What's Tony Thinking

Week End: Rain, Rats for Peace and Russia’s Christian Nationalism


Rain has returned to the Pacific Northwest, after a long dry summer that extended into the first month of fall. The lack of rainfall meant that wildfire smoke hung over the Puget Sound region like a cloak for weeks. Our air quality, normally some of the world’s best, was the world’s worst.

For real northwesterners, the rain comes as a relief, not only for clearing and cleaning the air, but for watering the parched plants as well as the webbing between our toes. It’s no accident that Scripture compares spiritual dry times to desert conditions, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to life renewing rain.

This story about rats is too good not to share. Turns out rats can be trained to sniff out mines and other explosive devices. The story appeared in “Experience Magazine.” Here’s a bit of it.

“[Gambian Pouched Rats] are ideal for the job. Weighing about three pounds — roughly the size of a three-month-old kitten — they’re light enough not to set off the explosives. Their superb sense of smell enables them to detect the presence of as little as a billionth of a gram of explosive material. Indigenous to the sub-Saharan region where they work, they’re efficient breeders, with a gestation period of about a month. They’re highly intelligent and exacting, but also fun to work with — congenial, outgoing, curious.

“Through the end of 2021, the rats have been responsible for finding 150,000 explosives, including land mines, that were then safely deactivated and removed from the ground. Across seven countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, they’ve had a hand (or paw) in returning 70 million square meters of land back to communities that need it, and ‘freed close to 2 million people from the terror of land mines,’ says Lily Shallom, APOPO’s communications manager.” Photo at right Halloween themed shot of a Gambian Pouched Rat.

Russia is leading the way when it comes to “Christian Nationalism.” Quite a few stories of late, including one or two of my own on “Christian Nationalism” in the U.S. Most seem to think this is solely an American phenomenon. Not so. I’d say, in fact, that Putin is the current champion of “Christian Nationalism,” showing the way here for his American counterparts as he cloaks his satanic ventures under the mantle of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Check out this article from “Bulwark” in which art historian Matt Milliner discusses Putin’s use of Mary iconography to bless his war and war crimes. There’s also an excellent podcast at Crackers and Grape Juice with Milliner exploring the topic further. That podcast just came out so may not show up at the CGJ website for a few more days.

By the way, if you want to read what the Bible thinks of “Christian Nationalism” the Book of Revelation is ground zero on the topic. Religious nationalism is the Great Beast and Whore of Babylon that Revelation is concerned to expose and critique. The book of Revelation has frequently been misused by the right-wing to support it’s agendas while largely ignored by mainline Protestants. But the biblically astute readers get that Revelation offers the best sustained critique of this pernicious movement whether in its Roman, Russian or American version. We will delve into this more in the future.



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