I’m Going to Be A Dad

wedding-photo2016 was a year of change for me. I got married to my best friend and immigrated to a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda. 2016, to me, meant radical change. Kristen has given me stability and direction that only a loving woman can, but it hasn’t been without its challenges. Literally having an ocean between you and the one you love necessitates taking risk to be with them. Once you find someone you love, just go for it.

Now it’s 2017 and I have a whole new set of adventures. Late July this year, we are expecting another addition to our family. We don’t know the gender yet, but we will soon. Kristen just entered the second trimester. In some weird almost poetic way, we found out on Thanksgiving Day. It took a few days for it to soak in but I got there: I’M GOING TO BE A DAD. Nathan and Kristen Lawrence are going to have a little trouble-maker running around.

Both Kristen and I would also appreciate your prayers. Kristen has a condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), which I have had described to me as morning sickness on steroids. The kind of morning sickness that could make you puke for twelve hours without any stop in sight. If left untreated, it results in severe dehydration and hospitalization. In the past, cases could result in death. This has led to some frustrating moments. The next person that suggests “ginger and saltine crackers” to curb nausea to my wife is in for a world of hurt. HG is an entirely different condition and I feel for all women that have it after seeing what Kristen has been through.

Despite this issue, Kristen and I remain positive and look forward to seeing our little African-American/Caucasian/Portuguese-Bermudian boy or girl. We are incredibly blessed to bring a life into this world and would appreciate any and all support. Out of all the adventures I’ve been on, I can easily say that this is the most exciting.

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Heimbach Issued Ultimatum by True Orthodox Metropolia

The Matthew Heimbach/TradYouth and Eastern Orthodoxy story continues to evolve. After failing as a traditionalist catholic with the Society of  Pope Pius the X, being excommunicated by the Antiochian Orthodox Church and a subsequent run-in with ROCOR, Heimbach has been issued an ultimatum by Metropolitan John of the True Orthodox Metropolia of North & South America & British Isles (this is the jurisdiction Heimbach’s spiritual father, Fr. Johnson, is under).This group separated from the Old Calanderist Synod of Milan over ecumenism and imiaslavism. Their latest statement on “The Question of Race, Politics, and the Church” reads:

As Orthodox Christians, we respect the diversity of political opinions among our brethren on all matters other than the permissibility of endorsing the practice of any form of abortion, or other views contrary to the long standing teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church, but we do not believe in the exclusion of any person of any race or mixed racial heritage (or of former religious affiliations who chose to fully become Orthodox Christians) from the communities of any of our churches or the participation in any of the Mysteries in any of our Churches on the basis of said racial or mixed racial/ethnic heritage. We further affirm the decision of the 1872 Council of Constantinople which ruled against phyletism as in any manner acceptable in the Orthodox Church of Christ, namely, the following statement: “We censure, condemn, and declare contrary to the teachings of the Gospel and the sacred canons of the holy Fathers the doctrine of phyletism, or the difference of races and national diversity in the bosom of the Church of Christ.”

An addendum to this was also published on their official facebook page which singles out Matthew Heimbach:

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The timing of this is clearly not accidental. It was released only days after Heimbach’s spiritual father, “Fr.” Matthew Raphael Johnson published his first podcast in years on why phyletism was not only not heretical but also the official teaching of the church. To quote the written version:

“The ‘Patriarch’ was a highly compromised institution under the Tourkokratia, or the rule of the Turkish empire over southern Europe. Greek elites and moneylenders were the real forces behind this “synod” and created the district of Istanbul known even today as the Phanar.”

Heimbach released a similar podcast. Both declared it a “hoax” and claimed that phyletism was condemned due to the economic and political circumstance of the Phanar Greek collaborators with Ottoman rule in 1872. Besides historical problems with this (the Bulgarian Exarchate was declared via Ottoman degree;therefore, the collaborators, if any, would be the Bulgarian nationalists ), the methodology Johnson and Heimbach uses is essentially secular and has been used against nearly every dogmatic definition to come out of a council, ecumenical or otherwise. I would then suppose that they both reject the Chaledonian definition of the two nature of Christ due to imperial ambitions or the council of Nicaea as empire building by Constantine? Of course this would be ridiculous and I don’t expect them to buy into such a simplistic understanding of Church history, but they lend credence to it by their adoption of a similar approach to defend their token doctrines.

streetsIn their defense, I suppose they may point again to their “statement of obedience”again, but it’s clear that that document was drafted in a completely disingenuous manner. How can Heimbach say that he rejects “the heresy of phyletism” and that “phyletism is a hoax” simultaneously? It is this sort of double speak and theological question dodging that the Traditionalist Youth Network specializes in. Heimbach’s claim that he rejects “the attitude of violence” is in contrast to open praise of fascist leaders and “taking back the streets”. Heimbach’s aesthetic synthesis of fascism, southern white nationalism, and orthodoxy is based on violent inner thoughts of racial holy war and to object otherwise is to ignore the obvious.  As long as Heimbach keeps close association with violent felons with thick portfolios of racially motivated violence, such as the Keystone United, his claims to have a a peaceful orientation are hallow. Southern nationalist organizations such as the League of the South have also objected to Heimbach’s association with Neo-Nazi groups, but the two have supposedly made up despite Heimbach still ever obvious ties to such groups and the Traditionalist Youth Network material still regularly air on radio channels like Radio Aryan.

How can Heimbach say with a straight face that he will “abstain from controversy within the Church” while simultaneously lying to the face of both Aniochian and ROCOR priests about their involvement with fascist organizations? Meanwhile, Matt  Parrott, a fellow white nationalist, replies to public Orthodox criticisms of Heimbach by insinuating clergy that disagree with them have “consistently demonstrated themselves to be politicians in cassocks who casually and habitually abuse their Authority for worldly political advantage.” Heimbach et al continue to insist that they have been treated unfairly but they have been awarded multiple chances and lied/deceived each time. The Old Calanderists, who would be the last to be part of a “ecumenist” or “masonic plot” to destroy the white race, are able to see through the overt lies the Traditional Youth Network tell the clergy and have rightly issued a statement of belief for them to sign. Are we seriously supposed to believe that they too are in bed with the SPLC to undermine Orthodox Christianity?

The repeated lies and question dodging advanced by the Heimbach and his ilk clearly suggest to the reality that they value their white nationalist politics more highly than Church doctrine.  This lack of will to repent is generated by a spiritual self-delusion so deep that they seriously believe that they will be a champions over the bishops of canonical Orthodoxy, who they believe are part of a masonic plot against the white race. Spiritual self-delusion or prelest, St. Isaac the Syrian notes, is caused when an individual has not cured “his thoughts of infirmities by patiently bearing the cross, but rather dared in his mind to envision the glory of the cross.” Heimbach’s glorification of fascism in the name of Christ is clear and evident prelest, justifying to him the necessity to deceive clergy who not follow this agenda.

So what is next? Is Johnson to be defrocked by his bishop?  Where will Heimbach find an church  home that will endorse his beliefs? We will have to wait and see. The Traditionalist Youth Network has yet to reply to the latest statement issued against them.

Re-post: Remember My Lai

Hugh Thompson JrOn March 16th, 1968, Officer Hugh Thompson played a critical role in the ending of the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War. He is the only member of the U.S. armed forces I know of that won the Soldier’s Medal for threatening to open fire on U.S. soldiers. He and his fellow helicopter operators Glenn Andreotta and Lawrence Colburn carried Vietnamese civilians to safety away from the 2nd Platoon that was killing unarmed civilians indiscriminately. Thompson gave the order to Andreotta and Colburn to open fire on any U.S. infantrymen who attempted to get in their way of protecting innocent life. During the altercation Thompson and Lt.William Calley of the 2nd Platoon, who murdered at least 22 civilians himself, exchanged these words:

Thompson: What’s going on here, Lieutenant?

Calley: This is my business.

Thompson: What is this? Who are these people?

Calley: Just following orders.

Thompson: Orders? Whose orders?

Calley: Just following…

Thompson: But, these are human beings, unarmed civilians, sir.

Calley: Look Thompson, this is my show. I’m in charge here. It ain’t your concern.

Thompson: Yeah, great job.

Calley: You better get back in that chopper and mind your own business.

Thompson: You ain’t heard the last of this!

Ultimately, Thompson was right. He testified in Calley’s war crimes case. Despite facing opposition from the Pentagon, high-ranking military officials, and even congressmen that attempted to discount Thompson and cover up the mass killing of at least 347 unarmed civilians, Calley was sentenced to life in prison. However, he was pardoned by President Nixon. Calley only served three and half years in house arrest. Thompson, until he lost his battle with cancer in 2006. Like many Vietnam veterans, suffered from alcoholism and PTSD and struggled for much of his life to reconcile with what had happened. He stared evil in the face and made it blink. He will forever be one of my heroes.

Our Debt to Pay

 

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A multi-cultural meal with Abood on the left.

I admit that the entire controversy surrounding Syrian refugees is personal to me. I have close connections with the Antiochian Orthodox Church, which has numerous Syrians in their congregations and it is helping the refugees (Christian, Muslim, and others) in their new lives in the U.S. I also used to live in Turkey. I can still remember the hospitality Abood, a Syrian Muslim and refugee in Turkey, showed me. He liked cooking for others and playing American pop music. He was a self-described Avril Lavigne fanboy.

These people who are against any form of Syrian refugee resettlement in U.S. are entitled in that they think that their choices have no consequences. The United States has systemically undermined the Middle East and is partially responsible for the millions of refugees fleeing Syria. They behave as if their choices have no repercussions. This is worse than any of Reagan’s “welfare queens”. They seek to have their moral debt absolved without any repentance.

We are responsible for our country’s foreign policy. We owe a debt. There is a price to be paid. We killed hundreds of thousands in Iraq, aided war criminal after war criminal, utterly destroyed the public services millions rely on,  and created space for radical Islamists to destabilize neighboring countries like Syria even more. Once destabilized, we armed participants in a bloody civil war and allowed our allies to bomb alternative structures to those created by Sunni Islamists. To quote the Antiochian Church Archdiocese of North America’s most recent statement on the refugee crisis:

the humanitarian disaster caused by the war in Syria to which the U.S. government has contributed by calling for the removal of the established Syrian leadership – as it did in Egypt, Iraq and Libya – requires a moral response from the people and government of our great country

This is all done while simultaneously pushing forward a foreign policy agenda that is utterly without substance or specifics. Does the U.S. support the existence of a Kurdish state or not and are we willing to pressure our allies to accept it? Is Saudi Arabia truly our friend and how much Wahhabism are we willing to tolerate? Do we support the official Iraqi government controlling northern Iraq and , if so, are we willing to accept the existence of the Iranian regime that it acts for? What are we to think of Assad and the Russian presence in the Middle East? Most importantly, why ought anyone in the Middle East trust us? The most recent round of paranoia on the part of American conservatives, especially on the part of Evangelical Christians, seems to be just more proof that our moral check is coming up void.

I don’t pretend to know eternal fates of individuals. To claim such a thing would be tantamount to claiming divinity, but Hell will be full of people like this. Full of cowards who insist on a “great divide” between themselves and those they owe a moral debt to. It will be full of Judas’s that are willing to destroy the body of Christ in exchange for physical security. Middle Eastern Christians won’t soon forget how you said that they and their Muslim neighbors are like rabid dogs. It will be full of traitors to the human race and the Body of Christ, like the Absaloms and the Delilahs of the Bible Belt. America owes a debt. Pay it.

 

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OCU Implicitly Endorses this Starbucks Nonsense

JoshuaFeuersteinOk… no one cares about this Starbucks “war-on-Christmas” story. I know of no one, Christian or otherwise, that is actually upset that a certain coffee company changed the look of their cups. Basically, one man named Joshua Feuerstein, who quite possibility one of the most annoying voice ever to plague the human race, complained on his youtube channel about it and now everyone is freaking out. There isn’t very much real substance to the story. It’s just media hype and conservative Christians can pretty easily wipe their hands clean of this whole story… except for people associated with Ohio Christian University and the Church of Christ in Christian Union. The whole incident is another testament of the level to which President Mark Smith has sunk the university to. For those that don’t know, OCU sponsors Joshua Feuerstein’s work.

In the same week Feuerstein released his video he appeared as a guest on OCU’s Faith & Liberty Talk Show and was honored for being a “Guru of Christian Social Media”. In September, Feuerstein did a video endorsing the university, which lead me to suspect some type of business relationship between the two. This suspicion was confirmed by the most recent and the first episode of Feuerstein’s web show The Radicals. He listed OCU (along with Genetic Edge Compounds and The Family Policy Council of West Virginia) as a sponsor of his show and did a short advertise for them while simultaneously taking a jab at Liberty University.

“It wasn’t very long ago that I meet the people from Ohio Christian University. Look.. they’re never going to have Bernie Sanders speak at their university. Trust me, this is the place where literally culture, Christianity, politics, all come together. I’ve never been more impressed by a single university than I have OCU.”

Let’s be frank here. Within the CCCU and Ohio Christian University circles, if my name comes up it probably isn’t a good thing. I don’t shy from the fact that I’m highly critical of Wesleyanism as articulated by these folks and I have no illusions that they will listen to me for second, but ,to my OCU and CCCU friends, how can you simultaneously wipe your hands clean of this Starbucks nonsense and allow OCU to financially support Feuerstein? To those within the OCU hierarchy such as President Mark Smith and Prof. Dave Garrison, what exactly is the extent of the business relationship between the university and Feuerstein and what is your opinion of his Starbucks antics?

Hansai

Around this time every year, I have a hard time sleeping. I’ve been re-reading the Bells of Nagasaki and reflecting on the idea of nuclear warfare. The cost of nuclear arms goes beyond their immediate victims. I agree with Salvador Dali that those two bombs in Japan sent a “seismic shock through me.” It represents a new age in which Just War theory is slowly turning more and more obsolete. Can we truly have discussions about the principles of proportionality and distinction in a world where state-to-state warfare runs the possibility of ending our species?

I have always felt a special attachment to Nagasaki due to the story of Our Lady of Nagasaki, the bust of the Virgin Mary that survived the blast. Nagasaki had a significant Catholic population before the bombing, but it was mostly wiped out during the inferno. To this day, Urakami Cathedral is a rallying point for anti-nuclear activism in Japan and is the center focus of the classic book The Bells of Nagasaki. Regardless of what one thinks of religion, Catholicism, or marian veneration, it’s hard to ignore the imagery. Just as she wept for her Son on the cross, the mother of God weeps for the children of Nagasaki.

Burned-Madonna

The bust

Urakami.Cathedral

Urakami Cathedral

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A memorial mass at Urakami Cathedral

rosary

The picture above is a drawing a survivor drew of his wife going to heaven. Below is her rosary.

The Journal of Libertarian Thought (1967): “The Black Revolution”

Finally back to blogging about libertarianism. The next few entries will probably be reviewing the publication Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought. I chose this journal to review for three primary reasons. First, it is one of the few libertarian publications in the 1960s and gives an insight into how libertarians at the time viewed the radical social changes of the 60s, but it’s important to take note the radical changes to the Libertarian Party itself in the early 1980s (to a more right-wing position). At this point in the 1960s, “left-deviantionists” were more open in expressing their views. Second, it’s editor was Rothbard; therefore, giving it a clear link to the structures that later evolved into the official Libertarian Party. Third, the name of the journal itself harkens to the reality that the word “libertarian” can denote multiple positions which can be categorized as left or right in ever changing contexts.

The issue I’d like to bring attention to is Vol. 3 Number 3 or the same issue Rothbard gave his eulogy to Che. Two editorials in the issue covered the topic of flag burning and the black power movement. The obvious context is the numerous riots and protests sweeping the country at the time. As I have written before, many self-described libertarians openly supported active resistance to the government during this time, including rioting. Given the public discussion over overreaching police officers, race, and the recent shootings it seemed appropriate to review these editorials for the blog. I will review the flag desecration editorial for my next entry.

black revolution

The editorial “The Black Revolution” seems to be a mixed bag. On one hand, I agree with the editors that the policy of integration was not a complete success, that African-Americans must uphold their own dignity if there is to be liberation, and that the Democratic Party will not be the means of said liberation.

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The opening line of the editorial, which reflects the reality that the U.S. government drafted thousands of African-Americans to fight a war that had no relevance to them.

Interestingly, it openly praises Malcolm X. I supposed this is appropriate considering the same issue has an article dedicated to Che.

police x

In contrast, some of the language used reflects the racist bedrock that much of Anglo-Saxon stood upon in the 1960s and still stand upon. Conservative endorsements of ultra-black liberationism is often half-hearted and more along the lines of “how in the hell do we get rid of these people?”.  The author simply ditches the entire notion of integration and argues that African-Americans should simply go back to Africa or try to start their own country. I never found either of these positions workable or even attractive.

black nationalism

One myth about the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. is that it was a top-down enterprise that did not enjoy grassroot support. After reading the Parting the Water series by Branch (a must read on the topic but it’s a pretty lengthy), I personally cannot see how anyone could conclude this. Intervention by the federal government was often accomplished by strategic application of civil disobedience non-violent direct action. Yes, federal Integration of public schools and universities was accomplished by the National Guard, but they only intervened in the first place due to the strategic brilliance of grassroots organizers that forced the situation. Without agitation, the federal government would have ignored the entire situation. At the end of the day, I would say that this article is historically important  because the author acknowledges that the African-American community was being oppressed by a racist social order and had the right to use armed force against it. This seems to fly in the face of Rothbard’s later recommendation of a “right-wing populist program” in the early 1990s, in which he argues that the very notion of civil rights “tramples on the property rights of every American”.