The Culture Wars Weren’t Real

Writing in the February 9, 2018 TLS, Julius Krein says:

…the culture wars, in a critical sense, were never real. The Right did not “lose” and the Left did not “win.” The true winners were Goldman Sachs, Amazon and Facebook, and their victory was inevitable. What was disputed all along were merely the terms under which a neoliberal political economy would be legitimated.

Goodbye Baby Blue

Mary Ailes died today. She was one of the pioneers of Anglican blogging who was in the thick of things from Truro in Virginia, in the early days of CANA. To me it feels like yesterday but it is quickly fading into the past. I met her in person once and she was a kind soul. I am thankful for her work in proving that blogs could be a great source of news, something that we have gone backwards on I fear. Her blog is available at:

https://babybluecafe.blogspot.com/

and

https://babyblueonline.org/

In the midst of life we are in death…

Hiding real life from ourselves

Karl Ove Knausgård writes about human life and how it is the same across time:

One thing I had learned when I was working at the first institution: life wasn’t modern. All the variants, all the deformities, all the freaks of nature, all the mental disabilities, all the insanity, all the injuries, all the illnesses, they still existed, they were as present now as they had been in the Middle Ages, but we had hidden them, we had put them in enormous buildings in the forest, created special camps for them, consistently kept them out of sight so as to give the impression the world was hale and hearty, that that was how the world and life were, but they weren’t, life was also grotesque and distorted, sick and crooked, undignified and humiliated. The human race was full of fools, idiots, and freaks, either they were born like this or they became like this, but they were no longer on the streets, they no longer ran around frightening the wits out of people, they were in civilization’s shadow, or night.

Posted in art

C.S. Lewis on Prayer Book Revision

Source: Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

And that brings me back to my starting point. The business of us laymen is simply to endure and make the best of it. Any tendency to a passionate preference for one type of service must be regarded simply as a temptation. Partisan “Churchmanships” are my bête noire. And if we avoid them, may we not possibly perform a very useful function? The shepherds go off, “every one to his own way” and vanish over diverse points of the horizon. If the sheep huddle patiently together and go on bleating, might they finally recall the shepherds? (Haven’t English victories sometimes been won by the rank and file in spite of the generals?)

As to the words of the service—liturgy in the narrower sense—the question is rather different. If you have a vernacular liturgy you must have a changing liturgy; otherwise it will finally be vernacular only in name. The ideal of “timeless English” is sheer nonsense. No living language can be timeless. You might as well ask for a motionless river.

I think it would have been best, if it were possible, that necessary change should have occurred gradually and (to most people) imperceptibly; here a little and there a little; one obsolete word replaced 15 in a century—like the gradual change of spelling in successive editions of Shakespeare. As things are we must reconcile ourselves, if we can also reconcile government, to a new Book.

If we were—I thank my stars I’m not—in a position to give its authors advice, would you have any advice to give them? Mine could hardly go beyond unhelpful cautions: “Take care. It is so easy to break eggs without making omelettes.”

Already our liturgy is one of the very few remaining elements of unity in our hideously divided Church. The good to be done by revision needs to be very great and very certain before we throw that away. Can you imagine any new Book which will not be a source of new schism?

Most of those who press for revision seem to wish that it should serve two purposes: that of modernising the language in the interests of intelligibility, and that of doctrinal improvement. Ought the two operations—each painful and each dangerous—to be carried out at the same time? Will the patient survive?

What are the agreed doctrines which are to be embodied in the new Book and how long will agreement on them continue? I ask with trepidation because I read a man the other day who seemed to wish that everything in the old Book which was inconsistent with orthodox Freudianism should be deleted. 16

For whom are we to cater in revising the language? A country parson I know asked his sexton what he understood by indifferently in the phrase “truly and indifferently administer justice”. The man replied, “It means making no difference between one chap and another.” “And what would it mean if it said impartially?” asked the parson. “Don’t know. Never heard of it,” said the sexton. Here, you see, we have a change intended to make things easier. But it does so neither for the educated, who understand indifferently already, nor for the wholly uneducated, who don’t understand impartially. It helps only some middle area of the congregation which may not even be a majority. Let us hope the revisers will prepare for their work by a prolonged empirical study of popular speech as it actually is, not as we (a priori) assume it to be. How many scholars know (what I discovered by accident) that when uneducated people say impersonal they sometimes mean incorporeal?

What of expressions which are archaic but not unintelligible? (“Be ye lift up”). I find that people re-act to archaism most diversely. It antagonises some: makes what is said unreal. To others, not necessarily more learned, it is highly numinous and a real aid to devotion. We can’t please both.

I know there must be change. But is this the right moment? Two signs of the right moment occur to me. One would be a unity among us which enabled 17 the Church—not some momentarily triumphant party—to speak through the new work with a united voice. The other would be the manifest presence, somewhere in the Church, of the specifically literary talent needed for composing a good prayer. Prose needs to be not only very good but very good in a very special way, if it is to stand up to reiterated reading aloud. Cranmer may have his defects as a theologian; as a stylist, he can play all the moderns, and many of his predecessors, off the field. I don’t see either sign at the moment.

Yet we all want to be tinkering. Even I would gladly see “Let your light so shine before men” removed from the offertory. It sounds, in that context, so like an exhortation to do our alms that they may be seen by men.

LLDM history

I first heard of La Luz del Mundo (LLDM) in 2018 when someone told me about a group trying to buy land in Flowery Branch, Georgia, which was creating controversy. Knowing nothing about them, I started doing some research. One great source of information I found was Native Evangelism In Central Mexico by Hugo and Jean Nutini. The basic history of the sect is as follows.

The Spanish La Luz del Mundo means “the Light of the World” in English.[1] The full name is the Church of the Living God, Foundation, and Support of the Truth (La Iglesia del Dios Vivo Columna y Apoyo de la Verdad), abbreviated to La Luz del Mundo. The sect was founded in 1926 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. The founder was a man named Eusebio Joaquín González.

Eusebio Joaquín González, aka Aarón

González was baptized by two Pentecostal prophets going by the names of Saulo and Silas, who had themselves converted to a sect founded by Carmen Valenzuela who became a Pentecostal while in Los Angeles. When González was baptized he was named Abraham, however, on April 6, 1926, “he heard God tell him, “Here is a man whose name will be Aarón.” The clamor made him tremble, and, being very disturbed by this, he awakened his wife, who said she had heard nothing. Eusebio Joaquín went back to sleep, and a thundering celestial vision told him, “Your name will be Aarón.” He saw a hand with the index finger pointing at him. With a great splash of brilliance, the celestial vision told him again, “Your name will be Aarón, and your blessed name will be known and famous throughout the world.”[2] Amatulli Valente 1989:7–8 cited in Nutini, Hugo G.. Native Evangelism in Central Mexico (pp. 74-75).

González/Abraham/Aarón moved to Guadalajara, Jalisco where he tried out the Baptist and Congregational churches but eventually moved on to start his own church. As the church grew, “…Eusebio Joaquín realized that he had not been properly baptized by Saulo and Silas, who had done so in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but not in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. On July 18, 1927, he baptized himself by total immersion and took the name of Aarón, as henceforth he was referred to by his followers.”[3] Nutini p. 75.

Mary Puckett describes what happened next: “In 1954, Apostle Aarón, founder and first Apostle of the Luz del Mundo (LDM), was granted a tract of land from the government of Guadalajara to establish a colony reserved for LDM members. Securing this grant was made possible thanks to Aarón’s indigenous Mexican background and the church’s origins in Mexico. The LDM was posited as an authentically Mexican church in contrast to the Catholic Church, accused of participating in the widespread government corruption which had inspired the Mexican Revolution. In return for the grant, the LDM agreed to contribute to the development of Mexico’s infrastructure…”[4] Puckett, p. 10.

Aarón died in 1964, and his son Samuel Joaquín succeeded him as the next apostle.

References   [ + ]

1. The full name is the Church of the Living God, Foundation, and Support of the Truth (La Iglesia del Dios Vivo Columna y Apoyo de la Verdad), abbreviated to La Luz del Mundo.
2. Amatulli Valente 1989:7–8 cited in Nutini, Hugo G.. Native Evangelism in Central Mexico (pp. 74-75).
3. Nutini p. 75.
4. Puckett, p. 10.

La Luz del Mundo (LLDM)

I have been meaning to write for some time about LLDM because it is a cult putting down roots in the United States due to immigration. I will try to discuss its background and beliefs soon, but before I could write, a story emerged about sexual crimes on the part of it’s current leader:

The leader of La Luz del Mundo, a church with its headquarters in Mexico that claims to have more than one million followers worldwide, was charged Tuesday in Los Angeles with more than a dozen sex crimes, including allegations that he forced children to have sex and made them pose naked for photos, the authorities in California said.

Zaveri, Mihir. “Leader Of Mexican Church La Luz Del Mundo Charged With Sex Crimes In Los Angeles”. Nytimes.Com, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/us/la-luz-del-mundo-garcia.html.

Christians are familiar with religions like Mormonism and perhaps the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but these newer groups are worth paying attention to as well.

Ethnicity in Rwanda – Who Governs the Country?

Unfortunately I lost many old posts from my blog in a WordPress upgrade. I am re-posting some of them now.

One of the Wikileaks cables from 2008 that came out of the US embassy in Kigali addressed the subject of who governs Rwanda; you can view it here. It says in part:

An analysis of the ethnic breakdown of the current Rwandan government shows Tutsis hold a preponderant percentage of senior positions.  Hutus in very senior positions often hold relatively little real authority, and are commonly “twinned” with senior Tutsis who exercise real power.  The military and security agencies are controlled by Tutsis, generally English speakers who grew up as refugees with President Kagame in Uganda.  The 28-member cabinet is evenly split among Tutsis and Hutus, but most key ministries are in the hands of Tutsis (Hutu ministers do head Health and Agriculture, ministries which affect the lives of most Rwandans).  While the Rwandan government (GOR) presents itself as a champion of national unity and equal opportunity, de-emphasizing ethnic identity and ostensibly opening positions throughout society to those of skill and merit, political authority in the country does not yet reflect this ideal.  Ethnic identity is still keenly felt and lived, and ordinary Rwandans are well aware of who holds the levers of power.  The long-term stability of Rwanda depends upon a government and ruling party that eventually shares real authority with the majority population. 

[…]

President Kagame is a Tutsi.  So, too are the  important Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Justice,  Infrastructure, Local Government, and Information.  Close Kagame confidant, Chief of Defense Staff General James  Kabarebe, is Tutsi, as are the chiefs of the army and air  force, the military district commanders. and the heads of the  Rwanda National Police and the National Security Service  (although some Rwandans joke that short-statured Air Force  Chief Muhire is Twa).  Indeed, all are English speakers who  grew up in Uganda.  Some major positions are held by Hutus,  but their actual authority often appears limited, and they  are widely perceived to be “twinned” with more powerful Tutsi  colleagues. 

[…]

For all the government’s exhortations to Rwandans to abandon ethnic identities and work in common on national goals, a policy that in fact has much to recommend it, the  political reality is self-evidently otherwise.  People remain  keenly committed to their ethnic identities, and everyone is  aware of which person holds which position and to which group  he belongs.  While the practical end-point for such a project  may be years away. if this government is ever to surmount the challenges and divides of Rwandan society, it must begin to  share real authority with Hutus to a much greater degree than  it does now.