The bomb-making Bible Study

Sometimes reading an article in the news leaves me stunned and incredulous.

It happens to me fairly often, truth be told. Well, it happened again just a few minutes ago. An article from the Washington Post tells the story of a violent insurrectionist who participated in the January 6th riot, putting together a plan to form a new militia-like organization to commit more violence in the wake of that tragic and shocking event.

Here’s the most shocking part of this nearly-unbelievable tale: the “cover story” for his efforts to organize more violent, insurrectionist acts was to be the forming of a Bible study group.

Plans for violence and killing wrapped in a cloak of dark, fake religiosity.

Things like that are certainly not new. When the writer of Proverbs penned this text, he recorded for posterity a situation to which these more recent events bear an uncanny resemblance:

14 Do not enter the path of the wicked,
   and do not walk in the way of evildoers. 
16 For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
   they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. 
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness
   and drink the wine of violence. 

from Proverbs, Chapter 4

There’s no doubt in my mind that Fi Duong has been imbibing the wine of violence for a long time. It’s a very good thing that law enforcement uncovered this particular plan for evil in time.

Ben Lawrence Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Pandemic and Big Changes

The COVID Pandemic and the early lockdowns which were put in place to mitigate its spread led to so many changes in the ways we go about our lives. Zoom meetings and all forms of virtual get-togethers became common, for example.

The changes most certainly have affected the ways the Church goes about its business. Especially when it comes to “gathering” for worship.

It would be hard to overstate how big and thorough-going these changes are and will be for how the Church operates. This article from Religion News Service treats shines a light on this issue and it’s well-worth the next few minutes of your day.

Changes come. We adapt. The Church adapts.

We move forward, hopefully, into our future.

Ben Lawrence Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Burning in Seattle

It’s hot in the summertime. It’s always hot in the summertime.

But it’s getting hotter each time Summer comes around.

The Pacific Northwest here in the United States is baking right now and it’s a very serious situation. High Temperature records are being set on an almost-daily basis in that region of our Nation.

This timely and informative article treats this alarming matter in detail but isn’t wonky at all. I recommend it for all who’d like to have a closer look at what’s going on as we get deeper into the Summer of ’21.

If People of Faith are serious about caring for God’s Creation, we cannot merely sit on the sidelines while the Planet continues to warm.

The consequences of doing so are too bleak to contemplate.

Ben Lawrence Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

You Are Not Forgotten

20 Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!

The Psalmist wrote those words nearly three millennia ago in the 66th Psalm and it’s a declaration that still rings true in our souls today.

Your fervent prayers have not been rejected. The Master of the Universe — of all that we know, or can ever know — loves you deeply.

You are not forgotten.

Praise be to God!

Ben Lawrence Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

NTD is a perfect time to…

One of my favorite National Days is this one; today is National Trails Day in the US and it’s a perfect time to walk a favorite — or brand new — trail or put together a plan for your next outdoor excursion.

There are so many ways to enjoy and exult in the beauty of God’s Creation and taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors is a very important and fulfilling one.

If you visit this site, you can find ways to help spread the word about hiking and trail-walking and advocate for this splendid way to build fitness and promote serenity.

Enjoy the day, whether or not you’re exploring a new or familiar outdoor trail or simply walking down life’s path.

Navigating Earth’s lovely terrain, I am,

Ben Lawrence Basile

© The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

100 years ago in Tulsa

The story of the Tulsa Massacre is a very, very ugly one. It’s one that you may have heard about recently, as there is no longer immense pressure to keep the whole sick and brutal event on the down-low.

The effects and the legacy of this shameful attack are almost too great to assess. It’s truly hard to wrap one’s mind around it all.

Because I spent the better part of nine years in the City of Tulsa — including my three semesters in Seminary — it’s something I’ve paid quite a lot of attention to lately. I say lately as I only learned about it approximately five to six years ago. Simply by browsing the content of an internet forum.

There’s no need for me to try to add anything to the work done by so many about this traumatizing, racist event. I merely want to say that I feel — as I look back over my time in Tulsa — that it is remarkable that I never had the slightest clue that Black Americans had been attacked and massacred on the north side of the city where I lived, the city I had grown to love.

Tomorrow will mark the 100th Anniversary of the massacre which claimed at least 300 lives and burned a 35 square block area to the ground. There were many events to mark that somber event. One will be that President Biden will travel to Tulsa and meet with community leaders and the last three survivors.

Another event will be the prayer and commemoration in front of the last standing wall of the Vernon AME Church in the Greenwood District.

There’s not the slightest doubt in my mind that there were active efforts to keep the event under wraps. It’s almost inconceivable that I could have lived and studied in that City for most of the decade of the ’70s and had no idea that I was living about ten miles from the site of what was almost certainly the greatest, most violent paroxysm of racist white violence on black Americans in our — at that time — 200 year history.

I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around that. But it highlights once again that the perpetrators of racist violence will always go to great lengths to minimize, justify and hide their crimes.

And to avoid any accountability. The last thing that should be noted about this murderous, horrific and traumatizing act of violence is that no white person was ever arrested or put on trial for the rampage.

Ben Lawrence Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Meet the House Chaplain

Margaret Kibben is the Chaplain of our House of Representatives. She had only been in that post for a week or so when House Members found themselves in the cross hairs of a violent mob on January 6th.

Chaplain Kibben did what she was put in that job to do — she led our Representatives in prayer. As the gas masks were being put on, she led her charges in prayer.

To be in danger was nothing new for her. She served a tour in Afghanistan as a Navy Chaplain. Admiral Kibben was in that role for 36 years so serving under hazardous and difficult conditions was not a new experience.

If you’d like to learn more about one of the few folks who’ve held both the titles of “Pastor” and “Admiral”, just follow this link. It’s quite a story, one well-worth reading.

Ben Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Our Blessed Hope

I most certainly do want to wish all of you a most happy and blessed Easter today.

I don’t have to tell you that our joyous celebration is the second consecutive Easter taking place while COVID-19 is drastically effecting how we gather together.

And even though much progress is being made on returning our lives and our spiritual practices back to some semblance of normal, it’s true that for most Christians, the virus is still blunting the Joy of Eastertime and the ways we have always come together to celebrate it.

But even in these troubling times, this we know: the hope and transcendent glory of Christ’s resurrection was a stunning, singular event on that first Easter morning and we can feel and appropriate that glory, that blessed hope today just as surely as Jesus’s followers and grief-wracked mother did nearly two millennia ago.

May that blessed hope be yours today.

Ben Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Church Membership Continues to Fall

As you most likely know, Church membership in the US has been declining for many years. As the line on the graph continues its steep drop, a milestone has been reached.

Americans who do belong to a church are now in the minority.

The stark truth that so many in positions of leadership in the institutional Church don’t want to admit is simply this: the downward trend will continue — and will actually accelerate — as long as many denominations and congregations continue to treat Christianity as merely a ticket to heavenly bliss and as a club to be used to beat unbelievers, doubters and heretics over their collective head.

Yes, members will keep heading for the exit. Many will number themselves among the millions who choose the “spiritual but not religious” tag. And many will simply turn away and feel an unending sadness and sense of alienation. So many feel as though they are falling into a deep well of anger and bewilderment. For many spiritual orphans, those feelings will persist as long as they draw breath.

It may be true that this was bound to happen regardless of how Church leadership and those engaged in Pastoral Ministry went about their business. There are many, many factors at work here and many of them are beyond anyone’s control.

But the trend has been made much worse by the way so much of the leadership in so many church bodies and congregations have been chasing after the two false gods which have blunted the witness of the Church, alienated millions of believers and created scandal after scandal: a heretical and hyped Prosperity Gospel and the unchecked lust for political power by denominational leadership.

It’s not the Devil. It’s not the liberals. It’s not the godless, evil Apostles of Atheism. It is the Ken Copelands, the Paula Whites and the Jerry Falwells, those who hold the reigns of power, those who are leading God’s flock.

It did not have to be this way.

Ben Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

More Dead Sea Scrolls Unearthed

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced yesterday that a recent excavation of a cave which lies in the desert about 40 miles south of Jerusalem has yielded 80 scraps of parchment containing texts from the Books of Nahum and Zechariah. They believe the texts are from a scroll stashed in the cave for safe-keeping during the Bar Kochba Revolt against the Roman Empire which took place from 132-136 AD.

Discovering new texts, however fragmentary, that are related to the famed Dead Sea Scrolls is a very important find. To learn more about this very noteworthy announcement, follow this link.

The new find has come to light as we are right on the cusp of Spring. Easter is a mere three weeks away. May this time of year lead to renewal, to new discoveries for you in the story of your own Journey of Faith.

Ben Basile

© 2021 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.