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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Fasting!

I won't be posting or commenting until Christmas (New).

I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

вкусен хляб не ядях, месо и вино не влизаше в устата ми, и ни веднъж не помазах себе си, догдето не се навършиха цели три седмици).

Daniel 10:3

Shucks, No More Road Rage

I'm pasting this interesting news item in its entirety:

Commandments of Christian Drivers to be granted to Siberian motorists

Tomsk, November 12, Interfax - The Commandments of Christian Drivers will be distributed to 1500 motorists in Tomsk (Siberia) during a ten-days traffic safety campaign, the local administration press service reports.

Booklets containing such Commandments of Christian Drivers will be handed out to believers during church services.

The Commandments include such instructions as "Make way for aggressive or inexperienced drivers, for he who concedes a lot, gains more," "Don't get behind a wheel of a defective car, otherwise you may bring trouble to your own home and your neighbour's home," "Don't get distracted and absent-minded on the road, for distraction is the manifestation of sin, and concentration is halfway to virtue."

The booklet provides ten commandments, a driver's prayer and the image of Our Lady.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Robert Zoellick, World Bank President, called for an international monetary system using gold as a reference point.

With the Fed's new program of quantitative easing (known in the 70s as "monetizing debt"), the international community is tired of Washington's narcissistic "beggar thy neighbor" program of dollar depreciation. Zoellick is courageous for floating the idea of returning to real money and "coordinated floating" exchange rates, but the unanchored floating stuff is too attractive to spendthrift politicians.

Paean To The Static Society, 2

Do you feel the hankering for a return to Doo Wop?

Lighter backups:

The best of the Perry Mason opening themes (I've listened to all of them):

Early Motown genre:

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Paean To The Static Society

Over at Och's place, I heard the same tired song about how families are being ripped from the old neighborhood by the necessity to find work in locales where jobs are available. I get a little tired of hearing about how people shouldn't have to move, upgrade their skills, or otherwise make themselves more employable. My response:

I don't have a problem with labor market efficiency. Consumers rule, and workers can't find work without satisfied consumers to keep the production process humming along.

You want a static society? That's fine with me as long as I don't have to live in it. Just raise marginal tax rates to the 90% range, and you'll have all of the stasis that you can handle. Entrepreneurship and small business will go out the window, and the only way to be socially mobile will be by kissing your boss's ass at some mega-cap company.

The nice thing about stasis is that we'll have pleasant TV shows, like Leave It To Beaver. Yes, I'm talking about a return to the 50s and early 60s. Fonzie wasn't so bad, after all, right?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Count Returns

This is Jumpin' at the Woodside by Count Basie, first recorded in 1938. I've played this one, and no trash talkin' is permitted.

If you don't get tired from watching frenzied dancing, look at this version. It features a version of the Jitterbug, known as the Lindy Hop.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I've Found Something Better

I'm a Nelson Eddy and The Student Prince fan, and I was looking for his rendition of the drinking song. I've found something better:

Here's the drinking song with Mario Lanza:

As a bonus, here's Lanza with Gaudeamus Igitur:

Al Jolson On Economic Challenges

This was a popular Depression-era song.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

More From The Reconquista

This one is Hoy Comamos Y Bebamos by Juan del Encina. Yes, the title is spelled correctly for the period.

From The Reconquista

A worthy performance of Rodrigo Martinez.

Charpentier, Again

A worthwhile performance of Charpentier's Prelude from Te Deum. I'd pay real money for this concert.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

TARP Debate: Soros Vs. Summers

I've mentioned previously that I thought that the TARP program was necessary to avoid a catastrophic meltdown of the American banking system. Rather than being a bailout solely for the financial system, as is commonly report, it was in fact a bailout for everyone. Everyone benefits when systemic risk is mitigated.

We can argue about the proper role of government, and whether the State should be offering bailouts to anyone. Yes, that's a longer term issue. The imbalances created by discretionary Federal Reserve monetary policy have grown so big that they endanger the entire financial system. That should be corrected.

The acute problem, however, was how to avoid a government-induced meltdown of the financial system and concomitant misery for millions of people.

In this link, Larry Summers and George Soros disagree on the merits of TARP. Their discussions focus correctly on the most important issue: how to deal with the "toxic" assets that banks held on their balance sheets. Writedown or price floor?

Soros vs. Summers

Monday, October 04, 2010

TARP, Requiescat In Pace

TARP ended today. Its net cost was estimated to be $50 billion.

Was it worth it? I think so. The proponents were absolutely correct about the shape of the world in the absence of TARP--large numbers of bank failures and massive credit deflation. TARP bought us time for banks to replenish their capital.

Now that the program bought us time, let's forge ahead to get rid of the economy's systemic risk--discretionary Federal Reserve monetary policy, which is the source of the risk, and fractional-reserve commercial banking, which is the transmission channel.

TARP limited the capital market's downside risk, but what was responsible for the upturn? Chalk that up to a lesser known program, TALF. This is my favorite program because it jump-started the securitization market, which is how most lending is done nowadays.

At The Margin

Let me microscopically expand on a statement that I made over at Fr. Oliver Herbel's blog: "Charity can help at the margin–I don’t think anyone wants to completely remove the incentives for success and social mobility."

Yes, that's right. I don't believe in the same kind of charity in which many folks believe. For example, I was watching the TV show, 60 Minutes, in which Melinda Gates spoke about the causes to which she devoted large sums of money, like AIDs and malaria.

I'm not a fan of that kind of giving. Charitable spending, commonly conceived, is consumption spending. Nothing is saved; nothing is invested; nothing is available to aid economic growth; nothing is available for future generations. Capital formation aids future generations by making possible increased future consumption.

Any large charitable contributions that I'll make will go to endowments , not directly to recipients. Certainly, use a portion of the income for direct aid to recipients, but remember the remaindermen as well.

Bank Capital

Two proposals to prevent the violent swings of the business cycle appeared in the news today.

1) "...proposals, which are backed by the Swiss National Bank and the country's financial regulator FINMA, would require both banks to hold reserves of 10 percent in common equity and 19 percent in total capital by 2019."The so-called Basel III rules agreed by governors of major central banks in September require reserves of 7 percent and 10.5 percent respectively, though the composition of those reserves is slightly different from the Swiss proposal."

In my view, even the Swiss proposal doesn't go far enough. Nothing less than a 100% reserve requirement will prevent violent business cycle swings.

2) The International Monetary Fund recommended that regulation be extended to non-bank financial firms, such as hedge funds and insurance companies, to lessen systemic risk. I almost forgot: the IMF thinks that derivatives should be regulated, too.

What a surprise. The statists at the IMF have never seen a private entity that they haven't wanted governments to control. Other than a personal preference for financial regulation, however, the IMF hasn't pinpointed the role that non-banks played in the most recent downturn, other than a magnification of bank-originated leverage.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Philosopher's Stone

To retire early and optimize marital bliss, the author proposes a simple solution: Don't have kids.

She has a blog "Retirement: A Full-Time Job".

Thursday, September 23, 2010

St. Vukasin of Klepci and Jasenovac

Serbian Orthodox St. Vukašin from Klepci was martyred by the Croatian Roman Catholic regime during World War II at Jasenovac concentration camp. He was glorified in 1998, and his feast day is May 3 (New). May he pray for us.

Thanks to Ηλίας Ghassan Karaan

Friday, August 20, 2010

Promising Blog

I'd like to commend to your attention a blog that's captured my attention. Fr. Oliver and I don't agree on all issues, but his disagreements are for the right reasons. I look forward to more stimulating conversations there.

Buy From Target

Target donated to a political candidate who happened to oppose gay marriage. The donation wasn't directed toward the gay marriage issue, though. Gay marriage supporters, with characteristic tunnel vision, are upset at Target.

I like Target, and I'll continue to shop there.

By the way, I'm fine with corporate political contributions without quantitative limitations, and even without "full disclosure".

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blessings From Prosaic Materials

I've been given recently a rather ordinary-looking magnetic icon of St. George. We've all seen them. It's small enough to fit into a shirt pocket. What makes this one different, however, is that it's been blessed by the relics of SS Herman of Alaska, Tikhon of Moscow, and Alexis of Zosima.

Happy Dormition!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Fasting!

Beginning tomorrow, I won't be posting or commenting until the Dormition.

A kad postite, ne budite žalosni kao licemeri; jer oni naèine bleda lica svoja da ih vide ljudi gde poste. Zaista vam kažem da su primili platu svoju.

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Matthew 6:16

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vlad III, Romanian Hero

Westerners view him negatively, but he's viewed favorably in the East across ecumenical lines.

Greek Fire

Desecration In Bosnia

Thanks to иерей Силуан Диньяк

Thursday, July 15, 2010

When You're In Henderson, Nevada

During a discussion over at John's place, I discovered that our own Sophocles is co-owner, and soon to be a larger owner, of Kyklos Greek Cafe in Henderson, Nevada. The fact that Sophocles has access to enough lending--in one of the worst-hit housing markets--to enlarge his ownership stake demonstrates his business acumen. I'd call it extreme acumen.

I'm pleased to call attention to the Kyklos link that I'm placing in the appropriate spot on the right.

Sophocles can tell you what he does in his own words:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Rand And Rights

Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).

Ayn Rand

Kosovo! Kosovo!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

"Hip-Hop Postulates Correspond To The Spiritual Ones"

I believe you. Really.

Clergy Don't Like Begging For Money

The Church should have its own stable source of income and this income can't be based only on parishioners' donations. The Church can't exist only on money received from selling candles, icons or church literature.

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

Property, prior to its nationalization and theft, provided the Church's income, he believes.

Finally, Good News From Russia

At Vladimir Putin's instruction, Russia will donate $2 million toward restoring Orthodox shrines in Kosovo.

Deadly Symfonia

Colonel Alexander Kozin serves in the Federal Security Service on week days, while on weekends he celebrates Divine liturgies in the garrison Church of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God on the Fields as besides having a military rank, he carries out a priestly ministry.

Russia's Federal Security Service is the successor organization to the infamous KGB.

Maybe Met. Laurus jumped the gun on reunification.

Father, would you bless my martyr's icon before you interrogate me?

A Strong Hand Is Needed

'The whole human history shows that nations with clear mission and clear goals, which knew exactly why they live and work, were most successful,' head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said speaking on Thursday in Moscow Forum National Project – Russia.

National missions and goals don't emerge spontaneously from a free people. They emerge from tyrants. Fr. Vsevolod, you ain't foolin' me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"St. Nikolai Velimirovic on the world economic crisis (this is from the 1929 letter to priest K.)"

You are asking me, man of God, about the reason and meaning of the present crisis. Who am I that you ask me about this great mystery? "Speak if you have something greater than silence," said St. Gregory the Theologian. And although I find that presently silence is higher than any word, I will, out of love for you, write what I think about this question.

"Crisis" is a Greek word, and in translation it means "judgment". In the Holy Scripture the word "judgment" is used many times. We read in the Psalms, Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment (Ps. 1:5). Later again, I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing. (Ps. 101:1). The wise king Solomon writes that the judgment will come to everyone from the Lord (Proverbs 29:26). The Savior himself said, "For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son." (John 5:22). Apostol Peter writes, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God" (1 Pet. 4:17).

Replace the word "judgment" with the word "crisis" and read, "I will sing of mercy and crisis", "Crisis will come to everyone from the Lord", "The Father committed all crisis unto the Son", "For the time is come that crisis must begin at the house of God".

Previously the Europeans, when some trouble befell them, used the word "judgment" instead of the word "crisis". These days the word "judgment" is replaced with the word "crisis", a clear word with one less clear. The drought would come, people would say, "God's judgment!", flood - "God's judgment!". A war or epidemic would start, "God's judgment!", earthquakes, locust, other trials, always the same - "God's judgment!" Therefore, crisis is because of the drought, because of the flood, of the wars and epidemics. And people see the present financial, economic catastrophe as God's judgment, but they call it "crisis" rather than "judgment". So that the trouble would increase from lack of reason! Because when the clear word "judgment" was said, the reason that led to the trouble was clear, and the Judge who allowed the trouble was known, and so was the purpose for which the trouble was allowed. But after replacing the word "judgment" with the word "crisis", which is unclear for the most, no one can explain why it is, from whom, and for what. And this is the only thing in which this crisis differs from the crisis that happens from drought and flood, war or epidemic, locust or other tribulation.

You are asking about the reason of today's crisis, or God's judgment? The reason is always the same. The reason for all droughts, floods, epidemics and other troubles is the same as of today's crisis - the falling away from God. The sin of falling away from God has resulted in this crisis as well, and the Lord allowed it so as to wake people, sober them, so that they would repent and come back to him. The crisis is commensurate to sins. And truly, the Lord used modern means to teach modern people: he struck the banks, the stock exchanges, the entire financial system. He overturned the tables of money-lenders just as he once did in the temple in Jerusalem. He created an unprecedented panic between merchants and money-lenders. Stirred up, brought down, mixed up, confused, bestowed fear. And all that so that proud European and American wise men would wake up, repent, remember God. So that they who are anchored in the haven of material comfort would remember their souls, acknowledge their trespassings and bow down before God the Highest, the living God.

How long will the crisis last? Until the proud culprits acknowledge the victory of the All-Powerful. Until the people would realize that they have to translate the unclear word "crisis" into their native language and would exclaim with the repentant sigh, "God's judgment!"

Therefore you, honest Father, should also call "crisis" "God's judgment", and you will understand everything.

Greetings to you and Lord's peace!

Thanks to Mira Parker.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Funny, I Never Thought Of That

Everybody's an artist. Everybody's God. It's just that they're inhibited.

Yoko Ono

Alternative View

The abstraction called the "ecosystem" – which never seems to include humans or their civilization – has done far less for us than the oil industry.

Lew Rockwell, Why Not Feel Sorry For BP?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Monday, June 07, 2010

Any Questions?

St. Macarius of Alexandria once asked the angels who escorted him in the desert, “When the fathers were told to make offerings for the reposed in the church on the third, ninth, and fortieth day, what good does it do to the soul of the departed?” An angel answered, “God did not allow anything to be in the Church which is not good and useful; rather, He established heavenly and earthly Sacraments in His Church and commanded to do them.” (qtd. in St. Feofan)

Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov, On the Significance of the Ritual of the Russian Orthodox Church Surrounding Death and Dying for the Grieving Process of the Bereaved

"The Bible And the Fathers Have Harmed You, My Child."

Hierodeacon Paul Ballester-Convolier, Why I Abandoned Papism

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Timely View, Second Helping

I like this interview so much that I've decided to post another excerpt:

The Vatican does not take steps thoughtlessly nor naively. Every tour of each Pope has as its aim to present him as the worldwide leader of Christianity. At this point, however, he is neither a canonical Bishop, nor Orthodox, such that he is in no place to present himself as having the first place among bishops.

Met. Athanasios of Lemesou

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Timely View

He [the Pope] has been outside of the Church for ten centuries now, he is not a canonical bishop, he has no relation whatsoever to the reality of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ. It is one thing to receive him as a canonical bishop and quite another to speak to him as [being] a heterodox in order to reveal to him the truth of the Orthodox Faith and Tradition.

Met. Athanasios of Lemesou

The Patriarch's Prize In Cinema

Fitting recognition for the best examples of Orthodox cinema.

According to Alexiy II’s personal observations, there are more and more films in Russia 'that contain a call for spiritual perfection and that give examples of highly moral behavior'.

Milking Sovereign Immunity

As a secular ruler, Old Rome's Vicar of Christ is immune from questioning and prosecution in civil matters.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bye Bye to Met. Theodosius' Thingy

The OCA reached a settlement with the Kondraticks.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mille Regretz

One of the few Kyries that I like is composed by Cristobal de Morales in his Missa Mille Regretz:

This is probably the right speed, but I innately prefer a snappier tempo:

This Mass setting was based on Josquin des Pres' secular chanson, Mille Regretz:

Basing Mass settings on secular songs was a Protestant complaint during the Reformation.

Another Commendable Palestrina Motet and Gloria

The Motet and Gloria are from Palestrina's Missa Hodie Christus Natus Est.

They're being conducted a little slower than I'd prefer.

Ecumenist Tidbits

I'm convinced that, if God has a hand in the unfolding of daily events, He has a sense of humor. Consider the following:

1. A woman told me that her husband is trying to convince her to switch from the Roman Rite to the Unia. She'd like me to answer his questions about "Eastern" stuff.

2. Another RC woman, who's currently teaching a class for prospective First Communicants, asked me to explain transubstantiation to her, which I managed to do without singing Tantum Ergo. She then invited me to be a guest lecturer at her class. Envisioning a lecture entitled, "Broad Path v. Narrow Path", I advised her to ask her padre first. I haven't heard back, thank goodness.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Something Different

Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli saved polyphony from Trent's whip, or so the rumor goes. It's my favorite sing-along for the Ordinaries sine filioque, and I sing all parts (not simultaneously). I've included here only the Gloria.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

No Rollovers, Please

Thank goodness that Goldman Sachs didn't roll over for the sanctimonious senatorial mediocrities.

In view of my aversion to writing anything longer than one sentence, I'll just let you read a couple of things with which I agree on this issue:

Peter Schiff's take on the issue.

Holman Jenkins' take on the issue.

As I've mentioned before, Jenkins is the smartest columnist at the WSJ.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Deja Vu?

I predict success for this outreach effort. The preconditions for serious dialog are few, substantial, and achievable. I'm especially heartened to see Bp. Wantland's presence.

Met. Jonah's OCA will be the future face of American Orthodoxy, and Moscow's on board.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Sign Of The End Times?

No doubt about it. An Old Testament-style plague of locusts has been predicted.

Get Your Primary Docs While They're Available

An unintended byproduct of Obamacare is a predicted shortage of primary care physicians.

"As Many As Have Been Baptized Into Christ"

This morning we sang this hymn for Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem after his raising of Lazarus.

For some of us, however, this hymn holds an additional, slightly different meaning. Father Nektarios has this account of Orthodox persecution during World War II:

Bishop Sava (Trlaich) of Plalski (Lika) was imprisoned on June 13, 1941 and tortured beyond endurance in a stable along with several priests. During their beatings a phonograph recording of "As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ" was played. The bishop-confessor was permitted to say good-bye to his 83-year-old mother, albeit with his hands tied and his feet shackled. In mid-August of the same year he was taken to the Velebit Mountain and thrown into a pit with numerous other Serbs.

2nd Healthcare Discussion In The Nave

My physician friend told me that when he started his career, people who couldn't pay him his fee gave him chickens and produce for his services. Nowadays, people who can't afford him pay him nothing, offer him nothing, and don't thank him.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

When Even Pierogi Aren't Sacred

Things are getting really bad when someone robs a pirohi sale. The good news is that donors made up for the loss.

I should give them a call. The old folks talk fondly about prune piroghi as a Lenten treat.

Blue Laws--Why Not?

One county in New Jersey doesn't permit commerce on Sundays:

The blue laws have been in effect in Bergen County since the 1950s to give our citizens ... one day of rest from the traffic jams, noise pollution and accidents that are a nightmare on Saturdays and long weekends...

Six days give people plenty of time to be worker bees.
Clergy are exempt.

Healthcare Discussion In The Nave

I asked a physician friend how he liked being forced to become an Unmercenary.

He didn't.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. --Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Neither Your Dreams Nor Your Strictures Can Eradicate Them"

I happened upon one of Och's postings about some jurisdictional controversy, and, once again, he's pronounced certain occupations unfit for Christians. In this instance, he mentioned bill collector, napalm manufacturer, and Monsanto attorney. He's mentioned others in the past, but I've been an irregular reader of his recent posts, and therefore I've probably missed a wheelbarrow full.

I posted this comment just to let him know that his promotion of an agrarian dystopia hasn't gone unnoticed:

Out of all of the other occupations you've dissed over time one appears to be conspicuously absent: agricultural utopian.

By fostering agriculture, which is pretty easy to understand economically as a form of production across time periods, you're promoting the emergence and maintenance of moneylending. God knows that you don't like moneylending. Moneylending can't survive if production takes place over a short period of time.

I'm sure you don't intend to be a hypocrite, but your failure to study economics lands you in such straits.

To be a consistent Ochlophobist, you'd promote hunting and gathering as the archtype of Christian secular occupations.

Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Luke 12:6 RSV)

God gave us economic laws so that we can get by in a fallen world. Neither your dreams nor strictures can eradicate them.

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Vehicle Has A Clutch

and I know all about shifting into neutral.

Runaway Prius

By all means, let's let the government shift for us.

A Net Gain In Longevity?

If you take the Pill, you'll live longer.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wertfreiheit, Again

Gabriel and I have been discussing the relationship between Austrian economics and libertarianism. Maybe this piece by Ralph Raico will add to the discussion.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Irrelevant Un-Maestro

There he goes again. Alan Greenspan sees little economic light as the recovery remains "unbalanced", with only high earners and big companies driving growth so far.

The reasons for Alan's pessimism are my reasons for optimism. Concentration of capital, such as those in the hands of high earners and big corporations, are what sets in motion a solid recovery. Small businesses can't borrow unless capital is available. The unemployed can't get jobs until capital is amassed and used to purchase productive capacity. Production must precede consumption.

This truth is the reason why the Gospel's admonition to aid the poor cannot constitute the basis for sound economic policy. Dispersion of capital--dissaving--is what wrecks economic recoveries. One aids the poor from one's surplus, not from one's seed corn.

The decision about how much to save and how much to consume--and how much to give to the poor--is a decision best made by each believer, not by the State.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

All Creatures Pray For Us

I learned it from the Alaskans.


Whiff Of Pew-Stink

I'm delighted to see that brave souls are taking the initiative in reminding everyone how to act in church. Here and here.

A More Mundane Criterion

Another interesting item from Och's blog concerns the report that the OCA's Met Jonah is talking to the Fort Worth ECUSA diocese, presumably about reception into Orthodoxy.

I'm a huge fan of the Anglicans. Their sensible outreach spirit has brought us such varied phenomena as the USA (Anglicans along with Protestants, Masons, and Deists) and Alcoholics Anonymous.

How shameful we Orthodox must feel at our own paltry outreach. Our excitable Greek and Slavic energies have been wasted in stupid quibblings. We can't even agree to pay our priests a living wage. We make a big show about Lenten repentance and what the Fathers think about whatnot, but kick the man who's commissioned to lead us to the Kingdom. We kick his family, too.

Met. Jonah's talks with the Anglicans are good news. Assuming there's some real conversion going on, the Met needs to get his numbers up to take on the Greeks about leadership in America. He needs also to show Moscow that he has the Right Stuff to lead a united Russian-legacy effort.

All of these issues are nice, but I'm especially joyful at the prospect of more formerly-Anglican converts filling Orthodox parish councils. The Anglicans are used to having priests, and they're used to paying them well. In fact, I would say that in my experience Anglican converts are the only converts that parishes should fight to get on their councils. Among the cradles on councils, my favorites are Syrians and Greeks, in that order. Those cradles are also worth fighting for.

We enter the Kingdom through our parishes. Let's take care of them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"You're An Historicist" AKA "Your Momma"

In philosophical circles, calling someone an historicist is like talking trash about someone's mother. It doesn't accomplish much, but it could rock a pretty lazy day.

Unless, of course, one's actually talking about a priori truth, which in this day and age is pretty rare.

Have you met an extreme apriorist lately? You have now, but I'll save the Austrian Methodenstreit topic for another time.

I visited Och's tea party after a six-month absence when friend Sophocles asked me to sound off on something. Unfortunately, Och's daily topic didn't permit my periodic anti-ecumenist diatribe, but it was almost as interesting:


I'm still trying to figure out what Och means by usury, because he describes all sorts of things as usurious, but I know it means something BAD.

To me, usury means:


The East and West diverged in their treatment of interest on loans.

We all know how things went in the West: (1) Interest was outlawed, thanks to Aristotle and his episcopal cheerleaders and (2) Cardinal Cajetan saved Westerners from Aristotle's error. Deo Gratias.

How did things go in the East? Byzantium and Russia didn't outlaw interest. Their cultures were commercial. The West's was agrarian. The Fathers--the Real Ones--concerned themselves with loans and interest being charged to the destitute. Plainly put, it's uncharitable for someone to charge interest to a distressed borrower. Unpaid interest compounds over time and magnifies the distress of the already-distressed borrower. It's simple decency not to charge interest, and it's meritorious to forgive the principal as well.

Let's add another dimension--the penalty for nonpayment of debt. Back in the Fathers' time, failing to pays debts could land one and one's family and heirs in prison or slavery. When the Fathers talk about interest and enslavement, they mean it. It's not metaphorical.

Charging compounding interest to a distressed borrower heightens the probability that the borrower won't die as a free man.

You can call it usury. I call it evil.

In our casually-clothed age, however, debt enslavement is metaphorical. The borrower's downside is truncated by bankruptcy. Unpleasant, but one remains free. One can even pick a preferred chapter of the Bankruptcy Code.

When the Fathers talk about usury, it's good for us to know what they mean. All ya'll gotta look at the words, but what do the words mean?.

Sometimes meaning can be gleaned by the cultural and historical context that shaped their concepts and language. Sometimes context is an excuse for historicism.

By the way, Mom's fine. Thanks for asking.

Never Underestimate The Power Of A Tired Banality To Attract The Banal

Pass the Pepto

Give to the IOCC, and skip the self-absorbed display of charity.

"We are the fallen world, and
you should listen to our song
rather than attend the Canon.
We need you more than St. Andrew, anyway.
Have a great day!"