I didn’t see this one coming

Posted in Uncategorized on November 9, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

Okay, I sometimes pick on anabaptists for being anarchists.  While fun, and sometimes true, I do grant them their consistency.  Anyway, I realized that for all Calvinists’ rhetoric about “godly social order” and a Christian rule of law, it’s really a joke.  I mean, I saw one guy defend America’s imperial wars.  He ridiculed the websites I used but never challenged my facts (or the fact that he made himself a bedfellow with Holbrooke, Biden, and Obama).

Liberating wildness of Classical Trinitarianism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 8, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

Studying Orthodox and classical Trinitarianism and Christology is like drinking heady mead.  It fills one with a wildness.  If I–by the grace of God–can get this right, I really won’t err too badly on the doctrine of Church and salvation.

I used to always fret and worry in covenant theology.  There were so many dialectics and aporias.  This guy seemed to say this and be right.  The other said the contrary and he, too, had Scripture to back him.  Nary a word on the Trinity.  I always doubted, if all these guys claimed to be right, yet contradicted each other, how could I, a nobody, hope to get it right?

Then Jay Dyer told me that if I got Trinity and Christology correct, the rest would fall into place.  Now I don’t worry about being “an arminian” or a “calvinist,” and the bad implications of those two positions.  If I get the Trinity right, I can’t get too much wrong.

Books I need to finish before Christmas

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 6, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

Peter the Great by Robert Massie.  Manages to combine fair enough scholarship with a popular audience.  Massie can do something few (any?) scholars have ever done:  write in such a way that the common man can read you.   The book gives a decent overview of the change between Tsarism and Western Imperialism.  Also documents that Peter was inducted into the Masonic lodge.

Light from the East by Alexie Nesteruk.   about 30 pages into it.  Good so far.  Deals with science and faith from an Orthodox viewpoint.  He avoids simplistic reductions.  He doesn’t grab his ankles every time a Christ-hating scientist or secularist is offended by the faith, but he also avoids the perils of fundamentalist interpretation as well.

The Cosmic War by Joseph Farrell.  I know he gets slammed a lot, but most of the people who do the slamming aren’t really physics scholars (neither am I).  And his thesis about the pyramids is independent from the rest of hi work, so criticizing the Giza Death Star in no way invalidates other things he says (it’s amazing how people forget that).  Anyway, I am ultimately more interested in his work on alchemy and banking.

The Cosmic Liturgy by Hans urs von Balthasar.  While probably one of the best works on St Maximus, in many ways this is a terribly-argued book.  Balthasar is dealing from the bottom of the deck.  Much of the book is engaged in blatant special-pleading to show that St Maximus secretly rejected Byzantium and became a Roman Catholic.  While this book helped me on a number of issues dealing with the cosmos and transcendence, and summarizing St Gregory of Nyssa and Origen, it is a big let-down.

The Lamb of God by Sergei Bulgakov.  Aside from a few troubling remarks, this book has a number of good insights and in many ways is a vast improvement over von Balthasar. In fact, I will use Bulgakov’s work to blister parts of HuvB’s thesis.

Civilization of the Middle Ages by Norman Cantor.  Pretty good summary of Western Europe.

The Idiot by Dostoevksy.  Harder to read than Brothers Karamazov.  I should have finished it by now.  Lots of good parallels to the redemption of Russia.

War and Peace by Tolstoy.  Really is a good book.  Still, when you are five hundred pages into it and Tolstoy is still setting up the story, well…you get it.

How do I get my “Tags” to show up on the side?

Posted in Uncategorized on November 5, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

I am having trouble seeing my tags in the sidebar.  What gives?

Filioque or Triad?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 4, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

I am rereading Lossky’s In the Image and Likeness of God.  I read it last year but really didn’t know the issues involved.  I need to really hammer down what I believe about Triadology.  Apostolic succession, Eucharist, liturgy–that’s wonderful but keeping the discussion at that level means that Roman Catholicism is just as viable an option–which it is not.  The Filioque, Triadology, and Absolute Divine Simplicity are the issues upon which the debate hangs.  They are “deal breakers.”  The following is from Lossky’s book. I am going to spend future posts unpacking these two pages.

According to St. Maximus, God is “identically a monad and a triad.”{24} He is not merely one and three; he is 1=3 and 3=1. That is to say, here we are not concerned with number as signifying quantity: absolute diversities cannot be made the subjects of sums of addition; they have not even opposition in common. If, as we have said, a personal God cannot be a monad– if he must be more than a single person– neither can he be a dyad. The dyad is always an opposition of two terms, and, in that sense, it cannot signify an absolute diversity. When we say that God is Trinity we are emerging from the series
of countable or calculable numbers.{25} The procession of the Holy Spirit is an infinite [85] passage beyond the dyad, which consecrates the absolute (as opposed to relative) diversity of the persons. This passage beyond the dyad is not an infinite series of persons but the infinity of the procession of the Third Person: the Triad suffices to denote the Living God of revelation.{26} If God is a monad equal to a triad, there is no place in him for a dyad. Thus the seemingly necessary opposition between the Father and the Son, which gives rise to a dyad, is purely artificial, the result of an illicit abstraction. Where the Trinity is concerned, we are in the presence of the One or of the Three, but never of two.

The procession of the Holy Spirit ab utroque does not signify passage beyond the dyad but rather re-absorption of the dyad in the monad, the return of the monad upon itself. It is a dialectic of the monad opening out into the dyad and closing again into its simplicity.{27} On the other hand, procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone, by emphasizing the monarchy of the Father as the concrete principle of the unity of the Three, passes beyond the dyad without a return to primordial unity, without the necessity of God retiring into the simplicity of the essence. For this reason the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone confronts us with the mystery of the “Tri-Unity.” We have here not a simple, self-enclosed essence, upon which relations of opposition have been superimposed in order to masquerade a god of philosophy as the God of Christian revelation. We say “the simple Trinity,” and this antinomic expression, characteristic of Orthodox hymnography,{28} points out a simplicity which the absolute diversity of the three persons can in no way relativize.

Review of Taras Bulba; thoughts on Russia and Empire

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 3, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

Part of this will review Gogol’s “Taras Bulba.”  In doing so it will address the nature of empire and how stronger countries can relate to weaker countries in non-coercive ways.

Where Russian authors are concerned Gogol often is overshadowed by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. While Dostoevsky is still the Master, Gogol is a better storyteller. While Tolstoy powerfully captures the human dimension, Gogol has a tighter grip on his narrative. Gogol’s outlook is tough to pin down. While he is a Petersburg urbanite, he knows that the Masonic civilization a la Peter the Great is an imposition of matter upon reality. The true life is found in hearth, home, and (as in the case of the Cossacks) on horse.

In “Diary of a Madman” Gogol exposes our vain pretensions. Yes, the story is silly and absurd. The man is a bureacrat (and note how similar government workers are in every society). His job is a joke. He does nothing but drain the resources of society (like the US Congress). And he knows it. And the audience knows it.

The book climaxes in “Taras Bulba.” This makes readers uncomfortable on many levels. 1) Gogol praises Russian Orthodoxy. 2) Gogol describes the brutalities commited by the Cossacks. 3) Gogol has the Cossacks as the good guys. What do we make of this? Gogol does not justify the Cossacks’ brutality, but the question looms in the background: which is worse–waging a defensive (albeit very brutal) war in defense of your home and to keep your churches from being desecrated OR to destroy the lives of thousands from a government office in the capital city, divorced from the hard and painful realities of human life? Gogol is not merely writing a short story about Ukrainian nationalism, but he is showing two types of barbarity–cold, heartless bureacracy and heated, contextualized warfare. Which is worse, then? That question is getting harder to answer (the situation could easily be the NATO officials in the Balkans in 1999 and the Serbs fighting a savage war defending their people against Muslims, but I digress).

Given the question, the Cossacks’ actions take on a more meaningful role (and accordingly, the government bureacracy is delegitimized). On another level, Gogol may very well have solved the problem of different types of nationalisms working together despite themselves. These Cossacks are not Russian, but Ukrainian, but as Bulba is burned alive he shouts his faith in Christ and in the Russian Tsar.

One realizes that a stronger country like Russia should protect and nurture Ukrainian nationalism but never force the Ukrainians to become Russians. In short, Gogol is hinting at a Slavic federation which sees Russia as its leader (simply out of necessity)

It is true that sometimes Russia plays “heavy hand” with Ukraine, and if Russia tries to overwhelm Ukrainian and Belarussian culture, then Russia is in the wrong.  However, it must also be said that Ukraine has been hijacked by Western imperialists who want to use Ukraine for possible nuclear action on Russia.  Therefore, Russia has to play a strong hand.

But the day is coming, many believe, when Russia and Ukraine will unite.  Obama’s anti-Christ adviser Zbig Brenzski said that if Russia and Ukraine unite, then nothing on earth will stop Russia (or more precisely, Russia could easily then stop the Anglo-American banking cartels).

Let them scoff. We have Holy Russia (with other comments on Joan of Arc)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 2, 2009 by The Cult of King Alfred

Will they laugh at us? Of course, that’s the normal way they deal with people; this is how they deal with opposition: scorn and, eventually, social exclusion, and, soon, arrest. We certainly have ample precedent for this. Remember: This is nervous laughter. Remember: we believe in Holy Russia and Orthodoxy, they believe in the latest academic fads. We believe in the Tsars, they believe in the latest celebrity gossip and fashions. We believe in the Russian nation, they believe in modern (and solely modern) political ideologies. We believe in the Holy Spirit, they believe that technology is leading humanity into an era of peace and plenty. We believe in the divinity of Jesus, and they really believe that “reality TV” is unscripted. We believe in One True Church, they watch Oprah. We are the ones that need to be laughing.

Thoughts on Lent

Some who read this will no doubt irk and say, “Well, what about _______ that Holy Russia did?”  Fair enough.   Holy Russia is a mixed bag.  While it is true that serfdom is evil (though one wonders how Russian serfdom is really any different [or worse, for that matter] than globo-American consumerism), and for most of the 18th and 19th centuries Russia was ruled by people who really didn’t like Russia, the model of Holy Russia provides an effective contrast to today.

Now, for some thoughts on miracles.   Moving to Western characters.  Last year I got in a discussion with a Christ-hater and an Obama-worshipper on Joan of Arc, or the movies that recently came out.  One of the movies (I can’t remember and really don’t care) was openly anti-Christian.  There were scenes of rape and necrophilia (or so the movie review told me.  I didn’t watch it) and when Christ appeared he looked like Hell and the Devil.  The two people mentioned above loved that part for its realism.  They said, “We really can’t know the difference between an appearance of God and the Devil.”

Now, despite how utterly wrong they are, they did touch on an important truth.  Satan does masquerade as an angel of light.  Could Joan not have been tricked by the devil?  I don’t think so.  It is doubtful that demons would have appeared to her and told her to “worship God and be more pious.”  I guess they could be it seems counter-productive (something about if Satan be divided).

The other movie, for what it’s worth, is quite good and wholesome.