Google pushing the ecumenical “co-exist”

Capture

I don’t usually pay too much attention to the cutesy illustrations used by Google on their web search page, but today’s ecumenical “Co-exist” graphic caught me eye.

At the risk of offending supporters of “The Shack” who defend the anti-Biblical notion that all religions are valid pathways to God, see my thoughts on the ecumenical “Co-exist” ideology here.

Advertisements

“The Zookeeper’s Wife” and complicated Polish-Jewish relations

ZKPR

 

I see that the film, “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” based upon the 2007 same-titled book by Diane Ackerman, will be opening at theaters today. The movie follows the true-life story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, a husband and wife team who ran the Warsaw Zoo and bravely hid hundreds of Jews from the Nazis during the German occupation of Poland.

When I walked away from the Lord for a very long “season,” I needed something to fill the void so I immersed myself in Polish and Polish-American history and culture (I’m 50% Polish, 38% German, and 12% Irish by ethnicity). I read a ton of books, joined some local and national organizations, and actually became pretty knowledgeable on the subject. After several years I became increasingly drawn to the controversial sub-topic of Polish-Jewish relations. If you’re even somewhat aware of Polish history and culture you know that relations between Poles and Jews are very strained with recriminations coming from both sides. I’ll try to very briefly give you some of the basics of this tense relationship.

Poland in the Middle Ages was an extreme example of feudalism. There was the nobility, the clergy, the peasantry and nobody else. The merchant/artisan class was springing up in other countries but Poland lagged behind. When the Jews were expelled from Western European nations in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Polish nobility invited them to immigrate to Poland to fill the void. Eventually, half of Europe’s Jews ended up residing in Poland. The Polish nobility relied on the Jews for their acumen in mercantilism and finance but the peasantry increasingly resented these “foreigners” who were often appointed as middlemen landlords and agents. The Roman Catholic clergy often incited resentment against the “Christ-killers.”

Beginning in the late-18th century, Poland was carved up by Prussia, Austro-Hungaria, and Russia and erased from the map, only to emerge again following World War I. Inter-war Poland was marked by increasing anti-Semitism. A severe brand of Catholic ethno-nationalism began sweeping the country to the point that Polish national leaders were exploring the possibilities of expulsing the Jews. The Polish ambassador to Germany met with Hitler in 1938 and promised the Fuhrer a monument in Warsaw if he could help resolve Poland’s “Jewish Question.”

But animosities were put on hold in September 1939 when Germany and Communist Russia staged a joint invasion of Poland and split the country in two. All Poles in the Western part of the country suffered under Nazi rule but the Jews would be targeted for total annihilation. In the East, some Jews who had become radicalized in response to Polish Catholic oppression welcomed the invading Red Army as liberators. In the minds of many Poles, all Jews subsequently became hated traitors. The myth of “Zhydo-kommuna,” Jewish communism, was born. When the German army drove the Soviets out of Eastern Poland in 1941, ethnic Poles began a bloody campaign of revenge against Jews, whether they had collaborated with the Soviets or not.

When Polish Jews were shipped en masse to the death camps by the Germans in 1942-43, most Catholic Poles kept a low profile but there were some who actively assisted the Nazis in rounding up Jews. Some capitalized on the Jews’ precarious circumstances via blackmail. But there were also some brave Poles who hid Jews from the Nazis, such as the Zabinskis, sometimes paying with their lives. The rescuers often feared their Polish-Catholic neighbors as much as they feared the Nazis.

Deeply ingrained in Polish national culture is the mythos of Poland as the “Christ of Europe,” mistreated by its aggressive neighbors but always noble and honorable itself. Tales of the rescuers as examples of Polish Catholic benevolence and sacrifice receive great publicity throughout the country and in the diaspora. But relatively recent research (Gross, Grabowski, Polonsky, etc.), which examines the virulent anti-Semitism of inter-war, wartime, and post-war Poland, is understandably less well received. Poles become extremely offended by any historical research that conflicts with their beloved mythos. Although there are very few Jews currently living in Poland, Jews in Israel and America are still resentful of how Jews were treated by Poles. Meanwhile, Poles still harbor negative feelings towards Jews for “Zhydo-kommuna.”

I’m looking forward to seeing “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and we should remember the Zabinskis, the other 6700 Poles recognized as rescuers by Yad Veshem, and all others who sacrificially rescued Jews during the Holocaust. But we are in the midst of another war; a spiritual war. As Christians, we need to reach out to a lost and dying world with the hope of the “Good News!” of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to be rescuers as well!

Rescue the Perishing by Fanny J. Crosby

Rescue the perishing,
Care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one,
Lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.

Chorus
Rescue the perishing,
Care for the dying;
Jesus is merciful,
Jesus will save.

Though they are slighting Him,
Still He is waiting,
Waiting the penitent child to receive;
Plead with them earnestly,
Plead with them gently;
He will forgive if they only believe.

Down in the human heart,
Crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart,
Wakened by kindness,
Chords that are broken will vibrate once more.

Rescue the perishing,
Duty demands it;
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way,
Patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.

Here’s some additional books that explore Polish-Jewish relations if anyone is interested:

  • Poland’s Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew From 1880 to the Present by Joanna B. Michlic
  • Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland by Jan Gross
  • Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz by Jan Gross
  • Golden Harvest: Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust by Jan Gross
  • Rethinking Poles and Jews: Troubled Past, Brighter Future by Robert Cherry
  • When Nationalism Began to Hate: Imagining Modern Politics in Nineteenth-Century Poland by Brian Porter
  • The Populist Radical Right in Poland: The Patriots by Rafal Pankowski
  • The Catholic Church and Antisemitism: Poland, 1933-1939 by Ronald E. Modras
  • Antisemitism and Its Opponents in Modern Poland by Robert Blobaum
  • The Crosses of Auschwitz: Nationalism and Religion in Post-Communist Poland by Genevieve Zubrzycki
  • No Way Out: The Politics of Polish Jewry, 1935-1939 by Emanuel Melzer
  • Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland: A Beleaguered Church in the Post-Reformation Era by Magda Teter
  • Imaginary Neighbors: Mediating Polish-Jewish Relations after the Holocaust by Dorota Glowacka
  • The Neighbors Respond: The Controversy Over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland by Antony Polonsky
  • Contested Memories: Poles and Jews during the Holocaust and Its Aftermath by Joshua D. Zimmerman
  • Secret City: The Hidden Jews of Warsaw, 1940-1945 by Gunnar S. Paulsson
  • Shtetl by Eva Hoffman
  • Bondage to the Dead: Poland and the Memory of the Holocaust by Michael C. Steinlauf
  • My Brother’s Keeper: Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust by Antony Polonsky
  • Polish-Jewish Relations During the Second World War by Emanuel Ringelblum
  • On the Edge of Destruction: Jews of Poland Between the Two World Wars by Celia Stopnicka Heller
  • The Convent at Auschwitz by Wladyslaw Bartoszewski
  • The Jews in Poland by Chimen Abramsky
  • Forced Out: The Fate of Polish Jewry in Communist Poland by Arthur J. Wolak
  • The Jews in Polish Culture by Aleksander Hertz
  • Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity, and Poland by Brian Porter
  • Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation by Magda Teter
  • From Assimilation to Anitsemitism: The “Jewish Question” in Poland, 1850-1914 by Theodore R. Weeks
  • The Jews of Poland Between Two World Wars by Yisrael Gutman
  • Economic origins of Antisemitism: Poland and Its Jews in the Early Modern Period by Hillel Levine
  • Memory Offended: The Auschwitz Convent Controversy by John K. Roth
  • In the Shadow of the Polish Eagle: The Poles, the Holocaust, and Beyond by Leo Cooper
  • Difficult Questions in Polish-Jewish Dialogue by Jacek Santorski
  • The Jews in Poland and Russia: Volume III: 1914 to 2008 by Antony Polonsky
  • Polish Politics in Transition: The Camp of National Unity and the Struggle for Power, 1935-1939 by Edward D. Wynot
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Poles on Jedwabne edited by William Brand
  • Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism in Twentieth-Century Poland by Mikolaj Stanislaw Kunicki
  • There Once Was A World: A 900-Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok by Yaffa Eliach
  • Symbiosis and Ambivalence: Poles and Jews in a Small Galacian Town by Rosa Lehmann
  • Holocaust and Memory by Barbara Engelking
  • Bystanders, Blackmailers, and Perpetrators: Polish Complicity During the Holocaust by Jacob A. Flaws
  • Studies on Polish Jewry, 1919-1939: The interplay of social, economic, and political factors in the struggle of a minority for its existence by Joshua A. Fishman
  • The House at Ujazdowskie 16: Jewish Families in Warsaw after the Holocaust by Karen Auerbach
  • Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German Occupied Poland by Jan Grabowski

“Church Hunters”: I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!

 

Remember when going to church meant dressing up, then going to a brightly sunlit church auditorium and singing some reverential hymns of praise to the Lord from the hymn book with Christian brothers and sisters before listening to the pastor preach a sermon from his Bible that pointed to sin and failings but was followed by messages of grace, forgiveness, encouragement, and empowerment in the Lord?

If you attend a church where that’s still the norm, you might not be aware of just how much things have changed elsewhere.

Following the Hybels/Warren/Drucker model, many churches are competing in the Sunday attendance numbers race by catering to the young, casual “seeker” with a “I’m on my way to dig a ditch” dress code, along with rock concert-style CCM music replete with light shows in a darkened auditorium, and a sermon that’s short on doctrine and sin and very long on cheery feelgoods from a pastor who sports the latest avant garde haircut and is dressed in sneakers, skinny jeans, and a t-shirt, who doesn’t even know your name.

Check out the these two videos from comedian John B. Crist showing what today’s young evangelicals are looking for when they’re hunting for a church. I know from experience that there’s a lot of truth mixed in with the comedy. Yes, I’m an old fuddy-duddy in many respects and I agree the cut of clothes you wear to church is not the litmus test of spirituality. But the church seems to have gone to the opposite extreme in trying to blend in with the culture to boost the attendance numbers.

 

Opinion: Boycotting “Beauty and the Beast” and accusations of hypocrisy

BATB

I try to stay out of the political/cultural battles but I’d like to chime in on this one.

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” opened at movie theaters on March 16th and immediately created a lot of controversy because the movie featured the first gay character in one of the company’s feature films. When I heard the news I just shook my head with sadness. Today’s young children are being inundated with situations and behaviors that I didn’t hear about until I was in my teens back in the 70s. Some evangelical leaders, most notably Franklin Graham, called for a boycott of the film because of the gay character.

In the article below, openly-gay writer and pundit, Jonathan Merritt, accuses evangelicals of being raging hypocrites. He states that many of them will boycott the Disney movie but noted that in last November’s presidential election, 81% of white evangelicals voted for a “thrice-married serial liar (Donald Trump) who has bragged about bedding married women and has admitted to grabbing women’s genitals without permission.” He suggests that rather than boycotting the film and other such endeavors, Christian parents should focus on teaching their children to “understand and coexist alongside people who might not share their beliefs and practices.”

My wife and I were members of a fundamentalist church back in the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic was breaking news and the pastor attacked homosexuality from the pulpit frequently and with ferocity. That was at the peak of the Jerry Falwell/Moral Majority-led culture war battles. How successful were Falwell and his supporters? As we now know, American society has become increasingly secularized since then. Professing evangelical Christians make up maybe only 15-20% of the population and that number dips far lower up here in the Northeast (5% here in Rochester, NY).

Are Christians hypocrites for supporting Trump and boycotting Disney as Merritt claims? I could understand why it might appear that way. But evangelicals could justify their support for Trump by claiming he was the better of two very poor candidates and that his public platform was much more in-line with their values than Hillary’s. Also, it’s somewhat an apples to oranges comparison. Christian parents aren’t bringing their young children to theaters to see movies about Trump’s adulterous affairs but they are concerned that sinful “lifestyles” are being presented to their children from an increasing number of sources as legitimate alternatives to the traditional family.

The widely-accepted myth of America as a “Christian nation,” as if it was in a special covenant relationship with God like ancient Israel, was without any foundation. Nations can’t become Christian, only individuals can. We still see the remnants of the mingling of religion with national patriotism but only a small minority of Americans believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ in 2017. At this point there’s no pretending that American society is anything other than largely secular and even anti-Christian. Given the current realities, I’m convinced Christians in America should focus on spreading the Gospel in this country rather than trying to defend a former political/cultural status quo that was never really what it was trumped up to be anyway.

Thoughts?


Flaming hypocrisy in evangelical Disney boycott
http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/03/07/christian-evangelical-disney-beauty-beast-gay-column/98812856/

More on Paul Washer

PWW

Last week I posted that evangelist and missionary, Paul Washer, had suffered a heart attack. From the last message posted on his Twitter account on Saturday it appears that he’s on the mend. Thanks for all your prayers.

The Lord has blessed me immensely since I returned to Him three years ago. One of those blessings was making me aware of Paul Washer’s ministry. As I mentioned before, Paul may not be the easiest preacher to listen to, but that’s because our flesh doesn’t enjoy conviction over our disobedience. Now, the Lord doesn’t want us to be constantly overcome with guilt. Every morning we wake up we should have great joy for being in the Lord. But He will correct us for our own good through the preaching of His Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit when we stray from the narrow path. I don’t want to put any man on a pedestal but we desperately need godly preachers like Paul Washer who won’t compromise the Gospel. You won’t find a preacher like Washer on TBN.

Will Graham, an excellent writer for Evangelical Focus, recently submitted the following about Paul Washer after the news broke of his heart attack, which I would like to share.


10 Reasons Why I Love Paul Washer
By Will Graham
Evangelical Focus
March 25, 2017

Almost all of my heroes are dead. The good thing about following dead folk is that they can’t put their foot in it! Whilst they’re alive, there’s always the possibility they’ll slip up. But once their six-feet under, there’s no such danger! Just as well…

Nevertheless, “almost all of my heroes” doesn’t mean “all” of my heroes. There are some great living servants of the Lord who continually inspire me. One such bondservant is our beloved brother in the Lord, Paul Washer (1961-).

After his sudden heart-attack last week, I felt burdened to translate the following text I published in the Spanish Evangelical Press way back in October about ten reasons why I love Brother Washer. I hope this brief list will encourage you all to download some of his material because I’m 100% sure it’ll bless your socks off!

Here goes! Oh, and let’s keep praying for our heavenly Father to keep sustaining His precious son in these times of physical frailty…

To continue reading click here.

Weekend Roundup – News & Views – 3/25/17

BAP

Catholic parents have an extremely hard time enlisting someone to be a “godparent” at their infant’s baptism because one of the requirements is that they attend mass every Sunday. That leaves out the vast majority of Catholics. This godparents business is meaningless ritual and few take it seriously. See my previous thoughts here. The Sicilian bishop in the above news report has announced Mafioso bosses can’t be selected as godparents anymore. Did you hear that Michael Corleone? But who is going to screen out the deviant priests?

It’s been fifteen years since the news reports broke out in a big way about pedophile priests. Why is the Catholic church still fumbling around with this?

The blunt truth is Catholic children (and adults) do not enjoy sitting through an hour of dreary liturgical ritual that doesn’t point anyone to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

I think it’s interesting that Catholic journalists keep pointing to the nativist, anti-Catholicism of 19th and 20th century America. Let’s see, how did the Catholic church do in regards to religious freedom in the European and Latin American countries where it dominated? Given the enormity of the priest pedophile scandal and subsequent cover-up by the hierarchy, I wonder why this writer would choose to cast aspersions on the veracity of poor li’l Maria Monk.

It’s not much of a stretch to imagine the U.S. government persecuting evangelicals down the road for “hate speech.”

Catholics point to Thomas More as a champion of religious freedom because he chose death rather than support Henry VIII’s separation from Rome. But I recall reading that More enthusiastically persecuted Protestants while he was Lord High Chancellor. Sir More authorized Protestant “heretics” to be burnt at the stake. And you call that a champion of religious freedom?

Venerating statues is very important in the Catholic religion. The Our Lady of Fatima statue is making the rounds in anticipation of this year’s 100th anniversary of the alleged Fatima apparitions. This veneration of statues, so prevalent in Catholicism, is anti-Biblical.

Pope Francis is already greasing the skids for married priests. Women priests are going to take much longer. But God’s Word says the sacrificial priesthood was done away with by Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on the cross.

Hey, the New York City diocese and the Peoria, Illinois diocese are STILL fighting over the corpse of former archbishop and television personality, Fulton Sheen. See my previous thoughts here. Can you imagine the apostles, Paul and Peter, fighting over a corpse? This has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.

Fatima 2017 – Capitalizing on religious fervor

FATI

One of the high points for the Roman Catholic church this year will definitely be when pope Francis visits Fatima, Portugal on May 12th and 13th in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the alleged appearance of Mary to the three children there in 1917. Fatima is widely viewed by Catholics as the most important Marian apparition.

Coincidentally (or rather, strategically), the Vatican has just announced that Francis has officially recognized the miracle attributed to the intercession of two of the Fatima children – “Blesseds” Francisco and Jacinta (photo, middle and right), thus paving their way to sainthood. The third child who witnessed the alleged apparition, Lúcia Santos, has already been green-lighted for canonization. Could Francis declare all three individuals to be “saints” when he visits Fatima in May? That seems to be the case from the story below. Can anyone spell “opportunistic”?

It often takes the Vatican multiple centuries before they declare someone a saint but if a person was extremely popular the church has been known to capitalize on their fame by expediting the process (see pope  John Paul II, mother Teresa, and Fulton Sheen in the very short-term once the dioceses of New York City and Peoria, Illinois stop fighting over his remains).

Catholicism’s non-biblical concept of a “saint” fits their theology. For Catholics, a saint is someone who lived an extraordinarily holy life and is rewarded with a mediatorial presence in Heaven. In contrast, God’s Word says no one is good.

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12

“Not even one” includes Mary.

The Bible refers to the saints (“hagios” – set apart ones) as all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and are reborn spiritually. And what about all those Marian apparitions? Mary is in Heaven worshipping her Savior. These alleged apparitions that point people to the Catholic gospel of sacramental grace and merit can either be attributed to religious hysteria or demonic activity. Evangelicals would be amazed at how much veneration/worship is accorded to Mary by Catholics in comparison to Jesus Christ. Catholics, on the other hand, would be amazed at just how little Mary is mentioned in the New Testament.

Nowhere in the Bible do believers pray to anyone other than God. In contrast, the Scriptures specifically warn against trying to communicate with the dead. Put man-made traditions aside and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area. See here.


Pope Francis to proclaim Fatima visionaries saints during Portugal trip
https://cruxnow.com/uncategorized/2017/03/23/pope-francis-proclaim-fatima-visionaries-saints-portugal-trip/


For more on Catholicism’s unbiblical teachings on “saints,” see here.

For more on Catholic Mariolatry, see here.

Pious Roman Catholic, Bill “Mr. Big” McCormack, and the bloody docks of NYC

WMcC

I recently posted a general review of the 1954 landmark film, “On the Waterfront” (see here), but I would like to further explore some of the historical and religious aspects of the movie that were mentioned in the “Who Is Mr. Big?” documentary that was included in the Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition.

The “Waterfront” story was based on the wholesale corruption of those who controlled New York City’s and New Jersey’s docks. The labor required to load and unload ships on the bustling 19th-century New York City piers was both physically demanding and dangerous and was increasingly left to the Irish immigrants. By the 1920s, the Irish completely controlled the docks. William “Mr. Big” McCormack (see photo) controlled all of the stevedore companies. Joe Ryan, the figure-head president of the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) and the inspiration for the Johnny Friendly character in the film in reality reported to McCormack. That would be like the cat taking orders from the mouse. Racketeering and inhumane labor practices were rampant on the docks with nowhere to appeal. McCormack had city, state, and national politicians in his back pocket.

The Irish pier bosses also fostered close ties with the Catholic archdiocese of New York City. The relationship was symbiotic. McCormack, Ryan, and their associates contributed heavily to the diocese and the church big wigs, in return, blessed all union endeavors. Ryan attended daily mass at Guardian Angels church near the Chelsea piers in Manhattan. The pastor of the church was monsignor John J. O’Donnell, Cardinal Spellman’s right-hand man and “chaplain” of the murderous ILA. O’Donnell once commented on the union’s bloody boss, “He keeps his hands off the spiritual things of my church and I keep my hands off his business.”

Lovely.

When a loose cannon, Jesuit “liberation theology” priest, John Corridan, began making inquiries into the working conditions on the docks, O’Donnell warned him to back off “or else.” The subsequent investigations of waterfront crime relied heavily on Corridan’s observations and experiences. Karl Malden’s father Peter Barry character in the film was based upon Corridan.

The Irishmen who ran the piers dishonestly and often with blood on their hands were practicing and “pious” Catholics. Spellman and the archdiocesan hierarchy just looked the other way because the money was good and everyone respected each other’s “racket.” And Spellman had his own personal indiscretions to deal with. Jesus Christ was not present in any of these men. None of them knew the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It was all about power, control, and cash. That’s just the way it was.

I imagine priests had the same “see no evil…” relationship with the Mafioso Dons in the Italian enclaves. Where was the priest at Don Corleone’s daughter’s wedding reception in “The Godfather”? You know that in real life Mafioso weddings the priest would have been feted as one of the most honored guests.

Postscript: Generations of “Waterfront” viewers have been stymied by the scene at the 1 hour and 29 minute mark when an apparently wealthy older man shuts off the television after watching the waterfront crime commission proceedings and tells his butler not to take any more calls from Johnny Friendly. Who exactly was this mysterious figure? The suspense is over. Screenwriter, Budd Schulberg, was referencing Bill “Mr. Big” McCormack.

Please pray for Paul Washer after heart attack

PW

The media reported yesterday that 55-year-old preacher and missionary, Paul Washer (pictured), suffered a heart attack Monday night. See here.

A post on Paul’s Twitter account from one hour ago reports he’s doing well and resting comfortably. See here.

Please pray for Paul’s health.

There’s a ton of junk on the internet masquerading as “Christian,” but I’m grateful to the Lord for the sermons and teaching from godly preachers like Paul Washer. Paul’s sermons seem to specialize in zealous admonishment, not always easy to listen to but certainly needed in this day of wishy-washy, Laodicean Christianity.

Thank you.