Postcommunion for Trinity

O eternal God, who hast given unto us to acknowledge the holy and eternal Trinity to be likewise one undivided Unity: mercifully grant that we, who have now received thy holy Sacraments, may thereby be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

An Open Letter to Douglas Wilson

Professor Wilson,

Peace be with you in our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have little reason to think you’ll read this letter—that is the way of open letters published on blogs, and if you write in a chimney then I write in a flue—but I write nonetheless: partly in the hope that you may after all stumble upon it somehow, and partly to address sentiments you expressed, which have had a good many other advocates in Reformed circles. The inner politics of the Reformed are no longer of grave importance to me, since I left the PCA ten years ago to become a Roman Catholic; all the same, I retain an irrational fondness for the Presbyterian tradition: my mother is still PCA, and the Reformed were the first to teach me the love of God and reverence for sacred Scripture. Moreover, my topic is your remarks on the upcoming Revoice Conference, which is being hosted at a Reformed church, and that gathering has garnered criticism principally from Presbyterian sources (that I’m aware of).

Now then, to brass tacks. You invite the reader to read your collation of quotes from Eve Tushnet, Ron Belgau, Greg Coles, and Nate Collins, ‘and try to tell me there isn’t a whole world of compromise nestled in some of those words and phrases. If this isn’t the thin end of the wedge, then I’m a Hottentot.’ I feel obliged to inform you that you are, in hunc effectum, a Hottentot. We mean precisely what we say; that’s why we say it. If we wanted a church with more compromises, they can be got two a penny at CVS, so why would we waste our energy and time with all this? This, aside from the fact that assuming bad intent on the part of an opponent is an ad hominem, which, as I’m sure you know, thanks to your admirable championing of classical learning, is a fallacy—an assault on motive worthier of Ezekiel Bulver than of yourself. And all this is without touching on St Paul’s dictum that charity thinketh no evil and hopeth all things.

But linger with me, please, over one of the images you’ve chosen as an analogue for Revoice.
There is absolutely no way that this is the whole program. … To change the image, the PCA is pregnant with some bastard children, and is only three months along, barely starting to pooch out a bit, and is busy arguing that her confessional standards don’t say anything about pooching out a bit. So we’re all good.
Well, if the PCA, or any church, is pregnant with bastard children, am I to gather from your analogy that you believe they should be aborted? That, taking one of your key-words, is as obvious from your words as our mauvaise foi is from ours. As for that, it is your ill opinion of bastards rather than of Revoice that principally troubles me, insofar as neither hath this man sinned, that he was born blind. But I feel sure that is not quite what you meant. In any case, we can return to the topic at hand, which is this.

I claim the title of God’s bastard child. I am no heretic; a sinner, yes, but Catholic; and that divine Love which elected Rahab, Ruth, Tamar, and Bathsheba as his foremothers has embraced this bastard too. Or art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

Nothus Dei Natus

Your accent on shame seems to me profoundly misguided. One thing that I absorbed during my time as a Reformed Christian was the utmost importance of letting the Scriptures speak, on the grounds that all human interpreters are fallible; and without prejudice to the Biblical passages you cite, I shall venture to point out that of those texts, only one addresses homosexuality per se, and it is (I dare to say) reasonably plain that it is a summary of the human condition apart from divine grace, since there were plenty of people in the ancient Mediterranean who didn’t exhibit the behaviors St Paul here condemns. Or, if we insist that the Apostle is making a categorical and logical statement here, rather than a homiletic and rhetorical one, are we not bound to assert that all people other than Christians are secretly homosexual? In any case, I should have thought that the doctrinal statement ‘homosexual intercourse is wrong’ was a more important area of agreement among Christians than the severity of the adjectives chosen to describe it.

I speak from experience when I say that shaming people—that is, scolding and humiliating them (or what else do you mean? by all means tell me)—is not a healthy or productive technique even when it is combined with others. I was raised in Reformed circles where the practice of shame and the doctrine of grace were both standard currency, and I hated and despised myself so much that I cut up my skin and considered suicide for years. That is what being shamed naturally does to a person.

Nor does your enthusiasm for it seem to me to reflect the actual practice of the Lord Jesus or his Apostles. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench; He is meek and lowly in heart; the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, and against such there is no law. Or, you might simply recall that the title 'Accuser' is not an epithet of our Lord.

You pass from here to complaints that, in your collection of quotes, no one is told ‘simply to repent, simply to stop being that way’. Well, given that Revoice is primarily about how believers gay or straight can support their LGBT brethren in Christ, we tend rather to take repentance of sin as a given. I would also add that a collation of quotes, however extensive, is not the same thing as reading our words in their full context: you might pick up a copy of Eve Tushnet’s Gay and Catholic, Melinda Selmys’ Sexual Authenticity, or Greg Coles’ Single, Gay, Christian (that is, in toto) for a more complete picture. As for the advice to ‘stop being that way,’ has that ever worked for you? Have you heeded the Bible’s constant warnings against slander and gossip in your decision to believe the worst about us? Or tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither your fathers nor ye were able to bear?

Moreover, do you mean ‘stop surrendering to gay lust,’ or ‘stop feeling gay attractions’? In your own book Fidelity, if I recall accurately, you point out quite correctly that some scrupulous men fear that they are guilty of lust merely because they notice that a woman is attractive. Surely that means that the simple experience of attraction is not in itself a sin—which would likewise mean that (as you also said in Fidelity) there is no obligation to be attracted to the opposite sex, and accordingly no imperative to stop feeling gay attractions, which as it happens we can’t do anyway?

Of course, if you mean ‘Stop surrendering to gay lust,’ then the command remains theologically sound if rather oddly worded. In that case, I would only present myself as a far more suitable target for censure than women like Eve Tushnet or men like Ron Belgau, who unlike me actually practice the chastity they profess. I cling to my orthodoxy not out of moral consistency, but because I have little else.

Image result for hey fancy boy

Passing to your patriarchal halakhah on communication and on the gentleman in the photo you selected, who is (as far as I can tell) being judged effeminate because he wears a suit, combs his hair, and jumps, I have this to say. You are of course perfectly correct that gestures, clothing, facial expressions, and mannerisms are elements of communication. However, they are also gestures, clothing, facial expressions, and mannerisms. (I would apologize for the implication that you do not understand the obvious, save that you show by your article that you don't mind stating that those who disagree with you, even on a point as trivial and changeful as proper dress, do not understand the obvious; and, as I’m sure you’ll agree, with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.) Persons sometimes adopt all these things not because they wish to convey a message, but because they happen to like them. The flaw in the shrewd cartoon you mention is that neither the mother nor the reader can say with justice that they know whether the extravagantly dressed person wants to be stared at, or merely has unusual tastes and is not afraid of being stared at. Given that fear of being stared at does not seem like a common motive among Reformed theologians, and was not a recognizably common trait among the Reformers, I would not have assumed you thought so highly of it.

That aside, given your confident condemnation of the picture, would you indulge us by stating what about it is effeminate? If this people who knoweth not the law are cursed, a patriarch, author, and professor should be ready to teach. And, more important (given the sole infallible authority you profess), on what Biblical texts you base this conviction? Not the conviction that effeminacy in men is wrong, you understand; but that the picture in question is effeminate. That it offends the Lord. For surely you would not issue moral censure based on your own likings or mislikings; and I certainly hope you have a better basis for your conviction than the ‘Obvious’ Fallacy.

I ask, because I am bold to consider myself traveled, having lived on three continents, spent time in nine countries, and visited twenty-five states (my attendance at Revoice will make twenty-six); and I can count on the fingers of no hands the number of people I’ve met who say or even think that that gentlemen is obviously effeminate, whether in gesture, clothing, facial expression, mannerism, or anything else. Since social conventions change over time and the culture of ancient Rome, Greece, Asia, and Palestine was radically different from our own, I trust you are not claiming that the social standards and conventional signals of the Idaho chimney represent God’s final say on matters of human, or even merely masculine, style. Regardless, since we’ve apparently gone full Footloose here, I’d remind you that He does not despise dancing in his heart.

I'd point out also that the archetypes of masculinity you cite with approval, ‘lumberjack’ and ‘long-haul trucker,’ are conspicuous by their absence when one peruses Scripture—even using the extended edition employed by Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Given the Reformed principles of Total Depravity and semper reformanda, I don’t think it’s presumptuous to advance, as a possibility at least, that your idea of masculinity is unduly influenced by your culture; or, in Scriptural terminology, by the World. And given that your mode of defending it is evidently to insult those who don’t see it the same way, calling them culturally illiterate or willfully stupid—rather than explain what precisely you are objecting to (is it the posture? the hairstyle? the colors? in all seriousness, what is it?) and why—I am the less convinced that your standard is a love that vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, is not easily provoked, and thinketh no evil.

All joking aside, Professor Wilson, please stop and take thought. If something other than stated fidelity to the teaching of Scripture and the constant tradition of the Church is to be required of us (a hedge around the law, as it were?) to be in your good books, say what and say why. I have no plans to bother about your good books myself, though as Edmund Pevensie said, ‘If there’s a wasp in the room I like to be able to see it.’ But there are fellow believers in your own tradition, striving after godliness on an often lonely and difficult path, who endure mockery and misunderstanding from Christians and non-Christians alike; have you considered the effect your words are likely to have on them? I tell you plainly that it is not one of joyful encouragement in virtue. I know that from my own scars. Have you really nothing better to do with your time than insult and shame fellow believers who have the temerity to profess orthodoxy, attempt chastity, and differ with you on points that are not mentioned in Scripture at all?

I hope that, in spite of my anger, I have maintained justice and charity in writing this; if I have sinned, I beg the Lord’s pardon and yours. May the grace of God, the love of Christ Jesus, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with you and with all who read this.

Gabriel Blanchard, NDN

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Letter to the UMMC

This isn't an ordinary MC post, but I couldn't resist sharing it out of vanity.

This past April I was obliged to visit the emergency room. A month later, I received a bill for somewhat less than $700; naturally, since I haven't yet taken up hustling, I applied for financial aid. I have since received a letter in reply, and penned a reply in turn, which I haven't yet decided whether I will actually send.

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To the financial offices of the University of Maryland Medical Center:

I filled out an application for financial assistance on account of the $675.07 bill I received for my emergency room visit back in April. Today, I received a letter saying ‘Insufficient documentation—get real and try again,’ or words to that effect. While admitting that more time to either amass the sum or get it reduced is very welcome to me, since the aforesaid bill is nearly as much as I make in a month, I pray you will indulge me in a review of the process to date.

First, with respect to the billing itself. The engagingly mysterious summary of costs includes the items ‘Laboratory,’ ‘ER/EMTALA,’ ‘ER/Beyond EMTALA,’ and ‘Pharmacy.’ I gather that the first of these charges indicates the two blood tests and one urine test, all inconclusive, that were done on the night of the 24th; but, since those tests cost approximately $12 apiece (including the cost of the work itself and a profit margin of about a fifth for the hospital), I am intrigued—not to say disconcerted—that they sum up at $478.89.

Having, to a very limited extent, familiarized myself with EMTALA, ie. the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, I remain mildly uncertain about its presence on my bill. I can only assume that ‘EMTALA’ and ‘Beyond EMTALA’ are cryptic allusions to the two saline drips that I received, couched no doubt in the language of medical ritual. This, however, again results in a puzzle, since a saline drip costs something like a dollar, whereas the EMTALA-related charges come out to $1,371.39, which strikes me as rather a lavish (not to say intemperate) expense for a bag of water, even when divided in half in justice to the fact that there were two; although, if the UMMC is experiencing difficulty in acquiring water, I would be happy to donate almost any amount of it from my own home, since I receive it gratis through the taps.

Of the semi-anonymous billing under ‘Pharmacy,’ it may well be for all I know that the medicine to treat a patient for four hours costs $69.05. Given the previous items, I must confess to skepticism on that point; but perhaps I am only cynical.

How I digress. In any case, taking together the tests, the two (2) bags of water, the medicines, and the payment of the salaried professionals who in fact cared for me, I am finding it difficult to make the cost of service come out to more than about $300 at the absolute outside; and while I am perfectly happy to pay $300 to be well, I would venture to point out that the bill before the insurance contribution came out to $1,919.33—an arresting sum for most persons to consider even before choosing to be sick—and that the insurance company obligingly sent UMMC $1,244.26, thus apparently recouping your actual expenses, vis à vis materials and work, four times over with room to spare.

I understand, from the most elementary reading on the subject, that the standard practice of hospitals is to bill not so much for services actually rendered, as for whatever figure can be put to paper without provoking laughter, on the grounds that this must be the starting point for any discussion with insurance companies (who evidently do not mind provoking laughter). That of course is not my business in itself; but it does seem a little squalid and ridiculous to make it my business when the insurance company stops coughing up, given that the vast majority of these values are produced only for haggling and are, accordingly, entirely imaginary.

Nevertheless, perhaps you need $675.07 on some other grounds, and are too shy to say so; a beloved cat, doubtless, is suffering from ennui, and requires intensive aromatherapy and stress counseling. Let us, then, turn to the application you have provided for financial assistance.

My mother is far more devoted to mystery novels than I, but I dare say I derived as much pleasure from the obscurities of this document as she does from a delicious murder. Beginning at the beginning, as the custom is, the instructions say: ‘Return this application with the following required documentation: Income (including all of the following documents you currently receive): Copy of last 2 pay stubs or copy of W-2 form for most recent tax year. … If you are unable to supply any of the required documents above, please complete Form FAF 116 attached.’

Now, I hasten to admit in simple truthfulness that it was my own carelessness that destroyed my copy of my most recent W-2. Further, I do not ordinarily receive pay stubs, my paychecks being routed to my account via direct deposit. Accordingly, since the instructions directed those who lacked these documents to fill out FAF 116, I ventured to fill out FAF 116, on the grounds that I lacked those documents. Judging from the underlinings and highlightings of the letter that I received in reply to my application, this was the wrong thing to do. I trust you will not take a piece of stylistic advice amiss? If your intention was to require these documents from anyone who is employed, it would be as well to say so. The literal-minded like myself are apt to assume that, if they do not possess some document X, and are told to fill out form Y in consequence, they will not then be met with a reply that they failed to send document X—since their intimate knowledge of this fact was the reason for their earlier decision to fill out and mail form Y. But if applications for financial aid (when made by the employed) will certainly be refused when made without document X, it would again be as well to say so, and thus to save much paper, ink, and aspirin.

Turning to the aforesaid Form FAF 116, how wonderful is life! But that aside: FAF 116 requests only the patient’s signature; the letter I received in reply to my application requests ‘a letter of explanation of your housing situation, stating the amount paid each month, to whom, and have all parties sign as verification.’ Here again, the inveterate habit of the student of the Classics prompts a teacherly thought in me: surely it would be as well to require this at the beginning of the process, rather than while it is underway? It would admittedly be curious (even a kind of solecism) not to request such information and attestation at all, but I can testify from experience that life displays many curious tendencies, and as a rather scrupulous person I usually do not hand out personal information (my own or others’) when it has not been asked for.

Nevertheless, in response to that query which has now been made plain, this: I make somewhat more than $14k per year. I live in a house attached to my parish church, along with a few other impoverished parishioners. In an act of great generosity, my parish charges me very little in rent (while I provide board on my own initiative). My monthly rent consists in $100 cash, plus five hours of manual labor, principally janitorial, per week; ergo, about twenty hours or so per month (reaching an estimated $200 in labor); hence my estimate of $300 per month. Fr Albert Scharbach as head of the parish is my de facto landlord, while Michael Byrd, the church’s sexton and general factotum, usually receives and deposits the payment. You may find their signatures below as requested.

The letter’s final highlighted portion, seeking a proof of additional income, was in its way a welcome moment of levity. I do have one: namely, sponsorship on my blog, which comes out to a little more than $5o extra per month. Thus, even if you should elect to ruin me financially in pursuit of your ostensible $675.07, representing $1,619.26 of fees that remain sacrally veiled from the debtor, you need not trouble your consciences, since I will be able to sustain myself with a bag of water every day of the month and, two days out of three, a nutritious nut bar.

Wishing you a pleasant summer, I beg to remain
Your obedient servant,

Gabriel Ian Matthew Blanchard

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

La Estrella del Mar, or, Mother of Exiles

Trucks rumble—the hustle and the hum
Of gears gas engine exhaust choke POTHOLE and there’s a cut on the forehead,
Red over the white frightened eyes in the dark.
She bends down over POTHOLE her baby
And she knows what’s coming next but it hasn’t happened yet,
So she cradles and coos and tries not to think
About the kennel they’ll put her son in
With the chainlink door and the concrete floor and the ugly foil blanket made for an alien.
And the dry road south is all sand sand sand POTHOLE sand,
Back down to Sinaloa, the land of the rattlesnake,
Sand in the hair the mouth the eyes, like an itching thirsting disease.

Turn your bodies against the drums, boys:
It’s the I.C.E., it’s the Committee of Public Saftey,
It’s Herod and he means it this time.

The trucks aren’t full of people.
They’re full of MS13 monsters like her,
They’re full of sluts who wouldn’t get an abortion like her,
They’re full of cost-benefit ratios like her,
They’re full of huddled masses like her,
They’re full of not our problems like her.
But her eyes are two thousand years old
And the message of the angel still shines out of them
The mystery the plea the glory the warning
That this is an ikon of the all-consuming Fire.
What will you do when that Fire falls on you?

Turn your bodies against the drums, boys:
It’s the I.C.E., it’s the Committee of Public Safety,
It’s Herod and he means it this time.

So pick up your ploughshares and your pruning hooks,
This is no time for passivity, it’s time for pacifisticuffs:
If what you want is peace then go be peace’s power,
Lift up your voice, your open hands toward that White Tower
And cover it with brown sand.
Hate burns white-hot—don’t be fooled by its easy appeal:
Love is brown like earth and wood and dried blood and Jewish skin
And the eyes of the baby that immigrant woman is holding for the last time.
Call on the mountains to fall on us, the hills to hide us,
For their earth is full of love
And perhaps thus we shall learn to love our brother.

Turn your bodies against the drums, boys:
It’s the I.C.E., it’s the Committee of Public Safety,
It’s Herod and he too will die.

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EDIT: Notes on the Text
Title. La Estrella del Mar. This is the Spanish form of the Latin title Stella Maris, 'Star of the Sea.' This title (derived from a fanciful etymology of the name Miriam or Mary) has been used for the Blessed Virgin Mary since at least the early Middle Ages, and has particular reference to the guiding stars used by sailors.
Mother of Exiles. This is an alternate name for the Statue of Liberty, believed to have been coined by Emma Lazarus in her famous sonnet, The New Colossus.
l.10. Sinaloa. The state of Sinaloa lies on the Pacific coast of Mexico, and is the principal center of the infamous Sinaloa Cartel, considered the single most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world by US intelligence. Cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines are among their chief wares.
land of the rattlesnake. The Mexican flag and seal feature a rattlesnake being throttled by an eagle, in reference to an ancient Aztec legend. Though its bite is seldom fatal if treated promptly, the rattlesnake is the leading cause of snakebite injuries in the US, and ranges throughout the Americas.
l. 13. the Committee of Public Safety. This Orwellian title belonged to one of the institutions of the French Revolution, and oversaw the Reign of Terror in 1793-94.
l. 14. Herod. Cf. Matthew 2.1-18.
l. 16. MS13. Also known as Mara Salvatrucha, this extensive gang operates mostly in North and Central America, partly under the auspices of the Sinaloa Cartel. It is known for a multitude of crimes, including murder, human trafficking, and child prostitution. Most MS13 members are Salvadoran; the gang was originally founded to protect emigrants from El Salvador who had come to the US after the Central American civil wars of the 1980s.
l. 19. huddled masses. Cf. The New Colossus ll. 10ff.
ll. 21-22. But her eyes ... out of them. Cf. Luke 1.26-35.
l. 24. all-consuming Fire. Cf. Hebrews 12.28-29.
l. 25. What will you ... falls on you? Cf. Matthew 21.42-44; Acts 2.1-4, 15-21, 38.
l. 29. your ploughshares and your pruning hooks. Cf. Isaiah 2.1-5.
l. 32. White Tower. A mashing together of White House and Trump Tower.
l. 35. wood and dried blood and Jewish skin. In reference to the Crucifixion.
l. 37. Call on the ... to hide us. Cf. Revelation 6.12-17.
l. 42. he too will die. Cf. Matthew 2.19-20.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Suffer Little Children

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness. —That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government … The History of the present King of Great Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World. 
He has refused his Assent to Laws, most wholesome and necessary for the public Good. … He has endeavored to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither … He has obstructed the Administration of Justice …

—Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence of the United States
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The Trump administration is separating the children of illegal immigrants from their parents and keeping said children in detention centers. Some of these children are less than two years old.

This is a gross abuse of human and familial rightsI don't care what your general perspective on politics is. Two things, and two things only, justify ripping a child away from its parents: abuse or neglect that endanger the child's life or health, and incapacity (financial or otherwise) to care for the child. 'Being an immigrant,' documented or not, isn't either of those things.

Also, let's be a little more clear what we mean when we talk about 'detention centers.' They're fucking cages. Like animals. As President Trump said they were. This is no civilized enforcement of federal law, this is ethnic goddamned cleansing.

Oh, but it's not really an ethnic cleansing because it's only of people who came here illegally? Sure. And Hitler protected his old friend and chauffeur Emil Maurice from Himmler, even though Maurice was an eighth Jewish. Racists, it turns out, are not always very consistent. And sure, maybe, maybe, Trump isn't a racist, even though he referred to Latino nations as shitholes and Latino people as animals and neo-Nazis as having good people among them. In all seriousness, a person could do those things and not believe that other races are inferior to theirs—though they would still be doing and saying horrible things. Meanwhile, tearing families apart is still fucking monstrous.

Also, let's park for a moment on the whole concept of legality and illegality. The point of having laws is to enforce justice. Strictly speaking, and following St Augustine and many other doctors of the Church, an unjust law has no force. So it is quite pertinent to ask whether the immigration policies of the United States are in fact just.

They sure don't make sense in the context of the Founding Fathers' writings on the subject, as cited above. Inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (i.e. well-being, both physical and otherwise) don't support the idea of a closed border on the face of it—I mean, insofar as a closed border is literally a bar to liberty and, for the overwhelming majority of the immigrants in question here, also a bar to the pursuit of happiness. The fact that immigrating legally can easily take a few years, several thousand dollars, and a flawless attention to Kafkaesque details is just icing; though this is one of those storebought cakes where the icing is about eight feet thick. And, much like those storebought cakes, a lot of the people who need and want to immigrate the most, due to violence and destitution and a lot of other things, can't afford to spend two years and five thousand dollars on doing so. Which, in practice, makes American immigration law not a ban on immigrants, but a ban on poor ones.

It might be argued that our health care system is overburdened and we can't afford these new people, and so on. I am not convinced of that. To begin with, as of 2017, the IMF rated the United States as one of the twenty wealthiest countries, per capita, in the world. We're ranked with places like Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Hong Kong, and the UAE (home of the cartoonishly affluent Dubai). I can easily believe that we as a people aren't willing to allocate enough of our money to the public good to support an influx of new people; or, more briefly, I can believe that we'd refuse to afford these new people. But I do not believe we can't. And I don't see why our selfishness should be their problem.

Further, there's the fact that our birthrate in the US has declined. In the long run, fewer babies means an aging population; and an aging population does mean a serious strain in our health care system—one that only new workers, both as producers of goods and services, and as sources of tax revenue, could relieve. But neither the prudential nor the legal aspects of this ghastly situation are, to me, primary.

Pilgrim praying in front of icon of Saint Mary, photo by Petar Milosevic

Are you a family values conservative? Keeping kids with their parents is pretty central to family values, and the Trump administration has betrayed that ideal. They are trying to manipulate you. Don't fall for it.

Do you reverence Scripture? Leviticus 19 says, If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the strangeth that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God; and in the same style, Deuteronomy 10 says, The LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: he doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and the widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger. The apostles repeat the same principle in the New Testament: the author of Hebrews commands us, Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares; and our Lord himself relates the following, in a frightening parable:
When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you; for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, unto everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. —Matt. 25
Christ's teaching was directed to individuals, not to societies? The Torah wasn't. The Torah was delivered only to Israel? Christ's teaching wasn't. And Christ's teaching both presupposed and at times expressly stated the validity of the Torah; and the Torah was made more toweringly perfect and unfathomably pure, not less so, by Christ's own teaching.

Christian, you must oppose this barbaric treatment of immigrants. It's not optional. It's not the difference between being a Christian and not being one; that difference is defined by the creeds. But it is the difference between honoring the Lord whose name you bear by putting his word before everything, and taking that name in vain to protect a President who doesn't deserve even your respect, let alone your worship.

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Whitsunday Eve

Whitsunday Eve: spirits, awake;
The hells beneath their masters shake;
For unmade Love-in-Light descends
On those their Maker called his friends,
To laurel them with stranger fire
Than priest or Levite could ensire.
From Babylon by riven tongue
Across the earth all men were flung
By the one Word, to curb their pride:
Now Zion meets a changing tide,
A living water-wave of speech,
Of strangers singing, each to each,
In words that only angels knew
Until these minds, uplifted, flew
On silver Dove-wings. Lips of gold
(As Hebrew prophets darkly told,
Before they knew or heard the laud
Goyim would offer to their God)
Proclaim the holy, trinal Breath,
He who woke Lazarus from death
At the Word of the Father: now
He makes the whole creation bow,
Entering in a lovelier light
Than yet had graced man's ghostly sight.
The rushing fire-wind-water sound
Makes all the infant Church resound;
Who once on Sinai fell with fear
Rains down in power and glory here --
Our Lord the Spirit, sacrament
Of God's own being. Heaven is rent
With cries of pure seraphic joy
That hell has no power to destroy;
For lo, the Church receives her birth
And call, to be upon the earth
Her Savior's Body, he her soul,
That his life may suffuse the whole
Creation by her agency;
For this was his great mystery,
His being we should share by grace
For that he shared our fleshly race;
His Spirit this great secret plumbs
And triumphs that his kingdom comes.