In hoc signo vinces… nihilo

Easter morning I attended a sunrise service at the beach. Because of the location, the general level of dress was significantly more casual than typical. Many of the men showed up in matching long-sleeve T-shirts which, though I had never seen before, I immediately knew must have been purchased by the men’s group. I knew this because the name of the church and the words “Men’s Ministry” were featured in small script at the bottom of the shirts. Far more noticeable was the shield, emblazoned with a blood-red crusader’s cross, which took up the whole front of the shirt. In large block letters down the sleeves were the words “MEN OF VALOR” in all capital letters.

I thought the words on the sleeves was tacky, but the Crusader’s shield and cross is a powerful symbol. It’s “bad ass.” And it seemed profoundly sacrilegious to see these men wearing it.

Grown men playing dress-up, pretending to valor until their wives tell them it’s time to go home, LARPing as patriarchs and defenders of the faith for a morning, like the fat guy in the outrageously fake “master funnery sergeant” uniform.

I wanted to punch them.

See, this is the same men’s group that gleefully passed around an obviously fake “letter” attacking fathers, exuberant over a chance to denigrate themselves and assure each other that, after all, their wives and children were perfectly justified in rebelling against their God-ordained leadership.

Then my anger faded, and I just felt sad.

Sad because those shirts show that those men really do want to be patriarchs, men of valor, defenders of the faith. They wouldn’t pretend to it if they didn’t value it.

Sad because they have managed to convince themselves (at least partially) that they aren’t pretenders: that “True Valor” is assisting the enemy in slicing their own neck; that defending the faith means arguing with each other over words to no profit, such as whether the communion wine becomes Christ’s blood, or is only a very powerful symbol of His blood; that being a patriarch means following the whims of their wives and children.

How can such a strong delusion even be possible?

Unfortunately, the fault lies not only with the people, but also with the priests:

And the people will be like the priest, the servant like his master, the maid like her mistress, the buyer like the seller, the lender like the borrower, the creditor like the debtor. —Isaiah 24:2 (NASB)

For those who guide this people are leading them astray; And those who are guided by them are brought to confusion. —Isaiah 9:16 (NASB)

Consider this tweet from First Things, “America’s Most Influential Journal of Religion and Public Life:”

Go ahead, read that link in the tweet. I’ll wait, and you need to see what it says for yourself.

If you haven’t heard of First Things, here’s the blurb from its “About” page:

First Things is published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, an interreligious, nonpartisan research and educational 501(c)(3) organization. The Institute was founded in 1990 by Richard John Neuhaus and his colleagues to confront the ideology of secularism, which insists that the public square must be “naked,” and that faith has no place in shaping the public conversation or in shaping public policy.

That’s the claim. But then you read the article linked above, and you realize that what First Things is promoting is that when the trumpet is blown, the lyre is sounded, and you are commanded to kneel before your new godyou do just that (and then give some money away afterwords to make it all better). After all, as long as you don’t make any money off of kneeling before the image, it’s totally OK. None of that standing tall on principle and being thrown in a fiery furnace bullshit.

All those inconvenient mockings, scourgings, chains, imprisonment, stonings, being sawn in two, being put to death with the sword, being destitute, being afflicted, being ill-treated, wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground–the modern Christian need not go through any of that shit! Just bow to the idol, and then give some money away–it’s like buying a clean conscience, and far more convenient than actually standing on principle!

The best part is, you can even wear a shirt with a crusader’s cross on it while you bow before the golden statue! That way you’ll be sure to feel valiant while you’re kneeling before Dildolech. If you start to feel like maybe kneeling to an idol isn’t an act of spiritual valor, you can always read the newest edition of First Things, where Andrew Walker will be happy to inform you that bowing really takes more moral courage than standing up and being cast in the furnace. If you work hard enough at it, you might just be able to convince yourself that the few people you do see standing up here and there really do deserve to be thrown in the furnace. After all, a True Christian is loving, and it isn’t very loving to stand up when everyone else is kneeling is it?

No, it is you, kneeling compliantly among the masses, that is the true man of spiritual valor.

O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray And confuse the direction of your paths. —Isaiah 3:12 (NASB)

This was a hard post to write. The prophet and the priest should be on the same side. Yet when the priest begins to teach the people to worship strange gods, he is no longer friend, but foe. The prophet’s role is to preach to both priests and people that the mighty, and fearful, and terrible day of the Lord is at hand, and to entreat priest and people to return, and serve Him.

This is why I write. I am a watchman. I must blow the trumpet.

If the trumpet gives forth an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?

Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men!
Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up!
Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, “I am a mighty man.”



9 thoughts on “In hoc signo vinces… nihilo

  1. “First Things” was named after a passage in a CS Lewis essay from “God In the Dock” The key quote:
    “Apparently the world is made that way. If Esau really got the pottage in return for his birthright, then Esau was a lucky exception. You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first…. From which it would follow the question, What is the first thing? The only reply I can offer here is that if we do not know, then the first and only truly practical thing is to set about finding out.”

    The magazine doesn’t know.

    The public square is naked and ashamed. Unlike the publisher.

    I write this from the state I am moving to where the local priests and churches (and the general citizenry!). seem to know. The service is beautiful, the women are modest, and the men assist at mass (no women on the dais!). The priest is profound, relevant, and on fire.

    The earlier weeks in my current locale…, well lets say that the liturgical color for lent is purple, and a Barney dinosaur head would have fit in perfectly.

    Kerry Livegren’s Hero’s canticle comes to mind:

    For the Song we sang isn’t heard anymore
    We’ve forgotten it’s name
    But the melody still lingers in our hearts
    So we’re pushin’ on and we’re not looking back
    And we don’t mind the pain
    ‘Cause a man can never lose what he can’t attain

    Can anyone remember when
    The boys were boys and men were men
    And everyone believed we’d all pull through
    But the changes came and chilled the air
    Our Heroes are no longer there
    The ones who stand against the tide are few

    Take heart. It isn’t up to you, it is up to he who is within you, and he is greater than he that is in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was hard for you to write this and it was hard for me to read it. I can’t help but feel sad and a little anxious after reading this. Here I am, a young man, about to graduate from college in a month, and I feel so powerless to become more of the man that scripture commands me to be. Is there some mental or emotional switch that I can simply flick and grow out of this inept personality and temperament? (I know there isn’t!) Should I even bother pursuing a woman when I am so very aware and scared of the responsibility and privilege that comes with marriage and manhood? Should I grip the fear and use it to compel and motivate me to be more of a man?

    I’m taking someone out to lunch this weekend. She’s everything that I’ve been looking for. She’s intelligent, she’s a traditionalist, she’s Reformed, she loves to travel, she wants to be a wife and mother, and she scorns the modern world. Altogether she’s lovely, and she’s got me scared. A prior, sinful relationship that ended a year ago is still messing with my head, even though I’m over the girl and I’m ready to move on, I’m afraid I’m going to mess this up. Moose, if you could pray for me, I’d appreciate it. With the Lord’s help, if this girl is the one he’s set aside for me, everything will be fine. But please pray that he would help me get through this fear.



  3. @palegoat – we don’t deserve God’s grace, but that is the point. Your girl of God’s grace isn’t yours, and you are worried because it is a grace. A gift. You don’t deserve it or it wouldn’t be a gift. If you’ve properly repented of your earlier sin (confession and penance have a role in making sure our souls are mucked out), you shouldn’t worry, and if you are unsure, pray about that.

    If God is putting you together there is no reason to fear. It’s up to him, not you. Don’t worry about yourself, worry about Jesus. This is the “first thing”. From Lewis again: Aim for heaven and you will get the earth thrown in. Worry about getting the earth and you can miss Heaven.

    Maybe she isn’t “the one”, but the first of many graces to show you what heaven is about. That it is more than worth it to obey the Lord. Coming out of the cesspool of sin, you may just be in the atrium of the heavenly treasure room. And having not seen true beauty, you are awed by the poster on the front of the building. But there’s more inside – it’s called “heaven”.

    Also realize that her intentions might be like yours – she might not yet be the woman she wants to be, and is worried about how can she get to the point to do all of those things, to be a wife worthy of a Godly husband in the same way you want to be worthy of a Godly wife.

    Or if not worthy – since I’m talking about grace – at least be mutual good stewards of what God has entrusted you with. And there is no greater treasure on this earth than a holy spouse.

    And you can’t pay the admission – only ask the Owner. You can’t fix yourself, you can only cooperate with grace. Only God has the power to change your heart. In pride, you can put on a facade of the man you want to be, but only God can break and re-set the bent limb so it heals in the right way.

    All churches should be “come as you are”, the heresy is “stay as you are”. With the crooked limbs that will never be straightened, so you will limp and pad instead of walk or run. You are seeing what it would be like to run. But if there is something to worry about, realize that now comes the orthopedic surgery and physical therapy. Sometimes there are miraculous healings but the slower process is more common.

    Many birds naturally can’t fly. Eagles can soar if their wings aren’t clipped and they aren’t caged.

    Or as our Lord says through Isaiah (41:30):

    Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

    The original post is a “stay as you are” church post. The men are wearing running gear, but still can only limp, and when they start getting serious about getting fixed, they are shut down. And it appears the women don’t want to run and so don’t want their men to either.


  4. Pingback: The demonization of masculinity | Reflections on Christianity and the manosphere

  5. I don’t have anything to add, except that I am humbled in reading this and that I appreciate your trumpeting.

    May we be True Sons.


  6. Great post Moose Norseman. I read the link from Creator Cakes and I was amazed to read the following:

    We have, however, turned away customers whose remarriages were performed under the pretense of adultery. We did not feel comfortable using our talents in service of a ceremony that would wrongly lend sacramental blessing to what the Bible labels sin.

    Wow! These guys sound like they’re on the same page as me,
    But then a bit further on I read the following:

    Though we’ve never been asked to service a same-sex wedding, and though it looks increasingly that we someday will, we want to notify our customers of a policy that Creator Cakes will pursue. We’ve decided that if asked, we will provide a cake at a same-sex wedding ceremony.

    Perhaps these guys need some encouragement to persist with the good fight?
    @ Creator Cakes: If your reading this keep up the good work, don’t stop now. You’ve done it before you can do it again.

    God bless you Moose Norseman as you show direction to the men in your church. It can be difficult to convince Christians just how feminised our thinking has become, but if you speak up the Holy Spirit will convict them, and some will follow.


  7. Real men of valor don’t have to get a shirt saying they are. A close friend of mine’s dad was on one of the ships at Pearl Harbor. He was old with white hair even when I was in kindergarten. He never talked about his service nor Pearl Harbor and the tattoo he had was faded and hard to read, He did not need a shirt.


  8. Moose Norseman says: [on Deep Strength’s blog]

    April 9, 2015 at 12:19 am
    He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.

    He who receives a sodomite in the name of a sodomite shall receive a sodomite’s reward.

    I’m just letting that sink in…
    It really makes perfect sense. I will be thinking on this all day


  9. Pingback: Notes on becoming and guiding | Moose Norseman

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