an excessive politics. It dominates every aspect of life. Political campaigns have learned to carefully cultivate every existing identity for itself, and only for itself. It has come to take over every aspect of life so there is no place where presidential politics is absent. I think this excessiveness is an enduring aspect of every politics that detaches itself from natural limits, that consistently refuses to allow space to that which is not politics, that refuses to admit that there is anything prior to politics, that habitually ignores anything which supersedes politics, and which denies anything which is not reducible to politics.
All of this makes my post-election reflections sound like a plea for resistance to political instrumentalism. It is that, but it is also simply a plea for contemplation on those things which are not political, but are nevertheless important to political community. The popular motto of the Catholic resistance movement during WWII, “France be careful not to lose your soul” is worth recalling to this end. A generation earlier, Charles Péguy, the atheist socialist convert to Catholicism, sought to remind France to attend those things which were preludes to politics: metaphysics, narratives, language, family, friendship and contemplation upon the causes, effects, and ends of our most cherished commitments – our loves and our liberties (to recall St. Augustine). In our post-election reflections, Christians should be the ones asking the really substantial questions, not the ones asked at our very insubstantial presidential debates – but the questions we would want our children to ask: questions about existence, such as why there is something rather than nothing; about justice, and to whom it is owed; about truth, and making ourselves truthful; about the nature of goodness and how we can be formed in accordance with it. Questions like these are pre-political, but they matter for politics too. If these sorts of question whither, we will get the politics we deserve. Amongst ourselves as well as with others, we must be asking what it means to be a Christian in our excessive, polarized, political order.
At its best, true Christianity has always resisted being instrumentalized by politics – it has always affirmed the legitimate authority of the state, but it has also helped the state to flourish precisely by pointing out its limits, and its disorder. Sometimes it has done so with martyrs, but usually with a different kind of Christian witness — one which entails discursive reasoning as well as contemplation and prayer, marked by both seriousness and joyfulness about things other than politics but which nevertheless matter for the political health of the places that God has entrusted to us.
To be a republic in the classical Aristotelian one has to have self-government in what ever form that may be; the rule of law and a demographic and territorial scale in which common traditions, customs and habits can determine the common good as far as culture or social order is concerned.
Self-government does not mean even representative government in the sense that representatives are elected by any popular means and certainly not democracy. It means that the polity expresses the traditions, customs and habits lived out by real people in a real place, whatever the mechanism of that expression. To govern against the lived out customs and habits in a real place is to be a tyrant, whether one is a dictator or a democratic majority.
The rule of law does not mean a strict adherence to some “due process” and the statutory laws from which it springs; it rather means that statutory law, however, it is made is in harmony with the prevailing traditions, customs and habits of the social order. Thus, Creon is a tyrant when he refuses to allow Antigone the tradition duty of burying, in her case, Polynices. Anglo-Saxon jury nullification is predicated on an awareness of traditions, customs and habits, embedded and lived out in the people, with which even the king’s law can be nullified.
There is little chance of there being commonly held traditions, customs and habits which define the common good, the expectations of polity and the rule of law if a given territory is too large or if the population is too large.
Now, one can can an aardvark an ant; or one can call an abstract corporation with a monopoly on coercion, with the ability to define the limits of its own power and with the impetus of a power will, be that one of a dictator or a democratic majority, ruling a massive territory with millions of people a republic; however, but an ant “ain’t” an aardvark; and a Hobbesian state “ain’t” a republic. At least the old Soviet Union was less disingenuous than Mao’s China. The Soviets at least made a pretense in that they named their Hobbesian state the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics whereas Mao’ named his The People Republic of China.
We were once, before Lincoln and the Republicans “these United States,” a union of constitutionally federated republics. Today, we are a Hobbesian state, consolidated and centralized. Our President, in a post-election speech spoke of “this colony,” in the singular, gaining its independence from Great Britain. Once there were thirteen colonies and King George, in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, named each of them. He did not make peace with the American people in the aggregate, with the Continental Congress, with the so-called “Founding Fathers” or with some overarching government. He made peace with thirteen unique and sovereign republics.
But clearly something has changed. Hitchens is hardly practising class war these days, and the Mail has never exactly been hospitable to the practitioners of revolution. He explains: “During my life, the establishment that I imagined I was fighting in the late 1960s and early 1970s was already dying - in fact it was really already a living corpse.”
For Hitchens, the 20th century has been the story of the death of the old British establishment - indeed, of Britain itself - and its replacement by a new, more liberal elite. His writing is shot through with the theme of moral decline. His new book, though it concerns mostly drugs, includes a chapter sternly entitled ‘The Demoralisation of Britain’ and from the earliest pages he thunders that the worship of a new hedonistic creed, the lamentable trilogy of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, is responsible for many contemporary social ills.
“What all this is really about is the collapse of Protestant Christianity as the dominant system of thought and belief in modern England over the course of a century”, he elaborates, dating the start of the rot at the beginning of the First World War. “In many cases people have found the constraints and what they would call the repressions of Protestant Christianity irksome, and taken the opportunity to throw them off in many parts of life.”
I shall be content to use it, here, in a basic etymological sense as that which belongs to us (proprius is a Latin adjective meaning one's own), but not (even though a case could be made for such usage) including our physical or mental attributes.
Property, as Aristotle observed, is natural because it is essential to human functioning and thriving. We have to eat and shield ourselves from the elements, hunt animals with weapons and grow food with implements. I am going to postpone an extended discussion of property until later because I do not wish to lose the thread of this albeit simple argument.
Property is universal in human societies and claims to the otherwise, put forward by Marxist and feminist anthropologists, can only hold up if we insist that property be defined in Anglo-American terms. It is true that in a tropical climate a hunter-gatherer people needs little property: privileged access to watering holes, spears to hunt with, perhaps baskets to store the nuts and berries our women gather, but anything a man makes or improves or finds can be (though it is not always) property, even if he is expected to share its use with his relatives.
Traditionalists and radicals alike have deep reservations about the bureaucratization, rationalization, and consumerism of American life, and lament the damage such forces are doing to local communities and to families. But while these groups formulate very similar critiques of the current order, they arrive at those crituques by very different intellectual paths. I wonder if that will always prevent them from making common cause with one another
It is AMAZING how women in some dirt-poor village in Mexico or Honduras, or some poor town in Eastern Europe, are acutely aware of the fact that their fertility and their ability to attract interest from quality men will decline quickly after a certain age, yet women in the USA are “shocked.” The word “amazing” is overused, but in this case it’s accurate: this state of affairs would be enough to amaze a rational, neutral observer. Women whose families have spent hundred of thousands of dollars to educate them at the best schools, women who have been raised so carefully and with such constant attention, are more ignorant about basic biological facts concerning the human body THAN WOMEN WHO ARE RAISED WITHOUT ELECTRICITY OR RUNNING WATER.
At the time, Hanna Rosin noted that what these men did was "deeper" than chivalry. It was heroic. I agree. But heroism and chivalry share a basic feature in common—the recognition, a transcendent one, that there is something greater than the self worth protecting, and that there is something greater than the self worth sacrificing your own needs, desires, and even life for. If we can all agree that the kind of culture we should aspire to live in is one in which men and women protect and honor each other in the ways that they can—and not one in which men are pushing past women and children to save their own lives—then that is progress that women everywhere should support.Writers in the androsphere will talk about the breaking of the "social contract" between men and women, and protest that men should not be held to older standards of behavior when women are not held to that same set of standards. I think that is a useful analytic tool in talking about expectations men and women have for one another, and the laws and customs that they advocate and follow. Nowhere in this article does the author repudiate feminism (in whatever form). She does think that men and women should be civil and respectful towards one another.
Chivalry is about respect. It is about not harming or hurting others, especially those who are more vulnerable than you. It is about putting other people first and serving others often in a heroic or courageous manner. It is about being polite and courteous. In other words, chivalry in the age of post-feminism is another name we give to civility. When we give up on civility, understood in this way, we can never have relationships that are as meaningful as they could be.
If women today—feminists and non-feminists alike—encouraged both men and women to adopt the principles of civil and chivalrous conduct, then the standards of behavior for the two sexes would be the same, fostering the equality that feminists desire. Moreover, the relations between the sexes would be once again based on mutual respect, as the traditionalists want. Men and women may end up being civil and well-mannered in different ways, but at least they would be civil and well-mannered, an improvement on the current situation.
As I've mentioned before, the superiority of debate in the British House of Commons to what we're used to in American politics can be startling to an American observer. This is a social construct of the highest order. The British have crafted a society over many hundreds of years that emphasizes sport as a nonlethal, even potentially friendly form of male combat, and parliamentary debate as the highest form of sport.
Similar attitudes were reflected in the written spheres. A century ago, G.K. Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw, say, could go at it hammer and tongs like the intellectual sportsmen they were.
It's not surprising that Americans have never quite attained this level of intellectual sportsmanship. Nor is it surprising that the British masculine model is fading, both here and in Britain.
The 20th century was the century of ideologies – Liberalism, Socialism, Communism, Nationalism, all of which failed. The 21st century is the century of identities. Indeed it is the very substance of the European people that is threatened by the steamroller of globalization, invasion-migration and multiculturalism. Sovereignists have missed the boat by a longshot: it’s no longer the power or sovereignty of nation-states that’s in jeopardy; it’s the very identity of our friends, our families and our kinfolk. On the ethnic scale, because of the effects of migrant submersion on demographics, and on the cultural scale, because of the uniformization of different ways of life. In addition to this, European nation-states, prime inheritors of the Jacobinist ideas of the French Revolution, were the first agents in the destruction of popular traditions, deep rooted cultures and spiritual mass movements which fortified and irrigated European societies. No ideological recipe forcibly applied by these nearly extinct fossils can protect us anymore. The people have to take their fate into their own hands: time to wake up!