The ancient city of Constantinople was heralded as a “new Rome” and quickly replaced the old one in splendor and importance. As the western Roman Empire withered and fell, the eastern Christian empire flourished. But after a few centuries of success, their good fortune ran out.
The first recorded bubonic plague killed more than a third of Constantinople’s inhabitants. Then in a series of bloody, expensive wars with the Avars, Slavs, Bulgars and Persians, the city finally stabilized their empire only to see the majority of it swallowed by Muslim conquerors. Add in the coups, civil wars, and a spectacular volcanic eruption off the island of Santorini, and Christians wondered what they did to lose the favor of God.
The Left started the culture war, won it, and now roams the countryside shooting the wounded.
Getting same-sex marriage legalized now appears to have been just a beginning for progressives, not the goal that many libertarians and conservatives had assumed. With SSM accepted in more states every year and the Supreme Court considering if it should be a right in all 50, the Left is angrier than ever.
While most Americans would have celebrated such rapid victories, a large number of so-called liberals are out for vengeance. In Indiana, a local news reporter cold-called businesses to see if they would cater a theoretical same-sex wedding. The first one to say “no” would be made an example of.
And you thought Nationwide’s Super Bowl ad was depressing. The President spoke at Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast, but instead of focusing on faith, hope and love, he dwelt on violence, anti-Semitism and the Crusades.
Obama cataloged an impressive list of Islamist terror attacks, oddly never mentioning Islam. But he wasn’t so careful when it came to calling out those dastardly Christians.
As a teenager, I was easily offended. Any perceived slight would earn an immediate “That’s not fair!” to which adults within earshot would either roll their eyes or ignore. (I didn’t think that was fair either, nor do my tween daughters today.) At 15, I became an evangelical Christian and appended this teenage whininess to my faith. When evil sinners denigrated my God or my inchoate beliefs, I would angrily condemn their blasphemies. After all the Good Book states, “God cannot be mocked.” The Big Guy upstairs needs an uptight high schooler to defend His honor!
Wednesday we had a vastly more violent reaction to religious offense. As is all too common, Islamist radicals murdered individuals who mocked not their God, but a flawed human whom they claim as a prophet. Jihadists never seem as defensive about Islam’s other prophets, be they Jesus, Moses or Jonah. No, only the scimitar-swinging Mohammed is so fragile that he cannot even be illustrated without a bloodbath of vengeance.
In the Navy and in college, I was surrounded by petulant atheists who took joy in denigrating traditional religious beliefs. By then I’d learned that God was fully equipped to protect His reputation from their silly insults.
When I visited my last remaining grandparent this summer, she asked if I knew she turned 100. “Yes,” I said, speaking loudly so she could hear, “that’s so great!” “No, not really,” she replied quietly. “I’m tired, Jon. I’m ready.”
A sad moment, but I understood. Elma Aliina Teppo was born a month after Charlie Chaplin’s film debut. Three months before Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. She survived both world wars and a cold war, the Great Depression and several not-so-great ones. Two spouses, five kids and countless grandkids. A life well lived. But her friends and siblings had been gone for several years. It had been a century of goodbyes, and she was ready.
As the fight rages between Israel and Hamas-led Gaza, those supporting Israel shake their heads at progressives around the world. How can a movement which boasts of its dedication to tolerance, feminism and LGBT equality endorse a terror state founded on thuggery and theocracy?
Israel is a modern, multicultural nation in a sea of medieval misery. Women can vote, gays can marry, and Arabs can serve in government. Just over the security fence, women are subjugated, gays are lynched, and there isn’t a Jew to be found (unless he has been kidnapped).
How can the Left be so enamored of the Palestinians? Are they simply immoral? Well, yes and no.
The Left has a morality, but it is different from that of most conservatives.
My wife and I have dragged our daughters to many churches over the past several years. We’ve enjoyed most of the sermons, congregations, programs and pastors, and my wife has liked most of the music. As for me, I’ve pretty much given up on finding any worship music that doesn’t drive me a bit batty.
For background, I’m a plain-old Christian, sans denomination, though I have enjoyed Lutheran, Baptist, Anglican, Reformed and other congregations over the years. Most of the churches I’ve attended are evangelical, with several that would fit into the “megachurch” category. Most have offered inspiring teaching with solid, if not terribly deep, theology. But the music… oh heavens, the music.
My family tires of my weekly critique of modern church music and architecture, so I figured it was time to inflict it upon a larger audience. (You’re welcome, readers.)
¡Viva la Reformación!
I was raised Lutheran and currently attend a reformed church. I was curious to see which group was most interested in claiming the lofty mantle of the Reformation. Being an heir of the Protestant Work Ethic, I created some T-shirt designs showing the great theologians in the iconic Che Guevara pose.
From today through Reformation Day (Oct. 31, 2013), I'm holding a contest to see which sells better:
Guevara was a lousy revolutionary, despite his inexplicable popularity. But where Che pointed to secular salvation. Calvin and Luther pointed to a real revolution — not only in church and society but in body, mind and spirit.
Whether you're on campus or at church, lifting a tankard or planting some TULIPs, visiting Geneva or Wittenburg, let the world know which reformer is your favorite, Martin Luther or John Calvin! I will tabulate the sales week by week to see the "votes."
Share the contest far and wide — I'll keep you updated on the scores and will reveal the winner immediately after Reformation Day on Nov. 1, 2013.