Toleration’s Church


The cultural doctrine of “tolerance” first demands “understanding,” then “acceptance,” then “allegiance,” then “obeisance,” then “conformity,” and ultimately “evangelism.” The ordered steps down the cathedral aisle do not matter as much as the baptismal outcome.

Hollywood’s hymnal sings both obvious and subtle references to accepted and rejected points of view. Glitterati must genuflect before the altar of agreed speech codes. News outlets cry from the pulpit concern for or consternation against the latest outrage. The plight of those suffering worldwide is reported only if their death reinforces the common book of party prayer.

Catechismal teaching reinforces the moment-by-moment commitment to ecclesiastical membership. Excommunication is swift for any who would sin against pontifical authority. Examples are made of anyone daring to transgress the received Ten Commandments: economic ruin follows reputational execution. Heaven beckons the culturally righteous, saints donning the white robes of social purity. Hell awaits anyone who has rejected salvation offered by the cultural gods of the day.

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Christian dogma offers few specifcs about the nature of Heaven. As said in Isaiah and echoed in Paul’s letter to Corinth, eye has not seen and ear has not heard the wonders of paradise. What is certain is that Heaven is the perfected union of God and humanity. Faith is made unnecessary by union of direct […]

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This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Kristina Arriaga, president of Intrinsic, a strategic communications firm, and former vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Kristina shares her family’s experiences fleeing Castro’s communist regime in Cuba and other hardships, and how her background has shaped her commitment to religious liberty. They discuss the current political situation in Cuba, and the lessons American citizens, teachers, and students should learn about communism’s impact on human rights. She shares her work to advance religious freedom as former executive director of The Becket Fund, where she honored courageous Cuban political prisoner Armando Valladares and so many other human rights activists, and through her service on several noted international commissions. Finally, they discuss parallels Kristina highlighted in an October 2020 USA Today op-ed, between cancel culture in America and some of the features of communist Cuba, such as speech codes, political correctness, and social shaming. They delve into why cancel culture is so dangerous to the free exchange of ideas and a healthy civic life, and how parents, teachers, and professors can combat it.

Stories of the Week: The Biden administration is extending the moratorium on federal student loan payments and interest – originally scheduled to expire next month – through early 2022. But exactly who is eligible? The New York Times reports that 340,000 of the one million children who did not report for school during the pandemic were in kindergarten, with the sharpest declines in low-income neighborhoods.

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My mom was a nurse for sixty (60) years. During our weekly talks she asks me about my physical health: exercise, diet, doctor visits, and these days, vaccination. Her concern for my safety is also triggered by my writing. If I put something out on social media that causes a cultural “stir” mom will inquire […]

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This week on JobMakers, Host Denzil Mohammed talks with Sonny Vu, serial entrepreneur and investor, about his work across continents to develop new technologies, processes and products that have, what he calls, “positive, planet-level impact.” This is impact that makes lives and environments safer and better, which Sonny views as the core of his faith. Embracing diversity, change and the unknowns of new knowledge was what Sonny’s parents instilled in him from the beginning. Their journey as refugees to the U.S., leaving under cover of darkness, sailing below deck to a camp in Malaysia, finally to be resettled in Oklahoma City, meant they were survivors, and they embraced the transformational change of life in the U.S., as hard as it was at first. People who have been through unimaginable tragedy and hardship often know how to be creative and inventive to survive, even among totally foreign lands, cultures, and languages. Transformational change is what Sonny is all about today, as you’ll discover in this week’s JobMakers.


This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice (IJ). They discuss IJ’s 2020 landmark U.S. Supreme Court win in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, and its implications for state Blaine Amendments, bigoted legal barriers that have blocked religious liberty and school choice for over a century. They delve into the current legal and political status of school choice in America, at a time of unprecedented support for education savings account, education tax credit, and voucher programs. As lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the Maine school tuitioning case, Carson v. Makin, recently granted certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court, he explains the central issues, and what another major victory could mean for religious school parents. They then turn to higher education, and Michael offers thoughts on why access to religiously-affiliated primary and secondary schooling is still viewed so differently than students attending religiously-affiliated colleges and universities through state and federal grant and loan programs.

Stories of the Week: EdWeek reports that school board meetings across the country have become increasingly rancorous as a result of growing partisanship, the lack of local news coverage, and social media – to the detriment of students’ academic success. The U.S. Department of Education announced the expansion of the Second Chance Pell program, allowing up to 200 colleges to provide prison education programs for those who have previously been unable to access federal need-based financial aid.

When We Don’t Protest, What Are We Teaching our Children?


When children are treated badly, discriminated against, or attacked by the culture, I am protective and outspoken. And when the perpetrators are part of the school system, their actions are even more egregious. These offenders were prepared in this story to conjure up rules, violate the first and second amendments, and harm children in the process. And they needed to be called out for their actions.

Perhaps you haven’t heard the story about Lydia Booth and her mother, Jennifer, who are devout Christians and were targeted for how they were practicing their beliefs. (The story can also be heard in an interview here.)

This situation took place during a time when students were required to wear masks in school during the pandemic. Lydia Booth, nine years old, was quite willing to comply, and told her mother she’d like to wear a special mask. In talking it over together, Jennifer suggested a mask that read, ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ Lydia was delighted at the idea and a family friend made the mask for her.

Ayaan speaks with Yasmine Mohammed about her marriage and escape from a man in Al-Qaeda.

Yasmine Mohammed is a Canadian human rights activist who fights for the rights of women living within Muslim-majority countries, as well as those who struggle under religious fundamentalism, in general.

Simulation, Revelation


The surest way to appreciate a work is to try to recreate it.

Toddlers help us to appreciate the difficulty of drawing or painting by their laughable scribbling. One might first pity the child’s lack of eye-hand coordination, lack of patience, or lack of barest attention to detail (“Is it an airplane? Oh, a cat! Of course, it is. It looks great!”). But few adults can sketch anything worthy of pride either. The more we advance in skill, the more we recognize the full challenge. 

48 Canadian Churches Vandalized or Burned Down in Past 2 Months


Though barely mentioned in US media, 48 Christian churches in Canada have been vandalized or burned down in the past two months. The latest occurred Monday, when the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Surrey, British Colombia, was destroyed by fire.

Since mid-June, five B.C. churches were set alight, apparently connected to unmarked graves discovered at former residential school sites. The schools were instituted in 1874 as an effort to assimilate native tribes in language, religion, and culture. First Nations children were removed from their families and often moved great distances into the boarding schools. The program officially ended in 1969.

No evidence has shown if the deaths came from natural causes or intentional abuse but most of the Canadian press has presumed the latter. Since the Catholic Church ran 70 percent of these schools, it has borne most of the current backlash. But it didn’t take long for arsonists and vandals to attack churches far from First Nations reserves and unrelated to Catholicism.

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Boston Globe opinion writer Jeff Jacoby about the troubling increase in antisemitic incidents, including the recent attack on a Boston rabbi, and how our current political rancor fans the flames of bigotry nationwide.
Related: The Boston Globe: How to speak out against antisemitism


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I’ve found the Internet Sacred Text Archive to be a great place to stumble into some free texts that I had no idea existed, as well as established texts all available in a single place. Of particular interest to many Ricochetti is the Christianity page, which includes not only the KJV of the Bible, but […]

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For as long as I can remember, every 9th of Av I hear somebody talk about all of the horrible atrocities that have happened to the Jewish people on this day, and not without cause. From our very beginning, Tisha Ba’av was not a day remembered with fond memories. The destruction of the two temples, […]

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Pope Francis Drops a Bomb on the Church


Friday, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio” entitled, Traditionis Custodes.(TC)

This letter severely restricts the use of the traditional Latin Mass (TLM), effectively throwing Benedict XVI and his issuance of Summorum Pontificum (SP), under the bus. Pope Benedict XVI issued SP in order to help those faithful who “continued to be attached with such love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms which had deeply shaped their culture and spirit.” Apparently, Pope Francis doesn’t think that’s necessary anymore.

Call Me Not Great When I Go


Call me not great when I go, friend.
Call me not great at all.
I was a man imperfect, friend;
I heard the devil’s call.

At times I’d deny his allure.
At times I paid his due.
My sins remember me for sure,
And ev’ry one I rue.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Morgan Hunter, Research Fellow at the Independent Institute in California, and co-author with Dr. Victor Davis Hanson and Dr. Williamson Evers, of the white paper, Is It Time for a “490 B.C. Project”?: High Schoolers Need to Know Our Classical Heritage. Dr. Hunter shares the main arguments from her report, on why studying antiquity is vital to the education of young people in the early 21st century. She explores how Greco-Roman history and culture have influenced great statesmen, artists, and writers through the ages, from Shakespeare to the American Founders and Winston Churchill. They then discuss the importance of the enduring wisdom of the ancients in the writings of African-American leaders such as Frederick Douglass and MLK, as noted recently by Cornel West. They delve into lessons students can draw from Cicero, other key figures of the Roman Republic, and from the Athenian democracy, about self-government in the 21st century.

Stories of the Week: Writing in EducationNext, Chad Aldeman and recent Learning Curve guest Marguerite Roza suggest targeted approaches to spending stimulus funds for education, such as tutoring and summer programs, rather than hiring more staff. In Forbes, EdChoice’s Mike McShane shares the impressive list of states that have enacted or expanded school choice programs that will give tens of thousands more families access to better educational options.

Quote of the Day: Reinhold Niebuhr on Marxism


Reinhold niebuhr.jpgThe insights into human nature which Marxism has fortunately added to modern culture belong to the forgotten insights of prophetic religion. They must be reappropriated with gratitude for their rediscovery. But since prophetic religion must deal with the total human situation it cannot accept them merely as weapons in one particular social conflict. To do so would mean to make them the basis of new spiritual pretensions. The pathos of Marxian spirituality is that it sees the qualified and determined character of all types of spirituality except its own. Thus the recognition of human finitenness becomes the basis of a new type of pretention that finitenness has been transcended.

From An Interpretation of Christian Ethics. Click here to see the quote in the book itself.  I’m trying to get some working competence with the thought of Reinhold Niebuhr (not to be confused with his brother Richard Niebuhr) because I’m teaching this course again next year.

I have a long way to go.  And, arguably, I’m not even in the right book!  This is just some early Niebuhr that he later critiqued himself!  (Speaking of Niebuhr, I also recently noticed that I’d been spelling it incorrectly–NiebHur instead of NiebuHr.)

Happy Baptism!


Do you know the day you were baptized? I don’t know mine. There’s a record somewhere, neglected. 

We all know our birthdays. We celebrate them. But why? Those are not the days we began. Those are not the days we were chosen, given to God, set apart, made alive in Christ.

Quote of the Day: Naaman’s Request


After being healed of leprously, Naaman is set to return to his own country. He says to Elisha (ESV):

. . . from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.