On Images And Culture

Begging my readers’ patience, I will take a small anthropology tour through our culture. What I want to draw our attention to is the place of the image. We are not only fascinated with looking at images, we place them on our bodies as well: t-shirts, tattoos, hats, shoes, pants – in short, everywhere.

There is nothing unusual in this. Were we to examine primitive tribes, we would notice a vast assemblage of image-markings. People cover themselves with colorful muds, distort certain parts of their bodies, do amazing things with hair, dress themselves in utterly impractical costumes. Something is at work in the human soul that is demonstrated in all of these behaviors. My suggestion is that it is an effort to live “according to the image.”

Clothing is mentioned with an essential role in the Genesis account of human beginnings. Our sin plunges us into shame. We are “naked” and seek to “hide.” The theological unpacking of this reality is deeply important in Scripture, particularly in the New Testament. But it also reflects a simple human experience. The naked truth of ourselves is generally experienced in a shameful manner. That is to say that we feel exposed, vulnerable and in danger when various aspects of that truth are seen by others. And so, we cover up.

God provided Adam and Eve “garments of skin” in Genesis 3. Those garments have been deeply elaborated on ever since. Perhaps the deepest commentary on this is found in St. Paul: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27)

This would probably be more accurately rendered, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ as a garment.” The word “put on” (ἐνεδύσασθε) specifically refers to “putting on” a garment. This “putting on” is the true and spiritual fulfillment of which all efforts to clothe ourselves are a mere reflection, and often one of deep distortion.

I take us back to my first observation: we universally seek to cover or mark ourselves with something. Our appearance is a canvas which we cannot help but disguise. And, following Genesis, we can observe that we desperately want to cover or mark ourselves in order to disguise our shame – in one form or another.

It can be argued that we wear clothes because it is too sunny or cold. But our clothing long ago transcended the practical need of hairless animals. Our clothing, like most of our lives, reflects psychological and spiritual issues more than anything. The state of our soul is often on display for anyone who understands the nature of the great human cover-up.

A frequent element of our covering is the projection of power. We use various symbols and clues as signals. Identifying ourselves with a team proclaims the power of a tribe: we are not alone. Much of our political signals are aggressive in nature, not surprising in a culture in which almost all citizens feel largely powerless. Our coverings can signal beauty, strength, anger, sexual desire, any number of things in the cultural dance surrounding inner shame.

The modern fashion of tattooing (more prominent in America than Europe) is a deeper form of covering, at least in its permanence. It strikes me as interesting that such a permanent form of covering should become popular in a culture permeated by impermanence. In my part of the world, it seems less and less common to encounter people who have no tattoos.

Please understand that I am not saying that our clothing and markings are themselves shameful. They are quite the opposite. They represent protective coverings that protect us from the shame we feel and the shaming we encounter in social settings. Our inner shame surrounds our sense of identity. Shame is about “who I am.” Our coverings represent an effort to publicly proclaim, “This is who I am,” regardless of what might be the case inwardly. As such, our coverings are an attempt to say, “This is who I want you to think I am.” Many times these same created coverings are used to hide our inner shame from ourselves. The modern selfie is a fascination with the image, an effort to proclaim an existence and identity in a world where social media has become a substitute ontology: “I’m online, therefore I exist…. And they like me!”

All of this feels intensely personal as I think about it. As an Orthodox priest, I am costumed in almost every setting. In public, I wear a cassock. In Church, I am covered in vestments. But there, the covering is extremely intentional. As he vests, the priest prays: ” My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, for He has clothed me with the garment of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of gladness; as a bridegroom He has set a crown on me; and as a bride adorns herself with jewels, so has He adorned me…. Your Priests, O Lord, shall clothe themselves with righteousness, and Your saints shall shout with joy always, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

According to Eusebius, St. James, the Brother of the Lord, wore a linen garment like the High Priest when he served in the Church’s assembly. That ancient reality, still enacted in the Liturgy, is a visible “putting on of Christ.” It is Christ who is present and leads us in our offering to the Father. The robing of the priest covers the person of the priest himself (and his shame), in order to present the Lord of glory.

To wear a uniform or costume (I don’t know what else to call it) in public is always to disappear to a certain extent. My own parishioners, when they occasionally see me without the cassock (when I’m out for a walk, etc.), do not always recognize me – at least not at first glance. It reminds me that I am not “me” to them, but “their priest.” My late Archbishop used to forbid priests to wear things like bathing suits in front of their parishioners. If we wanted to swim, we needed to go somewhere else.

It is possible to lose yourself in such a covering. A priest can begin to mistake himself for the robe he wears. Indeed, I think some are drawn to the priesthood precisely because they want to lose themselves – and for the wrong reasons. We can clothe ourselves outwardly, but if the clothing only hides our shame and does not transform it, then it becomes part of the sickness in our lives that binds us to our shame.

Just as our first experience of shame was our “nakedness” (the emptiness of our existence in the presence of God), so our salvation is expressed in terms of being clothed: ” Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” (Eph. 4:22-25)

The “new nature,” created “after the likeness of God,” is nothing other than the very righteousness of Christ, described as a garment. But this is more than a garment – it is a “nature,” meaning that it no longer represents a garment that hides us, but something that changes us, so that the inside (“nature”) matches the outside (“righteousness of Christ”). We can be seen exactly as we are – without shame.

It is noteworthy that St. Paul completes the admonition with the commandment to “speak the truth.” This is the opposite of what takes place in almost all of our various cultural versions of clothing. What you see of others is never “who they are,” but what they want you to see, an effort that is rarely successful.

However, our holy transformation (conformity to the image of Christ) begins in Baptism, and continues as we “speak the truth,” meaning as we “bear a little shame” in the truth of our confession and repentance and in our dealings with others. It is, admittedly, a most difficult thing. The greater our inward fear and the depth of our wounds, the harder it is to trust this work of salvation. By grace, it is possible.

Nearly six years ago I had a very graphic dream that involved my late Archbishop Dmitri. It was some few months after his death. The last words he spoke in the dream have stayed with me: “I believe that soon, we shall all have to stand naked before the judgment seat of Christ.” I did not know then how important those words would become for me. May God clothe us with the righteousness of Christ and conform us inwardly to His image.

Father Stephen Freeman is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, serving as Rector of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.

The photo shows, “The Brioche,” by Edouard Manet, painted in 1870.

Progress? How Pathetic!

Imagine pulling into your local farmer’s co-op, where hippies, “traddies,” and other divergent elements of our modern melting pot all coalesce in the interests of health, localism, and fresh asparagus.

You park your dinged-up Ford Explorer, bedecked with rear-view Rosary and other ostentatious sacramentals, in the only available parking spot. As you exit the vehicle, fumbling with your keys and shopping list, you notice that the Prius you’ve inattentively parked next to is so adorned with adhesive political messaging that it looks like a leftist bumper-sticker emporium: icons of Marx and Che keep company with “I Support Planned Parenthood,” “Coexist,” and “I’m Non-Judgmental and I Vote!”

There must be more than a dozen decals, simultaneously assaulting your intellect and senses with offensive thoughts and substandard graphic design. The chaos is getting to you. Then, as if guided by preternatural help, your eyes land on a sticky slogan you’ve never before seen, and it helps to contextualize all the others, for it reads: “MY PATHOS RAN OVER YOUR LOGOS.

Alas, there is order amid the chaos!

It is my contention that the progressivist spoils rhetoric by giving pathos rather than logos the central position among the rhetorical appeals, and the effect of such an inversion is dangerous, for emotion unhinged from reason is like powerful wild horse infuriate with passion.

If we extend our simile by incorporating the mob mentality and a dastardly provocateur, then we have a cautionary parable about a madman instigating a stampede, with all its potential for death and destruction.

But let me back up and give some of the principles that govern the subject under consideration.

According to Aristotle, in any given rhetorical situation, the rhetor has three “appeals” he can make to his audience: logosethos, and pathos. Simply explained, logos is reason, ethos is character, and pathos is feeling.

Because logos pertains to the subject matter, ethos to the speaker, and pathos to the audience, the first appeal has more of the nature of objectivity to it, while the others are necessarily subjective as they pertain to persons — though, of course, standards of ethical goodness are objective, and standards of beauty that can move the human heart are not entirely arbitrary.

Because he joined rhetoric to logic — whereas Plato joined it to mercantile pursuits! — Aristotle’s approach to rhetoric is very logos-centered. We can understand Plato’s mistrust of rhetoric as the notable rhetors of his day, the sophists, were responsible for the death his mentor, Socrates.

And this illustrates why rhetoric ought to be joined to logos, for without having acquired the art and science of right thinking, one ought not to pursue the art of persuasive speaking: the reason why is obvious; in addition to the sophists, history presents us with a rogues gallery of despots and charlatans who moved men to mischief by the clever use of speech.

Aristotle would have preferred that the rhetorician stick to reason, but he conceded that the other appeals were necessary. Man is a “pathetic” being, he acknowledged, meaning quite literally that we have feelings. Because of this, feeling must be incorporated into rhetoric, but not given the centrality that belongs to reason.

The three rhetorical appeals have an affinity to the three transcendentals: logos corresponds to truth, ethos to goodness, and pathos to beauty. Far be it from me to downplay either pathos or beauty, but certain beauties have been known to turn men’s heads away from reason, which accounts for the more decadent aspects of romanticism.

I make no claim to understand the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, but I do know a little about his heretical leanings, including not only his eschatological “hope” for an empty Hell, but also his bizarre Christology concerning Our Lord’s descent thither.

Von Balthasar is sometimes called the “theologian of beauty,” as he apparently wrote a great deal about it in his theological tomes. But if my understanding is correct, he did with this third transcendental precisely what we ought not to do with it: untether it from the other two, or — probably more accurately — he put it in the lead position over the others.

Without truth, beauty can mislead us, leading us to find her in what is contrary to the law of God, and therefore contrary to reason, to logos. To give an obvious example, God made the female anatomy to be beautiful to the male, and this is no bad thing.

Beauty is the splendor ordinis (splendor of order) or the splendor formae (splendor of form). Speaking abstractly and dispassionately in purely aesthetic terminology, one may note that there is a more perfect proportionality, or order, in one or another specimen of the female form, yet we must ever be mindful of the words of Our Lord: “whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).

The undeniable logical truth of that statement, and our obligation to conform to it for the sake of ethical goodness lead us to discipline (yet not destroy) our pursuit of the pathos of beauty.

Saint Augustine rightly called God the “beauty ever ancient and ever new,” but when Saint John set out to speak of Christ’s eternal generation, the Holy Ghost gave him to use the word logos, not either of the Greek words for beauty, kallos or hōraios.

There was a primacy to logos in the best of Greek thought, and that concept ripened in the Hellenized world so that, “in the fulness of time” (Gal. 4:4) it would be there as a personal, proper name of the Second Person of the Trinity. We can adequately appreciate His beauty only when our reason has been elevated by grace to know Him and our will has been moved to love His goodness.

From the high-brow heterodoxies of the ex-Jesuit von Balthasar, let us move to the lowbrow journalism of the popular still-Jesuit, James Martin, who loves to extol false mercy. What Christian virtue is more beautiful than mercy?

We all love mercy; we all count on it. Inasmuch as we have received grace, we have received mercy, and we ought to show it to others, as is manifest from Our Lord’s parable of the unmerciful servant and the fifth Beatitude. Our Lady is the Mother of Mercy, the saints were all agents of divine mercy.

Yet, the beautiful appeal to mercy can, in the mind of one bereft of logos, be perverted into something contrary to reason; it can and often does become an invitation to moral libertinism that also contradicts ethos.

Hence James Martin’s nonstop cheerleading for unnatural sins of lust and the people who commit them. Frequently, his defense of the unspeakable is couched in terms of an emotional appeal to stop being “mean” to homosexuals, for doing so is not merciful.

Tugging at the heartstrings of his readers by showing how cruel “anti-gay” people can be, he elicits sympathy not only for persons who are allegedly being abused, but also for the cause for which they stand, which is itself inherently mortally sinful.

See this Twitter thread, for example, which includes a real gem: “LGBT issues seem to bring out the mean in people, too.” I replied to this (in a non-mean way) by saying, “Let’s take a balanced approach in our analysis. Vice, in general, tends to bring out the worst in people. Some have even been saying mean things about Jeffrey Epstein” — which raises the ethical question as to whether it is even possible to be “mean” to a #MeToo villain.

Following Martin’s method, if I were a Nazi and wanted to defend my cause, I could say how mean the Communists are to our people. I could conversely argue in favor of Communism by showing how mean Nazis and “Fascists” are to us. (A “Fascist,” by the way, is generally anyone that the speaker does not like).

Amid all the positioning for superior victim status, questions of truth and falsity, good and evil get set aside, which plays into the progressivist cause. Pathos is the most useful defense for the indefensible.

James Martin recently retweeted the tweet of one Michael Bayer, who announced a new “ministry for LGBTQ+ people,” called “Affirmed,” wherein, “every person is affirmed as made in image of God, called to deeper relationship with Jesus, and invited to share their gifts” (I note in passing the progressive aversion to definite and indefinite articles, those perfectly innocent parts of speech).

There is here an appeal to mercy, to affirm people. Affirming people is good, right? But do we affirm wife-beaters, serial adulterers, pederasts, racists, drug-dealers, gun-runners, and mercenary capitalists who defraud workers of their wages?

These people need mercy and affirmation just as much as the others, right? But they don’t fit into the progressivist narrative, which is very selective in identifying recipients of mercy. And what of that work of mercy, “admonish the sinner”? Perhaps “Affirmed” should have its name changed to “Admonished.”

The pathetic progressivist approach to mercy has been further augmented and institutionalized since the publication of Amoris Laetitia, which offers a “forgiveness” and mercy that are distorted, house-of-mirrors simulacra of the genuine items.

While Christian forgiveness and mercy are supernally beautiful things, there is something ugly about the habitual adulterer, with no purpose of amendment, being welcome to receive Holy Communion.

Grace heals hardened sinners (if they cooperate, which is part of the pure mystery of grace and free will), but the notion of God overlooking ill will and impenitence flies in the face of the Gospel: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings [beautiful image, no?], and thou wouldest not? [Ah! But the beauty is stifled by the ugliness of ill will!]” (Matt. 23:37).

In the next verse, we are told what was to happen: “Behold, your house shall be left to you, desolate,” which prophesy was brutally fulfilled. (There will be a beautiful ending, though; when its people respond to grace, Jerusalem will return to Our Lord: “For I say to you, you shall not see me henceforth till you say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” [Matt. 23:37]).

There is a profoundly unChristian aesthetic in the image of the hardened sinner who will not let go of his sins being unconditionally embraced by God. Would it not be cruel for the Good Shepherd to feed his wayward sheep with food that would harm or even kill them?

Yet that is what happens when the person in mortal sin receives Holy Communion. The shepherd who knowingly gives Holy Communion to his adulterous sheep poisons them by allowing his flock to eat and drink judgment to themselves and become guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord (cf. I Cor. 11:26-30).

Cardinal Burke, the Darth Vader figure in the progressivist legendarium, recently made an excellent point regarding the canonically mandated denial of Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, telling Martha MacCallum, “It’s not a punishment. It’s actually a favor to these people to tell them don’t approach, because if they approach, they commit sacrilege” (my emphasis). There is logos, and ethos, and pathos — all in good order.

But the inverted mercy of the progressivists is profoundly unmerciful, which fact probably betrays its actual origins.

Seventy-two years ago, Brother Francis gave a name to this wrongheaded prioritizing of pathos over logos in Catholic thinking: “Sentimental Theology.” And when the sentimental theologian enters the domain of rhetoric, he becomes terribly pathetic, and we must not fear subjecting his pathos to the careful judgment of logos — even if we don’t have to make a bumper sticker about it.

Brother André Marie is Prior of St. Benedict Center, an apostolate of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Richmond New Hampshire. He does a weekly Internet Radio show, Reconquest, which airs on the Veritas Radio Network’s Crusade Channel.

The photo shows, “The Whale Bus,” a view of life in the 21st-century, as imagined in 1899. Drawing by Jean-Marc Côté.

The Council Of Trent – Some Thoughts

The importance of the Council of Trent lies in its being two things at the same time: 1) the heart and soul of the Catholic Reformation (the authentic reform of the Church); and 2) the definitive moment of the Counter Reformation (the reaction against the Protestant Revolt): “By almost universal agreement, the counter-attack of the Church to the movement that is known as the Protestant Reformation begins seriously with the Council of Trent.”

Besides these important issues the Council met to address, there were serious problems that plagued it before, during, and after its sessions. These will come to light in the following brief sketch.

For many years before the Council actually met, there had been talk of an ecumenical synod to reform the Church and to react to the challenge put to her by Luther.

Reform-minded Catholics strongly desired such a council, as did others with a more pragmatic agenda, especially the Emperor (Charles V), who had to address the civil strife caused by Luther’s revolt within the Empire and the Spanish Netherlands.

As early as 1520, only three years after the close of the Fifth Lateran Council, there was a call for such a council, but Pope Leo X was afraid of what might come of it, especially in light of the conciliarist tendencies that were still lingering.

The threat was a real one: The Protestants agitated for conciliarism during the Council, and, even after its conclusion (1563), the Catholic Emperor Ferdinand I, who succeeded his brother Charles as emperor, advanced a conciliarist line.

Pope Paul III (1534-1549), a reform-minded Pontiff, was willing to risk the dangers, and summoned a council to meet in Mantua. Emperor Charles V resisted, as he wanted the council within the confines of the Empire. A compromise was made in selecting Trent, which, while an Italian city, belonged to the Empire. Charles resided much of the time at Innsbruck, a day’s ride to the south.

Although the Council was summoned in 1542, it did not convene until 1545. Even then, it was off to a very slow start. Those who were in attendance at first were exclusively Italians. Then the Spaniards showed up. French and German bishops were in sporadic attendance throughout the history of the Council, depending on the present mood of their sovereigns.

The Council met on and off for eighteen years: 1545 to 1563. That it was off more than on can be seen by the dates of the sessions, which spanned over three periods: 1545-1547, 1551-1552, and 1562-1563.

The Council met for only four of those eighteen years. The reason behind the frequent prorogations of the Council was most often disagreement between the pope and the emperor over such things as location of the Council, the subjects it was to take up, the pope’s policies toward Charles’ war with France, and the war itself.

There was also a typhus epidemic that broke out in Trent, leading to a brief convocation in Bologna. Francis I, the Valois king of France, showed himself to be even less cooperative, opposing the Council at first, forbidding the publishing of the bull of convocation in his Kingdom, and refusing for a while to allow French bishops to attend its sessions.

Francis feared not only the loss of the Gallican Church’s independence, but also whatever might favor Hapsburg hegemony in European politics. Indeed, France’s allying herself against the Empire with the Protestant Schmalkaldic League showed that she put her own national interests over those of the Church.

For his part, Charles, a good Catholic, was too pragmatic in his pursuit of peace with Protestants within the Empire. At many points during the Council, he pushed for a deferring of the doctrinal questions in favor of discussing reform, naively thinking that the Council could show the Protestants that the Church was reforming herself, thus rendering the dogmatic disagreements non-issues.

We see that there were two issues the Council met to address: reform and heresy. In the immediate background, though, were the issues of conciliarism (condemned shortly before at Lateran V, but still lingering) and nationalism. The complex interplay of these four issues was to impact the life of the Council until its very end.

In light of the events he had to deal with, Charles’ pragmatic considerations are not as reprehensible as they may seem. They were not governed by sheer pacifism. Not only did he have to deal with the treachery of an anti-Hapsburg Valois policy, but, all the while, the Turks were at the Gate threatening the security of all Christendom.

The Italians present, by far the majority of Fathers – never to be equaled or outnumbered by all the other national groups combined – were of a much more realistic awareness of the depth of the doctrinal divide. Luther had transgressed orthodoxy. Not only was the Church in need of internal reform; heresy must be condemned.

But how to accomplish both of these ends? Paul III preferred that doctrinal questions be addressed first, then the Council could take up reform. Charles V wanted it the other way. In a compromise between the emperor’s preferences and the pope’s, issues of doctrine and of reform were addressed simultaneously.

Having briefly summarized the intrigues and politics that complicated the work of the Council, and what, in broad outline, that work was, we now detail some of the issues the Council addressed. We will do so session by session, skipping those whose work was limited to the administrative functions such as convocation, indiction, resumption, translation, prorogation, or the granting of safe passage to heretics.

The fourth session of the Council defined the Canon of Holy Scripture contrary to the Protestant rejection of the deutero-canonical books. It also established the authenticity of the Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome, anathematizing anyone who would reject it. (It did not, as Palmer claims – pg. 85 – say that the Vulgate was “the only version of the Bible on which authoritative teaching could be based.”)

The fifth session issued the Decree on Original sin. This condemned Lutheran and Calvinist “total depravity,” the doctrine that exaggerated the effects of Original Sin.

At the same time, the Decree avoided anything savoring of Pelagianism, Protestantism’s heretical opposite in the doctrine of grace. The Decree established the true doctrine of Original Sin concerning its existence, extent, effects, and remedies. This session also addressed two reform issues touching upon 1) the education of clerics in theology and the liberal arts and 2) the office of preaching and that of “questors,” i.e., collectors of alms.

The sixth session gives us the celebrated decree on Justification, which did so much to clarify Church teaching in a matter some Catholics were confused about, thinking that there was room for compromise with the Protestants. In the “process of justification,” faith is not the only ingredient, but it is the essential initium salutis.

In addition to faith, the other infused theological virtues are necessary, as is human cooperation with God’s movement. Those in sin can, by the actual grace of God, cooperate with His loving designs.

Grace is not simply an external garment (still less is it snow on dung!), but an interior beautification of the soul, an intrinsic change that makes the Christian a new creature. Once in the state of Grace (justification), man can truly merit an eternal reward because he has the principle of supernatural life in him. In a series of canons, the various heresies of Luther and Calvin on these points are explicitly anathematized.

The reform issues taken up by this session included episcopal and priestly residence (the duty of the bishop to reside in his diocese and the priest charged with cure of souls to reside in his parish), restrictions on bishops performing pontifical functions outside their dioceses, and the prohibition of regulars from residing outside their religious houses.

The seventh session considered the doctrinal issue of the sacraments in general and two of them specifically: Baptism and Confirmation. There are seven sacraments, all of which were founded by Jesus Christ.

They work ex opere operato, effecting what they signify, and are not mere symbols of grace. The form and matter of Baptism and Confirmation, their effects and relative necessity, as well as the proper minister are carefully laid down. Canons with anathemas attached to them censure the Protestant errors in sacramental doctrine.

The reform issues addressed included several items concerning benefices, clerical life, promotion to orders, repair of churches, and the timely filling of vacant sees.

After several prorogations, delays, and upon the beginning of a new pontificate, the thirteenth session resumed the work of the Council on the Sacraments, treating only of the Eucharist. Lutheran “consubstantiation” is condemned, while transubstantiation is upheld.

The real presence of Jesus Christ, which abides after the Mass (ergo allowing for reposition of the Blessed Sacrament) was also affirmed, as was the divine institution of this august sacrament, Its excellence over the other sacraments, Its power to give grace, the dispositions necessary for Its reception, and the veneration to be showed It. Contrary errors were anathematized.

The reform issues addressed included the bishops’ involvement in civil criminal cases, ecclesiastical exemption from the civil arm, and the degradation of clerics for severe crimes.

The fourteenth session continued with the sacraments, laying down the Church’s doctrine on Penance and Extreme Unction. As for the former, it was defined that Our Lord established Penance when he said “Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained” (John 20:22).

Regarding the latter, St. James’ text is shown to speak of Anointing: “Is any man sick among you ? Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick man; and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:14-15). The necessity, effects, form and matter, and minister of each sacrament are taught, while contrary errors are anathematized.

The reform decree of this session treated episcopal oversight of clerics, their promotion to orders, and their suspension for various crimes. Financial endowments, rights of patronage, and benefices were also addressed.

The twenty-first session treated of communion under both species and the communion of infants. The Council taught the principle of Eucharistic concomitance, that “Christ whole and entire, and a true Sacrament are received under either species,” so the faithful need not receive from the Chalice. Infants need not receive Holy Communion at all. The reform decree in this session treated benefices and the establishing of new parishes.

The twenty-second session set down the true doctrine concerning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass against the novelties of the Protestants. Included in this doctrine is “that the Sacrifice of the Mass is propitiatory both for the living and the dead.” The reform decree addressed the use and protection of church property, among other things.

The twenty-third session defined, against the heretics, what is the truth concerning the sacrament of Holy Orders, which is “a true and proper sacrament,” distinguishing the three sacramental orders from the minor orders and subdiaconate, and affirming that the former of divine institution. Contrary errors were condemned in the canons. The reform decree included minute prescriptions on who can be admitted to Orders.

The twenty-fourth session treated of the sacrament of Matrimony. A short section established its true sacramental nature, while a much longer section minutely reformed the administration of the sacrament.

The twenty-fifth and last session treated the dogmatic topics of purgatory relics, saints, sacred images, and indulgences. The reform issues concerned religious, regulations on the granting of indulgences, the establishing of the index of forbidden books, feast and fast days, and the reform of the breviary and missal. It also called for a catechism to be issued.

J.P. Kirsch succinctly summarizes the importance of the Council of Trent: “The Ecumenical Council of Trent has proved to be of the greatest importance for the development of the inner life of the Church.

No council has ever had to accomplish its task under more serious difficulties, none has had so many questions of the greatest importance to decide. The assembly proved to the world that notwithstanding repeated apostasy in church life there still existed in it an abundance of religious force and of loyal championship of the unchanging principles of Christianity.

Although unfortunately the council, through no fault of the fathers assembled, was not able to heal the religious differences of western Europe, yet the infallible Divine truth was clearly proclaimed in opposition to the false doctrines of the day, and in this way a firm foundation was laid for the overthrow of heresy and the carrying out of genuine internal reform in the Church.”

Brother André Marie is Prior of St. Benedict Center, an apostolate of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Richmond New Hampshire. He does a weekly Internet Radio show, Reconquest, which airs on the Veritas Radio Network’s Crusade Channel.

The photo shows, “The Council of Trent,” by Pasquale Cati, painted in 1588.

Building Dystopia

High architecture, that of grand buildings, is a bridge between God and man, and a sinew binding state and people, the ruling class and the masses. Low architecture, that of daily living and daily use, is key to satisfaction in the life of a populace.

Thus, a coherent and uplifting architecture, high and low, is, and has always been, necessary for any successful society. I will return below to what architecture we should have, why, and what needs to be done to achieve it. Today, though, we most definitely don’t have a coherent and uplifting architecture, and Robert Stevens Curl, in Making Dystopia, explains what the abomination of Modernism is and why it utterly dominates our current architecture.

Curl’s aim is to prove that both architects and society have swallowed the most appalling lies, and been in thrall to the most stupid delusions, for many decades. And since architecture is not mere abstraction, but rather something that affects the lives of everyone, this is a societal disaster of the first order.

Built on propagandistic falsehoods designed to conceal the ideological nature of the project, Modernism is a cult, devoted to destroying opposition and both unwilling and unable to defend its myriad fatal debilities.

It has destroyed the urban fabric all over the globe, and thereby hugely harmed the social fabric. So-called post-modernist successors to Modernism, namely Deconstructivism and Parametricism, are little better. Curl offers no quarter; Modernism and all its works should be erased.

The author is a well-known British art historian, author of more than forty books. This book, written as an “exposé of the ideologies of those responsible for an environmental and cultural disaster on a massive scale,” with its great heft, thick paper, and numerous photographs, screams “expensive”—too expensive, in fact, for the casual reader, unfortunately.

Moreover, there is too much repetition and too much rantiness; the book could have done with less variation on the same prose points and more pictures to illustrate the innumerable references Curl makes in the text and the voluminous footnotes.

And Curl makes little or no effort to make his text accessible to someone who is a complete novice to architectural history (nor, for the same reason, is it possible for someone not well versed in architectural history, such as me, to wholly say how accurate the history Curl offers is).

The result is a book that is self-limiting. But I don’t think Curl wanted Making Dystopia to be a best-seller. I think he’s aware of the book’s limitations. He is old, and most likely his target is not casual readers, but young architects—those who have been or are being brainwashed in the vast majority of architectural schools today (the sole exception he mentions, repeatedly, is the University of Notre Dame).

I suspect that he mostly hopes that select audience will read his book as part of their education, and that he will, after he is dead, thereby help to break the stranglehold of Modernism. He even offers the reader a drawing of himself, dead in a chair, with a personified “Death come as a friend to continue ringing the warning bell.” In this context, the book as written makes perfect sense.

Most of Making Dystopia is straight history of Modernism, focusing in turn on several different times and places, alternating (often on the same page) with hammer-and-tongs attacks on Modernism.

Since any style known as “modern” risks circular definition, Curl begins with classification. Namely, that Modernism in architecture and modern design is that style “opposed to academicism, historicism, and tradition, embracing that which is self-consciously new or fashionable, with pronounced tendencies toward abstraction.”

It originated, and the word first began to be used, in the 1920s, to describe “the new architecture from which all ornament, historical allusions, and traditional forms had been expunged.” Modernism, in its 1920s post-war context, made a certain type of sense as an experimental movement.

But for reasons Curl identifies, none of which are that “Modernism is better,” it swallowed the world, becoming the global compulsory style and destroying much of the world’s urban fabric with stale, ugly, unrealistic, short-lived, and expensive buildings that did not fit their environment and made no effort whatsoever to serve their actual primary purpose—to be places in which to live and work, or to make grand statements unifying the society in which they were built. Instead, Modernism created the inhuman, uncomfortable and divisive.

Modernism as a self-limited, organically-arising, change, where the style would have soon enough have passed on like Art Deco or Art Nouveau, might have made some sense. Change is in the nature of art, and while Modernism was a rupture, not normal organic change, it could perhaps have been accommodated as one of architectural history’s dead ends.

Some of the early Modernist architecture has a certain stark beauty, after all. But why should a few architects, standing in opposition to thousands of years of organic movement, have succeeded in destroying in the way they did?

Curl chalks it up to the general turn among the taste-making classes against tradition and in favor of anything cast as “original,” which while problematic in literature or food, was disastrous in architecture, a far more public form of art with far broader consequences than fads in more ephemeral areas.

Whereas prior to the 1920s even an average architect could create nice-looking buildings that fit their purpose, in the urban landscape and for the people who lived or worked there, simply by using pattern books, now a vulgar supposed originality was required.

Modernism aimed at Utopian social engineering totally unmoored from the past. And as with other similar twentieth-century ideologues, by convincing the right people, in this case the taste-making classes and, just as importantly, big business, Modernists were successful in their engineering efforts.

Still, they required a mythology, in the way of kings fashioning false genealogies. This was provided by Nikolaus Pevsner, who in 1936 published the still-influential Pioneers of the Modern Movement (republished as, Pioneers of Modern Design), an attempt to tie admired nineteenth-century styles such as Arts and Crafts to the modernism of men like Walter Gropius.

It was Pevsner who made silly claims, believed by nearly all today, such as that the Glasgow School of Art was a Modernist building, rather than “a brilliant eclectic design, drawing on Art Nouveau themes,” which was organically derived from other styles, instead of being a rupture with them.

Curl deconstructs Pevsner at some length, giving numerous textual and pictorial examples of his “selectivity and exaggerated claims,” propaganda “based on wishful thinking,” since proving that Modernism was a rupture is key to Curl’s criticism of it. Curl’s goal is to undercut this “Grand Narrative,” which is ubiquitous among architects today, and show that Modernism has no clothes.

The real origin of Modernism was sui generis, in Germany immediately after World War I. Everything was up in the air, so architecture was too, and all the visual arts. In 1919 the Bauhaus art school was formed by Walter Gropius under government aegis.

Nominally apolitical, the Bauhaus was in fact a den of radical politics (liberally larded with nuttiness), harshly opposed to all tradition, whose artists regarded art as a necessary herald and handmaiden of political change, and human life as meaningless without reference to politics.

Although architecture was not the main focus of the Bauhaus, in the ferment of the 1920s its principles rapidly infected German au courant architectural thinking, both in terms of design and in the rejection of the need for any underlying skills in craft.

German architects in the 1920s and 1930s not only embraced Modernism, they also embraced architecture as part of system building. As Thomas Hughes discusses in American Genesis, the 1920s were the time when technological inventions became servants to their own creations, large systems built around new technology.

Modernist architects embraced this as the wave of the future—that is, the future was technology and machines, and buildings, rather than reflecting human uses, should now reflect machine uses, from electricity to motor cars.

In architecture, the Bauhaus had ties to the Deutscher Werkbund of the previous decade, a group devoted to experimentation in architecture in pursuit of integrating modern mass production techniques into industrial design, and this type of system became part of the ground for further drastic change in architectural style.

Curl offers innumerable examples, in narrative and in picture, of different architects and architecture of this time. The most influential architect to emerge from the Bauhaus was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who over the period from 1910 to 1930 abandoned neo-Classicism for the so-called International Style of Modernism, much of which he originated.

Mies was a self-promoter eager to work for anyone in power; he was the last director of the Bauhaus, and having tried and failed to ingratiate himself with the National Socialists, he emigrated to the United States in 1937.

Many of the German avant-garde also emigrated; they later spun stories of their opposition to Hitler, some of which were true, but as Curl points out, the Nazis were not nearly as opposed to Modernist architecture as is often suggested—they were “ambivalent,” being most definitely not conservatives, but revolutionaries, and therefore attracted to certain of the ideological underpinnings of Modernist architecture. In particular, they “accepted Modernism for industrial architecture,” as well as for quite a bit of worker housing.

While some architects outside Germany expressed interest in Modernism, especially the long-lived and ever-varied Philip Johnson, making it a niche taste among the elite, it was only when many Bauhaus and Bauhaus-sympathetic architects emigrated from Germany (the “Bauhäusler”) that the International Style actually became international.

The Bauhäusler were eagerly promoted by ideological allies in the United States and Britain, and so rapidly became extremely influential, then dominant, then utterly dominant, in the Western architectural establishment, both among professional architects and among teachers.

It was not that a great deal of actually built architecture was modernist in the 1930s and 1940s; it was that all the taste-makers decided, nearly simultaneously, that the only type of architecture that was acceptable to the elite was Modernist. Architects who objected were pilloried, cast as bourgeois, marginalized, and sidelined.

The 1930s also saw the rise to international fame of the megalomaniac Frenchman Le Corbusier, that Rasputin, who became the most successful propagandist for Modernism, and established some of its most enduring dogmas, including divorcing all buildings from their context and siting, and pretending a house could be a “machine for living.”

This process continued, and even accelerated, after 1945, when actual construction of Modernist buildings began to dominate. For the next two decades, the cult resulted in the destruction of innumerable town centers and the construction of endless shoddy and ugly buildings totally unsuited for their claimed uses and unfitted for their sites, the very opposite of their claimed “functionalism.”

Modernism was never popular among people in general, but their betters told them what they needed. Without the eager cooperation of giant corporations, though, Modernism would never have succeeded in lasting as long or being as destructive.

Part of this was ideological (similar to “woke” corporate behavior today), through a successful propaganda campaign to cast Modernist architecture as representative of “progress” and “democracy, ” part of it was the desire to make profits by participating in industrial construction techniques (which, as Curl points out, were actually mostly more expensive than the classic techniques replaced, despite the claims of their proponents) and, as with General Motors, to destroy cities to make them better for cars.

(For that latter, Curl covers the famous revolt of Jane Jacobs against Robert Moses’s planned, and partly completed, destruction of New York). Anyone who disagreed was ignored or destroyed.

Curl also spends some time on post-Modernism, a varied set of styles, of which the two most prominent were, or are, Deconstructivism and Parametricism. The former, as its name implies, is deformations of Modernism, meant to provoke anxiety and unease among viewers and users.

The latter (of which London’s Shard is an example) is an attempt to use computer algorithms to construct non-linear buildings, mostly similarly disturbing but in a different way.

“Deconstructivism and Parametricism, by rejecting all that went before and failing to provide clear values as replacements, can be seen as intentional aggression on human senses, abusing perceptive mechanisms in order to generate unease, dislocation, and discomfort… Deconstructivism and Parametricism induce a sense of dislocation both within buildings and between buildings and their contexts. . . . By breaking continuity, disturbing relationships between interior and exterior, and fracturing connections between exterior and context, they undermine harmony, gravitational control, and perceived stability, [which is] crucial to any successful architecture.”

Now, I was curious what proponents of these post-modernist styles say about them. Maybe sense is coming back into fashion. So I went and read up what Patrik Schumacher, who named Parametricism in 2008 in a “Manifesto,” said. I knew we were in trouble when Schumacher called his own style “profound.”

Then he said tripe like “It cannot be dismissed as eccentric signature work that only fits high-brow cultural icons. Parametricism is able to deliver all the components for a high-performance contemporary life process. All moments of contemporary life become uniquely individuated within a continuous, ordered texture.”

Proponents of Deconstructivism say similar things. I wasn’t surprised, though I was disappointed. It’s obvious that both styles are merely the bastard children of Modernism, as can be seen by their use of the ancient technique of obfuscation through cant.

What does Curl want to happen? He calls for a reworking of both architectural education and the relationship of the public to architecture; the public should no longer allow itself to be treated as acolytes to the priests.

“Architecture is far too important to be entrusted to the products of talking-shops: as a public art, it matters hugely, and it cannot succeed unless it connects with the public in a positive way, conveys meanings, arouses resonances, reaches back to the past and forward to the future, and has the appearance of stability.”

Mostly, he wants a realization that Modernism is awful. He wants the spell to be broken; he offers less of a specific program than, like Puddleglum in C. S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair, a stamping on the Witch’s enchanted fire and thereby recalling himself, and his friends, to what was actually real and beautiful, as opposed to the unreality the Witch was trying to sell them.

This is fine as far as it goes, but that’s not really far enough. We should ponder what is the purpose of architecture, of buildings. As Curl says, “Architecture is the one art form which plays an important role in everyday existence.”

It is frozen music. Destroy architecture and you destroy a key component in binding a society together, through its role in offering a common art and through that, a common culture.

“Without the ability to comprehend basic truths about morality and beauty . . . humans are truly lost, adrift in a sea polluted with the flotsam and jetsam of discarded toys promoted by fashion, with nothing to which they can hold fast. High culture has been suppressed, even superseded, by advertising and the mass media. . . .”

In other words, architecture is the art that binds a society together. It is an antidote to centrifugal forces, including those so common in the modern world, whose destructive force is ever-building, yet tamped down by promises of unbridled freedom and the fool’s gold of consumerism, for now.

Foundationalism, my own aborning political program, is really two things: the renewal of society, or the rebuilding of a crumbled society, and the long-term maintenance of that society, both along lines recognizing reality, with a strong bias toward traditional Western knowledge and modes of thought.

No society can long exist, much less be a strong society, without a unifying component of the spiritual, in a broader sense than simply religious. Because, as I say, a coherent and uplifting architecture is necessary for any successful society, architecture, the right architecture, is the second of the pillars of Foundationalism.

The goal of architecture under Foundationalism will be a form of emotional resonance, where all sectors and levels of society feel they have something in common that ties them together and which impels to virtue.

Since Foundationalism envisions a bound society, tied together by many threads and wholly opposed to atomistic individualism, binding forces are critical to its creation and maintenance.

In Foundationalism, architecture will not be a set of rigid beliefs, an aesthetic canon for the elite, as is Modernism; it will instead, like governance, be an organic new thing based on the wisdom of the past, intertwined with all the people, high and low.

Pushing art as part of Foundationalism may seem odd for me, since certainly I have little artistic or creative sense, and therefore cannot knowledgeably discuss architecture or any other type of art.

But I don’t need to—that’s the advantage of hewing to classic architecture traditions, that they can express any meaning desired, in a variety of languages, and offer beauty and continuity, along with enough originality to prevent seeming calcified. Foundationalism has no need to create anything that is new, though some organically developing novelty is to be expected.

Oh, I am sure there is a great deal more that someone knowledgeable can say about architecture as aesthetics, and how that matters to a society. Roger Scruton has written a whole book on it (The Aesthetics of Architecture) which I am sure it would be immensely profitable to read.

But a careful, philosophical parsing of architecture and society isn’t what I’m after. I oppose instrumentalism as the lens for viewing human beings; I am not so much opposed to instrumentalism in the works of men’s hands. What I care about is the function architecture will play under Foundationalism, and the implementation of that function.

The general type of high architecture necessary for this is entirely clear. As Wolfgang Schivelbusch said in Three New Deals, “Scholars gradually recognized neoclassical monumentalism—whether of the 1930s, the Renaissance, the French Revolution, or the Napoleonic empire—for what it is: the architectural style in which the state visually manifests power and authority.”

Neoclassical monumentalism, let’s be honest, impresses everybody. You are lying if you think Le Corbusier holds a candle to, say, the Jefferson Memorial. True, there are limits to this.

The monstrous proportions of buildings proposed, but never built, by Hitler and Stalin take this arc too far, becoming anti-human and enshrining the state as a false god (the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle portrays many of these buildings as if-built; this reality comes through clearly).

Any such program, especially one perceived as right-wing, therefore has an uphill battle, since the gut reaction is that here Albert Speer reborn. But monumental classicism has a long history apart from the regimes of the 1930s (which, as Curl points out, often approved of Modernism, especially Mussolini’s Italy).

And anyway, when my program is being put into place, those who would complain the loudest in that ideological vein will be picking sugar beets in Saskatchewan as part of my rustication and lustration program for those who did the most damage to our society.

Therefore, as far as high architecture controlled by the state, Foundationalism will kill two birds with one stone—every ugly government building built since the 1940s will be torn down, and to the extent new ones are needed, neoclassical buildings will go up. A lot fewer will go up than are torn down, since there will be far fewer government employees.

The extra land will be given over to parks, or perhaps public buildings tangential to government, such as libraries, which will also be done in classical style. Since we will not be exalting government as such, or government workers, we will not need giant new halls to act as the focus for our rulers; most new buildings will be actual monuments or multi-use, Roman Forum-type constructions.

(There will be, of course, government, and strong government. It will have limited ends, though, even if unlimited means, and will not aspire to order every aspect of daily life—far less than our current government does). And no private creation of any significant ugly building, Modernist or other, will be permitted. Those that exist already will be torn down as resources permit.

What of low architecture, that of daily life, of houses and workplaces? There, too, forms of classical architecture will be strongly encouraged, but the goal will be less monumentalism and more organic coherence with how people actually live and work, combined with beauty and the inspiration and joy in living that comes as a result.

The government will not mandate such architecture, as it will with high architecture, but rather encourage it, through education and subsidy. Such encouragement will take the form of only allowing government funding, and student loans (if those still exist) for architectural schools that, at a minimum, teach the execution of classic architecture as a priority.

All government contracts will only go to approved architecture, as will tax benefits for privately constructed buildings, which will, over time, ensure that architects tend to gravitate to where the money is.

The Foundationalist state will seek ways to ensure that honor and prestige, as well, accrue to architects of preferred styles. Moreover, given the well-known association of the Left with Modernism (something Curl spends a fair bit of time on, focusing on the nihilism and destructiveness common to both), since the Foundationalist state will, as its very first act, utterly and permanently break the power of the Left, that alone will clear the way for traditional architecture to rebound from the boot that Modernism has placed on it for so many decades.

Other aspects will have to be worked out; this is not an ideology, but a set of principles to use. (Prince Charles has recently put forth ten principles that are a good place to start, in a December 2014 article in The Architectural Review; he is pretty odious otherwise and not very bright, but he has always been sensible on architecture).

It is worth noting that Foundationalism does not idolize agrarianism. The rural life and culture has its place, and nature and its forms influence good architecture, but high culture, and the drive to create a successful society, always revolves around cities.

Foundationalism strives to offer a goal for, and outlet for, and inspiration for, human aspiration, and rural life does not build spaceports (aside from today not occupying the daily life of any significant percentage of the population).

And the Foundationalist state will take a similar approach to other art (though a more restrained one, since architecture is the most important art for the state), and we will return to the traditional approach where artists work in cooperation with the pillars of society, state and private, rather than being destructive agents of the Left as they mostly have been for the past century (a topic I intend to discuss the whys and wherefores of at some point, as it is not the natural order of things).

And, at that point, Making Dystopia will have accomplished the goals of its author, and be merely a chronicle of an overly long, and overly destructive, but fortunately vanished, period of architectural and societal distress.

Charles is a business owner and operator, in manufacturing, and a recovering big firm M&A lawyer. He runs the blog, The Worthy House.

The photo shows an Untitled piece by Zdzisław Beksiński.

The Book Of Tobit And Its Recensions, Part 2

To recap: the book of Tobit (one of the Deuterocanonicals/”Apocrypha”) exists in different versions in different languages. Which really accounts for the differences in the text between, say, the Douai-Rheims, the RSV and the NAB translations of the book).

For example, as mentioned in Part 01, you have three versions of Greek Tobit: Greek I or G1 found in most manuscripts, Greek II or G2 found in Codex Sinaiticus (4th century) and a couple other manuscripts, and Greek III or G3 (a sort of intermediate version between G1 and G2, although basically related to the latter), surviving only in a partial form in three manuscripts.

As for the Latin Tobit, you have Jerome’s translation (of a translation of an Aramaic version, quite different from the Greek version), plus a family of Latin translations made before his (Vetus Latina = VL), which is quite similar to the text of GII.

That’s not counting medieval Hebrew and Aramaic versions (which are all derived from the Greek or the Vulgate text anyway) and ancient versions in other languages like Syriac, Ethiopian, Armenian or Arabic (many of them simply translations of G1).

For the purposes of our discussion, I am going to focus specifically on G1, G2, and the VL versions.

I mentioned in the last post that until the mid-20th century, the preferred version of choice for translators was either G1 or Jerome’s Latin version, because those are pretty much the only ones available.

After manuscripts like the Codex Sinaiticus were discovered, scholars became aware of longer versions of Tobit quite different from the ones they had, but a number of them originally dismissed these versions as secondary.

After all, it’s a cliché in textual criticism that lectio brevior est potior, “shorter reading is better.” Many scholars at the time assumed that G1, the ‘standard’ version found in most surviving copies, represented the original version of Tobit, while the ‘minority’ G2 text in Sinaiticus and the Vetus Latina versions were expanded versions of it.

Then, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, which required some changes in established opinion.

When Cave 4 in Qumran was discovered in 1952, among the things found inside there were fragments from five manuscripts of Tobit (4Q196-200), dating from the period between 100 BC to AD 25. However, it was not until 1956 that the first report on the finds was published.

The late Joseph T. Milik reported about the discovery of what was then fragments three manuscripts of Tobit in the report. More fragments were eventually found (which was also announced by Milik) until five texts were found in total.

However, while Milik worked on piecing the fragments from a period spanning from 1953 to 1960, he never got around to actually publishing them. (One of the main criticisms levelled against Milik by critics, in fact, is how he contributed to the long delay of getting the Dead Sea Scrolls into public view by not completing all the work on his portion – and quite an amount of the discovered fragments were under his lot).

It was Father Joseph Fitzmyer who would complete the work and publish them in 1995 (Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, volume 19).

All in all, these manuscripts (four in Aramaic, one – the latest – in Hebrew) generally agree with G2, but sometimes also with G1. In some instances, the text provided could be shorter or longer, or at times agree more with the text of VL over against G2.

All in all, there are sixty-nine fragments or groups of fragments in these five texts (anyone who wants to see them in detail should check out Fr. Fitzmyer’s books like, The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins, or his commentary on Tobit): out of these sixty-nine, thirty-four tiny fragments are unidentified, giving us thirty-five identified fragments in total.

4QToba ar (4Q196, Aramaic, ca. 50-25 BC): Fragments 1 (Tobit 1:17), 2 (1:19-2:2), 3 (2:3), 4 (2:10-11), 5 (3:5), 6 (3:9-15), 7 (3:17), 8 (4:2), 9 (4:5), 10 (4:7), 11 (4:21-5:1), 12 (5:9), 13 (6:6-8), 14 i (6:13-18), 14 ii (6:18-7:6), 15 (7:13), 16 (12:1), 17 i (12:18-13:6), 17 ii (13:6-12), 18 (13:12-14:3), 19 (14:7), 20-49 (??)

4QTobb ar (4Q197, Aramaic, ca. 25 BC-AD 25): Fragments 1 (Tobit 3:6-8), 2 (4:21-5:1), 3 (5:12-14), 4 i (5:19-6:12), 4 ii (6:12-18), 4 iii (6:18-7:10), 5 (8:17-9:4), 6-7 (??)

4QTobc ar (4Q198, Aramaic, ca. 50 BC): Fragments 1 (Tobit 14:2-6), 2 (14:10)

4QTobd ar (4Q199, Aramaic, ca. 100 BC): Fragments 1 (Tobit 7:11), 2 (14:10)

4QTobe (4Q200, Hebrew, ca. 30 BC-AD 20): Fragments 1 i (Tobit 3:6), 1 ii (3:10-11), 2 (4:3-9), 3 (5:2), 4 (10:7-9), 5 (11:10-14), 6 (12:20-13:4), 7 i (13:13-14), 7 ii (13:18-14:2), 8 (?), 9 (3:3-4?)

These fragments also exhibit some degree of minor variances with each other, which shows us that there was not really a ‘fixed’ text of Tobit during the 1st century BC or the 1st century AD.

Disagreement still exists among scholars as to whether Tobit was composed in Aramaic (the common opinion today) or in Hebrew, but either way, it seems that versions in both languages circulated at the same time.

In any case, knowledge of any Hebrew version was already lost during the 3rd century, since Origen notes: “Concerning it [Tobit], we must recognize that Jews do not use Tobit; nor do they use Judith. They do not have them even among the Apocrypha in Hebrew, as we know, having learned (this) from them.

But because the churches use Tobit, one must recognize that some of the captives in their captivity became rich and well to do.” (Epistola ad Africanum 13 [19]) By contrast, Jerome’s use of an Aramaic version shows us that versions in that language still continued to circulate in his time.

Since the text of G2 and VL is found to align closer with the Aramaic and Hebrew fragments from Qumran, it is presently deemed by most scholars to be the more original of the two Greek texts. Now, G2 is though to be the more ‘original’ version, while G1 is a more streamlined, condensed epitome. (G1 is more smooth and more natural compared to G2, which is very Semitic to the point of being cumbersome.) Hence, most modern translations since 1966 tend to use the text of G2 nowadays as their base text for Tobit, although a few still choose to follow G1.

Now here’s the fun part. How do you know whether your translation of Tobit uses G1 or G2? (The Vulgate version is pretty easy to spot by comparison: just pick a Douai-Rheims, or any translation, which uses the Vulgate as source text.) There’s actually quite a number of ways to do so, but one I found to be quite fun involves looking at some key passages. I am going to list three of them:

1) At the very beginning of the book (1:1-2), Tobit in G2 is introduced as: “son of Tobiel son of Hananiel son of Aduel son of Gabael son of Raphael son of Raguel of the descendants of Asiel, of the tribe of Nephthali.” Compare that to G1’s shorter “of Tobiel son of Hananiel son of Aduel son of Gabael of the descendants of Asiel, of the tribe of Nephthali.”

2) There’s a difference in G1 and G2 as to the number of days which elapsed between Tobit being hunted down by Sennacherib and the latter’s death (1:16-22). In G2, it is forty; in G1 it is fifty.

3) Perhaps the most radical difference between G1 and G2 is in 5:10 (verse 9 in some translations). G1 has the quite brief: “So Tobias invited him in; he entered and they greeted each other.” (RSV) That’s only eight words in Greek. By comparison, G2 has this (NAB-RE):

Tobiah went out to summon him, saying, “Young man, my father is calling for you.” When Raphael entered the house, Tobit greeted him first. He replied, “Joyful greetings to you!” Tobit answered, “What joy is left for me? Here I am, a blind man who cannot see the light of heaven, but must remain in darkness, like the dead who no longer see the light! Though alive, I am among the dead. I can hear people’s voices, but I do not see them.” The young man said, “Take courage! God’s healing is near; so take courage!” Tobit then said: “My son Tobiah wants to go to Media. Can you go with him to show him the way? I will pay you your wages, brother.” He answered: “Yes, I will go with him, and I know all the routes. I have often traveled to Media and crossed all its plains so I know well the mountains and all its roads.

Out of Bible translations in English which translate Tobit, those which use G2 are mainly modern ones like the New American Bible (NAB), the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the Common English Bible (CEB), the Good News Translation (GNT).

Older translations, like the RSV, the Revised Version (RV), the King James Version or even Lancelot Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint, use G1.

Modern Bibles which still use G1 include the World English Bible and the Orthodox Study Bible.

The so-called Christian Community Bible is a bit confusing: its translation seems to be a fusion between G1 and G2. The Douai-Rheims – both the original and the version by Bishop Challoner being passed around as ‘Douay-Rheims’ these days – obviously use the Vulgate version.

(Note: the translation of Tobit in the Nova Vulgata isn’t Jerome’s, but a fresh translation of G2 with some influences from Vetus Latina texts).

Patrick lives in Japan. He supports the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite according to the Missal of Bl. Pope John XXIII.

The photo shows, “Tobias and the Three Archangels,” by Francesco Botticini, painted in 1470.

Tolkien’s Vision

It shall come as a surprise to no one that I am a great fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work. Having discovered The Lord of the Rings in Junior High (thanks in no small part to having been introduced to C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia in 6th grade), I have written and spoken about the books for nigh on to thirty years. I have read them quite a few times — and yet they are always good to return to; familiar as they are, I always find something new. That is the mark of truly good literature — as you grow, so does it.

Tolkien himself was an interesting man. Forget the recent biopic. Born in South Africa and raised at the Birmingham Oratory, his Catholic faith was tested in the trenches of World War I (which killed all but one of his closest friends). Not even the jibing of fellow Oxford dons could weaken it. For that matter, the brilliance of Oxford in his time is breathtaking.

One would have loved to have been present to hear him, Lewis, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and the other Inklings at the Eagle and Child or the Lamb and Flag. Pipe smoke, liquor and tale-telling — it all seems in this parlous time of ours, rather warm and cosy.

“Seems,” however, is the appropriate word, for it was anything but. These were men who — if they had not been in the trenches, and most of them had — had surely lost loved ones there. I am old enough to have known many people who were alive and functioning before 1914; all report the supreme trauma of finding out what humanity could descend to — by contrast, World War II was just more and worse.

Do not forget that when the Inklings were at their height, that Second War was in full bloom, and Britain receiving the Blitz and rationing — with the threat of invasion looming. Behind the threat of Hitler loomed that of Stalin. So the Inklings were creating with a possible death sentence over their heads — and were fully aware of what that meant. They did not live in a sort of never-never land where bad things did not happen.

Because of the times in which we live, we forget that — in either Church, State, or both — our predecessors went through such things in various ways. Tolkien, scholar of history that he was, knew that these things are part of the human condition, and that almost every generation has to face them.

In an often quoted letter, Tolkien declared “Actually, I am a Christian, and indeed a Roman Catholic, so that I do not expect ‘history’ to be anything but a ‘long defeat’ — though it contains (and in a legend may contain more clearly and movingly) some samples or glimpses of final victory.”

Indeed, his history of Middle Earth has many motifs that might have been lifted from various chapters of real European history, and recast.

Certainly the Numenoreans start out much like the Chosen People of the Old Testament; when their sinfulness causes Numenor to sink like Lost Atlantis, the faithful remnant establish Kingdoms in Middle Earth: Arnor in the north, and Gondor in the south.

As with the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, Arnor is obliterated — save as an idea — but Gondor survives, albeit diminished — as with the later Byzantine Empire; its capital of Minas Tirith could well be Constantinople. But the idea of the Kingdom survives in the north, as had the idea of the Empire in Western Europe.

The remnant of the Arnorians — the Rangers — are like the Cavaliers, Jacobites, Carlists, or French Emigres. Their chief, Aragorn, is a bit like Bonnie Prince Charlie. Minas Tirith undergoes a siege like that of Constantinople; but then the history flips, and the siege becomes that of Vienna, with the Rohirrim blowing their horns as they ride to save the city — very like Jan Sobieski and the Poles, rescuing the city of the Kaisers.

At last, the shadow defeated, Aragorn becomes a figure such as Charlemagne might have been had he married the Byzantine Empress Irene — restorer of the united Empire. However, we are warned that the shadow shall return in some other form.

That last note has always been true in the history of Christendom; after Aetius threw Attila back at Chalons or Don Juan of Austria broke the Turks at Lepanto, always the shadow rose again.

In 1989, when the wall fell, such a time seemed imminent; but the shadow rose again, rainbow-coloured rather than red. When, in the darkness that is our history, it seems that a place for a while reflects a touch of Heavenly order on Earth, always does it fall, only to be swallowed up by the darkness from whence it came — so it was with Arthur’s Camelot, with Charlemagne’s Aix-la-Chapelle, with Habsburg Vienna.

It is left to yet another generation to rebuild what it can from the wreck bequeathed to it. Moreover, the evil wreaked by high placed traitors is well illustrated by Saruman — chief of Wizards, who is seduced by Sauron. He is a figure who pops up through history — some of us may even recognise him to-day.

But in this generally bleak picture, what sort of hope does Tolkien offer us? Lots, really. Looking about the situation we live in, one might agree with Frodo’s observation. “‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

“‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’” So he warns us well.

To sustain and protect us on our journey, Tolkien suggests both receiving the Blessed Sacrament (Lembas) and invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary (Elbereth) — which associations he makes clear in his letters. “I know exactly what you mean … by your references to Our Lady, upon which all my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded.”

Of the Eucharist, in another letter he writes “Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. . . . There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste—or foretaste—of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.”

In Lord of the Rings, friendship is a paramount virtue, as it is in the darkened world through which we travel. “You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin — to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours — closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.” But this sort of friendship which Tolkien celebrates is that of which we are given the ultimate example of by Our Lord, in that “Greater love hath no man, than to lay down his life for his friends.”

Tolkien also counsels us to remember that we are basically ignorant of what is really happening. When Frodo says of Gollum that he deserves to die, Gandalf responds, “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” When Frodo has the chance to kill Gollum, he spares him, out of pity. In the end, when Frodo fails in the quest, Gollum — for his own evil and selfish reasons, “accidentally” saves the day.

Even evil persons, places, things, and events can be used by Providence — without benefitting or being redeemed by being so used — that depends upon their own wills. And that, of course, is the biggest single theme of Lord of the Rings — the interaction between the Divine Will and countless fallen free ones.

Above all, in this world of sin and shadows through which we wander, Tolkien constantly advises us never to give up, to persevere — because ultimately, we serve a cause far above and beyond this muck we face. “There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

Tolkien’s mind was filled — as any honest Medievalist’s must be — with the beauties of England, and indeed Europe in Catholic days. Oxford is a particularly easy place in which to conjure them up in one’s mind.

There were schoolmen like Roger Bacon and Robert Grosseteste in the Middle Ages; Charles I made it his capital during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, and Recusants and Jacobites abounded in Oxford and the surrounding county.

This was where the Oxford Movement started; Anglo-Catholicism may be said to have made its greatest achievement in the Ordinariates. During the Catholic Revival in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Jesuits made their home there, while the Benedictines, Dominicans, and Franciscans all returned. All of this produced the background against which the Inklings (and their friends, such as Dorothy Sayers) shone.

To-day, of course, Oxford is quite different; the same enfeeblement of will and intellect that infects academia in these United States is universal throughout the West. But just as a beautiful church with horrible liturgy insistently reminds the worshipper of what has been — and so could be again — so it is with Oxford.

And there an effort has been launched for Tolkien’s canonisation. Last year, the first Mass for that intention was offered at the Oxford Oratory — the former Jesuit church, where Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins was once assigned, and Fr. Leonard Feeney studied and preached. Whether or not Tolkien was a Saint, the Church must decide one day.

But what is certain is that — using the medium of fantasy — he gave us a remarkable tool for negotiating some of the spiritual pitfalls of real life. 

Mr. Coulombe serves as Western U.S. Delegate of the Grand Council of the U.K.-based International Monarchist League, and is a member of both the Catholic Writer’s Guild of Great Britain (the Keys) and the Royal Stuart Society. Mr. Coulombe is also a founding board member of the Los Angeles-based Queen of Angels Foundation, a Catholic devotional society.

The photo shows, “Tol Sirion,” a drawing by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Glory That Was Lithuania

In the Middle Ages, Moscow was by no means the only center of gravity in the Russian lands. For several centuries, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania had designs on its own unified Russia.

Today, Lithuania is a small country on the north-eastern fringe of the European Union. However, 600 years ago it was one of the largest and most powerful states in Europe.

Having been destroyed by the Mongols, Russia was fertile soil for Lithuanian expansion. Through dynastic marriages, military campaigns, and outright annexation, Lithuania subjugated vast swathes of the variegated Russian principalities – so much so that it threatened Moscow’s status as the center of Russian unification.

When, in the early 13th century, the East Baltic pagan tribes suffered the horrors of the Northern Crusades, it seemed that the Lithuanians would share the sad fate of other Baltic tribes crushed by the Teutonic Knights.

Surprisingly, however, the Lithuanian tribes managed to consolidate and not only halt the German onslaught, but inflict some punishing counterattacks on the aggressors. In 1236, at the Battle of Saule, they almost completely destroyed the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, a Catholic military order operating in the territories of modern Latvia and Estonia. Interestingly, 200 soldiers from Pskov, then an ally of the order, perished along with the swordsmen.

From the west (today’s Kaliningrad Region), the Teutonic Order subdued the Prussian tribes on its way to the Lithuanian lands. The Teutons annexed the remains of the so-called Sword Brethren, forming the Livonian Order, and set about clamping the Lithuanians in a pincer movement from both sides.

The Lithuanian rulers realized that they couldn’t survive in isolation. Fortunately for them (but not for the Russians), in 1237 the Mongols invaded the Russian principalities, which largely solved Lithuania’s problems.

The Mongol invasion devastated the Russian principalities of north-eastern Rus and weakened the western Russian principalities, which Lithuania sought to exploit.

Its expansion into the Russian lands was not all through fire and sword, however. In fact, the annexation was largely peaceful, for in the powerful Lithuania the Russian rulers saw the chance of protection from the Mongols. The Lithuanians in turn received much-needed support in the struggle against the Teutonic Knights, and they too were threatened by the marauding Mongols.

The Lithuanian princes did not encroach on the rights of the local nobility, establishing relations with regional rulers under a vassalage system. In case of military exigency, they could rely on local armed contingents.

In the mid-13th century, Lithuania annexed the so-called “Black Russia,” the territory of modern western Belarus, renaming itself the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The Grand Duchy reached its maximum extent in the 14th century under Princes Gediminas and Algirdas. The Lithuanian state included vast territories that today lie inside Belarus, Ukraine, and south-west Russia.

Now the Grand Duchy of Lithuania had to reckon not only with its old enemy the Teutons, but also the Mongols, the Poles, the Hungarians, as well as the Muscovites. Moscow and the Lithuanian territories were separated by no more than 200 kilometers.

The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was only Lithuanian in name. 90% of its population was made up of the ancestors of modern Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians. Maintaining the integrity of such a patchwork state was not an easy task, and its rulers had to skillfully navigate between different groups of subjects.

A central pillar of the state was tolerance. Although officially pagan, not only did it not violate the rights of the Orthodox population, it actively supported them. In 1316, the Lithuanians even sought to set up its own metropolitan see in Novogrodok (modern Novogrudok in Belarus), and established direct contacts with the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Much later, in the 16th century, the ambassador of the Holy Roman Empire, Sigismund Herberstein, wrote about the Lithuanian capital, then called Vilna: “There are considerably more Russian churches than ones of the Catholic faith.”

The Lithuanian princes first established a protectorate, before finally annexing Kiev in the 1360s, recognizing it as the “mother of Russian cities.” Ruthenian supplanted Lithuanian as the official language, and remained so until the late 17th century.

Lithuania pulled out all the stops to demonstrate to the Russian principalities and its main rival in the east, the Grand Duchy of Moscow, that it was the political and spiritual center of unification for the Russian lands.

For a long time, the Lithuanian princes maneuvered between the Catholic and Orthodox worlds without taking sides.

For instance, Grand Duke Mindaugas was baptized into Catholicism and crowned “king of Lithuania” by Pope Innocent IV. However, after his death in 1263, Lithuania returned once more to the fold of paganism, which, incidentally, did not prevent Mindaugas’ son Vaisvilkas, who succeeded his father, from being a fanatical adherent of Orthodoxy.

However, this state of affairs could not continue indefinitely. As the last pagan state of Europe, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania could not be regarded as an equal by the Christian sovereigns of Europe. It also played into the hands of the Teutonic Order, which could legitimately wage unending holy war against Lithuanian paganism.The situation was resolved by Lithuania’s political and cultural convergence with Poland, with whom it had fought against the Teutons. In 1387, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Jogaila, who was concurrently King of Poland under the name Wladyslaw II Jagiello, converted Lithuania to Catholicism.

From that moment on, the Grand Duchy’s encouragement of Orthodoxy ceased, and the Catholic faith took root. Hence, Lithuania could no longer lay claim to the title of unifier of the Russian lands.

The union of Lithuania and Poland as one state in the 16th century exerted tremendous political, cultural, and religious pressure on the Grand Duchy’s Orthodox population, namely the Belarusian and Ukrainian people. Over the coming centuries, they would be a bone of contention between the Polish and Russian civilizations. It remains a live issue to this day.

Boris Egorov writes for Russia Beyond.

The photo shows, “The Battle of Grunwald,” by Jan Matejko, painted in 1878.

Why Eastern Europeans Do Not Want Islam

Why Eastern Europeans are much more reluctant to accept Muslim migrants than their Western counterparts can be traced back to circumstances surrounding a pivotal battle, that of Kosovo, which took place on June 15, 1389, exactly 630 years ago today.  It pitted Muslim invaders against Eastern European defenders, or the ancestors of those many Eastern Europeans today who are resistant to Islam.

Because the jihad is as old as Islam, it has been championed by diverse peoples throughout the centuries (Arabs in the Middle East, Moors (Berbers and Africans) in Spain and Western Europe, etc.). Islam’s successful entry into Eastern Europe was spearheaded by the Turks, specifically that tribe centered in westernmost Anatolia (or Asia Minor) and thus nearest to Europe, the Ottoman Turks, so-named after their founder Osman Bey.   As he lay dying in 1323, his parting words to his son and successor, Orhan, were for him “to propagate Islam by yours arms.”

This his son certainly did; the traveler Ibn Batutua, who once met Orhan in Bursa, observed that, although the jihadi had captured some one hundred Byzantine fortresses, “he had never stayed for a whole month in any one town,” because he “fights with the infidels continually and keeps them under siege.” Christian cities fell like dominos: Smyrna in 1329, Nicaea in 1331, and Nicomedia in 1337. By 1340, the whole of northwest Anatolia was under Turkic control.  By now and to quote a European contemporary, “the foes of the cross, and the killers of the Christian people, that is, the Turks, [were]  separated from Constantinople by  a channel of three or four miles.”

By 1354, the Ottoman Turks, under Orhan’s son, Suleiman, managed to cross over the Dardanelles and into the abandoned fortress town of Gallipoli, thereby establishing their first foothold in Europe: “Where there were churches he destroyed them or converted them to mosques,” writes an Ottoman chronicler: “Where there were bells, Suleiman broke them up and cast them into fires. Thus, in place of bells there were now muezzins.”

Cleansed of all Christian “filth,” Gallipoli became, as a later Ottoman bey boasted, “the Muslim throat that gulps down every Christian nation—that chokes and destroys the Christians.” From this dilapidated but strategically situated fortress town, the Ottomans launched a campaign of terror throughout the countryside, always convinced they were doing God’s work. “They live by the bow, the sword, and debauchery, finding pleasure in taking slaves, devoting themselves to murder, pillage, spoil,” explained Gregory Palamas, an Orthodox metropolitan who was taken captive in Gallipoli, adding, “and not only do they commit these crimes, but even—what an aberration—they believe that God approves them!”

After Orhan’s death in 1360 and under his son Murad I—the first of his line to adopt the title “Sultan”—the westward jihad into the Balkans began in earnest and was unstoppable. By 1371 he had annexed portions of Bulgaria and Macedonia to his sultanate, which now so engulfed Constantinople that “a citizen could leave the empire simply by walking outside the city gates.”

Unsurprisingly, then, when Prince Lazar of Serbia (b. 1330) defeated Murad’s invading forces in 1387, “there was wild rejoicing among the Slavs of the Balkans. Serbians, Bosnians, Albanians, Bulgarians, Wallachians, and Hungarians from the frontier provinces all rallied around Lazar as never before, in a determination to drive the Turks out of Europe.”

Murad responded to this effrontery on June 15, 1389, in Kosovo.  There, a Serbian-majority coalition augmented by Hungarian, Polish, and Romanian contingents—twelve thousand men under the leadership of Lazar—fought thirty thousand Ottomans under the leadership of the sultan himself. Despite the initial downpour of Turkic arrows, the Serbian heavy cavalry plummeted through the Ottoman frontlines and broke the left wing; the Ottoman right, under Murad’s elder son Bayezid, reeled around and engulfed the Christians. The chaotic clash continued for hours.

On the night before battle, Murad had beseeched Allah “for the favour of dying for the true faith, the martyr’s death.”  Sometime near the end   of battle, his prayer was granted. According to tradition, Miloš Obilić, a Serbian knight, offered to defect to the Ottomans on condition that, in view of his own high rank, he be permitted to submit before the sultan himself. They brought him before Murad and, after Milos knelt in false submission, he lunged at and plunged a dagger deep into the Muslim warlord’s stomach (other sources say “with two thrusts which came out at his back”). The sultan’s otherwise slow guards responded by hacking the Serb to pieces. Drenched in and spluttering out blood, Murad lived long enough to see his archenemy, the by now captured Lazar, brought before him, tortured, and beheaded. A small conciliation, it may have put a smile on the dying martyr’s face.

Murad’s son Bayezid instantly took charge: “His first act as Sultan, over his father’s dead body, was to order the death, by strangulation with a bowstring, of his brother. This was Yaqub, his fellow-commander in the battle, who had won distinction in the field and popularity with his troops.” Next Bayezid brought the battle to a decisive end; he threw everything he had at the enemy, leading to the slaughter of every last Christian—but even more of his own men in the process.

So many birds flocked to and feasted on the vast field of carrion that posterity remembered Kosovo as the “Field of Blackbirds.” Though essentially a draw—or at best a Pyrrhic victory for the Ottomans—the Serbs, with less men and resources to start with in comparison to the ascendant Muslim empire, felt the sting more.

In the years following the battle of Kosovo, the Ottoman war machine became unstoppable: the nations of the Balkans were conquered by the Muslims—after withstanding a millennium of jihads, Constantinople itself permanently fell to Islam in 1453—and they remained under Ottoman rule for centuries.

The collective memory of Eastern Europeans’ not too distant experiences with and under Islam should never be underestimated when considering why they are significantly more wary of—if not downright hostile to—Islam and its migrants compared to their Western, liberal counterparts.

As Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán once explained:

“We don’t want to criticize France, Belgium, any other country, but we think all countries have a right to decide whether they want to have a large number of Muslims in their countries. If they want to live together with them, they can. We don’t want to and I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. We do not like the consequences of having a large number of Muslim communities that we see in other countries, and I do not see any reason for anyone else to force us to create ways of living together in Hungary that we do not want to see….  I have to say that when it comes to living together with Muslim communities, we are the only ones who have experience because we had the possibility to go “through that experience for 150 years.”

And those years—1541 to 1699, when the Islamic Ottoman Empire occupied Hungary—are replete with the massacre, enslavement, and rape of Hungarians.

This is an excerpt from Raymond Ibrahim’s book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, which was also reviewed in the Postil here.

The photo shows, “The Kosovo Maiden,” by Uroš Predić, painted in 1919. The scene illustrates a scene from the poem, “The Kosovo Maiden,” from the Kosovo-cycle of Serbian poetry.

Of War And Islam

History is about expansion and contraction – of ideas, of economics, of ambitions, and of the pursuit of power. A crucial element in this pulsation of human action is war.

Recalling von Clausewitz’s famous observation provides a meaningful framework for discussion: “We see, therefore, that War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means. All beyond this which is strictly peculiar to War relates merely to the peculiar nature of the means which it uses…War is the means, and the means must always include the object in our conception.”

Earlier, von Clausewitz defines war as, “an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfil our will.”

Raymond Ibrahim actively engages with von Clausewitz in his latest book, Sword and Scimitar, by examining war as the fulfillment of the will of Islam. He looks at eight critical battles which marked how two worlds (one Moslem, one Western and Christian) view each other, down to the present.

Indeed, the encounters between these worlds stretch back more than a millennium, which means that Islam is not something new that suddenly burst into Western consciousness on and after 9/11. Rather, Islamic terrorism is part-and-parcel of a very ancient struggle which has expanded or contracted, sometimes favoring the West and sometimes giving the upper hand to Islam.

War in this context is to be understood as jihad, through which Islam subdues all those that oppose the will of Allah and the example of Mohammad. Ibrahim therefore defines jihad as, “warfare to spread Islam,” and quoting Emile Tyan, he explains that jihad must continue “until the whole world is under the rule of Islam . . . Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad can be eliminated.”

Here, the famous ideological two-fold division of the world, into the “House of Islam” and the “House of Faithlessness,” takes on its proper meaning. Moslems inhabit a reality which can never accommodate the Other, for to accept infidelity (kufr) as a viable way to live out a human life is the denial of Allah, and thus cannot be permitted. This gives the lie, of course, to those that would promote multiculturalism.

This outright rejection of the Other (termed the dhimmi), as unacceptable because he is innately hostile to Allah, renders no other outcome than continual conflict, until the Other is no more – either he is Islamized or annihilated. Here, the concept of the jizya is often trundled out (which is protection-money that non-Moslems must pay in order to live as second-class inhabitants inside Islamic territory).

But such a levy does not mean acceptance or accommodation of the Other. It simply means that each non-Moslem life is a “possession” of Islam, which yields monetary recompense. The dhimmi must pay to live. Ibrahim quotes from a Moslem jurist: “their [infidels’] lives and their possessions are only protected by reason of payment of jizya.”

At its core, therefore, Islam is a political ideology, constructed to change society into the House of Islam, governed by the laws of Allah and the example of Mohammad (Shariah). Accordingly, more than any other faith system in the world, it is the expansion and contraction of war, which defines the character and purpose of Islam.

Violence is not an evil that must be neutralized by way of love (as is the Christian view), in order to win peace. Rather, bloodshed and fear are necessary, and on-going, tools to bring about the end-game of Islam, which is the subjugation of the world. In this way, the practice of Islam in the world is radically different to the practice of Christianity – love produces a certain type of civilization; fear and violence produces another.

A serious problem in the West right now is the lazy habit of assuming that all religions are exactly like Christianity and are therefore to be “handled” in the same way. This is yielding destructive results.

This further means that Islam has always sought war, in order to vanquish its enemies, since such destruction is a holy act, which will meet with much reward in heaven. Thus, a Moslem who engages in jihad is termed a ghazi, or one who raids the territory of the faithless (the kafirs), and slays the unbelieving – because they are Allah’s enemies.

Thus, each Moslem should strive to be a ghazi. Shedding the blood of non-Moslems is meritorious, and much pleasing to Allah. As one Islamic chronicler states: “The Ghazi is the sword of Allah; he is the protector and refuge of the believers. If he becomes a martyr in the way of Allah, do not believe that he has died—he lives in beatitude with Allah, he has eternal life.”

This means that without war Islam loses not only steam but its very purpose, for the world outside Islam is to be changed through violence and the fear that the threat of violence produces. In the East, Islam was, and is, in contention with paganism.

In the West, it fights Christianity (even though the West is now more pagan than Christian). As Ibrahim observes, “Muslim armies went to war against the West more often as religious rather than as national or ethnic forces, and their warring against the Westerners was so seen as mostly a monolithic struggle against Christendom rather than particular European states.”

Thus, Islam exists to wage war in the world. The winning of territory is simply the consequence of this purpose. In the words of Mohammad, “I have been made victorious with terror.”

This means that a negative view of Islam (both in the East and in the West) is a historically grounded response to the violence inherent in Islam. It is not simply “racism” or Islamophobia (both these terms become useless in the context of jihad, by virtue of which each terrorist is a ghazi).

How opposing the violence of jihad can possibly be racism or Islamophobia is never properly explained by those who deploy such terms, especially when the similar opposition brings out the same negative response to Islam among non-Moslems in the East.

Ibrahim raises such crucial issues, which makes his book that much nuanced, for it is more than a richly textured presentation of military history. Although each battle is comprehensively analyzed and detailed, with much insight into the “construction” of terror by Islamic warriors, Ibrahim also uses the subject of war to lay out a social critique (of both Islam and the West), because war also builds an outlook, a point of view, a mindset.

It is a given that Islam as a religion enjoys sociopolitical protection by the Western elite. In this regard, Ibrahim raises a very fundamental point – Islam has never changed; it is still engaged in subduing the world for Allah, by following the example of Mohammad. The West, however, has changed, and in the process has entirely abandoned its own history. This has put the West in a position of weakness, in that it has gotten into the habit of appeasing the violence of Islam.

The Islamic mindset is the same as it was over a millennium ago. The best defense that the West can now muster is multiculturalism, borderless post-nations, relentless hedonism, and appeasement. This puts the West in a perpetual posture of weakness, for it can no longer thwart Islam’s will.

In this regard, Ibrahim ends his book with a dire warning: “…if Islam is terrorizing the West today, that is not because it can, but because the West allows it to.”

A little earlier, the words of Alan G. Jamieson are highlighted: “At a time when the military superiority of the West—meaning chiefly the USA—over the Muslim world has never been greater. Western countries feel insecure in the face of the activities of Islamic terrorists…In all the long centuries of Christian-Muslim conflict, never has the military imbalance between the two sides been greater, yet the dominant West can apparently derive no comfort from that fact.”

This paradox is easily understood, of course. Islam has not lost its will and still wants to impose it on the world. The West, on the other hand, no longer has a will of its own and therefore no longer understands what it is supposed to do in the world. The only thing it can offer is endless self-indulgence and the pursuit of pleasure. All the while, Islam pursues power. Who will win? Perhaps, Islam is the West’s wakeup call. But the problem now is – what shall the West wake up to?

Raymond Ibrahim’s book should be required reading for all those interested in understanding the future of Islam in the world. It would appear that the West no longer wants a future.

The photo shows, “Bedouins Taking Aim,” by Adolf Schreyer, date unknown.

Fixing Jesus

In C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, a ghostly theologian has found himself at the very edge of heaven, having taken a bus from hell. He is invited to remain, though doing so will require that he leave behind the imaginary world of the unreal (hell), and take on the difficult task of being truly what he was created to be.

The conversation has an interesting moment when he describes his latest project: thinking about what Jesus might have accomplished had he not died so tragically young. The proposition is comic, on its surface, a misunderstanding of Christ’s work so profound as to be silly – except that it’s not. “Fixing Jesus” is a very apt metaphor for the task that secularized Christianity has set for itself. And, that I might be clear, every Christian in the modern world is tempted, at some level, to secularize his faith. We all want to fix Jesus.

As much as Jesus is admired in our culture, even quoted on occasion, He remains a bothersome and uncooperative figure. He healed the sick, but seems to have left no lasting plan or program for their long-term care. I’ve even heard the question, “Why didn’t He heal everyone?” Indeed, there is a puzzlement that He still allows us to suffer disease, and is given credit for the deep injustice of sickness itself. Why do children get cancer and Nazis live to old age in the backwoods of Brazil?

Jesus clearly spoke of justice and care for the poor. But He established no guidelines for a just economy, nor did He challenge the economic systems of His time. Sometimes He seems to have avoided the topic on purpose.

Among the most useless pronouncements in our modern culture are the statements, “Jesus never said anything about…[fill in the blank].” This is always said by people for whom what Jesus actually said already carries no weight. “Jesus never said…” means that you may not say it either, except as an example of bigoted traditionalism.

The deep drive of modern secularism has been to tame Jesus, to make Him serve the purpose of the modern project in the construction of liberal democracy. That project requires that all creeds be held in private for the greater public good. Indeed, the modern project would suggest that all religions essentially say the same thing – that liberal democracy and its prosperous peace is the goal of human progress. Inasmuch as Jesus might have done something to contribute to that project, He is useful and good.

This is much more than a culture critique, for that which we can see in the culture has also been written deep within our hearts. It is a worldview we imbibe simply by being born in this time and in this place. That worldview generally sees the world as existing for its own sake (and our lives as existing for their own sake as well). Even when those things are married to some notion of a “greater good,” that good is generally about the world for its own sake. Those things that disrupt the public good are seen as troublesome (at the very least) and needing modification.

Of course, the public good is measured only by this world for its own sake, for its wealth and our general health. Happiness (that fleeting and ever-changing thing) is the common goal of us all.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that Jesus is focused on some world beyond this one. He is decidedly here-and-now (Matt. 6:34). Indeed, secularism would not exist without Christianity having preceded it. For it is in the teaching of Christ that attention is drawn directly to that which is at hand rather than to life elsewhere. In Christ’s teaching, “The Kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:21). What we see today as secularism is a heresy, a false reading and distortion of the Christian tradition. It is the world, in and of itself, as a substitute for the Kingdom of God. A world without depth or meaning apart from its own self.

Christ does not abolish the world (the one that we call “secular”). Instead, He reveals it to be what it is. This material world in which we dwell, to which we are inseparably united, is shown to be the gate of heaven, the bread of life, the medicine of immortality, and so on. For all of these things are not made known to us apart from, nor in spite of their material aspects. Fr. Alexander Schmemann said quite rightly that the sacraments do not seek to replace the material: it shows material to be what it is. In St. Basil’s epiclesis we pray, “And show this bread to be the precious Body of our Lord, and God, and Savior, Jesus Christ…” In the hands of Christ, all bread becomes what it is meant to be, that which alone can truly feed us.

The world does not exist in and of itself, nor is its value and meaning in and of itself. But neither does its true existence, value, and meaning exist somewhere else of which it is a non-participant or an empty shadow. The material world is the locus of the marriage of heaven and earth. In that sense, Christ draws attention to the created order in a manner without precedent. It is the de-coupling of that attention from Christ Himself and the deeper reality that underlies the created order that has given us our present delusion. It is as though all our attention were on human bodies – without souls. As such, we are the dead among the dead.

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty-million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.

The world’s efforts to “fix” Jesus are invariably directed towards either removing Him from this world, or placing Him in the world as a manageable object. Just as the world turned St. Nicholas into Santa Claus (he’s so cuddly!), so Christ becomes a religious mascot of whatever worldly value we want to promote. Solzhenitsyn, in his famous Templeton Lecture, described this process of secularization in profound terms:

Secularism is the forgetting of God, or remembering Him in a manner that is truly less than God. This is the cause of all injustice. Indeed, it is the great injustice: that human beings forget their Creator and the purpose of their existence. When we forget God, everything is madness.

Jesus, have mercy on us and fix us.

Father Stephen Freeman is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, serving as Rector of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.

The photo shows Protestant iconoclasm. The caption reads, “Klaus Hottinger pulls down the wayside cross near the mill at Stadelhofen, in 1523.”