Author Archives: Augustinus Augustinus

Do not be conformed to this world

By Augustinus

One of the greatest temptations for the church and indeed for any Christian is to adopt the morals of the surrounding world instead of adhering to the divine law. When the whole world is saying you must burn incense to the emperor as that is what all right-minded people do; then there is strong temptation to do just that. When you look around and all of the best people, the decent, humane, citizens are burning the incense, then you ask yourself why can’t I and my church do the right thing and do the same? When upright, compassionate, right-thinking, civilized, forward-thinking, progressive, decent, smiling people are burning incense to the emperor, then there is a strong temptation for you to do so as well. When all of the leaders, all of the cultural leaders of the country say you must burn incense to the emperor or be seen as an anti-social, hate-monger, then there is a strong temptation to “burn the incense”..

After all, who wants to be seen as judgmental, backward-looking, retrogressive, hate-filled, condemnatory, indecent, uncivilized resisters to the simple act of burning the incense? How can one resist these decent humane people when they argue that morals have progressed beyond old testament superstitions? They point out that scriptures did not condemn slavery and yet the whole world now sees slavery as a gross immorality! Clearly, humanity can progress morally over the centuries and sometimes it must do so without the support of the divine law as evidenced by scripture.

Scripture, tradition, church fathers, church councils, doctors of the church, popes and saints alike have all condemned active homosexuality (the orientation is a different matter as that is not chosen by the afflicted individual) and none of these authorities have unequivocally condemned slavery (St Patrick was an exception). Yet the modern world celebrates homosexuality and condemns slavery. Members of the church from the Pope down to the laity in the pews wish that things were different. But the record is clear. What the church has historically condemned is now practiced as a liberatory virtue by the modern world. Something has to give. Should divine law bend to the sensibilities of modern bourgeoisie in their celebration of the sexual revolution? Or should the Church LEAD the modern world in observance of divine law?

The church is going through a phase where it wants to be liked by the modern world. The current Pope and much of the hierarchy and certainly most of the laity in the pews basically agrees with the modern world regarding the moral status of the sexual revolution. Masturbation is not really a vice, Homosexuality is not an intrinsic evil. Divorce is OK under many circumstances. Sex outside marriage is not always bad, in fact it is natural and OK.  Virginity and chastity are weird and anti-life. Married and homosexual priests are OK (especially when they are both homosexual and married!). Abortion is both virtuous and life enhancing. In fact it is a human right!

The church is in crisis partly because it wants to be loved by the right-thinking cultural leaders of our time all of whom have bought into the values of the sexual revolution. Unfortunately for the current Pope and the coterie of bourgeois bishops he has surrounded himself with, the church has to deal with the long record of scripture, councils, popes, doctors, theologians etc all condemning what the modern world praises.

I myself find some good in some aspects of the sexual revolution and much good in modernity itself (see my articles on Vatican II in this blog) but I despise the leaders of the church who would have the church kowtow, virtue-signal, apologize,  bow and scrape to the bourgeois cultured-despisers of religion in the modern world who are demanding and indeed shrieking that ALL must “burn the incense” or be considered retrogressive hate-mongers..

Albertus Magnus

 

By Augustinus

Today, November 15, is the feast day of Albert the Great. He is the patron saint of scientists. As I was trained as a neuroscientist it seemed fit to say a few words here in honor of the man. He was born just before 1200 AD near Cologne Germany and died some 84 years later. That was a tremendously long life to live for the middle ages (most people died by 40 years of age in those days) and it is no exaggeration to say that he spent it well in service to the Church and to science.besides authoring dozens of scientific and theological works he worked tirelessly as official administrative Church positions all his life.

Most people remember Albert the Great as the mentor and teacher of his more famous student St Thomas Aquinas. Albert was fiercely proud and protective of Thomas. He more than once defended Thomas against charges of heresy from the theologians at the University of Paris.  While Thomas surpassed his master in the area of theology, Albert was by far the better scientist than Thomas (and Thomas was the better theologian).

What is the significance of the man for us today? I hesitate to pronounce on so weighty a question as I have read only the De homine. How can you evaluate a man’s intellectual legacy after having read only a single one of his works? Answer: You can’t. So what I am about to share here are simply my impressions of Albert’s key contributions.

First of all Albert was the key figure who introduced all of the newly discovered corpus of Aristotle’s works to the church and the west. Since Aristotle was a man who was interested in everything he required a man like Albert 9who was also interested in everything) to appreciate the magnitude of Aristotle’s accomplishments and bring them to the intellectual foreground in the high middle ages. Aristotle’s interests included everything from minerals and geology to ethics and psychology. Albert produced small advances on Aristotle in several scientific fields including geology, mathematics, biology, astronomy and psychology.

Without the rediscovery of Aristotle’s works in the high middle ages it is likely that the scientific revolution in the west would have been delayed for centuries. It was Albert who made Aristotle acceptable to the Church and thus to the west. The battle within the church over Aristotle went on for over a century and continued even after Albert’s death but Albert’s intervention on behalf of Aristotle was certainly a turning point for the Church in its acceptance of the imago dei as reason or intellect.

The theologians were suspicious of Aristotle not just because he was a pagan philosopher but also because they interpreted him through the commentaries of Averroes-the famous Muslim philosopher. Averroes put a Muslim spin on Aristotelian concepts and thus Aristotle came off as incompatible with Christian doctrine. But Albert showed that Averroes interpretations of Aristotle were incorrect and that Aristotle’s basic metaphysics and categories were perfectly compatible with Christian doctrine. Averroes for example, tended to treat individuals as simple emanations from a larger agent intellect or world soul or God. Albert saw that that perspective destroyed individuality and pointed out that the doctrine could not be found in Aristotle’s treatment of the agent intellect. Thus, Albert preserved the long tradition in the west to favor the individual over group consciousness.

This accent on the individual could also be seen in his nuanced treatment of the problem of universals. Are general concepts like “whiteness” or “man” independent ideas that exist in a realm of eternal ideas or are there no eternal ideas and are these general ideas better understood as qualities that only appear in individuals? The nominalists denied existence to universal ideas and argued that the only reality existed in individual things while the universalists argued with Plato that only the universals were real and individual things simply manifested these eternal ideas. The problem will never be solved until we have direct access to an eternal realm to verify whether eternal ideas exist. Albert argued for a moderate realism and allowed theologians and philosophers to make a bit of progress on the issue by making some crucial distinctions. Albert suggested that we should distinguish 1) universals that pre-exist (perhaps in some eternal realm) the individuals that manifest them; 2) those that exist in individual things (i.e. particulars) and 3) those that exist in the mind when abstracted from particulars. In Albert’s scheme each position has some truth: there are eternal ideas and universals can also be manifest in particulars. They are sometimes in the eternal realm; sometimes in the mind only and sometimes in the substance itself, independent of the mind. These distinctions allowed later philosophers to preserve the integrity of the individual. The individual need not be seen as merely an instance of a larger group or abstract idea.

I find that one of the most interesting of Albert’s contributions to philosophy and theology to be his treatment of the agent intellect in De homine. The agent intellect is largely an idea of the western catholic philosophers in the middle ages with Albert being the first to make it central to his philosophical anthropology. The mediaeval philosophers thought they had found the idea of the agent intellect in Aristotle’s De Anima but if they had it was derived from a very cursory treatment of the idea. No. Aristotle did not produce the idea—the mediaeval philosophers (especially Albert and Thomas) did.

What is the agent intellect and why is it important? It is the imago dei; the essence of the human soul — the human intellect. It is our capacity to reason, to make free choices. The agent intellect spiritualizes all that it attends to. It extracts form and intelligibility from the particulars in the world out there beyond the mind. Complimentary to the agent intellect is the passive intellect which picks up sensory impressions and provides the raw material for the agent intellect to transform into spirit. Now Albert asked what happens if the agent intellect turned its powers on itself and the passive intellect? In that case the possible intellect can consider the intelligible forms of the mental images of the mind which are derived from the senses, thus spiritualizing consciousness itself. When the passive intellect operates under the sole influence of the agent intellect, the possible intellect undergoes a complete transformation and subsequently enhances the powers of the agent intellect. Then emerges what Albert called the “adept intellect” which then allows the human being to undergo mystical illumination by higher angelic intellects and this constitutes man’s natural happiness.

Saint Albertus Magnus pray for us!

 

The paradox of world marxism

By Augustinus

Although Karl Marx was a detestable human being, he was also a very smart guy. Heretics in general have always been smarter and more culturally sophisticated and influential than orthodox intellectuals. Marx was no exception. Although he was not Christian and did not work within the Christian tradition proper, his work should nevertheless be seen as a Christian heresy. We therefore need to take his ideas seriously. After all, marxism in some form or other has taken over the levers of cultural and political power in large parts of the world during this and the bloody 20th century. From China and Russia to Africa, South America and beyond. Marxism has captured the intellectuals across the globe who later become the political and cultural elite in almost every part of the world.

Why is that? After the revolutions against Marxism in the former USSR and eastern Europe, you would think that intellectuals in the rest of the world would have re-evaluated their commitments to marxist ideas given the evidence that people who actually had to live under those ideas for decades decisively rejected them as inhuman. But paradoxically just as marxism was rejected in the east, it finally won in the west! During the 1990s just after the fall of communism in 1989 in the east, the neoliberal consensus was forged among western elites with cultural marxism as its intellectual edifice. Neoliberalism is just marxism in its trotskyist internationalist form.

President Bill Clinton’s presidency marked the alliance of former liberals who moved right a bit and former conservatives who moved left a bit so that they could unite around the “new world order”. At that time the EU was solidified into a new neoliberal form as well. The business and financial community endorsed the new alliance as it would open up international trade without regard to national working class interests of national communities. The political and cultural elites of the world loved the new world order as it made them rich and gave them global audiences. It seemed everyone loved the new world order…EXCEPT for a couple of sticks in the mud–namely  traditionalist religious people all over the world.

It is often claimed that radical Islam came out against the new world order as well but that ain’t quite true. The radical Islamists re-appeared on the world stage at this point in history precisely because they too had a vision of world domination. It just happened to cast the caliphate in the form of the world hegemon rather than Washington.

International trade is good but it does not need marxism/trostkyism as its background rationale. it can just as easily run on some other more benign ideology. It is the tragedy of the West (and therefore of the world) that the cultural elites in the West chose marxism as its operating system as it will inevitably implode.

 

Matthew Schmitz surrenders

By Augustinus

Jesse Russell over at 1Peter5 has a great response to Catholic neoconservative Matthew Schmitz who attempted to polemicize against alt right critiques of liberal Christians as suicidal effeminates. In a bizzare post at First Things Schmitz actually argues that a cuckolded soldier in a novel by Evelyn Waugh who apparently (I have not read the novel) serves as a Christ like figure…is a good model for the Church. While it is true that the individual who undergoes defeat in everything he attempts can be a better model of Christ than the victorius solider or winner ….that certainly does not mean that Christendom itself should welcome its own destruction at the hands of modernism and Islam! As Pius X said kindness when the Church is under attack is for fools (and not the fool for Christ version!) and Schmitz I am saddened to say has, like a fool, drunk the modernist kool aid…

Christianity Is for Champions: A Response to Matthew Schmitz

Need for militant resistance

By Augustinus

In any conflict reasoned discourse is the best route forward but when one side takes up arms your side needs to do so as well. Why is it OK for for there to be a muslim brotherhood but not a Christian brotherhood? Why is it ok for there to be a jewish defense league but not a catholic defense league? Why is it ok for there to be “democratic karen Buddhist Army” in southeast Asia (heirs to the fanatical Budhhist monks who inflicted horrific violence against the Catholic regime in the early 60s in Viet Nam) but not a catholic army in the USA? Why is Hindu militancy OK but catholic militancy not ok?

I have looked around for militant catholic organizations or brotherhoods but there are none. The Knights of Columbus are too busy conducting pancake breakfasts. The “This man is YOU” trainings that has captured the attention of catholic male laity is too busy trying to be holy to notice that the church is sinking and is under attack. The ancient military orders of the catholic church have all become mere charities -some of them assisting the very enemies out to destroy the church.  The so-called “Church Militant” media group in the midewest USA at least has the honor of being labeled a hate group by the totalitarians at Southern Poverty law Center but they are merely an informational and agitprop group-not a disciplined brotherhood organizing active and militant resistance.

its no use looking to the bishops for guidance on militancy. The old Irish bishops that once ruled whole cities with an iron dictatorial hand in the USA have all died away and their congregations with them. The present crop of bishops with one or two exceptions (perhaps Chaput) are all effeminate servile sops.

Can we look to the popes? In some ages we cannot. Recall the period of the Avignon captivity which ended with three popes all excommunicating one another? At that point the laity could not look to the popes for guidance so the military orders organized themselves and protected Europe against the muslim turks without papal help during that period. The monarchs were too concerned with  battling one another to worry about christendom itself. Indeed some of them actively connived with the ottoman turks in hopes of gaining advantage in their internecine struggles.

The church is always in crisis and christendom is always divided. In past ages we have always had local organized militant brotherhoods that protected the inheritance. Today I can find no such brotherhoods.

 

Charlottesville August 2017

By Augustinus

We all know by now that groups of the alt right along with leftist neo-Nazis and assorted white identitarian groups attempted to march in Charlottesville to support retaining statues honoring soldiers of the confederacy. They were met with fanatical “anti-fa” marchers who were protesting and challenging the right of the marchers to be there at all. The leftist anti-fa position is that the alt right marchers are “hate groups” and therefore should have no right at all to march or express their opinions. “Hate speech” should result in jail time for these people. tragically, these anti-fa protesters began to bash in the windows of a car whose driver apparently panicked and rammed into some marchers–several of whom were seriously injured and one of whom died. the press claimed that this was deliberate killing and called it domestic terrorism.

But the fundamental premise of the anti-fa marchers is totalitarian. Once you start to claim that some speech should be banned you go down the slippery slope of totalitarian thought police. Who defines what is hate speech? You? The mob? The government? A group of “experts”?

free speech is fundamental to free men and a free polity. Without it we are no better than slaves.

Novus Ordo in Latin

By Augustinus

The courageous priest at my local parish who I mentioned in a previous post a few months ago has done it again! Despite opposition from the parish vicar he has put on a Latin mass for the feast of the assumption. It was not the tridentine mass but the novus ordo but as Pope Benedict has said the two forms are one rite and both are valid. In addition to the beautiful latin a schola contorum sung and chant. As he always does this courageous priest said the mass ad orientam. All in all a blessed experience! I thank God that I landed at a parish with a real priest.

The Marian Option

By Augustinus

The main dangers to the church today are a resurgent Islam and the modernist heresy taking over the church from within. How to deal with these dangers? This year is the hundredth anniversary of the appearance of the blessed Virgin Mary to the three children in Fatima Portugal. The official position of the Catholic Church is that that Fatima apparition was worthy of belief–that it was real. Therefore we have to take the apparition seriously. The children claimed that the Blessed Virgin wanted us all to pray the rosary daily…but whom among us do so? In addition, Mary asked (through the children) for the church, in the person of the Pope and the Bishops, to consecrate Russia to her immaculate heart. That was done I believe by John Paul II and confirmed by the last surviving Fatima child. Shortly thereafter communist Russia was transformed into a renewed Russia that is now a haven for orthodox Christians of all kinds–though it remains to be seen the extent to which Russia starts appeasing its muslim populations. The third secret or request was more vague and concerned a vision of the Pope and bishops and other servants of God being martyred.

Bishop Fulton Sheen suggested in his 1952 “The world’s first love: Mary, Mother of God” that Islam was likely to rise again and threaten the West and Christendom. His prophecy has come true. Sheen suggested that muslims could be converted to Christianity via their love and veneration of Mary. They defend her immaculate conception, her virginity, and her closeness to God. She is according to the Koran the greatest woman in heaven.  Sheen asks why did Mary appear to three children in a town called Fatima? Fatima was the daughter of Mohammed. Muslims believe she is the greatest woman in heaven–after Mary.

The third Fatima secret is often thought to refer to the destruction of the church from within via the modernist heresy but it is equally likely to refer to the martyrdom of Catholics by muslim terrorists and jihadists. The thirs secret is about a resurgent Islam that needs to be militarily opposed while simultaneously converting as many as possible via their love of Mary.

The Popes against Islam

by Augustinus

The Popes against Islam

Up until 30 years ago, the Popes have been the most consistent, most implacable and most effective enemies of Islam in history. The ancient Zoroastrian Persian emperors who had ruled most of the world until the advent of Islam folded under the onslaught of Islamic armies. The Byzantine emperors fought valiantly but failed. The Emperors of the western Holy Roman Empire, particularly the Hapsburg emperors, were consistently anti-Islam and led several successful struggles against Islamic armies—but they too were too often distracted with rivalries with other European powers to play a central role in the defeat of Islamic aggression against Europe. The Mongols battered Islam but they were weak ideologically and spiritually and so were ultimately either converted to Islam and just faded away into the mists of history. The Confucian Emperors of China were consistently anti-Islam but they were less threatened by Islamic armies than the rest of the world so they never had to confront Islam ideologically as did the rest of the world. The Hindu and Buddhist emperors in India have for centuries fought Islam but were too divided to prevent conquest and forced conversions of population in the North of India.

The only enemies Islam has never defeated are the Popes…at least until now.

Papal enmity against Islam began with the birth of Islam. They right at the beginning branded Islam a heresy and that has been the church’s position ever since. Gregory III (731-741) convinced Charles Martel to fight against invading Muslims at Tours (732). Without that victory Islam may have conquered France. Leo IV (847-855) himself fought at the battle of Ostia, saving Italy from Islam. Alexander II (1061-1073) funded the beginning of the reconquest of Spain. Urban II called for the crusade for the Holy Land at Clermont in 1095. Two hundred years of crusades would follow with many conquests by the West in the Holy Land but ultimate defeat due to internal divisions among European powers. There followed, from the 1300s to the 1800s, 500 years of repeated assaults of Islamic armies against Christendom. The climax of Islamic destruction of Christianity came with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The Popes had worked feverishly to awaken Europe to come to the defense of the Byzantines –all to no avail. Nevertheless, the Popes began again to chalk up victories against Islam. Pius V (1566-1577) organized the resistance at the great naval battle of Lepanto and Innocent XI both funded and organized resistance at the great siege of Vienna (1683) and Innocent XIII did the same for the battle of Malta (1726-24). These 3 battles, Lepanto, Vienna and Malta literally saved Europe from becoming Muslim as the Ottomans finally began to decline militarily and ideologically.

The post Vatican II Popes have attempted to emphasize the good things about Islam (they venerate Mary for example) and to cultivate cordial relations with Islam. I think this is a terrible mistake. We all need to awaken to the mortal threat to Christianity that is Islam

The savage attacks on England

By Augustinus

The latest savagery by muslim fanatics beggers belief. The deliberate murder with nail bombs of kids at a concert and then a few days later taking a knife and walking up to a random girl on London bridge and stabbing her 15 times. But that was not enough blood; then the animals went and did the same to several others. When will Europe wake up?