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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
        Monday, April 19 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Modern-day martyrdom

Friday's Jonal, headed "Martyrdom," was inspired by a headline, Bishops ask Polish Catholics to 'vote Christian' in European Union elections. I have been, throughout my writing career, advocating "voting Christian" and voting conscience. The only kind of Sunday school discussions that ever got my juices going were the ones that talked about walking your talk. And that doesn't mean the "social gospel" or "liberation theology"; it means knowing the mind of God by immersing yourself in His revealed word and carefully weighing what it means to walk the talk in every aspect of life, including voting as a participant at the polls or on any board, council, legislative body, or anywhere else you may find yourself. Vote the "moral" position even if it isn't the party line or the one recent Gallup Polls indicate will get you re-elected.

If you are His—I mean a Christian—that isn't optional, in my humble opinion. So for the bishops of Poland to make such a public call is a bit off-putting, except when you consider that a far higher percentage of the people in Vintondale, not to mention Poland, claim to be Christian than act on Christian principle when they consider whether a candidate supports abortion or other sexual liberation issues or anything else that doesn't make themselves feel more comfortable and make immoral practices more acceptable to the public. So I meant to say in Friday's piece that to vote your conscience, rather than catering to the popular whim, is a form of martyrdom. It's crucifying your own "flesh" to nourish your own spirit and nourish the community of fellow cross-bearers.

To change focus but still stay in the realm of martyrdom, yesterday I received an email from a Bishop in New York about a recent example of the other kind of martyr, Alexander Men, a witness to the Word who was literally taken down by an assassin in the prime of his life. Writing about the subject of a symposium planned this summer in New York, Bishop Seraphim Sigrist writes:

Father Alexander Men, the great and visionary Russian Christian leader who was assasinated 14 years ago, at the turning of an epoch, will be remembered and his ongoing heritage considered and shared, at a conference at the New York City campus of Nyack College....

Father Men can be called the architect of Christian religious renewal in Russia, a renewal which has implications for all Christians now at the beginning of the 21st century. A major anthology of his translated work is titled, Christianity for the Twenty- first Century. He was a prolific author of books ranging through all areas of religious thought and capped by a multi-volume study of world religions. His landmark three-volume Biblical dictionary, newly published in Moscow, occasions the Biblical theme of the conference.

He was also a pastor who baptized thousands, and was confidant and advisor to people ranging from Alexander Solzhenitsyn to the simplest of believers. He was an apostle to the intelligentsia whose words could touch the hearts of those who never read books. He was a man rooted in Russian 0rthodoxy whose vision was absolutely and unconditionally ecumenical, embracing all Christians as brothers and sisters, and all of humanity for Christ.

The renewal of Christianity in Russia today, the virtual rebaptism of the nation...and all the changes in Russia, cannot be understood without understanding the life and work of Fr. Alexander Men. His murder in 1990, still unsolved, seems to mark an epoch—to be in essence the last martyrdom of the Soviet period as the door opened for the future. But Father Men's work lives today through an ever-broadening circle of spiritual children and people drawn to his legacy and that not only in Russia and not only among Eastern. 0rthodox Christians. This widening recognition of Father Men's permanence and significance is the context for the conference and its invitation by Nyack College, an Evangelical Protestant institution, [which] itself attests to this universal significance.

For more on Fr. Men and an American counterpart, click here for an article I wrote on them for a national magazine several years ago.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Country wisdom

Every path has some puddles.

—Sent by Mary Ann Losiewicz 

Thought for today

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

— Ronald Reagan (1986)
Sent by Trudy Myers 

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