Monday, 16 January 2017

The Feast of Saint Anthony of Egypt




O God, who brought the Abbot Saint Anthony to serve you by a wondrous way of life in the desert, grant, through his intercession, that, denying ourselves, we may always love you above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Saint Anthony, pray for us, for the Christians of Egypt and for all monks.

Naturalis Historia: Adam, Eden, and the Corruption of Nature: A Thorny Young-Earth Assumption

Naturalis Historia: Adam, Eden, and the Corruption of Nature: A Thorny Young-Earth Assumption


"But even if we grant the young-earth creationists conception of that Garden was a “good” creation with no pain or sorrow is it necessary to believe that the entire earth was identical to the Garden in Eden? In Genesis, Eden is depicted as a geographical location set apart from the rest of creation. Indeed, the Garden of Eden itself was to be found in a specific part of Eden in the East of Eden. The Garden of Eden is frequently depicted by young earth literalists as being a place of perfection. How then was the Garden distinguished from the rest of creation? The Garden is often portrayed as a tropical paradise, presumably because lush growth represents perfection vs less growth (and food) but what about the outside of the Garden? Was this land somehow less good in the minds of these creationists?

These questions are never addressed in the YEC literature. They always act as if the entire earth was a perfect paradise despite some very clear indications from the rest of Scripture that this was not the relationship of the Garden of Eden with the outside world. The key, as I recently pointed out in recommending the writings of Dr. G.K. Beale and others, is understanding that the Garden represented the holy place in Eden which itself is a sacred space in creation. The creation account and the creation itself is a portrait of the beginning of God’s unfolding plan for man and his relationship with what he had created.

It is important to note that Adam had been created outside the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2.8), possibly even outside of Eden. The image is that of his being created outside of God’s direct presence and then he is brought into his presence when placed in the Garden of Eden just as the priest came into the tabernacle and temple. Adam was originally made innocent and could enter into God’s presence but the priest had to make sacrifices and wash himself before he could enter that sacred space in the Temple or Tabernacle. That place was the only place where the Shekinah glory – God’s dwelling – was exhibited on earth at his footstool (the Ark of the Covenant).

Thus, the place where Adam had his origins was outside of this dwelling place. The image of this place of origin if that of the wilderness – or the disordered creation – the formless and void of Genesis 1.1. He was taken from the wilderness and placed into Eden, a sanctuary in God’s creation where he could commune directly with God (Genesis earth. In Eden, Adam was able to walk and talk with God in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 1 we see that God, the creator, took the disorder of the initial condition of the cosmos (Genesis 1:1) and put order to it. In Eden we see that He has took the chaos (the wilderness) and made it fit/habitable for man. In other words He made it a “good” place for man. In each case, His creation of things were proclaimed “good,” not as an ethical statement about the objects themselves but rather they were good in their purpose as they related to man. It was their function for which the inspired author is primarily concerned."

NATO Deployments

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Washington Post: Tillerson doesn’t seem to realize speaking up for human rights is part of the job

The Washington Post: Tillerson doesn’t seem to realize speaking up for human rights is part of the job

Editorial

"AT LEAST 4,800 people have been killed by Philippine security forces and unidentified gunmen in a lawless anti-drug campaign since President Rodrigo Duterte took office just six months ago, according to Human Rights Watch. The Obama administration has repeatedly criticized what it calls the “extrajudicial killings.” But Rex Tillerson, the oil executive nominated to be secretary of state by President-elect Donald Trump, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that he was not ready to judge whether the Duterte government is guilty of human rights violations."

The New York Times: The Coin? Gold. Its ‘Real Value’? Lady Liberty Is Black.

The New York Times: The Coin? Gold. Its ‘Real Value’? Lady Liberty Is Black.



The United States Mint will release a commemorative gold coin in April that will feature Lady Liberty as a black woman, marking the first time that she has been depicted as anything other than white on the nation’s currency.

The coin, with a $100 face value, will commemorate the 225th anniversary of the Mint’s coin production, the Mint and the Treasury Department announced on Thursday. Going on sale April 6, it will be 24 karats and weigh about an ounce.

It is part of a series of commemorative coins that will be released every two years. Future ones will show Lady Liberty as Asian, Hispanic and Indian “to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States,” the Mint said in a statement.

The announcement comes at a pivotal cultural moment for the United States, a week away from a transfer of power, following a bruising election dominated by debates about immigration, race and political correctness.

Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen, by Madonna Sophia Compton



Madonna Sophia Compton, Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen: The Life and Times of Hildegaard, 2015 The Raphael Group


I decided to read this after reading Madonna Sophia Compton's fascinating book on Sergius Bulgakov. I first encountered St. Hildegaard of Bingen when I was 13 or 14, when I bought a casette tape of her amazing choral music. Saint Hildegaard of Bingen is a fascinating figure, both for her musical legacy and that she is one of the few female Doctors of the Church. Her music is an undeniably important part of her work, as it communicates her vision of a cosmic harmony of heaven and Earth. Though Hildegaard may be appealing to heterodox feminist theologians, St. Hildegaard was thoroughly orthodox and helped to oppose the great heresies of her time, Catharism and Waldensianism.

Compton provides a very readable and informative introduction to the life and historical context of this great Doctor of the Church. She makes reference to a number of scholars who have offered insights into her work. Our author explains the importance of the theme of Sophia, divine wisdom, in the visions and writings of Hildegard. Hildegard's visions are full of feminine imagery and central to them is the figure of Lady Wisdom, the personification of beauty and goodness energized in creation by the Spirit of God. Hildegard also saw the Church personified in female form and our author does not fail to make a connection between Sophia and ecclesiology, which is something I think she rather neglected in Sophia-Spirit-Mary.

A number of short passages are included in the book to give a taster of St. Hildegard's work.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Henry Jackson Society| Analysis: ‘International Taboo on Chemical Weapons Frays As U.S. Steps Back’

The Henry Jackson Society| Analysis: ‘International Taboo on Chemical Weapons Frays As U.S. Steps Back’

by Kyle W. Orton


"Moreover, Assad continued to use poison gas against civilians, he just switched to chlorine, the original chemical weapon. Earlier today, news leaked to Reuters that the OPCW has Assad personally on a list of people “to be scrutinized” for their role in the chlorine attacks from 2014 onward. As mentioned above, the pro-Assad coalition has officially been found responsible for three chlorine attacks by OPCW; credible reports from inside Syria put that number closer to ten—just in 2016.

The enforcement of the international norm against chemical weapons has never been perfect. The Geneva Protocol banning chemical and bacteriological weapons was signed in 1925 in the shadow of the First World War. Since then—before Assad—five states had used chemical attacks against civilians. (Potentially one could add a sixth: the Islamic State employed the remnants of Saddam Husayn’s arsenal against the Coalition and Iraqi civilians in the mid-2000s.) Yet at least using chemical weapons used to be taboo, expected to put the user beyond the pale of the family of nations; this no longer appears to be the case.

Assad was not only able to use CWMD with impunity, steps have increasingly been taken toward normalizing the Assad regime, turning the incentive structure on its head. For example, in Sudan, the regime of Umar al-Bashir used CWMD thirty times between January and September 2016, killing more than two-hundred civilians, according to Amnesty International. Al-Bashir was already wanted for genocide, the first head of state indicted by the International Criminal Court. Yet the U.S. lifted sanctions against Khartoum yesterday."

Eastern Ukraine Situation Report 14th January




This is war. This is Europe. This is happening today.

Called to be the Children of God



Fr. David Meconi, SJ and Carl E. Olson (editors), Called to be the Children of God: The Catholic Theology of Human Deification, 2016 Ignatius Press


The doctrine of theosis or deification, that the end of salvation is to become one with God, a partaker of the divine nature, is most associated with Eastern Orthodoxy. However, it has always been a part of the theology of the Roman Catholic Church and is clearly expressed in her catechism. This book traces the history of how Catholic theologians have expressed the doctrine of theosis. This collection of essays begins with the Scriptures, then moves across history, looking at such important figures as Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Blessed John Henry Newman. It concludes with an essay by David Fagerberg on the relationship between the liturgy and divinization. The author of this essay identifies Mary as the ultimate model for human deification.

While the bulk of this book deals with the western theological tradition, one of the essays deals with theosis in the Eastern Church Fathers, the common heritage of both the Catholic and Orthodox churches. I did wonder if there had been no post-schism theological developments among the Eastern-rite Catholic churches. It would have been interesting to have had an essay discussing the doctrine of theosis within the theological and liturgical context of the Easten-rite Catholic churches, not just the Byzantine, but the Alexandrian, Armenian and Syrian rites. Given the emphasis on western theology, I do wonder if it was appropriate to have a Greek Orthodox icon on the cover. The essay on the Franciscan theological tradition was enjoyable. I think I am a fan of Franciscan theology. There is some overlap between some of the essays, for instance, Matthias Scheeben is discussed in several of the chapters.

This is a really valuable exercise in historical theology and was very edifying.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Team of Teams

The Feast of Saint Hilary of Poitiers

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we may rightly understand and truthfully profess the divinity of your Son, which the Bishop Saint Hilary taught with such constancy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Hilary, pray for us, for all theologians and for those who deny the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Catholic Herald: Luther affirmed Mary’s perpetual virginity. It’s a shame that many Protestants now reject it

Catholic Herald: Luther affirmed Mary’s perpetual virginity. It’s a shame that many Protestants now reject it

by Aaron Taylor

"Where Mary’s role in the economy of salvation is denigrated, the result is not greater focus on Christ, but a re-emergence of ancient Christological heresies, as seen in Protestant churches during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Catholicism has been remarkably free of this tendency, despite ongoing theological crises since the 1960s). The Protestant Reformers realised this connection. That’s why, as historian Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch notes, they treated Mary with “reverence and affection” as a “guarantee of the Incarnation of Christ.”

In today’s world, the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity reminds us of our eternal destiny in relationship to Jesus.

Sex within marriage is good and holy. But celibacy – or perpetual virginity – is in a very specific and limited sense, a more perfect state. It is not morally better. Consecrated virgins are not making a more ethical lifestyle choice. But it is more perfect in an eschatological sense, because total consecration to God comes nearer to the state towards which we are journeying in the afterlife, where “they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matt 22:30)."

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Hatred towards Muslims often goes hand in hand with Misogyny

The Huffington Post: Marco Rubio Grills Rex Tillerson On Russia, Ukraine, Syria

The Huffington Post: Marco Rubio Grills Rex Tillerson On Russia, Ukraine, Syria


WASHINGTON ― Former Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson dodged a series of questions from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday about his foreign policy agenda with respect to Russia.

Asked whether he would advise President-elect Donald Trump to enforce sanctions against Moscow for its alleged role in cyberattacks aimed at interfering with the U.S. election, the secretary of state nominee demurred.

Confronted with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine, Syria, and against domestic political enemies, Tillerson said he would need more information before agreeing with Rubio’s description of the Russian leader as a “war criminal.”

Tillerson’s ties to Russia, which he developed during his time as an oilman, have been a key point of contention for lawmakers since Trump chose him to serve as the next secretary of state.

In an opening statement during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Tillerson attempted to allay those concerns, telling members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Russia “poses a danger” ― but suggested this danger was due to the “absence of American leadership” under the Barack Obama administration.

When lawmakers pressed him on what a stronger U.S. posture toward Russia would look like, Tillerson gave evasive answers. He wouldn’t commit to upholding sanctions against Moscow that the Obama administration has put in place or to supporting the new sanctions legislation introduced by a bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday.




UK Support for Ukraine

Vox: Did Rex Tillerson just lie under oath about lobbying against Russia sanctions?

Vox: Did Rex Tillerson just lie under oath about lobbying against Russia sanctions?


“I have never lobbied against sanctions,” Tillerson said. “To my knowledge, Exxon never directly lobbied against sanctions.”

This seems hard to believe. Indeed, after the second line, Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the committee, interjected: "I think you called me at the time [Russia sanctions were being debated]," he said. The public record backs him up: There is abundant and clear evidence that Exxon did lobby on sanctions under Tillerson’s leadership.