Some Meditations on the Mid-Autumn Festival

This year, on Sunday, the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) will be marked by the rare combination of a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse, which we along the Atlantic (weather permitting) will be fortunate enough to see in its entirety – those of you in East Asia will, alas, miss this event.

Nevertheless, eclipse or not, Chinese all over the world will observe the Mid-Autumn Festival on the fifteenth day (i.e. the full-moon day) of the eighth month. As I have written earlier, ‘it corresponds, for the Chinese, to the Feast of Tabernacles ordered in the Law of Moses, and is therefore a most fitting time to give godly thanks for “the kindly fruits of the earth”.’ In connexion with the moon, however, especially around the autumnal equinox, it also is associated with the increase of yin influences and the decline of yang as autumn continues and becomes cold and wet. The time will come for the earth to rest and, after harvest, for farms to be still, and for the womb to wait in silence. Even as it is an agricultural festival, then, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also a time to remember the being of women. Thanksgiving for harvest and petition for fertility go hand in hand at this time of the year.

Indeed, the Chinese have kept a custom that makes explicit the connexion with fertility, as Zeng Baosun (曾寶蓀) explains:

In addition to enjoying the moon and eating moon cakes, there is also the custom of presenting melons. If a woman was married for a long time and was still childless, friends and relatives had a small boy present her with a melon. This was a very long melon wrapped up in a child’s red silk garment with two golden flowers stuck in it. With the child holding the melon in his arms, gongs and drums sounding, firecrackers going off, and lanterns displayed, they brought the melon to the childless woman’s home, placed it on her bed and covered it with a quilt. Then they came out and loudly offered congratulations to the couple wishing them a child very soon. Naturally, those that presented the melon had to be provided with food and drink and received most graciously; the child that bore the melon was given a gift of money.

Unto us, God willing, a son is given. We may offer prayers that, to the childless, who wait open to the working of providence, Almighty God may indeed provide a child like the son who has brought the melon; but in awaiting a child, shown as a son, Christians also know that the greatest gift is God’s own only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.

Perhaps now the poems of menfolk upon this festival, praising the beauty of the moon, will also turn their rhymes to the subject of God’s saving grace. There is much to be written here about the glory of God, both in the making of nature and in the saving of all creation in Christ.

When we eat our moon cakes, when we see the orange yolks buried in the lotus paste, these will be our hearts’ remembrances toward God: giving thanks to God for his gift of life, we also remember that the seed of life is sowed in the stillness of death. When we see even the winter of discontent, we can remember that God is still there, and that the darkness by which he hides his secret work is like the womb that hides a promised child. Though the West commemorates the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary on 25 March, it is perhaps appropriate that on the other side of the year we should also remember how our blessed Lord did not abhor the Virgin’s womb, but chose rather to give it the greatest dignity and make it the Ark of the Covenant where he would dwell in the flesh. The Mid-Autumn Festival then becomes, before Advent, the first foreshadowing of what is to come. Shortly after the Winter Solstice, marking the return of the light, we have Christmas, the feast at which we rejoice that the Sun of righteousness has entered the world. So the Mid-Autumn Festival brings to us a sweet memory, a memory we can hold and treasure, of what God has done and what God will do among us.

PEARUSA Ending Membership in Anglican Church of Rwanda (PEAR)

Joel Martin has alerted me to PEARUSA churches’ ending formal ecclesiastical ties with the Province de l’Église Anglicane au Rwanda (PEAR) and becoming full members of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). This is good news, but it remains for the orthodox Anglican churches to speak out against PEAR bishops’ complicity in the high crimes of the Rwandan magistracy.


The Church of the East in China

I want to learn more about the Church’s first arrival in China, before the Jesuits. I also insist on finding out about the 景教’s formulation of original sin which this video denies.

The Sacral Solution to Megachurch Capitalism?

The Rev. David Robertson says about Tullian Tchividjian’s resignation from his ministerial position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church,

There are honourable exceptions to this, but it seems that the American megachurch tends to reflect the American corporation, rather than the biblical concept of the church. Corporate churches tend to be run like corporations, with corporate boards, corporate facilities, consumer mentalities and corporate leaders with corporate salaries. … The trouble with the corporate model of church is that it leaves the CEOs (otherwise known as ‘senior pastors’) as a combination of business manager, advertising guru and celebrity personality. And that is a very lonely and isolating position. Maybe a return to a more biblical pattern of church, with elders and preachers as ‘under shepherds’ and answerable to the wider church, rather than the stakeholders (shareholders?) of the local corporate church entity, might provide a better context for accountable ministry.

I am of much the same opinion, but King-Ho questions whether the megachurch is simply a product of American capitalist culture, pointing out that Charles Spurgeon was neither American nor a part of the postindustrial neoliberal order. He adds, ‘Whilst it is undoubtedly true that pastoral ministry is characterised in the Scriptures with imageries of the “shepherd”, I do wonder whether one (say, in the Middle Ages) may argue that the “shepherd” model is just yet another “reflection” of the contemporary “secular” culture – just of a feudalism rather than capitalism?’ Perhaps, he says, cathedrals and the Jerusalem Temple were a sort of pre-capitalist megachurch, with a diocesan bishop or a high priest as the centralized CEO figure. That a model of polity (and, by extension, of authority) is not capitalistic does not make it necessarily biblical or ‘less secular’.

While I share the concern that Christians in ritual and organization, as in morals, should not simply ape the ungodly, I find the imitation of ‘secular’ organization, at least in moderation, to be rather good than bad. Indeed, I think it as much a problem as ‘secularization’ that the solutions proposed are clericalist in tone. This kind of solution is prone in its turn to something like ultramontane Papalism with its centralized figure in Rome, which tends in the face of challenges to have the whole world conform to the canons and the liturgical usages of Rome, rather than deal with licensing usages locally as orthodox. Even Presbyterianism has its own version of this tendency, though less bureaucratically centralized, in the biblicist compulsion to justify its form of worship as mandated by holy Scripture. (In both cases it is imagined, or comes to be imagined, that the whole world is to have but one form of worship treated as pleasing to God.) But holy Scripture and the Ghibelline tradition, their principle articulated by the Reformed confessions, hold that the determination of things in themselves indifferent – such as the appointment of bishops, the organization of the visible Church as integrated with society, and the form of worship used – has a place for the king or the other civil magistrates, and indeed that in such matters, under God, the king is supreme.

Indeed, if the ideal is for society to be thoroughly Christian and thus locally to be the Church, the fact cannot be escaped that the king is inseparable from the duty to protect the gospel and, as head of all things not by nature æternal, to rule. Just as clear is that the things we often call ecclesiastical, or churchly, cannot so differ from the rest of (to-be-Christian) society that Christians live virtually double lives between ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’: the call is for our entire lives on earth to be, not sacralized, but godly, characterized by the grace of the Holy Ghost and ruled by the imperium of Jesus Christ.

Thus, when we read of the worship in Christianized Rome, such as in the Ordo Romanus Primus, we do see it reflecting the civil order and calling the people to sanctify that order. Before Mass on solemn days, the Ordo Romanus Primus orders thus:

Thus, on solemn days (such for instance as Easter day) first of all the collets of the third district and the counsellors of every district meet at daybreak in the Lateran Palace, and proceed on foot before the pontiff to the stational church: and the lay grooms walk on the right and the left of his horse in case it stumble anywhere. Those who ride on horseback in front of the pontiff are the following:– The deacons, the chancellor, and the two district-notaries, the district-counsellors, and the district-subdeacons.

Not only do we have deacons, subdeacons, and collets (acolytes), belonging to one of the seven ecclesiastical districts, but also accompanying the Bishop of Rome we have the city’s chancellor and the district notaries and counsellors. Clearly this pomp, having both ecclesiastical and civil officers, reflects the fact that the entire city, both ecclesiastical leaders and civil, is concerned with the work of worshipping God. It also reflects the city’s social hierarchy by attaching officers to the Bishop in the approach to the place of worship. Thus the retinue both reflects and sanctifies the city’s organization.

Even when the Bishop of Rome has gone into the church sacristy and the deacons have exited to their duties, there remain with him ‘the chancellor, the secretary, the chief counsellor, the district-notaries, and the subdeacon-attendant’. Thus, even where he dresses for worship, the Bishop is accompanied by several of the civil officers. When he dresses, it is the chancellor and the secretary who arrange his vestments so that they hang well.

The offertory is even more elaborately organized according to rank and office, and I think it better to direct the reader to read about it than to try to describe it myself.

It is sufficiently shown, I hope, that according to the Ordo Romanus Primus the ecclesiastical offices are organized quite like the civil, and that the civil officers even take special parts in the conduct of worship itself, expressing the integration of Church and state. But the cæremonial, though concerning and involving the civil officers, is also recognizably about the holy, the divine, the supernatural: it is about the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

To be sure, the existence of clerical officers distinct from the civil, and even in some ways parallel to the civil, is significant. But the significance is not that they, unlike the civil officers, are sacramental: for the civil officers too, even qua civil officers, are integral to the logistics of worship. In other words, it is not mere involvement in the sacrament that distinguishes the clerical officers, because even the lay officers of the city are ministers in the sacrament. Furthermore, it was commonly accepted in the Middle Ages that even a layman could baptize an infant. In the end, the holiness of the Church is not saved by a mere sociological difference between ordinary and sacramental parts of life, and between ordinary and sacramental persons. For is it not just as much a tragœdy when a prominent Christian layman is caught in adultery as it is when a priest is caught in adultery? And is it not just as wicked for a whole commonwealth to be ruled by capitalism as it is for an ecclesiastical corporation?

The Church’s clerics do lead the way in the commonwealth by publicly upholding and insisting on the standards of the word of God, but neither proximity to sacraments nor distinction from laymen, nor the formulations of orthodox sacramental theology, can make them holier. It is piety, and piety alone, that makes for human holiness. Sacramental theology is indispensable, but it is only a servant to sacramental piety, in which we long all week long to behold the holiness of the Lord in his temple the Church (and first of all in ourselves), and, while longing, to trust that the Lord has provided his precious body and blood and seek his righteousness by doing what is lawful and right. If we do so, as Ezekiel says, we shall save our souls alive; and the clerics who do so with diligent faith will help many do the same. It is for all of us to approach the sacraments with reverence and godly fear, with awe at God’s dreadful power to make us holy. To the source, then, that we may be one with the sacrifice of our Lord! May the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which were given for us, preserve our bodies and souls unto everlasting life.

Folk Metal Psalms

Based on the Genevan Psalter setting of Psalm 130 by Claude Goudimel.

Listening to Brother Down’s album Old Paths, New Feet (2013) and such folk metal groups as Ensiferum, Tengger Cavalry, and Eluveitie has led me to believe that there is a place for folk metal metrical psalmody. In the French Renaissance, metrical psalmody was a significant literary force, not among the Protestants only but among the Romanists as well. People sang psalms not only at church but also in daily life. Today, for imprecatory and elegiac psalms, the folk metal genre seems to be a good way to express some of the Psalmist’s feeling and spirit; the word of God would also lend strength to the genre.

For metrical psalms, there is already plenty of good musical material, some from folk sources and some from classical. The names of Tallis and Goudimel are known well enough among those who listen to Renaissance music that I need not say more about the quality of their music, and likewise the folk tunes still used for unaccompanied metrical psalmody in the Free Church of Scotland are both vigorous and easy to find. The Gaelic psalmody in particular refracts familiar music in ways that could inspire new interpretations. He who seeks will not lack. That the music is not altogether unfamiliar would appeal to ordinary folk hearing it in a new form, and those who were unfamiliar with the traditional music would find it in these modern compositions; for both, more often neglected parts of the Psalter could become a part of common life, and (if musically well clothed) the word of God would dwell more richly in the commonwealth, giving the people a renewed sense of the life of the spirit.

Vocals could generally vary from churchly chanting to more folkish singing characteristic of lustier songs; some growling might be suitable for parts of Psalm 137 and suchlike, though I think a more elegant approach might be influenced by Thomas Campion’s ‘As by the Streams of Babylon’. Much of the heaviness or dark colour required would already come from the instrumentation, of course, giving writers and musicians greater latitude to find fitting vocals that were satisfying æsthetically and ædifying spiritually.


And graphically, need I say much more? For cover art the sixteenth century has no poverty of invention.

Will anyone do this?


Davenant on concupiscence:

The regenerate hate this rebellious concupiscence within themselves, and that from a good will conformed to the Divine. But there is nothing hateful to God and good men, except sin. That the regenerate hate their own rebellious concupiscence the Apostle testifies, Rom. vii. 15, What I hate, that I do; which words refer to the rebellious act of concupiscence, which is resisted. For so says Augustine: ‘That love is to be hated, wherewith an object is beloved which ought not to be so loved. For we hate our concupiscence, wherewith the fiesh lusteth against the spirit; for what is that concupiscence but an evil love?’ Now it is an opinion perfectly true, and most commonly received among all Theologians, that nothing must be hated except sin. Bellarmine replies, That concupiscence is hated by God and good men, not as Sin Properly So Called, but as a Disease. In this, however, he expressly contradicts the Council of Trent, which declares that God hates nothing in the regenerate; nor does what he adds help him out of the difficulty, that the Council means hatred redounding upon the person. For the Fathers of Trent, and almost all the Papists, contend, that if anything remains in the regenerate deserving the hatred of God, that hatred cannot but redound upon the persons of the regenerate. Bellarmine therefore, has now plainly become a deserter to our side, and acknowledges that the hatred of God does not fall upon the regenerate, although they have in them disorder most worthy of hatred. Moreover, as to what he further says, that concupiscence is hated by God, not as sin but as a disease, is a foolish evasion; for God does not hate diseases, seeing they are not sins, but mere penalties. But the disorders of the mind deserve the hatred of God, require remission, and fasten guilt upon the person unless they are remitted; and by consequence they are most strictly sins.

Hence Augustine, speaking of such diseases, says ‘Those disorders require no bodily physician, but are cured by the medicine of Christ’s grace; first, so as not to bind under guilt; next, so as not to overcome in the conflict; lastly, so as to be entirely healed, and disappear altogether.’ But the notion which Bellarmine puts forward, That concupiscence is hated, not because it is sin, but because it incites to sin, and because we sustain a constant strife with it, altogether favours our view. For that which, in the form of an innate and corrupt disposition incites to actual sin, is thereby shewn to be Original Sin. But the evil against which the regenerate are constantly striving, is not merely a disease bearing the character of a penal infliction; but a rebellious principle which, in its very nature, leads to condemnation; for to penal inflictions we are to submit; but innate sin is to be resisted. Our demonstration, therefore, is invincible; – that concupiscence is an evil deserving the hatred both of God and man, therefore it is sin.

For Europe

‘What drove you to the right, what do you see in European civilization, and what makes you sympathetic to an otherwise Eurocentric movement of rebellion against multiculturalism?’

Much, I wager, is hidden in my memory, locked away in rooms I can no longer reach. My first trip to Europe, after all, was when I was two, before I even spoke English. Though there is little of that trip that still presents itself to my mind, however, I do know that it made a sufficient impression upon me. Perhaps the experience of beauty in some of Europe’s cities, and in the Black Forest, was lasting enough that, foreign though it was, my soul ever after took it as an elusive standard of human civilization.

And living among foreigners, and being a foreigner, has always been part of my life: since the time I left my mother’s womb, I have never lived without it. Of Alabama and Georgia I have no memory at all, but even in Virginia I knew that my world of my parents and Chinese uncles and aunties was only a world within a world, a world that alone was mine but was fragile and subject to the forces of the larger world in which it was. Of this larger world I had appræhension enough. Anyone who had eyes and ears saw and heard that some of the adults who intersected with my life were different: they spoke an alien tongue, and they did not look like my parents. Indeed, even my uncle was different: he was French, and my aunt’s son, though he spoke my language, looked like a French child. And yet, though I dreaded the thought of sitting in a French church service, who could deny that Paris was a beautiful city, that the banks of the Seine were the heart of a great city? or that Strasbourg on the Rhine and Budapest on the Danube were not places that simply existed, but lived by the souls of those who breathed and made them places fit for man, and their churches fit for the presence of God? The palaces, the bridges, and the paintings were beyond my understanding, but I could not see the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the bust of Nefertiti without feeling that they expressed something humanly significant. The entire continent was pregnant with meaning I knew I could not fully grasp. Though I had no words for all that, I did return to my country – or rather the country of my birth – talking about the things I had seen. He who goes to Europe when he is young does not easily forget the beauty of the earth.

As a young child, for the most part, I knew only to be happy; but even when dark clouds overshadowed my sense of life, of the world, the dream of Europe lingered on. My Chinese world in the midst of Westerners was small and fragile, but so was society itself. When I was three, my brother was born, I started school, and Clinton was elected. Loving my baby brother, beginning to speak English, shocked by the cruelty of a present in which a man could become president who supported the slaughter of children as Pharaoh did of old, I could be happy and mirthful, but I could not think anything lasted for ever; nor could I think human life was ever far from barbarism and collapse. The larger world I was beginning to know could suffer plagues as terrible as the ten plagues that had struck the people of the Nile. China’s tranquil night had once been shattered by the sound of cannon fire; hundreds of years earlier, its central plains had been overrun by the Jurchen barbarians, and again at the close of the Ming dynasty it had been taken by the Qing, and less than fifty years ago it had been captured and spoilt by the Communists. Not only was my Chinese world carried forward only by my own commitment to speak Chinese and be Chinese, but even America and Europe, less populous each than China, could suffer as great China had suffered. If China was lost and lived in me, then Europe no less could be lost.

I grew older, but my refusal to give up my Chinese identity never changed. If multiculturalism was an opportunity to learn, I would learn whatever I thought worthy; but anything that called for me to become anything less than Chinese would not find a willing audience. And if this was what I insisted on for myself while despising the shame that other Asians felt about their cultures and their families, and if Europe was as beautiful a place as I remembered it to be, then it was a crime to ask the White peoples to give up Europe. Only a sickly people could fail to cultivate its own way of life with its art, music, and literature. My desire to master English had always been to be no worse than the White man in any respect, and to overcome any disabilities that must lie upon me for being Chinese, but I would never have bothered with a civilization that had nothing worth learning. I could not, and cannot, ever ape the West; but to learn what there is to learn from the goodness with which God has endowed the West is no mean task, and the glory of Europe no mean thing to admire. As multiculturalism is an enemy to my Chinese identity, and as it corrodes a genuine sense of what I feel to be my Christian duty, so in sympathy with a decaying Europe I resist it, and I call upon all to resist it who have ever loved the vision of Europe; for never can I wish to befall Europe what I tasted at the glass door that separated Macau and mainland China in 1997: that the China I knew was lost to me, that in several months Hong Kong was to be replaced by hollow lies, that this death would come more silently than a shadow in the night, and that the finger with which I touched China through the air was the melancholy memory of something my eyes did not see and might never see.


Wilhelm Röpke in A Humane Economy: ‘The countryman, whose work is dictated by the changing seasons and is dependent on the elements, feels himself to be a creature of the Almighty like the corn in the field and the star following its predestined orbit. The ancient invocations of the Psalms come to his lips spontaneously as if but newly spoken. He knows in his heart how far beyond reach God is and at the same time how intimately close, how unfathomable His will and His mercy.’

Cultus Maiorum

I think the rites of the ancestors, conceived purely and without superstition, are an important part of ensuring the continuance of our families in the faith of Christ.

For a Chinese American like me, honouring the ancestors may involve writing collects in their memory, saying prayers on the anniversaries of their deaths, composing a surname poem in English, and draughting rules of succession for our line, to be altered only with the consent of both the head of the clan and the rest of the family. In my family, this work falls mostly to me.

What things do you do in your families, and how do you think the tradition could grow under your direction?

Your Christian School Mission Is Too Small

Words on the Diocesan Boys’ School Main Building. By Devilreborn.

To have Christian schools, rather than schools that by their way of teaching and of doing things deny the presence of God, is a positive good. The tendency to withdraw into private circles, private schools, private life, effects what late liberal zealots hope for: a state in which Christianity is increasingly a private affair, unable to make claims upon, or even about, the world. Such a withdrawal, though easier for those with the money, is out of reach for the poorer among us. And what are they to do? Shall those who have money withdraw their resources while the needs of their brethren are neglected, and the poorer children left to rot in their schools? What is needed is a system of Christian schools which, though not funded by taxes, is essentially public.

Josiah and the Purgation of Israel

King Josiah Destroying the Idols of Baal. Gustave Doré.

And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD.

And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.

And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people. And he brake down the houses of the Sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove. And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city. Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren. And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire. And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.

Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el. And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria. And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the LORD to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el. And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.

And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant. Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this passover was holden to the LORD in Jerusalem.

Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD. And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

Commentary on Falangism, Part I: Nation, Unity, Empire

1. We believe in the supreme reality of Spain. The urgent collective task of all Spaniards is to strengthen, elevate, and aggrandize the nation. All individual, group, or class interests must be subordinated without question to the accomplishment of this task.

We cannot pursue the principle of subsidiarity at the expense of the principle of solidarity. Whatever is good for the parts cannot be something that weakens the whole; for the loss of the body is no good for the body’s parts. Now, when nations have once been united and bound together for centuries, they are not easily pulled apart without great injury to all; it is not then a simple matter of one entity doing what is best for itself, for even the one that separates itself from the rest is deprived of something it needs, not to mention what it does to the others. Indeed, as embodied in the person of its king, a nation is one, and to refuse support to the legitimate imperium of the king, and to his care for the whole people, is to rebel against God’s anointed ruler. While our Lord Jesus Christ is in heaven reigning over the earth, present to the Church but invisible to the eyes, the kings he institutes are preëminently the images of his divine kingship. What these images represent, a faithful Christian must not attack, but instead must thereunto submit his own body for the good of the temporal body established by the providence and the power of God. To refuse the subordination of individual, group, or class interests is to reject the duty of charity.

2. Spain is an indivisible destiny in universal terms. Any conspiracy against this indivisible whole is repulsive. All separatism is a crime we shall not forgive. The prevailing Constitution, insofar as it encourages disintegration, offends against the indivisible nature of Spain’s destiny. We therefore demand its immediate repeal.

A nation, such as God has himself established in time, contingent though it is upon the providence of God, is not by the will of man to be put asunder, except by dispersal and exile at the hands of a foreign power. Though God saw fit to divide the nation of Israel, it is clear that such division was the result of sin, and that schism would have been bound up at last if both sides had turned from their sin and come back to the holiness of God; for then God would undoubtedly have united the two royal lines in the kingship of his son David. For his own purposes, of course, he delayed the completion of all things in order to glorify his only-begotten Son, that this Son and Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, might gather up all and rule as the only Davidic king to take up in his hand both Judæa and Samaria, and indeed the uttermost parts of the earth. This rule he continues to exercise from his throne in heaven until the ending of the world. Yet in our own times it is also his will to rule the peoples of the earth through kings who in his Name and in his Spirit are anointed for a time as he is anointed for ever. And so, on this smaller scale, subjects who try to separate nations by law and by kingly person united do sin gravely against the majesty of God, against which everlasting majesty they commit sacrilege when they commit sacrilege against that majesty’s present and living image. Conspiracy to disintegrate a nation’s indivisible whole is a crime that the magistrate in his public capacity is not entitled to forgive, but must with the full force of his imperium destroy, and its conspirators punish with extreme prejudice.

3. We are committed to Empire. We declare that Spain’s historical fulfillment is the Empire. We demand for Spain a prominent position in Europe. We shall not tolerate international isolation or foreign interference. Regarding the countries of Spanish America, our aim is the unification of culture, economic interests, and power. Spain claims that its role as the spiritual axis of the Spanish-speaking world entitles it to a position of preëminence in world affairs.

Likewise do I see the place of the British Empire in the world, which ought to be united in more than its coïncidence of a common head. We have its relics in the requirement that the several realms have the same monarch by law, and that changes to the laws of succession be ratified by the common consent of the whole, without which nothing can be altered. Today, the foreign interference of the European Union, a headless beast, is intolerable; neither is international isolation an acceptable position for a power whose current living and natural endowment compel it to take to the sea. And indeed, when the European Union interferes with the internal affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it is an affront to the dignity of the United Kingdom’s sacred bond with its daughter nations, the other Commonwealth realms across the seas. The integrity of the Anglosphere, with ties of common culture and blood, and the sovereignty of the Queen, is not such as the European Union has the right to take away, nor is it such as the British Parliament has the right to give away.

4. Our armed forces – on land, at sea, and in the air – must be sufficiently strong and efficient to ensure at all times for Spain total independence and a world status that befits the nation. We shall give back to the land, sea, and air forces all the public dignity they merit, and we shall see to it that a similar martial outlook pervades the whole of Spanish life.

That a sovereign nation needs to be able to defend itself should go without saying. Military preparedness is essential to the life of the nation, for the expectation that no war can come is the surest way to suffer military defeat. It is therefore necessary that the people not only serve at arms but also have a sufficiently martial outlook to give dutifully to the successful prosecution of a war, not for the sake of aggression but for the sake of a proper defence.

5. Spain will look again to the sea routes for her glory and her wealth. Spain will aim to become a great seafaring power, for times of danger and for the sake of trade. We demand for the Fatherland equal status among navies and on the air routes.

Given Spain’s physical position, this desire is only natural. Both its security and its prosperity call for it to use the advantage and mitigate the disadvantage of its God-given place.

Processional Stations for Saints

Shrine of St Edward the Confessor, Westminster Abbey.

The saints tend to be neglected among some Reformed Christians today, but this was not always so. Take for example the Second Helvetic Confession:

At the same time we do not despise the saints or think basely of them. For we acknowledge them to be living members of Christ and friends of God who have gloriously overcome the flesh and the world. Hence we love them as brothers, and also honour them; yet not with any kind of worship but by an honourable opinion of them and just praises of them. We also imitate them. For with ardent longings and supplications we earnestly desire to be imitators of their faith and virtues, to share eternal salvation with them, to dwell eternally with them in the presence of God, and to rejoice with them in Christ. And in this respect we approve of the opinion of St Augustine in De Vera Religione: ‘Let not our religion be the cult of men who have died. For if they have lived holy lives, they are not to be thought of as seeking such honours; on the contrary, they want us to worship him by whose illumination they rejoice that we are fellow-servants of his merits. They are therefore to be honoured by the way of imitation, but not to be adored in a religious manner,’ etc.

It is not against this principle for a procession to pause at a holy martyr’s grave or at a side altar that honours his memory with verses of Scripture that describe his piety. To be sure, so to pause is a kind of cæremony, and some of the Reformed believe such cæremonies forbidden because there is neither præcept nor example in holy Scripture. Nevertheless, to affirm that a cæremony can be indifferent, and not forbidden merely because it is not commanded by holy Scripture, I call upon the witness of Heinrich Bullinger (quoted by W. J. Torrance Kirby):

Though I would rather no ceremonies, excepting such as are necessary, should be obtruded upon the church, yet I must confess in the man time that regulations respecting them, though possibly not altogether necessary, and sometimes, it may be, useless, ought not forthwith to be condemned as impious, and to excite disorder and schism in the church; seeing that they are not of a superstitious character, and also that in their very nature they are matters of indifference.

And lawfulness of such a practice I maintain even in the case of an altar under which is displayed in some fashion the remains of a dead saint, for it is not idolatry. Though I find it naturally modest to leave the body itself interred, and not for lurid fascination to have the bones open to the public view, I do not think it objectionable to have a saint buried beneath and his effigy visible under the table, with sculpted or painted angels surrounding the burial place in token of God’s regard for his saints.

The crown of St Stephen of Hungary.

Nor is it improper, I think, to show in public one saint’s chains, another’s crown, another’s cloak. These, indeed, are less likely to be abused than the physical remains of the saint himself, and sometimes apter to say in what works the saint’s holiness was manifest. Unlike a saint’s body, moreover, these can be divided and given to believers in other parts of the world as a sign of fellowship in Christ and common reverence for the same saint. Such uses, I think, are not to be held unlawful, but to be held in honour as historical signs of the power of God across the ages, exercised not only in the time of Christ’s ministry on earth but also thereafter. Like a place of burial containing a saint’s body, these more moveable relics are physical testimony of the love of God.

For a relic can be, rather than an object of superstition, a memento of a saintly life, as the image of Caesar on a coin is a memento of his authority, and a skull a memento of death. The Second Helvetic Confession says, ‘Those ancient saints seemed to have sufficiently honoured their dead when they decently committed their remains to the earth after the spirit had ascended on high. And they thought that the most noble relics of their ancestors were their virtues, their doctrine, and their faith. Moreover, as they commend these “relics” when praising the dead, so they strive to copy them during their life on earth.’ If a physical relic is to be seen at all, then, its right use is to encourage the viewer to imitate the saint as the saint once imitated Christ, in order that he may gain a deeper sense of what Christ promises to all who believe in him, and will accomplish in us through the Holy Ghost. It is useless to look to saints as giving us power of themselves, but it is most useful to be reminded of the power God has demonstrated in them. It is for this purpose that one may see a relic and therein have physically present, for our meditation, an outward reminiscence of the holy life to which God has called us all. Though it is nothing to him who knows nothing of the saint, it is a help to him who knows the story of the saint but has not thought of it in a while.

Thus I hold that the sight of a saints’s grave or his image, if not worshipped, can be ædifying. And if seeing can be ædifying, then so can pausing at the sight to remember what it means. So, as a cæremony not only lawful but also not infrequently ædifying, especially in these times when the powers that be (God himself excepted) are increasingly opposed to the Lord’s ways, a procession’s pausing in remembrance of a departed saint should be observed with reverence, even though the Scriptures do not record its use. Though to some it may seem Romish at first, especially when it involves saints’ relics, it is nevertheless justified upon mere Christian principles and not to be dismissed as sectarian idolatry. Indeed, it may shape the kind of piety that we need, a piety strong in the remembrance of what the Lord accomplishes in us by faith.

Falangist Sympathies

Interested in nationalist or fascist movements not wedded to racial theories, movements whose goals I may consider similar in spirit to those of Chiang Kai-shek in China, I find that I broadly approve of the Programme of the Spanish Falange (1937). Its words are sometimes more extreme than I would write myself, but I think the statement can be reconciled to a godly understanding of the commonwealth.

Nation, unity, empire

1. We believe in the supreme reality of Spain. The urgent collective task of all Spaniards is to strengthen, elevate, and aggrandize the nation. All individual, group, or class interests must be subordinated without question to the accomplishment of this task.

2. Spain is an indivisible destiny in universal terms. Any conspiracy against this indivisible whole is repulsive. All separatism is a crime we shall not forgive. The prevailing Constitution, insofar as it encourages disintegration, offends against the indivisible nature of Spain’s destiny. We therefore demand its immediate repeal.

3. We are committed to Empire. We declare that Spain’s historical fulfillment is the Empire. We demand for Spain a prominent position in Europe. We shall not tolerate international isolation or foreign interference. Regarding the countries of Spanish America, our aim is the unification of culture, economic interests, and power. Spain claims that its role as the spiritual axis of the Spanish-speaking world entitles it to a position of preeminence in world affairs.

4. Our armed forces – on land, at sea, and in the air – must be sufficiently strong and efficient to ensure at all times for Spain total independence and a world status that befits the nation. We shall give back to the land, sea, and air forces all the public dignity they merit, and we shall see to it that a similar martial outlook pervades the whole of Spanish life.

5. Spain will look again to the sea routes for her glory and her wealth. Spain will aim to become a great seafaring power, for times of danger and for the sake of trade. We demand for the Fatherland equal status among navies and on the air routes.

State, individual, freedom

6. Ours will be a totalitarian State in the service of the Fatherland’s integrity. All Spaniards will play a part therein through their membership in families, municipalities and trade unions. No one shall play a part therein through a political party. The system of political parties will be resolutely abolished, together with all its corollaries: inorganic suffrage, representation by conflicting factions, and the Cortes as we know it.

7. Human dignity, the integrity of the individual, and individual freedom are eternal and intangible values. But the only way to be really free is to be part of a strong and free nation. No one will be permitted to use his freedom against the unity, the strength, and the freedom of the Fatherland. A rigorous discipline will prevent any attempt to poison or split the Spanish people, or to incite them to go against the destiny of the Fatherland.

8. The National-Syndicalist State will permit any private initiative that is compatible with the collective interest and, indeed, will protect and stimulate those that are beneficial.

Economy, work, class struggle

9. In the economic sphere, we think of Spain as one huge syndicate of all those engaged in production. In order to serve national economic integrity we shall organize Spanish society along corporative lines by creating a system of vertical unions that will represent the various branches of production.

10. We reject the capitalist system, which disregards the needs of the people, dehumanizes private property, and transforms the workers into shapeless masses that are prone to misery and despair. Our spiritual and national awareness likewise repudiates Marxism. We shall channel the drive of the working classes, that are nowadays led astray by Marxism, by demanding their direct participation in the formidable task of the national State.

11. The National-Syndicalist State will not stand cruelly aloof from economic conflicts between men, nor will it look on impassively as the strongest class subjugates the weakest. Our regime will make class struggle totally impossible, since all those cooperating in production will constitute an organic whole therein. We deplore and shall prevent at all costs the abuses of partial vested interests, as well as anarchy in the workforce.

12. The primary purpose of wealth is to improve the standard of living of all the people – and this will be the declared policy of our State. It is intolerable that great masses of people live in poverty while a few enjoy every luxury.

13. The State will recognize private property as a legitimate means of attaining individual, family, and social ends, and will protect it against being abused by high finance, speculators, and moneylenders.

14. We shall defend the move toward nationalization of banking and the takeover of the major public services by corporations.

15. All Spanish citizens have the right to work. The public institutions will provide adequate maintenance for those who are involuntarily out of work. While we are moving toward the new overall structure, we shall retain and increase all the advantages the workers derive from current social legislation.

16. Every Spaniard who is not an invalid is duty-bound to work. The National-Syndicalist State will not have the slightest regard for those who do not fulfill any function but who expect to live like guests at the expense of other people’s efforts.


17. As a matter of urgency we must raise the standard of living in the rural areas, on which Spain will always depend for her food. For this reason, we commit ourselves to the strict implementation of an economic and social reform of agriculture.

18. As part of our economic reform, we shall strengthen agricultural production by means of the following measures:

By guaranteeing all farmers an adequate minimum price for their produce;

By seeing to it that much of what is nowadays absorbed by the cities in payment for their intellectual and commercial services is returned to the land, in order to endow rural areas sufficiently;

By organizing a real system of national agricultural credit that will lend farmers money at low rates of interest, thereby guaranteeing their possessions and harvests and freeing them from usury and patronage;

By spreading education pertaining to matters of agriculture and animal husbandry;

By rationalizing production according to the suitability of the land and the outlets available for its products;

By promoting a protectionist tariff policy covering agriculture and the raising of cattle;

By speeding up the construction of a hydraulic network;

By rationalizing landholdings in order to eliminate both vast estates that are not fully exploited and smallholdings that are uneconomic by reason of their low yield.

19. We shall achieve a social organization of agriculture by means of the following measures:

By redistributing once again all the arable land to promote family holdings and by giving farmers every encouragement to join the union;

By rescuing from their present poverty the masses of people who are exhausting themselves scratching on barren soil, and by transferring them to new holdings of arable land.

20. We shall launch a tireless campaign of reforestation and stockbreeding, imposing severe sanctions on whomever obstructs it, and even resorting temporarily to the enforced mobilization of all Spanish youth for the historic task of rebuilding our country’s wealth.

21. The State will have powers to confiscate without compensation any land the ownership of which has been acquired or enjoyed illicitly.

22. A priority of the National-Syndicalist State will be to return to villages their communal property.

National education and religion

23. It is a fundamental mission of the State to impose a rigorous discipline on education that will produce a strong, united, national spirit and fill the souls of future generations with joy and pride in their Fatherland. All men will receive preliminary training to prepare them for the honour of admission to Spain’s national forces.

24. Culture will be organized in such a way that no talent will be lost for lack of finance. All those who are deserving will have easy access even to higher education.

25. Our Movement integrates the Catholic spirit, which has been traditionally glorious and predominant in Spain, into the reconstruction of the nation. Church and State will come to an agreement on the areas of their respective powers, but any interference from the Church or any activity likely to undermine the dignity of the State or the integrity of the nation will not be tolerated.

National revolution

26. The Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS demands a new order, as set forth in the foregoing principles. In the face of the resistance from the present order, it calls for a revolution to implant this new order. Its method of procedure will be direct, bold, and combative. Life signifies the art and science of warfare (milicia) and must be lived with a spirit that is purified by service and sacrifice.

Dishonouring Parents for Politically Incorrect Attitudes

Several weeks ago, RT put up an article with a sensationalist headline: ‘Michelle Obama urges high schoolers to monitor their families’ politically incorrect thoughts’. In a speech commemorating the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the First Lady turned her audience’s attention to the return of segregation today: ‘See, many districts in this country have actually pulled back on efforts to integrate their schools, and many communities have become less diverse as folks have moved from cities to suburbs. And even in schools that seem integrated according to the numbers, when you look a little closer, you see students from different backgrounds sitting at separate lunch tables, or tracked into different classes, or separated into different clubs or activities.’ I shall pass over her objection to students’ choosing freely to separate themselves into different clubs or activities; amid some broadly sound aspirations, the First Lady made some more controversial suggestions:

There’s no court case against believing in stereotypes or thinking that certain kinds of hateful jokes or comments are funny. So the answers to many of our challenges today can’t necessarily be found in our laws. As you go forth, when you encounter folks who still hold the old prejudices because they’ve only been around folks like themselves, when you meet folks who think they know all the answers because they’ve never heard any other viewpoints, it’s up to you to help them see things differently.

Maybe that starts simply in your own family, when grandpa tells that off-colored joke at Thanksgiving, or you’ve got an aunt talks about ‘those people’. Well, you can politely inform them that they’re talking about your friends. Because this issue is so sensitive, is so complicated, so bound up with a painful history. And we need your generation to help us break through. We need all of you to ask the hard questions and have the honest conversations, because that is the only way we will heal the wounds of the past and move forward to a better future.

In response, I said on Facebook, ‘I get that we can disagree with things our families do, but the First Lady seems to veer close to recommending that we dishonour our parents for saying politically incorrect things.’

To some readers, I may seem to have overreached. Certainly the allegations of some, that the First Lady’s suggestions strongly resemble those of 1984, are excessive. There is, I do think, a potential slippery slope toward something like Maoist rejection of family authority, but such an implication requires more to be read into the First Lady’s words than responsible reading can furnish. Still, some of her words I do find objectionable.

Rightly has she has pointed out that laws alone cannot heal the wounds of the past, that we need to ask hard questions and have honest conversations. But then she has also remarked, ‘Well, you can politely inform them [a grandfather or an aunt] that they’re talking about your friends.’ Colour me triggered, but that is not how one speaks to one’s elders.

To me, the idea of asking one’s parents to reconsider their prejudices about a certain group just because one counts ‘those people’ as one’s friends is ludicrous. For such a thing to be thought in Chinese, let alone said to one’s social superiors, is almost inconceivable. We Chinese have the expression 猪朋狗友: pig and dog friends, or profligate companions. Is my son to rule me by his choice of friends, or am I to rule his choice of friends? If my child pulled on me what the First Lady has suggested, I would probably say, ‘And you keep such friends? Are they the ones teaching you to talk to me that way?’ That my child keeps bad company out of naïveté, a bad life choice, is likely; that my child’s callow life choices, opposite to mine, should compel me to rethink my life is a perverted thought. By the same logic, even though much racial prejudice is irrational and leads people to treat one another in ungodly ways, a child’s choices are no rational basis for a change in opinion.

I am not saying it is impossible to be wrong and learn something from one’s children; but to expect one’s parents to reconsider just because one has oneself made different choices seems arrogant in the extreme. And so, silly as it may seem, I do not think my assessment of the First Lady’s suggestion silly. When I see ‘politely inform’, I ask: To what end? The end is, quite explicitly, for the younger to influence the elder by the pressure of his own choices. So children have also been known through such emotional blackmail to change their parents’ minds by declaring themselves gay. So to speak in earnest, and not in ridicule of liberal White children, is impudent. If one is to resist racism in earnest, such rhetorical topoi, which lay claim to a kind of personal superiority (by being with the times, rather than by having the experience of age), are not the way to go with one’s elders; rather, one must rely on logical demonstration upon sound premises, without such ethical pretences as enlightenment by reason of youth.