Archive for September, 2021

Last night we had comped tickets to the Gold Over America Tour. When I had been asked by CavWife, who was offered tickets by her employer the YMCA of Southern AZ, I just heard Simone Biles. I thought it would be interesting to hear her speak since it was at the Tucson Convention Center. I’d love to hear about the adversity she overcame.

I was wrong. It was at the Tucson Arena next door to the Convention Center though they share parking. I’d been to the Convention Center for the gem show and a model train show (I’ll hit the gun show eventually), but never the Arena.

The first parking lot we tried to pull into was declared full when we were the 6th or 7th car in line to make the left hand turn. Other barriers of other entrances were not at the street so you got in the left turn lane before discovering it was not open. Eventually we got to an available lot and parked.

They are doing lots of renovations on the building. As a result it looks like a construction site hiding an arena. There were “Jersey barriers” to channel pedestrians. A loud speaker told us of the Covid protocols. Thankfully I noticed the sign indicating only clear bags when we paid for parking. It was mildly amusing for me (since I didn’t have a bag) since the vast majority of the people were gymnastic families who obviously have no intention of harming Simone or any other gymnast they idolize. But since our tickets were at Will Call, I figured CavWife better bring that ID. We didn’t catch the “no outside food or beverage” until in line for the security check. One daughter lost her water bottle since no one in the desert spends much time without one (except me). Ironically, this is the child we call “the Camel” since she seems to drink so little.

Jersey Barriers

I saw signs for the ticket office indicating, I thought, that it was in the lobby area. The signs didn’t point us around but thru the building. So we got thru security and at the door were informed the ticket office was on the far side of the building, and of course we have to go out and around. Now our second line was Will Call. It was a much shorter line. Then our third line was the much longer security line.

I had some trouble reading the tickets. I could see our section, 212, and seats, but couldn’t discern which number or letter indicated the row. Since the rows were letters, I found a letter near the section & seats and guessed that was it. Since we were not asked to move, I think I guessed correctly.

First impressions of the arena: It made for a generally small, intimate setting for a concert or event. John Cleese will be there soon and I considered going but thought I didn’t want to hear vicious Trump jokes. Where we sat I could see 2 concession stands offering the same things (this is NOT Chase Field) and a cart with mini-donuts (???). I could see no signs for restrooms. CavWife and I scanned and notice people going down a corridor and figured that must be where they are. This didn’t seem user-friendly should I take the boys to a Roadrunners’ hockey game.

An Evening with John Cleese - Tucson Music Hall

I think this was one of the first nights for GOAT, a nice double entendre since Simone is probably the gymnastics GOAT. They wanted to film cheering crowds for a commercial before things started.

Oh, I was wrong again. This was not a speaking engagement. It was a gymnastics exhibition. Simone was nervous as she welcomed us to the show after a dance routine and gymnasts on the bars and beam. She needed a cue card, but I’m sure she’ll get used to it.

The music was LOUD and the lights at times were distracting (one kept pointing at my eyes). Thankfully one daughter was not over-stimulated by the sensory overload. Most of the songs were upbeat and conveyed positive messages to the many young girls in the audience. They were encouraged not to live for the approval of others, to be there for one another as friends. One song was a golden oldie, Blondie’s Heart of Glass. The best moment, message-wise, was a song Overwhelmed which is about dealing with anxiety as Simone was beset by other gymnasts wearing black jackets with sayings about anxiety on them, representing her struggle with anxiety. You could see, demonstrably, how they were there for one another as in the opening routines, one of the women on the floor routine had a boot one. Injured as she was, she participated as she could and get her moment instead of being confined to the dressing room or booted from the tour. Great to see.

At times there was too much going on. I was overwhelmed, but not by anxiety. You might have multiple people on the bars, or people on both the bars and beam. It was hard, in those moments, to appreciate the incredible skills of the gymnasts because you were pulled in too many directions. They did show much of it on the big screen to help you see. In one set the filtered the image of the gymnast on the beam so you saw the outline and fuzzy color. So, some special effects beyond the lights.

But these young ladies were amazing. Simone was obviously the star but they were all amazing. It is hard to believe they can do those flips. They were doing this not for competition, but more for fun (yeah, they are getting paid). You still have to do things right so you don’t get hurt, but the pressure of performing is different with only your joy and the joy of others (not a medal) on the line.

After about an hour they left the area and the lights went up. There was no “thanks, goodnight.” There was no “we’ll be back after a short intermission”. We had no clue what was happening. This is another example of “opening night” kinks that need to be addressed. I saw cameras being put away. Some people were leaving, and others staying in the hopes they would return after a break. I understand the need for a break, they were expending tremendous amounts of energy.

We decided to head home after an enjoyable show. Since it was free for us (aside from parking) we didn’t feel the need to “get our money’s worth” and see every second. On the way to the car we talked about how amazing the gymnasts were and the version of Royal & Serpent’s Overwhelmed about anxiety since some of us deal with anxiety.

We don’t know if they came back for more, but what we saw was impressive to our non-gymnastics family. When they come near you it may be worth checking out. This from a guy who doesn’t watch the Olympics, in part, because it is dominated by gymnastics. Gone is the lag time and “judging”. It comes fast and furious as they move from one song and routine to another.

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Considering Lulu

In 2010 we decided to adopt again. As part of that agreement was to adopt another dog. Our daughter was heartbroken when I had to put Huck down (me too). I thought it was time to get another dog. Off to the Humane Society and County Animal Control.

Finding a new dog was more difficult than I thought. It included a billion barking dogs making my ears hurt in these cinder block buildings which reverberated the sound. The first dog we spent time with was one I really liked. It would be a great dog- for a bachelor. The kids were scared because it was big and energetic.

The next dog was Lulu, who was chill. She was gentle with the kids. She was a keeper.

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They were fast friends

We were told she was a Beagle mix and had eye dots like a Pincher or Rotweiler. The story was that they found her wandering in the desert. She either ran away or was released by a puppy mill. It turned out to be our gain.

We soon discovered that the reason she was so mellow was kennel cough as snot spewed from her nostrils. At least she liked pills, unlike Huck. She was a bit more energetic. In the morning she would get the “zoomies” in the back yard. She would go so fast that sometimes she would slam into the block wall as she was making the turn.

I would also play tag with her for exercise. As she zoomed past I’d try to touch her. She would try to dodge me before turning around. Let’s just say that she was quicker than I was.

Those first few years our daughter lost quite a few shoes to Lulu. She’d leave them on the back porch and all was fair game for Lulu. It wasn’t just shoes, but items made of plastic were found all chewed up. Eventually her desire to chew led to the destruction of many a dog toy. She loved those nylon bones so much that she’d chew until her gums bled.

She was quite stubborn, as Beagles commonly are. She didn’t bark much at all. She yodeled, leading my daughter to think she was part Basenji. It amused us, and I was grateful to another dog that didn’t bark all the time. Like Huck she was incredibly gentle and great with children. So many children love on her, and her on them. She was a licker. A big licker. One nickname was Lulu Shin-licker. Or Lulu Licks-a-lot.

She was patient as our daughter dressed her up and took pictures. It went from her clothes to sweaters she bought for the dog so she’d keep warm those 2 cold days in Tucson.

The first year we had Lulu we spent the week after Christmas in Flagstaff. She came with us. When we stopped for food and let her out to pee she nearly ran away. It took her awhile to stop trying to run away. While we were in Flagstaff it snowed, a lot. At first she was uncertain about this cold, wet stuff. But soon she was running down the road and jumping into snow banks. It was pure joy, and is one of my favorite memories.

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We soon discovered she hated brooms. We wondered if she had been hit with one. If the broom on the back porch was laying in front of the sliding glass door she would refuse to go out.

She didn’t have the greatest endurance. When we tried to take her on a hike she got tired and just gave up. That stubbornness kicked in and she laid there, refusing to move. If we went out of the neighborhood, including a dog park down the street she’d pull the same stunt.

But she loved the dog park by the Y. It was weird to watch. She wouldn’t chase balls, frisbees or sticks. She’d chase the other dogs who were chasing balls. She’d want them to play, with her.

She was infamously brutal on dog beds. She had to have them “just right” and would paw at them to move them to the “right spot” in the room. It was a nightly affair that could take 10-15 minutes. Soon the dog bed would have tears from her nails and stuffing would trail the bed as she pulled it around.

She also went through many different kinds of dog food due to food allergies. Grain was the initial problem so she was switched to a grain-free diet. More research led to a new kind of food and on it went. She loved to hang around while you were making dinner, hoping you’d toss her some veggies, cheese or egg shells. While we’d eat she’d be there silently but persistently waiting for food.

She loved it when we had company, especially Community Group. She’d have to greet everyone and after they sat down she would stand or sit by them until they rubbed her head. She was patient when we adopted CavKids 3 & 4 from the DRC. They were not sure what to make of her. CavKid 3 soon tolerated her, but 4 grew to love dogs. There was only one person she didn’t like. The man who lived with us for a few years had a friend from China. Apparently his distrust of dogs was evident to her and that was that.

There were times when we’d go outside to say our ‘goodbyes’ and we’d have to make sure she didn’t climb in their car to go home with them.

She loved to roll around on our fake grass in the back yard. Lulu also loved to just lay in the sun and work on her tan. She’d do this on summer mornings before it got too hot. Or any time the rest of the year.

A few times we (meaning my daughter) took Lulu to our church Christmas party. Part of the evening was the singing of Christmas carols. While the rest of us sang she would begin to yowl as if joining us in praise and joy. She’d also take Lulu to church work days so she could “supervise” the chores getting done. It was likely my daughter’s attempt to avoid work, but Lulu loved being able to see everyone.

About 5 years ago I noticed that she was less energetic. She was getting lazy, sedentary. So when my daughter wanted “her own” dog (even though she often refers to Lulu as hers), I agreed. It was great to see her come back to life as they had their daily wrestling sessions in the back yard (and the living room). She started to find her voice as they played, and her go to move was a spin move I can still see in my mind. She’d crouch down with her backside in the air, bark and spin around.

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The wrestling wasn’t contained to the backyard.

Nearly two years ago we noticed she began to drink copious amounts of water. We thought she might have diabetes, but the test came back negative. She also began to sneak upstairs to pee instead of just standing by the door to be let out. Something was wrong but we didn’t know what.

The daughter loves to research things on the internet. Soon she had a diagnosis: Cushing’s Syndrome. It could be caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland. It causes the excessive drinking, and peeing. She was ravenous, and began to bark to remind you to feed her. Soon there would be muscle loss, hair loss etc. Life expectancy was about 2 years. The actual testing and treatment were very expensive (thousands of dollars) so we just assumed she had it. The symptoms set in.

In the last 10 months or so we noticed other changes. She started digging outside, like she was trying to escape. She began to bark at … well… nothing. She often sounded like a seal. We realized that she was likely experiencing doggie dementia. The peeing upstairs was likely a sign as well. She would forget how to get back in the house and dig.

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Sometimes they’d share a bed.

Her personality didn’t seem to change much. She was still gentle, though she moved slower and was a bit more stubborn. Her face was increasingly gaunt as she lost muscle mass. She began to bark at 5:30 most mornings until I got up and let her out.

She was ravenous much of the time as I noted. Between feeding times, she would scrounge. If we weren’t paying attention she’d nose her way through the kids’ gate to get upstairs. There she would try to get into the cat’s food. She also took to tipping over trash cans to find something to eat. One night she scared us because we noticed she’d gotten into the trash in the kids’ bath. We saw some blood, and saw the chewed plastic of a women’s razor head. The blades were gone, apparently down the gullet. We weren’t sure she was going to make it but she was fine. We aren’t sure if she passed them or they just hung out in her intestines, but she kept going like nothing was bothering her.

When we were away for vacation, we got the report that she wasn’t doing well. We weren’t sure she’d be there when we got home. A congregant who is a retired vet looked at her. Congestive heart failure, labored breathing. We had to treat her like she was in hospice.

Kody was of two minds regarding her in the last few weeks. When it came to food, he began to resent her. He began to growl if she got near his food, or the parchment paper with bacon grease on it. At other times he’d lick her to comfort her. He knew something was up, but wasn’t sure how to respond.

We began to agonize about when it was time to put her down. I second-guessed when I put Huck down. I didn’t want to put her down too soon, or too late. She didn’t seem to be in pain. At moments there was the old glint in her eyes. Other times she wouldn’t respond to her name. Getting her into her crate at night became quite the process. She was unintentionally making it tough on us.

Then Kody nipped her. In a few days she had an infection, essentially making the decision for us. It was time to put her to sleep.

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April 2020 w/Finn

She was a constant in our home for 11 years. 11 really good years except for the foul-smelling gas. Or when her allergies flared up and her scratching drove us crazy too. But she was a most kind-hearted animal. We’ve been blessed to have, and unfortunate to lose, two incredible dogs.

We’ll miss you, Lulu!

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The first part of Carl Trueman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self is fascinating to me. The book is about the road to the sexual revolution and the revolution of the concept of self. As he notes, there is a reason many today don’t bat an eye at the idea that “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body”. There is a reason for the increasing polarization of our society. This first portion of his book examines the “architecture” of the revolution.

The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution - Trueman, Carl R; Dreher, Rod (foreword by) - 9781433556333

I must admit the philosophical books tend to be in the “deep end” for me. I’ve only studied enough philosophy in college and seminary to be slightly less ignorant. As I process his arguments it is from a lay man’s perspective, or common sense and in light of what I perceive in the world I live in. Others may have different opinions of the works cited and Trueman’s use of them.

The book begins with a forward by Rod Dreher. He begins with a statement by Solzhenitsyn, “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” He was speaking of the “horrors of Soviet communism”. The same can be said of the seismic shifts in our own nation. He argues that the ways we’ve forgotten God matter, as do the how and why. In the Scriptures it is preceded by prosperity that leads to pride (Dt. 8 & Hosea 13). Focusing on changing morals just scratches the surface.

“Carl Trueman’s prophetic role is to reveal to the church today how that happened, so that even now, we might repent and, in so doing, find ways to keep the true light of faith burning in this present darkness, which comprehends it not.”

In his preface we find a variety of people mentioned including Mortification of Spin co-hosts past and present, some RTS professors in Scott Swain and Scott Redd, Rosaria Butterfield and a variety of institutions.


In the introduction Trueman explains the sentence “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body” would be incoherent to his grandfather. Today many believe it to be meaningful and true. This sentence, he notes, “carries with it a world of metaphysical assumptions.” The “connection between mind and the body” is given more weight than biological facts. Gender is separated from sex, and chromosomes no longer define man or woman. His basic assumption is that the sexual revolution is only part of a wider revolution in how people understand the self. Our view of sex has changed because of view of self has changed.

Philosopher Charles Taylor sees a shift in self to the inner psychological life we see developing with Freud. Morality is derived from an inner sense or intuition (I see some possible overlap with Haidt’s moral intuition here). When people deny their inner reality, they feel trapped or that they are living a lie until they “come out” and speak the truth about their inner self. To be authentic, one must pursue that which makes them happy. Trueman will spend plenty of time with Taylor later. We do see the rise of the “expressive individual”. Who you think and feel you are is more important than what society says, and society actually needs to affirm who you think/feel you are.

He will also depend on Philip Rieff and Alasdair MacIntyre to describe the “triumph of the therapeutic, psychological man, the anticulture and deathworks. MacIntyre addresses truth claims finding their source in the inner self which leads to much of the polarization because you are not arguing about objectively true or untrue claims.

Trueman lays out the material in the second part of the book as Rousseau and Romanticism change the face of the world, focusing on the inner life of individuals. Rousseau and a number of Romantics see the individual as good and corruption coming from society, a theme also developed by Marx. The expressive individual ceases to be oppressed by the corrupt and enslaving conventions of society. In the third part of the book he will focus on the sexualization of this larger revolution. Freud advanced the idea that we are sexual beings, not simply sexed beings, from infancy. This explains, in part, the incessant need to push sex ed earlier and earlier. The goal is not simply the expansion, but the abolition, of cultural boundaries. It is an erotic free for all.

He then explores what the book is not. It is not exhaustive of how these ideas gained prominence. The book is “not a lament for a lost golden age” that actually didn’t exist. As Christians we are called to live faithful lives in the midst of various unfaithful societies. He wants us to understand the times so we can live in them with greater faithfulness.

Reimagining the Self

Trueman begins by introducing the social imaginary, or how societies think, as developed by Charles Taylor. It is “that common understanding which makes possible common practices, and a widely shared sense of legitimacy.” It is the things a culture holds in common: narratives, practices, intuitions. It isn’t thought out so much as lived out. There has been a seismic shift in the social imaginary that now affirms what prior generations rejected, soundly.

Connected to this he develops the differences between mimesis and poisis. Surely these are common words in your functional vocabulary. Mimesis “regards the world as having a given order and a given meaning and thus sees human being as required to discover that meaning and conform themselves to it.” This understands there being meaning in life that is objective, not purely subjective. This includes theism, but is not necessarily theistic (though that view would be unstable). The individual conforms to societal norms, to reality.

Poisis “sees the world as so much raw material out of which meaning and purpose can be created by the individual.” This is far more existential in nature. There is no objective meaning to life. You create your own meaning. As society embraces this and the expressive individual, we see that society now conforms to individual norms. This has been facilitated by technological changes that change how we think about the world. It is much smaller now as airplanes and the internet shatter our view of geography. Our social imaginary has incorporated self-creation. “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body,” only makes sense in a poietic understanding of the world. In a mimetic view, the person conforms to culture’s view of man and woman. In a poietic society, society is oppressive if it forces its view on the individual. In the mimetic society, the individual who refuses to conform is seen as sick in some way.

Trueman then brings in Philip Rieff and the Nature of Culture. Beginning with Freud, Rieff developed a theory of culture in The Triumph of the Therapeutic. Following Freud, cultures are “primarily defined by what they forbid.” This is a very negative view of culture. Gone is what culture promotes. It all comes back to taboos, how culture limits the individual (building on the views of Rousseau). A culture must have mechanisms to communicate and enforce these taboos from one generation to the next.

Culture directed the individual outward to find their true selves. You found your place in society, lived a given role or function rather than creating your own true sense. The former is what you find in Richard Philip’s The Masculine Mandate, you find yourself in fulfilling your covenantal responsibilities. The latter is what you find in John Eldridge’s Wild At Heart where you get in touch with your inner self, often in nature, rather than in your community. (That is my application/assumption, not Trueman’s.)

From Political Man to Psychological Man

Continuing with Rieff, Trueman traces the path from political man to psychological man in light of his view of culture. This road begins with finding your self by conforming to culture, and ends with culture needing to affirm your self-generated identity. Political man “finds his identity in the activities in which he engages in the public life of the polis.” Rieff sees this in Aristotle. This eventually gave way, at least in Europe, to religious man who “found his primary sense of self in his involvement in religious activities” often in the context of Christendom. Medieval society was structured by the church.

With the industrial revolution we see the rise of economic man who “finds his sense of self in his economic activity.” You are what you do for a living. A job is satisfying if it provides what you need in life, and uses at least some skills you have. This creates self as unstable and temporary for many as technological shifts create job changes and careers. This was something Marx picked up on and exploited.

Economic man, being unstable, is replaced by psychological man who is preoccupied with the inner quest for happiness. He chooses to change jobs looking for satisfaction in what he does, not merely in what it produces. The gaze has shifted from outside of self to into self.

Trueman sees this as far to simplistic to be a historical framework. He does affirm the rise of psychological categories as dominant in how people view themselves in the West. Rieff ends up with a view quite similar to Taylor’s expressive individualism in which we find “our meaning by giving expression to our own feelings and desires.” This produces a culture of authenticity in which you live according to your inner sense of self no matter how little it conforms to society. Marx and Nietzsche introduced the ideas that the culture must be overthrown because of how it oppresses the individual. In the hands of Wilhelm Reich and Herbert Marcuse this takes a decidedly sexual turn.

In this kind of world, institutions become “places one goes to perform, not to be formed.” Or, as Trueman notes, formed by performing. School becomes more about sports and extracurricular activities, and now about activism instead of reading, writing and arithmetic. This explains the idea of “safe spaces” to escape ideas that may challenge us. School becomes a place to be affirmed, reassured. It affirms and furthers the “inward-directed therapeutic categories over traditional outward-directed educational philosophies.”

What we are discussing here is not simply what people do in their own homes between consenting adults. We are speaking of identities which compel others to accept and affirm. The oppressive codes of conduct of older societies must be shattered to set people free to live as they desire (because apparently all our desires are good). One must be allowed to follow one’s heart in the public arena and be approved by all (and bake that cake, too!).

This doesn’t seem obvious at first glance. The identity and sexual revolutions hasn’t stopped at permission. Traditional culture has been replaced with its reverse. Culture must serve the purposes “of meeting my psychological needs.” We inhabit space with others, and they “must be coerced to be part of our therapeutic world.” Rieff calls this the analytic attitude. Once adopted values are “transvalued”. That which was good is not considered bad, and that which is bad is now considered good.

In this therapeutic nightmare, words cause “psychological harm” and free speech needs to be suppressed because it can be a tool of oppression. This is far more serious than damage to persons and property, so riots are less significant than hate speech. Reich and Marcuse approve of these shifts as the birth of a liberated utopia while Rieff laments them as signs that a culture has died.

What is missing is “why some marginal identities gain mainstream acceptance and others remain (at least for the present) beyond the pale.” He turns to Charles Taylor again for the politics of recognition. Self is no longer limited by Decartes’ “I think, therefore I am.” We know ourselves in dialogue with others. We can’t describe ourselves “without reference to those around” us. This is an agnostic or atheistic version of Calvin’s view of the knowledge of God and self. You can’t know one without knowing the other.

Since we need to belong, and a healthy sense of self comes from belonging we must be acknowledged by others as we are (or want to be). No longer are we accepted because we conform, we must be accepted despite the fact we don’t want to conform. “This idea- that identity requires recognition by another- is a vital insight into the subject I am exploring in this book.” As a result, recognition “becomes a life-and-death struggle.”

Reimagining Our Culture

The second chapter shifts focus from the self to the culture. Some of the same material is covered since you can’t really talk about one without the other. It is more a matter of emphasis. At the end of the first paragraph he says as much.

Here Trueman introduces Rieff’s idea of the West as a third-world culture. This is not a question of economic development but rather the basis of moral authority. For Rieff (again building on Freud’s view of culture/society) first and second world cultures base morality on “something transcendent, beyond the material world.” There is an external authority, not a social construct. First world cultures are pagan. This means their moral codes are rooted in mythology. Stories shape the culture. Appeal is made to these stories. There is much about “fate”, in which your destiny is shaped by an unchangeable, impersonal force.

For a second-world culture, faith rather than fate is the issue. We see this in Christianity (providence is a result of the will of a personal God exercising His perfect knowledge, wisdom, love etc.). Culture is shaped by an understanding (however imperfect) of the character of God, and the laws are intended to reflect God’s concerns.

Both first and second-world cultures have stability because the basis of their morality does not change. They are beyond the people who live in the culture.

Third-world cultures forsake the sacred and establish moral codes within the individual. Traditional morality is seen as a social construct and therefore oppressive. This culture has fallen into the lie of the Garden, wanting to know and decide good and evil for one’s self. Yet people still seem to tell others what to do all the time. Go figure, right? However, Rieff considers these cultures to be “mature”. Morality becomes pragmatic, based on outcomes which are deemed good or bad based on the evaluation of the culture (THIS is the social construct).

Trueman sees parallels with Charles Taylor’s immanent frame. This world is all there is, the result of which is the rejection of any moral discourse rooted in what lies beyond it. Morality is utterly immanent, not transcendent. Where Rieff and Taylor differ is on the process of this shift. Rieff sees it similar to catastrophic: sudden and destructive. Taylor sees a slow process.

The problem with third-world cultures and the immanent frame is that they are inherently unstable, and filled with confusion. The individual may not know what is “in” and what is “out”.

The example that Trueman provides is the abortion debate. Is that fetus a “person with potential or a potential person?” 1st and 2nd-world cultures say the former, and the 3rd-world culture and immanent frame say the latter. Peter Singer pushes personhood even farther out than birth justifying even infanticide until children are capable of self-reflection (I think, therefore I am taken to a logical conclusion that I am not until I think or you think I can think). In this scenario, women can play god with the fetus in their womb. They decide who lives and dies; whose potential may or may not come into reality.

In terms of sex, the morality lies in mutual consent not any particular act. As a result “these third-world cultures are really just therapeutic cultures, the cultures of psychological man.” They are focused on self-actualization, on fulfilling the desires of the individual because there really is nothing else.

Trueman argues that all three of these cultures can exist simultaneously within the same society. This is the root of our polarization in many ways. We can’t talk because we have different sources of authority. Some point to a transcendent moral order which makes no sense to the expressive individual. One points to how culture necessarily restrains our wickedness and weirdness while the other demands that culture affirm their wickedness and weirdness as good. There is no common ground available for fruitful conversation about abortion, war, taxes, sexual deviance, marriage, vaccines …

MacIntyre and Emotivism

Truemen takes a detour into the thought of Alasdair MacIntyre who searched for a ground for morality. His book After Virtue focused on the problems created by the collapse of Marxism. He had been a Marxist and now needed to find a new worldview. He looked to Aristotle and those who built on his work. From the Thomist view he appreciated the teleological view of morality. “He insists that teleology enables individuals to distinguish between what they are and what they should be.” The evaluation of our actions is social embedded since we don’t exist in isolation.

MacIntyre rejected a neutrality from which we can deduce moral principles. Society constructs human relations and morality and studying their ethics gives you a picture what what they value. However, now society has a number of opposing ethical views. “Simply put, modern ethical discourse is chaotic because there is no longer a strong community consensus on the nature of the proper ends of human existence.”

Trueman applies this to a topic MacIntyre didn’t anticipate: same sex marriage. Christian tradition (2nd-world) sees marriage for “lifelong companionship, mutual sexual satisfaction, and procreation.” This necessitates the partnership is between people of the opposite sex. This view was the dominant view in Western civilization for thousands of years.

Same sex marriage called for a revision of the purposes of marriage. It needed at least one telos to change since they are not able to procreate by themselves due to nature, not providence.

This introduces emotivism as a theory of use. It presents one’s preferences as if truth claims. The desire to marry someone of the same sex becomes morally acceptable. This cuts both ways. The claim that homosexuality is wrong becomes disconnected from a transcendent morality and a matter of preference. As a mere preference you are now shamed for that preference that stands in the way of another’s happiness. The emotivist is essentially the expressive individual.

Trueman distinguishes between emotivism as a moral theory and as a social. It does not provide solid ground for ethics: I feel therefore I can. He does note it is a useful rhetorical strategy. All you have to do is label the opposing view as -phobic and you create an identity for your opponent they want to separate themselves from.

Anticultures and Antihistorical

Third-world cultures become anticultures. The elites of third-world cultures promote ideas that are not worthy of the term culture. They focus on destroying the 1st and 2nd-world cultures they want to replace. They tear down symbols of tradition. They undermine institutions connected with worlds they want to destroy (church, family, education, military…). If you look at the BLM website you will see how they view these institutions as oppressive and therefore targets for destruction since they are connected to “whiteness”.

He looks at the debate over slavery to see how a second-world culture can change is views. There was conflict because both sides pointed to (their understanding of) the same transcendent view. “Social orders based on sacred orders are quite capable of internal debate and reform based on the working out in practice of their underlying beliefs.” Change takes place on the basis of the accepted authorities rather than the removal of authorities.

Third-world cultures reject the past as a source for significant wisdom. The past is demonized instead of evaluated. This is connected with Lewis’ cultural snobbery but goes farther to the destruction of the past.

In these third-world cultures we see this play out in technology and fashion. There is the never-ending quest for the new. People eagerly await the new generation of phones or computers. Women (usually?) await the latest fashions and dump the old styles on the unwashed masses.

They use Marx’s materialist philosophy with its subversion of history. History becomes the story of oppression (not the mixed story of failure & success, oppression & freedom, sin & salvation). It is necessarily reductionistic. It is only about how people are exploited. It can only be mined to provide warnings of how people are exploited (except, apparently, how they’ve been exploited by Marxists of various stripes). History is reduced to the victims and victimizers.


Art begins to play a role (developed more fully in chapter 4). These intellectual ideas are communicated, emotively, via art which Rieff calls “deathworks”. “A deathwork, by contrast, represents an attack on established cultural art forms in a manner designed to undo the deeper moral structure of society.” I am a Monty Python fan, but it is hard not to see some of their work as deathwork as they undermined the structure of a rigid British society. This is because deathworks make traditional values look ridiculous. This is what much of Hollywood does these days as they characterize Christians as hypocrites and legalists (Footloose is a popular example). The works of John Irving, like The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules, are similar in approach. Forrest Gump treated history in a similar way to undermine our valuing of history and tradition. Religion and traditional morality are portrayed as “distasteful and disgusting.”

Returning to institutions and history we see Trueman discuss forgetfulness. Not only is there the expunging of the public record by removing statues and history books, we also see the renaming of institutions because the honoree failed to live up to our modern standards. These are forms of deathworks.

Trueman returns to abortion. The debates are no longer about when life begins (science settled that!) but when personhood begins (because science can’t settle that and by golly some people just seem to love abortions). Abortion “profanes that which the second world regarded as sacred: human life made in the image of God from the moment of conception.”

Trueman ends by noting these philosophers provide us with helpful categories for understanding the cultural revolution and the revolutions of self and sex that drive it. I also find these helpful and recommend the first part of the book for those who want to think on these things more than a blog post/review can.

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I ran across Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend through a World Magazine review. It had been on my vacation reading list for a few years and I finally started it after my summer vacation this year.

The author was a religion reporter in St. Louis. Among his degrees is a master’s from Yale Divinity School. His primary subject Chaplain Gerecke served in St. Louis as a Lutheran pastor prior to serving in World War 2 despite his age. While I’m not sure about Townsend’s theological convictions, at times I noted some errors in understanding other people’s theological convictions. Or at least disagrees with me about what they are/should be. The times he gets into theology at the end of chapters (not at the end of every chapter) are the only weak points of this books.

This is a fascinating story, to be sure. While the book is mostly about Henry Gerecke the core of the book is the Nuremberg trial with background sketches of the key Nazi leaders under his pastoral care. In telling their stories, one learns more about the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime and executed by these men and others. We also learn about those who served with Gerecke. This makes for a meandering narrative. As the atrocities are mentioned focus is on some of the lesser known ones instead of simply the gas chambers.

As a result, Townsend covers personal stories, anecdotes, theological asides, the legal process and more. This keeps the reader engaged.

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12

Townsend begins at the end of the trials with the hanging of Wilhelm Keitel in October 1946. Earlier in the evening Herman Goering had committed suicide. Chaplain Gerecke was shaken. Since the Palace of Justice was on lockdown, he and Chaplain O’Connor would get updates on the World Series between the Cardinals and the Red Sox in light of their bet on the series.

Henry Gerecke’s Background

Townsend portrays Pastor Gerecke as an energetic and compassionate man who choose to go to war though his two sons were already involved in the European theater. When he signed up in the summer of 1943, the army needed thousands of chaplains. The ratio was one chaplain for every thousand men. As the war played out they realized it was not enough.

Henry and Alma Gerecke were a study in contrasts. He was thrifty, and she was decidedly not. He was also dedicated to the poor. Gerecke would consider his year at the Palace of Justice working with the prisoners to be the most important of his life. This was historic: it was the first time the international community held a nation’s leaders accountable for war crimes. Meanwhile this descendant of German immigrants sought to bring this men back to God.

In this non-linear approach, Townsend then gives us a brief sketch to Keitel’s life 10 pages into the first chapter. He is portrayed as the son of a farmer who became a professional soldier. A sycophant, he rose to General Field Marshal. He then returns us to how Gerecke ended up heading to Germany.

The son of a farmer, Henry went into the ministry and was studying at Concordia Seminary. Alma was the daughter of a brewer in St. Louis. His second year of seminary saw the beginning of Prohibition, putting her father out of work. He also married Alma and moved into their home. Henry soon learned that Concordia did not allow its students to be married or engaged. He was kicked out of the seminary he’d dreamed of attending because he married the woman he loved. With her father out of business, Henry would support Alma, her parents and her six year-old sister.

Henry began to meet with Pastor Kretzschmar who directed his studies under the approval and assistance of the Concordia faculty. In 1925 he passed his exams at Concordia and was eligible to be an ordained pastor in The Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. His first call was to Christ Lutheran Church. It was a small manse with Henry and Alma in one bedroom and the three boys sharing another. Alma’s mother and sister were in the other room.

Gerecke soon grew bored with pastoral ministry, or at least congregational life. He thrived on mission work. In 1935 he left Christ Lutheran to work with the poor, elderly, insane, sick and criminals of St. Louis out of City Mission. Part of his work was prison ministry. He also had a radio program on KFUO-AM to promote the work of the mission and talk about Jesus.

In 1943 Gerecke was just below the cut off age for Army Chaplains. He felt a great need to minister to troops in the midst of the conflict. His training brought him to Harvard. Townsend segues into a brief history of military chaplains, particularly in America. In 1942 the average chaplain had about 53 appointments a day to discuss faith, homesickness, suicidal thoughts, marriage and problems with alcohol. In World War II 478 chaplains were killed.

Henry Gerecke – The Randolph Society
Chaplain Gerecke- The Randolph Society

Gerecke was assigned to the 98th General Hospital before they shipped out to England in March 1944. One example of his zeal as a chaplain is seen in attending dances. He didn’t dance and was generally opposed to dancing. However, he saw them as an opportunity to get to know the men. He also went to USO shows and basketball games. He liked the overall order and discipline of the military. He was an innovator, relentlessly looking for ways to get more men to show up for services. The hospital was set up and began to serve troops injured in battle.

Assigned to Nuremberg

Because he spoke German, Gerecke also kept an eye (and ear) on the German chaplain helping POWs. When the war was coming to an end, the 98th was not sent home but to rebuild a hospital in Munich. Working among the Germans presented new problems for the hospital and chaplains. While he was there, his sons visited him to celebrate his birthday with him. The hospital, however, was only 11 miles from Dachau. Gerecke visited the site a few times and pondered aloud, “How could they do something like this?”

In November 1945, Gerecke was called into the commander’s office to learn he was being transferred to the prison in Nuremberg to work with Nazi war criminals. That he spoke German and had done prison ministry qualified him for this unique work. Townsend shifts to give us background on the commander of the prison, Col. Andrus. He then tells us about Nuremberg and the anti-Semitism there. The history of anti-Semitism extends beyond Luther, but he certainly didn’t help correct that problem but aggravated it. After World War I, some Germans blamed the Jews for their defeat. The Nuremberg Laws, as they were popularly known, denied Jews citizenship and prohibited them from marrying or having intercourse with persons of German descent. Hitler fanned the flames of anti-Semitism throughout Germany.

Nuremberg had nearly been flattened by British Lancaster heavy bombers. Many of the men were gone so most of the residents were women and children. There was no money, only cigarettes, to be used for transactions. Thousands of dead people were hidden under the rubble of Nuremberg, creating a variety of problems. Food was rationed at 1,325 calories and meat was in short supply. Worse, there was a ban on beer.

Townsend describes the conditions of the prison, particularly the highest level prisoners. The “Judas window” in the door allowed the guards to see them at all times except when on the toilet. When on their beds, the prisoners were supposed to be facing the center of the room, not the wall. Despite precautions, before the trial Leonardo Conti (the health minister who took part in eugenic programs) hung himself with a towel tied to the bars of the window. In addition, Robert Ley (head of the German Labor Front) also used a towel and his jacket zipper to create a noose around the toilet tank.

“We have forsaken God and therefore we were forsaken by God.” Robert Ley

The Legal Road to Nuremberg

This was the first trial of its kind and the Allies worked together to try and figure out a path forward. German’s invasion of Poland violated the 1929 Hague and Geneva conventions. As the war progressed they began to learn of mass killings of Jews and others, as well as the concentration camps. The governments in exile began to engage this question as well, producing the Declaration of St. James expressing the need to satisfy the sense of justice through the “channel of organized justice, of those guilty of or responsible for these crimes, whether they have ordered them, perpetrated them or participated in them.” There was yet no mechanism or known punishments. There was no legal precedent. U.S. representative on the United Nations War Crime Commission Herbert Pell noted that “If we want to avert general massacre, we must satisfy the popular demand for justice.”

As this dialogue continued there are extremes of thought. The most shocking, to me, that that of Murray Bernays a New York attorney with the Office of the Judge Advocate General’s staff. Though an ethnic Jew who sympathized with the plight of the German Jews, he wasn’t sure their treatment was a war crime. After Roosevelt’s death, President Truman stated he opposed summary executions for Nazi leaders. He supported a tribunal. At this time the Americans began to capture Nazi leaders hiding in farmhouses and basements including Ernst Markow who was part of the Jewish pogrom in November ’38, Gerhard Klotten famous for his brutal treatment of POWs, and Hans Dreesen, an SS officer who beat a captured American pilot with rocks and a rubber truncheon.

Gordon Dean outlined the Policy Directive. The world must clearly see what the Nazis have done, and how they did it. History books should relate these crimes so they will not be repeated as time dims memories. They are developing precedents for future cases of war crimes, and effective international criminal law can result. The U.S. did not want to stoop to the level of the Nazis in how they treated them.

The Chaplain and the Prisoners

When Gerecke arrived he met fellow chaplains Sixtus O’Connor (Roman Catholic) and Carl Eggers. O’Connor also spoke German so he and Gerecke worked with the prisoners (though some spoke English). O’Connor grew up speaking German and also studied in Munich before the war. He studied in the area of how modern philosophy were rejecting and replacing scholastic thought. While in Munich, he had a Jewish professor who was harassed by Nazis and left town. As the war began he began to teach philosophy at Siena College in New York. As a chaplain, he was involved in combat areas.

Gerecke was criticized by some for his approach toward the prisoners. He would shake their hands, and treat them as human beings. He was winsome in his approach “in order that that Gospel be not hindered by any wrong approach I may make … I knew I could never win any of them to my way of thinking unless they liked me first.” His goal was to bring them to Christ. He was there to evangelize these men.

Rudolph Hess was born in Egypt since his father was an importer-exporter. He was drafted into the army in World War I, fighting in the same regiment as Hitler. They didn’t know each other until after the war. He suffered a chest wound in 1917 and was discharged. He studied at the University of Munich under Karl Haushofer who founded the geopolitik. Geopolitik was the bridge from German imperialism to national socialism. Hess entered the Nazi Party in 1920. He was jailed with Hitler in 1924 for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch. While they shared a cell, he helped Hitler write Mein Kompf. He took dictation, but some of the basic ideas were his.

The introverted and insecure Hess was fanatical in his devotion to Hitler. He surrendered his life to Hitler. He wanted Germany to be free of the “Jewish problem” by being free of Jews.

Hermann Goering was the son of a government official serving in Haiti. Born in Germany, his mother soon sailed to Haiti leaving him to be raised by family friends for the next three years. When he was ten he was sent to boarding school, which he despised. In an essay he wrote he admired his godfather Hermann von Epenstein. Hermann was punished for admiring a Jew though von Epenstein was Catholic. He was forced to write “I shall not write essays in praise of Jews” a hundred times and wore a sign stating “my godfather is a Jew”. After destroying his musical instruments he was sent to a military academy which he loved.

Goering and von Richthofen in Belgium 1916-18 - YouTube
Goering and the Red Baron

From the military academy he went into the military during World War I. He was a pilot in the Imperial German Army Air Service and became a war hero under Manfred von Richtofen aka the Red Baron. Due to his war record, he was a recruit to the new political movement. In 1922, Hitler made him the leader of the Brownshirts. He was wounded in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch. He was exiled for four years in Austria, Italy, and Sweden. During this time he developed an addiction to morphine. Returning to Germany he rejoined the party and was one of the first officials elected to the Reichstag. In 1932 he became president of the Reichstag. When Hitler rose to Chancellor the next year Goering became head of the party’s security, creating camps for political enemies.

In 1935 he became commander of the Luftwaffe and was in charge of the economic plan. This allowed Goering to accumulate wealth through the state-run Hermann Goering Works which employed 700,000 people. He built a hunting estate called Carinhall, entertaining heads of state and party officials there. He even had tame lions roaming the home. He traveled on his own 10-car train. His car had two bedrooms with cherry furniture. When he took a bath the train stopped until he was done, even if other trains needed to pass. There was a car with a movie theater. The train had a staff of 171 as well as guards. 20 soldiers manned air defense guns.

Goering was not as vocal about his anti-Semitism but he gave some of the most important orders in the genocide including the one that put the Holocaust in motion.

But all did not go well for Goering. He led the failed air attack on Great Britain which meant they were not able to execute the plan to invade England. Hitler began to isolate Goering, giving more responsibility to Himmler, Goebbels and Speer. As it became obvious in early 1945 that the war was concluding, he packed up what he could from Carinhall and had Luftwaffe engineers demolish it. In the final days, Goering who’d been declared successor by a transfer of power decree in 1941 was uncertain if Hitler had been surrounded by the Russians. His request that Ribbentrop join him unless prohibited by the Fuhrer led to the order being rescinded and arrest orders for treason issued for Goering. Goering got tired of waiting for the Americans to find him and went to find them. In a ruse they told him he’d remain free if he gave up. When arrested his medical check up revealed short of breath, prone to flop sweat and pale skin. Guards found a vial of cyanide in a coffee can, and another sewn into his uniform.

Trial of the Century

The “trial of the century” began on November 20, 1945 and French assistant prosecutor Pierre Mounier used the term “genocide” in the reading of indictments. The term was coined by Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin. Goering tried to make a statement instead of simply pleading. Shut down by Lord Geoffrey Lawrence he plead “In the sense of the indictment, not guilty.”

“Not guilty. For what I have done or had to do, I have a pure conscience before God, before history and my people.” Alfred Jodl

The arguments were that the actions taken by these men and others were so calculated, malignant, and devastating that they couldn’t be tolerated nor ignored. They believed that civilization could afford no compromise. American chief prosecutor Justice Robert Jackson told of the slaughter of 33,771 Jews by SS Einsatzgruppen death squads over the course of 2 days in a ravine near Kiev. He mentioned the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto resulting in the deaths of 56,063 Jews. He brought up “medical experiments” in Dachau.

As the trial progressed some of the prisoners began to accept Gerecke. His organist was a former SS Lt. Col. and former Christian. By the end of the trial he had returned to his faith, and Gerecke served him communion. “The simple Gospel of the Cross had changed his heart.” Soon 13 of the defendants attended services in the two-cell chapel. 4 others attended O’Connor’s Catholic Masses. 5 of the defendants wanted nothing to do with the chaplains.

Townsend discusses the complicated relationship between the Germans and the occupiers who included journalists covering the trial. Often those who took over a home hired the owner as housekeeper. The people associated with the trial faced constant rumors about snipers. Many did not stray far from the beaten path between housing and the Palace of Justice. The Grand Hotel became a center for social activity. There was cheap food and a stocked wine cellar. German bands played jazz. There were cabarets and acts. There was a fair amount of fornication and adultery between the men working with the trial and attractive German women. Enlisted men frequented movies at the Opera House, and danced in the hall upstairs.

Gerecke visited the trial sessions most days. He wanted to hear testimony and the defense as well. One skeptical defendent was Karl Doenitz, an admiral in the navy. In 1942 he ordered the rescue of 2,000 survivors of the Laconia, a passenger ship. Hitler was livid due to a standing order to emphasized waging war, not rescue. The rescue risked Allied attacks on the German ships. Doenitz issued the Laconia Order forbidding the rescue of those whose ships have sunk. The Nazis realized it was easier for the Americans to supply new ships than to provide new sailors and took to killing them. A U-boat commanded by Lt. Eck spent 5 hours firing machine guns and throwing hand grenades at survivors of the Greek ship Peleus. Amazingly 3 men survived and were picked up 25 days later by a Portuguese ship.

“Of course you can be patriotic and Christian at the same time provided you do so according to Romans 13 until you come into conflict with Acts 5:29. The former will tell you what you owe your government and how to be loyal to it as a Christian. The latter will emphasize its application to Christian patriotism and tell you that you must obey God rather than man.” Gerecke to Rippentrop

Joachim von Ribbentrop was resistant to Gerecke’s ministry early on. He was Hitler’s gofer, craving the trappings of wealth and power. “He was contemptuous, incompetent, vain, and combative.” Goering and the others despised him. Eventually he was reading the Bible and the catechism. He was growing repentant and finally wanted to take communion. Constantine von Neurath, the foreign minister, was also resistant but got right with God.

One of the things I didn’t realize was connected to Fritz Sauckel, the labor chief. While not very smart, he was very efficient and became one of the most notorious slavers in history. At the beginning of World War I, the ship he was on was sunk by a French battleship and he spent the duration in a prison camp. He returned home to become a lathe operator and get married. Two of his sons were killed in World War II. In the early 1920’s he became a labor leader, making speeches and organizing for the Party. During the War, Sauckel organized slave raids into occupied territory for free labor in German factories. In one day a raid rounded up 50,000 men in Rotterdam. By late 1942 more than 4.5 million foreign workers were in Germany living in subhuman conditions. By late 1944 that number had grown to 8 million foreign workers. This was 46% of agricultural workers, a third of miners, construction workers and in the metal and chemical industries. Almost 500,000 of them died in the Reich.

During the trial he said he was only responsible for getting them, not what happened to them afterward. Saukel was one of the men who was broken by his sins, reading his catechism during the trial. When preparing to take Communion he cried out “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” He was the first to return to Christ.

Albert Speer, hearing of this, asked for a copy of the catechism as well. He admitted to Gerecke that “the neglect of genuine Christianity caused its downfall.” Speer had been an architect in Mannheim. He joined the Party in 1931. He began to design the parades and rallies. In 1942 he became minister of armaments and war production. Speer refused Hitler’s orders to destroy the infrastructure, choosing instead to remove and hide key parts so they would obstruct the Allies but not destroy Germany’s postwar future. At one point he planned to kill Hitler by throwing poison gas grenades into the ventilation system of the bunkers but was thwarted by Hitler building brick walls around the vents.

The other key men that Gerecke led back to Christ were Hans Fritzsche (Ministry of Propaganda) and Baldur von Schirach who led the Hitler Youth and governed Vienna. As a writer and editor for the Telegraphen Union, Hans came to the attention of Goebbels. He was calm, learned, rational and clear, unlike many Nazis. He was clearly anti-Semitic and often attacked Western leaders. He was ruthless. During the trial he enjoyed discussing the Scriptures but was wary of Christian doctrine. Gerecke took the openings he provided.

Schirach had a paternal grandfather who lived in the U.S. and fought in the Civil War before returning to Germany after marrying an American girl. He was born in Berlin and joined several youth organizations after World War I. He read Mein Kampf when he was 18 and then met Hitler who sent him to Munich. Hitler groomed him and gave him more and more responsibility. He became responsible for the 6 million Hitler Youth members. They were trained to “believe in the supremacy of Teutonic culture.” He was blindly devoted to Hitler.

In 1940 he enlisted in the German Army and fought in Germany. Hitler then made him governor of Vienna where Schirach begain to deport Viennese Jews to Poland. He says he became an anti-Semite reading Houston Steward Chamberlain, an American whose books influenced Nazi policy and automaker Henry Ford. He later repented, calling the racial policy “one of the greatest menaces to mankind.”

All three men approached Gerecke about being communed and met for a communion service in the tiny chapel. In the mid-1950’s there was a news report that those who were sent to Spandau were attending chapel with the sole exception being Hess.

During the Christmas Break, Colonel Andrus worked with the chaplains to arrange visits with family. The men were worried about their families. Many were rumored to have been captured by the Americans. At that time von Schirach’s wife Henriette was taken by soldiers from her home and children, and taken to a POW camp where she spent Christmas Eve in a cramped cell.

Julius Streicher was not in a jovial mood. He wondered who made God, and that a Jew being the Son of God was propaganda. The propaganda expert couldn’t think past his own experience, projecting it on others. The promised Christmas Eve services were delayed due to the demands and rumblings of the press. When they finally did gather for worship the prisoners began to hum to the organ, then slowly started singing. The loudest was Goering. Gerecke read and preached from Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth.

“We never took time to appreciate Christmas in all its biblical meaning. Tonight we are stripped of all material gifts and away from our people. But we have the Christmas story.” Fritz Saukel

For chapel services thirteen guards stood against the back wall. They might use their batons if they thought someone wasn’t being reverent enough. Goering was always there, but not for the prayers. He just wanted to get out of the cell. Hjalmar Schacht complained that since Gerecke wasn’t fluent, he had to read his sermons. He also complained that he struggled to carry out some pastoral conversations. Schacht longed for a German pastor. He didn’t fault Gerecke’s intentions nor kind-heartedness.

Hans Frank joined the Nazi Party straight out of law school, becoming the chief legal authority. For a time he was Hitler’s personal attorney. After a series of other posts he was named the governor of Poland in 1939. He received nicknames like “Slayer of Poles” and “Butcher of Krakow” for not only sending Jews to camps but also the intelligentsia. The goal was to enslave the labor class. Frank cared only for the German people. He wanted the Jewish people to simply disappear.

Ernst Kaltenbrunner was the man who received all those people in his camp. Ernst was a childhood friend of Eichmann. He studied law like his father and grandfather. He joined the Party in 1932, becoming commander of the Austrian SS in 1935. By 1942 he was head of the Reich Security Main Office, controlling the Gestapo. The Einstazgruppen units roamed Europe killing as many Jews as they could find. Being Eichmann’s superior, he authorized the concentration and extermination camp system. A huge man, he was also known as “smart, devious, deceitful, and sadistic.” Even Himmler feared him.

Townsend then takes us to Camp Mauthausen on a plateau above the Danube. At that camp, approximately 100,000 people were tortured and murdered. Less than half of those people have been identified. In 1938 it was chosen to house the political prisoners from Austria. The camp was built by inmates in Dachau. Franz Ziereis was named commander and kept a death register called “the book of numbers”. After the invasion of Poland, the death rate increased dramatically. Mauthausen didn’t have its own crematorium at the time. The SS shipped dead bodies to the city to be cremated. Eventually the camp built its own crematorium. In 1941 it was designated a Category III camp, for the anti-social and hardened criminals. Prisoners were used to build roads, tunnels and power plants. They were used to work in factories. Food rations would be cut. Overcrowding created sanitary problems including typhoid and dysentery epidemics. The gas chamber could kill up to 80 people at a time. The SS began to use Zyklon B. Kaltenbrunner tried to claim ignorance, and that he’d only visited the quarry.

The quarries provided granite for them to sell. The prisoners who worked in them woke up at 5:30 and had a cup of coffee before heading off to the quarry. They would march 12 stories down 186 clay steps into it. Lunch was a cup of cabbage or turnip soup. For dinner they had some bread and a wee bit of margarine or sausage. They worked 11-hour days 6 days/week. If you collapsed from exhaustion, you were shot, beaten to death or drowned in the pools of rainwater that would gather. In the winter, many would simply freeze to death. Men would carry massive granite slabs on their backs up the makeshift stairway. It was called the “Stairway of Death”. Sometimes the guard would tell them to throw the slab over the cliff, run down and bring it back up. Some prisoners were thrown down into the quarry. They were mockingly called parachutists. I can’t comprehend the cruelty.

Chaplain O’Connor served in the Eleventh which took Mande St. Etienne in Belgium. They fought at the Siegfried line for twelve days. Later the division moved south, liberating POW camps. Then they came to Combat Command “B”, a concentration camp filled with Russian and Polish slave laborers. As they neared Buchenwald they discovered prisoners who’d overrun the remaining guards. One of their reconnaissance patrols happened upon Camp Mauthausen. Many prisoners were dead. There was evidence of cannibalism. When guards were found, prisoners and sometimes liberators beat them.

In Nuremberg the hulking Kaltenbrunner was turned into a sickly, depressed malcontent. A psychiatrist called him a shivering coward. The charges against him were the worst and most graphic. His strategy was to lie. His lack of craftiness bothered even the other Germans.

This bring us to Townsend’s attempts to understand the problem of evil as exemplified in these atrocities. He can’t seem to differentiate between the evil men do and the disasters that come on them as judgment for said evil. Robert P. Kennedy is used to express the view that God is guilty of not recognizing humans with free will would do such horrible things. He uses an Augustine quote that sounds quite like Rabbi Kushner’s formulation that God cannot be both all powerful or all good. He uses a mistranslation of a passage in Isaiah where “raa” is translated evil instead of disaster. Evil is not a created substance or matter. Evil is action. Townsend wonders if God is responsible for the Holocaust in a way that He should be judged by us.

The Verdicts Draw Near

As the trial went on the men began to blame one another. Some, like Goering, continued to defend Hitler. They blamed Himmler, Goebbels and Bormann. On June 13, 1946 Goering and Franz von Papen shouted at each other with Goering defending him and von Papen claiming he “murdered six million innocent people.” The question was who ordered it if not the Chief of State. The other prisoners were growing weary of it all.

When a rumor was heard that Alma wanted Henry home, some prisoners wrote to her pleading that he be allowed to remain with them until it was all over. Hess’s mental state was increasingly unstable. He focused on Hitler’s strange eyes the last few years of his life.

“I am happy to know that I have done my duty, to my people, my duty as a German, as a National Socialist, as a loyal follower of my Fuhrer. I do not regret anything.” Rudolph Hess

Ribbentrop, likewise, did not think himself guilty. Hans Frank, in utter despair, handed over his diary. He confessed his crimes and became a devout Catholic. He was closest to actually admitting guilt on the stand. But as his mental state fluctuated, so did his statements. Keital considered a plea deal but Goering convinced him to not break ranks.

Both Gerecke and O’Connor grew close to the families. They provided gifts to them as they were able. As the families came to visit their office became a day care. Gerecke would use this time to talk to the children about Jesus.

As the verdicts came in, the men were brought up one at a time to hear their verdict. Fritzsche, Papen and Schacht were acqutited. Goering was sentenced to death by hanging. He would plead to have it changed to the firing squad but was denied. Hess received life in prison. Ribbentrop was sentenced to death by hanging as were Kaltenbrunner, Frank, Sauckel, Rosenberg, Frick, Streicher, Jodl and Seyss-Inquart. Speer was sentenced to twenty years in prison. Funk and Raeder got life sentences. Schirach got 20 years, Neurath 15 years and Doenitz 10 years in prison.

The Nuremberg Trials Started 70 Years Ago Today. Here Are the Three Jewish  Lawyers Who Made the Difference. - Tablet Magazine

The author then goes into the “mark of Cain.” In the process he gets into source theory, attributing the story to J, the Yahwist. Supposedly J is “a fan of character flaws and he is an expert at exploiting them in the service of a narrative.” This is the silly stuff that happens when you deny that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16). He also brings in some Miroslav Volf so that the murderous “them” is really the murderous “us”. Townsend concludes that the chaplains believed that God loves all, even the perpetrators. They were not deciding whether or not to minister to them, but how. They were neither judging nor forgiving them. This brings us to the question of what kind of God he believes in. Is it the good but weak God who merely hopes people will be saved or the good and powerful one who reveals His amazing grace and mercy in actually saving messed up people?

Preparing for Execution

From that point on, ministry was done in the cells and the prisoners were handcuffed. The men sentenced to prison were moved to the second tier. Able to walk on the ground floor they chose not to due to the effect it would have on those sentenced to death. After a few weeks, Speer finally relented. Cuffed to his guard, his steps on the metal staircase were like thunderclaps. Ribbentrop read his Bible much of the day. He, Keitel and Sauckel took Communion in their cells.

On October 12th the condemned men met with their wives for the last time. Goering told Gerecke that he died when he left his wife upstairs.

The execution team and their ready-to-assemble gallows arrived on October 3rd. It was assembled indoors. The time of the executions was kept from the condemned. They would be woken up in the middle of the night for a final meal and then executed.

Goering often spoke to O’Connor about baseball: both the game and business. He told Gerecke that while he was a member of the Church he didn’t hold to its teaching (there’s a contradiction for you). He mocked the Creation story and divine inspiration. He denied the atonement. Jesus was just another “smart Jew.” He thought there was no existence after physical death. Yet, he still wanted Communion despite not believing in the Savior because he’d never been denied before. Gerecke would refuse (rightly).

This begins a discussion of Communion. Townsend states that Lutherans believed that the bread became his body (transubstantiation). He then says they teach Jesus “truly present … in, with, and under” (consubstantiation). He conflates rather than distinguishes the two views. Later he correctly explains transubstantiation, and correctly notes that Luther rejected that view.

“It is one thing if God is present, and another if he is present for you.” Martin Luther

Without hope, without a Savior, without fear Goering went to bed in his silk pajamas at 9:15. At 10:40 he turned to the wall and bit into a vial of potassium cyanide. As the Cardinals tied the Red Sox, the cry went out that he’d committed suicide. The author indicates that most historians believe American MP Tex Wheeler gave him the vial.

1946 World Series

At 12:25 am the execution team entered the gym along with doctors, reporters and witnesses. The condemned would be led individually (with a chaplain if desired) to the gallows. At 1 am Andrus began going from cell to cell to collect the men. Goering was supposed to hang first, but now Ribbentrop was first. When it was Keitel’s turn he recited Bible verses and hummed the melody of a hymn. The proceeding paused as they waited for doctors to pronounce both men dead. At 1:39 they finally brought in Kaltenbrunner, who said “I regret that crimes were committed in which I had no part. Good luck, Germany.” Rosenberg rejected all attempts at ministry.

Gerecke noticed that O’Connor, who ministered to soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge, was beginning to crack. As Frank dropped he said, “May Jesus have mercy on me.” Streicher, on the other hand, got his right arm free for a salute as he exclaimed “Heil Hitler.” It is claimed that the executioner adjusted the noose so his neck would not break. The witnesses heard his gasps and gurgles. Sauckel continued to proclaim his innocence. Jodl saluted Germany. At just before 3 am, Seyss-Inquart was pronounced dead and the witnesses left the building.

When the bodies were photographed, the chaplains realized that their faces had smashed into the platform and been gruesomely damaged. Back at his apartment Gerecke reflected on their crimes that began with “petty hates, prejudices and compromises” that we left unchecked.

Townsend then meditates on forgiveness. The Jewish view he recounts is essentially Pelagian. Our turning activates God’s response. People, in some sense, earn grace. He recounts a story told by Simon Wiesenthal to show how representatives of a group can’t forgive sins committed by individuals against individuals of his group. In his story, the Nazi offers an early form of CRT as the believes the Jews were the cause of all their misfortunes: war, poverty, hunger and unemployment.

Townsend then grossly misrepresents Luther. “He believed every human being is both sinner and justified as righteous through God’s grace.” No, not everyone. We are justified by faith alone, not simply by being alive. Further, he says, “No one is innocent- neither a Gerecke nor a Kaltenbrunner- but everyone, Christians believe, is saved.” No, we don’t. We believe none simply by their sin is beyond grace, but not all receive grace.

Returning home, Gerecke returned to ministry including telling his story of the ministry in Nuremberg. O’Connor returned to Siena. While they returned to their pre-war lives, their lives would never be the same.

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