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Nat Hentoff: 1925-2016.

"Every atheist should be pro-life. Life is all we have."  - Nat Hentoff

Yesterday, Nat Hentoff died. He was 91. Brother David calls his passing "a real loss." Among many other things, Hentoff was a stalwart warrior against the slaughter of the unborn, newborn handicapped, feeble, and elderly. With Hentoff gone, who will take his place as a prophet against the bloodshed of the innocent in New York City?

Here's a BB tribute to Nat Hentoff we ran back in 2009. (Check out other BB posts that mention Hentoff.)

(The pic is a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters portrait from 2009. Hentoff is the bottom right, sitting, with the late David Baker, IU's own, standing directly behind.)

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(January 5, 2009) Last week, Nat Hentoff was laid off at the (Greenwich) Village Voice. This brings an abrupt end to Hentoff's fifty year run there, appropriately and affectionately titled "Fifty Years of Pissing People Off" by fellow Voice columnist Allen Barra in his recent...

Establish Thou the work of our hands...

Here's one of the prayers of Moses. We always read this prayer at funerals and burials. Also at the end when a brother or sister in Christ is near the end of the hard work of dying.

No man can establish the work of his own hands. Only God has that power. This is as true of work raising a family and pastoring a congregation as it is work on the railroad. (This is what your hands look like after a shift as car knocker at Chicago & North Western's Proviso Yards.)

Read and pray this prayer with your family and loved ones tonight.

Psalm 90

A Prayer of Moses the man of God.

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.


If you're wondering, the word is cremation spelled backwards. The title is me moving backwards, pulling the three posts on cremation off the site. It's Christmas and I don't want to keep hurting people's feelings. Maybe I'll repost later? Then again, maybe I'll just put it in a book.

Anyhow, I've found writing about cremation to be incendiary, 1 and who needs that this time of year? it's Christmas!

God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay;
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day;
To save us all from Satan's power when we had gone astray;
Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
Oh tidings of comfort and joy!

Death and peaceful succession of authority: Augustine...

Wonderful record of Augustine's comments upon his appointment of a successor:

Letter CCXIII. (September 26TH, a.d. 426.)

The record prepared by Augustine of the proceedings on the occasion of his designating Eraclius to succeed him in the episcopal chair.

In the Church of Peace in the district of Hippo Regius.

Bishop Augustine having taken his seat along with his fellow bishops Religianus and Martinianus, there being present Saturninus, Leporius, Barnabas, Fortunatianus, Rusticus, Lazarus, and Eraclius—presbyters—while the clergy and a large congregation of laymen stood by, Bishop Augustine said:

We all are mortal, and the day which shall be the last of life on earth is to every man at all times uncertain; but in infancy there is hope of entering on boyhood, and so our hope goes on, looking forward from boyhood to youth, from youth to manhood, and from manhood to old age: whether these hopes may be realized or not is uncertain, but there is in each case something which may be hoped for. But old age has no...

Joe Sobran's Jesus...

Joe Sobran's dear friend, Fran Griffin, has put together a collection of Joe's pieces and it's selling under the title Subtracting Christianity: Essays on American Culture and Society. Also check out the work Fran is doing to bring Joe's collected essays on the Clintons, Hustler: The Clinton Yearsback into print

It was Joe's spiritual meditations I appreciated the most. Here's a sample of his writing when he turned from politics and culture to open up his own Christian faith.

The Man They Still Hate
December 2, 1999

The world has long since forgiven Julius Caesar. Nobody today finds Socrates or Cicero irritating. Few of us resent Alexander the Great or his tutor, Aristotle.

No, only one man in the ancient world is still hated after two millennia: Jesus Christ.

This does not in itself prove the divinity of Christ...

Fathers and mothers in Israel: Joe Sobran...

He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. (Matthew 10:41)

This past week, I exchanged several e-mails with a young man who's been reading Joe Sobran and loving it. The e-mails were because this brother is inclined to believe the trash-talk William F. Buckley unleashed against his old friend Sobran, smearing him as a Jew-hater.

I tried to defend Joe against Buckley and all his wealthy friends who lived with him on Israel's Amen Corner, but it was no use. Young men can't help underestimating the cost of discipleship, particularly when a man's apostolate is teaching, preaching, or writing. Do you remember as a young man thinking your cultural sophistication and close study of God's opponents would allow you to get rich being a truth-teller when all other men through the ages got poor and dead doing the same? Hope springs eternal from us human pests, doesn't it?

I'm guessing this was the hope Joe had when as a young man he first started writing. Maybe he could tell the truth and be published by Oxford or HarperCollins? Maybe he could write the truth and get rich doing it? Maybe he could expose Israel's abuse of these United States...

The loss of a precious child...

Fr. Bill Mouser is one of my heroes. He's an odd bird, no doubt. God has shown me that sanctification always produces greater oddities in saints. Never greater conformity. Barbara loves her husband and it would be hard to find a Priscilla/Aquila married couple today who have done better work strengthening the church against the greatest heresy of our day, the repudiation and denial of the Fatherhood of God.

Some years back, Fr. Bill and his dear Barbara suffered the loss of their little daughter, Francesca. I've heard snippets through the years about their loss. Recently I asked Fr. Bill to write a little bit more for us. Here it is from the kindness and generosity of his heart. I trust you will be strengthened reading it, as I was.

* * *

When my eight-year old daughter Francesca (hereafter "Cheska") was diagnosed with an inoperable brainstem tumor on January 9, 1996, we knew two things...

When faith-talk wounds instead of healing...

Over on his FB page, Graham Roberts posted this short piece by Dad Bayly, and I repost it here for our readers. There are a couple problems with the view that Christians should squeeze every last bit of faith for healing we can marshal from ourselves until the moment our loved one's heart actually stops beating and he is pronounced dead.

First, God often shows us that in this particular case He is not going to heal our loved one. Are we not to listen to Him and submit to His will? Is it godly to demand otherwise?

Second, if we refuse to stop "believing" or "having faith" for our loved one's healing until he's dead, how do we ever begin to do the work of preparing for death? For that matter, how does he himself do the work of preparing for death when all his loved ones surrounding him are...


Loving animals rather than our neighbor...

Here's the first sentence of the article running at the top of the Google News page just now:

The killing of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo in order to save a child who fell in its enclosure has sparked nationwide outrage.

Worship of the creation rather than the Creator is on constant display in our world. No wonder men are lying with men, rather than women, and our women are lying with one another. Refusing to give thanks to God, He has given us over to utter degradation. And sadly, most Christians will read the above sentence from CBS News and feel neither revulsion nor fear of God. Similarly, when our cats scratch visitors' legs with their claws and our dogs bite visitor's legs with their teeth, we parade our shame by cooing over them. We make it clear to all that we love our pet—not our neighbor—as we love ourselves.

It sickens me how many Christians are nicer to their animals than they are to...

Vote for Ted Cruz—he's for empowering individuals so they can kill themselves!

Senators John McCain and Ted Cruz both paid their dues to the New World Order by putting a woman on their tickets as Vice President. Then, yesterday, Senator Cruz made a stop in our own Bloomington, Indiana, for a meet-and-greet. Mormon talk show host Glen Beck accompanied him and Indiana University's student paper, the Indiana Daily Student, reported:

Beck showed up to endorse Cruz as a constitutional scholarHe said Cruz doesn’t just believe in the Constitution but fights to enforce it. ...Beck said he expected Cruz to be against suicide and the right to die but was surprised when he got a different response.

“Cruz said the exact opposite: that ‘people have a right to their body,'” Beck said.

So now we have another stellar conservative we Christians are supposed to rally round because he's a true-blue Christian who is committed to principles that are...

Are what?

Well, actually, his principles include the next frontier in our culture of death: the legalization of suicide... 

Prince Rogers Nelson: 1958-2016.

Prince ...was able to negotiate God and sex in his subject matter in a way that we had never seen before. Every song was either a prayer or foreplay.  
         - Prince's former hairdresser, Michaela Angela Davis

So far this year, our wicked world has witnessed the death of two of its androgynous gods. First it was Bowie, now Prince.

Here's Prince playing lead on the occasion of his 2004 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The song is "While My Guitar Gently Weeps":

More recently, Prince claimed conversion to the Seventh Day Adventist faith (but note correction in comment below). Other than that, he and Bowie were birds of a pair sharing a debauched affect, debauched music, debauched coupling...

The world will keen for Prince as it did for Bowie. Religious language will describe their loss. Decadent societies' artists are their gods.

A couple days after future Hall of Fame pitcher, Curt Schilling, was fired by ESPN for his FB post saying men playing dressup as women and demanding entry to the Ladies Room is "pathetic," Prince joins Bowie in the grave...

Pat Conroy, 1945 - 2016...

I thought I wrote The Great Santini because I hated my father, and I realized later that I wrote it because I needed to love him. I needed a father to love.  - Pat Conroy

Yesterday, 70-year-old South Carolina novelist, Pat Conroy, died. Conroy's most famous work was his autobiographical novel, The Great Santini, in which he sustains the spewing of venom against his monstrous father from first page to last. My response to the portrayal of the father by his son was visceral. It was like watching a Praying Mantis mate. There was absolutely no love lost and I don't think I finished the book.

If you haven't read The Great Santini, do yourself a favor. Don't. Just imagine hundreds of pages of abuse of his wife and children by the most wicked Marine Corps officer you could imagine as recorded by a son who has sworn vengeance against his father from the day of his birth. Son Conroy carries his vengeance out with a vitriol you can't imagine even Truman Capote pulling off. You have the picture...

As the years passed, Son Conroy made something of a peace with his father, God be praised. He talks about it here in a Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross...

Fr. Paul Scalia buries his Dad...

What a privilege, to have a son who is a priest deliver your eulogy. But really, this is not a eulogy. It is an homily that Father Paul Scalia refused to allow to descend to the level of eulogy. It is excellent precisely because Fr. Scalia is restrained in speaking well of his father he calls "Dad."

Rather, he voices his Dad's unease with the sort of overbearing sentimentalities that have become characteristic of funerals today. Instead of spending his time speaking well of his father, Son Scalia spends his time speaking well of the One he directs our attention to throughout his homily, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Only One we may ever speak well of without risking the descent into idolatry. So Fr. Scalia points our attention to the Man Jesus Christ Who came to save the ungodly, saying several times that his Dad was a sinner in need of salvation. Praise God for this witness!

Still, this is an homily given by a Roman Catholic priest during a Roman Catholic mass, and so heresies seep out as Fr. Scalia preaches—the heresies of Roman Catholic dogma...

Man knows not his time: Justice Antonin Scalia: 1936-2016.

Terrible news. Justice Scalia has died and President Obama will replace him. Terrible news. May God comfort Justice Scalia's loved ones; also Justice Thomas; also alll those in these United States who believe in the rule of law and thank God for Justice Scalia's work on the Court since President Reagan appointed him and he was confirmed back in 1986.

Speaking truthfully, if The Donald is elected, my hopes wouldn't be much brighter concerning Justice Scalia's replacement.


Nine brothers and sisters murdered in Charleston church...

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee. 

- John Donne

I grieve for the dead and their loved ones, but also the Church of Jesus Christ this day in the aftermath of last night's bloodshed in Charleston, South Carolina. There nine brothers and sisters in Christ who had come together for fellowship and instruction in the Word of God were murdered by a white man who identifies himself on FB in a jacket sporting the flags of Rhodesia and South Africa. The man arrested for the murders claimed to be acting in behalf of his race and nation, reportedly saying just prior to shooting, "I have to do it. You rape our women. You're taking over our country. And you have to go."

This wicked man was not acting in defense of any women, nor "our country." He was acting in submission to...


Woman knows not her time: Elisabeth Elliot, 1926 - 2015...

Just heard Elisabeth Elliot Gren died and now is with the Lord. In my life, I'd had few famous heroes, and even fewer famous heroines. Betty was one of them. From my childhood when she would visit and she and Dad would argue during the meal; through our move to Bloomington when we invited Lars and Betty, along with Betty's brother, Dave Howard, to come and speak to our church; to the first national Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Conference in Dallas back around 1999 when I invited Betty to speak to the women, to later in her life when letters (from Lar) were infrequent but treasured, Betty remained a heroine to me, as to many others.

In commemoration of her faithful service to the Lord, here is an interview of Betty I posted here back in 2009. May God comfort Betty's loved ones...

The death of Samuel Johnson, sinner...

Just finished Boswell's Life of Johnson. After recounting Johnson's death, Boswell speaks of pious Johnson's sin, and this short section from the end of the greatest biography in the English language is God's gift to those of us who tremble at our sin as we face death clinging to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It reminds me of Machen's last words: "I’m so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it."

* * *

My readers are now, at last, to behold SAMUEL JOHNSON preparing himself for that doom, from which the most exalted powers afford no exemption to man. Death had always been to him an object of terrour; so that, though by no means happy, he still clung to life with an eagerness at which many have wondered....

All the days ordained for her: Anna Elisabeth Baarendse...

This memorial is by Anna Elisabeth's father, Stephen Baarendse, who with his wife Sara allows its publication for the hope and comfort of other fathers and mothers whose little ones crossed the valley of the shadow of death at a similarly tender age. If readers wish to thank Stephen and Sara for their witness, feel free to send them an e-mail.

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Anna Elisabeth Baarendse

Stillborn June 24, 2009 after 6 months (24 weeks) in the womb

On Monday morning, June 22, we entered Lexington Medical Center for an ultrasound because Sara had not felt our baby move in four or five days. The Lord had blessed us with a memorable weekend. First, Sara and I enjoyed a fine date night on Friday, June 19. While Rebecca Becker watched our children, we dined at Ruby Tuesday and caught an early evening showing of Pixar’s new movie Up, with its wonderful theme of the adventure of married life. On Father’s Day, we witnessed Ava Joy Becker baptism and heard a message about God’s sovereign control over all of life from Psalm 33 by Pastor Dave Bindewald. The Psalm ends with these verses:

Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee (Psalm 33:18-22).

Indeed, we’ve sensed God’s steadfast love (his Hesed) upon us, from beginning to end. Sunday evening we drove downtown as a family to hear Sinclair Ferguson preach with great feeling on Romans 6:1-14: “Do I know that I have died to sin and been raised to newness of life?” After the service, by a wonderful providence, I briefly met Iain Murray, who was visiting from Scotland. All of this happened on Father’s Day, while our precious baby was already dead in the womb, but gloriously alive with her Father in heaven.

On Monday we decided to take the whole family to the ultrasound...

The death of our Lord's little lambs...

This begins a new category of posts I've planned for years, but put off. If you visit an old cemetery, you'll see dotted across the landscape tiny gravestones with little lambs carved on the top. Jesus commanded Peter, "Tend my lambs" (John 21:15), and His command includes these little ones. Isaiah prophesied about our Lord:

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.  - Isaiah 40:11

Upon the death of their little one, Christian parents across the centuries have clung to the promise that their Lord will gather His lambs.

Move closer to these gravestones to read the inscriptions and you'll find a couple things. First, the stones often mark the grave of more than one child...

Stinking bodies...

I will also lay the dead bodies of the sons of Israel in front of their idols; and I will scatter your bones around your altars. - Ezekiel 6:5

Public radio had an interview the other day with an internet prostitute. The program's host was obsequious, treating the sex worker's prognostications with great dignity. One of the worker's predictions was that the future of sex is virtual. She went on about how superior virtual relationships are to marriage or living together because, as she put it, you can't just "turn off" your live-in or husband. He's there in front of you and how do you get rid of him when you want to be alone? But with virtual relationships, it's simple as pie. No muss, no fuss; switch on, switch off.

Now comes George Barna interviewing pastors who assure him the future of spirituality is virtual...