Why April is the cruelest month

A_view_across_the_desert_landscape_of_Big_Bend_National_Park,_Texas“April is the cruelest month.”  That snatch of poetry always comes to mind when the calendar turns to April Fool’s Day.  But surely April isn’t the cruelest month!  April showers bring May flowers!   April marks the time when Winter is over and Spring has sprung!  So why would the poet T. S. Eliot say that April is the cruelest month?

Well, that is the first line of a long, difficult poem called “The Waste Land.”  It plays off of the legend of the Holy Grail.  When the chalice Christ used for the first Holy Communion was lost, due to a terrible sacrilege, the whole country turned into a waste land.  Vegetation died, turning the land to desert.  Nothing would grow.  Animals stopped giving birth.  Life became barren, sterile, dry.

Eliot was using that legend to explore what he saw as the spiritual wasteland of modern times.  Here too we have lost what is sacred.  He describes our emotional wasteland.  He writes about the sterility and lifelessness of the Waste Land in terms of uncommunicative marriages; a bored typist and a house-agent clerk who engage in unloving, dehumanizing sex; a woman who casually talks about her abortion.

April is the cruelest month, to people like that, because they don’t want the new life that Spring heralds.  They are happy to be spiritually dead.  They don’t want to be born again.  They feel threatened by the rain that could bring new life to the desert of their lives.  They think the prospect of new life is cruel.

In the course of the poem, amidst many other patterns of imagery, we find the motif of “death by water.”  At the end of the poem, a quester is walking in the desert towards the ruined grail chapel.  He has the sense that someone is walking beside him.  (Eliot’s footnote identifies the allusion as pointing to Christ on the road to Emmaus.)  At the very end of the poem, it is thundering and starting to rain.  Soon after he published the poem, T. S. Eliot was baptized.  Water brought life to Eliot’s own personal wasteland.

The most acclaimed, innovative, and radical poet of the modernist movement, who knew the waste land in his own heart, converted to Christianity.

[Read more…]

The death and new life of “Jane Roe”

Norma_McCorvey_(Jane_Roe),_1989_(cropped)Norma McCorvey, who went by the name of “Jane Roe” in the infamous Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, has died at the age of 69.

After winning the Supreme Court case, McCorvey became active in the pro-abortion movement.  But the kindness of a pro-life demonstrator at an abortion clinic led to her conversion to Christianity.

She then became a pro-life activist, battling the abortions that in another life she made legal.

The Associated Press obituary, excerpted and linked after the jump, has some fascinating details about her life, such as these:  During the Roe v. Wade case, she claimed that she needed an abortion because she was pregnant due to rape, but she later admitted this was a lie.  She was basically used by feminist activists who ran with her case and took it to the Supreme Court.  She became involved in a lesbian relationship, but after she became a Christian, they became celibate.  After her conversion, she was an evangelical, but she later become Roman Catholic.

Her life is a remarkable testimony to the grace of God, who redeems sinners and changes them. [Read more…]

Where Christianity is growing the fastest

The world’s fastest growing church is that of IRAN.

Despite–or maybe because of–horrific persecution, the number of Christians in Iran has shot up from around 500 in 1979 to hundreds of thousands, maybe over a million, today.  More people have become Christians in the last 20 years than have done so in the 13 centuries of Islamic domination combined.

In second place: AFGHANISTAN.

So reports Mark Howard and his sources, excerpted and linked after the jump.

All of which is instructive for us depressed and discouraged American Christians.  If God can build His church in lands of such anti-Christian hostiity as Iran and Afghanistan, He can build it here.  And if those Christians can live out their faith in the face of such powerful cultural opposition and government-sponsored persecution, with our far smaller problems, we can too.

[Read more…]

More on Muslim conversions in Europe

As we’ve blogged about (see here and here and here), large numbers of Muslim immigrants are converting to Christianity.  There is an article about the phenomenon in the Daily Beast, no less, which estimates that the numbers may be in the tens of thousands.
In addition to Germany, France, and Denmark, it is now happening in the Netherlands.  The Daily Beast story takes up the question of whether some are converting to gain asylum–it does help in Germany, which recognizes what the converts’ fate would be if they were sent home, but it is actually a hindrance to asylum in the Netherlands–and cites how the liberal state churches are opposing conversions.  But it also gives some touching testimonies from Muslims about their new faith.  Like this:
One young Iranian woman convert told the German news magazine Stern, “I’ve been looking all my life for peace and happiness, but in Islam, I have not found them,” Another convert told Stern he had found in Christianity an element—love—that was missing from the faith he was brought up in. “In Islam, we always lived in fear,” he said. “Fear God, fear of sin, fear of punishment. But Christ is a God of love.”

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An Islamist’s vision of Jesus

We have been blogging about Muslims converting to Christianity, often because they have had a vision of Jesus.  After the jump is an account of a specific Islamist, who had been plotting against a former Muslim who had become a Christian pastor.  The story lacks specifics–the full names, the place–so it might be questioned (though perhaps such vagueness is necessary to protect those mentioned).  It is clearly from a charismatic perspective.  I’m most interested in the details of the vision and of how, again, like the visions in Acts, it leads him to the Bible, so that his conversion is by the Word, rather than by the vision. [Read more…]

Merle Haggard as Christian & as evangelist

The late, great Merle Haggard lived a pretty wild life, but he turned more and more to faith, especially as he struggled in his last illnesses.  Not only that, at least one writer says that he became a Christian because of Haggard’s music. [Read more…]