Wednesday, June 1, 2022

What the Choosing of Matthias Teaches Us About the Church

Joseph or Matthias? 

So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. Acts 1.21-26 


     Jesus told the disciples in the upper room: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you..." (John 15.16). It doesn't get any clearer than that. In this Christian church no one should be elbowing their way into any position of leadership. God is the head of the church, and He is the builder of it (Hebrews 3.4). In this way the church is unique among all other institutions along with the family, which He also establishes in marriage. 

What Twelve Witnesses Shows 

     The temptation and demise of Judas is a great sadness and a great loss. But it is a reminder to us that we have to be on guard ourselves against the temptation of greed or any other temptation. We can be tempted, for the sake of silver or any other earthly thing, to betray Jesus. Jesus and His kingdom has to be the most important person and thing in our life. After the loss of Judas, Peter spoke to the ten other apostles reminding them that this was prophesied, and that he needed to be replaced. Why was it so important that the kingdom move forward with twelve witnesses of the resurrection rather than just eleven? It must have had something to do with the twelve tribes of Israel which God originally chose. The number twelve is always the number of God's people and always a reminder that it is God who makes us His people. On the island of Patmos, John saw a vision of the people sealed as the servants of God. There were 144,000 of them, twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes (Revelation 7.4ff). Twelve is always a reminder that the church belongs to God. 

 Two Great Blessings 

     A bishop in San Francisco forbade a congresswoman from receiving holy communion because of her support for the sin of abortion. When this was first reported, another California politician decried the decision claiming the bishop didn't care about the people of San Fransico. This man has the view that the church is a manmade organization that needs to be in agreement with whatever the people believe. We hear this kind of talk a lot. The church needs to get with the times; it needs to adjust to the popular beliefs and morality of the world. It is the belief that the culture creates the church rather than the other way around. The twelve witnesses to the resurrection is another reminder that God created the church, and that the church creates its own culture whether the world likes it or not. This is the first blessing that comes out of the choosing of Matthias. 

     The second blessing is seen in the way Judas' vacancy was filled. The aposltes put forward two candidates: Joseph and Matthias. Then they cast lots with prayer to see which one God would choose. This again emphasizes that ultimate truth that God is the head of His church, that He is leading it, and He is giving to it His strength. Sometimes church workers are tempted to manipulate this calling process and to get themselves into positions of church leadership. The problem with this is that church servants are fighting against principalities and powers in their ministries. They have to have God's strength not their own. To know that you have been called by God to serve in His church gives that worker great confidence and strength. There is no second guessing here. 


     So here are two blessings: The church belongs to God and not to the world, therefore it stands on a firm foundation. Second, church servants are called by God and therefore strengthened by Him. The same applies to everyone called to full-time service or not. The more you see your situation in life as a calling under the control of God, the more you will also see the strength of God to help you in your service to Him. Amen.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022


Back in December I started working out with F3, which stands for F3 Nation - Fitness, Fellowship, Faith. F3 is a nationwide, free, peer-led fitness movement for men. Our group meets at Drost Park in Maryville rain or shine three times a week from 5:30-6:15 a.m. We have anywhere from four to eight guys show up. They have a lot of different workouts, and most of them are pretty intense. They are Marine Corps level for sure (but that was forty years and forty pounds ago!). Each man works out at his own pace, modifying the exercises as necessary. The goal is "to leave no man behind, but no man where he is." A typical workout would include a variety of burpees, push ups, sit ups, bear crawls, squats, etc., etc., etc. Sometimes we use a concrete block to drag along with our bear crawl, for kettle ball swings, or for military presses ("face scrapers," as they like to say). They have a whole "Exicon" describing all the different exercises. Right now I'm participating at a 50-75% level and building up. After the workout we come together for the "Circle of Trust." This is a brief time to share any concerns or prayer requests. F3 is not specifically Christian. Like AA, they ask that everyone believe in something other than themselves. "FNGs," or "Friendly New Guys," have to tell a little bit about themselves. Then they are given a F3 name. I told my group that getting up in the dark reminded me of my paperboy days - and that's how I got my name.
Come and join us anytime.

Listening to the Lutheran Confessions

I am really enjoying this podcast of the Lutheran Confessions from I'm listening through Podbean. The Lutheran Confessions are a collection of important statements of faith that arose from the Lutheran Reformation. These faithful catholic Christians called the church away from the scholastic (philosophical) theology and errors of the papacy back to the Christ-centered, Biblical theology of the New Testament and early church. At the same time they retained many of the beliefs and practices of the church which did not need to be changed.


Some might see "God is now here." Others might see "God is nowhere." Not much more than 150 years ago the greatest scientists saw complete harmony between science and theology. Isaac Newton firmly believed in an elegant, mathematical universe.. He wrote more about the Bible than he did about science (See, The Clockwork Universe, Edward Dolnick)! But then some scientists began looking at the natural world apart from God. They consider the universe to be an elegant accident! Now their theories are running into trouble, especially with the math. To make an accidental universe work, they are realizing they need infinite multi-verses and parallel universes. That is more fantastical than an elegantly created universe. And there is no natural evidence of such things (See, Our Mathematical Universe, Max Tegmark). The wisemen followed nature (the star) and God's word to Bethlehem to see Jesus. Faith and science are in complete harmony.

Friday, February 5, 2021

ISBE Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards - Biased? Truly Open to Critical Thinking?

 Concerns Regarding the Proposed

Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards

Illinois State Board of Education


     I have read the standards, and I agree that we should recognize the value we find in all cultures and promote critical thinking in our schools. However, I am concerned about two statements in the standards.


Section 24.50 a 1:

there is not one "correct" way of doing or understanding something

     This is an important statement that sets the tone for all that follows, and it is unfortunately vague. It appears to be biased toward the postmodern world-view that there are no absolute truths.


Section 24.50 a 10:

Teachers... Assess how their biases and perceptions affect their teaching practice and how they access tools to mitigate their own behavior (racism, sexism, homophobia, unearned privilege, Eurocentrism, etc.). 

     Many people think that education is about reading, writing, and arithmetic. But obviously it’s about much more – It’s also (really, mostly) about ethics. I am glad to see that you are trying to promote the teaching of ethics in our public schools. But whose ethics will it be? 


     As the standards stated above, “there is not one ‘correct’ way of... understanding something.” Will our schools allow open discussion of the different views of “racism, sexism, homophobia, unearned privilege, Eurocentrism, etc.”? Could a teacher, for example, point out that some people believe that sexual relations apart from marriage, homosexual behavior, and abortion are all unethical. Or will some views be allowed while others are not allowed? 


     State Superintendent of Education Ayala said that the standards were revised to “remove language perceived as political” (ISBE Press Release 2/1/21).  Even with this revised version I am concerned that there are some biases hiding behind the ambiguous language in these standards. 


     I think these standards need more evaluation and input from our citizens.  


Michael P. Walther

Maryville, Illinois





Dr. Carmen I. Ayala, State Superintendent of Education


Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR)


Senator Bill Cunningham

Rep. Keith Wheeler

Senator John Curran

Senator Kimberly LIghtford

Senator Tony Munoz

Senator Sue Rezin

Senator Donald DeWitte

Rep. Tom Demmer

Rep. Mike Halpin

Rep. Fran Hurley

Rep. Steven Reick 

Rep. Andre Thapedi


From ISBE Press Release December 16, 2020

ISBE develops standards for educator preparation programs through the rulemaking process. ISBE will submit the Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) for consideration. If JCAR issues no objection, ISBE will file the rules with the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State, at which time they will become effective. Existing educator preparation programs will align their programs to the standards by October 1, 2025. Programs that prepare teachers, school support personnel, and administrators in Illinois will submit evidence to ISBE showing how their course content and field experiences address the 

From ISBE Press Release February 1, 2021

  • ISBE updated the draft standards in response to public comment to provide further clarity on the intended goal and remove language perceived as political.
Response from Senator Curran, February 8, 2021

Dear Michael,

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about the proposed “Culturally Responsive Teaching” rules.

I want you to know that I believe schools should foster a positive environment where students cannot only learn, but also where they can develop the ability to understand and interpret events and issues for themselves. Teachers should be allowed to foster a sense of curiosity and critical thinking without imparting any undue influence or bias on students’ opinions.

I am currently studying the details of the “Culturally Responsive Teaching” rule that is scheduled to be reviewed by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). From what I have seen so far, like you, I have serious concerns about this proposal.

In the meantime, please help me to make sure that your voice is heard on this important issue. Soon you will be able fill out a petition on my website,, so that the members of JCAR understand how you feel before they cast a vote. Also, be sure to share the petition with your friends and family.

Thank you again for your time and your concern. Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions or concerns.



John F. Curran
Illinois State Senator
41st District

1011 State Street Suite 205 
Lemont, IL 60439
(P) 630-914-5733
(F) 630-914-5748

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Help Me, I've Had a Miscarriage


Help Me, I’ve Had a Miscarriage


     Something might be wrong. The nurse is having trouble finding a heartbeat... Dread comes upon us... One of the greatest joys of life, the hope of new life and a new baby, has fallen.  It’s not there. The baby has died. Why? What does this mean? How do I get through this? 


     Miscarriage, like any other death, is sad and painful. It is a reminder to us that this is a fallen world. But miscarriage creates other problems. What about the baby? It had no opportunity to be baptized or to hear God’s word? At least when a person dies in faith, we have the comfort of knowing they are with Jesus. What about this baby? 


     My wife and I suffered three miscarriages; the last two boys were about twenty weeks old.  Thankfully our Christian faith helped us to bear the disappointment knowing that God is always for us. Paul said, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5.5). Is there any more comfort that God gives in a situation like this? There is.


Martin Luther once wrote a short message titled, “Comfort for Women Who Have Had a Miscarriage.” He pointed to the unspoken prayers of the mother in which the Spirit is at work. Our hope for a baby yet to be born is more significant than we might think. He wrote: “...because the mother is a believing Christian it is to be hoped that her heartfelt cry and deep longing to bring her child to be baptized will be accepted by God as an effective prayer.” He backs this up by reminding us that Paul said: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8.26). And again, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3.20-21). “Whatever a Christian sincerely prays for,” Luther goes on, “especially in the unexpressed yearning of his heart, becomes a great, unbearable cry in God’s ears.”  (The full text is printed below.)


     So when we receive the news of pregnancy with hope and joy and the anticipation of baptism, we can take comfort that God is just and merciful, and that this is His desire as well. Though this child had no opportunity for baptism, it had these hopes and prayers. Included in these prayers were also the words of God which its mother heard in her worship and devotions. These words also came to this baby because God’s word is more than mere sounds. God’s word is always full of power except to those who reject it. Isaiah said that God’s word will not “...return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please...” (55.11).


     Lastly, God has promised to turn our sorrows into joy. Jesus said, “...and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy” (John 16.20).  David said, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16.11). And again this promise: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8.32). 


     A miscarriage takes away a lot of hopes and dreams: No cooing baby, no first steps, no silly antics, no learning, no growing, no accomplishing, etc. But God should never be underestimated. One Christian hymn says, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”* It could well be that when we get to heaven, we will meet again many beautiful people that we loved on earth. Perhaps one of the most surprising and beautiful meetings will be with the children we lost on earth. Lost only for a while on earth, but to be enjoyed forever in heaven. 


* Come, Ye Disconsolate” The Lutheran Hymnal, 531



Martin Luther 

Translated by James Raun


As preacher in the town church of Wittenberg, professor at the university, and an active church administrator, John Bugenhagen was a close associate of Luther in the Reformation. He served on the committee for Luther’s Bible translation, officiated at Luther’s wedding, and preached the sermon at Luther’s funeral.


In 1541 Bugenhagen had written an interpretation of Psalm 29 and dedicated it to King Christian III of Denmark, where he had introduced the Reformation in 1537. Before sending the manuscript to the printer, Bugenhagen showed it to Luther. Luther’s eye caught a reference to “little children” in the text, whereupon he suggested that Bugenhagen ought to add a word of comfort for women whose children had died at birth or had been born dead and could not be baptized. Bugenhagen, however, was not disposed to add such an appendix, though he did not disagree with Luther in principle. He had written what he felt God gave him to say and did not think it proper to go into this subject himself. However, he said he was willing to add any statement Luther might care to make on the subject. Luther agreed to prepare such a statement. Thus this brief but significant piece is an appendix that has outlived the book to which it had originally been attached.


This short item is a significant statement by Luther regarding the fate of children who die before they can be baptized—a borderline theological question of considerable anguish to grieving mothers. It is just such a person that Luther has in mind, not the sophomoric, speculative thinker.


Writing with pastoral concern, Luther points out that the miscarriage (where it is not due to deliberate carelessness) is not a sign of God’s anger. God’s judgment is and must remain hidden from us. Luther sees the basis for Christian consolation in the unspoken prayers of the mother in which the Spirit is at work and which sanctify the child, and in the prayers of the Christian congregation.


This item appeared in three editions of Bugenhagen’s exposition of Psalm 29, published in 1542, in five subsequent editions, and in a Latin edition. It was then incorporated in the various editions of Luther’s collected works. This translation is based on the German text, Ein Trost den Weibern, welchen es ungerade gegangen ist mit Kindergeb√§ren, in WA 53, (202) 205–208.


A final word1—it often happens that devout parents, particularly the wives, have sought consolation from us because they have suffered such agony and heartbreak in child-bearing when, despite their best intentions and against their will, there was a premature birth or miscarriage and their child died at birth or was born dead.


One ought not to frighten or sadden such mothers by harsh words because it was not due to their carelessness or neglect that the birth of the child went off badly. One must make a distinction between them and those females who resent being pregnant, deliberately neglect their child, or go so far as to strangle or destroy it. This is how one ought to comfort them.


First, inasmuch as one cannot and ought not know the hidden judgment of God in such a case—why, after every possible care had been taken, God did not allow the child to be born alive and be baptized—these mothers should calm themselves and have faith that God’s will is always better than ours, though it may seem otherwise to us from our human point of view. They should be confident that God is not angry with them or with others who are involved. Rather is this a test to develop patience. We well know that these cases have never been rare since the beginning and that Scripture also cites them as examples, as in Psalm 58 [:8], and St. Paul calls himself an abortivum, a misbirth or one untimely born.2


Second, because the mother is a believing Christian it is to be hoped that her heartfelt cry and deep longing to bring her child to be baptized will be accepted by God as an effective prayer. It is true that a Christian in deepest despair does not dare to name, wish, or hope for the help (as it seems to him) which he would wholeheartedly and gladly purchase with his own life were that possible, and in doing so thus find comfort. However, the words of Paul, Romans 8 [:26–27], properly apply here: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought (that is, as was said above, we dare not express our wishes), rather the Spirit himself intercedes for us mightily with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the heart knows what is the mind of the Spirit,” etc. Also Ephesians 3 [:20], “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.”


One should not despise a Christian person as if he were a Turk, a pagan, or a godless person. He is precious in God’s sight and his prayer is powerful and great, for he has been sanctified by Christ’s blood and anointed with the Spirit of God. Whatever he sincerely prays for, especially in the unexpressed yearning of his heart, becomes a great, unbearable cry in God’s ears. God must listen, as he did to Moses, Exodus 14 [:15], “Why do you cry to me?” even though Moses couldn’t whisper, so great was his anxiety and trembling in the terrible troubles that beset him. His sighs and the deep cry of his heart divided the Red Sea and dried it up, led the children of Israel across, and drowned Pharaoh with all his army,3 etc. This and even more can be accomplished by a true, spiritual longing. Even Moses did not know how or for what he should pray—not knowing how the deliverance would be accomplished—but his cry came from his heart. 


Isaiah did the same against King Sennacherib4 and so did many other kings and prophets who accomplished inconceivable and impossible things by prayer, to their astonishment afterward. But before that they would not have dared to expect or wish so much of God. This means to receive things far higher and greater than we can understand or pray for, as St. Paul says, Ephesians 3 [:20], etc. Again, St. Augustine declared that his mother was praying, sighing, and weeping for him, but did not desire anything more than that he might be converted from the errors of the Manicheans5 and become a Christian.6 Thereupon God gave her not only what she desired but, as St. Augustine puts it, her “chiefest desire” (cardinem desideriieius), that is, what she longed for with unutterable sighs—that Augustine become not only a Christian but also a teacher above all others in Christendom.7 Next to the apostles Christendom has none that is his equal.


Who can doubt that those Israelite children who died before they could be circumcised on the eighth day were yet saved by the prayers of their parents in view of the promise that God willed to be their God. God (they say) has not limited his power to the sacraments, but has made a covenant with us through his word.8 Therefore we ought to speak differently and in a more consoling way with Christians than with pagans or wicked people (the two are the same), even in such cases where we do not know God’s hidden judgment. For he says and is not lying, “All things are possible to him who believes” [Mark 9:28], even though they have not prayed, or expected, or hoped for what they would have wanted to see happen. Enough has been said about this. Therefore one must leave such situations to God and take comfort in the thought that he surely has heard our unspoken yearning and done all things better than we could have asked.


In summary, see to it that above all else you are a true Christian and that you teach a heartfelt yearning and praying to God in true faith, be it in this or any other trouble. Then do not be dismayed or grieved about your child or yourself, and know that your prayer is pleasing to God and that God will do everything much better than you can comprehend or desire. “Call upon me,” he says in Psalm 50 [:15], “in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” For this reason one ought not straightway condemn such infants for whom and concerning whom believers and Christians have devoted their longing and yearning and praying. Nor ought one to consider them the same as others for whom no faith, prayer, or yearning are expressed on the part of Christians and believers. God intends that his promise and our prayer or yearning which is grounded in that promise should not be disdained or rejected, but be highly valued and esteemed. I have said it before and preached it often enough: God accomplishes much through the faith and longing of another, even a stranger, even though there is still no personal faith. But this is given through the channel of another’s intercession, as in the gospel Christ raised the widow’s son at Nain because of the prayers of his mother apart from the faith of the son.9 And he freed the little daughter of the Canaanite woman from the demon through the faith of the mother apart from the daughter’s faith.10 The same was true of the kings son, John 4 [:46–53], and of the paralytic and many others of whom we need not say anything here.[1]

WA D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Weimar, 1883–).

1 Luther wrote this item to be appended to Bugenhagen’s exposition of Psalm 29.

2 Cf. 1 Cor. 15:8.

3 Cf. Exod. 14:26–28.

4 Cf. Isa. 37:4.

5 As a young man Augustine (354–480) adhered to the philosophy of the Persian teacher Manes (ca.215–275), which was based on a dualism of light and darkness.

6 Confessions, 5, 8; of. F. J. She, d (trans.), The Confessions of St. Augustine (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1943), p. 931.

7 Augustine subsequently became bishop of Hippo. His thinking has played a significant role in Christian theology and had considerable influence upon Luther, who frequently quoted from his writings.

8 At this point the edition of Luther’s works by Enders (vol. XV, pp. 55–56) includes some additional material as cited in WA 53, 207, n. 1: “that he could without them [word and sacrament] and in ways unknown to us save the unbaptized infants as he did for many in the time of the law of Moses (even kings) apart from the law, such as, Job, Naaman, the king of Nineveh, Babylon, Egypt, etc. However, he did not want the law to be openly despised, but upheld under threat of the punishment of an eternal curse.

“So I consider and hope that the good and merciful God is well-intentioned toward these infants who do not receive baptism through no fault of their own or in disregard of his manifest command of baptism.

“Yet [I consider] that he does not and did not wish this to be publicly preached or believed because of the iniquity of the world, so that what he had ordained and commanded would not be despised. For we see that he has commanded much because of the iniquity of the world, but does not constrain the godly in the same way.

“In summary, the Spirit turns everything for those who fear him to the best, but to the obstinate he is obstinate” [Ps. 18:27].

9 Cf. Luke 7:11–17.

10 Cf. Matt. 15:22–28.

[1] Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 43: Devotional Writings II. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 43, pp. 243–250). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Dismissing God, by Bruce Lockerbie

This is a very depressing book. 

Bruce Lockerbie explores the "modern writers' struggle against religion." He covers authors such as: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Herman Melville, Emilie Dickinson, Mark Twain, Thomas Hardy, Ernest Hemingway, and Frederick Nietzsche. 

These people were all deep thinkers and gifted writers. But they all either drifted away from or strongly rejected the God of the Bible. At first, I found the book somewhat interesting as I discovered what stood behind my doubts about all these authors. It's sad that when we study great authors, our teachers often omit their spiritual struggles. But as the book moves from one author to the next, their stories become repetitive. Here are the usual causes behind their dismissal of God:

1. The Enlightenment - Rationalism and higher criticism undermined their confidence in the Bible.

2. The Theory of Evolution - This provided a pseudo scientific basis to dismiss God.

3. Social Upheavals - the Industrial Revolution and World Wars had negative effects on these authors.

4. Personal Wealth - After achieving some success, most of these authors did not need to work. 

5. "Guiltless" Pursuit of Pleasure - In many cases their wealth and freedom gave them many opportunities to pursue personal pleasure. Society no longer condemned them. But they still had to explain themselves to God. What better way to get rid of guilt than to get rid of God. 

As depressing as this book may be, I would point out to everyone that there were great writers who lived during this period who were not swayed by the causes above. A good parallel to this book might be to study writers such as: William Paley, John Henry Newman, TS Eliot, CS Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Malcom Muggeridge, etc. 

Notes and Quotes

Page 14. “More to the point, what is it about belief that so in rages those who choose not to believe? What stirs the animus of certain nonbelievers to become disbelievers, eager to contend against those who profess what the disbeliever denies?” 


Page 21. Nobel prize winning biologist, Jacques Monod, “the fundamental postulate that there is no plan, there is no intention to the universe.“ like a gypsy, he lives on the boundary of an alien world. A world that is deaf to his music just is indifferent to his hopes as it is to his suffering or his crimes.” Jacques Monod, chance and necessity: an essay on the natural philosophy of modern biology, trans. Austryn Wainhouse (New York: Knopf, 1971), 172-173. 


Page 29. “Two things about the Christian religion must surely be clear to anybody with eyes in his head. One is, that men cannot do without it; the other, that they cannot do with it, as it is.” Matthew Arnold, God in the Bible, 378. 


Page 30. “In sophisticated Athens, the search for a rational explanation of the universe apart from the guns had learned, as always, from religious apostasy to political anarchy; for as Theodore Dostoyevsky and Jean Paul Sartre were to agree 2500 years later, if God does not exist, everything is permitted. In the Athens of Sophocles‘ day, The only deity for whom any credence remained was Tyche, or Chance. 


Page 41. “I know that I ought now to give myself to God and spend the spring time of life in his service for it seems to me a mockery to spend wife’s summer and autumn in the service of Mammon and when the world no longer charms us… Do you or hearts because we are afraid to do otherwise and give to God the miserable recompense of a sickbed for all his kindness to us“    (The letters of Emily Dickinson 28 March 1846). 


Page 49. Emily Dickinson said this regarding not becoming a Christian: it is hard for me to give up the world.”   

(The letters of Emily Dickinson 28 March 1846). 


Page 44. “You cannot imagine the terrible torment the desire to be live has caused and still causes me, for it is a desire that grows all the stronger in my heart the more arguments I have against it.“   Fyodor Dostoyevsky, letter to Natalya Fonvizina, 1854. 


Page 51. “Walt Whitman was the high priest of poetic religiosity.”  


Page 58. Ralph Waldo Emerson, essay, “self-reliance.“  1841 Regarding this, Lockerbie, “The gauntlet of intellectual and spiritual rebellion against convention had been thrown down; the banner individual and selective truth had been raised.”  


Page 60. “In particular, Whitman more and more adopted for himself the impression at first suggested by others that he was a Christ – figure – if not, in fact, the Christ himself.” 


Page 61. Emerson wrote, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”  


Page 62. “At its core Whitman’s religion was a blend of pantheism – the deification of nature – and solipsism – the deification of self.” 


Page 69. Whitman would have no part of repentance: “(let others deprecate, let others weep for sin, remorse, humiliation,) O soul, thou pleasest me, I thee.”  


Nathaniel Hawthorne 

Pages 73-77 

His great great grandfather John Hawthorne, was one of the judges at the 1692 Salem witch trials. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote stories about the hypocrisy and cynicism of early New England. The Scarlet Letter featured Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale, who hid his affair with Hester Prynne and fatherhood of her daughter Pearl as well as the vengeful husband of Hester, Roger Chillingworth.  


Page 79 

We know nothing about Nathaniel Hawthorne’s personal faith or lack thereof. However, he seemed to be reacting against what he perceived to be the cold, hypocritical faith of his forefathers.  


Herman Melville 

Page 81 

I love all men who dive. Any fish can swim near the surface, but it takes a great whale to go downstairs 5 miles or more… 


Page 87 

Ahab bathed his harpoon in blood saying,  

Ego non baptizo te in nomine patria, sed in nomine diaboli. Meaning: I do not baptize you in the name of the father, but in the name of the devil. 


He had made a Faustian pact with the devil. 


Page 89 

If is the signal for the diametric opposite of faith, the maximal miss trust. It is the word beginning all attempts at discrediting God: if God is good, then why…? If God is omnipotent, then why…? If God is loving, then why…? If it is rooted in hubris, the over weaning pride that dilutes a human being into contesting with God strength for strength. 


Milleville, became a skeptic like his character Ishmael. However his book, Billy Budd, may show that he found some escape from his sinking doubts. 


Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain 


His father died when he was 11. 


He made fun of the Christian faith in Tom Sawyer‘s Sunday school quiz and then many episodes in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 


Huck Finn’s Prayer 

So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn’t come. Why wouldn’t they? It warn’t no use to try to hide it from Him. Nor from me, neither. I knower very well why they wouldn’t come. It was because my heart warn’t right; it was because I warn’t square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth say I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that nigger’s owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed that was a lie — and he knowed it. You can’t pray a lie – I found that out. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, page 166. 


These quotes were not in the book:  

“The best of us would rather be popular than right." 

The Mysterious Stranger 


"I have no race prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. All I care to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can't be any worse." Concerning the Jews 

I think this is a quote from the mysterious stranger. Satan states to the damned human race: 

There is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, New Haven, no help. It is all a dream — a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but I thought — a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternity‘s. 


Double check this in Spiller. 


It appears that this is where Clemens ended up. He wrote a letter to William Dean Howells in which he said that if he wrote any more, he would need a pen warmed up in hell.  


Page 130 

William Blake was a neo-pagan who believed that he was in constant communication with the spirit world of demons and angels. 

William Ernest Hensley 

Page 138-137 

He rejected God mainly because of the death of his young daughter and because of disease and suffering in the world. His approach to the possibility of hell is a boastful self-confidence. This is shown in his poem, Invictus:  

It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul. 


Thomas Hardy 


Page 146 

From the Crimean war to the Boer war to World War I, England‘s confidence in a caring and protective God has been shaken. The established church’s hold on the souls of Englishmen had been weakened, in part by the church’s timidity in the face of Darwin’s inquiry and Huxleys scientism, and in part by the church’s rapturous adoption of German theologians accommodations to the science of so-called “higher criticism.” 

Page 147 

Hardy’s opinion of the clergy from, “A Tragedy of Two Ambitions.” 

To succeed in the church, people must believe in you, first of all, as a gentleman, secondly as a man of means, thirdly as a scholar, fourthly as a preacher, faithfully, perhaps, as a Christian — but always first as a gentleman. 


Hardy made many notes in The Christian Year: Thoughts in Verse for the Sundays and Holidays Throughout the Year, by John Kienle 

In his novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Hardy makes his case against God as Tess slowly realizes her faith in God will not save her. Here is a quote: 



But, might some say, where was Tess’s guardian angel? Where was the providence of her simple faith? Perhaps, like that other God whom the ironical Tishbite spoke, he was talking, or he was pursuing, or he was on a journey, or he was sleeping and not to be awakened. 


William Butler Yeats 


Yeats was not happy with either the Anglican Church or the Roman Catholic Church. He felt both were complacent.  

Page: 156 

Unable to believe in either Christian doctrine or the new science that attacked the Christian faith, Yeats became, by his own admission, and unwilling disbeliever. At age 70, he wrote, “I am very religious, and deprived by [Thomas] Huxley… Whom I detested, of the simple-minded religion of my childhood, I had made a new religion.” 


This new religion was Yeat’s own neopaganism, the strangest amalgam conceivable, consisting of selected Christian teachings, Celtic legends and fables, demonology, astrology, Hindu religion, magic, Rosicrucianism, Kabbalism and other odd bits of the occult he invented by himself. 


Ernest Hemingway  

His mother was a devout Christian, and she made sure that her children were raised in the Christian faith. His father was a doctor, and he introduced him to the love of the outdoors. His father would later commit suicide. 


Page 202 

If others choose to rail against an unjust or even non-existent Deity, Hemingway is more composed. After all, the God of his childhood upbringing has simply become irrelevant to the man. 


Page: 202 

Hemingway responded to TS Eliot‘s conversion to the Christian faith with this little title: 


* Neo-Thomist Poem 

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want him for long. 

*The title “Neo-Thomist Poem” refers to temporary embracing of church by literary gents—E.H. 


The Nihilists 


Page 205 

Well before the end of the 19th century, the philosophy fueling popular and belief— even disbelief — was nihilism, the conviction that, having denied the existence of any transcendent spiritual realm and having looked at the material world and found it empty, all that remains is nothing. If nothing, then nihil, the Latin word for nothing. Nihilism is a worldview asserting the conundrum that nothing is real. Nihilism permits the enigma that claims the absence of everything, including the one who identifies that very absence. Nihilism thrives on such contradiction as this: that the only rational option is recognition of the universal irrationality. Thus, nihilism creates a cannon of art whose theme is negativity, the literature of despair, the work of those who claim – with Ernest Hemingway — is the only valid form of prayer is a parity of the paternoster:  


Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee. 

Ernest Hemingway, A Clean Well Lighted Place 


Friederich Nietzsche 


Page 206 

He was born in 1844 in Saxony, son of a Lutheran pastor. He rebelled against Prussian patriotism and discipline of his boyhood. He was a professor of ancient languages In 1878 he resigned because of ill health, because of syphilis. Yet he produced most of his work At this time, especially Also Sprach Zarathustra. 


The author points out that some of his writings were corrupted by his unscrupulous sister after his death. 


He blamed Christianity for having sided with all that is weak and base, with all failures. He said that Christian pity leads to nothingness. I do not see how this happens. It seems to me that he rejected the reality of God, and then struck at the heart of the Christian faith in order to blame the Christian faith for his unbelief. 


In his famous tract of 1895, the antichrist, he wrote about a mad man who walked about with a lantern crying out that he was looking for God. Many who did not believe in God joked with and mocked the man, but the man finally says that we have killed him we are all his murderers. God is dead. 


When Time Magazine ran a story about the God is dead philosophy, some people responded with a bumper sticker that read: “My God is not dead. Sorry about yours. “ 


Other philosophers built on his idea: Martin Heidegger, Jean Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus. 


In my opinion, all of these men fail to fill the void that they created when they cast got out of their minds. 


Pages 225-226 

TS Eliot divided modern literature into three periods. The first period took the faith for granted and omitted it from its picture of life. This era lasted until the middle of the 19th century, Or until Darwin’s Origin of Species was published in 1859. This second. Followed when men doubted, worried about, and contested the faith. This era included writers such as Dickinson, Milleville, Twain and Yeats. The third era was a phase in which the writers never heard the Christian faith spoken of as anything but an anachronism. The whole realm of modern literature is corrupted by what I call secularism.