Shall We Vote?

No one with eyes to see and ears to hear should be the least bit surprised that Alasdair MacIntyre’s 2004 essay, “The Only Vote Worth Casting in November,” is once again making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and lowly web-logs. What’s probably not making the rounds are two 2014 articles from the Michigan news and politics magazine Bridge, namely my piece, “Why Did This Conservative Stay Home on Election Day?,” and a rebuttal penned by dear friend Conor Dugan entitled “This West Michigan Conservative Pulls the Lever for Voter Participation.” While both articles are centered on Michigan political realities which may not be particularly interesting to voters in America’s 49 other states, Dugan and I tried to articulate both sides of the “vote or not” debate by relying on more general principles and facts.

Were I inclined to rewrite my article in light of this ongoing election cycle, I probably wouldn’t change much. There is nothing about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton that I find so laudable (or odious) that makes me feel compelled to vote for either. In other words, I am not so “fearful” of Clinton that I now believe I “need” to vote for Trump in order to “save the country,” nor do I find something better in having Hillary at the helm over The Donald. If that makes me a “bad American,” then so be it. I so rarely receive compliments of that magnitude.

Eco on “Ur-Fascism”

For reasons I cannot possibly discern, The New York Review of Books has republished Umberto Eco’s 1995 essay, “Ur-Fascism,” on its website. The piece briefly recounts Eco’s own involvement with Italian fascism before moving out to reflect on the the role of fascism (and, to some extent, communism) in European politics from the 1930s onward. The essay then “peaks” with 14 features of what Eco calls “Ur-Fascism” or “Eternal Fascism.” As Eco makes clear, “[t]hese features cannot be organized into a system” as “many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism.” For what it is worth, I have tersely summarized the 14 points below, with some commentary to follow. You should, of course, read the whole essay and draw your own conclusions.

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After Crete (or Whose Council? Which Orthodoxy?)

In the past few days several people have asked me for links on the recently concluded “Holy and Great Council” held by (part of) the Eastern Orthodox Church in Crete last month. My first instinct is to implore others to read the conciliar documents themselves. Unlike a lot of official document emanating from Rome over the past 50+ years, the Cretan statements are generally clear and concise even if they are far from perfect (and perhaps farther yet from representing world Orthodoxy’s actual views). For those interested, I have collected a sample of links on the Council below, including some preparatory material which may be helpful is understanding what was supposed to go on in Crete and what wasn’t. Please keep in mind that I do not necessarily endorse all of the views expressed below, and some are, in fact, quite at odds with my own thinking on “things Orthodox.” If you have additional links to add, please mention them in the combox.

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Ukrainian Catholic Catechism Now Available

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I know I am a bit tardy with the announcement, but the official English translation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s catechism, Christ Our Pascha, is finally available. The St. Josaphat Eparchy currently has the book on sale for $24.95 (which includes shipping) here. I received my copy in the mail yesterday and will post a more comprehensive review in due course. Although no catechism is perfect, an English-edition of this book is long overdue. I pray it has the intended effect of strengthening not just Ukrainian Greek Catholics, but all Catholics, in the Faith.

Urgent Prayer Request for the Charron Family – Updated

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Dear readers, the following urgent prayer request from Fr. Jason Charron and his wife Halyna of Carnegie, PA (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) came across my e-mail a little while ago. Father’s daughter Martha is gravely ill and he is asking for prayers to Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky for her recovery. The request they sent out is copied below.

Update 7/8/16: A friend passed on the following update concerning young Martha’s condition:

“Martha had an emergency surgery on Wednesday and was brought out of her coma this afternoon and opened her eyes.”

Please continue to pray for this little girl’s healing and consolations for her family. Ask Metropolitan Andrey for his intercession and offer your petitions to our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary for her full recovery.

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Something for the Fourth

Garrison Keillor’s run on Prairie Home Companion (PHC) came to an end this weekend. 14 years ago, when I first became acquainted with the show through my former girlfriend’s parents, I wouldn’t have cared less. Like a noticeable contingent of the NPR-listening population, I found Keillor’s voice grating, his humor uninspiring, and his musical choices bland. I thought nothing much of PHC for nearly a decade until it started to dawn on me why so many in my generation—particular white folk in my generation—professed to despise it. Because instead of offering up skewed depictions of American life and culture populated primarily by atheists, tech entrepreneurs, avant-garde artists, and transsexuals, PHC offered up a glimpse of what life is/was/might be like for a sizable slice of Americana who have been, and shall forever be, underrepresented and unnoticed by the sophisticated elites who run this country’s various media machines. It is little wonder then that PHC’s under-50 defenders are quick to point to Keillor’s “Democratic politics” and wry sense of humor to justify the show while quietly setting to the side the show’s willingness to take the Midwest’s (primarily Protestant and somewhat liberal) Christian temperament seriously while casting its gaze on the folk artistry that orientation has produced for more than a century. Though I often felt rather detached from Keillor’s monologues and the quirky observations he made along the way, I grew to appreciate what he was trying to capture without simplemindedly regarding it as “nostalgic,” “hokey,” or (the worst disparagement available) “too white.” Besides, the only times I can ever recall my children imploring me to “turn it up” is when the banjo plucking began or an old hymn recited on Mr. Keillor’s rather remarkable show.

The annual Fortnight for Freedom (FFF)—sponsored by the American Catholic Church—has come and gone, and just like in previous years, the event has nothing to show for itself. It has been several years since I attended any FFF events, and the ones I did go to were only worth attending because some wise men I know decided to drop the gloves by giving frank explications of the vacuous nature of America’s concept of “religious freedom.” Over the years, U.S. Catholics have been forced to watch in horror as the last vestiges of public morality have succumbed to the zeitgeist and those holding to orthodox Christian beliefs are forced to undergo the process of public ostracism. The few remaining culture warriors who hoped there was still a way to pushback against the country’s moral revolution which sanctions abominations too ghastly to speak about are officially a defeated lot. Whatever comes next, whatever there is to be done, cannot be accomplished on the secularists’ terms. And that is the great, pathetic error of the FFF. After everything we have seen for half-a-century, the “elites” running Catholic America are still desperate to play ball with the powers that be—and for what? In days gone by it used to be for a seat at the discussion table; now they’re just elated if their restroom privileges aren’t revoked. Trust me, if the FFF had any force, influence, or widespread support, “mainstream America” would have taken notice and mocked this sorry spectacle some time ago. May this be the last year we cling so desperately to what matters not. (I am not holding my breath, however.)

This leads me to my next point, which shouldn’t surprise a soul. I don’t celebrate the Fourth of July. To me, this day is my eldest son’s birthday and that is all. So, fellow Catholics (and Orthodox and Protestants), feel free to celebrate that or, better yet, put away the explosives, grab your rosary (or prayer rope), and start making reparations for this nation’s great sins which began 240 years ago today.