Friday, May 19, 2017

Traveling

I will be on the road and out of town for the next week at least (see previous post). Expect little or no blogging until I get back.

Memory Eternal

My uncle Tom was a man with a great joie de vivre, characterized by a fondness for good food and drink (scotch whiskey single malt), gambling, an often irreverent sense of humor and social/political opinions that put him slightly to the right of Archie Bunker. When I was eleven on a family camping trip he pulled out a deck of cards and told me it was time I learned to play poker and acey duecy. I think I still owe him ten thousand or thereabouts. He met my aunt Cathy while working as a bouncer in a West Endicott bar that had a reputation as... well let's just say that calling it a dive would be giving it a dignity it did not deserve. Their long and happy marriage produced two great kids and a few grandchildren. He passed suddenly yesterday while on the golf course having fun with his friends.

May his memory be eternal!

P.S. He never tried to collect the ten grand. What a guy.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Relic from the Golden Age of Hollywood



The 1951 Cadillac Series 75 formal limousine (coachwork by Delmar) of the late Hollywood costume designer Edith Head. Over the course of her career she won eight(!) Academy Awards for costume design beginning in 1949 with The Heiress and ending in 1973 with The Sting (a personal favorite).

Is Humanae Vitae under threat?

In a recent missive Dr. Robert Moynihan notes that several sources that are usually well informed about the goings on within the Vatican believe that Pope Francis has appointed a secret committee to review Paul VI's famous and controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae. Adding fuel to this speculation is that the Vatican, given the opportunity to deny these reports, pointedly declined to do so. Hmm...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump

This administration is about one serious revelation away from a full blown crisis. If they (and in particular the President) can't get themselves under control this is not going to end well. The alarm is no longer confined to the lunatic left. Questions about basic competency and integrity are starting to be raised across the political spectrum. With a credible allegation that the President may have tried to interfere in an ongoing FBI investigation, the only reasonable recourse is to appoint an independent counsel. Assuming there is nothing to hide, this would  give the administration a chance to get back on an even keel and lower the political temperature a couple degrees by removing the various investigations from closely divided and highly partisan congressional committees.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Apostolic Succession

“Apostolic Succession is not merely a historical pedigree, but also requires Apostolic Faith. This is because Apostolic Succession is not the private possession of a bishop, but is the attribute of a local Church. A bishop who goes in schism or is cast out of office due to heresy does not take his Apostolic Succession with him as a private possession.”

-Fr. John Morris (AOANA)
From here. Via here.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Quote of the day...

"Fearing no insult, asking for no crown, receive with indifference both flattery and slander, and do not argue with a fool." - Aleksandr Pushkin

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Patriarch Kirill could visit US in near future

In Washington, DC for the May 10-13 World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians, convened by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, told TASS on Thursday that His Holiness Patriarch Kirill could visit America sometime in the near future. 

“I really think the patriarch’s visit to the US is somewhere on the horizon,” the metropolitan stated, noting that the primate has already visited all of the autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches except for the Orthodox Church in America, currently under the leadership of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon. Such a trip would be Patriarch Kirill’s first to America, and would be especially noteworthy as it was the Moscow Patriarchate that granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America in 1970. 

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Cardinal Coccopalmerio: Anglican Holy Orders may not be invalid

Sigh. There is so much disturbing news coming out of Rome these days that I am consciously trying to ignore most of it. But I do think this is significant.

As I was saying...

Monday's post appears to have been remarkably prescient. A few quick observations. No, this is not Watergate v2.0. Most of the hysteria (and that's what it is) is being manufactured by the usual suspects, i.e. the Democrats and their mouthpieces in the msm. Nothing illegal was done here and if the truth is to be told bluntly, Comey was not up to the job. Further, until approximately 24hrs ago his name was an epithet among rank and file Democrats.

That said, this was politically stupid and yet further evidence that Trump is in way over his head. He has repeatedly demonstrated that he is utterly clueless about how Washington works and is ignorant of things that any graduate of an 11th grade US History/Civics class would be expected to know. That's bad enough. But where the hell is his staff? Is there no one who could explain how these things are handled? Namely you send a friend of a friend with a discreet and strictly verbal message to Comey giving them a polite tip that the President is not thrilled with their job performance and it would be best if they wrapped up their ongoing investigations as soon as practicable and consider an early retirement "for family reasons" sometime after the new year. If they don't take the hint then they can still be dismissed, but ONLY after the Russian investigation is resolved or shown to be going nowhere.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Trump's rough start is probably only going to get worse

There is a longish piece in the New Yorker discussing the Donald's problems and where they might lead, including quite possibly an early termination of his presidency. Some of the speculation is silly, including the idea that Congress might declare him mentally unfit under the 25th amendment.

But a lot of this is serious. Trump has deliberately chosen to walk into a legal minefield with his decision not to put his vast business empire into a blind trust. The number of lawsuits are already piling up and it is only a matter of time before he is compelled to answer questions under oath. For a man of his temperament and history of playing fast and loose with facts, that could be a moment of extreme peril.

His campaign is under investigation for potential collusion with a hostile foreign power. His former, and very short lived National Security Advisor could be facing a criminal indictment. And he has already stated he is prepared to give testimony if granted immunity. It seems unlikely that Flynn has any dirt on the president. If he did I suspect the FBI would have already given him immunity. But he could inflict incalculable damage on an administration that is already in disarray.

Whatever his support among a core group of people, his overall popularity is hovering around 40% and it's unlikely that he has anything even close to that degree of committed support in either house of Congress. That level of public support, or rather hostility, can be politically crippling.

Anyways, while it is far from perfect, the article is a good read and does demonstrate that Donald Trump is facing challenges that put him in an historical class of one.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Prince Philip Announces Retirement at 95

H.R.H. Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh has announced he is stepping back and will no longer perform any royal functions beginning in the fall. The prince is 95 and while generally believed to be in good overall health for a man of his age, he is still er... a man of his age.

Reporter: "What are the most important rules for being a successful prince consort?"

Prince Philip: "Always wear comfortable shoes and never pass a chance to step into the loo as you never know when your next one will come along."

Many (more) years!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Puerto Rico Seeks de-facto Bankruptcy Protection Under New Law

...Puerto Rico has roughly $120 billion of bond debt and unfunded pension obligations to restructure, which dwarfs the second-largest similar episode. When Detroit went bankrupt in 2013, it set the previous record, with about $18 billion of bond debt and retirement obligations.

The island’s case will not be formally called a bankruptcy, since Puerto Rico is barred from using Chapter 9, the bankruptcy route normally used by insolvent local governments. Instead, the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, petitioned for relief under Title III of a new federal law for insolvent territorial governments, called Promesa. It contains some bankruptcy provisions and has never been used before, so there is no road map to follow.

Read the rest here.

This is going to send shock waves through the bond market, and that may be a good thing. Too many people have been placing too much confidence in paper I.O.U's. The basic law of economics still applies. If a debtor doesn't have the money to pay you back, it doesn't matter how many legal papers you wave under their nose, you're still not getting your money back.

People buying bonds issued by Greece, New Jersey, Illinois, the city of Chicago and a few other entities take note.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Quote of the day...


"It is more or less incontestable that the artistic production of mediaeval and renaissance Florence, with a population a seventh of contemporary Akron, Ohio, or a quarter of that of the Croydon, was of greater value than the whole of the western world, with a population 7000 times greater at the least, for the last seventy years."

-Theodore Dalrymple

Timothy Stanley: Trump is right about media bias

Two parties, two different Americas. On Saturday night, the press gathered for the annual White House correspondents' dinner in Washington where, traditionally, they would roast the president. But this year the punchline was in Pennsylvania, at a rally President Trump held to celebrate his first 100 days in office.

"I could not possibly be more thrilled," said Trump, "than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington's swamp, spending my evening with ... much better people."

Thus are the battle lines drawn: the press vs. the president, liberal vs. conservative, Washington vs. the rest of the country.
It sounds compelling, but it's actually absurd. The press is not the white knight of democracy. The president is not the people's champion.

Let's start with the press. Trump is right: The correspondents' dinner is awful. It's an evening of self-congratulation, bad jokes and political bias, where Democrats go to get praised and Republicans to be lampooned. It was at this dinner where President Obama and "SNL's" Seth Myers famously roasted Trump in 2011. A few years later, the joke turned out to be on them.
What is the press? It's conservative, moderate, liberal; as objective as possible but sometimes not; struggling to survive in the age of the Internet.

Hard to define, in other words -- and yet in recent years it has developed a sense of itself, as if it had some unifying political purpose. Choosing Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the men who exposed the Watergate scandal that toppled Richard Nixon, to address the correspondents' dinner sent a clear message: the press is not only here to hold presidents to account but to bring them down.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

After hard-left turn, Britain’s Labour Party on course for historic defeat

 LONDON — In 2015, Britain’s Labour Party tacked to the left, repudiating the middle-way philosophy that had won it three elections under Tony Blair. Voters responded by handing the party its worst defeat in three decades.

Rather than scramble back toward the center, Labour lurched further left. The party elected as its leader Jeremy Corbyn, a white-bearded baby boomer from the back benches who, like Bernie Sanders in the United States, ignited an improbable movement among young activists with his attacks on the rigged capitalist system and unquestioned fidelity to socialist ideals.

Now, with less than six weeks to go before Britain votes once more, the Corbyn-led Labour Party is on course for an electoral beatdown so broad and deep it would make the drubbing the party took in 2015 look like a triumph.

The ruling Conservative Party has a double-digit lead over Labour in pre-election polls, and Prime Minister Theresa May stands to win a parliamentary majority that would have been the envy of Margaret Thatcher.

The grim outlook for Labour has prompted insiders to preemptively concede defeat; one former party leader has despaired that at 75, he’s unlikely to see another Labour prime minister in his lifetime. There’s even a chance that the party could fall apart altogether.

Read the rest here.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Queen to dress down for State Opening of Parliament

The Queen will undertake a dressed-down State Opening of Parliament for the first time in more than 40 years, as ceremonial plans suffer major disruption because of the general election.

The Queen will not wear her Imperial State Crown or robes for this year’s State Opening, with the annual service of the Order of the Garter also cancelled for the first time since 1984.

The changes to the Royal schedule, announced by Buckingham Palace today, will see the State Opening of Parliament take place on June 19, with the Order of the Garter service previously in the diary for the same day now cancelled.
 
Some observers were quick to note that the timing would allow the Queen to attend Royal Ascot, which runs from June 20th to 24th.

Sources said the 19th was the first suitable date after the election, with a quick turnaround of 11 days agreed to maintain continuity.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Portland rose parade canceled after ‘antifascists’ threaten GOP marchers

For 10 years, the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association has kicked off the city of Portland’s annual Rose Festival with a family-friendly parade meant to attract crowds to its diverse neighborhood.

Set to march in the parade’s 67th spot this year was the Multnomah County Republican Party, a fact that so outraged two self-described antifascist groups in the deep blue Oregon city that they pledged to protest and disrupt the April 29 event.

Then came an anonymous and ominous email, according to parade organizers, that instructed them to cancel the GOP group’s registration — or else.

“You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely,” the anonymous email said, referring to the violent riots that hit Portland after the 2016 presidential election, reported the Oregonian. “This is nonnegotiable.”

The email said that 200 people would “rush into the parade” and “drag and push” those marching with the Republican Party.

“We will not give one inch to groups who espouse hatred toward LGBT, immigrants, people of color or others,” it said.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

In case you haven't read a good old fashioned anti-Orthodox screed lately... (updated)

One of the biggest complaints against Pulpit & Pen we get consistently is that we somehow don’t “have all our facts,” or are “misrepresenting” someone or something. I received countless emails claiming that I “misrepresented” Greek Orthodoxy in my recent posts regarding Hank Hanegraaff and that I should do more research. Well, what better way to research than to go straight to the source in person? Saturday, April 15, known as Holy Saturday in the Orthodox tradition, I along with a couple of friends went to visit St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, NC–the church that Hanegraaff was recently chrismated in. The service began at 11:30 pm, and was still going strong showing no signs of slowing down when we decided to leave at around 2:00 am. While we hoped to have the opportunity to confront Hanegraaff in person, being that we all had to get up early the next morning to worship the living God on Easter morning, we decided to call it a night early. However, there are quite a few things that we can take away from this experience in this church.
1.) I have sat through many Catholic masses. I was married in a Catholic church, and I can definitely say I’ve “been there done that.” But I’ve never sat through anything so long and tedious as the Greek Orthodox mass. Perhaps being a special Saturday night “resurrection service,” this wasn’t the norm, but it was excruciatingly long. 2 1/2 hours in and no sign of slowing down.
2.) The cliche, “bells and smells” is actually a true reality. The burning of incense and ringing of bells was a noxious combination. It reminded me of being in a college dorm smoking weed and blowing the smoke through toilet paper rolls stuffed with dryer sheets.
3.) The liturgy was vain and repetitious. Literally, the same ritualistic prayers and chanting were sung over and over. Every prayer included an invocation of Mary and the Saints.
4.) While there was actually quite a bit of Scripture reading, there was absolutely no teaching. In fact, the vast majority of Scripture reading was sung in the eerie Byzantine chant. You’d really have to pay attention and try to listen really hard to even understand what they were reading or reciting.

Read the rest here if you must.

It's been a really long time since I have read such ignorant tripe. I don't know what denomination this man affiliates with but if their idea of "Christian behavior" is going to another church for their Easter service for the purpose of trashing it and "confronting" one of its new members, you may color me unimpressed. 

Update: And now there is this "apology" from JD Hall.  Be sure to put down your coffee before reading this.

HT: Bill Tighe

Friday, April 21, 2017

Damian Thompson: Francis will retire- but only after appointing enough liberal cardinals

Allies of Pope Francis are saying that he’s planning to follow the example of Benedict XVI and retire. But he’ll only do so once he’s appointed enough liberal cardinals to make sure that the next conclave doesn’t elected a conservative who will interpret Catholic doctrine more strictly than he does.

This, at least, is what allies of the Pope have been telling colleagues – claiming that they’ve heard it from the pontiff himself. (Francis himself is a notorious chatterbox and so are some of the cardinals close to him.)

The Pope, now 80, apparently wants to hold three more consistories at which he will bestow the red hat on bishops who share his vision of reform (whatever that may be: the details are still sketchy, four years in).

Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Met. Seraphim of Piraeus calls on Turkish President to abandon false religion of Islam and convert to Christianity

The staunchly traditional and outspoken Greek hierarch Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus has written an open letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in which, among other things, he calls upon him to turn from the false religion of Islam and accept “Christ the Savior and Redeemer of the world,” even advising him who to take as his godfather, reports AgionOros.ru.

Beginning with an analysis of the crisis situation in the Middle East, the metropolitan writes that good relations between Turkey and Russia are “very important,” and stresses that they are what allows Turkish authorities to speak equally with the US and the European Union.

The prelate goes on to express his confidence that in the case of Turkey’s failed attempt to join the EU, the president has already for many years been preparing “Plan B”—the recreation of the bygone glory of the Ottoman Empire.

“Every state would like to have a political leader who respects and confesses the religion of the majority of its people,” Met. Seraphim stressed, calling Erdoğan the destroyer of Kemal Atatürk’s secularized Turkey, and the restorer of Islam in Turkey.

However, the choice of Islam as a consolidating factor is, in the Greek bishop’s view, of course a mistake.

The metropolitan then goes on to offer in his letter a number of historical and theological examples demonstrating the “fallacy of the Islamic religion,” arguing that “it is based on a number of illusions.”

As a conclusion to the many-paged religious and theological study, the hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Church calls upon the Turkish president to denounce his “demagogic false religion,” and “for the sake of true benefit to [him]self and [his] family and [his] people… to repent, reject [his] delusions, and believe in the God-Man Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world.” He advises him to undergo catechism and accept Orthodox Baptism, further advising him to “ask [his] current ally, the president of Russia Vladimir Putin to become [his] godfather, and the Patriarch of Constantinople himself to celebrate the Mystery.”

Source.

Christ is risen!

Wishing all a blessed feast!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

If the Titanic Sank Today




For the record...

Noted evangelical Hank Hanegraaf, aka "the Bible answers man," along with his wife and two of his twelve(!) children were received into the Church on Palm Sunday. Predictably the blogosphere has lit up with commentary on this event. And also predictably, much of that commentary has ranged from highly critical to scathing.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
-Mark 13:13

Many years!