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  • What’s a Christian to Do as the World Sinks into Chaos?

    via Aleteia

    by Tom Hoopes

    tom hoopesDisturbing violence fills the international headlines: ISIL is beheading journalists, crucifying Christians and exterminating Yazidis. Mexican drug cartels run rampant, leaving headless corpses in their wake—and they are increasingly setting up shop on our side of the border. Gang rape is big problem in India, Australia and Great Britain as police battle sex slave rings.

    At the same time, domestically, Christian beliefs are receding into darkness: California is forcing Catholic institutions to pay for abortions—which the HHS Mandate is designed to do, eventually, nationwide. The Ferguson riots reveal a deep racial divide—and expose how quickly rioting and looting can take hold in a major American city. Catholic (and Jewish and Muslim and Buddhist) beliefs about marriage and family are denounced as bigotry and given no rights.

    So, what is a Christian to do? At first, it seems disaster training might come in handy: Flee if you can; take cover if you can’t. Find a good hiding place, assume a fetal position and pray that death will be painless.

    But we can do better than that.

    Don’t forget what happened in the storm when the Apostles panicked and cried “Save us, or we perish!” Jesus said, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then “he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.”

    We know, in fact, that the forces of darkness are not destroying the forces of the good, beautiful and true. Because that would be impossible. The world is God’s, not the devil’s, and God’s will is ultimately unstoppable.

    An interview Daria Sockey did with Brian Jacques has stuck with me for years. Jacques is the late author of the Redwall young reader book series, and he defended his books’ plotlines this way:

    “Good always wins. Always! Not just in books but in real life. If good didn’t always win we would all be marching around with swastikas tattooed on our foreheads, wouldn’t we?”

    That is a good comparison, actually. Think how people must have felt in 1941. London suffered its worst blitz from chaosGermany in May. The holocaust entered a brutal new phase of efficient killing. Stalin began massive ethnic deportations. Then, just when it couldn’t get worse, Pearl Harbor got pummeled by Japan in December.

    Amid the descending darkness of World War II, everything seemed to be falling apart. But today, we know that this wasn’t the end of the world. In fact, evil’s overreach met with such a strong reaction that nations learned to reject totalitarianism, and a new era of peace and prosperity was ushered in.

    What was true in 1941 is true today.

    Islamist thugs, violent drug lords and anarchists are a grave threat now; but if the world responds with courage and sacrifice, they too will be a footnote to history. What will be the “new thing” the world learns this time, and how will it strengthen our future?

    Read More

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 5, 2014— Hour 1

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 5, 2014— Hour 1

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    A Day of Prayer & Repentance: Defending Michigan and America

    • Description: Defending Our Father's House is an organization that stands for life and traditional marriage values. They are hosting a day of prayer at the State Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, on September 6. Leann Kirrman is with us to talk about it.
    • Segment Guests:

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Direct to My Desk: What is a Christian Nation?

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Direct to My Desk: What is a Christian Nation?

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 5, 2014— Hour 2

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 5, 2014— Hour 2

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Direct to My Desk: What is a Christian Nation?

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Direct to My Desk: What is a Christian Nation?

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Direct to My Desk: What is a Christian Nation?

  • Today on “Kresta in the Afternoon” – Sept 5

    Talking about the “things that matter most” on September 5

    4:00 – 6:00 – Direct to my Desk
    Today we want to talk to you. Our lines are open at 877-573-7825 and you can ask the questions and raise the issues that matter most to you. Some questions we will toss out include: What is a Christian Nation? How would it be different from, say, a Muslim nation? What would mark a Christian nation? We talk to you about these questions as well as the controversy over the St Patrick’s Day parade in NYC.

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 4, 2014— Hour 1

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 4, 2014— Hour 1

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    Kresta Comments: Shame on Those Who Divide the Body of Christ

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    Wide-Ranging Conversation with George Weigel

    • Description: George Weigel is a distinguished senior fellow at Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center. He joins us for a wide-ranging discussion covering the Ukraine crisis, ISIS and polygamy.
    • Segment Guests:
      • George Weigel
        George Weigel is a distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is a Catholic theologian and one of America’s leading public intellectuals, and he holds EPPC’s William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He is also the author of many books including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, and Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church.
      • Resources:

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Wide-Ranging Conversation with George Weigel (continued)

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 4, 2014— Hour 2

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 4, 2014— Hour 2

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Ferguson and the Black Vote

    • Description: The most recent issue of TIME magazine reports that only 6% of Ferguson’s black population voted in 2013 municipal elections. Washington Examiner Political Analyst Michael Barone joins us to talk about the black vote in Ferguson and its relation to the recent tensions there.
    • Segment Guests:
      • Michael Barone
        Michael is a senior Political Analyst for the Washington Examiner. He is co-author of The Almanac of American Politics and a contributor to Fox News.
      • Resources:

    + Segment #2 of 3

    The Genius of Man / The Genius of Woman

    • Description: The word prophet often calls to mind someone who predicts the future. In its most proper and Biblical sense, however, a prophet is someone who serves as a messenger of God, who communicates God’s truth to His people. Deborah Savage is here to consider the genius of man and its proper compliment – the genius of woman. Deborah joins us.
    • Segment Guests:
      • Dr. Deborah Savage
        Dr. Savage is a member of the faculty at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas. She is co-founder of the Siena Symposium, an interdisciplinary think tank at the University of St. Thomas, organized to respond to Pope John Paul II’s call for a new and explicitly Christian feminism. She is currently working on a book tentatively entitled Woman and Man for consideration by Catholic University of America Press.
      • Resources:

    + Segment #3 of 3

    The Genius of Man / The Genius of Woman (continued)

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 3, 2014— Hour 1

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 3, 2014— Hour 1

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Latest in Ukraine

    • Description: The Ukraine crisis dominated headlines this spring, but has received much less attention ever since ISIS declared its caliphate. Tetiana Stawynchy, a Greek Catholic who has witnessed the protests in Kiev, joins us with an update.
    • Segment Guests:
      • Tetiana Stawynchy
        Tetiana works in the curia of the Greek Catholic Church. During the recent conflict in Ukraine, she spent many days with the protesters in Kiev, at the capitol.

    + Segment #2 of 3

    ISIS: Public Legitimacy Through the Reenactment of Islam’s Early History

    • Description: ISIS continues to commit savage acts in Iraq and Syria. How have they become so successful in such a short time? In a recent article, Andrew Salzmann highlights several similarities between ISIS and the early rise of Islam. He joins us.
    • Segment Guests:

    + Segment #3 of 3

    Kresta Comments: Is Scientology the Savior for Flint, Michigan? Truman and the Bomb: Revisited.

    • Description: Flint, Michigan is notorious for violent crime and has topped the FBI’s list of America’s most dangerous mid-sized cities for the last four years. The Church of Scientology is making an effort to reverse the city’s trends by distributing copies of L. Ron Hubbard’s “The Way to Happiness,” which details 23 principles to a happy life. The Flint chief of police supports the effort. Al discusses whether Scientology is really the answer to Flint’s problems. Also in this segment, Al responds to a listener email about our earlier discussion with Fr. Miscamble regarding Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan.
    • Segment Guests:
  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 3, 2014— Hour 2

    “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 3, 2014— Hour 2

    + Segment #1 of 3

    Kresta Comments: Thoughts on America as a Christian Nation

    + Segment #2 of 3

    Kresta Comments: Feast of St. Gregory the Great

    + Segment #3 of 3

    The Perils of Polygamy

    • Description: Advocates of traditional marriage have argued for years that the gay marriage argument is a slippery slope that leads to polygamy and other forms of “marriage.” If gender doesn’t determine the definition of marriage, then why should number? A federal court recently struck down a Utah law on this very premise. Christopher Kaczor, author of the article “The Perils of Polygamy,” is with us to talk about it.
    • Segment Guests:
  • ISIS: Public Legitimacy Through the Reenactment of Islam’s Early History

    via Small Wars Journal

    by Andrew Salzmann

    The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or the Levant (Lost in Translation), is re-enacting the early history of Islam in order to establish its legitimacy with the peoples of the Middle East. This may be a powerful tactic, and U.S. policy makers must tune their ears to what the legitimating symbolism used by ISIS says.

    In a series of essays entitled Theopolitical Imagination, William Cavanaugh reminds us of the critical role which the imagination plays in constructing political power.  “How,” he asks, “does a provincial farm boy became persuaded that he must travel as a solider to another part of the world?” By a narrative about the state, which, despite its armies and offices can only marshal these resources by inspiring “disciplined acts of the imagination,” by training people to imagine themselves as “deeply, mystically, united to a wider national community.” While the West secularized the political imagination centuries ago, evocative religious themes still forge the imaginative political bond for many in the Middle East—and not just the jihadis who do respond to the call to travel as soldiers to other parts of the world. The use of mythic narrative can resonate powerfully with the wider public which values that narrative; by reenacting such a narrative, the actors can gain legitimacy. As Roland Barthes writes, because myth “aims at causing an immediate impression,” it does not matter if one is “later allowed to see through the myth”; the first impression created by the confluence of symbols can be powerful enough to have its effect.

    Some Basic Comparisons

    I would like to list a few basic resonances between the early history of Islam and the rise of ISIS by which ISIS establishes claims to legitimacy in Islamic societies.

    Surprising success with small numbers. The Prophet Muhammad established his military dominance with a small group of companions, a trope which has indicated divine favor in the Near East for millennia. Annemarie Schimmel, in her And Muhammad Is His Messenger, notes that the battle of Badr, in which the Muslims defeated a far stronger Meccan army, “was perhaps the most important miracle for the young community, a miracle that helped them find their identity,” so much so that “the very name Badr became the cipher for the undeniable proof of Muhammad’s God-given role as leader.” While the exclusion of Sunnis from full participation in the Iraqi government by Nouri al-Maliki, and the alienation of Sunni soldiers in the Iraqi armed forces which that caused, enabled ISIS and its allies to seize control of large amounts of Iraqi territory with little effective resistance from national security forces, nonetheless the repeated refrain that a small band of warriors rapidly bested a larger force resonates closely enough with the story of the Prophet that it easily lends a sense of legitimacy.

    Triumphant Return of the Exile. The prophetic revelations of Muhammad were not well received by the people of his hometown, Mecca, and his first disciples faced such tension that he sent a group of them to Abyssinia; eventually, escalating difficulties drove the Prophet Muhammad and his followers to seek refuge in Medina, an event (the hijra) which marks “year one” in the Islamic calendar. Eight years later, Muhammad and his followers returned to Mecca triumphant, effectively ensuring their dominance in Arabia. The choice of Abu Bakr “al-Baghdadi” as a nom de guerre by ISIS leader Dr. Ibrahim does more than associating him with the historical home of the Abbasid Caliphate; it sets up a military conquest of the city which he is “from” as a re-enactment of the Prophet’s actions. Charles Allen’s history of the Wahhabi movement, God’s Terrorists, narrates how the Wahhabis’ own “re-enactment of the Prophet’s famous migration” helped to win support for their cause.

    The House of Islam. Prior to this triumphant return to Mecca, the Prophet Muhammad established Medina as a dar ul-Islam, from which subsequent raids and campaigns were launched—including the campaigns against Mecca. Although dar ul-Islam can simply refer to a Muslim-majority country, in Wahhabi ideology, the establishment of a truly worthy dar ul-Islam was viewed as necessary for the expansion of the realm. Jihadists who view other Islamic countries or governments as illegitimate can stake the success of their campaign in part on the establishment of a dar ul-Islam from which to launch expansionary campaigns. This belief is one explanation for Osama bin Laden’s own settlement in the Taliban’s Afghanistan. Reports not only of the silencing of church bells—objects of particular disdain in the ahadith which constitute the texts of sharia law—in Mosul, but of Christians being driven from the city suggest that ISIS is attempted to establish a haven of only the purest practice of Islam (Church Bells Fall Silent in Mosul as Iraq’s Christians Flee).

    Cleansing of Idols. When the Prophet Muhammad did take Mecca—peacefully, as the people of Mecca realized they were outmatched and therefore surrendered—he ordered the Ka’aba divested of its 360 idols; all Muslims were directed to continue the pre-Islamic hajj pilgrimages to the Ka’aba, now the center of, and restricted to, Muslim worship. While ISIS is joined by established states, such Saudi Arabia, in destroying popular shrines or historic places (even ones connected with Muhammad’s life) in the name of fighting idolatry, the destruction of both popular Islamic shrines and pre-Islamic history in the areas which ISIS controls would represent a new intensity of cleansing from “idolatry” which brings to mind the actions which followed (and furthered) the Prophet’s Muhammad’s own consolidation of power—the more so to the extent that they extract outrage. The curators of the archeological remains at Ninevah, now within ISIS territory, have expressed their deep concern over the fate of these artifacts. (ISIS Is About to Destroy Biblical History in Iraq). The traditional tomb of the prophet Jonah was famously destroyed. (Shocking Moment ISIS Militants Take Sledgehammers to Mosul Tomb of Prophet Jonah).  There is more recent concern about the future of biblical remains (ISIS Is About to Destroy Biblical History in Iraq).

    Read More

  • “Kresta in the Afternoon”— September 3, 2014

    Talking about the “things that matter most” on September 3

     

    4:00 – Latest in Ukraine

     

    The Ukraine crisis dominated headlines this spring, but has received much less attention ever since ISIS declared its caliphate. Tetiana Stawynchy, a Greek Catholic who has witnessed the protests in Kiev, joins us with an update.

     

    4:20 – ISIS: Public Legitimacy Through the Reenactment of Islam’s Early History


    ISIS continues to commit savage acts in Iraq and Syria. How have they become so successful in such a short time? In a recent article, Andrew Salzmann highlights several similarities between ISIS and the early rise of Islam. He joins us.    

     

    4:40 – Kresta Comments: Is Scientology the Savior for Flint, Michigan? Truman and the Bomb: Revisited.

     

    Flint, Michigan is notorious for violent crime and has topped the FBI’s list of America’s most dangerous mid-sized cities for the last four years. The Church of Scientology is making an effort to reverse the city’s trends by distributing copies of L. Ron Hubbard’s “The Way to Happiness,” which details 23 principles to a happy life. The Flint chief of police supports the effort. Al discusses whether Scientology is really the answer to Flint’s problems.
    Also in this segment, Al responds to a listener email about our earlier discussion with Fr. Miscamble regarding Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan.

     

    5:00 – Kresta Comments: Thoughts on America as a Christian Nation.

     

    5:20 – Kresta Comments: Feast of St. Gregory the Great

     

    5:40 – The Perils of Polygamy

    Advocates of traditional marriage have argued for years that the gay marriage argument is a slippery slope that leads to polygamy and other forms of “marriage.” If gender doesn’t determine the definition of marriage, then why should number? A federal court recently struck down a Utah law on this very premise. Christopher Kaczor, author of the article “The Perils of Polygamy,” is with us to talk about it. 

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