Catholic asceticism and the permanent diaconate

I recently came across an intriguing article by Catholic canonist Ed Peters. It turns out that not only is the married (and sexually active) permanent diaconate a historical divergence from the Latin Church’s ancient theological patrimony of clerical continence, it may even be a departure from the plain letter of canon law.

I had no idea this was the case, but it suggests the possibility of something deeply pernicious: widespread disobedience to Church law on the part of Catholic bishops during the immediate postconciliar era, and especially in the United States, where something like half the world’s permanent deacons reside. An effort to stir up agitation against priestly celibacy, perhaps?

The Basic Case against Mormonism and Other Pseudo-Christianities

A recent post discussed Mormonism. Here is a more complete statement of the basic case against Mormonism, and other erroneous Christian-like systems.

Our motivation here is not to badmouth Mormons. Their understanding of social order is apparently traditionalist, and we can therefore work with them to promote or restore a more properly-ordered American society.

But we must also uphold Christ. Mormonism has virtues, but it misses something crucial. Let us not miss the crucial.


Our thesis: Mormonism, while Christianoid (Christian-like), fails to be Christianity, because it fails to deliver the real Christ. And the same is true of the other pseudo-Christian groups. Continue reading

What is it Like to Be Eternal?

Creaturely occasions cannot cause other creaturely occasions to exist. How can we know this? Causal relations between two creatures cannot obtain until they both actually exist so as to have relations in the first place. X cannot be truly said to have caused y until there is a y, so that there can be a relation of causation that obtains between them. Until there is y, x cannot have caused y. But this means that before y has come to pass, x cannot stand in any causal relation to y; it cannot function as a cause of y. So, x cannot bring y to be.

When you think about it, this is obvious. How could x reach into the future and manipulate it so that it eventually developed in such a way as to include y?

Continue reading

Women & the Draft

Lydia McGrew points out that now that the US Military is set to open all its combat roles to women, it is only a matter of time before young women are required to register for the draft. She wonders whether, or how, a woman who objects to military service for those of her sex might establish an efficacious objection of conscience to her own military service. The prospects are not encouraging.

Comments on the November unpleasantness

I have a couple of pieces at Catholic websites that might be of interest. At the Crisis website there’s something about Catholics and Cultural Assimilation, and at Catholic World Report I give some Tardy Reflections on the Election. In the first, I say the culture should assimilate to Catholics rather than the reverse. In the second I talk about the party that believes in nothing and the party that believes in Nothing, instead of talking about the stupid party and the evil party, but it comes to the same thing.

Pulp Fiction, the Trinity, the Samurai Trilogy, and the Old City Hall Tavern – or What I did over Winter Break


Some time ago when The Orthosphere was novel, Kristor, in addressing the issue of how I might best contribute to the enterprise, suggested to me in private correspondence that not every posting needed to be a fully worked out, objectively couched essay.  Shorter, more personal or subjective postings might serve justifiably – postings that reported, say, moments of intellectual clarification, attempts to live in a context of liberal soft tyranny, important formulations discovered in reading, objects of longstanding connoisseurship, or the like.  A posting might even be modestly autobiographical or self-explanatory.  What follows is an amalgam of all that.

Continue reading

Christian Salvation is Not Visible to the Naked Eye

And therefore, inter alia¸ Mormonism is not a valid form of Christianity, despite its apparent Christian piety and manifest virtues. But Mormonism as a cultural phenomenon, rather than just a religious system, is a net positive for America.


This post is largely a response to Dr. Bruce Charlton’s position that Mormonism is a valid form of Christianity, and that we can know it because of Mormonism’s success in inculcating personal piety toward Jesus Christ, healthy families with far-above-replacement-level fertility, and a well-ordered society. Along with Mormon self-identification as being Christian.

Of course, this is not just about Mormonism. There are many groups calling themselves Christian who are of questionable status. I suggest below that there is a way to determine their validity that is relatively simple and that does not diminish the group any more than is necessary in order to maintain our integrity as Christians.

Dr. Charlton has, I believe, made it clear that he does not wish to discuss this issue theologically, and I am therefore raising it here at Orthosphere. I don’t raise this topic to badmouth him, for I have great respect for Dr. Charlton. On most topics his writings show great insight and originality.


Here’s my basic point: The sine qua non, the indispensible element, of Christianity is the forgiveness of our sins by our repentance and faith in Christ. And this forgiveness, this salvation, is unlike outward piety and healthy individuals, families, and societies because it is not visible to the naked eye. We must therefore trust what God says in Scripture about how He forgives us, and not be misled by that which is externally appealing. Continue reading

Those lovely Russians

Reactionaries’ hopes for the future are increasingly being shouldered by the Russians:

Kissing his boyfriend during a protest in front of Russia’s parliament earned Pavel Samburov 30 hours of detention and the equivalent of a $16 fine on a charge of “hooliganism.” But if a bill that comes up for a first vote later this month becomes law, such a public kiss could be defined as illegal “homosexual propaganda” and bring a fine of up to $16,000.

The legislation being pushed by the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church would make it illegal nationwide to provide minors with information that is defined as “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism.” It includes a ban on holding public events that promote gay rights. St. Petersburg and a number of other Russian cities already have similar laws on their books.

The bill is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values as opposed to Western liberalism, which the Kremlin and church see as corrupting Russian youth and, by extension, contributing to a wave of protest against President Vladimir Putin’s rule.

Anyone have the over-under for the start date of the Russian Spring?

Repost: Evolution 101

[Here is another of my essays originally posted at Intellectual Conservative and destroyed by leftist hackers. In it, I refer to the evolution in which contemporary atheistic science believes as “Darwinism” or “Darwinian evolution.” This is not the term that most scientists use, but since the word “evolution” has many meanings, and since most scientific enthusiasts of the evolutionary theory originated by Darwin wish to obscure its anti-Christian nature, I have chosen to use a more clear-cut term. Keep in mind also that this essay was written for the general public, not the typical Orthosphere reader.]


Ben Stein’s movie Expelled shines the spotlight on the dispute between Darwinian evolution and its opponents. Although both sides marshal a large array of technical facts, this dispute is really a clash between two fundamentally differing worldviews, that is, basic philosophical systems that people use to interpret all of reality. In fact, the dispute can most accurately be summed up by saying: It’s all about God.

That is, if you can be sure there is no miracle-working God, then something like Darwinian evolution must be correct. But if there is even a chance that such a God exists, then basic intellectual integrity demands that you take seriously the criticisms directed against Darwinism. Continue reading