An Open Letter To A White Nationalist

For those unfamiliar with the current controversy revolving around Matthew Heimbach’s reception into the Orthodox Church, please read Fr. Ernesto Obregon’s article on the topic.

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Dear Mr. Heimbach and other members of the Traditionalist Youth Network that were received into the Church,

Congratulations on being received into the Church. It is my hope and prayer that this was out a genuine desire to be closer to Christ. I admit that upon my own initial pursuit of Orthodoxy, not all of my original reasons were sincere or out of love. Converting from one faith to another is never easy, even if they are both forms of Christianity. Through the support of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, my priests, and lots of prayer, I was able to examine myself and become more aware of my own sins. It’s a tough process to even begin to seek repentance, so you will be in my prayers

I know what it’s like to be young and radical. The world is full of injustices and it helps having a coherent ideology to make sense of it all, especially if it explains who your enemy is. My involvement in the protests in Turkey in 2013 taught me how intoxicating the thrill of activism can be. Regardless, these passions must be tamed and brought into accordance with the clear teaching of the Church. Simply put, the Orthodox Church regards Phyletism as heresy.

I spent my teenage years in Lancaster, Ohio. In 2013 it received the “honor” of being one of the least diverse cities in the United States, so needless to say I’ve had my share of white nationalists. One of my best friends growing up for a brief time started to dabble in Neo-Nazism and the KKK, but I did what I could to love him anyway. Another close friend of mine openly expressed neo-confederate views. We used to get into heated discussions about the role slavery played in the Civil War but they never seemed to go anywhere. Both of them have since grown out of this phase in their life, but I’m sure it took a lot to tame their passions. It is my hope and prayer that you go the direction of these two friends of mine and disavow white separatism.

Mr. Heimbach and others, we actually have a lot in common. We’re relatively young male ideologues who have converted to Eastern Orthodoxy. There is, however, one huge glaring difference though: I’m not white. Well, I’m half-white. My father is Caucasian and my mother is African-American. I’ve read your comments on miscegenation and other racial issues, but I hope that one day you will consider me as your brother-in-Christ or, as some white nationalists like to say, one of your “folk”. Matthew, I hope that we could be friends and leave all of this animus behind us. I look forward to it and maybe, with all of this behind us, we could grab a beer. Consider this an invitation.

In Christ,

Nathan Lewis Lawrence

Father Revolutionary

New article published over at the Red Egg Review. Here is an excerpt:

 

For years, former Roman Catholic priest Andres Girón de Leon has fought for land reform, thereby gaining the trust of the indigenous Mayan population. According to Laura Saldivar Tanaka and Hannah Wittman of the Land Action Research Center, “Guatemala’s rural populations suffer from one of the most unequal land distributions in Latin America.  Less than 1% of landowners hold 75% of the best agricultural land, 90% of rural inhabitants live in poverty, and over 500,000 campesino families live below subsistence level.” Fr. Girón would help raise donations and help acquire low interest loans to alleviate the plight of the Mayan people and to help purchase back their land. This earned him the title, often repeated in western news publications in the 1980s, of “Father Revolutionary”.

Charismatics, Israel, and Minorities

21I came across this the other day. Apparently, charismatics around the world are organizing a mass gathering in Jerusalem on Pentecost 2015. Sponsored by Empowered 21, a New Apostolic Reformation organization (NAR), and they are billing it as the largest gathering of Christians ever in that city’s modern history.

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To me the question is obvious: where do indigenous Christian groups (especially Palestinian Christians) fall into this? Evangelicals and Charismatics do not exactly have the best relationship with Arab Christians. Several large Evangelical ministries financially support Israeli settlers that drive out Christians and Muslims alike in the West Bank. The Charismatic controlled TV channel GODTV funds efforts to destroy Bedouin villages. Given the history of Evangelical and Charismatic treatment of Christian groups that are indigenous to the area, I highly doubt Empowered 21 will even admit their existence and will skip over the various hardships that these groups experience in Israel and Palestine. My prediction is that the “largest Christian gathering in Jerusalem in modern history” will be made up of just religious tourists to the region.

 

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Clergy from Christian minority communities protesting the Israeli government along side Muslims.

On the other hand it could be a good chance for inter-christian ecumenism. We will just have to wait and see. At the pace NAR groups are growing, it’s only a matter of time until they have to enter into dialog with other Christian communities.

Fred Phelps is Rorschach

On March 19th, 2014, Reverend Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church passed away. Made infamous for his anti-gay rhetoric and picketing the funerals of US soldiers that were casualties of the Afghan and Iraq War, Phelps was reportedly excommunicated by the church he helped create for supporting a “kinder approach” towards church-members. The machine of hate that he concocted turned on its designer, taking away his reason to live.

fredWhen word of Phelps’ passing away hit the news, there was a brief period of time in which the entire US paused and contemplated on what this meant for progress. Some asked for revenge for his years of homophobic activism and with a simple status update on Facebook they found instant liberal smugness. Some took it as an opportunity to remember the importance of returning hate with love, but even then exercises like this tend to turn into a thought experiment about how good we all are. Neither you nor I greeted the remaining members of the Westboro Baptist Church with a sign that said “sorry for your loss”, so we shouldn’t pretend that it’s proof of our collective moral fortitude.

Others, as few as they may be, have realized the very archetypal role Fred Phelps played in modern US politics: that of the insane street protester that embodies the zeitgeist. Despite how hateful Fred Phelps was, his persona perfectly personifies the absurdity of modern US politics. There are an array of characters that fit this archetype but one of the most memorable is Rorschach, the moral absolutist from Alan Moore’s The Watchmen.

rorRorschach is a quasi-fascist that fights against the moral degenerates of society. He is incredibly misogynistic, homophobic and socially conservative, but, upon a deeper investigation of his psychology, it is revealed that Rorschach is more than the sum of his parts; he is a foil of the moral decay of society. As paranoid and conspiratorial as he may be, Rorschach was correct about his assertions that there was rampant foul play afoot.

Phelps’ stance on homosexuality was horrendous, but the inner angst he had was reflective of US society. It’s easy to dismiss Phelps as a typical religious fundamentalist, but this ignores vast parts of his story. Phelps was an organizer for the Democratic Party up until the 1990s, was even a civil rights attorney in the 1960s, and at least he had the balls to say SOMETHING about the wars. When activists and civil organizations are increasingly marginalized, outlier figures such as Phelps are sure to arise. Their psychologies are the emergent properties of system that promotes absolute obedience.

Much like focusing on the moral depravity and paranoia of Rorschach, being fixated on Fred Phelps without describing the machine that created him will cause analytical mistakes. The simple fact is that the US suffers from bourgeois decadence and is a military super-power that bombs entire countries back to the Stone Age. While the US populace praises Phelps’ passing away, the longest war in US history still wages on. Phelps was insane… but so is everyone else. If you seriously think that Phelps represents evil incarnate, you may need moral reexamination. There are far bigger monsters out there.