David Bradshaw’s Philosophy Papers Online

The page is still under construction, but the papers so far are good. Not all of them are immediately relevant, and some are simply difficult to read, but there are a few that are really helpful. A few weeks ago I read about half of Aristotle East and West. Bradshaw follows St Basil (and the entire first millennium of Christendom) in the essence/energies distinction. This was very helpful for me in working through a lot of philosophical problems: predestination, time, how can God be both transcendent and immanent?

Rejecting the Eurabia Thesis

Commentators speculate that by the year 2050 Europe will be largely Muslim. This is seen in Europe’s declining birth rate over against hordes of Middle Eastern immigrants and their high birth rates. Part of this failure is Europe’s vote of “no-confidence” in itself Many like to call the West a “post-Christian society.” In many ways, though, I think it is post-nihilist society.

And, so it’s argued, Europe will continue to die off while Muslims come in.

That appears demographically to be the case, but here is why I reject the Eurabia thesis:

  1. It only works under the assumption that things in 2050 will be identical to the way they are in 2010. But what many conservatives forget is that “things can happen” in a short period of time. In the years between 1918 and 1945 (fewer than 30 years) Europe undid 16 centuries of its heritage. Just because things are bad (or good) today doesn’t mean it will always be that way.
  2. Following above, the reasons why Europe is plagued with immigrants is partly due to its post-colonial heritage (a great evil, I admit). Another part is the humanist mentality of its leaders. The leaders of Europe (and America) honestly believed that all cultures are equal and even though Muslims believe things like Surah 9:5, if we show them the glories of liberal democracy, we can turn all of the jihadists into new Perez Hiltons. “Let’s respect the poor Mussies’ religion. All religions–except ancient Christianity–equal.” Will they keep saying that as Muslims carry out honor killings and begin executing homosexuals?
  3. And a few European countries are waking up. While little will probably come out of the Swiss minaret ban, it does show that sections of Europe are waking up.
  4. War in Iran: if the West/Israel carries out a potentially-nuclear war with Iran, whatever else may come of it, it will definitely change Euro-Muslims relations.
  5. Recognizing the Armenian genocide: As more countries begin to recognize the genocide the Turks carried out on Armenian Christians in the 1910s, relations with Turkey will sour. Turkey might decide that Europhilic politics isn’t worth it and go elsewhere. They might decide to force small confrontations in Kurdish Iraq or they could block shipping/troop transport in central Asia.
  6. The case of Serbia and Kosovo: Don’t really know what will happen here. The Regime (Brussels/London/DC) utterly controls the Serb government. It was NATO’s first example of “nation-building.” However, on the other hand, even liberals in Europe–while they may hate the Serbs–they are beginning to hate the Muslim Kosovars even more. Likewise, Putin’s Russia is not the same country as Yeltsin’s. Russia has played its diplomacy card with great skill. Russia and Serbia are showing the world that Kosovo is not a functional state. When the Kosovars ethnically cleanse the last few Serbs–the people who keep the hospitals and such running–the state will become a complete narco-gangster state. The only reason it will function is due to drug and prostitution money, along with donations by high-ranked Republicans in the United States.
  7. And Europe knows it. NATO is bogged down in Afghanistan. If the Serbs wanted to retake Kosovo, they probably could with Russian help. Russian special forces could air drop into Serbia. While they would need to fly over Romania and Hungary, the Russians might not ask for permission either. And Romania wouldn’t want to force a confrontation with Moscow, either.
  8. Following Samuel Huntingdon’s thesis (cf Clash of Civilizations), states are leaving the “liberal democracy” behind and are moving more towards community and tradition. When George Soros and the CIA staged “color revolutions” across the former Soviet Bloc in the 1990s, many thought that liberal demcracy would finally triumph. Those revolutions are eventually over. Saakashivili has failed in Georgia. The Orange Revolution is dead in Ukraine.
  9. Birth rates can change. As Sublime Oblivion has demonstrated, Russia’s birthrate has gone up–and it went up in during some of the worst economic crisises.

Eurabia is a serious threat. I don’t make light of it. But it can be stopped. And it can be stopped rather easily. Islam isn’t that intellectually powerful. It’s a cultural parasite. After the 1500s Europe demonstrate that it can easily defeat Islam on the intellectual and military levels. And that’s no different today. The real bad is not Islam, but the neo-lib/neo-con politicians in power. Europe enacted a counter-1600 year change in the space of 28 years. It’s quite possible to revert the slide.

Linking to Serbianna news site, but with caution

A long time and another blog ago (which is now defunct), I had posted a few historical snippets on Prince Lazar of Serbia. It wasn’t remarkable by any stretch. While postmodern americans, both conservatives and liberals, would rightly have hated it because it had men defending home, blood, faith, and tradition–tangibles that all postmoderns hate–it really wasn’t a notable entry.

But this one fellow started commenting and slamming the medieval Serbs with almost myopic hatred (think Puritanboard.com for an analogy). I checked the email address and recognized the author. He is one of the contributors at Serbianna.com I didn’t get it. Serbianna news site exists to document Muslim atrocities against Christians in the Balkans. I, too, was pointing out the same thing. Why did he get so upset?

I think I figured it out. Neo-cons (or neo-libs) usually don’t have a problem with attacking Islam. What they have a problem with is putting that attack in the category of values that transcend (I hate that word) the neo-con/neo-lib mindset. It’s okay to attack Muslims as long as you don’t start advocating a particular community of your own, a particular faith and tradition of your own–as long as you don’t advocate something that will itself attack our vision of “the market as the ultimate value,” or the diversity-man as the ultimate–you get the idea.

So why am I linking to these sites? Well frankly, they do have some of the best news reporting on these issues. They do cover issues that CNN and Fox has never heard of. And one of them deals extensively with the Chetniks of World War II (Allied treatment of the Chetniks proves that the Soviets, and not the West, won World War II).

(and I turned comments back on).

Description of Narnia: What a Fantasy Locale Should Look Like

Narnia, answered the horse. The happy land of Narnia–Narnia of the heathery mountains and thymy downs, Narnia of the many rivers, the plashing glens, the mossy caverns and the deep forests ringing with the hammers of the dwarfs. Oh the sweet air of Narnia! An hour’s life there is better than a thousand years in Calormen.”

Notes on Ultimate Things, part 2

I suppose it doesn’t take too much argument to convince the average traditionalist (isn’t that so much a better word than conservative?) Christian that we are living in an evil world. And the Bible seems to say that the world preceding the “end times” will be evil? Therefore, does Engleman say we are living in the end times? Not quite. To his credit he gives sober warnings against too much speculation (St Augustine has some wonderfully sober words on this, City of God, book XX, chapter 23). His beginning argument runs like this (and the following isn’t meant to be a syllogism):

  1. We live in a nihilistic age.
  2. We are more materialistic and more scientifically advanced (cf. CS Lewis’s fascinating take on this in Screwtape Letters where the demon talks about the materialist magician).
  3. The Roman Empire, while undergoing huge changes and transitions, was prophecied to last for most of world history post Daniel 7.
  4. (Apropos above, Engleman will later point to Tsar Nicholas II as the restrainer of evil. I’m actually convinced of that, but suffice it to say that many scholars do accept the fact that the Roman Emperor–whenever he lived–was the restrainer of evil. That itself is non-controversial. Further, Byzantium saw itself s the successor to Rome. Only the most ardent Papal apologist will deny that. After the Turks sacked Constantinople, Moscow became de facto the guardian of the Orthodox Commonwealth (which was synonymous with the Roman Empire), since Russia was the only free Orthodox country left in the world. Moscow was the Third Rome in fact if not in right.
  5. Yet this empire is gone (I’ve always entertained the idea that the Patriarch of Moscow today was the successor to the Patriarch of Constantinople, but I’m no longer messing with that hornet’s nest). Therefore….

But I jumped ahead of the argument.

Initial Notes on Engelman’s *Ultimate Things,* part 1

Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on the End Times.

It’s an Orthodox take on the “end times” and it’s quite interesting at that. Reformed and evangelical readers who are moderately familiar with the end times arguments will find many of Engleman’s arguments familiar. To the degree that evangelicals follow St Augustine’s City of God, they will recognize and appreciate many of Engleman’s arguments.

It would be a misnomer to call this “amillennialism.” Such a category is worse than useless and tells you nothing, except that you aren’t a dispensationalist. But it kind of looks like it. The difference between Engelman’s eschatology and amillennialism, is that the latter is annoyingly vague on eschatology except in saying that we are in the “millennium” now. Engleman, however, is quite refreshing: he is frank and specific in a way that doesn’t draw up time frames.

The book isn’t perfect by any stretch. An editor could have at least made the endnotes aesthetically consistent. Quotations that are longer than four lines should be set apart in the text (especially if the quotation is a page long!). And much of the book is simply narrating bible passages (I suppose that’s good). It’s an easy read, all things considered. I’m beginning to see a pattern in his argumentation, from varying strength to weakness.

Strengths: to the degree he is following consistently to the monks, the church fathers, and Fr Seraphim Rose, the book maintains a stunning intensity and power in argument. This is why his view is better than amillennialism. He has the same basic structure as amillennialism, but can is specific in naming evil characters on the world scene.

Weaknesses: I’m not sure he is fully aware of some of the sources he is quoting. And some of his bible passages seem jarringly out of context. He is right to see Antichrist rebuilding the Temple and ruling the world from Jerusalem (presupposing, of course, a return of the Jews to Israel). Presumably, this is a bad thing for Christians. However, it doesn’t make any sense to have marshalled all the beautiful passages where God promises to rebuild the temple for his people in the latter days (pp. 51-54). Engleman is an Orthodox guy. He follows the holy fathers, so he must be familiar with allegorizing and spiritualizing the text. Wouldn’t it make more sense to see the temple as some sort of spiritual type or fulfillment of Christ? Isn’t this what Orthodoxy believes anyway?