Queen of Heaven: a Working Hypothesis

God willing, I shall be confirmed a Catholic at the Vigil of Easter. In preparation since September, I have (among other things) read and studied the Catechism. It’s been edifying to have the Faith completely spelled out, at least in outline. I’ve learned that as a traditional Anglican, the orthodox theology to which I have long adhered is thoroughly Catholic – at least with respect to those doctrines of the Faith that I had yet tried to understand.

One domain of doctrine I had not ever much thought about or understood concerns Mary. Anglicans venerate Mary, of course, but are not as fascinated with her as Catholics. So I’ve been studying up a bit on Mary. I’ve not been concerned so much with this or that controversial Marian dogma, as with far more general questions of how we ought to think about her – e.g., what is her function in the plan of salvation, what is her status in the economy of Heaven (including this little cosmos), and so forth. I figured that if I understood that, then the rest of Mariology would fall into place without too much fuss.

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Chris Rosebrough’s Testimony: How the Biblical Gospel Set Him Free

(Original title: Grace vs. Law: How to Make Sense of the Contradiction)


Why do many people reject Christianity? I believe the root cause could be called “fear of the Law.” Everyone knows that God makes demands on us, for morality is “hardwired” into our souls. The sum total of the behavior that God requires of us, written in Scripture, is commonly called the law. But man also knows that he does not keep the law, and this knowledge haunts him.

Christians know that God has solved the problem by providing salvation for us through the work of Jesus Christ. And yet not all professing Christians are aware of this solution, for man does not naturally understand or accept the gospel, which is both the complement and the antithesis of law. While law is what God requires us to do, gospel is what God, in Christ, has done for us: atone for our sins through the death of Christ. Since the gospel, unlike the law, is not something that man naturally understands, all non-Christians—and many professing Christians—view the law as the essence of religion. Some therefore love religion, and some therefore hate it, but all such people misunderstand Christianity.

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Re-Post: The Vinland Voyages in Context

[Note: This article originally appeared at The Brussels Journal under the title "The Vinland Voyages, the Market, and Morality."]

Scholarship places the composition of the two Vinland Sagas in the Twelfth Century, in the case of The Greenlanders’ Saga, and in the Fourteenth Century in the case of Eirik’s Saga. But like most of the saga-literature the two narratives reflect a non-mythic oral tradition, linked with the settlement and early chronology of Iceland and Greenland, the general (if not the minutely detailed) trustworthiness of which much research both literary and archeological over the last century has attested. Quite apart from scholarly and technical arguments, even the ordinary reader must take the wealth of circumstantial detail and the laconic matter-of-factness of the storytelling as signs of an essential veracity. The two Vinland Sagas reflect the Nordic people at a particular epoch: The transformational moment, namely, at the end of the Tenth Century, when the old warrior-ethos began yielding to the new Gospel ethos and when success in the market began replacing notches on a sword haft as the paramount sign of masculine status. Both The Greenlanders’ Saga and Eirik’s Saga represent this change in the generational differences that distinguish Eirik the Red on the one hand from his male children, especially his son Leif, on the other.

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The Abomination of Desolation of the Marital Altar

The Eucharist is a participation in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. But then likewise a true wedding is a participation in the Sacrifice at Golgotha.[1] The bed of marriage is properly an altar, where bride and groom offer their lives in a total sacrifice, joining and thereby engendering a new and larger organism.

When Paul says, “I beseech ye, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” [Romans 12:1], he refers to the whole and perfectly general motion of the Christian toward his Savior and Lord, howsoever expressed: whether in priesthood, or martyry, or marriage – or at Mass.

The rites of the altar – the bed, the table, the throne – are the basis of society: “Wherever an altar is found, there civilization exists.” And, vice versa: where there is no altar, there is no civilization; no cult, no culture; no culture, no polis.

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The Scandal of Theism

Compared to the proposition that God exists, all other propositions pale to insignificance. If God does not exist, then contingent things have no ultimate cause, and cannot therefore be either ultimately rational, or thus amenable to reason; so that no questions whatever can really be finally answered. If atheism is true, there is no truth (so that nothing truly matters, and we may do as we like).

Which means that, as self-refuting, atheism is necessarily false.

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Democracy, authority, and the moral order

Much of this post will be old news for reactionaries, but it bears occasional reiteration. The tl;dr is as follows: It is a matter of divine revelation, and therefore binding on Christians to believe, that the rule of law was ordained by God and thus that political authority derives from his institution of the state as the minister of divine justice. This doesn’t rule out, for instance, belief that democracy or anything else is the best (because most prudent) arrangement for the governance of society; but it certainly rules out the belief that democracy-or-anything-else is a moral imperative and that the legitimacy of the state is altogether dependent on one such choice to the exclusion of all others. Continue reading

Doctrine & Way

Are you having difficulty with a doctrine of the faith? It is likely then that there is for you some particular spiritual benefit to be gained from a better understanding of just that doctrine, and of its bases. God scandalizes us at those junctures on the Way where he wants us to pay particular attention, so as to correct some peculiar defect of our understanding; our difficulties with doctrine are our difficulties with admitting the truth. Struggling with doctrine – not to disagree, but humbly, to understand – we learn what it really is, and what the Church is in it really saying to us.

If my own experience is any indication, there is no end to this process. As soon as I figure out one doctrine well enough to feel comfortable with it – thanks only to beginning to understand what it teaches – another rears its head. And no doctrine stays put; each one sooner or later cries out for a deeper turn of the gyre. It’s like playing whack-a-mole, except that as you go your serenity increases.

The moles get bigger, too.

Repost: No Evidence for God?

To piggyback on Bonald’s post below:

At his blog, our Proph recently reposted an item that linked to an essay of mine at the old Intellectual Conservative. Since the old IC was taken down by evil leftist (but I’m redundant) hackers, Proph’s link to my essay is dead. So here is my old IC essay.  Its basic thrust: When atheists claim there is no evidence for God, they are assuming atheism at the beginning, looking at life through atheist-colored glasses, and then seeing nothing but atheism. They are being supremely illogical.

 No Evidence for God?

Atheism now has a confession of faith. Christians say “Jesus is Lord.” Moslems say “There is no God but Allah.” And English-speaking atheists now say “There is no evidence for God.” But are they correct? Continue reading

The Name of the Word

In the comments on my post about the epithet Jesus so often used to refer to himself, Son of Man, some readers expressed surprise and concern at the notion to which I there referred in passing that God the Son, YHWH, was to be distinguished from God the Father, El Elyon, God Most High, Deus in excelsis. I noted that their difference is not of being, but of person: thus a reference to any Person of God would be a reference to God.

Readers worried nonetheless that the differentiation might be an innovation of recent liberal scholars of the Bible – of, that is to say, latter-day Gnostics – or even of mine. It is not. On the contrary, it has been with us from the very beginning, not just of the Church, but of Israel.

By coincidence, I last night came across a passage from one of the Fathers of the Church, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, that substantiates this claim. In explaining why the early Church differentiated between YHWH and El Elyon, and providing the Scriptural basis for the notion, he shows that it was considered orthodox by the bishops of the first centuries of the Church.

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The Basis of Our Salvation

Here at the Orthosphere, we’ve been discussing Christian salvation. It’s time for another basic point.

If God saves us, what is his specific reason, his specific warrant, as it were, for doing so? One could imagine God saving us on a whim, but being just, God always has valid reasons for doing what he does.

According to the biblical testimony, God saves us because we are righteous. But given that we are sinners, how can we be righteous?

[For proof that all of us are sinners, see, e.g., Romans 3:23 and 1 John 1:8.

For proof that some of us are also righteous, see, e.g., 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Philippians 3:9.]

Well, if God declares us to be righteous, then you can be assured that we are. As we said, God always has valid reasons for doing whatever he does. And if we are righteous, then all of the other benefits (and “side effects”) of salvation will most assuredly occur: sanctification, love, good works, perseverance, repentance from sin, and so on.


So on what basis does God declare us righteous?  Scripture declares that God does so on the basis of faith alone. See, e.g., Romans 3:28

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Justified” means “declared [or proved] righteous.” Continue reading