The Fifth Sunday of Lent

Posted originally on the CTH on March 26, 2023

Reading I

Ez 37:12-14

Thus says the Lord GOD:
O my people, I will open your graves
and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
when I open your graves and have you rise from them,
O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live,
and I will settle you upon your land;
thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.


Jn 11:1-45

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany,
the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil
and dried his feet with her hair;
it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.
So the sisters sent word to him saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”
The disciples said to him,
“Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you,
and you want to go back there?”
Jesus answered,
“Are there not twelve hours in a day?
If one walks during the day, he does not stumble,
because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks at night, he stumbles,
because the light is not in him.”
He said this, and then told them,
“Our friend Lazarus is asleep,
but I am going to awaken him.”
So the disciples said to him,
“Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”
But Jesus was talking about his death,
while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
“Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,
that you may believe.
Let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go to die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this,
she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying,
“The teacher is here and is asking for you.”
As soon as she heard this,
she rose quickly and went to him.
For Jesus had not yet come into the village,
but was still where Martha had met him.
So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her
saw Mary get up quickly and go out,
they followed her,
presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him,
she fell at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

A Reminder to REJOICE!

Posted originally on the CTH on March 19, 2023 | Sundance

It might, heck, -check that- it does seem overwhelming at times.  But that is the nature of this collectivist strategy.  That is the purpose of this bombardment.  We must hold strong and push back against the lies and manipulations.  If you look closely at the attack, it is weak and much of it is psychological bait.  Do not fall into the trap of despair.

When I share the message “live your best life”, it is not without purpose.  Every moment that we allow the onslaught to deter us from living our dreams, is a moment those who oppose our nation view as us taking a knee.  Do not allow this effort to succeed.  You might ask yourself how I can, one person, a flea looking into a furnace, retain an optimistic disposition while all around me seems chaotic and mad.

Simple answer, it’s your choice.  Two wolves fight – one filled with despondency, isolation, despair and dark imaginings; the other filled with faith, something bigger, unrelenting hope, focus and driven to remain connected. Which wolf will win?  The one you feed.

Shake it off. “Get up, get back on your feet, you are the one they can’t beat, and you know it.” WATCH:

The point?  It ‘seems’ chaotic and mad because it has been created to appear that way.  There are more of us than them; they just control the systems that allow us to connect, share messages and recognize the scale of our assembly.

And here we are… divided by a network of seemingly intoxicating systems; many purposefully driven by the modern dynamic of social media, steering a tribal outcome we are only now just beginning to fathom.

Ultimately the collective weight of progressive leftism is putting us is isolation. There are many historic references to this disconcerting sentiment to review with hindsight. However, ultimately the feeling of isolation first begins with a rejection of God.  Defeat it by embracing Him.

In/around July 2020 it was obvious in my travels we were on the precipice of a disconnect from human interaction that would numb our psyche to what ultimately matters, fellowship.

Not only are various governmental agencies forcing the separation of people from their community networks, we were also seeing faith-based organizations, churches, buying into the fear.

Even in areas where churches were not forcibly shut down, we saw a structural shift where some faith leaders were willingly ostracizing their community under the guise of various medical, social and cultural alarms.

This is not good…. not good at all.

Fellowship is the essential ingredient to a purposeful life. How and why we interact with each-other is how and why we recharge our core humanity.

To see faith leaders willing to separate from the function of fellowship was alarming. However, as individuals we must not allow this foreboding sense to become the normal expectation.

Our nation needs more people like you, right now. Don’t wait… engage life, get optimistic however you need to do it. Then let that part of you shine right now… This is how we fight. Hold up that flag; give the starter smile… rally to the standard you create and spread fellowship again.

Throughout history large armies have been defeated through the process of division. It is not a leap to see the same strategic objectives being deployed against social assemblies including congregations. It is puzzling how many in leadership cannot see the danger in social and spiritual distance when the bond of fellowship is needed more than ever.

Each of us has a different connection to our community. Each of us has a different level of internal strength… such is the nature of living. However, the distance between people is manifestly not a good outcome when combined with the lack of food for the soul.

The influence of social media is already troublesome, physically distancing from human engagement only worsens the impact. There is no digital replacement for the true fellowship of humanity on a personal level.

Ultimately it is the currency of human connection that is the true value in our lives.

We have each felt how our positive influence upon the lives of others nourishes our own sense of purpose and fulfillment… Do not lose that. Do not think you can compensate for that through other arbitrary measures; you cannot.

With local, state and federal leaders moving increasingly toward self-interest; with disconnected workplaces creating social distance; with faith-based leaders unfocused on the value of fellowship; and now government entering your home to tell you the importance of separating yourself from your family we must dispatch these arbitrary decrees very deliberately.

Perhaps we are in this position today because we didn’t sit still enough and contemplate the real priorities in our lives.  Fellowship is the essential ingredient to a purposeful life.

I will not divide my humanity, nor concede my core view of fellowship, simply to comply with the demand of another that I consider my brother or sister of greater or less value than myself.  Any system that seeks to steer my path will not benefit from my participation.  I choose freedom!

My f**king choice…

Our Liberty is inherent.

Our freedom is inherent.

The removal of both requires consent.

I choose not to disconnect.

I choose purpose.

I choose my own humanity.

I believe in a generous loving God.

My faith stands.

Love to all,

~ Sundance

The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Posted originally on the CTH on March 19, 2023 | Menagerie

March 19, 2023 | Menagerie | 108 Comments


Jn 9:1-41

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, ”
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”He replied,
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

Now the Jews did not believe
that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said,
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews,
for the Jews had already agreed
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”So a second time they called the man who had been blind
and said to him, “Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied,
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?
Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said,
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.

The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Posted originally on the CTH on March 19, 2023 


Jn 9:1-41

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, ”
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied,
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”


The Third Sunday of Lent

Posted originally on the CTH on March 12, 2023 | Menagerie | 15 Comments

Jn 4:5-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.

The woman said to him,
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her,
“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand;
we worship what we understand,
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one speaking with you.”

At that moment his disciples returned,
and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,
but still no one said, “What are you looking for?”
or “Why are you talking with her?”
The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them,
“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another,
“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment
and gathering crops for eternal life,
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;
others have done the work,
and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
“He told me everything I have done.”
When the Samaritans came to him,

they invited him to stay with them;
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
and they said to the woman,
“We no longer believe because of your word;
for we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

Do the Little Things

Posted originally on the CTH on March 11, 2023 | Menagerie 


Last week we talked about having a post for people to share their struggles and successes in pursuit of fasting, sacrifices, and healthy living. I had originally intended a weekly post which would be for discussions from both a religious and secular point of view.

After reading comments, as well as reflecting on past feedback from our Treepers, I think that may not be the way to go. We have readers who love to share their religious posts, and mostly do that on the OT, every day. I do think there may be opportunities for those who want to dig deeper into things like fasting and contemplative prayer, or theological discussions, and sacrificial living.

That being said, this is an opportunity for sharing. I am not attempting to guide the Treehouse on a more religious path, or veer away from what it has become. The post will not be a place for arguments or attacks on another denomination. If it goes in that direction I will simply discontinue the posts. There are good sites where one can follow apologetics from many perspectives. Go there for that.

We have also gotten a lot of feedback over the years from people who want a place for discussions other than politics that is not overwhelmingly a faith based discussion. We will try that out also, and I will remind posters to respect the intent of each post, and the audience who may want to contribute.

For now, I tentatively plan to post on alternate weeks, one post, probably on Fridays, for faith discussions, and living it out sacrifically and practically. The next week a post intended for those who’d like to discuss diets, exercise, healthy eating, motivation, share recipes, that sort of thing. I’ll probably post this on Saturday or Sunday with the idea of preparing and being motivated for the week ahead.

This may be confusing, especially at first. Maybe if there is interest we will do it weekly, and that might cut down on confusion. The days might change. Suggestions on my post last week favored every day of the week except Tuesday and Thursday. So, we will attempt something new, and see if it bears fruit.

Now, on to the title I’ve chosen for the first post to share ideas on healthy eating, exercising, health management, maybe even tips on how you manage the aches and pains of aging or injury. For example, my fellow admins had a discussion a month or two ago on B complex vitamins. Their suggestions really helped me with some lingering mild neuropathy from my ankle injury.

Two and a half years ago I fractured my ankle, all three bones, and suffered some ligament damage also. In a few months, hopefully I’ll get an ankle replacement and regain a lot of the mobility I’ve lost, as well as perhaps decrease the pain. For a lot of those two years, I have not handled the new circumstances the injury left me with. I’m sorry (really) to say that I’ve spent a lot of time looking back, a lot of time mourning what I lost, even resenting it, and hating what I cannot do. Of course, that got me exactly nowhere. And was a huge failure in picking up my cross.

Finally, this past December, I decided to forget about how many miles I used to walk daily. The other physical activities I could do. I decided to walk only five minutes, if that was all I could do. To use dumbbells and do one set of low impact exercises, if one set is all I can do. To do chair squats to improve my leg strength. To do the physical therapy exercises again. And to do what I can do throughout the day instead of trying in vain to accomplish things that are no longer in my reach, and will not be, at least for now.

And I’ve gotten stronger. I walked 3/4 of a mile the other day, on some slight hills. I can be on my feet a little longer with less pain. I feel better, and have a better outlook. Because I can see accomplishments physically, I am more motivated to eat healthier foods and stick with my intermediate fasting.

It’s still a hard thing to deal with, that my actions produce incremental progress that might never be what I want it to be. That I have to accept less than what I had, and what I want. But it is better than not trying at all, and I am far from determining what my successes might be.

I recommend the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s a great book on ways to introduce small changes that can lead you to big results.

If you can pass on some tips or experiences to help us eat better, get stronger, stay motivated, and deal with adversity and injury, please share. It might be a keto recipe, a story of how you lost weight and kept it off, or tips on vitamins and supplements like the B complex story above.

Please keep your comments to a moderate length. People stated on the original post, and in emails, that they really don’t want to have to skim past long, long posts, as they simply won’t read them. If you have a big story, share it it segments each week, or sum up what’s most important, or zero in on one important aspect or detail to share.

Second, there are many ways to health and fitness. Many people are eating low carb, or fasting. Some are strictly calorie watchers. Others follow a low fat, no sugar diet. Some are vegetarian. Offer your tips but do not push your thoughts on others. I hope we will get a wide variety of good ideas for people to choose from, no matter what choices they make. Our readers are intelligent enough to make their own choices. Let them.

Stay on topic. I don’t care how much you think political events are relevant to this post, don’t hijack this (or future) posts with political discussions.

I am not sure whether I will start the Fasting Abstinence, and Sacrifices posts during Lent on Fridays, or wait until after Easter. We’ll see how that works out.

The Second Sunday of Lent

Published originally on the CTH on March 5, 2023 | Menagerie | 4 Comments


Mt 17:1-9

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Nero the Antichrist – Deep State & Fake News

Armstrong Economics Blog/Religion Re-Posted Mar 3, 2023 by Martin Armstrong

Many in Antiquity were claiming that Nero was the AntiChrist. No doubt, there was even an academic consensus that Nero should be identified with the various Antichrist figures in the bible. I seriously doubt that any of that analysis was correct. Nero was really slandered in antiquity because of the Great Fire of Rome claiming he set the fire and played his fiddle as Rome burned.  First of all, the fiddle didn’t exist in ancient Rome since it only made its appearance during the 11th century. There is no such evidence that Nero played anything during the great fire. The Roman historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus (c. 56–120AD)  wrote that Nero was rumored to have sung about the destruction of Troy while watching the city burn; however, he stated clearly that this was unconfirmed by eyewitness accounts. That was the origin of the saying. When the Great Fire broke out, Nero was at his villa at Antium, some 35 miles from Rome, and was not watching anything burn.


Nero’s unpopularity developed originally from his mother, Agrippina, Jr., who was a dominant mother and a power-hungry woman with many attributes of Hillary Clinton. Agrippina, Jr. was the first woman whose portrait appeared on Roman gold coins during her lifetime. She was first banished by her brother Caligula for being suspected of a plot against him to take the throne. She was very lucky to escape that one with her life. She then connived to marry her uncle, Claudius. The plot then thickens for Claudius’s heir, his son Britanicus, is then poisoned. Some attributed this to Nero, but it seems more likely the deed of his mother. Upon Claudius’s death, which she also may have aided with poison, she really rules the empire in her son’s name who was still a teenage boy much as Hillary ruled the country while Bill fiddled around. Like Hillary, she wanted power.

Eventually, Nero broke free by having his mother at last killed. He staged a death by drowning to make it look like an accident when her barrage sank. But she swam to shore and he ordered her killed on the spot. Her last words were to stab her in the womb from which he was born. So ended the life of a very vile woman whose quest for power led her to try to kill her brother and then kill her nephew and finally her uncle.

It was Agruppina Jr, who really made Nero very unpopular. Yet, since the people were blaming Nero for the fire, he needed a scapegoat. They became the Christians who he had arrested and executed beginning the Christian persecutions. He did not execute them for their religion at that time. He just needed a scapegoat. Nero was also struggling against the corruption within the Deep State. Sound familiar? Nero took on the fight clashing with the bureaucracy that set in motion his own demise. Tax collectors were accused of being corrupt and too harsh with the poor. Nero championed the little guy and transferred the collection of the tax authority to lower commissioners. Nero banned also any magistrate or procurator from exhibiting public entertainment for fear that the venue was being used as a method to sway the populace to support their corruption behind the scenes – hence giving them circuses and free food. Furthermore, Nero then impeached many officials for corruption and removed them from the government as well as having many arrested for extortion and corruption.

As further complaints arose from the people that the poor were being overly taxed, Nero attempted to repeal all indirect taxes. The Senate convinced him this action would bankrupt the public treasury. As a compromise, taxes were cut from 4.5% to 2.5%. He also began the first debasement of the silver coinage whereas the average fineness pre-64AD was 97.5% as this was reduced to 93.5%. The weight of the silver denarius was also reduced from 3.63 grams to 3.36 grams in 64AD. This was to accommodate the lower taxes on the poor.

Additionally, secret government tax records were now ordered to become public. To lower the cost of food imports, Nero also directed that merchant ships were declared tax-exempt. None of these measures sat well with the Senate, to say the least. They were clearly efforts he took on in his battle against the Deep State trying to weed out corruption. The Deep State, at the time, was getting very angry at reducing its corruption.

Nero not only reduced taxes, but he also gave slaves permission to file civil complaints against unjust masters, which was very shocking to many. Now the elite really got angry. Nero also imposed a tax of 4% on the sale of slaves that was to be remitted by the seller. Nevertheless, purchasers typically found that the tax was merely added as part of the price in a European VAT fashion.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC–AD 65), was a Roman Stoic philosopher and statesman. He was a tutor and later advisor to Emperor Nero. Seneca had a hand in financial reform to improve the financial administration of the Empire. Governors were actually being prosecuted for extortion rather than the modern version of too-big-to-jail. The emperor by an edict (Executive Order today) forbade any magistrate or procurator in the government of a province to exhibit a show of gladiators or of wild beasts, or indeed any other public entertainment. This was typically the method Governors bought favor from the people to cover up the extensive bribery and extortion.

Nero also established retirement colonies for veterans in Italy. There were simply many deeds he enacted prior to 64AD that reveal a decent administrator of the Empire. Nero even attempted to promote free trade by removing all indirect taxes. However, this proved too difficult to administer due to the pervasive corruption.

The Deep State conspired to kill Nero for his reforms. Some sources state that Seneca may have been innocent, but he was also implicated and forced to take his own life for alleged complicity in the Pisonian Conspiracy to assassinate Nero. Human nature most likely implicated Seneca for he was believed to be directing Nero in the reform effort. It makes sense that they would have falsely accused Seneca to get rid of him as well.

The conspiracy of Gaius Calpurnius Piso in AD 65 was a major turning point for it was clearly the Deep State rising up against Nero. The plot reflected the growing discontent among the ruling class of the Roman state with Nero’s increasing attack upon corruption. Piso was a leading Roman statesman who was said intended to have Nero assassinated and replace him as Emperor through acclamation by the Praetorian Guard. He was joined by many prominent senators, equestrians, and soldiers. The conspirators were said to have varying motives. Some wished to replace Nero with a better emperor who understood the Deep State was off limits, others wished to be free of emperors altogether, and restore a purely Republican form of government and all its free-wheeling corruption.

According to the Roman historian Tacitus, the ringleaders included a Praetorian tribune named Subrius Flavus, and a centurion named Sulpicius Asper, who helped Piso devise the plot, which was discovered when a woman named Epicharis tried to solicit Proculus, a fleet captain in Campania, to join the conspiracy. Instead, Proculus turned her in, but she committed suicide. Another named Milichus discovered the conspiracy and reported it to Nero’s secretary Epaphroditos. When arrested, many conspirators quickly ratted everyone else out to save themselves. Nero ordered Piso, the philosopher Seneca, his nephew Lucan, and the satirist Petronius to commit suicide.

Trump’s battle to drain the swamp was certainly nothing new to history. The Deep State from the NSA, FBI, CIA, the Neocons, along with the media CNN, Washington Post, and the New York Times, all joined forces to remove Trump to also protect the Deep State.

I believe that the early Biblical scholars eat up the fake news of the day as the Deep State sought to slander Nero for their war against him who was also trying to drain the swamp. Lacking a real understanding of the politics of Rome,  they bought into that and declared Nero an AntiChrist. Once again, he was neither a Jew nor was he persecuting Christians for their religion.

Their attribution of Nero as the AntiChrist was just the outcrop of fake news. It was Nero who liberated Greece from taxation and rose to protect the people who even canceled his trip to Egypt to ensure the grain supply reached Rome safely without the corruption of the Deep State. Nero even issued a sestertius showing the modern port of Ostia to ensure that grain would arrive at Rome from Egypt.

Shushma Malik’s book also refutes that view of Nero as the AntiChrist as she challenged the academic assumption that literary representations of Nero as a tyrant were wrong. The fake news put out by the Deep State merely served to prejudice most Christian populations located at the time who were in Asia – the East. She deconstructs the associations often identified by scholars between Nero and the Antichrist in the New Testament.

Fasting, Abstinence, Sacrifices, and More

Posted originally on the CTH on March 3, 2023 | Menagerie | 34 Comments

Most people of faith have heard much about Catholic practices during Lent. Indeed, we earned the label fish eaters fair and square. Many fast food restaurants add a fish sandwich to their menu in the spring. You start seeing Friday Fish Fry signs beside Catholic churches. By the way, if you haven’t tried out a fish fry, it’s usually a good way to get a pretty good meal cheap.

We’ve had a day of fasting last week on Ash Wednesday, and we will again fast and abstain from eating meat for our one meal on Good Friday. There are also rules about Friday for the rest of the year, but I’m not wanting to talk about our Fridays so much here. Catholics know and practice these things, or they don’t.

What I would like to discuss here, and expand on to a bigger picture, is the custom of Christians who fast, or make personal sacrifices, and not just during Lent. Many Christians have found it very beneficial to choose to give up food, television, sleeping later in order to pray, or some other attachment in order to further their relationship with God. And further yet, personal sacrifices past Lent, every day struggles.

For over a year, I have used the Hallow app. I downloaded it two years ago when I first listened to the Bible in a Year podcast, which I highly recommend to you. The app is full of everything from Sunday sermons, music, daily prayers and Psalms, meditations, and of course, many seasonal aids such as those I’m using now during Lent.

I’ve found it very worthwhile during Advent, and now Lent. As I said, I use it daily now. This app is full of selections and so many celebrities and well known Catholics offer readings. There’s Jim Caviezel, Jonathan Roumie of The Chosen, Bishop Robert Barron, Fr. Mike Schmidt,  and Mark Wahlberg to name a few.

So, I’m wondering, do Protestants have such apps? If so, which ones have you tried, and what would you recommend to others?

The Hallow app has many fine things that Protestant Christians would appreciate and use, and I highly recommend it to all. There must be other resources you use, both during seasons such as Lent, and as an aid daily as well.

What prompted this post is my reflection on how much better I usually do with my resolutions and practices during Advent, and especially during Lent. I recognize that one of the several reasons for this is the use of the app. Another is the fact the the seriousness and purpose of Lent itself is, of course, highly motivating.

But there’s also the fact that I have lots of company in this journey, both at home, and among my fellow Christians, fellow parishioners, and many others who share thoughts and inspiration as we look toward Good Friday.

I’m thinking about perhaps doing a once a week post, not just for Lent, to help each other out in our struggles and sacrifices. Sure, I hope some will share their spiritual goals and struggles. I also hope we could expand that to more mundane struggles and offer encouragement, ideas, success stories, and well, hope.

So, would you find interest in such a post? If so, what day of the week would you prefer? My first thought was Friday, because that’s on my mind right now, but in the larger perspective, perhaps Sunday or Monday would be a more motivational choice?

Any other tips or ideas for the structuring of the post, if we go with it? I have in mind it being pretty wide open, a place where someone might post a book suggestion, a Bible verse, a keto recipe, and a personal celebration of a goal accomplished. And above all, offer encouragement. I would also like it to be a post everyone could participate in, if they choose, either in sharing or just reading the comments. In other words, not just a hangout for Christians who are fasting, etc., but for a wider audience and more comprehensive topics.

Your thoughts?

The First Sunday of Lent

Posted originally on the CTH on February 26, 2023 | Menagerie

Mt 4:1-11
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply,
“It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered him,
“Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him,
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.