Highlights Reel

(August/September)

As readers know each Monday there is at least one author, blogger, researcher, or artist who is highlighted for their work. This is a combination of August and September because the month has had fewer highlights due to unexpected travel. That said there will no longer be Monday Announcements but rather Monday Reviews from past weeks works along with highlights of the week and any additional announcements. So please take a look at the highlighted thinkers and artists whose work is changing the world for the better.

Highlights

Kari Lynn Kurz

Blog: Porch and Dove

  • See Article: Biblical Lenses for Racism
    • Excerpt: “The horrific murder of George Floyd on May 25 sent America reeling. Opinions on racism, prejudice and justice have flooded our social media feeds and news outlets. Many see this tragedy as yet another instance of racism and oppression, but others insist that the statistics on police brutality and crime debunk that this event is connected to a larger problem.”
  • About: Kari Kurz is a freelance writer, thinker, and Christian speaker including the 2020 conference, GirlDefined. Kari works with young women and girls in finding truth in a world of confusion. She is a skilled communicator, planner, and researcher.
  • Degree: B.A. English Language

Prof. Kaleb ‘Kal’ Demerew

  • Featured: The Abstract Elephant Magazine
    • Article: Africa’s Socialist Legacies: Why Americans Should be Wary of ‘Revolutionaries’
    • Excerpt: “Increasing political polarization, rioting, and socialist ideals are becoming the norm for American society, but is this really what we want? While the ideals of socialism can sound appealing to younger generations, it is important to understand socialism in practice and its real-life blowback by studying examples of socialism in other countries.”
  • About: Adjunct at Concordia University School of Business and Communication; Specialist in International and Comparative Politics; Ph.D student at USF School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies

Grant Mitchell

  • Blog: MillennialOT
    • Article: Defining Mental Health, Purpose. and the Meaning of Life
    • Excerpt: “Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental illness? Have you ever met anyone diagnosed with a mental illness? In America, it would be quite difficult to not know someone diagnosed with a mental illness.”
    • About: (MOT/ OTR/L) (Licensed Specialist in Occupational Therapy)
    • Note: Grant and I will be doing a future cross dialogue on the questions concerning Health, Purpose, and the Meaning of Life.

Katherine Holmes

Occupation: Artist/Painter

Site: https://www.katherineholmesart.com/

Facebook Page: Katherine Holmes Art

Special Note: Her work is brilliant as it is transcendent. Holmes art is an aesthetic expression of MereBeautyInTruth. Using largely Christian imagery including an entire series on her interpretation of the Lectio Divinaan ancient traditional christian practice of prayerful scriptural study, Katherine transforms scripture into beautiful translations of artistic expression. Please consider supporting this artist by commissioning her work. – Edward Kyle Richey

About: Katherine Holmes grew up in Ft Worth, Texas and graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Art degree.

A passionate painter, she interned in Cardiff, Wales using art workshops as a way to connect with the homeless and socially isolated. After two years of working alongside this people group, she returned to Corpus Christi, Texas and became an artist with K Space Studios. She worked as a fine artist and mural assistant with the gallery before returning to Cardiff to begin a Masters in Art Psychotherapy in 2017.

Alongside her masters, she is currently an artist with the Share a Life project, spending the last two years leading art workshops in homeless hostels, interviewing clients, and painting their portraits. These paintings have become a travelling exhibition that is constantly evolving as new portraits are produced. This project is set to finalize in spring 2021.

Katherine is currently a member of The Sustainable Studios in Cardiff, and uses the studios to develop her own art as well as creating custom portraits for a variety of clients.

Christ & The Coffee

(All Things Veritas Vlog Series)

Special Announcement: All Things Veritas is back up and running! See A.T.V. as a Network with multiple programs. The first program to premier is Christ & The Coffee:

A bi-weekly methodical scripture meditation series using art, phrases, key words, and analysis to learn the scriptures.

The premier is Episode 1, Series 1 over the Book Of Colossians. Ep. 1 covers Col. 1:1-2. 

Christ & The Coffee is one program part of a growing network on All Things Veritas and a subsidiary of Truth In Focus.

There will be further programs including interviews, lectures, news, and commentary in the coming months and years at All Things Veritas and in connection with Truth In Focus and also MereBeautyInTruth

Watch and Learn and Grow. – E.K.R

A Word To The Wise

(Theology/Scripture)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight (Proverbs 9:10, ESV).

Ancient Greece had a maxim, “Know Thyself” most famously attributed to the philosopher Socrates. This aphorism serves a great and worthy purpose of encouraging self-examination. How often do we stop and reflect on our own nature? Not just asking, who and what we are, but truly trying to know ones personal faults and then seeking to improve, learn, and grow. Philosophy, philo meaning love and sophos meaning wisdom, is the love of wisdom and the seeking of truth. I attribute a great deal to philosophy and would defend her ideals as much as liberty and freedom, but I submit to you that as Christians we are called to first submit to God and His wisdom.

More Than Self-Care

Fearing the Lord in an age of fear and distrust of authority is not an easy sale for Millennials (my generation), Gen Z, and Gen Alpha who are sincerely seeking to make a difference; “our” maxim being “Change the World.” Our youthfulness and wishful thinking is far too often excused as merely laziness, naiveness, and narcissism; a fair criticism but hardly the whole picture of several generations being swept under a complex globalized world that has rapidly materialized more wealth, more goods, and more services than all of human history combined while simultaneously fragmenting “old” methods, standards, traditions, and opportunities. But let’s step away from the cultural and the political towards the Scriptural and Christ Centeredness.

Within the context of fearing the Lord, yir’ah, is a form of piety, respect, or reverence for God. John Gill’s, English pastor and theologian, explains that the converted state is a state of wisdom, a place of recognition of the Most High God and the active working of grace. Christ says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). Abiding, menō , a place in which the person is to be kept or to remain. That place is a place of salvation by which only though faith and grace can one be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9), but also that place is a place of wisdom that arises from that saving grace and faith. A working grace, a working faith that continues past the state of salvation. Our works matter in the eyes of God, for faith is active (James 2:14-26). Grace never ceases once salvation is accomplished (Romans 5:20-21) meaning a true believer seeks God and seeks to obey His command over their lives even when the Christian will falter, run, and even fall away for a time. Yet those of the vine will remain on the vine and Christ the Shepherd always brings His sheep back to the flock.

Today the term “self care” i.e. a place of spiritual, mental, and physical health focused entirely on ones well-being, is a central tenet of the age. Granted a great deal of narcissism can quickly overtake a person who focuses so much on themselves and never others; a place of complete aversion to hardship or sacrifice or pain is the roots of hedonism. However, ignoring your wellbeing is equally problematic when taken to the extreme of Asceticism which is also unbiblical. God cares about all of His creation. He desires goodness and wellness over them. Christianity needs to refrain from going to extremes when God condones a time for work and a time for rest. One of my favorite examples comes from the Prophet Elijah in Chapter 19 of 1 Kings verses 1-8:

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.  But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.”  And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.

Over and over again in the Bible the people of the Lord in the Old and New Testament are sinners and saints who fail completely on their own, yet find success in their complete reliance on God. Saint Paul states clearly concerning “a thorn in his flesh” that:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

Do not ever feel “bad” when you need to rest and to take some time to “decompress” from the world and life’s situations. Know the difference between laziness and weakness, purposely forgoing for selfish reasons and a needed time to sleep or focus in preparation. Death is always with us from the moment of conception til the moment we die. The human body is eventually weakened to the point of death. There is no escaping our weakened estate. While the world ignores reality, Christians must learn to find joy in their weakness and eventual death.

Everything I have explained to you is a place of God’s wisdom, not my own. God’s word is a place of refuge, of hope, and of ultimate good. It is the responsibility of the Church to help all “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6: 33) or to say it differently, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” which the Church is equipped to do. All of which is not “up to us” that is to say Christian’s are not capable of doing the work without the grace of God by which wisdom is birthed.

If Christ is not seeking sinners, humanity is doomed. And if the Church is not speaking to sinners then it has failed the Great Commission. There will always be issues that the Church must uphold and push back against, but no person is without sin nor should go without the hope of Christ and that means having a church full of saints and sinners. And having them over for dinner or going to them whenever and wherever in need. Love, Christ said, love God and love your neighbor as yourself are the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).

Knowing thy self will never be accomplished to its fullest extent without first knowing God. He will take you to the deepest and hardest of places but for your good and for His glory.

To my generation and the generations after me, if you want to change the world, then seek after God, His wisdom, and His kingdom first and foremost. Never allow differences to get in between you and that person at the sake of forgoing the Gospel which includes loving your neighbor. Christ died so that we may live! Do not mistake His sacrifice for a life without a true cause. Seek Him, Fear Him, and See Him work in your life and the lives of others. But also know, the God loves you and takes you wherever you are at in life. No person in all of human history has ever been “too dirty” or “too unclean” to be made anew. To be forgiven. To be loved. To be recognized as worthy. Christ can redeem all souls. Lastly, you can go forth in life sick and tired and broken and even get lost on your way, but like Elijah, Christ will find you and feed you and care for you without chastisement. Never fear your weakness. Know that your weakness was never the problem. All are weak, none are strong. The problem was and remains the placement of our weakness in relation to our reliance for the strength we seek. Placed properly in God first and you will be in the highest of strong towers. Seek His refuge, Know His Wisdom, and have His love pour over you like the finest oils and perfumes.

May God Bless You and Keep You Now and Forever. Amen.

Virtue By Decree

(Insight Series)

A Preliminary

Virtue may not seem an obvious topic to discuss in our post-American, post-Christian, post-Liberal, and post-Western state; virtue might even appear meaningless or useless to a people preparing for whatever wave of turmoil comes next or welcoming the awaited changes. But it is my hope to convince readers that virtue is of societal value (legally, politically, and economically) for those who desire goodness and faithfulness; honor and truth; respect and justice; law and peace. Virtue does not provide eternal salvation, only through Christ is that achieved (John 14:4; Romans 10:9; Matthew 28:16-20), but virtue is a valuable means and end for Christians and non-Christians, Conservatives and non-Conservatives alike.

Pastor and theologian Timothy Keller wrote an article promoting his recent book, How to Reach the West Again (2020), and in that article from The Gospel Coalition Keller wrote in his introduction:

We are entering a new era in which there is not only no social benefit to being Christian, but an actual social cost. In many places, culture is becoming increasingly hostile toward faith, and beliefs in God, truth, sin, and the afterlife are disappearing in more and more people. Now, culture is producing people for whom Christianity is not only offensive, but incomprehensible.

– Keller (2020), How to Reach the West (Again)

As the world turns from material hopes and dreams toward material promises to escape the harshness of the world, the material world increasingly becomes the only means of escape for even the so-called spiritual. Unless pre-modern traditions and institutions of faith from the Monotheistic to the Polytheistic are central to a society, the DNA of its people, overtime societies forgo their “old ways” or their “old gods” for a new set of ways and a new set of gods. The gods never disappear as Christians understand that we are what we worship:

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Luke 16:13).

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things (Rom. 1: 21-23).

It is here where Christian’s receive the term, “Virtuous Pagan,” the claim of moral similarities found between cultures. Aquinas for example understood the distinction between charity for the sake of charity and the Christian distinction to be charitable as Christ was giving and kind and gracious. This is why even Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox can work with entirely different faiths on causes that are set on a common good. Our actions speak of our character, just as our words speak of our heart’s truest desires (Luke 6:45). What then does Modernity (1500-Present) have to say? How has late modernity (1945-Present) particularly spoken of human culture and society?

Judaeo-Christianity “never did defeat paganism,” said feminist scholar Camille Paglia to The Harvard Crimson. Strong words that are completely true. Paganism has never left and is likely the strongest and oldest human root of belief that pervades to this day after the departure from Eden. From God to gods whether pagan or secular, Islam or Hinduism; the faith and beliefs of humanity intertwine between myth and reality in the story of human life including in the moral quest of right and wrong; good and evil; virtuous and unvirtuous.

As I had written once before:

Christians nor Conservatives are strangers to cultural critique including of liberal society (e.g. Capitalism or Free Speech) and upholding standards beyond the relative values of the day. As the conservative thinker Russell Kirk explained, “The pure democrat is the practical atheist; ignoring the divine nature of law and the divine establishment of spiritual hierarchy” (The Conservative Mind, p. 137). A synergy exists between the two over their respect for God and a moral law.

– Get Woke or Get Broke: When Reason Fails to Stand

That “synergy” comes together in the form of an understanding that God created the heavens and the earth; establishing a universal natural law, a set of moral laws that all mankind are to follow regardless of belief.

Virtue by Decree means a set of obligations weighted upon and against all institutions that hold power and authority over a people. And it represents a set of values expected from those institutions. Whether a society upholds any values is dependent upon the willing responsibility of that people. Christians and Conservatives understand that humanity is wholly incapable of always doing good and remaining good. Human nature is corrupt and fallible. Even enforced “common good” principles can quickly turn to evil. Nothing lasts forever. Nevertheless we are called to be a people of virtue and must strive for it.

Why then Virtue? Why this topic now?

As the dividing lines between private and public increasingly ceases due to immense political shifts caused by economic, technological and ecological influences, the Christian faith and Conservative institutions are forced again to reconsider what is true, beautiful, and just beyond the present times. This is a good things for us, though it poses serious consequences and sincere fears.

Neo-liberalism, beyond classical liberal theory of private property and free-markets, is a merging of Corporate and Government, Private and Public powers that have blurred the lines of authority and extinguished the human capacity to live beyond what I call, the Economic Gaze. Now the world worships the god of the Global Economy, a system entirely Too Big To Fail. Make no mistake, companies and governments are turning toward illiberal policies for their own survival. Those beliefs are antithetical to not only Christianity but nearly every conservative thinking or premodern believing faith, ideology, or philosophy; while classical liberalism has morphed beyond its original intent into the present neoliberal order making classical liberal ideology obsolete.

All of the known world is presently in a paradigm shift. From the jungles of the Amazon to the mountains of Nepal. Late Modernity is transforming the world and imprisoning it under an authoritarian mindset. Conflicts rise between countries striving for hegemony as citizens across the seven continents are under the weight of upholding a global economy and the unending, vastly scaling advancement of technology. Planet earth faces ecological consequences of water and food shortages, climate change, disease, and an alarming number of endangered species. Cultures are disappearing at a rapid pace losing whatever identity left. Nation-states are turning into relics as super-national unions continue forward despite setbacks such as Brexit. Although not over, 2020 marks the clear decay on the walls of crony capitalism, broken systems of government, fear politics, fake news, mass conspiracies, dangerous ideologies, and identity politics.

Therefore, I propose that Christendom and Conservative Thinkers must now begin to prepare for a better and brighter future should that future come. To begin a process of structuring what mankind has learned over the centuries, successes and failures, so as to reform or rebuild the crumbling globe before us.

Virtue by Decree is that vision.

Next Time: What Is Virtue?

Art References

Seven Virtues by Francesco Pesellino and Workshop

Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses by John William Waterhouse

Monday Announcements

(August 24, 2020)

Note: Moving the announcements to Monday’s. I think it will set the tone for the week. The next three weeks will be rather busy and full of travel for me. But I have plenty in store for you fellow readers as I take on the tasks of writing a book, blogging, and a vlog. So without further ado.

Upcoming

August 25 – A Poem

Type: Poetry/Arts/Humanities

Description: To encourage the arts and humanities, I will be posting poems by me and others from time to time. Feel free to send me a poem and I just may share it on Truth In Focus.

August 27 – Virtue By Decree

Type: Insight

Description: A blog series concerning the rule of law by virtue that governments, institutions, and families can choose to put into their own practices in relation to achieving “the good life” or Eudaimonia.

August 30 – A Word To The Wise

Type: Theological/Biblical

Description: A theological outlook on Christian Wisdom versus Worldly Wisdom in similarities and differences.

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(After much delay I am happy to announce the return of AllThingsVeritas on Youtube! Interviews and several different Vlog series will be starting in the next month. Please join and like and be ready to learn and grow.)

Highlights

Kari Lynn Kurz

Blog: Porch and Dove

  • See Article: Biblical Lenses for Racism
  • Excerpt: “The horrific murder of George Floyd on May 25 sent America reeling. Opinions on racism, prejudice and justice have flooded our social media feeds and news outlets. Many see this tragedy as yet another instance of racism and oppression, but others insist that the statistics on police brutality and crime debunk that this event is connected to a larger problem.”
  • About: Kari Kurz is a freelance writer, thinker, and Christian speaker including the 2020 conference, GirlDefined. Kari works with young women and girls in finding truth in a world of confusion. She is a skilled communicator, planner, and researcher.
  • Degree: B.A. English Language