There is a habit that plagues many so-called spiritual minds: they imagine that matter and spirit are somehow at odds with each other and that the right course for human life is to escape from the world of matter into some finer and purer (and undoubtedly duller) realm. To me, that is a crashing mistake – and it is, above all, a theological mistake. Because, in fact, it was God who invented dirt, onions and turnip greens; God who invented human beings, with their strange compulsion to cook their food; God who, at the end of each day of creation, pronounced a resounding “Good!” over his own concoctions. And it is God’s unrelenting love of all the stuff of this world that keeps it in being at every moment. So, if we are fascinated, even intoxicated, by matter, it is no surprise: we are made in the image of the Ultimate Materialist.
– Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb
Undoubtedly, one of the most important figures in Christian history has been Constantine the Great (c. 272-337 AD), the first Christian emperor of the Roman Empire reigning from 306-337 AD. He was influential in bringing about the Edict of Milan in 313 AD which ended the worst period of Christian persecution under the Emperor Diocletian and ushered Christianity into a new epoch of tolerance. He also called for and chaired the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD which was the first step in formalizing Trinitarian doctrine. As you can see he had a huge impact on Christianity but he was, and will always be, a controversial figure. Love him or hate him as the founder of Christendom, his political legacy in the West lasted for over a 1000 years and he has left an indelible mark on Christianity.
My country Ghana has unquestionably been influenced by Christendom being a former colony of the British Empire with long history of European missionaries coming to the former Gold Coast. Like the Christendom of old there is a pervasive cultural Christianity in the country. Continue reading “Nana Constantine”
I was meant to originally post this on World Book Day, which was over a week ago. Now the event got me thinking about the influence of Christianity on books. You really cannot expect the world to acknowledge the positive impact of Christianity on books but it was quite surprising that many learned Christians did not make the connection. Yes, they tweeted about it and enjoyed the day like most of us book nerds do yet they seemed to have no idea how important Christianity has been for books. Since I was a child I really enjoyed the event because it was an opportunity to get new books but even growing up in a Christian environment I, like many Christian bibliophiles, simply did not know. However, there is profound connection between books and Christianity. Continue reading “People of the Book”
Today I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts and I was reminded of the old prophetic voice of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and how right he was about Western culture all those decades ago. One of his most famous lines is that the dividing line between good and evil does run between peoples and countries but within every person’s heart. Here was a man who spent time as a captive in the frozen hell of the old soviet gulag but refused to identify the other as the problem. I do not know very well his religious beliefs but his recognition of the human problem, not the problem with some humans, is thoroughly Christian. Solzhenitsyn understood sin was the problem. Continue reading “An Old Russian Dissident and the Black Ghana Man”
The following is one of my favourite quotes from English journalist, author and Christian apologist, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, in his apologetic classic Orthodoxy:
“But the new rebel is a sceptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. . . . As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. . . . The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite sceptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”