Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jun. 26, 2019)

It’s all Fishbreath all the time this week—I’m covering Thursday’s post, too.

In contrast with the competition shooting flavor of this week’s long-form posts, we have a delightfully defense-directed What We’re Reading.

As I wrap up writing all the summaries below, I would like to point out that I finished just in time for the 10:13 deadline.

Defense: China

Defense: FFG(X)

Defense: Other

Science and Technology

Guns etc.


  1. The RAF is unique in the British armed services for adopting a semi-modern phonetic alphabet in 1942, rather than sticking with the WW1-era alphabet straight through to 1956. 

6 thoughts on “Wednesday What We’re Reading (Jun. 26, 2019)

  1. Chris Bradshaw

    We’re a republic that stands alone as a superpower, bolstered by an extensive network of client states. Our national symbol is the eagle. We’re governed in part by a Senate that meets in a columned marble building on capitol hill, and which has a fasces on its seal and in its chamber. We stand on the brink of war with Persia. We’re building a large wall on our border to limit the flow of migrants. I think we can have legions.

    Reply
    1. Checkmate

      Best made and motivated outrageous proposal I’ve seen in years. Well done, sir, well done….

  2. Checkmate

    I’d have a lot of things to say and explain regarding the role of the Church in Eastern Europe and Orthodox countries, if you’d be willing to hear it. Tomorrow though, since I’m puckered out right now…

    Reply
  3. Checkmate

    Well, there are some things to remember regarding the organisation of the Orthodox Church. Firstly, they are not centralised. Catholics refer to the Pope as a central, worldwide authority figure. Romanian Orthodox defer to the Patriarch of the Romanian Church, the Greeks to the Greek Patriarch, the Russian to the Russian Patriarch, etc.
    Secondly, the churches tend to be very closely intertwined with the characteristics of their nation. For instance, Islamic services are in Arabic, and Catholic ones have Latin, but Orthodox Churches are in their native languages. This was not always the case, as in the old days, the services were either in Greek or in old Slavonic, but became commonplace when the peoples of Eastern and SE Europe started to strive for independence in the 19th century. EE and SEE was the playground of empires such as Austria-Hungary, the Ottomans, the Russians, etc which tended to impose their culture and language on the natives. The natives resisted this by basically turning to their Churches, who helped maintain their language and served s a seed in many places for the coagulation of nationalist independent movements. So they tend to have close historical ties with their nations besides the obvious religious ones (something that might seem odd compared to the mostly secular west).
    It is important to note this decentralised nature: I’ve seen priests preach stuff that goes against what the Patriarch says. No harm or institutional bonk in the head, except for extreme cases. This differs based on country, based on setting (rural/urban), based on notoriety and number in attendance, etc. But generally, priests are given lots of leeway in everything except interpreting religion (which is done in very rare international congresses. Maybe once a century). Hell, the Orthodox Churches don’t even follow the same calendar.
    Another particularity of the Orthodox Church is in the teachings. Compared to Roman Catholic churches or Protestant ones, the eastern rite is a lot more abstract and mystical. Less formal and institutionalised, and more… local, shall we say. The different national churches all have the same basic religious pillars, but they tend to emphasise different aspects of the faith as befits the quirks of the populace. Out of personal experience for example:
    The Greek church puts a lot of emphasis on community outreach, and have more rigid hierarchies, while being rather open to small changes.
    The Romanian Church has a strong pacifist bent and rejects violence under any form (to them blessing tanks and nukes is downright heretical) while being quite conservative societaly.
    The Russian Church preaches that this material world is meant for sacrifices and suffering in pursuit of salvation. This suffering is a tenant in most of the eastern rite, but they tend to emphasise it.
    These churches influence their peoples, and get influenced themselves by their people. A quick example is how open these churches are to change. In Romania, churches have seats lining the walls for the elderly, the children, pregnant women, or other such impaired people to sit in. The rest are expected to stand or kneel (about half the service takes place on your knees; a monk once told me that in the afterlife, when I’m in front of God, I won’t be standing on a bench or behind a curtain like in Catholic confessions). In Greece, however, it’s not uncommon to find churches with benches similar to Catholic ones. It makes sense when one considers that the Greeks being seafarers tend to be a lot more cosmopolitan and travelled than the Romanians.
    The relationship these Churches have with their governments is complex. Remember that in medieval Europe, the ruling classes were the nobility, the king and the clergy. The feudal system disappeared in WE in the 1600-1700s, but was still alive and well in EE and SEE up to the end of WWI. Churches were generally the largest single estate owners up until the abolition of serfdom. As such, they have a tendency to comply or collaborate with their governments (especially since they were very important in the creation of these national governments). For their part, the governments either used this or tolerated it (even the commies; while heavily limiting the Church and turning them into financial poverty-stricken ruins, they did not out right abolish them. Many priests and monks were informants for the secret police. Makes sense since they were closely linked to their communities, could dictate messages during preaches, and took confessions).
    The Russian Church is descended from the old Byzantine Church, which tended to emphasise obedience and adherence to hierarchy. Combine that with their penchant for preaching that the world is dark and full of suffering and you’ll see it reflected in their people. As a whole, the Orthodox Churches tend to be rather deferential to authority (example of a common saying: ” believe and do not verify”).
    Today there is a deep divide. On the one hand modernists don’t like the Church due to it being exactly the type of oligarchical statalist system that they fight against, and due to it’s deep history of collaborating with the powers that be, regardless of the effects. OTOH, these Churches have allowed the people to preserve their identity and form their countries in the face of big powers,and nationalists and populists like to point that out.

    Reply
    1. Checkmate

      To sum up: Orthodox Churches defer to secular authorities in everything “worldly” such as taxes, legislation, etc. Makes no difference if that authority is communist, capitalist, kings, etc as long as it’s national. So it can be a good thing if the regime is good, and a bad thing if the regime is bad. Which is why opinions are mixed.
      Most got heavily crushed under communism and as such rebounded hard after its’ fall. And they are closely related to their respective countries, which is why you’re seeing stuff like this from Russia.
      They tend to be stronger adherents than most western believers, but unlike middle eastern ones, are not very keen on preaching and spreading the faith. Missionaries are generally not supported by the central church, they just buy a ticket and go preach wherever they wish (unlike many Catholic ones for instance, that have institutional support)
      And orthodox churches tend to be regional.

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