Musings – Crusades, Marriage, Round-Up

Count Raymond IV of Toulouse, the First Crusader.

Count Raymond IV of Toulouse, the First Crusader.

A few random things this morning….

Have you ever noticed that people who pride themselves on their brutal honesty are usually much more interested in the brutality than the honesty?

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Back in the late 90’s I spoke to a group of students at a large Midwestern university about the role of faith in the development of Western Civilization and its intersection with public policy in modern times. As often happens, one student got up and asked if faith was so good, how could I explain the Crusades. I can deal with ignorance, but I loathe ignorance with attitude, particular in a center of learning, so this hit one of my hot buttons.

“I would no more apologize for the Crusades than I would for defeating Hitler,” I shot back. “I know most of you think the Crusades were Christianity’s attack on peaceful Islam. The Crusades were, in fact, Christianity’s counter-attack against Muslim genocidal aggression that sought to conquer the whole world and destroy Christianity entirely. My main problem is that Christianity got started so late. By the time we roused ourselves to battle at all, Islam had conquered all of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and huge chunks of Western Europe, including parts of France, Germany and Italy. The defensive success of the Crusades made it possible for you to be at this university today.”

The students were stunned. The head of the philosophy department, who was also a prominent medieval historian and well-regarded by the students, was there. They appealed to him to correct my errors. He rose and said that though I gave a very short version, what I said was accurate. They were even more stunned.

My old friend, Al Salvi, is writing an historical fictional account of the man who rallied the nobles to the cause of defending Europe and Christianity and winning back the Holy Land from the Muslim invaders, Count Raymond IV of Toulouse. Two of his sons, David and Joe, have become quite knowledgeable on the subject, as well. Al was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Illinois in 1996, winning an upset victory over the sitting lieutenant governor in the primary and I ran his campaign, my first statewide effort. David got his name from events during that campaign. Joe was then a toddler, Often, during my visits at the house, if Joe was fussy, I would take him because I somehow had a very soothing effect on him (I’ve always been good with babies). It pleases me to no end that, later today, I will put up a guest column on the Crusades written by David and Joe Salvi.

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The synod on marriage has ignited some intense controversy. I am disappointed that some otherwise reputable Catholic sites have reduced commentary on the matter to trashy polemics. I think something needs to be done, as I wrote here. I do not support Cardinal Kasper’s efforts to try to ignore doctrinal teaching to offer relief on the matter – but I do not support Cardinal Burke on making no administrative changes to take into account the effect of the toxic culture on the validity of many marriages. As usual these days when something is thoroughly politicized, the ugliest attacks diminishing the seriousness of the matter are coming from the progressive wing of commentators. Elizabeth Scalia who writes the Anchoress Column – and has a few progressive tendencies herself – is thoroughly disgusted with the trashy smears mounted by the progressive wing in support of its case.

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Sandro Magister, a Roman author and journalist who specializes in writing on the Catholic Church, has an article up that goes into some detail over the appointment of Spokane’s Bishop Blasé Cupich as the new Archbishop of Chicago. Alas, it is not a very hopeful article if you are faithful to the Magisterium. I pray that it is prelude to a heroic story of conversion and fidelity…Paul before Damascus, the early days of Augustine. We shall see, but as one of my dear priests likes to say, “The plot thickens…”

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Some of you have noticed that I have put up the randomly generated “snowflake” icons again by your name in comments. I had dropped them a while back because someone complained that his reminded him of a swastika. I didn’t see a swastika in it, but I figured, what the heck, why give unnecessary offense to anyone? Well, now I see that several different people use the same screen name in comments. I tried to see if I could force people to register unique screen names – but the platform does not provide for that. These “snowflakes,” though, are unique to each person who registers for comments, so it will make it easier for people to know who is who. If you don’t like the “snowflake” the system assigned you, simply set up an account with Gravatar. It’s free and allows you to put any picture you want as your avatar, which will replace the “snowflake” when you comment here.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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27 Responses to Musings – Crusades, Marriage, Round-Up

  1. Mary says:

    Excellent for clarification and balance–this, and your previous article. Thanks, Charlie. And…it is wonderful to see the blessing your ministry is for the priests who come here!

    Like

  2. AnneA says:

    Hi Charley,

    I am grateful for your balance. I tend to be on the extreme side of things – a genetic fault I am sure, but you definitely help me see both sides of issues and calm my rhetoric. Thank you.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Thanks, Anne. When I was doing politics, staffers could tell you I was more rigorous about vetting things that confirmed our position than I was on those that criticized it. Very simply, I long ago learned that you are MUCH more likely to get tripped up by what you want to believe and so have accepted without vetting than you are by what you don’t want to believe. You will check that out, anyway. And in the end, we find truth by searching and interpreting facts, not by cherry-picking facts to support what we already believe.

      And since I am very determined to keep this open to well-reasoned and sourced opposing views, it is important to me to get the facts right to begin with rather than build my arguments on a foundation of mushy sentiment. The latter is a formula for getting your head handed to you in honest discourse.

      Like

  3. Maureen says:

    Chalie, Thank you for the balance you present in your posts. As a former teacher, I tend to plan a lot. Your words have given me pause to be more selective in my plans. May God bless you!

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Hee hee, Maureen, God spent so many years showing me how wrong I was so often that it kind of drilled into me the notion that, “Hey, I might be wrong.” So I actively seek out solid points of view that I do not share…that I may be honed and humble…while still speaking boldly about those things I am called to.

      Like

  4. Another one who likes your balance ,Charlie. I admit I have been very concerned about the synod. I remember a story about Pope Saint John 23rd at the time of the Vatican Council. He used to sit up in his appartments watching the Council by close circuit TV (very wisely he kept away to permit the Fathers greater freedom in debate). One night he stayed up late worrying and at last dropped do his knees and prayed to the Lord , ‘It’s your Church , you take care of it!’. Then he waved his hands in the air and stamped off to bed.

    It is God’s Church and His Council and He will take care of it without me fretting any about it. Thanks for the reminder to keep a level head.

    As to the Crusades well I hate to disagree but certain incidents give me grave doubts about its correctness. For instance the looting and rape of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade which more than anything else caused the great schism between the East and the Western Churches, the Rape of Jerusalem by the Crusaders during the First Crusade when the Christian soldiers were said to have waded up to their knees in Christian, Jewish and Islamic blood. Also appalling phenomena related to the Crusades such as the ill fated Children’s Crusade which led to appalling loss of life. So my view is that the Crusades may have done much more harm to Christendom than it did to anyone else.

    But I admit I am biased for as I get older I ask more and more questions about all wars.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      There were certainly abuses in the Crusades, Padraig, but had Christianity not mounted a defense, Christianity would have ceased to exist. Islam was quite determined to wipe it from the face of the earth. Of course, God will preserve His Church and His people. I think the Crusades were the means He used at that time and place.

      Of course, you know I take a much more martial outlook than you do – as I know you take a much more pacifist outlook than I do. And yet I know you are one of the most deeply devoted and pious people I have encountered. You know, of course, that we disagree substantially on this point, Padraig. I hope you also know as it comes up, that I will deeply appreciate you weighing in with your very thoughtful outlook.

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  5. Jim M. says:

    As for the snowflake, Charlie, I suppose it’s better to know now that I’m just another flake here! 😉

    Like

  6. ellenchris says:

    Small thing — but maybe helpful: These little designs are “Quilt Blocks,” that is — they are the patterns for the individual squares that make up a quilt. So, one square might not make a lot of sense, but when they are put together, they make a beautiful pattern. The little “swastika” is not a symbol on its own, it becomes part of a big beautiful whirl in the quilt. Which is maybe a good metaphor for this blog. Generating your own “avatar” is not that hard — if I, the technologically challenged, managed to get one going, then anyone can do it. If you don’t like the one they gave you, choose another picture.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Hmmm…now I’m torn. I like the description of “snowflakes” better – BUT the idea of quilt blocks carries with it the notion that individually, we are a small part of a much bigger, more beautiful pattern in the Quilt God is forming at this site – and I really like that image. I will probably think of it all as a “Snow Quilt.”

      Like

  7. ellenchris says:

    Also, just BTW, while we are on the subject — my “avatar” is the ikon that Berthe Petit recognized as the image of the “Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary” who is our good mother and who intercedes for us. I ask her constantly to keep me, and us all, under her mantle and in her heart.

    Like

  8. Marti says:

    I just wanted to remind people about the 40 days for Life Campaign. They REALLY need everyone’s help!! My 16 yr. old son and I were out praying tonight in the dark and at the end of our Rosary and Chaplet we smelled our Lady’s roses where there were absolutely no roses. Such a joy! We were praying, “Woman, Clothed with the Sun, come, and do not delay! Convert hearts and destroy your enemies. Have mercy Mother! Save our children!”

    Like

    • Praise God.

      Ezekiel 20:41

      I will accept you as fragrant incense when I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will be proved holy through you in the sight of the nations.

      Like

  9. MM Bev says:

    OK, Charlie. I am willing to accept being a part of a “Snow Quilt”, although I am definitely more of a flake, but I would have refused to be part of a quilting block, or pattern–however nice. Each snowflake is individual just as we are, whereas quilting blocks are duplicated over and over and over and over. That’s why I would NEVER make a quilt unless it had no repeated design. I don’t think God is making a quilt, I think He’s weaving and we don’t know what yet. But I do know that I am not a gold thread, maybe a dark sort of grey. (Although, I can state as a fact that from a distance it looks like a brilliantly shining, long golden thread against the clearest darkness where you can see forever, not like hell, where it is so dense a darkness that you can’t see at all.)

    Like

  10. Kati says:

    There is an excellent article this morning regarding marriage and the Synod. Here is an excerpt: “What is correct is the idea that change happens organically. Any change, major or minor, flows from what came before it. The mustard seed grows into a tree, but it doesn’t grow into a car.”

    Let’s Be Realistic About the Synod by Kevin Tierney: http://catholicexchange.com/lets-realistic-synod

    PS Marti,
    I love that prayer to the Woman Clothed with the Sun! 😉

    Like

  11. narnialion54 says:

    Here we go. Good for you Putin! Helmets on in Russia! How I pray our country will rise up and fight!

    http://www.raymondibrahim.com/islam/russia-declares-holy-war-on-islamic-state/

    “Come, my brethren! Take courage and stand beneath our banner! The darkness closes in, and we are the only true defenders of the Light! March to victory and arise triumphant!” from the youtube video:

    Liked by 2 people

    • Beckita says:

      Thanks for posting, Narnia. A friend sent me the Ibrahim link yesterday. Charlie, please speak to this development. While I wish to take joy in the real, active opposition to IS, I’m wondering: Is Putin acting from altruism here or is there a mixture of the bad actor in this declaration? He’s much more complicated politically than I am able to understand at this juncture. Thanks!

      Like

      • charliej373 says:

        Beckita, some people do good things with bad motives and others do bad with good motives. I don’t know. Putin has not behaved irrationally…and I suspect the Christians under siege in the Middle East will welcome Russia’s brutish protection more than they do America’s empty platitudes.

        Liked by 5 people

        • Beckita says:

          So true, Charlie. Thank you!

          Like

        • NancyA says:

          I was still attending community college when things started to heat up over Crimea. My world civ prof would explain that he was not acting irrationally or out of turn, but that American just could not seem to understand. I keep that in mind, always with Putin. He IS a complicated man but he is of his culture and community… we do not understand their ways, their history… but I have been thinking, he is doing what needs to be done. Maybe not altruistically; honestly what political power does, these days? but God will use all to His purposes. He will bring good from it. I am trusting in that… even though I do feel a tad uneasy about what may be soon to come as Putin goes about his business.

          ( have to say I can see how it all dovetails with Charlie’s ideas of making short work of ISIS, the rise of China, eventual alliance with Russia, etc…)

          Liked by 1 person

          • Beckita says:

            ( have to say I can see how it all dovetails with Charlie’s ideas of making short work of ISIS, the rise of China, eventual alliance with Russia, etc…)

            Yes, Nancy! This development immediately struck me as you have expressed in your statement. It’s precisely why I sought Charlie’s reflection at this point.

            Like

  12. CrewDog says:

    Am I dreaming or was there once a post that was headed by a painting of a battle weary Crusader leaning on his sword with Rosary beads!!??
    I’ve spent 30 min looking for that pic!

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Like

  13. CrewDog says:

    PS: Disregard! I found him on the Net 😉

    Like

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