Saturday, February 12, 2022

Reader Services through the First Sunday of Lent

This installment covers the Sundays and Feasts of Old Calendar February, which on the civil Calendar runs from February 14th through March 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English-speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

or viewed in HTML, here:

For the Rubrics, see:

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). The Sunday services require two files, because these combinations do not repeat annually. In addition to the files linked for the Sundays below, you will need to use the appropriate Katavasia, which for this time period is the Katavasia of  the Presentation, and then various Katavasiae from the Triodion  -- the respective Rubrics will tell you which. Also, on Sundays, there are some hymns that are appointed according to which Matins Gospel is read. To find out which one is read, you also need to look at the Rubrics. For those texts, you will find them here: Those hymns are usually done at the Exapostilaria and then at the Doxasticon at the Praises.

Vigil for the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord (February 15th n.s. / February 2nd o.s.):

For the Sunday of the Prodigal Son / Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord (February 20th n.s. / February 7th o.s.):

For the Sunday of the Last Judgment (February 27th n.s. / February 14th o.s.):

For the Cheesefare Sunday (March 6th n.s. / February 21st o.s.):

For Forgiveness Sunday Vespers (done on Sunday Evening), this text has everything laid out exactly as it would be done, with nothing omitted:

First Week of Lent: for Monday (March 7 / February 22) through Thursday (March 10 / February 25), the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete is done.

Ideally, this is done as a part of Great Compline, but if that is too much, you can do it as part of Small Compline.

On the Fridays of Great Lent, you can do the Akathist with Small Compline:

For the First Sunday of Lent (March 13th n.s. / February 28th o.s.):


In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord (February 15th n.s. / February 2nd o.s.):

For the Sunday of the Prodigal Son / Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord (February 20th n.s. / February 7th o.s.): 

For the Sunday of the Last Judgment (February 27th n.s. / February 14th o.s.):

For the Cheesefare Sunday (March 6th n.s. / February 21st o.s.):

For the First Sunday of Lent (March 13th n.s. / February 28th o.s.):

Saturday, February 05, 2022

What Happens When "Scholars" Fail to Address Arguments and Evidence Presented to Them

The Lynching of 17 Chinese in California 1871

Aram Sarkisian has posted another hit piece in "Public Orthodoxy" that attacks the Ludwell Orthodox Fellowship, as well as myself and others.

He begins by complaining about some of the online harassment he has received as a result of his previous essay. I truly I am sorry to hear that. However, this is not something unique to him or people of his political or religious views. My parish had a credible terrorist threat in June 2020 that I had to get the FBI, as well as state and local authorities, and my parish had to spend thousands of dollars to increase security. Mean tweets are far more easily handled. If you have someone saying stupid things to you online, blocking them is usually the best and quickest solution. The anonymity of the internet, and the fact that most social media platforms let people use pseudonyms create the environment that promotes that sort of behavior. Pointing out things that Aram Sarkisian has posted in the past, however, is not harassment, and it is certainly something that he feels free to do too.

Aram Sarkisian again plays the game of guilt by association, and he also didn't quote a single thing I actually said in my response to his first essay (nor did he provide a link to my article, so people could read it for themselves and come to their own conclusions). Instead, he mischaracterized what I said, and put his own twist on it. He also failed to address any of the contemporary moral issues that I pointed out -- nor did he explain his strange silence about them. The only contemporary moral issues he does talk about are abortion and the LGBTQP agenda, and on those issues, he promotes baby killing and sexual immorality. We cannot change the past, but we can do something about genocide in China, the genocide against Christians in Africa and the Middle East, the killing of a million babies a year in this country, the promotion of sexual immorality, and the rise of Marxism (the most evil and murderous ideology in human history) -- particularly in the academic environment that Sarkisian lives and works in. But saying something against those things might actually cost Dr. Sarkisian something professionally and personally.

He wrote, with regard to my response to him:

"Co-founder Fr. John Whiteford explained on the Michael Sisco Show in October, after all, that racial harmony in the antebellum South was such that the concept of segregation did not exist there—until it was exported from the North. Fr. John too asserted that post-Reconstruction Jim Crow segregation wasn’t all that bad for Black southerners—just misunderstood and misremembered."

I of course said no such thing, and in fact stated pretty much the opposite. The problem here is that it is unfair to compare the South at any point in its history with an ideal society, and to find it wanting. What is fair is to compare it with other societies at the same time. And as a matter of fact, it is true that there was no segregation in the South prior to the late 19th century -- there was subordination, but not segregation. In the North at that same time, blacks were excluded from society, pushed to the margins, and allowed not even the most basic of rights. As Alexis de Tocqueville put it, in his book Democracy in America

“So the Negro [in the North] is free, but he cannot share the rights, pleasures, labors, griefs, or even the tomb of him whose equal he has been declared; there is nowhere where he can meet him, neither in life nor in death.”

Northerners, in fact, often criticized Southerners for living in too close proximity to black people. For example, David Wilmot (of Pennsylvania) wrote:

“By God, sir, men born and nursed of white women are not going to be ruled by men who were brought up on the milk of some damn Negro wench!” (Brion McClanahan "Is “White Supremacy” an Exclusively “Southern” Ideology?")

There also were free blacks in the antebellum South, many of whom became prosperous. Many became slave owners themselves. Some even became very wealthy (e.g. Horace King). 

It is also true that Jim Crow laws originated in the North, and only came to the South with the New South Movement (which was a progressive movement, by the way -- for more information, see the book "The Strange Career of Jim Crow," by C. Vann Woodward (Oxford University Press, 1955). I never suggested that the Jim Crow period was a good time for black people. The fact people put laws in place to force segregation is evidence that there were many people who were doing the opposite. The same is also true of laws against interracial marriage. I believe that government-imposed segregation is wrong, and while I also think it is not a good thing even when voluntary, there have been many black scholars that have argued that black people were better off under segregation (economically especially), and you have many who are now pushing Critical Race Theory, that are promoting segregation today. I am glad legal segregation is a thing of the past (at least outside of American Universities). But here again, Dr. Sarkisian wants to compare the South with perfection, but fails to compare it with other contemporary examples. Segregation was very common in the North and West of the United States, and still is, in practice today. And the point is that even after segregation ceased to be legally enforced in the North, it remained a more pervasive and absolute reality than it ever was in the South.

I happen to have the ability to see this from both a Northern and Southern perspective, because while my father was from Texas, and came from a deeply rooted Southern family, my mother was from Chicago, and her family was mostly Northern in origin. I wouldn't throw either side of my family under the bus, but let's just say that I didn't hear much racist talk from the folks who were from the South. Chicago remains one of the most segregated cities to this day, but it is not particularly unique among large northern cities.

A black minister I know of pointed out what he saw as the difference between life in the South and life in the North in the post World War II era. He said white people in the South didn't mind living next to black people, but didn't want them to have more than they did. White people in the North, didn't care what black people had, but didn't want to live anywhere near them. That is of course a somewhat exaggerated generalization, but I think it has a lot of truth to it, if we are talking about life prior to about 1980.

Aram Sarkisian wrote: 

"There is little I could do in this brief essay that might even begin to dismantle such staggering historical falsehoods, nor do I think Fr. Whiteford would care to hear it."

I would actually love to see Dr. Sarkisian reply to the substance of my essay, but I am not holding my breath. I suspect he will continue to reply to his straw man characterizations of things I have said, rather than what I actually said.

"They were never dehumanized to the status of property, never barred from schools and universities on account of their race, were never asked to count bubbles on a bar of soap so they could vote, never had to hold their bladder until they found a “colored” bathroom, and knew they would never experience the terror of the lynching tree."

I have addressed the issues of slavery, and how this was an American problem, and a world wide problem, and not a specifically Southern Problem in "Orthodox America Has a Cultural Marxist Problem," Lynching was also an American problem. It was worse in the South in the wake of Reconstruction, because of the divide and conquer policies of Radical Reconstruction, which sought to cement Republican political control, rather than to bring about racial reconciliation in the South. The largest single incident of lynching happened in California in 1871, and the people lynched were actually Chinese. Chinese laborers were routinely abused and killed in the American West. The Chinese who worked on the railroad were paid slave labor wages, asked to do the most dangerous work, and little concern for their safety was given... which is the origin of the phrase "a Chinaman's chance," which was usually used in the form of "He hasn't got a Chinamen's chance," which given the slim odds Chinese people were usually given in America, basically means whoever is being spoken off hasn't even got those slim chances. And there would no doubt have been a lot more lynchings of Chinese, except Western politicians managed to pass the Chinese Exclusion Act, and effectively made it impossible for Chinese to immigrate to the United States prior to 1943, when it was finally repealed. Blacks were lynched in nearly every state in the Union. They were lynched more frequently in the South, because there were a lot more black people in the South, but of the lower 48 states, 44 of them had incidents of blacks being lynched, and while the numbers are lower, white people were lynched frequently too. Lynching is of course a horrible crime, and it is of course a good thing that we do not see it very much anymore.

"To be clear, no one is saying that racist ideas are held by all Orthodox Christians in the American South, or that American racism has been, or is now limited only to that region. And there is nothing wrong with Orthodox evangelism to the South. But if evangelism draws on racist Lost Cause mythology and iconography of the failed Confederate rebellion, especially at a moment of renewed Confederate nostalgia, it is important that these ideas are stopped from becoming mainstream. When a group bears witness to Orthodoxy using an image of Stonewall Jackson in uniform with his hand upon a Bible, as is found on the Ludwell Fellowship website, could the message be any clearer?" 

I addressed the question of the Lost Cause and Righteous Cause myths, but Dr. Sarkisian didn't bother to address any of my arguments or the evidence I presented, but instead simply repeats the accusation. Booker T. Washington was an actual slave, and yet he had this to say of Stonewall Jackson and Lee:

"The first white people in America, certainly the first in the South to exhibit their interest in the reaching of the Negro and saving his soul through the medium of the Sunday-school were Robert E. Lee and 'Stonewall Jackson.' ... Where Robert E. Lee and 'Stonewall’ Jackson have led in the redemption of the Negro through the Sunday-school, the rest of us can afford to follow.”

Stained glass window in the historically black 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church in Roanoke, Virginia. The scene is of an army camped by a river, and the text contains Stonewall Jackson's last words. It says, "In Memory of Stonewall Jackson. Let us cross the river and rest in the shade of the trees."

Stonewall Jackson taught a black Sunday School class, (which taught children how to read and write -- not just about the faith) and supplied its needs out of his own pocket, and out of that Sunday School class came four black churches, and several Black clergymen, who held him in high regard. There is even a stained-glass window dedicated to Stonewall Jackson in one the churches founded by these clergymen. In dismissing Stonewall Jackson as some sort of cartoonish evil character, Dr. Sarkisian is also dismissing the memory of these black people who knew and admired him. Stonewall Jackson is a good example of the deep religious piety that you find in the South. It has not normally been an Orthodox piety up until now, but it does provide us with something to work with. In my experience, I have seen this kind of piety especially found among the black folks I have worked with over the nearly three decades that I worked for the State of Texas.

"And it’s just as alarming that one of its primary voices is Fr. Whiteford, who has appeared on the “Dissident Mama” podcast, and who promoted the Fellowship alongside another co-founder, Dr. Clark Carlton, on the Michael Sisco Show. One loses plausible deniability when they repeatedly seek and out and accept these kinds of platforms to spread harmful historical falsehoods, especially when they wear a cassock."

I firmly believe, have written, and have preached, that hating someone on the basis of race, or mistreating someone on the basis of race is a sin. I don't believe Michael Sisco or Rebecca Dillingham disagree with that at all. Michael often makes fun of his critics by tweaking them in sarcastic ways, but that is a different matter. Rebecca pushes back against Cultural Marxists, but this is because of what she loves (her children, thus the moniker "Dissident Mama'), not what she hates. I am sure that they have said many things I wouldn't agree with, or said things in ways that I wouldn't say them, but having gotten to know them personally, I don't believe that they hate people, based on race or for any other reason. I believe that the Golden Rule applies to everyone, regardless of race, and I believe that they do too.

And by the way, I have also appeared on Roman Catholic podcasts, and Protestant podcasts, and I would even appear on a podcast by someone like Aram Sarkisian, so long as I thought the format would be fair. 

What Aram Sarkisian wants us to do is to hold Southerners to standards that no other group is held too. Do you hear any scholars lecturing Africans, Arabs, Indians, Chinese, or Latin Americans about how they should be ashamed of their own history because it included slavery? No, you do not. You also don't hear them talk very much about slavery in the United States that involved anyone other than Southerners, even though New Englanders ran the Slave Trade, which was the most brutal and inhumane aspect of American slavery. I am not a great student of Armenian history, but I suspect it included slavery too, and I also suspect that Armenians do not have a long history of embracing cultural and racial diversity. However, I would not expect Aram Sarkisian to denounce his ancestors, because that would be evil. The Golden Rule suggests that one should not expect other people to do what they would not want to do themselves.