The Nazis were not simply demons who erupted out of some dark underworld to shatter what was good and just within the Western tradition, until they were put down by force of arms and the authentic humane and progressive values of Europe were restored. There were traditions of Western governments within which they worked. There were continuities between Nazism and what came before and after. There were examples and inspirations on which the Nazis drew, and American race law prominent among them. […]
Civil Rights & Modern History
Most books progress, with many chapters, each chapter tell different events, or different people, or different phases of life, usually progressing in some manner. But the story in Viktor Frankl’s account of life in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II is one long dreary struggle for survival, unrelieved misery, each day running into the next, no weekends, for a precious few a monotonous few years until the war ended, for some many, many months of misery, for most, for nine out of ten Jews, they had left only days before they stripped for showers not of streams of life-giving water but showers spewing noxious fumes into gas chambers.
Viktor Frankl was one of the few of the ten percent whose first shower in Auschwitz sprayed life giving water over their naked bodies, one of the few who survived years of what was the most brutal slave society the world had ever seen, where formerly free men and women were torn away from their families, whose luggage and their jewelry and clothes were taken, even their hair shorn from them. The Nazis even strove to steal from them their humanity, taking away their names, tattooing on their wrists the numbers they would be their new identity. […]
Although the Bible does not specifically condemn slavery, the Bible does encourage us to treat all of our fellow men with dignity and respect, whether they are slave or free. In succeeding centuries, several early Church Fathers either condemned the institution of slavery or tried to weaken its grasp. […]
Did the Civil War lead to a Second Founding of the United States? Eric Foner in his book with that title on the Reconstruction amendments and his other books on the Reconstruction era argues forcefully that the Civil War was a political turning point for this country. Before the Civil War, each state determined its own racial policies, but the politics of slavery, then white supremacy, proved so repugnant to the North that it passed these three amendments. […]
Day after day Father Tolton was seen coming in or out of the shacks, the rat-infested hovels and tenement houses. He listened compassionately to complaints of unemployment, desertion, injustice, depravity. Father Tolton knew how to bring hope and comfort to the sick and dying; he knew how to mitigate human suffering and sorrow because eh himself had experienced the lash of the slave driver as well as the lash of the white man’s tongue. […]
Frederick Douglas was born a slave in Maryland in the late 1820’s, he can only guess how old he is, like most slaves he did not know when he was born. He escaped slavery on his second attempt to run away to the Northern states, and not only did he teach himself how to read, he became a spell-binding orator and abolitionist, agitating for the end of slavery, and becoming a best-selling author, publishing three autobiographies, other books and a newspaper. Some bigots claimed it was impossible for an ex-slave to be able to write that well, though they could not argue that it was not him making his speeches. […]
Many millennia ago there was another injustice when a five-hundred person jury convicted Socrates to death, and in his trial Socrates felt compelled to protest to the jurors that he was not the same Socrates as the miscreant Socrates lampooned by the Athenian comedian Aristophanes in his play “The Clouds.” […]
When we study the history of the Christian Church in America, we must ask ourselves, What role should the Christian Church play in our society, in our culture, in the making of the values of our nation? What role SHOULD the church play? What role DOES the church play? There is always a spiritual contest between the church and our culture, this contest is summed up in the eternal question: Who is going to influence whom? Will the Church succeed in influencing our culture? Or will our culture instead influence the Church? […]
Whenever I talk to my white Christian friends and tell them that I am a socialist liberal Democrat; that I support the social justice Catholic position so passionately advanced by Pope Francis; that Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, AOC, George Soros, Tom Hanks, and Hilary Clinton are not QAnon bogeymen kidnapping children; that I am both pro-life and pro-choice, with reservations, and am not pro-death; that Black Lives Really Do Matter deeply; when I tell them this and more, they bulge their eyes, point their fingers, and let out a high pitch screech screaming: Snake! False Teacher! Satan’s servant! Liberal! Communist! Trump hater! Baby killer! Murderer! Democrat! […]
Should blacks compromise, or should blacks protest when facing discrimination and segregation? Should blacks compromise under the leadership of Booker T Washington, or should blacks protest under the leadership of WEB Dubois, who founded the NAACP? This question is a question each black person needs to answer for himself from the days of Jim Crow up to the present day. […]
Booker T Washington’s autobiography, Up From Slavery, offers an interesting glimpse in what it was like to be born a slave, live through the tumultuous Civil War era, and as a young man to experience the consequences blacks faced with the end of Reconstruction when the Ku Klux Klan night-riders enslaved the former black slaves anew through terror by lynching them, burning their bodies and their farm and their churches, suppressing them and denying them justice, even denying them the ability to defend themselves in daylight through the courts. […]
Dubois’ subhead reads: “How civil war in the South began again, indeed had never ceased; and how black Prometheus bound to the Rock of Ages by hate, hurt an humiliation, has his vitals eaten out as they grow, yet lives and fights.” Dubois continues: “The civil war in the South which overthrew Reconstruction was a determined effort to reduce black labor as nearly as possible to a condition of unlimited exploitation and build a new class of capitalists on this foundation. The wage of the Negro, despite the war amendments, was to be reduced to the level of bare subsistence by taxation, peonage, caste, and every form of discrimination, in open defiance of the clear letter of the law.”
An eyewitness tells a Senate Committee: “Some planters held back their former slaves on their plantations by brute force. Armed bands of white men patrolled the country roads to drive back the Negroes wandering about. Dead bodies of murdered Negroes were found on and near the highways and byways. Gruesome reports came from the hospitals, reports of colored men and women whose ears had been cut off, whose skulls had been broken by blows, whose bodies have been slashed by knives or lacerated with scourges. A veritable reign of terror prevailed in many parts of the South.” […]
Our defense of the innocent unborn needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development.”
Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty. […]
Promise Keepers was founded in 1990 by Coach Bill McCartney. He was the head coach of the University of Colorado with a winning record from 1982 to 1994. His team won three consecutive Big Eight Conference titles and the national championship in 1990. While attending a Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet, he discussed with Dave Wardell the idea of Promise Keepers, an organization that would organize conferences that would train and teach young men on what it means to be godly husbands, godly fathers, and godly men.
Many black athletes see college and professional sports as their ticket out of poverty. Many blacks attending college on athletic scholarships only know poverty, attended sub-standard ghetto schools, and really have a hard life and often have a difficult time in college. Bill McCartney witnessed first-hand how the lack of opportunity for these black families affected his black athletes.
Promise Keepers asks the young men in its ministry to make seven promises to live a godly life. This is the sixth promise: A Promise Keeper is committed to reaching beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity. […]
As you can tell from the length of this blog, abortion is truly a moral tar baby. If you do not touch the tar baby and only glance at its outward appearances from twenty feet away, you can yell and scream and shout and maybe even shoot at those who do the evil deed, and think you are righteous and holy condemning those who you think made a sinful decision all day long on Facebook and Twitter and on the abortion picket line.
But if you dare to get one arm, then your other arm, then one leg, then your other leg into that moral tar baby called abortion, and start moving around and educating yourself and pondering and praying about all the sticky morass of moral issues, you will never get free of this moral tar baby, you will never be able to condemn any decision anybody makes about abortion, you will only be able to feel compassion towards those unfortunate few who must decide and who must live with their decision. […]
There have been disagreements among the Civil Rights leaders, particularly in the decades following the Redemption era. There was definite tension between those who were followers of Booker T Washington, the accommodationist, and WEB Dubois, the activist. They are like the good cop and bad cop of early Civil Rights history.
These two pioneering black leaders were from two generations. Booker T Washington lived from 1856 through 1915 and was the last black leader who witnessed the emancipation of slaves during the Civil War. WEB Dubois was born later and lived longer, from 1868 through 1963. WEB Dubois earned his PhD in history from Harvard and was part of the Talented Tenth movement who believed that black leaders should seek higher education to better enable them to champion the causes of their race. […]
Southerners were stubborn, Southerners were intransigent, Southerners could never accept St Paul’s declaration that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” It was anathema, unthinkable, incomprehensible that Southerners, and many Northerners, would ever regard negroes as equal to free white men, in their eyes negroes were inferior, they would always be subservient. General Sherman may have burned Atlanta and destroyed livestock, crops, and railroads in his mark to the sea; General Grant may have continually fought and flanked Robert E Lee until he was cornered and cut off from supplies at Appomattox; these two Union generals may have momentarily exhausted the ability of the Southern generals to continue the war; but the true Civil War to change racial attitudes is a war that is being fought to this very day.
The South may have lost the Civil War, but it won the peace. The history of Reconstruction is in three phases. In Presidential Reconstruction lenient terms entice the Southern states back into the Union, but the South overreaches, enacting black codes so harsh that they effectively re-enslave the free blacks to their former masters, denying blacks any rights as citizens. Radical Reconstruction is enacted when many in the North to be outraged by the attitudes of their Confederates, the Radical Republicans gain a veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress, the South is placed under military rule, and new elections are held and policies that benefit free blacks are enforced. But there is mass resistance, the Ku Klux Klan and similar white supremacy bands spring up, terrorizing the South in their night rides and burning crosses, lynchings become commonplace. The Panic of 1873 causes a deep recession, Northern public opinion tires of the endless struggle against the old Confederacy, leading to the final phase, Redemption. Federal troops are withdrawn from the South and the Southerners are free to rule as they see fit, Jim Crow laws are passed denying blacks their civil liberties and their ability to live a normal life with a decent paying job. The KKK and other night riders step up their lynchings to intimidate blacks, in some cases violently overthrowing legitimately elected local governments. […]
To win the war, Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation, shared it with his Cabinet, and then pocketed the document until the fortunes of war improved for the North. After the victory at the Battle of Antietam and Grant’s victory at Vicksburg, Lincoln released the Emancipation Proclamation as an executive order issued under his war powers as Commander-In-Chief in September 1862.
What the Emancipation Proclamation did not do was emancipate any slaves immediately, nor did it emancipate the slaves in the border states loyal to the Union cause. Lincoln proclaimed that if the Confederacy surrendered by January 1, 1863, she could keep her slaves, but if the rebellion persisted after that date all slaves in the rebelling states would be free.
David Blight in his lecture says:
There were at least four immediate and visible effects of the Emancipation Proclamation. First, every forward movement the Union armies now would, whether some of those officers liked it or not, liberate more slaves. Second, news of this Proclamation, whatever the details and the fine print, would spread like wildfire across the South, and it would attract towards Union lines more freed people. We have testimony of Confederate soldiers and white Southerners saying they first heard about the Emancipation Proclamation from their slaves. Third, it committed the United States Government in the eyes of the world to Emancipation. That’s terribly important when we remember that Great Britain was on the verge of recognizing the Confederacy as an independent nation. Fourth, Lincoln formally authorizes once and for all, although it’s already begun to happen, the recruitment of black men into the Union Armies and Navy, and it authorizes a formal process now to recruit black men to the Union uniform. And before the war will end about ten percent of all Union forces will be African American– approximately 180,000–eighty percent of whom were former slaves, from the slave states. […]
When Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe, he remarked, So you are the little lady whose little book started the Civil War. This book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was the best-selling book by far in 1852, eventually selling over a million copies, galvanizing Northern opinion about the horrors of slavery. This romantic novel from the point of view of ordinary slaves, and it really promoted that the lives of even slaves should have dignity, they were not just mere property like cows or horses, that slaves could the heroes and heroines of a tragic novel allowing the reader to imagine the horrors of a life lived bound in chains, of souls bound in cruel inequities, of human beings bound in a life of unending cruelties.
The antithesis of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott vs Sanford in 1857. Dred Scott was a slave who sued his master for his freedom as his master moved him and his family between slave states and free states that banned slavery under the Missouri Compromise law. The Southern Chief Justice Roger Taney held that no negro had ever enjoyed the rights of a citizen under the Constitution. Negroes were denied the dignity of personhood, negroes were always property and would also remain property, negroes were declared by the Supreme Court decision to be “so far inferior that they had no rights which a white man was bound to respect.” This decision, which denied that the Constitution gave Congress the right to bar slavery in the territories, enraged public opinion in the North, bolstering the popularity of Lincoln and the Republican Party […]
Eastern / Early Church Fathers
When the debate begins, the first question Trypho asks is about circumcision, which was a major stumbling block for Christian converts in the early days of the Church, when many converts were confused on whether they first needed to convert to Judaism before becoming Christian. Converting to Judaism meant you had to be circumcised. St Paul in his Epistles famously reassures his Gentile converts that they only needed to be circumcised in their heart. Not only did Christian converts not need to be circumcised; it was wrong to require that converts be circumcised, and he is quite strident in his exhortations in Galatians in particular. […]
What is envy? St Basil teaches us that “envy is distress caused by your neighbor’s prosperity. The jealous person is never free from anguish, never free from despair.” Is your neighbor successful? Does he drive a nice car, live in a nice house, have an attractive wife and precious children? Is he happy? Is he healthy? Is he wealthy? “All these things feed the illness and increase the pain of the jealous person.” […]
St Cyprian warns us of the pernicious evils of envy. “What a gnawing worm of the soul envy is, what a plague-spot of our thoughts, what a rust of the heart, to be jealous of another.” How envy gnaws at our soul when we hate our neighbor for their prosperity, their good luck, their inheritance, when we make other people’s glory our penalty, when we allow envy to be the executioner of our soul. When we are consumed by envy, “no food is joyous, no drink is cheerful. The envious are every sighing and groaning and grieving,” our envy torments us day and night. […]
We must be one of the peacemakers. What is peace? Peace is a “loving disposition towards our neighbor.” What is the opposite of this love? The enemy of peace is “hate and wrath, anger and envy, harboring resentment as well as hypocrisy and the calamity of war.”
We are reminded that the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Plain directly reminds us that not only are the poor in spirit blessed, but also the poor and down and out, and in case we do not comprehend, Jesus in Luke warns us, “woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” So what is common between to these two Beatitudes and the words of Jesus on the Day of Judgement? St Gregory of Nyssa teaches us, “they all converge on the same goal,” they all show how the Love of God shines in our lives and in how we live our lives, and the love we show to our neighbor. […]