Author Archives: Lue-Yee Tsang

Sang Calon Lân and Put It on YouTube

For YouTube, donʼt you think singing is easier than talking?

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Symeon the New Theologian’s Account of Regeneration Agreeable to Reformed Theology?

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The Byzantine monk Symeon the New Theologian, in Discourse 24.3, says that what unlocks the treasure enclosed and sealed up in the word of God, ‘eternal life together with the unutterable and eternal blessings which it contains’ (24.2), is God the Son himself, who has said, ‘He who loves me will keep my commandments, and my Father will love him, and I will reveal myself to him.’ The only way for the chest of knowledge to be opened, Symeon says expressly, that we may enjoy, partake of, and contemplate its good things, is for God to ‘[live] in us and [move] among us’, and perceptibly to reveal himself to us; thereupon we consciously contemplate the divine mysteries hidden in Scripture. These mysteries, says Symeon, consist in perfect love toward God and neighbour, contempt of visible things, mortification of the flesh. And it is in seeing immortality, incorruption, the kingdom of heaven, adoption as sons through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, that we indeed become sons by adoption and grace, and are called heirs of God and fellow-heirs of Christ.

But it is not clear to me whether Symeon sees this work of God himself – for he says no one but God can do it, since it is ultimately God and not the fulfilment of the commandments and the practice of the virtues that opens the door of knowledge – as being given all at once or over a protracted length of time, and how it is related to those works of ours. He does say it is by means of our fulfilling the commandments and practising the virtues (both given by God, as the commandments and the virtues) that God opens the door of knowledge to us, but he does not say explicitly how God uses these things to open the door. Instead, he contrasts those who enjoy the blessings and those who ‘lack the knowledge and experience of any of the things of which we have spoken’, who ‘have no taste of their sweetness, of the immortal life derived from them, since they lean on the mere study of the Scriptures’; for the latter ‘wish to commend themselves as though they were to be saved apart from the exact observance of Christ’s commandments, and so they altogether deny the power of the Holy Scriptures’. Nevertheless, by denying that our own fulfilment of the commandments and practice of the virtues is itself the power that opens the chest of treasure, Symeon seems to disclaim any notion of God’s respecting these things as meritorious works: they are instruments in some way, but God is the one who unlocks all these gifts to us when we cease to commend ourselves (trusting in our own meagre merits?) apart from the exact observance of Christ’s commandments, which is the true power of the Holy Scriptures!

To a Protestant, the expression here is unfamiliar, but the substance seems very much related to what Protestant divines held about regeneration in the broader sense. This intuition leads me to wonder how a Reformed scholastic such as John Davenant, Bishop of Salisbury, might have interacted with the thought of Symeon the New Theologian on the topic of regeneration. In a letter to Samuel Ward, Master of Sydney Sussex College, Davenant does treat carefully and sometimes subtly of regeneration in relation to infant baptism and perseverance of the saints. In that letter, Davenant’s purpose is different, but his categories might fruitfully be brought to bear on Symeon’s somewhat mysterious account here of the way in which God enlightens the soul and thus unlocks the treasure borne by Scripture, a treasure that none can reach by commending themselves, but that God himself must unlock.

The Huguenots and Anglican Worship in Ireland: Lessons for Today?

Ruth Whelan, in ‘Sanctified by the Word: The Huguenots and Anglican Liturgy’, part of the edited volume Propagating the Word of Irish Dissent 1650–1800 (Four Courts Press Ltd, 1998), 74–94, gives us a look at the Huguenot refugee community in Ireland which complicates the picture often painted of French Protestants readily conforming to the established Anglican worship of the English-speaking countries in which they resettled. Though the French Protestants recognized the Church of Ireland and the Church of England as fellow Reformed churches, with whom they basically agreed in doctrine, differences in practice shaped differences in piety between them and Anglicans who conformed to the Book of Common Prayer. Practices that strictly were adiaphora (in themselves indifferent) were nevertheless, for much of the Huguenot refugee community, part of the Huguenots’ ethnoreligious identity.

The article also shows us some history that could be useful for dealing with the problem of Phyletism – which Wikipedia calls ‘the idea that a local autocephalous Church should be based not on a local [ecclesial] criterion, but on an ethnophyletist, national or linguistic one’ – as well as with the practical mess of the Byzantine communion’s overlapping ethnic-associated jurisdictions in America.

Appropriating Geʼez Music as Chinese?

Æthiopian music like this can probably be adapted into Chinese music. It already sounds similar.

Ramiro Ledesma Ramos: National Bolshevik (Part 2)

ramiro-ledesma-ramos-1905-1936

This is my [Lue-Yee Tsang’s] translation, done a while ago, of part 2 of a piece whose first part was translated in 2012. Since I don’t speak Spanish, some of my translation may be inexact, but I trust that my knowledge of English and linguistics is enough for me to have at least usefully conveyed the general sense of the Spanish original by Juan Antonio Llopart Senent.

Ramiro, Falange, and the Expulsion

On 13 February 1934 was concluded the merger agreement between the JONS of Ramiro and the FE [Falange Española] of José Antonio.

This union was born with strong discrepancies among the Jonsistas themselves. Within their bosom coexisted two positions: that of opposing such union for fear and distrust of the Falangists, considering them too right, and that of accepting the agreement with the Falangists, believing that both organizations would be strengthened and enriched. The choice that prevailed was the second. As soon as he was informed of the decision of the Jonsista Council, the JONS Galician leader, the former communist Santiago Montero Diaz, sent a letter to Ramiro resigning from the organization.

Thus, a merger took shape that was marked by dissension. In fact, no one can deny that within the FE there were excessively rightist nuclei with relevant strength in the movement.

But it is also true that some within FE also had reservations before the merger; for let us not forget that in their bosom coexisted monarchists, rightwingers, true revolutionaries, and a certain other future Carlist militant, Ricardo Rada. The main concern of the Falangists was the strong social burden imposed by the Jonsistas, especially their economic radicalism: what they feared was the proletarianization of the FE.

It should here be remembered that one of the points of the merger between the JONS and the Falange Española stated the following: ‘It is considered essential that the new Movement insist on forging a political personality that does not lend itself to confusion with right-wing groups.’

On February 16 was released the first issue of La Patria Libre. Ramiro, along with other old Jonsistas, had parted company with the Falange Española. With this new publication they tried to enter the political breach from the anti-bourgeois and national-syndicalist revolutionary angle of the primitive JONS.

The supporters of the ‘Joseantonian truth’ did not waver, nor did they hesitate, to discredit Ramiro, to bury him in the most fallacious criticism. He was accused of being envious, he was ridiculed by José Antonio himself when he warned about certain ‘revolutionaries’ in allusion to Ramiro’s pronouncement of errors. In most books on National Syndicalism written by Falangists, Ramiro is considered a secondary player in National Syndicalism, to whom the trail is lost after the split-up because of the Falangists’ expulsion [sic].

Thus we find statements like this one by Francisco Bravo: ‘Ramiro could not behave with sufficient decorum.’ The Francoist Ximénez de Sandoval points out, ‘Ledesma had the mistaken concept of believing that a National Revolution needed the type of proletarian leader … to possess the right creative arrogance.’ But if there is someone who deserves a comment, it is Raimundo Fernández Cuesta, one of the main culprits of the Falange’s rightwinging for so many years, the main lackey of the pro-Franco Falange and the one who united the Falange elbow to elbow with the most reactionary far right during the Spanish transition; this subject says in a letter dated 9 February 1942, ‘The episode of expulsion [sic] of Ramiro has its origin in the personal envy he felt for José Antonio, born perhaps of differences of origin, environment, and education. It was the expression in the Falange of the class struggle, which in Spain threatened all activities. That, along with Ramiro’s difficult economic situation, made him fit to be an instrument of right-wing parties, who wanted to sow tares in our ranks.’ In short, Ramiro, the third national leader of the Falange Española, the founder and principal theoretician of the National-Syndicalism, was but an envious and poor man who had been bought by the rightists to provoke the ruin of the Falangist movement.

There are numerous opinions about Ramiro’s split, but perhaps it would be more correct to read what Ramiro himself said about the split: ‘Whoever believes that our break with the Falange Española was due to mere whim and that it lacked deep dimensions is gravely mistaken. We, the Jonsistas, observed the limitations mentioned, clearly saw that the time had come for radical changes in orientation, tactics, and leaders; and since none of this could be achieved there, we gave new life to the JONS.’

For some time, the verbal and even physical confrontations between some thugs of the FE and the Jonsista followers of Ramiro were constant. ‘There is not a day when any of the leaders of the JONS are not provoked on the street by one of the ten or twelve wage-earning ruffians available to [Primo de Rivera],’ ‘the attacks that the Falangist leaders have launched against those of the JONS are themselves, we have said and we repeat, of ruffian beings, of residual beings, who live beyond all moral solvency and every clean purpose.’

Francisco Bravo himself acknowledges in his book José Antonio: The Man, the Leader, the Comrade, that the sale and distribution of La Patria Libre was hounded by the Falangists, while affirming that ‘José Antonio prevented any of us, excited by the unjust attacks on the founder of the JONS, from sticking him with a shot’ (83). It’s a shame that Bravo does not tell us who of ‘his’ was trigger-happy about the Jonsista leader.

Ramiro never wanted to respond to the Falangist attacks, and whenever he was forced to do so, he did so in the pages of La Patria Libre.

The truth is that Ramiro, together with Onesimo Redondo, Manuel Mateo, and Álvarez de Sotomayor, had met in the Fuyma cafeteria to discuss the situation of the FE de las JONS. At that meeting, both Onesimus and Matthew pointed out the need to do something, since the situation was distressing. According to Martínez de Bedoya, ‘José Antonio was surrounded by gentlemen, who occupied positions, jealous of their competences, and who even had fixed salaries.’ The decision of the four assembled was to separate from the Falange Española and reorganize the JONS. For this, Mateo guaranteed the stalwart support of the CONS (Central National-Syndicalist Labor Union), which together with the backing of the strongest delegation, the Valladolid of Onesimo Redondo, gave a certain confidence of success. But in fact, once Ramiro was convinced, who of the four was the most reticent toward the separation, only Álvarez de Sotomayor ended up supporting what was decided there. Mateo defected and was named (as a reward?) as head of the CONS by José Antonio.

Onesimo Redondo decided at the last minute to remain under the orders of José Antonio, forgetting the agreement with Ramiro. Was this a strategy of the Falangists to separate Ramiro and his immediate collaborators from the organization? Few were those who followed Ramiro – Martinez de Bedoya, Gutiérrez Palma, Poblador – and Montero Diaz rejoined the fight. But what really mattered was that the banner of revolutionary National Syndicalism was raised again.

Ramiro continued his political activity, and neither the attacks on his militants by the Falangists, nor the assault on his social premises at Calle Amaniel in Madrid by troublemakers commanded by Aznar and Valcárcel, nor the constant reproaches, made a dent in him and his comrades.

One must also point out, however, that Ramiro was never very well regarded by the Joseantonians, and we know that this assertion will anger the ‘purists’ of the Falange. But the truth is that, without Ramiro, National Syndicalism would not exist, and that is the truth. José Antonio helped give shape to National Syndicalism – essentially during the last months of 1935, and until they put out his life on 20 November 1936 – but without the settlement and foundation of Ramiro, the Falange would have been no more than a vulgar ultrarightist organization.

It would be unfair not to accept criticism of Ramiro, for it is undoubtedly true that everyone goes wrong sometimes. But when these criticisms are biased or when these attacks toward him only show a deep ignorance of their ideas, it is not only regrettable but condemnable.

Thus, in the journal Sindicalismo in which Sigfredo Hillers de Luque collaborated, there appears in the chapter ‘Talks of the Joyful Ball’ a section entitled ‘The Syndicalism of Ramiro Ledesma Ramos’ – this article appears reproduced 28 years later, without any type of comment or correction in number 22, corresponding to the months of May–July 1992 for the journal No Importa, organ of the Falange Española Independiente, so I think they approve what is there expressed – in which the following is affirmed: ‘The National Syndicalism of Ramiro Ledesma and that of José Antonio in 1935 have little or nothing to do with each other … the separation of Ramiro from the Falange, regardless of the personal problems (which there were, and which are supposed to explain everything), was undoubtedly due to the fact that Jose Antonio and Ramiro, still speaking with the same words, wanted different things. … Vis-à-vis the progressive fascist radicalization of Ramiro is the progressive syndicalist radicalization of José Antonio.’ It is a Falangist opinion, of course, but lacking any credibility in what concerns the progressive fascism of Ramiro, which he does not hesitate to say, ‘No longer do they [the Jonsists] pretend that he [Ramiro] and his comrades, organized fascism, even remotely. What there was of fascism in the old JONS is today collected by Primo de Rivera, above all in his last propaganda. They understand that their mission is something else’ (123).

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John of Damascus and Æternal Subordination of the Son

ess-memes

Degeneracy Is Just Not the Same as It Used to Be

Because Hong Kong in those days did it better.

Any Thing, Any Time, Any Where

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.

Holy Mount Cælestial

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.

Having Children Study the Bible

St John Chrysostom

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.

Dissolution of Parliament

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.

The Lord Curse James Martin, SJ

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.

Father’s Day

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.

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‘St Joseph and the Jesus Child’. Jusepe de Ribera.

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.

Aside

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

Aside

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