“Well Done, Thou Good and Faithful Servant”

I fervently believe that Charles Colson is hearing these words right now, spoken to him by his Lord and Savior.

As you may have heard, Chuck Colson, fell asleep in the Lord over the weekend. He was a great warrior for Christ and his conversion was marked by deep repentance that included going into the worst prisons and ministering to the worst of prisoners. His fame and success drew worldwide acclaim. The Russian Orthodox Church invited him to come to Russia to train them in prison ministry.

He certainly had his critics, especially on the political Left (and especially from those ministers whose denominations have no prison ministries). Did he have a 100% success rate? No, of course not. But Christ used him to turn around the lives of thousands of prisoners. The simple fact that he went into these places where no sane man would venture spoke volumes about the depth of his repentance.

Well done, Chuck. Go and receive your reward.

Source: Chuck Colson and the Acton Institute.

Speaking of the time he spent in prison for his role in the Watergate scandal, Chuck Colson said: “I couldn’t have made it without Christ in my life, I know that. But I couldn’t have made it if there wasn’t in the back of my mind a belief that God had a purpose for this.”

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Comments

  1. Carl Kraeff says:

    He was one of my heroes, in the sense that while once he was blindly partisan, once he committed himself to Christ, he worked on his salvation by ministering to those in prisons and by no longer being a partisan functionary. May his memory be eternal.

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  2. StephenD says:

    He did excellent work and Orthodox Prison Ministry's could learn from him. I heard him speak once and he was very contrite about his life before he was incarcerated. May his memory be eternal.

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  3. This commentary was occasioned by Colson's passing, posted on Facebook:

    All-Merciful Saviour Orthodox Christian Monastery
    23 hours ago

    Politicizing the Gospel
    The Gospel of Christ, and Politics

    It is deeply disturbing to me to have witnessed the politicizing of Christianity in this nation. The conjoining of politics and faith have led to a polarization of our nation that has not been seen since just prior to the Civil War. In our having politicized Christianity, we've reduced the Gospel of Christ to a battle between political and social issues that have alienated many from the ultimate message of Christ, that we are in need of redemption, and that repentance and conversion of heart are to become the priority of each and every one of us.

    By insisting that we are still a Christian nation, we've allowed a polarization to take place that has pushed Christianity to the brink, having linked values, and moral teachings that are based on the Gospels, while the world around us has become jaded, even hostile, to whatever the Church has to say. Thus, the primary message of the Gospel is dismissed, before people can even be brought through the door of our temples.

    Today's youth are leaving Christianity in droves, as has been demonstrated in the demographics of America's "Bible Belt". The number of young people, even in the conservative South, who are giving birth out of wedlock, or having abortions, has skyrocketed. The support of civil marriage for same sex partners, has increased dramatically. These moral issues are of course a concern for Christians, but our acceptance of the moral standards set forth in the Scriptures, are received by us, not as law, but as a result of our personal encounter with Christ. Legislative action ignores the fact that Christ changes the heart, and a society that is to be transformed, must see this transformation take place in the hearts of its people. For we Christians to foist our beliefs upon the nation, only creates resentment, and Christophobia.

    Society must be transformed, but it can not be done by force of law. It must be done by bringing Christ to the center of our national scene. This can only be done when Christian love and charity rule, and when the nation can see in it's Christian peoples, an honesty of heart, and a authentic witness to Christ, that is not based on an angry polarization that contributes nothing but distrust, and disunity.

    Chuck Colson, who was one of President Nixon's Watergate people, and who, during his incarceration in prison, converted to Christ, said: “We made a big mistake in the ’80s by politicizing the Gospel … We [thought] that we could solve the deteriorating moral state of our culture by electing good guys. That’s nonsense. Now people are kind of realizing it was a mistake." Change must begin with us, not with our society. Laws will not make this a Christian nation, for many of these very laws some politicians would enact, are also the basis of Islamic law. Biblical morality can only become an integral part of our nation, when we, as a people, have taken Christ into our hearts, and allowed the Holy Spirit to change us.

    As Christians, we must not detract from the central message of the Gospels, by making it appear to be a part of one political party. To do so, will eventually lead to the total discrediting of the institution of the Church. History has proven, time and again, that the Church must remain aloof from political parties, or movements, for when the party is out of office, so is the Church's influence. Christianizing of a nation can not be the result of legislation. It must come with the conversion of its people.

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    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Politically ignorant, and pretentiously pious, nonsense. Ever since Westerners began sorting themselves left and right, those who have hated Christ and His Church have congregated on the left to war against the Gospel by political means, such that today the party of the Left is the party of secularism, nihilism, and perversion. Christians who assume the moral equivalence of left and right aren't paying attention, and monks who complain selectively about conservative Christians in politics betray their own leftist bias.

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    • Patrick Henry Reardon says:

      What a bunch of pious rot.!

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    • Geo Michalopulos says:

      You know, it'd be better if for a man if he doesn't really believe in the Gospel to just go the full Richard Dawkins and be done with it. The above kind of sophistry is specious nonsense.

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    • Was there an actual author of this pseudo-pious orthospeak nonsense or did it spontaneously materialize out of the nether regions of the ether?

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    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      Specious nonsense. Read my article: Orthodox Leadership in a Brave New World.

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      • StephenD says:

        what if your article turns out to be specious nonsense too?

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        • Geo Michalopulos says:

          That's an easy one, Stephen. Usually the specious, airy stuff is forgotten in time. Things that are substantive, like Colson's ministry, the abolition of the slave trade, the Salvation Army, those endure. Pietistic finger-wagging is mercifully forgotten.

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        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

          Read it first. The problem with the article that was posted is that is assumes that the association between religion and a political party is the only way that religion informs culture in order to construct a case against religious involvement in political questions. It is superficial and leads only in the end to the nonsense we saw on HuffPo a few months back where an Orthodox Christian declared that the Church has no interest in how the state legislates on gay marriage because marriage outside of the Church doesn't count as a real marriage anyway. It's pietism, pure and simple. (This author has been called on to defend his piece in an upcoming Ancient Faith Today broadcast, BTW.)

          In my article I discuss why moral issues necessarily take on a political character in the American way of adjudicating moral questions and why this system also provides certain safeguards against tyranny.

          BTW, my article was just accepted for inclusion on a site run by the monks of Vatopedi on Athos.

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    • If you read the top of the piece you'd see where it originated.

      All-Merciful Saviour Orthodox Christian Monastery is under the omophore of The Rt. Rev. Bishop Theodosy of Seattle, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

      Their website is http://www.vashonmonks.com/

      You might try to get a grip before your knee-jerk disdain for all who disagree with your politics destroys you.

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    • I would be interested in what the author of the commentary thought Christians should have said or done in WWII Germany. It is said that one Lutheran church, within earshot of a concentration camp and actually hearing screaming, simply sang their hymns louder. I dare say most Christians believe men of good will have an obligation to at least do what they can (usually only speak the truth in love), and most Christians would like to think they would have at least said or done something, in the face of such injustice. What would this author say should have been done to protect the innocent, to defend the weak and vulnerable, to stand for justice? Keep in mind, we're not talking about hermits, or even isolated monks, but parishioners and priests and bishops. Proverbs 24:10-12 says, "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not requite man according to his work?"

      The thing is, we are witnessing --and being forced to support-- the same holocaust today. Abortion has murdered over 54,000,000 innocent people --and continues to do so, staunchly aided by our president. So... if Christians were obligated by the Gospel of love to do what they could during the holocaust (pray, speak and act), then they are so required today.

      And what about religious freedom? We praise those Christians who have sacrificed to establish it, and we ourselves enjoy the fruits of their sacrifice, so... why should not Christians today defend it, wherever it is threatened? Chuck Colson's "Manhattan Declaration" did just that.

      Just those two questions of our commentary author: 1) In your opinion, what should Christians have said or done during the holocaust, and, 2) why shouldn't Christians speak out to defend religious liberty?

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      • I think, if you read the piece carefully (clearly no-one here has) the issue is not with taking a public stand but rather with endorsing a particular set of candidates and a political party.

        Chuck Colson, who was one of President Nixon’s Watergate people, and who, during his incarceration in prison, converted to Christ, said: “We made a big mistake in the ’80s by politicizing the Gospel … We [thought] that we could solve the deteriorating moral state of our culture by electing good guys. That’s nonsense. Now people are kind of realizing it was a mistake.”

        To your question, though, there's a very large difference between opposing laws that are bad and endorsing laws that are bad. Archbishop Iakovos marched in opposition to Jim Crow, not in favor of racial quotas.

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        • CQ, Christ is risen!

          First, let me express gratitude that you have agreed with the teachings of Christianity promoting "taking a public stand" against injustice. It is precisely that stand which Christians who speak in the public forum on moral issues seek to take, to protect the innocent and defend the vulnerable, as well as to inform and guide those willing to listen to what Christ has to say.

          Still, you have not answered the two questions posed: 1) In your opinion, what should Christians have said or done during the holocaust?, and, 2) Why shouldn’t Christians speak out to defend religious liberty?

          Your referring to a difference between opposing bad laws and endorsing bad laws seems to me to be avoiding both the questions posed and the issue at hand: Culturally-engaged Orthodox Christians speaking the truth in love to American society, including politicians whose legislation helps shape our culture.

          The original comment you posted did not speak of "endorsing a particular set of candidates," but this is typical abortionist criticism of a non-existent prolife position. What is endorsed by Christians is the sanctity of innocent human life. It is lamentable that one of the several major parties has made abortion part of its primary platform, forcing Christians to look elsewhere for supportable candidates. But again, what is opposed is abortion, not a political party, and what is supported are candidates who stand for the sanctity of life, regardless of political affiliation.

          The original comment you posted did speak of the "politicizing of Christianity." But you did not explain how defending children from being murdered politicized Christianity. Nor did you explain your fears about Christians fighting for the First Amendment freedom of religion. The Christian voice is needed everywhere, but especially in a democracy, where laws and government are "by the people." Again, in the face of the abortion holocaust, what in your opinion should Christians say/do?, and, why shouldn't Christians defend religious liberty?

          The original comment you posted equated a vilified but (conveniently) undefined cultural engagement with "reducing the Gospel to a battle between political and social issues." It is a sad fact that in the modern era, the most basic moral values, which affect all the citizenry, have unfortunately become politicized. One such issue is mass murder of the innocent, which is now legal in the United States. This politicalization of basic morality does not negate the Christian responsibility to defend the weak and vulnerable.

          No one I know of is saying the United States "is still a Christian nation," but rather, that our country was founded on Christian principles, and those Christian principles have contributed to the success of our nation, and, the increasing abandonment of those principles has and will contribute to its downfall, as well as contribute to the damnation of countless souls (which is our primary concern).

          The original comment you posted criticized "the conjoining of politics and faith," but this essential conjoining has always been a part of civilization --indeed, it is the basis of civilization. Morality is essential for any society to function. Otherwise, how would we justify adopting moral laws against bigamy, racism, cheating, stealing, lying, rape or murder? Abortion is no different, being the murder of the least and most vulnerable in society.

          Your original post says, "Society must be transformed, but it cannot be done by force of law." No Orthodox Christian would argue that what is essentially needed is repentance, beginning with ourselves. It is also true that we are not converted to Christ by any law. However, laws do establish a cultural morality, which can either assist the Gospel or thwart it. Indeed, many women today justify killing their own children on the basis of "it's legal, so it must not be that bad." Their resulting alienation from God, often unrecognized and undefined even within themselves, leads to an eternity apart from His forgiveness and love --not to mention the fathers, grandparents, and the rest of a society which condones the slaughter of babies. By abortionists' own statistics, child murder has gone from less than 500 a year to an average of 1,400,000 a year, all by the shear "force of law" (Roe v Wade).

          No matter how much our pride may protest, we are social creatures and we are influenced, toward good or toward evil, by those around us, including the laws which govern our culture. Law has always been the vehicle by which any society described its most cherished moral and ethical beliefs. "The Word” magazine explains, “Law reflects moral values in many ways. Protecting human life, especially in its weakest forms, is considered a mark of a civilized society.” As Peter Pappas aptly summarizes, "The only way to make abortion an issue of private morality is to make murder an issue of private morality... The social issue of abortion calls into question what kind of community is or is not to be promoted by the state, and what behaviors are or are not appropriate for people." Part of the hope of Christians defending the sanctity of life is, that in influencing society toward the good, we are contributing to what Pope John Paul II called "a culture of life," which assists the Gospel by being an environment conducive to sane moral reasoning and reality.

          None of your comments negate the Orthodox Christian responsibility, because we love our neighbor, to support those things that are clearly good for all, and oppose those things that are clearly bad for all, as enlighted to the good and bad by the teaching of the Church, which we believe is the truth for all. The U.S. Constitution recognizes the basis of this principle, giving Congress the authority “to define and punish...offenses against the Law of Nations,” meaning universal moral standards of civilization (or “Natural Law”). Abortion being the slaughter of the innocent, it is primary and worthy of the strongest condemnation from those who care about anyone involved: child, mother, father, grandparents, siblings, neighbors, and society-at-large.

          Chuck Colson's ministry and his "Manhattan Declaration" sought to speak to the conscience of society, to reason with those who "have ears to hear," and fight injustices against preborn children, the eldery, marriage, and religious liberty.

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          • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

            Chuck Colson’s ministry and his “Manhattan Declaration” sought to speak to the conscience of society, to reason with those who “have ears to hear,” and fight injustices against preborn children, the eldery, marriage, and religious liberty.

            It sure did, but it also does one thing more: It affirms that if we are ever compelled to participate in those injustices may require civil disobedience.

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            • Michael Bauman says:

              Fr. Hans, so tenative. Where is your usual boldness? May require civil disobediance? We are already being compelled to participate in those injustices because our elected leaders either do nothing or prusue policies that advance abortion, euthanasia, the destruction of marriage and the religious liberty of Christians.

              Why has civil disobedience not already begun? If it is to start now, where is it going to come from? From those desiring the favor of the fascist elite (both parties) that now run our country with our willing acquiesence? Those who are beholden to the federal government for their basic life needs (increasingly expanding)? Those who can be easily squashed economically by onerous federal regulation (like family farmers). Our many compromised bishops; co-dependent clergy; pandering laity or the gnositc hedonists masquerading as monks? (There are, of course, genuinely faithful Christians in each of the categories. I know many of them but their voice is not loud and not likely to be as the troubles in all of our jurisdictions demonstrate).

              There will not be enough civil disobedience to change anything. There will be martyrs known only to God because I guarantee the media will say nothing about them. However, it is their blood and holiness which will ultimately allow the triumph of Christ over death to be more completely realized, understood and followed even if in secret.

              Besides what does civil disobedience really mean or accomplish? The occupy people were practicing civil disobedience--they quickly degenerated into a squalid mob. There was a great deal of civil disobediance around the abortuary of the late Dr. Tiller but it took a mad gunman invading the Luthern Church right across the street from our Orthodox Cathedral to stop abortion in my city. His murder is a testimony to the failure of the Church.

              No, the Church is not called to civil disobedience but to prophetic witness. There is a big difference: the difference between the mob calling for Christ's Crucifixion and St. Peter standing before the people and the rulers and expounding the truth. It is not about changing anything. It is about standing and saying NO MORE and showing the true way. It is about holding our own people to the moral, spiritual and ecclesial tradtion of the Church most of all. No more winking at the divorces, seuxal immorality, abortions, corruption, greed, racism and phylitism of our own people. No more selling our birth-right for the pottage of political adulation by the 'correct' people in power.

              No more Orthodox politicians, lay or clergy, who support, encourage or refuse to condemn abortion; who support the social normalization of extra marital sex of any kind; who support or allow the reality of marriage to be desecrated; who turn the poor away from our doors; etc, etc, etc. No more quietism in the guise of humility when it is nothing more than fear, apathy and complacency.

              That means applying spiritual discpline; that means calling all to repentance for the beliefs we hold and the actions we take based on those beliefs from our culture that are antithetical to the life in Christ; that means taking the spiritual practice of the Church much more seriously. We must unflinchingly allow the light of Christ to shine on the darkness of sin, especially those sins in our own hearts rather than allowing the nilhistic sophistry of the world to be our refuge.

              As Romans 1 tells us, we know the truth about God and our interrelationship with HIm, we mostly refuse to acknowledge it. It is not difficult to see where the boundaries are, it only becomes difficult when we allow our worshipful hearts to be directed to the created things, rather than to God alone: an affliction from which we all suffer (with the possible exception of the saints). I'm afraid the idea of civil disobediance is a poor earthly substitue for marytrdom; akin to the Pharsiees who made a big display of their sanctity by wearing wide phylactries in the marketplace and smudging their faces when they were fasting.

              There will be schism much like occured in the Soviet Union for much the same reason. The seeds of that schism are already sown and the shoots of it are showing above the ground.

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              • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                Right you are Michael. Let me take the ambiguity out of it:

                It affirms that if we are ever compelled to participate in those injustices may require the kind of resistance that will land us in jail.

                And I am going to repeat what you wrote because it bears repeating (although prophetic witness just might land you in the slammer if the cult of political correctness grows and morphs into political tyranny):

                No, the Church is not called to civil disobedience but to prophetic witness. There is a big difference: the difference between the mob calling for Christ’s Crucifixion and St. Peter standing before the people and the rulers and expounding the truth. It is not about changing anything. It is about standing and saying NO MORE and showing the true way. It is about holding our own people to the moral, spiritual and ecclesial tradtion of the Church most of all. No more winking at the divorces, seuxal immorality, abortions, corruption, greed, racism and phylitism of our own people. No more selling our birth-right for the pottage of political adulation by the ‘correct’ people in power.

                No more Orthodox politicians, lay or clergy, who support, encourage or refuse to condemn abortion; who support the social normalization of extra marital sex of any kind; who support or allow the reality of marriage to be desecrated; who turn the poor away from our doors; etc, etc, etc. No more quietism in the guise of humility when it is nothing more than fear, apathy and complacency.

                That means applying spiritual discpline; that means calling all to repentance for the beliefs we hold and the actions we take based on those beliefs from our culture that are antithetical to the life in Christ; that means taking the spiritual practice of the Church much more seriously. We must unflinchingly allow the light of Christ to shine on the darkness of sin, especially those sins in our own hearts rather than allowing the nilhistic sophistry of the world to be our refuge.

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              • M. Stankovich says:

                Mr. Bauman,

                It crosses my mind as to what you heard during the Gospel readings of the first three days of Holy Week, and likewise what you consider the message of Mat. 10:5ff: "Do not imagine that I have come to bring peace on earth: I came not to bring peace, but a sword." (10:34) Somehow, these recent fora are filled with gross conjecture that a "return" to conservative thought, politics, social policy, and "religious views" will result in a societal return to justice, equity, parity, peace, and morality. Yet, the words on the lips of the Master speak of chaos and anarchy: "For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law--a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'" (10:36) St. Chrysostom indicates He is saying, "[it will be] far more grievous than a civil war... nature shall be divided against herself." And perhaps worst, Chrysostom notes the time will be likened to when

                there were prophets, and false prophets, and the people were divided, and families were in dissension; and some believed the one, and some the other. Wherefore the prophet admonishes, saying, "Trust not your friends, and have no hope in guides; even her that lies at your bosom, beware in respect to communicating anything to her. A man's enemies are the men that are in his own house." (Micah 7:5-6)

                Your thinking is customarily "black and white," and I cannot account for your anger; both are antithetical to the life in Christ.

                In my estimation, where one draws a line in the sand is as essential as the effort. First thought: avoid corners. Secondly, very few of us are called to be preachers, martyrs, evangelists, confessors, etc., but we are all called to make the Orthodox Faith "irresistible," provocative, and an eternal source of joy. And maybe, Mr. Bauman, that means quietly, diligently, militantly saving yourself, and by so doing, "hundreds around you will be saved." I see no one disparaged for doing just that.

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                • Michael Bauman says:

                  Mr. Stanovich, I put no truck in any political solution, I merely want the Church to be the Church, not some degraded dhimmi stump. The unholy placing of slavific content or hope on any political ideology or political person is just that, unholy. I dispise it as much in those who worship a false and twisted economic ideology they call capitalism as in those who use messianic language concering Obama or any other political/ideological leader. Such people trust in Caesar. the created thing and thus becoming idol worshipers

                  My anger, well, let's see, millions of abortions, muder of the innocents sanitized as choice, the desecration of marriage by those inside and outside the Church, the glorification of hedonism and the autonomous individual that destroys so many and degrades the common humanity of us all. These things are not fodder for rationlistic debate, they harm real people. They have harmed many people that I know, love and care for. That makes me a triffle disturbed but not angry in the sense that I think you mean it. I speak my mind such that it is. If it does not reach your level you are free to ignore it.

                  I am joyful during the Eucharistic celebration, the prayers I share with and for my family and friends, and in the contemplation of the generosity our Lord has shown me in my otherwise demented and willful life. I try to share that joy as often as possible with the folks around me. Somehow it has never entered my mind that I should be joyful about sin and its consequences so I also share what I discern about the evilness of this world and particular manifestations of that evil.

                  Yes, Christ is the answer, but what Christ? The Christ that the Church embodies or the Christ of the darkened rationalistic and dicotomous modern mind that seeks to justify as love anything that pleases us.

                  Sin is a term borrowed from archery. It means missing the mark. There is no gray area there. One either hits the center of the target or one does not. The only issue is what one needs to correct and to what extent in order to hit the mark. If that seems "black and white" to you and that somehow such is a bad thing, I feel sorry for you.

                  BTW: We are all called to be martyrs in the original sense of the word: witness. We all are witnesses. The question is whether we witness to the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of man.

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                  • M. Stankovich says:

                    And somehow I thought I could avoid the "goat-whipping..."

                    I used the example of St. Seraphim of Serov for a specific reason: in the best sense, he is our "contemporary," a time which Met. Anthony (Krapovitsky) has described as "far removed from the time of grace." The argument seems to be that we now are more sinful, more corrupted, and more outrageous than ever. This is academic conjecture and foolishness: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecc. 1:9) But I take St. Seraphim's message to mean that despite and in spite of the worst that humanity may offer literally surrounding us, a genuine peace & joy is a constant "Comforter" and assurance.

                    I try to live in the "greyness" of hope. I firmly believe that the Just Judge will deal with the abortion industry, with the unjust, with those who harm widows & children, etc. as He will. Yes, I believe that sin is a cosmic event, and so there is prayer and fasting (and the lesson of Nineveh). I want to believe in ἀποκατάστᾰσις - a belief held by St. Gregory of Nyssa, to whom I pray - a "cleansing fire" of a Merciful God; unfortunately, the later Fathers rejected this concept. For unknown reasons I find myself walking among the most despised of humanity (and rightfully so), and somehow God continues to allow me feel hope for them. And I hope for me.

                    I don't know if you are a singer, Mr. Bauman, but the Pascha Canon is quite profound in declaring, "Today, all things are made new: heaven, the earth, and the regions under the earth. For Christ is risen as all-powerful!" Personally, I always feel better when I actually sing it.

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                    • Anna Rowe says:

                      M.,
                      Христос Воскресe!

                      Oh yes, the Pascha Canon is truly joy. To me the grey area also includes forgiveness. I agree with Ecc. 1:9...perhaps we are less prepared to deal with sin.

                      As for the "goat whipping" ...you shoudl know by now it's the standard.

                      Anna

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                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                  M. Stankovich wrote:

                  ...but we are all called to make the Orthodox Faith “irresistible,” provocative, and an eternal source of joy.

                  I'm not so sure we can "make the Orthodox Faith 'irresistible,' provocative, and an eternal source of joy." The only One I know who can provide that is Christ. If we shift the focus from Christ to the "Orthodox Faith," particularly the dynamic elements that you outline here that flow only from Christ and nowhere else, we risk reducing the Orthodox Faith into an ideology (a closed, self-referencing system). The source of life is not the "Orthodox Faith." It is Christ.

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          • ForcedAnonymity:

            Indeed he is risen!

            Allow me to again fail to answer what are over-broad and under-detailed questions:

            1) In your opinion, what should Christians have said or done during the holocaust?

            Christians should have, and indeed very many did, pick up their cross and follow Christ to sacrifice themselves for even the least of their neighbors.

            2) Why shouldn’t Christians speak out to defend religious liberty?

            This seems to me to be a "when did you stop beating your wife" question. It assumes facts not in evidence, and so I'll not play, sorry.

            To the rest of your post:

            The Orthodoxy that transformed the western world was the compassionate and self-sacrificing way of Christ. It was the way of martyrdom.

            It was not the way of political and public opposition to the Judean People's Front and support for the People's Front of Judea, or publicly declared hatred for the Romans and the Judean Popular People's Front, or loudly decrying the Popular Front of Judea as splitters!

            But I digress (hopefully humorously so...)

            For 40 years we've had a pro-life movement that stokes outrage and anger to fight murder. For longer than that heretics have attempted to drive people to goodness using the power of fear by standing in the public square and proclaiming the bad news of damnation. Fear and anger are not from God, and the results of those methodologies have not been blessed by God.

            None of your comments negate the Orthodox Christian responsibility, because we love our neighbor, to support those things that are clearly good for all, and oppose those things that are clearly bad for all, as enlighted to the good and bad by the teaching of the Church, which we believe is the truth for all.

            That's correct. So why are people pretending otherwise?

            The task of the Christian is to embrace his or her martyrdom, to pick up his or her cross and follow Christ to Golgotha. Each person's cross is unique, but it's hardly private any more than Christ's cross was suffered in private.

            I'll leave you with this: The three young men were unafraid of martyrdom. The victory they won over a corrupt political system was greater than had they bribed officials and been hidden away, or gotten a waiver, or even repealed the blasphemous command that they worship the idol. We sing of them not because they were politically successful, but because they were faithful and God blessed their faithfulness. Throughout our scriptures the examples abound, but we prefer to embrace corruption rather than martyrdom. It's easier, and doesn't singe the clothing. ;-)

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            • CQ, you are indeed failing to answer my questions, which do give you ample opportunity for specific response.

              The Orthodoxy that transformed the world certainly was "the compassionate and self-sacrificing way of Christ." However, this Orthodoxy, our Faith, essentially included speaking out against sin in the world. Many of the martyrs you generally refer to stood up to governors and emperors to charge them with sin. Think of St Stephen the First Martyr, or the holy Prophets, or St Peter's Pentecostal sermon. Perhaps the most famous example would be St John the Baptist, who was imprisoned and martyred, not because he lived a compassionate and self-sacrificing life (which he, of course, did), but because he repeatedly and publicly exposed the adultery and incest of King Herod. Other examples abound of Orthodox Christians being canonized because they spoke out in the public square against societal sin.

              If your understanding of the prolife movement is that it only "stokes outrage and anger," your information is unbalanced. The prolife movement does decry the brutal slayings of 54,000,000 innocent human beings (over one billion worldwide), appropriately so, and the prolife movement does seek to use the democratic process to change unjust laws, but the two foremost activities of the prolife movement have always been to 1) help women in crisis pregnancies materially and spiritually, and to 2) inform women and the public on the very real development of children in the womb (that babies have a heartbeat at 6 1/2 weeks; brainwaves at six weeks; fingerprints at 14 weeks; feel pain well before 20 weeks --biologically at nine weeks, etc.) The point being, medical science proves this is a person, not a blob of tissue.

              We do not use "the power of fear," as you state, except perhaps issuing the very real warning that the nation which kills its own children will be judged by God. This is simply telling the truth. Your conclusions that "fear and anger are not from God," if by that you mean in an absolute sense, is wrong. Fear, the fear of God --which includes fear of sinning against Him-- is the beginning of Godly wisdom; the book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus Himself was heard by God the Father "because of His Godly fear." And anger, properly utilized, is not only from God but works for our personal and collective good --it is proper and right and Godly to be angry at grave injustice (and the opposite, to be apathetic or passive, is ungodly); again, the Bible speaks of Jesus' anger --very vocal, public anger-- at the Scribes, Pharasees, Sadducees, and Temple Moneychangers.

              Invoking Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego does not help your case: besides the fact that they were under foreign domination and not in a modern democracy, they did precisely what you refuse to admit is a Christian's responsibility: civil disobedience. They very publicly and very boldly and very vocally refused to obey the law, because the law was evil. In modern terms, they not only signed the "Manhattan Declaration," but they paid for it with their blood.

              Finally, thank you for admitting that "none of your comments negate the Orthodox Christian responsibility, because we love our neighbor, to support those things that are clearly good for all, and oppose those things that are clearly bad for all, as enlightened to the good and bad by the teaching of the Church, which we believe is the truth for all." Essentially, you are conceding that Orthodox Christians should engage the culture, which is what Chuck Colson was doing, as well as caring for and visiting and evangelizing prisoners. Seems to me, his life's work was very balanced.

              In the end, my questions, which I believe have import regarding your commentary advising a spiritualized passivity, remain:
              1) In your opinion, what should Christians have said or done during the holocaust?, and,
              2) Why shouldn’t Christians speak out to defend religious liberty?

              +

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              • CQ, I think the brief article below shares the idea behind my questions to you much better than I could. I'm still looking forward to your answers.

                Eric Metaxis: "In a 1934 meeting with Adolph Hitler, the great pastor Martin Niemoller naively still believed that Hitler would respect the Church's place in Germany. But when he offered some thoughtful advice, Hitler snapped: "I'll take care of the Third Reich, you just worry about your sermons!" Hitler wanted to severely limit the activities of Christians to the merely "religious" sphere; and he knew that if he commanded all other spheres in German life, what these annoying pastors said in their sermons wouldn't matter anyway.

                Dietrich Bonhoeffer, however, understood the proper roles of the church and the state, and he recognized the Nazi threat to religious liberty from the beginning. He understood what the Dutch statesman Abraham Kuyper once said, that there is not one square inch of creation over which Jesus Christ does not say: "Mine!" The Nazis wanted to bully Christians into accepting a place of such diminished stature in the culture that they had no real voice. But whenever the Nazis trespassed on God's property, as it were, Bonhoeffer met the challenge. He drew a line in the sand and then passionately rallied his fellow Christians to stand with him on that line, to defend it at all costs.

                Most famously -- in what came to be known as the "Aryan Paragraph" -- the Nazis made laws barring ethnically Jewish Christians from church ministry, and Bonhoeffer spoke out. He knew that the Church of Jesus Christ could not be divided along racial lines. Most other Christians were not so bold, though. They thought they might go along with this idea, in the interests of continuing to preach the Gospel. Bonhoeffer knew that preaching the Gospel under such circumstances was not preaching the Gospel at all.

                But while Bonhoeffer was trying to wake up the German Church to stand boldly and decisively against the Nazis, another Christian was taking a different tack. Frank Buchman was a prominent American evangelical who headed up something called the Oxford Movement. He hoped to convert Hitler and the other top Nazis to the Christian faith, believing that this would solve everything.

                Bonhoeffer knew that Buchman's goal was laudable in principle, but in reality it was a fool's errand. Buchman failed to discern the times in which he was living. While he was trying to arrange lunches to talk with Himmler about Jesus, the very liberties that made it possible to preach the Gospel in Germany were brutally being kicked down the stairs and out the door.

                But Buchman's idea is alive and well in America today. One often hears Christians say that they don't want to get involved in political or cultural battles; they just want to "preach the Gospel." They think that by avoiding political and cultural battles they will retain the credibility necessary to be effective in preaching the Gospel.

                But according to Bonhoeffer, this is tragically mistaken. If your ability to speak the truth is itself under attack -- if you cannot say that certain sexual behavior is wrong, or that taking preborn life is wrong -- your ability to be a Christian is itself under attack. The Gospel you will be preaching has been fatally compromised.

                Bonhoeffer struggled to get his fellow Christians to see that if one didn't stand up for religious freedom, every possibility to preach the true Gospel would soon be gone. Time and again he drew a line in the sand and tried to rally other Christians so stand with him and hold that line.

                The biggest, brightest line in the sand was something called the Barmen Declaration. The Nazis had infiltrated the church and were perverting its doctrines from within, so Bonhoeffer and Niemoller and other Christian leaders decided it was time to make a clear break with the Nazified "Reich Church." So they wrote the document that came to be called the Barmen Declaration. Anyone who signed on to it became a member of what was then known as the Confessing Church, the true Church in Germany, free from the interference of the Nazi State.

                Recently a group of U.S. Christian leaders felt that our own government had crossed a line and was overreaching its proper role with regard to the church: redefining marriage and forcing Christians to go along with pro-abortion policies, for example. These Christian leaders reckoned that the time to take a stand against this encroachment had come, so they drafted something called the Manhattan Declaration. Like the Barmen Declaration before it, the Manhattan Declaration is a line in the sand.

                I'm sure that Bonhoeffer would have stood with them, by signing it and by exhorting others to do the same. So I've signed it and I'm hereby exhorting you to sign it, too, if you haven't already. And I'm hoping you will exhort those in your circles to do the same. Won't you?

                www.manhattandeclaration.org

                And so, CQ, my questions, which I believe have import regarding your commentary advising a spiritualized passivity, remain:
                1) In your opinion, what should Christians have said or done during the holocaust?, and,
                2) Why shouldn’t Christians speak out to defend religious liberty?

                +

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  4. OK, let's put this in perspective. Colson was the evil genius behind Nixon the GOP. He was directly responsible for some of the worst, illegal activities against America and Americans ever. Watergate and Nixon's disgraceful resignation was just the tip of his criminal activity. He and Cheney read the same play book from their German masters in 1938. So, Colson was caught, put in prison and "finds Jesus." This gets his sentence cut short and in the history books, somewhat redeems him. Compare him to Saul/Paul if you like, but I believe his "finding Jesus" was more politically motivated and for the sake of posterity. Whatever, let God be the judge. Just wondering, could Joseph Goebbels have changed if imprisoned? Even after murdering his own family?

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    • OK, Diogenes, so lemme get this straight: Jesus forgave the thief on the cross right next to him. A man who murdered others. But you are questioning Colson's heart? Wow.

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    • R. Howell says:

      First you judge, then you say "let God be the judge."

      Colson converted to Christianity before he went to prison and before he was formally indcited. He was 42 years old, with a reasonable expectation of still having the majority of his adult life ahead of him. He served seven months in prison, then went on to spend nearly forty years in Christian ministry. Let God judge indeed.

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      • Patrick Henry Reardon says:

        R. Howell claims, "Colson converted to Christianity before he went to prison and before he was formally indicted."

        This is a matter of historical fact.

        It is unfortunate to hear the myth version---at this late date---being repeated by Diogenes.

        It is, also, distressing to read his comparison of Chuck Colson to Joseph Goebbels.

        This is probably our most egregious recent example of "argumentum ad Nazium."

        In the present case it is not only a logical fallacy; it is also a moral failing.

        As a friend of Chuck Colson, I am outraged by it.

        As far as I am able to discern, Jesus is a friend of Chuck Colson, too.

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        • Geo Michalopulos says:

          Surely you jest, Fr. Last I heard Jesus only loved malingerers and those think baby-killing OK. No Conservatives Need Apply.

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        • Amen Fr. Patrick! I have followed with great interest and admiration the works, writings, and ministry of Chuck Colson for many years. The lives he saved, the people he helped, and the work he did in the name of Christ confirm he was a real disciple of Jesus, one redeemed by the Lord and transformed into a beautiful light that shined through the remainder of his life and was reflected in the works that bore witness to his faith in the Lord. "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." (Matthew 7:18-20)

          Of course, to those in the grips of darkness, hatred, and delusion, that same light of Christ that shines and illumines others is a painful fire that burns and torments. Same light, different audience!

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    • Patrick Henry Reardon says:

      Diogenes says, "[Colson] and Cheney read the same play book from their German masters in 1938."

      This kind of comment summons a mighty contempt.

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      • Father, well said.

        It's fascinating getting to look into the random opinionating of one's fellow men (and women -- Helga, Jane, and others). At times, I think that a given person, say, James (made up person . . . any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental), is thoughtful, rational, and insightful. Then, upon reading other comments by James, I wonder how the man manages to brush his teeth in the morning.

        This is spectacularly true of certain Orthodox bloggers (well, one in particular). We share the same faith, many values, and a good deal of the same interests, but, good grief, when politics (secular or ecclesial) is mentioned, it's as if the person is taken over by some strange Marxist demon. Strange. Very strange.

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  5. Diogenes says:

    Nixon administration

    In 1968, Colson served as counsel to Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon's Key Issues Committee.[9]
    On November 6, 1969, Colson was appointed as Special Counsel to President Nixon.[9]
    Colson was responsible for inviting influential private special interest groups into the White House policy-making process and winning their support on specific issues. His office served as the President's political communications liaison with organized labor, veterans, farmers, conservationists, industrial organizations, citizen groups, and almost any organized lobbying group whose objectives were compatible with the administration's. Colson's staff broadened the White House lines of communication with organized constituencies by arranging presidential meetings and sending White House news releases of interest to the groups.[9]
    In addition to his liaison and political duties, Colson's responsibilities included: performing special assignments for the president, such as drafting legal briefs on particular issues, reviewing presidential appointments, and suggesting names for White House guest lists. His work also included major lobbying efforts on such issues as construction of an antiballistic missile system, the president's Vietnamization program, and the administration's revenue-sharing proposal.[9]
    Slate magazine writer David Plotz described Colson as "Richard Nixon's hard man, the 'evil genius' of an evil administration."[10] Colson has written that he was "valuable to the President ... because I was willing ... to be ruthless in getting things done".[11] This is perhaps complimentary when read in comparison to the descriptions of Colson which pepper the work of Rolling Stone National Affairs' Political Correspondent, Hunter S. Thompson during the period.
    Colson authored the 1971 memo listing Nixon's major political opponents, later known as Nixon's Enemies List. A quip that "Colson would walk over his own grandmother if necessary" mutated into claims in news stories that Colson had boasted that he would run over his own grandmother to re-elect Nixon.[11] In a February 13, 1973, conversation, Colson told Nixon that he had always had "a little prejudice."[12] Plotz reported that Colson sought to hire Teamsters thugs to beat up anti-war demonstrators.[10] Colson also proposed firebombing the Brookings Institution and stealing politically damaging documents while firefighters put the fire out.[13][14][15]
    Colson's voice, from archives from April 1969, is heard in the 2004 movie Going Upriver deprecating the anti-war efforts of John Kerry. Colson's orders were to "destroy the young demagogue before he becomes another Ralph Nader."[16][17] In a phone conversation with Nixon on April 28, 1971, Colson said, "This fellow Kerry that they had on last week...He turns out to be really quite a phony."[16][17]
    [edit]Watergate and Ellsberg scandals
    Colson also became involved in the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP or CREEP). At a CRP meeting on March 21, 1971, it was agreed to spend $250,000 on "intelligence gathering" on the Democratic Party. Colson and John Ehrlichman appointed E. Howard Hunt to the White House Special Operations Unit (the so-called "Plumbers") which had been organized to stop leaks in the Nixon administration. Hunt headed up the Plumbers' burglary of Pentagon Papers-leaker Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office in September 1971. The Pentagon Papers were military documents about the Vietnam War which helped increase opposition to the war. Colson hoped that revelations about Ellsberg could be used to discredit the anti-Vietnam War cause. Colson admitted to leaking information from Ellsberg's confidential FBI file to the press, but denied organizing Hunt's burglary of Ellsberg's office.[11] He expressed regret for attempting to cover up this incident in his 2005 book, The Good Life.[18]
    Although not discovered until several years after Nixon had resigned and Colson had finished serving his prison term, transcripts of a tape-recorded June 20, 1972 White House conversation between Nixon and Colson clearly show both men's early involvement in obstructing justice in the Watergate investigation.[19]
    On March 10, 1973, seventeen months before Nixon's resignation, Colson resigned from the White House to return to the private practice of law, as Senior Partner at the law firm of Colson and Shapiro, Washington, D.C.[20]
    On March 1, 1974, Colson was indicted for conspiring to cover up the Watergate burglary.[9]
    As Colson was facing arrest, his close friend, Raytheon Company chairman of the board Thomas L. Phillips, gave Colson a copy of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, which, after reading it, led Colson to become an evangelical Christian. Colson then joined a prayer group led by Douglas Coe and including Democratic Senator Harold Hughes, Republican congressman Al Quie and Democratic congressman Graham B. Purcell, Jr.. When news of the conversion emerged much later, several U.S. newspapers, as well as Newsweek, The Village Voice,[21] and Time, ridiculed the conversion, claiming that it was a ploy to reduce his sentence.[22] In his 1975 memoir Born Again.[23] Colson noted that a few writers published sympathetic stories, as in the case of a widely reprinted UPI article, "From Watergate to Inner Peace."[24]

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    • Jim Cole says:

      More and more I perceive that the biggest difference between Christians and their adversaries is that Christians believe in forgiveness and their adversaries don't. Diogenes illustrates the attitude of adversaries of Christians. No one can ever redeem himself or herself in the eyes of non-Christians. I hope Diogenes is not really one of them.

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  6. cynthia curran says:

    The south has higher out of birth rates than let's say even San Diego Ca because it has a lot of blacks. And by the way, San Diego out of wedlock births would be lower if it had the demographics like it did in 1960. Southern whites have less abortions than do hispanics in California or blacks in New York, Religion has nothing to do with it. In fact, the lowest out of wedlock births are in wealthy areas like a Beverly HIlls which votes Democratic and Newport Beach Ca which votes Republican because wealthy people have less kids out of wedlock, study Charles Murray. Also, towns with a lot of Asian folk like San Jose and Irvine California have less kids out of wedlock.

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    • Patrick Henry Reardon says:

      Cytnthia Curran writes, "Southern whites have less abortions than do hispanics in California or blacks in New York, Religion has nothing to do with it."

      Respectfully, dear, I doubt this. I know a lot of Southern whites.

      The relative paucity of abortion among Southern whites---on any hunch---must have something to do with the dominance of the Southern Baptists and other conservative churches.

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  7. cynthia curran says:

    What is everyone complaining about Nixon was one of the most liberal Republican politicans and the left basically hates him over Alger HIss, his enemies list and the bombings during the war. Nixon created the Epa and actually ended desegration in the south. Granted, Nixon had his old prejudics on blacks but he did more on the issue than Johnson. So, Colson supporting Nixon is not the worst thing, in fact Nixon even with Watergate had a cleaner record than St Justinian did who had henchmen like John of Cappadonia a rufft tax collector more cruel than any of Nixon's team in the watergate affair.

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  8. Valerie H. Protopapas:
    There are those who consider involvement in any secular (and especially political) situation as "unOrthodox," and that open defiance of societal polices somehow constitutes a "lack of humility." But a study of Christian history will show that the Church has always been on the cutting-edge of society especially where great ethical and moral issues were at stake. As the legal understanding of silence, both East and West (including Russia) is assent, the silence of the majority of the Faithful especially the clergy, both in the Church and the World has been a great evil. It has deprived the Faithful of clear and fixed guidelines for belief and behavior and the world of our unique witness to the Truth of Jesus Christ of which Orthodoxy alone is the repository. The Orthodox Church's relative silence during America's "slaughter of the innocents" is a black chapter in Her Apostolic Mission to the New World. Even worse, the result of that silence has been confusion and contention surrounding the issue within the Church Herself and when the "hard cases" become an added consideration, any application of oikonomia with respect to granting permission for an abortion becomes perilous.

    Finally, let us consider the witness of today's Orthodox hierarchs and priests in light of the words of the Blessed Tikhon of Zadonsk:
    "Sometimes a word of reproof must be spoken to all in general, and sometimes to some particular person. When reproof is gien in general, thenn one may speak strictly and sharply, that sinners listening might feel the lash of fear in their hearts, and so be wakened as from the sleep of sin. We see this in the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures...When people whomever they may be, commit iniquity and you know it openly, take extreme care not to be silent, but everywhere reprove their iniquity in your speech, lest you be like a dumb dog that does not bark when thieves break into a house and loot it, and wolves fall upon the flock and devour it. Stand firm, beloved, and show your pastoral work even though you must necessarily suffer. In this work, you have as your examples the prophets, apostles and luminaries of Christ who lived in times of old."

    Is there anyone who would seriously attempt to try to reconcile St. Tikhon's teaching with the rewards showered upon pro-abortion politicians and celebrities by one large jurisdiction within the Orthodox Church? Is it any wonder that it is extremely difficult to bring the pro-life message to Orthodox Faithful when they witness these honors being bestowed by that jurisdiction on individuals whose only Òclaim" to them is their ethnic heritage? Even where such scandal is not present, how does the silence emanating from the pulpits across this nation compare with the specific direction to 'not remain silent" that is found in the writings of a Saint who has been lauded to the skies by the very bishops and priests occupying those silent pulpits?

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    • Patrick Henry Reardon says:

      Thank you for this.

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      • You're welcome, Father. Thank YOU for speaking out and defending the truth. Valerie's entire article, "Abortion, Economia, and The 'Hard Cases'," well worth the read, is found at:

        http://www.oclife.org/files/articles/ABORTION_OIKONOMIA.wd6.pdf

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    • Amen, Amen, and Amen.

      If we don't tell the truth, who is remains as a witness? And If the shepherds are not clear in their direction, how will the sheep follow?

      There is widespread and tragic confusion among "the faithful" due to abysmal failure on the latter question as evidenced by many comments on Orthodox blog sites.

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    • Right now I'm thinking "The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus," Chapters V and VI specifically, and trying not to fall into the trap of "situational ethics."

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      Indeed. The GOA will never cease to beclown itself along these lines until it takes seriously the prophetic witness.

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  9. cynthia curran says:

    Well, George just read a Greek candidate for President of Greece that wants to eliminate illegal immirgation, Greece has a big problem and built a fence from what I heard. In France both politcal parties are shockingly talking about having less immirgation and encouraging some to return. The US even the Republican Party would be called racists.

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  10. My mind vacillates on the issues debated here. We ought to seek justice and to demand righteous laws, but at the same time, I'm sympathetic to what the monk wrote. In the last few years, I wrote this:

    Several years ago, I had a conversation with a German convert to Orthodoxy wherein she discussed her annoyance at the political activism of Roman Catholics. I objected by saying that we are supposed to be the leaven in society and to work for just laws. She did not deny that, but she found the political focus of Roman Catholicism disturbing as a sort of horizontal idolatry. She argued that when we are focused on Christ, everything else finds its proper priority. In hindsight, I think that she was right. Papists, Left and Right, tend to substitute their political ideology for their religion. Leftist papists interpret the gospel as “social justice,” and conservative papists invest an inordinate amount of energy into “building a culture of life.” I think that both camps might suffer starvation of transcendence. True Christian culture emanates from the Christian life, where we strive to follow God rather than lower goods and where we are gradually transformed through life in the Church into vessels of divine grace. Saint Seraphim famously said, “Acquire the spirit of peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved.” Similarly, the presence of Christian families living the life of Christ will transform their community and bring about positive social benefits. As good works flow from a grace filled life, so also true justice originates in the soul’s transformation by God.

    and this:

    I have come to suspect that the “natural law” approach to making the society less barbaric is mistaken. Many bishops think that we can “engage the culture” and leaven it by appealing to the natural rational faculty in men. I think that this is false hope and rather foolish. I cannot think of a time in history when philosophy was able to convert a society. There are too few rational people—too few philosophical people. Socrates makes a lot of good points in the Republic that people tend to overlook, and this is one of them. The many cannot be expected to entrust the truly wise and the truly virtuous with power. To do that, they would have to be already wise and virtuous, and they clearly are not.

    The gospel, by contrast, has a track record of converting whole peoples. I think that the bishops should face up to that fact. All the peace conferences and rational dialogue that they can muster will not do anything. For the vast majority of people, truth comes not in argumentation but in baptism. I do not delight in this opinion. I find it very disheartening. Yet, I wonder now if the bible beaters of my youth were correct, after all. Jesus is the answer. It is a rare case when natural reason can get a man even halfway there.

    Of course, I do not object to political and cultural engagement in themselves. I am just wary of accidentally developing a horizontal habit if too much of our time and resources goes toward "fighting for justice," whether of the real or false (i.e. "social") variety.

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  1. [...] but by someone.CitizenLink has compiled a list of Colson tributes from influential Christian voices.Monomakhos blog on Colson’s life on earth and in heaven.Robert Crosby of Patheos: “From Watergate to the [...]

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