Casting Out Devils

Speaking Conservative Truth to Evil-Doers

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

For the American South, What Price Grace?

leave a comment »

Charleston, SC, April 1865

Charleston, SC, April 1865 (public domain)

There are those today with allegiance to special interests, who out of personal malice or to gain political advantage would wish upon the American South continual, abject subservience, if not ultimate destruction.  However, the South has already paid for the assigned sins of slavery and Secession many times over:

First, by having certain border states such as Maryland trampled beneath martial law, their newspapers shut down and ransacked, editors imprisoned, legislatures disbanded, and the Writ of Habeas Corpus denied.

Second, by having its sovereign states invaded by rival states together with the national government, and progressively subjugated under martial law.

Third, by being defeated and having many of its citizens, both combatants and non-combatants, killed, wounded, imprisoned, and/or starved in a war of attrition in which the South was outnumbered and materially out-produced.

Fourth, by having many of its major cities, including Richmond, Atlanta, and Vicksburg, bombarded and/or burned by the invading armies, not sparing the civilian populace, but practicing “total war.”

Fifth, by having its economy ravaged not only by the cost of its defense but the intentional gutting of its infrastructure, including the burning of plantations, the theft of wealth, the blockading or occupation of ports, the capture of merchant vessels at sea, and the destruction of railroads.

Sixth, by protracted despoilation, after cessation of hostilities, under purported Reconstruction, by “carpetbaggers,” corrupt politicians, and other opportunists who took advantage of poverty, necessity, foreclosures on property, and insider activities under martial law, which abused the people and extended poverty to multiple generations since.

Seventh, but not necessarily last, by generational defamation of the character of Southerners in general and Confederate heroes in particular, being manifested, to this day, in personal scorn and insult, in accusations of inherent Racism, and in the destruction of Confederate monuments, commemorations, and war memorials, moreover extending in principle and practice to the destruction or removal of Ten Commandments monuments, flags including the US national flag, and public vestiges of the Judeo-Christian tradition and past history, including the suppression of Christian prayer, speech, holiday observances, and religious displays.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln framed the expectation of Southern defeat “with malice toward none, with charity for all.”  The issues of Secession and slavery were settled with finality by sheer force of arms, a victory wrenched from Southern fists and ground deep into Southern skin by Northern boot-heels.  When will Southern souls be granted the grace that Lincoln promised, welcomed home like Horace Greeley’s proverbial “wayward daughter,” seated at the family table, and be truly and forever forgiven any and all sins at long last?

© 2018 Paul A. Hughes


Written by biblequestion

April 30, 2018 at 2:26 AM

Posted in History, Politics

Tagged with , , ,

Whose ‘Monuments’ Survive?

leave a comment »

Despots throughout history have “won” history by destroying the history of others and inserting their own version (i.e., revisionism).  As noted in the movie, “Monuments Men,” based on a true story, this is exactly what Adolf Hitler intended to do with the history of the French, English, and many other peoples, meanwhile looting for himself and his “Thousand-Year Reich” the fruits of others’ accomplishments.  As the main character in the movie explains,

“They would tell us, with this many people dying, who cares about art?  But they’re wrong, because that’s exactly what we’re fighting for, for our culture and for our way of life.  You can wipe out a generation of people, you can burn their homes to the ground, but somehow they’ll still come back.  But if you destroy their achievements, and the history, then it’s like they never existed — just ash, floating.  That’s what Hitler wants, and it’s the one thing we simply can’t allow.”

There are sinister forces at work in America today seeking likewise to “win” history by quashing anybody’s history and accomplishments that do not fit their politically-correct, Totalitarian narrative, deriding and attacking not only the Confederacy and its flag, but the Founding Fathers of America, the Ten Commandments, and any other ideas that oppose them, in hopes of erasing them altogether from the public consciousness.

BUT — “this is one thing we simply can’t allow!”

Monuments Men Compared to Confederate Flag & Heroes

Monuments Men Compared to Confederate Flag & Heroes

Copyright © 2015 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

July 29, 2015 at 9:04 PM

Why the Confederacy Still Matters

leave a comment »

The Big Picture:  Federalism vs. Centralization

Texas Flags

by Paul A. Hughes

The path to the Confederacy, bred of republican Federalism, passed through Mexico to Texas, where the future of Federalism might still lie.

On September 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla stood on the steps of his church in Dolores, Mexico, and uttered the “Grito” (“cry”) of independence from colonial Spain.  Hidalgo was a Francophile, steeped in the same ideals of democratic freedom that helped inspire the American Revolution.  For too long, he had watched his native and mestizo parishioners neglected and abused by a far-off, centralized government that did not represent them or their interests.  Rather, the Spaniards and native-born criollos in central Mexico maintained the masses as a permanent under-class to serve their own interests.  A revolutionary army formed almost instantly behind Hidalgo which soon threatened Mexico City, but which was ultimately defeated by government troops in a series of setbacks and betrayals.  Hidalgo’s head and those of leaders Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama, and José Mariano Jiménez were displayed in cages hanging from the corners of a public building in Guanajuato for ten years, a reminder to passersby of the fruits of revolution.  Hidalgo’s cry is still echoed throughout Mexico each Independence Day.

El Grito de Independencia en 1810

El Grito de Independencia en 1810

Independence from Spain would not be realized until 1821.  Threatened by Napoleon, Spain had enacted a new, liberal Constitution in 1812 which granted New Spain (Mexico) seven representatives in government, plus Freedom of the Press and revocation of special privileges for Catholic clergy and the military.  However, the new Constitution was almost immediately set aside by the Spanish viceroy, Francisco Javier Venegas, on the premise that Hidalgo’s insurgency, which was being continued by José María Morelos, justified emergency measures.  Fernando VII of Spain, released from Napoleon’s custody in 1814, abolished the Spanish Constitution and enacted policies which caused such widespread reaction that he began to entertain forsaking Spain for a new empire in Mexico.  An apparent resurgence of liberalism in Spain encouraged conservative Centralists in Mexico to now consider the advantages of independence.  If they remained loyal to Fernando and the Church, they reasoned, there was no treason.  (Still Fernando never arrived.)  At this fortuitous juncture, Agustín de Iturbide, an ambitious army officer who had defeated Morelos, conspired with Vicente Guerrero, another of Hidalgo’s successors, in a coup d’état against the viceroy.  Supported by 6,000 troops under Gen. Anastasio Bustamante, Iturbide and Guerrero laid out the Iguala Plan, which led to the de facto independence of Mexico.

Unfortunately, Iturbide followed Napoleon’s example and set himself up to be Emperor; but soon he exhausted his personal capital with both government officials and the army, who were not getting paid.  Seizing this opportunity, Iturbide’s former protégé, Antonio López de Santa Anna, joined with yet another Hidalgo successor, Guadalupe Victoria, in a counter-coup, leading to Iturbide’s abdication and Santa Anna’s aggrandizement.

By 1823, sentiments of the upper classes swayed again toward republicanism.  The new government enacted the democratic Constitution of 1824, based largely on the principles of the U.S. Constitution.  It set up a federal system in which power was shared with 19 states and four territories.  The document, written by Don Miguel Ramos Arizpe, reflected his strong Federalist, self-rule sentiments and those of the northern states, including Texas.

Shortly before this time, Mexico’s northeastern frontier known as Texas remained an untamed wilderness, populated by Karankawa, Tonkawa, Attacapa, and Hasinai tribes near the coast, Caddos and Comanches inland, and Apaches in the Hill Country.  French traders, Spanish missionaries, and a few shipwrecked sailors had been the main points of contact by Europeans with these tribes (some rumored to be cannibals).  Spain had long sought to establish the region as a buffer zone between itself and French Louisiana, and later with the United States.  They had imported Canary Islanders into San Antonio, but were never truly successful at settling the region.

Spanish North America Map

Spanish North America

This void presented a window of opportunity, especially after Mexican independence.  Parts of the Alabama and Coushatta tribes from the east established themselves on the lower Trinity River, and by 1819 Virginia native Aaron Cherry had claimed land nearby for a plantation.  A contingent of Cherokee settled further north.  In 1821, Stephen F. Austin was granted an empresario contract to establish 300 farming families west of present-day Houston.  Irish immigrants, preferred by Mexico because they were also Catholic, established coastal colonies in San Patricio and the vicinity of Aransas Pass, while other colonies were placed further inland.  The Imperial colonization Act of 1823, enacted under Iturbide, granted 4,428 acres each to immigrant families with livestock, for a nominal fee.  Later, the National Colonization Act of 1827 continued these liberal policies but prohibited colonization within a buffer zone of 20 leagues (52 miles) of the U.S. border.  Soon plantations were staked out and land placed under cultivation all along the lower Trinity (known as the Atascosito administrative district, from the name of an early Spanish outpost near present-day Liberty).

American immigrants took great pains to present themselves as loyal citizens of Mexico.  They formally converted to Catholicism, as required, and kept the peace.  In 1826, citizens of Austin’s colony and settlers from Atascosito escorted Mexican political chief, Col. Mateo Ahumada, under arms, to put down the abortive Fredonian Rebellion in Nacogdoches.

However, settlers in Atascosito began to realize their need for organization in order to enforce the peace within their district.  Moreover, their land grants had yet to be confirmed by the Mexican government, as did the contracts of some empresarios down the coast.  According to law, settlers were entitled to have their land surveyed by the Mexican land commissioner, their titles confirmed, and a township established as their seat of government (ayuntamiento).  Juan Antonio Padilla, the secretary of state, was appointed general land commissioner for Texas.  He had just begun his work when he was accused of embezzlement and murder, and arrested (later exonerated), probably out of political retribution.  Padilla was replaced by José Francisco Madero (great-grandfather of future president Francisco Madero).

Military authorities, as an arm of the Centralist power structure, had become suspicious of Norteamericanos, and began to interfere with Federalist state authorities.  In 1828, Gen. Manuel de Mier y Terán was commissioned to assess the situation in Texas, and was alarmed by the vitality of the Anglo-Saxon settlers, the sajones, who had cultivated more land than Hispanic settlers, then numbering a scant three to four thousand, had in 300 years.  In 1829, then president Guerrero, himself part African, tried to discourage new settlement by outlawing slavery.  Gen. Bustamante seized the presidency in 1829 and enacted a strict new colonization law the next year, sending Gen. Terán with troops to enforce it.  Madero and his surveyor, José María Jesús Carbajal, were arrested by John Davis Bradburn.  The latter had been newly dispatched by Gen. Terán to establish a fort and garrison at Anahuac on Trinity Bay, and another at Velasco on the Brazos.  An Irishman born in Kentucky, Bradburn nevertheless served the interests of the Centralist military and president.

Map of Liberty County, 1895

Map of Liberty County, 1895

Interpreting Terán’s orders and the new law, Bradburn insisted that the citizens, and Madero, were in violation of the law, which prohibited new American settlement and gave all authority to act on land titles to himself.  Madero maintained that the new law did not apply to land or persons settled under previous laws.  An order to release the men was issued by the political chief at San Antonio, Antonio Elosúa.  Thereafter, Madero proceeded, during a brief period in 1831, to confirm up to 60 land titles and establish a town site straddling the Trinity River, near the crossroads at the old Atascosito outpost.  He named it, “Villa de la Santissima Trinidad de la Libertad.”  Madero laid out its streets and named them after heroes of democracy, including Socrates, Demosthenes, Cicero, and Cincinnatus, current Hispanic liberator Simón Bolívar, and recent revolutionary martyrs including Hidalgo, Morelos, Allende, and Jiménez.  (Now known simply as Liberty, the town later renamed many of its streets after heroes of the Texas Revolution, even including Santa Anna and his brother-in-law, Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos.  Liberty proudly remarked its streets with their original names for the Sesquicentennial of Texas Independence in 1986, which markers remain to this day.)

Liberty Street Markers, Sinsinato and Hidalgo

Liberty Street Markers, Sinsinato and Hidalgo

Gen. Terán ordered Bradburn to demolish the town, such as it was, though apparently this was never attempted.  The new law further placed high tariffs on imported goods.  A customs house was established on Galveston.  Authorities attempted to assess tariffs on ships already arrived within Brazos River ports, and captains complained bitterly about ex post facto laws.  Citizens were accused of smuggling.  Worse, citizens of various locales organized militias, prohibited under Mexican law, which were claimed by some to be meant merely to guard against Indian raids.  Bradburn arrested Patrick C. Jack and his law partner, William Barret Travis, Jack having been chosen captain of the Anahuac militia.  Militia groups from as far away as San Augustine and Austin’s colony mobilized to march upon the fort.  A group of militia from Austin’s colony, joined by several ready men from Liberty, purportedly numbering at least 130, made camp north of Anahuac, near Turtle Bayou.  Encountering cavalry dispatched by Bradburn as a show of force, they managed to capture and hold hostage all 19 troopers.  This action led to skirmishes at Anahuac and at Velasco, both Anglo victories.  At Velasco the first blood of what became the Texas Revolution was shed.

Meanwhile, a committee drafted a list of grievances, which reads like the Declaration of Independence and became known as the Turtle Bayou Resolutions.  These were further presented, in true Hispanic style, as a pronunciamento denouncing President Bustamante and declaring for the Constitution of 1824 and Santa Anna, who at that time was known as a liberator and Bustamante’s rival.  “This had the effect of taking their actions out of the realm of rebellion,” wrote one historian, “and placing themselves in the main stream of revolutionary activities going on throughout all of Mexico.”*  It was a master stroke.  An agreement was reached with Bradburn’s superior, Col. José de las Piedras, prisoners were released, and the settlers returned home in peace.  Gen. Terán, however, wrote to Lucas Alamán, “How could we expect to hold Texas when we do not even agree among ourselves?”  He concluded, “The revolution is about to break forth and Texas is lost.”  To add to his troubles, Mexican Federalists dealt a defeat to government forces in Matamoros.  Ill and despondent, on July 3, 1832, Terán donned his dress uniform, entered the church in Padilla, Tamaulipas, and fell on his sword.

Representatives from the various colonies and districts convened in October 1832, and again in January 1833, to discuss grievances and reforms.  The 1833 convention commissioned Stephen Austin to carry their proposals to the government in Mexico City.  Most objectionable to the Centralists was the proposal to separate Texas from Coahuila and form its own state government, which had heretofore been combined under the Constitution of 1824 (with Texas as a subordinate Department).  Unable to get results, Austin presently wrote a letter instructing local officials back home to go ahead and form a government.  This was intercepted, and Austin arrested.  He languished in a prison of the Inquisition for 18 months, without trial, before being released in a general amnesty, upon the ascension of Santa Anna to the presidency.  Austin’s health was never the same.

Stephen F. Austin with Dog

Stephen F. Austin with Dog

Soon Santa Anna issued his Plan of Cuernavaca, which repealed liberal reforms and enforced a Centralist government.  In April, 1835, a faction of the Coahuila government declared against the Plan.  Newly-elected governor, Agustín Viesca, called out the militia, intent on removing the capital to San Antonio.  Efforts to do so were hindered by troops under Gen. Cos, and Viesca was arrested.  Thus Federalism in Coahuila was stymied.

Events in Texas moved quickly.  In July 1834, Capt. Manuel Sabriego was dispatched from the old stone fort at Goliad to the town of Refugio, in the Aransas colony, with orders to displace settlers from the old Spanish mission and convert it to military barracks.  June 1835, Anahuac merchant Andrew Briscoe was arrested for violating tariff laws by bartering, prompting William Barret Travis to raise 25 volunteers and take the fort there, site of his previous confinement.  Its garrison was forced to agree to evacuate Texas.  Santa Anna sent Gen. Cos with several hundred troops to investigate, which landed on the coast south of Goliad in September.  Santa Anna’s brother-in-law had orders to arrest Travis and other instigators and discourage any settlers who arrived after the 1830 colonization law.  First stationing troops at San Antonio, Cos sent a detachment of cavalry to Gonzales, the most northwesterly Anglo settlement, to retrieve a small cannon previously granted to them for defense.  Indeed, the cannon was once used to frighten off a Comanche raiding party.  October 2, displaying a flag emblazoned with a cannon and the words, “Come and Take It,” the citizens of Gonzales forced the troopers to back down.  October 9, colonists from Matagorda and Victoria mobilized, along with 30 mounted rancheros, and captured the fort at Goliad by subterfuge.  November 4, colonists took Fort Lipantitlán, southwest of Goliad, inflicting 28 casualties without a loss of their own, and but one injury.  John Linn recognized a friend among the wounded, Lt. Marcelino Garcia, who denounced Santa Anna before he died.  The next morning, the same colonists encountered deposed governor Viesca, who had escaped confinement, headed to Goliad with an armed escort.

Meanwhile, Texans convened a Consultation at Columbia, many delegates still hoping to resolve differences with Mexico City.  Yet on November 7, the Consultation voted 33 to 14 to organize a government, under the stipulations of the Constitution of 1824.  At the same time, they declared Santa Anna to have already alienated any allegiance owed to him.

The Alamo in 1854

The Alamo in 1854

Several hundred Texan volunteers proceeded to San Antonio.  Their first skirmish took place at nearby Misión Concepción, in which the same Andrew Briscoe previously jailed in Anahuac, and freed by Travis, led a detachment of Liberty volunteers.  The Texans besieged Cos’s superior force for some weeks, finally fighting from house to house to capture the town, ultimately forcing the capitulation of the old mission known as San Antonio de Valero de los Alamos, the Alamo, on December 9.  From Gen. Cos was exacted the promise to march his remaining forces out of Texas, permanently.

By February 1836, Santa Anna crossed into Texas with his army.  He had come by way of Zacatecas, where he had defeated a well-armed Federalist militia of 3,000 and allowed his army to sack the town, raping and murdering, causing the deaths of 2,000 non-combatants.  A second army under Gen. José de Urrea, numbering 1,100, came by the coastal route, heading for Goliad by way of the Anglo settlements at San Patricio and Refugio.  The rest of the story is better known.  Santa Anna had learned from Bustamante the doctrine that all prisoners should be shot, and all combatants at the Alamo were slaughtered.  Santa Anna ordered Urrea to do the same with about 400 rebel prisoners at Goliad.  Afterward, Santa Anna led a “flying” force after Sam Houston’s army, to meet its fate at San Jacinto, while Urrea continued up the coast as far as Brazoria.

Goliad Fort and Chapel

Goliad Fort and Chapel

The public in the United States watched these events with increasing interest and enthusiasm.  The citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio, donated two matching cannon, dubbed thereafter the “Twin Sisters,” which were the two cannon used by Texans in their victory at San Jacinto on April 21.  One manufacturer of weapons, which produced a short model fighting sword for the U.S. military, provided a Texas version.  One of these was reported found on the San Jacinto battleground by a construction worker about 1936, and was more recently featured on the PBS program, “Antiques Roadshow.”

Historians and pundits have since speculated that some later-arriving settlers, namely Sam Houston, had come on a mission to steal Texas from Mexico and hand it over to the United States, perhaps on President Jackson’s secret orders.  Certainly there were those Anglos who longed for incorporation into their native country, if only for preservation of their accustomed rights as free citizens.  (Americans maintained a concept of basic citizenship rights, as had the American Founding Fathers, which harked back to 17th-Century England, see “Politics and Religious Liberty in 17th-Century England.”)  Certainly such desire to associate themselves with the United States seems to be reflected in the design of the flag of the Republic, adopted at the end of 1838, displaying one five-pointed star and one each of red and white stripes.  As we have seen, however, the evolution towards an independent Texas goes back to at least 1810 (some might point back further to Aaron Burr’s conspiracy), yet did not immediately presume U.S. statehood.

Texas was a republic for nearly ten years, then a U.S. state for barely 15 years when Secession took place.  Other causes of Secession are well-known and much-debated, but without doubt the independent, Federalist example of Texas was still fresh in the public consciousness.  The Southern states were not traitors against America, but states populated by Americans who wished to escape what they saw as the tyranny of an unresponsive and no longer representative, Centralist government and continue as American states under self-rule.  Unlike the North, the South did not raise an army to invade others’ territory with an eye to subjugating it.  The South raised an army in order to tell other states and the Centralist government to leave them alone.

There is to this day no stipulation in the U.S. Constitution that forbids states, once joined, to thereafter secede.  The matter was never settled by law, but by sheer force of arms and economic weight.  The Spanish forces opposing Hidalgo, and the armies that Santa Anna took to Texas, had done or attempted to do the same.  Same also were the palpable as well as existential violations of the inalienable rights of free and law-abiding citizens.

The same principle of Centralization is at work today, “in spades,” as special interests, a bureaucratic mentality, and socialistic, dictatorial politicians and legal activists attempt to force laws, speech, thought, and behaviors upon states (which the Constitution declares to be sovereign) and their citizens against their will—except today’s Liberals are the Centralists and Statists, and Conservative Southerners are those who wish to remain free to live as they choose, much as they have always lived, meaning no harm, but brooking little interference.  It remains to be seen when the “tipping point” will be reached, with what substantial reaction, and what form that reaction might take.

God bless you Texas! And keep you brave and strong,
That you may grow in power and worth, throughout the ages long.
”   Listen

Surrender of Santa Anna by William Huddle, 1886

Surrender of Santa Anna by William Huddle, 1886


*Miriam Partlow, Liberty, Liberty County, and the Atascosito District (Austin, TX: The Pemberton Press, 1974), p. 89.


Copyright © 2015 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

July 17, 2015 at 6:26 AM

5 Years an Indentured Servant

with 2 comments

I here make reference to the recent movie, 12 Years a Slave, for indeed my ancestry can be traced back to indentured servants.  My mother, lifelong family historian/genealogist (non-professional) has followed our lineage, on her father’s side, beyond Dutch Fork, South Carolina, to the Old Country.  Her father’s surname, after being Americanized, was Kinard.

Johann Keinath hailed from Winterlingen, a farming community located in west central Germany, east of Strasbourg.  Johann and his wife came to America as servants indentured to Henry Middleton in the 1740s, contracted to serve a five-year term at his plantation called Middleton Place.  As it happened, both Johann and his wife died during their indenture.  Fortunately, their sons survived, and took up residence in Dutch Fork.

Henry Middleton possibly by Benjamin West ca 1771

Henry Middleton possibly by Benjamin West ca 1771

Henry Middleton (1717 – 1784) acquired what came to be known as Middleton Place by marriage.  Henry was a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, and served briefly as president of the First.  His son, Arthur, was a revolutionary and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Arthur’s son Henry became Governor of South Carolina (1810–1812) and a U.S. Representative (1815–1819).  Middleton Place, 15 miles from Charleston, has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and is a popular tourist destination.

I do not know how the lot of an indentured servant compared with that of an African slave.  I do know that runaway indentured servants were subject to pursuit by law enforcement officers and referred to as “property.”  Apparently, it was hard on Johann und seine Frau.  Life in the early colonies was certainly no bed of roses for the common folk.

Seems to me this whole story has the makings of a TV miniseries, perhaps an American version of “Downton Abbey.”

Perhaps some day I will get the opportunity to visit the site of my forebears’ indenture, and whiff the air of freedom postponed.  Interestingly, my granddad, Tom Kinard, descendent of indentured German servants, after serving in France in World War I, was afterward assigned to the Army of Occupation and quartered with a German family near Coblenz.

©2014 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

March 11, 2014 at 5:05 AM

Fisher’s Folly

leave a comment »

HMS Invincible (1907)

HMS Invincible (1907), the first Battle Cruiser

Originally published in Divine Parodies & Holy Histories:  with Select Poems:
Illustrations of Gospel Truth (Liberty, TX: God’s Trombone, 2007).

Most people have heard the story of the German battleship Bismarck which, early in World War II, sank the British cruiser HMS Hood in the Denmark Strait.  The Hood, queen of the British fleet, was blown in half and sank quickly, with only three survivors.  News of the sinking gave birth to the rallying cry, “Sink the Bismarck,” at least one major motion picture, and a hit song by Johnny Horton.  But most people do not know the rest of the story.

Sir John Fisher is famous for building the HMS Dreadnought, the first real battleship.  The Dreadnought influenced capital ship design for decades to come.  (The last of the Dreadnought Class of battleships, the USS Texas, berthed near Houston, can still be seen today.)

USS Texas

USS Texas, Last Surviving Dreadnought-type Battleship

Fisher also envisioned an equally powerful but faster warship, the battle cruiser.  A battle cruiser would sport the large guns of a battleship but employ much less armor in order to make it faster.  According to writer Robert Kissel, it “could overtake and sink a conventional cruiser, and outrun whatever opponent it could not outrange.”

The battle cruiser met with some early success.  In 1914-15, British battle cruisers sank seven German cruisers and a destroyer.  Commanders of these vessels began to be seen as particularly dashing and admirable.  However, the weakness of the battle cruiser—light armor—was painfully revealed at the Battle of Jutland.  Three battle cruisers were easily sunk, with a combined loss of 3400 men, and only 8 survivors.  By design, the battle cruisers lacked the armor to take a hit and to protect their ammunition magazines.  Lacking sufficient watertight compartments, they sank quickly with heavy loss of life.  The battle cruiser came to be called “Fisher’s Folly.”

Unfortunately, the British Navy did not readily learn from its mistakes.  Not until 1920 was the final battle cruiser commissioned.  The largest warship of its day, it was christened HMS Hood.
In retrospect, experts conclude that the fault of the battle cruiser lay in the fact that “it looked too much like a battleship,” and tended to be used like one.

Similarly, I have seen many church programs come along that looked good, sounded good, and yielded remarkable initial results.  Going for effect, with much glitz and fanfare, these programs often garnered a lot of interest, much activity, and large numbers of participants, even ostensible converts.  More often than not, however, the programs were not well thought-out and their results neither solid nor lasting.  Typically, these programs ate up the church’s resources of time, money, and human energy with little to show for it.  Too many of the adherents gained through big programs are like those followers of Jesus who, when Jesus began to preach a hard message, ceased to follow him (John 6:66).

Having learned from observation and experience, I have come to believe that in general, programs are not the answer to evangelism or ministry.  Far better is the investment of time and energy in training true disciples and mentoring true ministers into the ministry.  Converts must be carefully nurtured, and leaders must be thoroughly trained and tested.

So be careful.  Not everything that looks like a church will stay afloat.

Source:  Robert P.  Kissel, “Trading Armor for Speed, British Battle Cruisers Were Used More as Battleships than as Cruisers, with Horrific Results,” Military History, February 2001.

© 2014 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

February 1, 2014 at 6:56 AM

Posted in Church, History

Tagged with ,

General Custer’s Religious Experience

with one comment

Generals Sheridan, Forsyth, Merritt, Devin, Custer, L-R, by Brady Studios

Generals Sheridan, Forsyth, Merritt, Devin, Custer, L-R, by Brady Studios

Originally published in Divine Parodies & Holy Histories:  with Select Poems:
Illustrations of Gospel Truth (Liberty, TX: God’s Trombone, 2007).

In the Shenandoah Valley in the Fall of 1864, the Union Army was hard-pressed by the guerilla tactics of Confederate Lt. Col. John Singleton Mosby and his Rangers.  The response from the armies of Sher­man and Sheridan was ruthless, none more so than that of Brevet Major General George Armstrong Custer and his colleague, Brigadier General Wesley Merritt.

Both commanders adopted the practice of having suspected spies and bushwhackers summarily shot or hanged, reflecting the attitude of Sheridan that local residents “have furnished too many meals to guerrillas to expect much sympathy.”  On one occasion, an unseen sniper killed a Federal trooper in the vicinity of two farmhouses.  Custer had the owners of both houses arrested and shot.  Federal reprisals were not mitigated until, after the execution of seven Confederates, Mosby had seven Union prisoners hanged.  A note was left that read, “These men have been hung in retaliation for an equal number of Colonel Mosby’s men hung by order of General Custer.”

See also:  “John S. Mosby, George A. Custer and the Front Royal Executions of 1864.”

Mosby's Rangers

Mosby’s Rangers

That winter, as heavy weather imposed a dormancy on both camps, Custer took a trip to visit family in Monroe, Michigan.  As historian Roy Morris, Jr., writes,

. . . Custer took advantage of his furlough to put himself right with God.  At a Sunday evening service at the Monroe Presbyterian Church, he experienced a religious conversion, one that left him feeling, Custer said, “somewhat like the pilot of a vessel who has been steering his ship upon familiar and safe waters but has been called upon to make a voyage fraught with danger.  Having in safety and with success completed one voyage, he is imbued with confidence and renewed courage, and the second voyage is robbed of half its terror.  So it is with me.”

Perhaps it is characteristic of Custer that his religious sensibilities would, apparently, focus more on himself than on the Lord.  But then, that is probably true of most of us, most of the time.  If Custer’s conversion was genuine and lasting, how did it affect his subsequent decisions leading to his demise at the Little Big Horn?

Source:  Roy Morris, Jr., “Last Stand in the Shenandoah,” America’s Civil War, March 2001.

© 2014 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

February 1, 2014 at 6:34 AM

Posted in History, Spirituality

Tagged with , ,

Jerome’s Bad Dream

with 2 comments

Saint Jerome in Penitence by Hieronymous Bosch

Saint Jerome in Penitence by Hieronymous Bosch

“Ciceronianus es non Christianus”

In A.D. 375, around the middle of the Lenten season, Jerome had a dream.

The translator of Scripture into Latin had been baptized a Christian at age 19, but like many of his era, Jerome still loved to read “the judicious precepts of Quintilian, the rich and fluent eloquence of Cicero, the graver style of Fronto, and the smoothness of Pliny.”

After suffering a fever, Jerome experienced a realistic dream in which he was brought before a heavenly tribunal.  A voice demanded him to identify himself.  “I am a Christian,” Jerome replied.

“You lie,” insisted the voice.  “Ciceronianus es non Christianus (you are a Ciceronian, not a Christian), for ‘where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'”

Jerome, imagining himself scourged, vowed never again to read “worldly” books (a vow he kept for ten years before relenting).

Later, relating this experience in a letter to Eustochium, he advised, “So long as we are held down by this frail body, so long as we have our treasure in earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7); so long as the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh (Galatians 5:17), there can be no sure victory.  ‘Our adversary the devil goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Peter 5:8).”

“What communion has light with darkness?” he continued.  “‘And what concord has Christ with Belial?’ (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).  How can Horace go with the psalter, Virgil with the gospels, Cicero with the apostle?  Is not a brother made to stumble if he sees you sitting at meat in an idol’s temple? (1 Corinthians 8:10).  Although ‘unto the pure all things are pure’ (Titus 1:15), and ‘nothing is to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving’ (1 Timothy 4:4), still we ought not to drink the cup of Christ, and, at the same time, the cup of devils (1 Corinthians 10:21).”

A millennium and a half later, F. F. Bosworth, a well-respected Pentecostal preacher with an outstanding healing ministry, tendered a letter of resignation to the Assemblies of God.  “It is with regret,” he wrote, “that I return my credentials, but I believe that is the consistent thing to do, since I do not believe, nor can I ever teach, that all will speak in tongues when baptized in the Spirit.”  Bosworth had succumbed to doubting Scripture and his own Pentecostal experience on the basis that Charles Finney and other historic preachers he admired had not spoken in tongues.

Afterward, T. K. Leonard remarked, “I would spend more time in getting an experience that fits the Bible than I would in endeavoring to get the Bible to fit an experience” (in Carl Brumback, Like a River: the Early Years of the Assemblies of God [Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1977], pp. 66, 72).

It is perfectly true that with maturity and wisdom, a Christian may often handle ideas and activities that are external to Christianity, and even contrary to it, responsibly, incurring neither harm nor offense.  Yet Jerome is correct in regard to the risk, and inconsistency, of significant involvement in the contrary thought system of the world, and indeed any and all higher loyalties, or preconceived notions, apart from the clear teaching of Scripture and of the Holy Spirit.

Be careful what you read, what you spend your time on, what you put into your mind, and which personages you admire.  Even great Christians of the past had imperfections, and imperfect theology.  As Isaiah prophesied of Messiah, “Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good,” since a “child” must learn “to refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15 f.).

Copyright © 2013 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

December 9, 2013 at 11:46 PM