Politics/United States

By Elizabeth Scalia | Sep 25, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 5.38.14 AM“Before 1917 nobody ever proposed that the collapse of a centuries-old Christian empire would happen…”

Participating in a London conference on the topic of “The Christian Future of Europe,” Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, head of the External Relations Departments of the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate, spoke on September 22 at the Russian Embassy to Great Britain, and his talk was something of a warning to the Churches of the West.

Opening his talk with an acknowledgement of Christian persecution throughout the world, and armed with research figures hewn from recent PEW polls and other studies, Hilarion painted a grim but up-to-date and accurate picture of what Christianity is currently facing due to migration and Western secularization, and also what the future of Christianity will look like without a deep and strenuous effort at evangelization.

The Archbishop presented a sobering look at how migration is impacting Europe:

“According to figures by the European Union agency Frontex, more than 1.8 million migrants entered the EU in 2015 alone … the number of migrants in Europe has increased from 49.3 million people in 2000 to 76.1 million people in 2015.”

“The other reason for the transformation of the religious map of Europe,” said Hilarion, “is the secularization of European society. Figures in a British opinion poll indicate that more than half of the country’s inhabitants – for the first time in history – do not affiliate themselves to any particular religion.”

This trend is not holding true in Russia, where an identification with faith is on the upswing, although “many defined themselves as ‘religious to some degree’ or ‘not too religious’ … However, the number of people who define themselves as being ‘very religious’ is growing steadily.”

That good news must be balanced an understanding of the rapid decline of religious practice in Europe and North America, and here Hilarion suggested that history must be given its due study, as a warning:

I would like to remind you all that in Russia before 1917 nobody ever proposed that the collapse of a centuries-old Christian empire would happen and that it would be replaced by an atheistic totalitarian regime. And even when that did happen, few believed that it was serious and for long.

The modern-day decline of Christianity in the western world may be compared to the situation in the Russian Empire before 1917.

The revolution and the dramatic events which followed it have deep spiritual, as well as social and political, reasons. Over many years the aristocracy and intelligentsia had abandoned the faith, and were then followed by common people.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia spoke of this in January 2017:

“The fundamental rupture in the traditional way of life – and I am now speaking … of the spiritual and cultural self-consciousness of the people – was possible only for the reason that something very important had disappeared from peoples’ lives, in the first instance those people who belonged to the elite.

In spite of an outward prosperity and appearance, the scientific and cultural achievements, less and less place was left in peoples’ lives for a living and sincere belief in God, an understanding of the exceptional importance of values belonging to a spiritual and moral tradition.”

Hilarion seemed to reserve a special condemnation of the resistance to religion demonstrated by the European Union:

And when half a century after the creation of the European Union its constitution was being written, it would have been natural for the Christian Churches to expect that the role of Christianity as one of the European values to have been included in this document, without encroaching upon the secular nature of the authorities in a unified Europe.

But, as we know, this did not happen.

The European Union, when writing its constitution, declined to mention its Christian heritage even in the preamble of the document.

I firmly believe that a Europe which has renounced Christ will not be able to preserve its cultural and spiritual identity.

The Archbishop’s full speech may be read here.

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Loved Trump’s UN Speech; Breath of Fresh Air

by Steve Ray on September 20, 2017

Loved his speech. Funny comment by Venezuelan president after Trump hit him and his socialism smack between the eyes. He meant it as a insult and slam but it was actually a high compliment. He said,  “What is this? Ronald Reagan back again?”

https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse/videos/1433841946703534/

Or here (CNN must hate this YouTube that they had to record and post):

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The Eight Stages of the Rise and Fall of Civilizations

by Steve Ray on September 15, 2017

Written by Msgr. Charles Pope and posted October 12, 2016 on Community in Mission

Cultures and civilizations go through cycles. Over time, many civilizations and cultures have risen and then fallen. We who live in painful times like these do well to recall these truths. Cultures and civilizations come and go; only the Church (though often in need of reform) and true biblical culture remain. An old song says, “Only what you do for Christ will last.” Yes, all else passes; the Church is like an ark in the passing waters of this world and in the floodwaters of times like these.

For those of us who love our country and our culture, the pain is real. By God’s grace, many fair flowers have come from Western culture as it grew over the past millennium. Whatever its imperfections (and there were many), great beauty, civilization, and progress emerged at the crossroads of faith and human giftedness. But now it appears that we are at the end of an era. We are in a tailspin we don’t we seem to be able to pull ourselves out of. Greed, aversion to sacrifice, secularism, divorce, promiscuity, and the destruction of the most basic unit of civilization (the family), do not make for a healthy culture. There seems to be no basis for true reform and the deepening darkness suggests that we are moving into the last stages of a disease. This is painful but not unprecedented.

Sociologists and anthropologists have described the stages of the rise and fall of the world’s great civilizations. Scottish philosopher Alexander Tyler of the University of Edinburg noted eight stages that articulate well what history discloses. I first encountered these in in Ted Flynn’s book The Great Transformation. They provide a great deal of perspective to what we are currently experiencing.

Let’s look at each of the eight stages. The names of the stages are from Tyler’s book and are presented in bold red text. My brief reflections follow in plain text.

  1. From bondage to spiritual growth – Great civilizations are formed in the crucible. The Ancient Jews were in bondage for 400 years in Egypt. The Christian faith and the Church came out of 300 years of persecution. Western Christendom emerged from the chaotic conflicts during the decline of the Roman Empire and the movements of often fierce “barbarian” tribes. American culture was formed by the injustices that grew in colonial times. Sufferings and injustices cause—even force—spiritual growth. Suffering brings wisdom and demands a spiritual discipline that seeks justice and solutions.
  2. From spiritual growth to great courage – Having been steeled in the crucible of suffering, courage and the ability to endure great sacrifice come forth. Anointed leaders emerge and people are summoned to courage and sacrifice (including loss of life) in order to create a better, more just world for succeeding generations. People who have little or nothing, also have little or nothing to lose and are often more willing to live for something more important than themselves and their own pleasure. A battle is begun, a battle requiring courage, discipline, and other virtues.
  3. From courage to liberty – As a result of the courageous fight, the foe is vanquished and liberty and greater justice emerges. At this point a civilization comes forth, rooted in its greatest ideals. Many who led the battle are still alive, and the legacy of those who are not is still fresh. Heroism and the virtues that brought about liberty are still esteemed. The ideals that were struggled for during the years in the crucible are still largely agreed upon.
  4. From liberty to abundance – Liberty ushers in greater prosperity, because a civilization is still functioning with the virtues of sacrifice and hard work. But then comes the first danger: abundance. Things that are in too great an abundance tend to weigh us down and take on a life of their own. At the same time, the struggles that engender wisdom and steel the soul to proper discipline and priorities move to the background. Jesus said that man’s life does not consist in his possessions. But just try to tell that to people in a culture that starts to experience abundance. Such a culture is living on the fumes of earlier sacrifices; its people become less and less willing to make such sacrifices. Ideals diminish in importance and abundance weighs down the souls of the citizens. The sacrifices, discipline, and virtues responsible for the thriving of the civilization are increasingly remote from the collective conscience; the enjoyment of their fruits becomes the focus.
  5. From abundance to complacency – To be complacent means to be self-satisfied and increasingly unaware of serious trends that undermine health and the ability to thrive. Everything looks fine, so it must be fine. Yet foundations, resources, infrastructures, and necessary virtues are all crumbling. As virtues, disciplines, and ideals become ever more remote, those who raise alarms are labeled by the complacent as “killjoys” and considered extreme, harsh, or judgmental.
  6. From complacency to apathy – The word apathy comes from the Greek and refers to a lack of interest in, or passion for, the things that once animated and inspired. Due to the complacency of the previous stage, the growing lack of attention to disturbing trends advances to outright dismissal. Many seldom think or care about the sacrifices of previous generations and lose a sense that they must work for and contribute to the common good. “Civilization” suffers the serious blow of being replaced by personalization and privatization in growing degrees. Working and sacrificing for others becomes more remote. Growing numbers becoming increasingly willing to live on the carcass of previous sacrifices. They park on someone else’s dime, but will not fill the parking meter themselves. Hard work and self-discipline continue to erode.
  7. From apathy to dependence – Increasing numbers of people lack the virtues and zeal necessary to work and contribute. The suffering and the sacrifices that built the culture are now a distant memory. As discipline and work increasingly seem “too hard,” dependence grows. The collective culture now tips in the direction of dependence. Suffering of any sort seems intolerable. But virtue is not seen as the solution. Having lived on the sacrifices of others for years, the civilization now insists that “others” must solve their woes. This ushers in growing demands for governmental, collective solutions. This in turns deepens dependence, as solutions move from personal virtue and local, family-based sacrifices to centralized ones.
  8. From dependence back to bondage – As dependence increases, so does centralized power. Dependent people tend to become increasingly dysfunctional and desperate. Seeking a savior, they look to strong central leadership. But centralized power corrupts, and tends to usher in increasing intrusion by centralized power. Injustice and intrusion multiplies. But those in bondage know of no other solutions. Family and personal virtue (essential ingredients for any civilization) are now effectively replaced by an increasingly dark and despotic centralized control, hungry for more and more power. In this way, the civilization is gradually ended, because people in bondage no longer have the virtues necessary to fight.

Another possibility is that a more powerful nation or group is able to enter, by invasion or replacement, and destroy the final vestiges of a decadent civilization and replace it with their own culture.

Either way, it’s back to crucible, until suffering and conflict bring about enough of the wisdom, virtue, and courage necessary to begin a new civilization that will rise from the ashes.

Thus are the stages of civilizations. Sic transit gloria mundi. The Church has witnessed a lot of this in just the brief two millennia of her time. In addition to civilizations, nations have come and gone quite frequently over the years. Few nations have lasted longer than 200 years. Civilizations are harder to define with exact years, but at the beginning of the New Covenant, Rome was already in decline. In the Church’s future would be other large nations and empires in the West: the “Holy” Roman Empire, various colonial powers, the Spanish, the Portuguese, and the French.  It was once said that “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” Now it does. As the West began a long decline, Napoleon made his move. Later, Hitler strove to build a German empire. Then came the USSR. And prior to all this, in the Old Testament period, there had been the Kingdom of David, to be succeeded by Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.

The only true ark of safety is the Church, who received her promise of indefectibilityfrom the Lord (Matt 16:18). But the Church, too, is always in need of reform and will have much to suffer. Yet she alone will survive this changing world, because she is the Bride of Christ and also His Body.

These are hard days, but perspective can help. It is hard to deny that we are living at the end of an era. It is painful because something we love is dying. But from death comes forth new life. Only the Lord knows the next stage and long this interregnum will be. Look to Him. Go ahead and vote, but put not your trust in princes (Ps 146:3). God will preserve His people, as He did in the Old Covenant. He will preserve those of us who are now joined to Him in the New Covenant. Find your place in the ark, ever ancient and yet new.

This video of psalm 121 is sung in an ancient language and manner, but its message is still current:

I lift mine eyes to the Mountains from whence cometh my help (Psalm 121).

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Should This Baby Be Aborted? You Decide

September 13, 2017

In the United States, there are many situations in which abortions are recommended, even encouraged by family, counselors, medical personnel and even religious advisors. Sometimes an abortion is recommended because of difficult circumstances and other times simply for convenience. Here are four cases for you to consider. Should these babies be aborted? You decide! Four […]

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One of My Most Valued Possessions

July 3, 2017

It is the 4th of July and Janet and I are sitting in an airport in Tel Aviv Israel. We were just in Egypt two days ago and were so happy to get back through security into Israel heading back home to America. One of my most valued possessions enables us to travel through all […]

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Trump Body Slams CNN

July 3, 2017

The Left has no sense of humor or perspective. When leftists practice real violence (black hoods, beatings and all) there is no sense of outrage or condemnation.  But when there’s a humorous tweet there’s all kinds of condemnation and outrage, huffing, puffing and sputtering. Most Americans know exactly what Trump’s tweet was saying. Only the […]

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Why I Like Thomas Williams and Breitbart News

June 8, 2017

Yeah, I know it gets a bad rap in the local “Main Street Media” but if you shake off their bias and take a closer look it’s a pretty good place to find out what’s really going on. My friend Thomas Williams is the Rome correspondent and I have nothing but respect for this guy.

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What a Shot Off Our Porch on Memorial Day

May 29, 2017

God bless America and thanks to all of those brave and heroic men and women who have made our freedom possible. May God richly bless them and their families. I love being an American!

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What is Wrong with this Picture? What is Missing? Is this the “New Normal”?

May 26, 2017

This magazine arrives in our mailbox four times a year; not because we subscribe but because we live in this community. We never sent our kids to public schools, choosing rather to educate them at home. When I grabbed the mail and walked back to the house I had not even reached the front door […]

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Dr. Peter Kreeft is the Devil: Advising How to Win the World!

April 23, 2017

What a delightfully fun hour of wit and wisdom! If you have two brain cells that connect and wish to understand God and the world — and if you aren’t afraid of the truth and talk about sex — you will LOVE this. If you aren’t politically correct about atheism and Islam and other such […]

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Can’t Believe I Agree with the Looney Women on The View!!

April 21, 2017

Ann Coulter is a conservative and a Christian. She was invited to speak at Berkeley University in California and the liberal left are going crazy. They protested to the point where the University rescinded her invitation. And Coulter is not one to back down and said she’ll be there anyway. Bravo! The battle lines are […]

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I’m thinking we are wrong about Assad and Syria…

April 8, 2017

My recent Tweets: I’m thinking we were wrong about Syria, who used the gas and President Assad. Why was attack launched before full investigation? What did Assad have to gain? Why do local Christians support Assad? Too many questions. Bishop of Jerusalem told me USA was wrong and Russia right in regard to Syria. The […]

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Top Obama Adviser Susan Rice Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel

April 3, 2017

Multiple sources tell Fox News that Susan Rice, former national security adviser under then-President Barack Obama, requested to unmask the names of Trump transition officials caught up in surveillance. The unmasked names, of people associated with Donald Trump, were then sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director […]

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Is Islam a Religion of Peace? A Profound Short Video from a Brilliant Muslim Women!

March 30, 2017

I suggest everyone listen/watch this short video. She puts it all in perspective in a few minutes. Pass this on to others. We need to wake up!

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Taken for Ride? Islam and Religious Liberty

March 28, 2017

Americans better start paying attention to the issue of Islam staking it’s claim in the USA with new mosques popping up in very unlikely places. Is Islam a religion or a political agenda or a hybrid? Crisis Magazine has given us a good article that should wake us up. Taken for a Ride? Islam and […]

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In the 1850’s – “Pro-slavery” or “Pro-Choice”?

March 20, 2017

“Many in the 1850’s also considered themselves “pro-choice” rather than “pro-slavery”. History repeats itself…”  (Obianuju Ekeocha  Twitter@obianuju) In other words, I am personally against slavery, but I think people (or the states) should have the freedom to choose.

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