All posts by Paul Nowak

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

We Don’t Need Another Manifesto

As Christians, we know what we believe. It is expressed concisely in the Apostle’s Creed or more completely in the Bible itself.

We have a vision. It is that of the Kingdom of Heaven, of Eden and existence beyond the Judgement, where the ideals we desire, justice, truth, and charity are perfectly expressed.

We have a mission. The great commission at the end of the book of Matthew still applies: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

With all these things, why do we falter? Why do Christians everywhere seem lukewarm, compromising, and complacent?

We are not wanting of something to believe in, a vision, or a mission. We lack the courage to do what we must. We need to be reminded of what it is we are to do today for the glory of God. We need particular tasks to do.

In his private notebook, G.K. Chesterton wrote that a soldier, a knight, a warrior does not want to be reassured that his commander has a plan. After all, Our Lord has an inevitable plan laid out for us and the world, repeatedly laid out in the Scriptures. What a fighter wants, remarked Chesterton, is a sword. A weapon or tool with which to strike, to struggle with, and with which he can make a difference for his cause.

We have such weapons, but too often we think they are irrelevant in our time, or too simple. They are found throughout the Scriptures too.  Pray. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless. Those are the acts of a soldier of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We do not need another statement of belief. We need to do.

 

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

Why Chesterton and Revolution?

Someone asked me a question yesterday via the GKChestertonQuote.com site: If “revolution” is so often used as a leftist and communist idea, why would a Christian author like G.K. Chesterton issue a call to revolution like “Pray for Revolution?

To paraphrase Chesterton in Manalive, a revolution is always a  return. A revolution is a radical change, a re-turning to some ideal that was lost. As Christians, the idea is that what we have lost was Eden, what we hope for is the Kingdom of God. In our fallen world, to realize these ideals in the now, we must radically change ourselves in order for that to happen.

“To the orthodox there must always be a case for revolution; for in the hearts of men God has been put under the feet of Satan. In the upper world hell once rebelled against heaven. But in this world heaven is rebelling against hell. For the orthodox there can always be a revolution; for a revolution is a restoration. At any instant you may strike a blow for the perfection which no man has seen since Adam.” Orthodoxy

Revolution is not the sole property of any particular political ideal. Perhaps it is ultimately alien even for political ideals.

Near the end of Manalive, Innocent Smith has a conversation with a Russian revolutionist:

[Smith:] “I am a revolutionist. But don’t you see that all these real leaps and destructions and escapes are only attempts to get back to Eden– to something we have had, to something we at least have heard of? Don’t you see one only breaks the fence or shoots the moon in order to get HOME?”

“No,” I answered after due reflection, “I don’t think I should accept that.”

“Ah,” he said with a sort of a sigh, “then you have explained a second thing to me.”

“What do you mean?’ I asked; “what thing?”

“Why your revolution has failed.”

The more I read of Chesterton the more I see a revolutionary philosophy running through it; not a philosophy that is new and revolutionary, like independence in the American colonies or communism in the formerly imperial Russia, but a philosophy that is based on revolution itself as a fundamental truth of human history and philosophy. We cannot create an ideal heaven on Earth, so we must always be seeking to improve what we have.

To get started reading the revolutionary works of Chesterton I would suggest the essay “The Wind in the Trees” (From Tremendous Trifles), Orthodoxy (of which the seventh chapter is called “The Eternal Revolution,”) and Manalive.

There are hundreds more insights into Chesterton’s idea of revolution, but they are scattered throughout his works. Perhaps someday I’ll have a book actually on Chesterton on revolution, not just a book inspired by Chesterton’s idea of revolution.

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

Why I Write Short Books (and Blog Posts)

The Eternal Revolution can now be ordered from Amazon, and I am still awaiting my first shipment from the printer. As this latest books finds its way into people’s hands, one of the first things you will notice is that it is relatively short for a book.

At just over 6,000 words and 40 pages in print, it is short for what we have come to expect from a book. As someone commented a few months ago, my blog posts tend to be short too.

This is intentional. How many books of 200-300 pages do you read in a year? How many are published? How many 1,800 word articles posted on blogs can you read in a day, and how many are produced daily? We just don’t have the time to consume all the content – even all the free content – that is made available. Also, the early Church fathers and monastic rules constantly warned about talking too much, not too little.

Book publishing has change drastically in the last few years. I believe it is the biggest change since Gutenberg’s printing press. Since the invention of the press, duplication of printed matter has become easier, but it has not necessarily become open to everyone. Hiring a printer to set type required a return on investment for the time, and producing a modern book for publication required hours of labor, not only from the author, illustrator, editors, marketing team, advertising, printer, truck driver, and so on. A new hardcover book required a $30 price point and a print run in the tens of thousands to make enough to pay everyone a rate worthy of their time and effort. Which means that an idea that could be expressed in 50 pages has to, instead, be padded to make the book thick enough to be worth $30. As a result, non-fiction books especially can feel dragged out, over-fluffed, and appear difficult to read. Like Christianity (according to Chesterton) they are perceived difficult and left untried. The price-setting, page-padding practice is becoming outdated when small books can be printed just as easily as bigger books, and word of mouth can drive sales better than conventional advertising.

Hence short books. Something that you can look at and think “I can read this in an afternoon or evening.” And if you read it, it will actually have a chance to change your life, unlike that list of best-selling titles you just haven’t gotten around to reading.

For the same $30 cover price as the traditional hardcover, I’ll be able to sell 10 copies of a book to someone who will share my perspective and encouragement with 9 other people. Being short, the book is more likely to be read. That’s a lot more impact for the same price.

My blog posts are likewise short. You have other things to do than sit on the Internet and read other people’s opinions on things. Your time is precious, I just need enough words to present an idea, a concept, or a new perspective at let you think and pray about it means in your life, what God might want you to hear in it, and how, if at all, it will affect your life.

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

Learning to Hope Like a Bartledan

In Mostly Harmless, the final book in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, an alien race known as the Bartledans. They are described as being almost exactly like humans, except that they do not hope, wish, or dream.

Wishing a Bartledan a good evening is cause for confusion. They play games and sports, but never with a desire to win – the team or player that wins, has in fact won. Their literature is completely non-fiction, and always exactly 100,000 words. If the plot is too short, self help text is added. If the story is too long, it simply drops off completely, mid-sentence.

The Bartledanians’ brief place in the story, which is a whirlwind satire of our world conducted by dealing almost not at all with Earth itself, seems to highlight how we take for granted the fact that we spend so much time wishing and hoping for things.

Hope is a deeply ingrained part of human life. It is also one of the greatest three virtues, specifically when it is oriented to our hope in God’s promises of love, salvation, and eternal life. It’s not a virtue to hope for evil, of course.

However, we hope, and wish, and dream about a lot of things that are not God’s love, our salvation, or eternal happiness. We hope for worldly things, even good things, like financial security or better jobs, or great things for our children, friends, and family. These things are in the future, and largely, if not completely, beyond our control. We even dare to wish things were different in the past, or that certain decisions were made differently. This can be wistful or bitter, or somewhere in between.

As Christians, our hope should be oriented to God and his promises. One definition of the virtue is “the desire of something together with the expectation of obtaining it.” When we are hoping for something that is not guaranteed, and that is not in our control, and not promised us by our Creator, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. 

In worldly matters, perhaps we have something to learn from the Bartledanians. Will I get that promotion? Will the harvest be good next year? Will my son be a doctor? Those things will be what they will be, and no worrying or hoping (or vibrating or tapping or rain dancing) will change it. You cannot even will control over your hair, much less your life or those of others (Matthew 5:36). Hoping for worldly things and goals leads to worry, fear, and despair. Seek the Kingdom first!

Live with true hope in the promises that have been made by God, that you believe will be true. In everything else, take it one day at a time, living more and more each day as Christ taught.

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

Pigs, America, and Property in Revolution

This past weekend, we marked the anniversary of American independence, with much fanfare and perhaps some somber remembrance.  One of the items that tends to circulate is a list of the sacrifices faced by the signatories of the Declaration.

While some of the extreme losses are exaggerated, as Snopes.com points out, some of the more trivial sacrifices were left out. Serving on the Continental Congress was not a profitable measure by any means; the business and family life of the Founding Fathers suffered in their absence, while they directed their energy and attention to something they thought was more precious.

In our family, it is a tradition to watch the musical 1776 around this time, which attempts to portray the mental anguish of John Adams, among others, during the few fateful months in the summer of ’76.

In the remarkable timing that is God’s, I heard a challenging sermon on the driving out of the demons and casting of them into swine in Matthew 8. In the biblical account, Jesus cast out demons from two men that were terrorizing a region. So fierce were they, that passage on that road was impossible. Jesus allowed the demons to take possession of a heard of swine, which were destroyed. At this, the people of the area pleaded with Jesus to leave them.

The core of the sermon on this story was that the people feared the loss of their possessions more than what Jesus had to offer them. He delivered two of their neighbors from demons, liberated the area from the violent actions of the men which restricted travel, and who knows what else He could have brought them in the way of salvation. Instead, the people were afraid of what else they might lose, besides their herds of swine.

Are we afraid of the loss of our possessions, our welfare, and our material security as we try to follow Jesus? If we are, we risk pushing Him away. Like the American Founding Fathers, we must be willing to risk everything that we might give our all to following the greatest of causes – the pursuit of the Kingdom of God. The revolution to seek the Kingdom will cost us dearly, are we really ready to make those sacrifices?

 

Photo Courtesy Timothy J on Flickr

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

The Wind, The Trees, and Revolution – G.K. Chesterton Guest Post

This essay, which appears in the volume Tremendous Trifles, is an important one to me and the idea of Eternal Revolution for (at least) two great reasons. First, it explains the idea that revolution is never the actions of mankind, for the revolution must always start as a spiritual movement towards an ideal. Second, it reminds us that it is right and just to pray for revolution. 

 

I am sitting under tall trees, with a great wind boiling like surf about the tops of them, so that their living load of leaves rocks and roars in something that is at once exultation and agony. I feel, in fact, as if I were actually sitting at the bottom of the sea among mere anchors and ropes, while over my head and over the green twilight of water sounded the everlasting rush of waves and the toil and crash and shipwreck of tremendous ships. The wind tugs at the trees as if it might pluck them root and all out of the earth like tufts of grass. Or, to try yet another desperate figure of speech for this unspeakable energy, the trees are straining and tearing and lashing as if they were a tribe of dragons each tied by the tail.
As I look at these top-heavy giants tortured by an invisible and violent witchcraft, a phrase comes back into my mind. I remember a little boy of my acquaintance who was once walking in Battersea Park under just such torn skies and tossing trees. He did not like the wind at all; it blew in his face too much; it made him shut his eyes; and it blew off his hat, of which he was very proud. He was, as far as I remember, about four. After complaining repeatedly of the atmospheric unrest, he said at last to his mother, “Well, why don’t you take away the trees, and then it wouldn’t wind.”
Nothing could be more intelligent or natural than this mistake. Any one looking for the first time at the trees might fancy that they were indeed vast and titanic fans, which by their mere waving agitated the air around them for miles. Nothing, I say, could be more human and excusable than the belief that it is the trees which make the wind. Indeed, the belief is so human and excusable that it is, as a matter of fact, the belief of about ninety-nine out of a hundred of the philosophers, reformers, sociologists, and politicians of the great age in which we live. My small friend was, in fact, very like the principal modern thinkers; only much nicer.
In the little apologue or parable which he has thus the honour of inventing, the trees stand for all visible things and the wind for the invisible. The wind is the spirit which bloweth where it listeth; the trees are the material things of the world which are blown where the spirit lists. The wind is philosophy, religion, revolution; the trees are cities and civilisations. We only know that there is a wind because the trees on some distant hill suddenly go mad. We only know that there is a real revolution because all the chimney-pots go mad on the whole skyline of the city.
Just as the ragged outline of a tree grows suddenly more ragged and rises into fantastic crests or tattered tails, so the human city rises under the wind of the spirit into toppling temples or sudden spires. No man has ever seen a revolution. Mobs pouring through the palaces, blood pouring down the gutters, the guillotine lifted higher than the throne, a prison in ruins, a people in arms–these things are not revolution, but the results of revolution.
You cannot see a wind; you can only see that there is a wind. So, also, you cannot see a revolution; you can only see that there is a revolution. And there never has been in the history of the world a real revolution, brutally active and decisive, which was not preceded by unrest and new dogma in the reign of invisible things. All revolutions began by being abstract. Most revolutions began by being quite pedantically abstract.
The wind is up above the world before a twig on the tree has moved. So there must always be a battle in the sky before there is a battle on the earth. Since it is lawful to pray for the coming of the kingdom, it is lawful also to pray for the coming of the revolution that shall restore the kingdom. It is lawful to hope to hear the wind of Heaven in the trees. It is lawful to pray “Thine anger come on earth as it is in Heaven.”
The great human dogma, then, is that the wind moves the trees. The great human heresy is that the trees move the wind. When people begin to say that the material circumstances have alone created the moral circumstances, then they have prevented all possibility of serious change. For if my circumstances have made me wholly stupid, how can I be certain even that I am right in altering those circumstances?
The man who represents all thought as an accident of environment is simply smashing and discrediting all his own thoughts– including that one. To treat the human mind as having an ultimate authority is necessary to any kind of thinking, even free thinking. And nothing will ever be reformed in this age or country unless we realise that the moral fact comes first.
For example, most of us, I suppose, have seen in print and heard in debating clubs an endless discussion that goes on between Socialists and total abstainers. The latter say that drink leads to poverty; the former say that poverty leads to drink. I can only wonder at their either of them being content with such simple physical explanations. Surely it is obvious that the thing which among the English proletariat leads to poverty is the same as the thing which leads to drink; the absence of strong civic dignity, the absence of an instinct that resists degradation.
When you have discovered why enormous English estates were not long ago cut up into small holdings like the land of France, you will have discovered why the Englishman is more drunken than the Frenchman. The Englishman, among his million delightful virtues, really has this quality, which may strictly be called “hand to mouth,” because under its influence a man’s hand automatically seeks his own mouth, instead of seeking (as it sometimes should do) his oppressor’s nose. And a man who says that the English inequality in land is due only to economic causes, or that the drunkenness of England is due only to economic causes, is saying something so absurd that he cannot really have thought what he was saying.
Yet things quite as preposterous as this are said and written under the influence of that great spectacle of babyish helplessness, the economic theory of history. We have people who represent that all great historic motives were economic, and then have to howl at the top of their voices in order to induce the modern democracy to act on economic motives. The extreme Marxian politicians in England exhibit themselves as a small, heroic minority, trying vainly to induce the world to do what, according to their theory, the world always does. The truth is, of course, that there will be a social revolution the moment the thing has ceased to be purely economic. You can never have a revolution in order to establish a democracy. You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution.
I get up from under the trees, for the wind and the slight rain have ceased. The trees stand up like golden pillars in a clear sunlight. The tossing of the trees and the blowing of the wind have ceased simultaneously. So I suppose there are still modern philosophers who will maintain that the trees make the wind.

 

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

Cheap Entertainment: First World Temptations?

One of many popular memes these days is the “First World Problems.” A frustrating issue for a particular minor problem that frustrates someone in our modern society that really is pathetically irrelevant to most people in the world. For the visually inclined, these are usually delivered on a graphic of a woman crying.

Some examples would be: “Went to the store, they were out of organic apples,” or, “Want to go to the store, but its raining,” or, “Got iPhone for Christmas, but it was only a 4S.” You probably get the idea.

For most of the billions of people in the world, these are not problems, but complaints from spoiled people. Hence the laughable nature of the “First World Problem.” The sad fact is people let such problems ruin their day, or throw full-fledged tantrums – even adults – over the hassle and disappointment.

Not only do we have superfluous “problems” in the modern world, we have detractors from the spiritual life that would have been unheard of a few generations ago, and that would boggle the mind of other who happen to live in other, less developed countries.

As I write this, the minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25. A month of Netflix is $7.99. A month of Amazon Prime (with streaming movies, free ebooks, and free MP3s) is $8.25 per month. For less than an hour and a half of work, you can have more movies and television shows than you could possible watch in a month – possibly even a year – without neglecting work, sleep, and everything else in life.

Binge watching and Netflix marathons are becoming a regular topic online. Just a few years ago, TV and movie marathons were occasional program events conducted by theaters or networks, or a family activity that would cost $5 per movie at Blockbuster. Now you can do it every weekend and evening, for the cost of less than 2 hours of labor.

The video game community has experienced this too. Several years ago, I used to flip video games from Gamestop, buying rare games during “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” sales and selling them on Amazon. On the online communities that tracked those and other sales, the term “backlog” became common, and members would post pictures of dozens, even hundreds of unopened video games they had purchased dirt cheap but did not yet have time to play.

Today, Humble Bundles, Steam Sales, and other digital distribution channels for PC and mobile games have made the backlog a reality for even the most casual of gamers. This week Steam is wrapping up one of two major seasonal sales where top-tier games that were $60 last year are sold for as little as $5. Message boards around the internet are full of people bemoaning how much they spent on the sale, and how many hundreds, or thousands, of unplayed games still reside in their digital libraries.

In the last nine years, costs for entertainment have plummeted, even has costs of necessities have risen.  Even the most impoverished in America can have all the media they can consume, and still not afford food or housing. Is not spending $8 on Netflix really going to buy you much more food? It will, however, help you forget your troubles and is a tremendous value.

If Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin & Hobbes) was correct and TV, not religion, is the opiate of the masses, what does it mean now that it is cheaper and more accessible than ever?

To make matters worse, a recent study has found that just two hours a day of television is enough to reduce the life expectancy of a person, especially young adults.

The spiritual life, too, suffers under the burden of so much cheap and free entertainment. It is all too easy to fill the silence and downtime in your life with shows, movies, and video games than prayer. It is too easy to sedate yourself with entertainment than to acknowledge and do something about the needs of others in your community – or in your own home.

The saints and mystics had little no idea of this (although Teresea of Avila, a 16th century mystic, nun, and Catholic saint prophesied that “a little black box” would destroy the family). People today with no access to the Internet do not bear the burden of this “First World Temptation.”

You cannot fight what you do not first identify as something working against you. The next step is to do something about it.

Disturb us, Lord.

Pray for Revolution.

 

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

Just Gathering Sticks

The fight of being a Christian is not always a violent opposition to evil. Most of the time, the fight is just doing the mundane thing you are supposed to be doing in the face of an otherwise hopeless situation.

For example, consider the widow of Zarephath, in 1 Kings 7. Elijah was sent to her, and when he found her she was gathering sticks. When the prophet asked her for a morsel to eat and something to drink, she replied that she had only a little meal and oil. Her plan was to gather some sticks so that she and her son might eat, then die.

My family has been experiencing a particularly dry spell these past few months. The idea of gathering sticks today, for tomorrow we will be destitute was a recurring thought in my mind. What I had forgotten was Elijah’s response – “Fear not, go and do as you have said.”

It seems like such a simple response. In reality, it is profound. The command to not be afraid (which, by the way, appears at least 365 times in the Bible) and to continue with the plan for today. In the face of desperate times, that can take all of your strength. That is still part of the fight of being a Christian. It is an act of faith, and a witness of hope.

Knowing  the Gospel, we can likewise remember that we pray for our daily bread, not a steady paycheck. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow.

So carry on, keep gathering sticks. The more hopeless the situation, the more amazing His intervention when it comes.

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

Men and Abortion: Free Pro-Life Conference MP3s

 

No one can deny a person’s lived experience. People can argue with us about the psychological stuff, they can argue with us about whatever. But they can’t take away the truth of someone’s lived experience.

Vicki Thorn, founder of the National Office of Post Abortion Healing and Reconciliation and Project Rachel

In my capacity as a journalist I attended the Reclaiming Fatherhood conference on Men and Abortion in September of 2008, put together by Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel, and the Knights of Columbus, with the support of many other individuals and organizations. The 2008 conference was to be the second annual conference, but in the past 2 years in the past 7 years no further symposiums have been arranged. The audio of the conference was supposed to be released as free MP3s and DVDs were going to be made available. So far, this has not yet come to pass.

As I was going though my archives I realized I still had my recordings of the talks. Granted, I was sitting about 5 tables back from the speakers, but the audio quality was still decent for most of the talks. These are “bootlegs,” and you can hear my camera’s shutter and my typing at times, as well as other background noise.

However, it occurred to me that these audio files could be of tremendous use in the relatively silent wake of the 2008 conference. There were a number of valuable and intriguing gems of information at this conference. Advice from scholars and therapists on why traditional therapy does not reach men. Testimonies of real experiences. And antecdotal evidence from 1 study and 3 practicing counselors of a possible link between abortion and homosexuality.

So here they are as MP3s – raw and uncut. There are 14 talks and about 10 hours of audio here. You can’t stop the signal.

Keep on scrolling down to listen to each of the talks right here in your browser, with some brief commentary of my own. Click on the speaker/topic name to start playing  or right-click and choose “save as” to download.

Intro by Vicki Thorn & Testimony by Bruce Mulligan

Vicki Thorn opens the conference, and the first of four personal testimonies is given by Bruce Mulligan. The testimonies (which really need no comment from me) are short and very powerful. Some of the names may be familiar.

John Morales Post-Abortion Testimony (John is the voice behind Champions of Faith)

Jason Jones Post-Abortion Testimony (Jason is a producer of the pro-life movie Bella)

Rev. Brian Walker Post-Abortion Testimony

Vicki Thorn on Fatherhood Lost

Vicki Thorn spoke on the physiological aspects of fatherhood, and how abortion impacts that. Great information for sex ed, biology, or for expectant fathers, in addition to its value to the pro-life initiative and post-abortive healing.

Coyle and Rue on Existing Research

This talk by Catherine T. Coyle, PhD and Vincent Rue, PhD is very dense with information on studies that have been done already on men and abortion, and their strengths and shortcomings. Might be a bit dry for the casual listener but those of you in the research fields will want to pay close attention to this one. (Intro and start were cut off, sorry.)

Lionel Tiger on Fatherhood without Paternity

Lionel Tiger, PhD. was a surprising guest. Right off the bat he admitted to not sharing the pro-life approach to the abortion problem, but he spoke at this conference out of solidarity with those who recognized men’s shrinking role in society and the harmful impact.

Tom Golden on Masculine Healing

Tom Golden’s presentation on Masculine Healing pointed out how modern counseling and therapy does not address mens needs or provide the environment men naturally seek. A must not only for post-abortive men and those that love them, but anyone who has a man in their life who suffers from grief. Tom was the most animated of the speakers and left the podium for much of his talk, so the audio levels are low.

First Day Q&A with Speakers

Question and answer session with Dr. Tiger, Dr. Coyle, Tom Golden and Vicki Thorn.

Vincent Rue on Trauma and Abortion

The first of the second day’s talks, Vincent Rue returned to address the specific psychological impact and symptoms of the trauma of abortion in men. The talk is preceded by (part of) a presentation of an award to Vicki Thorn.

Greg Hasek on Medicating the Pain

A terrific follow-up to identifying the pain caused by abortion, Greg Hasek spoke on the grieving and normal and abnormal ways men deal with the pain. Another very important talk for those who counsel, love, or treat men that are grieving.

Fr Martin Pabel on the Spiritual Aspects

While many of the speakers to this point may have had a Christian world view, their presentations were on the biology, statistical data, or psychology of abortion’s impact. Fr. Martin Pabel dedicates his presentation to addressing the needs of the soul.

Catherine Coyle on Forgiveness Therapy

Catherine T. Coyle, PhD, returns to speak on the use of forgiveness therapy for men hurting from abortion, and what forgiveness really means. Her talk is preceded by Vicki talking about future plans, including the talks becoming available as free MP3 downloads.

Q&A with Speakers

The closing Q&A session with Greg Hasek, Viki Thorn, Dr. Coyle, and Fr. Pable. There is an interesting point where Hasek, Thorn, and Coyle all recall having post-abortive patients who identified as homosexual after the abortion; some returned to heterosexual relationships after therapy. At this point the data is anecdotal, but could be the subject of a future study. For more information on the conference, you can visit the main site at MenAndAbortion.info. Note: MenAndAbortion.COM is a pro-abortion site. MenAndAbortion.NET is another pro-life organization. The domain suffix matters a great deal here.

Press Coverage of the Conference: American Life League’s Celebrate Life Magazine US News and World Report (and follow up article)

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.

It’s Not For You

The first thing you see when you open up The Eternal Revolution, or at least before you get to the main text of the book, is a warning:

This is a book written for Christians, that is, those who accept that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead.

For those who believe Jesus was just a good man, or a fiction, or wrong, or that Christianity is basically about being good to others, kindness, and tolerance – this book is not for you. Close it now, and go read something else.

There are many books that explain Christianity and attempt to justify it. This is not one of them. I would suggest G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, one of many books bearing the title Introduction to Christianity, or, best of all, read through of our sacred text, the Bible. If you then find you accept the basics of our faith, then come back to this book.

Without accepting the idea that Jesus of Nazareth is who He claimed to be, nothing that follows will be understood or acceptable. If you proceed to read this book, keep that in mind.

“Christianity is, as far as you are concerned, a horrible mystery. Keep clear of it, keep silent upon it, as you would upon an abomination. It is a thing that has made men slay and torture each other; and you will never know why. It is a thing that has made men do evil that good might come; and you will never understand the evil, let alone the good. Christianity is a thing that could only make you vomit, till you are other than you are. I would not justify it to you even if I could. Hate it, in God’s name, [like] a man. It is a monstrous thing, for which men die.”

–  G.K. Chesterton, The Ball and the Cross

There are a great many books that attempt to justify Christianity, building up its members while evangelizing to the unchurched at the same time. Some books might manage to pull it off, but others seem to make a mess by trying to do too much and either not evangelizing or not evangelizing well, or doing far worse by trivializing the faith of the faithful or confusing the newcomer.

I wanted to make it clear from the outset that The Eternal Revolution was for a particular group, namely, those who already consider themselves to be Christians. Identifying and admitting that shared faith from the start, the book can then cut right to the matter it was written to communicate, without having to justify the prerequisite steps such as the authority of Jesus, the validity of the Scriptures, or the existence of heaven and the devil.

It might seem unkind to tell people to put the book away, and that it is not for them. But it is charitable to both the Christian and the non-Christian exactly where the message stands – we must of course preach the Good News to all people (even the saved), but at the same time we must also encourage one another on the journey. You cannot do a very good job of encouraging someone on a path they have not yet accepted.

I quote a rebuke from Chesterton’s Ball and the Cross because it is delivered to just the sort of person who might pick up the book and become even more confused, even to the point of anger or hatred. In the Ball and the Cross the speech is directed to a well-meaning and well-read man who expects Christians to be peaceful and loving, without understanding what it means to be Christian, or quite possibly what the meaning and purpose of love might be. The passage is harsh, it is violent, but it is true. Christianity is a faith the changes the person, and demands change and improvement until the end. It does not teach complacency, even as it teaches contentment. Most importantly, people have died for it, still die for it, and will continue to die for it until Kingdom come.

If that does not at least sound a little familiar to the beliefs you already hold, The Eternal Revolution is going to sound like some sort of new religion – for if you thought Christianity was about kindness and peace and tolerance, it is going to sound new.

Note: Starting this week, the blog will be updated every Monday and Thursday.

Paul Nowak is a husband and father of 7, who also happens to be a writer and author. He has written The Way of the Christian Samurai among other books.