Our Reflections on Morality, Philosophy, and History: Ancient and Modern Classics

Hopefuly, my loved ones and acquaintences are slightly better people because I was in their lives.

What is the philosophy of this YouTube Channel? This mirrors my personal philosophy of life. I will discuss my background and qualifications at the end of this video. Our channel’s name is Reflections on Morality, Philosophy, and History, we swapped the word Theology for Morality in my title because we prefer discussions on how we can live a godly life, and that was also the goal for the Stoic and Greco-Roman Moral Philosophers, who had a tremendous influence on early Christianity.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLqDkfFbWhXOnzdjp__YZtg/

YouTube video: https://youtu.be/Si0TsO5bNr0

My preference is to read the works of the great thinkers rather than someone else’s opinion of what they said, because quite often they differ. Probably I could throw out some quicker, wittier, and more popular videos if I condensed them in my own witty words, but then you would be listening to me and not the original thinkers. So, although much of me does shine through here and there, mostly our videos are, in essence, book reviews, because we like to quote from ancient and modern authors extensively, to give you a feel for the work itself, to encourage you to study these works on your own.

Ancient philosophers were the self-help gurus of the ancient world, but instead of preaching a version of the modern prosperity gospel, instead of worshipping success, instead of preaching the power of positive thinking, instead of preaching how to win friends and influence people, the Greco-Roman Stoic and Moral Philosophers were interested in discussing virtues and vices, how we should truly live a godly life.

To a Stoic Philosopher, the question of Theodicy, or why God permits bad things to happen to good people, why God permits suffering, is simply absurd. The fact is, we do suffer, we will face injustices, we will suffer illnesses and death, and the rain falls on both the good man and the bad man. God will not shield us from suffering and injustice, but God will provide us with the strength to endure the challenges of this life.

We do not want to get bogged down in polemically divisive debates about what divides Christians from one another and from the wider society, we wax weary from the name calling surrounding debates on evolution, adoration of the Virgin Mary, the Filioque, infant vs adult baptism, etc. There are many channels that have respectful discussions on why their denomination is the best, this is not one of them. You should find a local church to attend, and I attend a local church, but on this channel, I am purposely ambiguous, I prefer to study the messages of all Judaeo-Christian religious traditions looking for nuggets of virtue and wisdom.

So, which is preferable, theology or philosophy? One answer is, neither, because up until the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment, theology and philosophy were friendly sisters. Perhaps another explanation is offered by the often-told joke many of you have no doubt heard before, What is the difference between those who go to the beach on Sundays, and those who go to church on Sundays? The answer is those who go to the beach on Sundays don’t go to church on Sundays because they don’t think they need to change, while the people who go to church on Sundays think they don’t need to change neither, because they go to church.

In the future, if there is a demand, we can cut a video discussing how you can get the most benefit from my channel, with information about how to use YouTube, WordPress, SlideShare, and Meetup, so I will stick to the basics quickly here. Please let us know in the comments if this interests you.

I have had a WordPress blog for several years, but have had more success with my YouTube Channel, and now I see a viable path forward. The blogs are helpful if you wish to view the footnotes, recent blogs are identical to the videos and PowerPoint slides, sometimes the older blogs differ. And the links always work in the blog, SlideShare has problems with links.

Often, I have online Meetup discussions where I practice my YouTube videos, you are welcome to sign up. Many online participants asked for my PDF scripts, so now I upload them to SlideShare. Links are in the YouTube description, and are also in my blogs and SlideShare PDF scripts, though sometimes the SlideShare links do not work. The icons for these sites are on the lower right in the computer banner, and in the ABOUT tab for mobile phones. Note you may need to scroll to the right to see the ABOUT tab in your mobile phone. We also have a Patreon page for patrons.

https://www.meetup.com/Reflections/events/

https://www.slideshare.net/BruceStrom1

https://www.patreon.com/seekingvirtueandwisdom

I want to emphasize that my posting Amazon links for these books, up to now, is more a favor to my readers and listeners, my cumulative affiliate commissions for my first year is well under five dollars.

So, what are the themes and philosophies of my channel and my life?

My primary philosophy is: You should strive to live a godly life, and that since life is hard and complicated, this striving implies reflection, pondering, prayer and study.

My favorite saint is St Augustine, because in all his major works he explicitly states that: You should interpret all Scripture according to the two-fold Love of God and Neighbor, that you should Love God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your strength and with all of your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.

The St Maximus the Confessor Corollary to this love for your neighbor is: You must be eager to forgive your neighbor, as eager as Christ is to forgive you your sins.

Another corollary is you should show compassion towards our neighbor. We should Always show compassion towards anyone who is forced to make a difficult moral decision, decisions such as divorce, placing a relative in a nursing home, or even abortion, even when we personally suspect the morality of the decision is suspect. Since Jesus is compassionate, so should we be compassionate. Saying that All Democrats believe in killing babies does not show Christian compassion.

In his highly influential work, On Christian Teaching, aka On Christian Doctrine, St Augustine teaches that: When a literal reading of a section in Scripture seems to contradict the two-fold Love of God and love for your neighbor, then you must interpret that section allegorically. For example, you must interpret the verse in the Psalms that says you should bash the heads of the babies from Babylon on the stone steps, the allegorically meaning is you should stamp out both your little sins in addition to your whoppers.

NOTE: The YouTube descriptions have links to the associated blog or blogs.

https://youtu.be/uQCnAJMPoos

What are the spiritual foundations underpinning Christianity? The Primary foundation of Christianity is the Old Testament Scriptures and the Jewish rabbinical tradition. The Secondary foundation is Greco-Roman Stoic and Moral Philosophy.

One current running series is: Studying the Ten Commandments according to the teachings of the Catholic Catechism, the Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church Fathers, though there was no real distinction between East and West in the first millennium of Christianity, the Jewish Talmud and Medieval Rabbis, Luther and the Protestant preachers and scholars, and the stoic philosophers. All the Jewish Laws in the Torah, and the Gospels, can be interpreted as forms of one or more of these ten commandments. The Talmud, Torah, and the Catholic Catechism are carefully crafted statements of faith and morals worthy of our attention.

This is the progression of the commandments bidding you to Love God and to love your neighbor:

  • You must guard your thoughts; you must think godly thoughts.
  • You must guard your words, avoiding cursing and swearing and all vulgarities.
  • You must guard your actions; you must not seek to harm your neighbor.

Other observations on the Ten Commandments:

  • Since we are eager to learn how to live a godly life, we should interpret these moral commandments expansively rather than restrictively. We want to do more for our Lord, not merely the minimum, so we can become the best person we can be.
  • All laws in the Torah amplify one of these commandments.
  • All commandments can be stated in both negatively, Thou Shalt Not, and positively, Thou Shall.

Some examples, the positive form of the command, Do Not Envy, and also Do Not Slander, is to protect your neighbor’s reputation, pushing back against gossip, and  defending your neighbor against slanders, or even truths viciously repeated. And the positive form of Do Not Murder is: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. We modern citizens of the world have fallen into the bad habit of vulgar and vile speech. We must be careful of our speech, choosing our words wisely.

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJVlY2bjK8li1ULMrgL23X-iA5aCENq6i

We modern citizens of the world have fallen into the bad habit of vulgar and vile speech. We must be careful of our speech, choosing our words carefully.

Holy Scriptures are a higher authority than moral philosophers. We use this writing style for our videos and blogs:

  • Holy Scriptures EXHORT us to live a godly life.
  • The ancient and modern Church Fathers, and most Protestant preachers, TEACH us how live a godly life.
  • The stoic and moral philosophers, and Luther, EXCLAIM to us how we can live a godly life. I was born Lutheran, and Luther was both a brilliant and a flawed theologian, as he often called the Pope names and was polemically anti-Semitic in many of his writings.

Also, in the Hebrew and in the transliteral translations of Leviticus, there are multiple commandments that say THOU SHALT NOT UNCOVER THE NAKEDNESS OF anyone who is not your wife, and this is not a doctrinal issue since these same commandments in Exodus use concise words that are similar to English usage that mean having sex with, in more or less vulgar or clinical terms. This language in Leviticus emphasizes that even illicit and immoral physical relationships can lead to either deep emotional attachments, or deep emotional resentments, and trauma, so we always prefer to use the phrase, being physically intimate, because this also suggests that the cousin of physical intimacy is emotionally intimacy in a caring relationship.

Also, we tend to be sloppy and overuse the word THING, we prefer to find some other more descriptive and less sloppy and lazy word, though we must admit that common usage permits talking about the Holy Things on the altar.

In the past decade I have been a facilitator for divorce support groups, and I often share my experiences and reflections during videos where we discuss forgiveness, repentance, love and lust, and temptation. Divorce, like any other crisis, can erode or strengthen your faith, the choice is yours. Divorce is an opportunity to explore your innermost motives. Divorce Care has both Protestant and Catholic support groups, and there is also a Catholic program on Surviving Divorce by Rose Sweet. This program is similar in format to Divorce Care, plus they discuss when and how to apply for a marriage annulment in the Catholic Church. Since my observations encourage empathy and forgiveness, they are beneficial to everyone.

https://www.divorcecare.org/

https://www.catholicsdivorce.com/

The Roman Stoic Philosophers. Including Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca, refer to either God or Zeus as if he were a monotheistic God. These Roman Stoic Philosophers rarely mention any other gods, and since they do not explicitly deny their existence, many scholars prefer to label them henotheists. Stoic Philosophy deeply influenced Christianity, their lists of virtues and vices deeply influenced the Eastern Monastic Church Fathers.

Another overarching theme: Historians like to categorize history and philosophy. However, when you study closely History and Philosophy, they defy simple categorization. For example, we can better understand Greek philosophy if we first disregard the historical labels, and scholars cannot really say what ALL stoics believe.

Another theme: Plato was an innovator; he did not provide the foundation for Greek Philosophy. Stoicism and moral philosophy is that foundation, Socrates adds to that foundation. The Socrates of Xenophon is a Stoic Socrates, primarily interested in moral instruction. Xenophon was highly regarded by both ancient and medieval historians and philosophers, although he is deprecated by many modern scholars.

https://youtu.be/Mip1vgRKH1E

https://youtu.be/LWfoHhtNY8I

The strict definition of Stoic Philosophy according to both ancient and modern scholars is that it was founded by the Greek Philosopher Zeno.

The broader definition of Greco-Roman Moral and Stoic Philosophy is that it progressed from a more primitive form in the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, to the later philosophers including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, and the Greek Cynic and Stoic Philosophers, though the Romans Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Plutarch, Cicero, and others.

https://youtu.be/Dhd543kov-E

In other words, Greco-Roman philosophy was primarily a moral philosophy, learning how to live a godly life, although great emphasis was placed on logic and rhetoric, so you don’t talk past each other, so you can accurately teach and learn philosophy.

What is the appeal of stoicism to Christians? Stoic and moral philosophy acknowledges that all men suffer, including good men, but that God will strengthen men so they can endure their suffering.

https://youtu.be/wgD8skYi3I0

https://youtu.be/m4mcP2F9c4w

Stoic philosophers would totally reject the notion of the Prosperity Gospel, that God will bless true believers with prosperity, and will release true believers from all suffering and unfairness in this world. In other words, if events go badly in your life, don’t blame God, but instead ask God for the strength to strive and survive and forgive in all circumstances.

We also want to mention our most popular video so far, and that is the video that reflects on why Stoics, many modern Christians, and apparently many ancient Christians, were so admired of the philosophy of the Meditations of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius when the historical evidence, though not definitive, suggests that he may also have been a persecutor of Christians? This is an interesting question that will never be resolved, the historical sources of that era are spotty. And there is also a second video we cut on the Meditations.

https://youtu.be/-uQxq1O9xSY

https://youtu.be/0qHpReZYhv4

We became interested in studying the Stoic Philosophers after viewing the Great Courses lectures by Professor Luke Timothy Johnson of the Teaching Company on the Greco-Roman Practical Philosophers. These courses have not been ported over to the Wondrium website.

https://amzn.to/3ymSd7b

When reading and interpreting the Old and New Testaments, and also the Platonic dialogues, it is helpful to understand the history of the ancient world, and what life and justice was like for the ancients.

Many biblical scholars underestimate this one truth about the ancient world: All ancient cultures were warrior cultures. Why do we say all cultures? Because when an ancient city-state was defeated, often all the men were killed, or sentenced to work and die in the mines or plantations, while the women and children were enslaved. There were no conscientious objectors in the ancient world, every free male needed to help defend the city-state.

https://youtu.be/7lI2ZQ50wRc

This simple fact explains so many conundrums. One is the question: Why does the Christian message seem more compassionate than the Jewish message? For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus exhorts us to turn the other cheek, while Judaism is more concerned with justice and retribution.

https://youtu.be/xZeDjusUwPg

https://youtu.be/xaqFTPgoDI0

The simple historical fact was that after the Roman Empire conquered a territory, the inhabitants no longer fears that their city could be attacked and its citizens enslaved at any time, which meant that living a truly altruistic life of turning the other cheek was more possible in the time of Jesus than in Ancient Israel, or Ancient Greece, where your city could be defeated and ransacked, your men massacred, and your women and children enslaved, at any time.

Remembering that ancient Israel was a warrior culture resolves many of the so-called difficult verses of the Bible.

https://youtu.be/O67cmVRvBtA

The fact that ancient societies were warrior cultures also helps to explain other notions, that Ancient warrior cultures were male-dominated cultures because the ancient world was a dangerous place for women, who were subject to sexual abuse and enslavement as concubines if they wandered about without protectors. Which explains why all ancient cultures were patriarchal cultures.

https://youtu.be/bGHHD7XTvr0

What is also true is the Judeo-Christian tradition sought to treat women better. Many Old Testament stories tell how women can play important roles in the ancient Jewish culture. And St Paul says that under Christ, men and women, free and slave, Jew and Gentile, all are equal in the eyes of the Lord.

We cut another fun video comparing the warrior cultures of the Ancient Greeks to the American Indians, and you can make a strong argument that the Ancient Greek culture is more like the American Indian culture than to our modern American culture. But the Ancient Greeks are more like our modern culture in one important respect: we are both literate cultures with recorded histories. The Iliad both celebrates the glory of war and noble deeds while simultaneously doubting the wisdom of the futility and senselessness of war, much as we do in our modern culture. Perhaps literacy better enables empathy for those who wish to improve themselves.

https://youtu.be/ynIx-AVI2f8

Another consequence of the ancient warrior cultures: Most slaves who were not children of slaves, were either captured during wartime raids or by pirates. And slaves were so numerous that they took the place of employees in the ancient world.

https://youtu.be/O67cmVRvBtA

We also want to mention our video that reflects on how, over the centuries, the Judeo-Christian tradition sought to improve the lot of slaves, as well as widows and orphans and all other marginalized groups.

https://youtu.be/poyvJajCXnE

Speaking about warrior cultures, this is another theme: You cannot understand the Platonic dialogues without understanding the history of the Peloponnesian Wars, which depends on an understanding of the Greco-Persian Wars, and the Trojan Wars described by Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey, which were the basis of Greek culture.

https://youtu.be/JjNcyLo54ko

https://youtu.be/DpmuhZJUJn0

We also study modern history and the moral lessons we can learn when reflecting on this history. We have cut a series of videos on what it was like to be a Christian, both Catholic and Protestant, living under the various fascist regimes in Europe. We reflected life in Italy, where the fascist regime partnered with the Pope and the Catholic Church, until Mussolini went full-Nazi shortly before the start of the war and started persecuting the Jews. We reflected on life in Vichy France, where the Vichy government tried to simultaneously be pro-Catholic, pro-life, anti-Semitic, and pro-Nazi, and how this mix did not mix very well. We reflected on life in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, where the fascists were embraced by the Catholic Church because the communists massacred priests and monks and nuns by the thousands. And, what life was like for both Catholics and Protestants under the fanatically anti-Semitic Nazi regime who persecuted all Christians unwilling to endorse the anti-Semitic policies of the Nazi regime.

https://youtu.be/LvNynEdZFuM

https://youtu.be/yYpNrhpmsYw

https://youtu.be/ozEioe6yyY8

https://youtu.be/QP9UR8fqfvs

A spellbinding account of how Viktor Frankl was able to survive the Auschwitz work camps, Man’s Search For Meaning, was a book that affected me deeply and is a stoic treatise on how to persevere even under the most extreme circumstances. The theme is a man who seeks to live a godly life, who does not live for himself but for others, who finds meaning in life, whether it be family or occupation or mission, is better able to survive the trials we face in life, no matter how severe. This is indeed a stoic handbook for living.

https://youtu.be/O-YtC9qGWPI

We also reflect on the many links and commonalities between the Nazi anti-Semitism and the Jim Crow legal system making legally enforced segregation the law of the land. This video reviews a scholarly study that documents how the Nazi lawyers drafting the Nuremberg Jewish Race Laws used the Jim Crow legal systems as precedent. We also reviewed how, during World War II, FDR refused to support an anti-lynching bill for fear that the Southern Senators, in retribution, would refuse to support the war effort to defeat the Nazis. This lynching bill did not directly make lynching a federal crime, but rather made it illegal for local sheriffs and prosecutors to fail to pursue credible cases of lynchings.

https://youtu.be/_td3jPGD5TI

These links are also evident in the story of Nelson Mandela and his struggle against apartheid in South Africa. In 1948, the Boer Afrikaner National Party won control of the government, and immediately enacted Race Laws that were even harsher than the Jim Crow segregation laws in the Deep South. In South Africa, blacks were denied the freedom of assembly, it was illegal to protest governmental policies.

Our first video on Nelson Mandela’s childhood is fascinating because it tells the story of many transitions in South African history, from being an English colony to independence, from living in a tribal culture to a modern European culture, from rural life to city life. In our second video, as an adult, Nelson Mandela experienced the transition from spending several decades in prison to the Presidency, and from apartheid to freedom, from living under a fascist racist regime to living under a multicultural democracy.

https://youtu.be/7nx81VPqoX8

https://youtu.be/X3UnZYeE_kA

And, we have encountered whites who refuse to believe that lynching is a real thing, they instead claim that this is liberal propaganda! So, we record many videos on ancient slavery, slavery in America, the Civil War, Reconstruction Era, Redemption and Jim Crow Era, and the modern civil rights era. Just as Jews remember the Holocaust, when the Nazis murdered the Jews, so we must remember lynchings, what MLK has called the American Holocaust. He uses this language in his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, which we compare to Hannah Arendt’s Banality of Evil, on the trial of Adolph Eichmann, the Nazi official who administered the death camps, where millions of Jews were murdered.

https://youtu.be/PqFAUEXbi8k

https://youtu.be/PqFAUEXbi8k

We have a video reflecting on two books penned by a white Baptist Minister who explores why evangelical Christians are so reluctant to help the black poor and disadvantaged in our society. Although many evangelicals want to believe that all that is demanded from us is to seek our personal individual salvation, our Judeo-Christian tradition, from the time of the Prophets of the Old Testament, demands that our Christian society must also treat all citizens fairly and honestly, enabling them to gain an education and earn a living wage.

https://youtu.be/XekOz29oWL0

Not all white evangelicals are racist. We review the autobiography, Sold Out, written by Coach Bill McCartney, founder of the national ministry that reaches out to young men, Promise Keepers. When he was a football coach, Bill McCartney became friends and father figure for the many black athletes he recruited for his football team, many who came from destitute families in the slums, and because of this experience he felt that somehow this country needed to be more welcoming and understanding towards our black brothers, which is also a core teaching of Promise Keepers.

https://youtu.be/02MWE1ANlWo

The modern Catholic Church is concerned with civil rights and the plight of the immigrants, simply because so many Catholics are newly arrived immigrants. Pope Francis has appointed black bishops to help lead the church in both America and Africa. In the encyclical recently issued by Pope Francis, On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World, Pope Francis reaffirms that abortion is not what should define Catholicism, that social justice should define Catholicism, and our mission to minister to the poor. The right to life does not end at birth. Pope Francis also teaches that we should be careful in our posts on social media, that the commandments, Do Not Slander, and Do Not Lie, applies to social media. He also offers a reinterpretation of the Beatitudes as they apply to the modern world.

https://youtu.be/jF-fsMvYsak

The Catholic Church’s emphasis on social justice and the poor has its roots in Rerum Novarum, in English, Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor, issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891. Many believe it partly inspired the New Deal, instituted by FDR to lift America out of the Depression of the 1930’s. FDR’s Four Freedoms, issued during World War II, summarizes the philosophy of the New Deal. First among these freedoms are the Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Worship. These freedoms, though valuable, are meaningless without Freedom from Want or Freedom from Fear. A central theme of the New Deal is that if you work a forty-hour week, even at the most menial job, you should earn enough to feed your family, clothe them, and have a decent house, so you can live with dignity. We plan to cut a series of videos on Social Justice, starting with Rerum Novarum.

We also want to point out the that the Orthodox Church in America has founded a Fellowship of Saint Moses the black that is a ministry of racial reconciliation.

http://mosestheblack.org

We have also reviewed the 1619 Project book and will bring out more videos on this book later, and have found it to be simply a history of what it was like to be black in the Deep South during the Jim Crow Era, and, YES, it might even make some white people feel bad or guilty or shamed or whatever and like, so what? We have a choice, we can either make white children feel guilty, or we can make black children feel inferior.

https://youtu.be/JRdnB0lqN5o

We also have a video on critical race theory, its actual definition, and its practical definition, which is a resurrection of the discredited Lost Cause myth, that the Civil War was not about abolishing slavery, the Civil War was a battle to preserve state’s rights. This video points to many of our other videos on Civil Rights history.

https://youtu.be/lAa_jqL3S7I

We are also particularly interested in studying the history of the Second Vatican Council and the Council of Trent, using John O’Malley’s history of these councils as a primary source, but also consulting books written by the participants and implementers of the Council, such as Yves Congar, Karl Rahner, Hans Kung, and Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and other Council Church Fathers.

In our video on the Decree for Religious Liberty we discussed how Vatican II reaffirmed the theological teaching of Trent, and how Vatican II is all about how the Catholic Church has responded to the modern world; and how the Church, and society, was affected by the horrors experienced under the fascist and Nazi regimes during World War II. The World War II experiences and suffering caused the Catholic Church to embrace democracy as the true long-term friend of the Church, and to reject totalitarian regimes as governments that the church can trust.

https://youtu.be/vHtYu6UtiuE

https://youtu.be/Thq1blvzWHs

https://youtu.be/i_zGeTW9QMI

I don’t want my channel to be highly political, many others do that quite well. But I do want to push back and say that it’s okay for Christians to be Democrats. When the Republican Voters Against Trump asked people for videos on why they left the Republican Party, I went ahead and cut this video.

https://youtu.be/94_2OYuZpJs

I’m particularly dismayed by a good Christian friend, she is highly educated, working in management for a big company in an executive position, but somehow, she thinks that the Democratic Party condones child abuse and pedophilia, and I ask her, Does this accusation even make logical sense? Lies like this, spread by QAnon, Trump, MAGA personalities, Fox News, and the even wackier right wingnut media are lies, slanderous lies, slanderous lies that are totally false, people are never automatically guilty of crimes just because you imagine them to be true. Christians should not lie.

And you can see the pictures of Donald Sutherland from the movies Body Snatchers, where tendrils from alien plants penetrate your body while you are sleeping so they can steal your body. He is screaming at somebody who’s normal because these his body is already gotten snatched up by the aliens. That is how I feel about my Christian friends, whose souls have been snatched by QAnon, Trump, and Fox News. And YES, I believe Joe Biden is our legitimately elected President.

https://youtu.be/-2ML2hQXPZQ

We are planning another video sometimes in in the next few months, based on the book by Brian Stelter, who interviewed many Fox News employees, hosts, and guests, Titled: You can Love God or you can watch Fox News, but in the long run, you cannot do both.

On occasion, I may cut a video when historical incidents are directly comparable to the current day. In one video I compare how the lies told by Aristophanes helped turn the Athenians against our beloved Socrates, resulting in his trial and execution, and I compare that to the Big Lie surrounding the Capitol Riots. Also, I heard a story about an odd case about a father who was turned in by his son for his role in the Capital Riots, and this really is very similar to the situation of the young man in the Platonic Dialogue titled Euthyphro, who was also bringing a lawsuit against his father for murdering his slave. In life, who is right and who is wrong can sometimes be difficult to discern.

https://youtu.be/Pn7wYntimjo

https://youtu.be/etK0eIpYPPg

What is my faith background? I was born, baptized, and confirmed as a Lutheran, but became rather disenchanted when I made the mistake of reading Luther’s writings, I was spiritually distressed to read him constantly calling the Pope names, often vulgar names, and by his constant polemic anti-Semitic rants.

I asked my Lutheran pastor how the seminar professors handled these anti-Semitic and pope-bashing comments by Luther in his writings. He told me that he didn’t study the writings of Lutheran in his Lutheran seminary. For years I wondered, am I the only person that’s ever noticed this in five hundred years?

Many years later I found a Lutheran professor, who never left the Lutheran Church, who is also an Augustinian scholar and one of my favorite Teaching Company Professors, Phillip Cary, whose lectures on Luther are fair and balanced, showing both his virtues and his vices, and he addresses these same concerns I have had for decades.

https://amzn.to/3Fo0KIy

But, in the Large Lutheran catechism, Luther does have some unique moral lessons to teach us, but then he ruins everything by calling the Pope names or hurling some anti-Semitic slurs. So, in my first lecture on his comments on DO NOT ENVY, we discuss these issues, and when I run into these wayward rants elsewhere, I will just refer to that video and concentrate on the good we can learn from Luther. And we can learn many beneficial lessons from Luther, as long as we are on our guard.

https://youtu.be/i8WXS7l4OzE

https://youtu.be/jM2FrvyKsbk

Since my ex-wife was Baptist, we attended the Baptist Church for many years, and for a time attended Episcopal services, and also Pentecostal Orthodox, and Catholic services. But I have not been eager to convert to another faith tradition on a whim, you can count the traditions in which I have formally professed my faith on one, or two, or three fingers. But not four fingers or more.

What are my qualifications? Basically, I have been reading books of theology, philosophy, history and psychology since my high school years, and in place of listening to the radio all the time, I have been listening to college-level lectures for the past few decades from the Teaching Company, now Wondrium, and lectures from the Catholic Learn25 company, and also to the undergraduate lectures uploaded to YouTube from colleges including Yale University, Eric Foner’s lectures from Columbia University, and Stanford and other universities and seminaries. I have attended a year of local Orthodox seminary classes, and two years of Catholic Lay Ministry courses. Attending graduate level university classes is prohibitively expensive at $450 a credit hour, maybe I will audit some classes for free next year.

But the good news is, if you are concerned about my qualifications, you can improve them, because everyone knows that in the internet age, and on YouTube, your qualifications are determined by how many YouTube views and subscribers you have accumulated, so if you join and listen to my channel, and all your friends and relatives likewise join and listen, you can help me to become more qualified. So, this ball is in your court!

My goal in life is for those to who are close to me, and also my casual acquaintances, are slightly better people because I was in their lives. Likewise, my goal for this YouTube Channel is you can become a slightly better person after listening and reflecting on my videos.

About Bruce Strom 186 Articles
I was born and baptized and confirmed as a Lutheran. I made the mistake of reading works written by Luther, he has a bad habit of writing seemingly brilliant theology, but then every few pages he stops and calls the Pope often very vulgar names, what sort of Christian does that? Currently I am a seeker, studying church history and the writings of the Church Fathers. I am involved in the Catholic divorce ministries in our diocese, and have finished the diocese two-year Catholic Lay Ministry program. Also I took a year of Orthodox off-campus seminary courses. This blog explores the beauty of the Early Church and the writings and history of the Church through the centuries. I am a member of a faith community, for as St Augustine notes in his Confessions, you cannot truly be a Christian unless you worship God in the walls of the Church, unless persecution prevents this. This blog is non-polemical, so I really would rather not reveal my denomination here.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply