The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Third Article – God Became Man

As we have seen in the first Article of the Creed we confess our faith in God the Father and in the second Article we confess our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.   We looked at how in the longer conciliar version of the Creed, the Nicene and Constantinopolitan Fathers took care to use such precise language with regards to the deity of the Son of God as to preclude any interpretation that would make His deity a lesser sort than that of the Father.   In the third Article of the Creed, which is our subject today, we confess our faith in the Incarnation, that God – more specifically God the Son – took human nature upon Himself and became a Man.


The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed was published and revised in the two ecumenical Councils of the fourth century.   The primary heresy with which those Councils had to contend was Arianism which denied the co-equality and co-eternality of the Son with the Father and declared the Son to be a created being.    This was a heresy concerning the deity of Jesus Christ.   There were also heresies that concerned His humanity.    Docetism, for example, denied His humanity by denying that He had a physical human body and teaching that He had the mere appearance of one.   In the century that followed the century that gave us the conciliar Creed the foremost Christological heresies that the Church contended with pertained to the relationship between Christ’s deity and humanity.     Nestorius, who was Patriarch of Constantinople until he was condemned and deposed by the third ecumenical Council held in Ephesus in 431 AD, sought to settle a theological dispute older than himself pertaining to the use of the title Θεοτόκος in reference to the Virgin Mary.   This word means “God-bearer” and is more usually rendered “Mother of God” in English.   Some objected to the title on the grounds that Mary was not the source of Jesus’ divine nature but of His human nature.   This fact was not in dispute – nobody claimed that Mary was a divine being or that Jesus derived His deity from her – but the reasoning used to derive the objection to the title Θεοτόκος from it was problematic.   Nestorius, by seeking to mediate in the dispute, ended up lending his name to the side which rejected the title and to the problematic Christological doctrine that was formally condemned as the heresy Nestorianism.   The problem with Nestorianism was that the Virgin Mary was the Mother of Jesus, Who is a Person not a nature.   That Person, Jesus, is God.   Therefore Mary was the Mother of God.   Of course, Jesus Christ, God the Son, always was God from eternity past, and derives His deity through Eternal Generation from the Father and not from His Mother, but to object to the title on these grounds is to divide what was forever united in the Incarnation – deity and humanity in the One Person of Jesus.  


The condemnation of Nestorianism at Ephesus did not end the Christological disputes of the fifth century.   Indeed, it opened the door to a new heresy.   Eutyches, who had been a priest and monk under Nestorius in Constantinople where he was in charge of a monastery, strongly supported Cyril of Alexandria who presided over the condemnation of Nestorius at Ephesus.   He took Cyril’s position to an extreme, however, and taught that in the Incarnation the humanity of Jesus Christ was swallowed up in the ocean of His deity so that not only was He One Person but had only One nature as well.   This too was problematic because it was a denial of Christ’s true and full humanity and so twenty years after Nestorius was condemned and deposed Eutyches was himself condemned as a heretic at the fourth ecumenical Council at Chalcedon.   His heresy sometimes bears his name, Eutychianism, but is more commonly called Monophysitism.


In the Council of Chalcedon the Church did not more than just condemn Eutychianism.   It also issued a statement that positively affirmed what the orthodox Church did believe regarding the Person and Nature of Jesus Christ as opposed to both the heresies of Nestorianism and Eutychianism.   This statement is sometimes called the Chalcedonian Creed although since it was not intended as a revision of the Creed nor is it a full statement of the Faith but is rather a supplement to the Creed it is more properly and more usually called the Definition of Chalcedon.   It asserts that the Incarnate Jesus Christ is One Person, Who has Two Natures, and so that One Person is both fully and truly God and fully and truly Man.   (1)    As a positive affirmation of faith the Chalcedonian Definition has been more valuable than all the anathemas pronounced against the myriad of heresies that in one way or another take away from His deity, humanity, or unity of Person.   It came with a cost, however, in terms of the unity of the Church.   Six centuries before the Greek speaking and Latin speaking Churches followed the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Rome in mutually disfellowshipping the other, the Definition of Chalcedon produced a major and lasting break in Communion between the ancient Churches which confessed Christianity in accordance with the faith of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.   While most Churches affirmed the Chalcedonian Definition, four ancient Churches (2) rejected it because they thought the language of two Natures was too close to Nestorianism for their liking.  (3)  The Chalcedonian Churches have historically regarded these Churches as Monophysite although they have always maintained that they rejected the heresy of Eutyches.   Of themselves they say that they follow the faith as taught by St. Cyril of Alexandria, that the Incarnate Jesus Christ is One Person with One Nature but that this One Nature is such that He is fully Man as well as fully God, His deity and humanity being united into a single Nature in such a way that His humanity is not lost in His deity.   They call their position Miaphysitism.  In recent years dialogue has opened up between these and other Churches and the Chalcedonian Churches, especially the Eastern Orthodox have been more willing to take seriously their claim that their position is not the heresy condemned at Chalcedon.


It is the third Article of the Creed which asserts the truth the implications of which were debated in these fifth century controversies.


In the Apostles’ Creed the third Article is qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine which is rendered in the English of the Book of Common Prayer as “who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary”.   Grammatically, this is part of the same sentence that begins with the second Article and it begins a relative clause that continues through the seventh Article in Latin.  The English inserts a sentence break after the fourth Article but this does not affect the meaning in any way.   The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is, as usual, longer here than the Apostles’ Creed.   It asserts τὸν δι' ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν καὶ σαρκωθέντα ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα, which in the English of the Book of Common Prayer is “who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;”.   Note that the English translation in saying that Jesus was “incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary” follows the Latin text which uses “ex” instead of “et” where the Greek text reads καὶ (“and”). 


We have already discussed how the conciliar Creed arose in a century in which theological controversy centered around the deity of Jesus Christ.   This focus can be detected in the different way in which the Creeds word this Article.  The Apostle’s Creed speaks of the Incarnation in terms of two events which are common to all descendants of Adam and Eve – conception and birth.   Thus, although these were miraculous and supernatural in that the conception was the work of the Holy Ghost and so Mary gave birth to Jesus as a Virgin, this wording emphasizes Jesus’ sharing fully in the human experience.   In the Nicene-Constantinopoltian version the same three Persons appear – the Holy Ghost, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Himself – but the events are condensed into a single word, the participle σαρκωθέντα which, with the meaning it has here, is hardly a word that is used of common human experience.  (4)    It means what John 1:14 means when it asserts that “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us”.   This manner of speaking about the Incarnation throws the emphasis back upon the deity of the One Who was made flesh.   Note that it is an ancient custom in many Western Churches to genuflect both at this point in the recitation of the Creed and when John 1:14 is read in the reading of the Gospel.   Where the Nicene Creed stresses what God the Son became rather than what He always was is in the words καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα – “and was made man”.


In this Article the Nicene Creed states that Jesus “came down from heaven.”   This is, of course, something that can be inferred from the Creed’s declaration that Jesus is the eternally begotten Son of God Who was made man, but clearly the conciliar Fathers thought it important to state it explicitly, as Jesus Himself did in His interview with Nicodemus (John 3:13).     When, later in the Article we affirm that Jesus “was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man” we affirm the aspect of the Incarnation in which Jesus’ role was passive.   He “was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary”.   In the wording of the Apostles’ Creed the passivity of Jesus in the Incarnation is particularly emphasized.    That people do not get an active choice in their own conception and birth is proverbial.   By saying that Jesus “came down from heaven”, however, we affirm another aspect of the Incarnation, one in which Jesus was indeed active.


The Gospel account of all that Jesus did for us has often been expressed in terms of a two-part journey.   In the first part, His Humiliation, He started at the highest place (Heaven) and went to the lowest place (Hell).   The second part of the journey, His Exultation, begins in the lowest place with His Triumphant entry into Hell as conquering Victor and ends with His return to the highest place in His Ascension back into Heaven.  Both Creeds include the Ascension in the sixth Article, as well as the most important things Jesus did on earth in both parts of the journey.      The beginning of the journey – His leaving Heaven to come down to earth – and the pivotal point where His Humiliation ends and His Exultation begins, do not appear together in the Creeds.   The one appears here in the third article of the conciliar Creed, the other appears in the fifth Article of the Apostles’ Creed.   The fullest picture of the Son of God’s entire Gospel journey, therefore, requires both Creeds.


In the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed this Article – and the longer relative clause of which it is the start – begins by stating the purpose for which the Son of God became Incarnate and did all that He did.   It was “for us men and for our salvation”.   In Greek and Latin “us men” is “ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους” and “nos homines” respectively.   ἄνθρωπος and homo are the Greek and Latin words that mean “man” in the sense of “human being”, as opposed to ἀνήρ and vir which are the words that mean “man” in the sense of “male adult human being”, so all people are the intended beneficiaries and not just males, not that there has ever been much confusion about this contrary to what the politically correct advocates of “gender neutral language” would have you believe.   Salvation, like the Greek word it translates, basically means “deliverance”, i.e. from some sort of danger and “preservation”, with implications, depending upon the context, of health, well-being, safety, security, and freedom.   In a spiritual or religious context, it has a specialized meaning derived from these more basic meanings, of deliverance from sin, the curse that sin brought upon Creation, including the evils of death and hell.  


This part of the third Article is of particular importance because it shows that what we affirm in the Creed is the very Gospel itself.   That the historical facts of the Gospel are affirmed in the Creed is not in dispute.   The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which St. Paul declares to be the Gospel in the fifteenth chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, are affirmed in the fourth and fifth Articles, and the Articles before these provide the necessary context to these events by affirming Who Jesus Christ is.   What makes the Gospel the Gospel - the Good News that Christians and the Church are to proclaim to the world – is that everything that Jesus did He did for our salvation.


The Article about the Incarnation was a very appropriate place to put this because it is the Incarnation that made everything else Jesus did for our salvation possible.   “For there is one God”, St. Paul wrote, “and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5).   Jesus could be such a mediator because He was both God and man.   Jesus saved us by dying for our sins.   He had to become man in order to do so, because God qua God cannot die, and because it having been man who sinned payment was required from man.   Only the sinless God-Man could be the Saviour.



 (1)    This is called the Hypostatic Union from the Greek word ὑπόστασις.   At one time this word was basically a synonym for οὐσία which means being, essence, or substance.   In the theological disputes leading up to and including those of the first four ecumenical Councils it took on a different meaning.   In the context of discussing the Trinity οὐσία was used for the way in which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are One, while ὑπόστασις came to be used to denote the way in which they are distinct from each other.   In the Christological context it denotes that of which the Incarnate Christ is One.   In English we use the word Person for this, from the Latin words persona that came to be used in the place of ὑπόστασις in Latin theological discussion.

(2)   These are the Coptic Orthodox Church, founded by St. Mark the Evangelist, the Syriac Orthodox Church which grew out of the Church of Antioch in the book of Acts, the Armenian Apostolic Church founded by the Apostles Bartholomew and Jude, and the Indian Orthodox Church which was established by St. Thomas.   There is also an Ethiopian Orthodox Church and an Eritrean Orthodox Church both of which belong to this type of Church – they are collectively called the Oriental Orthodox Churches – but these were part of the Coptic Orthodox Church at the time of the Chalcedonian Controversy.   The Ethiopian Orthodox Church became autocephalous when it was given its own Patriarch by the Coptic Pope in 1959.   In 1993 the Eritrean Orthodox Church, which up to that point had been part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, also became autocephalous with its own Patriarch.

(3)   Earlier, the ancient Assyrian-Persian Churches which like the Indian Orthodox Church trace their origins to St. Thomas, broke fellowship with the other ancient Churches over the Council of Ephesus which they condemned and canonized Nestorius as a saint.

(4)   The Greek verb σαρκόω means “to make flesh”.   Ordinarily this word was used for situations like when a smaller, weaker, person gets bigger and stronger or when flesh grows to fill in a wound.   In the Creed it is used with the very specialized meaning of a spiritual being having been given flesh.



Thursday, March 16, 2023

15 Minutes to Save the World?


The expression “15 minute city” is a little under ten years old.  It was about four to five years ago that it first began to circulate significantly and it really took off during the time when people everywhere proved themselves to be incredibly stupid by their willingness to submit to the all but total elimination of their most basic freedoms because of their naïve faith in medical experts who told them that they needed to stop living in order to avoid dying from the bogeyman of the bat flu.   Last month, however, 15 minute cities became big news as mainstream media outlet after mainstream media outlet began running op-ed pieces about how critics of the concept were engaged in “conspiracy theory”.  At the start of the last week in February I typed the words “15 minute cities” into Google and pressed the search button.   The top results, both on the news tab and the main Google page, were articles of this sort from sources like CNN, The Guardian, and even the Weather Network.  Indeed, the only one of the highlighted stories not to include the word “conspiracy” in the title was a piece from Bloomberg entitled “No, 15-Minute Cities Aren’t a Threat to Civil Liberties”, which, of course, was yet another denial of the “conspiracy theory” about 15 minute cities.   At the time I did this search these stories and many more were all fresh, having been released in the previous two days, most in the previous twenty four hours.   


Now, if someone wanted to convince people to take seriously the idea that there is some sort of nefarious international plot behind the latest buzzword expression in urban planning, one way to go about doing so would be to get the entire mainstream media to issue a denial in lockstep like this.  When media companies all begin saying the same thing like a horde of brainwashed cult members chanting a mantra it is usually best to consider the exact opposite of what they are saying to be the truth. Indeed, if people like our Prime Minister, that contemptible lowlife Captain Airhead and J. Brandon Magoo, that creep who gives off the strong impression of someone who wandered off from the geriatric ward of an asylum for the criminally insane only to find himself in the White House were to start using their state pulpits to denounce anyone opposed to 15 minute cities as fringe extremists we would know with a certainty from this the supporters of 15 minute cities are up to no good.


So what are 15 minute cities?   Are they part of a sinister plot to rob us of our freedom of motion and imprison us all within our own neighbourhoods?   Or is the idea behind them an innocent one, aimed at renewing neighbourhoods and reducing traffic congestion, upon which unfair suspicion has been thrown by the unsavoury associations of those promoting and defending it?


Back in the 1960’s the term “walkability” entered the vocabulary of those with an active interest in revitalizing big cities or at least hindering them from dropping to a lower circle of Dante’s abyss.   Making a city walkable meant making it as friendly and accessible to pedestrians as possible.    The opposite of walkability was urban planning aimed at maximizing the ease and speed with which one could get around a city by car which was one aspect of the “urban renewal” movement that had influenced much or most of the city planning of the previous few decades.  The 15 minute city is an adaptation of this concept of walkability or, to be more precise, a variation of an older adaptation the 20 minute city.  The basic idea of a 15 minute city is that of a city in which people have access to everything they would need on an ordinary day in their own neighbourhoods within a 15 minute walk or bicycle ride from where they live.   As with many ideas that generate heated controversies the heat comes more from the implications than from the basic concept.   If it were possible to transform a city into a 15 minute city where everyone has everything he needs within such a small radius from his home without in any way altering anything else about the city and the lives of its inhabitants this would undoubtedly be an improvement and a very good one at that.   If quality of life in a city were measured strictly in terms of convenience it would be an exponential improvement.  The problem is that it is not possible to transform a city in this way without making many other changes.   Since the advocates of 15 minute cities seem to be largely motivated by environmental concerns it would be appropriate here to cite Dr. Garrett Hardin’s First Law of Human Ecology “We can never do merely one thing.”   It is those other things that would need to be done to transform cities into 15 minute cities that have a lot of people’s dander up.


Take, for example, the plans for low traffic neighbourhoods which Oxford, the city in Oxfordshire, England that is home to Oxford University, recently announced its intention to implement on a trial basis starting next year.   A low traffic neighbourhood is a concept that is related to that of a 15 minute city and often promoted together with it, so much so that the two are sometimes mistaken as being synonymous with each other.  The difference is that a low traffic neighbourhood is designed to keep something out of the neighbourhood – traffic congestion due to through traffic – whereas a 15 minute city is designed to put something in the neighbourhood – the necessities of everyday life easily accessible by walking or cycling.  The Oxford city council has announced its intention, beginning next year, of dividing the city in to six districts and placing a limit of 100 on the number of times residents can drive from one district to the next, through certain routes between 7 am and 7 pm, to be enforced by licence-plate camera and fines.   Residents would be able – for a fee – to apply for an additional allotment of trips through the limited routes.


Now this does not amount to locking Oxford residents within their districts.   If Oxford goes ahead with this – and does not take it any further – Oxford residents will be able to pass between districts any time they wish and as many times as they wish if they do so on foot or by bike, and even by automobile if they take routes other than the more direct ones upon which the limits are being placed.   This whole thing does, however, give off too much of a vibe of a high-tech, updated, version of “show us your papers, comrade” and so it is not surprising that the Oxford announcement was met with a large and vehement protest, especially since people were already fed up with this sort of thing from the three years of public health emergency tyranny.  These measures do carry the potential for evolving into the permanent confinement of people within their own neighbourhoods through mission creep much like “14 days to flatten the curve” evolved into two and a half years of lockdowns, forced masking, and vaccine passports and mandates.   Indeed, not only do they have the potential for evolving in this direction there is a very high probability that they will do so.


One reason for this is because those who are promoting low traffic neighbourhoods based on the 15 city model are openly motivated by the goal of getting people to drive less.  When the earlier, more general, concept of walkability was conceived it was part of a response to several decades of urban planning based on utilitarian principles.   The kind of urban planning that involved houses, small businesses, parks and playgrounds, local schools, libraries, hospitals and the like being torn down, often through the means of entire city blocks being seized by governments and handed over to developers, to make way for large apartment complexes, office buildings, malls, and the like.   While large-scale urban planning on utilitarian principles went back to the nineteenth century, it had exploded around the middle of the twentieth century due to mas production’s having made motor vehicles increasingly available and affordable.   This factor also, of course, affected the way the designs of these planners as utility now included such things as parking lots and freeways.   A backlash against this sort of thing began in 1961 when Jane Jacobs published her The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which documented the negative side of “urban renewal”.   Jacobs did not just write about the subject but was also an activist who fought against this sort of urban planning both in New York where she lived when she wrote her book and Toronto where she moved about a decade later, in both cities fighting against the construction of freeways or expressways.   Among her criticisms of this kind of planning was that it was making cities into places for cars rather than for people.   Those who began to promote the concept of walkability owed much of their inspiration to Jacobs.   The promoters of the 15 minute city model would like us to think that they are following in these earlier footsteps and perhaps in a limited sense they are.   Their primary objection to automobiles, however, is very different.  


Jacobs and those whom she inspired in the 1960s objected to tearing down houses and digging up parks to make way for freeways and parking lots because these actions uprooted and dissolved communities and razed the neighbourhoods in which they had lived in order to replace these with dead, concrete, spaces made for machines rather than men.   The promoters of the 15 minute city model, such as Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, France, and her Columbian born advisor, Carlos Moreno, the professor at Sorbonne University who seems to be the one who came up with the concept, by contrast, don’t want people driving cars because they want to see a radical reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.   People like this think that the drastic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions they want is necessary to save the world.     People who think that the world is at stake are not people likely to accept or respect limitations on their efforts nor are they people likely to listen to reason coming from those who disagree with them. If, therefore, placing limits on the daytime use of high density routes fails to achieve a reduction in car use and simply diverts heavy traffic to other routes, the planners will be likely to revise the model – and keep revising it until they achieve their goal.   Such revisions will move the model closer and closer to something resembling people being permanently locked into their own neighbourhoods.


There is another difference between the original pushback against the large building/parking lot/freeway type of urban planning and the advocacy of the 15 minute city today which supports the conclusion that the concept is inherently flawed in such a way that its implementation, however, good the intentions of those behind it may be, would inevitably lead to urban life becoming more tightly controlled.    Prior to the invention and mass production of the automobile every city was a city in which every neighborhood had its local store, school, etc. so that there was no necessity for long daily commutes that were impractical before motorized transportation.   Transforming cities that were like this into cities where many if not most people live in one district, work in another, and do all their shopping in yet another and where the city’s infrastructure is designed to facilitate the fast motor vehicle transportation that makes such an arrangement feasible required city governments to expropriate private property and spend massive sums of money in imposing a redesign upon their cities dreamed up by engineers who had been given an unprecedented amount of centralized control over what their cities would look like.   In other words, the kind of urban transformation to which people like Jane Jacobs’ objected, in which older, traditional, more organic communities were bulldozed down and paved over to make way for concrete and asphalt edifices designed for machines rather than the people the machines were themselves built to serve, required government to insert itself far more actively and visibly in the everyday lives of urban inhabitants than it had before, which meant that this was a step away from a more free mode of life and towards a more controlled mode of life.  


Any serious attempt to transform a city into a 15 minute city would require a further step in the same direction.    This is because the model calls for all necessities to be available to people within a 15 minute walk or cycle ride from their home.   Obviously, if a city has to be transformed into a 15 minute city then these necessities are not already available this close.   Therefore, to remake a city according to this model would involve moving businesses and services into neighbourhoods that don’t already have them.  A government that wants a certain type of business in a neighbourhood has to do a lot more to achieve its goal than a government that wants to keep a certain kind of business out of a neighbourhood.  If a city, for example, does not want strip bars and casinos next to elementary schools, then all it has to do is pass a zoning restriction.   If, however, a city decides that it wants a bakery in a neighbourhood that does not have one, a simple change to zoning laws would not in itself accomplish this.  Somebody has to put the bakery in there.  Either the city would have to build and operate a bakery itself or, if it was dead set on having one, it would have to lure a private baker in with some sort of incentive.  A bakery is only one type of business.   To turn a city into a 15 minute city its government would have to do this not merely with bakeries but with every sort of business and service it deems essential, and in every neighbourhood.


While those promoting the 15 minute city model claim to be the heirs of Jane Jacobs they are in spirit far closer to the city planners she fought against in New York and Toronto.   As different as the two kinds of urban planners are in their attitude towards automobiles, they are united by a common belief that if you get the right urban engineers, with the right ideas, and sit them down together in a drawing room, they will be able to come up with a design for a city which if enacted would produce maximum happiness for the maximum number of the city’s inhabitants.   If, however, freedom is essential to human happiness, and it is, then this sort of thinking is counterproductive because it can only move cities in the direction of being more planned and less free.   Those who make pitches for the 15 minute city concept like to try and sell it to us as a restoration of an older, simpler, way of life.   That way of life, however, belonged to traditional communities which possessed at least one quality that was more conducive to happiness than that in modern cities and which cannot be reproduced artificially by planning.  That quality is that of being organic.   This is a quality that comes about in a community naturally, when families live together in the same place, working in the same businesses, shopping in the same stores, worshipping in the same churches, for several generations over the course of which a sense of social oneness grows.   This cannot be reproduced artificially by planning and attempts to do so will only produce ugly caricatures of natural, traditional, communities.


One does not have to speculate about sinister motives behind the 15 minute city concept – and without such speculation you do not have a “conspiracy theory” – to have serious misgivings about the idea.   Urban planning of this nature cannot recreate true organic communities, inevitably requires an increase in government control and a decrease in human freedom no matter how benign the motivation, and, being wedded to an environmentalist ideal of eliminating carbon emissions that has in recent years taken on the characteristics of a cult of fanatics is set on course to evolve into something far more unpleasant.   

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Dilbert Gets Downsized


Scott Adams began writing his comic strip Dilbert in 1989.   The strip quickly became popular but I was not a regular reader until it was in its tenth year.   Then on Thursday, 9 September, 1999 the first panel of the strip had Dilbert in the office of his Pointy-Haired Boss saying “I found some numbers that support your strategic plan”.   In the second panel he adds “I had to take the square root of a negative number to do it.”   In the final panel he says “The timeline is on this Mobius strip” which he hands to the Pointy-Haired Boss who responds by saying “Good work”.   I found this to be so hilarious that from that point on Dilbert,  Dogbert, all the assorted other –berts, Wally, Alice, the Pointy-Haired Boss, and company joined Garfield, Snoopy, and Dagwood on the list of characters to whom I would turn for a laugh every time a newspaper was before me.  


It appears that most newspaper readers are no longer going to be able to do this.   Over the last week hundreds of newspapers dropped Dilbert and over the weekend the syndicate that carried it dropped it as well.   Here in Winnipeg the strip had been carried by the Winnipeg Free Press which announced on Monday that it was dropping it thus removing the last remaining reason for anyone to ever again pick up a copy of that paper.  Of course with newspaper readership as low as it is pretty soon many of these newspapers are likely to be out of business while Dilbert will still be available to its fans online.   Indeed, I hope that not merely many but most or all of the newspapers that dropped Dilbert will soon be filing for bankruptcy.   Any newspaper that would drop Dilbert for the reason for which it has been dropped is, in my opinion, a rag its community would be better off without. 


The media mob that is gunning for Scott Adams has been crying “racist” over remarks he made on his podcast.   Now before looking at what he said and why it is being labelled “racist” a few words are in order about accusations of racism in general.  


When someone is accused of committing a crime we hold a trial in which he is given the opportunity to confront and cross-examine his accusers and to mount a defence.   The burden of proof is placed upon his accusers and the bar is set as high as it can go.   The prosecutor must establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.   If the prosecution fails to do so then the accused is entitled to an acquittal.   This is called the principle of the presumption of innocence – that someone accused is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.   This is an ancient principle going back at least as far as the Roman Empire.   While not universal it is the next thing to it, being affirmed in one form or another by all of the Abrahamic religions and being a keystone to the concept of justice embodied in the Common Law of the British Commonwealth and the United States.   It is an essential protection against those who would seek to turn the law into a weapon to destroy their personal enemies through making false accusations.


There has never been an equivalent to the principle of the presumption of innocence for non-criminal accusations. It had not been thought that one was necessary.  It was assumed that the worst things people could be accused of were crimes - murder, rape, robbery, etc. – and that therefore accusations of things that were non-crimes would be lesser accusations that would do less harm to the accused’s reputation than criminal accusations.   It was similarly assumed that the socially and culturally imposed consequences of doing things society frowned upon but which were not prohibited by criminal law would be less severe and damaging than the penalties inflicted by the courts upon law breakers.   These assumptions are far less valid today than they were decades or even just a few years ago.


In the last three quarters of a century progressive liberals have coined the terms “racism” and “racist” and convinced the public that “racism” is worse than the worst crime and that “racists” are worse than the worst criminals.   Through doing so, they have persuaded the public to be largely indifferent or approving of the way they treat people they accuse of being “racists”.    The way they treat accused “racists” is to utterly destroy them economically and socially.   Since the same progressive liberals have done everything in their power to strip the criminal justice system of any real teeth when it comes to punishing actual crimes this in effect makes the consequences of an accusation of “racism” far more damaging than the consequences of a criminal accusation.    Furthermore, they have managed to attach a presumption of guilt to accusations of “racism”.   By doing all of this, they have successfully bypassed the safeguards in our traditional justice system protecting people from those who seek to use the law and courts as weapons to destroy their enemies through false accusations by establishing an alternative way of destroying their enemies through accusations.   Indeed, they have been so successful at this that they have created a battery of similar weapon words with which to crush and destroy their enemies.


The anemic opposition to progressive liberalism that is mainstream “conservatism” has chosen a strategy of responding to this by trying to turn said accusations against their creators and saying that it is the progressive liberals who are the “real racists”.    The most that mainstream conservatives have been able to accomplish through this has been to score a few points against their opponents in academic debates.    What is desperately needed is for the opponents of progressive liberalism to abandon this form of the fallacy of tu quoque that affirms the very false presupposition that, having been instilled in the public mind, enable progressivism to weaponized words in this manner.   Instead they should be attacking those presuppositions, exposing this system of destroying people through weaponized words as being fundamentally unjust, and stripping words like “racist” of their power to destroy.


Let us now take a look at the accusations against Scott Adams.   In his Real Coffee with Scott Adams podcast he was commenting on the results of a poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports.    The poll asked Americans whether “it’s okay to be white” and reported its findings by race.   The number of blacks that did not agree that “it’s okay be white” was just under 50%, and while these were divided almost equally among those who outright disagreed and those who were not sure, those who outright disagreed were the larger percentage, 26% as opposed to the 21% who were not certain.   Adams, in response to this said that while he had been identifying as black for years – this seems to be an ongoing joke about the translunacy that has engulfed Western culture since the apogynosis of Bruce Jenner – this poll had led him to reconsider this decision because it amounted to joining a hate group and advised whites that the best advice he could give them was to “get the hell away from black people”.


Those who have been denouncing Adams in print over the last week all seem to share the same defect in their ability to reason.  Everything Adams said was reasonable if the Rasmussen Reports poll and its results are taken at face value.   If you don’t agree with “it’s okay to be white” than you either think “it is not okay to be white” or “it might not be okay to be white”, the first of which translates into “whites should not exist” and the second into an openness to the idea that whites should not exist.   It is entirely fair to interpret someone’s saying that someone else should not exist as an expression of hate and it is also fair to interpret the expression of uncertainty as to whether someone should exist or not as expressing a weaker form of the same hate.   When a poll, therefore, tells us that such hate exists among 47% of a population it indicates that said population has a serious problem with hate.  Adam’s advice to the objects of this hate is actually quite moderate.   He advised them to get away from those who hate them, not to hate them back or launch some sort of preemptive hate strike against them. 


Adams’ denouncers, unsurprisingly, have taken the position that what one thinks of the expression "it's okay to be white” should be based upon who purportedly coined the phrase rather than what the phrase means.   According to self-appointed and self-important anti-“hate” watchdog groups, the slogan “It’s okay to be white” was coined by “neo-Nazis” and “white supremacists” on 4chan.   Therefore, according to these supposed experts, the right thing to do is to denounce the slogan because of the people who came up with it.   This way of thinking, applied by Adams’ denouncers to the Rasmussen poll, means that the 47% of blacks polled who did not agree with the statement were in the right because they were disagreeing with “white supremacists”.   This is ridiculous, however, for many reasons.   Whether or not we agree or disagree with a statement ought to be based on the truth or not of what the statement says not on who said it.   Statements that in terms of their content are true and good do not become otherwise through contamination by those who say them.   If it were otherwise, and “it’s okay to be white” were somehow contaminated by the white supremacy that those who coined it are accused of holding, then “black lives matter” is similarly contaminated by the looting and rioting and vandalism of the movement that coined it as its slogan and “every child matters” is contaminated with the Christophobia that spawned the arson and vandalism of almost seventy churches in the biggest hate crime spree in Canadian history.   Indeed, if the 47% of black respondents to the Rasmussen poll who did not agree with the statement “it’s okay to be white” are to be applauded because of the alleged origin of the statement then what does that say about the 53% of black respondents who agreed with it?


The Rasmussen poll did not ask people what they thought of the people who originally coined the phrase “it’s okay to be white”.   It did not even mention them.   Rather, it asked people whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement.   Scott Adams took the poll at face value and rightly drew from it the conclusion that an alarmingly large number of black people openly express some degree of hate towards white people and that this is cause for concern on the part of those targeted by that hate.   His response to the poll was reasonable.   His accusers’ response to his podcast was not.   Unfortunately his accusers were many and powerful and so Dilbert will no longer be available in the comics section of most newspapers.   Once again the humourless, self-righteous, watchdogs of anti-racism will have robbed countless people of something that brought a smile to their face and mirth to their hearts.


As Phil the Prince of Insufficient Light would say:  Darn them all to Heck!

Friday, February 24, 2023

The Second Article – God the Son

 The first Article of the Creed, as we have seen, is an affirmation of faith in God the Father, the Creator of all things.   The second Article is an affirmation of faith in God the Son.   It is the first of six Articles that pertain to the Son before the affirmation of faith in God the Holy Spirit in the eight Article.   Since the Creed consists of twelve Articles in total, this means that half of them concern God the Son.


In the Apostles’ Creed the second Article is “et in Iesum Christum, Filium Eius unicum, Dominus nostrum” which in the English of the Book of Common Prayer is “And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord”.   In the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed the second Article is “Καὶ εἰς ἕνα Κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ, τὸν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων.”    In this series we shall treat what is ordinarily considered the third Article of the conciliar Creed to be part of the second.   This is “φῶς ἐκ φωτός, Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα οὐ ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί· δι' οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο.”    Taken together, these are rendered in the Book of Common Prayer as  “And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made.”   Note that in the Greek of the Creed the words “Θεὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ” do not precede “φῶς ἐκ φωτός”.   Here the Book of Common Prayer follows the Latin which has “Deum de Deo” before “lumen de lumine”.   This is one of two places where the Latin text of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed inserts something that is not present in the original Greek, the other being the famously controversial Filoque in the Article about the Holy Spirit.  This is less controversial than the Filoque which played a key role in the dispute which led to the Greek and Latin Churches breaking Communion with each other because here the Latin interpolation does not express anything about which the Latin and Greek Churches are in theological disagreement.   Indeed, “Θεὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ” appeared in the original Nicene Creed of 325 AD but was dropped when the Creed was revised at the First Council of Constantinople of 381 AD.   Redundancy seems to have been the reason for its having been removed.   In the original Nicene Creed the words “μονογενῆ, τοὐτέστιν ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Πατρός, Θεὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ” followed “begotten of the Father” and preceded “Light of Light”.   The First Council of Constantinople (381 AD) in revising the Creed moved the μονογενῆ and placed it in attributive position to “the Son of God”.   The remainder of these words which assert nothing that was not stated more precisely later in the same Article (1) were replaced with “before all worlds”.   Nobody really knows how “Deum de Deo” made its way back into the Latin version of the Creed.   It is also present in the Armenian version of the Creed but so are all the other words that were removed from the original Nicene Creed in the Constantinopolitan revision and this version also expands the “through whom all things were made” so as to repeat the “heaven and earth” and “visible and invisible” clauses of the first Article.


The first Article of the Creed, as we saw in our discussion of the same, established continuity between the faith we confess as Christians and the faith of Old Testament Israel by asserting our belief that the One God, the Father, is Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.   In this second Article, the faith we confess diverges from that of others who claim continuity with the Old Testament religion.   We believe in Jesus Christ.


Who is Jesus Christ?


Jesus is the Name of this Second Person Whom we confess alongside God the Father.   St. Luke in his Gospel tells of the Annunciation, the visit the angel Gabriel paid to the Virgin Mary to tell her that she was favoured by God in that she would bear a child Who would be God’s Son.  Gabriel told her that her Son was to be given the name Jesus.     St. Matthew in his Gospel records that at some point after this Joseph of Nazareth to whom Mary was espoused was visited by an angel in a dream who told him to marry Mary and raise her child Who was the Son of God.   Joseph is also told to give the child the name Jesus and is given a reason for the name “for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).   This is what the name Jesus means.   It was a common name among the Jews because it was the name of an important figure in the Old Testament.    יְהוֹשֻׁעַ‎ which when put directly into English from Hebrew is traditionally rendered Joshua was the name of one of Moses’ lieutenants, who led the Israelites into battle against various enemies when they were en route from Egypt to the Promised Land, who was one of the spies Moses sent into the Promised Land and the only one other than Caleb who proved to be faithful, and who was chosen to lead the people into the Promised Land after Moses death.   The book narrating the conquest of Canaan bears his name.    The book of Numbers tells us that his name was originally Oshea but that Moses changed it to Jehoshua or Joshua.   Oshea means “salvation”.   J(eh)oshua means “Jehovah is salvation”.    Jesus is this Name after it has been transliterated from Hebrew into Aramaic, then from Aramaic into Greek, then from Greek into Latin, and finally Anglicized by the removal of inflection and rendering Latin’s consonantal I as J.   It is in the divine Person Who bears this name in the New Testament that its meaning is truly fulfilled.   The Old Testament Joshua prefigured Him.  Through Joshua, God brought His people out of the wilderness in which they had been wandering due to their disobedience and into the Promised Land.   Indeed, in the fact that Moses, through whom the Law was given and whose name often signifies that Law, led the people in the wilderness but could not lead them across the Jordan into the Promised Land, which was reserved for Joshua, we see illustrated in the Old Testament that key theme of the New, that the Law cannot take a person from the wildness of sin and bring him into the Promised Land of peace with God, only Jesus can do that.   Jesus is Jehovah come into the world to save His people and the world from sin by taking that sin away on the Cross.


Christ is said or written together with Jesus so often that many assume it to be His surname.   It is more accurately thought of as a title.   As with the name Jesus it is the Anglicization of the Latin spelling of a Greek word that represents a Hebrew original.   In this case, however, the Greek word is a translation rather than a transliteration of the Hebrew.   The Hebrew word is מָשִׁיחַ which is rendered directly into English as Messiah.   This word means “Anointed One”.   In the Old Testament the kings of Israel were anointed with oil.    So were the high priests and, on at least one occasion, prophets.  Samuel was instructed by God to anoint first Saul, then David, as king with oil.   David would not harm Saul because he was “the LORD’s anointed”.   While every king of Israel and every high priest was a small-m “messiah” or small-c “christ”, the big-M Messiah or big-C Christ was the promised King who would arise out of the House of David to restore and redeem Israel.   Promises of this Redeemer-King can be found throughout the Old Testament but especially in the writings of the prophets who arose to warn Israel and Judah and call them to repentance in the period just before and during the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions that took the northern and southern kingdoms captive respectively.   In the prophetic writings it is promised that the future King will not merely restore Israel to what she was under David and Solomon but will usher in a Golden Age in which all nations will acknowledge His kingdom which will last forever, a New Covenant will be written in the hearts of man rather than on tablets of stone, and the curse on Creation due to man’s sin will finally be lifted.  


The Gospel Jesus preached to Israel from the beginning of His earthly ministry was “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”.    “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” can be paraphrased as “the promises are fulfilled, the Kingdom is present among you now”.   Jesus could proclaim such a Gospel because the Kingdom was present in the Person of Himself, the King.    He explained to them, however, in His teachings, that His Kingdom was spiritual rather than political and that it was bondage to sin that He came to deliver them and the world from rather than from the Roman Empire.   That He, Jesus, is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” was the sole article in the very first Christian confession or creed.  This was the confession made by St. Peter in response to a query from the Lord first about Whom His disciples said that He was.   Jesus praised the confession as revelation from His Father in Heaven and declared that He would build His Church upon this rock, then began to explain to His disciples that He would be crucified and rise again the third day.   Later, just before He raised her brother Lazarus, Martha made the same confession as St. Peter in response to Jesus’ asking her whether she believed His assertion that “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-27).   These interactions show that the Christ, the promised King of the House of David, the High Priest after the Order of Melchizedek, the Prophet greater than Moses, was the One Who gives everlasting life to all who believe in Him and that to do so He had to die Himself then rise again. 


In the confession of St. Peter and Martha, “the Christ” and “the Son of God” are placed in apposition which is a way of saying that the two expressions refer to the same Person without needing an extra word to link or equate them.   In the Psalms of David there are a number of verses in which the LORD speaks to or about the Messiah as His Son.    The Old and New Testaments use the expression “son of God” with several different meaning.   In the book of Job, the “sons of God” who assemble in His court are usually understood to be the angels.  In St. Paul’s sermon at Mars Hill he spoke of all people as being God’s children.   In the Old Testament the nation Israel is sometimes spoken of as God’s son and in the Johannine literature of the New Testament believers in Jesus are said to be children of God.   When either Testament speaks of Jesus, the Christ, as the Son of God, however, He is not spoken of as being One Son among many, but as God’s Only Son.   Similarly, when Jesus speaks of God the Father, He sometimes speaks of Him as His Father and He sometimes speaks of Him to His disciples as “your Father”, but He never speaks of God as “Our Father” so as to make His Sonship identical with that of His disciples.   While the Lord’s Prayer begins with “Our Father” this is not Jesus including Himself with His disciples in “Our” and joining them in a common prayer but prescribing this form of prayer to them.    The way in which Jesus is God’s Son, therefore, is unique to Himself and not shared with any other.


Everything in the portion of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed that we are considering alongside the second Article of the Apostles’ Creed that is not also found in the second Article is there for the purpose of clarifying precisely what it means that Jesus is the Son of God.   This was at the heart of the controversy over which the two first Ecumenical Councils, the ones which gave us the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, were convened.   A priest in Alexandria named Arius taught that Jesus was the first creation of God, Who had a beginning before which He was not, that God had created Him out of nothing with a similar but not identical nature to His Own, and then through Him had created all other things.    When his heresy began to spill out and infect other dioceses and provinces outside of Alexandria, the First Council of Nicaea was convened to deal with the controversy.   The orthodox side, led nominally by Arius’ own bishop, the Patriarch Alexander I of Alexandria, but in actuality by his archdeacon Athanasius, prevailed, the Arian positions were anathematized, and the Council published the original Nicene Creed, but the controversy continued long after with the Arians at times having the upper hand (Athanasius, who succeeded Alexander as Patriarch of Alexandra, was temporarily deposed of his See for seven years and was sent into exile on five separate occasions), making necessary the First Council of Constantinople which revised the Creed into the form we know today and condemned Arianism as heresy.


Before the second Ecumenical Council produced the final version of the Creed there were numerous attempts by Arian groups and other similar heresies to revise the Nicene Creed to their liking.   An account of these can be found in the Historia Ecclesiastica of Socrates Scholasticus, the fifth century Christian historian who picked up where Eusebius of Caesarea, the “Christian Herodotus” left off. (2)  The word in the Nicene Creed to which the most objections were made was ὁμοούσιον which means “of the same essence”.   The heretical revisions replaced this word with such alternatives as ὁμοιούσιον which means “of a similar essence” and ὅμοιον which means “similar” in a more general sense.   There are many today who consider such disputes to be hairsplitting but the orthodox side was right to stand its ground and insist upon ὁμοούσιον because that one iota that separates ὁμοούσιον from ὁμοιούσιον is the difference between the Son being God and the Son being a creature, the closest to God of all creatures, but a creature nonetheless.   The word ὁμοούσιον captures what it is that makes Jesus’ Sonship distinct from that of all lesser beings who are in some lesser sense children of God.   Human beings in general and angels are “sons of God” in the sense that they are His creatures but this does not make them God.   Christians are children of God through regeneration (John 1:12-13) and adoption (Rom. 8:15) but this does not make them God.   In creation, living things reproduce after their own kind.   A cat gives birth to a cat, a dog sires another dog, a bird lays an egg and when it hatches it is another bird that comes out, etc.   A man has a son and that son is a man like his father.   This is the sense in which Jesus is God’s Son and in this sense of the word God has only the One Son, the Son Who is God as His Father is God.    ὁμοούσιον was the best word for this because it guarded against the Arian heresy that Jesus is of a similar but different and lesser nature to God the Father without lending any support to the Sabellian heresy which stresses the unity in nature of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to the point that it denies the distinction between the Persons.


There is another way in which the Creed expresses the truth that Jesus’ Sonship to the Father is the kind of Sonship that means that He like His Father is God and this is the word “begotten”.   In the English text of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed this word appears three times.   The first of these is when it says that Jesus Christ is “the only-begotten Son of God”.   Here “only-begotten” is the translation of τὸν μονογενῆ, the same word that is translated this way in the Authorized Bible in John 3:16.   In the last century or so a consensus has arisen among New Testament Greek scholars this is a mistranslation based upon a mistaken etymology and that this word is better understood as meaning “unique” or “one of a kind”.   This consensus is wrong, but even if it were correct it would not apply to the other two instances of “begotten” for in these the word γεννηθέντα is used which is the aorist passive participle of the verb which means “beget”.   While this verb when used of the relationship between two created beings signifies that the begetter existed before the begotten when used of the Eternal Uncreated Father and His Eternal Uncreated Son it indicates the priority of the Father in the sense that He is the Source of the Son and the Son comes from Him but not priority in any temporal sense.   That there never was a time before the Father had His Son is, indeed, what the two uses of “begotten” signify, the first by saying that the Son was begotten of the Father “before all worlds”, that is to say, before Creation, of which time is a dimension, the second by saying that “begotten” does not mean “created”.   Theologically, this truth is usually referred to as the “eternal generation” of the Son, although the term filiation is also used.


These truths, that Jesus as the Son comes from the Father in such a way that What the Father is, God, He, the Son, is also are simply stated in each of the expressions “God of God”, “Light of Light” and “Very God of Very God”.


In this Article of the Creed we also affirm the Son’s Lordship.   Saying that Jesus Christ is Lord can be another way of affirming His deity.   To avoid profaning the divine Name, the custom had developed in the Hebrew tradition of saying the word that means “Lord” instead when reading the Old Testament text.    When the Old Testament was translated into the Greek Septuagint this custom influenced the translators to put κύριος in the place of the divine Name and this practice persists into our English translation where the divine Name is transliterated as Jehovah or Jah in only a small handful of instances but otherwise rendered LORD spelled in all capitals to distinguish where the Name of God is what is indicated from places where אֲדֹנָי appears in the Hebrew text in which cases only the L is capitalized.  When the New Testament calls Jesus κύριος, sometimes this word has the weight that it has in the LXX when it stands in for the Name of God, at other times it is used in a more literal sense of “Ruler” or “Master”.   These meanings overlap, of course – Jesus as God is the Ultimate Sovereign Ruler of all – but there is a real distinction.  Generally, when Jesus is declared to be Lord in a confessional sort of way (Rom. 10:9) the emphasis is upon His deity, when is spoken of as Lord in a more personal sort of way, the emphasis is upon His authority in His relationship with His disciples.    In the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed the word “Lord” is qualified by the number “One”.  This is directly parallel to how the Creed declares God to be One in the first Article about the Father.    In the Nicene Creed, therefore, the emphasis in affirming Jesus’ Lordship is upon His deity.   The Apostles’ Creed, however, which qualifies the word “Lord” with the possessive “our”, places the emphasis in His Lordship upon His relationship of authority to we who confess Him as such.   The two versions of the Creed, therefore, complement each other, and present both aspects of Jesus’ Lordship as it is found in the New Testament.


The final affirmation in this portion of the Creed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan version is “through whom all things were made”.   This wording identifies the Son’s role in Creation in terms of instrumentality or means.  The Son is the instrument through Whom the Father created all things.   This is what we find asserted by St. John in the third verse of His Gospel “all things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made”.   This follows shortly after St. John’s introduction of Jesus as “the Word” Who was “in the beginning” with God and Who “was God”.  This alludes to the first chapter of Genesis which also starts with the words “in the beginning” and in which God creates all things through the means of His Word.


The second Article is all about the deity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.   We shall, Lord willing, next look at the third Article, in which the focus shifts to His humanity, God the Son become Man.




 (1)   “τοὐτέστιν ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Πατρός” is asserted with more precision as “ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί” and  “Θεὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ” as “Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ”.

(2)   Eusebius was present at the Council of Nicaea as Bishop of Caesarea but finished writing his History just prior to the Council and concluded his narrative with the triumph of Constantine over his rivals.



Friday, February 10, 2023

Thanks for the Laugh Tucker, But No, His Majesty’s Free Canadian Subjects Do Not Need Your Type of “Liberation”

 As a madman who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, So is the man that deceiveth his neighbor, and saith, Am not I in sport? (Proverbs 26:18-19)


There was a dinner once, one of those formal affairs that people pay to attend and where they are forced to listen to a seemingly endless program of speeches.  At this one, the audience was about evenly divided between Canadians and Americans and they were intermixed among the various tables.   At the table where the speakers were sitting a debate broke out over concepts and styles of humour.   One speaker took the position that Canadians and Americans were indistinguishable in their senses of humour.   Another argued that Canadian humour was distinct from American humour. 


The debate continued through a couple of the formal speeches until the second debater, the one who contended for a distinction between Canadian and American humour, was on dock to speak next.   At this point he said that he would settle the matter.   “I’m up next”, he said.  “I bet you that I can separate the Canadians from the Americans in the room with a single joke.”


His interlocutor agreed to the bet and the speaker ahead of him concluded his speech.   “The ones who laugh are the Canadians” he said before going to the podium.


“Ladies and gentlemen” he said “I’m afraid I have some bad news.   The world will end at 7:30 tonight.   8:00 in Newfoundland”.


The preceding joke has, of course, been made largely obsolete by the demise of broadcast television and the explosion of new communications technology as well as by the waning number of Canadians who listen to or watch the CBC in any media format.   Today, the “8:00 in Newfoundland” joke would be more effective at distinguishing between older and younger generations of Canadians than distinguishing between Canadians and Americans.


Fox News host Tucker Carlson maintains that we Canadians have no sense of humour and cannot take a joke.    Is he right?


The backstory to this begins with a remark he made towards the end of last month on “Tucker Carlson Today.”   This is the show he does on Fox Nation, the station’s streaming platform.  It has different content and a different format from “Tucker Carlson Tonight”,his weekday evening show on the station’s main cable/satellite platform.   He was joking with a guest about our Prime Minister, Captain Airhead.    In this context, he brought up all the money the United States is wasting on the Ukraine and asked “Why are we not sending an armed force north to liberate Canada from Trudeau?   And I mean it”.


This came to the attention of Matthew Green, the Member representing Hamilton Centre in the House of Commons, who raised a motion on Tuesday, 26 January, calling upon the House to unanimously condemn Carlson’s remark.   Green and the party he represents, the socialist NDP, apparently took the Fox host’s remark as a serious proposal.   The motion did not receive the unanimous consent that was sought and was defeated.  


This prompted a response from Carlson on his show the following Wednesday.   We don’t want to be too picayune or anything, but we did not suggest the armed forces liberate Canada” he said, either having forgotten his exact words or attempting to get the maximum mileage out of the distinction between a suggestion and a question.   Then, after a few remarks about everyone who cares about rights having fled Canada, Canada having become a dictatorship, the United States not liking dictatorships, and the like, he said that there is “so little going on in Canada, like civil liberties, that if you tell a joke about Canada, they go bonkers”.  


Green and his party, who have not let the matter drop but taken it from the floor of the House of Commons to their webpage where they are asking people to sign an online petition telling Tucker Carlson that his “hate” isn’t welcome in Canada, have responded very foolishly.   Even though he said “And I mean it” the overall laughing, flippant, tone of the conversation rather contradicted these words which he seems to have used much in the same manner in which teenagers, college students, progressive activists and other empty-headed twits use the word “literally”, i.e., as a sort of emphatic punctuation rather than with its actual meaning.   Carlson was joking.   It was an extremely tasteless joke.   Jokes about invading someone else’s country belong in the same category as jokes about murdering someone else’s children or raping his wife.   It is best not to bestow dignity upon such by acknowledging them, much less making an issue out of them in the halls of Parliament.  


Everything I just said applies to the joke that Tucker Carlson told intentionally.   There is another joke in his words, one which I rather suspect he told unwittingly.   It is a much better joke.


It is a joke to think of the United States “liberating” another country.    From the moment they staged their Revolution in the Eighteenth Century the Americans have been talking incessantly about “freedom” and “liberating” people.  All this is and all it has ever been is enough hot air to float a fleet of Chinese spy balloons.  The Americans fought their Revolution to “free” themselves from the most liberal government in the world at the time.   That’s liberal in the older and better sense of the word which referred to the belief that government power needed to be restrained and limited to protect the personal rights and freedoms of the governed.  The American revolutionaries falsely accused the British government of tyrannizing them despite that government’s having taken a largely laissez-faire approach to them, because it would not let them forcibly convert the French Roman Catholics of Quebec to English-speaking Protestantism and would not let them go into Indian territory and take it by force.   When, about thirty years after their Revolution the Americans did indeed try to “liberate” Canada they found that the Canadians correctly understood their “liberation” to mean “conquest” and preferred to remain in the British Empire.   The Canadians fought alongside the British army and successfully repelled the American invaders.    In this period, between the Americans having attained independence from the British Empire in the eighteenth century and British North America’s Confederation into the Dominion of Canada in the late nineteenth century, we who remained in the British Empire generally enjoyed greater freedom, less regulation, and more decentralized governance than the Americans did under their new federal republic.


Before proceeding to comment on the United States’ next big “liberation” project I would like to expand upon the last sentence of the last paragraph by saying with regards to the relative freedom of Canada and the United States that the nineteenth century was not the last time in which the case could be made for Canada being the freer of the two countries.   It made news last month when the Frazer Institute in Canada and the Cato Institute in the United States released the 2022 edition of the Human Freedom Index and Canada was in thirteenth place – a drop from her previous spot of sixth, and the first time since 2012 that Canada has fallen below the top ten.   In the 2022 edition of the Index of Economic Freedom  Canada ranks lower yet, at fifteenth place.   Undoubtedly the present Liberal government has contributed significantly to the decline in Canadian freedom – the compilers of the Human Freedom Index say that a large part of this was due to Canada’s harsh pandemic measures and while provincial governments, mostly Conservative, contributed to this, the main push for lockdowns, forced masking, and vaccine mandates came from the Dominion government.   Note, however, where the United States stands on both of these Indexes.   She is twenty-third on the Human Freedom Index and twenty-fifth on the Index of Economic Freedom.   In other words on both she is ten spots below Canada.   If we switch from discussing freedom in general terms to specific freedoms examples of freedoms that seem to have stronger constitutional protection in the United States than in Canada can be found.   Among fundamental freedoms, freedom of speech is the example that stands out and among auxiliary freedoms, the freedom to own and carry arms.   This, however, merely makes the rankings in these indexes that deal with freedom in more general terms all the more striking. These relative rankings are not an anomaly of the 2022 editions.  Nor can they be explained by pro-Trudeau bias.   The Cato Institute and Frazer Institute are libertarian think tanks and the Index of Economic Freedom is published by the Heritage Foundation – the foremost American conservative think tank. If there is any bias it would be in the opposite direction.   Undoubtedly such facts will cause some sort of mental breakdown among those incapable of distinguishing between talking the most and the loudest about freedom on the one hand and actually possessing and practicing it on the other.    


After failing to conquer Canada in the War of 1812, the next big “liberation” project undertaken by the United States followed upon the organization of the Republican Party in 1854 and the first election of a nominee of that party to the office of President of the United States in 1860.   Thirteen states found Abraham Lincoln to be such an insufferable ass that upon his election they decided to exercise the right of secession which the founders of their republic had written into their constitution after the original thirteen colonies had illegally seceded from the British Empire.   The breakaway states formed their own federal republic, the Confederate States of America, which the United States promptly invaded and conquered, employing brutal scorched earth tactics in what remains the bloodiest war in their history.    The states that wanted to secede were subjugated and those that had remained in the Union found themselves, alongside the conquered South, now saddled with a federal government that was exponentially more centralized, more powerful, and more intrusive than it had been before.   Naturally, the American government spun this as a war of “liberation” or, to use the synonym that was in vogue at the time, “emancipation”, i.e., of the slaves, and to be sure, after the war they passed the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing most types of slavery.   It is interesting, however, how that in his first Inaugural Address Lincoln had promised to do the exact opposite of that if the seceding states returned to the Union, whereas the Confederates had offered to abolish slavery if the United States would let them leave.   One might be tempted to think that the abolition of slavery, the accomplishment of which, oddly enough, required a deadly internecine war nowhere other than in the United States, was merely a pretext and that the true purpose of the war was to concentrate the political power that had previously been diffused through the American states in the American federal government in Washington D. C.


When the United States decided to enter World War I on the side of Great Britain, France and the other Allies their president at the time, Woodrow Wilson, sold it to Congress as a war to “make the world safe for democracy”.   Since such idealistic romantic drivel had nothing to do with the war as it had been fought  up to that point Wilson had to give the war a makeover and inserted into the conditions for peace at the end of the war that the German and Austrian emperors abdicate their thrones and these countries become republics.   This boneheaded blunder created the vacuum that two decades later was exploited by a man who consolidated both republics into one, made himself dictator, and set out to conquer Europe.   Once again Britain and the Commonwealth and France went to war with Germany and once again the United States joined us after her morally handicapped president figured out a way of maneuvering Japan into bombing his own country.   The Allies invaded Nazi-occupied Europe on D-Day and for once the United States took part in an invasion that actually was a liberation as the Allies drove the Nazi occupiers out of Western Europe.   Eastern Europe did not fare so well.   There it was the Soviet Union that drove the Wehrmacht back to Germany but rather than liberate these countries it enslaved them to Communism.   This was an outcome that the other Allies did not want but was forced upon them by American president Franklin Roosevelt, the bitch to Joseph Stalin’s butch.  


At the end of the Second World War, therefore, the Soviet Union occupied Eastern Europe up to and including East Germany.    Soon thereafter the Chinese Civil War would start up again and the Chinese Communists, whom the Americans had insisted must be part of any Chinese government that wished to have good relations with the United States, drove their main rivals the Chinese Nationalists off the mainland which they then turned into the People’s Republic of China.       The Americans had brought the Second World War to an end with the unconscionable act of actually using the new weapon of mass destruction they had invented in the Manhattan Project to kill thousands of civilians in a country that had been trying to negotiate peace terms for a year.   By the end of the decade the Soviets had obtained this technology and the nuclear arms race was on.   In the Cold War, the United States, now the leading power in the West, maintained military bases in Western Europe and a nuclear arsenal to deter invasion from the Communist bloc.   The nuclear arms race, however, meant that if the USA and the USSR were to directly attack each other both would end up destroyed and the whole world along with them.   Therefore, while the Soviets and Americans both sponsored revolutionary groups that sought to take over the governments of third party countries – and each described the goal of the groups they sponsored as “liberation” – neither was willing to risk the direct confrontation that would bring about Mutually Assured Destruction.  Accordingly, military ventures in which the United States came to the assistance of someone fighting against actual Communist forces, such as the Vietnam War tended to end in failure or at best stalemate as in Korea.   At the same time they used the Cold War as a pretext to overthrow the governments of several countries – Guatemala in 1954 for example – for reasons of their own that had nothing to do with Communism.  The countries they so “liberated” were hardly better off for it  


This last item, that the United States used the Cold War as a pretext to “liberate”, i.e., overthrow the governments of several countries for reasons that had nothing to do with containing or rolling back the spread of Soviet Communism, is the germ of truth in the interpretation of the Cold War popular with leftists of the Noam Chomsky variety.   Otherwise, this interpretation which treats the Soviet threat itself as having been non-existent, a fiction devised to cloak American capitalist imperialism, is wrong and laughably so.     Just as laughable, however, was the idea of the United States as the great protector of the free world against Soviet tyranny.  In many ways this is comparable to a mob protection racket.   You know how these work.   The mob boss sends some of the boys over to a local business where they say “real nice place you’ve got here, it would be a shame if something happened to it” and collect a payoff from the business owner for protection from themselves.  The Communist threat was real alright, but it came with a “Made in the USA” stamp on it.    I pointed out earlier how the United States’ having demanded the abolition of the German and Austrian monarchies created the vacuum that enabled Adolf Hitler to rise to power.  While the American government did not have the opportunity of overthrowing the Russian Tsar in the way she drove the Hohenzollern and Hapsburg dynasties from their thrones since Tsarist Russia was on the side of the Allies, her Wall Street bankers financed the Bolshevik Revolution that transformed Orthodox Tsarist Russia and her Empire into the Communist, atheist, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics with the knowledge and approval of Woodrow Wilson.   As hard as it is for those raised in the Cold War with its dualistic mythos of the capitalist United States as the champion of light and freedom against the Communist Soviet Union the avatar of darkness and bondage to wrap their heads around the fact in the first half of the Twentieth Century right up to the start of the Cold War the attitude of the American government and indeed the American establishment in general towards the Bolsheviks and their regime was adulatory and supportive.   The Americans of that era saw the Bolsheviks as being brothers-in-arms in the common cause of Modern progress.   The difference between the Communist economic system and their own was less important to such Americans than their similarities.   Both the American and the Bolshevik regimes had been born out of revolution.   The Americans had rebelled against their king and established a federal republic, the Bolsheviks had murdered the Tsar and his family and established a federation of republics.   The Americans in their Bill of Rights had prohibited church establishment in their First Amendment, the Bolsheviks declared Soviet Russia to be officially atheist and sought to eradicate the church.   The Bolshevik approach was more murderous than the American, but both saw monarchy and the established church as that from which people needed to be liberated.   Both saw revolution as the means of liberation.   Both had a linear progressive or Whig view of history as moving from a dark past to a bright, shining, future and both had a materialistic faith in man’s ability to solve his problems through science and technology.   The United States was one of the first, if not the first, Western country to enact most of the planks of Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto.   For example, the second and fifth planks (“a heavy progressive or graduated income tax” and “centralization of credit in the hands of the state”) were implemented in the United States in 1913, the year before World War I broke out (1).   FDR’s fawning and obsequious behavour towards the worst of the Soviet dictators was not just some sick idiosyncrasy of his own, it was this earlier, positive, American attitude towards Bolshevism taken to its extreme.   While Americans quickly learned the true nature of the Soviet regime with the onset of the Cold War elements of the earlier attitude persisted until 1959 when the Americans helped put Fidel Castro into power in Cuba.   This too they thought of as an act of “liberation”.


When it comes to freedom or liberty, Americanism is largely zeal without knowledge.   The idea of revolution as the means of liberation is nonsense to anyone familiar with the history of revolutions the outcome of which is generally tyranny.  A stable and secure civil order is the prerequisite of freedom.  Revolutions are by their very nature inimical to stability and security which furthermore are the properties of long established institutions not of newly minted ones.  The new regime that emerges from a revolution has seized power, but has not attained authority and so must rely upon naked power to govern.   The very word tyranny itself originally spoke of usurpation, an ancient testimony to the fact that power that is seized is power that is abused.   The equation of freedom with democracy or the republican form of government is also nonsense.   Every dictator in the history of the world has come to power by claiming to speak for the people as their voice and champion and the most brutal dictators have been those with the masses behind them.   Every Communist state has been republican in form as was Nazi Germany.  With only a couple of exceptions the freest countries of the last century and indeed all of history have had parliamentary governments under reigning monarchs.   This is hardly surprising given what we just stated about a stable and secure civil order being the prerequisite of freedom and stability and security being traits that come with long establishment.   Monarchy is the most ancient and stable of government institutions.   Our American friends and neighbours are quite ass-backwards on all this.


Tucker Carlson appears to think that Canada has become a dictatorship under the premiership of Captain Airhead.   Is he right?


Captain Airhead certainly has a dictatorial mindset.   This was evident in the way he led his own party before he became Prime Minister and it has been evident in the way he has governed Canada since.   It was most on display in his response to the Freedom Convoy last year.   Rather than meet with and speak to those who were loudly but peacefully protesting his vaccine mandates he became the first Prime Minister in the Dominion’s history to invoke the Emergencies Act.   His father had been widely thought to have acted dictatorially in 1970 when he invoked the War Measures Act to deal with terrorists who were kidnapping and murdering people.    Captain Airhead invoked the successor legislation to the War Measures Act to crush a peaceful protest and moreover did so when the only aspect of the protest that was anything more than a nuisance to other Canadians, the partial blocking of traffic on important trade routes, had already been dealt with by local law enforcement without the use of emergency powers.   This was clearly the act of a Prime Minister who had lost whatever respect he may ever have had for the limits that tradition, constitutional law, or even common decency place on the powers of his office.   He froze the bank accounts of ordinary Canadians who were fed up with draconian pandemic measures and had donated a few dollars to the protest against such, he sent armed and mounted policemen in to thuggishly brutalize the protestors, and threw the protest’s organizers in prison.   Then, nine days after it was invoked he rescinded it.  However much he might think and act like a dictator, Canada’s constitution still works sufficiently to prevent him from actually being one.  After the Prime Minister declares a public order emergency both chambers of Parliament have to confirm the invoking of the Emergencies Act.   Captain Airhead was able to obtain such confirmation from the House of Commons when he and the leader of the socialist party shut down debate and whipped their caucuses into voting for it.   The Senate, however, was not about to rubber stamp the Emergencies Act.  They debated it vigorously and it would seem that it was because he did not have enough votes in the Senate to obtain confirmation that the Prime Minister revoked the Act and voluntarily gave up his emergency powers rather than face the humiliation of being stripped of them by the chamber of sober second thought.   Another aspect of our constitution that likely contributed to the revoking of the Act is the fact that Canada is a federation.   The Prime Minister had consulted with the provincial premiers before invoking the Emergencies Act, had received the general response that it was a bad idea, and a few days before he revoked it a couple of provincial governments announced that they would be filing legal challenges to it.


Could this sort of thing ever happen in the United States?


The year before the Freedom Convoy was the year in which the United States swore in a new president, Mr. Magoo.   To secure his inauguration, they sent in thousands of National Guardsmen and other armed forces and turned Washington DC into a military occupied zone.   Rather poor imagery for a country that boasts of its peaceful transfers of power but this was deemed necessary because of an incident that had taken place two weeks prior on the Feast of Epiphany.  That was the day that the American Congress was scheduled to meet to confirm the results of the previous year’s presidential election.   These were highly irregular results to say the least.  The incumbent, even though he increased his vote count from the previous election and carried almost all the bellwether states and countries, ordinarily near infallible predictors of an incumbent victory, apparently lost to Mr. Magoo, who’s having been nominated by his own party was somewhat difficult to explain given how poorly he had done in the primaries.   At any rate, the incumbent, Donald the Orange, believed he had good cause to suspect foul play.   As Congress convened on Epiphany, he held a massive rally of his supporters and aired his grievances.  The rally concluded with a protest march, and a portion of the protestors broke away from the main group and entered the Capitol.   This was declared to be an “insurrection”, “storming of the Capitol”, “coup”, “occupation” and “attack” and the powers that be in America continue to insist upon the use of this language although the facts don’t seem to warrant it.   It is a strange sort of insurrection whose participants feel no need to arm themselves to the teeth and mostly just walk around in weird costumes and take selfies.   In the fighting that broke out as the police went in to clear and secure the Capitol there were several injuries on both sides but the protestors clearly got the worst of it.   One of them was shot by the police.


Captain Airhead and his cabinet in framing their response to the Freedom Convoy were obviously seeking to evoke the image of what had occurred in Washington DC on the previous year’s Epiphany.   In both countries these events were followed up by public inquiries.   Note the difference, however.   In the Dominion of Canada, the focus of the public inquiry was the government’s response to the Freedom Convoy protest, her use of the Emergencies Act, and the question of whether or not it was justified under the terms of the Act itself.   The cabinet, including the Prime Minister himself, were essentially put on trial, held account for their actions, and subjected to grilling cross-examination.   In the American republic, the focus of the ongoing inquiry by the US House Select Committee has been on Mr. Magoo’s predecessor whom they are desperately trying to blame and prosecute for the “insurrection”.


So thank you for the laugh, Tucker, but no, we are far better off and far more free as subjects of His Majesty Charles III here in the Dominion of Canada, even with that dimwitted moron Captain Airhead as Prime Minister, than we would be “liberated” by your republic.   Let us worry about Captain Airhead.   You have enough problems of your own with Mr. Magoo.



(1)  Canada, by contrast, introduced the income tax at the end of the War as a measure to pay for it.   The income tax here never got as heavy and progressive as it got in the United States from the 1940s to the early 1960s.   From 1944 to 1963 the top American income tax rate never dropped below 90%.   It never made it that high here in Canada.   The Bank of Canada was chartered in 1934, twenty one years after the United States passed the Federal Reserve Act.