Tuesday, March 31, 2015

War and the Church, Part III: The South

Richard Weaver bewords the South’s view of war as a ‘ritual’ or ‘game’ that must be performed because it is in man’s being to fight.  However, rituals and games are always offered to, or done for the sake of, another.  To whom do Dixie’s knights offer this ritual of war?  Largely, to the shame of the South, to themselves:  Southerners not possessed by the demonic ‘West is best’ ideology generally have fought (whether personal duels or wider wars) because of an affront to their honor; that is, their high-minded view of themselves has been wounded and now they must do battle with the offender to repair their reputation before others and to cheer their own hurt feelings (‘Southern Chivalry and Total War’, pgs. 163-4). 

It scarcely need be said that this is not a Christian but rather a humanistic approach to war.  There are, though, redeeming aspects in the Southern view of war.

Firstly, war as a ritual or game is by its nature fought according to rules, which helps keep the fighters from engaging in the most destructive and barbarous acts possible during battle (‘Southern Chivalry and Total War’, p. 164).

Also, a war to sooðe one’s hurt pride will most of the time be of a more limited kind than one fought for the sake of a religiously tinged ideology (fighting to ‘spread democracy’, for ‘economic freedom’, ‘women’s rights’, and so on).

(This may clearen to some extent why the persecutions of Christians under the Roman emperors were less severe than those under the communists in Russia and Eastern Europe or under the Islamic State’s fighters today in the Middle East and Africa:  The former centered on the worship of a living man, the emperor, each of whose particular virtues and vices would determine the harshness of the punishments he inflicted on the Christians if he felt threatened or slighted by them, thus setting some bounds to his acts.  The latter are based on inhuman ideas (godless materialism; the religious conquest of all peoples) that neither know nor are able to impart mercy or any other boundaries.)

Furthermore, there are utterances by those most representative of the Souð, like Robert E. Lee, about ‘the limitations of soldiering as a profession’:  It ‘does not prepare men for the pursuits of civilian life’ (Weaver, ‘Lee the Philosopher’, p. 176).

And there is Prof Weaver’s own important insight - mirroring the actions of the South’s patron saint, King Ælfred the Great, after he had defeated the Danes in England - ‘It [the materialistic, spoiled, short-sighted middle class--W.G.] cannot see that after one has defeated the enemy, one has the responsibility of saving his soul’ (‘Southern Chivalry’, p. 169).  This mind-set is one that sets the South apart from those who shallowly seek the ‘complete destruction of the enemy, so . . . we won’t be at the expense of having to do this [i.e., fight them--W. G.] again’ (p. 169).

Prof Weaver pondered how mankind’s warlike bent might be safely bounded so that peace might come to the world (‘Lee’, p. 174).  The answer he sought came with the coming of Christianity; and more specifically, with the coming of organized Christian monasticism.  Robert Boenig in his ‘Introduction’ to Anglo-Saxon Spirituality quoted André Vauchez on the monasticism of Dixie’s Old English forefathers:

By presenting religious life primarily as a ceaseless struggle against the “Ancient Foe,” monastic spirituality awakened widespread reverberation within a warlike society whose secular ethic . . . favored related values (p. 42).

For Orthodox Christians in general (who are all called to a life of asceticism, just like monks), but especially for the monks who leave the cares of the world to focus their attention only on the salvation of their souls (i.e., union with God), life is a war with the inner passions and the demons and the devil, who seek our downfall.  Here, then, is where the Southerner’s yearning for a fight, and all mankind’s, may be safely directed, just as it was with the South’s violent Anglo-Saxon and Celtic forebears:  to battle together with our brothers (or sisters) in the monasteries with the unseen forces in the ghostly realms for the salvation of our souls and bodies.  And may those of us still living in the world follow well their ensample, as Christians throughout the ages have sought to do.

Works Cited

Robert Boenig, ‘Introduction’, Anglo-Saxon Spirituality: Selected Writings, Boenig trans., Mahwah, Nj., Paulist Press, 2000.

Richard Weaver, ‘Southern Chivalry and Total War’ [1945], The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver, Curtis, III and Thompson, Jr., eds., Indianapolis, Ind., LibertyPress, 1987.

--, ‘Lee the Philosopher’ [1948], The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver, Curtis, III and Thompson, Jr., eds., Indianapolis, Ind., LibertyPress, 1987.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Welcoming Lengtentima (Lententime, Spring) - 2015

In honor of the season when planting begins in earnest, anoþer of Sidney Lanier’s lays in the landly Southern tongue:

"Thar's more in the Man than thar is in the Land".

I knowed a man, which he lived in Jones,
Which Jones is a county of red hills and stones,
And he lived pretty much by gittin' of loans,
And his mules was nuthin' but skin and bones,
And his hogs was flat as his corn-bread pones,
And he had 'bout a thousand acres o' land.

This man — which his name it was also Jones —
He swore that he'd leave them old red hills and stones,
Fur he couldn't make nuthin' but yallerish cotton,
And little o' THAT, and his fences was rotten,
And what little corn he had, HIT was boughten
And dinged ef a livin' was in the land.

And the longer he swore the madder he got,
And he riz and he walked to the stable lot,
And he hollered to Tom to come thar and hitch
Fur to emigrate somewhar whar land was rich,
And to quit raisin' cock-burrs, thistles and sich,
And a wastin' ther time on the cussed land.

So him and Tom they hitched up the mules,
Pertestin' that folks was mighty big fools
That 'ud stay in Georgy ther lifetime out,
Jest scratchin' a livin' when all of 'em mought
Git places in Texas whar cotton would sprout
By the time you could plant it in the land.

And he driv by a house whar a man named Brown
Was a livin', not fur from the edge o' town,
And he bantered Brown fur to buy his place,
And said that bein' as money was skace,
And bein' as sheriffs was hard to face,
Two dollars an acre would git the land.

They closed at a dollar and fifty cents,
And Jones he bought him a waggin and tents,
And loaded his corn, and his wimmin, and truck,
And moved to Texas, which it tuck
His entire pile, with the best of luck,
To git thar and git him a little land.

But Brown moved out on the old Jones' farm,
And he rolled up his breeches and bared his arm,
And he picked all the rocks from off'n the groun',
And he rooted it up and he plowed it down,
Then he sowed his corn and his wheat in the land.

Five years glid by, and Brown, one day
(Which he'd got so fat that he wouldn't weigh),
Was a settin' down, sorter lazily,
To the bulliest dinner you ever see,
When one o' the children jumped on his knee
And says, "Yan's Jones, which you bought his land."

And thar was Jones, standin' out at the fence,
And he hadn't no waggin, nor mules, nor tents,
Fur he had left Texas afoot and cum
To Georgy to see if he couldn't git sum
Employment, and he was a lookin' as hum-
Ble as ef he had never owned any land.

But Brown he axed him in, and he sot
Him down to his vittles smokin' hot,
And when he had filled hisself and the floor
Brown looked at him sharp and riz and swore
That, "whether men's land was rich or poor
Thar was more in the MAN than thar was in the LAND."

____ Macon, Georgia, 1869.

Source:  Poems of Sidney Lanier, http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/579/pg579.html, Etext #579 by A. Light, July 1996, accessed 27 March 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

War and the Church, Part II: The West

The Russian philosopher Ivan Kireevsky saw one hundred fifty years ago how the spirit of heaðen Rome had impressed itself upon much of Western Europe (‘On the Nature of European Culture and on Its Relationship to Russian Culture’, On Spiritual Unity, p. 200).  One of the main features of fore-Christian Rome that concerns us today is named by Dr Russell Kirk (one of those rare birds, a traditionalist from the North) in the title to Chapter IV of his book The Roots of American Order (p. IX), ‘Virtue and Power: the Roman Tension’.  In the West, the lust for power has won out in the struggle with virtue, though for a time, during the first several centuries of the Church’s life, it was otherwise. 

Archbishop Averky Taushev spoke of this:

‘The western world with Rome reigning at its head, before which all the nations of the world once trembled, demonstrated that it was incapable of properly assimilating and absorbing the spirit of Christian humility; pagan pride, love of authority, and the unquenchable thirst to rule and command continued to live even in Christian Rome, which had adopted the teaching of Christ superficially and shallowly.  This spirit of pagan pride expressed itself in the pretensions of the Roman patriarch-pope to rule the entire Christian world.  The pope continued the tradition of the pagan emperors of Rome, becoming as it were a successor to their politics of subjecting all nations under them’ (The Struggle for Virtue, p. 10).

Protestants, sadly, betake of the same heathen Roman ghost (p. 11), rejecting the teachings of Christ’s one and only Body, the first church, the only one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church - the Orthodox Church, and shaping Christianity according to the reasonings of their own minds, so that instead of one Pope, there are now millions, as each Protestant has made himself the final authority in matters of the Faith.

And from this pride and þis love of power and dominion has come new thinking about war.  We noted aforetime how the Orthodox Church viewed killing in war as murther, and required penance and contrition of those who had to be engaged in it.  In the West, this has all been thoroughly changed with the fall of Western Europe away from the Ancient Faith.  The abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, France, makes this abundantly clear in his work In Praise of the New Knighthood.  Đere he wrote

 . . .

To be sure, precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his holy ones, whether they die in battle or in bed, but death in battle is more precious as it is the more glorious (Ch. I, section 2).  . . .

BUT THE KNIGHTS OF CHRIST may safely fight the battles of their Lord, fearing neither sin if they smite the enemy, nor danger at their own death; since to inflict death or to die for Christ is no sin, but rather, an abundant claim to glory. In the first case one gains for Christ, and in the second one gains Christ himself. The Lord freely accepts the death of the foe who has offended him, and yet more freely gives himself for the consolation of his fallen knight.

The knight of Christ, I say, may strike with confidence and die yet more confidently, for he serves Christ when he strikes, and serves himself when he falls. Neither does he bear the sword in vain, for he is God's minister, for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of the good. If he kills an evildoer, he is not a mankiller, but, if I may so put it, a killer of evil. He is evidently the avenger of Christ towards evildoers and he is rightly considered a defender of Christians. Should he be killed himself, we know that he has not perished, but has come safely into port. When he inflicts death it is to Christ's profit, and when he suffers death, it is for his own gain. The Christian glories in the death of the pagan, because Christ is glorified; while the death of the Christian gives occasion for the King to show his liberality in the rewarding of his knight. In the one case the just shall rejoice when he sees justice done, and in the other man shall say, truly there is a reward for the just; truly it is God who judges the earth.

I do not mean to say that the pagans are to be slaughtered when there is any other way to prevent them from harassing and persecuting the faithful, but only that it now seems better to destroy them than that the rod of sinners be lifted over the lot of the just, and the righteous perhaps put forth their hands unto iniquity (Ch. 3).  . . .

Bernard, before the passing of even one hundred years æfter the West's schism with the Orthodox Church, made of killing a holy act, while utterly dehumanizing those the new monk-warriors he was praising and justifying in New Knighthood fought against (‘he is not a mankiller but a killer of evil’).  By this he helped sow the seeds of full unforholden warfare that has been used by Western nations in very many battles from the Crusades onward to today’s American-E.U. proxy war with Russia in Novorossiya (the Ukraine). 

Where the South fits into this development of Western warlore we hope to write of soon.

Works Cited

Bernard of Clairvaux.  In Praise of the New Knighthoodhttp://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~amtower/bernard.html.  Posted n. d.  Accessed 14 March 2015.

Kireevsky, Ivan.  ‘On the Nature of European Culture and on Its Relationship to Russian Culture’. On Spiritual Unity: A Slavophile Reader. Bird, Robert, and Boris Jakim, trans. Hudson, Ny.: Lindisfarne Books, 1998.

Kirk, Russell.  The Roots of American Order.  Wilmington, Del.:  ISI Books, 2004.

Taushev, Archbishop Averky.  The Struggle for Virtue: Asceticism in a Modern Secular Society.  Jordanville, Ny.: Holy Trinity Publications, 2014.

For further study, the reader may listen to Father John Strickland’s recording found here:

Friday, March 20, 2015

War and the Church, Part I: The Orthodox Church

The banksters, talking heads, and others of the Superclass of the West are clearly laying the groundwork for a war with Iran (or trying to).

With anoðer war looming, then, it is worth asking:  What does the Church say about war?

The tradition of the Orthodox Church answers:  There is no good war, not even those fought in defense of faith, family, and so on; all are alike sinful and destructive, although at times necessary.  Orthodox priest Father John McGuckin clarifies:

 . . .

Basil has several things to say about violence and war in his diocese. It was a border territory of the empire, and his administration had known several incursions by barbarian forces. Canon 13 of the 92 considers war:

Our fathers did not consider killings committed in the course of wars to be classifiable as murders at all, on the score, it seems to me, of allowing a pardon to men fighting in defense of sobriety and piety. Perhaps, though, it might be advisable to refuse them communion for three years, on the ground that their hands are not clean.

 . . .

Basils text on war needs, therefore, to be understood in terms of an economic reflection on the ancient canons that forbade the shedding of blood in blanket terms. This tension between the ideal standard (no bloodshed) and the complexities of the context in which a local church finds itself thrown in times of conflict and war, is witnessed in several other ancient laws, such as Canon 14 of Hippolytus (also from the 4th century):

A Christian is not to become a soldier. A Christian must not become a soldier, unless he is compelled by a chief bearing the sword. He is not to burden himself with the sin of blood. But if he has shed blood, he is not to partake of the mysteries, unless he is purified by a punishment, tears, and wailing. He is not to come forward deceitfully but in the fear of God.

The reasons Basil gives for suggesting that killing in time of hostilities could be distinguished from voluntary murder pure and simple (for which the canonical penalty was a lifelong ban from admission to the churches and from the sacraments) is set out as the defense of sobriety and piety. This is code language for the defense of Christian borders from the ravages of pagan marauders. The difficulty Basil had to deal with was not war on the large-scale, but local tribal insurgents who were mounting attacks on Roman border towns, with extensive rapinage. In such circumstances Basil has little patience for those who feel they cannot fight because of religious scruples. His sentiment is more that a passive non-involvement betrays the Christian family (especially its weaker members who cannot defend themselves but need others to help them) to the ravages of men without heart or conscience to restrain them.

The implication of his argument, then, is that the only fighting that Christians ought ever to accept, in order to defend the honor and safety of the weak, will be inherently a limited response, mainly because the honor and tradition of the Christian faith in the hearts and minds of pious and sober warriors will restrict the bloodshed to a necessary minimum.

His economic solution nevertheless makes it abundantly clear that the absolute standard of Christian morality turns away from war as an unmitigated evil. This is why we can note that the primary reason Basil gives that previous fathers had distinguished killing in time of war from the case of simple murder was on the score of allowing a pardon. There was no distinction made here in terms of the qualitative horror of the deed itself, rather in terms of the way in which the deed could be cleansed by the Churchs system of penance.

Is it logical to expect a Christian of his diocese to engage in the defense of the homeland, while simultaneously penalizing him if he spills blood in the process?

Well, one needs to contextualize the debarment from the sacrament in the generic 4th century practice of the reception of the Eucharist, which did not expect regular communion to begin with (ritual preparation was extensive and involved fasting and almsgiving and prayer), and where a majority of adult Christians in a given church would not yet have been initiated by means of baptism, and were thus not bound to keep all the canons of the Church.

By his regulation and by the ritual exclusion of the illumined warrior from the sacrament (the returning victor presumably would have received many other public honors and the gratitude of the local folk ), Basil is making sure at least one public sign is given to the entire community that the Gospel standard has no place for war, violence and organized death. He is trying to sustain an eschatological balance: that war is not part of the Kingdom of God (signified in the Eucharistic ritual as arriving in the present) but is part of the bloody and greed-driven reality of world affairs which is the Kingdom-Not-Arrived.

By moving in and out of Eucharistic reception Basils faithful Christian (returning from his duty with blood on his hands) is now in the modality of expressing his dedication to the values of peace and innocence, by means of the lamentation and repentance for life that has been taken, albeit the blood of the violent. Basils arrangement that the returning warrior may stand in the Church (rather than in the narthex, where the other public sinners were allocated spaces) but refrain from communion makes the statement that a truly honorable termination of war, for a Christian, has to be an honorable repentance.

Several commentators (not least many of the later western Church fathers) have regarded this as fudge, but it seems to me to express, in a finely tuned economic way, the tension in the basic Christian message that there is an unresolvable shortfall between the ideal and the real in an apocalyptically charged religion. What this Basilian canon does most effectively is to set a No Entry sign to any potential theory of Just War within Christian theology, and should set up a decided refusal of post-war church-sponsored self-congratulations for victory.

All violence, local, individual, or nationally-sanctioned, is here stated to be an expression of hubris that is inconsistent with the values of the Kingdom of God, and while in many circumstances that violence may be necessary or unavoidable (Basil states the only legitimate reasons as the defense of the weak and innocent), it is never justifiable. Even for the best motives in the world, the shedding of blood remains a defilement, such that the true Christian, afterwards, would wish to undergo the cathartic experience of temporary return to the lifestyle of penance, that is be penitent. Basils restriction of the time of penance to three years, seemingly harsh to us moderns, was actually a commonly recognized sign of merciful leniency in the ancient rule book of the early Church.

Source:  ‘St. Basil’s Guidance on War and Repentance’, In Communion, http://www.incommunion.org/2006/02/19/st-basil-on-war-and-repentance/, posted 19 Feb. 2006, accessed 20 March 2015

Þere is no ‘just war’ theory in Orthodox Christianity as there is in the Western churches:

And that is what Part II will look into - Western thoughts on war.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The ‘Alchemy’ of the Saints

Æforetime we saw how the Southern tradition regarding the creation was in accord with the Orthodox Church’s Holy Tradition.  Now we must look at how it differs.

While the Fathers agree that there are boundaries as to what man ought to do with the creation, they do not quite agree as to the place of man within the creation.  The Souðern Agrarians have seen him more often than not as a servant or steward merely, not as one that has any right to rule over it.  They have, as it were, lowered man too much in the order of creation:  It is too often portrayed as a brooding, unknowable force before which man must bow as before a god.  The Fathers teach us, ræther, that man, through much difficult self-denial, can see and know the inner ghostly essences of created things, and, further, that man was made to be the king, the ruler, over all the created world.  Here is what St Gregory of Nyssa said of man’s kingship in his On the Making of Man (I:5, II:1,2):

Now all things were already arrived at their own end: “the heaven and the earth,” as Moses says, “were finished,” and all things that lie between them, and the particular things were adorned with their appropriate beauty; the heaven with the rays of the stars, the sea and air with the living creatures that swim and fly, and the earth with all varieties of plants and animals, to all which, empowered by the Divine will, it gave birth together; the earth was full, too, of her produce, bringing forth fruits at the same time with flowers; the meadows were full of all that grows therein, and all the mountain ridges, and summits, and every hillside, and slope, and hollow, were crowned with young grass, and with the varied produce of the trees, just risen from the ground, yet shot up at once into their perfect beauty; and all the beasts that had come into life at God’s command were rejoicing, we may suppose, and skipping about, running to and fro in the thickets in herds according to their kind, while every sheltered and shady spot was ringing with the chants of the songbirds. And at sea, we may suppose, the sight to be seen was of the like kind, as it had just settled to quiet and calm in the gathering together of its depths, where havens and harbours spontaneously hollowed out on the coasts made the sea reconciled with the land; and the gentle motion of the waves vied in beauty with the meadows, rippling delicately with light and harmless breezes that skimmed the surface; and all the wealth of creation by land and sea was ready, and none was there to share it.

For not as yet had that great and precious thing, man, come into the world of being; it was not to be looked for that the ruler should appear before the subjects of his rule; but when his dominion was prepared, the next step was that the king should be manifested. When, then, the Maker of all had prepared beforehand, as it were, a royal lodging for the future king (and this was the land, and islands, and sea, and the heaven arching like a roof over them), and when all kinds of wealth had been stored in this palace (and by wealth I mean the whole creation, all that is in plants and trees, and all that has sense, and breath, and life; and—if we are to account materials also as wealth—all that for their beauty are reckoned precious in the eyes of men, as gold and silver, and the substances of your jewels which men delight in—having concealed, I say, abundance of all these also in the bosom of the earth as in a royal treasure-house), he thus manifests man in the world, to be the beholder of some of the wonders therein, and the lord of others; that by his enjoyment he might have knowledge of the Giver, and by the beauty and majesty of the things he saw might trace out that power of the Maker which is beyond speech and language.

For this reason man was brought into the world last after the creation, not being rejected to the last as worthless, but as one whom it behoved to be king over his subjects at his very birth.

Understand, however, that by ‘king’ we do not mean a cruel tyrant after the usual image of kings in the Western mind.  Adam was to serve creation as any real king serves his subjects during his reign, with kindness and love - with the greatest kindness and love in fact, raising all the things of the earth to participation in the divine life by uniting within himself all the created world together with the uncreated Grace of God (See pgs. 136-7, Chapter 7, ‘The Economy of the Son’, in Vladimir Lossky’s The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, Crestwood, Ny., St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1976 [1944]).

But Adam fell; and having fallen, he and all mankind lost the ability to carry out this work given them by God.  And yet Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, the God-man, fulfilled what the first Adam failed to do.  Now, by being united to Christ’s Divine-human body, the Church, through the work of the Holy Spirit, man (Southern man included) may take up again this work of hallowing the creation (ibid.).

This calling, though, still haunts the enemies of God, who try to transform the creation by other methods.

In contrast to common notions, the banking sector is in no way left to “market forces,” but is completely gamed, and the same plan is evident in the A.I. reconnaissance program known as the “Internet” and “Facebook.” It becomes evident in flash trading and wash trading, which is preparing us for a cashless global currency. The alchemy of A.I. is the alchemy of finance, as both are geared towards the reductionist quantification of all things. Humans are thus natural resources being trans-mutated into data resources, just as currency is becoming a digital “resource.”

Source:  Jay Dyer, ‘Alchemical Banksters’, Soul of the East, http://souloftheeast.org/2015/01/29/alchemical-banksters/, posted 29 Jan. 2015, accessed 17 March 2015

But the saints show us by their wonderful lives how God intends us to use His Grace to bless and hallow the creation in sooð.  One ensample:

"A wonder-worker of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev, he was named the Orach-eater because the whole time he lived in the monastery, he never tasted bread but fed himself on orach [a kind of wild spinach] prepared according to his own particular method as a sort of bread. When he gave someone some of this bread with his blessing, it was as sweet as honey, but if someone stole some, it was as bitter as wormwood.   "At one time, when there was a dearth of salt in Russia, Prochorus distributed ashes to the people for salt. The ashes that he distributed with his blessing became salt; ashes, however, that anyone took for himself remained ordinary ashes. Prince Svyatopolk ordered that all the ashes from Prochorus' cell be brought to the court without his permission, let alone his blessing. When the ashes were brought there, it was obvious to everyone that they were ashes and not salt. Then Prochorus told all the people who came to him for salt to go to the prince's court, and, when the prince threw the ashes away, to take them and use them as salt. This they did, and the ashes again became salt. The prince himself, learning of this, was filled with a deep respect and love for him and, when Prochorus died in 1107, placed him with his own hands in a grave near the great Russian saints, Antony and Theodosius." (Prologue).

Source:  See under 10 February ‘Our Venerable Father Prochorus of the Kiev Caves (1107)’, http://www.abbamoses.com/months/february.html, posted n. d., accessed 17 March 2015


Þis being St Patrick’s Feast Day we encourage everyone (especially Southrons, in whom Irish blood makes up no small part) to honor him and pray to him for salvation and help.

But at the same time, ƿe (we) ought to show the same reverence for the many, many other Irish saints, known and unknown,

that we give to St Patrick.  For they are involved in our salvation and well-being just as that great missionary is.

Holy St Patrick and all ye holy Saints of Ireland, pray for us sinners at the South!

(Icon found at this site:  http://orthodoxwiki.org/Patrick_of_Ireland)

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Southern Approach to Crop Pests

Đe Southern Agrarians have seen in the creation something thæt should limit man’s actions in the world, something that should set boundaries to his work here (see e.g., Richard Weaver, ‘The Southern Tradition’ [1964], The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver, Curtis, III and Thompson, Jr., eds., Indianapolis, Ind., LibertyPress, 1987, p. 221).

The Holy Faðers of the Orthodox Church would agree.  In þeir commentaries on the story of creation told in Genesis, they, for ensample, declare that each ‘kind’ of living creature the Holy Trinity brought into existence was to continue unmixed with other kinds of creatures (bird with spider, tree with horse, and so on).  Such unnatural unions would only bring about grief for the world, as God intended each kind to reproduce itself as He had originally made it until the end of time (Father Seraphim Rose, Genesis, Creation, and Early Man, 2nd ed., Platina, Ca., St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2011, pgs. 181-6).

But modern man has not heeded any of this, going so far as to rend and tear, ruthlessly and coldly but with great skillfulness, from the most inward writs of the beings of creatures, adding to plants and animals what does not rightly belong to them. 

The results have been disastrous.  Crops like corn have been engineered in this way to resist (and even produce within themselves) weed and/or pest poisons like Monsanto’s Roundup; this has led to massive chemical pollution, which is responsible for the alarming rise in autism, cancer, and many other chronic illnesses.

So what is a Southern Christian answer to these developments, an approach that shows humility before the Lord over all creation?  Here is one:

Humanity is facing a toxicity problem as our immediate environment becomes increasingly riddled with pesticides. They are making us unhealthy faster than we can study the effects. In addition to causing harm to humans, these pesticides play large roles in the massive bee deaths and decline of soil health. The companies that profit from making these pesticides have made it clear they won’t stop, and our petitions to the EPA and FDA are mostly ignored due to revolving door leadership between pesticide makers and government regulators. So is there an answer? Yes there is!

Paul Stamets, the world’s leading mycologist, filed a patent in 2001 that was purposely given little attention. In the words of pesticide industry executives, this patent represents “The most disruptive technology that we have ever witnessed.” The biopesticides described in the patent reveals a near permanent, safe solution for over 200,000 species of insects – and it all comes from a mushroom.

After what is called ‘sporulation’ of a select entomopathogenic fungi (fungi that kill insects), the area becomes no longer suitable for any insect(s) the fungi are coded for. In addition, extracts of the entomopathogenic fungi can steer insects in different directions. This literally is a paradigm shift away from the entire idea of pesticides. Instead of having an aim to kill all problematic insects, a farmer could simply disperse a solution of pre-sporulation fungi amongst the crops. The insects would then simply live their lives around the crops paying no attention to them.

 . . .

Source:  Jefferey Jaxen, ‘This Natural Food Could Finally Put an End to Pesticides’, NaturalSociety, http://naturalsociety.com/this-natural-food-could-finally-put-an-end-to-harmful-pesticides/, posted 25 Feb. 2015, accessed 13 March 2015 (bolding not added)

Take heed Southern farmer, and run with haste away from industrial agriculture (as more and more farmers are now doing:  http://naturalsociety.com/record-us-farmers-switching-non-gmo-crops-2015/ via Dr Farrell http://gizadeathstar.com/2015/03/the-gmo-scrapbook-us-farmers-turning-from-gmos-to-organic-in-rising-numbers/).

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Receiving the Grace of God One Insult at a Time

Dixie has received insults and abuses from outsiders from early on, usually from those of Yankeedom who disapprove of anyone whose life doesn’t conform to their restless, materialistic pattern of overworking, money-getting, and buying the latest fads, not to mention their beliefs of racial superiority.

But this is only to our good, if we Souþrons will accept them without anger but wið meekness (St Matthew 5:5, 11-12), confessing that we are unworthy servants deserving of no good thing (St Luke 17:10; 18:13), worms and not men (Ps. 22:6).  Then these insults will bring forth purification and humility within us, which in turn allows God’s Grace to shine in our hearts, helping us to attain unto salvation:  union with the Most Holy Trinity.

Here is how St John of the Ladder illustrated this truth in his wonderful book of spiritual guidance, The Ladder of Divine Ascent (Step 4, chs. 110-1, pgs. 25-6, Archimandrite Lazarus Moore, trans., Harper & Bros., 1959, http://www.carmelitepriory.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/TheLadderofDivineAscent.pdf).

About Saint Acacius

110. I will not be silent about something which it is not right to leave in silence lest I should inhumanly keep to myself what ought to be made known. The famous John the Sabbaite told me things worth hearing. And that he was detached and above all falsehood, and free from words and deeds of evil, you know from your own experience, holy father. This man told me: ‘In my monastery in Asia (for that is where the good man came from) there was a certain elder who was extremely careless and undisciplined. I say this without passing judgment on him, but simply to state the truth. He obtained, I do not know how, a disciple, a youth called Acacius, simple-hearted but prudent in thought. And he endured so much from this elder that to many people it will perhaps seem incredible. For the elder tormented him daily not only with insults and indignities, but even with blows. But his patience was not mere senseless endurance. And so, seeing him daily in wretched plight like the lowest slave, I would ask him when I met him: “What is the matter, Brother Acacius, how are you today?" And he would at once show me a black eye, or a scarred neck or head. But knowing that he was a worker, I would say to him: “Well done, well done; endure and it will be for your good.” Having done nine years with this pitiless elder, he departed to the Lord. Five days after his burial in the cemetery of the fathers, Acacius’s master went to a certain elder living there and said to him: “Father, Brother Acacius is dead.” As soon as the elder heard this he said: “Believe me, elder, I do not believe it.” The other replied: “Come and see.” The elder at once rose and went to the cemetery with the master of the blessed ascetic. And he called as to a living person to him who was truly alive in his falling asleep, and said: “Are you dead, Brother Acacius?" And the good doer of obedience, showing his obedience even after his death, replied to the great elder: “How is it possible, Father, for a man who is a doer of obedience to die ?" Then the elder who had been Acacius’s master became terrified and fell on his face in tears. Afterwards he asked the abbot of the Laura for a cell near the tomb, and lived in it devoutly, always saying to the fathers: “I have committed murder.” And it seemed to me, Father John, that the one who spoke to the dead man was the great John himself. For that blessed soul told me another story as if it were about someone else, when it was really about himself, as I was afterwards able to learn for certain.’

About John the Sabbaite, or Antiochus

111. ‘There was another,’ said John, ‘in the same monastery in Asia who became a disciple of a certain meek, gentle and quiet monk. And seeing that the elder honoured and cared for him, he rightly judged that this would be fatal for many men, and he begged the elder to send him away. (As the elder had another disciple, this would not cause him much inconvenience.) And so he went away, and with a letter from his master he settled in a cenobitic monastery in Pontus. On the first night that he entered this monastery he saw in a dream his account being made out by someone, and after settling that awful account he was left a debtor to the sum of a hundred pounds of gold. When he woke up he began to reflect on what he had seen in his dream and said: “Poor Antiochus” (for this was his name), “you certainly fall far short of your debt!”’ ‘And when,’ he continued, ‘I had lived in this monastery for three years in unquestioning obedience, and was regarded by all with contempt and was insulted as the stranger (for there was no other strange monk there), then again I saw in a dream someone giving me a credit-note for the payment of ten pounds of my debt. And so when I woke up and had thought about my dream, I said: “Still only ten! But when shall I pay the rest?" After that I said to myself: “Poor Antiochus! Still more toil and dishonour for you.” From that time forward I began to pretend to be a blockhead, yet without in any way neglecting the service of all. But when the merciless fathers saw that I willingly served in that same condition, they gave me all the heavy work of the monastery. In such a way of life I spent thirteen years, when in a dream I saw those who had appeared to me before, and they gave me a receipt in complete settlement of my debt. So when the members of the monastery imposed upon me in any way, I remembered my debt and endured it courageously.’ So you see, Father John, that wise John told me this as if it were about another person. And that was why he changed his name to Antiochus. But in actual fact it was he himself who so courageously destroyed the handwriting by his patience and obedience.

May we ever praise God for allowing us to be offended and hated and reviled, for as the Fathers of the Church teach us, this is to our salvation.

Holy St John of the Ladder, pray to God for us sinners at the South!

(For more on St John and on his veneration during Great and Holy Lent, please visit this site:  http://lent.goarch.org/saint_john_climacus/learn/ .)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Bad News and Good News for the South

The South as John Devanny explains is dying:

What exactly makes the South, the South? Hosts of scholars have puzzled mightily over this one. Historians might point to the old Confederacy, human geographers might look for the proliferation of Southern Baptist Churches, as well as clusters and distributions of BBQ joints and firearms ownership, while linguists ponder over the prevalence of “y’all” and other Southern speech patterns. The Academy is a nervous, for you see, the South seems to be slowly disappearing. This means coming up with new villains, and perhaps even more hysterical fulminations on how slavery in the southern United States is the root of all evil: past, present, and future. Yes there is grant money and tenure at stake here too, though one might justly believe that the South was studied and analyzed into an early grave. But really the South, however ill-defined, does seem to be disappearing.

Let’s have the evidence you say? Well, here goes. The snow geese migration has taken a pretty heavy toll on traditional voting patterns in Maryland (1970s), as well as current day Virginia and North Carolina, not to say anything of Atlanta and Florida, but that of course goes back to carpetbagging days. Southern accents are disappearing. Case in point, the midlands accent of New Jersey and Pennsylvania once extended to the area north of Baltimore, now it is firmly entrenched throughout most of Maryland and northern Virginia. Just find a linguistic map from 1970 and compare it to one from 2010, you’ll see. In my teaching career, the sons and daughters of people born and bred in South Carolina sport the accents of the San Fernando Valley. “Like, really?” “ Yes, Tiffany, really.” There was a time, as far north as Baltimore, that when you ordered iced tea it came sweetened; now we all must specifically ask for “sweet tea” in all places south of Mason and Dixon’s line. The list could go on ad infinitum. And truth be told, much of what we take as “Southern” since the Late Unpleasantness is of dubious heritage. Tent revivals, fundamentalism, bible colleges, football, textiles, are northern imports one and all.

 . . .

Source:  ‘How ‘bout a Little Bourbon with Your Philosophy?’, The Abbeville Institute, http://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/how-bout-a-little-bourbon-with-your-philosophy/, posted 26 Feb. 2015, accessed 27 Feb. 2015

But there is hope for new life for the Souð, and for any country which truly yearns for it.  It will not, however, come from the ‘hillbilly Thomism’ of Flannery O’Connor, Marion Montgomery, and other Southern Catholics that Mr Devanny speaks of in his essay, as well-meaning as those pious men and women were and are.  For Thomism is itself a straying from the Ancient Faith of Christ.  We must ræðer look east of Old Rome, and north of New Rome (Constantinople), to the Third Rome, Moscow.  Đere, in Russia, we will find the Balm that will heal the Southern soul and allow it to grow and abound in every grace.  What is this Balm?  Union with the All-Holy Trinity through the God-man Jesus Christ, Whose revelation the Orthodox Church has kept without any admixture of error.

Knowing the deep religious basis of the Russian spirit, Dostoevsky, despite all the shortcomings of the people, believed that it stood to the Russians to carry out a great mission in Europe. He saw “the essence of Russia’s calling” in “revealing to the world the unknown Russian Christ, Whose principle lies in our native Orthodoxy” (Letter to Strakhov, 1869, No. 325).  . . .

Source:  Nikolai Lossky, ‘Dostoevsky on Russia’s Mission’, Soul of the East, http://souloftheeast.org/2015/02/27/dostoevsky-russias-mission/, Mark Hackard trans., posted 27 Feb. 2015, accessed 28 Feb. 2015

This baptism of the South at the hands of Russia would be quite natural.  Between the two peoples there is a deep kinship in ways of thinking and living.  Consider the philosophies of the two, their desire for synthesis, integration, and wholeness rather than for analysis and breaking apart.  Here is Lossky again on the Russian mind:

 . . . In view of the breadth of the Russian mind and character, Dostoevsky was confident that the Christian spirit would be expressed in the ability to develop a synthesis of opposing ideas and aspirations that divide the peoples of Europe, whence would be achieved not only theoretical but practical reconciliation of all disputes.

It is remarkable that this ability and passion of the Russian mind for all-encompassing synthesis was noted long before Dostoevsky, as B. Yakovenko shows in his History of Russian Philosophy, by many Russian writers, such as Prince V.F. Odoevsky, Belinsky, Kireevsky, and Shevyrev.[i]

In the 1861 magazine Vremya, Dostoevsky wrote that the basic aspiration of Russians was “universal, spiritual reconciliation.” “The Russian idea with time will become the synthesis of all those ideas that Europe for so long and with such persistence produced in its individual nationalities.” Western peoples seek to “find a universal human ideal in themselves and by their own powers, and therefore they altogether harm themselves and their cause.” “The idea of universal humanity ever more wears away between them. Among each of them it takes a different type, dulls, and assumes in consciousness a new form. The Christian bond that up to this time united them loses strength with every day.” To the contrary, in the Russian character, “the capability for high synthesis, a gift for universal reconcilability and humanity is predominant.” “He gets along with everyone and is accustomed to all. He sympathizes with all that is human regardless of nationality, blood, and soil. He finds and immediately allows for reasonableness in all, if only there is to be some universal human interest.” “This is why Europeans completely do not understand Russians, and the greatest feature of their character they have called impersonality” (Ibid, III). In the work of Russia’s greatest poet, Pushkin, this “Russian ideal – integrality, universal reconcilability, and humanity” was incarnated (Ibid, V).

Source:  ibid

And here is Richard Weaver on the Southern mind:

 . . . the Southern mind is not by habit analytical.  In fact the Southern mind has little capacity for analysis and I think one could almost say that it is opposed on principle to analysis.  There seems to exist a feeling that you do not get at the truth of a thing—or that you do not get at a truth worth having—by breaking the thing in pieces.  This explains undoubtedly why the South has always done so poorly in business and technology, which demand analytical methods.  The Southern mind is, on the other hand, synthetic and mythopoeic—it seeks out wholes, representations, symbols (‘The Southern Tradition’ [1964], The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver, Curtis, III and Thompson, Jr., eds., Indianapolis, Ind., LibertyPress, 1987, p. 226).

One may also note the prominent place of the creation in both the South and Russia.  For an ensample from the South, see ‘Hymns of the Marshes’ or ‘Corn’ by Sidney Lanier:

For Russia, one may listen to Fr John Strickland’s recording beginning at about the 17:30 mark:

The South would be able to give in this relationship as well.  For Russia is not yet healed of the nightmare of Communism; her people need the prayers yet of friends around the world (and of their thousands and thousands of Holy Martyrs and Confessors of the 20th century) to complete their journey of repentance.

But whether the South receives the True Faith from Russia or from some other Orthodox people (Romania, Georgia, Serbia, and so on), joining the life of the Holy Trinity through the Orthodox Church is our only hope for renewal as individuals and as a whole people.  For the West since the Great Schism of 1054 has only been able to offer her peoples a crippled faith, thus allowing the idols/demons of old to return and reign, culminating (so far) in the bloody, Western-funded and -imposed Soviet era of Russia.

 . . .

The demons cast out by the New Martyrs and Confessors [of Russia--W. G.], by our recognition of them and so our prayers to them, went to the West, where they were welcomed. Now, as at Gennesareth of old, the demons have entered into those who welcomed them and they, like a herd of swine, are rushing to their suicide all over the Western world, shouting ‘Je suis Charlie’. Now is the time to redouble our prayers to the Saints of the Western world who belong to the Church. Together with all the heavenly hosts, they can send these demons back to their place in hell.

The Final Battle is coming. Every day the Second Coming draws closer, but the miracle of repentance is no less possible today than yesterday. The end may be only a few years away, but it may also be a thousand years away. The demons can still be cast out of the West ‘by prayer and fasting’. We do not fear, because whatever happens, we know that the real end of history, and not the end imagined by an American academic a history-filled generation ago, will be the Triumph of Orthodoxy. The last words in world history are Christ’s.

Source:  Fr Andrew Phillips, ‘The Final Battle Is Coming: The Truth Will Set You Free’, Orthodox England events ‘blog, http://www.events.orthodoxengland.org.uk/the-final-battle-is-coming-the-truth-will-set-you-free/, posted 1 March 2015, accessed 6 March 2015