But Monarchy is Just for Fairy Tales!

That is what I was recently told in a debate.   I denied that “absolute monarchy” ala the 1700s was the monarchy I was talking about.  I then pointed to the beauty underlying much Byzantine and Russian monarchs long ago.

Then the response, “That never existed and what you are thinking of is only fairy tales.”  Let’s assume for a moment that such a monarchy never existed.  So?  This doesn’t prove that monarchy is wrong.

Maybe it is a fairy tale.   To quote Chesterton, I’ve often found fairy tales to be closer to reality.  In this case, monarchy and Faerie are quite similar.  Both act as a goad upon what is currently perceived as “reality.”  Faerie reminds us that the current fallen world is not the ultimate reality and we quietly attest to this fact when we reflect upon the intense joy and melancholy we feel when we hear Fairy Tales.

Likewise, Monarchy reminds us that the current power games politicians play is not RULE at its finest.  Monarchy reminds us that these cheap, jaded politicians do not reflect the Reign of the Resurrected Christ.  Even if a Monarch never was a liturgical icon of heaven, the idea (Plato, thou dost haunt us to this day!) of that reminds us modern republicanism certainly is not.  To quote N. T. Wright, “Monarchy acts as an angled mirror that allows us to see around the corners of this fallen world into a more beautiful one.”

We often think that the monarchy of Romans 13 (and St Paul originally thought of him as a monarch, not as a democratically-elected President) as God’s minister means we can’t rebel and, aww shucks, we have to obey him (even though many Calvinists are emphatically rejecting St Paul on this point).  That goes without saying, I suppose, but why do people automatically assume the worst-case scenario?  Why not see the monarch as God’s minister as an icon of heaven.   Fallen, yes.   But why not see him, like we see the icon, as pointing to heaven?

So is monarchy really just a fairy tale?  Sure.  Why not?  In fact, does not framing it that way sort of point to the truth of it?  I’m not offering slam dunk arguments that prove monarchy at this point.  There are many limitations.  I don’t deny it.  But maybe I can get some people to think, “Hey, why does voting seem so futile?  Why does it seem that for whomever I vote I get the same socialist package?  Why is politics such a dirty concept?”  Liturgical Monarchy can point us beyond these categories.

Full Spectrum Dominance

This book by William Engdahl succinctly explains the neo-conservative, neo-liberal paranoia.  The thesis is simple and derives from Zbignew Brerezinski’s The Grand Chessboard.  Zbignew had taken this idea from British strategist Halford Mackinder.  Mackinder argued (quite rightly, if with somewhat devilish conclusions) that whoever controlled the Eurasian landmass would control the world’s pivot-point.  Zbigniew updated the thesis:  America should seek such dominance in Eurasia as to make Russia her vassal.  The unspoken conclusion (actually, Paul Wolfowitz was quite outspoken on this point):  if Russia does not wish to be a vassal, use a nuclear first-strike against her.

With those cheerful thoughts in mind, Engdahl offers us a very helpful hermeneutical grid per US geopolitics:  anytime America acts in Europe or Asia, she is doing so in order to 1) control key oil transits; 2) weaken China; and 3) weaken Russia.  In order to do this the Anglo-Americans must employ a number of strategies against ornery states like Russia, China, Serbia, Myanmar, and Iran.

The most successful of American strategies has been the “Color Revolutions.”  Drawing off of the psychology of both terrorism and rock concerts, CIA operatives were able to finance and delegitimize social nationalist regimes.  This worked in Serbia, Ukraine, and Georgia.

Understandably, this will not work with larger states.  In that case, just accuse them of human rights violations.  This is the primary goal with China.  W.E. does a good job explaining the geopolitical importance of Tibet (the Tibetan plateau is the source of the seven major rivers the give water to most of Asia), Myanmar (50% of Chinese oil imports pass through the Straits of Malacca).  Obviously, if America can sever Tibet from China and/or control Myanmar, it can deliver a crushing choke-hold on China from which it will likely not recover.  With the removal of China, American control over Eurasia is guaranteed.

W.E. then gives a disturbing analysis of American nuclear capabilities.  The technological specifics aside, keeping in line with the Zbigniew-Halford thesis, the goal of American nuclear capabilities is to maintain American dominance in the world.  We need to be very clear about the Wolfowitz doctrine:  America should pre-emptively destroy any country that could pose a threat to American political interests. This is the equivalent of killing some random guy on the street just so he can’t kill you some day.  I’m not making this up.  This is the morality and logic of the people in charge.

There are some limitations to this book, though the overall thrust is accurate.  W.E. is only focusing on the American infrastructure.  He doesn’t do the same kind of work as Joseph Farrell or Jim Marrs.

Things look bad, and W.E. doesn’t pull any punches.  But not all is lost.  The following is my own reflections and not necessarily those of W.E.

  1. If the Motivilov Prophecies are true, Russia will survive an American nuclear holocaust.
  2. Even the strongest armies can do little with a collapsed economy and infrastructure.  Contrary to popular opinion, the Red Army at the end of Afghanistan was super-elite, yet the USSR was broken.

Washington D. C. and Renaissance Magic

Not only was the Renaissance not a recovery of science and Aristotle from the dread medievals (the latter were quite familiar with science), but it also saw the rise, not of free-thinking, but of superstition, witchcraft, and magic. Alchemy has always been the Holy Grail of inquisitive individuals for ages. While the form practiced in the Renaissance is laughable by today’s standards, the goals are still the same.

Alchemy didn’t merely try to turn lead into gold. That’s nice, but that’s not the point. Renaissance scientists, like today’s, saw matter as essentially dead. Denying the notion of “substance,” the what-ness of a thing (whose base was spiritual, since matter points to a Form, and forms can be instantiated outside of matter–which is the spiritual realm; c.f. St Augustine).

However, if there is no “essence” to a thing, then it is merely dead matter; inert. If it is dead matter, it can be manipulated. While suggesting that lead turns into gold might be ridiculous, the overall argument of the alchemists won the day (and is the reigning ideology of the today’s economics, the Academy, and modern politics). If so, what are some examples of manipulating dead matter:

  • Capital can be manipulated. The fluidity of capital in itself is not evil. However, it is the prime weapon of Modernity. Take away technological capital’s highly liquid state and you rob modernity of it’s chief weapon.
  • People can be transformed from base metals (medievals) to gold (urbane moderns).
  • Worthless paper can be transformed into international currency (in many ways the FED is the primary example of alchemy; how else do you magically turn paper into “gold?”).

I refer you of course to Fr Johnson’s much better paper on http://www.rusjournal.com/Augustine.pdf

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.  Also consider that Italy is deporting North Africans and Sweden’s far right, anti-immigration party has gained a foothold.
  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.  Keep in mind that as Turkey turns back to Islam, it is still a NATO member.  This tension will worsen as as the US continues to screw Muslim lands and will utterly crack if NATO declares war on Iran.
  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.  It needs to be noted, though, that the current Serb government won’t do anything to retake their homeland.  They are puppets of Washington D. C. and Serbs must wait for new leadership.
  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.

Warping Lenin: A Social Nationalist Response

Given Obamanomics today, it is misleading at best for conservative folk to criticize Big Business and “capitalism,” if for no other reason one will be called “socialist” and deemed complicit in the drunken government spending.

(Oh, and by “social nationalist” I do not mean the same thing as “national socialist” per 1930s Germany.)

I don’t plan to criticize Obama here, simply because there is no need to. One does not criticize a train wreck for “bad driving.” You just watch. But I don’t think “capitalism” is the answer. First of all, the capitalism of today is actually corporationism–an entity both John McCain and Obama will defend at all costs. It’s a far cry for Adam Smith, who was not without his problems as well.

In a sense I defend the free market, if by that you mean that small farmers and small business owners may do with their resources what they wish. I reject an “absolute free market” because I don’t think that Goldman-Sachs, Archer Daniels Midland should be allowed to pull their stunts in a way that threatens the small farmer and the local village.

Recently I read an interesting article summarizing Lenin’s critique of elitist corporational capitalism. Before I say the following I make it clear I am not defending Lenin. I believe he was fully possessed by Satan (as were some of the Wall Street bankers and capitalists who financed him–that is not a contradiction in terms; another post will show why Wall Street wanted a communist takeover in Russia).

On another note, I don’t know why Lenin really took the time to critique corporational capitalism. If, as Marx said, communism is the necessary conclusion to capitalism, and one must go through the corporational phase first, why did Lenin care?

Lenin’s Lesson


Lenin, echoing Karl Marx, also predicted that capitalism would eventually become imperialistic in nature, with a limited number of corporations controlling a huge portion of the global resources.

According to Lenin, whose theories are starting to get a second look from some Western economists, there are five defining characteristics of capitalist imperialism:

1) The concentration of production and capital developed to such a level that it creates monopolies that play a decisive role in economic life.

2) The merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of “finance capital,” of a domineering financial oligarchy.

3) The export of capital, as distinguished from the export of commodities.

4) The formation of international capitalist monopolies that share the global markets among themselves.

5) The territorial division of the entire globe among the greatest capitalist powers is completed.

Yeah, that’s not the free market “the way it used to be in good ole-America.” It’s really pointless now to argue on how to get back to the old capitalist way of Industrial Revolution England. It’s not going to happen (and who would want it?). Secondly, assuming we get back to the “capitalist ideal,” how do the capitalists answer the criticism that it is just a matter of time before the “dialectic to Marxism” repeats itself again? (This is also the reason I oppose Tea-Parties and “let’s get back to the Constitution.”).

The following is not new to me. I’m just repeating what a lot of other theologians and philosophers have said. A few decades ago Alasdair MacIntyre argued that “communal ethics” and politics is the wave of the future. MacIntyre is right–I am applying his insights to economics (that idea is original with me). I am taking a lot of my ideas from Fr Matt Johnson. The following is from him. He is describing how Putin was able to bring Russia from a 5th world country after the Clinton-Yeltsin years to a first world country with a stronger economy than Canada, all in ten years.

The way he did this defied all “sound economic principles” (e.g., see http://www.mises.org). He was told that nationalizing the banks and much of the economy will necessarily ruin the country (there is a good way and a bad way to nationalize banks; Obama is doing the bad way). He kicked out the IMF and the World bank, rejecting their “help” (which would have been practically the same thing as going to a Mafia don for help) and as a result, his country prospered and he has a popularity rating of 85%.

In the following, substitute “American” or “Celtic” workers for “Russian” workers and you get the same idea.

A Social Nationalist Response

1. Profits need to be shared with Russian workers. Direct foreign investment must come with guarantees for worker safety and a rate of pay that is proportional to the profitability of the enterprise.

2. Russian workers will need a say in management. Worker’s councils should be convened as a matter of government policy to consult with management concerning pay, safety and any grievances that might arise.

3. Foreign investors will continually be under the surveillance of the state in terms of the treatment of the natural environment.

4. All foreign investors will be required to support local institutions, including Orthodox churches, theater companies, health clinics, libraries, local artists and social insurance.

5. Under no circumstances should foreign money be channeled into political parties, candidates or causes.

6. All food purchased by the investing firm must come from local agriculture if possible.

7. The labor force in any given enterprise, at all levels, must be at least 80% Russian.

8. Foreign enterprises will have at least some responsibility to work with local government to improve local infrastructure.

Russia, Banking Cartels, and the Oligarchs

I had always been curious on why supposedly capitalist bankers supported Vladimir Lenin’s destruction of Russia and his proposal for a communist state. It doesn’t make sense that people who believe in the free market (e.g., bankers) would support a man who openly wants to destroy the Free Market. Why would they do that? The evidence and literature is out there (I’ve read some of it. Other books are available for free in .pdf format. Those I will not read. I can’t stand .pdf books).

One line of argument is that Capitalism and Marxism are not fundamentally opposed to one another. In this sense I agree with Karl Marx that Capitalism dialectically leads to Marxism. More to the point, both systems have the same anthropology: they both reduce man’s existence to economic factors (We enlightened moderns ridicule the ancients for believing that “gods and powers” ruled the world. But this is the same mentality of the academy today: instead of “gods” we have unseen “forces,” Smith’s “invisible hand”). So one could argue that it is not contradictory for Wall Street bankers to financially support Lenin’s war against the Tsar.

That’s true but that doesn’t explain why they did it. I have some suggestions:

* Socialism, perhaps not as evident in its more raw, communist forms, has long yearned for a banking apparatus that could control the currency. Initially, this meant that the State should control the banks and the currency, and a few of the English Socialists advocated that. The more perceptive Socialists realized this wasn’t good enough, for what would happen if a country suddenly became hard-line nationalist and religious in outlook? More perceptive oligarchs like the Schiffs, Rothschilds, and Rockefellers saw the value in having control over a currency in a statist fashion, but by an institution that transcended the state (e.g., The Federal Reserve).

Fr Matthew Johnson writes in The Third Rome: Holy Russia, Tsarism, and Orthodoxy,

The revolution of 1905 was a direct result of the war, as the liberal press went wild attempting to link the loss to Japan with the “backwardness” of the system. Such propaganda was heard loud and clear in western capitals. The Russian government had long been considered the most threatening competitor to the British Empire As a result, the financial interests surrounding the House of Rothschild had slated Russia for destruction.

Jacob Schiff, long a student of the Rothschild mind and the beneficiary of her largess, loudly demanded Russia’s defeat. This question desperately needs to be dealt with, not least for the reason that the entirety, without exception, of “Russia historians” refuse to deal with it, so tightly bound are they to the robber baron foundations and their endless fronts for grant disbursements. Why, exactly, did the greatest capitalists in the world support, finance and wage a relentless propaganda campaign in favor of the communist revolutionaries? Author Eustace Mullins, a longtime student of that connection, gives a clue:

These Americans “of the finest temper” chose Lenin to do their work because he had outlined the plan they wanted in “The Threatening Catastrophe” in September 1917. “1. nationalization of the banks.” Ownership of capital which is manipulated by the banks is not lost or changed when the banks are nationalized and fused into one state bank, so that it is possible to reach a stage where the state knows wither and how from where and at what time millions and billions are flowing. Only control over bank operations providing they are merged into one state bank will allow, simultaneously, with other measures which can easily be put into affect the actual levying of income tax without concealment of property and income (66).

In other words, the communist program has always been in the interest of the bankers, so long as the communists can be kept under control. To completely standardize the Russian system — which did not have a central bank — was important if the massive wealth (both potential and actual) of the country was to be controlled. The massive economic success of Alexander III and St. Nicholas II was too titillating for the world’s oligarchy. Again,

Although Jacob Schiff’s personal agent, George Kennan, had regularly toured Russia during the later part of the nineteenth century, bringing in money and arms for the Communist revolutionaries (his grandson said that Schiff had spent $20 million to bring about the Bolshevik revolution) more concerted aid was called for to support an entire regime. Kennan also aided Schiff in financing the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905; the Japanese decorated Kennan with the Gold War Medal and the Order of the Sacred Treasure. In 1915, the American International Corporation was formed in New York. Its principle goal was the coordination of aid, particularly financial assistance to the Bolsheviks which had previously been provided by Schiff and other bankers on an informal basis. The new firm was funded by J. E Morgan, the Rockefellers and the National City Bank. . . (64-5).

The connections between the Schiff, Rockefeller and Rothschild interests and the Bolsheviks — actually all Russian revolutionaries of whatever stripe — are generally suppressed by mainstream academia. It is no surprise that the successors of these same capitalists, such as the Rockefeller Foundation cult or the Carnegie Institute, fund the majority of research that takes place in America’s hallowed halls.

Famous British historian Nesta Webster writes in her Surrender of an Empire:

Had the Bolsheviks been, as they are frequently represented, a mere gang of revolutionaries out to destroy property, first in Russia, and then in every other country, they would naturally have found themselves up against organized resistance by owners of property all over the world, and the Moscow blaze would have rapidly been extinguished. It was only owing to the powerful influences behind them that this minority party was able to seize the reins of power and, having seized them, to retain their hold of them to the present day. (102)

And further, Anthony Sutton, fellow at the Hoover Institution, writes in his Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution:

In brief, this is a story of the Bolshevik revolution and its aftermath, but a story that departs from the usual conceptual straitjacket approach of capitalists verses Communists. Our story postulates a partnership between international monopoly capitalism and international revolutionary socialism for their mutual benefit. The final human cost of this alliance has fallen upon the shoulders of the individual Russian and the individual American. Entrepreneurship has been brought into disrepute and the world has been propelled towards inefficient socialist planning as a result of these monopoly maneuverings in the world of politics and revolution. (102).

Nevertheless, the revolution of 1905 was a prelude to the later revolution, and funded by the same people for the same final goal: the complete standardization of the Russian state and therefore, the complete transparency of Russian financial transactions. In other words, standardization means control. The ultimate capitalist, as well as the ultimate communist gnosis is the complete concentration of all productive forces under the control of a single, unified body. In this case, the Rockefellers, Schiffs and Warburgs, as well as Lenin, who was their agent, had identical interests.

(Another side-note on social nationalist economics)

Nationalizing banks and industry is always tricky. Hayek pointed out in The Road to Serfdom that federal governments rarely have the knowledge to anticipate future economic factors; meaning, there will always be a shortage or glut of various materials. This is particularly true in liberal democracies, but it is not as true in Social Nationalist countries (like Russia, China, Belarus, and in a much weirder sense, Venezeula).

A free-market apologist will quickly respond that a social nationalizing will never produce the economic marvels of a Bill Gates. Sure, you might rescue 40% of the people from poverty (as much as I don’t like him, that is precisely what Chavez did, along with reducing the infant mortality rate by 20%!), but the economic geniui will never be able to reinvest that capital.

Yeah, I guess that’s true. Oh well. However, when countries nationalize the currency and the banks, they make themselves independent of the World Bank, IMF, and other devious oligarchies. This means when George Soros wants to topple currencies in a region (for instance, southeast Asia), countries who are independent of world markets avoid that catastrophe (like China).

Unfortunately, nationalizing the banks has about the same long-term appeal as having a strong defense budget: it does tighten the economy and is their primarily to preserve the country for temporary threats. Fact of the matter is at this moment in history nationalist countries are under open attack by the world oligarchs. Why else do liberal rags like Time Magazine and conservative rags like The Weekly Standard equally demonize Putin, Lukashenko, al-Assr of Syria, and others (or in another time frame, Milosevic)? Countries that stand against a unified world market, countries that say “Our heritage, culture, and faith are more important than letting George Soros topple countries simply so an oil pipeline can pass through”–these countries will always be under attack, and it doesn’t matter from whom: liberal and conservative are united in their opposition.

And this is partly why I don’t think every country should be a free-market anarcho-capitalist regime. If you are threatened by enemies on every side who openly plot your country (and heritage and faith–Obama’s advisor Zbignew Brzrzenski openly called for the destruction of the Russian church; Clinton’s defense minister Cohen cheered as he bombed Serbian churches), then decentralized governments simply won’t work. They won’t last.

Personally, I have an anarchist streak in me (not in the “bombs and beards” sense, to quote Tolkien), but I know that simply won’t work.

Review of Dan Brown’s *The Lost Symbol*

One wants to begin the review by stating the moral of the story—and in many ways that highlights the problem. Stories may have morals in them—indeed, should not great literature inspire one to great deeds? Stories, however, should not preach the moral. We note the skilled author as the one who relies on subtlety and trusts to the arrangement of his narrative to get his or her point across. Obviously, this is not Dan Brown.

This is not to say that Brown is totally inept. Admittedly, he can write a page-turner. I was impressed with a number of his plot twists. Stylistically, though, the book leaves much to be desired. Many of the chapters are scarcely a page long. This is allowable in pop-fiction, but as writers like Orson Scott Card have noted, it should be done only sparingly.

While Brown’s knowledge of Christianity barely fills a thimble (and seems to be distilled from American pop culture), he knows enough about other subjects to make the book interesting. Without giving away too much of the plot, the hero Robert Langdon goes to Washington D.C. to investigate the disappearance of his friend, only to find a sinister plot awaits him.

I do not know if Dan Brown is a Freemason. If not, he certainly missed a good opportunity. The Masons are not only the heroes of the book, but they appear—in Brown’s narrative—to be the saviors of humanity. Aside from mentioning the aspects of Freemasonry where it admits to worshiping Lucifer, Brown gets much of the Masonic narrative correct. Brown is correct to note that America (at least politically) did not have a Christian founding. Brown not only points this out, but he shows how openly Masonic and Deist America’s purported Christian founders were. (Interestingly, Brown notes the similarities between ancient magic and modern science—and that most Renaissance and Enlightenment scientists were alchemists and magicians of some sort.)

However, Brown’s reading of the Bible is almost painful to the reader. The Bible—like all sacred texts—belongs to the community which formed it. When Dan Brown’s “Oprah-ish” reading of the Bible conflicts with the Church’s reading, then Dan Brown’s must be rejected (the same standard applies for the Koran et al). Brown’s “Christianity” is simply ancient gnosticism repackaged under Masonic garb. While a bad reading, in many ways it is a helpful reading: Brown shows us an aspect of the New World Order’s “endgame” on religion. We see a religion advocated that “accepts all faiths as pointing to the betterment and enlightenment of man.” We see the all the world’s mystical truths are out there in front of us, but only a few enlightened souls can reach them. This is the heresy that St Irenaeus battled so valiantly.

Besides being a bad author, Brown is in many ways literally a prophet of Antichrist. One other thought: the theme in the book is apotheosis, man’s becoming god. Brown acts like he has discovered a new dimension to Christianity. This is old hat. The Church has always taught theosis. Sure, the Americanized Church that Brown is familiar with hasn’t, but Brown should have done his research better.

The answer to Dan Brown is St Irenaeus of Lyons.

Review of Lee McDonald’s The Formation of the Christian Canon

Review of Lee McDonald’s The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon: Revised and Expanded Edition

Aside from a few howlers, this book is a balanced and thorough investigation to the context and mindset of the church that formed the present biblical canon.  McDonald interacts with the doyens of biblical studies and their best arguments.  He is always cross-examining weak arguments and asking questions that many evangelicals have ignored (or prayed their students didn’t ask).

The notion of Scripture as “canon” is a tricky one.  In our post-enlightenment era, we think of any mention of a list of writings a proof that ancient cultures have the same view of canon as 21st century Protestants.  There are several problems with this line of reasoning:  1) with the possible exception of Josephus, ancient men usually defined a canon not as a list of writings; and 2) there are numerous lists of books in ancient sources (and the bible) that are not recognized as proto-canons.

This leads into what will be McDonald’s thesis:  Jesus is the canon!  The early Christians’ faith was not in a codified set of writings but in the Risen Lord.  The message of this Risen Lord was passed down from the apostles to the bishops to the elders:  it was tradition.  This tradition testified of Christ.

But didn’t the Old Testament testify of Christ?  And wouldn’t this mean that there was a clear and complete Old Testament canon?  The early Christians (especially St Justin Martyr and St Irenaeus) did see the Old Testament as prophesying of Christ, but the outer limits of the Old Testament canon were not yet set.

This leads to McDonald’s next point:  he takes aim at Roger Beckwith’s thesis that the OT Scriptures at the earliest were defined a few centuries before Christ and at their latest at the council of Jamnia in AD 90.  Many point to an earlier dating of OT canonization because of claims by 2 Maccabees that prophecy had ceased in Israel, presumably pointing to the last prophet around the time of Malachi.  But as McDonald points out, entrance to the canon was not a matter of whether or not a prophet was inspired, but whether this particular writing was used in liturgy (53).

McDonald’s most pointed question is that if the Church received a completed OT canon it nowhere identified it.  If, as Beckwith says, it was so obvious and universal and did not need to identify it, this is a huge argument from silence and assumes a lot of what it needs to prove.  True, the church did receive the story of Israel and was likely familiar with most of the present OT canon, but that does not mean that ALL of the OT canon was there.  This is yet to be proven, and McDonald scores huge points on this issue.

New Testament Use of the Old Testament “Canon”

McDonald argues against a strict view of an existing Old Testament canon in the first century.  Further argues that NT church did not have a rigid view of the Scripture’s ultimate authority in the early church.

“If the NT writers were concerned with the text of the OT as the inviolable word of God, why does Paul feel so free to change significantly the focus of the text of the Scripture he is citing in Ephesians 4:8 (compare Psalm 68:18) and change the meaning of the text from “receives” to “gives” (105)?

I know the standard answer to the question—“Paul was inspired.”  Yes, that’s true but that’s still dodging the issue.  Even if you say “inspired,” you still have the fact that Paul is altering the very inviolable word of God.  Either God is moving the goal line back during the game, or we need to change our view of Scripture’s authority.

St Paul says that the Church is the Pillar and Ground of Truth, and as such can reinterpret texts accordingly.  Secondly, assuming that God doesn’t have double standards, we can read backwards and say that is not how the original text was viewed (in terms of inviolable authority).

Simply put, and this is part of McDonald’s main point, later notions of “canon” simply weren’t part of the mindset of early Christians and most Jews.

We must go back to what Canon means:  it means “rule of faith.”  St Clement identified it as a way of life.  St Irenaeus identified it with the story of Jesus.  Canon for these men, it appears, was simply the tradition passed down.  This is important for several reasons:  1) Jude 3 says that the Church has received the apostolic deposit of faith, but the canon, if it was complete, was not yet recognized.  Presumably, this means that the canon as we know it today was not part of the apostolic deposit.  Does this threaten the faith of the Church?  No, for the Church had Tradition, the liturgy, the bishops, and the sacraments.  It had the promise from Christ that it would be made full and complete.   2)  our faith is in a Lord, not a book.  Ironically, the authors of the New Testament make no claim that the entire corpus of the New Testament should be viewed as a complete canon.  This irony should not be lost on us.  Not only can you not locate the canon of the NT using only the NT, you can’t even locate where the NT says it will later be a canon!  Let us go back to the faith of St Irenaeus who held to the bishops, the sacraments, and the unbroken story of the risen Lord.

What makes a book canonical?

Normally, people say that for a book to be canonical it must have apostolicity, orthodoxy, antiquity, inspiration, and usage.  This isn’t a bad list.  It’s incomplete by itself, but it is a good start.  There are some inadequacies with each point:

  • apostolicity:  a book must be dated back to the time of the apostles.  McDonald says this won’t work because many of the books of the New Testament weren’t actually written by the people that claim to have written them.  McDonald has a point, but he is wrong.  If all the evangelical has to go on is “simply da bahbal,” then he has no way to answer the fact that some books have discrepancies in language, grammar, etc.  (This is the same argument we use against Mormon claims that the Book of Mormon was written by God or Joseph Smith or both).  But if the evangelical relies on sacred tradition, this isn’t a problem.  It’s not a problem because the bishops who received this book from the apostles themselves know who wrote the book.
  • Orthodoxy:  the book must represent the truth of the church.  Again, this is quite correct but acknowledging it presents a problem for evangelicals.  Adherents to sola scriptura usually deny the reality of oral tradition, yet here they temporarily assume it to make an argument for the canon!  This, however, isn’t McDonald’s problem with it (and again, I disagree with McDonald).  McDonald doesn’t like this argument because it assumes a unified theological core to the NT church.   I really don’t feel like refuting this at the moment.  McDonald is right to point out inadequacies with the “orthodoxy” approach, but he is wrong on what those inadequacies are.
  • Antiquity:  closely linked with apostolicity.  This is difficult to use because, even on a very conservative dating of the NT, many documents of acceptable orthodoxy predate some NT books (the Didache, the letters of Clement, possibly the Shepherd of Hermas).
  • Inspiration: all of the Church fathers believed the Bible was inspired, but they had a different definition of inspiration than we do.  St Athanasius though the Shepherd was inspired.  Further, even the apostles at times did not view all of their corpus as inspired (1 Corinthians 7).


McDonald makes a few howlers in his final chapter.  He stared modernity in the face, and like all men of Fuller Seminary, suffered a failure of nerve.  He blames the Bible for the continuance of slavery and not speaking clearly about civil rights and ecological irresponsibility.  Umm…yeah.

But he does make other good points.

“Should the Church be limited to an OT canon to which Jesus and his disciples were clearly not limited?  Also, we have seen that the final limits of the OT canon used by Protestants was in part shaped by a Judaism in polemic against the Church” (255).

McDonald, although coming from flawed presuppositions (and certainly to wrong conclusions), asks a very loaded, very poignant question:

“Those who would argue for the infallibility or the inerrancy of scripture logically should also claim the same infallibility for the churches in the fourth and fifth centuries, whose decisions and historical circumstances left us with our present canon.  This is apparently what would be required if we were to only acknowledge the twenty-seven NT books that were set forth by the church in that context.  Was the church in the Nicene and post-Nicene eras infallible in its decisions or not” (256)?

The Dialectic of US Federalism

This is taken from Joseph Farrell’s God History and Dialectic.  I found this on googlebooks.

In other words, the American federal constitution of 1789m as originally conceived and without the massive modifications which occurred after 1865 and 1913, was a brilliant adaptation of the original Augustinian dialectical scheme, giving a concrete mechanism of State, and founding it upon the new manifestation of the Chameleon godhead: the People

(Legislative is not Executive/Judicial
Judicial is not Executive/Legislative                                                                                                                               yet, all =  THE PEOPLE
Executive is not/Legislative/judicial

And lest it be misconstrued, the “People” here embodied a unique synthesis of the nationalist and internationalist understandings of fraternity, for all national, ethnic, and religious heritages could, in theory, be “American,” because what defined the “People” in America’s case was something negative: the mutual recognition of the moral sovereignty and the sanction of the individual person within the local sovereign state, a sanction not mediated by any intervening political instrument or agency, including any specific religion.  Like Leibniz’s monads, the “person” in this sense became a legal entity unto himself.  The solution to the long legal dilemmas posed by the development of law within the Second Europe which this arrangement embodied was therefore both brilliant and breathtaking.

But there was (and is) an inherent problem which this arrangement poses, a problem that can best be illuminated by stating it in the terms of St Gregory Nazianzus:  what is the relation of origin , if any, between the People and the mutually opposed organs of federal government? If there be none, then those relationships reduce to merely dialectical oppositions, a problem first posed by the Anti-Federalists.

The essence of the Anti-Federalist critique of the 1789 constitution  then, was that it tended, if one may so put it, to collapse, through the multiplication of governmental agencies and the relations of oppositions that distinguish them, either into perpetual anarchy on the one hand, or into an eventual amalgamation of all powers of government into a new and superintending form of tyrannical simplicity.

The particular focus of their critique was on the fact that the supreme court had no direct connection to the People from whom it supposedly derived its authority, bur rather that it was a abody whom they could influence only mediately, via the hypostasized executive and legislative relations of opposition within the government.  The parallel to the place of the holy Spirit within the Augustinian Trinity is intriguing, for there to the dialectical construction served only to divorce the Spirit from the Father by making the Son a mediating step in the dialectical process between the two.  The Anti-Federalists feared what has since become a reality, that once in place the Court would begin not only to review cases and act on legal precedent, but actually to create law out of flimsy legal materials in a judicial activism that sought not to adhere to the strict construction of the law, but which sought to embody changing moods and political trends in its decisions. The parallel to the change in ecclesiastical law of the status to the Papacy is obvious.  In short, the Court would become, on their view, a virtual second legislative body, not subject to any checks and balances.  Conversely, the Federal government, which takes on the increasingly menacing aspects of tyranny, also takes on the increasingly menacing aspects of anarchy, as the several departments of the executive and legislative branches of “government” not only multiply like rabbits, but multiply increasingly contradictory regulations and edicts, squeezing and molding “The People” into ever more restricted fields of liberty.

GHD: 702-704