Tuesday, May 25, 2021

My brother's latest

Again, in the case of Meditation Two, the basic issues are quite simple. There the difficulty lies in convincing readers to relinquish their certitudes regarding what they imagine they know about the text of scripture, as a result of long indoctrination (fortified in most cases by misleading translations). I have, for example, repeatedly seen readers claim with considerable assurance that the Christ of the Synoptic Gospels spoke of a place called “Hell” where souls suffer eternal torment through the application of unquenchable fire and the tender ministrations of an immortal worm. In fact, Christ spoke of a place called the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) which lay outside Jerusalem, and which had become a rather nebulous image in his time of God’s judgment both within and beyond history; and he described that valley in terms borrowed from Isaiah, as a place where corpses would be consumed by flames that were always burning and by worms that were always devouring carrion. It is an image of the final disposal and destruction of the dead, not of their perpetual suffering. And, given that Jesus told his followers that in many instances he was speaking of things that would occur within their lifetimes, it is also clear that much of that imagery applies to intra-historical calamities, not just to some final judgment at history’s end. Then, too, Jesus used a whole host of other images of judgment as well that, read literally, are not compatible with one another, and certainly provide no simple uniform theology of the afterlife; some, in fact, clearly suggest an eventual deliverance from “final” punishment. But, no matter the imagery he employed, absolutely nowhere did he describe a place of eternal misery.

Saturday, May 08, 2021


5th Sunday after Easter. CLICK HERE

ABSOLUTE Line in the Sand

I am very annoyed when I hear young progressives use the euphemism, "Women's reproductive health." Abortion is about killing, and is therefore the opposite of health. There is nothing healthy in killing. A living human being who is developing naturally is healthy, and so killing that person is the antithesis of health. Destroying the developing life is certainly the opposite of "reproductive." And to say "women's" is to assert that a pregnant women has, for nine months, two heads, two hearts, four arms, four legs, two distinct DNA patterns, two distinct sets of fingerprints, and two distinct identities. Yes, I get it that it just isn't fair that women get pregnant and men don't; but pregnancy is always of very limited duration: Unlike death, it is not a permanent condition. 

The scientific fact is that the two sexes predate the evolution of the species Homo sapiens. Even atheists must admit that human beings did not create this situation that is simply nature beyond our control. We might enforce fairness then, but only by enacting injustice, the injustice of killing innocent human beings. Fairness, at the expenses of justice, is evil. 

I say these things because I respect the claim of progressives to the moral high ground when it comes to addressing the reality of racial injustice, and the injustice of continuing economic policies that are, in effect, kleptocracy by the One Percent. I believe that the United States is, by choice, a backward third world country in its harsh and unenlightened treatment of the poor. We need to catch up with all the other democratic and developed countries when it comes to many issues, especially healthcare, campaign funding, economic justice, and police reform. 

But, when progressives use the euphemism "women's reproductive health" they forfeit the moral high ground. They opt for the selfish indulgence of the "sexual revolution," to do what feels good, at the expense of accepting the reality that human behavior is capable of responsibility. I understand why the younger generation has turned away from its shift to a more pro-life position than that of the "Baby Boomers." They have retreated to the "Baby Boomer" position because, through the foolishness of many Evangelicals, and many pro-life spokesmen, the obviously hypocritical and morally reprehensible Donald Trump was allowed to appear as the face of the Pro-Life cause. It is heart breaking, because it has a been a total lie all along. But, I ask progressives everywhere, especially the young, to consider this basic argument. The child in the womb is an individual human being; if you argue that that child has no right to life, then you are also arguing for a definition of Personhood.

Now, you may ask, "What is wrong with a definition of personhood?" The answer is simple: Such a definition is never about the objective truth, but about exclusion. Who may we exclude as non-persons? History provides this perspective: Defining personhood has already excluded all people of color, to justify slavery; it has excluded Jews in Europe, to justify the Nazi Holocaust. It excluded the Native Americans to justify the evil of imperial "Manifest Destiny" with its genocide. If the child in the womb is to be treated as a non-person, based on the lie that this separate and equal individual is merely part of her mother's body (which, clearly defies scientific reality), than the argument for the absurd and unjust euphemism "women's reproductive health" is the same argument for slavery, the Holocaust, and the Native American Genocide, etc. 

So, there is the forfeit of any claim to a moral high ground. 

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

More on why MAGA is of the spirit of antichrist

Back in 2016 we expected Anglican refugees from Burmese and Congolese origin to arrive in the Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill triangle of North Carolina. Our parish, St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church, knew that these Christians feeling persecution would be welcomed into the country and helped by our parish, and that here they would have, also, a parish home with us. But, in early 2017, Executive Orders by the new President, Donald Trump, blocked these Christians, fleeing persecution, from entering the United States. It did not matter to many of you, because that new President assured Pat Robertson (theologically a strange bedfellow) that only Muslims, certainly not Christians, were blocked from coming to America. This was, to me, the earliest sign of the evil that directly interfered with the ministry of our Continuing Anglican parish. 

How can the truth, the love of God, the evangelistic order of the Great Commission given us by the Risen Christ compete with the deception of partisan antichrist political ideology? Those of you still wearing your MAGA Nazi hats, stop helping Satan. He is simply laughing at you - though not for long.

Saturday, May 01, 2021


Click here for the Ante-communion and sermon. God bless you


From Touchstone Dec. 2006. It goes well with the music video link posted directly below it.

The Bonds of Silence

Robert Hart on Finding Friends While Alone with God

An hour or so from moist and chilly Berkeley, our cars, filled to capacity with fugitives from secular turmoil, with luggage and sacramental appointments, traveled into the Napa Valley, amid mountains standing guard over the vineyards. Pine forests grow up the sides all the way to the top, and clouds envelop the tallest of these, as if lending modesty to the peaks.

Our small caravan of priests, deacons, and seminarians had already begun to create that informal fellowship best expressed with the good humor of jokes, the wittier the better. (Humor and meaningful conversation, rather than “male bonding,” makes friends of men.)

Our cars drove uphill along the thin road that serves as an entrance to the Carmelite monastery. We were greeted inside the large main house by an elderly Irish monk. After being signed in, we were taken to our rooms and left to prepare. In the early evening, in our cassocks, we made our way to a beautiful chapel, where we sang Evening Prayer and heard the first of several talks, meditations on the Desert Fathers.

We sat across from each other in two “choirs,” with the sound of the prayers, mostly the chanting of the old Prayer Book Psalter, echoing off the stone. High above us, near the ceiling, were great windows admitting the dying light of the ending day. Over the marble altar was a very stark crucifix, the Son of Man in his agonies looking down at us.

God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Together Alone

This was the beginning of the silence, silence broken only by the offices of prayer, the daily Mass, and the reading out loud, in turn one by one, of The Screwtape Letters during each meal. Otherwise, only a private confession would serve as a reason to speak. As the leader of our retreat pointed out, the purpose in coming together was to be alone. The shared solitude is itself a very old tradition, giving us time for prayer and meditation unlike the kind we attempt regularly during our busy lives in the world.

And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while (Mark 6:30–31).

The silence itself teaches and refreshes. Without words, without the need to speak—without the social pressure to direct our gaze constantly on what others place before us—we find freedom. In the silence we discover that we are resting not only from the cares, the business, and the turmoil of the world. We rest as well from the amusements and entertainments, learning only in this way that these things, too, are a burden.

They, creating their own demands upon our time, shut out prayer as much as do the cares and anxieties of life. It is only in this silence, silence that is directed towards God, in solitude that is protected by a community in which to be alone, that we finally see what a burden those entertaining forms of relaxation can be, what labor in themselves. But, for now, we lay that labor down and discover peace, blessed relief, in so doing.

We cannot find this kind of solitude nearly so well if we are alone. The presence of other men contemplating God as they pray, meditate, or read, reinforces our attention and directs our gaze heavenward. The presence of our brothers, and the respect we owe to their solitude, protects us from turning our own solitude into isolation, a time in which thoughts wander all too easily back to the duties and amusements that await us.

And should we take the opportunity to examine ourselves and prepare for confession, we direct our gaze as well into our own hearts, our thoughts, words, and deeds. This we do before God, knowing that his light must shine into whatever place we have tried to hide away even from ourselves.

Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).

The communal silence increases charity. Here you see each man, like yourself, directing his attention to God, living in prayer and in the most serious and essential of reflections. Here, with him, you stick to contemplative prayer and the rhythm of corporate daily offices, and you keep to the rule of silence and do not speak, in charitable consideration, because he needs this time as much as you do. To violate it is unthinkable.

When it must end, and you will speak at last, the next communication will be all the more profound. How many of the words we speak are no more than wasted, having no thought in them, are an invasion of another’s time, a theft of his few brief hours in this world. For now, we respect his silence, and will be glad to speak later, for we shall value words in a different way, no longer as obligatory.

Men at Prayer

Our charity builds also because for a few days we have, in solitude before God, been a community of men at prayer. We have begun each day together in the chapel, at noon have held the Mass in the chapel, and at night have ended each day once again in the chapel with the familiar words of compline. In each of the offices of prayer, we have chanted the familiar psalms and other prayers in Cranmerian English to Gregorian notation:

“Our Father, who art in Heaven. . . . My soul doth magnify the Lord. . . . I believe in God, the Father Almighty. . . .”

Surrounded as it is by the beauty of the monastery grounds, the sweet air from the vineyards, and the pines and mountains, the chapel itself becomes the place each man wants most to be. After an office is completed, several minutes pass before we depart. We simply grow to like sitting there in the place of prayer, a room designed for worship and for celebration of the Blessed Sacrament, a place where that Presence is reserved.

Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3).

It will not be like this when we return to our homes and the silence is driven away by business, even, as in my case, the business of pastoring a church. We know we go from rest to battle. But we may carry back into the battle the benefits of the retreat.

I am grateful to those who live in the religious orders and keep to the Rule of St. Benedict. We can enter into their way of life only to a small degree, and only temporarily. But they do not hide it away and keep it a secret; they do not begrudge those who want to share a bit of it.

When we leave, they let us take some of that treasure where it can be adapted to the life we must live in the world. As much as it is a treasure, it is also an armament.

Robert Hart is rector of St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Anglican Catholic Church Original Province). He also contributes regularly to the blog The Continuum. He is a contributing editor of Touchstone.