Monday, November 02, 2020
Sunday, August 30, 2020
One of the top WW-1 memoirs is Robert Graves' "Goodby to all That" in which he details his experiances as a British Officer in the trenches of France. Graves' memories are compelling in and of themnselves and your WW-1 library is not complete without this work.
Of all the phrases and words Graves uses, the most memorable to me is the title itself; "Goodbye to All That". I supoose most of us at one time or another have reached a point in life when we said, or wanted to say, "Goodbye to all that".
Last week I said, "Goodby to all that." regarding my Facebook account. I haven't totally deactivated the account, but am taking a much needed sabbatical from it.
For some reason the Facebook platform has a way of amplifying all the good,the bad, and the ugly of social media. The bad and the ugly are even more amplified during this American Prsidential election year coupled with the COVID 19 pandemic.
Yes, I see the same kinds of stuff on Twitter, but my Twitter list is not primarely built around freinds, families, and aquaintences, and it has been easier to ignore or block obnoxious tweets and people.
Social media has created a platform for all sorts of half-baked conspiricay theories, mis-information, selective data picking, etc, so on, and so forth. It gets to be nauseating and when you see professing Christian people engaging in those things, it is depressing.
Goodby to all that...
...and maybe I'll have more time for blogging here.
Friday, June 26, 2020
I watched the news about the COVID 19 Pandemic. It was spreading from China to other parts of the world. It reached the Seattle, Washington area. It was only a matter of time before we would see it in our urban Michigan area. And so it came.
We knew the Michigan Governor was going to issue some kind of "stay at home" order, and on Friday, March 20, 2020, the order was issued. Sunday, March 22 we stayed home and watched the livestream service from our church.
That was the 1st Sunday. It is now Friday, June 26 and this coming Sunday will be the 17th Sunday. A few weeks ago we started to again meet in the church building, but with restrictions regarding masks and limited seating to encourage social distancing.
Online social media has become saturated with news, analysis, and opinion about the pandemic to the point where my eyes would glaze over and I just ignored most of it; blocking much of it, especially the "conspiracy theories". Michigan had some of the more stringent emergency orders in place, and that became a political hot point between the Governor and her more extreme political enemies.
Being a political independent removed me from the echo chambers some of my friends and acquaintances were caught up in. It is frustrating to watch it. COVID 19 became very politicalized. To wear or not wear a mask became politicalized. To often basic science was ignored or thrown under the bus to sustain a narrative with not much connection to reality. And on top of all of that, it is a major election year.
At our age, my wife and I are in a "vulnerable group" for COVID 19. When we are places where we will be in proximity to other people, we wear a mask. The mask does not stop oxygen or carbon dioxide flow, or even the virus itself. The mask stops the water droplets that are carrying the virus. Stop the water droplets and you stop the virus. That's why we wear a mask when it is appropriate to do so. It's how we can practice loving our neighbors.
The other issue is the abject failure of our culture and society, and even the church at large, to recognize God's hand in judgement through this pandemic. I'm not talking about specific people of whom I know nothing about who have died from COVID 19. But I am talking about judgement at large against a culture and society that is immersed in a selfish secular materialism bathed in the blood of millions of aborted unborn innocent babies.
How long do we think as a society and culture we can keep shaking our fist at Him and spitting in his face? The COVID 19 pandemic with its economic consequence is the small cloud of what is to come. It is the proverbial warning "shot across the bow". Whatsoever you sow, you shall reap. It is an inevitable consequence which at some point will become unavoidable.
May God Almighty yet have mercy upon us.
Monday, June 22, 2020
When we first started attending our current church, Meghan was just entering her teenage years. In the context of church life we came acquainted with her parents and two siblings. Meghan was the youngest of the three. She was at that time of life where it remained to be seen what she would become as an adult. There was a time in those teen years when in dealing with severe headaches, it was discovered that Meghan had an unoperable tumor in the brain area. At the time it was dealt with by other means, and seemed to be under control.
The years passed. Meghan graduated from high school, and a few years later married her high school sweetheart Jordan. Children came; their own children, several adopted children, and a foster child; six in all. Meghan and Jordan were active in our church. She loved her husband and children, and more importantly she loved her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and she reflected that love of God to those around her.
Last year the tumor reappeared. To make a long story short, this past week Meghan passed away at the young age of 30. It was a bit of a shock. It seemed to happen so suddenly. She's gone; leaving behind her husband and children and extended family and an innumerable number of friends whose life she touched and impacted for good and for the glory of God.
We know Meghan is with her Lord and Savior. God has His sovereign purpose in all He does and we rest in that assurance. By the grace and mercy of God we will see Meghan again.
The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart;
And devout men are taken away, while no one understands.
For the righteous man is taken away from evil,
2 He enters into peace;
They rest in their beds,
Each one who walked in his upright way.
Friday, February 14, 2020
Yes, I posted this before. Yes, it needs to be repeated...
The prophets talk about how the mighty kings of the earth are brought down low in death. They dwell in the realm of the dead with those who in life they oppressed and lorded it over. Their pomp and circumstance and their great deeds, mean nothing in the grave. In those prophetic writings, the common unknown dead of the earth mock and scorn those who were mighty and powerful in life, but have now been laid low by the great equalizer of death and the grave. The grave worms don’t care if you were mighty among the nations or not; nor do they care if in the eyes of the world you were in the top one percent of the one percent.
This present world is not the end. There will be an accounting for all the wrong and injustice that has been done on this earth. By sin came death. It is in Christ we have the hope of life and the resurrection. He holds the keys of death and hell.
Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Be deaf, therefore, when anyone ever speaks to you apart from Jesus Christ, who was of the family of David, who was the son of Mary; who really was born, who both ate and drank; who really was persecuted under Pontius Pilate, who really was crucified and died while those in heaven and on earth and under the earth looked on; who, moreover, really was raised from the dead when his Father raised him up. In the same way his Father will likewise also raise up in Christ Jesus us who believe in him. Apart from him we have no true life.
(Ignatius To the Trallians #9; “The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations” 3rd Edition; Michael W. Holmes)
Tuesday, December 03, 2019
It was probably Monday, June 19, 1972 when I first heard the news reports that there had been a break-in at the Democratic National Committee office at the Watergate Complex in Washington, DC.
My immediate thought at the time was, “That was stupid and totally unnecessary.” Of course my immediate presumption was that somebody related to the Nixon Republican campaign was probably involved.
It was stupid because by all accounts Nixon was projected to whoop the Democratic Candidate George McGovern by more than a healthy margin. And in November that is exactly what happened. There was nothing to be gained and a lot to to put at risk by snooping around the DNC offices.
But of course we know what happened. More and more facts came to light. The evidence brought the investigation closer and closer to President Nixon. Evidence implicating higher ups and a White House connection had been destroyed in a blatant obstruction of justice. In the end, evidence came to light that implicated the President himself. President Nixon’s support in Congress suffered a bi-partisan collapse pointing to impeachment in the House with a subsequent trial and conviction in the Senate.
President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974; the first POTUS to do so in our country’s history.
Those of us who had supported his election and campaigned and voted for him were betrayed. It was like being kicked in the gut. The rest is history.
In retrospect it is clear President Nixon was betrayed by his own insecurities and pride; pride which the ancient Greeks called hubris, and of such was the subject of the Greek tragedies.
In the 20th century, the updated version of the Greek tragedy plays is found in Robert Penn Warren’s novel “All the King’s Men” published in 1946. It was in this southern tragedy we are introduced to Willie Stark.
Wille Stark comes to power by riding a populist wave of discontent with the current political establishment. As governor of his deep south state, he institutes programs and reforms, playing to the populist base on which his political power was built. And he plays hardball with his political opponents; digging up dirt and blackmailing them into subservience.
In the end Willie is undone by his own conniving and pride. His life ends in the bullets sent his way by one who had been a ally, but whose trust had been betrayed in the bed.
In a YouTube video entitled “Gods and Devils Aplenty: Robert Penn Warren's Civil War” (https://youtu.be/e-JxArcSyYg). Historian David Blight comments that when he asked Warren who “All the King’s Men” was about, Warren replied that it was about Julias Caesar. The Romans had their issues with hubris too.
Hubris, pride, the corrupting influence of power; It’s all there; the "Willie Stark syndrome".
In December 2019, 47 years after Watergate and the events leading to President Nixon’s resignation; once again a sitting POTUS is facing impeachment hearings. As I watch events unfold, I am unable to avoid a sense of deja vu; we’ve seen this before. It remains to be seen how much current events will parallel those of over 40 years ago. It is not so clear how current events will eventually play out. What is not to hard to see though, is that we may well be observing another case of “Willie Stark syndrome”.
Saturday, November 02, 2019
There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11:35b-38)
We love the Bible stories of those who "conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies" (Hebrews 11:33-34). But how little we want to talk about the possibilities of our Christian life involving "torture", "flogging", "chains and imprisonment", or being "killed by the sword"?
But the path of faith is also a path that more often involves suffering. How often do we like to think about that? That doesn't exactly resonate with our "prosperity gospel" propensities. In fact a Biblical theology of Christian suffering brands the "prosperity gospel" for the damnable heresy it is.R
May our minds in all things be conformed to the mind of Christ.
Wednesday, April 03, 2019
"So we must gather on a regular basis for worship. To speak about God in a world that lives as if there is no God. We must speak to one another as beloved brothers and sisters in a world which encourages us to live as strangers. We must pray to God to give us what we cannot have by our own efforts in a world which teaches us that we are self-sufficient and all-powerful. In such a world, what we do here on Sunday morning becomes a matter of life and death..."
Citation from "Resident Aliens"; Hauerwas & Willimon; (Abingdon Press, 1989 ; pg. 154
Saturday, February 09, 2019
"As we have argued, Christian ethics arise out of the very specific tradition of Jesus of Nazareth and the church formed in faithfulness to his way. As believers, we are called to act right, not simply because an act can be demonstrated to be universally right. but because it is an act God commands. We are called to base our lives and actions on something which, to Kant, seemed woefully contingent--a Jew from Nazareth. Our claim is not that this tradition will make sense to anyone or will enable the world to run more smoothly. Our claim is that it just happens to be true. This really is the way God is. This really is the way God's world is."
("Resident Aliens"; Hauerwas & Willimon; (Abingdon Press, 1989) pg. 101)