Passing Through

green-bay-team

Green Bay team. The tall fellow at the back, Don, is the team leader.

By Charlie Johnston

I am working on a meaty piece. I rather think the cultural, spiritual and political divisions in the western world have metastasized into a true malignancy. If that is so, things cannot get better until a great crisis has been reached and passed. But oh, the reaching of it is agonizing, indeed.

I have a presentation in Lafayette, Indiana tonight and another in Springfield, Missouri on Saturday. I have started to get some requests for more Skype presentations in various countries. I am glad to schedule them provided there is a good translator.

Below are details for this week’s public events:

Lafayette, IN (Free Event)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

6:30 pm:  Rosary   7:00 pm:  Public Talk

Outpost Catering-Sgt Preston’s, 2501 US-231, Lafayette, IN 47909

Contact:  trustdolove@yahoo.com

*******

Springfield, MO (Free Event)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

7:00pm:  Republic Community Center, 711 East Miller Rd., Republic, MO 65738

Contact Stephen at brassman737@gmail.com

Volunteers needed

Posted in Speaking Tour | 143 Comments

Sex and the 2016 Election

Below is an analysis of the 2016 election from a spiritual perspective by our friend, Dan Lynch.

This morning, I finished my first international presentation, speaking to a conference in Guadalajara, Mexico via Skype. It was wonderful! Though it was slowed down a little by the need for translation at each step, how glad it made my heart to see the faithful heart of the Mexican people. The questions were pretty much the same as I usually get in my presentations in the United States. Always and everywhere the answer is the same ordinary way: acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you. I have had one of the best jobs in the world these last few years, a job that has allowed me to see the great Christian heart rising around the world. May God richly bless and guide all of us back to Him and the joy He has prepared for us. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard…

And now, asking the Lord to create in each of us a clean, pure heart, here is Dan Lynch’s analysis:

purity_heart

 

By Dan Lynch
It seems that the issues of the election of 2016 had much to do about sex. However, it was not about the sex of the candidates, male and female, and the potential first woman President, but about support for immoral sexual acts. “If all the fury directed at religious believers could be pressed into a single word, as it can, that word would … be sex.” (Mary Eberstadt, “The New Intolerance”, First Things).

Hillary Clinton supports the immoral sexual acts of same-sex relationships; public accommodations for those who claim to have changed their sex; abortion from conception to partial birth for the unwanted human beings conceived by sexual acts; and, against consciences and religious liberties, mandatory provision of services for celebrations of same-sex relationships; mandatory payment for contraceptive insurance coverage; mandatory payment for abortions from our taxes and mandatory requirements for doctors to perform or refer attempted sex-change operations. Mrs. Clinton said that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

Mrs. Clinton’s response to those who opposed her support of immoral acts was not reasoned argument but simple name-calling. She said, “To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.”

Donald Trump wrote to the Catholic Leaders Conference, at which I spoke. He said:
I have a message for Catholics: I will be there for you. I will stand with you. I will fight for you. I am, and will remain, prolife. I will defend your religious liberties and the right to fully and freely practice your religion, as individuals, business owners and academic institutions.

As First Lady, US Senator, Secretary of State, and two-time presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton has been hostile to the core issues and policies of greatest concern to Catholics: life, religious liberty, Supreme Court nominations, affordable and quality healthcare, educational choice and home schooling.

You may read Donald Trump’s full letter to the Catholic Leadership Conference here.

Catholics, who comprise 25% of the voters, accepted Mr. Trump’s message and their votes, together with those of other people of goodwill, resulted in his election.

It seems that our society is divided by moral issues and not by political issues. Reasonable minds may differ on political issues and come to different, but moral, prudential judgments. Not so with moral issues which are absolute and can easily be known through the natural law that God implants in our hearts and by the exercise of right reason.

Our division is between light and darkness and between those who follow the light of God and those who stumble in the darkness of moral evil. It is a division between God and Caesar. Those who cried out for Jesus’ crucifixion said, “We have no King but Caesar!”  They did not recognize God as their true King. Neither do many today who call themselves liberals and progressives. Their king is the state and not God.

However, St. John tells us, “Anyone who is so “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.” (2 John 9).

In fact, many “progressives” are secular humanists who believe only in this world in which humanity without God will try to make its own heaven on earth.

 “Progressivism” is ideological, coercive, and ultimately opposed to the truth about human sexuality, marriage and the family. “Progressives” replace these truths with their ideology and attempt to use the state to further it with its mandatory sanctions. They act as if God does not exist. “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever.” (Romans 1:25).

They are rebels against God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ and they will not serve him or his and his Church’ s teachings on the natural moral law about what we must do or not do in order to have eternal life and happiness with him. It seems that they are not progressing but regressing to the moral rebellion in the Garden of Eden.

The truth against the rebellious and morally evil practices of contraception, abortion, same-sex sexual relationships and transsexuality is simply revealed to us by God. In the Garden of Eden God created them male and female, two separate sexes. He did not create any so-called “transgender” sexes. He told the man and the woman, Adam and Eve, to unite and join together to become one flesh and to multiply. Union of husband and wife with an openness to new life is how he established true marriage and the family with its purpose for the procreation and education of children.

 Some of the rebellious practices against these truths cause abuse against the dignity of women, many of whom think that they are sexually liberated. However, many are in fact used and abused by men who treat them as objects and not as persons. Just one small example of this comes from the words of JayZ. He is a rapper who sang at a rally for Hillary Clinton without any later correction or comment from her about his lyrics.

His lyrics motivated my daughter, Maggie Eisenbarth, who gave birth to Fletcher, her ninth child, two days after the election, to post the following on Facebook on election eve:

Seriously! Last night I was curious enough to watch JayZ, some other rapper and Beyonce at some free Hillary concert/rally and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A lot of “eff this and N%$#@ that”, and to really make it sweet and to get thanks from Hillary was, “…bringin’ back 5 or 6 hoe, @#$% them, then we kick em… she deserved that…” It was grotesque, dark and evil. Raise the bar country! Raise your children on the Truth.

In response to Hillary’s supporters who didn’t acknowledge his abusive lyrics, Maggie wrote:

No woman will ever be free as long as we allow and condone men referring to us as hoes and reference abusing us. It’s not complicated, it’s wrong. It is not music. If you’re not going to wonder what Hillary is all about when this is what she chooses to represent, then don’t play the same game with others. It is hypocrisy. I think our country and our children deserve the Truth, deserve light, deserve goodness, deserve to grow and be nurtured absent vulgarity, profanity and evil. I believe in a better day, a better America. Would Allison Krauss please come forward and sing for us all now, that would make me happy, that and honoring God in our country.

Maggie’s post exemplifies the division in our society between light and darkness. Let us pray a novena to Our Lady of America for her to mediate a river of the light of God to our society. May this light penetrate and melt
the hearts of the secular humanists who support moral evils. May they turn to God who lovingly waits for them to receive his mercy. His merciful arms are wide enough to embrace all repentant people of good will and to forgive them so that they may have eternal life and happiness with him.

However, it seems that their minds and hearts have been made dull and hardened and that God has placed a veil over them so that they cannot understand and accept the natural moral truths of life, marriage and the family. It seems that this veil will not be removed unless and until they turn from the idols that they have created of their own enlightenment and sexual revolution and accept these moral truths.

Let us pray that secular humanists come to know the truth, the love and the mercy of the one true God. He tells us that, “if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

The birth of any child, like Fletcher, my new 25th grandchild, is a sign of hope for the future. As President John Kennedy once said, “Children are our most important natural resource and our best hope for the future!”

Let us be hopeful! What St. John Paul II wrote to Europe, also applies to the United States. “Be certain! The Gospel of hope does not disappoint! Throughout the vicissitudes of your history, yesterday and today, it is the light which illumines and directs your way; it is the strength which sustains you in trials; it is the prophecy of a new world; it is the sign of a new beginning; it is the invitation to everyone to blaze new trails in order to make the continent a true common home filled with the joy of life.” (John Paul II, Ecclesia in Europa, 121).

lynch profileDan Lynch is the Director of Dan Lynch Apostolates promoting devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Jesus King of All Nations, Our Lady of America and St. John Paul II. He is an author, public speaker and a former judge and lawyer in Vermont. He has appeared many times on radio and television and has spoken at conferences throughout the world. You may learn more about Dan here.    

Posted in Conversion, Guest Columns, Mary Immaculate | Tagged , | 226 Comments

The Divine Symphony

full-orchestra

By Charlie Johnston

Even the most venial sin, when habitually engaged in over a long period of time, creates such a hole that we end up in a pit. The aim of Christian solidarity and ministry is to help each other out of the pits that we dig for ourselves in order that we may walk in the plain path of the joy that is in the Lord.

I have always been short of patience with those who use their knowledge (more often what they merely think is their knowledge) of Scripture, the Magisterium and the Catechism as a blunt object with which to assault those who have ended in a pit. We are to help each other out of such pits, not merely berate each other for being in one. But I am equally impatient with those who, with false mercy, suggest to the sufferer that he is just fine in the pit he is dug into and has no need to do the hard work of crawling out. If we merely enable what got us stuck in the pit in the first place, we remain mired in the mud, unable to walk freely in the light of Christ’s love. Our duty is ever to extend the hand of fellowship to each other, remembering always that nothing is so easy to condemn as a sin we are not tempted by – and nothing so easy to justify as one that we are tempted by. Both approaches end up in a pit.

Authentic mercy and justice are the parallel guard rails on either side of the narrow road of authentic righteousness. Veer too far to either the right or the left and we end in a pit.

I thought Pope Francis’ comments at the close of the first session of the Synod on the Family in October, 2014, perfectly captured the challenge before the Church. He warned against five temptations and outlined the way forward with concise elegance and orthodoxy:

“ – One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and

Pope and Our Lady of Tepeyac - from Beckita

Pope Francis

not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

 

 – The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

 – The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

 – The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

 – The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things…

Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.

Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).

And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.

Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.

And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.

We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of  their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.

His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: “The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ… through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter… to participate in his mission of taking care of God’s People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, ‘to see to it… that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6)… and it is through us,” Pope Benedict continues, “that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: ‘let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord’ (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).”

So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Cann. 331-334).”

Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.”

These marvelous comments laid out the way forward perfectly, succumbing neither to an excess of legalism or indulgence. The point, clearly, was to draw us out of the pits we had all dug for ourselves – and to do it as loving brothers always focused on the majesty of truth without imputing unworthy motives to any whose emphasis or style was different from the Pope’s.

I was dismayed a few weeks ago when Pope Francis, contemplating young people who love the Latin Mass, suggested it could only be because of a certain “rigidity” and “hostile inflexibility” on their part, because they have no memory of when the Latin Mass was the ordinary form. My preferred form of the Mass is in the vernacular, said ad orientum, using communion rails. My brother, Steve, who was alienated from all religion for several decades and was never Catholic, converted in 2009. He fell in love with the Latin Mass shortly thereafter for its transcendent beauty and reverence. I have many friends, including some in their 20s, who love and prefer the Latin Mass for the same reasons. I well know that some people use the old as a cudgel against the new – and I have never shrunk from chiding those people. But I would no more think of condemning people for preferring the beauty of it than I would of condemning them for preferring Toscanini while I prefer Beethoven. Which particular type of beauty speaks most intensely to a person is just a matter of style and preference, not substance – and anyone who appreciates beauty with reverence is my friend. It startled me that the Pope would open up this reflection merely to insult those who had a different preference than him rather than to understand and appreciate them.

The 17 Bishops the Pope recently elevated to Cardinal were notable for their monochromatic political and ideological views. They could have popped out of a Xerox machine. It disturbed me that the Pope who, two years ago, spoke of a magnificent symphony of voices working toward the same end, now wanted to make clear there was only one type of voice he wanted to hear. I am an old trumpet player – but I am not under the illusion that an orchestra would be improved by suppressing all instruments save the trumpets.

When four senior Cardinals, led by Cardinal Raymond Burke, released their formal request for clarification of parts of Amoris Laetitia, I was heartened that we were moving toward serious refinement of doctrine here. Contrary to what many think, doctrine has not been deeply refined over the millennia by easy unanimity, but by the dynamic tension of

cardinal-burke

Cardinal Raymond Burke

disagreement and strife – even among saints who were contemporaries of each other. When such situations arise (as they often have) it is a signal that something particularly weighty is in development. I was surprised that they had had no response from the Pope during the two months that the request was entirely private. These were not just some guys, but senior Princes of the Church. I was dismayed when the Pope then responded to what he imputed their motives to be, rather than the subject of their questions. He suggested that their questions were cover for a certain “rigidity: on their parts, masking an ulterior motive. It strikes me that in routinely dismissing and insulting those responsible voices who have a different approach or emphasis than he does, the Pope has been progressively getting more…well, rigid.

In January of 2015 I voiced the sense I had that somewhere along the line, Pope Francis was going to make a significant blunder. I added that, as the blunder became clear, it would refine him, leading him into a true greatness as he ultimately redoubled his efforts to lead as a universal Father. Later in the year, I noted that I suspected the blunder was to see things for a time through a primarily political and ideological prism, rather than a spiritual and faithful one. Of late, the Pope has often sounded more like an American politician, reflexively insulting those who do not share his approach in a contest of wills, rather than the Pope of two years ago who so elegantly synthesized the virtues of many divergent points of view in approaching the pastoral challenges which confront the Church and the world. Pope Francis has a swashbuckling style, one that I expected from the Pope who would carry us through the final journey of the Storm. When properly ordered, this style has a holy boldness that cuts through the clutter of contention to forge unexpected paths to sanctity. When disordered, it degenerates into mere partisanship.

Pope Francis has a great heart. He truly and passionately wants to bring everyone back into the safety of the Barque of Peter. Right now, his passion has led him to act as if everyone who talks like he does shares his great heart. It is ever true that not everyone who agrees with you is your friend, nor everyone who disagrees with you, your enemy. This will pass. In fact, today’s caustic partisanship is merely Pope Francis’ prelude to greatness. His swashbuckling boldness will eventually carry us all through the heart of the Storm to safety. I don’t mind that the Pope is a saxophone, but am disturbed that, for now, he seems intent on banishing the trumpets, french horns, clarinets, violins – and all instruments that are not saxophones – from the divine symphony. But it will not prevail. He has too great a heart for such an approach to define him for very long. The divine symphony will be heard in all its richness and depth, calling people out of the pits, rather than merely comforting them where they are.

The time will come when Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke become affectionate allies. This will be a sign to you. When it happens, you will know we are fully underway to Rescue.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Church Governance, Conversion, Discernment, Solidarity, The Rescue, The Storm | Tagged , , , | 354 Comments

A Meditation on Joseph

I repeat today a piece I put up a little over a year ago. It has been calling to me for repeat. It has been a busy week or so in Iowa and now in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I have been thinking a lot about contemplation the last few weeks. I often don’t answer direct questions here. We are too superficial in our thinking these days. We think if we just got more

green-bay-lambeau-field

In front of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I had deep-fried cheese curds at the restaurant inside and got my Dad a Bart Starr jersey – the football hero of his younger days.

information, we would understand. A small child is focused on his own wants and appetites and often has trouble seeing beyond that. As he gets older, if his formation is healthy, he looks beyond himself more – because he contemplates more what he sees. The reason I often do not answer some questions is because some things are for information, others for contemplation. In some cases, giving more information would be like trying to pour 10 ounces of water into an eight-ounce cup. Yet a man is not a cup. His potential for wisdom is not finite, he can expand it. The way he expands it is through contemplation, meditation – working to look through the eyes of another, working to see the consequences that must follow from a decision. Like Mary, we are called to ponder things in our heart so our wisdom may grow.

 

I left the preface to this piece intact below. It is still, timely, I think. I hope that, during Thanksgiving week, I will be able to get an article a day up – including a meditation on the election and our call to holiness and purity by Dan Lynch. For now, I leave you with this piece. It is NOT private revelation. It is a deep meditation. That is how it should be read – and I wish it would encourage you to enter deeply into the lives of Biblical figures and the saints, to go walk with them, live with them in your mind and heart for a time and contemplate how their lives were lived on a daily basis. From that, you can begin to see with the eyes of heaven. If you object that some aspects of this story are contrary to your favorite private revelation, you will really miss the point.

Joseph’s Way

(Dream of Joseph - Rembrandt)

By Charlie Johnston

(I have been thinking a lot about obedience this last week. Throughout the world, the legitimacy of authority has been tumbling – and it has set people into confusion. The top officials of the American government are the most determined enemies of its founding principles and Constitution. I do not regard the American government as having legitimacy any more – and I think a lot of people have come to the same conclusion. In Europe, confidence in the legitimacy of the European Union is collapsing at breakneck speed. In the Middle East, there is no authority, just roving bands of rival Jihadist warlords. A cancer is eating away at the legitimacy of those who hold power throughout the world – and rational people throughout the world are withdrawing their consent to be governed by power-mad progressive and regressive forces.

This has led to rebellion against even that which is legitimately constituted. I have been appalled lately to see how quickly seemingly faithful Christians are ready to condemn the Church’s structure as illegitimate. I do not speak here of disagreeing with particular decisions or procedures, but of taking the drastic step of withdrawing consent to be governed by its legitimate authority. An entity can be wrong without forfeiting its authority. I have often disagreed with American policy through my life – but this is the first time I have ever rejected it as illegitimate. I am terrified to see so many raising their voices against the legitimacy of Church authority. There has been no break on doctrine. So what animates it?

In Christianity, obedience is not the submission of the lesser to the greater. If that were so, how could it be that, after the temple, Jesus went up and was obedient to His parents? Rather, it is a means of opening channels of grace. Authority is bound to consider carefully and issue direction from just and righteous grounds, without taint of self-interested motives. Those bound by authority are bound to obey legitimate orders, even as they maintain the right to a fair hearing in critique of those orders. If authorities fail their duty of diligence in issuing direction, the subordinate may sanctify them by obedience and respectful critique. If the subordinates are disobedient, the authority can sanctify them by the care with which they approach their own duty. We open up channels of grace for each other.

I am contemplating this that I may write in some depth about it. But today I offer something different. I wrote the fictional story that follows in the late 90s. It is a story about promise, trust and obedience – a meditation. It was the first of what will eventually be 20 such meditations, each attached to a Decade of the Rosary. I will not finish all of it until after the Rescue. As it happened, though St. John Paul had not yet proclaimed the Luminous Mysteries when I wrote this, once he did, I knew that this is a meditation on the First Luminous Mystery – the Baptism at the Jordan.)

Joseph’s Way

 

The true son of true God was

adopted by a man, that all men

might truly be adopted by God.

Taking on our humanity He gave us a

share in his divinity. And so, we are

become a new race – sons and

daughters of the living God.

I: In His Father’s Tent 

“Why must the girls marry the old men? Most like the young men better.”

Jacob’s right hand twitched; the chisel in it jumped and nicked the fleshy pad in his left. His son’s voice startled him. Save for the scraping of the wood, the tent had been silent all morning. He looked up from his bench and glared at his son. No use. Joseph was planing boards at the far end of the tent, his back to the father. Jacob’s beard lifted in wry amusement. His enigmatic son says something interesting – and does it with his back turned. How appropriate.

“Are you thinking you’d like to be married, then?” the father asked, his lips pursing to suppress his mirth.

Joseph kept planing.

“No, Father,” he said. “I just thought…well, we all laugh and play together as children, then the girls are gone. They enter the house of an elder and we don’t speak any more. It must be…fearful. And maybe lonely for them.”

Jacob was thunderstruck. How to respond to this outpouring?

“You’ve an eye for beauty, Joseph. Perhaps one of your childhood friends will bear a daughter who will be ripe when it is your time.”

Jacob knew immediately it was a silly, stupid thing to say, but he could think of nothing else.

Joseph was silent. There were many boards yet to plane today. Jacob watched his son’s back for a moment, then took up his chisel and turned back to his work. It was not until late in the day that the raspy rhythm of chisel and plane was broken again.

“I saw a woman stoned,” Joseph said.

Jacob looked up, amazed again, but wary now. “An adulteress?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“That is our law, handed down from Moses.”

“It was horrible,” Joseph said, his back still to his father. “She was all purple and bleeding, pleading for mercy. But there was no mercy there. Can this be what God intends?”

He turned to his father, eyes full, a hint of tremor on his lips. His hands kept to the wood.

Jacob’s left hand lay flat on the workbench, his right clenched a fist around the chisel. His eyes were steady and fixed on his son.

“Who was she taken with?” he asked.

“A friend of her childhood. She was barely 14.”Stoning-Bible

Understanding dawned. The father closed his eyes and lowered his head. When he lifted it again his gaze was penetrating and clear.

“Did the three of you once laugh and play together?” he asked his son.

Joseph turned back to his work. He had overplaned this board. It was ruined. Jacob saw it, too.

“Gather the wood scraps together now and take them to your grandfather,” Jacob said. “It will be cold tonight.”

“But Father, I have ruined this board. I must…”

“You must take the wood scraps to your grandfather.” Jacob’s voice was low, even gentle, but it compelled obedience. “The sun will soon set. There will be time enough tomorrow to correct your errors.”

The father turned back to his work as the son gathered together the scraps. Jacob worked late that night, pausing occasionally to examine with wonder the single misshapen board his son’s meticulous hands had ever formed.

II: The Coming of the Ark

 

Until his world crashed, Joseph had been preoccupied with a fantastic dream. Six times it had come, every third night these last few weeks.

It always began in a tent; a tent like his father’s, but not his father’s. Joseph was alone, doing detail work with the chisel – the sort his father always did. It was magnificent work; impossibly rich ebony, finely filigreed and ornate, more beautiful and delicate than any he had ever seen. He was lost in the work, intent on each detail when the tent began to fill with a brilliant, gently pulsing light. Turning around, he looked into the eyes of a lean, sinewy man of about 30 (his own age) who, nonetheless, bore the flowing, white beard of a patriarch. He somehow knew this to be Moses. Behind Moses was a box; the sort in which a queen might keep her most precious jewel. It was simple, yet beautiful: olive wood rubbed and oiled, inlaid with a pale blue ivory. Joseph went to it and knelt in wonder, astonished at this unlikely source of bright, throbbing light that yet did not blind. Unable to take his eyes from it, he asked, “Is this the Ark?”

“Guard it well,” Moses replied. Then Joseph would awaken. The dream should have come again last night. It might have, had Joseph slept at all. Mary came instead. It was late afternoon and Joseph was surprised to see her. It was not yet time for her to come into his house so he seldom saw her alone. She delivered the blow with a gentle, almost playful, smile.

“I am with child,” she said.

Joseph was sure he had not heard her correctly but was so confused he could say nothing at all.

“I am with child,” she repeated.

His mind raced. How can this be? Why is she smiling? Is she taunting me? No, she never taunts. He finally asked, “Who is the father?”

“Pray and you will know,” she replied, and then was gone. Joseph had never felt so alone, so forsaken, so completely and utterly crushed. And yet…that smile. Mary was not upset, certainly not frightened. In truth, she seemed joyful. How could she be joyful about such devastating news?

Joseph had long ago dismissed the idea of marriage. After witnessing a stoning he had dedicated himself, body and soul, to God, in reparation for all those without mercy and as an offering for all those in need of it. He would never have thought to court Mary. She was the most beautiful, graceful and refined woman in all of Galilee. Except for yesterday, she had never failed to bring a measure of joy to everyone she encountered, whenever she encountered them. There was an air of mystery about her; wisdom and peace flowed from some secret place in her that Joseph doubted anyone had ever penetrated. Yet she could be bold. It was Mary who told Joseph she wanted him to be her husband. After his initial shocked wonder, he delicately explained to her that he had entirely dedicated himself to God.

“So have I,” Mary replied almost gaily – and that was that. They were betrothed.

Joseph wondered what God could possibly intend for him with this humiliation. Though he had felt called from his youth to be a husband and father, he had renounced it for the sake of mercy, putting it entirely out of his mind. When Mary came to him, he thought surely God had sent her. How likely was it that any woman, much less this magnificent woman, should both love him and share his mission? And now this. What should he do?

A vision of Mary, purple and bleeding, flashed through his mind, filling him with horror and revulsion. dream-of-st-josephHe would not accuse her. He would never accuse anyone. But he could not take her into his home. A quiet bill of divorce – that was surely the answer. He would appear to be the scoundrel and she might have difficulty finding a husband, but she would not be put to shame.

Preparing to make his evening prayers, Joseph remembered Mary’s smile; her confidence and joy. So instead of asking why, he cried out, “O God, my God, what do You intend for me in this horrible situation?’

Nearby, the Angel of the Lord waited for sleep to overtake Joseph. The Angel had a message of supreme importance; news that what Joseph thought was an ending was, in fact, a beginning.

III: God With Us

 

Although he was glad to have found it when and where he did, Joseph would long be troubled by the memory of the wood.

It irritated him to have to travel when Mary’s time was so near. He found no work along the way; his tools were just an extra burden for the donkey. When Mary’s time did come, he was prepared. He had expected it to happen on the road. He had not expected to be unable to find a place for them to stay. Joseph was beginning to think the child would be born in a field when they came upon an old cattle shed. Joseph could not see how it kept the cattle in; it certainly would not keep the elements out. He had thought to use a manger as a makeshift cradle for the child, but there was none. Piles of hay were scattered indiscriminately about the floor. His heart sank. For a moment Joseph was overwhelmed by his own inadequacy – but only for a moment. Mary’s need was urgent.

Joseph looked around the shed and spied a pair of warped boards lying at the rear. He was filled with both gratitude and dismay as he examined them. The grain was fine; there were no knots. The wood was flawless. Only the workmanship was shoddy. The tools would prove useful, after all. Joseph had never worked at such a reckless pace. It took him scarcely half an hour to fashion a serviceable cradle. At that, he finished just in time.

Mary was gasping; the child would wait no longer. Joseph turned the full force of his attention on his wife. He took control with confident ease. The delivery was uncomplicated (thank God for small favors!). He cleaned the child and put him in Mary’s arms, then gathered together some hay and sticks to cover the holes in the roof. Finally, he was finished.

“You’re a good husband and father,” Mary murmured, handing him the boy.

Joseph’s brows lifted. “How so?” he asked.

“Everyone sees the blessing in honor and prosperity. Few can accept the blessing of humiliation and hardship.”

Joseph nodded. “The lower the net is cast, the more it gathers. nativity_shepherds_by_murilloHeaven is too high for us. I was thinking it must have pleased God to cast his net low tonight.”

“Why, Joseph, that’s profound.”

“Are you so surprised?” he asked, a wry smile curling his lips.

“The things you do are always profound, but you seldom speak of why you do them.”

They rested in quiet contemplation, cuddling their child and nuzzling together. The cattle lowed gently beside them.

After a while, Mary said, “That’s a lovely cradle you made.”

Joseph regarded it thoughtfully. “It will make a fine manger when we leave. The wood for it should not have been lying there, though.”

“Oh, Joseph, not everyone is as orderly as you.”

“That’s not it,” he said.

Mary looked at him quizzically.

“Were it not for the cattle, I would have thought this place abandoned,” he explained. “But that’s not it. It’s the Romans. They love to collect such boards for use in their instruments of torture and execution…”

Joseph sat up straight, suddenly alert. Someone was outside the shed. Were they to be turned away from even this place? A boy stepped into view – a shepherd, then two of his companions. Joseph was puzzled.

“Please, sir,” the first boy spoke for them all. “An angel told us the Messiah is born tonight…and that we could see him here.”

Joseph and Mary glanced at each other in surprise, then Joseph smiled and bade the shepherds enter. They knelt before Jesus, who slept contentedly in his mother’s arms.

“A most approachable king, this son of mine,” Joseph thought, surveying the scene. A bit of Scripture bubbled into his head: God’s ways are not man’s ways. This Messiah would surely startle and challenge Israel’s expectations of what God’s ways are.

IV: After the Temple

 

“I saw a woman stoned yesterday.”

Jesus’ voice did not startle Joseph. His son had been working with furious intensity all morning – always prelude to an outburst. The father paused to look in his son’s direction. The muscles in Jesus’ back rippled with rhythmic resolve and the shavings flew like sparks. At this rate he would finish two or three days work before the sun had set. Every board would be perfect, too. It was a continuing marvel to Joseph that his son should be both so passionate and so precise. The father resumed his carving, but kept his eyes on the son. Jesus would elaborate soon enough. It was always best to wait for him.

“I could have stopped it,” Jesus said.

“Why didn’t you?” Joseph’s voice was measured and calm.jesus-teen-joseph-carpenter-shop

“It is not my time,” Jesus replied. “Now is a time for obedience and restraint. I can master nothing until I have mastered these.”

“Even at the cost of a woman’s life?”

Jesus stiffened, his back straight now. The plane trembled in his hand, troubling the wood no longer.

“She lives,” he said softly. “The gates of heaven will open for her. But this is not what my father intends.”

“What, then,” Joseph pressed. “…that sin should continue?”

Jesus whirled around, eyes flashing. His voice was tight with suppressed fury.

“No,” he said. “That mercy should abound. All have received it from above. It will go hard for those who are miserly in giving what they, themselves, have received in abundance.”

Jesus’ anger suddenly gave way to stunned wonder. Joseph’s eyes were radiant with joy, but his lips were pressed tightly together and his cheeks were wet with tears. Wonder became alarm when Jesus saw the deep gouge in the mantle his father had been working on. Jesus had never seen him like this. He went to his father.

“I can fix that for you.”

Joseph shook himself, as if waking from a dream, and gazed at the mantle. Tilting his head in curiosity, he looked back at his son.

“How so?” he asked.

“I can make it take any shape I want.”

Joseph’s eyes narrowed. “Have you done this with your work?”

Jesus’ face flushed. He lowered his head. When he spoke, it was scarcely a whisper. “No, Father…just some sticks in the field.”

Joseph pushed up from the bench. He began to pace, stroking his beard in thought. “I see,” he said. “Why work at all then? Why not just take a stick and grow it into a house?”

The pacing stopped. Joseph looked directly at his son. Jesus regarded his father with dismay and confusion. He tried to speak, but all he could muster was a dry, choked rustle.

“I’ll tell you why,” the father resumed. “Because it is wrong. You are a man, Jesus. You did not become such to cover over shoddy work. That is a mark of lowness in a man. If you are to be lifted above that, you must always work the wood properly. No shortcuts – ever.”

Jesus’ eyes met his father’s stern, loving gaze. For a moment the son remembered having chosen Joseph from all eternity. He pushed the memory away; his father would not be pleased. Now his own eyes filled with tears. Joseph was a worthy man.

“Yes, Father,” he assented.

Joseph clasped the boy’s shoulder in the semi-embrace favored by reticent men. Father and son worked together in silence that afternoon, savoring occasionally the comfortable communion between them.

V: His Father’s Way

 

The Baptist was shaken to see Jesus standing before him, waist deep in the chill water of the Jordan River.

“I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me,” John said.

baptism-of-JesusMemories of Joseph flooded Jesus’ mind. Smiling gently, he told John, “Allow it now. It becomes us to fulfill all righteousness.”

The Baptist plunged him into the water. Rising, Jesus shook his hair and beard, then departed for the desert.

His father was well pleased.

*******

In my Father’s house are many mansions…

I go to prepare a place for you – John 14:2

 

 

Posted in Fiction, Obedience, Prayer | Tagged | 181 Comments

Reconciliation in the Family of God

By Charlie Johnston

A brief note today. After several years of strife and divisions in families, I ask you to dedicate this Christian Holiday Season to reaching out to family members who you are alienated from. We have much to face in the next year or so, but I believe God would like to hearten you by binding up these wounds. If you are rejected, offer up prayers and penance. If your extended hand is met with consideration, even though it be tentative, insist only that your conscience be respected as you respect the conscience of the alienated family member. Share the old joys while letting the old wounds go. Let this be a true season of reconciliation, a season of miracles to hearten us all for the trials before us.

I will be in Wisconsin this week, with a talk in the Green Bay Area Thursday night and another in Racine on Sunday afternoon. Details are below.

Green Bay, Wisconsin (Free Event)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

6:30 pm:  The Marq – DePere,  3177 French Road,  DePere, WI 54115

For more information:  http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07edc4htxve9029a27&llr=wti4dcgab

Contact Don at  tnrs@earthlink.net

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Racine, Wisconsin (Free Event)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

1:00 pm:  Rosary;  1:30 pm:  Public Talk    

Caledonia/Mt. Pleasant Memorial Park Hall,  9614 Northwestern Avenue, Franksville, WI 

Contact Audrey at  tnrs.wisconsin@gmail.com

Posted in Speaking Tour | 316 Comments

A Reality Check

french_retreat_in_1812_by_pryanishnikov

By Charlie Johnston

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”- John Adams

 

Election Day was a good day for America, but it was not a Rescue – more like the evacuation of Dunkirk. It was a defensive success, fending off an authoritarian siege against ordinary Americans. Its primary virtue was in showing that there is fight in the old girl, yet; that we are not going to quietly sit down and submit to a radical elite insisting we are all rubes who must be stripped of our rights of religion, free speech, assembly and self-defense. What it did not do is suddenly remake us into a religious and moral people. That is how we got to this state in the first place – and it is the only way we are going to get back a genuinely prosperous and tolerant country that is a light to the world.

Mark Mallett wrote a marvelously insightful article shortly after the election that largely captures what we are called to.

I know the rioting and shrieking by those who foolishly think themselves enlightened and

wadena-iowa-committee

The committee who hosted my talk in Wadena, Iowa – in their squirrel shirts.

tolerant have caused a defensiveness in some of us that can present itself as a sort of triumphalism.

 

The day after the election, I got a note from a woman that said, “Charlie, you and your followers are full of religious claptrap. So very sorry for you. I hope you find your heaven because you and people like you have doomed a large number of American citizens to a living hell.”

She is a decent enough woman, though not nearly as bright as she thinks she is, so I figured I would let it stand and not respond – give her her primal scream. But I had to wonder, what living hell did she think was going to be imposed? Does she think we are going to sic the IRS and other federal alphabet agencies to persecute her for her beliefs? Does she think we are going to start fining, firing, bankrupting and even jailing homosexuals? Does she think we are going to force homosexuals to tithe to churches of our choice, as her side tried to force nuns to pay for abortion and contraceptives? Does she think we are going to exempt conservatives and Christians from ordinary laws? That is what the left routinely does to the right, not what the right does to the left. Now if she just thinks it is a living hell not to be able to persecute and punish Christians and conservatives with impunity, that is a living hell she deserves – but we are not going to treat her with the callous disregard and contempt with which her side has treated us. I keep waiting for a self-aware progressive to have his Pogo moment and say, “We have met the bigots – and they are us.” Sadly, self-aware progressives are scarcer than Elvis sightings these days.

My friend’s sentiments illustrate a growing degeneration in the very understanding of the

san-fran-robt-johnson-carmen-maguire-jim-koszarek

From the top of Mt. Tamalpais looking out over the San Francisco Bay towards Oakland and Berkeley. From left are Robert Johnson, Carmen Maguire, me, and Jim Koszarek.

purpose of civil government. The left believes the purpose of government is to choose winners and losers – and then to enforce, by bullying brute force, its will on the losers in every aspect of their lives. It is the animating governmental philosophy of the old Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China, Fascist Italy and all the tyrannical regimes in history. The right thinks government should be an administrative agent of the people taking care of a few necessary things: diplomacy, real interstate commerce, national infrastructure and such. Its first duty is to mind its own business and leave us alone. It is not the job of the government to tell us what to think, take care of our every need, or prevent us from talking crudely. We are a free people, not a herd of cattle to be nurtured, penned or slaughtered at our government’s whim.

 

I was a little shaken at how many people were so upset at my reiteration that I would leave the scene if a normal transfer of power took place on Jan. 20th. That is simply an uncontroversial matter of honor and accountability in my mind. I would, of course, stay alert until July 5, 2018, as that is what I regard as my term of service. It doesn’t mean anything except that I would hold myself accountable for my definitive statements. What I have been trying to convey here since I started this a few years back is that God is good in all ages past and is always close at hand for those who call on him sincerely and humbly. He is not good because I say so, but because He is. When I get it right, God is good. Should I get it wrong, God is good. I am frail and fallible; He is strong and faithful.

My angel rarely congratulates me for being right. Rather, if I am in serious error, he rebukes and corrects me. Many of the greatest saints have been deceived by the devil for a time. I have no illusion that I am exempt from that. So what if I was deceived for a time and my angel, for whatever reason, did not correct me? Do you think that would be so God could abandon or destroy you? Of course not! Everything that God allows is for our good and our reclamation. I know that, I have no doubt at all of it.

I am thankful that most people accepted or understood my statement for what it is. But I worry that some who were shaken put their faith in God because of their confidence in me, rather than recognizing me for what I am – a cheerleader for the mighty God. Jesus’ followers thought He was going to re-establish a temporal kingdom through military might and political skill. Imagine how despondent they must have been when He was executed. Many thought all was lost. They found, as we always do, that God’s plan is both far different and far greater than any of us can imagine. Imagine then, their joy at the Ascension, when they had to have contemplated that what they had thought was the end was actually the beginning. We must ever wait, watch and trust, even as we humbly do the

mich-cubs-rosary

The Jackson, Michigan team, giving me my Cubs-colored Rosary. That is our commenter and team member, Mick, to my right.

very little right in front of us that we can with absolute fidelity.

 

Sometime in the next year, I will be significantly wrong about something. It won’t be the Rescue, but it will be something. When it comes, it will not be a test of me, for I already know that God is good and seeks our reclamation. It will be a test for some of you, to see whether you have put your faith in me or your faith in God. If it is in me, your faith was always ill-placed. God is good, all the time, whatever the circumstances – and works to call us all back to Him. When I am wrong, I will accept the correction with gratitude and more wisdom. I will not leave the scene unless it is one of the fundamentals, and then, in full obedience to Holy Church, I will wait on the Lord, knowing that He will strengthen my heart and that it serves His purpose to call all His children back to Him.

All my life, people have been drawn to tell me their story. When I was a young man, a middle-aged woman who worked for me told me her story one day over coffee. She was an ever-cheerful woman with a foreign accent, always glad to help her fellow workers and always with an encouraging word. As it turned out, she was Hungarian. She teared up as she told me the hair-raising tale of watching her husband and two sons murdered in the Communist invasion which she managed to escape and be smuggled out of the country – and her gratitude to live in this country where she was free. While on my pilgrimage, I met a young couple with a year-and-a-half old daughter. They had been high school sweethearts when she got pregnant. They decided to get married so the child would have an intact family – and because they kind of loved each other. The young man was working 70 hours a week so they could get a trailer and begin a real life together. They exuded joy. While doing a remote broadcast at a festival for senior citizens about 25 years ago, I stumbled upon four couples who had lived next to each other since World War II. Turns out they had all been part of the D-Day invasion. As they watched friends falling around them from the rain of bullets, they resolved that whoever survived would spend the rest of their lives living as neighbors and brothers. These four were those who survived D-Day out of the original 12 that made that pact.

The thing that most angers me about the cult of migro-aggressions and trigger alerts are what a mockery they make of people who have truly suffered, who have truly sacrificed on behalf of those they love, even sacrificed for strangers. When college kids, the very definition of pampered elites, and millionaire athletes tell people such as these to “check their privilege,” it makes me want to retch – and fills me with contempt for the offenders. I have to remind myself that God calls for their reclamation, too, not their destruction. But oh, they will have much to repent of and to account for because of their ignorant, malicious parody of suffering. Some of those who have genuinely suffered are left broken. Most often, though, those who have genuinely suffered are notably large-spirited and generous – never petulant and whiny.

I have only heard two truly magnificent performances of Tchaikovsky’s masterful “1812 Overture.” Performed properly, it is a hauntingly lyrical recounting of Russia’s suffering under Napoleon’s onslaught. The misery in the pathos of the early strings is heart-rending. At one point, a muffled French Horn sounds the distant cry of triumph that will ultimately be the defining crescendo of the piece. But it interrupts the misery like a distant call of hope – and there is a lot of strife and turmoil before that cry reigns triumphant and Russia is renewed.

The task before us is still the call to renewal, to become the people – the Family – of God once again. There will be no Rescue until we have lived that fully. We live it by acknowledging God, taking the next right step, and being a sign of hope to those around us. Half this country still believes that liberty is racist and that tolerance is bullying and punishing people who disagree with you. Last week’s election was that forlorn French Horn, sounding the call of what might be, but not yet is. It was a hopeful sound, but it is not the end of the work before us, only the beginning. It is up to all of us to see “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” That we may once again become a light to the world and the hope of all who yearn to breathe free.

(In my meatier pieces, I am going to start putting up some random pictures from my visits to the faithful around the country. I can’t write about each of these visits, but it is good for you to see that there are many throughout the land looking to acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope.-CJ)

 

Posted in Christian Persecution, Conversion, Culture, Family of God, The Rescue, The Storm | Tagged , , , , | 401 Comments

Prayers for Friends in Earthquake Zones

I have several meaty posts I am eager to get up, but I am frantically busy and do not expect to get the next up until Tuesday. Meantime, please say a few prayers for our friends in New Zealand and in Argentina. New Zealand was hit with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed two and, it is feared, may trigger a tsunami. Argentina saw a 6.2 magnitude in a largely unpopulated area, causing no casualties or serious damage. Still, such a quake can be a precursor.

Our dear friend, Joe Crozier, of New Zealand checked in to let us know all is well with him. Thanks be to God.

Posted in Uncategorized | 60 Comments

Quick Take

I am on a travel day again. Just had a great event in Michigan – where they gave me a Rosary in Cubs colors. Love it. I have two events in Iowa, one on Friday and another on Monday as listed below. Hope to see you there.

Also, I saw this marvelous piece by the ever estimable Victor Davis Hanson on National Review. It is a short, but great, read.

Epworth, Iowa (Free Event)

Friday, November 11, 2016

6:45 pm:  Chaplet of Divine Mercy,  7:00 pm:  Public Talk

Timberline Golf Course,  19858 E Pleasant Grove Rd.,  Peosta Ia. 52068

Contact Charlie at tnrs.iowa@gmail.com

*******

Wadena, Iowa (Free Event)

Monday, November 14, 2016

6:10 pm:  Chaplet of Divine Mercy,  6:30 pm:  Public Talk

Upper Iowa University, 615 Washington St., Fayette, IA  (Student Center)

Contact Gary at  tnrs.wadena@gmail.com

Posted in Culture, Speaking Tour | Tagged , | 185 Comments

A Good Day For America

st-george

By Charlie Johnston

I was deeply heartened by the election results yesterday. I can now amend my promise  that I would retreat into silence if Barack Obama peacefully transferred power to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump on January 20. Now it only applies if Obama peacefully transfers power to Trump on that day. Should that happen, it would be a very happy retreat on my part. I have not suddenly become a great enthusiast for Trump, though I did warm up to him in the waning weeks of this election. He came up with the most pro-life position statement of any Republican nominee in my lifetime. He may freely insult people while he is president, but he won’t attack their liberty or try to fine or jail them for dissent. He believes in American exceptionalism. He could represent a return to normalcy – a president who has flaws and virtues, but who is not given to pseudo-intellectual preening. When he preens, he just preens.

Hillary Clinton represented a unique threat to the U.S. – a fulfillment of the disorders brought on by Obama’s narcissistic self-regard, a fulfillment that would have ended any hope that the U.S. could right itself. She was an aggressive threat to the rule of law, the faith,  foundational freedoms and any hope of a Culture of Life. I am thankful that Americans rejected what would have been the decisive repudiation of the rule of law by electing her, though disturbed that so many Americans remain so cavalierly uninterested in the very principles that made us a light to the world.

Two years ago,  many people were deeply heartened by the Republicans’ landslide victory in the mid-term elections. A few suggested that this proved that my overheated concerns had been answered by that election and all would be sweetness and light. I wrote the column reprinted below, expressing my conviction that the election of a near veto-proof Congress would change nothing. We still were headed into a terrible Storm.

I remain convinced that this election will not stop the crash, but for different reasons than two years ago. As I mentioned, I have warmed up to Trump in the last few months. I played a very peripheral role in providing some briefing points at the request of  someone close to him on a particular issue last summer. To my pleasant surprise, once Trump came on board with the policy, he developed a very clear-eyed understanding and commitment to it. I think he has a good learning curve, is taking this very seriously, and wants to be a solid leader. I think he would govern largely as he has telegraphed – and that to change his mind you would need to convince him of the wisdom of your position, not some cheap effort to show how it is to his advantage. Sometimes I would agree with him, sometimes disagree – but I think he would govern as a traditional American, with respect for all.

My doubts lie with the anti-God progressives. In the last decade, they have done a miserable job of persuading people. In that time, though, they have become much more brazen in using riots, blunt force and raw power to get their way, anyway. Obama’s reflexive response to any setback is to ignore the law, stomp on it, then dare the Congress or the Courts to stop him. Usually, they just take it. So in the next few weeks, I will watch closely to see whether the anti-God progressives try to whip up violence and rioting to set our cities burning. I will be watching to see if President Obama starts making noises about “Russian hacking.” I wait to see whether they will accept defeat or resort to the violent, strong-arm tactics they have so relied upon. Certainly today, both Clinton and Obama have made gracious, unifying statements. We will see if it holds.

If the peaceful transfer of power takes place, I will happily retreat on January 21, 2017 and work on the book of stories connected to each decade of the Rosary I long to finish and learn to play the piano, confident that even if all is not well, the country is starting to move in the right direction. If not and we see two months of convulsions, I will retire on July 5, 2018 and do the same. All that will change is the date I will quit the scene.

And now, the piece I wrote two years ago:

Mammon is Fallen…And Great is the Fall

world-in-his-hands

At the homily at Daily Mass today, our priest delighted me. The Gospel reading was from Matthew 6:24, where it says you cannot serve two masters, that you cannot serve both God and mammon. Normally, I groan through the childishly oversimplified definition of mammon as money or wealth when this Scripture comes up, which mistakes a part for the whole of the matter. I wanted to stand up and cheer when our priest said that mammon is not merely money as many seem to think, but an attachment to worldly things, to a secular way of thinking.

This is at the heart of what is both good about the election results and why those results will make little difference in the progress of the Storm that is upon us. The systems we relied on to make both Western Civilization and America great bastions of freedom and opportunity are shot. They are tattered beyond repair. America was the final flowering of Western Christian thought before the Enlightenment divorced philosophy from theology, reason from faith. Barely a decade later came the firstfruits of the Enlightenment, the bloody and murderous French Revolution, which replaced one form of tyranny with another, far more brutal variety while pretending it was all for “the people.”

God, the Judeo-Christian God, is the firm foundation upon which Western Civilization was built and rests. I am uninterested in specious arguments from pseudo-intellectuals about the evils that Christian kings and rulers did through the ages. The Advent of Christianity did not usher in heaven on earth. As I have often said, we only get heaven when we actually get…heaven. From a social standpoint, what Christianity established was a framework to build upon, grounded in that which gives life. We were shown a way which, we would not fully attain to in this life, but which pursued with vigor and intellectual rigor, grounded in faith, would lead to a great advance in human dignity, in human freedom, in living together in harmony. We were given a system which, if followed, would allow each generation to get a little closer to the reality of Christ than the one before it. Each generation was able to build, brick by brick, upon the foundation and structure that was laid before it, getting ever closer to actually building a City of God.

In the first few centuries before Constantine, these were merely the claims of Christians, though the small Christian communities that dotted the Middle East, Northern Africa and Europe bolstered that claim. Once Christianity took root, it proved those claims, slowly, generation by generation. It was a way of thinking, of believing and of living that built up rather than tore down.

Now, I am going to digress for a moment to preempt the fools with a little learning who would point to the Dark Ages as a repudiation of the Christian impulse towards dignity. Modern ignorance of basic history, philosophy and theology is utterly astounding. I know that most people think the Dark Ages were a Christian phenomenon – because they have been taught that by anti-Christian polemicists near as ignorant as themselves. The Dark Ages were brought on by secular princes who feared that knowledge dispersed among the people was a threat to their power – that it should be suppressed in order to secure their ambitions and dreams of glory. Even half-wit secularists could deduce this without a great deal of study by following the logical conclusions that rise from the facts that, during the Dark Ages, the monastic movement took deep root. In the Monasteries, the monks went beyond copying Sacred Texts by hand and began to also copy out classic secular writings, the great ancient philosophers, that they not be lost to humanity entirely. It was in the Monasteries, during the Dark Ages, that the progenitors of the modern library and the modern university took shape. It has always struck me as a fine irony that, when all mankind abandoned faith en masse, it was the very home of faith that actually kept reason alive. The Dark Ages were the first great progressive movement, a determination to treat the great mass of men as dependent dogs to be ruled and cared for by a few elite princes who would decide what was best for each.

So what is good about last week’s American elections? What it reveals about the heart of the people. For generations we have steadily been pulling away from any public acknowledgment of God. That burst forth in the last decade in one major, perhaps predominant ideology, commonly called the left or progressive movement, that is openly hostile to God, Christianity, American traditions and values, and Western Civilization. We have bought almost completely into the toxic spirit of antichrist, that good can only be done without reference to God. Having marched through the cultural institutions of our society, it has reigned politically triumphant for the last six years. People have seen what it has wrought. It is not an increase in dignity, in brotherhood or in prosperity. The mass has started to reject it.

The problem is that the right is not a Godly coalition. Oh, it is not openly or even – for the most part – covertly hostile to God as the progressives are. It just thinks that God and talk of faith is ancillary to solving real problems – that, at best, God is just a brick in the wall rather than the foundation supporting the entire cultural edifice. The right will merely tinker at the edges of the corrupt edifice the left has erected. Who really believes the new Congress will firmly put a stop to the legal assault on small business owners living their religious conscience? Will anyone at the IRS and other public agencies that have targeted conservatives, Christians, and pro-lifers for their beliefs be held to account? Will a balance in powers be re-established, or will the new Congress just squeal impotently and hold show hearings if the President continues to unilaterally do whatever he feels like?

Even if the new Congress reacted with vigor on restoring a genuinely Constitutional order the nation is largely run by a bureaucratic class that has grown to beastly proportions and was removed from all accountability to the public – or elected officials – through Civil Service laws. Even if it tried to get the beast under control, the underlying financial structure is damaged beyond repair. It will crash because it has spun so out of control that government accounting measures are designed to hide the extent of the damage rather than reveal them. It will crash because there is no network of genuine collective international security institutions that are more than a facade. NATO exists on paper only. Throughout the globe, nations understand that they are on their own and must scramble, as best they can, to survive. What would happen if Russia invaded Poland? What if Iran invaded Israel? Who would stand effectively against Chinese adventurism in the South China Sea, Mongolia, even Japan? No one believes the United States would intervene effectively on behalf of any ally any more. Shoot, I’m not sure if the United States would do much more than send letters of protest if Alaska were invaded. The United States has been the prime guarantor of Western Civilization for a century now. When that guarantee loses credibility, it leaves foes looking to take advantage of the vacuum and it leaves old allies looking for new alliances that might secure their survival.

I caught a little flack a few weeks back when I noted that Russia has done nothing yet that does not make strategic sense to me. Some assumed I was praising Vladimir Putin, or that I endorsed Russian aggression and adventurism. It was neither. But I was irritated by shallow analyses that made Russian actions seem the dreams of a madman, a modern-day Hitler or Genghis Khan. To paraphrase a Chicago Alderman from the last century, “Geo-politics ain’t beanbag.” Some are horrified by Russian brutality. Well, so am I. But Russian rulers have been notably brutal going back into antiquity, whether they are Commissars, Czars, or roving bands of rival warlords. That the modern ruler acts as all Russian rulers have for almost a thousand years may be deplorable, but it is not a sign of national insanity. And frankly, it wasn’t all that surprising to me. Russia has long defined national greatness in Western terms while preferring medieval Eurasian methods of achieving its aims. It is part of what I describe as its thousand-year identity crisis.

Whether or not Russia has embarked on a mad quest of conquest must be judged on its actions within the framework of what it perceives to be its national interest. I have written before that, ever since the break-up of the Soviet Empire, there has been debate over whether Eastern Ukraine would be part of Russia or part of a Ukranian nation – both in Ukraine and Russia. It has been governed from Moscow for centuries and most Eastern Ukranians regard themselves as Russian, including religiously. While the technique used to justify the Russian invasion resembled the Nazi justification for the invasion of Poland, it is substantively different. If the American Union broke up and California became part of Mexico, an American invasion of California to take it back might be advisable or not, but it would not constitute irrational adventurism. That is roughly akin to the invasion of Eastern Ukraine. Once there was even a hint of danger that access to the warm water port in the Crimea might be at risk, invasion was inevitable. Whether good or bad, handled well or poorly, it was not irrational. It made geopolitical sense. Now if Russia were to invade Western Ukraine, that would be a different matter – more like the U.S. invading Mexico. It also would set up cultural problems, for Eastern Ukraine is Eastern Christian just like Russia. Western Ukraine is Western Christian, which would be an ongoing source of potential strife and disruption. It does not make geopolitical sense in any obvious context.

But let us take a look at the larger geopolitical framework. Vladimir Putin made a seminal speech at the Valdai Conference in Sochi last week, a speech that the western media has barely deigned to notice. I was particularly struck by the second fundamental point, that all systems of global collective security lie in ruins and that it is the United States which has destroyed them. It confirmed what I have thought about Putin going back for about a decade.

Russia, better than any other nation, understands the implacable supremacist ambitions of China – and its long-term, carefully patient strategy. For years, Putin longed to have an American Nixon to play off against, someone who understood geopolitical realities and was not put off by tough talk. The world was more dangerous and volatile than any one power could handle – and there were things, regardless of what was said, that were better off handled by others. Russia naturally wants influence in the Middle East. During the Bush years, Russia tried to advance its influence, but was largely content to let America handle it with only a few pro forma protests. Very simply, the Middle East is filled with a bunch of excitable Muslims – whose brothers are right at Russia’s door in Chechnya and other Republics. The potential for blowback was huge. While occasionally piling on, Putin was confident America would take the danger seriously and keep it contained. Russia would holler about defensive radars planned for Eastern Europe, but accept it. Why? It knew the United States was not going to invade Russia – and that, though those radars were justified as preventing Russian adventurism, they might come in right handy when China got to feeling its oats. Putin did not consider Bush a great geopolitical thinker, but he was a competent and responsible player on the world scene.

Fast forward to the Obama foreign policy as it unfolded. If you were watching for it, you could literally see Putin’s growing astonishment, dismay, and finally contempt for American fecklessness. When Obama cancelled the radars set to go into Poland within the first days of taking office, Putin was astonished. Gladdened perhaps, but shaken that the new American President did not even try to get a concession in return. In international relations, the only thing you give for nothing is nothing. It was an early warning of a new American incompetence on the very basics of international diplomacy. No one wants an incompetent dance partner.

When America allied with Qaddafi’s Libya as a useful partner in suppressing violent Jihad, then abandoned him at the first sign of trouble; when America abandoned the Egyptian ally most responsible for maintaining stability; when America ignored the rebels and sided with the Mullahs as serious potential revolt rose in Iran, Putin came to realize that America didn’t even know which team it was on anymore. When America began berating and undercutting Israel and siding with the very Jihadist warriors who were trying to destroy both Israel and America, Putin realized that while America might still have the toys, it was no longer a great – or even significantly consequential – power in world affairs.

It had to be a terrifying moment. Understanding clearly the meaning of China asserting its muscle in the South China Sea and the massive build-up of its conventional forces, Putin had to wonder to whom he was going to turn to balance growing Chinese power and adventurism. The United States might one day be a force again, but allying with it now was a good way to get toppled. A century ago, Europe was chock-full of great powers. Now it is composed of simpering eunuchs who would be useless in a real fight. (Apologies to my European readers, but your nations have castrated themselves). Japan, perhaps, but its relations with Russia have almost always been a troubled encounter – and it has enough worries with N. Korea and China acting up in its vicinity. Whatever they want to do, Africa and Latin America are not in a position to project useful power that far from home and are not likely to be any time soon. India can be a useful ally, but only if you can negotiate the knife edge between Indian and Pakistani mutual hostility. Australia is resolute and useful, but geography suggests it may want to hedge its bets with China.

The bottom line is that, at one point, Putin realized that China was rising, he was the only major world figure to take it seriously, and he stood almost alone. China needed to know that Russia had not gone soft – and Russia needed to shake up the world framework to defend its future.

It jumped into the Middle East with both feet when Obama fumbled the ball with Syria. Putin’s play might have seemed cynical, but he advanced two causes. First, he gained a foothold in real influence in the Middle East, demonstrating he was willing to be patron to other Islamic client states if they wanted it. This made sense because it was clear America was no longer effectively able to contain the volatility of that region – or even willing – and Putin always knew someone had to. Second, if the Jihadists on his borders created trouble, it would be useful to have some Muslim allies who might help dampen it down.

The invasion of Eastern Ukraine served a multitude of purposes. First, there was the ambiguity about which nation it rightly belongs with after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Historically, it is Russian. Second, the Crimea is vital to Russia’s ability to project naval power – and the lack of effective naval power is, incidentally, the only real weakness in China’s massive build-up the last few decades. Third, it demonstrated to China that it will project power if it perceives it to be in its interest – so that it is better for China to be a friend than an enemy for now. Fourth, it demonstrated to smaller countries wondering where to go given the vacuum of reliable American power, that it will exercise power to protect perceived interests and allies. You do not have to agree that this is HOW things should have been done to understand it is not just random madness. Even the Russian elder statesman most respected in the west, Mikhail Gorbachev, advised the west to take Putin’s speech last week to heart.

The real kicker is that Russia is exercising a brutal, medieval Eurasian temperament to uphold western Christian values that the west, itself,  has largely abandoned. So, American officials are counting on temporal political means to grapple with what are, at bottom, fundamental religious and cultural issues. It seems the Americans are using the right means for the wrong argument while the Russians are using the wrong means for the right argument. Meanwhile China lurks.

Mammon is falling as God rises actively in human history again. People act, advancing His purposes unknowingly. And the Storm draws force.

 

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Election Day

dam_break

By Charlie Johnston

I figure today, tomorrow and the day after I will get a lot of questions on the election. Some are newbies who honestly don’t know what I have said about it. Others are samplers of the site who have mixed in what I have said with things that others errantly say I have said. Still others are just trolls. It can be hard to tell the difference sometimes – and I can get crabby about answering the same thing over and over again. So I write this quick summary with links to old articles so I can just cite this piece.

What I was told eight and a half years ago was that Obama would be elected president, he would lead us into the Storm, would not finish his full term – and would live to repent and convert long after he had left the world in ashes. I was told that our next national leader would NOT come from the political system. Many people (including me sometimes) have considered that the most likely way that would play out would be that there would be no election. But as I wrote last January in “Through a Glass Darkly,” that is not the only scenario that would fit that prophecy. The critical day is not election day, but inauguration day – on January 20, 2017.

Those who ask if I will declare myself a false prophet if the election proceeds Tuesday either are not actually aware of the specific language of the prophecy – or are just trying to foment mischief and confusion.

If, on January 20, Obama peacefully transfers power to either Trump or Clinton, I will declare myself unreliable and retire into silence, as I wrote in August in this piece. While I will enter into silence, I most certainly will not declare myself a false prophet. I have been right on the big sweep of things. But I will consider myself unreliable at a time when we need solid reliability.

In the end, the purpose of telling you these things had nothing to do with letting you know details of the progress of the Storm. The Storm  would have come whether I was here or not. Rather, it was to give you confidence that I have told you true when I speak of the Rescue that will come late in 2017 – and to encourage you to be a participant in heralding that Rescue, to give you confidence in terrible times when you will really need it.

 

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