Poland from the perspective of a young, goofball Brit

I dug deep into my Polish ethnic heritage during my prodigal “season” away from the Lord, which I documented here, and I like to occasionally read something about the “old country,” which recently led me to…

A Chip Shop in Poznań: My Unlikely Year in Poland
By Ben Aitken
Icon Books Ltd, 2019, 306 pages.

4 Stars

Few people think of Poland as a vacation destination, hence the dearth of travelogues devoted to that country. The idea for this book came about due to some unique circumstances. First, some background:

Poland and the U.K. have a unique relationship. When Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia invaded and co-partitioned Poland in 1939 at the start of World War II, the Polish government established itself in-exile, first in Paris and then in London. Polish expatriates and refugees continued to flock to England throughout the war and also afterwards when Poland was trapped behind the Iron Curtain. Poland regained its independence in 1989, but the transformation to a market economy was arduous. Poland joined the European Union in 2004 and thousands of Poles immediately began flocking to the U.K. for economic opportunities not available in their own country. There were 90,000 Poles living in the U.K. in 2004, but by 2016 the Polish immigrant population had skyrocketed to 900,000. This heavy influx of Poles sparked resentment among the Brits, contributing to demands by a sizable percentage of the citizenry for the U.K. to exit the E.U.

At the height of the controversy, young British writer, Ben Aitken, wanted to get some perspective on these Polish immigrants so he journeyed to Poland in early-2016 for a one-year stay to acquaint himself with the country and its people. His home-base was the city of Poznań, but during his stay he also made expeditionary trips to Katowice, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Oswiecim, Sopot, Łódź, Lublin, Jelenia Gora-Karpacz, Konin, Krakow, Piwniczna-Zdrój, and Ełk.

Shortly after his arrival, Aitken took an entry-level job peeling potatoes at an English-themed fish and chips restaurant in Poznań and gradually learned some basic language skills and acquired some Polish friends, including a romantic relationship that never quite got off the ground. In describing his journeys throughout Poland, the author makes many interesting observations in regards to the country’s cuisine, history, politics, geography, economy, customs, religion, language, traditions, etc., all told with a good degree of extra-dry British humor. The description of his challenging stay in the mountain town of Piwniczna-Zdrój is especially comical. One criticism is that Aitken devotes an inordinate amount of attention to his frequent visits to the local Polish pubs. While some of Aitken’s youthful antics are funny, I would have preferred a more mature perspective. Ultimately, any non-Christian worldview is going to be unsatisfying for a believer.

During the course of Aitken’s stay, the Brits voted to leave the EU and the Brexit disentanglement continues to drag on. In response to the political uncertainty of the situation, about 100,000 Poles have returned to Poland from the U.K. since this book was written.

I enjoyed “A Chip Shop in Poznań” and I’m glad I stumbled across it, but I’m hoping for a better Poland travelogue in the future.

TIP: The Google Earth app is very helpful while reading a book like this to get a bird’s-eye view of the locations that are mentioned.

 

Accommodations – (a) lodgings and (b) compromises – in Poland

Accommodations
By Wioletta Greg
Transit Books, 2019, 191 pp.

5 Stars

When I took my dumb, long prodigal journey from the Lord, I attempted to fill the gaping vacuum with something, so I immersed myself deeply into my Polish culture/heritage, which I’ve described previously (see here). I returned to the Lord six years ago, but I still like to occasionally check out Polish stuff and I recently stumbled across this new autobiographical novel from a Polish author in our library’s catalog.

Plot

It’s 1994 and Polish society is still digging out from under 44-years of Soviet domination and repression and must endure the painful transition to a market economy. Despite the new political freedoms, many Poles are still consumed with the hardships of the past. Wioletta moves from the small village of Hektary in southern Poland to the nearby city of Częstochowa to study literature in college. Unable to secure a dorm, she is forced to live at a workers’ hostel with a collection of “misfits.”  The circumstances at the hostel disintegrate into chaos and Wioletta is forced to move into a room at a nearby convent. The mother superior is slipping into dementia and confuses Wioletta with a girl from her long-ago past. In a game of accommodating self-interest, Wioletta begins playing the part and barely escapes with her life. But after securing other accommodations, life gets no easier. Throughout this three-year ordeal, Wioletta must constantly navigate through unstable relationships and challenging, difficult circumstances. Her story is an allegory for post-Soviet Poland and Poles.

Comments

I write pretty much every day for this blog, but I’m under no pretension that I am a “good” writer in the artistic/creative sense. Ms. Greg’s (nee Grzegorzewska) writing on the other hand is sheer poetic delight. Some of the credit must also go to able translator, Jennifer Croft. I don’t read much fiction, but when the writer is a gifted artist, it can be quite a ride. This is a melancholy tale, but such is the story of Poland’s struggles. Because of my prior immersion in Polish culture, I felt right at home walking the streets of Częstochowa, so ably and richly described in this novel. The imposing Roman Catholic monastery/citadel of Jasna Góra (“Bright Hill”) looms over the city (as well as the nation) and the sensibilities of its inhabitants, but it’s a false hope and deep down, the people know it.

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Above: The imposing monastery/citadel of Jasna Góra and the false gospel it represents towers over the city of Częstochowa and the Polish nation.

Postscript: This library book still sits at home. When I went to our local library branch on March 17th to return the book, a sign on the door said it was closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Polish Pottery – Genuine and fakes

My enamorment with my Polish heritage during my long prodigal journey away from the Lord (see here) dovetailed with the trendy popularity of Polish pottery in the U.S. Back in the mid-aughts, you could find displays of Polish pottery in many department and discount stores throughout the country. We even had a shop near us devoted exclusively to Polish pottery called Market Square Polish Pottery located at Northfield Commons at 50 State Street in Pittsford, New York. The shop was opened in 2007 by an enterprising young couple, Danielle and Jim Bonsignore (Danielle was part-Polish), and I bought three pieces, which we still enjoy today (photo left).

During the Polish pottery craze, you could find less-expensive, imitation pieces in discount stores. But all of the Polish pottery actually manufactured in the Bolesławiec region of Poland are stamped with a seal of authenticity on the underside (photo right).

Fads and trends come and go and Polish pottery is no longer anywhere near as popular as it used to be. Market Square Polish Pottery struggled for a couple of years and finally closed its doors. Even the Polish Americans living in the Greater Rochester area wouldn’t support the shop. Polish Americans are generally known for having little interest in their cultural heritage, but that’s another post.

The proliferation of inexpensive knock-offs during height of the Polish pottery craze reminds me of the proliferation of churches that claim to be Christian. There’s churches out there that deny the truths of the Bible, churches that preach works salvation, and churches that preach prosperity in this temporal world. But a true church preaches repentance of sin and the Good News of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. That is the Lord’s authenticating mark. Don’t waste your time on the forgeries because they are spiritually toxic.

Bolesławiec Polish Pottery – Wikipedia article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boles%C5%82awiec_pottery

“I have a good mind to call the town on them!”

Do you share any long-standing “inside” jokes with family members? Anytime my second-oldest sister comes over to visit and sees trash at the end of my driveway waiting to be picked up, she scolds me good-naturedly. Allow me to explain:

Our father was a VERY regimented, strait-laced kind of guy. I think he and many of the other second-generation European immigrants of that era were DRIVEN to be exemplary citizens. Their goal was to quickly assimilate into society and become even better Americans than the long-established WASPs. My father held himself, his children, his house, and his neighborhood to the highest standards of deportment and appearance. Let’s put it this way, my Dad would keep his suit and tie on for our occasional picnic lunches after Sunday mass. I’m sure Dad’s stint in the Army Air Corps during WWII also played a part in his disciplined approach to life.

Our father meticulously maintained our house and lawn and expected the neighbors living on our short street to do the same. According to Dad’s strict standards, garbage cans and other trash could only be brought to the curb the night before refuse pickup day so as to maintain the neighborhood’s aesthetics. As you can imagine, the neighbors didn’t think the same exact way about the issue and would regularly deposit their trash at the curb one day, or two, or three, or even an entire week before the pickup day. Well, that would absolutely drive my father UP THE WALL. It was amazing to observe this very staid, conservative man getting so emotional about the neighbors dropping some trash bags at the curb a couple of days early. From his reaction, you would have thought they had stolen his favorite lawn chair!

Years later, I purchased my own home, followed by the one we’re currently living in. I also like to keep the house and yard well-maintained, but I don’t make it into my religion like my father had. I have no compunctions about taking fallen tree branches, bags of shrub clippings, etc. to the curb a week prior to pick-up. When my parents were still alive and came over for a visit, as a favor to Dad I purposely didn’t take the bags of yard debris that had been sitting at the curb for a couple of days to the back of the house. I was trying to help him loosen up a little. 🙂

We all have our quirks and there’s no doubt I have mine. Dad had plenty of good points and was a good provider for his large brood. But my sister and I still get a good chuckle recalling his livid anger when neighbors took their trash to the curb “prematurely.”

What’s an “inside” joke shared in your family?

Postscript: My Dad was not an overtly religious man, but he did attend mass every Sunday. He was a Polish American and, like all Poles, Catholicism was an important part of his family fabric. The exhaustive legalism and ritualism of Catholicism also appealed to his sense of order and merited reward. He was especially proud that fellow-Pole, Karol Wojtyla, reigned as pope John Paul II from 1978 to 2005. My wife and I presented the Gospel to him and my mother many times, but they responded that their “2000-year-old” institutional church and its gospel of sacramental grace and merit trumped anything we could offer.

Poland’s National Dish: Bigos aka “Hunter’s Stew”

Back in August, I wrote about my very long prodigal journey which included studying my ethnic Polish heritage. See here. In that post, I promised that I would share a couple of Polish recipes that I had mastered. I passed along the first one, Kluski i Kapusta (Noodles and Cabbage), in October. See here.

Now it’s time for my second recipe and it’s a grand one; Bigos aka “Hunter’s Stew.” Bigos is a staple of Polish kitchens during the Winter months and is considered Poland’s national dish. Every Polish cook and babcia has their own variation and here’s mine, which started with a recipe from “The New Polish Cuisine” by Chef Michael J. Baruch. I’ve tasted the Bigos of many Polish chefs but it doesn’t get any better than the recipe below. Get out your cutting board. This one takes some prep time, but it’s well worth it.

Bigos

Ingredients:

  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 lb. smoked kielbasa, sliced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 lb. stew beef (or substitute cubed pork)
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green cabbage, decored and sliced
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 lb. sliced mushrooms (Poles are very fussy about their mushrooms, but you can use common white mushrooms)
  • 16 oz. canned sauerkraut, drained (rinsing is optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash Tabasco sauce
  • 2 dashes Maggi liquid seasoning (if not available use Knorr Liquid Seasoning)
  • 5 cups (40 oz.) beef broth
  • 16 oz. canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red cooking wine
  • 6 oz. beer
  1. Using a very large pot (e.g., 16-quart Dutch Oven) on medium heat, cook 4 strips of bacon until crispy. Remove bacon leaving grease. Chop bacon and set aside. Add kielbasa to pot, cook and turn for a few minutes until slightly browned on both sides. With slotted spoon remove kielbasa and set aside. Remove all grease except 2 tbsp. and set aside. Coat stew beef with flour. Add stew beef to pot, cook and turn for a few minutes until slightly browned on both sides. Remove beef and set aside.
  2. Add 2 tbsp. of reserved bacon/kielbasa grease back to bottom of pot. Add garlic and onion. Stir and cook a few minutes until onion is slightly tender. Do not brown. Add cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and sauerkraut. Stir vegetables often for around 4 minutes until only slightly tender. Do not brown. Add salt, black pepper, marjoram, basil, bay leaf, paprika, cayenne pepper, caraway seeds, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and Maggi. Stir for 1 minute.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and reserved meats and stir until tomato paste is completely blended. Allow contents to come to a boil then cover and lower heat to low/warm. Simmer on low/warm with only a very slight boil for at least 6 hours. Many Polish cooks simmer their Bigos for a couple of days before serving.

Enjoy with sliced rye bread. Serves 8-10.

Smacznego! Ach! So good!

Polish Recipe #1: Kluski i Kapusta aka Noodles and Cabbage

A couple of months ago, I wrote about my decade-long excursion deep into my Polish heritage. See here. I promised then that I would share a couple of hearty Polish recipes that I’ve become proficient at once the weather got cooler, so seeing as we’re more than half-way through October, it’s time for the first one; Kluski i Kapusta (Noodles and Cabbage).

Noodles and cabbage is a Polish favorite. It’s probably the #1 national comfort dish of Poland. Not a big fan of steamed cabbage? Don’t worry, neither am I. But the cabbage is actually a great complement to the other ingredients in this recipe. This dish definitely has an Old World, European flavor. Every Polish cook has their own variation of Kluski i Kapusta and here’s my spin on it that I’ve tweaked over the years.

Kluski i Kapusta (Cabbage & Noodles)

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 8 strips of bacon
  • 1 lb. smoked kielbasa, sliced or cubed into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 head of green cabbage, cored and sliced into strips
  • 1 14 oz. can chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp. fresh dill finely chopped
  • 3 dashes Frank’s Red Hot or Tabasco
  • 1 lb. kluski noodles (authentic kluski noodles can usually be found in the pasta section of most larger supermarkets, especially in the Northeast. Substitute any other type of noodles you prefer if not available.)

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Coat bottom of large pot with cooking spray. Place pot on burner and turn heat to medium-medium high. Add bacon and fry until crisp. Remove bacon. Add kielbasa to pot and brown in bacon grease for 2-3 minutes. Remove kielbasa. Leave 2 tbsp. of grease drippings in pot, discard the rest. Add garlic and onion to pot. Cook several minutes until onion is softened. Add cabbage, chicken broth, salt, pepper, caraway seeds, dill, hot sauce, and kielbasa. Crumble 4 strips of bacon and add. Stir. Cook 20 minutes stirring every couple of minutes.

Turn heat to low. Cover pot. Simmer for 3 hours until cabbage is completely wilted, stirring occasionally. Ah, the aroma!

In separate pot, boil kluski noodles according to package directions. Drain. Combine noodles with other ingredients. Transfer to large serving bowl and top with remaining 4 strips of bacon, crumbled.

Serves quite a few. 🙂

Smacznego! (Polish for “Bon appétit”) 🍴

“The Best Polish Restaurant in Buffalo”: A thoroughly delightful story!

A couple of months ago, I wrote about my “Polish phase,” when I immersed myself in my Polish heritage (see here). That recent writing trip down memory lane got me thinking about things Polish once again, so I checked out our local library’s online catalog and spotted the novel, “The Best Polish Restaurant in Buffalo” and put a hold on it. Even better, I subsequently discovered Amazon offers a Kindle version free to Prime members (see here).

The Best Polish Restaurant in Buffalo
By William Kowalski
Orchard Street Books, 2017, 216 pages

Plot

It’s 1908, and sixteen-year-old Aniela and her two sisters and mother are on a ship to “Ameryka” to escape their difficult existence in partitioned Western Poland, where the Prussian-German occupiers oppress the Polish inhabitants and the menfolk of the family mistreat their women. They arrive in New York City and make their way by train to Buffalo where there is, they have heard, a large Polish community. The women scrape to eek out an existence as cleaning women for Buffalo’s wealthy citizens, but they still earn more than they could ever dream of in their small farming village in Poland. Aniela eventually marries, has children, faces tragedy, and sets a course for her family by establishing a bakery in the city, which is eventually transformed into a popular restaurant serving Polish favorites.

Interspersed with the chapters describing Aniela’s struggle in the early-twentieth century, are chapters set in 2015, which focus on her forty-five-year-old great-grandson, Iggy, who manages the restaurant she started. The Poles moved out of the city to the suburbs long ago and the ethnic restaurant has seen a steady decline in customers to the point where it’s no longer feasible to remain open. Iggy wrestles with the inevitable. By closing the restaurant, he feels he’s betraying his great-grandmother, his family, and his Polish heritage. But he’s the only one who seems to care. The rest of the family eagerly anticipates any money they can make from the sale of the restaurant building while Buffalo’s Polish population generally stopped caring about their heritage decades ago.

Comments

Bravo! I don’t read fiction that often, but I was delighted by this novel. The author captured the hopes and fears of the late-19th, early-20th century immigrants from Poland. Buffalo’s  burgeoning Polish community on the city’s East Side allowed the immigrants to establish a stake in their new homeland with the strong support of their fellow Poles. It’s estimated that 380,000 Poles resided in the Greater Buffalo area by 1923. Kowalski interjects a lot of Polish words and names of Buffalo Polish landmarks to give this story a very authentic feel.

Iggy’s despairing story juxtaposes poignantly with Aniela’s optimism and determination. The old aspirations that motivated the Podbielski family for four generations had finally run dry.

During my “Polish phase,” I often made the one-hour trip to Buffalo to check out the old East Side Polish neighborhood. Most of the Poles began moving out to Cheektowaga and other suburbs after World War II. What’s left is a mammoth, sprawling area of urban decay with a declining number of Polish institutions (churches, social clubs, taverns) still hanging on by a thread. You wouldn’t want to walk this area during the day let alone at night. It’s actually an amazingly decrepit area to drive through. There’s street after street after street where every third or fourth home is boarded up. Buffalo’s economy flatlined when the steel industry and other heavy manufacturing moved out and has never rebounded.*

There are still a couple of Polish restaurants in the blue-collar suburb of Cheektowaga owned by the Kutas family (they once owned the legendary Warsaw Inn on Broadway), but the futures of those establishments are less-than-tenuous. A meal of kielbasa, pierogies, golabki, and kapusta just doesn’t appeal to 5th-generation Polish American millennials. See the two websites below:

https://www.polishvillaunion.com/

http://polishvilla.org/

I’ve eaten at both locations and the fresh (not smoked) kielbasa, the barometer of any Polish eatery, is only so-so. Feeling brave? Ask for a large bowl of Czernina aka duck blood soup. Yes, you read that correctly! In Poland, it’s served infrequently, but over here it became a novelty staple at Polish restaurants.

As much as I enjoyed this novel, I’m reminded that no one can find fulfillment in their ethnicity or by any other temporal pursuit or status. The only lasting fulfillment comes from salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The author refers several times to Aniela’s Catholic faith, which is a mixture of religious legalism, ritual, and Old World superstitions. Not much has changed in that respect for most Polish Americans.

* Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, was appalled by the economic miasma of Western New York when he visited Buffalo and Rochester as part of his 2016 campaign. In July 2017, President Trump stated that Upstate (including Western) New York was beyond any economic hope and that everyone should move out and go to where the jobs are. See here. Don’t worry, President Trump. Western New Yorkers have been moving out of this highly-taxed, economic disaster area at a significant rate for the last 30 years.

How I turned my Polish heritage into an idol

Last week, I posted about some of the diversions that I had used to fill the gaping hole in my soul during my long prodigal “season” away from the Lord (see here). Today, I’d like to present another one as I submerged myself into my Polish heritage.

My father’s parents* immigrated from Poland in the early 1900s. As a child, I was intrigued by my grandparents who spoke only limited English. However, growing up with a last name ending in “ski” during the 1960s and 70s at the height of the “dumb Polak” joke craze was not easy. In school, I was often singled out as the “dumb Polak.” Hardy har har. I swore to myself for years that the very first thing I was going to do when I turned eighteen was change my last name to “Smith” or “Jones.” Of course, when I finally did turn eighteen, I had other priorities.

After I turned away from the Lord and was journeying through the parched landscape of my prodigal “season” in the early aughts, I happened to spot a book at our local Borders bookstore that documented the history of Rochester’s Polish community. That was the start of it. From being embarrassed and ashamed of my ethnic roots, that book was the kickoff to REVELING in my heritage, which, fasten your seat belts, included the following:

  • I read everything I could get my hands on regarding Polish history and culture including the weekly Am-Pol Eagle and monthly Polish American Journal newspapers as well as three academic quarterlies. I eventually amassed over one-hundred books about Poland and Polonia (i.e., the Polish American diaspora) in my personal library.
  • I joined local and national Polish American organizations and helped plan andCapture11 coordinate several Polish events in Rochester.
  • I began attending the annual Polish festivals in Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse. Between festivals, I regularly explored the Polish sections of those cities (or what was left of them) as well as the very-much-intact Polish neighborhoods up in Toronto and St. Catherines, Canada. Buffalo had a mammoth Polish population compared to Rochester and many, many Polish organizations, but assimilation has taken it’s toll with Poles moving to the suburbs and losing interest in their cultural roots.
  • I listened to Ray Serafin’s two-hour, Polish Polka Bandstand show on one of our local radio stations every Saturday morning and eventually amassed a collection of over fifty polka CDs. I also accumulated a large number of subtitled Polish films on DVD.
  • I hosted an internet forum for five years which discussed issues involving Poland and Polonia.
  • A 3’x5′ Polish flag flew proudly from our front balcony just in case someone wasn’t sure about my ethnicity. Also, one of my clothes drawers was full of Polish-themed t-shirts and my hat rack was full of Polish-themed caps.
  • I became a regular customer of the two Polish delis here in Rochester and also became proficient at making several delicious Polish recipes. They’re hearty dishes so I’ll share the recipes in a couple of more months when the temperatures are more appropriate. Strangely, there are no Polish delis in Buffalo (although it does have a few Polish restaurants), but there are several delis in St. Catherines and Toronto.
  • If anyone made the mistake of telling a “dumb Polak” joke in my presence, I responded with both barrels and made them feel as uncomfortable as I possibly could.
  • On our trip to Germany to visit our grandson in 2007, we were able to take a 5-day detour to Krakow, the historic capital of Poland from 1038 to 1596. Unlike many other Polish cities, Krakow was largely spared from shelling and aerial bombing during World War II and its grand historic buildings including the royal castle remained intact.

Did you get all of that? Can anyone say idol?

Bottom line: I was nostril-deep in things-Polish for well over a decade. Not to brag, but I believe the knowledge I accumulated was equivalent to a bachelors degree in Polish Studies. My family and friends thought it was EXTREMELY weird that I became so infatuated with my ethnic heritage, but I believe it all stemmed from two things. 1) My shame at being Polish when I was young and 2) the pressing need to fill the vacuum in my soul while I was away from the Lord.

After I returned to the Lord in 2014, my frenetic need to study my ethnicity was lifted from me. Unsaved people have no foundation in the Lord, so they’re increasingly turning to DNA tests and Ancestry.com to try to establish some type of meaningful foundation for their lives. Everything besides Jesus Christ is sinking sand and ultimately won’t satisfy.

I’m very glad I learned about my heritage, but now I’m able to put it all in its proper perspective.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” – Psalm 46:10

“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” – James 4:14

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17

*My Mom was seventy-five percent German and twenty-five percent Irish, so during this period I also spent some time researching German history and the German American diaspora.

Postscripts: 1) While I’m definitely not a follower of pop social morality, I do appreciate how bullying, for any reason, is no longer acceptable (at least ideally). 2) Perhaps no ethnic group is more tightly intertwined with Roman Catholicism than the Poles. That was a circumstance I had to constantly ignore during my hyper-Polish phase.

If you’ve hung in there with me to this point, I offer you a sincere dziękuję bardzo!

Polish joke – Wikipedia article
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_joke

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 6/2/18

Observers weren’t all that surprised that Ireland passed a national referendum legalizing abortion by a 2-to-1 margin. It wasn’t all that long ago when Ireland was THE bastion of Catholicism in Europe, but the banning of all contraceptives, including non-abortifacients, by the church and the widespread scandals of abusive Catholic clergy caused many to turn against the church and organized religion. Pope Francis was noticeably silent in the build-up to the vote. In the past, he has echoed the viewpoint of the progressive wing of the church regarding abortion, saying that he doesn’t want Catholicism to be known for being a “one issue” institution.

The growing emphasis on emotionalism and experientialism within evangelical (c)hristianity has opened the door to all types of aberrant phenomena.

Anyone who’s been around Catholicism long enough is aware that quite a few of its priests are effeminate. Francis and the progressives are moving the church towards blessing gay unions (which are undoubtedly already being performed on the QT by liberal priests).

Jim Bakker and his cousins on TBN are a blight on the body of Christ.

Have you noticed this newest squabble over Catholic-Lutheran intercommunion in Germany has taken the spotlight off of the controversy over Francis’ lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees? Francis’ agenda keeps rolling along. Will the conservatives eventually just run out of ammunition and acquiesce to the progressive steamroller or will they break away?

I’m convinced a number of these Marian phenomena are of demonic origin.

The former primate of Poland, cardinal August Hlond (d. 1948), is being proposed for canonization to sainthood. In interwar Poland, anti-Semitism was accepted as common currency and supported by the Catholic church. Hlond vilified Jews in his infamous 1936 pastoral letter, but such behavior is not considered scandalous in contemporary Catholic Poland where anti-Semitism still runs deep.

Are there any genuine, blood-bought, born-again believers who attend Osteen’s church or faithfully watch him on TBN? Are they reading God’s Word? What goes through their mind and spirit when they encounter Biblical passages that are totally contrary to Osteenism?

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 2/10/18

Such ridiculous and dangerous nonsense! Gloria Copeland (photo above) and her husband and their “name it and claim it” kool-aid have nothing to do with Biblical Christianity.

Question: What exactly would the Catholic evangelization message be? Answer: If you attend RCIA classes for a year, get baptized, attend mass and receive the sacraments dutifully, hope, pray, and obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!), then maybe at the very end you MIGHT have a chance at meriting purgatory. Folks, that’s hardly Good News!

Pope Francis’s lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees has opened the door for people in other “irregular” situations. German cardinal, Reinhard Marx, suggests that Catholic priests should now consider blessing same-sex relationships liturgically. I suspect liberal priests are already marrying gay couples on the QT.

Conservative Polish Catholics have been deeply resentful that Polish Gentiles are never mentioned as victims of Hitler’s concentration camps. It is estimated that the Germans killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians during World War II. They are also deeply resentful of claims (many substantiated) that some Catholic Poles were complicit in assisting the Nazis in their efforts to exterminate Jews. The Polish parliament has just passed a law criminalizing accusations of Polish complicity in the Holocaust, even in the face of historical evidence. In Poland, history isn’t history unless it’s hagiography. For an interesting book on how the Catholic church underwrote anti-Semitism in interwar Poland see “The Catholic Church and Antisemitism: Poland, 1933-1939” by Ronald Modras here.

The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, founded in 1843, is a Jesuit institution and an Atlantic Conference opponent of our local Rochester Institute of Technology Division 1 hockey team. Go Tigers! The increasingly politically incorrect nickname and mascot of the college hearken back to Catholicism’s more militant days. Only traditionalist priests still look back upon the murderous Catholic Crusades with unapologetic glowing approval. The purpose of some of the papal-approved crusades was to suppress Protestant “heresy.”

Oy vey! The liberal ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) has nothing to do with the Gospel.

This makes perfect sense. Catholicism is a syncretic mix of paganism and Christ-less (c)hristianity.

This is a slippery slope for conservative priests like Longenecker. Half of all Catholics support abortion, 80% don’t attend obligatory mass on Sunday, and 90% don’t go to mandatory yearly confession. After Longenecker got done excommunicating all the miscreants, there’d be no one left.

This article’s headline is misleading because certainly not ALL younger evangelicals are fascinated by Roman Catholicism. But, sadly, some people definitely are attracted to the temporal grandeur of the Roman church in comparison to evangelicalism’s simplicity. Some of that falls on the shoulders of evangelical pastors who no longer mention the history of the church, the Reformation, or the Five Solas. But it’s not about worldly grandeur, folks, it’s all about the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The Catholic church has its impressive architecture, ritual, pomp, and ceremony, but the Lord Jesus Christ had no place to lay His head in this world.