Author Archives: Lue-Yee Tsang

ChristBol Defended Ethically on Just War, Subsidiarity, and Wealth

OrthodoxPolitics has replied to my more recent defence of ChristBol, which addresses a comment of his, on three points:

  1. Just war and aggression;
  2. Subsidiarity and sovereignty;
  3. Redistribution and commonality of wealth.

Just war

Following the order we have used in the earlier parts of our exchange, I shall begin with just war. Continue reading

‘Doubtful Novelties’ in Church Names

Walker Rumble, in a printing history series, tells us about great Episcopalian printer Daniel Berkeley Updike. About names of churches he says,

Berkeley Updike and Harold Brown thought Episcopalians named and dedicated their churches inappropriately and in a slipshod manner. Nomenclature became thoughtless and frivolous, and things got worse with spreading evangelical congregations. According to Updike and Brown, ‘the names of our Lord, and of the Apostles and Saints of the New Testament’ – traditional sources – were ‘quite sufficient’. Names such as ‘Heavenly Rest’ or ‘House of Prayer’ were as ‘meaningless’ as ‘Precious Blood’ or ‘Bread of Life’. These were ‘fanciful names’. If we demand variety, ‘let us have at least no doubtful novelties.’

Looking at you, c4so diocese. With a diocese name like that, how can you avoid frivolous names for parish churches?

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But Chinese churches should also take note. Such names as Mr Updike cited are not out of the ordinary for a Chinese church, and their frivolous novelty is no less than it was in 1892, the year that he and Harold Brown published On the Dedications of American Churches. Many evangelical Chinese churches, trying to signal their orthodox evangelical credentials, have chosen novelties to shout their decency, and in so doing have negated their own orthodoxy.

It is far better, as Mr Updike says, to take ‘the names of our Lord, and of the Apostles and Saints of the New Testament’ – among whom, I take it, he includes saints who are not mentioned in the pages of New Testament, but who lived and died in the New Testament. It is no novelty, after all, to name a church after a local martyr or a saint from another place whose influence is felt as far as the church to be named. Thus might a church in Edinburgh be named after St Cuthbert, who lies buried in Durham, or a church in Vancouver’s Chinatown after St Robert Morrison, translator of the Scriptures into Chinese. These are names that concretely draw the Christian’s heart to the life of Christ, or to his life in a particular saint.

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The Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist, Hong Kong.

The more our churches seek to differentiate ourselves from the whole work of the Holy Ghost on earth, by taking vain names, the more we separate ourselves from the Church. May the Lord’s blessing rest upon the churches devoted to the glory of his Name.

Russian and Uyghur for the Children

When I was in high school, I had autistic dreams of having my children natively speak an analytic language, an agglutinative language, and a fusional language. As a Chinese American, I thought Chinese would work well for analytic and Latin for fusional; for agglutinative, Finnish. Even at that time, of course, I knew that it would not be practical, as Romantic as it might be, for the son of a Chinaman to speak Mohawk.

I take for granted that, if I marry and God give me children, they should speak Cantonese, Mandarin, English, and (if possible) my grandfather’s mother tongue, Taishanese; Latin also remains eminently good and useful. In addition to these languages of Chinese and Christian heritage, though, I hope they can speak Russian and Uyghur.

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For that hope, I have my reasons: (1) Eurasian bloc integration and (2) the Back to Jerusalem movement. The two are related, and of this I shall say more later.

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The Iceberg of Latin Literature

My friend has made a great Latin meme. Go bump it if you have Facebook, and #MakeLatinGreatAgain. Syke! Latin’s already great.

Introduction to Family Devotions

Reproduced below is the introduction to Family Devotions, from the Book of Common Prayer: With prayers at the communion, from bishops Taylor, Ken, and Beveridge, compiled by Thomas Stephen in 1841. Since this Mr Stephen was also the author of The Confession of Faith of the Church of England in the Thirty-nine Articles, and in the piece below refers to the prayer of ‘the Reformed Catholic Church’, we can well be assured of his commitment to the scriptural piety that is the standard of the Church of England.

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An established religion is as necessary and useful in a family, which is a little kingdom, as in the state. In both, the voluntary system is pernicious, and will not be found to work well; for what is left to the good pleasure of every man’s own discretion will perhaps be left entirely undone. The learned and pious Dr. Doddridge has very justly remarked – ‘that, if any had rather that a family should be prayerless than that a well chosen form should be gravely and solemnly read in it, I think he judges as absurdly as if he would rather see them starving to death, than fed out of a dish whose materials or shape are disagreeable to him.’ Many, from early prejudice, object to forms of prayer; and many, on the other hand, are incapable of conducting their family devotions without a form. Set forms of prayer have many advantages; but, of all forms, the Book of Common Prayer is incomparably the best. Eloquence is a gift of God which few men possess; neither is it necessary in divine worship. Aaron was a most eloquent man, and had the gift of a fine and ready utterance; yet Moses, who was ‘slow of speech and of a slow tongue’, was appointed to instruct him what to say. It is not, therefore, eloquence, but faith and repentance, with obedience and humility, that are necessary in our devotions. Continue reading

A Reply to OrthodoxPolitics on ChristBol

In response to my post defending an irenic approach to Christian -Bol (particularly of the National Bolshevik variety), the author of the Orthodox Christian Politics blog has commented,

While I like some elements of Nazbol, there are elements of both National Socialism and Communism that are contrary to Christianity. With National Socialism, it is usually very aggressive, rather than following the principle of just war. It also has a very centralized system, violating the principle of subsidiarity. In terms of Communism, while it does a lot of good in helping the poor. It also does mass redistribution of property, but private property is a right in Christianity.

First, I shall note that National Bolshevism, despite the common nickname NazBol, is not directly related to Hitler’s National Socialism, and its exponents have never claimed ideological descent from National Socialism. The resemblance or convergence between the two, historically, was mostly in the general context of German nationalism; National Bolshevism, however, was part of the Conservative Revolutionary milieu and not of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). Nevertheless, with a view to patriotic ideology’s dialectical development, I think it useful to answer some of the objections that the Orthodox Christian Politics author has expressed, so I shall not limit my remarks to the matter of Bolshevism.

Second, as I have noted in my ‘Defence of Christian -Bol’, it is with some ironic distance in the first place that I take up the name of National Bolshevik. I am not a German like Ernst Niekisch, who may be considered the father of National Bolshevism; nor am I a Russian like Eduard Limonov and Aleksandr Dugin; nor am I even of Europæan descent. I am a Chinaman, and my perspective naturally differs from that of the average Western dissident against contemporary liberalism.

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With those caveats, what follows is my reply to the Orthodox Christian Politics author’s comment:

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The problems you posit for a Christian’s appropriating National Bolshevism are not insuperable, and I think as Christians we are free to take what’s healthy from movements that are not explicitly Christian, or even profess themselves opposed to Christianity as actually practised, under the judgement of holy Scripture.
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Anglican Devotion in the Family

This post is not an original, but a reproduction of a piece by the Rev. Canon Arthur Middleton, Emeritus Canon of Durham.

A bishop’s concern

In his biography, Robert Nelson recorded that before he died, Bishop George Bull (1634–1710) thought he might send his clergy a circular letter, to recommend to them some methods for promoting virtue and piety in his diocese. He died before it was sent. He wanted to promote the salvation of souls committed to his care by an increase of piety and virtue. ‘The first thing therefore that I would recommend to you, and which I do earnestly exhort you to, is to apply yourselves with great diligence to establish the practice of family devotion in all the families of your respective parishes. I need not prove to you … that nothing helpeth more to keep up a sense of religion in the minds of men, than a serious, reverent, and constant performance of this necessary duty; whereby both the glory of God is much advanced, and many blessings do also accrue to those who in this manner daily adore and praise their Creator, the lover of souls.’ He goes on to recommend some small and cheaply priced books, which explain and press this duty and include forms for the performance of it. The importance of family devotions cannot be over-estimated though what a momentous task this seems in the twenty-first century, yet fifty years ago the Roman Catholic Church in this country was engaged in a mission to their members which had the catchphrase, ‘The family that prays together stays together.’
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Rightly Dividing the Law of God

It is common to hear of the law of God, especially in the Old Testament, divided into moral, cæremonial, and civil law. And Christian students of the Old Testament, hearing of this distinction and eager to take some parts seriously while discarding other parts that they believe to be inapplicable for our time, are often quick to classify particular statutes of God as one or another of the three. But Zacharias Ursinus, in his commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, uses the classic threefold division differently:

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Speaking of the Fourth Commandment, which of the ten is the most often cited as a reason that even the Decalogue does not apply to us today, Ursinus does not classify the commandment simply as moral or as cæremonial or as civil. Instead, he tells us that the Fourth Commandment has two parts: a commandment and a reason for it. Further, he discriminates between two parts of the commandment: ‘the one moral and perpetual, as that the Sabbath be kept holy’; and ‘the other ceremonial and temporary, as that the seventh day be kept holy’.

Ursinus shows, usefully, that the common threefold division of the law is not to classify the ordinances of God as one or another of the three, but to distinguish the various aspects of each in order to find a legitimate application. He identifies the commandment’s general æquity, the underlying præcept that, when applied in the circumstances in which the commandment was delivered, yields the commandment in the form given. This is also how we ought to examine the commandments delivered to us, that we may be faithful doers of the word and not hearers only.

Do Not Demand a Piece of the Unjust System

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

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Against the gibsmedat fake socialists, who today prop up capitalism while shilling for sexual degeneracy. Sorel is right: burn it down so that the nation may be free.

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Occupy Wall Street was fundamentally for pussies, because the movement, in seeking to occupy, took for granted that Wall Street was legitimate, and that it had merely to be reformed and let more people in. Occupy it? No, burn the whole show down and abolish usury. Let the people, not the banksters, own the means of production and of their families’ livelihoods.

A Defence of Christian -Bol

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Some folk, responding to my meming up of #NazBol (an abbreviation for the somewhat ironically assumed name of National Bolshevik) and of a certain masculine and vitalistic aspect some have dubbed #ChadBol, have come to regard that ethos of political thought with some favour. In the interest of time and space – and because others do the job better – I shall not here attempt to detail what this sort of political thought and practice entails. Instead, my interest is to offer some response to those Christians who by instinct recoil from anything that, even with some ironic distance, carries the name Bolshevik.

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Tang Code of Laws, in English

TangCode

Half a year ago I found the Tang code of laws 唐律疏議 – that is, the Tang statute laws with their officially sanctioned commentary – but only in Chinese. But I have now also found a translation in English. Volume 1 treats of general principles; volume 2 treats of specific articles. At last, whenever I need to, I can cite the Tang code in English.

Liberalism’s Authoritarian Defence

At ARC Media, Damn Yankee speaks of university students as wards of the state, coddled and helicoptered by an administration that answers to state funds. I will not say the university campus is where liberalism assumes its most grotesque proportions, but it is enough – or ought to be enough – for the observer to see its sickliness. This is no esoteric knowledge. It is commonly enough known that, even while making noises against the fearsome authoritarianism of Donald Trump, today’s American university is an institution that makes much of free enquiry in name but suppresses it in practice.

The liberal ideology that animates many universities, the ideology of ‘freedom’, protects itself from what is foreign to it. The liberal system, by its own logic, would exclude what was exclusive, till all that was left was nonexclusion. For this reason T. S. Eliot says in ‘The Idea of a Christian Society’ that liberalism has no positive content of its own, only a negation. As paraphrased by a 1970 review in the Times Literary Supplement,

The tradition of ‘liberalism’ derives from our achievement and successful practice of religious toleration; but that worked because in fact the members of the various communions were all substantially agreed in their assumptions concerning social morality. The comfortable distinction between public and private morality is no longer valid; now the individual is increasingly implicated in a network of social and economic institutions from which, even when he is aware of their control of his behavior, he cannot extricate himself. The operation of these institutions is no longer neutral, but non-Christian.

Losing pieces that were extrinsic to itself but native to the Protestant tradition of which it was a development, liberalism has borne the sickly fruits proper to an unsustainable parasite. The end is not the beginning, because the parasite eats its own beginning, like an Ouroboros eating its own serpentine tail; yet this thing cannot keep on eating itself for ever. Liberalism, having by its nature destroyed the foundation it stood on, has taken a form that classical liberals at turns decry and mock – now dismay, now derision – but only as one shakes one’s fist at the rain.

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Liberalism has had to protect itself from full-throated Protestant Christianity, which by nature opposed a mere marketplace of ideas as much as Jesus opposed the buying and selling of (access to) God in the temple’s Court of the Nations. Still liberalism goes on, opposing any Christianity that cannot be bought and sold, even while its newer forms welcome in an Islam by which it would be destroyed. Such a parasite both Christian and Muslim ought staunchly to oppose, as the continual manufacturing of a nothingness that vainly calls itself peace.

Thus it is unthinkable to the liberal system that its approach to sexual responsibility should be anything but value-free. All the values it can take are the ones that appear not to be values at all. Condoms it will distribute, but never the word chastity. At last, through a technologically enabled amnesia, it is even forgotten in the ‘adult’ world that sexual relations by nature produce children. To this extent the liberal system has had to inure itself against God and nature, and no mere reset to 1689 or 1782 can change the leopard’s spots. The liberal system brings the full power of public propaganda, with the implicit or even explicit threat of force, to bear against what would challenge – even well within the liberal frame, even through such a culturally libertarian degenerate as Milo Yiannopoulos – its newest liberal mores. Seeing this self-protection, one is reminded of Macbeth, who must wade deeper and deeper into blood to keep the throne he has won by shedding blood.

For this self-protection, the liberal system cannot be faulted morally. But persons can be faulted, for persons are not inert things but living, breathing beings made in the image of God, endowed with reason. A system may be wicked in structure, and worthy to be destroyed in favour of another; but those responsible, for sin or for good works, are persons. A system cannot hold itself responsible, but persons can hold themselves responsible in relation to a wicked system, and they can also call upon the Name of the Lord to fight the angels of Satan.

Not Travelling Backwards

Benito Mussolini in The Doctrine of Fascism (1932), on fascism as opposed to mere reactionary desire to return to the world before the French Revolution:

The Fascist negation of socialism, democracy, liberalism, should not, however, be interpreted as implying a desire to drive the world backwards to positions occupied prior to 1789, a year commonly referred to as that which opened the demo-liberal century. History does not travel backwards. The Fascist doctrine has not taken De Maistre as its prophet. Monarchical absolutism is of the past, and so is ecclesiolatry. Dead and done for are feudal privileges and the division of society into closed, uncommunicating castes. Neither has the Fascist conception of authority anything in common with that of a police ridden State.

Whatever my disagreements with Italian Fascism, Mussolini is right about the need to do more than drive the world backwards. The way forward is never simply backwards, any more than it is to destroy all sense of historical givenness. Both past and present we must receive as a gift of God. Experience is a teacher from which we must learn, and the moment is an opportunity to do good according to the deeper sense of the mos maiorum (custom of the elders) and, more importantly, the law of God. The world has indeed changed. A woodenly literal use of temporal constitutions that once stood, and once worked in their own way, no longer fits living reality; to return to those constitutions unchanged, having forgotten nothing and learned nothing, would be unjust. That Marxism and liberal democracy have been found wanting is not a sign from heaven that we must take up again all the temporal things that were thrown down before them. However our peoples have changed, we must respond to their needs as they are now, not as they once were. Let that be unchanged which is immutable in the sight of God, and let that be changed which will bring the people as they are today and tomorrow into the obedience of God’s unchanging law.

With Muslims, Against Irreligion

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Aleksandr Dugin, in response to the question ‘Quelle place pour l’islam en Russie?’, advocates a front of traditional religions against sæcular postmodernity:

Our traditional model is that of peaceful coexistence between Orthodoxy and Islam, based on mutual understanding. It is true that the notion of the sacred is not the same in the Orthodox Christian vision and in the Muslim religion; but the difference that exists between the Christian sacred and the Muslim sacred is much less than the difference between religious consciousness and secular consciousness. For example, Orthodox and Muslims share the same attitude regarding any attack on holy places whatever they may be. That’s why representatives of the Islamic clergy took part in demonstrations against Pussy Riot. Another example: the group FEMEN attacks both Christianity and Islam. Since then, those who believe in God find themselves in the same camp. And when our faith in God is brutally attacked, we become united with each other. My conviction is that Christians, Muslims, and the adepts of other traditional religions should form a common front against the secularism that attacks us. Defensive today, this Front could become offensive tomorrow. In the modern or postmodern world, the religious factor becomes more and more important. We are on the way to what the American sociologist and theologian Peter Berger calls ‘desecularization’. And in this new phase, believers reunited within the common front will mutually aid each other to restore sense of the sacred in all domains of life.

Within large empires such as Russia and China, a peaceful coexistence between Christianity and Islam is a simple necessity. Russia has Tatars and other peoples who have practised Islam for centuries; China has not only a largely Muslim population in East Turkestan (Xinjiang), rich in natural resources that are vital to national security, but also about 10 million Hui Muslims in China proper. At the same time, both Russia and China have more Christians than Muslims. As in Syria and Iraq, sectarian fighting could only serve the interests of foreigners waiting to profit from the deaths of others.

Just as necessary for the survival of the greater Chinese and Russian peoples is a mutual understanding that can put forth a united front against sæcularist dissolution. The cutting short of the religious instinct which these nations must oppose is a cultural degeneration that would dissolve all meaningful national feeling. This cultural degeneration calls to mind the worst of America: pilgrimages made to a Uniqlo store in Beijing on account of a viral sex tape filmed in one of its fitting rooms (inter alia). Needless to say, such a video opposes socialist core values, and one can only expect more and grosser wickedness if the culture is allowed to slide further in that direction. To some, Sodom and Gomorrah may be a joke, but suppressing them is a matter of national survival.

True, Christianity and Islam are not the same religion, nor can a generic religiosity credibly oppose late modern (capitalist) sæcularism. As Coptic priest Zakaria Botros constantly shows, moreover, Islam as devoutly practised today is not benign. Religion, as we see in the case of Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi Islam, is not always better than irreligion, and indeed is often a geopolitical tool of irreligious interests. Faced with these realities, we must be realistic. Nevertheless, when a serious Christian makes common cause with Muslims against irreligion, sacrilege, and blasphemy, the appeal he makes is not to the perverse doctrines of the Muslim, but to the genuine religious feeling of the man, the image of God; not to vice, but to virtue; not to hæresy, but to truth.

Therefore let this common front be found wherever possible, lest what remains of traditional religion and true religious feeling, in both Christianity and Islam, be corrupted by the power of Mammon. Let the late modern market not rule over the hearts of Christians and Muslims, but let the justice of God be proclaimed and rule over all commerce of matter. Only thus can a true religious freedom be found, ruled not by demands of markets but by the conviction of the Holy Ghost.

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Self-Determination through Guilds

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William Morris on the power of mediæval guilds, in ‘A Summary of the Principles of Socialism’:

‘The trade guilds which in the first instance were thoroughly democratic in their constitution, protected the craftsmen against unregulated competition, or from the attempt to oppress them in any way. Moreover, as it was easy then for a labourer to obtain a patch of land, and to remove himself wholly or in part from the wage-earners, so a journeyman apprentice starting in life as a mere worker could and generally did attain to the dignity of a master craftsman in mature age. The amount of capital to be amassed ere a man could work for himself was so small that no serious barrier was placed between the journeyman and independence; besides, the arrangements of the guilds were such that wherever a craftsmen wandered he was received as a brother of his particular craft. Although also the rest of Europe was behind England in the settlement of the people on the soil, the craft-guilds were even more important in the Low Countries and part of Germany in the Middle Ages than in England. Thus it should appear that in the record of the feudal development the period reached in each country when the peasant was a free man working for himself upon the land, and the craftsman was likewise a free man master of his own means of production represents the time of greatest individual prosperity for the people.’