Pastor's Blog

In 1943 an anti-Fascist Jesuit priest from Croatia fled to Czechoslovakia to escape the Nazis.  His name was Father Kolakovic.

Father Kolakovic feared that if the allies defeated Hitler, eastern Europe would come under the rule of the communist Stalin and that would mean persecution for the Catholic Church.

The priest was concerned about the testing that the church would face, and he didn’t believe that there was enough spiritual vitality in the very formal, very orthodox, very traditional Catholic Church to survive persecution.

To prepare the church for what he believed was coming, Kolakovic established cell groups of faithful young Catholics that met to pray, to study, and to share life together.  He used the meetings to teach them a Christian world view, how to live out the faith and how to identify and resist evil.  The cell groups came to be known as “The Family”.  Kolakovic’s “Family” spread throughout Czechoslovakia.

In 1946, when the Soviets had been given control of eastern Europe, just as the priest had anticipated, Kolakovic was deported.  Most of “the Family” was imprisoned by Stalin.

When they re-emerged from prison in the 1960’s, the Family re-established themselves as the underground church, meeting in small groups disseminating the teachings of the Christian faith.

In 1988 Father Kolakovic's "Family" helped organize a protest against the communist state (called "The Candle Demonstration").  The push for freedom continued and blossomed.  A year later, the communist regime fell and a free democratic government led by the now-renowned Vaclav Havel was established.

Because one man anticipated what was coming and did what it took to spiritually strengthen and prepare God's people.

Perhaps nothing will come of the leftward trend in our own country that seems bent on slowly eroding our liberties and marginalizing Christians from the mainstream culture.  I’m not optimistic about that.  I believe we should prepare as Father Kolakovic did for a day when perhaps the government will more viciously oppose us for our beliefs.  I believe we should start working on a system that enables us to meet in smaller groups to encourage and strengthen each other and to continue passing down our faith to our children and to others that may come seeking spiritual sustenance.

And now, I'm all ears...

“What is truth?” – Pontius Pilate

When I was young, I thought that was the silliest question I’d ever heard.  Truth, I thought, was obvious.

How long is that board?  Get a ruler and measure it.
How much water is in that jug?  Get a measuring cup and measure it.
How much does that ham weigh?  Put it on the scale and measure it.

But what if someone adjusted the ruler by a sixteenth of an inch either way?
What if someone adjusted the circumference or depth of the measuring cup?  What if someone adjusted the scale by an eighth of a pound?
Will my measurements be true?
What happens when someone arrives with a measure that is based on a different standard and measures the board or the water in the jug or the ham?

Who determines which measure is true?  And on what basis do we determine which measure is true?

Somewhere there must be a standard against which we check all weights and measures if we are to speak of measurements being true.

It is much easier to create a standard for weights and measures that are quantifiable and unchanging.

But what about human thoughts and words and opinions?  If we claim they are true – to what are they true?

This is not an easy question to answer, and traditional western liberalism is the idea that we respect individual perceptions of things and we interact with each other, freely speaking our minds, explaining ourselves, hearing the perceptions of others, so that we can clarify and broaden our thinking.  Western liberalism has believed this is the best way to growth and peace.  Allow diverse minds and souls to interact and make free choices to make life better.

Many of us are distressed because we fear that today – January 19, 2021 -- may be the last day where that traditional liberal approach to life that respects diversity of opinion has a chance of being respected in the United States of America.

What seems to be coming to power is something different.  It is tolerant of diversity on surface issues of difference of skin color or difference of gender, but not diversity of opinion – especially philosophical or political opinion. 

The opinions of the authorities are the standard measure of what is true, and you will agree, approve, and conform to what they tell you.  You aren’t permitted to differ.  If you differ, it’s because you don’t understand.  You must be re-educated until you conform.  And if you refuse to be re-educated or continue to differ, you may be deemed a troublemaker – a political threat -- or perhaps you are insane.  And there are harsh consequences for being a troublemaker.

When I talk this way, some people – younger ones especially -- roll their eyes.  Relax, they say.  Stop being so pessimistic.  You’re overreacting.

If you think so -- do one thing for me.  Promise me that this year you will read ten accounts of souls who have suffered under totalitarian regimes in communist or Muslim countries. 

Then let’s talk again.

It’s amazing how one day can change things.

Last week I wrote about where we want to go with our church in the days to come.  I figured it would get more difficult with Democrats controlling things.  But the riot in the Capitol building and the way it is being interpreted and responded to seems to have set the United States into a death spiral.

I believe the nation will eventually pull out of it, but I believe that a few radicals have done incalculable damage to the great bulk of conservative citizens who are as shocked and angry at what was done as anyone on the left.

The riot has confirmed the left’s conspiracy theories and will deepen their already deep paranoid suspicions.  One wrong word uttered by a conservative from the ever-growing list of banned words will set off the hair-trigger sensors that danger is approaching . . . and it’s holding a Bible.

This will make our road forward rougher and our climb steeper.  But it doesn’t change who we are or what we’re called to be and to do.  I’m not only counting on it making us stronger in the long run;  I also believe that it may open even more doors for the gospel.

The new government isn’t going to make us disappear or use brute force against us the way the Chinese communists do.  It’s more likely they will do more of what they are doing now – broadbrush all conservatives as violent rioters and thus publicly shame us into silence, censor us and shut us down for trivial reasons, drive us off social media platforms, and perhaps start regulating us to make life difficult and expensive.  A slow choking rather than a sudden blow.

It may hurt badly initially.  We will have to pull together with all the strength and love for each other that we can muster when the challenges get a head of steam. 

But I’m guessing and hoping that someone will see there is money to be made in alternate social media platforms and will rush to fill the void and we will have a whole new host of places to go to connect and share.

I’m also thinking that there are still enough sensible people who will eventually perceive the lopsidedness of the “justice” being doled out and will move to slow it or stop it.  The ACLU has already expressed concern about the censorship of the President, and the Chinese communist news has expressed shock that those who believe in free speech are working so hard to suppress it.  The Chinese are also having a field day mocking Speaker Pelosi, who called the Hong Kong riots a “beautiful thing”;  they are now asking why she doesn’t find the Capitol riots a “beautiful thing”.

The left may just overstep its bounds, and perhaps that will open hearts and ears to who we really are and what we really believe – rather than the caricatures of us that are being put out by the media.

We are required to be faithful – not to succeed.

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