Flavius Vedius Germanicus (Election MMDCCLIX)
Initial Statement of Candidacy (10/6/06)
After no small amount of thought, and consultation with friends and colleagues in Nova Roma, I once more don the toga candida and announce my intention to stand for the office of Consul of our fair Republic.
Many here are doubtless familiar with my history in Nova Roma. For those who may not be, I am Flavius Vedius Germanicus. Pater Patriae, co-founder of our New Rome. I've served as Consul twice, resigned my Citizenship twice, and served in just about every office we have with the exception of Tribune. I authored (with much help, of course) our Constitution (twice). I've learned much from my experiences here in the New Rome, and would humbly offer my services and experience in its service once more.
I propose three broad programs which I will pursue, should you see fit to elect me to the Curule Chair, all centered around the singular theme of re-energizing our community and making it a much more enjoyable experience, in all its myriad manifestations, for everyone.
First, an emphasis on moving Nova Roma towards being a more real-world community. With some notable (and wonderful) exceptions, most interaction between our cives is online. I believe that the future of Nova Roma lies in the establishment of local groups that meet in the real world, hosting their own events, and building up the bonds of real interaction and community. We did this in New Jersey when I was Governor of Mediatlantica Provincia with great success, and I will do whatever I can to place the tools for doing so in the hands of our cives. Nova Roma can be so much more than websites and email lists; I would like to see it fulfill that potential.
Second, a focus on new Citizens; not only gaining new ones, but helping those who are new to learn about us and figure out how they can get the most out of their Citizenship. For too long we have, so to speak, tossed new Citizens into the pond with the instruction that they had better learn how to swim. There have been some efforts in the right direction, such as the creation of an email list for new Citizens, and the Academia Thules is an excellent resource for cives new and old alike, but I would like to see a more systematic and comprehensive program put in place to allow new Citizens to get the most out of the Republic.In addition, I support the idea of ever more outreach. Ever more visibility. Ever more opportunities to make Nova Roma _the_ place to go for people who share our love of ancient Rome and wish to embrace its modern restoration.
Third, an attempt to focus not on the passage of laws-- which seem to have taken a tendency to become somewhat obscure, unnecessarily complex, and in some cases downright unnecessary-- and concentrate more on the undertaking of actions. Doubtless there are some new laws that will need to get passed, but I will endeavor to ensure that they are simple, reasonable, and add to our collective experience here in Nova Roma. In Roma Antiqua, the passage of laws was a relatively rare thing, and Consuls were men of action. It is my hope that I will be able to act in a similar vein, should I win the support of the People for another term as Consul.
Throughout all of this, I will of course maintain a continued movement of our legal, political, and social institutions towards the splendid example of Roma Antiqua.
May the Gods guide and aid me and our Fair Republic.
Perspectives on Nova Roma (10/10/06)
There is a real difference in people, and this difference is especially highlighted in how they approach, and view, our fair Republic of Nova Roma.
There are those who look at Nova Roma and see problems that are in need of fixing. They see little but flaws, perceived injustices, and abuses of power and procedure. Such people immediately rush to the conclusion that the Republic is inherently broken, both structurally and in terms of how those who are in positions of leadership exercise that authority. They are usually strident to the point of shrillness about their points. Such people usually eschew positions of authority themselves, preferring to snipe from the sidelines. When they do rise to office, they spend their time "fixing" all the myriad problems they find, mostly because with such a point of view, all they see are problems in need of fixing. These people I name the plangerii ("those who bewail"; forgive my atrocious Latin; something else in need of "fixing", no doubt.)
Then there are those who look at Nova Roma and see fertile ground for potential growth, directions into which new movement can take place, and opportunities for change along the historical course that we charted at Nova Roma's founding. They approach problems as opportunities, and have a perspective that invites new and innovative initiatives. They possess bold visions aimed at using our existing structures and assets, and inventing new ones, to move us towards a positive goal. Such people seek out office. When their drive and zeal is recognized and rewarded, they spend their time posing new initiatives and taking the Republic into bold new directions, because they see opportunities and potential. These people I name gaudii ("those who are joyous", I hope).
The distinction between the plangerii and the gaudii is perhaps a subtle one, borne of attitude. But to those who are themselves gaudii, it is a white-hot sigil, emblazoned across every email sent by a plangerii. It is not the content of the proposals which bears the mark. It is the way they are presented. The motive that directs them. One is simply negative and pessimistic, the other positive and optimistic.
Is there a need for more face-to-face meetings? The gaudii propose new supports and structures be put in place to support doing so. The plangerii blame a dysfunctional system and want to "fix" it.
Is there a popular perception that we have too many laws? The gaudii propose to focus on action (leading by example) rather than laws. The plangerii blame the laws themselves and want to "fix" them.
Is there a potential procedural problem with a vote? The gaudii give the benefit of the doubt, see the perceived flaw acknowledged and corrected, and move on. The plangerii see conspiracies to grab power and demand that the Tribunes "fix" the problem.
No one need tout themselves as a gaudus or a plangerus, because it's obvious to all who are observant.
Thoughts on the Religio and Nova Roma (10/15/06)
I can state unequivocally that I am not content with the current situation.
As a sort of preamble, I will point out that our Constitution lays a positive requirement that those who assume the office of Consul (or, for that matter, any magistracy), "All magistrates and Senators, as officers of the State, shall be required to publicly show respect for the Religio Romana and the Gods and Goddesses that made Rome great."
If I am elected Consul, I will perform the rites of the Religio not only publically, but privately. The Religio is the very cornerstone of Nova Roma, and indeed the very reason for its foundation. Should the Will of the Gods, expressed through the votes of the Centuries, lead to my election, I pledge that I will perform the daily rites at my family lararium (which I have maintained, even if I have been remiss in observing the daily rites), and those rituals which the Collegium Pontificum should determine are necessary and proper for a Consul to perform (within the bounds of macronational legality and practicality). I was an active practitioner of the Religio at Nova Roma's foundation, and have gone into varying periods of inactivity and activity since then, but my Consulship will be one marked by a strict adherence to the forms and rites of the Religio.
I invite my fellow candidates for the office of Consul to make a similar pledge.
And that includes, at the very outset, a piaculum offered by myself (with the invitation for my Consular colleague to participate, naturally) to atone for the myriad missteps and mistakes that Nova Roma has made on its journey thusfar. We are but human, and I will be the first to acknowledge that we have not done everything as we should have in our young history. Again, such would be taken under the direction of, and with the advice of, the Collegium Pontificum.
I will now address your specific questions, and I thank you (and other readers) for your indulgence in slogging through my initial statement.
- > As Consuls, what do you propose to do to revive the revival? What changes, if any, would you make?
My first and foremost action would be to do everything within my power, both overtly through the power of my office (in consultation with the Collegium) and through the power of the "bully pulpit" of the Consulship, to see that Nova Roma moves more into the real world. Real rituals, actually performed by real pontiffs and other manners of priests. In every venue which is practical and appropriate.
The deadlock which you describe, as far as I understand it (not being a member of the Collegium Pontificum myself, but privy to the general currents of its discussions) is that some object to our becoming engaged in the broader modern "neo-pagan community" and that some see that as a recruiting ground for new members of the Religio. While I find Wiccan tree-hugging fluffy-bunnies as odious as anyone, I can still acknowledge that the broader neo-pagan community offers us a fertile ground for demonstrating that a reconstructionist approach to pre-Christian religion is, in fact, a proper path to a more fulfilling spirituality.
What would I do to revive the revial? I would DO more. Personally, and through every power of my office, to encourage others to DO more as well. I happen to think the Gods want their rites actually performed.
What changes would I make? I would require that our appointed spiritual leaders, whether they be pontiffs, augurs, or flamines, actually physically perform the rituals they should do. Perhaps not all at once --there are certainly practicalities to take into account-- but we have gone on long enough with certain priestly offices being occupied by straw men. If our priests and priestesses start actually enacting the rites they are supposed to, rather than just filling spaces on an organization chart, I guarantee you that we will see Nova Roma's fortunes increase as the Gods begin to smile upon us more and more!
Process Versus Goals (10/27/06)
I fully support any practice that brings the Religio into further alignment with what was done in Roma Antiqua, as regards the Religio or anything else.
To imply otherwise, as some have attempted to do, is simply absurd. Whenever there has been a debate on historicity versus modernity, I have always been on the side of historicity. The arguments I have engaged in with folks such as Piscinus (before he left Nova Roma to help found a competing organization when he realized he had lost the modernist-vs-historist debate*), are proof of that. I find it singularly incredible that you would hold him up as a symbol of dedication to historicity within Nova Roma, when in the past he has steadfastly stood for the introduction of modern Political Correctness. Not I. I am fully aware that the historical Roman model we seek to emulate, in all its glory and magnificence, is not going to be very popular with the modern "Progressive Left" precisely because of its uncompromising attitudes. My record is clear; I stand on the side of historical accuracy.
What I have not always been on the side of is undue haste, or impracticality. Some here in Nova Roma are simply impatient. They see "flaws" and rant and rail against them, insisting that they be fixed NOW NOW NOW, rather than taking the patient and long-term view. Sometimes these are because Nova Roma has erred in not being sufficiently "true" to ancient Rome, sometimes it's because we are not sufficient champions of modern ideals of "social justice" and soforth. Such people tend to post quite a bit, perhaps hoping to wear down the rest of us or convince the uncommitted with their unrelenting stream of chatter.
Others, including but certainly not only myself, realize that moving slowly but surely towards the goal, rather than running full-speed towards it, is more likely to produce effective and viable results. We began from a very overly-simplified starting point, with some known (and, granted, some unknown) ahistoricial elements. But always-- and this cannot be stressed enough-- always with the intention that each successive year would see us moving closer, ever closer, to the dream of a full and complete restoration of the Republic as it was, including most especially the Religio, "as far as practical and acceptable," to coin a phrase.
Historicity has no greater champion within Nova Roma than myself. At the same time, practicality has no greater champion, either. I do not see these things as mutually exclusive. It grieves me that some do.
- * Obviously, I am in no position to criticise Piscinus for leaving Nova Roma. However, in my own defense, I will point out that I never went on to form an organization which was formed specifically for disaffected Nova Romans, and which was originally set up as a rival organization. Piscinus can make no such claim, for that is precisely what he did, and indeed continues to serve as its Pontifex Maximus and has been its Consul twice!
On Choice, the Religio, and Animal Sacrifice (10/27/06)
Some have called for the Collegium Pontificum to lay down some specific guidelines, so that the issue of animal sacrifice within Nova Roma in general, and the Religio Romana in particular, is made plain to all. I must counter that such guidelines, in the form of a Decretum on Sacrifices, has already been made. It states, in part (and I give the link above so that all readers may judge the context of these quotes for themselves and make sure I'm not taking anything out of its proper context):
- > Until such a time as the Collegium Pontificum may determine that circumstances
- > are appropriate for the full restoration of the cultus of the Religio Publica...
The implication here is clear. The circumstances may not currently be appropriate for the "full restoration" of the Religio Publica, but when they are, animal sacrifice (the subject of the entire decretum) must surely be a part of such a full restoration.
- > ...the Collegium neither mandates nor prohibits animal sacrifice in the caerimoniae
- > of the Religio Publica. Practitioners of the Religio Romana, including sacerdotes
- > conducting the caerimoniae of the Religio Publica, may conduct or refrain from
- > animal sacrifice in accordance with their conscience and circumstances.
And here we have the absolutely salient point. Animal sacrifice is, indeed allowed. It is not required. It is not banned. It may be conducted at the discretion of the individual priest, subject to certain limitations (it must be humane, macronationally legal, and so forth).
In regards the funding of such sacrifices, since the purchase of animals for ritual is not an inexpensive thing:
- > The Collegium does not intend to request appropriation of public funds by the
- > Senate for animal sacrifice until and unless a final decision on the full restoration
- > of the ancient cultus has been made
Thus, no monies from the public treasury ("your tax sestercii at work") will be used to support such activities. If they happen, they're going to be paid for privately, either by the priest in question, or through private donations. That is precisely the reason for the existence of the Sacrifice Fund. So that those priests who are so inclined, and agree with those practitioners of the Religio that animal sacrifice as a part of the Religio Publica, on behalf of the Res Publica as a whole, is indeed a necessary thing, are not required to bear the entire burden of such expenses on their own shoulders.
I can see no need for any further clarification on the issue. It is clear as crystal.
It is a matter of choice.
For those priests who choose not to practice animal sacrifice, their position is clear. The decretum as it stands does not require them to do so. No harm there.
For those priests who do choose to practice animal sacrifice, their position is also clear. The decretum as it stands does not prohibit them from doing so. They just have to pay for it themselves, or find someone (or several someones) to help with the cost. No harm there.
For those individual Citizens who object to the idea of animal sacrifice, their position is clear. The decretum as it stands mandates that none of their hard-earned tax money will be spent supporting it. (Compare modern pacifists, whose tax dollars in the United States are still used to fund the military, against their clear wishes.) They are fully free _not_ to contribute to the Sacrifice Fund, which is entirely private, and entirely voluntary (and which currently stands at US$325 as of this writing). No harm there.
And, finally, for those individual Citizens who support the idea of animal sacrifice, their position is also clear. The decretum as it stands does not ban the use of private funds to support animal sacrifice. And indeed that is the purpose of the Sacrifice Fund. To give those people who wish to support such activity over and above the taxes which they have already paid to the Republic a place to do so. It is entirely voluntary and composed completely of private donations. No harm there.
Indeed, the only "harm" that anyone can possibly be voiced is by those individuals who object to animal sacrifice as a practice under any circumstances. It's "barbaric", or "anachronistic", or "inhumane", or "unnecessary", and so forth. It is people like that who, doubtless with the best of intentions, wish to stifle the free religious expression of those of us who _do_ wish to support and/or engage in the practice on behalf of the Religio Publica (or privata, for that matter). With all due respect, I say that is not their right. They are free not to engage in the practice, and free not to support it. They are NOT free to prevent those of us who disagree from engaging or supporting it.
I stand for the historicity of animal sacrifice as an integral part of the Religio Publica (as recognized by the Collegium Pontificum in its decretum). I also stand for the freedom of choice; those who do not wish to participate in or support animal sacrifice are free not to. Your freedom to choose "no" does not mean I cannot choose "yes."
I cannot see any more equitable solution for our current situation than that.
As all are doubtless aware, we are faced with a choice for Consul this year. I am one of four candidates for two positions. I humbly seek your vote.
I will not speak about the other candidates for office. They are doing an ample job of speaking-- or not-- on their own behalf.
I will indeed admit two flaws. I've resigned my Citizenship twice, and I tend to be a tad hot-headed when I perceive I am attacked.
Mea culpa, on both charges.
In regards to Charge The First, I first left Nova Roma due to a perceived religious conflict. I realized my mistake almost immediately and came back, and was eventually re-entered as a Senator and eventually appointed by that August Body as our first and (hopefully) only Dictator in response to a crisis of unforeseen proportions. I was subsequently elected as Consul and served a full and significant term in office. I make no apologies for that first resignation, as it was made in complete earnestness. The second time I left Nova Roma for reasons which were lacking. That resignation I do regret, deeply. It was wrong, and unnecessary, and I accept the culpability therefore. But I hope our good Cives will look past it and see not only my years of loyal Citizenship since my return, but will look to the vision which I lay out for our coming year.
In regards to Charge the Second, I can indeed be a jerk when it seems like people are laying into me. I fully admit it. I always try to start out polite; I only move to "jerk mode" when I am attacked personally (disputes of policy are one thing, and fully in-bounds; attacks on personality or character are quite another, and I will respond accordingly).
Not all the time, though, and I will say in my own defense that I am a jerk who gets things done. I was a jerk in my second Consulship and managed to piss off some people; I defy any Consul who has actually accomplished anything (and that's a subset of the group of "all Consuls") to say otherwise. But I also managed to set Nova Roma on a firm financial footing, so that we now have a real budget to use, rather than relying on private donations and a dribble of saleable goods. That I feel is a worthwhile price to pay for alienating a handful of people (although my efforts to reach out to them personally are continuous, even if they are regularly rebuffed).
If you want Consuls who will be Nice Guys all the time, then I cannot promise that will be me. But if you want a Consul that will DO THINGS, and possess vision and purpose, and not be afraid to step on some toes to see those visions come to fruition; with all due modesty, I am the one you should vote for. Some of my detractors speak of my past record as a detriment, but I will champion it. Yes, I pissed some people off-- certainly unintentionally-- and still do. But I got things done, by the Gods, and I don't shirk from that legacy one whit. I hold it high.
And I will stay. I stayed through my last Consulship. I vow, publically, to do it through a future one, should the Gods and the Quirites see fit to grant me one more term in the Curule Chair.
But enough of countering the negative. I have always preferred to speak about the positive!
Here is the Nova Roma I envision for the coming year, MMDCCLX...
I see a Nova Roma where the Religio is finally broken free of its moribund state. Not through any extensive and controversial Constitutional Reform package, but through an earnest and swift dialog with the members of the Collegium Pontificum. Changing the Constitution to strip power from the CP is not only ahistorical, but a sledgehammer where none is needed. It is an action borne of (understandbale) frustration. I believe that much of the solution lies in getting our Pontifices to actually _perform_ the rites they are supposed to be performing, and actually issuing the advice they are supposed to be issuing. If elected Consul, I will work as far as I am able to see to it that the Collegium Pontificum starts issuing the advice which is its primary purpose, as well as performing the rites it was historically assigned. There is no reason to strip the CP of power and transfer that power to a non-Pagan Senate. I will also make whatever funds the current budget makes available to support our priests to offset their expenses in not only performing, but also promoting and encouraging others to participate in, those rituals which the Collegium Pontificum has deemed fit to receive public funding. Some think that's a waste of money. I think it's a vital step.
I see a Nova Roma where we finally break free of the confines of the Internet. Where the majority of our interpersonal interaction is done where people are actually in the same room. To this end, I will not only undertake such an effort here in Boreocaesarium (Northern Jersey), but will also use whatever funds are available to assist others in establishing local communities wherever there are sufficient Cives to warrant such, and also to spread the word of Nova Roma to bring new cives into our ranks. Both in terms of the Religio and our more social functions, we must actually start meeting face to face. Otherwise, we are no better than Ancientsites.com.
I see a Nova Roma which proactively seeks to make its presence known in the world, and when new people arrive they are given the fullest measure of support possible. Not only should we be promoting ourselves in various places where those who share our love of Rome are known to congregate, but there is no excuse for us-- every one of us-- to not spread the word among our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers. Not that I say we should go door-to-door spreading the Roman Virtues like some Mediterranean Mormons, but would it hurt you to take a NR flyer and put it up at the bulletin board at the laundromat? Or the supermarket? Or the library? And once new people join, they should not be tossed into the rough seas of the main list, left to fend for themselves in the rough seas of our society. We should put in place some mechanism whereby new members are given the support they need, the instruction they require, and the "soft landing" that will make them into enthusiastic, supportive cives rather than lost and disaffected email list members.
I see a Nova Roma that's fun again. Where the Roman Gods are properly honored, Roman culture is properly studied and embraced, and the word of the rebirth of the Roman Republic continues to spread.
I cannot promise miracles. But if I am elected Consul, I can promise to do my all to make that vision a reality.
If you share that vision, I humbly ask that you vote for me.
Next year in the Forum!