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Though Devils all the World Should Fill

by Robert Morrison

October 31, 2014

For the world, which is to say, for Google, today is a day about witches and ghosts, and not much more. Witchy Wanda is stirring her kettle on today’s webpage. That’s the way the world sees things.

With the headlines this fall, though, the world does seem to be full of devils. ISIS, Ebola, Russian submarines lurking menacingly under Swedish home waters. Obamacare forcing us all to pay for the slaughter of innocents. It’s all enough to give one a real scare.

I recall the story of a young Augustinian monk named Martin Luther in the early Sixteenth Century. He was being urged not to go to that high-level conference chaired by the Emperor. All the leading Electors, princes, and nobility of Germany and the higher clergy would be in attendance. It was called the Diet of Worms.

(When they used to teach world history, we kids in ninth grade got quite a chuckle out of that “Diet of Worms.” I recall one of my classmates saying it would at least be better than what we get in the school cafeteria!)

Young Luther was being summoned before the Holy Roman Emperor to recant his writings. They had been found heretical by church authorities. Luther was warned by his friends not to go to the City of Worms.

They won’t keep their word. They won’t give you protection. Now that they’ve branded your writings heretical, they’ll excommunicate you. Then they’ll hand you over to the temporal rulers and you will be burned at the stake—just as Jan Hus was burned at the stake in Bohemia. That was in 1415.

But Martin Luther would not be deterred. He told his friends he was going to appear before the Emperor Charles V and all the assembled movers and shakers in Germany.

I would go if there were a devil on every roof tile,” the young scholar said.

We don’t often associate scholars with such courage. To be sure, today there are all too many scholars unwilling to take risks. But that bold stand of a Bible teacher inspired me thirty years ago. And it inspires me now. Luther had a Doctorate in Theology when such academic degrees were rarer than Nobel Peace Prizes are today (and more justly awarded, too.)

We continue to debate and wrestle over the doctrines of the Reformation that began this day in 1517. Dr. Timothy George has summarized some of the best thinking on this day in his First Things column here.

Today, I especially want to pay tribute to young Dr. Luther’s courage. And in the spirit of ecumenism, let me also salute my good friend, Hadley Arkes. Hadley is a great academic who has never hesitated to speak out on the most controversial topics of the day, on human life, on same-sex rituals, on the real meaning of our Constitution.

But when he was asked by a Catholic priest why he had not converted to Catholicism yet, Hadley did not respond with a learned citation from the early Church Fathers, or from Wise Rabbis of old. Instead, Hadley quoted the Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz.

 

C-c-c-courage!

It’s what puts the Ape in Apricot

It’s what I haven’t got.

Obviously, Hadley did summon the courage to follow his conscience and enter into communion in the Roman Catholic Church.

It may seem odd to describe the conversion of a Jew to Catholicism in the same column with today’s observance of the Reformation. But in both instances, what was required was the courage of conviction.

Another friend has been bidding me to join him in his Catholic faith. I am happy to attend Mass with this friend when we meet. But the last time we went to his church together, the hymn we sang on this day was Luther’s own most famous song: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

And this powerful verse from that five hundred year-old Reformation hymn is a fitting one for today:

Though devils all the world should fill,

All eager to devour us.

We tremble not, we fear no ill,

They shall not overpower us.

This world’s prince may still

Scowl fierce as he will,

He can harm us none,

He’s judged; the deed is done;

One little word can fell him.

Keep Calm and Don’t Carry On: On Being Joyful in the Battle

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 24, 2014

Don’t carry on, that is, in the sense of panicking over what seems to be the moral collapse of the universe, or at least of our country.

Followers of FRC know that we believe we must advance and defend religious liberty, the sanctity of life, the sacredness of marriage, the centrality of the family, and the dignity of the person strategically (we want to win) and faithfully (regardless of any political outcomes). The battles in which we are engaged are intense. Their number is increasing. And the stakes, for the future of the nation we love, are accruing at an alarming rate.

But in the midst of our efforts, we need to remember a few basic things:

(1) While being burdened by and pained for all that’s wrong and for all who are being hurt by it, whether born or unborn, we should never lose sight of the fact that Christ’s ultimate victory in time and eternity cannot be deterred. As John the apostle records in Scripture’s final chapter, “He (Jesus) Who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’ Then He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end’.” “It is done:” He will do what He has said, and in the framework of eternity already has won the victory.

(2) God never promised His people an easy path. Consider Paul’s words to the church in Corinth: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (4:8-11). There has never been a time when parts of the Body of Christ haven’t suffered somewhere. The believing slaves of pre-Civil War American could’ve spoken to that, for example. But through our suffering from without and the war against sin within, “the life of Jesus” is “manifested in our mortal flesh.” The fragrance of a rose is most acute when the flower is crushed. We should never invite such crushing – that’s masochism, not martyrdom – but let’s not ignore the opportunities nascent repression at home and active persecution abroad give all who love God (I write that humbly; I’m in no way comparing the current dangers to the American church to those being murdered and brutalized for their faith in places like North Korea, Iraq and Nigeria; may we all pray for them with vigilance and energy, as they are daily enduring unspeakable, horrific things).

(3) In America, we have it in our power to use legal means to stand firmly against social and political wrong. Through elections, petitions, protests, legal action, public awareness campaigns, advertisements, the media and other means, we can make our arguments and work to influence public judgment and enact sound public policies. Of course, each of us must count the cost: Political and cultural engagement involves time and money, stress and aggravation, unfairness and misrepresentation, some victories and some defeats. Just remember that not to engage is to engage; you’re simply opting for passivity in the face of evil, which is acceptance thereof – a form of engagement. That’s not an option the God of justice and righteousness gives those who have come to know Him through His Son Jesus Christ.

Christian joy comes through faith, obedience, and wisdom, whether you’re working to defend an unborn child and her mother at a pregnancy care center, standing in a voting booth, working in a hostile work environment, or just mowing your lawn. Keep calm. Don’t panic. Life is a vapor, one which, for Christians, is swallowed-up in victory.

What do the Waiters at Red Lobster and Some Adjunct Profs Have in Common? Obamacare.

by Chris Gacek

November 23, 2012

Sometimes you just dont see one coming. Before the election, I had heard the news that Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Oliver Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse) announced that it was going to reduce the hours of its staff to less than thirty hours per week to keep these employees from coming within the reach of Obamacare. This was one of those pesky unintended consequences of socialism. Very unfortunate, but many of us tried to stop it.

Yet, I didnt expect the same employer strategm to reach beyond the ranks of traditional hourly workers. Then, a friend sent me this article about the Community College of Alleghany County (CCAC). The administration there has made this decision regarding its four-hundred adjunct professors:

On Tuesday, CCAC employees were notified that Obamacare defines full-time employees as those working 30 hours or more per week and that on Dec. 31 temporary part-time employees will be cut back to 25 hours. The move will save an estimated $6 million.

While it is of course the colleges preference to provide coverage to these positions, there simply are not funds available to do so, said CCAC spokesperson David Hoovler. Several years of cuts or largely flat funding from our government supporters have led to significant cost reductions by CCAC, leaving little room to trim the colleges budget further.

Wow, I never thought I would see college faculty being treated like this. Just missed it. When it comes down to it, adjunct professors are hourly employees also. I wonder what percentage of the CCAC adjunct faculty voted for Romney??

Yes, the Cold War Still Matters

by Chris Gacek

November 16, 2012

If you need to find a history book as a Christmas gift, I have a recommendation: M. Stanton Evans Stalins Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelts Government. On Thursday (11/15) the Heritage Foundation hosted a book event for Mr. Evans, one of the great figures in Twentieth Century conservative journalism in the United States. Born in 1934, Mr. Evans came of age during the fight to stop communist infiltration of the American government in the 1940s and 1950s. In his mid-twenties he became editor of the Indianapolis News. He has been a fixture on the Right since then.

I had never been to an event featuring Mr. Evans previously, so I didnt know what to expect. Well, I have to say that he is absolutely hilarious. Very, very funny. If you get a chance to watch the video via the link above you will get a real treat.

The book is very useful. It provides an excellent review of what we know of the communist penetration of the U.S. government during the Roosevelt Administration and the years that follow. In a sense the overview is broader than that it informs the reader about the modus operandi of Soviet and communist efforts to defeat the West. Mr. Evans has used the best, most modern sources, and the book has footnotes but not too many.

It is also worth noting that toward the end of his talk, Mr. Evans drew a parallel between the blindness that our government exhibited when facing Stalinist communism and our current density concerning the threat of Islamic jihadism. Who, Us Worry?

I recently visited General George Marshalls house out in Leesburg, VA, so I asked Mr. Evans what he thought of Marshall. Referring back to the lecture, he compared the great Marshall to Christopher Walkens character, Max Shreck, in Batman Returns. Youll have to watch the lecture to get his answer and the joke.

Littlejohn: The Terror of the One-Child Policy is Critical to the Communist Partys Control of China

by Chris Gacek

November 6, 2012

There is a brilliant interview of Reggie Littlejohn, opponent of the Chinese forced abortion policy, on the LifeSiteNews.com website. Littlejohn is running the Campaign to Save a Girl in China. Her organization is Womens Rights Without Frontiers.

The interview is about ten minutes long. Littlejohn argues that forced abortion in China will not end until rule by the Communist Party ends. She asserts that the ubiquitous terror network used to implement the forced abortion policy is now essential to the Partys control of the populous. The infrastructure of coercion - what an amazing phrase! - created for the abortion policy can be turned on other activities like political dissent. The forced abortion policy also requires a vast network of paid informants that has undermined social trust at all levels of society.

Her organization is also organizing efforts to save baby girls in China and has a film, Its a Girl.

 

Is Profiting from Hurricane Sandy Ethical?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 1, 2012

There is a telling story today in one of the nation’s premier business publications, Barron’s, called “Playing a Superstorm.” In it, we read about some home repair-oriented companies whose stock is rising in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Of course, this makes perfect sense: Given the hurricane’s devastation, the value of firms with the resources needed to rebuild is at a premium. However, as the article notes, “These opportunities to scalp some profits out of the aftermath of the hurricane are likely fleeting, so act fast or do not act at all.”

Scalp some profits” - yikes! Profiting from disaster seems untoward. Yet in a market-based economy, such investments can animate economic growth in regions where it is most needed - places such as those destroyed by this week’s massive “Frankenstorm.”

Every action has three ethical dimensions: Its motivation, its implementation, and its effect. Those on the Left who insist on evaluating every action based on motivation (“greedy capitalists!”) rather than outcome (renewed businesses, reconstructed neighborhoods, etc.) are looking at only one aspect of a larger picture.

I’m not suggesting that motives are unimportant. Rather, at a time of national crisis, aspersing the intentions of those whose investments can help transform extensive damage into rebuilt lives seems a tired and useless exercise. The alternative - a government-run, command-and-control economic system - would never provide the diversity, quantity, or quality of products and services needed when disaster strikes. As scholar Jay Richards wrote in his book Money, Greed, and God, we must be wary of “contrasting capitalism with an unrealizable ideal rather than with its live alternatives” (watch Jay’s thoughtful FRC lecture on this theme here).

Ultimately, it’s about what the Founders called “ordered liberty,” the freedom to make reasonable, moral decisions in an open marketplace. To deny such liberty to image-bearers of God is an affront to human dignity. Our Founders understood this, which is why they valued the right to private property ownership so highly. We should maintain their commitment to free enterprise and opportunity with intentionality and energy; unless we do, when a future “Sandy” hits, we will lack the means to respond with the rapidity and resources they require.

Wont Back Down A Courageous Film

by Chris Gacek

October 9, 2012

I recently had a chance to see the film Wont Back Down, a movie about an effort by parents and teachers to replace the failing school their children attend with a charter school. The movie, set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is based on a real story that took place at the Desert Trails elementary school in Adelanto, California. The movie stars Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rosie Perez, and Holly Hunter. Wont Back Down was produced by the same company, Walden Media, that made the 2010 education documentary, Waiting for Superman.

Wont Back Down is a good, courageous film. I cant recall any movie taking such a tough line on a union in this case a teachers union that impedes reforms to a horrific educational system. It is hard to imagine that the Screen Actors Guild was happy about this movie being made, but it was. I did a quick Google search on the movie and found many political-focused negative reviews that objected to the movies union bashing. Good grief. Toughen up folks you are the power structure that has failed. Show a little humility.

In fact, Doreen Diaz, the actual mom in Adelanto, California, who fought for a better school, writes that the unions tactics made the dirty tricks depicted in the movie ‘Wont Back Down’ seem tame by comparison. Diaz fills in some of the details:

They told some parents the school would be shut down as a result of their efforts. They took photographs of the parents who refused to rescind their signatures. Some parents who were undocumented felt their immigration status was being used against them.

Nice folks. Diaz also has an interesting story about Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, who participated in a nationally televised panel about the film and about trigger for failed schools. It isnt flattering.

If you have an opportunity to see Wont Back Down, please do so. Courage deserves to be rewarded. A vote for the movie is a vote for heroic mothers like Doreen Diaz across America who are fighting for better schools for all of us.

Here is movieguides review for objectionable content. The movie is rated PG.

 

Barry Hearts Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

September 5, 2012

Heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States. Barry Brown knows what it’s like to fight against heart disease. And he knows what it’s like to win, with adult stem cells. A fitness instructor most of his adult life, he started noticing problems in 2007. Turns out, hed had a heart attack and suffered significant heart damage. In a clinical trial at the University of Miamis Miller School of Medicine, Barry got a dose of his own bone marrow adult stem cells as part of the treatment for his severe heart disease. Three years later, Barry ran and completed a half-marathon13 grueling miles to show he was back in fighting shape. His comeback amazed even his doctor. As Barry says, his own recovery and all the other stories out there are proof that adult stem cell research isnt a waste of money.

See Barry’s video story!

Joel Kotkin on the Plight of the Millennial Generation

by Chris Gacek

September 3, 2012

In a thought-provoking NPR interview, demographer Joel Kotkin of Chapman University discusses the disadvantageous financial position Millennials are facing presently relative to earlier generations. Much of his analysis turns on debt public government debt and personal college debt. He recognizes the inapplicability of the old paradigm linking college and employment. Kotkin also believes that improving their long-term prospects will turn largely on making the U.S. more competitive with higher economic growth. Without economic growth of 3%, Kotkin argues, family formation will be stifled. (From, NPR, Tell Me More, September 3, 2012; his article can be found here.)

Common Ground or Not, Lets Do Whats Right

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 29, 2012

The brilliant commentator, George Weigel, has written a probing, almost wistful column on the difficulty of putting together a broad coalition on religious liberty. Using as context the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, he argues that at one time, an encompassing religious freedom consortium was possible. He says that it is no longer.

He quotes religious leaders as suggesting that homosexual “rights” and sexual promiscuity have vitiated the broad, liberal-centrist-conservative consensus. Why? Because homosexuality - jammed into cultural prominence by a dedicated minority of activists, aided by friends in the media, the entertainment world, and politics - has become, as one rabbi said, “an irresistible force against an immovable object.”

In other words, there is no middle ground around which a diverse coalition coalesces. While there can be compromise on a host of issues grounded in principle, honorable compromise, and prudence, there can be no compromise on whether two same-sex partners should receive legal recognition of their “marriage.” In public judgment and also at the polls, one side wins and the other loses.

This battle must never engender hate or a desire to win that surmounts Christian ethics. Rather, supporters of traditional marriage should enter the contest with compassionate tenacity and kind-hearted truth-telling. But with that said, to deny the strife over homosexual “marriage” is a battle is to ignore social and political reality.

Weigel also notes the comments of a Catholic Bishop that “the protection of believers rights and consciences … is in direct conflict with the ideology of the sexual revolution. Thats why the flashpoints in the current religious freedom battles have been abortion, contraception, sterilization and marriage.” Put another way, when liberal religious leaders support President Obama’s decision to require Christian hospitals and colleges, as well as businesses operated by persons of Christian conviction, to provide abortion services and abortion-inducing drugs in insurance plans they offer, they are making a profound moral statement: That one’s sexual conduct, however irresponsible or dangerous or contrary to biblical teaching, merits higher legal consideration than the exercise of the conscience and of one’s deeply-held convictions.

Again, there is no common ground between one side and the other. In the absence of such ground, constructing a framework for common agreement and mutual effort becomes impossible.

Finally, Weigel says there is a third reason why a broad coalition for religious liberty cannot be formed: the willingness of religious intellectuals, including the Catholic Theological Society of America, to sacrifice a robust understanding of religious freedom on the altar of what they believe to be other social goods, including the expansion of the welfare state. In other words, so what if you have an Administration that wants Uncle Sam to subsidize abortion? Thats part of the price you have to pay to more widely redistribute income.

He ends his piece with some haunting questions:

America began with the assertion of deep truths written into the human condition by Nature, and Natures God (as the Declaration of Independence put it). In an election season likely to be dominated by very practical (and important) questions about the economy, it will be well to keep a deeper, more searching set of questions in mind: Are we still a nation dedicated to certain moral truths? If so, how do we recover an ability to talk about those truths together? And if not, what have we become?

Some well-meaning souls are calling for Christians to stand-down in the battle for our culture and simply be nice to everybody. In practical terms, this means abandoning the unborn, their mothers, marriage and the family, and religious liberty to those who would harm them.

Weigel asks the right questions. At least part of the answer to them is that Christians must assert that understandable and definitive truth exists and should be applied in public policy, truth that is accessible to Christian believers and non-believers alike. We must serve humbly, persuade graciously, and contend ethically.

Yet not to work for both good legislative and political ends and also not to turn the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens from one worldview to another would be unloving. If truth is what it is, it merits application to public policy. To make that application requires effort, and that means contention and potentially persecution.

Is this to say that no common ground exists between Right and Left, to use Whittaker Chambers clear dichotomy? No; but it is to say that the size of that ground is shrinking by the day.

We can make inroads through quiet, unassuming, authentic displays of Christian love, dispelling stereotypes and surprising those who believe conservatives are rigid, harsh, and simplistic. We can appeal to the law written on the heart (Romans 2:15), touching the conscience within each person to sway opinions and encourage sound action.

Yet we must always bear in mind that Paul, Peter, and many of the early Christians were thoughtful, articulate, gracious - and martyred. Are we ready to follow in their stead?

 

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