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The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and more

March 27, 2022

How Many Will Be Saved? (Updated 4-3-2022)

We have had little traffic here of late. This post is meant to get some commentary and useful debate.

There have been any number of discussions online about whether the Bible tells us ALL will be saved, or tells us that some will be damned to eternity in Hell. (Here, and there, just for starters.) I don’t intent to repeat those discussions, because I think the issues have been beaten to death. Here, I am going to start with an assumption that not all are saved, i.e. that some are (or will be) damned to Hell for eternity. This assumption (for this discussion) is not up for debate here. That there are a great many supports for it in Scripture, in the Fathers and Doctors, and in official Church teaching, is worthwhile but not of conclusive effect for this post. The question I am introducing here is separate:

HOW MANY will be damned?

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September 10, 2021

The day life changed

I could make what follows an excuse for my not posting on here at W4 more frequently, but that would be somewhat dishonest, since I was already posting far more on Facebook and pushing hard on my Youtube channel and NT studies books even prior to April 14, the day when Everything Changed. Nonetheless, what happened on April 14 and thereafter is *one* of the reasons.

For about five months now I have not posted this publicly, but I have finally decided to do so, and it is only a partial coincidence that I'm doing so right after the attempted Biden mandate. (As a matter of fact, I posted it on Facebook just *before* that.)

My W4 colleagues have known all along, and I appreciate their discretion in keeping it to themselves until I chose to mention it.

So, just in case someone reads W4 but not Facebook, here, worded virtually identically, is what I just put up the other day:

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August 30, 2021

What We Have Learned

The 18 month period since COVID became a world-wide scourge has, for good or ill, taught us a few things that we might not have realized so well before. This is an attempt to run through a few of them.

1. Don’t Trust the Scientists.

(A) Science is important, and it represents one of the most critical fields of human understanding and endeavor. When science is done well, it results in enormous benefits to the human race.

But scientists are not “science”. They are human beings, and like humans everywhere, they have an extremely wide range of motivations and of skill. Many scientists are fantastic in their chosen field, but not so great out of it. Some scientists are only mediocre. Some scientists are trustworthy in conveying the results of their expertise, but some are not. And some are trustworthy in some matters, but not in all. Just because someone is a scientist does not mean their statements are trustworthy.

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August 1, 2021

Reception Theory, Binding Law, and Traditionis Custodes

Because Pope Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis Custodes (TC) is highly restrictive and harsh, quite a number of traditional Catholics would like nothing better than a reason to view it as non-binding law. Surprisingly, quite a number of bishops are, at least initially, viewing it with considerable misgiving and some are making noises in the direction of “implementing” it without the full force of law. One attempt to drain TC of any binding force is to employ against it “reception” theory. This theory of law says that in order for a law to be true law – in order for it to be morally binding on its subjects – it has to be “received” by them first. That is, they have to treat it as valid law which binds them. Here is an explanation of this theory, in a nutshell:

The canonical doctrine of reception originated in the statement of Gratian after canon 3 in Distinction IV of his Decretum (circa 1140). He cited Isidore of Seville and Augustine on the establishment of laws, and then wrote: Laws are instituted when they are promulgated and they are confirmed when they are approved by the practices of those who use them. Just as the contrary practices of the users have abrogated some laws today, so the (conforming) practices of the users confirm laws.

I understand the strong inclination to embrace “reception” theory for law, in this case. I really do. But we saw it used 10,000 times by liberals and revolutionaries against perfectly good law, and it was always a bad theory in their mouths. I hesitate to reverse and say it’s a good theory when others use it against a bad law. However, I think there is something a little like “reception theory” that is – perhaps – a valid position about church law, and I want to lay it out. (And in the alternative, there are other ways of understanding the constraints of law, as options to take against TC being binding, that might work instead of reception theory.)

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July 27, 2021

Vatican Roulette

On Friday, July 16, Pope Francis released his anticipated motu proprio reacting against reaction, in suppression of traditional Catholics and the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). He also released a letter to bishops explaining his reasoning.

If you know anything about Pope Francis, you can already guess some of the attributes these have: the motu proprio is sloppy, for example – Francis is famous for being “careless” (his word, not mine). Both are difficult to parse and misleading, for another. But that sort of stuff is nothing new. This time we have something new. So, let me get into some details.

First we’ll address the Motu Proprio, Traditionis Custodes (TC). Right off the bat, traditional Catholics will take this name as an insult: they WANT tradition, and have been asking the bishops to TAKE THEIR JOB SERIOUSLY, to preserve tradition, as its custodians ought to do. Francis, addressing those custodians, is telling them to dismantle tradition, to bulldoze it. While naming bishops as “traditionis custodes” is no more than pointing out one of their essential roles, in this context it is a fairly brutal slap in the face to traditionalists.

Francis says this is to “promote the concord and unity of the Church.” But this is a very strange thing to say:

There are several groups of Catholics, including The Society of St. Pius V, and The Society of St. Pius X, and sede vacantists, who will simply reject TC altogether. They rejected the authority of Paul VI in his erecting the Novus Ordo (NO), so they will reject this too. And he must know this. He cannot expect that these groups will submit. So, he is either writing them off, as an irrelevancy to the kind of “unity” he means, or he is expecting that this project here will, somehow, pull the rug out from underneath them and enable the Vatican to wait them out. But it won’t, and it’s a forlorn hope: they have bishops, who will ordain new bishops, who will continue ordaining priests who are committed to the TLM. TC won’t eradicate these groups, it will confirm their presumptions and strengthen their resolve. As for writing them off: this is hardly the kind of “accompaniment” that Francis preaches, or the welcoming attitude toward diversity that he demands in other arenas.

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July 18, 2021

The Same Old Weary Shuffling

I don’t believe anyone of discernment can fail to be moved by the misery, horror and hardship endured by the men who fought the Pacific War in the 1940s. Particularly the US Marines (and Army) against the Japanese Army; these two fearsome fighting forces confronted each other, amidst a supremely punitive environment, with a level of ferocity for which it is difficult to find historical parallel.

There was cruelty and courage in superabundance, and tenacity in the teeth of unimaginable privation. The extreme scarcity of acts of surrender speaks to the bitterness of the combat and the reciprocal hatred that impelled it.

And yet, somehow our two nations put the bitterness and hatred behind them. And rather quickly at that. A mere fifteen years after the war, Japan and the US signed a treaty which began by declaring a mutual desire “to strengthen the bonds of peace and friendship . . . and to uphold the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law.” The compact founded upon that treaty stands today, by some measures, as the most durable alliance between two great powers in all of history.

Put more whimsically, will any American athlete, upon touching down in Japan for these fraught Olympic Games, or Japanese athlete, seeing the Americans land, spare even a moment to ponder what happened on Guadalcanal almost eighty years ago?

Not a bad record of reconciliation for (a) an Empire which instilled such fanaticism in her soldiers that some of them maintained solitary guerilla operations, on godforsaken island redoubts, for decades after the war ended; and (b) a Republic agreed by all her forward-thinking elites (at least since, oh, last summer) to have been founded on racist principles and systems.


Below are some harrowing excerpts from E. B. Sledge’s memoir of his combat tour as a Marine in the Pacific War, With the Old Breed. In simple, direct prose undergirded by a palpable generosity of spirit and unmarred by militaristic hauteur, Sledge supplies a narrative of his experience justly deserving of its reputation as one of the best Pacific War memoirs. You don’t need to be a military history buff to profit from the book.

I’ll conclude this prolegomenon with a remark tailored to Lydia and her readers: notice how Sledge’s memory attaches so often to features of the physical world? In a strange way it reminds one of a certain Evangelist, whose own historical narrative of great events is so ill-treated by scholars, that his sturdy Hebrew name has been debased into the ridiculous pseudo-Teutonic jargon of “Johannine community.” Saint John the Apostle, too, had an eye for physical features, which he tended to convey in simple, direct prose. He didn’t fight a bloody war (so far as we know), or endure the trauma of prolonged shelling; but he sure witnessed some bloody events, and he endured a brutal exile, where he was traumatized by a Vision of something rather like a spiritual shelling. As Lydia rightly says, this emphasis on physical detail is a mark of authenticity. If Sledge’s book should manage to abide for another two thousand years, no doubt pompous 41st century scholars will speak of it as, “emanating from the Sledgehammer community” and asseverate that, because it’s “little concerned with actual events” but rather, “general theological themes of the war,” it only “contains history” and isn’t actually a historical document.

+ + + + +

The next morning, again with the help of tanks and amtracs, our battalion took most of the remainder of Ngesebus. Our casualties were remarkably low for the number of Japanese we killed. In midafternoon we learned that an army unit would relieve us shortly and complete the job on the northern end of Ngesebus.

Our mortar section halted to await orders and dispersed among some open bushes. In our midst was the wreckage of a Japanese heavy machine gun and the remains of the squad that had been wiped out by Company K. The squad members had been killed in the exact positions to be occupied by such a squad "according to the book."

At first glance the dead gunner appeared about to fire his deadly weapon. He still sat bolt upright in the proper firing position behind the breech of his machine gun. Even in death his eyes stared widely along the gun sights. Despite the vacant look of his dilated pupils, I couldn't believe he was dead. Cold chills ran along my spine. Gooseflesh tickled my back. It seemed as though he was looking through me into all eternity, that at any instant he would raise his hands — which rested in a relaxed manner on his thighs — grip the handles on the breech, and press the thumb trigger. The bright shiny brass slugs in the strip clip appeared as ready as the gunner, anxious to speed out, to kill, and to maim more of the "American devils." But he would rot, and they would corrode. Neither he nor his ammo could do any more for the emperor.

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July 5, 2021

Lisa Miller update

I wanted to post here an Lisa Miller. She has been in federal prison now awaiting trial, after turning herself in in Nicaragua, for 4 1/2 months. (Wasn't there supposed to be something in the Constitution about speedy justice? Oh, well.) I think perhaps the date of "June 3" on the letter is a misprint or was incorrectly written, since on the blog where it was posted there is a June 7 letter that comes prior to it. But since it was posted on July 1, it can't mean July 3, so perhaps it is June 3 after all and is just posted out of order.

I also wanted to mention that Philip Zodhiates has been released to home confinement as of May.

Her courage in the face of all that she is going through is humbling. I didn't know that she has an autoimmune disorder (she identifies it as Hashimoto's Disease). It doesn't sound like the feds are treating their prisoners very well, not even those still untried and hence presumed innocent. Let us not forget those in prison. Here is her letter.

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May 21, 2021

Social media censorship, social control, and penalizing success

As we think about things like Facebook censorship of particular views, done deliberately because of the content of those views, we should think in terms of the large social effects of such censorship. During the past ten years, social ostracism of people who utter certain views, and the idea that those views are just unacceptable and taboo, has increased greatly. An example would be the view that homosexual acts are both unnatural and seriously immoral. Some even of my friends who agree with that view may feel uncomfortable with my saying it. Some may openly think that I am somehow unkind for saying it or that it is the kind of thing one shouldn't say in public where others can hear you (in the broader sense of "hear"). Indeed, it is a paradox of social media that the platforms positively invite and encourage people to build up a following so as to communicate a message effectively to as wide an audience as possible, then selectively penalize those who do this with views that they oppose, especially those that I consider importantly true.

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May 16, 2021

The Small Vine: Life Over Death

Many-a year ago, I went on a sci-fi reading binge in my spare time. It was mostly a flop. Turns out I'm not really into reading sci-fi. One of the authors I tried unsuccessfully to enjoy was Fred Saberhagen. I read quite a number of short stories set in his Berserker universe. The Berserkers are demoniacally clever, life-destroying robots. They specialize in torture as a mode of forcing humans to do their will (they have no emotions) as they try to eradicate life from the galaxy. I'm a sensitive soul. This series wasn't for me. Plus, like so many sci-fi authors, Saberhagen just didn't seem to me to have the gift of making you see landscape or get really involved with characters. Everything was just plot sketches on board spaceships.

There was one short story, the title of which I don't remember. I'll just let some enterprising reader do the googling to try to find its title and perhaps correct my memory of its plot. But the plot, and the ending (spoilers coming) have always stuck with me for conceptual reasons, even though I can scarcely remember if the protagonist was male or female, let alone his name. I'm pretty sure it was a man. The Berserkers had taken over the spaceship. The main character was being left alive for a while because they had some nefarious use for him. The Berserkers would sometimes force humans to act as spies or lures for other humans. I remember that from other stories. So maybe that was it. Anyway, they were going to make some bad use of the spaceship as well. Meanwhile, they had to let the few humans they were keeping continue to grow food, so there was a garden on the ship.

The climax (and ending) of the story came when the protagonist realized that one of the melons or gourds in the garden had sent its vines (roots?) down into the side of the ship and pried apart a seam of some kind. This meant that he was going to die pretty soon. It would also destroy the ship. Normally a disaster. But now that the ship was taken over by the Berserkers, he perceived it as a triumph. The story ends with him ready to die happy when the ship is depressurized, realizing that now it can't be used by the Berserkers to destroy more life.

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May 10, 2021

La nouvelle radio

As readers are no doubt well aware, the last five or so years have seen an explosion in podcasting. Statistics on these matters (often self-reported), while lacking reliable precision, nonetheless supply valuable information as trends. So while less than a quarter of Americans in 2015 had listened to a podcast, today well over half have done so; approaching four in ten do so every month; and almost one quarter do so weekly.

An astonishing statistic, which this writer regards with particular skepticism, suggests that around 90% of listeners complete the entire episodes of the podcasts they listen to; given that many prominent ones exceed two hours in length, even adjusting for exaggeration by surveyed listeners, this suggests a remarkable follow-through rate.

Though some podcasters, like my friend Erick Erickson, structure theirs as an adjunct to a traditional radio show, most are standalone features, recorded, produced, and released for consumption some time later. So what we’re talking about here is the rise of what amounts to a new medium of communication. And the market for that medium consists of people who tend to be younger, wealthier, better-educated and more gainfully employed than Americans on average.

In fine, la nouvelle radio, while perhaps not killing the video star, is surely causing him some distress.

The chief merit of the podcast medium: multitasking. To listen to a sprawling conversation of three hours in length sure sounds daunting -- unless you’re a long-haul trucker or a man training for a half-marathon, alone with your higher mental processes while your lower ones are dominated by physically taxing activity. The demerits are real but minor: repetitiveness, reduced memory retention, the difficulty of moving around in the “text” for clarity, recollection, and cross-reference. A podcast cannot replace a book. On the other hand, I have yet to discover an effective method for reading a book while also washing dishes or mowing the lawn.

The fact that even the most fluid podcasters speak at a pace well below average reading pace seems like a wash compared to the emotional vitality of natural human conversation. The loss of rapidity in absorbing information is offset by the gain of dramatic power. After all, I can read the St. Crispin’s Day speech faster than Kenneth Branagh can deliver it.

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April 16, 2021

The racial Hatfields and McCoys

Here is something that I recently posted on Facebook apropos of the kind of weak-sauce semi-condemnations of racial rioting and looting. Such statements as I have in mind come with lengthy rationalizations and pleas for walking in the shoes of the rioters (would those be the looted Nikes or the shoes they were previously wearing, one wonders?) on the grounds that they feel so oppressed by [fill in here whatever recent event sparked the current round of looting].

I find all of this frankly shocking when it comes from people that I otherwise like or think well of. The acts in question are so obviously wicked, greedy, and evil, and the downplaying comments are so obviously irrelevant. Indeed, things are usually even worse than what is portrayed in my alternative scenario below, because in many cases the event in question could be seen by a reasonable man as an accident (as recently when an officer accidentally shot someone while believing that she was using a taser). But even if there were real bad acts involved (as sometimes there are), that would be utterly irrelevant to the legitimacy of looting and breaking the property of people totally unrelated to the event! It is a savagely stunted moral judgement that suggests otherwise, a moral judgement that gives us undying feuds in which, "He did that to some of my people, so we're going to hurt some of his people" is followed by the exact same statement on the other side.

Here is what I wrote.

Something to ponder: Suppose that we imagine politically non-favored group A. Suppose that members of group A have, indeed, suffered injustice because of their membership in group A. Suppose that that injustice has seriously harmed them or those whom they love--"their people." Suppose that members of group A go on a spree targeting admittedly completely innocent members of politically favored group B, destroying their property and their livelihoods, with the implicit threat of harming them if they get in the way. Suppose that members of group A make it clear that they are doing so because of their anger due to the perceived injustices and harms done to members of their own group, "their people."

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April 11, 2021

Building the wall [Updated]

You remember Pastor Coates in Canada? This guy.

Well, now this is happening. He was released from jail pending his trial. His church continued to meet. The RCMP has now built a big chainlink fence around GraceLife Church. Protesters gathered outside the fence today, though GraceLife itself says that its own members were not being encouraged to join those protestors.

I hope myself that Pastor Coates quietly gathered GraceLife's own congregation somewhere else just to hold a church service out in the prairie or on private property, but I haven't been able to get any information about that. Update: They did! Here is a video. It carefully just shows Pastor Coates and doesn't say where it was recorded. Bless 'em! I bet the police are carefully analyzing the video at this very moment to identify that gray brick wall and figure out where this dangerous, illegal activity is taking place. Click to watch the underground church in Canada meet and pray.

If you're a committed Christian and this barricading of GraceLife and fixation on the part of the Alberta Health Department doesn't bother you, it should.

April 4, 2021

Easter 2021


St. Ignatius of Antioch, a Christian pastor of the immediate post-apostolic generation, was martyred in Rome around the turn of the 2nd century. References in his own works point to death by wild animals for public entertainment. Reliable, if not definitive, historical evidence links him to both St. Peter and St. John the Apostle. Less reliable evidence puts him among those blessed urchins regarding whom Our Lord declared, “suffer the little children to come to me”; and presents him, much later in life, courageously defying Emperor Trajan in person prior to his imprisonment. His journey in chains from Syria to Italy supplied opportunity and inspiration for a series of epistles whose richness of doctrine and eloquence of language mark them as among the early treasures of post-Scriptural Christian literature. The following excerpt comes from his Letter to the Smyrnans, which is noteworthy for its emphatic defense of the bodily, physical, very much real, life, passion, death and resurrection of the Nazarene.

Alleluia, He is Risen!

* * * * *

I glorify God, even Jesus Christ, who has given you such wisdom. For I have observed that you are perfected in an immovable faith, as if you were nailed to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in the flesh and in the spirit, and are established in love through the blood of Christ, being fully persuaded with respect to our Lord, that He was truly of the seed of David according to the flesh, and the Son of God according to the will and power of God; that He was truly born of a virgin, was baptized by John, in order that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him; and was truly, under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch, nailed to the cross for us in His flesh. Of this fruit we are by His divinely-blessed passion, that He might set up a standard for all ages, through His resurrection, to all His holy and faithful followers, whether among Jews or Gentiles, in the one body of His Church.

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April 2, 2021

Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Sermon 68, Leo the Great

I. Christ's Godhead never forsook Him in His Passion

The last discourse, dearly-beloved, of which we desire now to give the promised portion, had reached that point in the argument where we were speaking of that cry which the crucified Lord uttered to the Father: we bade the simple and unthinking hearer not take the words "My God, etc.," in a sense as if, when Jesus was fixed upon the wood of the cross, the Omnipotence of the Father's Deity had gone away from Him; seeing that God's and Man's Nature were so completely joined in Him that the union could not be destroyed by punishment nor by death. For while each substance retained its own properties, God neither held aloof from the suffering of His body nor was made passible by the flesh, because the Godhead which was in the Sufferer did not actually suffer. And hence, in accordance with the Nature of the Word made Man, He Who was made in the midst of all is the same as He through Whom all things were made. He Who is arrested by the hands of wicked men is the same as He Who is bound by no limits. He Who is pierced with nails is the same as He Whom no wound can affect. Finally, He Who underwent death is the same as He Who never ceased to be eternal, so that both facts are established by indubitable signs, namely, the truth of the humiliation in Christ and the truth of the majesty; because Divine power joined itself to human frailty to this end, that God, while making what was ours His, might at the same time make what was His ours. The Son, therefore, was not separated from the Father, nor the Father from the Son; and the unchangeable Godhead and the inseparable Trinity did not admit of any division. For although the task of undergoing Incarnation belonged peculiarly to the Only-begotten Son of God, yet the Father was not separated from the Son any more than the flesh was separated from the Word.

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March 22, 2021

Philip Zodhiates' last letter from prison (hopefully)

Via the 419Fund e-mail list (the blog here seems to contain all of the ones I have), I just received this last (hopefully) letter from Philip Zodhiates in prison. He will be (sort of) let out on March 26 but must report to somewhere else, where they could order him to stay or let him go to "home detention" until June 24. I'm intrigued by what he said about the difference it seems to have made to the civil suit that Isabella has made a legal motion (via her lawyer) making it absolutely clear that she is no party to the civil lawsuit against her mother and those who helped them. Philip doesn't know if this is why depositions have been once more suspended in the civil case and conjectures this may be why. I wonder if the reason, rather, is that there will now be another criminal trial (Lisa's). Previously, the judge kept delaying the civil case while the various criminal trials were going forward. Here is Philip's letter, dated March 14:

Janet Stasulli at wanted me to write an update specifically for those who have followed my case on her website and graciously prayed for Kathie, my family and me as well as contributed toward my legal expenses. My family and I would like to thank especially Janet Stasulli, whom I did not even know previously, for being such a blessing and coming alongside of us – – especially Kathie – – during these past 2 1/2 years.

And thank YOU, for your prayers, letters, cards, and financial support. Thank Michael Erkel for your weekly and now daily letters I can always count on, and those of you who have written monthly. Thank you, Lamplighter Publications, and Lighthouse Trails Publishing for the publicity you have provided, which has resulted in many encouraging letters.

Kathie, William, and Josiah have been so faithful and held together the home front filing taxes, enduring and beating an IRS audit, paying bills, keeping Response Unlimited going and dealing with tragedies (such as my mom‘s death), and emergencies without me by their side. Kathie especially, who has been amazingly enduring for one who hates to be alone.

It seems that next week in less than 7 days (March 26, to be exact), I’ll be walking out the front door where I self-surrendered at 2:00 PM on December 5, 2018. Kathie, William and Josiah will be picking me up and driving me to Lebanon Community Correctional Center in Lebanon, Virginia where I must check in by 2:00 PM. It will be up to those there whether I will stay, or whether I will go to home detention. Please pray!! My sentence ends completely on June 24, 2021, and then I will still be on “probation” for 1 year.

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March 5, 2021

The disjunctions of risk in an old-fashioned world

March 4, 2021

Updates on Lisa Miller and Philip Zodhiates

The Eye of the Beholder is now out!

February 21, 2021

We must obey God rather than men

February 15, 2021

Ignatius and the Star of Bethlehem (Guest post by John C. Evans)