Sunday after Nativity

  1. Why this distinctive?
  2. Christmas in the Middle East
  3. “Protocol”
  4. Vietnamese Orthodox
  5. The Xcarnation of Xianity
  6. Simply delusional
  7. Business ethics and ficuciary duties
  8. Davecat’s 15 minutes of creepy fame

1

It’s worth asking, as I failed to ask myself before espousing that a “lack of sober truthfulness” should be an Evangelical distinctive, why that should be so.

The National Association of Evangelicals approvingly cites four primary characteristics:

  1. Conversionism
  2. Activism
  3. Biblicism
  4. Crucicentrism

Frankly, I think the first two are way more distinctive then the last (there are Biblicist Crucicentrists who aren’t Evangelical), and they provide at least a partial explanation, which I’m going to paraphrase:

  1. Evangelicalism skews toward extroversion. Sobriety tends to be seen as “dead religion”(think “activism”). Visible emotion is valued, though maybe this is just a corollary to extroversion. Visible emotion sometimes needs to be manipulated into existence.
  2. Evangelicalism has a bias for tangible and quick results. The “decision for Christ” is the desiderata (think “conversionism”). There’s relatively little concern about those who fail to follow through on decisions for Christ. Maybe the one-point Calvinism (“once saved, always saved”) is even a theological invention in response to the necessity of shallowness and reversions to godless ways of life.

These are not observations from an armchair academic, but neither are they an infallible synthesis of what I lived. I’m not very heavily invested in them.

I seldom say this in what in many ways is a journal of personal thoughts fit for public consumption, but “what do you think?” Am I off-base in even suggesting lack of sober truthfulness as a distinctive?

2

The Antiochian Patriarchate is in the most perilous situation, with the impending fall of the Assad regime and the ascendancy of ISIS in Syria, yet our American president continues to demand the overthrow of the one government that has historically protected it’s Christian population. Our American record for overthrowing dictators has time and again resulted in Moslem fanatics occupying the vacancies left by the ousted governments. We Christians in the West sit with their collective ‘heads in the sand’, while our Christian brothers and sisters suffer genocide.

Assyrian, Coptic, and Antiochian Christians are suffering some of the worst persecution in history. Christians are leaving the Middle East by the hundreds of thousands, and those who can not leave are facing a genocide that is without precedence, yet the West continues in a state of denial ….

(Abbot Tryphon) Syria lies at Obama’s feet for a change; Dubya didn’t get the chance to screw this one up.

3

Trigger warning for the link.

“When you see an enemy,” he said finally, “it’s one thing. When the enemy sees you, that’s something entirely different. When you’re seen by the enemy, you put your entire platoon at risk. You have to follow the protocol. You have no choice.”

(Mr. M, a Vietnam Vet with PTSD in A Never-Ending Battle, from the New England Journal of Medicine) “Follow the protocol” says a blood-chilling lot. (H/T Geri-Pal)

4

Speaking of Vietnam, I offer excerpts from a twopart interview with Anna Dao Bin, a Vietnamese woman who came to Orthodox Christianity circuitously:

Father George: … [I]f missionaries are coming here to tell us about Christ, this means that from their point of view we don’t know about Christ here. Indeed, many Protestant missionaries from the U.S. and even Korea came to Russia in the 1990-ies, trying to preach Christ to us as if we were some wild tribes that never heard of Him. Well, every other church here is more ancient that the denomination that sent those missionaries!

Anna:  … When I came to Moscow, I decided that I will no longer go to Baptist churches, but will learn more about the Orthodox teaching instead. It was easier for me in Moscow, because I didn’t know anybody there and could start from scratch. I attended a Bible Study club in an Orthodox church where their deacon explained everything to us. For me it was a new approach – learning that you must understand the Holly Scripture correctly. Protestants use a different approach: You understand the Bible any way you want it. Bible Studies were held as follows: a group of people would gather and they would be asked, “What emotions or thoughts do you have when you read this?” Naturally, it is an easy way to fall into error.

Father George: Of course. I remember that St. Nicholas of Japan wrote, “Japanese Protestants came to me and asked, ‘What does this verse mean in the Holy Scripture?’ I told them, ‘You have your own teachers. Why don’t you ask them?’ They said, ‘We did ask them and they told us to understand it the way we like it, but we want to know what God had in mind when He said that’.’’ Thanks to the Holy Tradition, we in Orthodox Church can know what God Himself meant by any word. That is why the Orthodox Church remains true to itself for two millennia after its creation.

Anna: Yes. Then I thought about the origins of the Bible for the first time. It didn’t simply appear, somebody compiled it. Someone had to choose which books to include and which to exclude. I learned that it was done by the early Church and that the early Christians didn’t even have the Bible. So if we trust the Church that established the composition of the Bible and believe that it correctly chose the books to include, why can’t we trust its guidelines about the way we need to understand the Bible?

Father George: Indeed, this is the question that Protestants usually disregard. When you tell them that since ancient times the Church had a teaching about the importance of the Holy Tradition, veneration of saints and icons, that is all the things that they reject, they say that it was because the Church has already fallen into error. But it was that very Church at that specific time that compiled the biblical canon that Protestants accept! The bishops of this Church at the Councils held in the fourth and fifth centuries determined which books were included in the Bible. So if Protestants (based on their understanding of the Bible) say that the Church was in error at that time, this means that they should reject the Bible too.

And the second aspect that you mentioned that is also ignored by Protestants is that the Apostolic Church lived without the New Testament. It lived through Tradition only that was passed by word of mouth. The books of the New Testament appeared throughout the first century, but they were not available to everybody. That is, the true Church appeared before the Bible. So when Protestants try to create their communities on the basis of the Bible, they go in a completely opposite direction.

Some, but not all, of these little epiphanies were important to my journey as well, but either way, they’re all valid.

5

Some Protestant thinkers “get it” so well that I don’t understand their remaining Protestant at all. “Excarnational Protestantism” is quite a keen insight. For several reasons, Protestantisms seem to lend themselves to excarnational ideology-making more than do historic versions of Christianity.

6

In the dark and sometimes dangerous world of Christian homeschoolers, children are treated as property, often with tragic consequence … There can be no doubt that the Christian homeschool movement is built, in part, on the notion that parental rights trump the rights of children, and that parental rights should trump the right of the state to protect children from abusive parents.

Pardon my French, but there sure as hell can be doubt about that, despite the hebephilic oddities the author dredges up.

If “Progressive Secular Humanist” could get off his high horse for a minute, maybe he could see that the Christian homeschool movement is built, in part, on the verity that pre-political parental rights trump the right of the state to indoctrinate children into becoming secularist, consumerist humanoids. We call it “diversity.”

7

I’m very glad I subscribed Seth Godin’s blog, even when he garbles a legal principle a bit and drives another nail into the eventual coffin of capitalism:

The happy theory of business ethics is this: do the right thing and you will also maximize your long-term profit.

After all, the thinking goes, doing the right thing builds your brand, burnishes your reputation, helps you attract better staff and gives back to the community, the very community that will in turn buy from you. Do all of that and of course you’ll make more money. Problem solved.

The unhappy theory of business ethics is this: you have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profit. Period. To do anything other than that is to cheat your investors. And in a competitive world, you don’t have much wiggle room here.

Hmmmm. Does Seth mean that a business owned by capitalists (shareholders or venture capitalists) must maximize short-term profit even if it hurts the brand and reduces long-term profits? As a matter of law, I think not; as a matter of custom, as bonuses are based on short-term profit in too many cases, it would appear so.

Flash! You only have a fiduciary duty to your capitalist investors if you have capitalist investors. If you’re a sole proprietor, or in a partnership, or perhaps even in some Distributist co-op, you can be as ethical as you please. And you can even have long, long horizons — eternal horizons, even.

8

Trigger warning. I’m not even sure this one is edifying enough to click through. You can stop at the picture if you like. It is what you think, and it isn’t The Onion.

From the Atlantic, no less, something genuinely creepy. But Davecat’s got his 15 minutes of fame, along with Dennis Avner.

End trigger warning.

Far be it from me to deny Davecat his quintessential American liberty. Indeed, I think he should be able to marry his mistress Elena along with present wife Sidora, collect two disability benefits (as neither wife can do any substantial gainful activity that exists in the national economy, nor can they handle their own money) and claim both as dependents on his tax return:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life.

(Anthony Kennedy, 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey; see also Obergefell v. Hodges)

Now if I can just lose those two ear worms.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.