Who would Jesus torture? Poll suggests majority of U.S. Christians support “enhanced interrogation”

click here for original story

New poll finds majority of Americans think torture was justified after 9/11 attacks

by Ken Howard

If, as this article and poll implies, a majority of Christians believe that torture is justifiable, then Christianity has failed in its teaching mission, and we who call ourselves Christians (literally, “little Christs”), as a body, have betrayed our founder.

While I personally believe, based on my reading of Scripture, that Jesus opposed violence of any kind, even in the most expansive interpretation of Augustine’s “Just War Doctrine,” torture has been considered an unimitigated evil: an end that can never be justified by any means.

I am terribly saddened, and I ask for God’s forgiveness for the evil done on my behalf.

Nov 11 – Martin of Tours – Bishop + Theologian

Nov 11 - Martin of Tours

Martin of Tours
Bishop + Theologian
11 November 397

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Martin of Tours dividing his cloak in halfMartin was born around 330 of pagan parents. His father was a soldier, who enlisted Martin in the army at the age of fifteen. One winter day he saw an ill-clad beggar at the gate of the city of Amiens. Martin had no money to give, but he cut his cloak in half and gave half to the beggar. (Paintings of the scene, such as that by El Greco, show Martin, even without the cloak, more warmly clad than the beggar, which rather misses the point.) In a dream that night, Martin saw Christ wearing the half-cloak. He had for some time considered becoming a Christian, and this ended his wavering. He was promptly baptized. At the end of his next military campaign, he asked to be released from the army, saying: “Hitherto I have faithfully served Caesar. Let me now serve Christ.” He was accused of cowardice, and offered to stand unarmed between the contending armies. He was imprisoned, but released when peace was signed.

He became a disciple of Hilary of Poitiers, a chief opponent in the West of the Arians, who denied the full deity of Christ, and who had the favor of the emperor Constantius. Returning to his parents’ home in Illyricum (Yugoslavia, approximately), he opposed the Arians with such effectiveness that he was publicly scourged and exiled. He was subsequently driven from Milan, and eventually returned to Gaul. There he founded the first monastary in Gaul, which lasted until the French Revolution.

In 371 he was elected bishop of Tours. His was a mainly pagan diocese, but his instruction and personal manner of life prevailed. In one instance, the pagan priests agreed to fell their idol, a large fir tree, if Martin would stand directly in the path of its fall. He did so, and it missed him very narrowly. When an officer of the Imperial Guard arrived with a batch of prisoners who were to be tortured and executed the next day, Martin intervened and secured their release.

Martin of ToursIn the year 384, the heretic (Gnostic) Priscillian and six companions had been condemned to death by the emperor Maximus. The bishops who had found them guilty in the ecclesiastical court pressed for their execution. Martin contended that the secular power had no authority to punish heresy, and that the excommunication by the bishops was an adequate sentence. In this he was upheld by Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. He refused to leave Treves until the emperor promised to reprieve them. No sooner was his back turned than the bishops persuaded the emperor to break his promise; Priscillian and his followers were executed. This was the first time that heresy was punished by death.

Martin was furious, and excommunicated the bishops responsible. But afterwards, he took them back into communion in exchange for a pardon from Maximus for certain men condemned to death, and for the emperor’s promise to end the persecution of the remaining Priscillianists. He never felt easy in his mind about this concession, and thereafter avoided assmblies of bishops where he might encounter some of those concerned in this affair. He died on or about 11 November 397 (my sources differ) and his shrine at Tours became a sanctuary for those seeking justice.

The Feast of Martin, a soldier who fought bravely and faithfully in the service of an earthly sovereign, and then elisted in the service of Christ, is also the day of the Armistice which marked the end of the First World War. On it we remember those who have risked or lost their lives in what they perceived as the pursuit of justice and peace.

by James Kiefer

Nov 12 – Charles Simeon – Priest + Teacher + Promoter of Missionary Work

Nov 12 - Charles Simeon

Charles Simeon
Priest, Teacher, Promoter of Missionary Work
12 November 1836

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Charles SimeonTwo hundred years ago, students at the English Universities were required to attend church regularly, and to receive the Holy Communion at least once a year. This latter requirement often had bad effects, in that it encouraged hypocrisy and an irreverent reception of the sacrament. Occasionally, however, it had a very good effect, as with the Cambridge student Charles Simeon. He wrote: “On 29 January 1779 I came to college. On 2 February I understood that at division of term I must attend the Lord’s Supper. The Provost absolutely required it. Conscience told me that, if I must go, I must repent and turn to God.”
By this experience his life was transformed. Upon finishing his college work he was ordained, and shortly appointed chaplain of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, where he remained for 55 years, until shortly before his death on 12 November 1836. His ministry helped to transform the lives of many undergraduates, of whom we may mention two in particular. Henry Martyn (see 19 Oct), inspired by Simeon, abandoned his intention of going into law and instead devoted his life and his considerable talents to preaching the Gospel in India and PersiaWilliam Wilberforce (20 July), also led in part by Simeon’s ministry of teaching and example, devoted his life to the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire. Simeon’s enthusiasm and zeal brought him much ridicule and abuse, which he bore uncomplainingly. Though he himself remained in one place, his influence extended through the Anglican world.

by James Kiefer

The Beatitudes – A Reflection

By The Rev’d Curtis Farr

IMG_1131“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

These statements that Jesus makes during his “Sermon on the Mount” are often referred to as the Beatitudes. They are counterintuitive—poor people, in spirit or otherwise, are not “blessed” or “happy,” not in my experience anyway. Nor are mournful, meek, hungry, or persecuted ones happy. In fact, in our culture, happiness is tied to the pursuit of getting more—more stuff, more friends, more likes, more, more, more!

But what if that pursuit is a distraction from something…more?

Among other things, Jesus introduced in these statements a completely new set of values—ones that lifted the lowly, offered hope to the hopeless, and marked the miserable with a sign of redemption.

Often we operate with a different set of values, so I wonder: what might happen if our quiet prayer, deep within our hearts, echoed the counterintuitive words of the Beatitudes? Would we be changed? Would we change the way we engage others? Would they be changed as well, and would the world change around us?

Nov 1 – All Saints

Nov 1 - All Saints

The Feast of All Saints
1 November

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From the Satucket Lectionary

[Note that these readings are from the old Episcopal Lectionary].

FIRST READING: Ecclesiasticus 44:1-10,13-14
(a commemoration of patriarchs, prophets, and other heroes of ancient Israel.)

Let us now praise famous men,
and our fathers in their generations.
The LORD apportioned to them great glory,
his majesty from the beginning.
There were those who ruled in their kingdoms,
and were men renowned for their power,
giving counsel by their understanding,
and proclaiming prophecies;
leaders of the people in their deliberations
and in understanding of learning for the people,
wise in their words of instruction;
those who composed musical tunes,
and set forth verses in writing;
rich men furnished with resources,
living peaceably in their habitations –
all these were honored in their generations,
and were the glory of their times.

There are some of them who have left a name,
so that men declare their praise.
And there are some who have no memorial,
who have perished as though they had not lived;
they have become as though they had not been born,
and so have their children after them.

But these were men of mercy,
whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten.
Their posterity will continue for ever,
and their glory will not be blotted out.
Their bodies were buried in peace,
and their name lives to all generations.

ALTERNATE FIRST READING: Isaiah 26:1-4,8-9,12-13,19-21
(“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee…. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust.”)

PSALM 34
(The Lord watches over those who trust in Him.)

EPISTLE: Ephesians 1:1-23
(The heavenly glory in union with Christ that awaits the redeemed.)

THE HOLY GOSPEL: Matthew 5:1-12
(From the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” etc.)

PRAYERS (traditional language)
O Almighty God, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord: Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those indescribable joys which thou hast prepared for those who truly love thee: through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, in glory everlasting.

Almighty God, who by thy Holy Spirit hast made us one with thy saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to thy power and mercy. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever.

Almighty and everlasting God, we yield unto thee most high praise and hearty thanks for the wonderful grace and virtue declared in all thy saints, who have been the chosen vessels of thy grace, and the lights of the world in their several generations: for Abraham, the father of believers, and Sarah his wife; for Moses the lawgiver, and Aaron the priest; for Miriam and Joshua, Deborah and Gideon, and Samuel with Hannah his mother, and for all the holy patriarchs; for Isaiah and all the prophets; for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God; for Peter and Paul and all the apostles; for Mary and Martha, and Mary Magdalene; for Stephen, the first martyr, and for all the martyrs; and for all other thy righteous servants, known to us and unknown; and we beseech thee that, rejoicing in their fellowship, encouraged by their examples, and aided by their prayers, we also may run with steadfastness the race that is set before us, and finish our course in faith; and that at the day of the general resurrection, we, with all those who are of the mystical body of thy Son, may be set on his right hand, and hear that his most joyful voice: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Grant this, O Father, for the sake of the same thy Son Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate.

PRAYERS (contemporary language)
O Almighty God, who have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those indescribable joys which you have prepared for those who truly love you: through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.

Almighty God, who by your Holy Spirit have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Almighty and everlasting God, we give you most high praise and hearty thanks for the wonderful grace and virtue declared in all your saints, who have been the chosen vessels of your grace, and the lights of the world in their times: for Abraham, the father of believers, and Sarah his wife; for Moses the lawgiver, and Aaron the priest; for Miriam and Joshua, Deborah and Gideon, and Samuel with Hannah his mother, and for all the holy patriarchs; for Isaiah and all the prophets; for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God; for Peter and Paul and all the apostles; for Mary and Martha, and Mary Magdalene; for Stephen, the first martyr, and for all the martyrs; and for all your other righteous servants, known to us and unknown; and we beseech you that, rejoicing in their fellowship, encouraged by their examples, and aided by their prayers, we also may run with steadfastness the race that is set before us, and finish our course in faith; and that at the day of the general resurrection, we, with all those who are of the mystical body of your Son, may be set on his right hand, and hear his most joyful voice: “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Grant this, O Father, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate.


The litany of saints that follows is chanted annually at the Church of St. Stephen and the Incarnation in Washington, D.C., at the principal eucharist celebrating All Saints’ Day. It was composed around 1979, largely by William MacKaye, former religion editor of the Washington Post, though some of the images were taken from A Liberation Prayer Bookof the Free Church in Berkeley, California, and has been adapted here and there in the subsequent years. Naturally, the selection of names reflects the personal biases of the compiler. A selection by me would inevitably reflect my biases, if I had any, and if you adapt this litany for use in your worshipping community, the adaptations will reflect yours.

The litany is intended to be chanted in procession. The procession moves from station to station around the church during the singing of the verses of “For all the saints.” Each section of the litany is then chanted at a station. The final sections– to martyrs, to all saints, to Mary, and to Jesus–are chanted at stations in the center aisle as the procession makes its way toward the sanctuary. The litany concludes with the singing of the Gloria in excelsis. (The usual salutation and the Collect for Purity are omitted.)

A LITANY OF ALL THE SAINTS

Cantor Let us go forth in peace.
People In the name of Christ. Amen.

For all the saints, who from their labor rest,
Who thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be for ever blessed.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones present at our beginnings:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Abraham and Sarah,
Isaac and Rebecca,
Jacob and Rachel and Leah,
makers of the covenant, forebears of our race:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Elizabeth and Simeon,
Joseph, Monica and Helen,
exemplars in the love and care of children:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
John the baptizer, map-maker of the Lord’s coming:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!

Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might:
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, the one true Light.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones who showed the good news to be the way of life:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Thomas the doubter;
Augustine of Canterbury;
Francis Xavier;
Samuel Joseph Schereschewsky;
all travelers who carried the Gospel to distant places:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Bernard and Dominic;
Catherine of Siena, the scourge of popes;
John and Charles Wesley, preachers in the streets;
all whose power of speaking gave life to the written word:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Benedict of Nursia,
Teresa of Avila;
Nicholas Ferrar;
Elizabeth Ann Seton;
Richard Meux Benson;
Charles de Foucauld;
all founders of communities:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!

O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win, with them, the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones who gave their lives to the care of others:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Louis, king of France;
Margaret, queen of Scotland;
Gandhi the mahatma, reproach to the churches;
Dag Hammarskjold the bureaucrat;
all who made governance an act of faith:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Peter of the keys, denier of the Lord;
Ambrose of Milan, who answered the Church’s summons;
Hilda, abbess at Whitby;
Robert Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln, protector of the Jews;
Jean-Baptiste Vianney, cure d’ Ars,
patient hearer of catalogues of sins;
all faithful shepherds of the Master’s flock:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Mary Magdalen, anointer of the Lord’s feet;
Luke the physician;
Francis who kissed the leper;
Florence Nightingale;
Albert Schweitzer;
all who brought to the sick and suffering the hands of healing:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones who made the proclaiming of God’s love a work of art:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Pierluigi da Palestrina;
John Merbecke;
Johann Sebastian Bach;
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart;
Benjamin Britten;
Duke Ellington;
all who sang the Creator’s praises in the language of the soul:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
David and the Psalmists;
Caedmon;
John Milton, sketcher of Paradise;
William Blake, builder of Jerusalem;
John Mason Neale, preserver of the past;
all poets of the celestial vision:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Zaccheus the tree-climber;
Brother Lawrence;
Therese of Lisieux, the little flower;
Andrew of Glasshampton;
all cultivators of holy simplicity:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones haunted by the justice and mercy of God:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Amos of Tekoa, who held up the plumbline;
John Wycliffe, who brought the Scripture to the common folk;
John Hus and Menno Simons, generals in the Lamb’s war;
Martin Luther, who could do no other;
George Fox, foe of steeple-houses;
all who kept the Church ever-reforming:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Paul the apostle, transfixed by noonday light;
Augustine of Hippo, God’s city planner;
Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin, architects of the divine;
Charles Williams, teacher of coinherence;
Karl Barth, knower of the unknowable;
all who saw God at work and wrote down what they saw:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
John, the seer of Patmos;
Anthony of the desert;
Julian, the anchoress of Norwich;
Hildegarde, the sybil of the Rhine;
Meister Eckardt;
Bernadette of Lourdes;
all who were called to see the Master’s face:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Joachim of Fiora, prophet of the new age;
Johnny Appleseed, mad planter of Eden;
Sojourner Truth, pilgrim of justice;
Benedict Joseph Labre, priest and panhandler;
all whose love for God was beyond containment:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors cometh rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones who died in witness to the Christ:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Stephen the deacon, the first martyr, stoned in Jerusalem:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Justin, Ignatius and Polycarp, who refused the incense to Caesar:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Perpetua and Felicity, torn by beasts in the arena at Carthage:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley,
burned in Oxford:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein, put to death at Auschwitz:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
James Reeb, Jonathan Daniels, Michael Schwerner,
Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo, shot in the South:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Martin Luther King, shot in Memphis:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Janani Luwum, shot in Kampala:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Oscar Romero, shot in San Salvador:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Martyrs of Rome, of Lyons, of Japan, of Eastern Equatorial
Africa, of Uganda, of Melanesia,
martyrs of everywhere:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on his way.
Alleluia, alleluia!

Holy ones of every time and place:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Glorious company of heaven:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
All climbers of the ladder of Paradise:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
All runners of the celestial race:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!

[The people may call out saints’ names]

Great cloud of witnesses:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!

Mary most holy, chief of the saints:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Mary most holy, yes-sayer to God:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Mary most holy, unmarried mother:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Mary most holy, gate of heaven and ark of the covenant:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, alleluia!

Jesus our liberator, creator of all:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Jesus our liberator, redeemer of all:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Jesus our liberator, sanctifier of all:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!
Jesus our liberator, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and
the end:
STAND HERE BESIDE US!

The Gloria in Excelsis is sung, and the eucharist begins.

by James Kiefer

Oct 31- Sasaki & Tsen, Bishops

Oct 31- Sasaki & Tsen

Paul Shinji Sasaki + Philip Lindel Tsen
Bishop of Mid-Japan + Bishop of Honan, China
31 October 1946 + 1954

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Bp. Paul SasakiSasaki, Paul Shinji, Bishop of Tokyo, Japan [1885-1946] and Philip Lendel Tsen shop of Honan, China [d. June 6, 1954]. Sasaki was a bishop of BiNippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church in Japan) who endured much persecution for his beliefs. In 1937, Tsen and Sasaki attended the 1937 Synod in Canada where they publicly bore witness to the unity among Asian Christians despite the Sino-Japanese war. Sasaki was tortured and imprisoned by the Japanese government in 1944. Bishop Tsen was raised by American missionaries, but after his priestly ordination became involved with a Canadian mission group. He helped sustain the people of his district during the bitter war with Japan. At the end of WW2, he became the leader of the Chinese Anglican Church. Returning from the 1948 Lambeth meeting, he was placed under house arrest by the Communist government.

- from the description in Holy Women, Holy Men

Oct 30 – John Wyclif, Translator + Controversialist

Oct 30 - John Wyclif

John Wyclif
Translator + Controversialist
30 October 1384

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From the Satucket Lectioanary

John WyclifJohn Wyclif (also spelled Wycliffe, Wycliff, Wicliffe, or Wiclif) was born in Yorkshire around 1330, and was educated at Oxford, becoming a doctor of divinity in 1372.

In 1374, King Edward III appointed him rector of Lutterworth, and later made him part of a deputation to meet at Brussels with a papal deputation to negotiate difference between King and Pope. About this time Wyclif began to argue for “dominion founded on grace.” By “dominion” he meant both the right to exercise authority in church or state and the right to own property. He maintained that these rights were given to men directly from God, and that they were not given or continued apart from sanctifying grace. Thus, a man in a state of mortal sin could not lawfully function as an official of church or state, nor could he lawfully own property. He argued that the Church had fallen into sin and that it ought therefore to give up all its property and that the clergy should live in complete poverty. This disendowment was to be carried out by the king. From 1376 to 1378 Wyclif was clerical advisor to John of Gaunt, who effectively governed England until his nephew, Richard II, came of age in 1381. It is not clear what influence each man had on the other, but it is conjectured that John of Gaunt, who had his own reasons for opposing the wealth and power of the clergy, may have used a naive Wyclif as his tool. In 1377, King and Parliament asked his judgement on whether it was lawful to withhold traditional payments from Rome, and he responded that it was. Pope Gregory XI issued five bulls against him, but without effect. Wyclif’s last political act was in 1378, when he argued that criminals who had taken sanctuary in churches might lawfully be dragged out of sanctuary. He then retired to private life in Lutterworth in 1381.

From Lutterworth, he published a series of severe attacks on corruption in the Church. These, although bitterly worded even for the time, might have found agreement, were it not that he also attacked the doctrine of transubstantiation (that, once the Eucharist has been consecrated, the bread is no longer present in reality, but only in appearance). He taught instead that the bread remains, but that Christ is truly present in the bread, though not in a material manner. This view cost him the support of John of Gaunt and of many other friends whose support he could not afford to lose. In all his controversies, he declared himself a loyal churchman, willing to submit his cause and his opinions to the judgement of the Pope.

In 1381, disaster struck with the Peasants’ Revolt. It is unlikely that Wyclif’s teachings, circulated chiefly among the learned, had any role in instigating the revolt, but the fact that many peasants were setting out to put to death all landlords, lay and clerical alike, made Wyclif’s “dominion founded on grace” look extremely dangerous; and Wyclif’s movement was bloodily suppressed along with the Revolt. In 1382, all of his writings were banned. In that year Wyclif suffered a stroke, and on 31 December 1384 a second stroke killed him. After his death, his opponents finally succeeded in having him condemned for heresy, and in 1428 his body was removed from consecrated ground. Later generations saw him as a precursor of the Protestant Reformation of the 1500’s, but his direct influence on the beginnings of that movement appear to be surprisingly slight. (Only John Hus seems to have read any of his work.)

Wyclif is chiefly remembered and honored for his role in Bible translating. In the early 1380’s he led the movement for a translation of the Bible into English, and two complete translations (one much more idiomatic than the other) were made at his instigation. (How much of the translating he did himself, if any, remains uncertain.) He proposed the creation of a new religious order of Poor Preachers who would preach to the people from the English Bible. Today, the Wyclif Foundation, named in his honor, is committed to translating the Bible into all the languages spoken anywhere in the world.

Sources: (1) Every Man’s Book of Saints (Mowbray’s, London and Oxford, 1981); (2) Encyclopedia Britannica; (3) The New Catholic Encyclopedia; (4) H B Workman, John Wyclif: a Study of the English Medieval Church, 2 vol, 1926.

by James Kiefer

Oct 29 – James Hannington & Companions, Martyrs

Oct 29 - James Hannington & Companions

James Hannington & Companions
Martyrs of Uganda
29 October 1885

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From the Satucket Lectionary

James HanningtonAmong the new nations of Africa, Uganda is the most predominantly Christian. Mission work began there in the 1870’s with the favor of King Mutesa, who died in 1884. However, his son and successor, King Mwanga, opposed all foreign presence, including the missions.

James Hannington, born 1847, was sent out from England in 1884 by the Anglican Church as missionary Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa. As he was travelling toward Uganda, he was apprehended by emissaries of King Mwanga. He and his companions were brutally treated and, a week later, 29 October 1885, most of them were put to death. Hannington’s last words were: “Go tell your master that I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood.”

The first native martyr was the Roman Catholic Joseph Mkasa Balikuddembe, who was beheaded after having rebuked the king for his debauchery and for the murder of Bishop Hannington. On 3 June 1886, a group of 32 men and boys, 22 Roman Catholic and 10 Anglican, were burned at the stake. Most of them were young pages in Mwanga’s household, from their head-man, Charles Lwanga, to the thirteen-year-old Kizito, who went to his death “laughing and chattering.” These and many other Ugandan Christians suffered for their faith then and in the next few years.

In 1977, the Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum and many other Christians suffered death for their faith under the tyrant Idi Amin.

Thanks largely to their common heritage of suffering for their Master, Christians of various communions in Uganda have always been on excellent terms.

 

by James Kiefer

Oct 28 – Simon & Jude, Apostles

Oct 28 - Simon & Jude

Saints Simon & JudeApostles

28 October NT

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From the Satucket Lectionary
Christ teaching his disciples, from a 19thC BCPOn the various New Testament lists of the Twelve Apostles (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13), the tenth and eleventh places are occupied by Simon the Zealot (also called Simon the “Cananean,” the Aramaic word meaning “Zealot”) and by Judas of James, also called Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. (“Judas” in New Testament contexts corresponds to “Judah” in Old Testament ones. Note that masculine names ending in “-ah” when translated from Hebrew directly to English usually end in “-as” when the translation passes through Greek, since in Greek a terminal “-a” is normally feminine, but a terminal “-as” is normally masculine. Thus we have “Elijah” => “Elias,” “Jeremiah” => “Jeremias,” etc.)

Some ancient Christian writers say that Simon and Jude went together as missionaries to Persia, and were martyred there. If this is true, it explains, to some extent, our lack of historical information on them and also why they are usually put together.

Simon is not mentioned by name in the New Testament except on these lists. Some modern writers have used his surname as the basis for conjectures associating him, and through him Jesus and all His original followers, with the Zealot movement described by Josephus, a Jewish independence movement devoted to assassination and violent insurrection. However, there were many movements that were called Zealot, not all alike, and Josephus tells us (Jewish War 4,3,9) that the movement he is describing did not arise until shortly before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.


Judas (often called Jude in English, but the Greek has Judas) is variously named, but this is not surprising. Before the Crucifixion, there would be a need to distinguish him among the apostles from Judas Iscariot, and after the Crucifixion there would be an additional reason for being emphatic about the distinction. “Thaddaeus” is possibly a variant of “Theudas,” which in turn is perhaps used as a Greek equivalent of “Judas” (with the Hebrew Name of God replaced by the Greek “theos”). Since the Aramaic “thad” means “chest,” we may suppose either that “Theudas” was re-Semiticized by a folk-etymology or that Judas received the nickname “Thaddeus” directly. I assume that the nickname suggests a brawny lad. “Lebbaeus,” according to Young’s Concordance, means “man of heart,” and so may be a variant of “Thaddaeus,” but there is a lot of linguistic conjecture flying around here. (Note: It is not suggested that the Judas => Theudas => Thaddaeus => Lebbaeus linguistic derivation took place with the Apostle personally, but that the names were considered in his day to be vaguely equivalent, as today in England the names Mary and Polly, or Margaret and Peggy, or Edward, Ed, Ted, and Ned, are considered to be equivalent, or as today many Jewish names are considered in some Jewish circles to have Gentile equivalents (Moishe = Maurice, Yitzak = Isadore, Yaakov = Jack, Label = Larry, Shmuel = Shawn, etc.). The reader will have noticed mention of “Thomas, surnamed Didymus,” and will note that these names are Aramaic and Greek respectively, both meaning “twin.”)

After the Last Supper it was Jude who asked Our Lord why he chose to reveal Himself only to the disciples. He received the reply: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:22f)

The ninth name on the lists of Apostles is that of James (the son) of Alphaeus. Although most modern translations render “Judas of James” as “Judas the son of James,” there has been a tendency to understand it as “Judas the brother of James” and to assume that these two apostles were brothers. This assumption in turn leads to an identification of the two with the “brothers of the Lord” of the same name. The difficulty with this is that the brothers (at least some of them) did not believe in Jesus until after the Resurrection, and therefore could not have been part of the Twelve.

The New Testament Epistle of Jude was written by “Judas the brother of James,” which could refer to either Jude. In any case, we commemorate on this day (1) Simon the Zealot, one of the original Twelve; (2) Judas of James (also called Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus), also one of the original Twelve; and (3) Jude (or Judas) the brother of James and author of the Epistle, without settling the question of whether (2) and (3) are the same person.

The Epistle of Jude is a brief document addressed to the Church, and warns against corrupt influences that have crept in. It has some obscure and baffling references to old Jewish traditions, but it includes a memorable exhortation to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints,” and an even more memorable closing:

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding great joy, to the only wise God, or Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.


Jude is often, in popular usage, referred to as the patron of desperate causes, the “saint of last resort,” the one you ask for help when all else fails. Some readers will wonder what this is all about.

Since his name reminds hearers of Judas Iscariot, there is a tendency for someone asking a Christian brother now with the Lord for intercessory prayers to try one of the other apostles first. Hence, Jude has come to be called “the saint of last resort,” the one whom you ask only when desperate.

Doubtless, you want to hear my personal opinion on this business of invocation of saints. Since you insist….

In the first place, the expression, “praying to Saint X” is misleading and unfortunate. In older English “pray” simply meant to request politely. Thus, in the KJV, we read that Jesus boarded Simon Peter‘s ship and “prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land.” (L 5:3) Thus, the idea of “praying to Saint X” is simply the idea of asking a fellow Christian to intercede with God on one’s behalf. It is not different in principle from asking your Christian roommate to pray for you. However, in modern English, the word “pray” is generally understood to refer to worship. I therefore urge everyone who talks about “praying to Saint X” to modernize his language and instead talk about “asking Saint X to join me in praying to God for the recovery of my sick aunt,” or whatever. The other way of talking can mislead others, and it can mislead the speaker.

That was a preliminary comment on terminology. Now to the question. Undoubtedly asking one’s fellow Christians in heaven for their prayers is something that can be abused. It can readily degenerate into the notion that getting what you want from God is a matter of knowing what channels to go through, what strings to pull. One ends up thinking of heaven as a place like the seat of a corrupt government (whether Washington or Versailles), where favors are traded and deals are made by influence peddlers. But the fact that something can be abused does not mean that we ought to give up its proper use. And surely one of the most valuable truths of the Christian faith is that God’s love for us moves us to love in return, not only God but also one another, so that every Christian is a mirror in which the light of Christ is reflected to every other Christian. The Scriptures seem to show that God delights in giving us gifts through others when He could just as easily have given them directly. When Paul on the road to Damascus asks, “Lord, what will you have me do?” God does not tell him, but sends Ananias to tell him instead (A 9:1-19). When the centurion Cornelius is praying, God sends an angel to speak to him, but the angel does not preach the Gospel to him. It tells him to send for a man called Peter, and Peter comes and preaches the Gospel to him (A 10). God wants us to owe our spiritual well-being, not just to Him, but also to one another. Hence He has told us to pray for one another. Nor is the bond of Christian love broken by death. The martyrs under the altar in John’s vision (Rev 6:9ff) pray for the church on earth. Even the Rich Man in Hell, in Jesus’ parable, intercedes for his five brothers on earth. Are we to suppose that the saved are less compassionate than the damned?

Is this an important part of my faith, you ask. Well, it is certainly an important doctrine that Jesus said: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” To feel myself surrounded by the love of God and of my fellow Christians, living and dead, is important. To love in return, by praying for my fellow Christians as well as for my own concerns, is important. It is not for nothing that Jesus taught us to pray: “Give US OUR daily bread, and forgive US OUR sins.” Do I spend a significant fraction of my prayer time asking various Christians now in heaven for their prayers. No, just as I do not spend a lot of time asking my fellow Christians here on earth for their prayers. But I do ask for, and value, the prayers of my fellow Christians, living and dead; and I delight in the knowledge that when I praise God, my voice is part of a great chorus of praise in which angels, glorified and perfected saints, saints still on their pilgrimage, and even (in ways befitting their natures) beasts, plants, and inanimate objects join together. “Let all things praise the LORD.” Amen.

by James Kiefer

Oct 26 – Alfred the Great, King + Christ Follower

Oct 26 - Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great
King + Christ Follower
26 October 899

click here for books about Alfred the Great


From the Satucket Lectionary

portrait of Alfred the GreatWhen the Gospel was first preached in Britain, the island was inhabited by Celtic peoples. In the 400’s, pagan Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, invaded Britain and drove the Christian Celts out of what is now England into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The new arrivals (called collectively the Anglo-Saxons) were then converted by Celtic missionaries moving in from the one side and Roman missionaries moving in from the other. (They then sent missionaries of their own, such as Boniface, to their pagan relatives on the Continent.)

In the 800’s the cycle partly repeated itself, as the Christian Anglo-Saxons were invaded by the Danes, pagan raiders, who rapidly conquered the northeast portion of England. They seemed about to conquer the entire country and eliminate all resistance when they were turned back by Alfred, King of the West Saxons.

Alfred was born in 849 at Wantage, Berkshire, youngest of five sons of King Aethelwulf. He wished to become a monk, but after the deaths (all in battle, I think) of his father and his four older brothers, he was made king in 871. He proved to be skilled at military tactics, and devised a defensive formation which the Danish charge was unable to break. After a decisive victory at Edington in 878, he reached an agreement with the Danish leader Guthrum, by which the Danes would retain a portion of northeastern England and be given other concessions in return for their agreement to accept baptism and Christian instruction. From a later point of view, it seems obvious that such a promise could not involve a genuine change of heart, and was therefore meaningless (and indeed, one Dane complained that the white robe that he was given after his baptism was not nearly so fine as the two that he had received after the two previous times that he had been defeated and baptized). However, Alfred’s judgement proved sound. Guthrum, from his point of view, agreed to become a vassal of Christ. His nobles and chief warriors, being his vassals, were thereby obligated to give their feudal allegiance to Christ as well. They accepted baptism and the presence among them of Christian priests and missionaries to instruct them. The door was opened for conversions on a more personal level in that and succeeding generations.

In his later years, having secured a large degree of military security for his people, Alfred devoted his energies to repairing the damage that war had done to the cultural life of his people. He translated Boethius’ Consolations of Philosophy into Old English, and brought in scholars from Wales and the Continent with whose help various writings of Bede, Augustine of Canterbury, and Gregory the Great were likewise translated. He was much impressed by the provisions in the Law of Moses for the protection of the rights of ordinary citizens, and gave order that similar provisions should be made part of English law. He promoted the education of the parish clergy. In one of his treatises, he wrote:
“He seems to me a very foolish man, and very wretched, who will not increase his understanding while he is in the world, and ever wish and long to reach that endless life where all shall be made clear.”

He died on 26 October 899, and was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester. Alone among English monarchs, he is known as “the Great.”

The writer G K Chesterton has written a long narrative poem about Alfred, called, “The Ballad of the White Horse.” In my view, it would be improved by abridgement (I would, for example, terminate the prologue after the line “And laid peace on the sea”), but I think it well worth reading as it stands, both for the history and (with minor reservations) for the theology.

by James Kiefer


A contemporaneous biography of Alfred is available online.