We'll Always Have Paris–Or Will We?

“You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.” from Casablanca.
In 1942, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, and Paul Heinreid starred in Casablanca, the classic film about a love triangle. Ilsa, played by Bergman, is married to Victor Laszlo (Heinreid), but she thinks he’s dead. Rick (Bogart) and Ilsa fall in love, but then Ilsa finds out Victor isn’t dead after all.
By chance, they all meet in Nazi occupied Casablanca where Rick owns a bar. Laszlo is a highly sought after fugitive. The Nazis hope to capture him to squelch his effectiveness as a resister.
At the end (spoiler alert!), Rick decides to engage in resistance on his own and convinces Ilsa to escape with Victor while they can.
“I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.” Continue reading “We'll Always Have Paris–Or Will We?”

Sheepdogs and Guardians: Carrying Veterans' Day Beyond November 11

When my first son was born, I was worried that there would be a war when he grew up and he would have to fight in it. He was sandwiched between two sisters; two more brothers followed them. When the youngest boys were born, thoughts of war were far from my mind.
Of my five children, it was those youngest two sons who became soldiers.
I can’t do most war movies anymore. Oh, there are the ones I remember from my childhood and from my children’s childhoods–The Great Escape, Patton, Glory, and Gettysburg. Classics of great heroism that tell stories that meant so much to my father–a World War II navy veteran and history buff. Those movies were all made before my sons became soldiers. Continue reading “Sheepdogs and Guardians: Carrying Veterans' Day Beyond November 11”

BLOGPOST: Patchwork Church: A Gift to the World

Several years ago, my daughter asked me to restore a quilt that her husband’s grandmother had crafted decades earlier. She wanted her daughter to have a quilt that her great-grandmother made and her grandmother restored. Since I have two granddaughters, I searched my favorite antique store and found another quilt in good shape and set to work on both of them.
I hope to present both girls with their quilts this Christmas. The most fun part of this project was collecting fabric scraps that represent our family. There are pieces from my wedding dress, pieces from army uniforms their uncles wore when they deployed to the Middle East, pieces from dresses I made for the girls, including fabric I bought during a mission trip to Asia. Continue reading “BLOGPOST: Patchwork Church: A Gift to the World”

A Letter from Licentia

My name is Licentia. It means free love, but I am anything but free. I was an embryo of an idea in Eden and have been born and reborn many times throughout history. My most recent manifestation began in the Western Civilization of the 1960s. That’s when it actually became easy to ward off the consequences of my embrace–or so the people of the day took as gospel–and still do.
“I am harmless,” I preach. “I bring you only pleasure and never pain.” Because of their innate innocence and trust, and because of their desire, they believe me. Continue reading “A Letter from Licentia”

Heaven on Earth, But Not in Heaven Yet

Last evening, my family gathered to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. Saturday afternoon, I pulled out the little cookbook, the one nearly as old as she is with that pumpkin cupcake recipe that has come to mark her special day. The book fell open to that page. Stains from other years mark decades of use.
I thought of times I had made these cupcakes for school parties, church events, and these family gatherings. It’s a recipe with chocolate chips mixed in. When they’re done, I coat them in store-bought icing with added red and yellow food coloring to make orange. When they were small, the children were convinced that the color somehow added flavor. Perhaps it is the savor of tradition and memory. Continue reading “Heaven on Earth, But Not in Heaven Yet”

Shining Light on the Long, Dark March

“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” Acts 17:6 ESV
As I teach rhetoric classes, it amazes me how much more I have to explain every year. College students know little or nothing of America’s founders. For nearly every speech or book we read, I have to provide more and more background information because they don’t know basic history. Who Patrick Henry was. What happened at the Alamo. How Neville Chamberlain appeased Hitler and fantasized that he had secured “peace for our time.” Continue reading “Shining Light on the Long, Dark March”

Christian Transparency: The Key to Healing Hearts

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NASB).
Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer is the story of a white girl growing up in South Africa during Apartheid. Rosa Burger’s parents are arrested for their anti-Apartheid activities, leaving their young daughter in the care of less sympathetic “Christian” relatives. Her aunt’s biggest concern when Rosa attended church is that the girl have an appropriate hat. The church community fails to connect with Rosa.
Gordimer presents a church striving to look good on the outside, but malicious on the inside. The church doesn’t care about those oppressed by institutional racism; it doesn’t care about little girls whose families injustice has destroyed. It cares about hats. Continue reading “Christian Transparency: The Key to Healing Hearts”

Pernicious Porn Plagues the Church Too

Last week, I invited my high school English students to select the technology they thought was most important. If they could choose only one, would they choose the printing press, the automobile, or electricity?
I was a bit surprised that, among a group of new drivers or soon to be new drivers, no one selected the car. And to my disappointment, not many of them selected the printing press either. Even so, some of their arguments for choosing electricity were sound: medical advances, food preservation and storage, ease of access to useful information.
Continue reading “Pernicious Porn Plagues the Church Too”

ISIS, Rome, and the Whore of Babylon

I remember the moment it dawned on me. It was probably 20 years ago or more. I was sitting in church on a Sunday evening. The missionary to Germany was showing slides, German culture, German people, ministry in Germany. And then he said it.
“Islam is the fastest growing religion in Germany.”
It was really more like hitting a wall than experiencing a dawning. It struck through my being.
Catholicism is not the Whore of Babylon. Islam is.  If Islam were growing in Germany, it would also be growing all over Europe, which includes Italy, which includes Rome.
I come from a Christian tradition where, especially 20 or so years ago, this revelation would have met with disdain. I suppose that most people who have grown up steeped in the idea that someday Rome in the form of Catholicism would be the great false church of Revelation would find my idea ridiculous at the least and unbiblical at its worst.
But this week, Dale Hurd of CBN News is reporting that ISIS has formulated a plan to take over Rome and establish the apocalyptic Islamic state. The goal is to bring about Armageddon–to fulfill, not Christian prophecy, but Islamic prophecy. Continue reading “ISIS, Rome, and the Whore of Babylon”

Picking the Right Fight and Fighting the Right Way

When my brother and I were young, my mother was frequently astonished at our capacity for what she called “bickering”. As a young mother, I discovered sibling rivalry from the other side. I see it in my grandchildren now too.
I tell them, “When you grow up, he (or she) will be your best friend.”
But I go back to my mother’s apparent surprise at our battles. I really don’t think she fought as much with her brother as I did with mine. Perhaps it was that she grew up during the Great Depression. Perhaps the turmoil of those days brought greater peace within her family.
Christians are always engaged in battle. So it has been since the Day of Pentecost. Today, we fight on many fronts. What looks most like a war is the conflict between East and West, what radical Islam perceives to be a battle against a decadent Christian nation, America. Continue reading “Picking the Right Fight and Fighting the Right Way”