Saturday, May 02, 2015

Sui Juris Churches VIII: The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

(on sui juris churches in general)

Liturgical Family: Byzantine

Primary Liturgical Languages: Church Slavonic and Ukrainian

Juridical Status: Major Archiepiscopal

Approximate Population: Somewhere between 5 and 10 million, about 4 or 5 million of which are in western Ukraine.

Brief History: The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, also on rare occasions known as the Kyivan Catholic Church, is the largest of all the Eastern Catholic particular churches, and it has been growing swiftly. It is very well organized, deeply entrenched, has extensive influence. For all that, it is not officially a patriarchal church; Rome has avoided actually recognizing it as having that status in order to avoid antagonizing the Orthodox.

The roots of the modern Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, so called to distinguish it from the Latin Catholic church in the region, are found in the Ruthenian Unions, especially the Union of Brest in 1595. The Ruthenian Church at that time was quite extensive, geographically and culturally. The fates of different populations went different ways. The Ukrainian Catholics became embroiled in the complicated political situation created by the decline of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was cannibalized in the late eighteenth century by three nations, Russia, Austria, and Prussia. In the aftermath of several defeated Polish uprisings, some of which had had extensive support among Catholics in the Russian Partition of Poland, the Russian Empire began actively to suppress the Byzantine Rite Catholics in its territory. The suppression was extensive, systematic, and very effective.

As a measure of protection, the primary center of Byzantine Rite Catholicism in the region was shifted from Kiev, under Russian domination, to Lviv, which was in Austrian jurisdiction. The Austrian Empire under Maria Theresa actively supported the Byzantine Rite Catholic populations. It throve, and the populations in these areas were firmly loyal to the Austrian Empire. The collapse of that Empire would have devastating effects. It now found itself divided among several different nations, and not all of them were friendly any longer. There was active harassment, particularly in Poland, which saw the Greek Catholics in the area as untrustworthy. In addition, it lacked the resources for unity that it once had, and in 1916 Rome split the Ruthenian population according to linguistic lines, leading to the distinction between Ruthenian Catholics and Ukrainian Greek Catholics.

If the aftermath of World War I was a serious blow to the Ukrainian Greek Catholics, the aftermath of World War II would be even more devastating. Communist regimes began actively persecuting the church, transferring its property to the Russian Orthodox Church and driving it underground. The persecutions were very effective, but in many areas it was clear that there was still at least slow growth among the Ukrainian Greek Catholic population. The Communist regime would occasionally conduct purges of newly ordained priests or close down a convent or monastery operating in secret. From afar the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was actively supported by Rome, but there was not much that could practically be done.

The Metropolitan Archbishop of Lviv, Josyf Slipyj, was arrested in 1945 and eventually sentenced to the Siberian Gulag. In 1963, he was finally set free due to the influence of John XXIII and John F. Kennedy; because of this, he was able to participate in the Second Vatican Council. From this time, the Ukrainians began petitioning Rome to recognize him as patriarch, but Paul VI declined and instead created the position of 'Major Archbishop'. During this period the headquarters of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church were in Rome, at the church of Santi Sergio e Bacco.

In 1989, through the influence of Gorbachev's liberalization reforms, the church was able to begin functioning in public, and Slipyj's successor was able to return to Lviv. It found that it was in something of a mess; it had nothing except the population of faithful Ukrainian Catholics. It began slowly to rebuild; the tensions between Catholics trying to get back Catholic property and Orthodox who had inherited it occasionally spilled over into violence. Since the independence of Ukraine in 1991, however, the church has flourished, and in 2004, the primary see of the church was moved from Lviv back to Kiev (Kyiv).

Notable Monuments: St. George Ukrainian Cathedral in Lviv; Santi Sergio e Bacco and Santa Sofia a Via Boccea in Rome.

Notable Saints: Josaphat Kuntsevych (November 25). The process for canonization of Venerable Andrey Sheptytsky is relatively advanced, so he may well be raised to the general calendar at some point. There are also many martyrs under Communist regimes, like Blessed Lojze Grozde, who may one day be raised to the general calendar. As a Byzantine Rite church, Ukrainian Greek Catholics have a number of Orthodox saints on their calendars.

Notable Religious Institutes: As with the Ruthenians Catholic Church, the Order of St. Basil has always had a major place in the religious life of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

Extent of Official Jurisdiction: The Major Archeparchy of Kyiv–Halych, twelve archeparchies (mostly in Ukraine but also including archeparchies for Canada, the United States, and Brazil), and several other eparchies and exarchates scattered through the world. (Sphere of influence always extends beyond the official jurisdiction due to members of the church living outside of any official jurisdiction of the church.)

Online Sources and Resources:

Friday, May 01, 2015

Age of Ultron

I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. A few scattered thoughts:

* The primary weakness is that it is overloaded; it is trying to do far more things than it can entirely do successfully. The first Avengers movie managed to work despite a weak story premise by keeping things relatively simple and streamlined -- there was a lot going on, spectacle-wise, but the actual plot and themes were straightforward. This movie does not stay streamlined. This is practically symbolized by the movie itself, which has a plethora of cameos.

* I don't know if it's just me, but the cinematography also seemed sloppier in this one -- there are big flashy spectacle scenes in which it is difficult to figure out exactly what's going on.

* The reason I think it doesn't fail, and manages to make a sequel almost as good as the first Avengers movie, is that almost all of its story premises are better than the story premise of the first one. There's more than one, and one is occasionally left feeling that a good thread in the movie would have been much better if it had been its own movie. But the way in which they are integrated is at least watchable.

* The scene with all of them just hanging out after the party (which comes somewhere in the middle of the movie) is even better than the trailer suggests. Of course, part of the joke (which they put in the trailer) was that Captain America is one of the very small handful of people in the comics who actually is 'worthy to wield the power of Thor'; he has wielded Mjolnir more than once. But it works even better with more context.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Radio Greats: Butch Minds the Baby (The Damon Runyon Theatre)

Damon Runyon was one of the great short story writers of the twentieth century. His stories are humorous tales of the Broadway area of New York, and are all about gangsters and men of less than entirely reputable character, murderers and thieves and the like, who are nonetheless highly articulate and very courteous murderers and thieves. Runyon is most famous for the fact that the musical Guys and Dolls is based on his work, but he was much more widely known, and there was an entire radio series devoted to his tales, The Damon Runyon Theatre, one of the comic crown jewels of the Golden Age of Radio. (The radio series was also converted to a TV series, a medium somewhat less suitable to it, although the TV series did quite well.)

The short stories are always told from the viewpoint of an anonymous narrator who seems to know everybody and be known by everyone despite always only being a bystander; in the radio series, he is given a name, and, indeed, the only suitable one: Broadway. The language, which is one of the great things about a Runyon short story, is a mix of extraordinarily formal and very slangy. Almost everything is told in present tense, and there are no contractions. So we get curiously musical passages like the following, from a story called "Tight Shoes":

He is a very big guy with several chins and very funny feet, which is why he is called Feet. These feet are extra large feet, even for a big guy, and Dave the Dude says Feet wears violin cases for shoes. Of course this is not true, because Feet cannot get either of his feet into a violin case, unless it is a case for a very large violin, such as a cello.

It's a kind of comic poetry. And with the right voice, it works wonderfully on the radio. And John Brown, a great comic radio actor, delivers Broadway's narrative lines almost perfectly in a Lower East Side accent that manages to sound completely practical even while saying the most absurd things.

Every episode is good, so it's hard to pick one. After some back-and-forth, I decided on "Butch Minds the Baby", in which a bunch of thieves (and Broadway, who tries unsuccessfully to wiggle out of involvement at every turn) run into some complications due to the fact that their safecracker, Big Butch, doesn't have a babysitter for his son, John Aloysius Ignatius, Jr. Big Butch has to mind the baby or his wife will put the blast on him....

You can listen to "Butch Minds the Baby" (Episode 9) at the Internet Archive, as well as all the other episodes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Little by Little

Love requires a decree of the will; but when the will has decreed, love does not reach perfection all at once. It requires time. It kindles little by little, until, by continued fanning, it bursts at last into a flame. So with the love of virtue and happiness wholly divested of their accidental surroundings. First, a thoroughly purified knowledge of their nature must be fixed in the mind, and this takes a very long time. Then there must come the volition, strong and determined, and this also is a thing that cannot be withdrawn from the laws of time. Only after this, that is to say, after very protracted and oft-repeated acts and efforts, can the love of pure virtue and happiness rise to that height of fortitude which gives it strength to overcome all the allurements of sensible things. Such at least is the ordinary course which love pursues, if not in each individual, certainly in humanity at large. A long time, therefore, must have elapsed before it could run through all this course, and so reach perfection in the end.

Rosmini, Theodicy, Volume 1, pp. 327-328.

This is part of Rosmini's account of moral progress. Any human being in any state of human civilization can devote themselves to virtue, but love presupposes knowledge, and so the ability to love virtue as such, rather than in this or that particular form, requires that virtue's essential features have already been distinguished out and conceptualized. Thus people in crude societies can be virtuous and pursue virtue, but they have difficulty distinguishing between virtue itself and this or that particular form in which the virtue happens to express itself in their society. Thus, for instance, moral happiness tends to be thought of in terms of material happiness -- but also vice versa -- and virtue tends to be thought of as requiring a particular customary shape.

A good context for thinking about this, to use a different kind of example from those which Rosmini uses, might be Beowulf. In Beowulf, justice is depicted entirely in material terms: the just king is one who bravely and generously gains wealth for his people. It is not a materialistic conception, because it is genuinely about justice rather than the actual wealth, but the just acts are understood only in this particular form of gathering wealth and distributing it for the good of everyone. The audience for Beowulf would have had difficulty grasping the notion of a king who did not do this in particular and yet was somehow still just, not because they did not know what justice was (they could recognize it in this case), but because they could not fully abstract justice as such from this particular just thing to which they were accustomed, and so tended to treat the general and particular as equivalent.

Once society's development has reached a point that people can recognize the essential features of virtue and distinguish them from the accidental features it has in concrete particular expressions, they can pursue virtue itself and purely for its own sake. (But they also run the opposite danger of overspiritualizing this pursuit and treating it as if virtue could actually be pursued without regard for the features it has in concrete particular expressions. Thus Rosmini says that primitive societies tend to err in moral matters by not making enough distinctions, while modern societies tend to err in moral matters by making too many.) Thus Rosmini insists that human ethics by its nature requires refinement, and this refinement can be quite difficult and take a very long time. A jillion years ago in primitive circumstances, human beings could be just and act justly; but only much experience in these just acts (and, as it happens, much experience of people acting unjustly) could help them be clear about what actually is necessary for just acts in general to be just.

(All of this is complicated a bit by the fact that moral progress is not inevitable, at least not by human means alone; we can degenerate as well as develop, and particular societies themselves can go through cycles of progress and decline. Relatedly, it is complicated by the fact that each generation needs actively build on the discoveries of their predecessors in order to progress at all, so each generation must usually, although with previously discovered shortcuts and the help of more experienced prior generations, learn it all over again. We can all recognize justice and injustice to some extent, but our reasoning depends in great measure on our vocabulary for talking about them, which means that we must be taught the language, or else discover it the long and hard way ourselves.)

Rosmini has an interesting follow-up argument to this. How, if they are not fully conceptualizing justice in its proper form, do people actually practice justice? Rosmini's answer is that this happens through sacrificial systems, in which symbolic exchanges yield representations that can be used in moral reasoning, and through the family, which serves as the primitive community in which we develop and which can then serve as a basis for analogy to broader concerns. Thus our various basic pieties, whether religious or filial, serve as initial templates for virtue generally, something that can start us off and be refined, and he takes it to be the case that this is in fact what providential history shows.

Two Poem Re-Drafts

The Garden

Softly do we fall asleep
in Eden where the angels keep
the garden with their swords of fire;
while praying by the olive tree
we fail our watch in Gethsemane.

Take off the difference of the name --
our bliss, our ache, are but the same;
yes, one is fallen and undone,
redemption's in the other one,
but fall and rising make one path,
and mercy is the heart of wrath.

Softly do we fall asleep
in Eden where the angels keep
the garden with their swords of fire;
while praying by the olive tree
we fail our watch in Gethsemane.

One garden seen in different lights
does shine beneath the stars at night
and gleam beneath the rising sun;
though one is ended, one's begun,
one point they are on rounded line,
as First and Last are one divine.

Softly do we fall asleep
in Eden where the angels keep
the garden with their swords of fire;
while praying by the olive tree
we fail our watch in Gethsemane.

Of Eden's light we are bereft,
but Eden we have never left;
it is but hidden from our eyes,
with none the wiser save the wise;
nor does our scale-blind vision see
that Eden is Gethsemane.

Softly do we fall asleep
in Eden where the angels keep
the garden with their swords of fire;
while praying by the olive tree
we fail our watch in Gethsemane.

There is no difference save the words
and from which side we face the swords
that cut us off from paradise
with light that burns like flame and ice.
Thus here we all are surely shamed,
yet here our virtue is reclaimed.

Softly do we fall asleep
in Eden where the angels keep
the garden with their swords of fire;
while praying by the olive tree,
we fail our watch in Gethsemane.

And wisdom's this: to know the place
wherein resides the human race.
In failing it received a name;
another, when it slew our shame;
so that through glory and through sin
we still are where we've always been.

Softly do we fall asleep
in Eden where the angels keep
the garden with their swords of fire;
praying by the olive tree,
we fail our watch in Gethsemane.

The Narcissist

So fair is his existence,
few hearts resist;
a third of heaven would turn traitor
and give up bliss
to catch the lying promise
of his kiss.

Yes, the Devil is a lovely creature --
and he knows it.
All creation and his smile
show it.

His beauty is so great,
his style so nice;
his smile sparkles so,
like starlit ice,
that God might die to make him --
were that the price.

Yes, the Devil is a lovely creature --
and he knows it.
His actions are so eager
to disclose it!

He sits up in the airs,
face like a god,
devoid of heartfelt cares!
(But it is odd
how frozen he is there
with ruler's rod.)

Yes, the Devil is a lovely creature --
and he knows it.
All creation and his mirror
still suppose it.

His beauty has no match.
No equal vies
to rival the mighty light
with which he lies;
it is so easy, and so simple,
to despise,
if you lift yourself up higher
than the skies.

Yes, the Devil is a lovely creature --
and he knows it.
Would to God he had the grace
not to show it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Scientific Terms We Owe to William Whewell

Good terminology, according to William Whewell, summarizes scientific progress, facilitates classification, and aids in accurate reasoning. It is perhaps fitting, then, that we owe a number of common terms, both in the sciences and about the sciences, to him. Here are some rough notes on the subject.

I. General Terms


Whewell is at least one of the first persons to use the word 'scientist' in essentially the sense we use today, in an 1834 review of Mary Somerville's On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences; he does not claim to have coined it himself, but is usually thought to have done so. He suggested it again, along with the word physicist, in 1840. The terms did not originally have wide acceptance; they first became common in American English due to various people like C. S. Peirce.

'Consilience' was Whewell's coinage to indicate the phenomenon of how a significant theoretical advance can make two apparently unrelated fields of knowledge "jump together" so that they can be given a unified account.

II. Terms Due to Whewell's Own Research

point of no tide
I once read a paper, I forget by whom, that said in passing that Whewell didn't do any scientific work himself; which is simply wrong. Setting aside the fact that Whewell would not agree with the view of science implied in the suggestion (for Whewell the effort to have good systems of notation and good terminologies is genuine scientific work, and essential to scientific progress, as is the effort to refine one's understanding of scientific methods), Whewell did a fair amount of scientific work in his lifetime, and his tendency to jump around from field to field was a common, although not universal, feature of the scientists of his day. The work which brought him the greatest honors in his day was his work on the theory of tides, which he wanted to bring under the umbrella of a mathematical theory. He failed at this, but it would be a mistake to consider his general work on the tides a failure. For one thing, it is in part due to Whewell that later scientists working on the topic had an idea of the complexity that they needed to take into account, and, for another, he ruled out a large number of false assumptions about the tides in the process (including Whewell's own original assumptions). But more importantly, he pioneered ways in which relevant data about the tides could be gathered and organized in useful form. One of his means of doing this was the cotidal map, which, following a suggestion that seems to have originated with Lubbock, used cotidal lines to indicate places on the globe that experienced high tide at the same time. He learned in the process that this is harder to do right than one might image, but a discovery made by Whewell in 1836 when looking at cotidal data was that there were points in the ocean that were, in effect, always at high tide (an effect visible on cotidal maps -- in Whewell's case, on the cotidal map of the North Sea); this was confirmed in 1840. Whewell's own term for this was simply 'point of no-tide', which is occasionally used even today. The more usual term nowadays, however, is 'amphidromic point', which was coined later by Rollin Harris.

III. Physical Terms


Whewell proposed these to Faraday in 1834. One of Faraday's and Whewell's big concerns in developing the terminology was to come up with a fairly intuitive terminology, which all of these would be to someone who, unlike Faraday, had a solid knowledge of Greek, but one that at the same time would not imply a particular theory of how they worked.

IV. Geological Terms


William Whewell suggested these terms to Lyell in 1831; Lyell had asked Whewell to help him refine terms he was using for geological epochs, and Whewell responded by giving him several suggestions, of which these, added in a postscript, were the ones Lyell decided to use. A major concern for Whewell and Lyell was, as Whewell said, the fact that in scientific matters definition is rarely what you want words for; you usually want them instead to classify.


Whewell seems to have coined these terms in a review of Lyell's Principles of Geology.

V. Miscellaneous

O as the symbol for oxygen
It seems like a minor one, doesn't it? But one of the major scientific disputes in which Whewell was involved was the dispute over the best notation for chemistry, a topic on which there was considerable confusion and disarray at the time, since different chemists used different notations. Setting aside Dalton's symbolic representations, the most important notation system prior to Whewell was that of Berzelius, in which oxygen was represented by dots. Whewell campaigned very strongly for a more purely algebraic system of notation than is found in Berzelian systems, although he was willing to bend some features for practical convenience; one of his extraordinarily and, to us, surprisingly controversial proposals along these lines was his suggestion in 1831 that the letter O be used to indicate oxygen instead of the dots. One of the reasons people were so attached to the dots is that they were seen as neater and more clear than letter O, which increased the need for brackets and parentheses. In any case, the disputes over chemical notation had a long history after the dispute between the Berzelians and the Whewellians, but modern notation has features derived from both.

Whewell equation
The Whewell equation is a formula for describing a plane curve without requiring a particular coordinate system. Whewell proposed a version of it in a paper in 1849; hence the name.

While not coined by Whewell, it is perhaps appropriate, given his extensive mineralogical work that there is a mineral named after him. Whewellite is CaC2O4·H2O, i.e., calcium oxalate monohydrate. As far as I can determine, the name seems to be due to its discoverer, Henry James Brooke; Brooke had already discovered a mineral, which came to be called brookite, and the decision seems to have been made to name it after Whewell to avoid the unseemly situation of two minerals named after one person. At least, this is the reason that seems to be given in most mineral handbooks; how accurate it is, I do not know.

Whewell also has a crater on the Moon named after him.

Body and Soul of Virtue

All external actions, no matter how excellent and admirable they may seem to human eyes, are merely the body of virtue, not its soul. Its soul, its form, lies in the sublimity and purity of the aim of those actions, which is hidden away in the inmost recesses of the human will, where virtue has its throne.

Antonio Rosmini, Theodicy, Volume 1, p. 292.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sui Juris Churches VII: The Ruthenian Catholic Church

(on sui juris churches in general)

Liturgical Family: Byzantine

Primary Liturgical Languages: Church Slavonic and English

Juridical Status: Mixed, but usually classified as Metropolitan Archiepiscopal

Approximate Population (to Nearest 10,000): 650,000.

Brief History: All the particular churches of the Byzantine rite have their little peculiarities arising from their history. The primary peculiarity of the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church is that it does not have a unified structure. In the United States, in which 'Ruthenian Catholic' and 'Byzantine Catholic' are sometimes practically synonymous, the Ruthenians are very well organized and have a Metropolitan Archbishop. But the (much larger) European part of the church is not within his jurisdiction but directly subject to Rome; the juridical status of the Ruthenian Catholic Church in the Ukraine is eparchial, and in the Czech Republic it is an exarchate, and these parts function independently.

The word 'Ruthenian' is related to the word 'Russian'; it generally indicates the population living in Transcarpathia or 'Little Russia'. Like many of the regions of Central Europe, this region has at times been 'Eastern' and at times been 'Western'; the significant factor in this was the rise of Catholic realms like Hungary and Poland. As Hungarian and Polish influence expanded, the Catholic kingdoms began to secure possession of areas of Europe that had previously been Orthodox. This led to a greater interaction between Orthodox and Catholic, and an increase in the likelihood that previously Orthodox clergy would become Catholic. The Ruthenian Catholic Church, in the proper sense, arose through a series of important unions that came about as a result of this interaction.

The Union of Brest occurred in 1595 and united a large number of Ukrainian and Belorussian clergy living in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to Rome. The Union of Uzhhorod in 1646 would follow Brest's lead for clergy living in the Kingdom of Hungary. Another union occurred in 1664 at Mukachevo. All of these were granted the right to continue in their prior rituals and rites, as long as they made certain doctrinal affirmations. For instance, one of the major contentions between East and West had long been the addition of the Filioque to the Nicene Creed; the Ruthenians were not required to add it as long as they affirmed that the doctrine expressed by the phrase was in fact true. They were also granted a relative degree of autonomy after 1771. These Ruthenian 'Uniate' churches, as they were called then, would serve as the direct root for four current particular churches: the Ukrainian and the Belarusian, who are primarily from the Brest line of the Union, and the Slovakian and Ruthenian, who are primarily from the Uzhhorod and Mukachevo lines.

A further complication arose prior to this division, due to the importance of coal mining to nineteenth-century industry; it led to the arrival in North America in the 1870s of many Ruthenian immigrants. The exposure was something of a shock to North American Catholics, who were, of course, Latin rite. It is because of this influx that 'Byzantine Catholic' usually suggests 'Ruthenian Catholic' to North Americans. Tensions began to develop; a number of Ruthenians found the problems severe enough that they became Orthodox, forming one of the seed crystals of the modern Orthodox Church in America. One of these departing priests, Alexis Toth, was canonized a saint by the Orthodox. The problem was severe enough that Pius X in 1907 appointed a bishop for Ruthenians in America (who, again, would at this period include groups who are today part of the Ukrainian and Belorussian churches). This did not resolve all problems, however; there were also tensions among Ruthenians from different parts of Europe. Rome decided to split the Ruthenians into two in 1916, in part because of tensions in America, so that there was now a Ruthenian and a Ukrainian community; the bishop for the exarchate (missionary territory) in the United States for Ruthenians from the Kingdom of Hungary was Basil Takach, and he is considered the first bishop of the modern form of the Ruthenian Catholic Church. Tensions were not easily alleviated, however, and were especially aggravated by the fact that the Latins enforced clerical celibacy, while the Ruthenians allowed priests to marry.

Thus we see the beginnings of the curious juridical structure of the Ruthenians, one arising through a complicated series of contingent historical events; the Ruthenian church in America was forced into greater juridical union due to continual tensions with the Latin bishops, a factor that was lacking for Ruthenians still in Europe. In addition, the Ruthenian church in America began to diverge in other ways; it began petitioning Rome in the 1950s, for instance, to use English as its primary liturgical language. The American exarchate became two eparchies in 1963. In 1969 the American church was raised to Metropolitan status, with Stephen Kocisko as its first Metropolitan Archbishop.

The European Ruthenians, in the meantime, began suffering under an intense persecution by the government of the Soviet Union. The seminary at Uzhhorod was forcibly closed in 1946; Blessed Theodore Romzha was poisoned in 1947; many others died. When the Communist regime fell in 1990, the two branches, American and European, were finally able to begin interacting again. This is the reason why the European branch, although much larger, is nonetheless less juridically developed than the American branch, and also why the two branches function mostly independently. In addition, there has always been a small but significant movement in the European branch, especially associated with the Eparchy of Mukachevo, that has thought that, for historical reasons, they would make a better 'fit' if united to the Ukrainian Catholic Church. What will become of this disjunction it is difficult to say at this point. Perhaps there will in the future be an Eastern and a Western Ruthenian Catholic Church, or perhaps the European branch will be united to the Ukrainian Catholic Church, or perhaps the two branches will reknit themselves together as they have been actively attempting to do in the past couple of decades. Currently all indications suggest that reknitting is the future, though; at the very least, the interaction has been fruitful as the Byzantine Catholic church in America has helped their European brothers and sisters to rebuild after being underground so long.

In 1996, an apostolic exarchate was established for the Czech Republic. One reason for this was to handle the peculiar situation of a large number of Latin rite priests who had been secretly ordained even though married under the Communist regime; rather than simply force them to act as permanent deacons, and rather than forcing the Latin rite bishops to adapt to a sudden influx of married priests, John Paul II decided to join them with Ruthenian communities already there, which made for a fairly sizable community.

The Ruthenian Catholic Church, therefore, gets its unity not from a particular hierarchical structure but from a shared sense of history, and a shared heritage arising from the Ruthenian Unions. And perhaps also from a shared project. The rebuilding of the European community, whose church property has only slowly been returned and whose recovery from decades of brutal oppression has been piecemeal, is a common task for all Ruthenians.

Notable Monuments: Holy Cross Greek Catholic Cathedral in Uzhhorod, Ukraine.

Notable Saints: Cyril and Methodius; Holy Martyr Josaphat Kuntsevych (November 25). In addition, there are a large number of Ruthenian beatified who were martyrs under the Soviet Union, like Theodore Romzha and Pavel Peter Gojdič, at least some of whom may eventually find a place on the universal calendar. (As Byzantines, the Ruthenians also use a Byzantine calendar, and thus have a number of Orthodox saints on their calendar.)

Notable Religious Institutes: Since many of the original participants in the Ruthenian Unions were Basilian, there has always been a strong Basilian presence in the Ruthenian Catholic Church.

Extent of Official Jurisdiction: The eparchy (diocese) of Mukacheve in the Ukraine, an apostolic exarchate (missionary territory) in the Czech Republic, and a Metropolitan church in the United States consisting of four eparchies. (Sphere of influence always extends beyond the official jurisdiction due to members of the church living outside of any official jurisdiction of the church.)

Online Sources and Resources:

Seneca, De Vita Beata, Books XI-XIX

Book XI

The reason we should do nothing for the sake of pleasure is that it is precisely this that enslaves us. Who is oriented toward pleasure in his life will not be able to stand the difficulties, challenges, and misfortunes of life, much less danger and death. To be sure, one could claim that virtuous pursuit of pleasure will be good, but this is just to say that pleasure is not the highest good, not a primary good, but at best a supplementary one. And it is easy enough to find examples of people corrupted by the pursuit of pleasure.

Book XII

It is true that bad men pursuing pleasure are likely not to be entirely tranquil in mind, but this does not imply that they do not achieve their goal of pleasure. The wise, on the contrary, are restrained in their pleasures. Epicurus himself held that restraint was important for pleasure; but the masses try to cover their dissoluteness with his philosophy, seizing on any excuse he might provide for thinking that pleasure is a fundamental good, despite the Epicurean emphasis on temperance. Thus, he admonishes his Epicurean interlocutor, the insistence of the Epicureans on pleasure tends to obscure their better part; it is in this sense that it is harmful.


Seneca himself regards Epicurean ideas as entirely good and appropriate, although it is odd for a Stoic to say so. Epicurus, despite all the talk of pleasure, only allows it a very narrow scope, and governs pleasure by much the same rule that the Stoics govern habits: submission to nature. Both the Stoic and the Epicurean have a problem with luxury and craving because they do not rest satisfied with what is appropriate to nature. Unlike most Stoics, then, Seneca refuses to treat the Epicurean school as "the teacher of crime", but he does think it unsurprising that it has the bad reputation it does. It is like a brave man wearing a prissy dress; it doesn't eliminate the bravery or the manliness, but the outside gives a misleading impression. We should, then, emphasize virtue rather than pleasure.

Book XIV

If virtue leads, pleasure can still be had; but when pleasure leads, it is easy enough to lose sight of virtue, and not uncommonly pleasure as well.

Book XV

It is also not possible to hold that the highest good is some mix of pleasure and virtue, given that the two are not equally good; the highest good, to be highest, must take its essential character from its better part. Further, an alliance between unequal parts is a fairly shaky thing to hold the place of highest good. It would seem to split one's motivations among two masters. But goodness requires an integrity; "we are born into a kingdom; to obey the God is liberty."

Book XVI

Virtue, then, is true happiness. It requires that we do good and endure unshaken in it, and the reward it gives us is to make us like gods. The virtuous man is independent of fortune. Those who are still building virtue do require some help from fortune; but they are still more free than those who are not seeking virtue.


We should thus not be concerned with people who attack philosophy for hypocrisy. (There is clear indication in this and the following chapters that Seneca has in mind criticisms of himself for this ground.) A man may recognize the value of simplicity even if he has a fine estate; it is not to be expected that people should reach the end of the race all at once rather than through a process. It is the direction that matters. Seneca does not claim to be a Stoic sage; he is merely a man who understands the value of wisdom, and thus actively seeks it. But this is not valueless.


If the objector insists that this is a matter of talking one way and living another, however, Seneca argues that this would consistently require an attack on everyone -- not just Seneca, but Plato, Zeno, Epicurus. Human beings are such that they must improve; this means first recognizing our weaknesses and failings, and insisting that they are indeed weaknesses and failings that must be removed. This is what all good men do; some more swiftly than other, but we all, if we do well, speak the truth about virtue and vice despite not conforming to it perfectly -- this is the way in which human beings come to conform to it at all.

Book XIX

He gives the example of Diodorus the Epicurean, who committed suicide; people have argued that he did not follow the precepts of Epicurus, but Seneca defends him. In reality it is the critics who display the pathology, and Seneca is entirely dismissive of their attempts to pretend to high ground, in a rather interesting passage using a crucifixion metaphor:

You argue about the life and death of another, and yelp at the name of men whom some peculiarly noble quality has rendered great, just as tiny curs do at the approach of strangers: for it is to your interest that no one should appear to be good, as if virtue in another were a reproach to all your crimes. You enviously compare the glories of others with your own dirty actions, and do not understand how greatly to your disadvantage it is to venture to do so: for if they who follow after virtue be greedy, lustful, and fond of power, what must you be, who hate the very name of virtue? You say that no one acts up to his professions, or lives according to the standard which he sets up in his discourses: what wonder, seeing that the words which they speak are brave, gigantic, and able to weather all the storms which wreck mankind, whereas they themselves are struggling to tear themselves away from crosses into which each one of you is driving his own nail. Yet men who are crucified hang from one single pole, but these who punish themselves are divided between as many crosses as they have lusts, but yet are given to evil speaking, and are so magnificent in their contempt of the vices of others that I should suppose that they had none of their own, were it not that some criminals when on the gibbet spit upon the spectators.

(to be continued)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fortnightly Book, April 26

We are approaching the end of term, so the next fortnightly book is also a re-read: Jack London's The Sea-Wolf. London is most closely associated with Alaska and the Yukon, but he started out his career as a sailor, and drew on those experiences for this sea-story. London also went through a nihilistic period, and the book also draws on that, being, as he put it, an answer to the Nietzschean notion of a 'super-man'. It is my favorite work by Jack London, but it has been some years since I've read it.

I will be re-reading it in a Heritage Press (New York) edition. It is an odd-looking book, with coarse linen covers in the color of burlap and a typeface in Monotype Times Semi-Bold, a very dark and thick version of Times New Roman. It is illustrated by Fletcher Martin.

Jules Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days


Opening Passage:

Mr. Phileas Fogg lived, in 1872, at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens, the house in which Sheridan died in 1816. He was one of the most noticeable members of the Reform Club, though he seemed always to avoid attracting attention; an enigmatical personage, about whom little was known except that he was a polished man of the world. People said that he resembled Byron,--at least that his head was Byronic; but he was a bearded, tranquil Byron, who might live on a thousand years without growing old.

Summary: One of the interesting techniques that Verne uses to tell the story of the tour of the world is the contrast between the phlegmatic Fogg and the excitable Passepartout, his servant. By giving the latter a significant role, Verne is able to play up the excitement and exotic flavor of the adventure; but the wonder of the journey is intensified when this is combined with Fogg's imperturbability. Phileas Fogg rushes around the world in record time just as if he were taking the train to Paddington station. While Passepartout is being astounded by foreign climes, Fogg is barely looking up, playing whist. We can compare it to flying, which Fogg would no doubt have liked. It is astounding to soar through the air at massive speeds; most of us just take out a book or tablet and barely notice -- and to an outside observer that makes it even more astounding, a feature that would be even more marked if we were sitting next to someone who did not even know flight was possible until yesterday.

The point could easily be lost on us. Verne has to explain quite carefully what mangoes and saki are; many of us can just pick them up at the supermarket. The Suez canal or rail across the continent is old hat to us; both were less than three years old when Fogg made his journey. As with technology, so with culture. As an American, one of the more charming aspects of the trip is seeing the United States as an exotic foreign country, one in which everything is done with an insane amount of energy and obstinacy, in which strange Mormon prophets and missionaries wander the landscape, in which a train can be delayed because a shoot-out erupts between Sioux Indians and the passengers. Alas, I am afraid we raise a less romantically heroic and energetic crop in these modern days. But this, too, is part of what Verne shows in his contrast between Fogg and Passepartout, on this barely possible trip at the edge of human capability: the impossible becomes possible, then easy; the difficult becomes commonplace; a man may tour the world as if it were a commute.

Verne is always excellent in part because he never gets lost in the technological Wow. These adventures are always human stories to him, and although Fogg is nearly more machine than human in the journey, he too can have only a human impetus and a human destination, or it is not an adventure at all. And thus we get the remarkable end to the book, in which the happy ending is not the completion of the tour but a marriage, in good classical fashion. Whether it is in his more pessimistic works or in this, one of his most optimistic, the wonders are for the people, not the people for the wonders, because it is the people who make them wonders at all. His own words tell it best:

What had he really gained by all this trouble? What had he brought back from this long and weary journey?

Nothing, say you? Perhaps so; nothing but a charming woman, who, strange as it may appear, made him the happiest of men!

Truly, would you not for less than that make the tour around the world?

Favorite Passage:

But Phileas Fogg, who was not travelling, but only describing a circumference, took no pains to inquire into these subjects; he was a solid body, traversing an orbit aroud the terrestrial globe, according to the laws of rational mechanics.

Recommendation: Highly recommended, of course; it's one of those books everyone should read every so often.