The hypocrisy of anti-racism racism

Continuing my thoughts on High Southern Culture.  It’s easy to say that the South had slavery so the South is racist forever.  Let’s put that aside for the moment.  It’s easy to beat up the modern South on racism, real or alleged (google the Christian-Newsom murders).  My point in this post is aside from a few Northern ideologues, a more refined and polished racism is in the Yankee elite, both then and now. Southern Racism is crude and barbaric.  Yankee racism is polished, scientific, and refined.  In other words, the theory of evolution applied to social situations.

(And by “Yankee” I do not mean anyone North of the Mason-Dixon line.  I am using it to refer to the cultured and social elite focused in a few Northern cities)

At this point in the debate a lot of well-meaning Southern apologists will (correctly) point out, “Yeah, but the North has some nasty aspects of racism, too.  The KKK has as many rallies in the North and they carry the US Flag as much as the Confederate flag.”  All of that is true, of course, but it rarely convinces anyone.  As an aside I will put the high number of Freemasons involved with the Klan.  Interestingly, Rocky Branch, a town just north of here, has both a moderate Klan presence and a large number of Freemasons (the Baptist church in said town has Masonic insignia inscribed in the foundation stones; a friend of mine was literally driven from that town for speaking against the Masons).

 (I don’t see any Confederate flags)

In some ways that points to the irony of Southern race relations, an irony ably captured by Professor Ralph Wood (Flannery O’Connor and the Christ-Haunted South).   The essence of his argument was that the Southerner might say mean things about the Negro and probably couldn’t make sense of the race-tainted past between the two, but at the end of the two the white man and the Negro were used to working shoulder-to-shoulder.  The Yankee, by contrast, started out with grandiose ideas about the social equality of man (an equality, incidentally, which is condemned in the Westminster Larger Catechism on the Fifth Commandment) but generally despised the Negro in practice.  Here is proof:  what is the difference in demographics between the KKK’s neighborhood and a white liberal’s?  Nothing.

At this point a lot of well-meaning Southerners will say, “But I have many black friends” or “I’m not a racist, but…”

Whether the above sentiment is true or not is irrelevant.  It just sounds so “fake.” By employing that defense you are buying into the PC-Yankee narrative.  Just bypass that narrative altogether. (For the record there are as many blacks in my general neighborhood as whites.  Which white liberal can say that?)

So where does the South go from here? It’s hard to say.  The Obama administration acted as a catalyst that woke many conservatives out of their slumbers.  It would be foolish to make prognostications when the reality changes so quickly.

Tracing the Occult: A Genealogy of Conspiracy; part 1

The broad outline of this is taken from several Joseph Farrell talks and found in some of his books, namely Giza Death Star Destroyed, The Philosopher’s Stone, and Babylon’s Banksters.  Ironically, it is also hinted at in David Bradshaw’s Aristotle East and West (Cambridge), though I doubt Bradshaw is aware of the implications.  Consider:  The last neo-Platonic magician, Iamblichus, died in the 4th century.   500+ years later various occultic movements arise in Europe fully formed and with ideological ties to earlier neo-Platonism.   As sociologists of religion are aware, this is simply not how religious movements start.  There is an early phase as the group is figuring out its rituals and doctrines, and then a maturer phase.  Except these occult groups (think Templars) skipped the earlier phase.  The best explanation is that there were underground movements.

Another interesting fact:  the ancient Roman senatorial families were suspected of having access to ancient knowledge (from Babylon and Egypt; the latter is easier to prove, since Plato said he took his thoughts from Egypt, and Roman philosophy is a cheap knock-off of Greek philosophy).  These senatorial families would later become the Roman curia in the middle ages.

Maybe Colin Gunton is right to hate Gnosticism so much.

Where I’m still appreciative of some Ortho guys, again

Many of my posts have been critical to claims made by Orthodox apologists, and one apologist told me “I do protest too much” (though no one bothers to tell the guys at OrthodoxBridge the same thing.  Most of their posts are about how wrong Protestants are.  What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander).  I don’t want to sound like one always harping on the same thing, so I decided to say something nice.  (Unfortunately, I realize some of the people I mention are associated with groups that will embarrass mainline Orthodoxy.  Too bad for mainline then.  It’s hard to see Tsar Lazar or anyone predating the Nikonian Revolution–and it, along with the later “reforms” by Masonic Satanist Peter the Great was a Revolution as thorough as the Bolsheviks’–would be appreciated by World Orthodoxy.  See if you can dig up Fr Raphael Johnson’s essay on the Serbian leadership’s de facto, but not de jure, recognition of Kosovo)

  1. Joseph P Farrell:  I know Farrell is no longer Orthodox, but still.  One can only stand in awe of his research.  He is a remarkably clear thinker and he teaches you to reason your way through a topic.
  2. Orthodox Nationalist:  I listened to Fr Matt Johnson every week for three years.  He does a good job summarizing different aims of the New World Order and he is remarkably good on exposing the occult and freemasonry.  I bring up on Orthodox boards how different mainline Orthodox (former SCOBA and the non-American equivalents) groups are openly affiliated with Freemasony and Ecumenism and no one will touch that issue.
  3. Sergius Bulgakov:  Bulgakov’s Sophiology is dangerously close to Gnosticism and I understand why Maximovitch’s group condemned him.  The problem is that few people in today’s Orthodoxy can say why Bulgakov is wrong (which is probably why yet another Russian Church council exonerated him–so who’s right?  Don’t answer that).  He is valuable in giving us an honest reading of the Fathers.  A lot of times you will meet the claim that the Fathers are united in saying x.  Bulgakov takes the Fathers on the development of Christology and Pneumatology and completely blows that claim out of the water.  And that’s what I love about Bulgakov–he thinks through the tradition.  I had a discussion with some Orthodox apologists I brought up tensions within Cyril’s Christology, and they responded, “Well, Cyril is part of the inspired tradition.”  Maybe he is, but simply asserting that doesn’t make the problems go away.
  4. Fr Seraphim Rose:  His biography is awe-inspiring, yet he is an embarrassment to World Orthodoxy.  At a time when Orthodox thinkers wanted to show how relevant Orthodoxy was to the modern world, Fr Seraphim moved to the wilderness, resurrected Holy Russia on American soil, and loudly proclaimed a few key distinctives: six-day creationism and toll-houses!   It was great.   He then added insult to injury, albeit in a generous manner:  he documented how the fathers believed in these topics.  This unspoken inference is silent but deafening:  any Orthodox thinker who disagreed with him on this points was specifically out of line from what the Fathers taught.   Inference number two:  if you find Fathers who disagree with Rose then you must also posit a division in the patrum consensus.  I don’t agree with him on toll-houses (though CS Lewis taught something similar in The Screwtape Letters) and I am not as pro-Russia as I used to be, but it is interesting to watch the bourgeoisie hem and haw.

Prima facie problems with Orthodox claims

 

Note several things:  I am challenging Orthodox claims, not the lives of saints and monks, nor the theology passed down in the Councils.  Further, I still remain sympathetic to much in Orthodoxy.  However, when I was communicating these Orthodox claims to other Protestatnts, I was met with the following responses.  Dealing with these responses successfully will better help Orthodox Apologists in the Western world.  I am doing you a favor.  Please allow me to be very clear:  I really like you guys.  Some Orthodox thinkers like Fr Seraphim Rose and Fr Raphael Johnson have been so influential I really can’t put it into words.  I am doing this so that your own presentation of the faith will be so much sharper.  This is not a combative debate.

And when I use the term “convertskii,” I am doing it in good fun.  An orthodox convert friend of mine coined that term.

1.  By the nature of the case, oral tradition is resistant to verification.  One needs a written document to verify that the tradition exists.

2.  Even if we deny the principle of sola Scriptura, yet when explicit appeal is made to Scripture to ground a given dogma, then such an appeal must be exegetically sustainable.

3.  In what sense is the church “objective,” but the Bible is not?  Chrysostom thought it was objective.

4.  Given that no Magisterial promulgation is necessarily perspicuous, any answer anyone gives to the question of “what is the criterion by which perspicuity can be identified?” must have been discovered by some other means. And since knowledge and application of this criterion will be a precondition for even understanding what Magisterial proclamations in fact mean, it turns out that the sort of private judgment about which RCs lament follows from Protestantism really follows from RC. (I realize this more touches on Roman Catholic claims).

5.  to invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church begs the question of how we identify the true church. In which church is the Holy Spirit to be found? What are one’s  criteria? Why those criteria?  I suspect that the very positing of the criteria begs even further questions.  Of course, this is true of any tradition.

6.  Appeal is often made to Vincent of Lerins canon. Yet in that same work, building that very argument, Vincent says that the church has always taught the Federal Headship of Adam’s sin (Commonitories, chapter 24).  The reply is, “The Fathers aren’t right on everything.”  Fair enough, by what criteria, then, is Vincent right on the canon and wrong on imputation of Adam’s sin?

6a.  In other words, we are hearing an appeal to the Fathers to help prove tradition.  But to justify the Fathers elsewhere, we appeal to other aspects of tradition.  How is this not circular reasoning?

6b.  Energetic Procession once made the criticism that sola scriptura was faulty because it relied on an appeal to what Scripture said elsewhere to interpret what it says here.   Admittedly, this is circular reasoning.  How is doing it with the Fathers and tradition any better?

7.  By what criteria do we affirm that your miracle stories are true and mine are not?  (And for the record, I affirm the stories to be true).

8.  You laugh at the grammatical-literal method of interpretation of the Bible, yet you employ this same interpretation when you read the fathers.  Why?  Can I employ Chrysostom’s method?

9.  It’s easy to make fun of the so-called 20,000 Protestant denominations, yet is the Orthodox church truly “one?”   Do the “True Orthodox” count as part of the Orthodox world?  Are they in communion with SCOBA, for example?  What about the catacombers?  Yes, ROCOR did reunite with MP, but the fact that ROCOR existed for so long seems to be an argument against the “seamless unity.”

9a.  These True Orthodox guys deny communion with you, saying you “lack grace in the sacraments.”  Here the Protestant inquirer faces an insurmountable difficulty:  both sides claim to be Orthodox.  One side was even formed out of resistance to Masonic and government apostasy (which seems to line up with what St Cyril of Jerusalem said on the end times–the True Orthodox shall fight Satan in his very person; therefore the prima facie claim to the real Orthodox guy goes to the True Orthodox).  Yet both sides make mutually exclusive claims.  Who gets to adjudicate?  Appealing to one side over another begs all sorts of questions.

10.  Which Orthodox churches have condemned Freemasonry and which are in bed with it?  This is important because 33rd degree Freemasons swear an oath to Lucifer.

10a.  If Athanasios is correct and that communing with someone is sharing in that person’s life and doctrine, what are the implications of sharing in the life and doctrine of one who has sworn an intimate oath with Lucifer?

11.   Can I appeal to Gregory the Great of Old Rome on the extent of certain canonical books?  Jnorm responded to me saying that Gregory was responding to Western needs, or something like that.  Fair enough.  My question remains:  I am a Westerner who resonates with Gregory’s liturgy.  Can I quote Gregory on this?  Is his understanding of the scope and limit normative for me, a Western Christian?

12.  I understand that many balk at the Calvinist’s understanding of God’s sovereignty.  I don’t like it either. Ultimately, though, all sides have to deal with the claim:  Is the future certain for God or not?  If it is, how is this not God’s causal determining of the future?  If not, open theism.

13.  Cyril of Alexandria solved many problems.  Did he create more?

14.  Are earlier fathers like the Cappadocians and St Maximus using the term energia/logoi in the same sense as Palamas?  Bradshaw affirms it of Nyssa but denies it of Maximus.  Radde-Galwitz denies it of both.  If they aren’t, does this not represent some form of development?

14a.  As Drake points out, how is God simplicity itself and beyond simplicity?

15.  Did Athanasius affirm the extra-Calvinisticum?

16.  Why does Monachos block my threads inquiring about ecumenism and Freemasonry (okay, you don’t have to answer that question).

17.  Much is made of the person-nature distinction, and the claim that Western models confuse person and nature with regard to Federalism.  Yet the Corporate Person is unavoidably biblical (see also Achan’s sin in Judges; Isaiah 53).

18.  The East rightly critiques Rome’s claims to unity based upon Rome’s faulty doctrine of God, Absolute Divine Simplicity.  This view reduces all reality to “The One.”  Applied to ecclesiology, Rome reduces unity to a visible, singular unity.  Yet often when Orthodox talk about the unity of the Church, they use this exact same argument.

19.  The Orthodox make the claim that God is hyperousia, beyond being.  All of God is beyond being, essence, energies and persons.  I know this is from Plato (Republic, 549 b, I think).  Is it really wise to base your divine ontology off of Plato?  ROCOR condemned Fr Sergii Bulgakov for doing precisely that.  I know that some sharp Orthodox philosophers will deny that their view is Platonic since they deny that God has an opposite.  Maybe so, but Andrew Radde-Galwitz, to whom these very same guys appeal, says that for Gregory of Nyssa every good has an opposite (pp. 206ff.), and these goods are correlative with the divine essence.

20.  I know this next one isn’t true of all, but it is something I have been seeing a lot of:  there seems to be an incipient Manicheanism concerning the use of reason.  When I make logical arguments over at Orthodox Bridge, I am told that there is more to Orthodoxy than just books.  Fair enough.  But why the aversion to propositional reasoning?  Maybe this is also why many Orthodox don’t like Perry’s blog.

Audio on St Athanasius

I am an auditory learner.  I used to spend hundreds of hours on the road traveling.  I had several hundred mp3s on my iPod of just theology and history lectures alone.  So when I first became interested in Orthodoxy and the Church Fathers, I immediately looked up audio lectures on the Saints.   I was dismayed by the dearth of material.  There were a few via Ancient Faith Radio, but even then it was only snippets. Some Reformed seminaries did have substantial audio on these topics, but it was done from a perspective which didn’t understand even the basic points of Patristic theology (as they would likely grudgingly admit).

Fr Raphael Johnson has produced a lot of good talks on many Orthodox saints, to which I will link here. St Athanasius of Alexandria. Towards the end Fr Raphael makes the interesting suggestion that Arius’ god parallels the false god of Freemasonry.  Both are architects but not fully God in the Triune sense.   He should have fleshed it out a bit more but it is an interesting thesis:  both Arianism and Freemasonry can from Egypt.   It would be interesting to tie this in with Pyramidial and Obelisk Religion and the Perennial Philosophy.   Another interesting idea is that the British isles became Arian roughly the same time they became Masonic.

So there’s no good churches around…

Does that mean one should abandon the Church altogether?  This is one of the consequences of globalism:  one reads of theology and the Church (usually on the internet) and wants to join this church, but there is isn’t one around for hundreds of miles.   What do you do?   This is becoming more and more a reality.

To make the problem even worse, what if you want to join this church but find out the Bishop is either Novus Ordo, communing with Freemasons, or participates in the World Council of Churches?   If you are not aware of that–particularly freemasonry or ecumenism–it’s not so big a deal.  But if you are aware of that, it is tough to knowingly commune with those who are communing with Masons.

I say all of this to acknowledge the painful reality of my Talmudic acquaintance’s problem.  It’s not fun to “be the only one left in Israel who has not bowed the knee” and then to drive several hundred miles on a Sunday.  He has a point which should not be casually dismissed.  The logical structure of his arguments he has given on this point are not very impressive, to be sure, but he has touched on something that has kept me awake for many nights.

Turning to the Fathers

I am not entirely certain I am comfortable with the True Orthodox Church.   I agree with their arguments on the Old Calendar (and for what it’s worth, courtesy of St Herman’s Press, I use an Old Calendar).  That said, I think they are correct on Ecumenism, freemasonry (which as a former Southern Baptist, I fought that battle even then), and modernism.   Their inability to communicate the gospel with love and gentleness, as a general rule, will likely keep more from joining their ranks.

In any case I asked a True Orthodox priest what I should do.   He said keep the church cycle as best one could and make pilgrimages to a Church on feast days, citing Blessed Seraphim Rose as an example.

Interestingly, St Basil, in a slightly different context, sheds some light on this point.   In times of persecution, it is doubtful there will be any churches around, good or not.    And as America is moving more and more to this situation per FEMA and the PATRIOT ACT, this will be a very real problem.   How should we commune, then?

St Basil writes (p. 179 in the NPNF II series, volume 8):

It is needless to point out that for anyone in times of persecution to be compelled to take communion in his own hand without the presence of a priest or minister is not a serious offence, as long as custom sanctions this practice from the facts themselves.  All the solitaries in the desert, where there is no priest, take the communion themselves, keeping communion at home.   And at Alexandria and Egypt, each one of the laity, for the most part, keeps the communion at his own house, and participates in it when he likes.

I am definitely not saying one should do house communion or even worse, house church like the Reconstructionists do!  Heaven forbid!   I am pointing out that the Holy Fathers didn’t get hung up on this point.  They realized the fact of unusual situations, and recognizing that these situations are not normative, nor will they become normative in the future, they allowed them.  The point is there are ways to keep the faith, resist modernism, and resist freemasonry without saying all the churches are hereby defunct.

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.