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There's always inactivism, though. It's like church: showing up. The rest tends to happen without you, unless you have a job there.

The thing that disturbs me with the Indians is that they don't count the dead; not that they were killed in war, but that it probably means they didn't bury the dead.

Plenty of complaints for my ancestors (I'm a child of the Am. Revolution) besides, even.

Agreed, Father, though i would also like the same sort of forced humility provided as a benefit to all Orthodox, not just the converts. Immigrant-Americans can often be just as tainted in their handling of Orthodoxy. Worship in English would be one way, worship in their modern tongues another to get at differing diseases common to that particular subset.

We had the consecration of a chapel this past weekend and the sound system didn't work very well. It was slightly amusing to see everyone upset at not being able to understand what was going on: sort of like how I feel when the services are in a language neither I nor they really understand.

Agreed, too, on lifting up holy hands. I'm the son of an immigrant and know the blessings of this country. I give thanks and pay my fair (patriotic) share. I just don't expect the government to be Christian, much less Orthodox. I also have a hard time participating in voting for those in support of abortion, infanticide, though I guess I don't have the same problem with war and the death penalty. [Quizzical pause...]

Steve, I share your thoughts about many pro-life groups in general. I have corresponded with my predominantly Roman and Evangelical pro-life group, and I have taken them to task for the majority of emails that have more to do with right-politics and less to do with anti-abortion efforts. The lack of compassion, especially for the historic poor and illegal immigrants, is distressing indeed.

Christopher, I have suggested the same thing to some of my fellow-convert parishioners. I'm all for understanding and clarity, but there is something to be said for the "enforced humility" we ex-prots experience when we are forced to endure a Service that has no program (with hymn numbers, announcements and special music), that never changes in its basic outline and content, and that even violates our prideful demand that we understanding everything -- by distressing our American egalitarianism by slipping into an alien, immigrant language.

I think, though, that we bear toward our respective government a certain humility and prayerful compassion. St. Paul in Romans, St. Justin Martyr and the other apologists, and even our Lord Himself (in the "Render to Caesar" logion) made clear that the burden of governance is an awful one, and that we, even if we are persecuted by them, need to "lift up holy hands" on their behalf.

As time went by, I find myself describing my 'political' positions in more and more religious terms. That is, I don't really care about politics. I'm not really an R or a D, I've always lived in blue states but have normally been red, I'm really just an Orthodox Christian.

It was reported to me that Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, Cyprus ("Fr. Maximos" in Kyriacos Markides' Mountain of Silence and Gifts of the Desert) said the following during a discussion of Orthodoxy in America: "To be a good Orthodox in America means being a bad Greek". My response was that it also meant to be a bad American. The priest who told me the story because he knew I'd like it and thinks of himself as one who 'gets it' did not understand what I meant thus showing he, in fact, does not get it.

I strongly dislike nationalism. I have strong affection for my nation, and the opposite, at times. I hate the Greek flag on the solea as much as I hate the American one there. I hate identifications with anything other than Christ Himself, in or out of the Church.

Back in 1776, I'd probably have been run out to Nova Scotia. Actually, it's beautiful up there, like how we like to think of New England. I would not be surprised to be run out in the future, by either 'side' in our culture wars. I think that's the way it should be: we should be considered political and cultural traitors to whoever is in power, or could be in power. Exiles all.

I think a wonderful podvig would be for all American converts to worship in Greek or Slavonic (or some such), all recent immigrants in English, and all bilingual immigrants in the foreign language not their own used in the 'other Orthodox Church', or Mandarin, Georgian or Aramaic. Then, we could all be exiles yearning for our true home and not giving a crap about governments except how to suffer under them like Christians - we've forgotten that with between all the flag-waving/God/apple pie and social gospel/Great Society.

Wisdom! Let us attend!

I have been put off joining "pro-life" groups because they seem to be anti-abortion for all the wrong reasons. When I meet them, I am reminded of what a friend of mine once said, "It is better to do wrong for the sake of love than to insist on doing right because of my lack of it."

And most of the militant "pro-lifers" I have met seem to be singularly lacking in compassion. And so, for that matter, do many of the militant "pro-choice" people as well.


Thanks for this post, Father. You have nailed it exactly (as is often the case.)

There is no "getting there" to distibutism, for which I heartily vote.

But there is much in this world toward which there is no getting, but for which we must still hope.

That is why we true conservatives must, at the same time, cultivate a tragic sensibility and a hopeful geniality.

I will oppose the Left in their historic opposition to the Church (and to the ghosts of the Church that remain in the public square).

But I will also oppose the Right for the very same reason.

Random thoughts, responses: Clearly the corporation in its current form is the product of Enlightenment liberalism, and perhaps also the way in which states are now structured; however, the State itself obviously precedes the Enlightenment, going back at least to the covenant with Noah. (BTW, I would argue that while the State has lost interest in certain areas of morality, primarily that related to sexuality, it retains an interest in other areas.)

So what now? Where do we go? We cannot return to monarchy. Economically, there is distributism. But how do we get there?

I would argue that the state and the corporation are both products of the same thing: modern liberalism.

I have a hybrid bike! But could you see me riding from Pittsburgh to Butler (~45 miles) every Sunday (while fasting) to do liturgy? I would faint before the anaphora!

Fr. G

Thanks Fr. Greg. Hummers have no business on the road, since they were made for another purpose entirely. They belong off-road, in the desert mainly, where they seem to fit into their environment. I don't like off-road vehicles on-road in general.

I am trying to avoid a Freudian critique of Hummer-drivers -- mainly because I do not like Freud, and not because I want to protect the feelings of purveyors of conspicuous consumption.

Eddie, thanks for your note, but the State -- as being a Power that is ordained by God -- is of a higher order than a corporation. It make take the form of a corporation (as, unfortunately, modern democracies tend to do). But it may also take the form of a person, which is what a monarchy is.

Richard Weaver, in his conservative masterpiece Ideas Have Consequences, potently descried the triumph of corporatism in the West. It has permitted the evasion of personal responsibility and the obfuscation of patently immoral goals.

Nowhere is that evasion and obfuscation so poignant as the dastardly example of Rupert Murdoch, who rakes in cash from a news network that promotes itself as a conservative standard-bearer (whose prophetesses promote Fox with strategic decolletage) -- and, at the same time, takes alarming profit from some of the most R-rated shows on TV and from the most execrable social network on the internet.

The state certainly does take the form of a corporation, and that may be the problem. It is that corporate form -- that structure that is so friendly to the passions of gluttony, lust and avarice and enabling of anonymity -- that has polluted the state with a quite modern and new evil. The state now takes no interest in morality: and I contend that it is so disinterested just because of the fact that it structures itself as a corporation.

Tea Party activists, along with MoveOn.org shriekists, Club for Growth clubbers, Olbermann watchers and Limbaugh/Dreck oraculists: they all have more mobist religion in common than the pustule opinions that differentiate them as occasional individuals. They have little regard for the nation, the ethnos and ethos, that really is there. They are all ideologues, and they are, in their respective dionysian orders, unwitting votaries of the same anti-american power (which will turn out darker than anyone could have expected).

Well Fr Greg, if you were really environmentally conscious you could have avoided the note all together by buying a hybrid bicycle. Why go half way? :-)
But on a more serious note, since we are into notes, I take issue with the notion that a corporation is a creature of the State. I think every State, by definition, is a corporation. It doesn't matter if it's a dictatorship with one CEO, or a representative republic like ours with many CEO's. The State doesn't create corporations. They are created by people apart from the State. The State, being the final authority, either permits them to exist or not exist. One final and last note. If you get angry with Tea Party activists so easily, you must have been on the brink of suicide when the Clintons were elected, and in anticipation of Barack Obama's election and political appointments. God Bless.

This stuff is getting out of hand. Someone felt the need to put a note on my car (a Prius) claiming that Hummers were better for the environment, and that "environmentalism" was going to ruin the country. Whatever. My thinking is that we'll find a way to "ruin" the country, one way or another.

That said, I am grateful for the careful balance that you strive for in what you write. Your efforts have provided a welcome and much needed haven in the midst of a lot of foolish nonsense.

Fr. Gregory (Long)

Thank you for this post, Father. Something that needs to be said (from the rooftops would be okay with me), and said so very well.

I read your post immediately after reading Fr. Stephen Freeman's blog today, in which he quotes Archimandrite Meletios Webber's reflections on the deficiencies of a religion of the mind without the heart. An excerpt:

"Unfortunately, being right is not what people really need, even though a great deal of their lives may be taken up in its pursuit. Defense of the ego is almost always a matter of trying to be right. Interestingly enough, Jesus never once suggeted to His disciples that they be right. What He did demand is that they be righteous. In listening to His words we find that we spend almost all our energy in the wrong direction, since we generally pursue being right with every ounce of our being, but leave being good to the weak and the naive."

The whole post is excellent: http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/the-religion-of-the-mind-and-the-religion-of-the-heart/

And reading your post and his together is particularly illuminating.

I suppose now I'm stuck with the somewhat ironic struggle to repent of being pridefully sure that I am right in judging these "tea party" activists, who are all about being ever-so-right, as wrong. I do try to detach from the anger they provoke in me, but I'm afraid that no matter how much I may succeed in that effort, I won't likely shake my disgust with their project and pronouncements.

Thank you, Father, but when it comes to wordsmithing, I am very pleased to acknowledge that I do not hold even the slightest bit of a candle to you.

Thank you for all these wonderfully written posts.

Father, thank you, but as a wordsmith, I am happy to admit that I do not hold even the smallest bit of a candle to you. :-)

Thank you for all your wonderfully written posts.

Thank you, Father, for reiterating the point you make in the first comment above. In the face of all this, I keep coming back to the basic point that the STATE is of Divine institution while the corporation is not, itself being the creature of the State, designed to serve the common good (while indeed profiting in the process). Unfortunately, over the past century or so, it has begun to look more and more like Frankenstein's monster, or the golem.

Fr. Greg, you're at your usual wordsmithy best. Co-agulation is a far better, but uglier, term.

And another thing. I was sent this invitation to the Tea Party by a Pro-Life group, of which I am a member.

There is not one mention of pro-life issues in the Tea Party agenda, except for the organizers' certainty that abortion will be funded by healthcare reform, and that pro-life healthcare workers will be forced to perform abortions. There will be no mention of the need to watch TV less and to be less R-rated in our appetites.

Finally, in the agenda, there is not one spot of Tea and Crumpets, not one Cucumber Sandwich -- things I would expect at a Tea Party in a civilized environment.

"I will miss them, congregating on a closed battlefield."

From a poetic perspective, I prefer "coagulating" for "congregating" in the above sentence.


I should mention, on this sad juxtaposition of the Commemoration of the Beheading of the Forerunner (Julian calendar) and 9/11, that it is sin to foment civil unrest and rebellion, and that this is what is called for when corpulent politicos and suburbanites call for secession and militia-formation. Shame.

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