Category Archives: Politics

‘Trump calls for deportations without judicial process,’ says BBC

Such is the sensational headline used by BBC to describe what President Trump has said. Likewise, the New York Times says in a headline, ‘Trump calls for depriving immigrants who illegally cross border of due process rights’.

In Japan, meanwhile, clear cases of illegal immigration are not a judicial matter at all, but an administrative matter. Japan routinely deports known illegal immigrants without trial. Indeed, classifying illegal immigration as an administrative matter makes the most sense if – as some loudly assert – illegally entering the United States is not a crime but a mere lack of administrative documentation. What we should ask is, Why and since when does America treat obvious cases of illegal immigration as matters to be resolved by courts at all, rather than as routine matters of administration?

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Proudhon and Authority: Federalism and Mutualism

Robert Nisbet says in The Social Philosophers: Community and Conflict in Western Thought (Crowell, 1973), 371,

To the growing bigness of things economic and political, Proudhon opposed the necessity of a society based upon small groups and communities. These would be only loosely connected in a commune, which would be the next-highest level of organization. Each group – whether a family or a local or work association – would be sovereign over all matters affecting it alone. There would be no masses of individuals each directly related by a potentially tyrannous conception of citizenship to the all-powerful central state. Federalism and mutualism would be the keys to the good society. From mutualism would proceed the groups and communities made desirable by human nature and social function, with a maximum of autonomy in each. From federalism would proceed the necessary political structure of that autonomy to be found in each form of group and association. Thus would be achieved, not direct rule through centralized bureaucracy, but indirect rule, with a high premium placed upon decentralization and division of powers.

To me, this sounds quite close to Althusius, and rather far from (anything I have seen of) Schmitt. Proudhon’s vision of human society is certainly attractive; on the other hand, against the forces of global neoliberalism, the New Left, a nation’s defence requires the power to marshal the œconomic and military and cultural forces strong enough to withstand warring aggressors on every front – in a word, autarky. This is something that perhaps Althusius can supply in theory if Proudhon cannot:

The communion of right (jus) is the process by which the symbiotes live and are ruled by just laws in a common life among themselves. This communion of right is called the law of association and symbiosis (lex consociationis et symbiosis), or the symbiotic right (jus symbioticum), and consists especially of self-sufficiency (αὐταρκείᾳ), good order (εὐνομίᾳ), and proper discipline (ἑὐταξίᾳ).

Thomas O. Hueglin has brought the two in dialogue. I should read more. What do you think?

Introducing Wang Yi 王怡’s 95 Theses on the House Church

As reported by the South China Morning Post, on 4 June of this year (this past Monday), ‘hours before a planned evening service to commemorate the Tiananmen Square anniversary’, Early Rain Covenant Church 秋雨之福歸正教會, a Presbyterian church in Chengdu 成都, was raided by police. According to SCMP, ‘The Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, had planned a two-hour prayer session at 7.30pm to mourn those killed in Beijing 29 years ago.’

My purpose here is not to explain the political implications of what was done either by Early Rain Covenant Church or by the police in Chengdu, but to draw attention to a document issued in 2015 by the church’s head pastor, Wang Yi 王怡. This document was ‘95 Theses: The Reaffirmation of our Stance on the House Church’ – or, in Chinese (simplified characters), 我们对家庭教会立场的重申(九十五条). Evoking the 95 theses of Martin Luther, these theses by Wang Yi were published online to coincide approximately with the 60th anniversary of the arrest of Wang Mingdao 王明道 in June 1955 for publishing ‘We Are for the Faith’, a declaration of the reason he and others refused to join the Party-controlled Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM). Wang Yi’s 95 theses are structured as follows:

Theses 1–17: God’s Sovereignty and Biblical Authority.
Theses 18–31: God’s Law and Christ’s Redemption.
Theses 32–39: Against the ‘Sinicization of Christianity’.
Theses 40–44: Church as the Body of Christ and His Kingdom.
Theses 45–72: The Relationship between Two Kingdoms and the Separation of Church and State.
Theses 73–95: Against the ‘Three-Self Movement’, and Affirmation of the Great Commission.

With some of Wang Yi’s 95 theses I heartily agree, and with others I firmly disagree on grounds both biblical and historical. I intend hereafter to write several blog posts here evaluating the principles expressed in these 95 theses. In the meantime, some will find it useful to read Chloë Starr’s 2016 article ‘Wang Yi and the 95 Theses of the Chinese Reformed Church’.

為流產、墮胎死去的小孩舉辦案葬禮

教會若為流產、墮胎死去的小孩舉辦案葬禮,邀請全體的基督徒來送殯,經常在耶和華面前致哀痛悔,結果會如何呢?

https://m.weibo.cn/status/4248091403501809

Kuyper Against Liberal Modernism

A blog post by Steve Macias on Kuyper’s debt to Tractarianism’s anti-Whiggery led me to James Bratt’s book Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat (Eerdmans, 2013). He says,

Perhaps, I am putting too much weight on Kuyper’s conversion story and its connection to the Tractarians, but they both spring from the same revolt against modernity. Both Neo-Calvinism and Anglican Traditionalism are born to combat the tides of what they saw as liberalism. It is impossible to understand the Anglo-Catholics as a liturgical movement alone, they also represented an anti-modernist political philosophy for the Church against the encroachments of ‘whiggery’. In a similar way, Kuyper would develop a political theology as a result of his high view of the church, as a defence against modernism, not as a tool for power or mere social engagement.

I myself have no confidence in Christian democracy, certainly as it has become in the late 20th century and early 21st, and I’m pretty sure Kuyper was wrong about many things, but I probably should read Kuyper and read about Kuyper.

Goebbels on Women in Society

For an anticlerical with socialist tendencies, Joseph Goebbels (1933) had perhaps surprisingly respectable views on the place of women in society:

Looking back over the past years of Germany’s decline, we come to the frightening, nearly terrifying, conclusion that the less German men were willing to act as men in public life, the more women succumbed to the temptation to fill the role of the man. The feminization of men always leads to the masculinization of women. An age in which all great idea of virtue, of steadfastness, of hardness, and determination have been forgotten should not be surprised that the man gradually loses his leading role in life and politics and government to the woman.

It may be unpopular to say this to an audience of women, but it must be said, because it is true and because it will help make clear our attitude toward women.

The modern age, with all its vast revolutionary transformations in government, politics, economics, and social relations has not left women and their role in public life untouched. Things we thought impossible several years or decades ago are now everyday reality. Some good, noble, and commendable things have happened. But also things that are contemptible and humiliating. These revolutionary transformations have largely taken from women their proper tasks. Their eyes were set in directions that were not appropriate for them. The result was a distorted public view of German womanhood that had nothing to do with former ideals.

There are things in society that men cannot do, and God has given those things to women. Nothing must usurp the place of this calling for women, especially women who wish to please God as nature and Scripture have directed.

Likewise, there are things in society that God has entrusted to men and not to women, and men must do them. It is not for women to rule, but to be the home; it is for men to rule and defend the home and the homeland that, once constituted by men’s setting and continually keeping the boundaries, has received the womanly graces that then flourish.

Thematic Bible Conference for Ethnic Reconciliation?

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The W4CAA’s annual Thematic Bible Conference in Princeton (30 June to 1 July this year) is not that big, but I have high hopes for this conference as a way to promote the Church’s ministry of reconciliation and healing for the nations. In particular, I think God can use it to train Coptic Christians to reach their Muslim neighbours from Ægypt with the gospel, and Chinese Christians to reach their Uyghur neighbours, and in so doing reconcile nations that are not at peace with each other.

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Peace between Copts and Muslim Ægyptians

In 2005, Jersey City saw a Coptic family of 4 murdered, and a local Ægyptian community once living side by side in peace, sharing Ægyptian origin and culture, was sharply divided. The murders followed close upon fights in Ægypt which had killed 20 Copts and one Muslim Ægyptian. The father who was killed in Jersey City had been involved in some fiery debates with Muslims in Internet fora. Copts strongly suspected Muslims, and Muslims who did not want to be blamed. And the Coptic community in New Jersey, particularly in Jersey City, was quite large. According to the New York Times in 2005, Copts were more than 12% of Jersey City: ‘The Census Bureau does not track religious affiliation, but both Coptic organizations and the Jersey City chapter of the Council on Arab-Islamic Relations estimate the number of Copts to be above 30,000 and the Muslims to total about 25,000, out of the city’s population of 239,000.’ Discord between Christians and Muslims in Jersey City touched at least 23% of the whole city. I suspect these wounds have often been renewed: last year, on Palm Sunday, ‘many members of the Coptic Orthodox Church of St Mark awoke to the news that people dear to them [in Ægypt] had died or were wounded simply for being Coptic Christians.’ Bombings of two Coptic churches had killed more than 40 people and injured at least 100. O Lord, Ægyptians need a peace that only thou canst give.

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As Religion News Service reported,

Dr. Mona Tantawi, a New Jersey Muslim from Egypt and a pediatrician, was profoundly moved by Copts’ reaction and sees continued attacks on Coptic churches as an attempt to destabilize Egypt.

‘The Egyptian community, Christian or not, we are the same culture,‘ she said. ’What happened was devastating, and when I look at their reaction? … They are really living out the teachings of Jesus.’

It seems the righteousness of the Copts has caused Muslims in New Jersey to give glory to God, and Jesus has commissioned the Church to also show Muslims the word of God, which is the word of everlasting life. If inductive Bible study in a context of hospitality became a way for Coptic Christians to extend peace and reconciliation to their Muslim neighbours from the same country, I know not what a powerful witness that could be in the world, a witness to the power and justice and mercy of God. If Copts in America were encouraged and equipped to show the greatest love for their Muslim neighbours, perhaps Copts in Ægypt itself would be empowered to do the same up and down the Nile. The point is not debate between Christians and Muslims. The point is not to win by the convincing arguments of man’s ingenuity. The point is for everyone to know the peace that comes from Jesus, from the word of God himself; for by his word God brings peace, and by his stripes we are healed.

Peace between Han Chinese and Uyghurs

Farther south, the DC area is home to America’s largest population of Uyghurs, more than Los Angeles. Several thousand Uyghurs have made their home in northern Virginia, and I know of 5 Uyghur restaurants – I ate at one of them, Queen Amannisa, on my birthday. Everyone who pays attention to Xinjiang (Chinese Turkestan and Dzungaria) knows how Han Chinese and Uyghurs have been shaken by ethnic strife. The Chinese Communist Party, fearing Salafi Islamist separatism, has clamped down even on marriages done the traditional Uyghur Muslim way; riots some years ago killed many people, and some Uyghur Salafis (modernists who do not follow a traditional madhhab) have fought for Daesh (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq. Han Chinese often fear that Uyghurs may be terrorists; Uyghurs often see Han Chinese as invaders in their homeland. At the same time, last year I saw an advertisement for an Uyghur restaurant, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, at a Chinese supermarket. Chinese folk like Uyghur food and hospitality, and Uyghurs want their business.

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God has a reason for putting North America’s largest population of Uyghurs in the DC area. I think the next move falls to the Chinese churches in northern Virginia. It is Han Chinese Christians who have to bring Christ’s message of peace to the Uyghurs in the DC area, forming relationships with them and inviting them to see for themselves the gospel of God’s kingdom, the gospel in which Jesus Christ reconciles the nations to God and to each other. The gospel is a beautiful thing, and it is Han Chinese believers who must be God’s ambassadors of reconciliation, that the Han Chinese and the Uyghurs may be friends in the love of God.

Worthy of Glory by the Way of the Cross

Call to worship: Psalm 24.
Lessons: Revelation 4–5 and Matthew 21.1–16.

Procession+in+the+Streets+of+Jerusalem+by+James+Tissot

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

DEAR brethren in Christ, we are gathered today to fear God and worship him. Today, on the Sunday before Easter, we remember when the Lord came to Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt and knocked at the gates of Jerusalem’s heart. Today, we remember that the Lord Jesus came knocking to bring us near to God, as he has said in the seventh of the letters in the Revelation to John:

‘As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.’

We are here today to remember a victory that our Lord won by passing through the darkness of the shadow of death. The path to the knowledge of the glory of God leads through Jesus’s death on the Cross, and by the promise of God this path of humility is the noblest in the world.

In the Revelation to John, as soon as our Lord Jesus has dictated his letters to the seven churches of Asia, the very door of heaven is opened, and the scene changes from letters on earth to visions in heaven. So our author is taken up to heaven by the sound of a trumpet. Many decades after the Lord Jesus has been taken back up to heaven, to sit down as a man at the right hand of God the Father, now the old man John is taken up to heaven in order to see things which, in his words, ‘must be hereafter’. Thus he is caught up from earth to heaven to see what, at the time of his writing, is yet to come. Hear the sound of the trumpet that speaks to him: the trumpet says, Pay attention! The wisdom of heaven; let us attend.

And immediately, says John, I was in the spirit. What he saw, these spiritual realities, he saw by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Let us then see what John saw. A throne is set in heaven, and there is one who sits on the throne. We are reminded of the last throne John mentioned, when he said, ‘To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.’ Let us look at this throne, and at him who sits upon it.

This is our God, whom John sees in heaven by the Holy Spirit: His throne is girded about with a rainbow that gleams with the depths of an emerald. Around his throne are the twelve tribes of ancient Israel and the twelve Apostles of the new Israel – this is you, if you put your trust in Jesus – clothed in white and crowned to reign with God, forming the circle of the cosmos. He himself sits upon a throne with lightnings and thunderings and voices, and his seven fiery spirits blazing before him. This is the God whose face none can see and not die.

The Lord, he dares you to be lukewarm in the presence of his power, before the vision of his throne. Look at a sight like this, look at it truly, and tell me if you can be lukewarm. Either you will share in this glory and be drawn into it, or you will flee as far as you can flee from this presence. You can be hot, or you can be cold, but think which you will be.

And before this throne are four angelic beasts full of eyes before and behind, and six wings on each of them, wings full of eyes. As they cry ‘holy, holy, holy’ to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, day and night, the twenty-four elders fall down before him that sits on the throne, and worship him that lives for ever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. This is the God who was, and is, and is to come, the God who spoke the worlds into being.

This is the worship into which we are come today; this is the worship into which we are come every week, into the presence of uncountable angels, into the presence of the living God; this is the worship for which mankind itself was made, for which the Church was made, for which the only-begotten Son of God rode up to Jerusalem the Sunday before Easter, that in heaven he might offer this worship up to God. This is a noble and worthy purpose.

But who is worthy to open the book that lies upon the open right palm of him who sits on the throne of God? Who is worthy to open the seven seals that seal the book, to open up the knowledge of God, that his heart might lie open to us, and that we might lie open to one another, heart to heart? The voice of the angel that asks this question, his voice pierces heaven, earth, and hell; his voice pierces, and the human heart answers. This is the longing of the heart, to know what is in the book of his future purposes, to look into the future and see the heart of God and see him face to face. But no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. This is why Jesus rode up to Jerusalem the Sunday before Easter, because no man anywhere could open that book of life where everything is declared.

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. How did he prevail? The word of God declares it, by the pen of Matthew. The disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the donkey, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. When a true king is crowned, there is always rejoicing. But this ‘hosanna’, the Sunday before Easter, was not Jesus’s victory. It was only a sign of the praise he would receive for the victory he was to win in a week. Jerusalem hears the great noise of people rejoicing, and David asks in Psalm 24, Who is this king of glory? This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee, the Lord of uncountable hosts of angels: he is the king of glory.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? Who can open the seven seals of the book in God’s right hand? Matthew shows us. Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

But he had ridden that day into Jerusalem not to be proud, but to be humble; not to be served, but to serve, and to give up his life as a ransom for many. His cleansing of that filthy temple, his kicking out the buyers and sellers, his overthrowing the tables of the moneychangers, was for you. God is to be worshipped, and Jesus had to stand in his holy place and make us able to worship. One does not simply walk into the worship of Almighty God. In the Old Testament, under the law of Moses, in order for God to live with his people, the priest had to wash the temple with blood, because the sins of the people stained the temple and made it a foul place, too sickening for God to dwell in. That foul sin in the temple, that corrupting of God’s praise into the seeking of gold, of gain, of money, of all the things we grasp for instead of God – the soap for scouring that sin out of our hearts is blood. Blood is the price for sin. Sin is in our hearts, and the seven seals of the scroll could not be opened, and Jesus had to humble himself that week.

And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that Jesus did, and the children calling out in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased. The path to glory is not an easy one. The course of true love never did run smooth. The rich and powerful opposed Jesus. They hated Jesus. If you love Jesus and follow in his footsteps, they will hate you. If you are willing to stand for the truth against all the power of the newspapers and the schools and the banks, they will call you anything they can think of to break your heart. At school, they will call you a fool and an enemy of science; at work, they will call you a sexist, a racist, and a homophobe; at church, they will call you a blasphemer against the Name of God. Imagine this: You know that both the Old and the New Testaments call homosexual acts a shameful and hateful thing before God. You see a Christian friend come out as ‘gay’. What do you do? If you see that friend’s post and refuse either to like the post or to write a favourable comment, people will try to get you rejected at school, and sometimes they will get you rejected; they will try to get you fired, and sometimes they will get you fired; they will try to get you shunned by Christians, and sometimes they will get you shunned by Christians who are afraid and call you a judgemental, unloving, false Christian. Can you bear this rejection by people you know, or will you never reach that point? Think carefully whether it is better to be with Jesus or to be against him. If you choose every day to be with Jesus and not with his enemies, those who hate him will also hate you and call you haters of mankind. Jesus himself rode into Jerusalem to cleanse the temple, and the chief priests and scribes were displeased and tried to find a way to kill him.

But there is something noble here. Jesus saw what was before him, he saw what he had come to do, and he humbled himself to do it. The book of God’s right hand had to be opened for us, that we might know God. He who was God and had laid the foundation of the earth, he now trusted in God. He knew he was coming to his death. He had chosen to do this. He willingly came to give himself up to his enemies, and to lay his life down before those who did not want him to cleanse the temple and show himself as the Root of David. A man who hands himself over to his enemies without any hope of being vindicated, justified, upheld, so that his case is justly avenged, such a man is a fool. There is nothing noble in being a fool. There is only shameful death, to die alone, scorned, rejected, and supported by neither man nor God. And Jesus, on the path to his own kingly glory and to bringing many sons to glory, accepted having this said about him, that he was a fool. He knew that his powerful enemies and the whole nation of the Jews would despise him and mock him, saying, ‘He trusted in God, that he would deliver him, if he delight in him.’ Trust, if not based on facts, is useless. But Jesus was willing to be called a fool, because he was not a fool. His mission was already declared by the prophets who spoke in the Old Testament, and he trusted that God would vindicate him as righteous and wise and worthy. Therefore, for good reason, he would humble himself lower than he deserved; and in lowering himself as a man, betrayed, beaten, stripped of all his clothes and hung upon an instrument of dishonour and death, he would become worthy to be the king of Israel and of all the nations of the world.

This is how he humbled himself in order to truly and spiritually make the worship of God clean, spotless, holy. On Friday morning, five days after today, Jesus was delivered by the Jews to the Roman governor, and by the Roman governor back to the Jews, and he came to the place where he took upon him all our sin and shame. He had taken the nature of man upon himself in order to deliver it from sin, to make it holy again; and now he was nailed to the wretched thing that the Romans used to kill criminals and slaves. As some Christians sing on that Good Friday,

Today he who hung the earth upon the waters is hung on the tree,
The King of the angels is decked with a crown of thorns.
He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery.
He who freed Adam in the Jordan is slapped on the face.
The Bridegroom of the Church is affixed to the Cross with nails.
The Son of the virgin is pierced by a spear.

Why did Jesus do this? He knew that God’s promise to him was faithful and true. And so, being a man like us, he trusted in the justice of God. He trusted that the mockery of the bystanders saying, ‘He trusted in God,’ would be changed by God into a testimony of his worthiness. ‘Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.’

This is the path we must all take if we would see the glory of God, if we would have the seven seals of the book of God opened to our eyes. As people say, No guts, no glory. Weep no more, says the elder: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. When we say we follow Jesus, we must follow him in the path of the Cross, to be killed in the flesh with all its lusts for comfort and ease and power, so that our souls and bodies may be justified with him in glory.

And God, who is faithful and just, did not leave Jesus in the land of the dead. And I beheld, says John, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. Jesus had been slain, had been shamefully slaughtered before the eyes of all Jerusalem, but here he now stood in the midst of the throne of God, surrounded by the winged beasts and all Israel of the Old and New Testaments. His human body had been raised from the dead in glory, and 40 days later his human body had been lifted up to heaven, where he now stood. And here, in John’s vision by the Holy Spirit, the God-man Jesus came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Take part in the glory of Jesus. Accept, as he did, the shame and spitting of those who hate him. If you already love him, do not be afraid. If you live your life trusting in what he has done for you, you are there in heaven today when you worship him with your whole heart. God by his Holy Spirit lifts you up in Christ Jesus to those heavenly places where John saw this vision. If Jesus is the one you trust, you are there in heaven today with the four beasts and twenty-four elders. You have nothing to fear from the enemies of God, because the one you love is with you, and being despised and rejected like him will only make you partake of the glory into which God has transformed the Cross.

Jesus comes knocking at your door, and he has ridden up to Jerusalem today to cleanse the temple of your heart. He wants you to be able to worship him in the purity of truth, in the beauty of holiness. He humbled himself; he wants you to bend the knees of your heart and follow his humble path to the Cross. He wants you to die to yourself every day, that you may truly live. Every nation must bow before him, because the earth is his, and everything in it. As he says at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’ The reward, of knowing God and inheriting the earth with Jesus, is for those who humble themselves now because of the love he has humbly showed to us. As he said to the church in Philadelphia, so he says of his enemies and yours, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

Let us pray.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Psalm of response: Psalm 130.

China: a Fourth Rome?

Last month Thermidor Magazine published my article on the idea of China as a fourth Rome (#China4thRome); my article was also picked up by Geopolitica. That was pretty cool. May the Lord direct the growth of his Church in China, and purify the saints there, that his Church may serve his purposes and not unwittingly those of Antichrist.

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As a Chinaman born in the United States, I find myself able to speak to both places and neither. By accidents of fortune, however – or of providence, rather – I have identified more with China even as I have lived my whole life in the West. English is my third language, after Cantonese and Mandarin, even if I use it to express my intellectually most complex thoughts; and though my best of the three in writing, trained by the use of Latin, it is the vehicle of a Chinese soul. So it is in English that for the past year I have memed an idea as unconventional as it is ambitious, unto the Europæans a stumbling-block, and unto the Chinese foolishness: #China4thRome.

This idea I do not attempt to defend rigorously, between various powers’ conflicting claims to carrying on the Roman heritage; neither do I intend to claim that Moscow, which has seen itself as a Third Rome after the original Rome and then Constantinople, is fallen. Instead, I think back to the division of the Roman empire, first under Diocletian’s Tetrarchy and then at the death of Theodosius I, the last ruler of the undivided Roman empire. In the second partition, at the death of Theodosius, Arcadius became emperor of the East, with his capital in Constantinople, and Honorius emperor of the West, with his capital in Milan and then Ravenna. That the Roman empire did not stay uniformly strong under a plurality of emperors is not the point. What is significant about the administrative division of the Roman empire among several emperors is that the idea of Rome can be one even while its administration is diverse.

By divine providence, the Christian religion – and through it, Rome – has spread even through the bourgeois imperialism of the 19th and 20th centuries. Across the world, the civil calendar of common use is that of Rome, reckoned from 1 January; few places has Roman law left wholly untouched. Nevertheless, never have we observed in the world of Roman culture an ethnogenetic pattern like that of the Chinese empire as described by the prologue of Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms 三國演義: ‘The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been.’1 According to classical Chinese cosmology, the phrase rendered the empireis more literally all under heaven 天下, the Chinese œcumene being its ‘all under heaven’ much as a Persian proverb speaks of the old Persian capital of Isfahan: ‘Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast,’ Isfahan is half the world. As sociologist Fei Xiaotong describes it in his 1988 Tanner Lecture ‘Plurality and Unity in the Configuration of the Chinese People’,

The Chinese people had their home in the vast land of eastern Asia which borders on the Pamirs in the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east with the offshore islands, the vast desert to the north, the sea to the southeast, and the mountain range to the southwest. Bounded by natural shelters on all sides, it is a geographical unit with a complete structural system of its own. In the eyes of the ancients this was the only piece of land for the human race to live in. For this reason the land was called Tianxia, meaning “all the land under heaven.” Another name for China was Sihai, meaning “the land surrounded by seas on all sides, as was believed in those times. These conceptions are, of course, long outdated. What remains true is that this piece of land, which forms a geographical entity by itself, still serves as a living space for the Chinese people.

And this Chinese œcumene has united and divided for centuries, even as those who live in it have recognized a fundamental unity. But Rome, unlike the Chinese empire, has lived on in multiple successor polities, sometimes several at once, without ever coming back together as one empire administered as one. Perhaps something of its character has instead uniquely suited it to being the spirit of a kind of broader world empire. As Dante says in De Monarchia, ‘As the human race, then, has an end, and this end is a means necessary to the universal end of nature, it follows that nature must have the means in view.’ He continues,

If these things are true, there is no doubt but that nature set apart in the world a place and a people for universal sovereignty; otherwise she would be deficient in herself, which is impossible. What was this place, and who this people, moreover, is sufficiently obvious in what has been said above, and in what shall be added further on. They were Rome and her citizens or people. On this subject our Poet [Vergil] has touched very subtly in his sixth book [of the Æneid], where he brings forward Anchises prophesying in these words to Aeneas, father of the Romans: ‘Verily, that others shall beat out the breathing bronze more finely, I grant you; they shall carve the living feature in the marble, plead causes with more eloquence, and trace the movements of the heavens with a rod, and name the rising stars: thine, O Roman, be the care to rule the peoples with authority; be thy arts these, to teach men the way of peace, to show mercy to the subject, and to overcome the proud.’ And the disposition of place he touches upon lightly in the fourth book, when he introduces Jupiter speaking of Aeneas to Mercury in this fashion: ‘Not such a one did his most beautiful mother promise to us, nor for this twice rescue him from Grecian arms; rather was he to be the man to govern Italy teeming with empire and tumultuous with war.’ Proof enough has been given that the Romans were by nature ordained for sovereignty. Therefore the Roman people, in subjecting to itself the world, attained the Empire by Right.

The chain of great civilizations from the Atlantic to the Pacific has long been Rome-Persia-China, but of these three only one, for better or worse, has now set the world’s common terms of discourse. This is perhaps not yet as much the case in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and in the cultural sphere of Greater Iran, but the entity we call China has been shaped by an encounter with Christendom, and with elements parasitic upon Christendom, whose impact cannot simply be ignored or blotted out. The very explicit concept of China as a geopolitical space – the geopolitical awareness that the ‘all under heaven’ of the axial Son of Heaven, who sits in the centre, facing south, was a space among spaces on the planet – comes from an encounter that forever shattered the older, literal interpretation of these spiritual concepts. There is no going back. The Chinese knew, long ago, that there was a Rome; even farther back, it was from Indo-Europæans (possibly those we today call Tocharians, inhabiting the Tarim Basin now part of Chinese Turkestan) that they learned chariot warfare and possibly bronzeworking, and even the ancient Chinese word wu巫, ‘mage’, may derive from Old Persian maguš. So it is not that the Chinese were ignorant of other advanced cultures, but, even with the tides that enriched the Chinese with the ideas and materials of other cultures, nothing else had the powerful pull that generated and sustained the Huaxia 華夏 culture whose cradle was the middle reaches of the Yellow River. So even the dialectic of Huaxia culture with the Steppe, without which China would not be what it is – for Turan has given China not only the pipa 琵琶 and the erhu 二胡 but also emperors of dynasties we see as native – has not so challenged the identity of the Sinosphere. The power of Rome in Christendom, and of Christendom in Rome, has reshaped China and is still reshaping China, and it is in response to this encounter most of all, as it is for the individual who is converted to the gospel of Christ, that the Chinese have had to define themselves; for it is, what the Chinese have not known before, an encounter with Christ and Antichrist.

Oswald Spengler has spoken of the (modern) West as wholly different in character from ancient Rome, Faustian rather than Roman, but it is perhaps truer and more fitting to say that in the life of the Western nations is both something we can call Faustian and something we can call Roman, sometimes the one having the upper hand and sometimes the other. For, even if much of the modern talk of Rome and living its glory be counterfeit, a mere conceit, yet something must be there to be spoken of so widely, so long after some have dated the ‘fall of Rome’ at the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in the West at the hands of Odoacer. The translatio imperii, transfer of empery, is not merely a fiction, for the polity of Rome was indeed set in Constantinople, and there it became, though smaller in jurisdiction, a more perfect vessel of the truth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh; likewise, Frederick II of the House of Hohenstaufen, whom Dante called ‘the last Emperor of the Romans, last, I say, as regards this present time’, took up the mantle of Rome and, though twice excommunicated by the Bishop of Rome (in 1227 and 1245), from Sicily and the south of Italy extended his ambitions not only to Germany and Italy but also to Jerusalem, holding a court at Palermo that was known for its culture, where philosophy, art, music, science, and poetry from Latin, Arabic, Italian, Northern Europæan, and Greek traditions bore fruit together. Europe itself, as a geopolitical space and not merely a designation of physical geography, can be said to be a Rome, for a long time a multiple Rome. When aligned with the heavenly City of God, it breathes the spirit of the Rome used by God; when aligned against it, a Rome assimilated to the Faustian spirit. Yet the line between the two Romes, to borrow a line from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, cuts through the human heart.

That God was at work even in and through the colonialism of Rome’s Western successors, which was driven by the greed of evil men and the libido dominandi, the lust for mastery, is no idle talk built upon the sand; for even through these shameful things, great and terrible, the saving gospel of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ has gone forth to the ends of the earth, through the humble and not through the boasting of the merchant-pirates and usurers. Some have thus seen how God spoke to their peoples through types and figures before the coming of the gospel, and in the gospel found themselves, found the principle by which their selves and their nations should be saved. From the Ming dynasty to the present, this is the power that many of the Chinese, from Matteo Ricci’s Confucian converts to Republican fathers Sun Yat-sen 孫中山 and Chiang Kai-shek 蔣介石, and even Chen Duxiu 陳獨秀, cofounder of the Chinese Communist Party (more here, with abstract in English), have felt in Christianity coming from the Roman world: that it can save the empire. Thus can Rome be said to have set its expanse – or to have been set in its expanse – over the world.

The Chinese œcumene’s first significant record of the Roman empire was in the Han dynasty, in the 1st century, when military ambassador Gan Ying 甘英 called it Daqin 大秦, or Great Qin. Rome was therefore, in some way, a copy of the Chinese empire, an alter Sina. The empire’s first meeting with the gospel of Jesus Christ coming from the Roman world, however, may have been in the 7th century, with the coming of the priest called Alopen. The Nestorian Stele – of which Georgetown University has a fullsize replica – records the favour with which the powerful Tang dynasty emperor Taizong responded to this ‘luminous religion of Daqin’ 大秦景教. But the crucial direct encounter with the West, for good and for ill, was almost a millennium later.

As University of Oregon professor Arif Dirlik explains in his essay ‘Born in Translation: “China” in the Making of “Zhongguo”’, this encounter is what created the concept of China for the Chinese. The renaming of the empire of the Great Qing (1644–1911) in its last years, he says, ‘was directly inspired by the “Western” idea of “China”, that called for radical re-signification of the idea of Zhongguo [‘Central Country’], the political and cultural space it presupposed, and the identification it demanded of its constituencies’. The idea of the Central Country was, rather than a political entity, a civilizational ideal rooted in the classical culture of the Zhou dynasty (c. 1046 BC–256 BC) and its central states on the Central Plain of the Yellow River. It was not until the rise of nationalism, and finally, the Republic after the fall of the Qing, that Zhongguo became the name of an actually delineated country rather than a diplomatic convention.

We may say it was the West, being both Rome and Faust, that broke the old interpretation of the ancient Chinese cosmology and made the concept of China and thus exposed it to more open war between Christ and Antichrist. In the mid 19th century, the First Opium War (1839–1842) and then the Second Opium War (1856–1860, treaties signed 1858 and ratified 1860) blew the Qing empire open to the presence of Western aliens even in the interior, and to embassies in the capital, and thus to both Christian missionaries and the Sassoon family’s opium (cf. the Sacklers’ trade in opiates today). Meanwhile, the Taiping Rebellion (1850–1864), picking up the Christianity thread in doctrinally aberrant ways, was a response to the decadence of the late Qing and the suffering of the common folk under foreign imperialism, but it also killed about 23 million persons. The line between Christ and the Antichristian spirit of global capital was twisted and strange indeed, and in the midst of these convulsions was the modern national idea of China-born. Though biochemist and historian of science Joseph Needham 李約瑟 shows in Science and Civilisation in China that Chinese science had already developed indigenously before the arrival of modern Western science, Arnold J. Toynbee’s account reflects better the feeling of the Chinese people:

In breaking off relations with the West in the form in which the West had first presented itself, the Chinese and the Japanese had not disposed of their ‘Western Question’ once for all. A rebuffed West subsequently transformed itself, and then reappeared on the East Asian scene, now offering its technology instead of religion as its principal gift, and the Far Eastern societies now found themselves confronted with a choice of either mastering this newfangled technology for themselves or else succumbing to it.

The challenge was, and is, to develop technologically in such a way as to stand up to the weaponry of the West, yet without becoming the West and thus surrendering without a fight. On the one hand, the Great Qing Code was reformed along German lines, making China a potential inheritor of Roman law through the Napoleonic Code, if it will have it; on the other hand, Sun Yat-sen’s ressourcement of the Chinese tradition looked not to the Faustian West for China’s modern identity but to the wisdom of the ancient past. China can be a fourth Rome, but it cannot be the Rome of the modern West without losing its soul. Instead, it must be a Rome of true Christian orthodoxy against the dissembled and dissembling Christianity sold by Faustian agents today.

The Chinese Rome may have the power to challenge the Faustian West and its White-supremacist Faustian Christianity, a false Christianity we see not only in the most obvious exponents of the neoliberal (dis)order but also in the fantasies of Ross Douthat and Michael Dougherty about an ‘Africa’ that, as P. T. Carlo puts it, ‘exists within a narrative for the sole purpose of helping the white protagonist realize his potential’, and for this reason is assimilated by Mr Dougherty into the Faustian geopolitical entity of The West™. The fetish of some Papalists for Cardinal Sarah (the based Negro cardinal) is not, as some imagine, a Black supremacism, but a White supremacism in disguise; and this Western chauvinism in ecclesiology and geopolitics deserves to be turned back by a non-Western Romanitas, whose priorities are not those of the Faustians of the West.

A Christianity both indigenous and orthodox is perhaps hard for a Westerner to see. Following Jesus’ designation of himself as the Vine and the parts of the Church as the branches, consider wine and terroir. The seed is the word of God, which is sown into the heart. The gospel of Christ is the life of the Church – being in one Head, we have exactly the same Holy Spirit, and we drink of one cup in the Eucharist – but how exactly to treat the one grape will vary by terroir: just as you factor soil, altitude, terrain, sun-orientation, and microclimates into decisions on pruning, irrigation, and harvest time, so the same faith varies in things indifferent to its being. Cultivated in different conditions, the same plant (or the same clonal variety) looks different and makes for wines that look, smell, and taste different. The Church of China will not look like a typical Anglican church, and neither will it look like a typical Byzantine church: such is a national church fit for a China opposing the coercive and deceptive force of the West.

As reported by David P. Goldman at the Asia Times, the West is panicking at the œconomic rise of China, not least in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) linking China to Europe by the ways of the ancient Silk Road – a growing œconomic power Dr Goldman thinks is matched by cultural power, not least in Yuja Wang’s interpretation of Beethoven.

Western analysts in general dismissed China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). During the past year, though, new rail lines have lined China to Iran, Turkey and from there to Western Europe, drastically reducing the time and cost of shipping across the Eurasian continent. Two rail links to Iran are now in operation. On September 6, the first train to Teheran departed from Yinchuan, capital of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, with a 15-day journey time to Iran’s capital, half as long as sea transport. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway linking China with Turkey and the South Caucasus begins operations in October. China already is Turkey’s largest source of imports. As a result, once-neglected areas of Western China have become the most dynamic zones in the China’s economy. According to a recent study by the Milken Institute, the fastest-growing city in China is Chengdu, a metropolis of 12.3 million people in Sichuan province. Few Westerners can find Chengdu on a map, but it exemplifies the initial success of BRI.

Of greater moment, however, is spirituality, not œconomics. The œconomic integration of a geopolitical Eurasia led by Russia and China against the geopolitical West of the neoliberal Washington Consensus is, I think, only a sign of more significant spiritual things. The BRI designs of the Chinese Communist Party align – probably not by human design – with many Chinese churches’ ‘Back to Jerusalem’ vision for evangelizing all the lands from China to the Holy Land. Indeed, some Christians of Asian origin have reported being led by God to begin work in Central Asia in the 1990s when no one understood why, and only now is it becoming clear to them that God, who prompted that work then, has also now orchestrated BRI development in Central Asia. For China, the spiritual stakes have been raised.

It is possible that China contains, for development, an alternative of multipolarity to the Washington Consensus of open-market policies promoted by the IMF, World Bank, and the US Treasury, but the way is dangerous. The Chinese bourgeoisie is growing in power and therefore in its capacity for immorality, and to follow their lead would be a worthless endeavour.

Bourgeois culture, spiritually threatening to assimilate the powers that be in China to the global (Western) élite, is a challenge for the Church itself. Wenzhou, sometimes described as ‘China’s Jerusalem’,2 is a nouveau riche city with Christian bosses who rose from rags to riches; it features a capitalist Boss Christianity whose prosperous lay leaders believe they serve God by making money, running churches as entrepreneurs and running factories as Christian enterprises drawing poor labourers to the promise of a better life in Christianity. It looks like the religion of Americanism, a nihilism that grew into the global capitalism of the post-Cold War world. Will China go with a Wenzhou Boss Christianity, oriented toward the business of manufacturing outsourced from the West, and the seeking of power and glory through commerce? or will it go with a Christianity oriented toward the Eurasian continent, and the voluntary laying down of boss power to build neighbours up? Chinese Christianity must align not with high-finance imperialism, which breathes the spirit of Antichrist, but with those who like Burkinabé president Thomas Sankara in the 1980sare resisting that neoliberal disorder’s supremacy by struggling for independence from it. Only thus will the Church be the spiritual life of a China that takes the shape prædestined for it by God, a China that leads other nations by the strength of Christ in a common resistance against the geopolitical powers of Satan. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

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 this 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.

Notes

  1. Fei Xiaotong, in ‘Plurality and Unity in the Configuration of the Chinese’, 214: ‘Going back in history, China as a state was unified during two thirds of the post-Qin period, and it was divided for the remaining one-third of the historical span. But the picture was different concerning ethnic relationships. Throughout the ages the Hans had been expanding themselves, and the process of absorption and assimilation went on with more vigor whenever the country found itself under separatist rule, as conquests by national minorities generally brought the ethnic groups closer together.’ 
  2. See Nanlai Cao’s study Constructing China’s Jerusalem: Christians, Power and Place in the City of Wenzhou

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.

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).

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.

Translate Reformed Theologian Richard Hooker into Chinese

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?

Time to Bring Dead White Reformed Divines to China

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A Chinese academic paper on Richard Hooker.

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).

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Zanchius and Hooker, Reformed scholastics.

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.

Edit:
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.

Congratulations to Taiwan for Its Sodomitical Marriage Ruling

For 24 May’s court ruling on gay marriage in Taiwan, I have just a few gay words for such a happy occasion.

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‘We must liberate Taiwan.’

For this historic and brave moment, the strongest congratulations and gun salutes are in order – indeed, the event deserves a nuclear salute. Let the world know: Love is love. Taiwan, not China, is on the right side of history. It is entirely laudable, after all, to be at pains not to identify as Chinese while also claiming 5000 years of Chinese history as your own, and even more so to stake your identity on the kind of difference that draws upon you the fiery wrath of Almighty God.