Pleroma, priesthood, and abortion

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Frans Wouters, after Sir Peter Paul Rubens, “The Sacrifice of the Old Covenant,” oil on oak panel.

It is interesting where one’s wanderings in the Steppes of Cyberia can take one! From following links on Holy Tradition and the priesthood, I found myself struck by a passage which speaks to one of the great issues – and traditional / orthodox Christians would assert, evils – of our time: abortion. This, even though abortion is not mentioned in this context.

In her essay, “What is Holy Tradition?” in her blog, Just Genesis, anthropologist, scholar, and former Episcopal priest (one uses that word with caution, and she herself has rejected it, when applied to women) Alice Lindsey writes (this is long, but please bear with me – it’s important to set the context),

“The whole fabric of Holy Tradition is one with the Pleromic Blood of Jesus Christ. No where is this more evident than in the institution of the priesthood which is essentially the Messiah Priesthood. The Messianic Priesthood is unlike any other religious institution. It at once makes distinctions in its binary character and brings unity through its power to redeem and cleanse. It makes distinction between God and humanity and it makes distinction between male and female. The distinction in both cases addresses the primeval universal anxiety toward blood, an anxiety which many cultural anthropologists have observed.

“Underlying the priesthood is the belief that humans must give an accounting to God, especially for the shedding of blood. The priesthood is intrinsically linked to blood. The priest is the functionary who addresses the guilt and dread that accompany the shedding of blood.

“There are two types of blood anxiety: blood shed by killing and blood related to menstruation and birthing. To archaic peoples both types were regarded as powerful and potentially dangerous, requiring priestly ministry to deal with bloodguilt through animal sacrifice and to deal with blood contamination through purification rites.

“Not a single female in the Bible served in a priestly role. We can argue a case for women deacons, but the deacon is not intrinsically linked to blood. Despite the efforts of many to create an egalitarian reality, we find no basis in Tradition or Scripture upon which to argue for women priests. The Bible does not say that women can be priests because the binary distinctions that frame the biblical worldview make “woman priest” ontologically impossible.

“The Scriptures do not forbid women priests because the very idea of women sacrificing animals in the Temple was beyond imagination. It would have been regarded as an affront to the Divine order.

It was a bloody business when a priest sacrificed a lamb, so much so that the carcasses were burned outside the walls. It was a bloody business giving birth to children, so much so that the birthing hut was set outside the community. In the ancient… worldview from which Holy Tradition emerges, the two bloods were ordained for different purposes and could never share the same space. C.S. Lewis presents the grotesqueness of women priests in his depiction of the savage slaying of Aslan by the White Witch. If you wonder why the image is so troubling, consider that woman was made to bring forth life, not to take it [emphasis added].

“If you wonder why the image is so troubling, consider that woman was made to bring forth life, not to take it.”

That is it in a nutshell, I think. Why is abortion so abhorrent to many of us? Why is it so troubling, even to people who support it, that they have to build defenses around their belief that it’s really okay, after all – defenses like “reproductive rights,” and “my body, my choice” – or conversely, “I had to do it, I had no choice”?

To those outside the pro-abortion movement, those have a hollow, desperate sound: abortion is the antithesis of reproduction; I have already discussed how there is more than just the woman’s body to consider; and there are always choices. They sound like justifications, rationalizations, after the fact – and they are.

Woman was made to bring forth life, not to take it.

This is why abortion is not only wrong, or sad, or “a shame,” but – on a visceral, and even metaphysical, level – abhorrent and evil: because it goes against the very nature and purpose of womanhood as such. Woman alone can conceive a child, bear it in her womb as it develops, and bring it forth to life.

Men cannot do this thing; only women can. Therefore childbirth (and I know individual women have other marvelous abilities, and I also know that some women for a variety of reasons simply cannot have children; but we are talking on an ontological level, here – the level of beingness) is of the essence of woman, in a way it is not and cannot be of men, obviously, or even of humanity as a whole.

Woman was made to bring forth life.

Those women who elect to have an abortion (elective abortions being defined as those that are not medically necessary to save the life of the mother, the latter of which is a very small percentage of all abortions, on the order of 1% or less) – whatever struggles and psycho-emotional agony they may have gone through to reach that point, and I do not wish to minimize the very real struggles of many women, who may feel themselves pressured toward abortion by circumstance, by society, or by their “significant other” – are in a very real sense rejecting the most defining characteristic of womanhood itself, the ability to bear a child and give birth to him or her.

In effect, by her decision and action, the woman who chooses abortion – although it is the abortionist who actually does the deed – is choosing (by Lindsey’s categories, above) to function in the role of priest… but of a priest of Moloch, the biblical Phoenician deity who demanded child-sacrifice.

This is not only an individual act of violence and cruelty against the most innocent and defenseless among us, but – on a metaphysical level – it is an inversion of, and offense against, the cosmic order itself, and thereby an offense against the God who created that order (and who also taught us, “thou shalt not kill,” and “love thy neighbor as thyself”).

No wonder it is greeted with unease, at best, and often (and rightly) abhorrence, by many – frequently including the woman herself!

When a woman, whose natural role (inter alia, but also preeminently, since she alone can do this) is to bring forth life, chooses instead to kill it, not only is her own world turned upside down, but so, metaphysically, is the cosmic order itself. Is it any wonder, then, that a culture and society which not only accepts, but is expected to “affirm” and even “celebrate” such actions (638,169 in 2015, and nearly 45.7 million between 1970 and 2015, per the CDC), also seems topsy-turvy?

On a metaphysical level, as well as a socio-cultural one, it is!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
   Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
   Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
For heathen heart that puts her trust
   In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
   And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word—
Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!
— Rudyard Kipling, “Recessional” (1897)
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Glories of the West: the Veiled Virgin of Giovanni Strazza

No photo description available.

“The Veiled Virgin is a Carrara marble statue carved in Rome by Italian sculptor Giovanni Strazza (1818–1875), depicting the bust of a veiled Virgin Mary. The exact date of the statue’s completion is unknown, but it was probably in the early 1850s. The veil gives the appearance of being translucent, but in fact is carved of marble.” (Wikipedia)

Giovanni Strazza had a true gift, and one which he used as such gifts ought to be used: to the glory of God!

The list of bogus ‘hate crimes’ in Trump era is long | New York Post

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail following his release.

In the wake of the arrest of actor Jussie Smollett, who was charged with staging his own racist and homophobic attack, here are just some of the other crimes that have been given prominent play by the media since the 2016 election.

Source: The list of bogus ‘hate crimes’ in Trump era is long

Left-wing pundits and protesters have been quick to blame any crime against racial or religious minorities here in the US, since 2016, on what one CNN analyst called “The election of President Donald Trump [which] lifted the rock under which much of the hatred had hidden, allowing it to squirm out into the light.”

But is that a fair assessment, or is it just another example of what has been called (accurately, in my view) “Trump Derangement Syndrome”? While it is entirely possible that there are some racists, homophobes, and other bigots who have felt emboldened by the election of President Trump, this article demonstrates that Smollett’s case is far from unique – with the mainstream media serving as a willing, even eager, accomplice.

Journalistic objectivity and pursuit of the truth behind the story seem to have gone out the window, when the dominant narrative seems better served by simply “rounding up the usual suspects.” I am reminded of a poster that used to hang in my father’s home office: “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts!”

The difference is, he was joking…

A Teaching & Proclamation on Abortion | Anglican Province of America

Image result for Anglican Joint SynodsThe Bishops of the Anglican Joint Synods Churches released the following statement on the matter of abortion.

Source: A Teaching & Proclamation on Abortion | Anglican Province of America

The Bishops of the Anglican Joint Synods – often known as the “G4” or “Group of Four” Continuing Anglican Churches – has released an official statement on the subject of abortion, here linked from the website of the Anglican Province of America, one of the G4 jurisdictions.

It notes, inter alia, that

“In Virginia, where [legislation similar to that passed by New York] has been proposed [though thankfully not passed], the current governor has made statements that appear to endorse the notion that babies who survive late-term abortions could be left to die.

“Such sentiments reveal how far removed the pro-abortion movement is from the values expressed in a document penned by another governor of Virginia, one which asserts that all humans are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,’ and ‘that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.’

“A society founded on these principles cannot support legalized abortion. If the right to life is unalienable, it belongs to the individual alone, and cannot unjustly be taken away. Moreover, the right to life possesses a logical priority in that all other rights flow from the individual’s status as a living being.

“Curtailing the right to life undermines the principles of natural law and threatens the very fabric of our democracy.”

Amen.

The Covington Catholic Kids Take the Gloves Off | The American Conservative

Their lawsuit seeks to teach the media a lesson it will never forget.

Source: The Covington Catholic Kids Take the Gloves Off | The American Conservative

Lawyers for Nick Sandmann, the student at the center of the controversy wherein, following the March for Life on January 18th, Native American activist Nathan Phillips marched into the midst of a group of Covington Catholic High School students waiting for a bus and proceeded to drum and chant within inches of the face of Mr. Sandmann, have filed a suit on his behalf (at the bequest of his parents), seeking $250 million from Washington Post, one of the media outlets that published erroneous and defamatory accounts of the incident.

The lawsuit, according to NPR, is “seeking $50 million in compensation for the alleged damage done, while the remaining $200 million in punitive damages would be aimed at punishing the newspaper company.” The amount was chosen to mirror the amount that billionaire Jeff Bezos paid for the Post in 2013, and is clearly and unequivocally chosen to send a message: not only to the Washington Post, but to other media outlets which have become increasingly prone to substitute partisan politics for objective reporting.

The NPR article notes that “In their complaint, the Sandmanns say they are asking a federal district court in Kentucky to help them ‘teach the Post a lesson it will never forget.'” They likely have an uphill battle to make this stick, and it is doubtful that, even if the suit is successful, they will get the full $250 million, but I hope it is successful, nonetheless. Winning this suit, regardless of amount, would sent a message that needs to be sent.

Most of my readers will recall this incident, in which an adult male, Mr. Phillips, clearly attempted to intimidate a group of high school students, who were doing nothing more offensive that singing school-spirit songs while waiting for their bus. The only “offense” of Mr. Sandmann, at the epicenter of the controversy, was in refusing to be intimidated or moved, standing his ground with an enigmatic smile while Mr. Phillips quite literally got in his face.

And, oh yes, I almost forgot: he and many of his classmates had committed the unpardonable sin of wearing a “MAGA” hat.

We live in an era where support of the President – or even of America – is sufficient to justify, in the minds of the Left, all sorts of punishment, from being kicked or heckled out of eating establishments, to having eggs thrown in their faces, to having protesters actually gather and demonstrate outside their homes.

The Covington kids received death threats, and it was even suggested that their school should be burned down, with the students inside – all this by the tolerant, diversity-celebrating, committed-to-coexistence Left, for whom “love trumps hate.”

Yeah, and if you believe that’s an example of love trumping hate, I’ve got some ocean-front property in Arizona I’m willing to sell you, cheap.

In any case, the suit being filed on Nicholas Sandmann’s behalf is clearly intended to send a message, not just to the Washington Post, but to all those who think they can get away with attacking, misrepresenting, and defaming people simply because they support the President. As the post I linked at the beginning of this entry notes,

“Sandmann’s attorneys accuse the Post of ‘wrongfully placing the anti-Trump, anti-Catholic, and [pro-choice] agenda over the harm its False and Defamatory Accusations caused to Nicholas’ and of ignoring ‘contrary information in favor of its pre-conceived false narrative against President Trump and his supporters.’ Sandmann’s name might be at the top of the complaint, but the attorneys who authored it clearly imagine their lawsuit is carrying the banner for every single victim of anti-MAGA discrimination.”

The author goes on to note that

“the complaint’s bellicose and overtly partisan language, as well as its reliance on the right-wing persecution complex, made me uneasy. So I decided to re-read the Post‘s first story on the Sandmann-Phillips incident. After all, it couldn’t be that bad.

“Oh, but it was. Even the headline—“Native American drummer speaks on the MAGA-hat wearing teens who surrounded him”—was false… the article degenerates into something akin to the murder of Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, as people and groups come forward one by one to sink their knives into Sandmann…

“From the sheer scale of this pile-on, you’d think Sandmann had shot up a school.”

If this is the kind of love that trumps hate, I think we could do with a little less of it, personally. Kudos to Nick Sandmann, his parents, and their attorneys for standing up to Leftist vitriol and pressure. I hope this suit succeeds. This is a lesson the Left – and I include the vast majority of the mainstream media in that category – needs to be taught. Whether they will actually learn it, even if the suit is successful, being of course another story…

Maybe we need a new slogan: “Make Media Sane Again.”

Modernity (and postmodernity) vs pre-modernity

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Conservatives and traditionalists are often accused of romanticizing the past, viewing it through the proverbial “rose-colored glasses,” ignoring its faults and over-emphasizing its virtues. Maybe so. Every age has its issues, the past no less than the present. Still, as someone who has studied the past, and especially the Middle Ages, for most of my life – including two degrees in the field – I think there is considerable truth to this!

H/T to Jonathan McCormack for the image.

College Illiteracy is Growing | Intellectual Takeout

College Illiteracy is Growing

For a number of years, it was assumed that public education was swimming along, efficiently educating children of all ages. More recently, the products coming out of public schools have caused a troubling concern to leap into the minds of adults: are schools dumbing down the content they teach to students?

Source: College Illiteracy is Growing | Intellectual Takeout

I have been observing this trend for years, now, from both inside and outside public schools and academia. The author, Annie Holmquist, writes,

“One could cast blame in many directions to attempt to explain why students are not intellectually prepared for college. But is it possible that the main reason stems from the fact that schools are simply not set up to train students to think for themselves?”

A good question. And one to which I suspect I know the answer…

I would also add, society is teaching students that they ought to be able to get anything they want without much effort, intellectual or otherwise!