Archive for October, 2009

Evaluating von Balthasar on St Maximus

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 30, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

My criticisms of the book in no way detract from the scholarship of the book.  HuvB (Hans urs von Balthasar) has done groundbreaking work.  The parts on Origen and the Areapogite are probably the best out there.  His talk on number as sign pointing beyond probably cut the Gordian knot of postmodernism.

Problems with the book:
HuvB has an annoying habit of reading back into the Fathers current philosophical debates as though positions they held.  He really wants to make St Maximus a proto-Hegelian, minus the errors of Hegel, and sees Maximus anticipating (if not secretly holding) all of the theology of St Thomas Aquinas.
He reads Maximus’ appeal to the Pope has an early church endorsement of Papal Supremacy and probably infallibility. While it is true that all of the Fathers ascribed primacy to the Pope as the Bishop of Rome, first among equals, it is quite another thing to read Vatican I back into the Fathers!!
HuvB also claims that Maximus held to the Filioque but aside from a vague reference to an untranslated section of Patrologia Graece, he offers no proof.
He tries to use St Maximus as a refutation of the Russian Sophiologists: Bulgakov, Florensky, and Solovyov.  While Solovyov’s gnosticism is fair game, HuvB’s criticism of the other Russians is inaccurate at best and hypocritical at worst.  I grant HuvB the right to point out ambiguities and weaknesses in 19th century Sophiology–I myself do that quite frequently.  He does not have the right to call it Gnosticism when the same arguments that apply to Sophiology also apply to St Maximus–arguments that HuvB has listed as positives of St Maximus!!! LOL!!!  Secondly, who is HuvB to criticize the Sophiologists for allegedly leading to the darkness of Muscovite Communism?  Wait a minute–Hans urs von Balthasar, what nationality is that name?  Sounds German and he wrote this around WWII; that means he’s a Nazi!  See how stupid this line of reasoning is?  Thirdly, on the next page he praises Alyosha Karamazov for kissing the earth.  He says (quite rightly, I might add) that is an extension of St Maximus’s thought.  There’s only one problem with that.  Fyodor Dostoevsky was a disciple of–you got it–Vladimir Solovyov and his Sophiological Godmanhood!
And there’s more problems I could point to, but it wouldn’t be fair at this point.

Review of Chesterton’s *Well and Shallows*

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 29, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

At first glance this book is rather jarring.  There is a vague theme and many of the references require knowledge of early 1900 British culture and politics, something I am blessedly ignorant of.

And the slams against Protestantism make for difficult reading for Protestants (a word on that later).  I suppose his theme, since this is a collection of essays, is the Church is the well (deep truth) and everything else is the shallows (9). This book addresses a number of issues that would shape the 20th century (and indeed, write most of it in blood): Economics, relativizing of religious truth-claims, and Party politics.

Against the communist and socialist, Chesterton urges non-Utopian schemes and points out that man cannot be reduced to mere economics (interestingly, a criticism that can be made of libertarian capitalism).  Against the capitalist Chesterton points out that if Communism reduces man to pure laborer, Capitalism reduces God’s creation to a market.  Against both Chesterton advocates his famous Distributism.

Chesterton points out how often he changed political views:  or rather, he remained the same and political views changed.  Reminds one of how useless “Party politics” really is.  There is no “left-right” divide (56).  That is an illusion to keep the haves above the have-nots.

Chesterton’s thoughts on the Jews bear notice. People have accused him of being anti-semitic.  What that word means is “something today’s political Jews in the ADL do not like.”   Chesterton and Belloc simply pointed out the obvious.  However, Chesterton did admit that Hitler’s actions against the Jews were wrong (96).

Chesterton is right to point out an Anglo banking conspiracy that had as its goal the destruction of traditional society (which we see today).  I don’t think he realized how much Britain is really implicated in this.

Chesterton’s main point in this book is religion.  Truth be told, if this is his only argument for Catholicism, it is a poor one. It refutes today’s Anglicanism and Lutheranism, but it does not prove Catholicism.  However, Chesterton’s larger points are good.  While his myopia towards Rome is annoying (what about other, ancient traditions?), one should stop and ask, “Why is it for all the evident corruption in the church, the Roman church has not gone down the road of the mainline Protestants?”  Another thought to consider, and this one is scary, why is it that even the most conservative and biblical and fervent Protestant denominations end up in the gutter (see the current debates in TEC and the Lutheran church)?

Chesterton also has good thoughts on how the Institutional church cannot be a conspiracy.

Movie Review of *Shooter* (or how to really view American politics)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 28, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

I have a mixed philosophy on television and movies.  My first belief is that the devil invented TV to make people stupid.  On second thought, some shows really are good (wait, scratch that).  Same with movies, I guess.   I saw this movie by accident.


It turned out really good.  Without giving away any spoilers, here is a run-down of the plot, but also how useful this movie is when interpreting news garbage.

The movie begins with the hero (Bob Lee Swagger) and his partner covering the retreat of a “peace-keeping” operation [one should always fear when America tries to play “peacekeeper.”  The operation is botched (though there is some incredible shooting) and we three years later we find Swagger living in the mountains of Wyoming.  A colonel (Danny Glover) approaches him to “stage” a presidential assassination so that the govt will know how to stop one.

Long story short, things go wrong in the “mock” assassination, which puts Swagger on the run from the Feds.  The rest of the movie is him using his recon skills to find out what really happened.

My favorite part is when he goes to see an old-timey gunsmith in Tennessee.  The man has arguably the most country/southern accent imaginable.  He gives Swagger a lead (and some good thoughts on how a conspiracy works).

old man from shooter

Swagger later confronts the man whom said gunsmith referenced and learns the truth of what happened in the peace-keeping mission in Africa.   The guy is an Eastern European actor with an unpronounceable last name.  I will call him “Bad guy 1.”  He tells Swagger that nothing, no matter how horrible, ever happens without the govts approval (or at least knowledge of it).  One of the more important conversations in the movie.

Without getting into the rest of the plot, I will look at some quotes made by another bad guy, one Senator Meatchum (think Ned Baety).

Senator Charles F. Meachum: You got any plans after this? You have a rather unique skill set. I’d be interested in offering you a job.
Bob Lee Swagger: Work? For you?
Senator Charles F. Meachum: It’s not really as bad as it seems. It’s all gonna be done in any case. You might as well be on the side that gets you well paid for your efforts.
Nick Memphis: And what side are you on?
Senator Charles F. Meachum: There are no sides. There’s no Sunnis and Shiites. There’s no Democrats and Republicans. There’s only HAVES and HAVE-NOTS.

Well, there actually are Sunnis and Shi’ites, but his larger point is correct. Conservative “culture warriors” and left-wing NGO Marxists in America both think that they can “make a difference” by electing their party to office.  They don’t realize: 1) Washington D.C. is an occultic city and 2) both sides are united by the same desires (have a great CS Lewis quote on this subject for another day).

Bob Lee Swagger: I don’t really like the President much. Didn’t like the one before that, much, either.
Colonel Isaac Johnson: You like the idea of the President, living in a free country. Do we allow America to be ruled by thugs?
Bob Lee Swagger: Sure, some years we do.

I have to resist the urge to comment on that one.

Senator Charles F. Meachum: There’s always a confused soul that thinks that one man can make a difference. And you have to kill him to convince him otherwise. That’s the hassle with democracy.

Reminds me above about something Thomas Woods said about conservatives.  They really think that being “elected” (whatever that means) and going to Washington can make a difference.  Democrats at least know Washington is a sewer.  Republicans treat it like a hot tub.

Unfortunately, Youtube has very few videos on this.  The conversation between the old man and Swagger is awesome.

My spirituality is froth

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 26, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

I remember a church service I went to while at Calvin, in the Wealthy Street Baptist Temple (fundamentalist). I had never heard such faith and conviction, such joy in the music, such love of Jesus. I needed to focus my aroused love of God on an object. But God is invisible, and we are not angels. There was no religious object in the church. It was a bare, Protestant church; images were “idols.” I suddenly understood why Protestants were so subjectivistic: their love of God had no visible object to focus it. The living water welling up from within had no material riverbed, no shores, to direct its flow to the far divine sea. It rushed back upon itself and became a pool of froth.

(Peter Kreeft)

Raises a point:   blank minds (or blank walls) in worship, besides being ineffective, can also act as a conduit for idolatry.  RPWs like to say they don’t worship according to vain imaginations, but they are still worshipping God in a way constructed by their own mental frameworks.

As even Calvinist author James K. Smith notes on hermeneutics, we never approach texts (or worship) without mediation.  It is simply a myth, and one easily refuted (see a coming post on St Augustine and interiorities), that we approach something *im*mediately.  It is always filtered by our own traditions, cultures, and mindsets.

Therefore the RPWist is simply wrong to assert that they worship God purely and without spiritual crutches.   Since their mind is itself a filter, even if blank and empty by their own terms, they are using a crutch.

It also explains why I could never really pray for a long time in my Puritan days.  I’d read stories about heroic hours of prayer, but I always got bored after ten minutes.  I would turn the lights off, close my eyes, clear my mind, and start praying for various and sundry things.  and run out of things to say around the 7 minute mark.  I would then think of other things and ran the risk of praying in a way that Jesus rebuked in Matthew 6.  But it was inevitable, I suppose.

Notes towards a defense of high liturgy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 25, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

Earlier this year I had a debate with a Scottish covenanter on the proper way to worship God (and I agree with him–it is a most worthy subject).  Granted, most of these debates are usually exercises in intellectual masochism.  Still, it did point a number of things to me. I used a form of the following argument, but I didn’t have time to revise it.


Both the RPWist and the liturgist will appeal to Hebrews 9.  The RPWist will argue that Christ did away with ornate trappings and in the New Covenant he is only to be worshipped by bare walls, low ceilings, and cheap lighting.  And on first glance it seems he’s right.  I’ll quote the verse.

23Thus it was necessary for(AU) the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24For Christ has entered

The argument, then, seems that Christ coming did away with (a) Old Testament symbolism, and with (b) symbolism itself.

(a) is obviously true but (b) is by no means proven.  Also, it is by no means proven that Scripture warrants “no symbolism” in worship (and quite frankly, despite all the rhetoric about RPW, Scripture is remarkably silent on something as important as worship).    Now, for my argument; in fact, I will quote the same verse:

23Thus it was necessary for(AU) the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

I assume all sides will agree that the Tabernacle/Temple worship was a copy of the heavenly worship?  And this copy is done away with.  Agreement so far.  However, do we not also agree that New Testament worship should also copy, to the best of our understanding, the heavenly worship?  Interestingly, and I think this is the knock-out argument, Hebrews 9:23-24 says that the copies (Old Testament worship) were not simply done away with (though in a certain sense that is true) but purified.

And perhaps this explains why the early church didn’t write many apologetic explanations on high liturgy, but simply assumed it.

Medieval Sacred Music

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 25, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

Found good website.  At times it’s necessary to just step back and let your senses and imagination be healed.


New Blog on Russia Analysis

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 23, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

War and Peace

More and more competent voices are coming forward, documenting NATO/US complicity in a host of areas, from ethnic cleansing of Serbs for the sake of oil pipelines to urging Saakashivi to shell Ossetian homes just to see how weak Russia is.

Also pointed out is the role of the Rothschilds and Rockefellers in this.  Many Americans, especially Evangelical Christians, simply don’t realize that in mindlessly hating Russia, they are implicitly supporting people who, if not openly worship the devil, come very close to it.

(and also see the Schiff’s role in destroying the Tsar in WWI, making it possible for the dominance of Anglo-American capitalism.)