21st century iconoclasm… it’s all about color

To [Shuan] King, the only proper response to any fossil of racism or
oppression is to destroy it.
As any depictions of Christ or the Virgin Mary with light skin represent
“white supremacy,” according to King they’ve all got to go.

Nathan Stone


(Michaelangelo’s statue of Moses / Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli/ Julie Cook / 2018)

Back in 2014, I wrote a post about Pope Paschel I and Iconoclasm…
you may find the link to that post here:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/pope-paschal-i-iconoclasm-and-hospitality/

I went back to read that post today, in part because of a dangerous trend
I see happening these 6 years later…
This trend has been taking place over the past two months or so and it’s been happening
on both a national level as well as a global level.

The trend is that of vandalism—vandalism directed toward Chrisitan Houses of Worship.
As in… that of churches, stained glass windows, and even statuary.
There has been a call to vandalism by Shaun King, the leader of Black Lives Matter.
A call to eradicate any and all depictions of a light-skinned Christ

In yesterday’s post, a post based on an article by Nathan Stone, Stone wrote
extensively about why King would call his “followers” to arms…a call to
bring destruction to Churches, stain glass windows and images of Christ, Mary
and the saints.

Recently, Shaun King, a champion of the Black Lives Matter movement,
called for the destruction of Christian iconography, statues, and stained glass,
if they represent Christ, His mother, or any of the apostles as white.
This, according to King, makes the iconography nothing more than a
“gross form of white supremacy” and “racist propaganda” created
to be “tools of oppression.”

To King, the only proper response to any fossil of racism or oppression is
to destroy it.
As any depictions of Christ or the Virgin Mary with light skin represent
“white supremacy,” according to King they’ve all got to go.

Nathan continues…
True Christianity Was Never About Race

The idea that Christianity is or has been infected with white supremacy
is not new.
Susan Abrahams, the dean of faculty at Pacific School of Religion,
blamed “White Christians” for Charlottesville.
Jeannine Hill Fletcher wrote a book in 2018 that purportedly showed racism was a
natural outgrowth of Christianity, springing from “Christian superiority.”

This premise is wrong, first because of the existence of black saints.
There is a rich tradition of African Christianity.
Many of the earliest fathers of the church hailed from Africa,
including Cyprian and St. Augustine of Hippo.

Furthermore, multiple men and women are recognized by the Catholic Church
as saints who were black, including St. Moses the Black, St. Benedict the Moor,
and St. Martin de Porres.
It is a strange racist and oppressive system that recognizes the sanctity
of people from across the world, regardless of their color,
and bequeaths upon them the title of “saint,” a moniker that designates
all who possess it as attaining ultimate equality before the throne of God.

All this is a reminder that skin color doesn’t make an ounce of difference
in Christianity. As St. Paul wrote in Galatians,
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free,
there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Pigmentation did not matter in Christianity; what mattered was faith in Christ.
This is also why, contrary to the implication in King’s ridiculous tweets,
Christianity often adapted itself to the environment of indigenous peoples.

To buttress this, we even have proof that Africans were accepted in medieval Europe.
There is evidence that Christians from Ethiopia pilgrimaged to Spain and were
present in medieval Rome to the extent that the church of
Santo Stefano degli Abissini was built, and rebuilt,
specifically for Ethiopian Christians.

The Radicals Want to ‘Cancel’ Christianity.

Stained glass and statues do not show Christianity to be racist.
A quick Google search would have shown this to King.
So why King would make a statement that could be so easily refuted?
The answer is that this outrage over white portrayals of Christ and the apostles
is a blind meant to detract us from the real goal: canceling Christianity.

Just a year ago, believing the radical left had such a goal would
have sounded conspiratorial. Within the last four weeks, however,
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City was vandalized.
Across from the White House, St. John’s Church was attacked twice.
Neither church nor the statue was involved in any way or form with
the deaths of George Floyd or Rayshard Brooks.

More recently, in the Polish city of Breda, a memorial to World War II Polish
soldiers was vandalized with BLM graffiti. Never mind that the memorial
features a replica of the Virgin Mary as a black woman,
the soldiers the memorial heralds were fighting fascists,
and Poland has no history of colonization anywhere.

Recently “The Catholic Church in the United States experienced a series of
attacks this weekend all over the country.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles saw a fire in an eighteenth-century mission church,
San Gabriel, founded in 1771 by St. Junipero Serra. Firefighters
responded to the call at 4:24 a.m. on Saturday, July 11.

Archbishop José Gomez tweeted about the fire,
asking for the intercession of St. Junipero.

St. Junipero has become a point of attack during recent protests
in the United States.
The Spanish Franciscan priest converted thousands of native Californians
to Christianity. Pope Francis canonized him while in the United States in 2015,
recalling how the saint “defended the dignity of the native community.”

Meanwhile, in Ocala, FL, the Marion County Sheriff’s office reported
someone set fire to Queen of Peace church just before Sunday morning Mass on July 12.

The police allegedly found a car crashed into the front of the church.
The suspect then poured gasoline in the narthex and lit it on fire,
before escaping in the same vehicle. No parishioners were wounded.
The suspect was arrested and is in Marion County jail on no bond.

The Boston Police Department is currently investigating an arson of a
statue of the Blessed Mother at St. Peter’s Parish Church in Dorchester
on Saturday, July 11.
They report an unknown suspect lit the plastic flowers in
the Madonna’s hands on fire, resulting in burning on the statue’s
face and upper body.

Another statue of Mary was vandalized on Friday, June 10 at 3:09 a.m.
at Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in New York. The statue, which had
been at the entrance of the all-boys school for more than 100 years,
had the word “IDOL” written on its front. It was cleaned Friday morning by staff.
The Diocese of Brooklyn announced that the New York Police Department
is currently investigating the case.

These acts of vandalism come as Catholics are returning to churches
in many states, after the lockdown and closure of parishes due to coronavirus.
The actions also coincide with protests and the removal of various historical
statues across the United States, spurred by the death of George Floyd.

https://www.romereports.com/en/2020/07/13/churches-burned-and-statues-of-mary-vandalized-in-catholic-churches-across-us/

And then there was the fire at the Cathedral of Saint Pierre-et Saint Paul in Nantes, France

A fire at the cathedral in the French city of Nantes is believed to
have been started deliberately, prosecutors say.
Three fires were started at the site and an investigation into suspected arson
is underway, Prosecutor Pierre Sennes said.
The blaze destroyed stained glass windows and the grand organ at
the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral, which dates from the 15th Century.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-53455142

And so finally, it seems that someone in Washington is taking notice…
Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks is demanding federal authorities
at the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigate mob attacks on Christian statues
and churches in their continued purge of human history in the name of “social justice.”

“Over the last two months as Americans have seen statues of American heroes
toppled and memorials dedicated to our national memory desecrated,
those responsible for these acts have also in their sights Catholics,
statues of saints and churches,” an email from Banks’ office read Wednesday.

Let us pray for The Chruch, the global Christian family…

The Will, the Savior, the Salvation

The sacraments of the New Testament give salvation,
the sacraments of the Old Testament promise a savior.

St. Augustine
from The Bible and The Sacraments


(Tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2019)

“Finally—-and this is perhaps the most difficult aspect of what concerns the practice of
conformity to the will of God—-we should desire virtue itself and the degrees of grace only
insofar as God wishes to give them, and not desire more.

Our whole ambition should be to attain the degree of perfection that has been appointed for us,
since it has not been given to everybody to reach the same height.
It is obvious that however well we may correspond with the graces given us,
we can never equal the humility, charity and other virtues of the Blessed Virgin.
And who can even presume to imagine that he can reach the same heights as the Apostles?
Who can equal St. John the Baptist whom Christ called the greatest of the children of men?
Or St. Joseph to whom God entrusted His Son?

In this we must as in all else submit to the will of God.
He must be able to say of us, My will is in them; it rules and governs everything.

So when we hear or read that God in a short time has brought some souls to a very high degree of
perfection and shown them signal favors, enlightened their understanding and imbued their hearts
with His love, we should repress any desire to be treated likewise so as not to fall short in pure love of conformity to His Will. We should even unite ourselves still more closely to His Will by saying,
‘I praise Thee, O Lord, and bless Thee for deigning to show Thyself with so great love and
familiarity to the souls Thou has chosen …'”

Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure,
p. 75-76
An Excerpt From
Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence

St Stephens Day

You desire that which exceeds my humble powers,
but I trust in the compassion and mercy of the All-powerful God.

Saint Stephen


(portion of the Demidoff Altarpiece 1476 / The National Gallery / London, England)

In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke praises St. Stephen as
“a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit,” who
“did great wonders and signs among the people”
during the earliest days of the Church.

Luke’s history of the period also includes the moving scene of Stephen’s death –
witnessed by St. Paul before his conversion –
at the hands of those who refused to accept Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.

Stephen himself was a Jew who most likely came to believe in Jesus
during the Lord’s ministry on earth. He may have been among the 70 disciples
whom Christ sent out as missionaries, who preached the coming of God’s kingdom while traveling with almost no possessions.

This spirit of detachment from material things continued in the early Church,
in which St. Luke says believers “had all things in common”
and “would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all,
as any had need.”

But such radical charity ran up against the cultural conflict between
Jews and Gentiles, when a group of Greek widows felt neglected
in their needs as compared to those of a Jewish background.

Stephen’s reputation for holiness led the Apostles to choose him,
along with six other men,
to assist them in an official and unique way as this dispute arose.
Through the sacramental power given to them by Christ,
the Apostles ordained the seven men as deacons,
and set them to work helping the widows.

As a deacon, Stephen also preached about Christ as the fulfillment of the
Old Testament law and prophets. Unable to refute his message,
some members of local synagogues brought him before their religious authorities,
charging him with seeking to destroy their traditions.

Stephen responded with a discourse recorded in the seventh chapter of the Acts
of the Apostles.
He described Israel’s resistance to God’s grace in the past,
and accused the present religious authorities of “opposing the Holy Spirit”
and rejecting the Messiah.

Before he was put to death, Stephen had a vision of Christ in glory.
“Look,” he told the court,
“I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

The council, however, dragged the deacon away and stoned him to death.

“While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,’”
records St. Luke in Acts 7.
“Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice,
‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’
When he had said this, he died.”

The first Christian martyrdom was overseen by a Pharisee named Saul –
later Paul, and still later St. Paul –
whose own experience of Christ would transform him into a believer,
and later a martyr himself.

—Catholic News Agency

won’t back down

“You can stand me up at the gates of Hell,
but I won’t back down!”

Tom Petty


(rod iron fence to Colonial Cemetery / Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook / 2016)

The first official Christian martyr, or protomartyr,
was Stephen, who was killed in 36 AD.

What we know about Stephen comes to us from the Book of Acts.

A Greek speaking foreign born Jew, Stephen was elected to serve as a deacon to his community. Stephen, along with others, had appealed to the apostles that the
elderly widows within their community were being passed over and forgotten.
So Stephen, along with 6 others, were elected as official deacons who would in turn
attend to these elderly widows.

Yet Stephen was also known for being quite the evangelist.
He was an ardent speaker and witness of a new faith based on the teachings
of Jesus of Nazareth.
Stephen was known to lead many Jews to conversion.

Now we must remember that Stephen was both a Jew, born and raised,
as well as a follower of the Resurrected Christ.
A conundrum in dry and dusty Palestine.
As a Jew, he was still expected to answer to the Jewish governing body.

It was however his gift of speech and witness, along with the numerous conversions
of Jews, that would lead to Stephen’s swift demise.

Stephen was brought before the ruling Sanhedrin on charges of blaspheming.
The council believed Stephen to be nothing more than a heretic.

Eloquently, standing before the tribunal, Stephen presented his case as he spoke
of a natural and holy thread of events spiraling down through the ages as he linked
Abraham, Moses, Solomon, the Temple, David and finally culminating with Jesus Christ–
the inevitable final link in the chain.

Stephen continued explaining that the true Son of God who will come again to
judge both the living and the dead….
As he told those gathered that God’s kingdom was not to be found here on earth and
was not to be found in manmade buildings such as the Temple or in earthly accumulated treasures but rather was to be found only in the the risen Son.

Stephen closed his testimony by turning his gaze upward while announcing to those
gathered that
“I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!”
(Acts 7:58)
At which point the members of the council descended into chaos as they shouted and
covered their ears against hearing such seditious and heretical talk.

Shadows of Caiaphas tearing his clothes over the words of Jesus…
“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you:
From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the
Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Matthew 26:64

Stephen was immediately sentenced death…being stoned to death.

Remember this was the time of pre Christian Paul–rather this was the dangerous
time of Saul, Paul’s ‘old man’ of persecution and hate…
For it was Saul who was the agent who took keen personal interest in crushing
any and all ‘heretics’ who were promoting the teaching of the crucified Nazarene.

It was Saul who paved the way for Stephen’s death and it was Saul who approved it.

Now imagine if you will what would have happened if Stephen had recanted
his teachings?
What would have happened had Stephen been frightened by the knowledge that he would
be sentenced to death.
What if the thought of having people throwing rocks at him until he died…
a death brought about slowly and painfully from rocks beating against his body,
what if the thought of such a horrific death made him change his mind?
What would have happened had he thought it would best, be easier, if he just opted
to cooperate and renounce his preachings?

What example would be set?
What presedent would then be set as a witness to other followers.
What if other followers had been too afraid?
Afraid for their own physical wellbeing and the wellbeing of their families?
How would those decisions of so long impact today?

But Stephen had seen Christ in all His glory—
there was no backing down.
There was no turning back.
He would stand against the gates of Hell and he would not back down.

…..and it was this tale of Stephen and the sacrifice of faith that came
flooding front and center to my thoughts when I read the follwing
words offered by the Scottish Pastor David Robertson regarding the latest
news coming out of both England and Scotland regarding the Anglican Church.

“The Anglican Church is officially distancing itself from biblical and historic Christianity.”
David Robertson

Whoa!

The Church, the very bride of the Christ the groom, is actually distancing herself
from Jesus Christ???!!
As she is currently turning away from the Word of the God and the tenants of Biblical teaching… choosing rather instead to go the way of the current culture gods….

We are at present witnessing the Church of Western Civilization turning herself
away from her very foundation and yet thankfully, at the same time, we are witnessing
the Church of Africa rising powerfully to the defense and forefront of that same faith…
steeped in the Truth of God’s word….

The Bishop of Uganda has addressed this very issue….

“Archbishop “The British sent missionaries to Africa in the 19th Century telling us to trust the Bible as the Word of God, now they are telling us not to”
Archbishop of Uganda

“It is one way, Henry Orombi says,
of keeping faith with those long-ago Englishmen in muttonchop whiskers who brought
the church to Africa.
“A hundred or so years ago, the fire was in the Western world,” Orombi says.
“And many of their great people went over to the countries in the Southern Hemisphere,
and reached out there, and planted seeds there.
And then things changed in the Northern Hemisphere. . . .
It now looks like the Western world is tired and old.
But, praise God, the Southern Hemisphere,
which is a product of the missionary outreach,
is young and vital and exuberant.
So, in a way, I think that what God has done is he took seeds and he planted them
in the Southern Hemisphere, and now they’re going to come back,
right to the Northern Hemisphere.
It is happening.
It is happening.”
(excerpt from an article in The New Yorker / A Church Asunder April 2017)

As I pray that Bishop Orombi is correct…

May those of us of the Faith, as we find ourselves now standing against the
very gates of Hell, may we hold fast to God’s word, being not afraid of what the world
may do to us as we continue to proclaim His Glory…

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church,
and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18