Byzantine Chant & Subversion in God’s House

I’ve long enjoyed various forms of Christian chant. Gregorian chant is excellent, of course, but Byzantine chant is also fascinating. One of the things I feel Protestant denominations have largely lost is a sense of the mysteries of the faith, of the gravitas of ancient history. There is almost a mournful component – and I use this word for lack of any other I can use to describe this phenomenon. It is a difficult thing to explain. Listen to these two chant videos and see if you can pick up on what I mean:

At times, my Protestant upbringing protests that such things are frippery; meaningless ceremony. But I do not feel they are meaningless when I witness them, even in the local Catholic church my wife and I visit. There is something in both the Catholic and Orthodox branches of the faith, something that at least I feel is lacking in the church of my birth (Seventh Day Adventist).

If only the Pope wasn’t a near-Communist, I suppose. Otherwise my wife and I would probably find a Catholic church of the Byzantine rite and heal the Great Schism in our own household.

This is a thing that has been on my mind for years. We’ve witnessed the Leftist convergence and subversion within God’s own house, the perversion of the church as a vehicle for personal political aggrandizement. To me, this is as bad as the moneychangers peddling their wares in the Temple. Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls this mixing of the profane and the sacred. Whatever you may call it, our faith is the poorer for it.

Protestant churches likewise suffer this, though often in different and less direct ways. My father attended a church that conducted a campaign to modernize the hymns, to add a pop and/or rock element to them to make them popular for millennials. More mixing of the profane and the sacred. That, and the whole thing just came off as cheesy, in my opinion. But it is excessively common in many Protestant churches around the country. The temptation to change things out of a perceived desire to cater to social popularity is ancient and will always be with us. Compare such ‘modernized’ hymns to this chant:

The sacred is mystical, somewhat incomprehensible to us mere mortals, and possessed of gravitas, the very presence of the divine. It is both sorrowful, for the fall of man, and hopeful, for the promise of salvation. It transcends the profane, the political and social fascinations of the moment. To me, it is to touch, however briefly, a much greater universe that is otherwise quite beyond our understanding.

Whatever it means to you, and whatever branch of faith you subscribe to, the separation is important. Leftists often like to criticize Christianity on the basis of the Crusades, and bleat on about the separation of church and state, while attempting to suborn churches from within and make them arms of the state. Consider the contradiction for a moment. And consider where a Crusade, if any is to come, is likely to originate, or what its political ideology would be.

Whipping the modern day moneychangers and driving them from the Temple is an imperative.

In the meantime, I hope good Christian chant appeals to you as much as it appeals to me.

Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas from my house to yours. It’s a little warm here in Florida, a nice, toasty 65 degrees. I sometimes wonder if this is what my Australian friends feel, having Christmas in the middle of summer. It certainly makes all the usual Christmas songs a little amusing.

Anyway, I have to get back to the family and my son is impatient to open his gifts. Y’all have a great holiday, and never forget what it is we are celebrating. Christ has come!

 

The Advantage of Being Christian

I was musing this morning over what being Christian means to me, and why I would choose this system of belief over all the others available to me.

There is a certain intellectual consistency that underlies Christianity, the notion that mankind is a flawed creature, a product of his own choices, many of them bad. I’m not speaking specifically of the concept of original sin so much as the idea that every man is a sinner.

Every man will be wrong. Every man will make mistakes. Every man will commit immoral acts, will do wrongs to their fellows.

It is consistent with the world I see around me every day. It is consistent with my own life, where I have made grievous errors, and committed sins I can’t possibly atone for, were it not for the grace of God. I can admit these wrongs, I can ask forgiveness for them, and know that at some level in this universe, I am forgiven of them.

Do you understand the power of this? The intellectual freedom it provides? Christ carried the weight of the world so that we didn’t have to. The misconception has often been that a faith in Christ restrains you, places your mind in chains. No. For me, it is freedom to let go of crosses I am not equipped to bear.

SJWs prattle on about the sins of those that came before us. There was slavery, and genocide, and conquest, and rapine. The world is full of sin. Full of wrongs committed by one people against another, brother on brother, since the dawn of creation.

You and I, dear reader, are not equipped to bear these crosses. The weight of them is too great. The scales of balance could never be righted. SJWs would try to make us bear them even so (note that they absolve themselves of the responsibility), but we cannot. I am incapable of righting all the wrongs I have committed personally. What makes these people believe that all the wrongs of history could be shouldered upon us?

No, it is difficult enough to bear the weight of my own sins. Christ provides relief for us, a way to lay down those burdens. He did not ask us to bear the weight of the world. He took that upon himself.

I want to shake some sense into these SJWs and tell them that things they propose to make right will never be made right. The scales will never be balanced. History cannot be rewritten. And their attempts to make us all carry these burdens will only break us, and leave the world a darker place for us having been broken.

This is why Social Justice is so wearisome. Why even trying to understand them enough to enable us to communicate with them grants only the worst of headaches. Since they have no God to turn to, no solace even in the chaotic nature of the universe that I’ve seen some of the better atheists turn to, they must believe that mankind is perfectable. That it can be made to carry the weight of its own sin.

It will never be. It cannot happen. No man is big enough to do it, and it is the height of arrogant pseudo-intellectualism to presume otherwise. So I refuse to atone for those sins I did not commit, and I ask Christ for forgiveness for those I do commit.

And it will never be otherwise.

If you bark up my tree and say that I must make up for slavery, or Jim Crow, or the conquest of North America, or the Crusades, or the Roman Empire… I will just laugh. It is a farcical category error. It cannot be.

But you, SJWs… when you say that you desire to take what I’ve earned. When you burn down businesses, block ambulances, and overturn society in your temper tantrums… when you look down upon the teeming masses of middle America, when you say that all men are rapists, or that straight white men are inherently racist… when you demand our wages for your own, when you say that we ought to be made extinct, when you call Conservative folks Nazis, when you call Christians haters…

You are sinning. Not the world beyond your control, not the myriad of sins buried in human history. You, as an individual, are sinning right now. And it would be better for you, perhaps, if you stopped and asked Christ to forgive you. Or, if you did not want to ask him, perhaps you ought to stop and realize that the universe is too big for you. Either way, stop telling me to shoulder the burdens of the world. I can’t do it. And you are in no position to demand it of me.

The Enduring Myth of Christian Hatred of Science

This morning a friend of mine posted this meme:14572205_1115435998535388_8310086060108755839_n

 

This is the enduring fallacy of our age. Christianity has a myriad of problems (not the ones the media commonly tars it with, however), and the hostility between certain branches of it and modern anti-theist scientists is well documented today. But historically it was very different.

When the Roman Empire began to fall apart with the Germanic invasions of the 5th century, the Roman economy took a hit. Cities were damaged, farms were looted or destroyed, and economic collapse happened in the West. In the 7th century, the arrival of the Arabs did even greater damage to the economy of both the Eastern and Western halves of the old Roman world. Trade stopped, because the Mediterranean Sea, long a secure trade route for Rome, became rife with pirates, first the Vandals, and then the Arabs.

Literacy dropped like a rock. Look at old Roman cities. Graffiti was everywhere, a sign that even the lower classes had some level of education. Whereas after the Germanic and Arabic invasions, even Charlemagne could barely read and write well enough to sign his own name. Even Kings were often illiterate (they had more important things to do — like killing people to preserve what was left of their countries). The lower classes were lucky if they could grow enough food to survive.

The Dark Ages were so called because of the economic collapse, not because of religious doctrine. In fact, the Church was one of the sole surviving remnants of literate Western culture in those days. Classical works were preserved and copied faithfully by Christian Byzantine scholars (it’s worth noting that the Muslim Arabs looted their copies of the classics from the Byzantines, so much for the supposed Islamic golden age). Natural sciences were held in high esteem in Western monasteries, where such luminaries as Thomas Aquinas practiced their philosophical and scientific inquiries.

There was little economic capital to spare, and so science advanced far more slowly in those days, but it DID advance, specifically in areas such as metallurgy and farming implements. Rome’s more primitive metallurigal knowledge is probably one of the reasons the industrial revolution did not happen in that period, despite overall Roman engineering prowess.

Now, the Renaissance came, with old Byzantine knowledge flooding Western Europe. The combination of the rediscovery of those works, and the nascent university and library system evolving out of the monasteries, caused scientific advancement to pick up the pace again. The Church funded much of this activity directly — it didn’t burn scientists at the stake or anything, it paid them!

This proceeded all the way into Galileo’s time where he received most of his funding from the Pope’s office. Indeed, Galileo fell afoul of the Church because he deliberately insulted his patron in one of his publications, not because he believed Copernicus and heliocentric theory (remember, it was a theory at the time — the prevailing scientific view was not heliocentric, and only later would Galileo effectively prove it to his fellow scientists). Even with all that, Galileo was not burned at the stake or anything, but he was put under house arrest and deprived of his former patron’s money. I often ask anti-theists to give me the name of one scientist burned at the stake by the church. I’ve yet be provided with even one example. Yet the myth endures, nonetheless.

However, this is when you start seeing the first glimmerings of the Church and the Scientific Community parting ways. Contrary to common belief today, it was not so much a matter of religious doctrine as it was of politics. Christianity was splintering into various factions, and it wouldn’t do to be a paid agent of the Catholics in, say, a country full of Protestants. And so the primacy of doctrine over more practical matters became established. It was a way to differentiate the Catholics from the Anglicans and the Lutherans, and so on and so forth. The notion of a centralized Catholic Church funding everything died in the Reformation and Counter-Reformation.

Even still, most scientists were Christians even after all that, but funding from the Church began to dry up, and was replaced by private secular concerns and universities, which often still had some theological connections, even then.

The split has grown wider in recent years, and now there is hostility between many scientists and many Christians, but it wasn’t like this until recently, and wiping Christianity from history wouldn’t mean we’d be any further along today than we already are. Indeed, it may have the opposite effect, for during the so-called Dark Ages, if the Church hadn’t preserved what it could of the past… who would have done it? We might have had to start over from much less.

SJWs: Deconstructing Everything Until Nothing Remains

One of the amusing things I’ve noticed about Social Justice is that they frequently accuse regular folks of cultural appropriation and sort of skimming the surface of other cultures, picking and choosing what we want and dispensing with the rest. And yet, they engage in this very same behavior themselves. Observe: Atheist pastor sparks debate by irritating the church into the 21st century.

An Atheist is leading a Christian church, and she admits freely that she is picking and choosing the things that she wants, and dispensing with the rest:

Vosper was ordained in 1993, during which she was asked if she believed in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. She said yes, speaking metaphorically.

Some eight years later, vexed by the archaic language, imagery and stories of the Bible, she delivered an off-the-cuff sermon in which she deconstructed the idea of God. “Our hymns and our prayers and the way that we did things, they all reinforced this idea of a supernatural divine being who intervened in human affairs,” she says. “I just took it apart – I was not willing to continue to let (my congregation) think that I believed in that kind of God.”

She deconstructs God in a Christian church, then eliminates all of the symbols of the religion in her own domain, covering up the cross in rainbow streamers, getting rid of the Bible, and delivering sermons bereft of any reference to God or Christ. She retains the outward forms, borrowing the format and appearance of a Christian church, and Christian culture but has stripped it of any meaning whatsoever.

Some time ago, SJWs complained that white yoga practitioners do this, that they have appropriated the outward forms of another culture’s belief system and stripped it of all meaning. But we may at least say of most yoga practitioners in America that they do not claim to be representatives of Indian religious practice, and do not practice their art in Indian temples, under their auspices. They just do their weird physical activities and call it a day.

But no, the SJW is not only practicing a form of blatant hypocrisy, they demand official recognition for their work, and demand that Christians accommodate and submit to them.

What followed was years of Vosper and her congregation retooling the service at West Hill. References to God and Jesus became talk of love and compassion and prayer was replaced with community sharing time. The removal of the Lord’s Prayer in 2008 proved to be a critical test, sending attendance plunging from 120 people to 40 and leaving the church’s financial strength in tatters. “The Lord’s Prayer was the last thing in the service that still held them to previous generations of church,” says Vosper. “So it became the lightning rod for all of that loss.”

Throughout this time Vosper couched her strong beliefs in linguistic gymnastics, describing herself as a non-theist and, later, a theological non-realist. In 2013, moved by the case of Bangladeshi bloggers facing persecution over their reportedly atheist views, Vosper began calling herself an atheist. “I felt it was an act of solidarity,” she says, likening it to the use of the word feminist to in the 1970s. “If I shelter myself by not using that term, that’s unfair to everyone who is being maligned by the use of that term.”

Why does she insist on being accounted a minister? Why does she practice this… whatever it is she’s doing… in a Christian church? She could go out and preach her feminist linguistic gymnastics, and declare herself a theological non-realist and non-theist someplace else. But no, she insists on doing that in a Christian framework.

The decision to carry out the review upsets many at West Hill. “It’s disgusting,” says Wendy Hyland. Her husband, Jim Hyland, calls it hypocritical, given that the congregation is one of the few in the area that has managed to buck the wider trend of declining attendance. “West Hill is the future of what religion will be like,” says the 65-year-old, highlighting its metaphorical interpretation of religious symbols and emphasis on environmental and social justice. “We’re thinking and saying what the rest of the world is scared to, but moving towards.”

First off, this article contradicts itself. Earlier on, we are informed that attendance dropped from 120 to 40. And yet we are now told that it “bucks the wider trend of declining attendance.” What a load. But aside from that, look at how this is being twisted. The “future of what religion will be like” is explicitly categorized as Social Justice.

There you have it in black and white, folks. Social Justice is, indeed, a religion. But like the Xenomorphs in the Alien movie series, this foul, corrupted parasitical belief system gestates in a Christian church, and then eventually kills the host in its birthing. Indeed, it’s instructive to view all Social Justice activity this way. They come into an organization and attach themselves to it, nourishing themselves and eventually killing the host, birthing an aggressive, evil and horrendous mockery of the original organization from the dying remains.

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This is what Gretta Vosper really looks like, underneath the skin. This is how SJWs propagate their ideology, hijacking a host and destroying it in their own birthing.

Why would any Christian church willingly countenance such a parasitical evil to develop within it?

The Toronto conference of the United church responded to the concerns last year, saying it would carry out a review to determine whether Vosper was being faithful to her ordination vows and whether she could stay on as minister. “There are very strong opinions from those who support Ms Vosper, and from those who reject her statements absolutely,” said the Rev David Allen of the Toronto conference.

This shouldn’t even be a discussion. Expel her immediately. She is not a Christian. Now, it may be perfectly permissible for a non-Christian to sit in the pews. Indeed, we desire this, how else can we reach others? But it should never be permissible for a non-Christian to lead a church. It’s so blatantly obvious, so utterly common sense, that I cannot even fathom how this is a debate topic.

May a non-Jew lead a Jewish congregation? May a non-Muslim lead a Muslim congregation? Would a pagan church allow a Christian to lead it? Why then for the love of Christ (and I do not make this invocation lightly) does anyone think it is okay for an avowed Atheist to lead a Christian church?

The sheer level of idiocy approaches comical proportions. And while the notion may very well be hilarious in a gallows humor fashion, the ultimate result is pure evil, because countenancing this can lead to only one result: the destruction of the church itself.

The Religious War Has Begun

There was a scene in Tom Kratman’s Caliphate book where a priest was crucified, and speaks to a young boy, telling him to take up the crucifix on the ground. He speaks the words “Deus Vult,” which I am sure most of my readers understand well enough.

The implication was, of course, that the boy, who had converted to Islam under duress, suffered less than the priest nailed to the cross. And, naturally, he should not renounce his faith for such if the priest could keep his under such circumstances.

Contrary to the beliefs of Leftists, being Christian has, historically, meant accepting a great deal of persecution. The followers of Christ, not unlike the Jews, have suffered under great persecution from other faiths. The Romans killed them (until converting). Then the Muslims came, and did likewise.

But the day came when Christianity was ascendant and unchallenged in the West. And so it is easy to forget that, as a Christian, persecution is not so far away as we often think it is. We’ve suffered comparatively little in recent years. The worst we’ve had to deal with lately is militant atheists with their smug, Jon Stewart liberal grins and airs of superiority. Easy enough to suffer that.

The killing of the priest, during Mass, tells us that a new round of persecution may be beginning. I honestly didn’t think I’d see that in my lifetime. But, here it is. In a sense, it is worse than the other terror killings. Not in number of bodies, of course, but in the brazenness of the act, and in the specificity of the target. Where you could theoretically lump other Islamic terror attacks in the West into some kind of general malaise, and excuse it by some sort of twisted Left-wing, secular reasoning, this attack smacks more obviously of religious war.

I feel a sadness for it, and wonder if the priest thought similarly as he died. And I wonder, also, if the militant fire which had been extinguished long ago in Christianity will now begin to resurface. I mourn this greatly, for the end of goodwill between faiths fast approaches.

If it must be religious war, then let it be as they say, even if this is a terrifying thing. If the cross falls to you, take it up. If it falls to me, then I will take it, also. I implore the Islamists to remember this, however: we truly wanted peace, with all of our hearts, and you could not leave well enough alone.

Deus Vult!

General Mattis put it succinctly, once: “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.”

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