Archive for March 9th, 2014



St Ephraim the Syrian

The One Thing Necessary

I really think that if you did nothing else for Lent – no fasting, no penances, no abstaining- and merely prayed the Prayer of St Ephraim with an attentive and reflective heart that you would have a very fruitful Lent.

I am off to another half-fast Lent, but I pray this prayer:


There are a lot of versions of this prayer; my favorite reads “Take from me the spirit of indifference, despondency, lust for power and idle chatter.”

Solidarity Without Sympathy

I heard Rick Santorum on the radio the other day, going on about how much he really cares about the working class and the poor. He then sort of scolded them for their bad behavior, for their fornicating and divorcing and having kids out of wedlock. He did not suggest that these social pathologies  have anything to do with lack of economic opportunity, though anyone who knows any intact families, even highly religious ones, trying to make ends meet on a low wage job understands just how hard that is on family life. Conservatives, of course, are big on blaming the poor for their dysfunction, very short on seeing any connection to the breakdown of an economy where even unskilled workers once could easily find jobs that paid well enough to support a comfortable life for their wives and kids.

Minimum Wage, Maximum Slash

Mr Santorum also lambasted social programs, which allegedly sap incentive and make people dependent on the government.

rick_santorumRick Santorum, of course, like most on the right, opposes raising the minimum wage and favors cutting social programs. The conventional right’s only prescription for the collapse of the working class is more of the same free market medicine that has led to the very economic disparity that plagues us: tax cuts, deregulation, policies which favor the rich, the gutting of the labor movement.

The incoherence of the thing that calls itself conservatism is laid bare in this juxtaposition of making low wage work the norm and slashing any assistance from the State. And what are they supposed to do, the working poor? “Stop being poor”, as one Fox commentator suggested recently?

Reminds me of the young man I talked to twenty five years ago in Northern Virginia, when the whole process of the looting of the working class was fairly young. He was among the first hatchlings of the Catholic libertarian flock, who, when I told him of the sort of hopeless poverty I had encountered in the South Bronx, quipped “They should just start businesses.”

I said at the time that this was sort of like yelling to the man half way over Niagara Falls to swim faster against the current.

A New Ethos

But then the American ethos is man-eat-man, every dog for himself. They call it “rugged individualism”, the insistence that everyone can haul himself up by his bootstraps.

Even when he doesn’t have any boots.

What we need is a new ethos, a rugged solidarism.

A Good Guy With A Nuke, Ha Ha

294859_320And speaking of utter cluelessness, it is not apparent where the line between politician and standup comic lies these days. I must say that as bad as Obama has been I am relieved that I have never had to utter the words “President McCain” and admit that I would rather have even Joe Biden a breath away from the presidency than this woman, seen here at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference:

Bad video quality, but you get the idea. This last comment, by the way, was followed by sustained applause.

Which does not bode well at all.

Lord have mercy.

And hasten, Spring…


Fedor Vasilev, The Thaw

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