Friday, July 25, 2008

Fish Friday

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday moral equivalence

The Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, appears to be somehow equating the consecration of a gay bishop in the US with the US war in Iraq:

“George Bush said he was going to invade Iraq. Everyone told him not to because there would be consequences, but he did it anyway. The Americans floated the balloon in 2003 when they consecrated Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. They knew exactly what they were doing then and they know exactly what they are doing now. They knew it would be unacceptable to the majority of the Communion. They are doing exactly as they please. Either the rest of the world caves in or someone has to stand up to them.”


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‘Suspected leftists’ again

Reading various news items lately, one cannot help but reach the conclusion that, at various times in various parts of the world, it has historically been hazardous to one’s health to be suspected of being a leftist.

This has been true quite notably in South American countries . . .

A Chilean judge on Thursday indicted a deputy of former dictator Augusto Pinochet and two others over the disappearance of five leftists believed murdered and hurled into the ocean from a helicopter. ...

Pinochet, who died in 2006, never faced a full trial for crimes committed during his 17-year dictatorship, when the government killed about 3,000 people and tortured another 28,000 — most of them suspected leftists.

And in neighbouring Peru . . .

Peru’s disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori should not be held responsible for human rights crimes committed during his time in office, the man who ran his feared counterinsurgency network said on Monday.

Vladimiro Montesinos, who is serving a 20-year sentence for arms trafficking and corruption, took the witness stand and vigorously defended Fujimori from charges that he ordered a death squad to kill 25 suspected leftists in the 1990s, when Peru was battling the Maoist group known as the Shining Path.

Just as an aside, this seems a fascinating case. Montesinos’ testimony would seem quite convincing — ignoring the minor detail of his conviction “for arms trafficking and corruption” — after all, he “ran” Fujimori’s “feared counterinsurgency network”. His credibility as a witness might even survive the following detail:

Montesinos and Fujimori, who saw each other for the first time in eight years on Monday, did not speak but appeared to exchange knowing glances of mutual trust. [JAS: Such perceptive journalists!]

Fujimori, 69, faces up to 30 years in prison. Though his political career has ended, analysts say he his positioning his daughter, Keiko, a prominent member of Congress, to run for the presidency in 2011.

If elected, she might be able to assure better treatment or a shorter prison term for Montesinos, who was convicted in 2001. She has promised to pardon her father if she wins the presidency.

That 2011 election should be one to watch, so make a note in your diaries! In fairness to Fujimori, however, it should be noted there was method in his madness . . .

While in power, Fujimori defeated the guerrillas and brought order to a chaotic economy.

So, in spite of the systemic human rights abuses — or maybe directly because of these — perhaps Fujimori has had a bum rap...?

Meanwhile, on the Atlantic side of the continent . . .

An Argentine court sentenced two former police officers on Friday to life in prison for participating in the 1976 “dirty war” massacre of 30 people whose bodies were thrown into a pile and dynamited. ...

The massacre took place at the start of the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, during which human rights groups say up to 30,000 suspected leftists were abducted and killed. An independent commission confirmed about 11,000 deaths.

And meanwhile, across the Pacific . . .

According to the National Archives and Records Service, a total of about 750,000 South Korean civilians were killed or went missing and 1.08 million non-combat North Koreans died during the [Korean War].

Of these, a 2005 survey funded by the National Human Rights Commission estimated that at least 250,000 South Korean suspected leftists were killed by their country’s army, police and militias.

More detail here:

With U.S. military officers sometimes present, and as North Korean invaders pushed down the peninsula in the summer of 1950, the southern army and police emptied South Korean prisons, lined up detainees and shot them in the head. ...

Some bodies were dumped into hastily dug trenches. Others were thrown into abandoned mines or the sea. Women and children were among those killed. Many victims never faced charges or trial.

The extermination campaign, carried out over mere weeks and largely hidden for a half-century, is “the most tragic and brutal chapter of the Korean War,” said historian Kim Dong Choon, a member of a 2-year-old government commission investigating the mass executions.

Of course, all this was absolutely — albeit ‘tragically’ — necessary, to put a stop to those butchering, mass-murdering leftists.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Benedictine Mass.

And so the great mass is over. Some 400,000 are claimed to have gathered for the spectacular service. No doubt the usual bullshit will be carried on by those so disposed arguing the toss and claiming no one has counted properly, the figures are exaggerated and “you couldn’t possibly fit that many, etc. Matters diddly-squat: the numbers in the “Southern Cross precinct” (Centennial Park/Randwick) will have easily surpassed that reasonable figure.

It would appear that all who attended seemed well pleased with the mass: smiles, tears and not a little religious fervour. Not surprising given the faultless service attended by a frocked army of ecclesiastical invasion led by Benedict XVI, the as yet to be Great. The centre point of the mass, the sacrament of the Eucharist, went off without any great hassle – amazing given the numbers.

This was, to me, one of the more interesting aspects. The news had been that Benedict would require receivers to both kneel and accept the host on the tongue – a throwback to times well past. Others, receiving from priests amongst the crown, would not be required to kneel in this fashion. And so it happened. It is difficult to remember the last time I received communion in this fashion – probably at my first back in the mid sixties.

This, of course, tallies with Benedict’s intimation in his homily that the Church needs to reinvigorate its traditions. Apparently not kneeling for communion is an act of irreverence:

The Holy Father has requested that those whom he gives communion to will kneel,and his preference is that they receive communion on the tongue," said Father Mark Podesta, an official World Youth Day spokesman. However, these preferences will not apply to the crowds at the racecourse, who could be pressed for
kneeling space.

Well, as they would, as they would. It’s hard to escape the notion that this practice will have applied to the crowds only for the lack of space to supervene. It is though an indicator of where Benedict is going:
"His request is not a mandate for the church, it's merely an indicator," FatherPodesta said. "He is concerned with the question of reverence. (Standing andreceiving the host in the hand) could be open to irreverence. It's a reminder for those who watch it that this is very special."

Tied to the notion of the respect for and re-invigoration of the beautiful liturgical tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, Benedict would like to see greater use of the Latin or Tridentine mass. The rationale given is that little Latin has been used post Vatican II after Priests were allowed to conduct the mass in “the vernacular”. The Priest giving “expert commentary” on the televised service intoned that this was a good way to go because Latin was the “the language of the Church”. By adoption, yes it is. It is also the language of such pagans as Titus Livius, Gaius Julius Caesar and Cicero: in short the language of empire; the language of power. Much as French was after the Norman invasion of Britain.

The Church had little choice in “its” language. It took root in a Roman world and therefore adopted, as time went by, its language. Much (written) in the east was still in Attic koine, the widespread Greek of commerce throughout the eastern Greek world of the Seleucids and Ptolemies. As the Roman west corroded and crumbled into history, the Catholic Church adopted its capital and, inter alia, its language.

It is somewhat difficult to find examples in the primary sources (the Gospels) of Christ conducting his business in Latin. It will likely have been in koine if not Hebrew. Further, there seems no evidence of the apostles kneeling in respect to eat at the last supper which we Catholics now “do in memory” of him in the mass. There is evidence in the source material of the “Holy Spirit” allowing the apostles to be heard by those they addressed in “their own tongues”. Sounds a good basis for priests delivering the mass in “the vernacular” to me.

Latin is a largely forgotten language and exists as a language of history in much the same way as archaic Greek in the classical corpus. It certainly is not a language in wide use in Australia but, according to Inside the Vatican magazine, we need to be brought into line:
Australia is a country well known for lax liturgical practices following in the wake of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, and this was particularly evident during liturgies celebrated by John Paul II on visits there in 1986 and 1995.

Seems I’d best brush up on my Latin – all one year of it thirty-eight years ago.

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