Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The Simpleton. The Russian media has jumped on the present trend of blaming Russia' s economic problems on America in focusing on the predictions of crackpot, Igor Panarin. Panarin, a professor in the foreign ministry's academy, predicts the collapse of America in 2010.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Maybe He used a hammer, maybe not.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Was He a sole practitioner?
Did He employ others, such as laborers or other carpenters?
Did He run a big carpentry operation?
Did He make a profit?
Did He furnish his services at cost?
Did He charge nothing for his services?
How did He deal with this competition, i.e., other carpenters vying to provide the same services?
Did He undercut the prices that his competition charged?
If He undercut his competition's prices, did He drive them out of business?
From my standpoint, the Incarnation gets to be a pretty complicated affair.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
If circumstances were more positive, however, their interest in my particular opinion would be much smaller. There's a natural human tendency, during more fortunate times, to ascribe one's economic success to skill, rather than to the generalized smiling of an expanding economic pie.
Randomness stymies overreaching.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I like Ad Orientem's insight here.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Well, it really depends what you mean by paranormal. All sorts of nonsense gets thrown into that category, you know, like Loch Ness, astrology, Sasquatch, Atlantis, and whatnot.
Let's talk about the psychical stuff. I'm an empirical person, and I'm fascinated by empirical phenomena that can't be measured.
Like human consciousness, for instance. Velocity and direction, two parameters that describe material phenomena, don't apply to consciousness. We're talking about a qualitatively different phenomenon. It exists, but it can't be measured. We have introspective evidence, and sensory evidence of affects, but none of that counts as measurement.
Once one accepts the existence of consciousness and its ability to affect material phenomena, the only remaining step to accepting an incarnational world is determining whether the survival of the personality makes sense.
Or, maybe a religion that treasures each human personality should be adopted for that reason alone.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The two Presidential demogogues and their journalist groupies are spouting meaningless cliches about greed and free-wheelin' Wall Street megabuxters.
What they don't tell you--perhaps they don't know--is that Wall Street is already heavily regulated with rules designed by smart attorneys. Maybe that means that more regulations designed by more smart attorneys would have a low probability of solving anything, but a high probability of getting in the way.
Let's go back in time, say, six or seven years ago, when the Federal Reserve dumped liquidity into the financial system with a 1% Federal Funds rate target. The commercial banking system lent the excess moola, Wall Street created hedge funds and customized securities, and Main Street bought or flipped or refinanced mortgaged real estate.
Then, the Fed decided that liquidity was causing "imbalances" and decided to jack up interest rates, and, after a respectable period of time, the liquidity disappeared, hedge funds blew up, securities tanked, and Main Street got stuck with a big house that won't sell or excess condos or a pesky ARM.
Boiled down to its essence, recent economic history is easy to understand. You should be concerned about Wall Street. You should be concerned also about government involvement.
Let's see. Former Met. Herman lent himself $150k by taking a mortgage against St Tikhon's.
Well, modernist concepts like carefully-specified ownership rights and responsibilities don't apply to Bishops, who are addressed as Master (despota).
But...but...what about the...by-laws? Yeah, right.
My experience with day-to-day Church matters tells me that the disedifying and disillusioning cult of personality drives more faithful away from Orthodoxy than the saccharine call of Protestant megachurches. Let's blame ourselves for tempting our clergy to act as ringleaders of bootlickers, rather than as the servants of servants.
I stopped over at Gabriel's place to briefly ponder the dissonance of an OCA/AA merger.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Commenting on another blog, I asserted that Canada's reliance on prosperity through selling natural resources made its economy a one-trick pony. Magnify that reliance, and you'll have an idea about how desperately Russia relies on high commodity prices. The recent run-up in those prices and the concomitant increase in revenue put some spring in Putin's noisy step. As Shelton notes, "Today, oil revenues ostensibly provide a bulwark against economic losses caused by government misjudgments".
Unfortunately, for Putin, we're seeing a reversal of fortune as prices slide with the global economic slowdown. Much as I hope that a poorer Putin will lower his grumbling volume, I suspect that he'll increase it.
You know, I used to think that, perhaps, Putin's grievances had merit. It's kind of hard, however, to take any of his protestations seriously when his smoking gun proving Western complicity in the Georgian affair is an American passport that's been canceled for three years.
I love free capital flows. Capital seeks opportunity and flees tyranny. Capital seeks property right protections and flees legal whimsy. Putin's about to find out that his fiat doesn't extend to eradicating economic laws.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Just for clarification, you may want to differentiate between causation, which pertains to non-human entities and objects, and teleology, which encompasses humans’ purposeful behavior. The element of purpose is missing from all natural phenomena, except man. Purposeful behavior–action–is the fundamental datum of social sciences, and any social science paradigm that ignores human action in an attempt to unthinkingly ape the natural sciences is completely devoid of meaning.
The notion of teleology, however, is more commonly used in connection with God's actions and purposes. For the Orthodox, divine teleology isn't open to question.
That the notion of human teleology isn't widely employed attests to the captivity of our scientific method to a more materialistic perspective that discards introspective evidence.
Since man is created in the image and likeness of God, the idea of human teleology isn't much of a stretch. The stretch emerges, however, in the intersection of divine and human teleology.
Man investigates creation and uses hypotheses to succeed materially. How far can man exercise his teleology before he exalts himself above God?
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
What do I like about Osteen?
He wants people to succeed in life.
He urges people to rely on God.
He urges the adoption of good habits including politeness, civility, patience, understanding, charity, and so on.
What don't I like about Osteen?
He's not Orthodox.
His sweet sermons begin to grate on me after ten minutes.
I'm uncertain about whether there's any systematic theological content.
I'm uncertain what role the New Testament plays in his ministry, other than mentioning Christ, utilizing an immersion baptismal rite, and so on. One year's Easter message talked about the "can-do" Resurrection, which I'm still puzzling over.
I've watched a few sermons, and I know a few people who like him. You know, one thing I've admired about Protestantism is its high standard of personal holiness. Osteen seems to inspire people to act well and to rely on God.
It reminds me of the old joke about would happen to an unattended umbrella in Methodist and RC churches on a rainy day--the owner would get back his umbrella in the Methodist church. I came across this joke again--at Arturo's blog I think--and I'm grateful for the reminder. At the risk of overstretching an analogy, let me say that Osteen leaves me with the impression that he would exhort his followers not to glom umbrellas. You can say what you want about the pedestrian nature of bourgeois virtues, but I'm all for them.
If my impression is correct, then I'm not interested in seeing Osteen unfairly dumped on.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Well, here's another view.
What is the motivation behind Georgia's urge to join NATO? To get away from the traditional Russian interference in Georgia's affairs. Present-day Georgia contains two regions that want to break away from Georgia. NATO membership would hinder Russia's support for the two break-away regions.
Let's get real about NATO. It's a military alliance, not a democracy-spreading miracle. Its primary purpose is to oppose Russian expansionism. That's the attraction that membership provides for former Soviet satellites and republics. Russian membership in NATO would not only alienate the former Warsaw Pact members, but also render it ineffective--similar to including the entire world in a military alliance. Why shouldn't Russia be upset at the prospect of new NATO members outside Eastern Europe encircling from the South?
Let's go a step further. Vladimir Putin is very aware that his bountiful oil revenue is a cyclical phenomenon. He's arguably an expert on energy; he did his dissertation on the subject. That's quite a contrast to the hysterical and self-absorbed Western media that can't handle an economic explanation that takes longer than five seconds. Putin is rolling in dough right now, but that bounty is about to dry up with the global economic slowdown. Now is the opportunity to send the right message and set up the right bargaining chips on the Georgia issue as well as the larger NATO issue involving both Georgia and Ukraine. He's seizing the opportunity with gusto, and he's truly screwing with Georgia by cutting the country in half. Never say that Putin doesn't have a sense of humor.
Now, I haven't even begun to talk about the parallels operating in Georgia and Kosovo. Other folks have talked about that aspect at length, and everyone I've read is correct--Georgia is a continuation of the Kosovo principle.
Yeah, my blood boils...but...don't you think that someone should get nominated for 2008 Moron Of The Year for giving Russia this golden opportunity?
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
This is one of the perks awaiting the next St. John Chrysostom!
It may not be much, but let's face it. In a world in which parishioners would rather keep up with the latest MP3 player than pay their priests decently, every little bit helps.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
When I describe it as a hypothesis, I mean that despite the best efforts of our ecumenists, there's no reality there.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I'd be remiss without mentioning Father Stephen's recounting of the remarkable appearance of the Royal Family to some non-Orthodox during a car accident. I've linked to this posting previously.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Gabriel hosted a genteel discussion of Old Rome's Humanae Vitae, where I posted a comment intended to get us back to the basics about our fundamental ignorance about the nature of ensoulment.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
This is the song of the death procession, which made its debut in Florence's Carnival in 1511. It was innovative and not especially appropriate given its somberness in the midst of a festive atmosphere. I came across its performance by the Huelgas Ensemble while I was studying the annihilation of the Cathars in the Albigensian Crusade.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Reality agrees with my disparagement. Hey, don't take my word for it. Take a gander at this hilarious news item.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
For a third time, I voiced my support for the Squabbling of the Patriarchs.
Friday, July 04, 2008
One dispute is about the EP's visit to the Ukraine. By the way, the Church in Ukraine is involved in its own controversy, of course, with a couple of schismatic churches as well as the Unia.
Another dispute concerns New Rome's primacy in Orthodoxy. Third Rome appears to believe in its superiority as defender of the Orthodox Faith over Constantinople.
I like the drama. Vehement defense of divergent views within the Church is healthy...and it's a clear sign that Orthodoxy isn't ossified.
Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be the better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people.
The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.
In my view, anything said by Coolidge or his Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, is worthy of consideration.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
If my proposition is correct, then another question follows: are animals willing providential agents?
Monday, June 30, 2008
Here's a three-part interview with Archimandrite Meletios: here, here, and here.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
While we're on the subject of calendars, I hear that converts tend to prefer adhering to the Old Calendar owing to fewer holiday conflicts with Western family members. You know, it's hard to simultaneously celebrate New-Calendar Christmas with your parish and biological families.
On a separate note, Gabriel considers the issue of reaching out to atheists. I'm not a big fan of that kind of outreach. Western Christianity has left a bad taste in folks' mouths through its denunciations, anti-intellectualism, and tyrannical impulses.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Some folks just don't understand economics. For those of you who are familiar with the quantity theory or perhaps you're just familiar with the drawbacks of the "general price level" fiction, this journalist's bewilderment is apt to draw a giggle or two.
Let me give you a hint. It's a terrific sign to me that monetary policy isn't overly expansive. Commodities will join real estate as tomorrow's has-beens...at least for a while.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Gabriel deserves my thanks for drawing my attention to the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius conference recording on AFR. His post deals mainly with Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon's lecture. Fr. Patrick ingeniously suggests that Orthodox would draw in more Evangelical converts by preaching more.
I think that it's a great idea, but, personally, I don't like most sermons I hear, and I don't like any sermons that last over ten minutes. I don't like Bible study, either. How's that for mixed feelings?
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Monday, June 09, 2008
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Friday, June 06, 2008
President Bush is weighing more actions to stimulate the economy. Don't get me wrong. I liked receiving the money from the first tax "rebate", even though its questionable policy value resided in deficit-building and election-year PR. It added nothing to short-term stimulus or long-term growth.
Economic problems are solved through adjustments to entrepreneurs' unsuccessful plans. Policies should be designed to encourage flexibility and speed in making such adjustments. Alas, such policies may involve homeopathy rather than handouts and wouldn't be popular in election years.
At an early age, I developed a devotion for Enlightenment thinkers and viewed postmoderns as mostly a circus sideshow, like the bearded lady or two-headed man. Imagine my surprise when I came across Orthodox whose view of the created world exhibited a postmodern Weltanschauung.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
I've heard comments about Orthodoxy's "undeveloped" theology. I prefer underdevelopment to heterodoxy. As one Orthodox wit observed: "We don't need no stinkin' defined doctrines".
Andrea Elizabeth boldly confronted the ambiguities at Gabriel's inn.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Whenever some market goes up or goes down, which happens frequently, the market movement is attributed to speculators. I guess that someone has figured out that there's a difference between speculation and legitimate demand, but I don't get it. Ordinary folks don't get it, either, when they think they're being overcharged for a product or service.
Business involves buying cheap and selling dear, and that sounds speculation, too.
Does that make me anti-business or pro-speculation?
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Fr. Stephen has joined Och and Gabriel in making this a fecund week of interesting perspectives. I've spoken about Och and Gabriel earlier, and I commented on a couple of subjects that have been fermenting for a while.
Let me emphasize something. As you know, I support political and economic systems that acknowledge human freedom. The fact that aspects of our society are tawdry and downright sinful isn't the fault of human freedom or the systemization of those freedoms, but is the fault of particular individuals who behave in a tawdry and sinful manner, but most especially, of particular officials who lack the courage to coordinate our public morality with Orthodox teachings. Laws don't exist as a meaningless showpiece, but as the assertion of a society's moral truths.
More on this later. Aren't you excited?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
The Church will develop confidence in speaking about those secular issues facing society by successfully confronting the secular world in such mundane areas as providing for parishes' material well-being. In America, we don't have a Czar on whom to rely for material sustenance. Yes, the Church will have to roll up her sleeves in utilitarian pursuits, which is what Christ did.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Unlike other Orthodox, I found Hart's Christ or Nothing offensive. With regard to his social commentary, he's an empty suit. On the other hand, his style is golden, especially when he's dumping on his professorial competitors. All God's chillun got wings.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Some of you have heard my view about the OCA's financial scandal. My view, until now, has been simple:
(1) My effort to dig through the screeching commentary to find some kind of facts resulted in ambiguous evidence that didn't necessarily point to wrongdoing and
(2) Parishes that withhold money from their Bishops and Church on the basis of screeching commentary and innuendo are disloyal.
Finally, I've received the evidence for which I was looking. A friend sent me the OCA's report that was published briefly online. It's now located here.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Och has a conversation underway about American Orthodoxy. I didn't mention this over there, but I actually like competing jurisdictions wherein parishes have to be welcoming and friendly to attract newcomers and converts. Naw, that idea's too Protestant to be really Christian.
Here's a comment about how secular traditions don't arise in an economic vacuum.
As I opined on Och's blog, this year's Lent was disappointing, but I imagine that disappointment is part of the martyrdom that Lent cultivates.
Part of my disappointment was tied to my inability to refrain all blog activity during Lent. When a chorus of criticism was directed against Ancient Faith Radio, my hackles were raised. Added to that was a tongue-in-cheek attack on my beloved Obikhod and on AFR as Ortho-Protestantism. Listen, AFR is the closest thing to Mom and apple pie in my book.
I switched to Gabriel's blog to begin presenting a view that the Church/State symphonia is simply a manifestation of a larger clergy/laity relationship. Under our republican government, the parish and diocesan council replaces the Emperor as the laity's representative. For this partnership to be effective, there must be cooperation as well as constraint.
More about symphonia here.
This makes me a card-carrying supply-sider fellow-traveler. Yes, I add Laffer curver to my portfolio. Wordsmythes, be nice.
Monday, April 28, 2008
The Federal Reserve's moves to prop up Bear Stearns Cos. will come to be seen as "the worst policy mistake in a generation," the former head of monetary affairs at the Fed.
The action is comparable to "the great contraction" of the 1930s and "the great inflation" of the 1970s, said Vincent Reinhart, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, who retired from the Fed last fall.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
God Delights In The Death Of His Saints
"Many times I have seen the reflection of Your glory on the faces of the dead. What unearthly beauty and joy shone from them; how ethereal and immaterial were their features. This is the triumph of happiness and peace received gracefully, as they silently call upon You. At the hour of my death also illumine my soul as I call: Alleluia!
Akathist of Thanksgiving
Fr. Gregory Petroff
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Gabriel solicited suggestions about his Lenten reading, but strayed dangerously (for me) into blaming various characters for their parts in the decline of Western Civilization. I'm elated at his targeting of Rousseau and Marx, but uncertain about Nietzsche. I blame Nietzsche for Freud, or maybe Freud for Freud, but I don't blame Nietzsche for the Nazis. I do blame Nietzsche's sister for the Nazis.
Anyway, given my preoccupation with the relationship of Church and State, I expressed an interest in the formative role of the Roman Catholic Church in shaping young Hitler's and Himmler's minds. Likewise, I'm interested in the formative role of the Orthodox Church in shaping young Stalin's mind.
Offhand, I can't think of a Protestant tyrant, other than Cromwell, but I'll keep looking.
Anyone who's read my posts and comments knows that I have little patience for Orthodox who think that an Orthodox Tsar would be the best leader for an Orthodox State. In fact, it's certainly possible that the close identification of the Russian Orthodox Church with Russian Czar created the impression that both institutions' goals were identical. Frankly, I'd like to see the Orthodox Church as the established state church in states with republican or limited monarchical governments and free economies. A closer intertwining, in my view, would breed a decadence and backlash that doesn't help anyone.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I'm amused when folks speak longingly about the age of chivalry, for underlying such longings is the unmindfulness of the economic infrastructure that supports the noble caste's leisure. The human capital providing economic support was, of course, some form of coercive economic servitude. We've seen this kind of magical chivalric existence in the modern era--Czarist Russia and the Antebellum South. Some of the costs associated with maintaining the structure of coercive parasitism were imposed on the society at large, and those citizens too were excluded from the chivalric dream of a few.
By the way, the "leisure" of Ancient Greece was supported by economic actors excluded from its "democracy".
Friday, February 15, 2008
A little while ago I suspected that Och might get this topic going, and I've spent a little time thinking about Joel Osteen.
It's true; I like Osteen. He's pleasant and upbeat. He's kind and considerate. He wants folks to succeed.
His prosperity message is very Old Testament, wherein God's favor is demonstrated by material prosperity, and His disfavor...well, just ask the Noah or the Sodomites.
The only problem is that Christ came along and showed us that sometimes things aren't so simple. Orthodox Christians are especially aware of the phenomenon known as martyrdom--in which material failure veils spiritual success.
I'm having trouble finding the Kingdom in Osteenism.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Nazi-Supported Independent State of Croatia
An Orthodox blogger questioned the connection of my comment regarding the Serbian Holocaust in Croatia during World War II and his posting regarding the 75th anniversary of Adolf Hilter's rise to power.
I can sort of understand why the connection would appear to be tenuous, since the popular culture's idea of Hitlerian Big Events doesn't include atrocities in an obscure European corner.
Hilter permitted the Ustashe (a Croatian nationalist organization) to create the Independent State of Croatia, which proceeded to kill, deport, and forcibly convert to Roman Catholicism hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Serbs. The leading Latin prelate in Croatia, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Stepinac, supported the forced conversions. Interestingly, Stepinac was beatified by Pope John Paul II, who ironically was a keen advocate of Latin/Orthodox ecumenism. Many Latin priests and monks participated in the atrocities.
The US Holocaust Museum website has information about the third largest concentration camp in Europe, Jasenovac, whose sometime commander was a Franciscan priest. The Serbian Orthodox Church website has information about this unfortunate period.
"Because of your faith in God and God's justice,
ye have suffered earthly sorrow in the flesh;
yet ye saved your souls, as heaven rejoices and your ancestors sin our in Heaven,
greeting you at the gate of Paradise in son;
Your names are in the book of eternity,
enter into Paradise, ye children of immortality!
Therefore we on earth, your posterity, cry out in unison:
Holy New Martyrs, pray for us."
Troparion of the New Martyrs of Serbia, Tone 8
(Composed by St. Nikolai (Velimirovich))