A Pinch of Incense

 

When the Roman Empire persecuted Christians, they provided an easy out. All the believer had to do was offer some incense to the gods and they would be set free.

One of their victims was Polycarp, the elderly bishop of Smyrna, a city known today as Izmir in Turkey. Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle and later discipled Irenaeus of Lyons, another early saint.

In 155 AD, he was swept up in a fierce persecution, yet offered no resistance. When soldiers burst into his home, the bishop welcomed them cheerfully, ordering that a meal be prepared for them. He asked leave to pray, and the now sheepish Roman guards allowed it before reluctantly taking him to the Proconsul.

The magistrate couldn’t understand why this frail, kindly old man wouldn’t simply add some incense to a brazier placed before a statue of Caesar. Just drop in “a pinch of incense,” he pleaded, but Polycarp wouldn’t budge from his love for Christ.

“For 86 years, I have been his servant, and he has wronged me in nothing,” he said, “how can I blaspheme my King and Savior?”

When warned he would be burned at the stake, Polycarp replied, “You threaten me with a fire that burns for a short time and then goes out, while you know nothing of the fire of the judgment to come and of the everlasting torment awaiting the wicked. Why wait any longer? Do what you will!”

After being tortured and placed on the pyre, Polycarp thanked God and the executioners lit the fire. Eyewitnesses wrote that the fire “sprang up around him like a curtain, and that he stood in its midst glowing like gold and sending forth a delightful scent of incense. Seeing that the fire was not harming him, the executioners stabbed him with a sword. His blood flowed so copiously that it put out the fire, and he gave back his soul to God.”

All that, when he could have just offered a pinch of incense to the powers that be. A tiny act of obedience to the rich and powerful. A slight compromise honoring the pieties of the day, and all would be forgiven.

Just put on the pride jersey. It’s only for warm-ups. It won’t even be televised — who would notice?

This was the choice offered to Ivan Provorov, star defenseman of the Philadelphia Flyers. Tuesday was the team’s LGBTQ+ Pride Night, and the players were told to wear the rainbow outfits for the pre-game skate.

Provorov declined.

After the game, he explained to reporters, “I respect everyone. I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.” The Russian-born hockey player is an Orthodox Christian.

The sports media savagely attacked him.

E.J. Hradek of the NHL Network told Provorov to go back to Russia.

“If this is that much of a problem for him to maybe assimilate into his group of teammates and in the community and here in this country; that’s okay,” the reporter said. “Listen, you can feel any way you want, but the beauty is, if it bothers you that much, there’s always a chance to leave.”

“Go back where you feel more comfortable,” Hradek added. “I understand there’s a conflict going on over there; maybe get involved.”

It’s just a pinch of incense.

Thankfully, Provorov isn’t headed to the stake — at least not yet. His coach even stood behind him.

“With Provy, he’s being true to himself and to his religion,” Flyers coach John Tortorella said. “This has to do with his belief and his religion. It’s one thing I respect about Provy: He’s always true to himself. That’s where we’re at with that.”

Provorov wouldn’t offer the pinch of incense. As his fellow countryman once put it, he decided to “live not by lies.”

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  1. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    It’s not clear why the NHL wants to give Russia a huge propaganda weapon in its war against Ukraine. Priorities, I suppose. 

    • #1
  2. GlenEisenhardt Coolidge
    GlenEisenhardt
    @GlenEisenhardt

    The right needs to learn to wield this level of intolerance instead of being for nothing. People who hate traditional values need to feel this level of heat and vituperation. 

    • #2
  3. RandyMc Coolidge
    RandyMc
    @RandyMcKnight

    GlenEisenhardt (View Comment):

    The right needs to learn to wield this level of intolerance instead of being for nothing. People who hate traditional values need to feel this level of heat and vituperation.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think you understood the full story of Polycarp, nor of his Savior that he served.

    Please reconsider your position. Even if you are not a believer, “heat and vituperation” is a losing proposition for your desired outcome.

    Post up on your blocks and defend your position, do not be moved, but zealously espouse your traditional values to all that will hear. But, if intolerance is your driver, you and yours will fail.

     

    • #3
  4. GlenEisenhardt Coolidge
    GlenEisenhardt
    @GlenEisenhardt

    RandyMc (View Comment):

    GlenEisenhardt (View Comment):

    The right needs to learn to wield this level of intolerance instead of being for nothing. People who hate traditional values need to feel this level of heat and vituperation.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think you understood the full story of Polycarp, nor of his Savior that he served.

    Please reconsider your position. Even if you are not a believer, “heat and vituperation” is a losing proposition for your desired outcome.

    Post up on your blocks and defend your position, do not be moved, but zealously espouse your traditional values to all that will hear. But, if intolerance is your driver, you and yours will fail.

     

    I don’t think it is at all. America used to be very intolerant of all kinds of behaviors and positions. It wasn’t until America became unsure of itself and started down the path of tolerance that a new way of life sprung root inside its borders. That new way of life is indoctrinating kids and demanding penalties for anyone who won’t comply. Your kids will be indoctrinated one way or the other. They either will be indoctrinated with your values or the left’s. 

    • #4
  5. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    As with Tim Tebow, notice how corporate sports media covered him vs Kaepernick.  Sports media is very woke. I tend to watch with the sound down most of the time.

    • #5
  6. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    The pro leagues frequently have dog-and-pony efforts that the players have to conform to, or participate in.  Like Single Mom nights, that kind of thing.

    If the NHL had Nazi Night, would all the players be forced to wear swastikas?

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Provorov reminds us of how often we compromise our own values just to get along. Too often, I think.

    • #7
  8. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Thank you for standing for truth Mr. Provorov.

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen says it well:

    “America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance-it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”

    “Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory.

    Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”

    I never realized that there are so many whiny, effeminate, hockey pundits – this guy seems to want to be at the top of the heap:

    • #8
  9. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Such an excellent example of how to live in this time, both Polycarp AND Provorov.

    • #9
  10. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    It’s amazing how much freedom we have lost in such a short time.

    • #10
  11. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Skyler (View Comment):

    It’s amazing how much freedom we have lost in such a short time.

    Also amazing how many, if pointed to this as an example of that loss, would say this is not that.

    • #11
  12. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    Thank you for standing for truth Mr. Provorov.

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen says it well:

    “America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance-it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”

    “Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory.

    Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”

    I never realized that there are so many whiny, effeminate, hockey pundits – this guy seems to want to be at the top of the heap:

    Thug.

    • #12
  13. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    It’s not a coincidence that their outrage is in support of perversion.  The more absurd, perverted, or wrong issue they force us to support, the more power they have.

    • #13
  14. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    E.J. Hradek of the NHL Network told Provorov to go back to Russia.

    “If this is that much of a problem for him to maybe assimilate into his group of teammates and in the community and here in this country; that’s okay,” the reporter said. “Listen, you can feel any way you want, but the beauty is, if it bothers you that much, there’s always a chance to leave.”

    “Go back where you feel more comfortable,” Hradek added. “I understand there’s a conflict going on over there; maybe get involved.”

    Pretty sure the guy from Russia knows the dangers of restricted and compelled speech better than this idiot who has spent his life in a country where he is free to blather on about thing he knows nothing of.

    • #14
  15. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Who do you think has a better understanding of the dangers of compelled speech? The man who was born in the former Soviet Union or the “journalists” wishing to recreate it under Justin Trudeau? 

    • #15
  16. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Provorov reminds us of how often we compromise our own values just to get along. Too often, I think.

    So true. I just hope we haven’t decided too late to stand up. If we’d been doing this all along, would it be this bad? This post sort of dovetails with Dr. Bastiat’s post, I think. As you say, we have just given the “correct” answer to get along instead of standing up for our beliefs. I find it interesting that a Russian player is the one getting the attention. This is also the reason I gave up season tickets and quit the sport, myself. 

    • #16
  17. Rightfromthestart Coolidge
    Rightfromthestart
    @Rightfromthestart

    Provorov is not the one demanding that someone else do something. He is not demanding anyone be punished. The left fascists are demanding all that of him. The ‘tolerant’ people are apparently intolerant of any disagreement and cannot see the irony. 

    • #17
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Tolerance is apparently a one-way street.

    • #18
  19. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Percival (View Comment):

    Tolerance is apparently a one-way street.

    Always has been, at least in their eyes.

    • #19
  20. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    If LBGTQ hockey fans simultaneously got up and left the arena at each game, would anybody notice anything?  Did the NHL ever support a movement to outlaw or criminalize atypical sexual identity/practices such that they must atone?  Is there any pattern of violence directed at LGBTQ people at hockey games? (For now, I am leaving out the Philadelphia Flyers fan base at the old Spectrum or Wells Fargo Center since baseline levels of indiscriminate pointless violence might make it tough to detect any patterns of any kind.)

    Before and after the civil rights struggles in the last century, were players required to do constant public ideological affirmations?  

    The notion that you are not free to be you unless I publicly affirm your choices (at the expense of my own beliefs, values, and independence) is like a weird marriage of Maoism and narcissism.

    • #20
  21. Blue Yeti Admin
    Blue Yeti
    @BlueYeti

     

    • #21
  22. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    For the civil warmongers among us, note all the people who will continue to partake of pro sports despite stuff like this. These are not people who will have your back in any Civil War. 

    • #22
  23. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    For the civil warmongers among us, note all the people who will continue to partake of pro sports despite stuff like this. These are not people who will have your back in any Civil War.

    This is my husband’s beef. 

    • #23
  24. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    For the civil warmongers among us, note all the people who will continue to partake of pro sports despite stuff like this. These are not people who will have your back in any Civil War.

    My family has been pushed into the hockey corner because of stuff like this and now it’s in hockey, too. The left destroys everything. But we are letting them.

    • #24
  25. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    RandyMc (View Comment):

    GlenEisenhardt (View Comment):

    The right needs to learn to wield this level of intolerance instead of being for nothing. People who hate traditional values need to feel this level of heat and vituperation.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think you understood the full story of Polycarp, nor of his Savior that he served.

    Please reconsider your position. Even if you are not a believer, “heat and vituperation” is a losing proposition for your desired outcome.

    Post up on your blocks and defend your position, do not be moved, but zealously espouse your traditional values to all that will hear. But, if intolerance is your driver, you and yours will fail.

     

    Sometimes giving people a dose of their own medicine works. It just hasn’t been tried in a long time. 

    • #25
  26. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    RandyMc (View Comment):

    GlenEisenhardt (View Comment):

    The right needs to learn to wield this level of intolerance instead of being for nothing. People who hate traditional values need to feel this level of heat and vituperation.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think you understood the full story of Polycarp, nor of his Savior that he served.

    Please reconsider your position. Even if you are not a believer, “heat and vituperation” is a losing proposition for your desired outcome.

    Post up on your blocks and defend your position, do not be moved, but zealously espouse your traditional values to all that will hear. But, if intolerance is your driver, you and yours will fail.

     

    I don’t understand this, Randy.  Didn’t Polycarp tell the Romans that they would burn in hell forever?

    • #26
  27. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Why does Provarov say that he respects immoral perverts?

    That doesn’t seem at all like Polycarp.

    • #27
  28. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Stina (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    For the civil warmongers among us, note all the people who will continue to partake of pro sports despite stuff like this. These are not people who will have your back in any Civil War.

    My family has been pushed into the hockey corner because of stuff like this and now it’s in hockey, too. The left destroys everything. But we are letting them.

    Who is letting them?

    It seems to me that it’s the combination of the obvious Leftists and the libertarians.

    • #28
  29. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    This is perfect.

    • #29
  30. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    For the civil warmongers among us, note all the people who will continue to partake of pro sports despite stuff like this. These are not people who will have your back in any Civil War.

    My family has been pushed into the hockey corner because of stuff like this and now it’s in hockey, too. The left destroys everything. But we are letting them.

    Who is letting them?

    It seems to me that it’s the combination of the obvious Leftists and the libertarians.

    Keeping your head down, not making a big deal, preserving your position in society – all these are “letting” them.

    • #30
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