Thursday, August 18, 2022

A rough stretch.


Forgive the vagueness and ambiguity, but I am going through a tough patch at the moment. July was full-stop awful, and August, while better, is well short of good.

I've never been a fan of publicly discussing personal difficulties, and will continue that here. I will simply say we have taken heavy body blows as a family in the past and gotten back up from them, and look to do so in this case, too.

It has sapped my urge to bloviate on major matters of public import. 

Everything's going straight to hell anyway, so further emphasis from me on that obvious point can wait.


But at least my bleak sense of humor is intact, so that's nice.

In the meantime, prayers are welcome and I can recommend the Stoics, starting with good ol' Epictetus.

And my son is an apprentice wizard with woodworking, helping me convert a snowmobile trailer into something more suited to hauling the cargo associated with a larger family. He calls it the "S.S. Father & Son," which is as flattering a name as I can imagine. We have since added some coats of "International Harvester Red" to help it last.


Anyway, the bottom line remains the same, as Dan Abnett repeatedly writes:


Friday, May 20, 2022

The GOP Garbage Squad.

Nine awful human beings whose views are unworthy of the slightest respect.

Especially after caterwauling about spending money on Ukraine, not baby formula.

Here's the thing--draft an alternative bill. 

Otherwise, you're just elected shitposters.



Thursday, May 12, 2022

I cannot imagine the fear parents are facing with the formula shortage.

We were blessed with the fact my wife was able to nurse all of our children up to about for roughly 13-15 months on average.

While we never had to worry about formula, it was always there. "Breast is best but formula is not abuse" is a proverb my wife routinely quotes to moms facing the nursing vs. formula question. And we know two children who would not be here today if formula had not been an option.

But in 2022, the formula is not there. Especially for babies with digestive issues.

Baby formula is essential for baby growth. Many babies or mothers are not able to breastfeed or have other nutritional needs. 

Emrie Colegrove's daughter, Wilhelmina, has a heart condition and uses soy formula. That has been something difficult for Colegrove to find. For the past two months, she has not been able to find the one her daughter tolerated well in stores. 

"With her heart condition, calories and weight gain are super important," said Colegrove, "Otherwise, her heart won't heal. So. when you think as a mom, those million thoughts just go through your mind. It's really scary to think that your baby is not going to get the nutrition that they need."

She was able to find a generic brand at one store, which she has been using.

However, she also wants people to understand that the correct formula can be pricey, if it is not covered by WIC. Plus, driving to multiple stores with climbing gas prices adds up. 

"I can't believe how much worse it's getting before it's getting better," said Colegrove.

 There are no words. 

The FDA just allowed the nation's largest baby formula plant to release specialty formula on a case by case basis

But while every little bit helps, a little bit isn't enough.

And the shutdown is especially grating given this fact:

Last month, however, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told NBC News none of the bacterial strains taken at the Abbott plant matched those collected from the infants, and the agencies haven't offered an explanation for how the contamination occurred.

Top men. 



Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Joseph Cardinal Zen was arrested by the Chinese Reich.

It won't affect the Vatican's concordat with said state, though.

Why should it?

A man who insists on meeting with fascists before visiting their victims isn't going to be moved by different fascists arresting a colleague he pointedly ignored.

[Update: The Cardinal has been released on bail

The Vatican is "following with extreme attention." 

To be fair, "follower" is a apt description of Rome's attitude toward China and its depredations.]

Your personal doomsday clock update of the day.

Putin's Victory Day speech was described as low-key, but Paul Kengor disagrees. In his analysis, Russia's dictator upped the rhetorical ante, targeting the United States:

But my main point of concern here is Putin suddenly calling out the United States, and once again in the form of an old KGB-Kremlin talking point. This is yet another level in Putin’s rising escalation. And as the old KGB political dinosaur continues to stomp and lash out, he’s capable of more violence and destruction. In the past few months, Putin’s various lies against the Ukrainians have been a pretext for him to ramp up his rage by ever-increasing levels of military action. Let’s hope this one aimed at the United States and the West doesn’t result in Putin taking aim in literal ways at the U.S. and the West.

I remain very pessimistic.

By the way, the official Doomsday Clock is not worth consulting, as the invasion of Ukraine and the rattling of nuclear sabers by Russia is apparently less important than either political so-called disinformation or anti-covid policies in the developed world. In the old days, an event like a nuclear power invading its neighbor would have prompted an update. But the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has gone the mission creep route so you have to look elsewhere.

Burn Tiktok to the ground.

 It's a "strip club filled with 15 year olds."

So destroy the app then toss the app coders and abusers into a prison near the Arctic Circle. 

It is just and merciful.

Scenes from a nation careening toward the apocalypse:

A Forbes review of hundreds of recent TikTok livestreams reveals how viewers regularly use the comments to urge young girls to perform acts that appear to toe the line of child pornography — rewarding those who oblige with TikTok gifts, which can be redeemed for money, or off-platform payments to Venmo, PayPal or Cash App accounts that users list in their TikTok profiles.

It’s “the digital equivalent of going down the street to a strip club filled with 15-year-olds,” says Leah Plunkett, an assistant dean at Harvard Law School and faculty associate at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, focused on youth and media. Imagine a local joint putting a bunch of minors on a stage before a live adult audience that is actively giving them money to perform whatever G, PG or PG-13 activities they request, she said. “That is sexual exploitation. But that's exactly what TikTok is doing here.”

The transactions are happening in a public online forum open to viewers almost anywhere on the planet. Some of the demands are explicit — like asking girls to kiss each other, spread their legs or flash the camera — and some harder to detect, masked with euphemisms. Commenters say “outfit check” to get a complete look at a girl’s body; “pedicure check” to see their feet; “there’s a spider on your wall” to get girls to turn around and show their rears; and “play rock-paper-scissors” to encourage girls to flirt-fight or wrestle with each other. Phrases like “put your arms up” or “touch the ceiling” are often directed at girls in crop tops so viewers can see their breasts and stomachs. And many simply coax girls to show their tongues and belly buttons or do handstands and splits. In return, the girls are showered with virtual gifts, like flowers, hearts, ice cream cones and lollipops, that can be converted to cash. 

As I told a Gen Z man recently, it's an awful time to be a girl or a woman. He agreed. Small wonder, perhaps, that some tragic girls try to withdraw from being a woman altogether, only to open yet another door to horror.

 We are doing our literal damnedest to make decadent Rome look quaint, God help us.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Paul Zummo is one of the sanest men on the internet.

And because that is the most back-handed of compliments, let me re-phrase:

Paul is one of the smartest, most-grounded and sanest men around. Period.

Click on the above to read a polite defenestration of anti-anti-abortion sophistry.  

Last's morphing into a hack is nothing short of tragic. While I usually have little use for Friedrich Nietzsche, the age of Trump offers ample confirmation for the German philosopher's warning about fighting monsters and gazing into the abyss. 

Some of Trump's critics have revealed themselves to be mere mercenary grifters happy to mouth any political ad copy for pay.

Far worse are others who maimed their integrity. Last appears to be the latter, to my sorrow. I profited from reading him. What did I miss in his previous writing that could have signaled what he is doing now?

[And, yes, the same applies to those who have prostituted themselves to support Trump. But the principled anti-Trump Mr. Zummo isn't talking about that now. If you want some of that, go here. Speaking of which, I am about to throw up with the Catholic fawning over MTG. Get a grip. Your integrity needs it.]


Monday, May 09, 2022

All over but the mopping up.

The Latin Mass will be dead in Detroit by the end of 2023.

The archbishop has left the Institute of Christ the King parish more or less alone. 

But everything else is up to the "lively pastoral charity" (guffaw) of Rome.  

This lively pastoral charity is exactly analogous to that of an oncologist toward a tumor, as you have no doubt noticed.

And you can count on Vigneron's successor giving the Institute a long walk of a short plank.

Ah, well--Eastern Catholicism is alive and well in these parts. And at least two of the Churches do not worship the ground the papal office trods. 

On a related note: for the first time in 70 years, no priest was ordained for the Archdiocese of Detroit. The Francis Effect, baby!

Friday, May 06, 2022

Christopher Johnson's obituary has been published.

You can find it here.

And while I know it is bad form to copy an entire article, I would like to preserve, however impermanently, the memory of my friend.

Johnson, Christopher (Chris) S., 66, of Webster Groves, passed away on Nov. 7, 2021. He was preceded in death by his parents, Anne Elizabeth Johnson and Dexter Jerry Johnson.

Chris is survived by his sisters, Jennifer Ericson (nee Johnson) and Roberta Taussig (nee Martin); and his brother, Steven Dexter Johnson (Jennifer). He also leaves behind eight nieces and nephews including Madeline (Jacob) Grillot, Allison Ericson and David Ericson (who also grew up in Webster Groves), Jeffrey Taussig, Anne Taussig, Elizabeth Taussig, Matthew Johnson, and Verity Johnson; and six great nieces and nephews. 

Chris grew up and spent most of his adult life in Webster Groves. He graduated from Webster Groves High School in 1974. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Fontbonne College in 1983 and then a master of arts degree in library science from the University of Missouri. He spent his entire professional career at the Webster Groves Public Library. Chris’ true passion and joy was his work at the Library. Until his involuntary departure from the Library, Chris was at his happiest there where he served as a research librarian. Anyone who knew Chris knew that he would light up if anyone asked him for help at the library and most remember that his gift was providing help and guidance to anyone who needed it.

Until his death, Chris’ continued devotion to the Library remained unparalleled. 

Chris was also a devoted, long time member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

A memorial service is tentatively scheduled for April 23, 2022, at Blackburn Park.


Thursday, May 05, 2022

Ayn Rand couldn't have said it better.

As you read it, you will understand exactly why the memer does not want to engage with questions like life and being.

Just put a heavier jacket when you go through the ice-cold, solipsistic repudiation of solidarity with any other human being, in the womb or directly breathing the polarized air.

And then remember that men have been and still are subject to being coerced into trauma, mutilation and death on behalf of their fellow human beings via the suspended--but not abrogated--military draft. But they aren't women, so who cares?

Just as well that some people aren't parents.


Yeah, sorry.

Not a lot of blogging juice right now. Family stress with the move of a child outstate (not on bad terms, but not ideal), so prayers would be welcome.

Plus, not much to say. Don't get giddy about Roe--it was also "overturned" in a draft opinion by Chief Justice Rehnquist back in 1989, and here we are. 

There's only so many times you can point out that our blinkered leaders are sending the world straight to Hell in the express lane before it gets a bit old, even for an oblivious, repetitive pedant like myself.  

A few good books in my reading rotation, and maybe that will prompt the blogging keyboard back to life.

Speaking of which, if you'd like fresh, accessible translations of Roman classics with an emphasis on Cicero, check out the collection here

May God grant you and yours peace.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

For the first time since the Wall fell, nuclear horror is weighing on my mind.

I have no idea how many read this or know who I am, but for the uninformed: I grew up during the latter days of the Cold War.

Part of my mental architecture from those years are these pop culture markers: 

A Canticle for Leibowitz, Gamma World, World War III (the NBC miniseries), The Day After, Threads, Hackett's Third World War, Alas Babylon, On The Beach, The Last Ship, 99 Luftballons, The Horseclans, Snowbrother, Down to a Sunless Sea (very underrated), Testament, The Pelbar Cycle, The Survivalist, Miracle Mile, This Is The Way The World Ends...

[References to the above can be found on this solid list here.]

And they have remained there, despite receding quite a bit in the wind of change

But now those old feelings are back. I'm not sure what the strategy is behind this sort of tough-guy posturing, especially with the repeated hints regarding the grim change in Putin's headspace. The latter of which seems to be borne out by his speeches and forced resettlement of Ukrainians. 

But sure, why not?  

In the meantime, I've carefully avoided any use of the N[uclear]-word around the children. The pandemic already left enough to deal with. 

And yet, I'm going to have to address it sooner or later. What a time to be alive.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Not that my opinion matters...

 ...but the Consecration last Friday hit all the right notes. It reminded me of the pope's pandemic prayer service in St. Peter's back in 2020: the "this is fitting" vibes were present. 

Let's keep praying for peace as the skies darken.

Two loose-cannon Presidents in a row.

The most recent one demanded regime change for a nuclear-armed power we are not at war with.

Not saying the quiet part out loud is one of the commandments of effective diplomacy.

Ah, well. I'm sure it'll be fine.

And it's not like we weren't warned that such things could happen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Yelena Baturina.

Ms. Baturina is a billionaire, and depending upon the source, either the richest or second-richest woman in Russia.

Unlike many,many other oligarchs, she has not been the subject of sanctions by the Administration for Putin's War.

Pay no attention to the passed envelope in 2014

Nor to the 2010 Wikileaks material

For, as everyone knows, the road to wealth in Putin's Russia comes straight through the pages of a modern-day Horatio Alger tale.  [Anyone who says the same about the contemporary United States gets the coveted Whataboutism Nonpublished Lazy Comment of the Moment Award.]


Monday, March 21, 2022

Looks about right.



A grim year is going to get grimmer as it drags on. 

To wit, American farmers can't take advantage of soaring wheat prices because commodity markets are spooked.  

After Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent global wheat futures soaring, U.S. farmer Vance Ehmke was eager to sell his grain.

Local prices shot up roughly 30% to nearly $12 a bushel, about the highest Ehmke could recall in 45 years of farming near the western Kansas town of Healy.

Instead of reaping a windfall, Ehmke found a commodities market turned upside down. He and his wife Louise told Reuters they couldn't sell a nickel of their upcoming summer wheat harvest for future delivery. Futures prices for corn and wheat had rocketed so abruptly that many along the complex chain of grain handling - local farm cooperatives, grain elevators, flour millers and exporters - stopped buying for fear they couldn't resell at a profit.

On the other hand, agricultural profit projections are extra-murky as diesel prices soar into the stratosphere.

First pestilence and death, now another war, perhaps famine


I have taken to cramming together the last three years into one super-horrible one with six numbers--hence the title. A safe bet I'm going to have 202023 in the hopper.

Fret not, Americans who earn less than $300,000 per year! Mike Bloomberg's digital steno pad has some advice for getting through the latest twist in the anni horribili.

Now, the article itself is not that bad--apart from the "let them eat lentils" bit. But someone at Bloomberg's Twitter account added the tag line of "nobody said this would be fun." 

Hoo, boy. 

And while I like lentils, they are persnickety, requiring hours of careful soaking and repeated washing to avoid the gritty "I just ate a lot of chaff" aftertaste

Anyway, it's going to get worse and worse, so prepare as best you can.



Friday, March 18, 2022

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Another day, another pontifical innovation.

In a teleconference with Putin's House Chaplain, the pontiff declared the just war tradition dead.

At one time we also spoke in our churches of holy war or just war. Today we cannot speak like that. The Christian conscience has developed on the importance of peace.

If you can think of a worse argument to pose to an Orthodox Patriarch than the chap in Rome bragging about how effortlessly-superior he is to the Tradition he is supposed to guard, let me know. 

 I've got nothing. 

But it was (genuinely) good of him to mention the poor Russian soldiers who are dying.  The agony of their families is something we should also keep in mind when thinking of Putin's war of aggression. That is a line of argument that might land--at least with others in Russian Orthodoxy.

Monday, March 14, 2022

A question about the current crisis.


Have any members of the Western political elites (broadly construed to include lesser figures like members of Congress or their European equivalents, prominent religious figures, celebrities, etc.) spoken out against the insane tide of Russophobia engulfing their nations?

As someone who loathes Putin and delivered aid to a Ukrainian Catholic parish for shipment to that besieged nation, I find this blinkered ethnic cancellation campaign beyond repulsive. 

But even more so is the utter refusal of anyone in prominent political or cultural positions to call it out and to continue to do so.  

If you have examples of people doing so, I would love to see them. But I suspect they come from those at the fringes of power, according to various values of the term "fringe."

Proof of concept leaps to my distrustful mind. But in the short term it is another marker of how unfit our leaders are to lead free people, and how little they like such folks.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Putin's War proves Eastern Catholics really don't matter to a lot of Latins.

 The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Her Patriarch Sviatoslav (currently "Major Archbishop" because the title he deserves would offend Putin's House Chaplain and wreck the chance to have a meaningless papal confab with said House Chaplain) is a model of Christian resistance to tyranny and unjust war.

Not that he or the millions he leads matter a damn to Putin's Catholic Amen Corner. And it this point I have to concede that Todd is more right than I was about the depth (in every sense of the word) of apologetics for the Russian thug. While the overt support is more muted, there's a bumper crop of anti-anti-Putinism that is functionally the same thing. And it gives not a damn for the deaths of Ukrainian Catholics, to my building fury.

But then again, Easterners have never mattered much to American Catholics of the western rite. The Orthodox Catholic Church in America was birthed by Archbishop John Ireland and fellow Latin hierarchs who were appalled by the married priesthood of Easterners and their desire to maintain ethnic traditions, leading to the inevitable conversion of large numbers of Slavic Catholics to Orthodoxy.

As always, slowly and painfully, Easterners won out against Latin pig-headedness with the belated support of Rome. For example, the Latin Bishop of Mobile, Thomas Toolen, tried to ban use of the vernacular in a Melkite parish, but was thankfully overruled by John XXIII

Lest you think Bishop Toolen was some stock southern villain from Progressive Casting, he should be remembered as a good-hearted man with a mostly-solid record when it came to African-Americans.

Still, the rote-obedience-and-uniformity-at-all-costs mindset of Latin Catholicism is one of its least attractive features and invariably harms its relationship with Catholics of the East. And it is something that needs to be remedied as soon as possible. 

Divine Physician, heal all of our hearts in this time of war.

Monday, March 07, 2022

Kirill makes his choice.

And it's as gruesomely-caesaropapist as possible: 

Ukraine had to be punished because it allowed gay pride parades.

God help the people and faithful of Russia. 

And Rome: make Sviatoslav a Patriarch right now. And a Cardinal, too. 

[As to the latter, it's ludicrous that he is not one--and ideological. Being a young Benedict appointment is anathema to the pontiff.]


Not All Russians.

The insane anti-Russian hysteria is correctly rebuked by Charles Cooke in this excellent essay. 

We have been sternly (and correctly) told not to lump all Chinese in with their genocidal government nor all Muslims for the dreary drumbeat of atrocities across the globe.

And yet, the hysteria here has slipped the leash without anything close to the same pushback.  

During the First World War, the British public took to booing dachshunds in the street — or so I was told as a boy. I always thought this was probably untrue, but I am now beginning to wonder. In the last 48 hours, I have read that “the International Cat Federation” — that pillar of civilization — “has banned Russian cats from its international competitions”; that the Paralympics “will deny access to athletes from Russia and Belarus”; that the state of New Hampshire is removing “bottles of Russian vodka from New Hampshire’s state-run liquor stores”; that EA Sports intends to “remove the Russian National Team and all Russian club soccer teams from its FIFA video game franchise, and remove all Russian and Belarusian hockey teams from the latest NHL video game franchise”; and that Russian chess player Alexander Grischuk has been “kicked out of a forthcoming tournament” in Norway, despite being a critic of the war that has caused his ejection. From here, booing dogs seems the obvious next step.

I can certainly imagine a situation in which one country’s behavior became so extraordinary — and the threat that it posed became so total — that another country needed to take the sort of zero-tolerance line that includes the superintendence of cat-fancying. In 1940, Nazi Germany posed such a threat to Great Britain. But, clearly, Russia isn’t at that point yet, because, if it were, we would have stopped buying its oil. We are not expected, I hope, to believe that it is imperative that we expel Russian pixels from our video games, but a mere matter of taste whether we cease to purchase Russian energy? Somehow, that would seem a failure to get our priorities straight.

Our reluctance to distinguish between Vladimir Putin’s evil on the one hand and Russians and Russian culture more broadly on the other is especially jarring given how unwilling so many people have been to criticize the Chinese Communist Party for its role in the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, it was deemed beyond the pale even to mention China in connection with the pandemic — lest doing so lead to sudden outbreaks of “anti-Asian hate.” Why, I must ask, is the same rule not being applied here? Is there really no useful middle ground? Assuming sufficient due process, there are excellent reasons to target well-connected Russian oligarchs, just as there are solid justifications for our having imposed harsh sanctions on the broader Russian economy. But vodka that is served in the United States? Norway wasn’t willing to boycott an Olympic Games that was being held in a country that is committing genocide, but it has the resolve to keep a dissident chess player from competing on its shores? None of this makes much sense.

I was going to ask rhetorically whether we intend to abandon Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky, too, but, as it turns out, this isn’t really a joke, for over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen notes that “the editors of the ‘Studies in the History of Philosophy’ have decided not to pursue the project of publishing a thematic issue devoted to Russian religious philosophy.” Why? Are there are a lot of religious philosophers in the Russian military? Did they help plan the invasion of Ukraine? Are the bulk of them fans of Putin’s — or even still alive? This is boobishness in the extreme, the equivalent of disowning Beethoven because of Bismarck’s bad behavior. The United States should use any leverage it has against the Russian regime, but there is a difference between leverage and iconoclasm, and it is one that too many in the West are not presently observing.

Even Russian NHLers are getting death threats, to the horrified outrage of their emigre Ukrainian Jewish agent.

The closest analogy here is China, given that state misbehavior is directly comparable, so I will focus on that. 

Why the difference? A couple of likely culprits in my book.

First is cash--China owns a lot of things and people in the West, and that sweet yuan stream is addicting. 

Second is the poisonous identity politics of the West: Russians are overwhelmingly white, and insane domestic nastiness transfers well overseas in this case. Xi gets the race card played on his behalf, but there is nothing in the same deck for Putin. 

Oh, make no mistake: there is no shortage of apologetics for Putin's hellish aggression out in the wild. But it is dressed in a different brand of blood-stained tinsel than that which festoons the monster in Beijing.

Good job, builders of the "Digital Curtain." Now do China.

It beats war.

But genocide deserves no less. 

I won't be holding my breath, though.

Thursday, March 03, 2022

How about "our Vlad-loving Patriarch" instead?

The invaluable Pillar does excellent work today examining the impact of Putin's war of aggression on the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches. The report can be found here.

As hinted at before here, there is more than one Orthodox Church in Ukraine. The largest is recognized by the Patriarch of Constantinople and those in communion with him. The other is recognized by Kirill, who heads what is easily Orthodoxy's 800 pound gorilla. The demographic and power imbalance in the patriarchates is profound, and drives the schism between them.

Which, yes, started in 2018 because the Patriarch of Constantinople recognized one Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and Kirill the other.

But the attack on Ukraine has thrown the Russian-recognized one into turmoil. 

To the point where two Russian-recognized diocese have stopped recognizing the Russian Patriarch in the Divine Liturgy:

“The termination of the commemoration of the Primate of the Church, not because of doctrinal or canonical errors, or delusions, but because of discordance with certain political views and preferences, is a schism, for which anyone who commits it will answer before God, not only in the age to come, but also in the present,” Patriarch Kirill of Moscow wrote March 2 to an archbishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is governed by Kirill.

The statement came after Metropolitan Archbishop Evlogy of Sumy, a city in eastern Ukraine, instructed his priests Monday to discontinue prayers of communion with Kirill in the Divine Liturgy, or celebration of the Eucharist. 

Schism is the refusal of submission to the authority of a legitimate religious authority, or refusal of communion, or unity, within a church body.

Evlogy’s decision is understood to be a repudiation of Kirill’s leadership. It came after the Russian Orthodox patriarch issued prayers Sunday that seemed aimed at theologically justifying Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

But the Sumy Orthodox archbishop said in a statement March 2 that directing priests to stop praying liturgically for Kirill is not an act of schism. Evlogy wrote that he remains in communion with Kyiv Metropolitan Onufriy, leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Kirill’s jurisdiction. 

As with the various western Catholic forms of Mass, the Divine Liturgies of the East (Orthodox and Catholic) commemorate the servant of the Faithful. In the case of churches with patriarchs, it is "our Patriarch," sometimes with the prefix "our most blessed" or even "God-loving Patriarch."

So, to not recognize your servant-patriarch is a momentous decision. But one that makes sense in momentous times--like your nation being assaulted and your patriarch making justification noises for the assault. 

Hence my sardonic suggestion in the title. It increasingly fits the ecclesiastical situation, sadly.

And it will only get worse as the war rages on and Ukraine continues to be ground down. Unfortunately for those who support the Russian patriarch, it seems that he has no intention of changing direction. 

Which bodes ill for an internal revolt among the rest of the elites who support Putin and his offensive. They bought the ticket, and they are riding it all the way down.

It's easy to pray for Ukraine, and right to so do. But remember Russia in your prayers, too. The noble people of that land deserve better than the would-be tsar, kleptocrats and lickspittles plunging them all into ruin.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Putin and the Patriarch.

 I was harsh on Patriarch Kirill a few days ago, and I wondered if I was too harsh.

I have stated in other forums that confessional apologetics need to take a sabbatical during the latest War in Europe, and I have gone that route since my post below.

I still think my rhetorical choices were a bit over the top, but quod scripsi, scripsi

But not too harsh, as his dreadful homily last Sunday demonstrates:

It was pretty much that bad. A sardonic wag (not me, for once) conceded that such was fair, given that Christ admonished us to lash out at those who laugh at us when we attack someone else. 

And yet, one cannot deny that the Russian Patriarch is in a tight spot, as are all those who are beholden to Putin. Indeed, the reaction from Rome (which instinctively defers to the beholden Kirill) was a muted bleat until Monday, when Russia was finally condemned by the Secretary of State. And perhaps--just maybe--Kirill was and is doing something behind the scenes which reflects well upon him. Not at all improbable. Hopefully, such is happening.

In the meantime, the Moscow-recognized Orthodox hierarchy in Ukraine leapt out the gate with a condemnation of the attack and issued a call to defend the homeland.

And now they have doubled down, calling upon Kirill to intervene.

Will the man meet the hour? He has that rarest of things open to him--a second chance. He will not get a third.


Friday, February 25, 2022

The Answer is "NO."

The Pillar floats the question of whether the largest Eastern Catholic Church, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, will get its overdue Patriarch.

The answer, as JD Flynn certainly knows and all-but-concedes in his article, is "of course not." 

The reason is that the Russian Bureau for Orthodox Spirituality has been given a veto over such. It's the same reason the pontiff can't criticize the nation whose war of aggression is killing that very same flock of his.

Can't afford to make the bearded governmental functionary in the Danilov Monastery upset. 

By the way, the late, great Eastern Jesuit Robert Taft (yes, from that Taft family) had some pointed words to say to both East and West during his career. Usually, it was the latter that received more attention, especially in the endless liturgy wars. However, in this magisterial essay in 2000, while he directs fire at both, he lands a heavy blow on Orthodoxy for its complicity in religious persecution under Communism. A preview:

There is no way one can fairly judge the present tense ecumenical situation between Orthodox and Eastern Catholics in the former Communist East Bloc without an objective view of the martyrdom of the Greek Catholic Churches from the end of World War II until 1989. Attempts to attenuate or deny this history merit the same contempt now given to renewed attempts to deny the Holocaust. 

* * *

Only in the light of these simple facts can the oft-repeated and widely publicized present Russian Orthodox complaints about losing to the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church almost all their Churches in the region of Galicia be placed in their proper context.

In the winter of 1944-45 the Soviet regime prohibited all contact of the Ukrainian Catholic hierarchy with its clergy and faithful, and initiated a campaign of forced meetings and propaganda in favor of union with the Russian Orthodox Church. Opponents were arrested and tortured, in April 1945 the entire Greek Catholic hierarchy was imprisoned, and the Soviet regime recognized the “Initiative Group” of three Catholic priests, formed to carry out the government plan, as the sole authority over the Church, instructing them to make lists of all clergy who refused to recognize their authority. Under police protection this group carried out a feverish campaign of propaganda and threats. The NKVD pressured the unwilling clergy to sign a petition for union with Orthodoxy. Those who refused were arrested. At the end of February, thirteen Catholic priests were received into Orthodoxy in Kiev and the two celibate members of the “Initiative Group” were secretly consecrated Orthodox bishops. Their leader, Havriyil Kostel’nyk, a married priest, was elevated to the rank of mitred archpriest, the highest dignity open to the married clergy.

On March 8-10, 1946, a “synod” of 216 terrorized priests and nineteen laypersons, orchestrated in Lviv under the leadership of this group, abolished the Union of Brest (1596). This purported to be a synod of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and to this day the Russian Orthodox Church has claimed it to be such and has steadfastly refused to repudiate either the synod or its own role in the charade. 

But as the Russian Orthodox Church authorities are well aware, the entire Ukrainian Catholic hierarchy was in prison, and the entire presidium of the synod had in fact already become Orthodox, though this was kept secret until the farce was a fait accompli. The action was followed by massive arrests, interrogations, abuse, trials, banishment and deportations, causing incalculable suffering and death.

Russian Orthodox authorities ever since have defended what was done as a canonically legitimate synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church that freely and legitimately abolished of the “forced” Union of Brest, and to this day they have refused to disclaim or condemn it. The Acts of the synod were published in Ukrainian in Lviv in 1946, and in 1982 the Moscow Patriarchate issued bowdlerized (i.e., deliberately doctored) versions in Russian and English for the 45th anniversary of the shameful charade.

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was not destroyed but driven underground, to re-emerge maimed but still vigorously alive when finally granted freedom in 1989, at which time almost the entire Russian Orthodox Church in Western Ukraine, clergy, parishes, and faithful, re-entered the Catholic Church en masse.

Similar forced reunions with the Orthodox Church took place in 1947 in Transcarpathia, 1948 in Romania, and 1950 in Slovakia.

These are the unvarnished facts. This history is important for several reasons. First, it shows the demonstrable falsity of the accusation that the Catholic Church has “reinvented” or “resurrected” a dead and gone “Uniatism,” thereby stalling the Orthodox-Catholic ecumenical dialogue. A more nuanced view, one corresponding to the historical facts, leads one to recognize the following realities. Eastern Catholics were forced into the underground in the 1940’s by one of the bitterest and most violent persecutions in Christian history. 

Although this was done by Stalinist regimes there is abundant and irrefutable evidence that it had the active support and/or collaboration of at least some Orthodox hierarchs and authoritative exponents. Each case must be taken by itself, and justice demands avoiding generalization, but there can be no doubt that ambiguous figures like Patriarch Justinian Marina in Romania, and Archbishop Makarij Oksijuk in Lviv and Transcarpathia, were active participants in these historic violations of human rights. 

And one of the chief Romanian Orthodox ideologues of modern times, the Orthodox priest and noted theologian Rev. Dumitru Staniloae (d. 5 Oct. 1993), gave wholehearted vocal support for this massive violation of human rights, insisting that the “reunion [of Greek Catholics with the Orthodox Church which took place in 1948] was entirely free and spontaneous." This is not only a patent lie; it is also a denial of the bitter suffering of martyrs.

Read the whole thing--absolutely essential.

By the way, Fr. Taft thought the Ukrainian Church should just present Rome with a fait accompli regarding the patriarchate:

Frankly, my advice to the Ukrainians has always been to do the same thing. Just declare the patriarchate and get on with it. Do it, of course, only if you’ve got the bishops unanimously behind it …

Do they?
Yes, I think they do now. The danger is that if there are even two people who say no, then Rome’s going to say that the bishops are divided and we can’t recognize it. I told them, take two steps. First, publicly declare the patriarchate. Second, request Roman recognition, but even if it doesn’t come, refuse all mail that doesn’t come addressed to the patriarchate. Don’t just pretend, but really do it. The Secretary of State sends a letter addressed to the archbishop? We don’t have any archbishop, we’ve got a patriarch. Send it back unopened, “addressee unknown.”

Now, fairness compels me to suggest that the current refusal to forcefully condemn Russia may have this grim history of Orthodox-facilitated oppression in mind. If Moscow still thinks it was "robbed" of Catholic faithful, there's no telling what they might be willing to bless if/when the conquest of Ukraine is complete. After all, they did it once, within living memory, and never repented of it. 

But if that's the case, what kind of "dialogue partner" are you dealing with?


It will be double digits by spring.

Inflation hits highest mark since 1982

Energy prices will continue to spike, and with the fourth largest wheat producer on the planet under Russian occupation, that commodity will soar, too. With all the knock-on effects throughout the system.

The plan to address the former is to drain some more out of the strategic reserve, and blame oil producers for gouging. Because going hat in hand to OPEC back in November ended in our envoy being sent on his way.

The blinkered stupidity of our leadership is keeping pace with inflation. Putin sure loves having oil at $92+ to fund his blitzkrieg. Just imagine how different things would have been at $45 per barrel on that point alone.

So, more pain for the working and middle classes, with no end in sight. But Wall Street is set for a big rebound today, cheering spending increases by said classes. Have they ever thought people are trying to pre-empt inflation and "supply chain issues" by making purchases now so they won't have to pay a lot more later? Raises hand.

Well, no, they haven't. That would require them to place themselves in the shoes of the people they regard as human resources.

But the money traders are desperate for anything that looks like good news, so there you go.

A long, miserable year beckons. And no doubt with more unpleasant surprises.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

NFTs: Art's hellishly-stupid derivatives market.

But Barnum would approve.

[Language warning.]



I recently ordered a wood carving of Our Lady of Pokrov from a Ukrainian Catholic artist on Etsy. He and his employees reside in Lviv, near Poland. 

But the deluded tyrant who is attacking his homeland has made it clear that he will not settle for less than vassalization of the whole land. I told him to not worry about completing the item and use the money as he sees fit.

I pray for his safety and for all the victims of aggression in this war.


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Stop polishing Putin's backside.

Apologetics for Vlad the Poisoner have become a staple for some on the right, and it needed to stop years ago. 

Now would be a belated, but still good, time to quit. And never stop quitting.  

You can be opposed to American military intervention in an aggressive war by a nuclear power and not take up the cause of the probable loony who has the nukes. 

But just as distressing was the speech Vladimir Putin gave to announce it to the world. Earlier today I wrote a piece that in one line offhandedly suggested that Putin was a rational actor. I repent of having written it. If that ranting, grandiose, aggrieved wreck of a speech was delivered sincerely, then Putin has addled himself with his own propaganda, is now unpredictable, and will likely drive his nation and others to a disaster. I grant that there may be insincerity in it as well. But reports of his meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron suggest that Macron was subjected to six hours of this same ranting and could never bring Putin down to what Europeans see as the brass tacks: the Minsk agreements, the withdrawal of Russian irregulars, and a series of next steps, including diplomatic talks on the long-term security arrangements of Europe.

His speech featured the Russian litany of post–Cold War grievances, namely the broken promise not to expand NATO. “They try to convince us over and over again that NATO is a peace-loving and purely defensive alliance, saying that there are no threats to Russia. Again they propose that we take them at their word. But we know the real value of such words,” he said. More disconcerting, he suggested that the expansion of NATO was meant to “serve as a forward springboard for the strike.”

Here's a background confirmation of Macron's concerns about Putin, which is significant given the French president's efforts to develop a good diplomatic relationship. 

There's a fair and reasonable argument to be made that NATO expansion was an antagonizing mistake. But that argument has to take into account the fact that Russia's neighbors have ample reasons, grounded in history and atrocity, to clamor to join. 

American apologists for foreign strongmen have never been lacking. As a child of the Cold War, whataboutism was born of that conflict, and left-wing defenses of the poor murderous Soviet Union were more abundant than the average Soviet harvest. It is disgusting to see the likes of Tucker Carlson and Candace Owens do the very same thing on behalf of a former KGB agent. 

It's beyond appalling watching American oligarchs and celebrities kow-tow to Xi. Seeing soi-disant patriotic conservatives doing the same for the tyrant in Moscow (who has clasped hands with Mao 2.0) is inexcusable.

A rough stretch.

  Forgive the vagueness and ambiguity, but I am going through a tough patch at the moment. July was full-stop awful, and August, while bette...