Monday, June 26, 2017

The Poprocki Affair

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois

His Excellency, Thomas Poprocki, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, recently issued the following statement on his Facebook Page. By the way, if you haven't already done it, please go to Bishop Poprocki's Facbook Page and give it a "Like." Here's the statement...
These norms regarding same-sex “Marriage” and related pastoral issues are necessary in light of changes in the law and in our culture regarding these issues. Jesus Christ himself affirmed the privileged place of marriage in human and Christian society by raising it to the dignity of a sacrament. Consequently, the Church has not only the authority, but the serious obligation, to affirm its authentic teaching on marriage and to preserve and foster the sacred value of the married state. Regarding the specific issue of funeral rites, people who had lived openly in same-sex marriage, like other manifest sinners that give public scandal, can receive ecclesiastical funeral rites if they have given some signs of repentance before their death. Jesus began his public ministry proclaiming the Gospel of God with these words: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). People with same-sex attraction are welcome in our parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois as we repent our sins and pray for God to keep us in His grace... 
See the Same-Sex Policy Decree Here
The full decree is both charitable and consistent with sound Catholic orthodoxy. It is a triumph of actual Catholicism in the United States, something rarely seen anymore. His statement was met by both praise and denunciation. Praise was given by faithful Catholics, myself included, and denunciation by many different types; watered-down fake Catholics, former Catholics, non-Catholics, active homosexual activists, atheists, etc. I know, because I read them all. The gist of their message was the same and predictable. They declared the good bishop's statement and policy an act of "hate" based solely on "bigotry." I'm being kind. Actually most of their comments were vulgar and not fit for print here. In response I posted many things, all in as much charity as possible, but in summary I gave this one reply to all, and then posted the same on my own Facebook page...
We are all called to repentance and the sacraments are NOT entitlements. As a heterosexual married man, even I can be denied the sacraments if I live in a scandalous way, and I'm even supposed to deny myself the sacrament of communion if I know I've committed a mortal sin. The sacraments are not entitlements. Jesus came to forgive our sins, not condone them. He told us to repent. Go and sin no more. It is the Church's responsibility to safeguard the sacraments and yes, even withhold them to encourage us to repent of our sins. It's not "hate" when you're just doing your job, as Bishop Poprocki is. It's not "bigotry" when you try to stop people from committing spiritual suicide by receiving the sacraments while in a state of unrepentant mortal sin.
So therein I believe I addressed the root of the problem. Naturally, while my own statement received several positive "likes" it was also derided as "hate-filled" and "bigoted." Of course, I expected as much. It was so predictable. Here's the problem, as I see it. We now live in a culture of total entitlement, and within that culture of total entitlement, there is this notion that the Catholic Church is somehow a public institution, on par with a state Church. So, those who feel entitled naturally want the Church to entitle them, as if it were part of the state. They expect that if they will only just apply enough pressure, the Catholic Church will bend to their will, and give them exactly what they want. So exactly what is it they want? Well, here's the list. Such people are expecting one, or more, of the items below to be implemented by the Catholic Church...
  1. Total acceptance of their homosexual temptations as a "God-given grace."
  2. Total acceptance of same-sex "marriage" as a sacrament.
  3. Performance of same-sex "weddings" in Catholic churches.
  4. Elevation of homosexual relations as at least on par with, preferably superior to, heterosexual relations.
  5. Acceptance of transsexualism as "normal" and "grace-filled."
  6. Ordination of homosexuals openly, with blessing and encouragement given to homosexual activity by such clergy.
  7. Ordination of women, since gender is fluid anyway.
  8. Promotion of adoption of children, by Catholic charities, to same-sex couples. 
  9. Teaching that Jesus Christ as at least ambiguously homosexual himself, as were some of his apostles.
  10. Teaching of some or all of these things to children in Catholic schools and Catechism classes.
The Homosexualist Agenda is pretty universal both inside and outside the Catholic Church. There is nothing new here, and it's not personal. The Homosexualist Agenda is the same for all churches. Those of us who were formally Anglican, like myself, sadly watched this unfold in The Episcopal Church USA, as well as various other denominations. Baptists and Pentecostals are in their cross-hairs too, they just haven't gotten to them yet. Right now the Homosexualists have all of their attention focused on the U.S. Catholic Church, because you see, we're the next domino to fall. If they can get America's largest Christian Church -- The Catholic Church -- to crumble beneath their will, all the rest will fall in short order thereafter. The Baptists will scatter to the wind. The Pentecostals will too. You have to understand, it's nothing personal. It's just business. They have an agenda to push, and the last stronghold standing in their way is The Catholic Church. So they must attack us. They must break us. We shouldn't take it personally. It's just business to them.

The attack methods are predictable and banal now. They accuse us of "hate" and "bigotry" for not accepting all, or at least part, of their Homosexualist Agenda. They frame themselves as the "poor, persecuted, minority" and the Catholic Church as the "rich, powerful, persecutors" who want to "deprive" homosexuals of their "human rights" for the sake of "bigotry" and "hate." You have to understand that these accusations, these terms, are just the tools of the trade. It doesn't matter if they think they're true or not. I'm sure the promoters of such terms know there are a few useful idiots who really do believe this stuff, but for the most part, it's just verbal leverage. Again, it's all just business. We shouldn't take it personally. The objective is to bully the Church hierarchy with bad press. That's what it's all about, until one of these bishops cracks. That will be the proverbial "chink in the armour" they need to bring the whole Catholic edifice down -- or so they think. Why not? It's worked with other religious organisations. 

The fact that many Catholic clergy are closeted homosexuals doesn't help one bit. It only makes things worse. You can tell who they are by their silence on these matters, or sometimes by their public support of the Homosexualist movement itself. This leads to weakness on the part of the laity, who are afraid to speak up, and afraid to act in accord with Church teaching. They know they won't have the support of their homosexual-friendly priest, and in some tragic cases, not even the support of their homosexual-friendly bishop. So they hide in the shadows themselves, holding their tongues, all the while allowing the Homosexualist movement to continue to infiltrate the Church.

Then there is another movement going on, and this one is much bigger than the Homosexualist one. This is what I call the Entitlement Culture, and it's been well entrenched in the U.S. Catholic Church since the 1970s. It presents a much greater threat than the Homosexualist movement, even though the two often go hand-in-hand. The Homosexualist movement is dependent on the Entitlement Culture, but the Entitlement Culture is not dependent on the Homosexualist movement. In fact, the Entitlement Culture has been operating independently of the Homosexalist movement for a long time.

At the core of the Entitlement Culture is the heresy of moral relativism. Moral relativism asserts that there is no absolute right or wrong, but rather that "rightness" or "wrongness" is determined solely by social norms. Whatever is considered normal behaviour in society, that is considered "right." While what is considered abnormal behaviour in society, that is considered "wrong." So for example, standards of right and wrong can change, and are always in flux, because society is always changing what it considers to be "normal," or in other words, what most people are doing. Sadly, there are many moral relativists within the Catholic Church and this drives, in big part, the Entitlement Culture.

The Entitlement Culture basically operates on the premise that if one bears the name "Catholic" then one is entitled to all of the sacraments, regardless of one's state of grace or condition of sin. In other words, it goes something like this: "I call myself Catholic, therefore I'm entitled to receive communion, so give it to me now, or you're a bigoted hater!" Actually, a lot more people fall into this movement than you might think. We don't just see this among Homosexualists. We also see it among fornicators, co-habitators, serial-monogamists, polygamists, masterbaters, voyeurs, artificial-contracepters, thieves, gossips, greedy people, those who defraud their employees of a just wage, etc. There is a sense in the U.S. Catholic Church that if one is just willing to bear the name "Catholic," or go through an RCIA program, or be raised in a Catholic school, that one is automatically entitled to the sacraments. There is a sense that repentance of sin is not necessary (Because in a morally relative society what is sin anyway?) and the Church's teachings on morality are subject to change. I think the later comes from weak clergy who are unwilling to defend Church teaching, and sadly, we've had too many of those in recent decades. In the end, the sum-total morality of most Catholics is simply: "Don't judge and be nice." In the eyes of too many people who call themselves Catholic, that is what it means to be Catholic. "Just don't judge and be nice."

So we come full circle now to the Poprocki Affair. Here in the Summer of 2017, an entire diocese is now on edge, solely because her bishop decided to actually do his job, and defend Catholic teaching! Think of it, a Catholic bishop actually behaved like a Catholic bishop, and now the proverbial "snowflakes are melting in the streets." Among them are the Homosexualists. We would expect no less from them. But also among them are those Catholics who subscribe to the Entitlement Culture. They fully expect anyone who bears the name "Catholic," even a professed "out and proud" homosexual in a same-sex "marriage," to be able to receive communion, and enjoy all the rites of a good and practising Catholic, including the Church changing its teaching to accommodate his or her vice. Yes. This is where we are today. You're not dreaming. This isn't a nightmare. This is reality. This is the Summer of 2017, Main Street, USA, and no, it's not going to get any better.

So where do we go from here?

Well, first of all we have to accept that this is our new reality, and it's not going away. The second thing we need to do is clearly establish to our surrounding communities that the Catholic Church is not a state-run church or a publicly controlled entity. We need to demonstrate to them that we Catholics are a separate and distinct community from the rest of society. We are in this world, but not of it. We interact with mainstream society, but we are not just another part of it. We are a called-out people. We are an independent nation. We have our own beliefs, our own norms, and our own laws. (Yes, our own LAWS, and this includes our own courts, lawyers and judges.) We are not subject to the ways of the rest of the world. We do follow the laws of the land -- to an extent -- but our own laws (just like our own doctrines) take precedence among our own members. 

Very rarely do people attack the Amish. In fact, most people simply don't expect the Amish to be anything but -- well -- Amish! There is a reason for this. The Amish have firmly established themselves as an independent and autonomous community within society. They function under their own rules and everybody knows it. Obviously, most people wouldn't want to live under Amish rules, and that's why most people aren't Amish. Nevertheless, nobody tries to change the Amish, or make them comply with some social agenda. This is because everybody knows the Amish are just "Amish" and they're not going to change for anyone. They've firmly established themselves as a separate, independent and autonomous community within the greater society.

The same could be said of the Orthodox Jewish community. Like the Amish, they have established themselves as a separate, independent and autonomous community within the greater society. The same could be said of various Muslim communities, and so on.

Catholics certainly shouldn't withdraw from mainstream society like the Amish do, but we should re-establish ourselves as an independent and autonomous community within the greater society like the Orthodox Jewish and Muslim communities have done. This seems foreign to us right now, because we Christians here in the West haven't had to do it in over 1,000 years. The last time Western Christians had to do that was toward the end of the first millennium, when Christians had to live as separate, independent and autonomous communities within the larger Nordic Pagan culture of Scandinavia. Prior to that, it was within Germanic Pagan cultures in Europe. This condition was short-lived, because these societies converted rather quickly, once a critical mass had been reached. So they're not good comparisons. Probably the best comparison to be made in Western culture is nearly 2,000 years ago, when early Christians had to live under the thumb of the Pagan Roman Empire. My point here is that we Christians in the West have since then been so intertwined with Western government and society at large, that we literally don't know how to act in a separate, independent and autonomous way. We've simply forgotten how to do it. This is one reason why the Entitlement culture has steamrolled us for the last half century.

Probably our best example to model ourselves after is the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic communities, who have lived under oppressive societies in Eastern Europe for decades and the Middle East for centuries. They know how to do it. You don't hear about Homosexualists going after the Eastern Orthodox communities so much, because again, they're thought of as "separate" and "independent" from mainstream society. Nor do you hear of their own members boasting an entitlement mentality, because once again, their own members see themselves as separate and independent from mainstream society. They have to follow their own laws, which are different from the laws and social norms of society at large. I think it's high time Roman Catholic priests and bishops begin cultivating this way of thinking within their parishes and dioceses.

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
for Protestants

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Divine Worship: The Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite

Divine Worship Mass at Westminster Cathedral on January 11, 2016
Photo: Ordinariate Expats Blog, used by permission.
Recently, His Excellency, Steven Lopes, Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, gave an address at the Liturgical Institute at the University of St. Mary at the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois. This was on June 21, 2017. Here is a short excerpt...
Let me begin by articulating something of a thesis statement. I would like to state at the outset that our Ordinariate liturgy is often misunderstood and therefore not described correctly. 
Because our liturgy shares many traditional elements and gestures in common with the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, it is thought to be a type of “subset” of that form: “the Extraordinary Form in English” as it is sometimes called. But this is neither accurate nor, honestly, helpful. For one thing, the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, a principal source for the Ordinariate Missal, is older than the Missal of Saint Pius V, and has its own origins in the Sarum Missal, a variant of the Roman Rite going back to the eleventh century. My first goal today is for you to understand Divine Worship on its own terms, to see the historical and ritual context out of which it develops, and in that light to recognize how it might contribute to the ongoing renewal and development of the Roman Rite. 
And so my thesis: Divine Worship is more than a collection of liturgical texts and ritual gestures. It is the organic expression of the Church’s own lex orandi as it was taken up and developed in an Anglican context over the course of nearly five-hundred years of ecclesial separation, and is now reintegrated into Catholic worship as the authoritative expression of a noble patrimony to be shared with the whole Church. As such, it is to be understood as a distinct form of the Roman Rite. Further, while Divine Worship preserves some external elements more often associated with the Extraordinary Form, its theological and rubrical context is clearly the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. That I situate Divine Worship within the context of the Ordinary Form becomes a fact more discernable when one considers the dual hermeneutic of continuity and reform, which informs the project. 
read the full address here
So, based on Bishop Lopes' explanation of Divine Worship, it is NOT the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite) in English, and it does a disservice to both Divine Worship and the Extraordinary Form to call it that. Rather, it is an entirely new form of the Roman Rite, neither Ordinary nor Extraordinary, but is more closely situated within the context of the Ordinary Form. Therefore, it can most accurately be described as the "Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite" or the "Anglican Form of the Roman Rite."

Personally, I prefer the term "Ordinariate Form" over "Anglican Form," not only because Bishop Lopes appears to prefer it, but also because it reduces confusion, not among Anglicans but among regular diocesan Roman Catholics. For some reason, whenever the word "Anglican" is mentioned, the thought "Protestant" registers in their minds. Immediately what follows is a myriad of questions such as...
  • Well, is it Catholic or Protestant?
  • Is this really Catholic at all?
  • What? Now their letting the Anglicans in without becoming Catholic?
  • Shouldn't these Anglicans just convert and become Catholic?
  • Is this liturgy just for Anglicans or can Catholics come too?
  • If Catholics go to this mass, do they become Anglicans?
  • etc.
I think the problem here is that the words "Anglican" and "Protestant" have been too closely associated with each other for far too long in the Catholic collective consciousness. This is why I go with the more innocuous term "Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite."

It's a shame really, because I do like the word "Anglican" and to me, it sounds more descriptive of what Divine Worship really is. So while I still do think the terms "Anglican Form" and "Ordinariate Form" are technically interchangeable, my experience dealing with diocesan Roman Catholics tells me to go with "Ordinariate Form" for the time being. It lowers resistance, reduces questions and breaks through the communication barrier. 

So Divine Worship really is the third form of the Roman Rite -- the Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite, written in Sacred English and containing therein the specific prayers and rubrics particular to the Anglican Patrimony for the last 1,000 years. These are based in the 11th century Sarum Missal, a Catholic liturgy used exclusively in England for 500 years prior to the English Reformation. In fact, the original 1549 Book of Common Prayer (a Protestant text) was based heavily on this medieval Catholic liturgy. So what we have in Divine Worship is the Catholic Church reclaiming a form of liturgy that was rightly hers to begin with. It is a form of liturgy that is in fact older than the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form) in its origin.

I think its important for us to get a proper understanding of this. The Roman Rite now has three forms...
  1. The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (always in Latin)
  2. The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite (many vernacular translations)
  3. The Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite (always in Sacred English)
Each form has its own particular prayers and rubrics that are specific to its kind, and each form is unique. As Bishop Lopes says, the Ordinariate Form of the Roman Rite finds itself in a closer context to the Ordinary Form, because it's part of the dual hermeneutic of continuity and reform.

Now that being said, who would appreciate Divine Worship? Traditional or Contemporary Catholics? I think its a mistake to assume one or the other. In fact, Divine Worship has a little in there for both groups. I think anyone who is Catholic would have good reason to appreciate Divine Worship. The truth is, I've seen Contemporary Catholics both like it and dislike it. I've also seen Traditional Catholics both like it and dislike it. It's really a matter of taste, and in truth, its not for everyone. Nevertheless, anyone is free to look into it and find out for himself.

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
for Protestants

Friday, June 23, 2017

We Are Rome - Europe Is Our Future

The American Nations as They Exist Today
These are Nations Based on Culture

In the early second century, I'm sure it would have been hard for anyone in the Mediterranean coast lands to imagine the fall of the Roman Empire. Rome had reached the zenith of it's power and influence. It's territory stretched from as far north as Britain, to as far south as Egypt, from the coasts of Spain, to the Persian Gulf. Not only did it have no equal in military strength (it was an ancient superpower), but nothing compared to it culturally either. Rome was, at that time, the unparalleled "standard" of civilisation.

But in just two centuries, all of that would come to an end. The empire was divided in half, voluntarily, between the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Byzantine Empire. The Empire in the West officially fell in AD 480. In the East, it lasted until AD 1453. The Western Empire enjoyed a brief resurgence under Christendom as the "Holy Roman Empire," which lasted from AD 800 to AD 1806, but none of that compared to the glory that once was Rome.

During the 2016 election cycle, I came to a startling conclusion. Looking back on the last sixty years of American history in the 21st century, I saw striking parallels with the early days of the Roman Empire. While I'm certainly not the first to see such parallels, I think I'm one of the few to pinpoint exactly where we are in that parallel history.

I see American history as progressing along much faster than Roman history. We're going through similar experiences, but at a much faster pace. For example; the American Civil War could be comparable to Roman-Gallic Wars that created the early territories of the empire. Since the end of the Second World War, however, America has been gradually heading toward an imperial state. It's run mainly by an oligarchy of banks, money cartels, oil companies and large corporations. Yet, like all empires, power is slowly consolidating into one man -- the President of the United States.

For decades the oligarchy (comparable to the ancient Roman Senate) has held a restraining leash on the president, preventing him from gaining too much power, and simultaneously controlling many of the decisions he makes. The democratic process is very easy to understand once you know who funds it. You see, presidential campaigns are very expensive to run, but not to worry, there are a handful of big-money donors who will be more than happy to foot the bill. It's just business you see, because all they expect to get out of it is a good return on their investment. Thus, the presidential winner is already bought and paid for before he ever puts his hand on the Bible and takes the oath of office. However, in this last election, with the emergence of Donald Trump, I recognised a paradigm shift should he win. Donald Trump is comparable to Julius Caesar in the American-Roman comparison. He is attempting to "Make America Great Again" by wrestling the office of the presidency away from the banking-corporate oligarchy. It does not matter if he succeeds or not. Nor does it matter if he survives his presidency. Because you see, he has set a new paradigm. Future presidents, in order to gain the support of the people, will have to prove that they're willing to stand up to the oligarchy. That means the president will need more power, and he will get it. If Congress doesn't give it to him, the people will demand it. Trump has just become the first, in an upcoming dynasty, of American Caesars.

Right now, in the first year of the Trump administration, Americans on the Right are going through their honeymoon period. Granted, it's a honeymoon the Leftist mainstream media and liberal judges would like to cut as short as possible, but it is a honeymoon nonetheless. The mantra of "Make America Great Again" is just a Right-wing version of the Left's "Hope and Change." Ultimately, both mean nothing, other than to serve as rallying cries around the change of power from one hand to the next. In the end, "Make America Great Again" will prove just as empty as "Hope and Change" did. The only real change we're seeing now is the rise of billionaire presidential candidates, who parallel the military Caesars of ancient Rome. The ancient Caesars conquered their enemies on the battlefield. The modern Caesars (Billionaire Presidents) will have vanquished their enemies in the business world. Americans, like Romans, will love them for it, and elevate them to the highest office of the land. Who's to say we won't someday see a President Jeff Bezos, or a President Bill Gates, or a even a President Mark Zuckerberg! It's all within the realm of possibilities now. These are the American Caesars. For these are the undisputed power brokers in American politics today. There will be a long line of them, and they will show the world the glory of the American Empire before it eventually and inevitably must fall.

So the good news is this. As bad as everything seems, I think the United States of America is going to stick around for a while, at least another several decades. I also think it's possible to take the Republic back, if the states will step up to the plate and rob Washington DC of federal powers through a Convention of States. So don't think for a second that we are prisoners of fate. We are not. We Americans can change our future, if we're up for it, and only time will tell if we are.

Regardless however, I think all good things come to an end eventually, and America is no different. I believe one of the reasons why so many Americans, particularly religious Americans, are convinced we are living in (or near) the end of the world is because, like the people of previous civilisations, we cannot imagine a world beyond what currently exists. A good number of American Protestants, particularly Evangelicals, equate the fall of America with the end of the world, and in that sense they are no different than the ancient Jews concerning the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. They could not imagine a world without the Temple, and so they assumed the destruction of the Temple would signal the end of the world.

Yet history tells us another story. History tells us that life goes on. Empires rise and empires fall. In God's eyes, it's all just a puff of smoke or a leaf in the wind. As far as the real end of the world, Jesus told us that will come in God's timing not ours. We cannot gauge the the end of time by the political affairs of this empire or that. Yes, we are given signs to look for, but none of those signs are dependent on the success or failure of any man-made empire.

The United States is, and has been for a long time, a political empire. The American Civil War established that beyond the shadow of a doubt. Any political union that one may easily enter, but not so easily leave, is by definition an empire. The case of the recent Brexit from the European Union proves that the EU is not yet an empire, because Britain could unilaterally leave. However, the American Civil War proved that this is not possible for any American state. No state could ever leave the American Union (USA) without gaining permission from at least 27 other states in a Constitutional Amendment, and even then it's sketchy as to whether or not Washington DC would still allow it. After all, Washington DC controls the army, so who's to say that the president won't nullify a state secession even if it's granted permission by 27 states? Yes, there is no question that America is an empire, but it has been one only with a puppet emperor (president) for a century and a half. Trump (America's Julius Caesar) will soon change that, and we'll finally get an emperor with some teeth. If not him, then the one who follows him for sure, just like Augustus was the undisputed "emperor-god" of Rome, following the adored (and hated) Julius who wanted the same adoration for himself. If Trump gets what he wants, then he will establish unquestionable American imperialism. If he doesn't, then the one who follows him will. Like I said, only a Convention of States can stop this domino effect now. Only that can return us to something a little closer to the Republic envisioned by America's Founding Fathers.

All empires, and republics, come to an end eventually. What follows them is what I find to be most interesting. The word "nation" is a bit misunderstood in American vernacular. We tend to think of "nations" as political entities. But in fact, the word "nation" is defined as: "a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory." This means that multiple nations can inhabit one country or political union. Political statehood or empire is not the same as a nation. Nations are common peoples. States or empires are political jurisdictions. They are not always one in the same. Case in point, the Roman Empire was made up of numerous nations. Each nation consisted of people who spoke different languages, practised different religions, and identified with different cultures. The same is true with the American Empire (USA). Don't believe me? Go ask the members of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma what they think. They'll tell you their people constitute a separate and distinct nation within the political jurisdiction of the United States, regardless if their members live on the reservation or not.

Common sense will tell you this as well. A native of New England is entirely different than a native of Arkansas. Granted, we all speak the same language (English) but New Englanders and Arkansans are radically different when it comes to culture and worldview. The question however is this: is this cultural difference really defined by state lines? In other words, is an Northern Arkansan really all that different from a Southern Missourian? Is a New Englander really all that different from a Michiganite? On the West Coast, is an Oregonian really all that different from a Washingtonian? Etc. I think the answer should be fairly obvious. National boundaries are all together different from state jurisdictions. In other words, when it comes to culture, state borders really mean nothing. What really matters is who your parents are and how you were raised. That determines your language, religion, culture and worldview -- your real nationality!

The above map shows twelve distinct North American nations, based entirely on the actual definition of a nation. These consist of groupings of large numbers of people based on language, religion, culture and worldview. When we talk about the United States, Canada and Latin America, this is who we really are. We speak three major languages: English, Spanish and French. That is our linguistic heritage. However, when it comes to religion, culture and worldview, it breaks down into even greater details, and more distinct characteristics. For example, while the Francophone people are pretty much contained to one province of Canada (with a small colony in Southern Louisiana), the Anglophone people and the Hispanophone people are divided into more than one subset "nations" based upon culture and worldview. The Hispanophone people are divided into two "nations" in North America: El Norte (meaning "The North") and the more southern Spanish Caribbean peoples. Meanwhile, the Anglophone people are probably the most divided, consisting of no less than seven distinct "nations."

Right now these "nations" really don't mean a whole lot outside of academic interest and regional pride. It's fascinating to study, and it does help us understand election patterns in the United States, but under our current political reality, they don't mean all that much. In the United States, we all consider ourselves "Americans" and so long as the empire remains, that is exactly what we shall be. Yet when the American Empire (USA) falls, and someday it will because history demands it, what will North America become? I think the above map gives us a good idea of what a Europeanised North America might eventually look like. Just as the Roman Empire fell, and fractured into multiple nation-states based entirely on the nationalities of its parts, so too the American Empire (USA) will one day do the same. Will there someday be a Nation of Appalachia, a Nation of Dixie (Deep South), a Nation of Cascadia (Left Coast), a Nation of New England (Yankeedom), a Nation of Midland, and a Nation of El Norte? I couldn't say. Knowing that requires a crystal ball, and I don't presently own one. But some of these peoples already identify themselves in distinct ways. For example; a number of people in my area of the Ozarks have identified themselves as Ozarkians for a long time, and in doing so, they don't just mean the area they live in, but rather an actual identity of some kind. Still yet, a growing number of Ozarkians are starting to identify themselves more with their ancestral and cultural kinsmen from Appalachia, and there is a growing Appalachian identity movement. It even has its own flag, believe it or not...

Appalachian Flag
Produced by the Appalachian Flag Company

Personally, I wouldn't mind flying one of these beauties from my back deck as I culturally identify with Appalachia thanks to the strong influence of my mother who was raised there.

Likewise, there are many people on the West Coast identifying themselves as Cascadians, and they too have their own flag identifying the region that spans multiple states, as well as the British Columbia province of Canada. The same could be said of other regions of the United States and Canada as well.

I don't know exactly what the future holds for North America, because I can't know. I do know this however, when the United States falls (and someday it will -- guaranteed), life will go on. People will reorganise and start over, with new nations, new flags, and new governments to replace the old. This is the way of history. It's the way it's always been, and it's the way it always will be, until the end of time. I write this essay primarily for my fellow Americans, many of whom seem to be stuck in an apocalyptic mentality. The United States of America is a great union, a magnificent empire, and a grand experiment. But all good things eventually come to an end. That's just the way the world works. It may not come to an end in our lifetime, but someday it will. It helps to start thinking outside of the traditional "American identity" box, and figure out where you stand culturally. What is your real cultural nationality? Who are you really? Yes, we know you're part of the American Empire (USA) and therefore an American. I am. So is my whole family. But we are more than that. My family is Appalachian by cultural nationality. What's yours?

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

A Catholic Guide
to the Last Days
for Protestants