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Remembering WFB

The passing of William F. Buckley last week at the age of 82 produced an outpouring of remembrances that continued through the weekend with Michael Kinsley’s “Tales from the Firing Line” in the New York Times. National Review Online has assembled some of the best here, of which one of the best of the best is William McGurn’s “God and Man and Bill” originally published in the Wall Street Journal.

Christianity Today also republished a fascinating 1995 interview with Buckley on the subject of Christian political activism. In “Conversations: W. Buckley: Listening to Mr. Right” Buckley tells interviewer Michael Cromartie this about the growing influence of conservatives in politics:

What we see here is a mobilization of people who are properly horrified by what they see going on in Hollywood, in the growth of single-parent families, and so forth. They’ve figured out that our foundations need restoring, and I have never doubted that those foundations are religious. So this is how they reach the general public, as religious people rather than as political people. Their affinity is much closer to conservatives than to liberals for the obvious philosophical reasons.

I’m not frightened by it. But I think it’s important to keep the matters discrete and to know when you are talking about one thing and when you are talking about something else.

See also this exchange between Buckley and Cromartie on the publication of Buckley’s Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith, in 1997.

Ave atque vale

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class="post-40 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-blog-archive tag-abortion tag-eugenics entry">

The Implicit Racism of Planned Parenthood

Did you know that over 70% of Planned Parenthood clinics are located in minority neighborhoods? Here’s a vid making the rounds (a bit edgy — and disturbing) revealing PP’s racist doublespeak about the value of human life.

Here’s the group that outed PP:

They live out her racist vision.” Covert investigation by UCLA students finds Planned Parenthood still wedded to founder’s bigoted views

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Obama’s “Evangelical” Appeal

The appeal of Barak Obama, who, as far as I can tell, has no discernible ideas, puzzles some culture watchers and worries some even more (see Spengler over at the Asia Times for example). Fr. John Chagnon offers “One Possible Clue” on his blog “The Traveling Priest Chronicles.” Obama’s appeal, Fr. John suggests, might be that he taps into the desire for salvation that inevitably takes a political shape when secularism rules the day.

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Gnostics, Then and Now

The current issue of Christian History & Biography magazine takes a look at Gnosticism, or what editors rightly label, “The Hunger for Secret Knowledge.” The issue features an article by Fr. John Behr, dean and professor of patristics at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, which describes how the “Great Church” in the apostolic age was able to discern the truth about the Christian faith despite the best efforts of the Gnostics.

Fr. John writes:

This [true] faith, according to Irenaeus, is found in the Scriptures and summarized in the Rule of Faith. The proof that this is the true faith is that the “Great Church” could point to a visible succession of teachers, presbyters, and bishops who taught the same things throughout the world: This is the teaching common to all the apostles and the churches founded by them. The leaders of many of these churches had been taught by the apostles themselves, or disciples of the apostles, and they “neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about.”

This was an important defense of orthodox Christianity against the Gnostic teachers. If the apostles were going to entrust the truth about Jesus to anyone, Irenaeus argued, they would have entrusted it to the same people to whom they entrusted the churches. They would not have charged some with caring for their flock and then secretly told hidden mysteries to others. In contrast to the Gnostics’ secret succession, the Great Church had a succession of teaching that was universal and public—and therefore more trustworthy.

In the same issue, author Philip Jenkins looks at the “long shelf life” of Gnosticism in “The Heresy that Wouldn’t Die.” Alas, the Gnostics are still with us. Jenkins notes that, “through a Gnostic lens, Christianity was transformed from a religion rooted in history to a form of inner psychological enlightenment.”

Twentieth-century Gnosticism took many forms, both inside and outside the churches. Overtly Gnostic ideas inspired many esoteric groups and new religious movements, especially those derived from the Theosophical movement. To take one example of a modern esoteric religion, Scientology offers an unabashedly Gnostic mythology of sleep, forgetting, and reawakening. Believers are taught to return to the vastly powerful spiritual state they once enjoyed, but lost when that original being was trapped in the deceptions of MEST (Matter, Energy, Space, Time). No less explicitly Gnostic are the later works of that latter-day prophet Philip K. Dick, in books such as VALIS (1981).

Psychology was also a major vehicle for Gnostic thought. Carl-Gustav Jung, as much a mystic as a therapist, drew extensively on ancient Gnostic thinkers and mythology in works like Seven Sermons to the Dead (1916). Fundamental Gnostic assumptions underlie many forms of contemporary therapy, which lead patients to recognize the Fall through which they became entrapped in the world of illusion and dependency. Patients must above all recover their memories, through which they can overcome the states of sleep, amnesia, and illusion that blight their lives. As for ancient Gnostics, troubled souls are lost in an alien material world, trying to find their way home, to remember their true identity. The Gnostic idea of salvation became the psychologist’s integration or individuation.

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Met. Kallistos Ware in Detroit

More than 500 people gathered at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in suburban Detroit last week to hear Metropolitan Kallistos Ware deliver a talk on “The Future of Orthodoxy in the United States.” Metropolitan Ware’s visit was sponsored by St. Andrew House — Center for Orthodox Studies, also in Detroit.

The author of The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way told the assembly that “we must say the catholicity and universality of the church are more valuable, more fundamental than our national, ethnic, and cultural identity.” And, His Eminence added, “if the basis of the Church’s existence is life in the eucharist, it means that the church is organized on a territorial, and not on an ethnic principle.”

Ancient Faith Radio recorded the event. It was sponsored and hosted by St. Andrew House, A Pan Orthodox institution dedicated to Orthodox unity.

Listen to Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy) Ware’s address:

Listen to the Question and Answer session:

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