The Romanian Uprising Begins, 1989

2018-12-08T17:58:37+00:00December 8, 2018|HH 2018|

“Lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. —Hebrews 12:1a-2a

The Romanian Uprising Begins,
December 15, 1989

Dictators have a long and storied history of leaving this mortal world well before their demographics might suggest, due to their unbridled tyranny. Nicolae Ceauşescu, “President” of Romania, is a good case in point. His downward mortality arc began with an evangelical pastor, László Tőkés of the Reformed Church of Romania, standing athwart history calling, Stop!

Ceauşescu had become General Secretary of the Communist Party of Romania in 1965, after many years in the communist youth movement and serving various posts in the Soviet-dominated Party. Within four years he established the most repressive totalitarian regime in Eastern Europe. His oppression of the large Hungarian and German minorities living within Romanian borders was especially egregious, bringing protests from other European nations. Living standards plummeted as his “cult of personality” and massive surveillance by the secret police increased exponentially. Food rationing and disastrous economic investment even brought criticism from the Russians in the 1980s.

Nicolae Ceauşescu (1918-1989) was arrested in 1936 and imprisoned for two years for communist activities

Ceauşescu in 1965, General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party and First “President” of Romania (1974-1989)

The tipping point came with Ceauşescu’s decision to bury ancient towns and villages and erect concrete housing towers, symbolic of the new Soviet man. He relocated rural populations into city collectives and systematically suppressed the churches, often with extreme physical brutality. In the town of Timişoara, Pastor Tőkés had had enough.

László Tőkés was the son of a Hungarian Reformed pastor. He followed his father into the Gospel ministry, living among the Hungarian population of Romania. Why so many Hungarians live in Romania is a long story, which cannot be told here. László was a persistent critic of the Ceauşescu regime and became one of the foremost dissident preachers in the nation. In 1988, Tőkés organized a cultural celebration for Reformation Day (October 31), inviting young people from many churches to attend. So his bishop banned all church youth activities in the region.

László Tőkés (1952- ) in 2007

Collage of various notable locations in the town of Timişoara, hometown of László Tőkés


A year later he ordered Tőkés to leave Timişoara by December 15 for a small out-of-the-way parish where he couldn’t be heard. Tőkés refused. Four thugs brandishing knives broke into his flat, and Securitate forces stepped aside while the pastor and his friends fought them off. As the deadline approached, several members of the parish church began a candlelight vigil outside the Tőkés home. They were soon joined by many church members and a few of the other local citizens. By the 15th of December, a solid cordon of people surrounded his home, keeping the eviction forces at bay in a peaceful manner. The mayor of Timişoara paid a visit, but stormed away when Tőkés remained in his apartment. Students from the local universities joined the protests as the Securitate set up water cannons lest the situation get out of hand.

Demonstrators in the streets of Timişoara, December 1989

Thousands of Hungarians and Romanians filled the streets singing hymns, and then “politically incorrect” patriotic songs which had been banned by the socialist state. The crowd surged to Communist headquarters, overwhelmed the militia, destroyed the water cannons and threw the pieces in the river. The army arrived and opened fire, killing dozens of demonstrators. On December 18, tens of thousands of workers in Timişoara took to the streets peacefully, and the city fell under control of the citizens.

Demonstrators face off against tanks and police forces in the streets of Bucharest

The news swept through Romania and the world as protests broke out in every city. Even some of the Securitate forces joined the people in the streets, till the “revolution” reached Bucharest, the capital. Ceauşescu and his wife fled in a helicopter. The armed forces of Romania switched sides. The tyrant was captured, put on trial and with his wife, and executed by firing squad on Christmas day, for “economic sabotage and genocide.” Of all the dominoes of the Soviet Empire which toppled, Romania was the one country where significant violence occurred, an outcome predictable for a narcissistic and bloodthirsty socialist dictator. It all began with a pastor who would not allow the state to dictate what should be said from the pulpit, and was willing to resist the state-controlled religious hierarchy who sought to muzzle him.

On December 22, Ceauşescu was forced to take refuge from protestors and managed to escape via helicopter

Elena Ceauşescu (1916-1989), along with her husband, was executed by firing squad on Christmas Day, 1989

Leslie Printice Leads Anti-Abortion Rally, 1846

2018-12-13T00:37:47+00:00December 3, 2018|HH 2018|

“Why do the wicked still live, continue on, also become very powerful? They spend their days in prosperity, and suddenly they go down to Hell.” —Job 21:7,13

Leslie Printice Leads Anti-Abortion Rally,
December 3, 1846

New York City in the 19th Century probably surpassed all others in political corruption and depraved popular culture; often the two were bound up together. One aspect of that depravity related to the extent and popularity of abortion, especially among the wealthier inhabitants. According to New York law, abortion was legal prior to “quickening,” that is, before a woman’s awareness of fetal movement. Since 1828, after about the fourth month of pregnancy, a person found guilty of performing an abortion could be charged with second-degree manslaughter, which carried a hundred dollar fine or a year in jail. The queen of abortion providers was an English immigrant, Ann Trow Lohman, known professionally as Madame Restell. In the mid-1840s, one of her chief antagonists was a young widow named Leslie Printice.

Trow married New Yorker Charles Lohman in 1836, a printer for the New York Herald. He introduced her to the writings of Robert Dale Owen, son of the founder of the utopian socialist community of New Harmony, Indiana. Robert Dale ran the day-to-day operations of that experiment and wrote extensively on a variety of topics, including birth control. Elected to Congress, he spearheaded various social “reform” measures, several related to “women’s issues.” Charles Lohmman published tracts on population control and contraception. His wife took up the cause with abortifacient pills and powders and started what became a lucrative abortion provider business.

Ann Trow Lohman “Madamde Restell” (1812-1878)

Trading as Madame Restell, Lohman would provide the services for abortion at an “income-adjusted” fee; the wealthy paid a lot more for her services than did the poor. When the pills did not work (which was frequent), she used instruments to pierce the amniotic sac to induce miscarriage. She became a millionaire plying her death-dealing wares in six different clinics with branch agencies in Newark, Philadelphia and Boston.

Brick Presbyterian Church, New York

Pastor Gardiner Spring (1785-1873)

Leslie Printice, a recently widowed member of the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City, pastored by the renowned Gardiner Spring, “was encouraged by his sermons on child-killing to take a bold and active stand.” She invited to her home lawyers, politicians, judges and community leaders and along with pro-life physicians, she laid out the facts of the abortion industry. Through her church, she set up the New York Parent and Child Committee to battle the abortion trade. They established prayer networks, sidewalk counseling shifts, and alternative care programs with Christian doctors. The Committee organized protests at the abortion clinics of Madame Restell. George Grant records that Leslie “led a rally outside Lohman’s lavish home on December 3, 1846, that was emotional, physical and fierce.” The next year when Restell again went to trial on manslaughter charges; she had been convicted five years earlier of minor infractions and the publicity had been a boon to her business. Wealthy politicians and businessmen were among the Madame’s best customers, and her payoffs were usually effective. Nonetheless, Leslie attended the trial with several children who had escaped the butcher. She remained steadfast in her testimony, despite death threats from gangsters on Restell’s payroll.

Blackwell Island Prison, New York

The Madame was found guilty, but only of a misdemeanor, and spent a year on Blackwell Island prison, though in virtual luxury. Once out of prison she returned immediately to her baby-killing business which kept New York City the abortion capital of America. Although Leslie Printice’s efforts were only partially successful in her day, she had uncovered the “she devil” and her bloody businesses for all to see. Fifty years later the Governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, recognized Mrs. Printice’s efforts in helping to inspire the state’s tougher legislation and enforcement in the years following. Her intense efforts on behalf of women and the unborn bore fruit that she herself would never see. Such is how the Lord often works, with people remaining faithful in their own day, but the fruit of their labors occurring in future generations.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) c. 1904

  1. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, by Burrows and Wallace, Chapter 45.

The Birth of Andrew Carnegie, 1835

2018-11-26T15:04:41+00:00November 26, 2018|HH 2018|

“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” —Luke 18:22

The Birth of Andrew Carnegie, November 25, 1835

The 19th Century Industrial Revolution changed the life and culture of the United Kingdom and the western world. Machines brought increased production of manufactured goods, demand for entrepreneurs, engineers, inventors, and financiers. The economic sea change that accompanied the “revolution” often resulted in unemployment among the farming and artisan ranks. People left the land for the cities and many emigrated, seeking economic improvement abroad, especially in the United States. Scotland, always known for its medical training and military expertise, joined in the manufacturing boom, especially in Glasgow, though the entire economy was affected. Andrew Carnegie was born into the maelstrom of change on November 25, 1835 in Dunfermline, 12 miles north of Edinburgh in Fifeshire. In the providence of God, he would begin life in poverty, come to America, and through his hard work and native genius, become a living symbol of the Industrial Revolution. He died in Lennox, Massachusetts in 1919 worth 372 billion dollars, the wealthiest man on earth.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)

The Carnegie mother and father, broke and unemployed since their hand-weaving business was replaced by machines powered by steam, sailed for America in 1847 to try to recoup the family fortunes. Twelve-year-old Andrew was imbued with the romantic stories of Sir Walter Scott and the poetry of Robert Burns, and with a determination to succeed which had been born of his family’s failure to keep up with the new realities of business. He began his climb to the top in a country known for opportunity and freedom to pursue one’s dreams and ideas. Andrew started work as a “bobbin boy” in a cotton mill in Pittsburgh at $1.20 per week — twelve hour days for six days a week. Two years later, he took a job as a messenger boy in the Pittsburgh office of the Ohio Telegraph Company, earning $2.50 per week.

The birthplace of Andrew Carnegie in Dunfermline, Scotland

Carnegie at age 16, with his brother Thomas

Andrew listened carefully to the telegraphers plying their skills, and he memorized the sounds of the keys and letters so he could translate the code without writing it down; he was promoted to operator. He came to the attention of Thomas Scott of the Pennsylvania Railroad who hired the eighteen-year-old Carnegie a year later as telegraph operator/secretary. At the age of twenty-four, the young Scotsman was promoted to superintendent of the Western Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Through those formative years, Carnegie read books and manuals voraciously and developed a sense of history, business, engineering and other disciplines which would stand him in good stead in future business success. He also learned to invest his money in enterprises that seemed destined for expansion and profitability.

The Civil War opened the floodgates of opportunity for big business in the North and Carnegie was the right man in the right spot. His boss became Assistant Secretary of War in charge of military transportation; his brilliant telegrapher, railroad expert, and businessman from Scotland contributed four years of directing railroad networks for the government. In 1864, he invested in the Keystone Bridge company and oil interests in Venango County, Pennsylvania which yielded a million dollars in profits.

Andrew Carnegie, c. 1878

Keystone Bridge Company, founded in 1865 by Andrew Carnegie, is perhaps best remembered for the Eads Bridge in St. Louis, completed in 1874. Still standing today, it is the oldest surviving bridge spanning the Mississippi River.

Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1895, four years after its construction

From bridges to all things iron and steel, Carnegie built and bought companies, eventually controlling the iron and steel industry of the United States. He arranged vertical trusts in which the Carnegie companies owned or controlled the entire process from the mining of the raw materials, to transportation, production and sales. For forty years, Andrew Carnegie befriended literary men, politicians, and fellow industrialists. He took controversial political stands against imperialism, and wrote articles promoting democracy, literacy and business. As a philanthropist, he gave away millions of dollars to various causes and built libraries — eventually 3,000 — in Britain and all across America. He also subsidized colleges and universities. By the time of his death, he had given away the equivalent of more than 69 billion dollars.

Carnegie was a vociferous proponent of evolutionary theories and progressive politics. He stated that “not only did I get rid of the theology and the supernatural, but I found the truth of evolution.” Late in life he embraced the “social gospel” and advocated the “world peace” movement. The various Carnegie Foundations that he left behind still dole out millions to left-wing causes from his seemingly inexhaustible supply of money. He had come a long way from his Scottish Presbyterian heritage and the economic struggles of parents who came to America for recovery and prosperity. Andrew was good at selling what he had and giving to the poor, but seems to have missed the “follow me” that Christ commanded.

A 1903 magazine illustration likening Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy to a golden shower

Gustavus Adolphus Killed in Battle, 1632

2018-11-19T19:02:01+00:00November 19, 2018|HH 2018|

“A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.” —Proverbs 20:26

Gustavus Adolphus Killed in Battle, 1632

In 1593 the Swedish Church adopted the Lutheran Augsburg Confession as its statement of faith, bringing to culmination a half century of struggle over whether the Protestant Reformation would finally win popular support. According to one historian, the reign of King Charles IX, eleven years later, marked the “start of the final chapter of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation.” The champion of the Protestant cause through the dynastic and religious wars that terminated only at the end of the Thirty Years War, was the son of Charles and his Danish wife Christina, Gustavus Adolphus, who would become universally known as “The Lion of the North.”

Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden (1594-1634)

Gustavus was born in December, 1594 in Stockholm. As a child he witnessed the dynastic struggles of his family and nation. Gustavus showed a keen interest in military affairs from a young age and at seven he accompanied his father on a military expedition against Polish Catholic invaders. Besides learning the strategies and tactics of combat, by the age of sixteen Gustavus had mastered six languages. His father also constantly taught him the doctrines of the faith and the principles of obedience to the Word of God, as well as the proper actions and attitude to serve as a wise king of his people. The young prince was taken by his father to listen at the councils of the Swedish nobles.

Charles IX of Sweden (1550-1611)

Christina of Holstein-Gottorp (1573-1625)

Gustavus Adolphus became king at the age of seventeen, deemed ready to rule, despite his youth. The enemies of Sweden sought to take advantage of the young king, and he led his armies into combat from the time of his accession till his death, but never in pursuit of conquest, always in defense of the nation and of the Christian faith. His prodigious physical strength and God’s merciful Providence enabled him to survive several battle wounds in desperate fighting.

In 1618, the Thirty Years War began in Bohemia when the Catholic prince discarded the “Peace of Augsburg” which had guaranteed religious liberty, and the Protestant kingdoms raised an army to defend themselves. Their “evangelical union” drew in Protestant princes and their forces from other German states. Catholic armies were assembled to crush their opponents. The war that ensued also included combinations of duchies and kingdoms of traditional enemies in conjunction with the religious enmity. The Catholic League, on behalf of the Austrian “Holy Roman Emperor” under Generals Wallenstein and Tilly, went from victory to victory over the Protestant armies. The common people were slaughtered with abandon, as their towns were razed. Huge taxes were levied on the German Protestants, and the priests of Rome installed across central Europe. When all seemed to be lost, the Protestant princes turned to Gustavus Adolphus, who led the Swedish army to confront the victorious Austrians.

Gustavus Adolphus depicted at the turning point of the Battle of Breitenfeld (1631) against the forces of Count Tilly

The death of Gustavus Adolphus in the Battle of Lützen

The astounding victories of Adolphus established him as one of the great military captains of history. His innovative tactics, bold maneuvers, and wise counsels led the Protestant forces to successful battles across the German principalities. Young men from Scotland, England and the Netherlands travelled to Sweden to learn the arts of war, which they brought back to their homelands. In November of 1632, the Swedish King faced Wallenstein, for the last time, at Lützen in Saxony. Adolphus led his men into battle after a stirring speech and prayers to God for victory. The king received a wound early in the battle but stayed in the fight till he was struck several more times, dying before his own troops. Rather than suffering demoralization, the Swedish-German army fought with renewed fury for their fallen king, driving the enemy forces from the field and out of Saxony. A biographer of Gustavus Adolphus summarized the life of the Swedish King with these words: “Few men have left to posterity a memory more admirable than that of Gustavus Adolphus. Even his enemies render him justice. The Pope allegedly said ‘he is the greatest king in the world.’ We have seen his profound faith, his inflexible justice, his unchangeable goodness, his courage — sometimes a little rash — and his touching tenderness for his family: all the virtues of the man and the hero, united to a military genius which has been rarely equaled and never surpassed.”

Albrecht von Wallenstein (1583-1634), Duke of Friedland and Mecklenburg

Gustavus Adolphus’ body in Wolgast, on transfer to Sweden, 1633

  1. Gustavus Adolphus: A Hero of the Reformation, by C.A. LaCroix (trans. from French)
  2. The Lion of the North, by G.A. Henty

The End of the Great War, 1918

2018-11-19T19:01:06+00:00November 12, 2018|HH 2018|

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war…” —James 4:1-2

The End of the Great War,
November 11, 1918

The leaders of the nations and armies of the First World War called for an Armistice at the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month in 1918. After four years of unprecedented industrial-scale slaughter, resulting in the deaths of about eight million soldiers, the Central Powers had had enough and agreed on the cease fire. The Allied leaders met at Versailles in France to determine the particulars of the post-war world. The United States had mobilized more than four million men after declaring war on Germany in April, 1917. About 110,000 Americans died in the conflict, including 40,000 from influenza.

Depiction of the armistice signing aboard the private train of
French General Ferdinand Jean Marie Foch

One of the important books on the coming of the war was entitled The Long Fuse, a reference to the fact that this war, like most, was the consequence of a long series of events with a mixture of ideologies, national pride, greed for land, and other factors, used by Providence to bring about the fatal collision. The consolidation of the German states into one nation dominated by Prussia, and their rapid defeat of France in the war of 1870, had caused an unbridgeable animosity and distrust between those two nations; they both prepared for future conflict. The decline of the vigor of the Hapsburg Empire in Austria, yet its continued overlordship of the Balkan states, already known as the “powder keg of Europe,” presaged another war. A Pan-Slavic nationalism guaranteed that Russia would be involved if ever a major kerfuffle occurred in southern Europe. The weakness of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, “the sick man of Europe,” also set up international power plays in Europe and the Middle East.

French General Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929)

Photograph taken after reaching agreement for the armistice that ended World War I

The assassination of the Archduke of Austria by a Serbian nationalist, in the city of Sarajevo, provided the match that ignited the political powder-keg. Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey (the “Central Powers”) joined to defeat the Alliance of France, the United Kingdom, and Russia. Austria declared war first against Serbia; Russia responded in kind; Germany backed up Austria; and France threw down on Germany. The German attack through Belgium drew England and the British Expeditionary Forces into the Allied cause. And so continued the chain reaction of the nations until the United States eventually joined in two and half years later.

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip

A German trench occupied by British Soldiers during the Battle of the Somme, 1916

France and England held the line in 1914 and both sides settled into trench warfare—dug-in multiple layers of lines stretching from the North Sea to the Alps. The war lurched from one stalemate to the next across Europe, with hundreds of thousands of casualties mowed down in “no-man’s land” by machine guns and artillery. The war extended to the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey and into the mountains of Italy. They fought in the Middle East, Africa, and the through the oceans of the world. It consumed entire armies of Russians, British Commonwealth soldiers (Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders, and Indians), and Europeans of every nation. Unrestricted submarine warfare drew the United States into the war, with President Woodrow Wilson calling it the war to preserve democracy and civilization, after totally opposing U.S. entry since the beginning of the conflict, and being reelected on the slogan “he kept us out of war.” It was declared “the war to end all war.”

Men of the Wiltshire Regiment cross “No Man’s Land” during an attack near Thiepval, August 7, 1916 during the Battle of the Somme

On the very day of the armistice, soldiers still went over the top of their trenches a minute before the truce went into effect on that November day in 1918, killing a few hundred more to no purpose. The Armistice was followed by the Treaty of Versailles, in which the Allies redistributed German lands around the world and demanded punitive damages. The Germans faced revolution at home from Communist subversives and starvation of the civilian population by British blockade. The Kaiser went into exile and the great monarchies of Europe collapsed — Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Germany — and the Allies re-drew the map of the world. The First World War proved to be the greatest catastrophe since the Black Death of the Middle Ages, and laid the groundwork for the coming of an Austrian corporal named Adolph Hitler, to create a new party in the decade following, that would lead the world, once again, into a second world war; some would say, merely the extension of the First.

The Treaty of Versailles, signed June 28, 1919

1. 11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour, by Joseph Persico
2. The Great War in Modern Memory, by Paul Fussell