He who places his hope on thee, O Virgin all-glorious, will prosper in all he does.

Inscription on Byzantine coin during reign of Romanus III

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Health Care

'Tis the season for health care pontification. Bowing to popular demand, I'll state my position, or, rather, reiterate Ron Paul's position. Paul's Comprehensive Health Care Reform Act:

A. Provides all Americans with a tax credit for 100 percent of health care expenses. The tax credit is fully refundable against both income and payroll taxes.

B. Allows individuals to roll over unused amounts in cafeteria plans and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA).

C. Makes every American eligible for a Health Savings Account (HSA), removes the requirement that individuals must obtain a high-deductible insurance policy to open an HSA; allows individuals to use their HSA to make premiums payments for high-deductible policy; and allows senior citizens to use their HSA to purchase Medigap policies.

D. Repeals the 7.5 percent threshold for the deduction of medical expenses, thus making all medical expenses tax deductible.

Paul's Coercion is Not Health Care Act:

This legislation forbids the federal government from forcing any American to purchase health insurance, and from conditioning participation in any federal program, or receipt of any federal benefit, on the purchase of health insurance.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Patriarch Kyrill On Veliky Novgorod

Patriarch Kyrill celebrated the birth of Veliky Novgorod in 859 by speaking about its republican history. Russian political history isn't monolithically absolutist.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Memory Eternal!

You know how much we all miss you.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Charpentier's Prelude (Te Deum)

Arturo inspired this post.

The sound quality is muddled, but the tempo is appropriately snappy.

I've run across this more conventional rendition at Western weddings.

Multi-Tasking As A Divine Attribute

Do you ever become impatient with incompetent folks who swear that they can successfully multi-task? I do.

Let me go further by proposing that anyone who claims to be a successful multi-tasker is automatically incompetent. Scientists have concluded that we humans can focus only on one task at at time. Therefore, performing more than one task simultaneously consists in applying "continuous partial attention" to the tasks. (I got that phrase from today's Wall Street Journal.)

I'm going to add this to my list of interview questions: Can you successfully multi-task, and can you give me an example of your success at multi-tasking?

Just imagine how the interviewees, eager to make a good impression, would fall into my trap. Not only are they incapable of focusing, but also they're incapable of acquiring the introspective knowledge that would enable them to recognize what focusing entails and how they fall short.

Or, I could just dismiss them as blasphemers for claiming possession of what appears to be a divine attribute.

Empirical Economic Irony

Gabriel and I have been conversing about Austrian economics, and we've been particularly focused on the School's theoretical wertfreiheit as opposed to its identification with libertarian normative prescriptions. Gabriel noted that perhaps the Austrians have been so closely identified with libertarianism that any attempt to distinguish Austrianism from libertarianism would be futile.

That kind of concern has never favorably impressed me, and I remain convinced of the crucial distinctions between theory, application, and statecraft. For those who are new to the discussion, what I call application consists in applying economic theory to the empirical world of history, forecasting, and finance.

I spent a little time today listening to a presentation from a Chicago School economist about monetary policy. My takeaway was that he, Ben Bernanke, and I have roughly the same ideas about how the Fed should have conducted its business during Fall 2008's dire days and how the Fed should conduct its business presently.

Now, this correlation would be apostasy among the Austrian purists with whom I associate, and I'd have to defend my empirical applications as vehemently against those Austrians--and I know this from experience--as I'd have to defend Austrian theoretical apriorism and methodological individualism against the Chicagoans.

Let's just say that God's expansive sense of humor manifests itself by His throwing all sorts of cute ironies and paradoxes in my path.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Monetary Economics 101

The Russian Church Primate again called the crisis a consequence of 'sin that penetrated in modern economics,' and stated that today, 'people of honest labor pay for those who made millions and milliards [sic] out of air, pay for deception, for those who seeking easy profits lost human face in economic relations.' [Emphasis mine]

Alan Greenspan's easy monetary policy manufactured money out of thin air. The newly-created money stole value from previously-existing money. This is the shameful mechanism of monetary inflation. Patriarch Kyrill is right on the money.

Busybodies Want To Cheapen The Wedding Garments

Reporters criticized Patriarch Kyrill's expensive watch here. Maybe we're supposed to think that Christ stole from the poor by creating precious metals and other luxuries.

We Knew All Along That You Were Just A Pretty Face...

...and we wanted some real foreign policy expertise.

I can't stop laughing at this one.

Friday, July 24, 2009

If You Don't Like This One, You're Not Human

It speaks for itself. I'm the proud owner of the CD. Crank up the volume so you don't miss the beginning.

Liking It Is Sufficient Reason For Posting It

Wrong season, but I like this nonliturgical hymn. The first rendition is so beautiful it's scary.

The second rendition isn't the best, but I adore their enthusiasm. If you observe the conductor, you'll notice that the enthusiasm is being orchestrated.

Now you know how I spend my free time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stress Management Without Yoga

"Gentleness and humidity is the greatest power that not only helps manage the world according to God's law, but helps a person find peace and health."

Patriarch Kyrill

The Trusted Voice Has Died

Memory Eternal!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Whew! Western Rite Revisited

I'm back from the Apostles' Fast. My abstention from blogging during the Church's fasts extends to an abstention from reading blogs as well. I cherished my time away from controversy, and maybe I'll be wiser this time around.

Och has been hitting the Antiochian issues pretty hard, and I'm not very well-informed about those issues. I don't like commenting on things about which I know little, generally speaking, and therefore I commented sizably about Antioch's Western Rite project. Maybe I don't know anything about that one, either, but I couldn't refrain from a minor swipe at Antioch's "we take all kinds of folks" adventurousness.

I'm more confident in the ROCOR's nurturing of a WR that doesn't contradict the mind of the Church than the Antiochians. Let's not kid ourselves. Antioch is willing to set all kinds of precedents that other jurisdictions would rather avoid. The absorption of the Campus Crusade for Christ evangelicals is another example of Antioch's daring.

My own misgivings about the WR pertain to the liturgy, not to the Orthodox theological propositions to which WRiters adhere. Orthodox theology is experiential, and the formal propositions come afterward. My concern is whether the WR experience contradicts Orthodoxy, and, in my mind, while that doubt persists, the ROCOR serves as a more reliable mother hen than Antioch.

Now, some half-clever lad may trot out the old canard that the WR existed during the first millennium and that the WR's Orthodoxy is established merely by that prior existence. There are all sorts of problems with a liturgy that has evolved and matured within a heretical context, irrespective of a "spotless" origin within a Patriarchate that showed clear tendencies toward heterodox divergence. Certainly, the Eastern Patriarchates were rife with heresies at times, but, at the end of the day, the East overcame those heresies, and didn't abandon the Faith. The West folded.

Please excuse my lack of empathy regarding the WR as an entry point for converts. At the risk of agreeing too much with Och, let me say that I am sick and tired of attempts to market the Church to enquirers who are squeamish about worshipping in an Orthodox manner and within an integrated Orthodox context. No one disputes that Orthodoxy is acted out in a noncontradictory manner in the Eastern liturgy. So why do we have to change anything for anyone? We need to make sure that the WR is safe for human consumption before we pander to adolescent whiners who take their Christ with a grain of salt.

Do you really think I'm being too harsh? Okay, let's take a look at Met. Jonah's outright overture to continuing Anglicans. He didn't say anything that Moscow hasn't been saying for a century or two, and he was correct in at least extending his hand. With a few exceptions, however, he may as well have been talking to himself. For all of their bluster about adding "reason" to Rome's duopoly of Scripture and tradition, those Anglican dudes can't even bring themselves to take the small baby step of excising the Romish filioque from their creed. They've become comfortable in their ossified heterodoxy, and this theological sloth is the context from which enquirers emigrate to jump into an ill-advised WR. I'd be very comfortable with turning over the WR project in its entirety to ROCOR's careful supervision.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Good Pick From Naxos

I like buying Naxos CDs because they're inexpensive. Unfortunately, they're often cheap. Today, I had the pleasure of listening to the Novospassky Monastery Choir's Russian Divine Liturgy (in Slavonic). The CD was inexpensive, but not cheap.

It Needed To Be Said

I commented on the Wall Street Journal's blog, Mean Street. The poster posited that Hank Paulson should be declared a national hero owing to his creation of the TARP program. I agreed:

Clearly, TARP was needed to prevent an imminent systemic banking collapse, and Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke are the heros. You’re right on the mark about these particular saviors. Systemic risk means that we end up living in caves.

TALF is the proximate driver of reliquification, but it couldn’t have happened without TARP.

As an Austro-Libertarian, I hate government involvement in anything, since government is inherently anti-consumer, but TARP was needed to patch things together during the unwinding of Greenspan’s debt orgy.

Yes, Paulson is a hero, but Bernanke joins him in that particular Hall of Fame. Bernanke lent the TARP program the intellectual weight that it needed to get folks like me to endorse the plan. Paulson isn't a dummy, but his understandable incentive to defecate on Goldman's competitors would have colored my view of the TARP program had he been its sole sponsor.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Church And State

From an interview with Serbian Bp. Irinej:

The separation of Church and state – like in the present day European Union, Europe, and democratic world at large – does not entail, as they think or as they claim to think, the banishment of the Church from society, or Her greater or lesser marginalization, but rather the recognition of separate authorities (“autonomous ingĂ©rence”) along with the internal independence of the Church and of the modern laic state. It further means the need for mutual cooperation in all areas of mutual significance and for the general good.

Western Rite? Right?

I've liked Andrea Elizabeth's blog for a long while, and I'll reprint a comment I made on her site in response to her Western Orthodox post:

I chose my particular blogging moniker almost three years ago owing to my appreciation for the budding phenomenon of Western Rite Orthodoxy. Since that time, I’ve grown dubious about whether a Western Rite makes sense.

The Western Rite question is not so different a question as whether certain Westerners are appropriately venerated as Orthodox Saints. Orthodoxy is a cultural phenomenon. The Mind of the Church is our culture. The catechumenate is the period during which the catechumen acquires the Mind of the Church–not simply facts and dates and ethnic mannerisms–from the instructors. In fact, the quality and extent of one’s conversion is properly measured by how completely one has acquired that Mind.

The fact that Westerners are accepted as converts–and potential saints–demonstrates to me that the possibility of Western Saints isn’t inherently foreign to Orthodoxy.

Let’s circle back to the Western Rite. Have Western Riters converted to Orthodoxy, or are they simply dressing up their old habituations with Orthodox colors?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

American Autocephaly?

Only if Constantinople says so.

I paid another visit to Orrologion's excellent blog, which posted the Greek view of the Diaspora.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Doubting Thomas? I Doubt It

Do you get tired of seeing the hackneyed discussions of Doubting Thomas around St. Thomas Sunday? I do.

Let's look at the facts. St. Thomas didn't witness Christ's return when the others did. When the others told St. Thomas about the resurrection, his attitude was "Prove It". Would the others have believed in Christ's resurrection if Christ hadn't visited them and hadn't shown them the nail holes in his hands? I doubt it.

Let's look at the Gospel. Jesus said that he performed miracles so that folks would believe. Would anyone have believed that Jesus was the Christ if he hadn't performed such miracles, especially the raising of Lazarus? I doubt it.

The Orthodox Church, in her unnatural wisdom, refers to St. Thomas as Believing Thomas. Jesus encouraged belief by presenting evidence and engaging in rational arguments.

Certainly, believing solely by faith is blessed, but I suspect that St. Thomas didn't doubt God's miracles, including the Resurrection, more than anyone else. Why he's singled out as a doubter is something I don't understand. Maybe someone will explain it to me.

Meanwhile, I like this sermon about Believing Thomas.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Antipascha

From the sealed tomb, You shone forth, O Life!

Through closed doors You came to Your Disciples, O Christ God.

Renew in us, through them, an upright spirit,

by the greatness of Your mercy, O Resurrection of all!

Troparion, Tone 7

Thomas touched Your life-giving side with an eager hand, O Christ God,

when You came to Your Apostles through closed doors.

He cried out with all: “You are my Lord and my God!”

Kontakion, Tone 8

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I just posted this comment over at Gabriel's:

"Orthodox inculturation in America will take place only over many centuries owing to the tension between old-country Orthodox who hate American values and less-traditional Orthodox who think that old-country values are out of touch.

"The only solution to this impasse right now is co-existing in a bunch of separate jurisdictions until we're able to pay sufficiently close attention to what God wants.

"How long did the Church take to become decently inculturated with the Greeks? Many centuries and ecumenical councils.

"That's the Orthodox way."

Excuse me, but I posted another comment along the same line, but with less political correctness.

"If Orthodoxy cannot inculturate a "Protestant" culture, then Orthodoxy has no claim to being Christ's Church.

"Frankly, I have no interest in social engineering a solution. I like the spinster-like squabbling. If my priest weren't cranky, I'd feel like an antiseptic pape/prot."

Fast-Free Weeks Have Just Become Superfluous

No faster should be without this product.

Maybe someone should find a way to deep-fry this stuff.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gone Fishin'

I don't plan to post anything during Great Lent. See you after Pascha!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Excellent Economic Primer

I haven't taken enough time to commend to your attention the marvelous articles populating Orthodoxy Today, a link to which appears elsewhere on this blog page.

In particular, I highly recommend the "A Primer on Capitalism" by Chris Banescu.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bank Nationalization? A Sequel

Alan Greenspan has joined the selective chorus advocating bank nationalization.

Jerome Tuccille reported that Ayn Rand called Alan the "Undertaker" because of his dress and manner. Little did she know how apt that moniker would become.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bank Nationalization?

I read a news report that a growing chorus of economists and others are recommending the nationalization of American banks. That'd be surprising, except that the chorus members were never too awfully committed to the market anyway.

Maybe we should invite back Alan Greenspan to run the banks the same way in which he ran the Fed. He set the real Federal Funds rate below zero for three years, which set the stage for the leverage orgy that we're unwinding.

While we're discussing the nationalization of our commerical banks, why don't we discuss the privatization of our Central Bank?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cessation Of Artificial Life Support

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin of the Moscow Patriarchate considers the cessation of artificial life support:

"No doubt, there are cases when it’s not clear whether a soul still remains in the body, when the body doesn’t show any signs of conscious life, though some of its functions can be preserved. Perhaps, in such cases there’s no sense to artificially preserve bodily activities with complicated equipment..."

"A Christian remembers that the most important, real life starts beyond the limits of this world when a person worthily faced the end of his temporary life, with repentance, prayer and readiness to meet God – it’s not customary to artificially preserve life in his body when he doesn’t show any signs of conscious life. It is not in Christian tradition, our predecessors have never done this,” the priest said.

Subversion Is The Sticking Point

Moscow and Old Rome won't be meeting anytime soon, owing to remaining concerns about Old Rome's "proselytism" in Orthodox countries. As noted, I prefer to use another term.

Area 51 Fans Will Be Disappointed

Orthodoxy excludes the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence, according to a Russian theology professor.

I agree, although not for the same reasons. Given the matter and forces in the universe, any other intelligent life would be pretty much like us. There's really no room for variation. The exotic-looking intelligent being is safely relegated to science fiction, except for spiritual beings.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I'm Beginning To Like Him

From Kyril, the new Patriarch of Moscow:

A believer can’t look and feel gloomy,

“A bishop mustn’t smile,” that’s a deeply erroneous idea of a model Christian. Believer’s outlook is characterized with tranquility and wisdom and faith gives him inner joy,”

Christianity is “eternal joy, it is not a false hundred-dollar smile, but everlasting joy about the Lord and peace of God.” “A believer in Christ has no reason to sprinkle ashes on the head,”

Cloths in black-grey-brown color grade characteristic for some believers, gloomy faces without a hint of smile “have nothing to do with Orthodoxy, with sightlines, with dignity and modesty,” being in fact “a travesty of Church, a vicious taste,”

When we preach folk, museum, costumed Orthodoxy, we make signals to the society and people that our faith is supposed to bear no relation to recent life. While the place of Orthodoxy is in the streamline of life and in the inner abode of our feelings,”

Try to tell me that something special isn't going on over there.



Moscow, January 30, Interfax – Delegate to the Local Council from the Sumy Diocese of the Ukrainian Church Hegumen Simeon (Gagatik) known for his critical publications against inter-Christian contacts, suggested that the Patriarch of All Russia should be granted one of the Pope’s functions.

Fr. Simeon, in course of the Local Council discussions, offered to introduce a provision into the Russian Church Statute that “the Patriarch is a guarantor of observing traditions and canons of the Holy Fathers,” professor of the Moscow Theological Academy Deacon Andrey Kurayev told Interfax-Religion on Friday.

Newly elected Patriarch Kirill reminded this provision couldn’t be applied to the Primate of the Russian Church as it is characteristic of Catholics to consider the Church head a keeper of the purity of faith while “for us it is the Council that guards the purity of Orthodoxy.”

[Emphasis mine]


Friday, January 30, 2009

"God Is Byzantine"

A friend, who attends an OCA parish, told me about a recent convert and choir member who was complaining about Byzantine chant. You know, it sounds plumb strange, and it seems as if the most nasal rendition is the most highly prized.

The convert was told by another parishioner, "You may want to get used to it. God is Byzantine."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Is Theology Just Another Subject?

Bishop Hilarion doesn't think so:

One of the tragic consequences of the divorce between Christian theory and praxis, between faith and knowledge, is that nowadays knowledge about theological subjects does not necessarily presuppose faith. You can be a theologian and not belong to any church community; in principle, you do not need to believe in God to receive a theological degree. Theology is reduced to one of the subjects of human knowledge alongside with chemistry, mathematics or biology.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

For Pete's Sake

Speaking earlier this week during a conference at Moscow's St Filaret's Institute, Metropolitan Kirill's deputy, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, said "Orthodox civilisation" upheld the "ideal of unity between Church, nation and government" and would "resist a Western democracy whose ultimate fall is drawing ever closer".

Found here.

Monday, January 05, 2009