On persecution

20 06 2020
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A reader left the following comment on my last post:

What would your approach to the problem of persecution be? At some point, even in Krishna consciousness, one would assume that persecution of the faithful would still be an issue (granted, this could be my ignorance of the matter showing). Recognizing that material “reality” is not the end-all-be-all, and that it’s rather an elaborate game, gets you so far; but in the end, wouldn’t you still counsel steadfastness and longsuffering in the face of worldly aggression. Is it a case of counselling the same action (as a Christian, that is) but with different motivations, or is there an entirely different principle at work?

The modern Krishna consciousness began in persecution, namely, under the Muslim occupation of Bengal in early modernity. The Golden Avatar of Krishna, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, had to negotiate around Muslim rule to spread His movement to chant the Holy Names of Krishna. At one point, persecution broke out, and Lord Chaitanya led a movement of civil disobedience and dialogue with the Muslim rule of Bengal, the Kazi, convincing him that the sankirtan movement was not a threat to Muslim rule. Lord Chaitanya’s Kingdom, in other words, was not of this world. Instead of being crucified, Lord Chaitanya and His disciples were allowed continue their spreading of the the public chanting of the Holy Names.

In modern times in the West, Hare Krishnas have also faced persecution. In the Soviet bloc before the fall of the Iron Curtain, this persecution involved jail and other penalties. Krishna consciousness in the capitalist West was often perceived as a cult, and deprogrammers would kidnap devotees using the excuse that they were brainwashed. In some cases, devotees would feign being “cured,” even up to the point of dressing normally and eating meat, only to escape back to the Krishna consciousness movement. In sastra (the Scriptures), it is permissible to deceive if the end is beneficial to Krishna consciousness. So there isn’t really a conundrum similar to the trials of persecuted Christians in Endo’s novel.

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Silence

15 06 2020

I reviewed Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence years ago, but I only recently saw the film adaptation (I don’t watch many movies these days). My main issue with these types of novels / films, namely one’s the treat issues of tortured religious conscience in a modern context, is that I am acutely aware of the rift between ancient and modern religiosity. Perhaps this is a matter of written records, but the radical subjectivity of this literature is more an indication of absence than a heightened sense of presence. I don’ t believe for a minute that modern people “get God” more than their predecessors. If anything, we are greatly more self-absorbed to the point of thinking every difficulty is some sort of existential crisis.

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Notes on John Paul II

9 05 2020

The whole difficulty is that in this Age of Kali there is no sattva-guṇa and no clearance of the heart, and therefore people are making the mistake of identifying with their bodies. Even the big philosophers and scientists with whom we deal are practically all under the impression that they are their bodies. The other day we were discussing a prominent philosopher, Thomas Huxley, who was proud of being an Englishman. This means that he was in the bodily conception of life. Everywhere we find this same misunderstanding. As soon as one is in the bodily conception of life, one is nothing but an animal like a cat or a dog (sa eva go-kharaḥ). Thus the most dangerous of the dirty things within our hearts is this misidentification of the body as the self. Under the influence of this misunderstanding, one thinks, “I am this body. I am an Englishman. I am an Indian. I am an American. I am Hindu. I am Muslim.” This misconception is the strongest impediment, and it must be removed.

Srimad Bhagavatam, Purport to Canto 8

The above text reminded me that I have wanted to write a long and extensive blog post about Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II was Pope for the first quarter century of my life, and under his pontificate, I became super-devout, apostatized twice, became a seminarian, got “excommunicated,” reconciled with the Church, was tonsured a monk, etc. In other words, it was rather eventful for me. When he died in Easter Week 2005  I was a novice monk. That day, I was actually at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels taking a road trip with a friend of the monastery. I got to stare down Cardinal Mahoney when I saw him walking toward me. He must have wondered what some Orthodox monk was doing there and why he looked unhappy to see him. Read the rest of this entry »





Archimandrite Anastassy (Newcombe)

6 03 2020

Since I don’t have a lot of “fresh” materials, or I don’t really have the time and energy to develop anything new, I am re-editing and altering things that I previously wrote. Someone asked my where my involvement in the Eastern Church came from, so here is the origin story written well over a decade ago.

It was raining that day in San Francisco. I was concerned we were not going to be able to park close enough to the Old Cathedral on Fulton St. in order to get to our appointment with Fr. Anastassy on time. He was expecting us for tea, and I was eager that my young friend J. meet him. Fortunately, we found parking close enough and we were twenty minutes early for our meeting. Read the rest of this entry »





Noche Buena

25 12 2019

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My last memory of my grandmother took place on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t the last time I saw her by any means, but it is what I remember most about her now. It wasn’t all the times she dragged me to the charismatic prayer meetings, or told us to go play outside because we were making too much noise. It wasn’t her rubbing a tomato on her feet for some weird reason, or her watching telenovelas (though watching them with her was fun). I don’t think about how she would make me my own little hard cakes of sweet dough because I didn’t like the pumpkin filling of her empanadas though I liked the dough. It wasn’t even the last Thanksgiving I spent with her when she told us about how when she was growing up she didn’t have shoes, just huaraches made of wood that would leave her feet bloody from splinters at the end of the day. The last memory I have of her is from the last Christmas I spent with her. She began the rosary on the night of Christmas Eve, we muddled through some villancicos, and at the end of it, she picked up her little Niño Dios, maybe no more than four inches long, and began rocking Him like a real baby. She had dressed Him in new clothes, and placed Him in the crib decorated with lights. Of all the memories I have of my grandmother, that’s the one that sticks. That’s the one that stays with me. Read the rest of this entry »





St. Thomas and the robot

1 03 2019

A fascinating video series concerning the veracity of a story of St. Albert the Great building a robot and St. Thomas Aquinas smashing it. It touches all of my intellectual sweet spots: Aquinas, philosophy, natural magic and so on. Read the rest of this entry »





Catholicism is just Palo Mayombe with better aesthetics

25 02 2019

Another manifestation of Cuthbert’s power that also can be dated to the 1160s concerns a stag that a knight named Robert in the Scottish province of Lothian tried to capture. It sought refuge in the cemetery of a church dedicated to St. Cuthbert. The dogs chasing the animal were not able to get inside the graveyard, and the stag remained there in the sanctuary. A young man defied the power of Cuthbert and got into the precinct to attack the animal. The stag turned around and charged at a group of people watching. With its antlers it gored the evil man’s baby son, who subsequently died. ” Thus St. Cuthbert deservedly ordered that death be inflicted on the son of the man who chose to cheat his guest of his tranquility.”

The dogs then killed the stag, but no one dared to touch its carcass or eat of its flesh, which was left there to rot. Six months later, a craftsman defied the spot by trying to cut up the carcass. Even though it seemed to be dried out by then, blood shot forth and struck him in the forehead. Still, he dragged the animal to his home but was punished when blood began to ooze from the animal and fill the house, to such an extent that neighbors could see a river of red emerging from the building. “What should he do, where should he go, he was at a loss, for everywhere he sensed the danger of evil hanging over him?”

–from Brian Patrick McGuire’s Brother and Lover: Aelred of Rievaulx





A generation’s self-canonization

18 02 2019

A post on Twitter from last year was brought to my attention that shows a stained glass window with now defrocked Theodore McCarrick celebrating Mass with now St. John Paul II. I think this makes my point about last week’s post about speedy canonizations in general. Unless someone is St. Francis of Assisi there is no harm in waiting until everyone who knew the person is dead before even thinking of elevating the person to the altars. If the cultus is lasting it will outlast the one or two generations after the person’s demise. If not, it was just a flash in the pan.





Why Thomas a Kempis isn’t saint

8 02 2019

An interesting read. I’ve always wondered about that.





Ite ad Joseph

23 01 2019

I saw online a recent argument about the modern cult to St. Joseph in the Catholic Church, with many defending the idea of Joseph being a young virgin as the definitive pious opinion. The issue of the cultus of St. Joseph is a complicated one that intertwines the historical needs of modernity with the manifestation of supernatural power. St. Joseph was named Patron of the Universal Church and second only to the Virgin Mary herself. In South America, the priests would often give us spiritual conferences revealing the intense theological debate especially in Spain before the Second Vatican Council about whether St. Joseph had experienced his own “immaculate conception,” or if he was purified in the womb of his mother and when, etc. The intense devotion that led to his insertion into the Roman Canon is still seen when the reformers kept his name in but made the entire Roman Canon optional, including the names of all of the long-revered Roman martyrs. Read the rest of this entry »