Category: History

Why June 1 is a Great Day to Honor the Copts

Plus: Coptic Lemonade

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. 

Gospel of Matthew, Chp. 2

Our Christian brothers, the Copts, celebrate “The Entry of the Lord into Egypt” today.

It’s one of seven minor Coptic feasts that commemorate events in Christ’s life.

I’d think this one is especially special to them.


Copt, from the Arabic “Kibt,” which derives from the Greek word for “Egyptians.”

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (1998).

The Copts are one of the four or five Oriental Orthodox Churches: Syrian (which has two branches), Ethiopian, Armenian (of Kardashian fame), and Coptic. The term “Coptic” essentially means “Egyptian Christian.”

They come into history after 451, when the Council of Chalcedon condemned the Monophysite heresy (which, broadly speaking, rejected Christ’s two natures). The condemned Monophysites rejected the Council and continued their heretical stance.

Unfortunately, the Council was emotional, with shouting and temper and passions continued to ride high for years after the Council.

In 452, the main proponent of Monophysitism, Dioscorus, was deposed as the Patriarch of Alexandria and exiled to Paphlagonia, a wild region on the south coast of the Black Sea, and a man named Proterius was sent to be the new bishop. Proterius was met with so much rioting, the Byzantine Emperor had … Read the rest

Schlitz is a Business School Case Study

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I never knew what happened to Schlitz. When I was a little kid, I remember seeing Schlitz all over the place and thinking it was “the” beer. By the time I started drinking, it was one of those beers I’d drink because I could get a case for $5 (in the 1980s), putting it in the category of Buckhorn, Blatz, Red White and Blue, and Beer (the generic “brand”).

It isn’t just my murky childhood memory. Schlitz was the beer. In fact, for much of the twentieth century, it and Budweiser duked it out for top beer in the United States. But then Budweiser took over that top spot in the late 1950s with effective marketing, and Schlitz fell decidedly to number two.

In response, it decided it would become the most profitable beer in the U.S. and started to slash production costs (now called the “Schlitz Mistake”). When drinkers noticed and its sales plummeted, it responded with an awful marketing campaign that seemed to threaten viewers (now laughingly called the “drink Schlitz or I’ll kill you” campaign).

It’s all laid out in this article that I stumbled across last night.Read the rest

Dostoyevsky’s Possessed in Modern Day America

“Peter Verkhovensky meet John Styn. John, Peter is the descendant of godless liberal enlightenment thinkers who now wants violence and revolution. Peter, John is the descendant of an ex-Baptist minister who likes to hug a lot.”

That’s what went through years ago when I clicked on a Yahoo feature story about a website called “Hug Nation” that promotes actual and cyber hugging. Hugs, hugs, hugs; it’s all about hugs. Young John Styn started it with his elderly grandfather, Caleb Shikles.

Relevant excerpts: “Hug Nation was the brainchild of Caleb’s grandson, John Styn, a Burning Man disciple, artist and Internet pioneer with pierced nipples, washboard abs, shocking pink hair and a dizzying creative energy. . . [Caleb] went to college, got married and became a Baptist preacher. A civil rights and anti-war activist, he worked with Martin Luther King for a week during a trip to Denver.”

A few things stand out about Caleb. He’s an ex Baptist minister, though he apparently didn’t lose his faith entirely (his funeral was held at a United Church of Christ church). He lived in California. He was part of the civil rights movement and an anti-war activist. Based on the foregoing and a few other things I read about the man online, I’m reasonably certain he had a strong leftward bent. I think it’s safe to say his faith was probably the watered-down version that’ is more interested in what faith can do for the world rather than how the world can bring us to faith.… Read the rest

Blowing Away Fascist Resentment

The redemption of Philip Johnson

photography of roadway during dusk
Photo by Jiarong Deng on Pexels.com

Cancel culture comes at another dead white male. But this time, it’s a dead white homosexual male: Philip Johnson, Ohioan, architect, and Nazi. But msn.com doesn’t like it. It understands it. “White supremacy,” it says, is “the west’s original sin,” so it’s no surprise that Johnson fell for it in one of its worst forms (Fascism), but he changed his views, employed black men, and banged dudes, so he ought to be forgiven.

I gotta say, that last redeeming trait gives me the biggest motivation of all not to be perceived as a racist. “Well, Eric, you applied a toxic blanket characterization to an entire race of people. You can either die a scourge of society, with your children spending the rest of their lives apologizing for your indiscretion, or you can let Franz the Trans bed you publicly. Your call.”

It’s interesting that Johnson is now being attacked. When he died back in 2005, no one said anything about his embrace of Fascism. Here’s Richard John Neuhaus writing in 2005:… Read the rest

Patrick and Justinian

Not related at all, but they’re combined in one section of my forthcoming e-book about obtaining an historical perspective.This is an excerpt:

Two Men You Should Know

This next section will deviate a bit from the book’s approach, but I believe it’s important to mention two men from this period who didn’t fit into the above narrative: St. Patrick and Justinian.

St. Patrick was a Romano-Britain. He was kidnapped in an Irish raid (something that occurred more often as the last of the legions withdrew from Britain in 410). He escaped years later, then went back to Christianize Ireland, which he did successfully.

When the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes later took control of Britain, the place became pagan. Christianity was all but eliminated.

But then, shortly after 600, Irish monks crossed the Irish Sea to re-convert Britain. They had great success.

This is one of those neat incidents in history: one culture evangelizing the other, then the other returning the favor many years later. Here, Britain sent St. Patrick, Britain subsequently became pagan, St. Patrick’s spiritual descendants then reconverted Britain.… Read the rest

Sobriety is a Sin?

The Friday “Drinking Matters” Column (BYCU)

wine glass with red wine
Photo by Posawee Suwannaphati on Pexels.com

Sunday marks the Feast Day of Thomas Aquinas. Well, not really. It was his Feast Day until 1969, when “they” moved it to January 28th (apparently, so it wouldn’t fall during Lent).

In his Summa Theologica, he wrote that “if a man were knowingly to abstain from wine to the extent of molesting nature grievously, he would not be free from sin.”

Many years ago, when I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, this passage prompted an email-chain discussion about whether Aquinas thought teetotalling is a sin. At least one of the participants said that wasn’t Aquinas’ position. Aquinas’ position is that every extreme that gives rise to sin must have a countervailing sin on the other extreme. So, for instance, cowardice is a sin, but so is reckless disregard for one’s safety. In this case, Aquinas pointed out that drunkenness is a sin, so there must be a sin on the other extreme, and that’s all he was saying. He wasn’t articulating what, exactly, that sin consists of, other than, if you abstain to the extent of molesting your nature, you’re in sin.

That makes sense to me.

Though it should be noted that tetotalling is a sin. Abstaining is not a sin, but teetotalling is. The difference is, tetotalling is refusal to drink alcohol on grounds that it’s evil. It’s a type of ancient Gnosticism (which thought creation evil). Abstinence, on the other hand, is a refusal to drink alcohol in pursuit of something better. The person who abstains doesn’t believe alcohol is evil, anymore than a person … Read the rest

The Real Transylvania

From the One Thing File

Dracula’s Castle. Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash

“The One Thing File” is a practice I learned from Econtalk. It’s the practice of writing just one thing (okay, maybe more than one) that I learn from a book, essay, documentary, podcast, whatever.

For younger TDE readers, think of it as Reddit’s “Today I Learned” feature.


The One Thing: William Penn was so impressed by the religious freedom in Transylvania that he almost named his American colony “Transylvania.”

Details: Transylvania is not culturally the same as the rest of Romania.

It lies west of the Carpathian Mountains and was not, unlike the rest of the Balkans, conquered by the Turks during the Middle Ages, meaning it experienced the high Middle Ages like the rest of Central and Western Europe and its cathedrals, Cistercians, Baroque, and the Enlightenment.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula—and its evil-looking and suspicious peasants, howling wolves, and midnight thunderstorms—resembles Moldavia far more than Transylvania (and Dracula himself is based on Vlad the Impaler, whose castle was in Wallachia, not Transylvania).

(Bonus one thing: Bram Stoker never visited Romania.)

Robert D. Kaplan, Balkan Ghosts.… Read the rest