About this blogger:
Ronda Chervin received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Fordham University and an MA in Religious Studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute. A widow, mother, and grandmother, she currently teaches philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Write to her at chervinronda@gmail.com.
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"Oh, what sighs I uttered, what tears I shed, to mingle with the waters of the torrent, while I chanted to Thee, O my God, the psalms of Holy Church in the Office of the Dead!"
— Isaac Jogues, upon finding Goupil's corpse (1642)

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Two (2) Great Books out of Africa and Germany
published 30 January 2013 by Dr. Ronda Chervin

HAPPENED to be reading two stunning books in the same week involving the type of courage we need for our times in our society. One is Chinua Achebe’s Nigerian novel entitled Things Fall Apart. Considered to be the most popular novel ever written by an African writer, it describes the contrast between tribal life in a village long ago, before and after the coming of Anglican missionaries. The descriptions of life in that village display a mixture of laudable tribal kinship solidarity with peculiar pagan fears including the idea that twins come from bad spirits and have to be done away with immediately. Everything considered bad is thrown into what is called “the evil forest.” When the missionaries come the people are flabbergasted that the Christians are willing to build their church in the evil forest given them free by the tribal leaders who imagine their gods will destroy these crazy men immediately. The cheerful survival of the missionaries in the evil forest and the beautiful singing of Christian hymns plays a large role in opening the villagers to conversion! What struck me was the incredible courage, in the Lord, of the missionaries, to come into so alien a place and risk death to bring Jesus to these peoples.

Simultaneously I am reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxis. Many years ago I read Bonhoeffer’s book about ethics and was surprised at how much this evangelical German pastor emphasized natural law. Of course I knew that he died in the concentration camp for his collaboration with those plotting to kill Hitler. Reading the long biography, however, provides quite new perspectives. For example, as a young man, waiting until he became twenty-five to be ordained, he visited the US and sat in on classes at Union Theological in New York. Way back then, in the 1920’s, the seminarians were already mocking basic Christian doctrines and de-mythologizing Scripture. His impression of American Christianity would have been totally negative except that someone took him to a black Church in Harlem. There he encountered the vehement, yearning, love for Jesus in the black Gospel churches. It made a deep impression on this highly sophisticated European theologian.

Reading of those many German pastors who openly defied Hitler’s attempt to found a German Church that would replace Lutheran doctrine with pagan, anti-Semitic, eugenics philosophy, and totalitarian views, gave me hope for us as we battle in our time against dissent and compromise as Catholics.

Shortly, my blogs will no longer be found by clicking on ccwatershed.org but on the same website under “Rondaview.” You can scroll down to blogs and find it or go directly to ccwatershed.org/rondaview.