History Facts: Book Review—Thomas Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates

History Facts:

Book Review—Thomas Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

The forgotten Barbary War that changed American history

Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

To my dad, who died way too young, and my mom, who worked way too hard. They taught me from day one that being born in America was like winning the lottery. This story is yet more proof that they were 100 percent right. ~Brian Kilmeade

 

When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, America was deeply in debt, with its economy and dignity under attack. Pirates from North Africa’s Barbary Coast routinely captured American merchant ships and held the sailors as slaves, demanding ransom and tribute payments far beyond what the new country could afford.

Time to Stand Up to the Intimidation

For fifteen years, America had tried to work with the four Muslim powers (Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco) driving the piracy, but negotiation proved impossible. Realizing it was time to stand up to the intimidation, Jefferson decided to move beyond diplomacy. He sent the U.S. Navy and Marines to blockade Tripoli—launching the Barbary Wars and beginning America’s journey toward future superpower status.

Few today remember these men and other heroes who inspired the Marine Corps hymn: “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea.” Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates recaptures this forgotten war that changed American history with a real-life drama of intrigue, bravery, and battle on the high seas.

Part of the reason Jefferson was motivated to shock the world by sending warships to the North African coast was that he understood in human terms the cost of piracy.

[I]n Jefferson’s time and after, Jefferson’s tough-minded approach  to securing the safety of Americans abroad prevailed—and changed the course of history. The British, Dutch, and French, who all possessed of vastly larger navies and had greater resources than the young United States, had flinched when faced with the Islamic threat, but they now followed the lead of the new nation.

The growing confidence in the nation’s military strength fueled national policy. The United States had successfully rejected the Old World’s model of complying with the pirates off the coast of Europe and Africa, and it was now bold enough to reject European interference with life on its own side of the Atlantic. 210

Monroe Doctrine

Military strength made possible an unprecedented assertion by President Monroe in his annual message of 1823. The Monroe Doctrine, as the principle he introduced came to be called, warned the European powers not to trespass on North or South American shores. Monroe vowed that any attempt to interfere with the destiny of nations in the American hemisphere would be regarded “as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.” 214-215

Many men and women suffered in captivity before America’s intervention rid the world of North African piracy, but their suffering was not in vain. After centuries of piracy along the Barbary Coast, only the exercise of military strength had succeeded in ending the state-sanctioned practice of terror on the high seas. The lesson was not lost on America. The young nation gained from this chapter the courage to exercise its strength in the world, and it would remember that lesson in the future when other innocent lives were at stake. ~Brian Kilmeade, 215

Today, the war’s military legacy cannot be ignored. It saw the emergence of the U.S. Navy as a force to be reckoned with in foreign seas. It saw the American flag planted for the first time in victory on terrain outside the Western Hemisphere. So great was the war’s significance for the Marines that their hymn refers to “the shores of Tripoli,” and the Corps adopted the Mameluke sword as part of its officers’ uniforms in 1825.

Most important, here in the twenty-first century, the broader story—the great confrontation between the United States and militant Islamic states—has a new significance. 203

 

Western Culture Newsletter: Easter is about Jesus Christ

April 2017 Western Culture Newsletter: Easter is about Jesus Christ

Culture Wars

Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world.

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Western Culture Dinner Topics!

THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN WAY OF LIFE IS VANISHING. Easter used to be an integral part of American life—attendance at church on Easter Sunday, Easter sunrise services, and a week-long break from school designated as Easter vacation. Many stores are politically correct, having purged all vestiges of the true and traditional meaning of Easter. Now, Christ and Easter are banished, replaced by “Spring Break”, and everywhere children expect another sugar overload, just like Halloween.

Our mission here is to preserve and protect the Judeo-Christian culture, that precious way of life—to keep it alive for our children and grandchildren. Can we prevent the rising generation from becoming the Generation” lost”? If we do not tell them about our cherished values, they will never know. They need you, their parents, to pass on the values that are the only way to true happiness.

Pass on Judeo-Christian values to your children with this engaging and wholesome classic

Teach them about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, so that they can feel “encircled in His gentle arms.” This is best explained in a quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

The Sacrifice of the Son of God

Each year at this time we commemorate and ponder the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for all mankind.

What the Savior did from Gethsemane to Golgotha on our behalf is beyond my ability to grasp. He took upon Himself the burden of our sins and paid an eternal and binding ransom not only for Adam’s original transgression but also for the sins and transgressions of the billions upon billions of souls who have ever lived. This eternal, sacred sacrifice caused “even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:18).

He suffered for me.

He suffered for you.

My soul overflows with gratitude when I contemplate the precious meaning of this sacrifice. It humbles me to know that all who accept this gift and incline their hearts to Him can be forgiven and cleansed of their sins, no matter how dark their blemish or how oppressive their burden.

We can be made spotless and pure once again. We can be redeemed by the eternal sacrifice of our beloved Savior.

Easter comes in the second week of April this year, but it is not something to think about one day per year, rather it is the essence of the Gospel, the very substance of our lives, the only key to true happiness.

So remember, Easter is not just a holiday—it’s a way of Life!

Thanks for visiting. Come often; Stay Late.

Christine Davidson

Highlights

Stress Relief Tip: Look to Christ

Easter: the Living Christ

  • Passion Flower Symbolism
  • Easter in Pictures

Book Review: Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

Faith: Living Well in a world of Increasing Evil

Culture Wars: 10 Ways to Protect Religious Freedom

Defining Moment: Discipleship

So from now on, we are sharpening the focus of Western Culture Dinner Topics on what matters most— to continually define and defend Judeo-Christian values, more about Israel, our spiritual  brother in the house of Israel,  and to know our enemy, so as not to be deceived.

As Joshua Benamoz  taught us,

Battered but not beaten, Western Culture wins the day!

Stronger than ever, Western Culture’s here to stay!

Thanks for visiting. Come often, stay late.

Onward Christian Soldiers,

You might also like: Excerpt from new novel by C.A. Davidson, Birthright:

Why the Bible Matters

More about Birthright

 

News and Updates:

Now Available in digital and print at Amazon.

A  novel by C.A. Davidson—Christian fiction on Cultural Heritage. A historical novel so relevant it pops like today’s news! A wholesome classic to share with your children and grandchildren.

Click Here for More  Information and link to Amazon

 

NEW PAGE!

Western Culture Center:

300-year-old Ceiba tree

Meet the memorable characters of Birthright, join the Crusaders’ Council, with our motto—

Battered but not beaten, Western Culture wins the day!

Stronger than ever, Western Culture’s here to stay!

Knowing that truth matters and ideas have consequences, come meet with us in the arena of ideas at Nobles’ Western Culture Center as we work together to restore Judeo-Christian values to their rightful place in our society.

Start your free Constitution 101 course today.

The U.S. Constitution is the key to securing liberty for all Americans — yet very few know exactly what it says, and what freedoms it protects. Hillsdale College is dedicating its work to educating millions of Americans about this critical document. That’s why the College is offering its most popular course, “Constitution 101” for free, when you sign up now, and receive first lesson by email. Actually, all their online courses are free. There is no better place to get an education about our heritage than at Hillsdale.edu

NEW PAGE! If you miss the newsletter, or just want an inspirational message on cultural topics, you can visit our new Inspiration Page. Topics include Truth Matters, Moral Compass, Armor of God, History Heroes, Eternal Perspective,  and more.

Easter is about Jesus Christ Theme Quotes

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. ~Matthew 28:6

For God so loved the world, he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ~John 3:16

“As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22.)

“No other single influence has had so great an impact on this earth as the life of Jesus the Christ.” ~Ezra Taft Benson

The Lord Made Repentance Possible; Lay Your Burdens at His Feet. ~Boyd K. Packer

He who suffered so selflessly for us in the garden and on the cross will not leave us comfortless now. He will strengthen, encourage, and bless us. He will encircle us in His gentle arms. ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine

To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,

That he should extend his great love unto such as I,

Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

 

I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!

Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget?

No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,

Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet. ~ Charles H. Gabriel

 

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue confess to God. ~Romans 14:11

We can turn to Him . . .because He understands. He understands the struggle, and He also understands how to win the struggle . . . The power of His Atonement can erase the effects of sin in us. When we repent, His atoning grace justifies and cleanses us. It is as if we had not succumbed, as if we had not yielded to temptation. As we endeavor day by day and week by week to follow the path of Christ, our spirit asserts its preeminence, the battle within subsides, and temptations cease to trouble. ~D. Todd Christofferson

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise…but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. ~2Peter 3:9

Stress Relief Tip:  Look to Christ

Gordon B. Hinckley

We know not what lies ahead of us. We know not what the coming days may bring. We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness, good health, and gracious living. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know.

 

 

But one thing we do know.  Like the polar star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor or our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith.

In sunshine and in shadow we look to Him, and He is there to assure and smile upon us.

I know that my Redeemer lives,

Triumphant Savior, Son of God,

Victorious over pain and death,

My King, my Leader, and my Lord.

 

He lives, my one sure rock of faith,

The one bright hope of men on earth,

The beacon to a better way,

The light beyond the veil of death.

 

Oh, give me thy sweet  Spirit still,

The peace that comes alone from thee,

The faith to walk the lonely road

That leads to thine eternity.

 

Featured articles

The Parenting Value for this month: Teaching Children Respect vs. Ego

Famous Birthdays: Booker T. Washington, Haym Salomon, Rachmaninoff, Thomas Jefferson, Prokofiev, William Shakespeare

Defining Moment: Discipleship

Book Review: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

Culture Wars: The Collapse of Comedy is no joke

  • Disney—Beauty and the Brainwashing
  • What the Left and Sharia Law have in Common

Easter: Teaching children about Easter

  • The Living Christ
  • Passion Flower symbolism
  • Gethsemane
  • Easter in Pictures

Faith: Living Well in a world of Increasing Evil

Hillsdale Imprimis: How Intelligence Works, When It Does

Moral Support: 10 ways to defend Religious Liberty

US Constitution Series 4: Church and State

Truth Matters: Know your enemy—the true nature of jihad, a stealth invasion

And as always—current events, updates, great cartoons, and analysis

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 PLEASE VOTE FOR EPICWORLD DINNER TOPICS.

Ongoing

1. Let Us Educate Ourselves

Start your free Constitution 101 course today.

The U.S. Constitution is the key to securing liberty for all Americans — yet very few know exactly what it says, and what freedoms it protects. Hillsdale College is dedicating this year to educating millions of Americans about this critical document. That’s why the College is offering its most popular course, “Constitution 101” for free, when you sign up now, and receive first lesson by email. 

2. Home Education—Let’s Teach our Children!

 “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”–Ronald Reagan

Pass on Judeo-Christian values to your children with this engaging and wholesome classic

Seeing the widespread injury done in any given week, (many incidents go unreported), stay aware of important news and insights at Epicworld Dinner Topics.

Traditional Bible-believing parents may have to consider withdrawing their children from public schools to protect your family spiritually and financially from the rising tide of persecution and ruinous lawsuits by anti-Christian fascists.

If it is not possible for you to home school, try to teach your children Judeo-Christian values at home. The easiest way to do this is to tell stories and discuss principles at the family dinner table. I hope these dinner topics help you with this vital effort. Just don’t give up! Our precious children are worth fighting for!

Learn the Key to Survival in a Difficult World

3. Study the U.S. Constitution!

It is the last remaining safeguard of our precious freedoms! A good way to do this is to study the monthly Constitution series from The 5,000 Year Leap. To access this series of posts, type US Constitution Series in this site’s search bar. Also, look for posts that refer to the Constitution in current events.

George Washington Character, Book Review

Dinner Topics for Monday

Character Education was important to George Washington; he worked hard on it himself.

keyBeing George Washington by Glenn Beck is an insightful treatment of the life and service of this magnificent Founding Father. But also Beck gives a “character education” approach. He suggests how we can all use George Washington as a standard for our own good character development, and to prepare ourselves to make a difference. Truly inspirational. Following are highlights, but if you read the entire book with your family, you will treat them to an empowering character education experience.~C. A. Davidson

georgew_beingPart 1

Cultivating Character

No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. ~George Washington, first inaugural address

The Great Author, Revealed

Revisionist historians have tried to diminish Washington’s faith in God, but it is clearly evident in his writings. Washington learned very much from his father, who (as the legend goes) once taught young George a lesson using cabbage seeds. He arranged them in such a way that they spelled “George.” When they began to grow, he showed them to his son and explained to him that they just grew that way by happenstance. When George correctly rejected that premise, suspecting it was his Dad who arranged them, he told George to look around at how perfectly everything else was placed. The trees. The grass. The water. The hills. The sky.

Was it mere coincidence, or was it part of a grand plan?

Washington immediately knew the answer. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.41

The Great Protector

A thousand enemy soldiers were captured, killed, or wounded in battle. But the toll on the rebels’ side was not nearly as dramatic. Washington lost two soldiers, and five others were injured. That’s it. It’s no wonder he believed so fervently in the Invisible Hand.

The list goes on and on, and while many say all of it was simply coincidence or luck, Washington himself did not believe that, writing to his brother: “I now exist and appear in the land of the living by the miraculous care of Providence, that protected me beyond all human expectation; I had 4 Bullets through my Coat and two horses shot under me, and yet escaped unhurt.” ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.42

Washington believed, for very good reason, that God—the Invisible Hand, as he often called Him—oversaw their mission, and that uncovering Arnold’s plot was nothing less than providential. In a message to “the treason has been timely discovered to prevent the fatal misfortune. The providential train of circumstances which led to it affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of divine protection.” ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.108

In sheer desperation, Cornwallis attempted to lead an evacuation across the York River in whatever small boats he could muster. Apparently, God did not intend to let them go so easily, as a violent storm appeared out of nowhere. In a rush of ferocious wind and rain, the small British boats were swept downstream.

About the same time as the white flag was being raised in Yorktown, the proud British fleet finally sailed out of the New York harbor, the repairs to their ships from damage inflicted in the Chesapeake having taken almost two weeks longer than expected.

The fleet arrived at Yorktown a week too late. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.140

The power and goodness of the Almighty were strongly manifested in the events of our late glorius revolution; and his kind interposition in our behalf has been no less visible in the establishment of our present equal government. In war he directed the sword; and in peace he has ruled in our councils. My agency in both has been guided by the best intentions, and a sense of the duty which I owe my country. ~George Washington to the Hebrew congregations

Character Education

I know that getting a formal education in political science or economics is wonderful, but I can also confidently tell you that a formal education can also mean polically motivated teachers and a lot of closed-minded thinking. After all, how many professors do you know that will teach kids Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, or Thomas Sowell: nom many. Sometimes educating yourself is not only a necessity but a blessing. It allows you to explore ideas in a way professors like to inhibit with their preconceived ideological notions. As the columnist Heather MacDonald recently pointed out, in the past academic year at Bowdoin College, “a student interested in American history courses could have taken ‘Black Women in Atlantic New Orleans,’ ‘Women in American History, 1600-1900,’ or ‘Lawn Boy Meets Valley Girl: Gender and the Suburbs,’ but if he wanted a course in American political history, the colonial and revolutionary periods, or the Civil War, he would have been out of luck.”

America allowed the Founders to test ideas that were considered radical elsewhere. They were allowed to think freely without worry of repercussion. Though highly educated in classical texts, most of the Founders were not weighed down by conventional thinking or pseudoscience and gender studies. That was a blessing.

Washington remained self-conscious about his lace of a formal education his entire life. Ironically, it was this fact that drove his intellectual curiosity and ensured that he would always be overly prepared for any debate. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.203

Rules of Civility

Some of the Rules of Civility that Washington copied as a young boy.

  • “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.”
  • “Let your conversation be without malice or envy. And in all causes of passion admit reason to govern.”
  • “When you speak of God and his attributes, let it be seriously and with reverence.”
  • “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.245

 

Next, part 2

YouTube Music for the Soul: Classic Handel

Dinner Topics for Friday

View and Listen to Handel’s Messiah

Book Review

George Friedrich Handel loved to play the harpsichord, but his father didn’t approve, so Handel practiced in secret.

Handel’s music was well-known to composers including Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

keyTo Beethoven he was “the master of us all… the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb”.[61] Beethoven emphasized above all the simplicity and popular appeal of Handel’s music when he said, “Go to him to learn how to achieve great effects, by such simple means”.

American Culture Dinner Talk Journal Article: Handel and the Gift of Messiah

Book Review:

Great Quotes

“I wish to breathe my last word on Good Friday, in hopes of meeting mine good God and sweet Lord and Savior on the day of His resurrection.”
“I did think I did see all heaven before me, and the great God Himself sitting upon His throne.”
~George Frederic Handel to his manservant Peter LeBlonde


Hallelujah!

A novel by J. Scott Featherstone
The Story of the coming forth of Handel’s Messiah

This is the remarkable story of one of the greatest events in musical history, the creation of George Frederic Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah.  Composed in just twenty-four days, Handel’s “Grand Oratorio which rendered him immortal” was birthed in the darkest and most desperate hours of his life. His health was failing. Critics ridiculed him. Creditors hounded him. Enemies persecuted him. Pride had nearly destroyed him. Yet, out of Handel’s night emerged the dawn of Messiah.

Anyone who has thrilled at hearing the Hallelujah Chorus will feel “profound attachment” to Handel’s story of hope and redemption as timeless and poignant as the music itself.

From far away, as if wending its way toward him in the night breeze, something began to develop in Handel’s mind. It was so faint and distant that he could not recognize it but only anticipate its arrival. He waited in the stillness for the shape to take the form of sound. He imagined he could see the sound coming toward him, a veiled line of blue streaming toward him through an ocean of black.

Then softly, like a voice from a distant source it came to him-a single violin of transcendent purity, echoing across this mind like music ringing down the valleys of Halle in the cool of the night. So distinct and clear was the melody that he could see the notes on paper as he heard them.

~From Hallelujah!

Gethsemane2This book is written as a type of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is, it tells of people who are thrown into debtor’s prison. Handel, having been in serious debt himself, had compassion for these people.  When he created The Messiah, he would not perform it for money. He dedicated it to the Children’s Foundling Hospital in Halle, Germany, his home town. For years it was performed by the children’s choir there. Every year, when it was performed, Handel would use donations to liberate people from debtor’s prison.  What a fitting event to be connected to the performance of the glorious Messiah! For over a hundred years after Handel’s death the pages of music for the great oratorio languished in oblivion. Then, on a cold January day in 1896, Dr. Davan Whetton, seeking funds for The Foundling Hospital of which he was principal and organist, rediscovered Handel’s Messiah in a tiny, unknown room behind the pulpit.  Author Featherstone portrays the moving story of Handel’s Messiah in a very powerful way. The book is now out of print; you may find a used one online. It is a worthwhile, unforgettable read.

Life of George Handel

By Spencer J. Condie

George Frideric Handel, born February 23, 1685

George Frideric Handel seemed to have been born a musician. As a young lad in Germany, he became proficient on both the violin and the organ. After composing his first opera in Germany, he moved to Italy, the operatic center of the world, to try his hand at musical composition in the Italian style. There he achieved some success in composing operas and chamber music.

In 1711, at age 26, Handel decided to move to England, where his operas and oratorios initially gained acceptance. By the late 1730s, however, British audiences had become less enthusiastic about operas sung in German or Italian; instead, they favored comedic performances such as The Beggar’s Opera. Thus, for several years Handel struggled to keep the wolves—his creditors—away from the door.

In 1737, after pushing himself to his physical limits by composing four operas within 12 months, the 52-year-old composer suffered a stroke, leaving his right arm temporarily paralyzed. A doctor told Handel’s faithful secretary: “We may save the man—but the musician is lost forever. It seems to me that his brain has been permanently injured.”1

The composer defied the diagnosis. Over time his body responded to treatment in the thermal springs at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen, Germany), and he recovered his physical strength. After testing his ability to play the organ at a nearby cathedral, he jubilantly proclaimed, “I have come back from Hades.”2

When he returned to London and resumed composing operas, his work was not well received, and creditors began to hound him again. In the depths of despondency, he began to wonder, “Why did God permit my resurrection, only to allow my fellow-men to bury me again?”3In April 1741 Handel held what he assumed would be a farewell concert. His creativity was spent. A biographer wrote: “There was nothing to begin or to finish. Handel was faced with emptiness.”4

Late one August afternoon that same year, Handel returned from a long and tiring walk to find that a poet and previous collaborator, Charles Jennens, had left him a manuscript. This libretto quoted liberally from the scriptures, particularly the words of Isaiah, foretelling the birth of Jesus Christ and describing His ministry, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. The work was to be an oratorio. Given his previous failures, Handel was apprehensive as he began to read through the text.

“Comfort Ye,” the first words of the manuscript, seemed to leap from the page. They dissipated dark clouds that had been pressing upon Handel for so long. His depression waned and his emotions warmed from interest to excitement as he continued to read of angelic proclamations of the Savior’s birth and of Isaiah’s prophecies of the Messiah, who would come to earth to be born as other mortal infants. A familiar melody Handel had composed earlier flooded into his mind as he read “For unto Us a Child Is Born.” The notes distilled upon his mind faster than he could put pencil to paper as he captured the image of the loving Good Shepherd in the aria titled “He Shall Feed His Flock.” Then came the overpowering exultation reflected in the “Hallelujah Chorus,” followed by the soft, supernal testimony of “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.” The work came to its majestic conclusion with “Worthy Is the Lamb.”

musicnotesAfter all the music he had composed throughout his lifetime, Handel would eventually be known worldwide for this singular work, Messiah, largely composed in just three weeks during the late summer of 1741. Upon completing his composition, he humbly acknowledged, “God has visited me.”5Those who feel the touch of the Holy Spirit as they experience the overpowering testimony of Handel’s Messiah would agree.

To the sponsors of the first performance of the oratorio, Handel stipulated that profits from this and all future performances of Messiah “be donated to prisoners, orphans, and the sick. I have myself been a very sick man, and am now cured,” he said. “I was a prisoner, and have been set free.”6

Following the first London performance of Messiah, a patron congratulated Handel on the excellent “entertainment.”

“My lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them,” Handel humbly replied. “I wish to make them better.”7

He had finally been relieved of his restless quest for fame, fortune, and public praise—but only after composing his crowning work for an audience that included those not of this earth. The things that mattered most were no longer at the mercy of the things that mattered least. Handel, the restless composer, was now at rest.

Lessons from Handel’s Life

HaendelWhat lessons may we learn from the life of George Frideric Handel and the composition of a piece of music that has become a spiritual landmark?

  1. We must develop confidence in our abilities and learn to live with criticism of our work. In the words of poet Rudyard Kipling: “Trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.”8
  2. Quantity is no substitute for quality and variety. Handel’s earlier operas have largely been forgotten. Their predictable, formulaic templates simply failed to inspire; each opera sounded much like the others he had composed.
  3. When we act on inspiration, we are doing the work of heaven. We cannot force the Spirit, but when inspiration and revelation come, we must listen and act upon the promptings. The Lord has promised that “the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things” (D&C 33:16).
  4. We must acknowledge our source of inspiration and revelation. We are only instruments in the work we do that blesses others. We must realize, as Handel did when he deflected the honor given upon his achievement, that “God has visited [us].”
  5. We must never underestimate the power of the word. There is a power in the word of God that far surpasses the narratives of this world’s most gifted writers (see Alma 31:5).
  6. Real spiritual meaning in a work is conveyed by the witness of the Holy Ghost. “When [an individual speaks or sings] by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1).
  7. Power is in God and His works, not in our words. Speaking of the professors of religion of the day, the Savior told Joseph Smith, “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, … having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” (Joseph Smith—History 1:19). Handel had composed other oratorios and operas with biblical texts, but the form of his music did not match the power of the scriptures—Isaiah’s powerful prophecies of the Savior’s birth and ministry or the fulfillment of those prophecies as found in Revelation and the Gospels of Luke and John. In Handel’s Messiah, we find both the form of godliness and the power thereof. In Messiah, lips and hearts are drawn nearer to heaven.

Each of us, like George Frideric Handel, is engaged in a creative spiritual enterprise in this life. Both the physical fostering of mortal life and the righteous living of our days on earth are spiritual achievements. I pray that we may be sensitive to inspiration from on high, that we may be inspired in such a way that the fruits of our labors are inspiring to others. As we seek to rescue others, may we not be bound by time-tested templates and self-imposed perceptions that restrict our spiritual creativity and lock out revelation.

In her epic poem, Aurora Leigh, Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed the eloquent thought:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. 9

May each of us unlatch our shoes and cram our labors with the essence of heaven, and may none of us be found plucking blackberries when a much grander, loftier work needs to be done.

And at the end of our divinely ordained days, may we be able to acknowledge, with Handel, that God has visited us in our labors.

More about George Handel

 

Book Review: Historic Rescue of World War 2 Soldiers

Book Review:

Historic Rescue of World War 2 Soldiers

The Forgotten 500

Gregory A. Freeman

keyThe communists have always been experts at lies, deceit, and disinformation. This heart-wrenching story of courage and loyalty betrayed and smeared is but one example of their treachery. It took way too long for the truth to surface in this case. The media, which have bought into these lies and disinformation  for decades,  is in full swing today as well. It is our responsibility to discern and ferret out the truth, and do so relentlessly, so  that truth and innocent people are spared the evils of being sacrificed for political expediency. ~C.D.

 

forgotten-500-bookHere is the astonishing never-before-told story of the greatest rescue mission of World War II—when the OSS set out to recover more than five hundred airmen trapped behind enemy lines in Yugoslavia. . . .

During a bombing campaign over Romanian oil fields, hundreds of American airmen were shot down in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia. Local Serbian farmers and peasants risked their own lives to give refuge to the soldiers while they waited for rescue, and in 1944, Operation Halyard was born. The risks were incredible. The starving Americans in Yugoslavia had to construct a landing strip large enough for C-47 cargo planes—without tools, without alerting the Germans, and without endangering the villagers. And the cargo planes had to make it through enemy airspace and back without getting shot down themselves.

Suppressed for more than half a century for political reasons, the full account of this unforgettable story of loyalty, self-sacrifice, and bravery is now being told for the first time ever. The Forgotten 500 is the gripping behind-the-scenes look at the greatest escape of World War II.

 

 

Disinformation and Betrayal

Draza Mihailovich, Serbian hero who steadfastly protected American airmen from Nazis

Draza Mihailovich, Serbian hero who steadfastly protected American airmen from Nazis

Serbian leader Draza Mihailovich was opposed to both Nazism and Communism and fiercely loyal to the Allies. However, Klugmann, one of several communist moles in Great Britain, spread disinformation and lies about him, and convinced Churchill and FDR that Mihailovich was in league with the Nazis. This kept Britain and American governments from supporting the Serbian locals of Yugoslavia, who were unwaveringly loyal to the Allies, who gave the American airmen the food off their own tables. The loving support of those villagers for those Americans is deeply moving.

Thanks to the help of those locals, 512 airmen were rescued, with no lives lost. Nevertheless, due to the influence of Klugmann and his minions, Mihailovich was subjected to a war crimes trial after the war, and convicted.

Americans were outraged when they learned of the government treachery. Churchill finally learned the truth, how he had been deceived, but it was too late. Only after the damage was done, was Eisenhower able to persuade Truman to give Mihailovich a posthumous  Legion of Merit award. Even then, the award was given in secret, and kept secret for 20 years, because the State Department was “concerned” about ruffling relations with the communist dictator Josip Tito, who handed Yugoslavia over the communists after the war.

 

Reagan Tribute to Mihailovich, and Warning

Ronald-Reagan-AP                Avowed anti-Communist Ronald Reagan, then governor of California and about to become president in the next year, paid respect to Mihailovich on September 8, 1979. He wrote to the California Citizent’s Committee to Commemorate General Draza Mihailovich:

I wish that it could be said that this great hero was the last victim of confused and senseless policies of Western governments i dealing with Communism. The fact is that others have suffered a fate similar to his by being embraced and then abandoned by Western government in the hope that such abandonment will purchase peace or security. Thus, the fate of General Mihailovich is not simply of historic significance—it teaches us something today as well. No Western nation, including the United States, can hope to win its own battle for freedom and survival by sacrificing brace comrades to the politics of international expediency.

 

Reagan went on to say that the betrayal of Mihailovich showed “beyond doubt that both freedom and honor suffer when firm commitments become sacrificed to false hopes of appeasing aggressors by abandoning friends.”

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Book Review: Parenting Guide urges Character Education, not Kool-Aid

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Book Review: Parenting Guide urges Character Education, not Kool-Aid Don’t let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid Marybeth Hicks, Washington Times columnist and founder of OntheCulture.com Mrs. Hicks catalogs  how the Left has undermined our American character for half a century: … Continue reading

Truth Zone: Whistleblower Exposes Obama Government Cover Up of Terror Threat

Truth Zone:

Whistleblower Exposes Obama Government Cover Up of Terror Threat

Whistleblower: Obama admin deleted critical information that may have prevented 2 Muslim terror attacks

Philip Haney

The government has willfully deleted critical information that may have prevented two recent Islamic terror attacks on American soil. “The power of Shariah is very difficult to exaggerate how much influence it has on the lives of Muslims around the world,”Haney warns.

war-on-christianity1In fact, Haney believes America is presently locked in a battle between the U.S. Constitution and Shariah law.

“Are we going to submit to the influence of Shariah law and make it legal for one particular religion to have more than one wife?” he asked. “Or are we going to say, ‘No, you cannot implement those provisions as long as you want to be a citizen of United States’?”

The answer, according to Haney, is for Americans to become more familiar with the Constitution.

constitution2“If you become more familiar with the Constitution, you’ll be able to see more clearly the points of conflict between the U.S. Constitution and Shariah law, and then you can discuss it without fear of being called a racist or a bigot or an Islamophobe,” he advised.

Haney, who testified before a Senate subcommittee Tuesday, told CBN’s audience his Christian faith has helped him get through his long ordeal. In fact, only faith in God could help him overcome the dark forces he has faced.

“We’re talking about very, very high-level, malevolent kind of forces here at work, and it is very sobering to see these kinds of things operating,” he said. “These are biblical-level events that we’re talking about.”

Haney said the Obama administration did not wish to investigate Muslim Brotherhood members as terrorists because it relied on the Brotherhood and other Muslim groups with ties to terrorism to help form U.S. counter-terrorism policy.

Three years later, in 2012, the administration purged all 67 of Haney’s records dealing with Muslims associated with a movement known as Tablighi Jamaat.

sharia-no-america“This time they didn’t just modify the information in the records; they completely eliminated them out of the system, erased them forever,” Haney explained. “And then they investigated me for putting that information into the system when that was exactly the job that I was supposed to be doing.”

This pattern continued after the recent terror attack in Orlando, when the Justice Department initially redacted all of shooter Omar Mateen’s references to Islam and ISIS from a transcript of his 9-1-1 call. In fact, Haney discovered immediately after the shooting that the Fort Pierce, Florida, mosque Mateen attended had ties to the Tablighi Jamaat case that the Obama/Clinton State Department shut down in 2012. If Haney’s information had not been eliminated, the Orlando massacre might have been prevented.

“I can’t explain to you the ideology or the worldview of this administration that makes them so adamant to protect Islam from harm by addressing it in its true nature,” Haney said.

Islam, he noted, is not just a religion, but a system of laws – Shariah – that Muslims who adhere to fundamental teaching wish to establish over all the world.

“The power of Shariah is very difficult to exaggerate how much influence it has on the lives of Muslims around the world,” the whistleblower warned.
One day after a prominent U.S. Muslim leader reacted to the November 2015 Paris attacks with a declaration that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has nothing to do with Islam, President Obama made the same assertion.

obama-vs-christianityWho exactly is the enemy we face, not only in the Middle East but also within our borders? Is it “murderers without a coherent creed” or “nihilistic killers who want to tear things down,” as some described ISIS after 130 people were brutally slain and another 368 injured in a coordinated attack on Western soil that authorities say was organized with help from inside France’s Muslim communities.

After the Paris attacks, Obama, himself, described ISIS as “simply a network of killers who are brutalizing local populations.”

But how much do words and definitions really matter? According to the legendary military strategist Sun Tzu, if “you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one (battle) and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”

When the Department of Homeland Security was founded in 2003, its stated purpose was “preventing terrorist attacks within the United States and reducing America’s vulnerability to terrorism.” The Bush administration’s definition of the enemy as a tactic, terrorism, rather than a specific movement, proved consequential amid a culture of political correctness. By the time President Obama took office, Muslim Brotherhood-linked leaders in the United States were forcing changes to national security policy and even being invited into the highest chambers of influence. A policy known as Countering Violent Extremism emerged, downplaying the threat of supremacist Islam as unrelated to the religion and just one among many violent ideological movements.

whistle-blowerWhen recently retired DHS frontline officer and intelligence expert Philip Haney bravely tried to say something about the people and organizations that threatened the nation, his intelligence information was eliminated, and he was investigated by the very agency assigned to protect the country. The national campaign by the DHS to raise public awareness of terrorism and terrorism-related crime known as If You See Something, Say Something effectively has become If You See Something, Say Nothing.

In “See Something, Say Nothing,” Haney – a charter member of DHS with previous experience in the Middle East – and co-author Art Moore expose just how deeply the submission, denial and deception run. Haney’s insider, eyewitness account, supported by internal memos and documents, exposes a federal government capitulating to an enemy within and punishing those who reject its narrative.

quote8-obama-muslimHaney discloses:

  • How the Bush administration stripped him and other frontline officers of their ability to define the threat;
  • How much the Obama administration knew in advance of the Boston Marathon bombing and how it launched an ongoing cover-up on behalf of a major ally;
  • The administration’s stealth policy to protect Islamic leaders with supremacist beliefs and violent-jihadist ties, allowing them to freely travel between the U.S. and the Middle East;
  • The scope of access to the White House and the classified information the Obama administration gave to members of Muslim Brotherhood front groups;
  • The damning intelligence on Muslim Brotherhood-linked leaders invited to sit at the table and help form national-security policy;
  • Muslim Brotherhood

    Muslim Brotherhood

    The “words matter” memo imposing the demands of radical U.S. Muslims leaders on the DHS, including stripping intelligence and official communications of any mention of Islam in association with terrorism;

  • The purging of training material that casts Islam in a negative light;
  • The erasing and altering of vital intelligence on terrorists and terror threats;
  • The fear-based tactics imposed by the Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the U.S. and their accomplices that paralyze officials, members of Congress and any Department of Homeland Security employee who dares to expose or resist their agenda; and
  • Much more …

ObamaISISWhite-House-SummitIn this well-documented, first-person account of his unique service with DHS, Haney shows why it’s imperative that Americans demand that when they see something and say something, the servants under their charge do something to prevent a cunning, relentless enemy from carrying out its stated aim to “destroy Western Civilization from within.”

Philip Haney studied Arabic culture and language while working as a scientist in the Middle East before becoming a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002 as a Customs & Border Protection agriculture officer. After advancing to an armed CBP officer where he served several tours of duty at the National Targeting Center near Washington, DC, where he quickly was promoted to its Advanced Targeting Team, an unprecedented accomplishment for an agent on temporary duty assignment. Officer Haney won numerous awards and commendations from his superiors for meticulously compiling information and producing actionable reports that led to the identification of hundreds of terrorists. He has specialized in Islamic theology and the strategy and tactics of the global Islamic movement. He retired in July 2015.

treasonboword2treasonaidabetenemyThe government has willfully deleted critical information that may have prevented two recent Islamic terror attacks on American soil.

Appearing on the popular Fox News program “Hannity,” former Department of Homeland Security officer Philip Haney said he was directed to delete hundreds of records he had compiled on various Muslim individuals and organizations with ties to terrorist groups.

While on assignment at the National Targeting Center, Haney had obtained valuable information on members of a worldwide Islamic group known as Tablighi Jamaat. However, in 2012, the Obama State Department effectively shut down the NTC’s Tablighi Jamaat Initiative, demanding intelligence based on religious affiliation be disregarded out of concern for Muslims’ civil liberties.

book-obama-cover-upIn his eye-opening new book “See Something, Say Nothing,” Haney writes that Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the San Bernardino massacre last December, fit the profile of the Tablighi Jamaat members Haney interviewed at the Atlanta airport. He told Hannity that if his Tablighi Jamaat information hadn’t been deleted, the DHS may have been able to prevent the San Bernardino attack from happening.

“I believe I have a plausible premise that we could have stopped it by two major ways – either Syed Farook would have been put on the no-fly list and not allowed to travel, or his pending fiance [fellow San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik] would have been denied a visa because of his affiliation with an organization with plausible ties to terrorism,” Haney explained to Hannity.

What’s more, he said the Orlando nightclub shooting could have been prevented as well if only law enforcement officers had realized the connections between the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, where Omar Mateen attended, and the San Bernardino mosque where Farook attended.

“There’s an entire network of those kinds of mosques across the United States, and I found out a couple days ago that the mosque in Fort Pierce is also related to the same network,” Haney revealed.

George Washington Facts, Character Education

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Glenn Beck: Being George Washington, Part 2

George WashingtonkeyWithout the high regard that the French had for Washington, would they ever have agreed to fund the effort? And, if they hadn’t, what might have become of the revolution? It’s hard to say, but it goes to show you just how much character matters. In the end, it might not have been Washington’s leadership, intelligence, or military skills that actually won the war—it might have been his honor. It’s something so simple, yet so many people today dismiss it was outmoded or unnecessary. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.79

Character Education was important to George Washington; he worked hard on it himself.

Try this award-winning Epic Stories for Character Education in “Byte-size” Dinner Topics. Keep our precious Judeo-Christian traditions alive! It’s as easy as eating dinner.

Learn more here

 

Character Matters

Without the high regard that the French had for Washington, would they ever have agreed to fund the effort? And, if they hadn’t, what might have become of the revolution? It’s hard to say, but it goes to show you just how much character matters. In the end, it might not have been Washington’s leadership, intelligence, or military skills that actually won the war—it might have been his honor. It’s something so simple, yet so many people today dismiss it was outmoded or unnecessary. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.79

Everything that we do in life—every battle that we fight and every mountain that we climb, no matter how many times that we may fall—may be for no other purpose than to prepare us for that moment when we are called upon to make a difference in this world.

In fact, every decision that we make, even those that seem small and perhaps irrelevant—perhaps especially those that seem small and irrelevant—may be moving us toward that moment when we can change a life for the better.

We may only get one chance to make a difference. But there is no doubt that such a moment in each of our lives is going to come.

The only question that really matters is, Will we be ready for it? ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.177

Compromise … But Not Your Principles

My point is that you should never surrender your core principles. Never—ever—never. But don’t try to get 100 percent of what you want from an ally, while giving up zero percent.

And don’t expect to get everything you want this instant; this is going to be a long fight. It won’t be decided in the next election. It may not be decided ever. The key is to continually push the needle in your direction and lay the foundation for the next group of people to push it a bit further. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.212

Judeo-Christian Religion and the Founders

When the Continental Congress learned of the British surrender to Washington at Yorktown, representatives walked together to a Philadelphia church and prayed. Nearly a thousand other people joined America’s leaders in worship around the city. In fact, Congress recommended that the entire nation might want to observe a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” to celebrate the victory.

How times have changed. Can you imagine if Congress declared a national day of prayer after a military victory these days? The ACLU would file a lawsuit before you could say “God bless you.” On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, New York’s Mayor Bloomberg even banned all clergy from the Ground Zero ceremonies. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.152

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?

I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service. ~Benjamin Franklin to Constitutional Convention (The motion did not pass, because the group did not have funds to pay the clergy.)

Leadership

The Rules of Civility let Washington display poise in the small moments and thus gravitas in the big ones. He applied these prescriptions to everyday life and they became second nature. The lesson for us is that leadership and vision don’t exist in a vacuum—or spring to life all at once. They must be practiced, and they can grow within you until they become a part of you. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.243

Morality

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, relation and morality are indispensable supports … And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. ~George Washington, farewell address

Slavery

No section on the Constitution is complete without revisiting the topic of slavery. It’s become accepted fact that the Founders believed that blacks were worth only “three-fifths” of a human. That, however, is simply wrong.

The “three-fifths” clause was really about the census and, consequently, state representation in Congress. Slave populations in the southern states were huge at that time. If slaves were counted on a one-for-one basis then southern states would have far larger populations, and therefore, far more federal representation than the northern ones. As a result, slavery would have been nearly impossible to abolish.

Some revisionists would have you believe that those slaves were not going to be counted at all and that the three-fifths clause actually gave the southern states more power than they otherwise would have. (This allegation is, I think, supposed to “prove” just how racist and hateful our Founders really were.) But think about that logically: would the South really have been that willing to give up so much federal representation right off the bat? Of course not—they would have fought to have slaves counted as full people along with everyone else. The three-fifths compromise was just that, a compromise. It appeased the South, got the Constitution ratified, and paved the way for slavery to eventually end. ~Glenn Beck, Being George Washington, p.210

Dinner Talk

1. Why is it important, even vital, that a leader be accountable to a Being (Judeo-Christian) higher than himself?

2. Select a politician in today’s society who has made corrupt choices. Compare him or her to the standard of George Washington’s character, and discuss how the choices of the corrupt politician are affecting our nation.

3. Why is the study of history important?

Character Education was important to George Washington; he worked hard on it himself.


 

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YouTube Video: Classic Christian Fiction Literature

Dinner Topics for Monday Lark Rise to Candleford The Illustrated Lark Rise to Candleford (The illustrations in this book are beautiful.) By Flora Thompson There is a gentle Christian theme throughout this delightful work of fiction. We can be grateful … Continue reading

Christianity: How the West Lost God

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Losing My Religion: Faith, Family, and the Real Story of Secularization in the West

Book Review by  Julia Shaw

howwestlostgodIn her new book, Mary Eberstadt argues that the West started losing God when it started losing the natural family. If she is right, then churches need to encourage and promote family formation, and religious believers need to form families.

The West is less Christian than it used to be. “A growing number of Western individuals greet the milestones of life with no religious framework at all,” Mary Eberstadt writes in her new book, How the West Really Lost God. They are born without being baptized or dedicated to a Christian community; they attend Sunday brunch rather than Sunday service; “and upon dying their bodies are incinerated and scattered to the winds, rather than prayed over whole in the ground as Christian ritual and dogma had hitherto commanded.”

In her thoughtful and engaging book, Eberstadt offers a new explanation for the religious downturn. Nietzsche’s madman predicted that religion would inevitably fade away. The traditional narratives about secularization see world-historical events or broad intellectual movements as silver bullets killing God. But Eberstadt encourages us to take another look at home and hearth—especially broken ones.

By looking at the decline of the natural family, she argues, we can understand how the West really lost God. While the religious and irreligious alike will find this book enlightening, the key audience includes the small “o” orthodox believers eager to spread the gospel. Once this audience understands the relationship between faith and family, perhaps Western society can find God again.

The Family Factor

To start, Eberstadt reviews the conventional theories of religious decline and reveals how they are incomplete. Most theories point to either an intellectual movement or a world historical event to explain the decline of religion. For instance, some blame rationalism and the Enlightenment for crowding out God. Others accuse consumerism. Sometimes, we are told that secularization results once people realize they no longer need the imaginary comforts of religion, or that the catastrophic world wars caused men and women to lose their faith. Many of these theories have a kernel of truth, but Eberstadt argues convincingly that none is sufficient to explain the whole picture because none can explain the ebb and flow in religious belief. They cannot answer why Christianity “has flourished in some times and places and declined in others.”

Enter what Eberstadt calls the “Family Factor”: the “active effect that participation in the family itself appears to have on religious belief and practice.” By the family, Eberstadt means the natural family: a married mother and father raising their biological children. The Family Factor explains why secularization occurs and fills in the gaps that other theories leave behind.

Family life is not an outcome of belief but a conduit to religious faith. Eberstadt compares learning religion to learning a language. She argues that “trying to believe without a community of believers is like trying to work out a language for oneself.” Eberstadt’s theory explains the communal way in which individuals “think and behave about things religious—not one by one and all on their own, but rather mediated through the elemental connections of husband, wife, child, aunt, great-grandfather and the rest.”

Her theory is unique. Most secularization narratives ignore the family’s role in religious formation or see familial decline as a result of secularization: people stopped believing in God and then they stopped having families. But Eberstadt turns this simple, direct relationship on its head. The connection between faith and family is multidimensional: “faith and family are the invisible double helix of society—two spirals that when linked to one another can effectively reproduce, but whose strength and momentum depend on one another.”

It’s no secret that churches provide a necessary infrastructure and larger community for raising children. But Eberstadt conjectures that something deeper drives families to the pews. “Something about children might make parents more inclined toward belief in the infinite—to a supernatural realm that is somehow higher and less well-understood than this one.”

Childbirth is the miracle of life, and parents experience it, in Eberstadt’s words, as a “moment of communion with something larger than oneself, larger even than oneself and the infant.” This may explain why seemingly banal activities of family life—caring for an ailing parent or just staying married for seventy years—seem almost supernatural. The family, in a sense, defies death. Individual members may perish, but genes, names, and memories live on.

Eberstadt shows that strong family formation means more God. America enjoys a higher degree of religiosity than European countries, because “there are more families following the traditional model in America, even today, than in Europe.” Indeed, the post-war American baby boom coincided with a religious boom.

Conversely, weak family formation (e.g., illegitimacy, cohabitation, and divorce) means less God. The countries that have experienced religious decline have seen the natural family at its weakest. The French lost God earlier than other Western nations, because they stopped having babies and forming families in the late eighteenth century. Scandinavia, an area that has experienced dramatic decline in religious belief, has a high divorce rate and late marriage, and although there is a high rate of out-of-wedlock births, the total birth rate is very low. Countries that stop marrying and giving birth also stop attending church.

Lost in Translation

As Eberstadt reminds her readers, the language of Christianity is familial. Christians greet one another as brothers and sisters of the same God the Father. Christian marriage symbolizes the union of Christ and the church. The Holy Trinity is described in terms of a familial relationship: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Incarnation—the seminal event in Christian redemption—relies on the human family: God the Son came to earth as an infant, born to Mary, and adopted by Joseph.

Without the family, the Christian story may be lost in translation. If one is raised without a father, how can one contemplate the unconditional love of God the Father or understand Joseph’s adoption of Jesus? If children are a choice, how can a person consider accepting them, as Mary did, as a matter of obedience to God?

And if unencumbered self-expression is the highest virtue, then Christianity’s teachings on sex, money, and vocation are vicious. Sadly, says Eberstadt, “when many people live lives that contradict the traditional Christian moral code, the mere existence of that code becomes a lightning rod for criticism and vituperation—which further drives people away from the church.” Eberstadt concludes that “family illiteracy breeds religious illiteracy.”

Protestantism, Catholicism, and Family Decay

family6prayingIf family decay leads to and accelerates religious decline, then how should churches respond?

In a chapter aptly titled “Assisted Religious Suicide,” Eberstadt focuses most on how churches harmed the family by embracing certain doctrinal changes to the Christian moral code. This chapter is essential reading for any Christian believer, whether Protestant or Catholic. Yet it also reveals the weak point in Eberstadt’s analysis: she fails to distinguish between thriving and decaying churches in Protestantism and why, despite keeping key doctrines on family formation, Catholicism is declining.

Eberstadt argues that the Christian moral code remained intact until the Protestant Reformation, “when churchmen started picking apart the tapestry of Christian sexual morality—hundreds of years ago, long before the sexual revolution, and over one particular thread: divorce.” Now, several hundred years later, “divorce in the mainline Protestant churches is not only destigmatized, it has been almost entirely emptied of moral content, period.”

(Eberstadt does not explain the difference between an annulment, which seems not to damage the institution of marriage, and divorce, which in her view does undermine marriage.)

The doctrinal changes on divorce, Eberstadt argues, were a “template for other related doctrinal changes to come”: first divorce, then contraception, and finally homosexuality. Reformers throughout the ages intended these changes to “construct a Christianity with a kinder, gentler, more inclusive face” and thereby expand the flock, but instead, Eberstadt argues, they decimated the family and church attendance.

Her point is well-taken—changes in doctrine on marriage and sexuality have undermined the family—but I question the accuracy of her critique of Protestantism, particularly of its beginnings. At various points, she comes close to reducing the Protestant Reformation to a revolution about divorce and sex, rather than a disagreement about the authority of the pope, the status of scripture, and the nature of grace.

Eberstadt also fails to explore why there was a sizable chunk of time between the sixteenth-century Reformation and the twentieth-century Lambeth Conference that embraced contraception. Nor does she consider why the doctrinal changes on homosexuality are quite recent.

So, did the Protestant Reformation, rightly understood, lead to widespread abandonment of traditional Christian moral teachings on marriage, family, and sexuality? Or was the liberal theology that infected at least some Protestant churches 300 years later responsible? It is hardly fair to lump Cranmer in with Schleiermacher (Henry VIII notwithstanding), much less Luther and Calvin with the father of liberal theology.

In earlier chapters, Eberstadt distinguishes between mainline Protestants (e.g., Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Lutherans) and the pentecostal and evangelical Protestants. She acknowledges that “certain evangelical denominations are thriving despite the secular trend.” And she recognizes that the same thriving churches “do not have theological injunctions against birth control as such, and have a higher fertility rate than secular people.” If doctrines of family decay were part and parcel of the Protestant Reformation, one would expect all Protestant churches to suffer the same fate. And how would Eberstadt account for the recent doctrinal divisions between the Episcopalian and Anglican churches in America? The chapter would have benefited from considering each doctrinal change (divorce, contraception, and sexuality) and churches’ responses separately, rather than collapsing them in to one fluid phenomenon. While Catholic writers and theologically liberal mainliner connect all three doctrines, others (namely thriving, evangelical churches) do not.

Her arguments on the health of Catholicism merit a similar analysis. The Catholic Church as an institution resisted doctrinal changes on divorce, contraception, and homosexual activity: “the exception [to these doctrinal changes], of course, was the Catholic Church, whose issuance of Humane Vitae in 1968 both famously and infamously affirmed the traditional moral code by upholding the ban on birth control.”

Yet despite “sticking to its theological guns on the family,” Eberstadt writes, Catholicism has seen a “significant falloff in practice.” If keeping the doctrines was enough, why are individual Catholics, and even whole parishes, selectively following these teachings? While chiding Catholic scholars for arguing that secularization is a Protestant problem, Eberstadt readily admits that many Catholics are “Catholic” in name only: men and women who ignore not only the basic holy obligation to attend weekly mass but also the church’s teachings on sex.

Perhaps Eberstadt’s emphasis on these doctrines is misplaced. The doctrines on divorce, contraception, and homosexuality don’t seem to explain the whole story. Perhaps fidelity to the Nicene Creed keeps families in the pews.

Eberstadt writes that the “most vibrant areas of Catholicism are the most orthodox.” The same applies to Protestantism, but Eberstadt doesn’t explicitly say it.

Over the years, mainline Protestants have been eager to embrace doctrinal changes relating to family formation, but they balk at affirming the basic tenets of Christian faith. To put it another way: divorce, contraception, and homosexuality are no big deal, but the teachings of the Nicene Creed are controversial.

Thriving Protestant churches, to the contrary, take the tenets of the Nicene Creed (as well as traditional Christian moral teachings) seriously. Indeed, by so doing, many evangelical churches attract those raised devoid of religious faith. They also draw some of those “Catholics” in name only, who were baptized in the Catholic Church but didn’t believe in Christ (let alone follow the moral teachings) until becoming Protestant. (The Mormons, who embrace family formation but not the Nicene Creed, appear to be an outlier.) Eberstadt’s chapter on doctrinal changes would be stronger if she had explored these differences.

Eberstadt is both a great thinker and a devout Catholic. Protestantism has benefited from the intellectual heft of Catholicism on moral issues relating to marriage, the family, and natural law. Eberstadt, by failing to distinguish fully between thriving and decaying forms of Protestantism, misses an opportunity to engage with evangelical churches explicitly.

Still, her arguments raise challenging questions for my fellow Protestant and evangelical brethren in flourishing mega-churches. Should Protestants consider children negotiable in marriage? Should pastors be indifferent to means of procreating (or preventing it)? Do we adequately incorporate children into church life and the Christian story as Eberstadt describes it? Most importantly, how often are churches growing by attracting former Catholics, instead of training up children the way they should go? Converts are great, but so are lifelong committed Christians raised in the church.

The Fate of the Double Helix

The future of the faith-family double helix is unclear. Eberstadt recognizes that predicting the future is risky, so instead she presents both a case for pessimism—fewer people are getting married and staying married; fewer people are bearing children, let alone bearing them in wedlock; and a case for optimism—as society becomes more fragmented, the need for the family increases, so decline can lead to resurgence.

If Eberstadt is right that family decline led to religious decline, then churches need to encourage and promote family formation, and religious believers need to form families. Secularization isn’t inevitable. Christianity is still strong in the United States. Can it last another generation? The answer to this question, as all Christians must acknowledge, lies with the Holy Spirit. But Eberstadt makes a convincing case that the Holy Spirit often enlists the family.

Julia Shaw is a writer in Washington, DC.