Monday, December 12, 2005

ENDORSEMENT - Q. Caecilius Metellus Postumianus

Buteo and I have met on at least three occasions, and have spoken more than a few times. Buteo is, indeed, a great man, and I dare say more deserving of the agnomen "Pius" than I. Fabius Buteo has served the Republic as Tribune, and currently serves as governor of the Provincia Lacus Magni, Flamen Pomonalis, Augur, and as a Pontifex. Fabius Buteo has never shirked from service to the Republic, nor, do I suspect, will he ever. Fabius Buteo is a leader, and one who will undertake any task fearlessly, and with the utmost dedication. Fabius Buteo is also a man of sound judgement, a man who sets goals and does whatever is necessary to see to their achievement. If no one else, I believe Fabius Buteo will lead Nova Roma much closer to acheiving its full potential, and to accomplishing its goals. There are no reservations, as I feel, to be had about Gaius Fabius Buteo Modianus, and I ask you to cast your votes in his favor.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

On Resignations

Tiberius Galerius Paulinus asked this years candidates to share their opinion on magistrate resignations.

The following is my opinion on resignations:

My opinion on resignations is that if a magistrate resigns from public office the Consuls should review the resignation, and discuss it among themselves. Either both Consuls, or one among them, should contact the resigned magistrate to find the exact reason for the resignation. If, after some discussion, it is determined that the individual in question truly wants to resign then the Consuls should then issue an edict officially notifying the people that said magistrate has officially resigned and indicate than an election will be held in the near future to fill the vacency -- or in some cases the senate will be convened to appoint a successor, depending upon the office vacated.

This would give the chief magistrates of Nova Roma an opportunity to find out why citizens are willing to walk away from their post, correct a potential problem from getting worse, and/or convincing the person to remain in office. Often times people resign from office because they are frustrated. They want to leave Nova Roma because they feel they can no longer make a difference. Compassion, and understanding is the necessary solution.

It is tragic to see a magistrate resign his or her office. Getting to the real reason for the resignation is important. We can sit back and pass judgement against an individual as long as we like. The fact of the matter is that every single person in Nova Roma has a life that includes vast elements that are not a part of Nova Roma. Issues dealing with marriage, divorce, deaths, births, loss of friendships, faith issues, etc... All of these factors have an impact on how a person performs in their duties to Nova Roma. If we ignore the demands placed on citizens throughout our Republic then we ignore the future of Nova Roma. People are what makes Nova Roma great, and they are our most valuable resource. We should not loose sight of this.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Religio Romana and Natural Disaster Relief

A question was proposed to me privately regarding my reaction, as a Pontifex, to the catastrophe in New Orleans. The request was for me to clarify my position. I am not going to mention the persons name who requested the clarification, if he or she desires to identify who they then that is their choice. None the less, here is my response.

I posted to the main forum the following (in part) in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina:


I have issued my concern for the survivors of Katrina, and my concern for a citizen of Nova Roma who I knew was from the area -- L. Modia Lupa (our Vestal), whom we have found out is safe.

I do not have an official statement on Katrina, nor upon what has happened to New Orleans. As a person, I can speculate philosophically that I believe the Gods of Rome are ambivalent about the place. Why should they care? The people of New Orleans do not make sacrifice to the Gods of Rome, and they do not honor them. The magistrates of the city do not make regular offerings, and New Orleans has no Collegium Pontificum of its own. So why should the Gods of Rome care?

L. Modia Lupa believes in the Gods. She was in New Orleans. She made it out successfully. Perhaps they have blessed her, by assisting her departure from the city.

I DO NOT believe the Gods willed anything to happen. In the sense of being malicious. However, I don't believe they concern themselves -- that is in giving blessings -- with people and places who do not honor them. So while I follow the disaster of Katrina on a daily basis, and am very saddened by what has happened. As a pontifex I do not see anything that would be of a concern. AS A PONTIFEX I make offerings to the Gods for the CITIZENS of Nova Roma -- not the citizens of the United States. There are some citizens in the gulf area, then I pray for them in my capacity as a priest of Nova Roma. As a person, outside of my duties as a priest in Nova Roma, I have prayed for the people afflicted by this most horrible tragedy. Hope what I am explaining makes sense. I also hope it doesn't make me sound like a horrible person. I am very compassionate about what has happened after the onslaught of Katrina. I follow the disaster closely, and my heart goes out to the people. But in my capacity as a priest of Nova Roma, I am concerned with Nova Romans; their success, safety, and well being. But my official offerings -- as a pontifex and flamen --- to the Gods are for citizens of Nova Roma.


C. Fabius Buteo Modianus

The individual that sent me the private e-mail, but asked that I respond on the main list, raised the following questions, and concerns based upon the above mentioned post. I appreciate this person’s willingness to seek clarification:

This is the part of your post I have most difficulty with. It reminds me very much of the attitudes of the "religions of the book": Christianity, Islam and Judaism. All of them have practiced an exclusionary outlook: our way is the only way to be saved. Yet the Declaration of the RR states in part (my emphases added):

”We affirm that the Roman Pagan Religion belongs to no one race or nationality, but is instead a common founding heritage of all Western civilization. It is further a universal spiritual current which throughout the centuries has influenced all peoples and nations of the world, either directly or by the legacy of its history, philosophies and practices.

We also affirm that the Roman Pagan Religion is compatible with, and may be practiced alongside all other forms of religion and spiritual expression, without diluting or diminishing its basic ideals and spiritual identity. In the ancient world Roman religion was practiced alongside Celtic, German, Greek, Egyptian, Persian, and Oriental faiths, to the enhancement of all. This syncretistic approach to other religions remains basic to the Roman Pagan spiritual world view.”

Even the access page to the RR on the Main website carries the following information (again, my added emphases):

”. . . Roman religion is a unique product of the culture that created it. It is a faith that demands steadfastness and devotion to duty. It involves working in harmony with the eternal gods and with universal order, for the benefit not only of ourselves but also the world around us; with right action and attitudes towards the gods, both the State and the individual will prosper. . . .”

I would assume that "the world around us" includes the victims of all disasters--and my, has NR ML been mum on the disastrous earthquake in Pakistan and environs. I would assume that "a syncretistic approach" includes acknowledgement that some people choose to worship in a different way.

What I see as a concern, is how this attitude would be perceived by "the world around us" in your potential role as Consul, representing NR to that world. In our interconnected world, I am concerned that washing NR's hands (they would be NR's and not yours) of "anything that would be a concern" could lead to even more people washing their hands of Nova Roma (q.v. the latest census report by your adoptive father, C. Fabius Buteo Quintillianus).

Interconnectivity is leading even some elements of the exclusionary religions to become more involved in "the world around us", working not for conversions to their faith, but simply - for the benefit not only of ourselves but also the world around us; cf especially at this moment, the Christian Peacemakers in Iraq, and Muslim support for their members now held hostage. These are people of faiths that make no claim to be "syncretistic."

Your personal reaction is what I would anticipate from your previous communications with me -- humane and reflective.

The foregoing does not make you "sound like a horrible person": you have delineated your personal attitudes carefully. But to my ears, it does make Nova Roma sound like a pretty callous organization. I would very much like to hear how you would publicly present Nova Roma's attitudes to world events in your role as Consul. It would be helpful if such a reply were made on the Main List, because I believe this issue is of import to all voters in the upcoming election. You may quote any of this e-mail as you see fit.

This is my response:

As Flamen Pomonalis I make public offerings several times a year to honor the Goddess Pomona, and in doing so I honor several other Gods and Goddesses as well. Here is an excerpt of the ritual used in English:

“Goddess Pomona, by offering this incense to you I pray good prayers, so that you may be willingly propitious to me and the Senate and People of the Novaromans, the Quirites.”

The prayer is for the Deity to be propitious to me (the one making the offering), the Senate of Nova Roma (as Polybius mentions, “…The ‘people’ are dependant upon the Senate, and must aim to please it both in public and in private.”), and the people of Nova Roma (those who are citizens). This is the customary ritual formula.

The state religion of Nova Roma and the Gods of the state religion are not seen as omnipotent and omnipresent as is the God of Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. John Scheid in his Introduction to Roman Religion states, “The civic image of ‘citizen gods’ was confirmed by numerous rituals and rules, and may be regarded as one of the major interpretations of traditional Roman religion.” The Gods of the state religion of Nova Roma are seen as a part of the Roman community that we seek to build, and honoring them helps to maintain the Pax Deorum.

Jo-Ann Shelton writes in her book, “As the Romans did, a Sourcebook in Roman Social History,” “The Roman gods did not demand constant professions of faith, but they did require that humans respect their power and acknowledge their participation in the universe. Acknowledgement of the gods formed the ritual of Roman religion. Since the earliest rituals had been effective in securing the cooperation of the deities – the success and prosperity of Rome proved that divine forces were cooperative – Romans preserved the rituals.”

The state religion of Nova Roma is concerned with the Pax Deorum, or “peace with the Gods.” A sense of universalism, is in my opinion, more reminiscent of Pax Romana, or “the Roman peace.” Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil) writes in his Aeneid about the Roman ideal, “You, Roman, do not fail to govern all people with your supreme authority. These will be your skills: to establish law and order within a framework of peace, to be merciful to those who submit, to crush in war those who are arrogant.” To claim a sense of pietas (duty and obligation) outside of the “Senate and People of Nova Roma” is a danger that I would caution Nova Roma not to pursue. Nova Roma is not concerned with governing all people with supreme authority.

The Nova Roma constitution states, “As the spiritual heir to the ancient Roman Republic and Empire, Nova Roma shall endeavor to exist, in all manners practical and acceptable, as the modern restoration of the ancient Roman Republic. The culture, religion, and society of Nova Roma shall be patterned upon those of ancient Rome.” It is not practical to impose the obligation of pietas (within the confines of Nova Roma) upon anyone outside of Nova Roma.

The above explanation should address my point that the state religion of Nova Roma is concerned with the Gods being propitious to the Senate and People of Nova Roma, and not to citizens outside of Nova Roma. This, of course, does NOT mean that the state religion wishes to prevent the Gods of Rome to be propitious to all people. The state religion is only concerned that the Gods are propitious to the Senate and People of Nova Roma, as Cicero stated in, "The Nature of the Gods," “Jupiter is Best and Greatest not because he makes us just or sober or wise, but because he makes us healthy and right and prosperous.”

The Constitution of Nova Roma states, “The priesthoods of the Gods of Rome shall be organized as closely as practical on the ancient Roman model. The institutions of the Religio Romana shall have authority over religious matters on the level of the state and nation only, maintaining the religious rites of the State and providing resources pertaining to the Religio Romana which Citizens may make use of if they choose. Nova Roma shall approach all other religions with a syncretistic outlook, offering friendship to all paths which acknowledge the right of those who practice and honor the Religio Romana to do so and respect the beliefs thereof.” The state religion of Nova Roma is concerned with “religious matters on the level of the state and nation only,” and not on matters that pertain to victims of natural disaster, which would be outside of our jurisdiction.

This does not take away from the syncretistic nature of Roman Religion. There are people in Nova Roma, like myself, who do not limit their spiritual practices to the Religio only. There are citizens of Nova Roma who identify with Buddhism, Gnosticism, Druidry, and other spiritual practices. They can do this, and still help to maintain the Pax Deorum. The Gods of Rome (and Nova Roma) are concerned with “being acknowledged and honored,” and this does not mean that one has to honor the Gods of (Nova) Roma exclusively. This is the meaning of the syncretistic nature of Roman Religion. The priests MUST make offerings according to tradition, and should NOT mix other traditions with the Religio. But this does not mean that priests, or citizen alike, has to limit their spiritual practice to only that of the Religio.

The words I am stating here is MY official position as a Pontifex of Nova Roma, this is not the Collegial opinion of the whole Collegium Pontificum. However, let me illustrate the difference between my personal perspective and my practices as a Pontifex. To use an example: Lets say your home is financed with a mortgage through Bank X, and lets say that natural disaster strikes and your bank is unsympathetic and demands that you keep up your mortgage payments current with no grace period (lets also assume there is a lot of red tape with the insurance company). Going to Bank Y would not help you a single bit, as Bank Y is concerned with their customers and is not concerned with the business practices of Bank X. Your agreement is with Bank X, and not with Bank Y, so it would not follow that Bank Y would be able to assist you. However, that is not to say that the person at Bank Y is unsympathetic to your plight. This example, I hope, illustrates the relationship between the Gods of the Religio Romana of Nova Roma and the Senate and People of Nova Roma, and the victims of world catastrophe. As a Pontifex within Nova Roma I can, and am, very concerned and sympathetic to the plight of others throughout the world. I have made offerings as a human being, and as a member of the world community, on behalf of victims of several world calamities. As I find out about them, I pray for their wellbeing. But these offerings are not done under the guise of my being a priest in Nova Roma.

I believe it is virtuous to want to help others in times of need. I have donated to the American Red Cross, out of my own pocket to assist in the Katrina Relief Fund. I am very sympathetic to the suffering of others, not only in the United States but also in other countries regardless of their nationality, race, or religious persuasion.

The Religio Romana is not a “ministerial” religion, were the priests of Nova Roma “minister” to the people, and in the case of natural disaster it is not appropriate for the state religion to feel compelled to “minister” to the survivors and victims of said disaster. This is simply not the way of the Religio Romana. However, it is meritorious and virtuous in my opinion for citizens of Nova Roma to assist in the relief of survivors and victims of natural disasters, war, and other calamities. It is simply the human thing to do: to care about other people. This might be under the purview of the various provincial governments of Nova Roma.

Let me attempt to clarify the phrase from “Roman Religion in Antiquity and Today” on the Nova Roma website, “for the benefit not only of ourselves but also the world around us…” This phrase is somewhat misleading. It would insinuate that rites and rituals are done by the state Religio for the benefit of the world. As I have illustrated above, at length, this is not the case. What is implied by this statement, as far as my interpretation, is that Roman Religion is an approach to spirituality that is beneficial to everyone – a universal approach, outside of the official state function. The approach of honoring the dead (ancestors), and of honoring the Lars and Penates, and the Roman approach to religion are of benefit to the world. By Nova Roma resurrecting the practices of honoring the Gods of Roma, and therefore making an agreement with these Gods so that they may be the Gods of Nova Roma we are benefiting the world. We are reconstructing something that would otherwise have been lost to the world. Citizenship in Nova Roma is open to anyone regardless of “…ethnic heritage, gender, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation (from the Constitition).” We make it fairly easy for people to join us in our endeavor to reconstruct Rome.

I am not sure if this is the answer that this individual wanted to see. But it is an honest answer, and one that I believe in. As a conclusion, to this I would like to add that I am – and have always been – very sympathetic to the suffering of others. I am empathic enough to understand the pain others feel who are in situations of extreme distress. However difficult situations in the world may become, the focus of Nova Roma needs to be on the restoration and reconstruction of Roma in a modern context in conformity with our laws, and traditions – always keeping an eye on tradition, but not loosing sight of our current situation and sentimentalities. This being said, Nova Roma cannot provide charity to the world (as the Senate realized in a resent Senatus Consultum on the subject), and we have to be mindful of our relationship with the Gods. The Gods of Roma, and of Nova Roma, were and are “citizen Gods,” and it would be a dishonor to them if we expanded their jurisdiction to not only be propitious to us, but also to those who choose not to acknowledge them. This, I believe, would have an impact on the Pax Deorum.