Mark Twain’s Civil War

Monday, May 18, AD 2015





Mark Twain, like many young men North and South, decided that the Civil War was not to his taste, and went West.  In 1887 he addressed a reunion of Maryland Union troops and gave a short, humorous, and dark, look at his war:

“When your secretary invited me to this reunion of the Union veterans of Maryland he requested me to come prepared to clear up a matter which he said had long been a subject of dispute and bad blood in war circles in this country – to wit, the true dimensions of my military services in the Civil War, and the effect they had upon the general result.  I recognise the importance of this thing to history, and I have come prepared.  Here are the details.

I was in the Civil War two weeks.  In that brief time I rose from private to second lieutenant.  The monumental feature of my campaign was the one battle which my command fought – it was in the summer of ’61.  If I do say it, it was the bloodiest battle ever fought in human history; there is nothing approaching it for destruction of human life in the field, if you take into consideration the forces engaged and the proportion of death to survival.  And yet you do not even know the name of that battle.  Neither do I.  It had a name, but I have forgotten it.  It is no use to keep private information which you can’t show off.  In our battle there were just 15 men engaged on our side – all brigadier-generals but me, and I was a second-lieutenant.  On the other side there was one man.  He was a stranger.  We killed him.  It was night, and we thought it was an army of observation; he looked like an army of observation – in fact, he looked bigger than an army of observation would in the day time; and some of us believed he was trying to surround us, and some thought he was going to turn our position, and so we shot him.

Poor fellow, he probably wasn’t an army of observation after all, but that wasn’t our fault; as I say, he had all the look of it in the dim light.  It was a sorrowful circumstance, but he took the chances of war, and he drew the wrong card; he over-estimated his fighting strength, and he suffered the likely result; but he fell as the brave should fall – with his face to the front and feet to the field – so we buried him with the honours of war, and took his things.

So began and ended the only battle in the history of the world where the opposing force was utterly exterminated, swept from the face of the earth – to the last man.  And yet you don’t know the name of that battle; you don’t even know the name of that man.

Now, then, for the argument.  Suppose I had continued in the war, and gone on as I began, and exterminated the opposing forces every time – every two weeks – where would your war have been?  Why, you see yourself, the conflict would have been too one-sided.  There was but one honourable course for me to pursue, and I pursued it.  I withdrew to private life, and gave the Union cause a chance.  There, now, you have the whole thing in a nutshell; it was not my presence in the Civil War that determined that tremendous contest – it was my retirement from it that brought the  crash.  It left the Confederate side too weak.”

Twain could see the good and bad in both sides, and after the War became a friend of General Grant.  The older he got the more cynical he got, and his final biting verdict on the enthusiasm for war that he saw as a young man at the start of the Civil War is his 1907 War Prayer:

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One Response to Mark Twain’s Civil War

  • Good post. I think that Mark Twain’s prayer-poem of 1907 is very wise indeed. I seem to recall Hawkeye on that TV show MASH saying something like this: “War is war and hell is hell, and of the two war is worse.” I went on a nuclear submarine because I was a coward. I did not want to see men being shot at and disemboweled on the field of battle. I did not want that to happen to myself. So I figured that if I had to die, then let it be by the instantaneous implosion of the pressure hull when a Soviet torpedo strikes it (from which reference you may surmise my age).

Mark Twain Reviews the Book of Mormon

Friday, October 11, AD 2013

All is well

A review of the Book of Mormon by Mark Twain from Roughing It.  If any of my Mormon readers take offense, I would note that Twain was a religious sceptic and said various uncomplimentary things about other denominations, including the Catholic Church.  Twain’s review is not set forth here because of its veracity, but rather for its style and as a representative sample of the controversies surrounding Mormonism in the 19th century as it began its trek from being regarded as a fringe cult to a mainstream American religion.  The review is also hilarious, and I have often stolen borrowed the phrase chloroform in print:

All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the “elect” have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so “slow,” so sleepy; such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle—keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate. If he, accourding to tradition, merely translated it from certain ancient and mysteriously-engraved plates of copper, which he declares he found under a stone, in an out-of-the-way locality, the work of translating was equally a miracle, for the same reason. The book seems to be merely a prosy detail of imaginary history, with the Old Testament for a model; followed by a tedious plagiarism of the New Testament. The author labored to give his words and phrases the quaint, old-fashioned sound and structure of our King James’s translation of the Scriptures; and the result is a mongrel—half modern glibness, and half ancient simplicity and gravity. The latter is awkward and constrained; the former natural, but grotesque by the contrast. Whenever he found his speech growing too modern—which was about every sentence or two—he ladled in a few such Scriptural phrases as “exceeding sore,” “and it came to pass,” etc., and made things satisfactory again. “And it came to pass” was his pet. If he had left that out, his Bible would have been only a pamphlet. The title-page reads as follows:

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17 Responses to Mark Twain Reviews the Book of Mormon

  • It’s a quirky religion in all its theology and practice, but I have to say I do like all the Mormons I know. It’s a bit of a stereotype that Mormons are just great folks, but that’s what I’ve observed. I’d rather ask my Mormon neighbors to watch my kids than some of the Catholics I know. Of course, we are called to evangelize everyone, but there are just so many worse cases in our culture than the Mormons. If the Church is a field hospital as Francis says, I think Mormons would be in the minor wounds area with ICU reserved for the most hateful atheists and Nancy Pelosi.

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  • I have liked all Mormons I have personally encountered. Most of them seem to major in nice.

  • So, then, what happened to Dingy Harry?

  • The exception that proves the rule! 🙂

    Here is a link to Reid last year trying to read Romney out of the Mormon faith.

    What a repellant little slug Dingy Harry is. Even the Obama White House views him with contempt:

  • All I could think of while reading that was The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

  • There must be a connection here between the BOM and all the drivelly Mormon-written sci-fi of late (including the kind with pouting teenage vampires). Joseph Smith was not so much a fabulist as he was simply a hack.

    Obviously, millions of 14-year old girls will disagree vehemently, but I’m of the opinion that Mormons (and also Scientologists) should be cautioned to step away from any fiction involving other planets and the like.

  • The Book of Mormon is here:

    The Doctrine and Covenants are here:

    The Pearl of Great Price is here:

    Fascinating stuff if you can manage to wade your way through it. I found the facsimiles in the Pearl of Great Price to be quite reminiscent of stuff I drew as a nine year old.

  • Jesus tells us to test everything.

  • My husband recently picked up a bunch of old (published in the late 60s through the 70s) Western paperbacks at a used bookstore. Several of them feature a hero who tangles with renegade Mormons occasionally. One of the best known and earliest Western novels, Zane Grey’s “Riders of the Purple Sage,” portrays Mormons as villians. It’s interesting to see how Mormons, who today are considered the epitome of square and conservative, were in the era of the Old West regarded as a subversive and potentially dangerous counterculture comparable to, say, the “hippies” of the 1960s!

  • Harry Reid exists to give Mormons something to talk about when Catholics complain about Pelosi and the late Kennedy.

    HA– good thing you added that “of late” or I’d have to get snarly with you, and I don’t even LIKE Ender’s Game……

  • Thank you for posting this, it was a fun read. If he did read it on his way back from Utah, I would imagine he would have few good things to say about it. Especially seeing that Brigham Young openly mocked him, at one point referring to him as an ugly girl. So, I doubt there was any love loss after writing this.

  • I have read this a number of years ago, but reading it again just reminded me of how superficial was Twain’s reading and understanding the Book of Mormon. Twain thought of himself as a humorist and since Mormons were not popular, he was sure he could get away with the satire without any repercussions.

  • Twain’s review of the Book of Mormon is rather like chloroform itself. (Brigham Young is said to have remarked, “He must have been reading the Book of Ether.”) Twains remarks on Salt Lake City, plural wives and his meeting Brigham Young are much funnier. According to Twain, after he was an obnoxious participant in an meeting between his brother Orion, Secretary of Nevada Territory, and Brigham Young, Young remarked to Orion, “Your child I presume. Boy or girl?”

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  • Twain’s main complaint is that the Book of Mormon is boring. Well, how many of us would agree the Bible is boring, too? Or mass? Or…?

    Boring-ness has as much to do with the reader as the book. I’ve actually read the Book of Mormon and I found it difficult at first, but under that layer it is exciting and miraculous.

  • Mark Twain criticized the Book of Mormon for the frequent use of the phrase “And it came to pass.” He once joked that if you took “it came to pass” out of the Book of Mormon it would be just a pamphlet. I think that does make a good joke. However, as a valid criticism of the Book of Mormon it does not hold up. Like so many other criticisms, this criticism, after careful scrutiny, turns into another evidence in favor of Book of Mormon’s authenticity and antiquity. Too bad Mark Twain was not knowledgeable about the ancient use of the phrase “and it came to pass” as we are now.

    The phrase “it came to pass” is now known to have been used in ancient texts; including, Mayan script, in just the same way it is used in the Book of Mormon. It is highly doubtful that Joseph Smith could have known of this usage in ancient literature and that he could have used it correctly according to ancient usage. Yet the Book of Mormon gets the ancient usage correct. The phrase “it came to pass” shows up in the Hebrew text of the Bible frequently but not nearly so often in the English translation. I wonder if Mark Twain would also criticize the Bible for using that phrase.

    Bruce Warren examined time indicator studies of Maya glyphs done by leading Maya hieroglyph scholars Linda Schele (1982) and david Stuart (1984). He found an amazing correspondence to the Book of Mormon. The Mayan words “uth” and “Chontal ut” mean “it came to pass” and are frequently used in Mayan writing. Deciphering advances in the three decades since then confirm this meaning.

    Is this just a coincidence or does it indicate a cultural and language connection between the Maya and the Book of Mormon? One or a few isolated parallels can happen but they are rare. The more parallels discovered the more likely they are not coincidence, but rather, that there is, in fact, a linguistic connection. For instance, the Mayan document known as the Popol Vuh has been shown to contain striking correspondence to the Book of Mormon in at least ten structure types. (See independent studies by Crowell 1992: 12-26 and Christenson 2003: 42 ff.)

    This level of correspondence tip the scales towards the likelihood that the Book of Mormon is a true ancient Mesoamerican document which shares culture and language with the Mayan Popol Vuh.

    Additionally this phrase “it came to pass” is considered to be a distinct Hebrew literary style. Of this phrase Archeologist V. Garth Norman says “In other words, we can say, as with chiasmic structure, that wherever it is found as a literary convention, there is the imprint of Hebrew influence.” How did it wind up in Maya writing and in the Book of Mormon? Joseph Smith did not know Mayan nor even Hebrew when the Book of Mormon was published. Angela M. Crowell (1992: 12) states that, “Knowledge of the poetic structure of the Book of Mormon calls attention to the great beauty of its verse and aids our understanding of its message,” in addition to recognizing its ancient Hebrew origin.

    Donald W. Parry, an instructor in biblical Hebrew at BYU, wrote in the Ensign:

    The English translation of the Hebrew word wayehi (often used to connect two ideas or events), “and it came to pass,” appears some 727 times in the King James Version of the Old Testament. Wayehi is found about 1,204 times in the Hebrew Bible, but it was translated only 727 times as “and it came to pass.” The expression is rarely found in Hebrew poetic, literary, or prophetic writings. Most often, it appears in the Old Testament narratives, such as the books by Moses recounting the history of the children of Israel. In other words, it occurs in Hebrew literature which is narrative in nature – that is, telling a story, or telling history.

    As in the Old Testament, the expression in the Book of Mormon (where it appears some 1,404 times) occurs in the narrative selections and is clearly missing in the more literary parts, such as the psalm of Nephi (see 2 Ne. 4:20–25); the direct speeches of King Benjamin, Abinadi, Alma, and Jesus Christ; and the several epistles.

    But why does the phrase “and it came to pass” appear in the Book of Mormon so much more often, page for page, than it does in the Old Testament? The answer is twofold. First, the Book of Mormon contains much more narrative, chapter for chapter, than the Bible. Second, but equally important, the translators of the King James Version did not always render wayehi as “and it came to pass.” Instead, they were at liberty to draw from a multitude of similar expressions like “and it happened,” “and … became,” or “and … was.”

    Wayehi is found about 1,204 times in the Hebrew Bible, but it was translated only 727 times as “and it came to pass” in the King James Version. Joseph Smith did not introduce such variety into the translation of the Book of Mormon. He retained the precision of “and it came to pass,” which better performs the transitional function of the Hebrew word.

    It is almost certain that Joseph Smith would not have used the phrase at all if he created the Book of Mormon. Discriminating use of the Hebraic phrase in the Book of Mormon is further evidence that the record is what it says it is—a translation from a language (reformed Egyptian) with ties to the Hebrew language. (See Morm. 9:32–33.) (Robert F. Smith, ” ‘It Came to Pass’ in the Bible and the Book of Mormon” (Provo: F.A.R.M.S., 1980).

    Mayan experts tell us that that a Mayan word for “and it came to pass” functioned in at least four ways in Mayan texts: (1) As a posterior date indicator in a text that meant “to count forward to the next date,” and (2) as an anterior date indicator that signified “to count backward to the given date.” Additionally it could function (3) as a posterior or (4) anterior event indicator, meaning “counting forward or backward to a certain event. “5 Warren finds instances of all four functions of and it came to pass in the Book of Mormon, as well as combined date and event indications in both posterior and anterior expressions. For example, “And it came to pass that the people began . . . ” is a posterior event indicator (3 Nephi 2:3), whereas “And it had come to pass . . . ” is an anterior event indicator (3 Nephi 1:20). (Robert F. Smith, ” ‘It Came to Pass’ in the Bible and the Book of Mormon” (Provo: F.A.R.M.S., 1980).)

    Brant Gardiner explained it in a simpler way. He says “’And now’ serves as a ligature in event lists or simply a tool to move the narrative from topic to topic. The companion phrase ‘and it came to pass’ is related to movement in time rather than concept. Where ‘and now’ marks movement of ideas, ‘and it came to pass’ describes sequences.” Furthermore, Gardiner notes that sometimes the Book of Mormon combines both phrases into “and now it came to pass” (1 Ne. 16:1; 17:19, 48; 22:1; 2 Ne. 1:1) to mark the combination of a major change in topic as well as a different time. (Brant Gardiner, FAIR Conference 2008;

    The March/April 1987 Biblical Archaeology Review reported on excavations at Arad, an ancient Israelite fortress located in the Negev Desert about 40 miles south of Jerusalem. The last settlement strata, from the ninth to sixth century B.C. is contemporary with the Book of Mormon’s Lehi and his departure from Israel. Writing on ostraca uncovered at the Arad site demonstrate the repeated use of the standard phrase “and now” as the beginning of a sentence. These writings, dating to about the time of the opening of the Book of Mormon demonstrate that the use of “and now” was common. This was not known in Joseph Smith’s time. Joseph Smith could not have fabricated the Book of Mormon.

    It is highly doubtful that Joseph Smith could have known these usages of the two phrases in ancient literature and that he could have used them correctly according to the ancient usage. Yet the Book of Mormon gets the ancient usage correct. Furthermore, the Mayan language was not cracked until about 150 years after the Book of Mormon was in print. Yet we find “It came to pass” used repeatedly in Mayan and in just the area of the world where most of the archeological and cultural data indicates the Book of Mormon events took place. So, there is a convergence of data from various fields of study indicating the antiquity and historicity of the Book of Mormon. “And it came to pass” is just one of the many evidences none of which was known in Joseph Smith’s day.

January 28, 1813: Pride and Prejudice Published

Monday, January 28, AD 2013

Two centuries today since the publication of Pride and Prejudice.  I confess that I have generally found Jane Austen to be a snore fest unless her text is enlivened, if that is the proper word when Zombies are involved, as in the above video.  Austen’s books began to be published in America in 1832, although they made little impact with the general public until the latter part of the Nineteenth Century when the novelist William Dean Howells wrote several essays celebrating Austen as an author.

One of her most biting critics was Mark Twain.  A sample of his Austen tirades:

Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book.

I haven’t any right to criticise books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.

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63 Responses to January 28, 1813: Pride and Prejudice Published

  • Mark Twain is, arguably, America’s greatest writer, and certainly the author of America’s greatest novel, “Huckleberry Finn”. I have much respect for him and his opinions, although I strongly disagree with the one he expresses here.

    Emerson, on the other hand, is a proto-socialist whose only worthy literary contribution, as far as I’m concerned, is “Concord Hymn”. He can suck it.

    That ought to get the combox literary fight club off to a decent start.


  • Indeed Jay! 🙂 I have never had much use for the transcendentalists in general or Emerson in particular. On the other hand my reaction to Twain is decidely mixed. Some of his writings I greatly enjoy, most notably a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, while much of his writing leaves me cold. Funny Twain I like, serious Twain I find boring and bitter Twain I abhore.

  • I believe Jane Auten is the English Molière.

    No other novelist relies so heavily on dialogue to exhibit character, or does so with a surer touch. Take a sentence of dialogue from any her novels and one can instantly identify the speaker/ And what characters they are: Mrs Jennings, Mr Elton, the preposterous Mr Collins and the truly evil Mrs Norris. In fact, there are no minor characters; they all have the solidity of life. She can induce a suspension of disbelief by careful gradation, from portraying the eccentric Mr Bennett and his silly, but wholly believable wife to lull the reader into accepting the outrageous Mr Collins and Lady Catherine.

    No writer can be so concise. She can compress a volume of Christian metaphysics in a single parenthesis. “Was it new for any thing in this world to be unequal, inconsistent, incongruous — or for chance and circumstance (as second causes) to direct the human fate?”

  • M. P-S: Exactly. Well put.

    There are a few novels I re-read every few years. Pride and Prejudice is
    one of them. It never fails that I find some new reward each time.

    I’m not sure why Twain had such an antipathy for Miss Austen’s work. Could
    it be just a touch of envy for her more indirect, understated humor? And
    surely Twain couldn’t deny her unerring gift for characterization, so perfectly
    described by Mr. Paterson-Seymour above.

    As for the insufferable Emerson, I agree with Jay Anderson– he can suck it.
    Who cares what that gasbag thinks?

  • Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and other novels by Jane Austen, a canon’s daughter, were written to expose the banality and injustice of denying women the right to own and inherit property, estates and manors from their deceased husbands. (Job’s daughters in the Old Testament did indeed receive an inheritance. This inheritance would enable them to maintain their virginity and not be forced into an unhappy marriage for the sake of a livelihood. But then again, the English Reformation brought much evil into the culture.) Only the male person, as citizen, in England was allowed, by law, to own property and to vote. Women who were to be accorded all courtesy and gentility, were in fact, denied. Even their home, unless a male heir in their immediate family in-tailed the estate, as Mrs. Bennett decries “Are we all to be thrown into the hedgerow, penniless?” was in-tailed away. Mr. Collins, I believe. And the Dashwood’s estate was turned over to the stepson and his evil wife. Maryann Dashwood near died of the poverty visited upon the family after the death of her father. Tom Jones, a rather ribald novel, also dealt with this unfair law, which denied the owner of the estate his free will to leave his estate to his widow. I cannot tell you how very much I appreciate American Law after watching Pride and Prejudice, but I also appreciate the respect and courtesy shown each person in the novels, always hoping such respect will fill our culture.

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  • Mary, the Reformation brought far more good to English society than evil. England had been at her best for almost four centuries post 1559. The England we have come to know is the England of Reformation.

  • Actually I think the Tudors came close to transforming England into a fairly squalid absolute monarchy, and the Reformation played a large part in that. The greatest Englishman in the last century, Sir Winston Churchill, I think got it right in this paragraph:

    “The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand. They realised the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom. They saw that the break with Rome carried with it the risk of a despotism freed from every fetter. More stood forth as the defender of all that was finest in the medieval outlook. He represents to history its universality, its belief in spiritual values, and its instinctive sense of otherworldliness. Henry VIII with cruel axe decapitated not only a wise and gifted counselor, but a system which, though it had failed to live up to its ideals in practice, had for long furnished mankind with its brightest dreams.”

    My Irish Catholic ancestors of course had little reason to love post Reformation England that treated them as criminals for daring to follow the faith of their ancestors. Edmund Burke put it best in regard to the Irish Penal Laws:

    “For I must do it justice; it was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts. It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

  • Well, Donald, from an Irish perspective of course the whole issue seems to originate with Henry and his children. But as to your comment concerning absolute monarchy, Elizabeth Tudor was actually the first monarch to realize that a ruler governs on consent. She consulted and took advice and after reading virtually everything she’s ever written, I have to say she really WAS humble and God-reliant. Unfortunately the Stuarts reverted and I think they were an ugly bunch.

  • No Jon, Parliament was a very well established institution from the thirteenth century. The Tudors successfully turned it into a rubber stamp. As for Bad Queen Bess, Peter Wentworth, member of Parliament and a frequent guest in the Tower courtesy of Elizabeth during her reign, would have disagreed with your characterization of her. Those who cherish liberty should praise the ham fisted Stuarts who, by rousing opposition, inadvertantly put England on the road to a restoration of the role of Parliament.

  • Well, if the Stuarts did it inadvertantly, what is there to thank? The fact is that Parliament grew used to a certain relationship to the Crown during Elizabeth’s reign, and James I ran roughshod over them–he was an obstinate proponent of Divine Right and the Charles’s were too. As for Wentworth I can’t remember what happened so I can’t speak to that. Let’s see. That was a time when many people were being killed for religious and political reasons. Others were placed under house arrest or secluded somewhere.

  • “Well, if the Stuarts did it inadvertantly, what is there to thank?”

    One can thank incompetence in leaders Jon, as well as competence, depending on what the leaders are attempting to do. The Stuarts were almost comically inept, except for Charles II, who was the only able one of the lot.

    “The fact is that Parliament grew used to a certain relationship to the Crown during Elizabeth’s reign, and James I ran roughshod over them”

    Actually the Puritans had gotten short shrift from Elizabeth and they were hoping for relief from James and were disappointed in their hopes. Peter Wentworth was a Puritan, but he also spoke out compellingly for liberty of speech in Parliament, something that Elizabeth was not keen on.

  • Charles II was obviously not very competent, nor was he seen to be by his contemporaries. The puritans of Elizabeth’s reign were unhappy with her settlement, of course. I don’t know what more they could have reasonably expected in that context, though. Their experiment even in the 30’s onward failed miserably. It was an extreme and eccentric vision that they had. Interestingly, THEY should be thanked since their actions were a catalyst for radical change in the monarchy and the status of parliament. Also, those who came to the new world began an experiment that, although admittedly also eccentric, was actually quite successful! Not bad for nutty Protestants! They seem to get the liberty part right.

  • “Charles II was obviously not very competent, nor was he seen to be by his contemporaries.”
    He restored the monarchy and maintained himself on a turbulent throne for a quarter of a century. He checkmated his enemies in Parliament and was a voice of tolerance in an intolerant age. During his reign England enjoyed peace and prosperity. His misfortune was to die at only 55, leaving his throne to James who only lasted five year.

    “The puritans of Elizabeth’s reign were unhappy with her settlement, of course. I don’t know what more they could have reasonably expected in that context, though.”

    Freedom as did the Catholics under Elizabeth. Such as was practiced in France after the Edict of Nantes in 1598. The Reformation made religion subject to the whims of the reigning monarch which meant that religion was going to be mixed up in politics for a very long time indeed.

    As for Protestants getting liberty right, the Catholics in Maryland who lost their liberty after the Protestants came to power in the 1650’s would have begged to differ.

  • 1775 – 1817
    In the conclusion of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ she writes almost autobiographically in the words between the dashes following:

    “Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favorite maxims. …. Instead of falling a sacrifice to an irresistible passion, as once she had fondly flattered herself with expecting, – instead of remaining even for ever with her mother, and finding her only pleasures in retirement and study, as afterwards in her more calm and sober judgment she had determined on, – she found herself at nineteen, submitting to new …. ”

    In ‘A Portrait of Jane Austen’ Lord David Cecil writes:
    Her genius was twofold. Along with her comedy sense she possessed a subtle insight into the moral nature of man. The union of the two is the distinguishing characteristic of her achievement, and it makes these lively unpretentious comedies of social and domestic life the vehicle of profound and illuminating comments on the human drama.

    I think it’s funny that Mark Twain said “Everytime I read Pride and Prejudice …”,
    and I can’t remember anything about the human condition from RW Emerson.

  • At least as many bad things could be said about Chales II as good. It depends on who you were and where you stood at the time. Donald, I won’t discuss how much liberty existed during the reformation and early modern periods for the simple reason that not much existed beforehand. Not to revert to the Whig interpretation, but this kind of thing IS incremental. By the time our nation was birthed, things looked pretty good at least on paper. It would look good for an increasing number of people in practice with time.

  • “At least as many bad things could be said about Charles II as good. It depends on who you were and where you stood at the time.”
    A truism for most historical figures. However, a quarter century on the throne is nothing to sneeze at, especially considering the fates of his brother and his father.

    “Donald, I won’t discuss how much liberty existed during the reformation and early modern periods for the simple reason that not much existed beforehand.”

    Actually what we know of liberty was largely a creation of the Middle Ages. It was the era of the Reformation that turned Kings and Queens into Caesar and Pope and ushered in the doctrine of the divine right of Kings. Those who fought such trends in liberty usually rallied around such creations of the Middle Ages as Magna Charta and Parliament.

    Liberty I do not think is necessarily an incremental process. The people of Rome never had a greater role in their government than just before the fall of the Roman Republic. Looking around at the contemporary world I do not see ever growing liberty, but rather the reverse currently.

  • You are correct to a point regarding the Middle Ages and liberty. But remember, centralization is what led to control. The Roman church WAS cnetralized in the Middle Ages and I shudder to think what they did all those centuries. I would not have wanted to fall afoul of them. Charles II could ahve reigned for a half century–I don’t consider the guy that great in comparison to other English monarchs. I’m sorry. True, liberty is not necessarily incremental. But if a reformation was underway it would probably take time for it to play out on various levels. I would look at the bigger picture there, not the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries which were still sloughing some old skin. It’s true liberty can be lost, that a people must be fit for it, and that regress is as much a fact of life as progress. Various people see the height and beginning of declines in different places based on their judgement.

    But here is what really confuses me. Most of the things many people on this blog wish to promote and defend originate with Protestantism in the Isles and then transferred to America. That’s the framework into which everuthing else fell and the mould into which everything else was forced. It’s the topics people contend for here on this sight. And it’s all very Protestant. America, the Constitution, etc. for at least 400 years beginning when Christendom was first “shattered” to use the usual though incorrect term, is all very Protestant. Now I know Catholics and conservative Jews have picked up where the establishment left off in the 60’s or so. I get that. What I don’t get is how the Protestant nature of it all is missed.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    “It was the era of the Reformation that turned Kings and Queens into Caesar and Pope”

    I would be inclined t say that it was the Renaissance, rather than the Reformation that did so, for the same process of creating a centralised Royal power, exercised through salaried officials, dependent on the royal will, took place in Spain, in France, with its absolutism and Gallicanism and in the Italian states.

    It was welcomed by many, as a curb on the power of the nobles, the clergy and of the merchant oligarchs of city states. The feeling was widespread that government must be powerful enough to repress arbitrary action in others. If the supreme power is needlessly limited, the secondary powers would run riot and oppress. Its supremacy would bear no check. The problem, many of the leading thinkers believed, was to enlighten the ruler, not to restrain him; and one man is more easily enlightened than many. That was the feeling of the age

  • “The feeling was widespread that government must be powerful enough to repress arbitrary action in others.”

    Actually the whole absolutising trend was to make the central government arbitrary. People who opposed this trend, or who received the short end of the stick, would engage in revolts and/or end up in the New World. The Reformation weakened the Church across the board, and often caused the Church to develop an unhealthy reliance upon Catholic rulers. This was a powerful impetus to Gallicanism in France where Protestants and Catholics frequently engaged in civil wars in the Sixteenth Century. In Spain the monarchy had Crusader status from 1492 with the capture of Granada and the creation of a creakily centralized state. Spanish rulers usually attempted to be more Catholic than the Pope with grotesque results. In the petty Italian principalities the Popes could usually hold their own against the would be Machiavelli princes and princelets. The exception to his was Venice which was truly a world of its own.

  • “The Roman church WAS cnetralized in the Middle Ages”

    Alas that was not the case. Secular rulers usually picked the bishops and huge Church-State conflicts were the norm. These Church-State battles however normalized the concept that resistance to secular rulers was not only allowable but not infrequently praiseworthy.

    “I would not have wanted to fall afoul of them.”
    Actually I would much rather have had problems with the Church than the State throughout the Middle Ages. Church procedures tended to focus on evidence and trials with limited use of judicial torture. The State on the other hand was usually far more brutal. In each case the saving grace tended to be rampant inefficiency, unlike what we saw in the last century.

    “Charles II could ahve reigned for a half century–I don’t consider the guy that great in comparison to other English monarchs. I’m sorry.”

    Don’t worry Jon, we all commit historical errors from time to time! 🙂 I would place the Merrie Monarch among the top ten percent of English monarchs, although admittedly many of these monarchs help set the bar quite low.

    “Most of the things many people on this blog wish to promote and defend originate with Protestantism in the Isles and then transferred to America.”

    That is quite untrue Jon. That old anti-Catholic John Adams noted that the American fight for liberty was based on many rights enjoyed by Englishmen and accepted as “preliminaries” even before the existence of Parliament.

    What is best in America has very deep roots and at their base those roots are frequently Catholic roots.

  • “I have generally found Jane Austen to be a snore fest unless her text is enlivened, if that is the proper word when Zombies are involved”

    It was the success of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” that prompted the same author to write “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”

  • Donald R McClarey

    The rise of royal absolutism in France began before the Reformation, with the accession of the House of Orléans in the person of Louis XII, significantly known as « le Père du Peuple » [Father of the People]in 1498 and of Francis I and the Orléans–Angoulême branch in 1515, who assiduously cultivated the intellectuals. The French Wars of Religion only broke out in 1562, a long lifetime after the rise of the New Monarchy.

    Moreover, the Church was very far from being opposed to the growth of royal power at the expense of noble and provincial privileges. In France, it was brought to its highest development by three great ecclesiastical statesmen, Cardinal Richelieu, Cardinal Mazarin and Cardinal de Fleury, who, as the kings’ chief ministers, dominated the policy of the period from 1624 to 1743. The Gallican Privileges were seen by both the King and the hierarchy, who enthusiastically supported them, as cementing the “sacred and indissoluble alliance” between Throne and Altar.

    I would suggest the Reformation aided a tendency that it did not create.

  • Actually MPS, French centralization goes farther back to at least Philip the Fair. Louis XI, the Spider King, gave the whole trend a great shove forward after the anarchy of the Hundred Years War. It is correct that many French clerics were not opposed to this French centralization and helped it along. More fools they. In regard to Cardinal Richeliu I have long treasured this alleged quip of Pope Urban Viii after the death of the Cardinal:

    “If there is a God Cardinal Richeliu has much to answer for. If there is not, why he led a successful life.”

  • In which Philippe le bel was supported in his quarrels with Boniface VIII by the Archbishop of Rouen, Pierre Roger of Limousin, later Pope Clement VI. He remained a stalwart supporter of the French crown.

    I like d’Argenson’s remark, “Richelieu bled France, Mazarin purged it and Fleury put it on a diet.”

  • That England had such precursors prior to the Reformation was due to its geographical status as well as a couple of other factors, Donald. I totally agree that the Reformation cannot be held responsible for a humanism begun with the Renaissance in soutehrn Europe. One can easily argue the Reformation tempered the excesses of the southern Renaissance when it hit the north. As for the medieval church, the general practice was to decide whether you were guilty and then hand you over to the civil authorities who could kill you. If the evidence showed you were a heretic, you could face death. That’s Constantinian Christianity.

  • “That England had such precursors prior to the Reformation was due to its geographical status as well as a couple of other factors, Donald.”

    English liberties were largely the result of Common Law Courts, a fractious aristocracy, an extensive merchant class in London and a Church that often successfully defied the Crown. There was a reason that “The Holy Blessed Martyr” was going away the most popular saint in Medieval England,

    “As for the medieval church, the general practice was to decide whether you were guilty and then hand you over to the civil authorities who could kill you. If the evidence showed you were a heretic, you could face death. That’s Constantinian Christianity.”

    Very few death sentences were carried out during most periods of the Middle Ages. Usually a period of repentance was proclaimed when repentant heretics were received back into the fold without any penalties. Afterwards repentant heretics usually got off with penances of various sorts. The real massive blood letting, with the exception of the Albigensian Crusade, came in with the Reformation and both Protestants and Catholics were enthusiastic participants.

    As for the phrase “Constantinian Christianity”, that is part of a Protestant mythology that they represent the pure ancient Church that was led astray by those evil papists. As history it is baloney and as theology it is baloney.

  • Indeed in terms of the bigger picture one must say America and northern Europe are heir to centuries of Christianity prior to the Reformation. This is undoubtedly true. The Protestant argument is that Christianity in Europe for centuries was just that–Christianity. But Roman Christianity grew corrupt in its theology, worship, and practice. Then Protestantism revived the very best (and at times not so very best) of the Christian church so that Western civilization was able to carry on well for a while longer. And more importantly, so that the church was able to witness accurately in a lively evangelical spirit. Aside from Restorationists, early church fixations, and the cults, most Protestants see more continuity than anything else.

  • Historically, it is tempting for the Protestant to point out that the best of the past five hundred years of Western Civ. owed itself to the Protestant renewal of catholic Christianity and not to Roman Christianity immediately prior.

  • “Historically, it is tempting for the Protestant to point out that the best of the past five hundred years of Western Civ. owed itself to the Protestant renewal of catholic Christianity”

    Like all falsehoods it is a temptation that must be avoided. Such “historical analysis” is only worthy of a Jack Chick comic book.

  • “Then Protestantism revived the very best (and at times not so very best) of the Christian church so that Western civilization was able to carry on well for a while longer.”

    Protestantism is a fairly broad category only united by one belief: not Catholic. Luther had little in common with Calvin. Neither of them had much in common with the Anabaptists. If they had lived to see them, they would have been horrified by the Quakers. From a Catholic standpoint the amorphous nature of Protestantism is unsurprising as heresy has always worn a thousand guises. I might note that all of my relatives on my father’s side are Protestant, as was my father. My wife was Protestant, a Methodist, at the time of our marriage before her conversion. Most of the people I have loved in this life have been Protestants. My comments about Protestantism as a historical phenomenon contain no personal animus, but merely what I deduce from the evidence as I see it.

  • History can be ‘seen’ in many ways. I would argue there is a Roman Catholic view of it, a Protestant one, a secular progressive one, an Enlightenment view, etc. I feel I’m not motivated by any animus either. I see what I do. As to the amorphous nature of Protestantism, I had in mind the Protestantism of Scriptural renewal in line with the early creeds and traditional orthodoxy before Rome assumed massive innovation.

  • “I had in mind the Protestantism of Scriptural renewal in line with the early creeds and traditional orthodoxy before Rome assumed massive innovation.”

    As typified by Martin Luther’s comments about the Epistle of Saint James being an epistle of straw. The “Reformers'” methodology was fairly straight forward: what they liked they kept and what they didn’t like they threw on the scrap heap. This helped begin the factionalism that has been one of the constant features of Protestantism as the “Reformers” quickly began to quarrel among themselves like Kilkenny cats about what to keep and what to cast away. I doubt if Christ died so that Christianity could be divided into a thousand and one factions.

  • Luther lacked the ability to see how it all hung together. He thought too much in terms of dichotomy. It can be said that Calvin erred in the opposite way by way of too much synthesis. It is true that Protestantism further divided with time. I don’t see that as a reason to accept Roman Christianity as the one true approach, however.

  • Considering the horror that the Church Fathers had of heresy and their desire to preseve Orthodoxy I think the endless divisions of Protestantism indicate that what the Church fathers embraced had little in common with the new variants of Christianity ushered in with the Protestant Reformation and much in common with the heresies that the Church Fathers fought ceaselessly.

  • I don’t see that at all. The church fathers dealt with all kinds of errors, and the truth was consequently articulated in a balanced, biblically informed way. That was the starting point for the best of the Protestant reformers and their descendants. They wanted to maintain the simplicity of the Gospel while being guarded by the boundaries already estableshed in patristic times concerning doctrines like the Trinity, the dual nature of Christ, the resurrection and final return of Christ, the sinfulness of man due to the fall, etc. Have funny denominations and silly cults arisen since which deny the simplicity of the gospel and fundamental orthodoxy? Of course! I see them as on the wrong trajectory adn believe many groups go off like that all the time.

  • “The church fathers dealt with all kinds of errors, and the truth was consequently articulated in a balanced, biblically informed way.”

    Yes, especially on such items as the real presence, the veneration of the saints, the authority of bishops, the role of the papacy and many other features of the Faith that are completely at variance with what the “Reformers” proclaimed in the Sixteenth Century. As Newman noted, to be deep in History is to cease to be Protestant.

    As one of the earliest Church Fathers Justin Martyr noted in regard to the Blessed Sacrament:

    “And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19 this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.”

    When Catholics read the Church Fathers we have no trouble at all recognizing them for what they were: fellow Catholics.

  • The real presence is a doctrine that is as much intricate as it is absent in such detail in Scripture. It developed quite later on, though I do not know the time. The veneration of the saints represents another later development, and to venerate any part of creation flies in the face of both Judaism and Christianity. Elder, bishop, and presbyter are synonomous. The question often arises as to where they belong or, in other words, how church government should be structured. Richard Hooker took the position that the church can and often does adapt to surroundings pragmatically. I take Newman’s remark for what it’s worth. To a point, I agree. It makes us catholic with a small c. I’m not overly crazy about a guy who implied spirituality depended upon how many doielies and candle sticks lay about the alter. And the early church would have thought it quite strange if one placed a marian statue at the front of worship to be crowned and paraded—I’m going to be honest—I really think they would have been shocked and horrified. I’m just not convinced on the veneration of saints, I’m afraid. As to the Patristics, it depends on which one and what they said. Some elaborated beyond Scripture to introduce novelty. Others were mostly fundamental.

  • Newman started the Oxford movement. He was the product of a certain milieu which sought to recapture mystery and connection to the past. After all, his life spanned much of the nineteenth century! And he was very much an asthetician when it came to worship. But wherever two or more are gathered in my NAME, says the Lord, there am I with them. And that’s crucial. What that says is we worship God in spriti and in truth, that our right standing or inclusion with him is not from from apostolic succession and membership in a universally uniform church structure, but is the invisible communion of saints also expressed locally whereby all people across time and space are situated ‘in Christ.’ Yes, they are linked, then, wtih the church through the years, and their beliefs are at one with the apostles. But they need no other legitimacy. They require no visible or tangible link in the sense of pastoral succession historically. That notion is another one that crept through the back door.

  • I think what makes the discussion so confusing is that I don’t adhere to the simple idea that a golden age was corrupted by papal Rome. As I said, I do see the continuity of Christianity thorughout the centuries and across these two millennia. I believe the church started out with many problems, heresies, and dissapointments. All one has to do is read the letters of St. Paul to see that. I also believe the Roman church was the Christian church for most people in Eeurope throughout centuries of history. And I see that some church structures fail and sometimes beyond recovery, at least for a while. It then becomes necessary to begin outside that structure, particularly when you’re practically kicked out anyway. I’m not arguing between two eternally polar opposites of Christianity and Roman Catholicism. I actually agree with much of what you say! I disagree that the Roman church is the only appropriate church. I feel other structures exist with far less error. As an historian, again, I certainly see the continuity of Christianity throughout time. I never said I saw a stop, start, stop pattern or any kind of pause. Christianity can happen both within corrupt structures and outside them.

  • To be deep in history and to be educated broadly is to become catholic. I would not say it translates to becoming Roman Catholic. That’s an argument from those who went that route, beginning with folks like Newman and culminating in the lastest fashionable conversion by Tony Blair. When the English get bored of Anglicanism they turn Roman Catholic. It gives them more to chew on and it provides them with a greater sense of certainty, I think. I’m trying to be sympathetic, and I really like Chesterton.

  • “The real presence is a doctrine that is as much intricate as it is absent in such detail in Scripture.”

    Not at all: for my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. The Catholic Church has held to the real presence since the Crucifixion, as Justin Martyr, who wrote in the second century, indicates.

    “The veneration of the saints represents another later development, and to venerate any part of creation flies in the face of both Judaism and Christianity.”

    Rubbish, as the writings of the Church Fathers indicate:
    “Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition. Then on behalf also of the Holy Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth.”

    Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

    “I’m not overly crazy about a guy who implied spirituality depended upon how many doielies and candle sticks lay about the alter.”

    You clearly have read precious little of Newman if that is your opinion of him.

    “And the early church would have thought it quite strange if one placed a marian statue at the front of worship to be crowned and paraded”

    We fly to your patronage,
    O holy Mother of God,
    despise not our petitions
    in our necessities,
    but deliver us from all dangers.
    O ever glorious and blessed Virgin.

    That is from a Marian hymn written in 250 AD, the Sub Tuum Praesidium.

  • “Newman started the Oxford movement. He was the product of a certain milieu which sought to recapture mystery and connection to the past.”

    Actually he was a virulent anti-Catholic who thought the Church Fathers would support the Anglicanism he embraced. He was shocked when he discovered that they were Catholic.

    “What that says is we worship God in spriti and in truth, that our right standing or inclusion with him is not from from apostolic succession and membership in a universally uniform church structure”

    You are very much mistaken. Christ founded the Church not as some sort of group encounter session, but as a Church with a structure and a heirarchy. That is why he had the Apostles and made Peter their head. The Epistles of Paul are concerned throughout with the Orthodox teaching of Christ and against Catholics falling away into factions.

    “They require no visible or tangible link in the sense of pastoral succession historically. That notion is another one that crept through the back door.”

    Nope, the concept of Apostolic Succession has always been a core teaching of the Church.

  • “I disagree that the Roman church is the only appropriate church.”

    I am not saying that the Roman Catholic Church is an “appropriate church”, I am saying that it is The True Faith. One of the many damaging features of the Reformation is the destruction it wreaked to the concepts of unity and orthodoxy in Christianity. I believe implicitly in the teaching of the Church that Christ intended for there to be one faith which would serve to convey His teachings. From the earliest days the Church was beset by heresies, but the Church Fathers never accepted that the existence of heresies in any way altered the necessity for unity and orthodoxy.
    Saint Polycarp, who sat at the feet of the Apostle John, on one occasion encountered the heretic Marcion: “Do you not know me, Polycarp?” “Yes,” answered the saint, “I know you to be the firstborn of Satan.” Saint Jerome relates this to emphasize the horror that the earliest Church Fathers had of heresy.

  • “That’s an argument from those who went that route, beginning with folks like Newman and culminating in the lastest fashionable conversion by Tony Blair.”

    I can think of few people more unlike than Newman and the pro-abortion Tony Blair!

    “and I really like Chesterton”

    I don’t always. I sometimes think Chesterton is foolish in some of his writings. His frequent indifference to facts that do not support an argument that he is making I find annoying. However, Chesteron always makes me think, and I believe that is the highest accolade for any writer.

  • It is true that Christ spoke of his flesh and blood as food and drink and that he said “this is my body, this my blood.” I rather suppose he was speaking figuratively, such as when he told the woman at the well that she should ask him for living water. Otherwise Christ would be saying his flesh and blood were really present, as you say, during the passover. This is impossible since he hadn’t yet been crucified, neither had he yet resurrected and ascended to heaven.

    Quoting the patristic fathers is a double-edged sword. They spoke truth and error. Although catholic-minded Protestants draw upon them for thought and inspiration, I would not take them verbatim and neither would Protestants, typically.

    Finally and most importantly, Scripture must be our final authority. We can assess tradition, experience, reason, and so on, but it must all finally be brought before the Bible for acceptance or rejection.

    There is a theory that Scripture and tradition form an organic unity, and that truth is ongoing in that way. I don’t beleive that for a minute. Does God still speak? Yes, he does. But through his Word and Spirit in ways that accord with what the Bible already states. God never goes beyond his Word.

  • My feeling is that the church became too institutionalized and dogmatic at some point. I see this with Greek Orthodoxy, too. As truth is further articulated error amasses alongside it, and a behemoth is created. The Protestant stance is semper reformanda, or the church always reforming. The idea here is that the church CAN grow too beaurocratic, too widely dogmatic, and can accumulate quite a bit of error with time. That it can lose touch with its origins and its sense of mission. That the PEOPLE of the church can reform and continue the business of doing church, but that this may require serious change and possibly relocation. I think that’s a stumbling block for many Roman Catholics. I don’t have any difficulty in believing this, however. My difficulty is in believing that a church structure is alwyas the right one and can never decline. I think of the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation. These were local manifestations of the church, Christ’s body. Some carried on quite well, others didn’t. They were warned not to be presumptuous, since their status was not guaranteed! This of course goes for any church structure or individual assembly. Much of this discussion would clear itself up if we both understood the nature of the church as it is Scripturally understood.

  • We have to think, too, of the historical situation with the fall of Rome and Constantine and all of that. Something a little different happened in the Byzantine East, and that structure’s evolution and thought is not the same as we know. I still disagree with their view of tradition also, but a different arrangement arose between church and state, and theology took a different direction. I guess what I’m saying is that the N. T. speaks of the body of Christ or the universal church, and it speaks of its local manifestations as assemblies. Then we have the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches which don’t really speak to that, but seem almost to represent different phenomena. Of course their argument is that an evolution took place and that tradition must be revered and taken for granted. I argue that while tradition may accrue and practices change, it must all remain in accord with Scripture. If it is such a departure as to contradict the principles and tenor of the N.T., then we must engage in reform. It simply will not do to say tradition continues and the church rules such adn such. Those elements must accord with what is already written.
    Another important point to raise is that the situation is not black and white with chruches and truth. We cannot always point to one location and say that only truth lies there, much less that truth lies only there. It just isn’t like that. What we have instead is a spectrum such as we see with the seven churches of Asia Minor. One can say that those churches are types and all kinds of variations exist today. What we don’t want to do is to become immersed at a location where much error abounds. We don’t want to become overly involved in a church where practices are terribly wrong.

  • So I think we need to remind ourselves first of the church’s definition. It is the body of Christ and that is universal. It is locally manifested in assemblies. These are the two ways in which St. Paul speaks of church. Then we consider the state of affairs of these early assemblies. Paul addresses a variety of problems (some things never change). Then the letters contained in Revelation tell us much the same thing, except that one or two of them were heading toward extinction. This fact immediately tells me a local church–not the church as in the body of Christ, but a local assembly—can drift so far away from Christian truth and practice that it is no longer a church in the true sense of the word.

  • “I rather suppose he was speaking figuratively”

    That certainly isn’t what people thought at the time who heard His words from His lips:

    “This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever… Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?… From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”

    More to the point, it is not what the Church taught from the beginning.

    “Otherwise Christ would be saying his flesh and blood were really present, as you say, during the passover. This is impossible since he hadn’t yet been crucified, neither had he yet resurrected and ascended to heaven.”

    Christ was present in both the sacrament and in Himself, just as he is present on Catholic altars and in his glorified body in Heaven.

    “Quoting the patristic fathers is a double-edged sword. They spoke truth and error.”

    Protestants always fall back on this position when it becomes evident that the Fathers of the Church were Catholic, a title they proudly claimed for the Universal Church to which they belonged.

    “Finally and most importantly, Scripture must be our final authority.”

    Rubbish. It was the Catholic Church that wrote the New Testament. The New Testament derives its authority from the Church and not vice versa.

  • “My feeling is that the church became too institutionalized and dogmatic at some point.”

    Christ established the structure of the Church, and the fate of Protestantism indicates why He did this. Without such a structure and a final authority within that structure, each Man and Woman becomes his and her own Pope and Christianity disintegrates into a thousand feuding sects, followed by indifferentism, followed by dying sects and mass apostacy.

  • “Then we have the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches which don’t really speak to that, but seem almost to represent different phenomena.”

    The basic problem for the Greek Orthodox is that they were too firmly under the thumb of the Emperor. This was fueled by a thousand misunderstandings and the fueling of animosities through mistakes and the natural antipathy of differences in language and rites. The Catholic Church recognizes the Greek Orthodox as being in schism and not in heresy. There are ongoing efforts to heal the breach but I am not sanguine.

  • “This fact immediately tells me a local church–not the church as in the body of Christ, but a local assembly—can drift so far away from Christian truth and practice that it is no longer a church in the true sense of the word.”

    Hence heretics. The attitude of Saint Paul to such factionalists helped determine the attitude of the Church towards heresy.

  • Once complete, the written Bible reigned the church in, so to speak. The church could not say anything contradictory to it. So anything we find in the patristic fathers or church pronouncements over the years must accord with Scripture. If it does not, it is error and possibly heresy. We are brought back to the role of tradition, which is subserviant to the Bible. Even in St. Paul’s day heresy had crept into the church. All kinds of ‘traditions’ abound at all times. We must dispense with those that contradict Scripture. If false apostles and teachers existed in the earliest churches, I can easily understand how they would exist several generations later and throughout time. I can certainly understand too, how the patristic fathers may have erred in some ways, and how some of them may have become too highly revered. The assumption I have is that we always remain one generation away from error. I don’t believe that any assembly or large-scale church structure is exempt from that.

    Scripture speaks of the church as Christ’s body, so we are obviously one in him. We are one in the Spirit. I do not believe for a minute that this necessitates structural uniformity, which would in fact be quite undesirable. For one thing if the structure fails where would one go? Then we have to carry on elsewhere and create alternative structures. That’s what happened during the Reformation.

  • “Once complete, the written Bible reigned the church in, so to speak.”

    No book or books can reign since book or books are subject to interpretation by Man. Without an authority that can write such books and interpret them authoritatively, the written word is of little use. That is why Sola Scriptura in Protestantism always boils down to Sola My Interpretation.

  • Donald, you’ve made a couple of assumptions. First, you assume the Roman Catholic church created the Bible. The Bible evolved over a very long time and the New Testament writings were penned before any such structure came into existence. I do not say Sola Scriptura, but that the Scriptures are the FINAL authority. If anything contradicts Scripture, we must dispense with that thing rather than trying to squeeze it in or to reinterpret Scripture.

  • Contrary to what you might think, Evangelical Protestants agree on essentials. Disagreement arises due to the human condition, and we find this with Roman Catholics, too. I’ve spoken to many Roman Catholics who don’t like various pronouncements or one of the popes, and they get vocal about that. Some wish to see the Roman church go in a different direction. Others want it to return to a more traditional time, and so on. Variety is healthy to a point. It becomes a problem when we cross the border into heresy—when we deny essential truths of Scripture.

  • “The Bible evolved over a very long time and the New Testament writings were penned before any such structure came into existence.”
    The New Testament writings were all written after the creation of the Catholic Church by Christ. The term was used by men who received their teachings directly from the Apostles and by men who received their teaching from men who received their teaching from the Apostles.

  • “I’ve spoken to many Roman Catholics who don’t like various pronouncements or one of the popes, and they get vocal about that.”

    Which has zilch to do with the teachings of the Catholic Church, which is rather the whole point. Protestants differ and they found new sects. Catholics differ with the Church and the Church stands for what she has always stood for: the teachings of Christ, whether such teachings are popular or unpopular among ever fickle mortals.

  • Words and meanings, however, are two different things. Apostles, the church, and so on have different meanings for different people. I think the biggest mistake made here is that one might be anachronistic. What happened early on and what evolved later must remain separate in our minds.

  • No, those who used the term Catholic Church understood that they were referring to the Church as opposed to heretical sects that claimed the mantle of “Christian”. The term was usually raised in battles with heretics.

  • That these terms alter with time remains true. I think of how we claim various meanings for words like radical, liberal, conservative, etc., across time and space. Example: Americans who call themselves political conservatives are really political liberals in the broader scheme.

  • So we must define terms like catholic, apostolic, tradition, and church more clearly and in line with ancient understanding. And we must avoid anachronism. If we have a system or structure that slowly developed or appeared later on, we musn’t read it back into an earlier period. The key is to think according to the patterns and categories of the earliest period. Who can prove whether what evolved is better or worse but by comparing it to what went before, and most especially to the written Word by which all things are ultimately judged?

Only a Dad

Sunday, June 17, AD 2012

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.

Mark Twain

Only a dad with a tired face,

 Coming home from the daily race,

 Bringing little of gold or fame

 To show how well he has played the game;

 But glad in his heart that his own rejoice

 To see him come and to hear his voice.

 Only a dad with a brood of four,

 One of ten million men or more

 Plodding along in the daily strife,

 Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,

 With never a whimper of pain or hate,

 For the sake of those who at home await.

 Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,

 Merely one of the surging crowd,

 Toiling, striving from day to day,

 Facing whatever may come his way,

 Silent whenever the harsh condemn,

 And bearing it all for the love of them.

 Only a dad but he gives his all,

 To smooth the way for his children small,

 Doing with courage stern and grim

 The deeds that his father did for him.

 This is the line that for him I pen:

 Only a dad, but the best of men

Edgar Guest

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3 Responses to Only a Dad

France Tells Obama To Cowboy Up

Friday, October 2, AD 2009

Obama Sarkozy

Never in a million years would I have expected a Frenchman, any Frenchman living today, to chide an American president to be a man.  Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan are rolling over in their graves as French President Nicolas Sarkozy reminds President Obama, our president,that “we live in a real world, not a virtual world“.

This episode between Sarkozy and Obama occurred prior to President Obama’s I have a dream of a world without nuclear weapons disarmament speech as chair of the United Nations Security Council meeting on September 24.  An American holding the chair of the U.N. Security Council was a first, so the foreign media was out in force attracting global attention.  Unbeknownst to the world at the time President Obama, as well as Sarkozy, had intelligence that Iran had an illegal uranium enrichment facility.

So instead of using the bully pulpit as the leader of the free world and his superior oratory skills to admonish Iran at the United Nations Security Council, Obama chose to give his I have a dream of a world without nuclear weapons disarmament speech. The New York Times reported “White House officials,” did not want to “dilute” his disarmament resolution “by diverting to Iran.”

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27 Responses to France Tells Obama To Cowboy Up

  • The emperor has no clothes. The European leaders recognized this including Mr Putin, etal His constant campaigning for his own edification and ego instead of strong deliberate leadership is obvious to most people. His approach is to go to his constituents when he needs help and to have a deaf ear to those who have experience and do not want to repeat history.

  • This sucks becuase that wuss is our president. I know that Rush said he wanted him to fail and I agree to a point. Nationalize health care, kill more babies, rasie taxes – yes, I want him to fail at that.

    As Commander in Chief and Head of State, no, I DO NOT WANT him to fail, I want him to be a huge success.

    Sadly, as expected, he’s failing.

    The parallels with Carter are striking and Iran knows that BHO is more concerned with how he looks than what he does. They are going to use that to their advantage and our detrmient and he might let them.

    I think BHO just launched his campaign for beloved leader of the world with no nukes, no mean talk show hosts and everyone gets a pony. Awww, how sweet.

    Gimme a break. I want my president with big brass ones.

    “I just signed legislation outlawing Russia (China, Iran, N. Korea), bombing begins in ten minutes”

  • Hmm…I would prefer a President with spine when he needs it…and the brains to know how and when to use it. “Big brass ones” often lead to trouble.

  • *Tosses red meat*

    I’d like to build on what c matt says and question whether “putting Iran in her place” is really in the best interest on either America or Iran. What would such a confrontational approach really accomplish? All this would do is provoke Iran into hardening its position and making things much more difficult for the fledgling opposition movement there.

    Words are important, but supposing that strong words are a substitute for prudent action is ridiculous.

  • NauticalMongoose and C Matt,

    Excellent analysis, but isn’t their position already hardenned? What part of “remove Israel from the map” can Iran do more on?

    I’m not advocating a massive shock and awe campaign, just some tough sanctions, inspections, and timetables.

    There are levels of degrees that are attributed to “confrontation”.

    Not to mention funding the Iranian people to overthrow their Mullah overlords with money, intelligence, and possibly weapons (more so if we are already doing this).

    We can also put the squeeze on them by massing troops both from Afghanistan and Iraq with Pakistan following with their troop deployments. In addition we can arm both the Iraqi’s and Afghans to the teeth (more so the Iraqi’s) and really pressure Iran to give it up.

    Just some thought.

  • Tito,

    You are assuming that the Iranian leadership is rational. I don’t think they are technically insane but I think they are looking for a fight and winning it, as far as they are concerned, is simply causing massive damage and chaos. If they are wiped out in the process, then they are martyrs, whoopi. Their goal is the benfit of Dar al Islam, not Iran.

    You cannot reason with a mentality like that. Sadam was actually a megalomaniac but he could be reasoned with, or bought. We picked the wrong target in 2003 and now the right target is in our sites, yet, we aren’t handling it well. This is where regime change makes sense.

    If Iraq was designed as a flanking manuever to Iran then that is fine, although we could have accomplised with much less loss of life (both our soldiers and Iraqi civilians) and much less cost. Any way, would-ah, could-ah, should-ah. We’re here. Iran needs massive pressure and a regime change – not like 1979.

    Boy don’t you miss the Shah. Friendly, checking Russia, selling us oil – we removed him and look what we got. Who was it that did that? Uhm, ah, o yeah Obama’s big daddy Carter. Here we go again.

    Now were’a my 8-track?

  • Today’s Iran is another disaster that the Peanut Farmer, Carter, was actually responsible for.

    It would be all too easy to blame it on a supposed senility on his part; more likely, it was due to his alarmingly incredible incompetence.

  • The more Jimmah’ speaks, the more Billy Carter looks like a genius.

    Anyone has any Billy Beer to spare?

  • AK,

    The Iranian middle class is rational.

    It’s the Islamic extremists, unfortunately who are in power, that are irrational.

    Malaise in America?

  • The middle-class is always rational, which is why we are always the targets of every ISM ideology.

    All ISMs eventually lead to a master oligarchy (minority) and compliant and fearful slaves (majority) — no middle class.

    Tito we could also say, “The American middle class is rational. It’s the leftist extremeists, unfortunately who are in power, that are irrational.

    Who’s in the White House? Barrack Carter-LBJ-Wilson???

    I don’t know about malaise but you could put on a sweater and lower the thermostat, what with all the global cooling, er, no, global warming, er, no, climate change, yeah, that’s the ticket, climate change going on, huh?

    He was right about one thing, we are a bad country, worse than in the 70s, and it is becuase of people just like him.

  • Looks like a case of ” Big hat, no cattle.”

  • Alright, I’ll show my lack of knowledge here, what’s an “ISM”?

    I’m sure it’ll come to me as soon as I press “Submit Comment”.

  • Tito, think of political ideologies: Liberalism, Conservatism, etc.

  • Thanks Donald, I think waaay too much about some things.

  • Exaclty Donald.

    SocialISM, CommunISM, FascISM, CollectivISM, ObjectivISM, CorpratISM, ObamunISM. . .

    Didn’t you ever see Ferris Bueler’s Day Off?

  • Why Abe Froman, aren’t you the sausage king of Chicago?

  • I was, but then we lost the 2016 Olympics becuase of some incompetent named Barracks, or something like that.

  • Here is instance in which Obama failed to show any backbone.

    The Uninted States and other Westen nations show such hypocracy and we wonder why Iran and other Islamic nations tell us to go to hell.

  • Awakaman you’d have a point if Israel was threatening moslems with nuclear annihilation as Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened Israel. Since they haven’t your comment is as pointless as those in the 30s who pointed to French military spending as justification for German rearmament. Iran is the problem, not Israel.

  • Don,

    Why should Israel bother to threaten? They know when push comes to shove, the U.S. will either take actions themselves or support Israeli action. Hasn’t Israel flirted with the idea of bombing facilities? If they did that, wouldn’t THEY then be the real aggressors?

    In all seriousness…what does ‘cowboy’ing up on Iran exactly look like?

    Iran may indeed be led by people who are a bit unhinged, or have bizarre political positions… but that doesn’t necessarily translate to insanely using nuclear weapons.

    Iran is a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty. They have a right to nuclear power. Have they not also alerted the IAEA of their intent to bring a power plant online months prior? We’ve known they’ve been on that track for awhile now.

    Iran is also surrounded by nations that DO indeed nuclear weapons, and not all of them are models of sanity either. Pakistan. India. And Israel herself, who both refuses to sign the non-proliferation treaty and to acknowledge her possession of weapons.

    Of what interest would it be for Iran to actually USE a nuclear weapon? Nuking Israel wouldn’t just kill Jews, it would kill many Muslims as well in Palestine… supposedly the very Muslims they sympathize with. How would it benefit Iran, who are Persian, do wind up killing Arabs? Iran would be isolated from their own neighbors for such an action!

    This is to say nothing of the international response. The world would attack them and their allies would abandon them. Their would be a great temptation to respond with nukes as well… likely those ‘secret’ Israeli ones.

    Does Iran really want to join the United States as only the second nation in history to use nukes against people?

    And how exactly would sanctions help? IIRC, Iran does not even refine its own fuel. The idea that we’d cut off their gas is only going to hurt their middle class… the people most likely sympathetic to the west’s position. It will easily worsen the conflict.

    Obama put himself in this position because it was HE who talked tough on Iran (and Pakistan/Afghanistan) during the election. My guess is he only did that so that he couldn’t be accused of being a weakling.

    It seems to me that Iran’s biggest detractors here in the states will only accept one course of action: the military kind. Its not enough that Iran is surrounded either by either US troops or nuclear powers. The sense I get is diplomacy is as about meaningful to the hawks here as it was in the run up to Gulf War II.

    If I were Iran I’d put my hands up in the air and let all the inspectors they want into my country. Not because I’d feel compelled to prove I was telling the truth, but because Washington DC has proven to be as insane as any other foreign government. Unfortunately my biggest fear is that, like Iraq’s leader appearing weak in front of their people and the Middle East, letting the west have it’s way is not a pill they can swallow— and the world will end up with yet another tragic mess in the region costing unnecessary blood and treasure.

  • Anthony anyone who doesn’t think the Iranian regime is seeking nuclear weapons to use them just has not been paying attention. Ahmadinejad has made his intentions clear:

    1. “Israel must be wiped off the map … The establishment of a Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world . . . The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of the war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land.”
    October 26, 2005
    (In an address to 4,000 students at a program titled, ‘The World Without Zionism’)

    NB The translation of this quote is debated and has also been read as “Israel must disappear from the page of history”

    2. “The Zionist regime is an injustice and by its very nature a permanent threat. Whether you like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation. The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm.”
    April 14, 2006
    (In a speech at the opening of the “Support for the Palestinian Intifada” conference on April 14-16 hosted in Tehran)

    3. “Today, they [Europeans] have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets … This is our proposal: give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them [Jews] so that the Jews can establish their country.”
    December 14, 2005
    (Speaking to thousands of people in the Iranian city of Zahedan)

    4. “The Zionist regime is the flag bearer of violation and occupation and this regime is the flag of Satan. …It is not unlikely that this regime be on the path to dissolution and deterioration when the philosophy behind its creation and survival is invalid.”
    August 18, 2007
    (Address to an international religious conference in Tehran)

    5. “A new Middle East will prevail without the existence of Israel.”
    August 4, 2006
    (as quoted by Malaysian news agency Bernama website)

    6. “In parallel to the official political war there is a hidden war going on and the Islamic states should benefit from their economic potential to cut off the hands of the enemies.”

    7. “Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces…. Although we don’t accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, our question for the Europeans is: Is the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hitler the reason for their support to the occupiers of Jerusalem? If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe — like in Germany, Austria or other countries — to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe.”
    December 8, 2005
    (While speaking to journalists at an Islamic summit in Mecca)

    8. “The Zionists are the true manifestation of Satan . . . Many Western governments that claim to be pioneers of democracy and standard bearers of human rights close their eyes over crimes committed by the Zionists and by remaining silent support the Zionists due to their hedonistic and materialistic tendencies.”
    February 28, 2007
    (to a meeting of Sudanese Islamic scholars in Khartoum)

    9. “Thanks to people’s wishes and God’s will the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want…Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out”
    December 12, 2006
    (Comments to Iran’s Holocaust Conference)

    10. “Though the enemy had made preparations for not allowing Iran (president) to make his voice heard, but, they could not succeed and thanks to grace of God the world people heard our voice.”
    September 30, 2007

    11. “Zionists are people without any religion. They are lying about being Jewish because religion means brotherhood, friendship and respecting other divine religions…
    They are an organized minority who have infiltrated the world. They are not even a 10,000-strong organization.”
    August 28, 2007
    (At a news conference in Tehran)

    12. “With God’s help, the countdown button for the destruction of the Zionist regime has been pushed by the hands of the children of Lebanon and Palestine . . . By God’s will, we will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future.”
    June 3, 2007
    (Speech, as quoted by the Fars News Agency)

    13. “Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire must be implemented.”
    August 2, 2006
    (as quoted by Iranian TV)

    14. “[N]o Muslim nation would put up with this entity [i.e. Israel] in Islamic lands, not for one moment … If it’s true that the [Europeans] committed a big crime in World War II, then they must take responsibility for it themselves, and not ask the Palestinian people to pay the price … Those countries that support this regime [Israel] were terrified at the suggestion that [Israel] should be relocated to their neighborhood. So why should the Palestinians and the countries in our region accept this entity?”
    (In a speech before an audience in the Iranian city of Qom, aired on television)

    15. “They [the United States] think they are the absolute rulers of the world.”
    October 29, 2005
    (Marching in a demonstration alongside a crowd of students in Tehran)

    16. “It is not just for a few states to sit and veto global approvals. Should such a privilege continue to exist, the Muslim world with a population of nearly 1.5 billion should be extended the same privilege.”
    June 19, 2005
    (In an interview with state television shortly before his election)

    17. “Iran’s enemies know your courage, faith and commitment to Islam and the land of Iran has created a powerful army that can powerfully defend the political borders and the integrity of the Iranian nation and cut off the hand of any aggressor and place the sign of disgrace on their forehead.”

    18. “Soon Islam will become the dominating force in the world, occupying first place in the number of followers amongst all other religions.”

    19.”What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow.”
    [President Ahmadinejad’s comments on an aircraft crash in Tehran that killed 108 people in December 2005].

    20. “Is there a craft more beautiful, more sublime, more divine, than the craft of giving yourself to martyrdom and becoming holy? Do not doubt, Allah will prevail, and Islam will conquer mountain tops of the entire world.”

    21. “Our revolution’s main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi.”

    22. “The wave of the Islamist revolution will soon reach the entire world.”

    23. “We don’t shy away from declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world.”
    January 21 2006

    24. “Our enemies should know that they are unable to even slightly hurt our nation and they cannot create the tiniest obstacle on its glorious and progressive way.”
    April 28 2006

    25. “By the grace of Allah, we (will be) a nuclear power.”

    26. “If you have burned the Jews, why don’t you give a piece of Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to Israel. Our question is, if you have committed this huge crime, why should the innocent nation of Palestine pay for this crime?”
    April 19, 2006

    27. “The UN structure is one-sided, stacked against the world of Islam.”
    June 8, 2005
    (In an interview on state television)

    28. “Are they human beings?… They (Zionists) are a group of blood-thirsty savages putting all other criminals to shame.”
    (as quoted by Iranian TV)

    29. “The Zionists and their protectors are the most detested people in all of humanity, and the hatred is increasing every day.”
    July 13, 2006
    (as quoted by Iranian state television)

    30. ”We say that this fake regime (Israel) cannot logically continue to live. Open the doors (of Europe) and let the Jews go back to their own countries.”
    April 24, 2006
    (In a news conference held on April 24, 2006)

  • Additionally Anthony do you seriously believe that a regime which butchers its own people would have any qualms about using a nuke on Tel Aviv as the final solution of their Jewish problem?

  • Don,

    I’m certainly not defending the Iranian regime, its attitude towards Jews or Israel or how they treat their own people. What I am trying to do is get a sense of what the political reality is before the Hitler comparisons start flying. Quickly scanning through your litany of quotes, I only see a reference once to ‘nuclear power’ and no references specifically to using nuclear weapons.

    Yes, every couple of months Ahmadinejad says something ridiculous and racists about Jews and it is plastered on every news service… but how are we to know this is not grand standing for his own people? How can we really understand the context his saying these things, a part from our own biases? He mentions that the Soviet Union was wiped off the map…. indeed it was, without a single shot or nuclear weapon for that matter. So like all things politicians say… their meaning can be rather open ended.

    Would the Iranians use a nuke against Tel Aviv? Perhaps. But like I said, the consequences for them would be incalculable. And I’d be willing to bet that the more the rhetoric or sanctions escalate in the U.S., the more likely the Iranians will indeed lash out with a demonstration of WMD capability. Our policy could end up cornering them into doing the very thing we are trying to prevent!

    Don, there has to be some sobriety on these topics before— once again— we march to the tune of pre-emptive war. Iraq was a bungling of an large and ongoing magnitude, and the U.S. really can’t afford the same deal with Iran.

    There has to be a genuinely moral way we can create a path to peaceful relations that do not involve more slaughter. We should be trying to understand the Iranian’s situation and work towards making their goals and our goals the same— namely a self-sustainable Iran that is peaceful.

    I don’t believe that the only way to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons is by making war. We aren’t there yet. It deeply bothers me to see such a push in that direction.

  • American Night: Everyone gets a pony?

    Geez, I’d flatten a pony! Obama can’t even get THAT right. We don’t even get a grownup-sized horse!

    **France** is laughing at us.

    I just… wow. That’s so wrong in so many ways. I think I’ll start calling myself a Canadian.

  • Don:

    This guy had nukes – a lot more than Iran and we survived.

    Quit your worrying Chicken Little.

  • Hardly reassuring Awakaman since the world came within inches of a nuclear war in October 1962. Additionally Khrushchev was a rational leader. Ahmadinejad is many things, but I supect that rational is not among his attributes, and, in any case, he and other Iranian leaders have given every indication that they will use nuclear weapons once they have them.

  • I agree that Ahmadinejad having nukes is not as bad as Bin Laden having them, (it is generally acknowledged that nation states are not as irresponsible as terrorist groups) but the risk is certainly greater than Khrushchev, and that was pretty bad. Most experts believe that the use of nukes by a bad actor is only a matter of time, unfortunately.