is the devil is in the details…

“Till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed,
See this sword?
The prince of darkness sold it to me.”

Karl Marx “The Fiddler”

“If Marx, Bruno Bauer and Feuerbach associate to found a
theological-political review,
God would do well to surround himself with all his angels
and indulge in self-pity, for these three will certainly drive him out of heaven…”

quoted from D. McLellan, Marx before Marxism, MacMillian)

Yesterday I wrote a post about salvaging a few books left over from college and the rather
prophetic connection associated with one of those books.
It was during the purge of the attic that I found and opted
to recuse a few of these old reads.

You may have noticed one of the books in yesterday’s photo and found yourself wondering
about it.

It is a small book with a very unsettling title that seems to be more accusation than title.
It was written in 1976 and is a book I’ve actually had since high school.

“Was Karl Marx a Satanist?”
by Richard Wurmbrand.

I’d imagine that most folks seeing such a book, given our current state of political affairs,
would most likely roll their eyes as if to say,
“it figures you conservative religious types would think such.”

But if anyone should know whether Marx was a Satanist or not would be Richard Wurmbrand.

The Philadelphia Herald once stated that “He (Wurmbrand) stood in the midst of lions,
but they could not devour him.”

His biography reads like the script of some sort of beyond reality novel…

Richard Wurmbrand was born the youngest of four boys in a Jewish family on March 24, 1909,
in Bucharest, Romania.
Gifted intellectually and fluent in nine languages,
Richard was active in leftist politics and worked as a stockbroker.
On Oct. 26, 1936, Richard married Sabina Oster, who was also Jewish.
They placed their faith in Jesus Christ in 1938 as a result of the influence of a
German carpenter named Christian Wölfkes.
Richard was ordained as an Anglican, and later Lutheran, minister.

During World War II, Richard and Sabina saw opportunities for evangelism among
the occupying German forces.
They preached in bomb shelters and rescued Jewish children out of the ghettos.
Richard and Sabina were repeatedly arrested and beaten and, at least once,
nearly executed.

Sabina lost her Jewish family in Nazi concentration camps.
In 1945, Romanian Communists seized power and a million Russian troops poured into
the country. Pastor Wurmbrand ministered to his oppressed countrymen while engaging
in bold evangelism to the Russian soldiers.

That same year, Richard and Sabina attended the Congress of Cults,
organized by the Romanian Communist government. Many religious leaders
came forward to praise Communism and to swear loyalty to the new regime.

Richard walked up to the podium and declared to the delegates, whose speeches were
broadcast to the whole nation, that their duty was to glorify God and Christ alone.
Between 1945 and 1947, Richard distributed 1 million Gospels to Russian troops,
often disguising the books as Communist propaganda.
Richard also helped arrange the smuggling of Gospels into Russia.

On Feb. 29, 1948, the secret police kidnapped Richard as he traveled to church and took
him to their headquarters.
He was locked in a solitary cell and labeled “Prisoner Number 1.”

In 1950, his wife, Sabina, was also imprisoned.
She was forced to serve as a laborer on the Danube Canal project,
leaving their 9-year-old son, Mihai, alone and homeless.

He was then taken in by Christian friends, who risked imprisonment to care for the
child of a political prisoner.
Sabina was released after three years, and Richard was also later released,
only to be re-arrested and then released in an amnesty in 1964.

In December 1965, two organizations paid a $10,000 ransom to allow the
Wurmbrand family to leave Romania.
Reluctant to leave his homeland, Richard was convinced by other underground church
leaders to leave and become a “voice” to the world for the underground church.
Richard, Sabina and their son, Mihai, left Romania for Norway and then traveled on to England.

Richard began his ministry of being a voice for persecuted Christians in the West,
where he also wrote his testimony of persecution, Tortured for Christ.
Later, Richard moved to the United States, and in 1967 the Wurmbrands officially began
a ministry committed to serving our persecuted Christian family called Jesus to the
Communist World (later renamed The Voice of the Martyrs).
This work continues today in more than 60 countries where Christians are persecuted.

TorturedforChrist.com

During his imprisonment, according to The Telegraph,“Wurmbrand was beaten on his body
and on the soles of his feet, given mind-altering drugs and forced to watch the humiliation
of fellow prisoners.

Through everything, he refused to recant.

For three years he was held in solitary confinement in a cell some 35 ft underground;
he kept sane by preaching himself a sermon every night,
fixing more than 300 of them in his brain with mnemonics and rhymes.
After his release, he published 22 as a book, Sermons in Solitary Confinement (1969).

Only once did he have anyone else to speak to – a prisoner in the next cell to whom he
communicated in Morse by tapping on his cell wall and whom he converted to Christianity.
Sabina Wurmbrand meanwhile was forced to work as a slave labourer;
at one stage, while building a canal, she was reduced to living on grass.
After her release in 1954, she was denied work for refusing to divorce her husband.
When later informed that he had died in prison,
she refused to believe it even when strangers called on her claiming to be former prisoners
who had attended his funeral.

In May 1966 when Wurmbrand testified in Washington before the Senate's Internal
Security Subcommittee, he stripped to the waist to show 18 deep torture wounds
covering his body.

Wurmbrand was a fiery, almost explosive man who never fought shy of controversy.
Although he always spoke about his oppressors with understanding,
he was passionate in his belief that "Communism is the greatest crime in humanity"
and was highly critical of those who sought dialogue with Communist regimes.
In 1967, on a visit to Britain, he roundly condemned British churches for their lack of
interest in the plight of Christians under Communism:
"What is happening in China?" he demanded.
"All the churches have been desecrated and closed, but nobody protests."

The British churches, he believed,
had been compromised by their membership of the World Council of Churches which included
members of the officially-approved Russian and Romanian churches.

(why do I now see Bishop Gavin Ashenden in my mind's eye nodding in agreement?)
He recalled how, during his incarceration,
he had been asked whether he would like to become a bishop -
so that he could help to influence the World Council of Churches in "our" favour.

So if anyone knows Communism, The Soviets, as well as Socialism, on an intimate level...
it would be Richard Wurmbrand.

In his book "Was Karl Marx a Satanist", Wurmbrand does not merely make a case for such
a notion but rather states, after meticulous research,
that which is not conjecture but is rather a definitive fact.

And so the answer is yes.
And in turn, we now know that the father of communism and socialism was a practicing Satanist.
(Read the book in order to glimpse the known and little-known documentation which
details Marx's practicing involvement)

Ironically Marx was once an ardent Christian during his youth, but it at some point
during his time in college, there is a grave transformation.
One from a heartfelt warmth to a bitter unfeeling cold.

For time's sake, I will leave the reading and study to you for the details of the whys,
whens, and wheres---just know that Wurmbrand offers copious documentation.

Wurmbrand notes that "All active Satanists have ravaged personal lives.
This was the case with Marx, too."

Arnold Kunzli, in his book K. Marx--A Psychogram (1966), tells of this life,
which led to the suicide of two daughters and a son-n-law.
Three children died of malnutrition.
His daughter Laura, married to the socialist Laforgue, also buried three of her children.
Then she and her husband committed suicide together.
Another daughter Eleanor, decided with her husband to do the same.
She died.
He backed out in the last minute.
The families of Satanists are under a curse.

I find it interesting that in western civilization we are witnessing a resurgence, along
with a keen interest and desire, of and for all things 'ism' within our culture,
chief among them being that of Socialism

Socialism is the growing darling of the Democratic party...
a tantalizing trinket from Pandora's box no longer found in the outer fringes of the party
but rather a dangerous siren singing her alluring song while making headway deep
into the rooted elect.

And this rooted elect has little to no need for the tenents of a Judeo Christian society.

"exactly as Satanists do; unlike atheists, they do not deny the existence of God, except to deceive others;
they know of His existence but describe Him as wicked"

Am I saying that Socialists are Satanists?
No.
But what I am saying is that the birth of socialism, and that of her first cousin communism, has
their roots in the heart and mind of one man who embraced the darkness.

I would utter caution in this race to embrace the latest resurgence of isms in Western Civilization.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

Adding to the pile

“In times like these, it is helpful to remember
that there have always been times like these.”

Paul Harvey
Radio Broadcaster

Our friends at The Catholic Company
have a new interesting book that they’d like to share—
BAD SHEPHERDS
The Dark Years in Which the Faithful Thrived While Bishops Did the Devil’s Work

Given these days and times of scandal, mistrust, misdeeds shrouded by pure evil,
this is a rather timely read that I’ve now added to the ever-burgeoning pile of books
calling for my attention.

The Catholic Chruch, with the clergy leading the way, has become a pariah in the minds of many.
And with this deepening distrust and disgust, the global Christian Chruch is finding herself in the
crosshairs of being guilty by association.

Here is their enticing introduction of the book…

Sexual scandals and improper behavior
among religious leaders are nothing new.

“…the smoke of Satan has entered the
temple of God,”

said Pope Paul VI.

Believe it or not, St. Peter Damian wrote about the problem of active homosexuality
among the clergy over 900 years ago.

He warned that it was
“creeping through the clerical order…like a cruel beast within the sheepfold of Christ.”

Ever since Judas betrayed his Lord, there has been sin and scandal in the Church.

But this is not the time to despair.

In his astonishing, highly revealing and sometimes amusing book,
Church historian Rod Bennett offers some much-needed perspective to give us hope.

“My research, curiously enough, soon revealed a major key running under the minor;
and this was the striking fact that the Catholic laity…
often shone brightest just when their bad shepherds were at their worst.
God, in other words, had not left Himself without a witness.”
—Author Rod Bennett

These eye-opening pages introduce a number
of bad shepherds, showing us that corrupt church
leaders have existed since Christ established
the Church—and have not prevailed.

Instead, goodness has ultimately triumphed.

You’ll read about:
Pope Stephen VII, who so hated his late predecessor that he had him dug up,
put on trial, and flung into the Tiber.

Benedict IX, who bought and sold the papacy—twice!

Pope John XII, whose debauchery rivaled that of the corrupt emperor Caligula.

And here’s the powerful thing Rob Bennet will show you:

While these leaders were doing these evil deeds,
good Catholics not only survived—–they thrived.

They transcended their bad shepherds,
preserved the traditions, and served as the
foundation for a vigorous renewal of the Faith.

By bringing to light what’s happened in the past, this enlightening book shows that
restoration and renewal can happen again!

The notion of the governing Chruch going array while the faithful remain steadfast,
reminds me of a time in the middle of the 20th century when the
German Lutheran Chruch became the state Chruch of Nazi Germany.
And in essence became a pawn of Adolf Hitler…a vocal tool condoning evil propaganda.

Hitler knew that if he really wanted to plant his corrupted seeds within the hearts of the
German people, if he had the Church’s clergy acting as cheerleaders, the German people would be
more apt to listen and agree.

Yet there were committed Lutherans (Dietrich Bonhoeffer who, with a wealth of fellow clergy,
left the state puppet church creating the defiant Confessing Chruch) along with equally defiant Catholic
clergy mounted a counter voice of Truth.

The righteous know the Truth and hold steadfast despite the blanket of evil.

And so our friend the Wee Flea is also reviewing, as well as recommending, a new book—
a book about faith and God in our current troubling times.

God is Good for You—A Defence of Christianity in Troubled Times
by Greg Sheridan
A political journalist looks at the impact of Christianity in the West.

David pulls out a few quotable gems to wet our whistle.

“In Charles Murray’s seminal study of the white underclass in the US, Coming Apart,
he reports that the last thing that holds working class and impoverished communities together
is the local churches.
When they collapse, the communities collapse.

(Page 27).

Does atheism explain the universe, life, including human life, consciousness and conscience?
Hyper- rational atheism gave us Nazism and doctrinaire Soviet communism.
Ultra-rationalism does not deliver you any moral compass.

(Kevin Rudd- Page 216).

If we abandon God, and the ethical imperatives that proceed from that,
we are in danger of ending up in an amoral morass,
where the sort of technocratic debates about whether certain human beings should be regarded
as sharing a common humanity, like the Soviet purges of “enemies of the people”
or the Nazi’s belief in the expendability of certain races, most particularly Jews, become possible.
You then land in an amoral jungle, animated only by some mud- begotten social Darwinianism.
This is because there was no longer a guiding moral authority.
These regimes could “reason” their way to any conclusion.”

(Kevin Rudd – page 217).

The only truly acceptable contemporary Christianity for Western political culture now seems
to be a Christianity which doesn’t mention God and which subscribes to conventional
elite wisdom on policy issues

(page 226).

The rule of law came out of a Christian mindset and defined the West.
The enemies of the West still define the West that way. Human rights have degenerated into
identity politics.
We are living now in a post-Christian society but still living on the legacy of Christianity
and that legacy is running down.
This could end in chaos.
For society to work you’ve got to have agreement about basic rules.
You want your rights but you have your responsibilities too.
If we don’t have consensus on the basic rules are we will find it hard to live in a society with each other…
That is a matter of great concern to me. I’m very concerned about where this experiment of being
a post-Christian society will end. It’s an experiment.
We haven’t been there before.

(Peter Costello – page 229).

Christianity doesn’t seek conflict for its own sake, but if it’s to be effective it must
know that conflict is the inevitable consequence of proclaiming its message.
It is also important to have always in mind that Jesus’s two greatest commands,
which he reiterates again and again, are to love God and to love your neighbour.
This does not, however rule out ethical conflict.

(Page 319).

https://theweeflea.com/2019/01/07/god-is-good-for-you-a-defence-of-christianity-in-troubled-times-greg-sheridan/

And so we hold fast to the knowledge that, as we have seen in ages past, when the going gets tough,
we of the Faith hold to our toughness and get going…

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love,
endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.
Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence
of many witnesses.
In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus,
who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,
I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which God will bring about in his own time—-
God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light,
whom no one has seen or can see.
To him be honor and might forever.

Amen.
1 Timothy 6:11-16

Two ways, one choice

“There are two ways, one of life and one of death,
and there is a great difference between these two ways”

The Two Ways


(bookcover)

The kind folks at Plough Publishing have once again shared a few new books with me for my review.
Sometimes I have time to read them, sometimes, I don’t.
Sometimes I have to settle for a bit of berry picking…pursing for those tastiest little
nuggets…nuggets that not only need to be shared but such nuggets are necessary when it comes to sharing.

I received a couple of books with today’s offering bieng from one of those books.

The Two Ways
The Early Christian Vision of Discipleship from
The Didache and The Shepherd of Hermas

With an introduction by Rowan Williams

The Didache, also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, an anonymous work composed in the late
first century AD, was lost for centuries before being rediscovered in 1873.
The Shepherd of Hermas was written by a Roman Christian named Hermas in the second century AD
or possibly even earlier.
A tale in which the “angel of repentance” appears to Hermas, a Christian living in Rome in the form of a shepherd.
Both works were included in early lists of canonical books.

There was, in the eyes of Rome, a deadly difficulty in the claim made by the early Christians
and that of their loyalty, or lack thereof, to the state.
As it appeared that their loyalty was no longer found in the authority of Rome and of the state
but rather in a man who Rome considered dead and gone.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in his introduction to the book
examines the life of Christians during the infancy time-period of the new ‘religion’
as seen from the eyes of the political and governing body of Rome.

Williams notes that “any Chrisitan in this period knew that, even if things were relatively peaceful,
it was always possible that a suspicious government would crackdown.
(Sound familiar 21st century Christians?)

The suspicions were well-founded in one sense.
If you look at the eyewitness accounts of martyrdom in these early centuries—
documents like the wonderful record of the martyrs of Scilli in North Africa in AD 180–
you can see what the real issue was.
These Christians, most of them probably domestic slaves, had to explain to the magistrate that they
were quite happy to pray for the imperial state,
and even to pay taxes, but that they could not grant the state their absolute allegiance.
They had another loyalty—which did not mean that they wished to overthrow the administration,
but that they would not comply with the states’ demands in certain respects.
They would not worship the emperor, and, as we know from some texts, refused to serve
in the Roman army.

They asked from the state what had been very reluctantly conceded to the Jews as an ethnic group—
exemption from the religious requirements of the empire.
What made their demand new and shocking was that it was not made on the basis of ethnic identity,
but on the bare fact of conviction and conscience.
For the first time in human history, individuals claimed the liberty to define the
limits of their political loyalty,
and to test that loyalty by spiritual and ethical standards.

That is why the early Christian movement was so threatening–and so simply baffling—
to the Roman authorities.
It was not revolutionary in the sense that it was trying to change the government.
Its challenge was more serious:
it was the claim to hold any and every government to account,
to test its integrity, and to give and withhold compliance accordingly.

The Early Christians believed that if Jesus of Nazareth was “Lord,”
no one else could be lord over him, and therefore no one could overrule his authority.

We use the word “Lord” these days mostly in a rather unthinking religious context,
as a sort of devotional flourish: for a Roman, it meant the person who made the decisions you had to abide by,
from the master of a slave in the household to the emperor himself.

To speak of Jesus as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” was to say that his decisions
could not be overridden by anyone.
You might have to disobey a “lord” in our society in order to obey the one true Master of all—
the one who used no violence in enforcing his decisions but was all the more unanswerable
an authority because of that.
He alone needed no reinforcement, no temporal power,
to overcome external threats of rivals.

The theology of the early centuries thus comes very directly out of this one great central
conviction about political authority: if Jesus is Lord, no one else ultimately is,
and so those who belong with Jesus, who shares his life through the common life of the worshiping community,
have a solidarity and a loyalty that goes beyond the chance identity of national or political life.

The first claim on their loyalty is to live out the life of Jesus which is also the life of God–
a life that needs no defense and so has no place for violence and coercion,

God, says Clement of Alexandria in the late second century, shows his love supremely in the fact that
he loves people who have no “natural” claim on him,
‘Humans love largely because of fellow-feeling, but God’s love is such that it never depends
on having something in common.
The creator has in one sense nothing in common with his creation—how could he?
But he is completely free to exercise his essential being, which is love, wherever he wills,
And this teaches us that we too must learn to love beyond the boundaries of common interest and
natural sympathy and, like God, love those who don’t see to have anything in common with us.

So many good nuggets here to taste, savor and finally digest…
And that’s just from the introduction!!!

From the notion of how we currently use the word “Lord” when referring to Jesus…
With it being more of a case of mere verbiage rather than a true sense of one who actually is in sole
authority over us.
As in one of true Lordship.

For in the word “Lord” one finds deep humility, yielding to and the deferring of self to that of another…
all of which is actually found in the use of what most consider to be a simple single word.
All of which are concepts so foreign to the 21st-century self-sufficient mind.

And so here’s the thing…
we have a new year.

The gift of a new year.

Yet for so many reasons, we needed to throw out this past year a long time ago.
It was caustic, volatile, vitriolic, hate-filled and divisive.

We have watched a nation, and an entire civilization, turn her back on her
Omnipotent Creator.

We have seen sinfulness legalized and legitimized while those who cry foul are victimized, scorned
and are actually now deemed criminal.
Criminal for holding, claiming, speaking and standing firm in the Faith of the One True God.
While sadly the majority who claim that belief stand idly by saying nothing.

Our friend the Wee Flea, Pastor David Robertson, has been offering his own review of a book with
a somewhat familiar title.
That Hideous Strength: How the West Was Lost
The Cancer of Cultural Marxism in the Chruch,
The World And The Gospel Of Change

by Melvin Tinker

The book’s title is a nod to a novel of the same title by C.S Lewis
(That Hideous Strength–the last in a space trilogy from 1945),
Tinker takes Lewis’ work and runs with it…making a novel applicable to our current times
as we watch a Post Christian world teetering on the brink of irreversible destructive harm.

Our dear friend, the rouge Anglican cleric Bishop Gavin Ashenden, states that “if this book manages to wake
the Chruch to the danger it faces it will have done a great service to the Kingdom of heaven today”.

In his reflection of Mr. Tinker’s work, John Steven, FIEC, contends that
“The last sixty years have witnessed the death in the West of the Judeo-Christian worldview and its
replacement by an increasingly totalitarian secularism. Melvin Tinker deftly explains how this
revolution happened, and exposed the tactics that enabled Cultural Marxism to triumph
amongst our institutions and elites. We are deceiving ourselves if we think that this new ideology
is simply about achieving equality.
Rather it seeks the abolition of the family as the basis for society.
Having identified the challenge he helpfully shows how Christians should respond.
Following in the footsteps of William Wilberforce we must proclaim the gospel of God and
vigorously refute the ideas and values of the present day.
He calls for bold and courageous evangelical leadership, which is often sadly lacking
in the contemporary church.
Although a challenging read, this book provides invaluable help in understanding our
contemporary context.
It will make you grieve, pray, and deepen your confidence in the gospel fo the Lord Jesus,
which is alone able to free lost men and women from their bondage to sin and Satan.”

And we have grieved have we not?

I have felt much palpable grief this past year, living in the obvious descent into this
post-Christian world.
It has been a slow yet painful, none the less, descent.

But this year, this new year there are faithful voices crying out into the wilderness for us all to
take heart, to repent, to put on our armor and to be bold.

Be silent no more we are told.
But rather proclaim…and do so vigorously.

Be bold and courageous…for it will take boldness and courage to take on the cultural ideology
while showing our loyalty…loyalty not to the current state but rather to the one true Lord.

Get ready…the clarion call has sounded.

“Let the nations be roused;
let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat,
for there I will sit
to judge all the nations on every side.
13 Swing the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe.
Come, trample the grapes,
for the winepress is full
and the vats overflow—
so great is their wickedness!”
14 Multitudes, multitudes
in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near
in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and moon will be darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
16 The Lord will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem;
the earth and the heavens will tremble.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.
Joel 3:12-16

the cost of silence as time is not our friend

“It is impossible to be a part-time Christian”
David Fiorazo, The Cost of our Silence


(image courtesy the web)

The very first paragraph of his introduction grabbed me:

America has over 300,000 churches, but few would contest that our Christian influence
is decreasing as the nation becomes more secularized.
Our biblical values are no longer being consistently demonstrated and promoted
and therefore, do not translate out from behind church walls and into culture.
Why are there so few speaking up for Jesus Christ and for righteousness in public anymore?
Hope for revival remains, and a remnant of committed leaders and believers are doing
their part, but because of the posers and pretenders,
American Christianity has almost become a joke.
People in the Middle East look at Hollywood, the Internet, and our government.
They see our education system, media and the people we elect.
They observe our greed, idolatry,
and society as a whole and refer to us as “The Great Satan.”

I mentioned the other day having seen the book The Cost of our Silence by David Fiorazo.
After reading the small snippet regarding the book, I was intrigued…
so much so that I ordered the book…
In part, because here was what I’ve been trying to say, in so many words, in the actual
print of a book…as in, this guy was saying what I’ve
known but have felt almost alone espousing from my small blog’s bully pulpit.

And here’s the odd thing.
As I’m not on social media, my little blog is indeed just that– little.
Not much exposure albeit for here in my small corner of the world of happy WP.
So my readership is not exactly grand in scope.

That is except when I write about certain topics…
topics just like what our friend David Fiorazo is addressing in his book.

I’ve never been much of a numbers person, as math was never my strong suit.
Yet when I was still in the classroom, schools were becoming big hunters of numbers,
percentages and stats…

We were inundated with keeping stats on all sorts of things with our students…
be it testing results, benchmark results, attendance, discipline…you name it.

This numbers notion was born from the thought that “numbers don’t lie”—
Numbers were now being equated with goals…
goals met or goals not yet met.
We were told that the numbers would tell us…
they would be the polestar pointing us in the right direction.

And we knew that a successful school that was meeting its goals and or standards was
seen as exceptional. If students were meeting their goals and standards, that would
in turn mirror the success of the school.

It became a vicious cycle of goals, stats, and results equaling glowing standards which were
being met with huge success…and we all know that if a school wants to be exceptional,
its students must be meeting and exceeding goals and stats.

These numbers became the backing behind the words.
Words such that “we are a school of excellence because our numbers don’t lie”
Schools could claim this or that as long as the numbers backed up the words.

Unfortunately, due to the pressure of meeting certain statewide or national criteria,
school systems found themselves fudging numbers in order to keep up the appearance of
being exceptional.
The pressure becomes so great that jobs were hanging in the balance of
student’s measuring up to the standard, goal, criteria numbers game.

It appeared that numbers could lie if the number counters could alter the count.

Atlanta Public Schools was one such system that was “caught” fudging the numbers.
They were inflating the state and national test results of their students…
going so far as to actually changing student’s answers.

The fear being that a failing school would lose federal funding due to
Falling scores and stats would see administrators losing their jobs and teachers would lose
their jobs and in the end who wants their school to lose that precious federal funding?!

It was and continues to be a numbers mess to be sure.

But here in blogland, the stats and numbers aren’t as precarious or crucial.
No one loses a job over low blog stats…rather perhaps one’s sense of worth as a writer,
or of that of a cook, or a photographer, or a creative individual…

We all have on our admin page the stats section.
A chart showing the readership over a day, a week, a month, a year…
a gauge of success, or as some think, popularity.

Yet life does not hang in the balance over blog stats…not unless you’re the type
of person who keeps track of such and in turn stresses over the fluctuation and
the fickleness of blog readers.

My stats, when I write posts that are more benign, more about a grandbaby or just pretty
pictures, typically run relatively low.
Kind of like just idly flipping through a magazine…
just another eyes glazed over page-turner.

But when I write posts from the bully pulpit of Christian Apologetics such as
Christian apathy or that of abortion, or homosexuality and same-sex unions,
heresy or atheism, or the failings of The Chruch, or posts about Chrisitan morality,
God’s word, the Truth of our Faith—
my numbers soar…as does the “hate” mail.

And I’ll admit that I don’t always have the time to devote to this sort of evangelizing
posting as it demands true depth and justice.

Some days life requires the simple and glazed over page-turners all because time is
not our friend.
The true meat and potatoes type of posts need passion, time for research and even valid
documentation…all of which does the subject matter justice.

And so when I read the words of authors such as Mr. Fiorazo, I feel those fires igniting—
as in it’s time to get cooking with some really flavorful meat and potatoes.

Mr. Fiorazo continues in his introduction:

Just as Jesus wept for Jerusalem while acknowledging its judgment,
should we not weep for America as the signs clearly point to God’s impending judgment on
a once-mighty, blessed Nation?
So we expect God to stay His hand of judgment and continue blessing a rebellious and
narcissistic people with His protection and provision?

One might argue, “But God is still on the throne.”
Sue. I agree He is sovereign over all events and circumstances.
He remains all-powerful, but He does not control us or force people to love Him.
God was also on His throne when we legalized abortion,
and soon America will be closing in on 60 million babies murdered in the name of “choice.”
Chrisitan helped elect the most pro-abortion,
anti-Christian president in our history–twice.
Do you suppose God cares how we vote?

God is still on the throne–
and He is preparing to judge a complacent people who continue ducking the issue of sin.

So with all of this simply found in the first few pages from a book’s introduction,
I can only imagine what might be waiting inside the book itself.

And so as I begin the slow picking apart and digesting of what it is I will be reading,
I will certainly, time and life cooperating, be sharing some important words for all
of us who call ourselves Believers.

Hopefully offering up a hearty portion of delicious meat and potatoes.

Yet I am mindful that time is not our friend.
Our time is running nigh as God’s judgment will not remain at bay forever…

Wake up!
Strengthen what remains and is about to die,
for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.

Revelation 3:2

the tale of a tetovierer

Who has inflicted this upon us?
Who has made us Jews different from all other people?
Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly up till now?
It is God that has made us as we are,
but it will be God, too, who will raise us up again.
If we bear all this suffering and if there are still Jews left,
when it is over, then Jews, instead of being doomed,
will be held up as an example.

Anne Frank


(image of some of the children in Auschwitz holding up their arms to a cameraman,
showing the tattooed number on their arms / BBC)

I am not a fan of tattoos.

I’m just not nor have I ever been.

And this coming from a retired art teacher who had many an aspiring tattoo artist
in class.

I truly believe that what one finds grand, fascinating, bold as well as defining
at say age 18, will not hold the same sense of fascination, boldness nor still
be defining at say age 58…

Plus I can’t help but see a good bit of an underlying psychology underneath a
need to permanently “ink” ones’ body…..

But hey, that’s just me.

It’s obviously not the rest of our culture’s or society’s mindset….
I’m just a one hole pierced earring sort of girl….

I like things understated and simple really…elegant, ageless and timeless.
I blame my grandmother…thankfully.

I grew up with many Jewish friends.
I attended Synagogue with them as they came to church with me.
I feel a deep connection to our Jewish brethren as I happen to
claim one of their own as my Savior.

Yet in all my years, I never knew nor had met anyone who had been a survivor
of the Death Camps.

I knew many a WWII veteran but never an individual who lived to tell the
horrific nightmare of having lived when one was expected to die…

I knew Vietnam Veterans and even POWs of that war, but none from
those infamous Death Camps of a previous war.

So I have never seen an aged wrinkled arm that bears the fading yet distinct
numbers of one’s time spent surviving death.

I did a pencil drawing once of a portion of a forearm and hand…
It was a man’s arm and hand.
There was a number scrawled on the inner wrist running about an inch and a half
lengthwise up the forearm–along with an inch wide hole piercing all the way through
the palm of the hand…
the backdrop was what one would assume to be a rough hewn piece of wood….

His death, the death of the man whose arm I had drawn, had not been in vain and
had not been for but a select few…it had been for all…
as He had been there, in their midst, with all those who had those numbers
inked onto their arms, despite many Jews to this day truly believing that God
had abandoned them during the Shoah …

The biblical word Shoah (which has been used to mean “destruction” since
the Middle Ages) became the standard Hebrew term for the murder of European Jewry
as early as the early 1940s. The word Holocaust,
which came into use in the 1950s as the corresponding term,
originally meant a sacrifice burnt entirely on the altar.
The selection of these two words with religious origins reflects recognition
of the unprecedented nature and magnitude of the events.
Many understand Holocaust as a general term for the crimes and horrors
perpetrated by the Nazis;
others go even farther and use it to encompass other acts of mass murder as well. Consequently, we consider it important to use the Hebrew word Shoah with
regard to the murder of and persecution of
European Jewry in other languages as well.

Yad Vashem

And so I never gave much thought as to those tattooed numbers on those forearms.
I never thought about who was charged with having to “write” them…
I never thought about when exactly it was, during the ordeal,
that they had received them…
And how odd that I had never known anyone who had endured what it meant to have one.

The other day I caught a story with a rather interesting title….
The Tattooist of Auschwitz–and his secret love

Visions of today’s tattoo artists in my mind is of an individual who
themselves is covered in various images and colors, electric pen in hand…
a master of a cultural craft.

Throw in the notion of a secret love and all manner of clandestine activities
suface in one’s imagination.

Clicking on the story, I am met with the tale of a man and of the life
he lived and of an age-long sense of heaviness for having betrayed the
millions who did not survive.
I believe that is called survivors guilt.

And yet in this tale there is found love, loss, rediscovering, life, hope….
and finally a sense of understanding that there was no culpability for
simply having survived.

The story is set in Melbourne, Australia…
a far cry from a Death Camp in 1940’s Poland.
And the hero of this tale actually died in 2006.
It took him until he was well into his 80’s to even be able to share his story…
much of which his now grown son had not known. Not many who survived liked to
talk about their stay.

The story is of Ludwig “Lale” Eisenberg who later changed his name to
Lale Sakolov.

Lale’s story was coaxed out of his memory by Heather Morris
who has since written a book The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Lale was a Slovak Jew who, like the other Jews in Czechoslovakia, was sent
to Auschwitz.
He was 26 years old.
He did manual labor at the camp until he contracted typhoid.
He was cared for by a Frenchman who had actually been the one who had
tattooed Lale’s number on his arm 32407.
The man was known as in the camp as a tetovierer, or tattooist.
He was charged with “writing” the numbers onto the arms of those coming into
the camp who would be staying—those being sent immediately to the gas chambers.
did not receive numbers.

Eventually Lale became the tetovierer to the camp.

Yet in the middle of madness and death, love was actually kindled.

An 18 year old girl found herself standing before Lale…one in a myriad of women
waiting in the long line…
waiting their turn to exchange a life and a name for a number.

Lale did not like tattooing the women—there was always a sickening feeling in
the pit of his stomach, but he did as he was ordered.

Gazing up at this girl who stood before him, his heart was immediately taken
by this girl’s bright eyes.
Her name was Gita.

Gita and Lale’s life together actually began that fateful day in Auschwitz–
and the twists and turns are amazing…

There is a lovely video clip on Heather’s kickstarter page that she put together—
which I assume was created to help raise the necessary funds to write and publish
Lale and Gita’s story.
The book is now available on Amazon…I ordered mine today.

Below are two links—
the first is Heather’s story along with a brief video overview about her finding
and forging a relationship with Lale, who would eventually share his story with her.

The second link is about the story as written by the BBC.

For even in the midst of misery and death, remains hope…there is always Hope.

http://www.bbc.com/news/stories-42568390

what’s really real anymore?

“It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it;
but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal
which have been instilled into them,
and each time they come in contact with the real,
they are bruised and wounded…”

W. Somerset Maugham

Between the books I’m reading, the barrage of breaking “news” stories,
our caustic and even catastrophic political world..add to that those issues that
scream for our attention yet go woefully ignored….
throw in a good dose of life, seasoned with “this time of year”…
and something or maybe everything is leaving me a bit unsettled..

By all outward appearances I am going through all the proper motions…
I am saying all the right things while doing all the necessary things.
Nothing would lead anyone to suspect that anything was awry.
And yet something unseen continues to pull at my sleeve as I unconsciously try
pulling back….such that the unconscious is almost becoming conscious.

Am I just becoming Ebenezer?
Perhaps more Grinch than Scrooge?
Or am I simply now jaded beyond repair?

After thinking about the two posts I wrote earlier this week—
the first being about meat and potatoes vs purposeful yet empty noise and distraction….
with the second tale being about of the continuing saga of the annihilation of
the oldest, as in the very first group of collective Christians, I have found myself wrestling with what it is that we think we’re passing off as Christmas.

Whoa.
Sacred cow now being looked at sideways…

I’ve allowed this thought to ruminate as I’ve chewed the cud over it.

Christmas is for children….that is a certain absolute..as in for sure.
And I have loved Christmas–both past and present as I anxiously await
sharing it with a new granddaughter next year…..
but…..

Christmas, for me and mine, has basically been a joyous time of melding
tradition and custom with Biblical teaching.

But something is starting to really trouble me….
There are…
Advent wreathes with the lighting of candles while there are “Advent” calendars
counting down the days until Christmas—with more and more equating simply to
good food, family and presents…..

There is…
Santa Claus Christmas
and there is….
Jesus Christmas.

Hummmm….

I have Jewish friends who have decorated Christmas trees, stockings on their mantles,
a menorah in the kitchen as they take the kids to Santa for pictures
and wrap up gifts and goodies in red and green paper to nestle under the tree.

I know nonbelievers who have decorated Christmas trees, stockings on their mantles
and presents wrapped in red and green under the tree…as their children, along with
those Jewish children, leave out cookies and milk for Santa.

Christmas.

Expectation verses Expectancy
Lights verses Light.
Gifts verses Giving…

Has it all gone too far?
Have we allowed it to go too far?
Have we been sucked into a lie?

I think that which is tugging at my sleeve is the Holy Spirit Himself.
I am being reminded that what I’m seeing as Christmas has nothing to do with
Christ’s Mass….nothing to do with the expectant waiting of the birth of Salvation.

And so I wrestle—where do we as Believers now draw the line?

Do we do so silently…or…a bit more loudly?
Loudly as in no longer just riding merrily along in the sleigh with everyone else
jing jing jingling into the oblivion of Currier and Ives… or rather do we say
a collective “hold up”…

First and foremost Christmas is about one thing…and one thing only….
and that is the birth of Christ…
So don’t try to pass this societal thing you’ve created off as anything
other than secularism masquerading as the Christmas of Christ.
You want your Yuletide but you don’t want the Christians to have their
Christ’s Mass…
You want your goodies and your holidays but you don’t want to acknowledge the
Savior of all mankind…..

And so while wrestling with this gnawing notion rolling around in my thoughts
and heart, I caught the latest offering by the Wee Flea Pastor
David Robertson….talk about reading my mind…

It is the tale of fake news verses real news…..

Is Christmas Christian?
….But what about as a Christian festival?
It can be argued that Christmas becoming a secular/pagan festival is just
returning to its pagan roots.
It was the Church that took over the midwinter festival and turned it into a
celebration of the birth of Jesus
(who was not born on December the 25th – more likely to have been a day in April).
Was this a bad thing?
Some of our ancestors thought so –
and famously refused to celebrate Christmas.
Even in living memory there are those who can recall Christmas just being a
normal working day – with New Year being the main festival.
Most Free Churches still do not have a Christmas Day service
(unless it is on a Sunday) but we do have a New Years Day.

It’s not wrong to celebrate Christmas,
and its not wrong not to celebrate.
Let each be persuaded in their own minds.
What however is wrong is to turn the birth of Jesus Christ,
into an orgy of commercialism, greed and drunkenness.
The idea that people will get themselves into enormous debt to buy things
they don’t need in order to celebrate the birth of the one who though he was rich,
yet became poor, for our sakes, is grotesque.

We are able to use our building to proclaim the good news of Jesus,
as opposed to the ‘fake news’ of the secular Christmas.
In that respect I love what the angels told the shepherds as they looked
after their flocks
“Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will bring great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David,
a Saviour has been born to you.;
he is the Messiah, the Lord”
.
(Luke 2:10-11).

Great Joy for all the People – The Christmas Record

Silence, authentic and evil

“The Islamic State’s genocide of Christians in the Middle East is well
documented. Yet this modern atrocity is often judged less newsworthy than the
jihadists’ destruction of the region’s cultural heritage. What are the roots
and human realities of this unfolding tragedy in the birthplace of three
great religions?”

back cover offering of the book The Last Christians by Fr Andreas Knapp


(one of our trees in last week’s snow / Julie Cook / 2017)

Speaking of books arriving via the post….
another bookmailer showed up in my mailbox yesterday…

Dare I say that this most recent book will take us in a vastly different
direction than the children’s book seen in yesterday’s post
If My Moon Was Your Sun by Andreas Steinhofel….
Not to say that there won’t be both poignancy, sorrow and loss…
but such will be on a scale that will touch all of us rather than some of us….

This recent book does not look to be an easy read.
Not that there should be great burdensome amount of academic depth but rather simply
the hard tale of human loss and suffering on an epic and historic proportion….
and yet mostly on an overlooked and even ignored level.

Of which is actually most perplexing given the significance of the situation.

The book is entitled The Last Christians by Andreas Knapp

“For a long time Christians in the Middle East have been condemned to silence.
For centuries they have been discriminated against by a predominantly Muslim
society and, as a minority, they have been forced to quietly accept
injustice and lead an inconspicuous life in the shadows.
Even I, a preist and theologian, was for a long time unaware of the moving story
of Christians in Syria and Iraq.

Two years ago, I met some Christians from the Middle East who now live in my
neighborhood of Grunau, in Leipzig, Germany. Having listened to their stories,
I was so moved I had to write them down.
They may not be entirely politically correct, but they are correct in
the sense that they are authentic.”

Fr Andrea Knapp

It is noted from the publisher that “remarkably, though these last Christians hold
no hope of ever returning to their homes, they also harbor no thirst for revenge.
Could it be that they–along with the Christians of the West, whose interest will
determine their fate–hold the key to breaking the cycle of violence in the region?

Their’s is a story that I have actually written about before…
around the same time Fr Knapp, the German priest,
came to see with his own eyes, then came to write down his interactions
and observations…
but yet this is a story that is still exceedingly timely and necessary to hear.

My origianal post is from March of 2015 and is more informative
than what is offered here today…as it includes a 60 Minutes segment in which
Lara Logan had also gone to visit the region in order to see and hear
first hand the plight of this particular group of ancient Christians.

The post offers images and insight into the barbarism used by ISIS to systematically annihilate this last vestige of the original Christians who have existed in this
region since both the death and resurrection of Christ.

Regarding the book…I have not yet had a chance to delve into it…
but from what I have gleaned from the tantalizing tidbits…
this will be not only a very important tale to Christians but also a hugely important
story for historians, Jews as well as Muslims…as it actually determines the course
of humanity.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/blood-of-the-lamb/

And perhaps ironically today, as I was thinking about these first Christians who are
lined up to be the last of their kind, I caught a very brief, like all of 2 minute,
video clip of an interview of sorts given by the Reformed Presbyterian Minister David Robertson—
a clip where he is responding to the question of
‘How does the existence of Evil undermine the atheistic worldview?

Pastor Robertson notes that in the mind of an atheist, the existence of Evil
is a clear sign that there is no God.
As they will rationalize that if there was a God,
He would in turn be all powerful and therefore He could and would prevent all Evil….
So since there is Evil, there is obviously no God.

Yet on the flip side of all of that is how then does the atheist define Evil
with no moral absolutes?
If there are no rules, no judgements, no afterlife, no God, no way of resolving
or dealing with Evil, how does the atheist actually deal with the concept of
evil in any sort of defining way.
The answer… He cannot.

So the non believer has a conundrum…with the mindset of ‘well, since there is no
God and Evil isn’t Evil, we might as well just live it up….

This as humankind wrestles with what to do about the historic and epic genocides…atrocities which have taken place throughout all of time.

And so you are now asking as to why I would write about such during this time of
Advent—a time of all things full of Expectancy, Anticipation and Christmas…
a time that is to be of softness, love and dare we say, hope…
Why should we worry ourselves over the ugliness of reality as those are problems
not on our particular or given radar—things that are happening over there some
place and out of sight.

Why write about the annihilation of Aramaic Christians, atheists and their fight for disbelief and the very concept of Evil….

‘Please not here, not now, not at Christmas…’ we are each heard to lament.

Well it actually is because it is Advent and the Christmas season that we should be
and need to be most mindful of such….

As those of us who confess to be Believers must not find ourselves falling
into the hole of secularism and the Societal notion of Christmas…
of which we have done.

This secular celebration of all things Christmas that is currently in all
its full glory and regalia is lulling us into a time of contented ignorant bliss.

And just as I reminded us in Tuesday’s Meat and Potatoes post….
this time of year is particularly very loud and very noisy…for a reason…

Do you not think that there is one who delights in the pure distraction
from what is to be our Truth?

Advent….
yes…
be ready,
be watching,
be waiting…
for there are epic things taking place all the while as we busy ourself with
the minutia of the moment while missing the importance of the day…

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.

Isaiah 14:12-15