A D.C. editor writes about piety and society, with one eye on the past and the other on the future, and both eyes on the sovereign purposes of God.
Because Hong Kong in those days did it better.
Fear God, and what else shall you fear? Shall you fear armies or the wrath of the king? Is the Lord your stumbling-block or your sanctuary? Isaiah 8.
Now back to Zion goes the pilgrim’s eye,
Translating holy leaves into Chinese,
The sages for Aquinas. Riding high,
He circumambulates the Dipper’s keys.
Around the four directions goes his sign,
Yet stays where northern lights have made their home,
Facing the south, where province-cauldrons nine
Are come to offer to the lord of Rome.
For this is where we find Jerusalem,
And holy Zion in the pious heart;
This is the dwelling, faith the bosom’s gem,
Where Holy Ghost and Holy Church ne’er part.
By faith is fair Jeshurun in Cathay,
A promised temple for a coming day.
St John Chrysostom on having children study the Bible, in a homily on Ephesians 6.1–4:
Don’t say, ‘Bible-reading is for monks; am I turning my child into a monk?’ No! It isn’t necessary for him to be a monk. Make him into a Christian! Why are you afraid of something so good? It is necessary for everyone to know Scriptural teachings, and this is especially true for children. Even at their age they are exposed to all sorts of folly and bad examples from popular entertainments. Our children need remedies for all these things! We are so concerned with our children’s schooling; if only we were equally zealous in bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord! And then we wonder why we reap such bitter fruit when we have raised our children to be insolent, licentious, impious, and vulgar. May this never happen; instead, let us heed the blessed Paul’s admonition to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Let us give them a pattern to imitate; from their earliest years let us teach them to study the Bible.
Having just come back from the 2017 Thematic Bible Conference in Princeton, I heartily approve. Even children can learn through inductive Bible studies to study the word of God for themselves, and even older high-schoolers should learn to make ready and lead a systematically inductive Bible study. It can be done, if only we will get it done by faith.
One wonders how often such a measure, to prævent treasonable dissension and ensure lawful stability – thus creating law where law might not be – would be of use. Those who are committed to the ideology of liberal democracy, of course, will probably be horrified at such a prospect. But I think it ought not to be ruled out; nor in these times, with the New World Order liberal system showing its fragility, is it wise to double down on ideas that have not stood the test of time.
For the Lord says of those who cause believers to stumble,
Thus, Yianni raises a fair point about the laxity of the Roman churches:
It would be entirely suitable for the Lord to show forth his justice unmistakably, that the wicked might tremble and fear to blaspheme against his ever blessed and holy Name.
I am quoting one of the Psalmist’s imprecatory psalms.
If that filthy Jesuit meets a bitter and cursed end, still dead in his sins and unwilling to repent, I myself will wash my feet in his blood. Don’t @ me about how hateful that is. The Psalmist said it first, not I.
Indeed, it befits a Christian to do so. Our Lord, who humbled himself to die the death of the Cross for the salvation of miserable sinners, is the God of both mercy and justice, of both forgiveness for repentant sinners and everlasting damnation for the wicked. The sword, when it comes justly, is not a thing to mourn but a thing to hail as showing forth the righteousness of God, a sign of the blessed Last Day when all things shall be set right in Christ.
I’m glad the Rev. Luke Lau, at Montgomery Chinese Baptist Church, did not do yesterday what White Left 白左 evangelical Christians do about Father’s Day. Instead, he preached a normal sermon that did not insult fathers but honoured fatherly love and exhorted everyone to live lives that honoured God.
Perhaps, though, the Church in America and elsewhere ought to bring the day honouring fatherhood back to the feast day of St Joseph, on 19 March, for two reasons: (1) to tie things explicitly to the life of the Church and her saints, and (2) to resist commercialistic trends by which, as the Father’s Day Council said in the 1980s, ‘[Father’s Day] has become a Second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries’. After all, as my father says, of all the useful things in the world, money is the most useless. To orient ourselves toward commercialism, then, rather than the life of God in his saints, is to forsake the things that are worthy for the things that are not; it would be far better, then, for human society to use a day on which the fatherhood of God was expressly glorified in the self-sacrificing life of St Joseph.
If you were planting a church in Sodom and Gomorrah, would you allow ‘winsomeness’, as judged by the standards of those around you, to overshadow the need to proclaim openly and forcefully the reality of the coming wrath as well … Continue reading
Regarding disagreement among the bishops and the whole clergy on women’s ordination (WO) in the Anglican Church in North American (ACNA), Joel Martin reads the tea leaves in the interview below and says, ‘Unity and expediency are trumping truth and … Continue reading
How is raw broccoli considered edible? It tastes fishy in the worst way possible, and it cannot be saved by ranch dip, of all things.
Below, on the other hand, is what the master race eats:
So do not speak to me of the ‘weird food’ eaten by the Chinese. When it was snack time and I was just beginning to speak English, raw broccoli was my introduction to the awful foods favoured by White Americans.
Knight of Númenor says that the prevailing architecture of our time fails to convey meaning:
A building could look like a Cathedral, but if you go into the inside, it might be a dance floor. Most skyscrapers are built in a Brutalist manner, which gives little insights [sic] into what the business offices inside are trading, unlike buildings of yore: the townsmen knew this was a church, this was the Lord Mayor’s office building, and this was the merchant’s guild.
The first example is of the repurposing characteristic of ‘postmodernist’ architecture: whether through ironic appropriation of elements that don’t belong according to the historic vocabulary, or through retrofitting of a building for a purpose entirely unlike that suggested by the structure and ornamentation, such changes are superficially original but betray, underneath, a lack of both originality and a true sense of architecture. I am not a trained architect, but it only takes someone with common sense and some informed sensibility to know that such anti-architecture, undertaken not merely as a concession to practical constraints but rather with prætensions to artistic value, is the mercantile work of charlatans.
The second example is of ‘modernist’ architecture, and of Brutalism in particular. Skyscrapers built in this manner, Knight of Númenor says, tell us little about what they are used for, unlike more traditional buildings that signal in a variety of ways what is a temple, what is a municipal office, and what is a merchants’ guild. Architecture of this character, one may say, is faceless.
Both examples show a certain disorientation; both examples speak to the need for genuine social connexion rather than the social alienation we experience in the West, as Knight of Númenor describes:
Atomized individuals waddle through cities, among a sea of constructions, not having much connections to one another, unlike cities of old in which citizens knew the history and ideals of the city they live [sic] in.
What I mean by ‘the West’ is what Aleksandr Dugin articulates about Europe v. the West:
I consider myself to be an anti-Western ideologist in the fullest sense of the word. But I distinguish between Europe and the West. I believe that these are two different concepts. Europe is an historical territory where different peoples, traditions, and states have existed which highly interest me. I have written a series of books called Noomahiya (‘Clash of the Nomoi’) in which I discuss the logos of Europe, Germany, France, Italy, and Greece. I have the deepest reverence and respect for the logos of European culture. I study this logos together with the languages, literature, philosophy, and cultures of Europe, which I love. But I think that the path that European society has gone down over the last few centuries, beginning with the epoch of the Enlightenment and ending with liberalism and modern Anglo-Saxon liberalism, is not Europe, but Anti-Europe. And this is precisely what I attribute to the concept of the ‘West’. The West is sunset, the fall, the descent, which is precisely the etymology that the word has in Russian. I am against the West and for the East, for ascent. The West is the decline of Europe.
This is where, in opinion, I think I part company with Knight of Númenor. He is a cheerleader for the West, and I a partisan of traditional society; he champions the modern structures that have the veneer of tradition but are in fact whitewashed tombs that protect the degenerations of bourgeois society – or, should I say, bourgeois antisociety. This error is not unique to the papists, but I cannot help thinking that this is one form ‘reaction’ takes among papists and some Anglicans; what is needed is not an unconsciously modern reaction, which actually protects the degeneration that has insinuated itself into the system and into our very psyches, but a reasoned, and biblical, response to the changes of the past few centuries. A true classicist will respect tradition, which by the experience of men through the ages shows the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, but he will not look back to a single golden age as a time to return to, any more than Cicero would have tried to return the Roman republic to the way it was under King Numa Pompilius.
Shown above is a well-known Brutalist design by Kenzō Tange 丹下 健三. Tange’s work here is certainly modern, in that it uses modern materials and its creator was strongly influenced by Corbu (the French modernist architect Le Corbusier), but it also has an unmistakable national character, drawing as it does from the Japanese tradition. The building’s protruding horizontal beams suggest the rafters of Japanese temples, but the number of levels and the massing suggest a Japanese castle. The construction is modern but traditional in the best sense, fitting for a government office.
The way is not merely to sigh, ‘Sic transit gloria mundi,’ nor is it to dream of the inevitable ‘Great Reset’ espoused by the (neo)reactionaries – which, unlike the General Strike (against capitalism and bourgeois-controlled ‘class collaboration’) of Georges Sorel and the syndicalists, is a bad myth, bad because it is neither true nor effectual. No, the way is forward, both ad fontes and excelsior: to the ancient sources and ever higher.
As the Church in China moves beyond fundamentalism versus modernism, and as it grows in numbers and confidence, it faces political questions that until recently it has not been in a position to do much about. Richard Hooker wrote to Elizabethan England, but I think his thought is useful today for China as well and deserves to be heard. (I do note, however, that in some things I think reform only puts off a necessary revolution that would overthrow a thoroughly tyrannical (dis)order. I do not share the reactionary or the bourgeois conservative’s horror of all things that go by the name of revolution. Nevertheless, the desire to clear everything away to start from scratch, especially in the divinely ordained Church, against the gates of Hades will not prevail, is a vain wish that brushes catholic experience aside in favour of private opinion.) Bradford Littlejohn and Bradley Belschner are translating Hooker’s antisectarian work into today’s English. Who will translate the same work into Chinese?
For better or worse, the Young, Restless, and Reformed (YRR) movement, or New Calvinism, is in China. Much of the growth of seminaries in China may be Reformed, and every year Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) has students from China. According to Bruce P. Baugus, a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS), ‘It’s not at all unthinkable that China would have more Reformed seminaries within 20 years than we do here.’ People are seeing the names of American Reformed celebrities such as Tim Keller and John Piper. About both I have my complaints, but I think the growth of New Calvinism – which is noticeably different from classic Reformed literature – also means the time may be ripe for Chinese translations of not only Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin, whose Institutes of the Christian Religion the ChiCom-directed China Christian Council (CCC) itself published in Chinese in 2005, but also the still untranslated authors Hieronymus Zanchius, Franciscus Junius, Johannes Althusius, and the judicious Richard Hooker 理查德·胡克 (see this Chinese paper on Hooker).
Again I am reminded that the need for sound development of public theology in China will be great in the next 50 years, and I hope I can do my part, especially in interpreting the word of God and China’s history – such as recorded in the Zuozhuan 左傳 – in a way that is not Americanist or Western. I can already see, for example, that the article I have linked about public theology casts plurality in human authority – a constitutional arrangement common in the West and especially in the Anglosphere – in terms of plurality in the Trinity:
With the insufficiency of maintaining the tension between the two worlds, the Trinitarian order revealed through God becoming flesh is lacking attention in the Chinese Christian world. Anyone made in the Creator’s image cannot live out his image without the Creator’s revelation and redemption. The three persons of one essence of the Trinity – both one, yet many – is quite unlike the common, human, governing order where either one or many will be preferred instead of both simultaneously. The Son of Heaven in traditional Chinese dynasties, rather than the Son of Man of the Scriptures, has cast a long shadow over the popular Chinese impression of authority. Even in contemporary China, the head of any institution tends to be a paramount figure which makes it difficult to develop checks and balances between that individual and other associates and colleagues. It is no surprise then, for the Chinese to be more familiar with the monopoly of power than with the sharing or separation of power.
This interpretation and application I myself consider theologically unsound, even if we leave aside the Chinese author’s quiet anti-Chinese chauvinism. The popularity of social Trinitarianism in parts of the Western Reformed world does not help matters. As the facile application of unsound Trinitarian teaching suggests, it will be important for work in public theology to be done carefully, independent of Western liberal propaganda of the past 200 years, dependent rather on the word of God interpreted according to right reason and the common testimony of the fathers, and then applied respectfully and judiciously to a civilization that needs not the deception of the West but the light of Christ.
This is rich. Meanwhile, New Calvinism colonizes the Chinese church by the œconomic and social power of the US-backed New World Order. Sometimes, New Calvinists are almost as bad as Jesuits.
There are those who, reading Guénon and Evola, or even Dugin, take a Perennialist view of true religion. Those of the Traditionalist School especially see the world’s traditional religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth, from which they suppose that all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine have grown. For this reason, they also sometimes oppose Christian evangelism, believing that such endeavours endanger the peace of the world for the sake of sectarian ends. I’m sympathetic to Perennialism, but I don’t consider myself a Perennialist.
For one thing, though I do think human knowledge of God has come down from Noah in (almost) every society and been built upon through experience in various societies, there is no knowledge of God like the revelation of God’s only-begotten Son himself, come to us in the flesh, crucified for us, raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, now reigning as God-king from heaven. It is for this knowledge, and right worship grounded on it, that the Christian is called to make all nations into disciples of Christ: not lest every last man who has not heard of the work of Christ should suffer everlasting perdition, but so that those who hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and reject it may be judged by everlasting justice, while those who hear it and believe may be sanctified and made just in this life, to the glory of God the Father.
And though it is certain that many have been saved through an implicit faith in Christ who have never heard of him, a Perennialist doctrine that would deny the full truth of the Scriptures’ exoteric message, namely the gospel, would be a road not to greater spiritual depth but to the depths of hell. For the Bible is full of esoteric things, at which even the most erudite can only point and conjecture, with greater or lesser probability; but greater than all of these esoterica is the gospel, simple enough for a child and deep beyond the most learned seraph. The Lord said against the Jews of his generation, whom he called evil and adulterous, The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. It will be no better for those who know what the gospel of Jesus Christ says, but for their own sophistication will not confess Christ truly, but go to church only because their fathers did, believing that God is not truly and literally come in the flesh to save sinners and join them to himself. Their own fathers will rise up in the judgement and condemn their folly. But if they believe and do not deny the Lord in their hearts, they will be his people, and he will be their God.