Pray Brethren

Pray Brethren

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Viva Cristo Rey!

As Phillip Lawler points out, a war with no long-term objectives and no clear allies leaves us with the question, “who are we fighting for?” Indeed, it was this very problem that allowed the Obama Administration to weaken our relation with traditional Muslims and minority Christians in the Mideast and instead solidify our mission to promote “gay rights” and abortion across the globe. While President Bush failed to protect religious minorities and the American clergy was more concerned with opposing the wars rather than promoting religious liberty, no one could see that they were only leaving the door open to a liberal cultural imperialism which would leave the survival of Mideast Christians to Syria’s Assad and Russia’s Putin. Moreover, it is this unchecked cultural imperialism which will drive nations like Egypt and Syria into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, leaving their lands soaked anew in the blood of Christians.

In a peculiar and roundabout way, the American bishops are now finally concerned with religious liberty. Though they may have arrived ten years too late to save the thousands of Mideast Christians who have and will continue to perish, perhaps they can learn from Catholic clergy and laymen south of the border who did not “expect to die in bed” while the next generation “[died] a martyr in the public square.” I speak here of the Mexican priests and laymen of the Cristero War. Though this war may have a better stake to the title of “The Forgotten War”, the Cristero War was a revolt in the 1920s against the Mexican government’s attack on religious freedom. The war produced many martyrs and many saints. It was a testimony to the piety of Catholic priests, the bravery of Catholic soldiers, and the ingenuity of Catholic women (who secretly supplied and nursed Cristero soldiers as members of the Feminine Brigades of St. Joan of Arc).

The Cristero War is finally being told to an American audience through this weekend’s release of For Greater Glory (formerly titled Cristiada). Be sure to watch the preview below – and see the movie this weekend – but also remember that it is our Hispanic brethren in America who possess a lived experience of shedding blood to protect religious liberty. We, too, must learn their hymn and sing their battlefield song:

The Virgin Mary is protector and defender against that [which] we fear / She will vanquish demons with a cry of "Long live Christ [the] King!" / Soldiers of Christ, let us follow this flag, for its cross points to the army of God / Let us follow the flag and declare, "Long live Christ [the] King!"

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Joan of Arc and Memorial Day

Although the Easter season concluded a few days ago on the feast of Pentecost, today is a worthy day to recall once more that image of the Holy Spirit descending upon Mary and the twelve Apostles. The image of these men gathered under God to protect the feminine may appear simply religious in character, but it shows us how grace perfects nature. Conversely, if we fail to understand the nature of masculinity, femininity, and their unique forms of associations, we will not be able to understand how grace perfects and builds upon them, elevating them with supernatural life. Today, May 30th, commemorates two images which further expresses the anthropology of Pentecost: the feast day of St. Joan of Arc and the traditional date of Memorial Day.

Memorial Day, which was day a set aside to honor and remember the American soldiers who showed “no greater love” by laying down their lives in service to the nation, was moved to the last Monday in May - an act signifying a radical shift of American idenity from being a civic and religious people to being a commercial and domestic people. Despite this move, Americans are still drawn to remember the sacrifice of our soldiers; and though some criticize the use of American force, consider the causes for which the vast majority of them have died: the cause of national liberty, the cause of abolition, and the cause of delivering the nations from the hands of armed Darwinian atheism and armed Marxist communism. There are indeed a great number of noble causes for which our nation has bled – and while the most blood has been shed in national penance, Americans have much for which to be proud.

But more than ideas and ideals, we also know that men fight for something concrete. It takes the right kind of masculine personality to shape men and order them for combat, and it takes far more than an abstract concept to compel men to willingly advance forward while being “stormed at with shot and shell”. A general may command his men to charge forth from their foxholes, but it is for the love of something feminine - be it the motherland of the nation, the church (ecclesia), or the wife at home - that propels the men out of their defenses. As Chesterton said, "The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." A man may fight for liberty, but as every New Yorker knows, liberty is not just an idea, liberty is a Lady.

During World War I, French soldiers were drawn together carrying a new feminine ark into combat: Joan of Arc. The prayerful devotion of soldiers to St. Joan helped lead to her canonization in 1920, less than a thousand days after the war’s end. Declared by the universal Church as the patroness of soldiers, St. Joan of Arc did in 1918 exactly what she did in 1429: she rallied the men of the nation. Her battle cry was not, “I am woman, hear me roar!” but rather, “Men of France, do your duties!” She was certainly not fighting to see more women in uniform, much less fighting for their “right” to breastfeed infants while wearing a combat uniform. She knew that her role was to draw men more deeply into an inherently masculine bond of association, not to enter into it.

During World War II, St. Joan was symbolically incorporated into the flag of de Gaulle’s exiled French government, once again drawing together the men of France. As we observe Memorial Day and the feast of St. Joan of Arc, it is imperative that we recognize the intrinsic good of the masculine forms of association which unites soldiers and enables them to courageously lay down their lives in shared duty. Correlatively, we must also recognize the unique feminine quality, exemplified by St. Joan, which works to enhance masculine bonds without being incorporated into them. This is the sexual order which creates a culture of life through a culture of protection.

The cross used on the flag of de Gaulle's exiled French government - the cross of Lorraine - symbolically refers to the province in which St. Joan of Arc was born, the same province taken from France by the Germans in 1870.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Gay Marriage and the Minority Vote

While Harvard geopoliticist Samuel Huntington defined America’s identity as white, Protestant, and English-speaking, the United States is becoming increasingly Latino, Catholic, and Spanish-speaking. Huntington’s fear – as is the fear of many conservatives – is that the influx of non-white, non-Protestant, and non-English-speakers will only turn the United States into a cleft country, a nation deeply split along cultural, religious, and linguistic divisions. Coupled with the fear of minorities and their tendency to vote for liberal politicians, both Huntington and conservatives fear a fundamental change in America’s identity. They forget, however, that immigrants and blacks are far more loyal to the defining characterists of American identy: the worship of God, the bonds of brotherhood, and the male-female character of marriage. As minorities now make up more than half of all children born in America, conservatives must re-evaluate their position on how they define American identity and who among us exemplifies that identity.

Are not radical feminism and homosexuality far greater threats to America’s identity than an influx of immigrants and minorities? Should the conservatives cede the minority vote and allow the Democrats to be the party of the immigrants? Can the GOP finally cut itself loose of the Log Cabin Republicans and the pro-choice politicians in its own party and reach out to immigrants and minorities who share the same traditional moral outlook? If the NAACP and Barack Obama want to tie themselves to gay marriage and thus betray the natural law and religious character of the Civil Rights Movement, so be it. Let the Republicans return to their party platform of 1856, which pledged to end the "twin relics of barbarism: polygamy and slavery", and once more be the defenders of marriage and the Civil Rights Movement.

Consider these examples. The black vote is a monolithic bloc which the Democrats have consistently drawn on for decades. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry all claimed more than 85% of the black vote. And it shouldn’t surprise us that Barack Obama received over 95% of the black vote in 2008. But at the same that black Californians voted in Obama, 7 out of 10 of them voted to ban gay marriage in the state. Flash forward to 2012 and within 24-hours of Obama’s newfound support for gay marriage, Black voters rejected gay marriage in North Carolina by 2 to 1. A close look at the image below tells us the shared story of California and North Carolina: it is the minorities who uphold marriage and the college-educated whites who stand against it.

But it’s not just blacks and Latinos who stand alongside conservatives in this culture war, we see it in immigrants coming from Asia, Africa, and South America as well. Unlike European nations, the vast majority of immigrants coming to the United States have been Christian - indeed, immigration has made America more Christian today than it was fifty years ago. One caller to a New York City radio station shared his opinion on Obama’s acceptance of gay marriage: “I'm totally against it. I mean I'm born and raised in New York. My parents are from Guyana. That would never go in Guyana.” Manny Pacquiao, a well-known Pilipino boxer, has come out swinging – pardon the pun – against gay marriage. But publically sharing any views contrary gay marriage is one closet no one is allowed to come out of. In the name of “tolerance” Yahoo! News has declared Pacquiao “homophobic” and “intolerant” while The Grove shopping mall in L.A. has banned him from its premises.

It is time for conservatives to set aside their nativist proclivities and see how Asians like the Pilipino Manny Pacquiao, the Christian immigrants from Mexico and Guyana, and the deeply religious black community here in America, are much closer to our national identity than the white, Protestant Log Cabin Republicans. As the Catholic Church begins shifting its American cardinals from the northeast to the Latino southwest, drawing more and more on minorities to fill the ranks of priests and bishops, so too should conservatives re-evaluate the immigrants and minorities in their midst. It may just be that they have more in common than they originally thought.

UPDATE: The Coalition of African American Pastors concurs with the assessment of Orate Fratres in that there has been a "hijacking of the civil rights movement by homosexuals, bisexuals and gender-confused people." Rev. William Owens, the President and founder of the CAAP declared,"We who marched with Rev. King did not march one inch or one mile to promote same-sex marriage," and that the "NAACP has abandoned its historic responsibility to speak for and safeguard the civil rights movement." The readers of Oratre Fratres should support Rev. William Owens and the CAAP by signing their petition to protect the male-female character of marriage.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Patriotism and Women

There is a deep and profound connection between patriotism and women. When God placed Adam in the Garden he was given the duty “to till and to keep” it (Genesis 2:15). But Adam was also given Eve. In a way, Adam was given a similar duty to Eve. With Eve he is to bear fruit – not simply the fruit of the earth, but the fruit of their marital union. Nevertheless, Adam’s name means ‘earth’ and in a play on words we can say that the sons of Adam are indeed the fruit of the Earth through Eve. Adam must also “keep” the Garden; he must protect it. The same can be said of his duty to Eve – as he must protect the Garden, so too must he protect her.

Another way we can put this is that God is telling Adam, “When you see the beauty of the Garden, see your wife. When you see the beauty of your wife, see the Garden.” Like Adam, we American men and women find ourselves in a land that we did not choose for ourselves. And looking back to Adam’s relation, under God, to Eve and to the Garden, we see that authentic patriotism is deeply connected to a nation’s women. If the women of a nation lose their own femininity, then men either lose their patriotism or replace it with a twisted version which only leads to destruction.

As the sons of Adam should have looked to Eve to understand the beauty for which they were to fight against the Evil One, so we must see authentic femininity in our mothers and our sisters, in our wives and in our daughters. As Catholics, Marian femininity must be the fixed point, the North Star by which woman orients herself to the meaning of femininity. With women shaped by the personality of the Virgin Mother of God, a nation's men can regain their sense of proper patriotism and once more see in their motherland the beauty of woman for which they can give their lives.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

1000 Years of European History

If you've ever wondered how the map of Europe has evolved over the course of a thousand years, check out this video below:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Slowing Down the Freedom Train

In his book, Religion, Sex, & Politics, Dr. David Pence describes the civil rights movement as a train carrying African American’s to freedom. The “freedom train”, however, has been rapidly slowed down by the feminist and homosexual movements which have tried to get a free ride by hitching their cars to the civil rights movement’s engine. But why would the post-MLK civil rights movement allow this to happen? Because it promised to get more people behind the movement. In other words, God does not power the freedom train, people do. Or as Dr. Pence writes:

Adding first the baggage car of gender, then the braking caboose of homosexuality to the freedom train has depleted its fuel supply - religious tradition and natural law… The feminists and homosexuals promised to swell the crowd but, in a Faustian bargain, stole the movement’s soul. When the civil rights movement lost its religious center, it lost its soul. To forgo the word of God for a promise of government health care benefits makes even the idolaters of the golden calf look like bargain shoppers.
Indeed, the civil rights movement, like the abolitionist movement before it, ran on religious tradition and natural law. The divine power and providence which ran the freedom train, however, is incompatible with the feminist and homosexual agendas – no wonder the train has come to a screeching halt! And while President Obama has placed two radical feminists on the Supreme Court, repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and now supports gay marriage (which the African American community in particular rejects as an affront to the civil rights movement), the unemployment rate of African Americans is double the national average, 70% of African American children are born to single mothers, and President Obama himself laments the fact that there are more African American men in prison than in college.

The civil rights movement needs to cut loose the feminist baggage car and the homosexual caboose and return to its religious center.

Perhaps the actions of other nations will serve as better examples. Though our nation continues to parallel the economic policies and cultural outlook of Europe, Russia – our Cold War nemesis – may pass a national anti-homosexuality propaganda law this year. Five cities, including St. Petersburg (the second largest city in Russia), have already passed such legislation since March. While the Russian Orthodox clergy strongly support the legislation, a 2010 survey of the Russian population showed that 70% of Russians did not view homosexual acts as morally upright behavior.

The African continent as a whole, both in the Islamic north and Christian south, also rejects homosexuality. In Liberia, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning female President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has shared her support for laws criminalizing homosexual acts. In an appearance at a National Prayer Breakfast in 2010, President Obama blasted Uganda’s laws against homosexual acts and he has sent Hilary Clinton abroad in the name of feminism and homosexuality. But as Orthodox Russia, Islamic North Africa, and Christian Sub-Sahara Africa recognizes the religious character of their nations and cuts loose the braking caboose of homosexuality, let us pray these nations help the American civil rights movement reorient itself and recharge itself on religious tradition and the natural law.