Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A Day for Blog Plugs

First it was King of Fools. Now it's a nominally old blog that's new again. And it's one near and dear to my heart.

My friend, former co-worker, and fellow blogger Ricky V started blogging not long afdter me (which wasn't long ago, really) over at Vices and Virtues. Well, the old blog's still there, but now he's blogging at his own domain. Go check out his new place, Ya Think So? I like the new layout, and he hasn't missed a beat in posting good reads.

The Meek and the Mighty

She’s the meek and the mighty, the flame of valour, burning bright in the night.

- The Meek and the Mighty, a song By Farrell and Farrell about the Persecuted Church

Earlier today, I blogged on an excellent entry by the King of Fools on Christianity and politics in America. In my comments, I made the remark, “A suffering Church is a devout Church” (Actually, on further reflection, I prefer the word “pious” to “devout” in this instance).

Well, my friend Vic over at Darth Apathy saw it and remarked on it.

I’m not exactly sure what to make of Vic’s comment. It could be that he’s saying that the piety of Christians fosters a sense of martyrdom. But that implies a level of piety and devotion in the modern Church that, frankly, is far more flattering to the Church (myself intended) than I suspect Vic would ever intend, and is in any case undeserved. The other option is that he meant to imply that we intentionally play the persecution card in order to appear more pious than we truly are. There is probably some truth to this, and for that I am truly saddened. We as Christians do not, for the most part, live as we should, nor as we claim to, and for that we will have much to answer.

But in making this comment, it seems to me (and Vic is most welcome to correct me if I’m wrong) that Darth Apathy is downplaying persecution of Christians, implying that it does not occur to the extent he thinks we claim it does. And on that account, I must take a stand and disagree.

No, I’m not talking about the Church in America. Yes, we have seen our status decline in recent decades. Yes, we are reviled by many, particularly, as King of Fools points out, by those on the left, by the intelligentsia, by academia, by the media, and by the Hollywoodia. Yes, there has been a well-documented attempt by many to remove as much reference to religion and to God, especially Christianity and the Christian God, from the public sphere, particularly from schools and government property. But is this persecution? No. Not yet, at least. Compared to real persecution, we are wimps in the American Church. Wusses.

Nor am I using the persecution of Christians to excuse any behavior by Christians. We will be held accountable for our actions, and actually, held to a higher standard. There is no excuse for misrepresenting Christ. But like any sin, there is pardon.

No, what I’m talking about is real persecution – real martyrdom -- and not just historical martyrdom, but martyrdom that occurs even today. Even from a historical perspective, it is possible that the twentieth century saw the most brutal persecution of Christians of any century since the foundation of the Church. Extreme Socialist movements – Marxism, Maoism, Nazism – all had a special place in their hearts for hating Christians. Even the quote at the top of my blog is a paraphrase of a comment made by a German pastor who died at the hands of the SS (as did many Christians, notable among them Dietrich Bonhoeffer). During the Cold War, an entire ministry, Open Doors, was run devoted to supporting the Church behind the Iron Curtain. To this Day, being a professing Christian in China, North Korea, the Middle East, and many other places isd a dangerous thing.

And guess what? That’s where the Church is growing and flourishing spiritually. That’s where you will fine gold refined in the fire. When your choice is your faith or your life, only those who truly believe remain. Here, in America, where it’s still perfectly legal and socially acceptable to be a Christian, there’s no reason to value your faith. And that is why I still maintain that a suffering Church is a pious Church – in the best sense of the word.

I would encourage anyone who’s interested to check out the website of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. They have links to several ministries who support the persecuted Church, including my favorites, Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors. Or read the following books, some more modern than others, for a perspective:

Foxe's Book of Martyrs

From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya
Jesus Freaks (Volumes 1 and 2)

God's Smuggler


Just... Wow.

In the few months I've been blogging, I have on occasion managed to write an entry that toucherd a nerve, and garnered a significant amount of linkage and comment. Yesterday was one of those days. Five comments in less than twenty-four hours, including two from readers/bloggers I've never heard of before, and a Link at Blogfather Rusty's. Nothing compared to the big boys, but for me, a modest success.

So what was this wonderful post of mine that generated such a response? A witty observation on life in general? An insightful commentary on some political issue? A poetic description of the beauty of my home state? Some deep, profound idea I expressed? No.

A Prayer Request.

These are the kind of people you find in the blogosphere. People who will take time to let you know that yes, they do give a damn.

If you ever meet anyone who questions the kind of people who blog or read blogs, send them to me.

And to all of you who have responded, my deepest gratitude. May you never need my prayers, but if you do, they are yours.


My mother sends her thanks, as does my aunt herself, who writes:

How can I say thank you? Perhaps one thing I can do is share the tremendous peace that I've had since I woke up this morning. And the certain, overwhelming knowledge that the prayers of so many people, many of which I don't even know and most of which I will never be able to thank, have risen to my Savior's ears and have put a smile on his face, as well as mine. Never, since before my divorce, have I felt so completely loved and accepted by those who love Him and, most of all, by him.

Prayer Request

I just received an email from my mother. My favorite aunt is scheduled to undergo surgery (a form of brain surgery, according to my mother) to help her with facial tics from which she has suffered for years. She will be going under the knife this Thursday at 7:30 AM Pacific Standard Time (GMT - 8). Any and all prayers, kind thoughts, or well wishes would be highly treasured.

(Originally Posted 30 Nov. 2004)
(1 Dec. 2004)

My mother makes a good point, that I should mention Donna's 8-year-old Daughter Emily, pray for her peace and comfort during her mother's surgery.

A Royally Good New Blog

Thanks to the comments section of my prayer request post, I was made aware of a fantastic blog, The King of Fools, which I have gone to the trouble of adding to my blogroll on the right. I highly recommend you check him out.

Of particularly high quality is his post of yesterday, Religious Right = Wrong? It is long, but worth the read. The best is saved for last in it:

I do not see the beliefs and voting habits of conservatives as the death knell of Christianity in American but I do agree that there are significant threats to Christianity in this country. The greatest threat from the outside is the movement to erase all evidence of the Christian tradition from our culture and our history books. Revisionism has transformed the establishment clause to read Separation of church and state. Freedom of religion has been changed to Freedom from religion.
There is also a threat from within: the natural decay of a vital faith into a casual half-hearted relationship with God. This is the natural decay, a spiritual entropy, which afflicts us all and is only kept at bay through deliberate communion with God and outreach to others. There is also the buffet-style Christianity described above, which is a threat from both within and without.

I believe we have to fight all these battles; first the internal, and then the external. And contrary to the rhetoric from the left, the battle lines are against the kingdom of darkness, not the red/blue state borders.

I agree 100% but would like to point out that it's my belief that, historically and ironically, the greater the attack from the outside, the more likely the Church is to face the threat from within. A suffering Church has always been a devout Church.