Sunday, March 27, 2011

Two Great Lenten Posts

Lent is a season for reflection -- and repentance. Two excellent recent posts in the blogosphere bring out this character of Lent especially, and I commend them to your attention.

Over at his blog Culture Watch, Bill Muhlenberg has written Why the Book of Revelation Would Be Banned Today, and he is right. A sample to whet the appetite:
Here we have a book which is guilty of every thought crime imaginable today: it is sexist, chauvinistic, militaristic, judgemental, intolerant, bigoted, and exclusivist. It is totally politically incorrect, and in today’s wimpy spiritual climate, it is theologically incorrect as well.

Consider the many ways in which it offends our modern sensibilities. It is clearly a male-dominated book, with patriarchal and chauvinistic themes and images running throughout. . .
. . .
And consider all the times repentance is mentioned in this book. If we just look at the seven churches we find Jesus calling them to repent time and time again. And what about verses like Rev. 9:20-21? “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

But I thought Jesus wasn’t into repentance. All my Christianity-lite and emergent church buddies insist that Jesus hardly ever spoke about repentance. Jesus does not make any heavy demands – he welcomes us all with wide-open arms.

And they also told me that we can forget everything else and just concentrate on the love of God. This is the supreme attribute, as I have been told so often. All other attributes are really just secondary to his love. . .

The love of God is hardly mentioned in the book. . . .

As Fr Kendall Harmon would say, read the whole thing. And then complete your Lenten studies by using the remaining weeks to re-read the Book of Revelation.

My second highly recommended Lenten post recounts a true story about the late Pope John Paul II, of blessed (soon to be sainted) memory. It comes from a Catholic blog, Laudem Gloriae, whose author (unlike yours truly -- that's why I admire her blog so much) is always pithy and to the point. (I owe my introduction to her to another of my favorite bloggers, Mrs. P.)

Here is the beginning of this marvelous Lenten story -- you will have to visit Christine's blog ("The Beggar and the Pope") to finish it:

A priest from the Archdiocese of New York was visiting Rome. As he was walking into a church to pray, he noticed a beggar sitting at the front door—not an unusual sight in Rome. But something about this particular beggar bothered him. He didn’t figure it out until he began to pray: he suddenly realized that he knew the man from his days in the seminary.

He immediately went back outside and said to him, "Excuse me, do I know you?" Sure enough, the beggar had been in the seminary with him many years earlier. He had been ordained a priest, but had [in his words] "crashed and burned" in his vocation.

The priest from New York was understandably shaken up when he left the beggar a few minutes later.

That afternoon he was at the Vatican, and had the opportunity to meet the pope and speak with him. He said to him, "Please, Holy Father, pray for this particular man. I went to seminary with him, and he’s now a beggar on the streets of Rome. Please pray for him, because he’s lost."

The Holy Father instructed the priest to go back to the beggar. . . .

Read the rest of the story here, and enjoy a reflective Lent, full of repentance and spiritual improvement.


  1. Ah, another wonderful post. Thanks so much for the blog recommendations. NOW I MUST go to that blog and read the "rest of the story" as Paul Harvey would have said. I have a recommendation for you and your blog readers. During Lent, I have been reading an excellent book: Holy Island, A lenten pilgrimage to Lindisfarne. Author: James W. Kennedy. Excellent book to redirect and renew your prayer life.

    SC Blu Cat Lady

  2. Last year in Lent we had a public reading of the Revelation. It took about an hour and twenty minutes to read. When it was finished the sixty or so of us who were there stumbled out, some of us retiring to the Rector's home for sherry. (How Anglican). But what was interesting was that we mostly remember the whole text (the whole thing) as hopeful.

    Reading the whole thing at a single go opens up all sorts of new insights.