The very first command that Christ utters in the Gospel to his followers is this direct and simple summons, “Follow Me.” And in a sense this may be considered to be the first commandment of the New Covenant, which builds upon its Old Covenant counterpart, “I am the Lord Your God, You shall put no strange god before Me.” But this summons is both an invitation and a command, for Christ never imposes on our free wills as if we were boot camp recruits. He desires only a freely given response on our part. But, like those first apostles, once we make that commitment there must be no turning back. The only one who turned back from the original twelve was Judas whose fate we might not wish to share. And where does that divine command to “Follow me” eventually lead? It takes one to wherever the master goes, which means it ultimately leads to the very brow of Calvary.
We just returned from an exhilarating trip to Great Britain and one of the most edifying aspects of our journey was discovering the many English martyrs who so heroically accepted their Lord’s challenge to “follow me” throughout 150 years of persecution during the 16th and 17th centuries. Continue reading
May 13, 2017 marks 100 years since an extraordinary warning was given to a skeptical world ─ a world which in 1917 was plunging ever deeper into dangers and darkness. That fateful year forever changed the established world order, and in ways that statesmen of the time could have hardly envisaged. A horrific European war was in its third destructive year as machine guns and trench warfare consumed millions of lives, mostly the idealistic flower of European youth. But rather than call off this senseless slaughter, the belligerents doubled down stubbornly because, as in any war, the calm voices of reason are invariably drowned out by the hysterical rhetoric of zealots.
And so the carnage ground inexorably on until March 1917 when the Russian troops who were bearing the brunt of mayhem finally revolted and brought down their Czar. Continue reading
This year marks the 500 anniversary of the great revolt of Martin Luther in 1517. Since that time years ending in ’17 seem to portend dire future events, and so it is with trepidation that we enter this 2017, even as a seismic wave of social unrest rumbles underfoot. It was 1517 that saw Luther post his 95 theses to a church door, an innocuous beginning to what grew into a total Reformation, or Deformation, of the Church ~ depending upon one’s point of view. The fight had been brewing for some time but it took this intransigent monk to light the fuse. The West has been living in the fallout from that explosion ever since.
A hundred years later, in 1617, Ferdinand was crowned the new King of Bohemia as part of a deal the Spanish Hapsburgs cut with the Austrian side of the family. It didn’t pan out so well, however. Within a year those saucy Bohemians had thrown the Hapsburg councilors out of a third story window in Prague, Continue reading
Merry Christmas to all! I generally make it a point to avoid purely political topics in this blog, and yet there are times when certain current events demand a response, as in protestors hounding electors en masse or students violently denouncing ordinary voters as “racists” for simply exercising their civil right to cast a ballot. Some time ago a respected Berkley law professor, Phillip Johnson, coined the term “microphone man” to explain how certain factions in society routinely use the microphones of media, government, and education to effectively silence any dissenting viewpoints. And since the stunning electoral upset of November 8, a shocked and visibly upset microphone man has wheeled into action by disclaiming the “unfairness” of the Electoral College (EC), a favorite liberal whipping boy whenever “progressive” presidential candidates lose elections they figured were easily won. Continue reading
Has Christianity lost its moral relevance in the modern world? I live in a state where two thirds of the electorate recently agreed that physicians ought to be allowed to prescribe a lethal toxin to a dying patient as a substitute for pain medication. Apparently the Christian message no longer resonates with a large percentage of the populace. Could this possibly reflect a fragmented Christianity whose continued doctrinal and moral disunity has reduced even the Ten Commandments to debatable talking points? After all a church itself splintered by countless divisions can hardly expect to hold the attention of the masses. But until the rupture in this body (of Christ) is truly resolved, there seems to be little chance that Christianity can ever heal itself much less the world.
In order to correct such problems one must first address the fundamental cause of that religious cleavage. Ironically, it is the very thing that ought to unite Christians that has proven to be the most significant stumbling block to unity. For it is the Eucharist itself that has polarized Catholics and Protestants into opposing camps for 500 years now. Continue reading
Historians recently discovered that Georgetown University had sold off a number of slaves back in 1838 in order to raise capital needed to insure the school’s survival. This revelation has apparently plunged its present day administrators into paroxysms of guilt-laden remorse and penitential self-flagellation. And while I agree that it is necessary to honestly own up to the events of history, including its more unsavory aspects, too many academic culture warriors of today seem more than willing to dismiss offhand the social context in which those past events occurred.
Today’s historical revisionists seem to expect that what people did in the past ought always to be judged by current-day social and cultural standards. The hypocrisy in this approach lies in the fact that we pretend to remove the speck in our ancestor’s eye while ignoring the beam in our own. Continue reading
Warning! This post contains very graphic language from which you may want to shield young or impressionable readers. .
The jagged obsidian blade glistened briefly in the dazzling sunlight before it came crashing down forcefully, tearing the terrified victim’s abdomen wide open. Eight strong arms bound this unfortunate creature to the blood-stained altar of the vengeful god of war, Huitzilopochtli. The priest, whose coarse hair was thickly matted in dried blood, showed no sign of revulsion, nor even a passing glance of pity, as he performed his grisly task. Blood bathed every pore of his bronze skin as he thrust his right arm forcibly into the victim’s gaping wound. Piteous cries of agony were rendered inaudible over the din of an enormous crowd Continue reading
The greatest sin in the world today may well be the senseless division of Christianity. One regrettable consequence of that partition seems to be that the fabric of Western culture is unraveling under the onslaught of radical individualism. This belief holds that self-determination, even regarding one’s own gender, ought to trump not only centuries of human tradition but the very laws of nature itself. And as the institution of family recedes ever deeper into its crisis of identity, society has becomes increasingly chaotic. A kind of intellectual anarchy now routinely assaults reason to substitute its own tenets for that great deposit of wisdom known as common sense. Meanwhile, in the West, Christianity seems to be in full retreat so that even an unobtrusive order of religious sisters, by following their consciences, is being threatened with ruinous fines Continue reading
Mormonism is one of the faster growing religious bodies in the United States today as a result of active and constant proselytizing. Nonetheless, the sect continues to arouse suspicion, not the least because of its insistence that it is the only true and valid expression of Christianity. To answer this rather exalted claim one must investigate whether the primary supplemental scripture underpinning Mormon beliefs, i.e. the Book of Mormon, is a credible document. Continue reading
The best kept secret in the media over the past few years has been the 150th anniversary of the most significant event in American history. The Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865, yet there has been a strange, deafening silence and the absence of any fanfare commemorating that bitter conflict fought to end racial slavery. One would assume, with the first ever black president in office, that the costly struggle which initiated the long journey toward full civil rights for every American would merit a little official attention. Alas, nobody in today’s smug political establishment seems overly concerned that a few million white guys and several hundred thousand black ones fought and made heroic sacrifices to remove the canker of slavery from our land, while also preserving a tottering Union mortally threatened by sectional strife. In short, this was a war that cemented what the American Revolution had only begun, thus insuring the continuation of the greatest human experiment in self-government that history has ever seen. Continue reading