Another unprincipled exception bites the dust

Two Australian ethicists have declared their support for literal, unquestionable infanticide (h/t to Thinking Housewife):

Two ethicists working with Australian universities argue in the latest online edition of the Journal of Medical Ethics that if abortion of a fetus is allowable, so to should be the termination of a newborn.

Alberto Giubilini with Monash University in Melbourne and Francesca Minerva at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne write that in “circumstances occur[ing] after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”

The two are quick to note that they prefer the term “after-birth abortion“ as opposed to ”infanticide.” Why? Because it “[emphasizes] that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.” The authors also do not agree with the term euthanasia for this practice as the best interest of the person who would be killed is not necessarily the primary reason his or her life is being terminated. In other words, it may be in the parents’ best interest to terminate the life, not the newborns.

I’m pleased to see that the left has, in fact, come around to the right’s argument that the grim logic of the abortionistas can just as easily legitimize postnatal infanticide as prenatal infanticide. I am obviously displeased that this acknowledgment has taken the form it has.

The exception of children outside the birth canal from abortion-logic was always unprincipled, and its abandonment now is not a deviation from liberalism but a fulfillment of it. “My body, my choice,” if taken as a moral imperative, doesn’t cease to be imperative ten seconds after delivery. After all, the newborn child is still dependent on its mother; dependency doesn’t cease the moment the baby slides squalling into the world. It still represents a constraint on her will and a drain on time and resources she might prefer to spend otherwise. It still represents an obligation, a duty, something transcendent that binds her and makes her unfree, and this liberalism cannot ever permit.

Has the work of a Christian ever been so difficult? Has any society ever merited so much punishment? Woe to this graveyard of a civilization.

Arn the Knight Templar

Arn, the Knight Templar is a Swedish movie about a real Knight Templar and his true love. Their true story is full of tragedy and adventure. Arn is like something from Hollywood’s Golden Age, when Hollywood believed – or, at least, “believed” – in the eternal verities. It is not sublime. But it is Good, through and through.

It is frank about the corruption of the Church, without being in the least anti-clerical. Indeed, it is suffused with the highest, most sublime devotion, spiritual courage, and sacrifice. It is frank about the stupidity of war and of the Christian predicament in Outremer, without being anti-war or anti-Crusades. It takes the Crusades as a normal, natural way for a society to behave, in rather the way we take the Anglo-American reaction to Hitler. It is forthright about the occasional brutality and chaos of High Medieval culture, without being anti-Medieval. The movie honors the Church, Christianity, the Crusades, chivalry, monasticism, the Templars, the High Medieval cosmopolitanism that has Swedes talking to each other in Swedish, English, Latin, French – and at the same time gives the viewer the fullness of life, including the horrible ugly bits.

Continue reading

How many saved? How many damned?

Courtesy of I Am Not Spartacus (and h/t to Patriactionary) comes this speech by St. Leonard of Port Maurice, the noted Catholic preacher and ascetic, on the question of how many souls are to be saved and how many damned. As St. Leonard relates, we have the testimony of Christ Himself and of many Church fathers that most souls will be damned:

But I will limit myself here to quoting Suarez. After consulting all the theologians and making a diligent study of the matter, he wrote, “The most common sentiment which is held is that, among Christians, there are more damned souls than predestined souls.”

Add the authority of the Greek and Latin Fathers to that of the theologians, and you will find that almost all of them say the same thing. This is the sentiment of Saint Theodore, Saint Basil, Saint Ephrem, and Saint John Chrysostom. What is more, according to Baronius it was a common opinion among the Greek Fathers that this truth was expressly revealed to Saint Simeon Stylites and that after this revelation, it was to secure his salvation that he decided to live standing on top of a pillar for forty years, exposed to the weather, a model of penance and holiness for everyone. Now let us consult the Latin Fathers. You will hear Saint Gregory saying clearly, “Many attain to faith, but few to the heavenly kingdom.” Saint Anselm declares, “There are few who are saved.” Saint Augustine states even more clearly, “Therefore, few are saved in comparison to those who are damned.” The most terrifying, however, is Saint Jerome. At the end of his life, in the presence of his disciples, he spoke these dreadful words: “Out of one hundred thousand people whose lives have always been bad, you will find barely one who is worthy of indulgence.”

. . .

I would not finish if I had to point out all the figures by which Holy Scripture confirms this truth; let us content ourselves with listening to the living oracle of Incarnate Wisdom. What did Our Lord answer the curious man in the Gospel who asked Him, “Lord, is it only a few to be saved?” Did He keep silence? Did He answer haltingly? Did He conceal His thought for fear of frightening the crowd? No. Questioned by only one, He addresses all of those present. He says to them: “You ask Me if there are only few who are saved?” Here is My answer: “Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Who is speaking here? It is the Son of God, Eternal Truth, who on another occasion says even more clearly, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” He does not say that all are called and that out of all men, few are chosen, but that many are called; which means, as Saint Gregory explains, that out of all men, many are called to the True Faith, but out of them few are saved. Brothers, these are the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Are they clear? They are true. Tell me now if it is possible for you to have faith in your heart and not tremble.

. . .

The following narrative from Saint Vincent Ferrer will show you what you may think about it. He relates that an archdeacon in Lyons gave up his charge and retreated into a desert place to do penance, and that he died the same day and hour as Saint Bernard. After his death, he appeared to his bishop and said to him, “Know, Monsignor, that at the very hour I passed away, thirty-three thousand people also died. Out of this number, Bernard and myself went up to heaven without delay, three went to purgatory, and all the others fell into Hell.”

Our chronicles relate an even more dreadful happening. One of our brothers, well-known for his doctrine and holiness, was preaching in Germany. He represented the ugliness of the sin of impurity so forceful that a woman fell dead of sorrow in front of everyone. Then, coming back to life, she said, “When I was presented before the Tribunal of God, sixty thousand people arrived at the same time from all parts of the world; out of that number, three were saved by going to Purgatory, and all the rest were damned.”

Before disagreeing with this sentiment, I caution all my readers to exercise extraordinary caution. Contradicting generations of men holier than any now living — to say nothing of the plain language of our Lord! — is an act of monstrous hubris, not to be undertaken without very careful consideration. Their treatments of the issue should be advantaged in any consideration of it.

At any rate, reading this, I was reminded of commenter Bill’s remark that we need “lifeboats, not soapboxes.” The context for that remark, I think, was a general discussion about reactionaries’ proper attitude toward civilization — we should be trying to save not Western civilization but ourselves from Western civilization. Both of these tie in with another thought I had recently: that the work of evangelization is basically already done. The world can no longer claim ignorance of God. It has heard the Truth and rejected it. The best we can hope for now is to rid our own souls of sin — to flog and burn and slice it out of ourselves, if necessary — and to shepherd our families, to the extent we can, toward Heaven. Even in this, we are very likely to fail at least one of them.

Credo: Before all Worlds

For most of my life I’ve been trying to make sense of the Nicene Creed. I started at age seven, when (thanks be to God) I became a choirboy, and was forced by the high discipline commonly expected of boys in those halcyon days to sit like a statue and listen to the sermon, or at least pretend to listen, but anyway to sit stock still. Sitting still all the way through a 20 minute sermon is hard enough for grownups, but for a seven year old boy it is sheer torture. Yet somehow we all managed to learn how to do it (it was that or an enraged dressing down from our dear old choirmaster, God rest him), and I have been grateful for the lesson ever since.

Anyway, I found the sermons impossible to track. This is still generally the case. I thought when I was a boy that the problem was in me – that I was just too young and uneducated to understand all that grown up talk, and that when I grew up I’d be able to follow the sermons. It didn’t happen. I am now pretty sure that the problem is not in me.

But, to return again to the point: because I couldn’t follow the sermon, I would spend that time thinking about the Nicene Creed, and trying to make sense of it. I’m still working on that project. I’ve figured out a few things, though, and perhaps it makes sense to share them. In the first place, I’m likely to be schooled in my errors by commenters, and that will be salutary for my spiritual health, if only by knocking me down a peg or two.

In the second, I have found that my difficulties with the Creed engendered difficulties with my faith. So much so, that often in my youth I found my faith and my reason operating on wholly different and antagonistic tracks, the latter churning along analytically (and skeptically) in my cortex, the former making itself evident in my physiological responses to the numinosity undeniably effulgent in the music I sang, and in the liturgies I helped enact. I could not gainsay the Holy, for I experienced it in quite concrete fashion – indeed, in quite spooky, ravishing fashion – several times each week. It is awfully odd, oddly awful, always hair-raising and somewhat terrific, to hear almost completely pure Platonic Forms issuing from one’s mouth (such sublimity in music is the high privilege granted to boy sopranos). And singing for hours and hours about God, for God, and to God cannot but form a boy toward God. But my analysis could not penetrate far enough to provide me with a way to say the Holy, by which I mean the Sanctus, without gainsaying it at least a bit. I said the Sanctus, and that in good faith; but always with a bit of mental reservation, and not in perfect, unrestrained faith. For that I longed, as I longed also for understanding. I wanted my faith, and my understanding, to be as close to pure and perfect as the music I sang.

Christian faith is crucial to that rightly ordered society whose restoration is a palmary concern of the Orthosphere. As confusion about the Creed is an impediment to faith, so then is it an impediment to justice. And most people these days are pretty confused about the Creed. Indeed, it is entirely scandalous to moderns, from beginning to end. Almost every word of it can be somehow a stumbling block. Stravinsky is reported to have remarked, after he finished composing the Credo of his Mass, “It is much to believe.” In other words, “I don’t believe much of it.” His attitude is not uncommon even among devout and erudite Christians.

For a while now, I’ve been able to say the Credo, and a fortiori therefore the Sanctus, without the least bit of mental reservation, and indeed with joy. The reason? Mostly, I’ve learned what the Creed is actually saying, what it means. That has made me a better Christian, and also therefore a better and more efficacious Traditionalist. But I keep learning more about what the Creed means, and growing in faith. It gets better and better, more and more joyful. I doubt these days, not that the Faith is true, but that there is a limit to its truth, or to the understanding and enjoyment thereof. Increase of joy without limit: what a thought, no?

I am forbidden to hide under a bushel basket, and my presence here at the Orthosphere seems to me entirely an expression of gratuitous grace in my life – as with those pure Platonic tones of my boyhood, I myself have, really, nothing to do with it. My bushel basket has been kicked aside, I find. I am therefore obliged. So I shall keep on with my life’s Magnificat, and post from time to time on some of the things I have learned, that have turned stumbling blocks into cornerstones.

This is such a post.

In the Credo, we say of Christ that he is begotten of the Father before all worlds. What do we mean by “before all worlds”? We mean, “in eternity.” OK, but what does “eternity” mean?

Continue reading

Repost: Two hymns

This hymn tune, usually known in the English-speaking world as the “Old 100th,” comes from from the 1551 Genevan Psalter, but has been adopted by many non-Calvinist Protestant denominations, and sung with a variety of lyrics. The words used in this arrangement, which was created by Ralph Vaughan Williams for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, are standard in the Church of England:

Continue reading

The monumental hubris of the modern heretic

As a Catholic (well, aspiring — 41 days till baptism!) in this degenerate sinkhole of a declining civilization, I’ve gotten pretty used to reports of heresy. Like this one:

A call by reform-minded Catholics in the German-speaking world for the church to soften its stances on homosexuality, divorce and celibacy among priests and to end its ban on women in the clergy is drawing loud criticism from conservatives. They argue the group is threatening to create a schism within the Catholic Church.

With its often more progressive stances on some controversial issues, the arm of the Catholic Church in the German-speaking world has long posed problems for Rome. Now a modern day schism is threatening the area’s priestly establishment. The brewing split exposes a rift in the German speaking world between more liberal reform minded and conservative Catholics regarding the future of the church. The stakes are high, with the number of men applying for the priesthood in decline as the church loses appeal among younger generations.

The liberal Pastors’ Initiative wants to reverse that trend, which has forced parishes to close, by making priesthood more accessible. Last June it put out a “Call for Disobedience,” calling for a rewrite of the church’s long standing views against homosexuality, divorce and celibacy.

The title of the article suggests a formal link to the Austrian heretics who still, inexplicably, have not been severed from the society of faithful Catholics, although it’s hard to tell if that link is real and formal or if the paper is just trying to drum up a sensationalized “movement” out of formless sentiment.

In any event, I’m impressed by the monumental hubris these heretics pretty consistently display. Think for a moment about the stakes of what’s involved here. The Catholic theological tradition goes back thousands of years — to several centuries before the birth of Christ, in fact, with the works of Plato and Aristotle. To believe what the heretics are saying, we have to assume that 2400 years or so of thinkers and philosophers, including a large number of saints, theological doctors, holy men, and martyrs — people who devoted their entire lives to prayer, contemplation, and holiness, and at least one of whom was blessed for his labors with a miraculous encounter with God Himself — managed to get everything wrong. And we, the products of an apostate age of casual barbarism and unreason, have it all figured out. Move over, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas! Father Flake is here, and he’s got some timeless theological insights he discovered after six months of halting pseudo-reflection (which only by coincidence happen to align perfectly with the self-indulgent and utilitarian spirit of the present age)!

It’s worse than just hubris, though — it’s also impiety. What monstrous things must one have to convince oneself about earlier Church thinkers in order to swallow the leftist line on these issues? That generations’ of condemnations of buggery by holy popes and saints were motivated merely by hatred and ignorance? You expect leftist philosodomites to indulge in damnable lies like this; you at least hope for something better from men who call themselves Catholics.

Like most faithful Catholics, I found myself in the awkward position of simultaneously wishing the bishops would excommunicate the bastards for the good of literally everyone, without wishing to presume to advise holy mother Church where my advice was not solicited. I can only hope she knows what she’s doing.

The continuing decline of the Church of England

From Bruce Charlton:

This is a notice from my nearest Church of England establishment, concerning their programme of Lent Study for this year:



Week 1: Caring for the environment

Week 2: Eradicate hunger and poverty

Week 3: Life before death

Week 4: Promote gender equality

Week 5: Building a global partnership


Continue reading