Skip to content


“Angel in White Outside Jesus’ Tomb After the Resurrection” (c.1230), Mileseva Monastery, Serbia (CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.  But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.  Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.  Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen!” (Luke 24: 1-6).

Our hearts go out to the people of Paris for the damage to Notre Dame Cathedral in this week’s devastating fire. May that beautiful edifice and testament to faith rise once more from the ashes.


Josephus on Christ

“Christ Crucified” by Diego Velazquez (c. 1632), Museo del Prado (Accession No. P01167), Source Web Gallery of Art (PD-Art, Old-100)

The works of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (born Yosef ben Matityahu) make several references to Christ and the origins of Christianity.

The section of text below is thought to include Christian remarks along with the original. Scholars, however, agree that Josephus provides verification for the crucifixion of Christ by Pilate.

“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man.  For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly.  He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ.  And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease.  He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him.  And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.”

-Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3



“Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane” by Giacinto Brandi (c. 1650), Pinacoteca Vaticana, Source Web Gallery of Art (PD-Art, Old-100)

And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22: 44).

Lawyers are frequently characterized as brazen or worse by the public.  Since they are regularly required to face fear, most lawyers have considered the nature of courage.  Some would describe courage as an internal state, i.e. the absence of fear.  Others would describe courage as action despite fear.

CS Lewis wrote in “Letters” on this topic:

“God could, had He pleased, have been incarnate in a man of iron nerves, the Stoic sort who lets no sigh escape him…He chose to incarnate in a man of delicate sensibilities who wept at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane. Otherwise we should have missed…the all important help of knowing that He has faced all that the weakest of us face, has shared not only the strength of our nature but every weakness of it except sin. If He had been incarnate in a man of immense natural courage, that would have been for many of us almost the same as His not being incarnate at all.”

Lord Jesus, You overcame the world for our sakes.  Yet You sweated blood at the Garden of Gethsemane contemplating Your suffering on the cross.

With You beside us, whom should we fear?  Grant us the courage to speak up for what we know to be right – whatever the odds, whatever the consequences.



A Human Face

“Face of Christ” by Rembrandt (c.1650), Source Flickr (PD-Art, Old-100)

San Diego University has established a digital archive of letters from refugees held at the Otay Mesa Detention Center, while their requests for asylum are being processed [1][2].  Such detention can last over a year.

The detainees come from Cameroon, India, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba, and elsewhere.

They describe torture, rape, sexual mutilation, honor killings, and vigilantism in these countries of origin.  They report harsh conditions in detention – poor food, the cold, soap and shampoo that make them itch.  They speak of their loneliness and pain at separation from their children.

The letters put a human face on the men, women, and children the Trump Administration has chosen to demonize.  Even without them, however, Christians should be able to recognize the face of Christ.

” ‘… for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me’ ” (Matt. 25: 35-36).

[1]  New York Times, “ ‘A Light for Me in the Darkness’:  For Migrant Detainees, a Bond Forged by Letter” by Liz Robbins, 2/7/19,

[2]  The archive can be found at



Unmowed grass, Author Natubico (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass…and it was so” (Gen. 1: 11).

Grass covers a quarter of the earth’s landmass [1].  Forming the basis of our food chain, grass (which includes cereal crops like rice, corn, wheat, and oats) feeds more wildlife – not to mention livestock – than any other plant.

Though human activity has greatly reduced habitats worldwide, grass still supports the migration of countless wildebeest, antelope, gazelle, snow geese, and starlings.

Developing from a secure part at the base of its shaft and able to repair itself quickly, grass can survive both frost and wildfires.  Grass grows on East African savannahs and Arctic tundra, its roots helping to protect soil from erosion and replenish nutrients.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly” (Ps. 84: 11).

Everything in the natural world points us toward God.  Just as grass sustains God’s creatures (ourselves included), so does His grace support and sustain us.  We draw our life and nourishment from Him, whether we recognize and acknowledge that fact or not. Read more…

The Confession of St. Patrick

“St. Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland”, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Macon, GA, Source Flickr, Author Andy Coan (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

  1. I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful…had for father the deacon Calpurnius…a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age.  I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people…
  2. And there the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that…I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my insignificance and pitied my youth and ignorance. And he watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son.
  3. Therefore, indeed, I cannot keep silent, nor would it be proper, so many favours and graces has the Lord deigned to bestow on me in the land of my captivity. For after chastisement from God, and recognizing him, our way to repay him is to exalt him and confess his wonders before every nation under heaven.
  4. For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father, indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father, who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe.  And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to each according to his deeds.  And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us…

Read more…

Hidden Obstacles

Physics classroom, Lake Howell High School, Author Steevven1 (CC Attribution 4.0 International)

He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy” (Prov. 14: 31).

An interesting book called Bridges Out of Poverty by RK Payne, et al, explores the hidden obstacles that keep people in poverty, including the values with which children in poverty are raised.

Contrary to the assumption of many better off, the values of the poor are not frivolous.  Nor are they intentionally self-destructive.  They stem rather from survival techniques which go unrecognized by the middle and upper classes, and are often counter-productive toward upward mobility.

The goal of the book is not to criticize these values but to identify them, so that government agencies and others can relate more effectively to those struggling with poverty.

What Bridges Out of Poverty has to say about obstacles to learning is particularly striking.


Basic survival is a driving force.  Is there enough food for another day?  This urgency places the focus on the present.  The future may never arrive.


Life is chaotic for the poor.  Situations constantly arise over which they have no control.

Planning, scheduling, and prioritizing are not, therefore, taught.  As a result, children cannot follow directions and cannot fully complete tasks at school.  This can be remedied.  But learning new skills takes time.


Language itself can be an obstacle.  According to Bridges Out of Poverty, those raised in poverty use casual language almost exclusively.  The formal language used at school and work may be completely unknown to children and adults alike.

Catholic school teachers, for instance, tend to speak as if school were a shared experience.  “We must pay attention” or “We must study”.  Public school teachers create more verbal distance from their students.  “Which of you can answer that question?  Anyone?  You there.”  In college, teachers are likely to speak in an even more detached manner.  “One must be prepared.  One must study.”

All this is foreign to the poor. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW – My Grandfather’s Son, Part 2

My Grandfather’s Son by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is the story of remarkable achievement by a much vilified man.

Political Views

Briefly radicalized during college, Justice Thomas came to feel that violence was not an answer and that the color of his skin should not dictate his politics.

It was while employed at the Missouri Attorney General’s Office that Justice Thomas’ opposition to busing began to crystallize.

“Even in a segregated world, education was our sole road to true independence, and what mattered most was the quality of the education that black children received, not the color of the students sitting next to them…[T]he problems faced by blacks in America would take quite some time to solve, and the responsibility for solving them would fall largely on black people themselves.”

Justice Thomas’ disillusionment with affirmative action took shape at Monsanto.  There he saw capable black managers – the “proof” of Monsanto’s compliance – routinely passed over for promotion.

“I no longer believed in utopian solutions, or the cynical politicians who used them to sucker voters, claiming to care about the poor while actually exploiting them.”

Only after taking a position on Capitol Hill did Justice Thomas actually become a Republican.

Read more…

BOOK REVIEW – My Grandfather’s Son, Part 1

My Grandfather’s Son by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is nothing short of a revelation.

Since the explosive testimony by Anita Hill during his confirmation hearing, Justice Thomas has been characterized as a boor and a bully – a man of limited intellect who became a traitor to his race, advocating reactionary ideas for the sake of personal advancement.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

A Childhood Spent in Poverty

Justice Thomas begins this candid autobiography by describing his Georgia childhood in abject poverty.

“The house in which I was born was a shanty with no bathroom and no electricity except for a single light in the living room.  Kerosene lamps lit the rest of the house.  In the wintertime we plugged up the cracks and holes in the walls with old newspapers.  Water came from a nearby faucet, and we carried it through the woods in old lard buckets.”

Self-Reliance and a Strong Work Ethic

Raised by a strict and stern grandfather, Justice Thomas credits his early upbringing with instilling in him a belief in self-reliance, a strong work ethic, and an independent frame of mind.

Segregation and racial prejudice were as much a fact of existence as were summers of backbreaking labor.

“Our small, soft hands blistered quickly at the start of each summer, but Daddy [the term Justice Thomas used for his grandfather] never let us wear work gloves, which he considered a sign of weakness.  After a few weeks of constant work, the bloody blisters gave way to hard-earned calluses that protected us from pain.  Long after the fact, it occurred to me that this was a metaphor for life – blisters come before calluses, vulnerability before maturity…”

Education and Faith

Thanks to his grandfather, Justice Thomas received a parochial school education.  Justice Thomas traces his rigorous intellectual training from St. John Vianney Seminary, and Immaculate Conception Abbey, through Holy Cross College (where he was one of six black students in a class of about 550), and finally Yale Law School.

A man of faith, Justice Thomas seriously considered the priesthood.  He abandoned that career path when the Catholic Church failed to take a stand on civil rights.  However, his faith stood him in good stead during the ordeal of the confirmation process.

This review will conclude next week.



Josephine Clofullia a/k/a “The Bearded Lady of Geneva” (1853), Source, Author Thomas Martin Easterly (PD)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Americans use the acronym TLC in a variety of contexts.

Shorthand for “tender loving care” in common parlance, the acronym in a real estate context implies that a property will require anything from small improvements to a total renovation by the buyer.  In car sales, it means much the same thing, i.e. that a vehicle has been neglected and is in need of repairs.

Titillation and A Disturbing Identity

On cable television, the initials identify what was originally known as The Learning Channel.  Initially, TLC favored home improvement, and personal make-over shows.

In recent years, however, the channel has taken on a new and disturbing identity.  TLC seems to have decided that titillation is the route to a wider audience.  The more bizarre the subject matter, the better.

A few examples of the programs featured are listed below:

  • “My Strange Addiction” (2010 to 2015), a reality show profiling individuals engaged in compulsive behaviors ranging from extreme body building to the ingestion of bathroom cleanser and toilet paper.
  • “Sister Wives” (2010 to present), a reality show about a polygamist with four wives and 18 children.
  • “Seeking Sister Wife” (2018 to present), another reality show about polygamous relationships.
  • “My 600-Lb Life” (2012 to present), a reality show which follows morbidly obese men and women.
  • “I Am Jazz” (2015 to present), a reality show about a transgender teenage boy.
  • “Dr. Pimple Popper” (2018 to present), a reality show about a dermatologist who treats disfiguring skin ailments, in gruesome detail.

To be fair, WE now features a program called “Extreme Love” which profiles individuals with “incredible and unusual” relationships, to quote the advertising.  These include a man in his 30s involved with women twice and three times his age; a man obsessed with sex dolls; and a man encouraging his 700 lb girlfriend to gain additional weight.

Lifetime, another cable channel, has a reality show titled “Married at First Sight” in which individuals legally marry a complete stranger.

A 21st Century Freak Show

The argument is put forward that such programs normalize people living on the fringe, removing the burden of shame from them.  These shows are said to broaden the mind, and enlarge our definition of what it is to be human.

In fact, the very opposite is true.  Viewers are participating in the creation of a 21st Century freak show, making a spectacle of the suffering of others, and glamorizing what was once recognized as depraved.

All in the name of enlightenment and entertainment. Read more…