Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Post-Modern Culture Meets the Magic Kingdom
The World of Harry Potter

Yes, I've read the Harry Potter books, all six of them. Yes, I've seen the movies, including the latest release, The Goblet of Fire. No, these are not books for young children to read. I avoided that quandary because my youngest daughter was a teenager when I let her read the first book. Yes, she and I have talked about it.

Actually there is nothing really profound about the title to this post. What would we expect? J.K. Rowling was not writing a philosophy of life with the Potter books, but the books reflect a philosophy of life, and it's not just the witchcraft and magic. Rowling is a child of her age, and the Harry Potter books reflect that age in a context of magic. What did we expect?

Suits of armor singing Christmas carols, Christmas trees in the halls of Hogwarts in December, Easter is mentioned, but what do those mean in the world of Harry Potter? The same thing they mean in the secularist post-modern Britain that is the setting of Rowling's life, a feel good tradition with little real meaning.

But even the world of Harry Potter longs for redemption. Has Snape, the former deatheater, really changed for the better? Your heart wants to say yes in spite of all the apparent evidence to the contrary. At the end of book six, The Half-Blood Prince, for the first time in all the years Harry has known Draco Malfoy, he finally actually feels some pity for him. Is there redemption even for Draco? We'll have to wait for the seventh and final book to find out.

The world of Harry Potter is broken even as our world is. The world of Harry Potter is filled with imperfect people, and even the heroes are clearly flawed. So it is in our world. It remains to be seen if there will be any redemption in the world of Harry Potter. In our world, redemption has been made manifest in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and the final consummation of that redemption is yet to come. That is our blessed hope.

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, November 14, 2005

Creation and the Fall: I am beginning to feel the impact of the fall on creation to a greater degree then ever before in my 56 years. God has been VERY good to me health wise over my life time. Aside from a few stitches here and there as a kid, I've not up to this point had to have any surgery or go through any serious illness.

That changed this past week. There was a problem with this old body that needed surgical repair. Not to many years ago, the surgery required would have called for a week in the hospital for recovery. Now days it's an out-patient procedure. (Thank you LORD!) A few days off work, and back I go. It helps that my job does not involve any repetitive or heavy lifting.

This recovery time has been opportunity to reflect on the subject of pain. Frankly when it comes to pain, I admit I'm something of a wimp... I don't like pain, and if I can legitimately do so, I avoid it. I've thought of that in terms of the pain Christ went through for me. The servant is not above the Master. Pain is part of the fall and even as a believer, I am not immune. What physical pain I have felt in my life time is nothing compared to what Christ went through when He suffered on our behalf.

Nor does it compare to the physical pain and suffering other believers are going through. Our friend Lola is going through pain. She is a believer. Believers in closed countries are going through suffering and pain for the sake of the Name of Christ.

Yes there are other kinds of pain in life beside physical pain, and some of those I have experienced. But in all the different kinds of pain a believer can go through, physical or otherwise, one thing remains as a common denominator for them all... God's grace is sufficient...

In His grace alone,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Rosa Parks - R.I.P
February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005

"Stand up and be counted", we say. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks counted more them any of us by refusing to stand up. When she refused to stand up she was not only affirming the dignity and humanity of black Americans, she was affirming the dignity and humanity of us all. There is a fundamental respect to be given to all humanity whatever their skin color.

She did more then that one thing though. By her quiet and dignified life she was an example others who are always seeking center stage should take a cue from.

Her seven hour funeral will be little remembered. To my knowledge no great oratory came from the numbers of public speakers, famous or infamous, who were there; apparently nothing to equal the words spoken so many years ago, "I have a dream..." that gave a vision that all human beings could relate to.

How odd it was. That night after her funeral I was at our local Meijers store. At the checkout line I was standing behind a black American family having their purchases checked by a black American cashier.

It was then I turned to look at the magazine rack. On the front covers of all the glamor rags and tabloids there was not one black face. They were all pale white. I wondered if I had been black, what would I have thought if I saw all pale faces on the magazine rack like that.

Now it may be considered a positive thing not to be represented on shallow glamour rags and cheap sleeze tabloids with all their cheap meaningless gossip. Where is the dignity and respect for humanity in those publications?

Rosa Parks showed us a better way, not just by that one act in 1955. She showed us a better way by the way she lived the rest of her life with quite dignity. She made a differnce.

Thank you Mrs. Parks.

~ The Billy Goat ~

Friday, November 04, 2005

Lola's Journey

We got to know Bob and Lola years ago, ages it seems, when we were living near Winona Lake, Indiana, and Bob and I were in the same class at Grace Theological Seminary. As it was, neither one of us graduated. We moved back to Michigan, and latter Bob and Lola ended up in the Spokane, Washington area. Though we had been good friends, for a number of years we lost track of each other...

Until this summer. I did a WWW search on their name and came up with a page from their former church. An e-mail note to the church office resulted in our re-connecting after all these years.

Just in time to find out Lola has been battling cancer these past few years. She had her ups and downs with it, but things had got to the point that she needed a bone marrow transplant. Just before the transplant was to happen my home computer crashed taking my address book and everything. It seemed that just as we had regained contact, we were losing it again... We thought of them and prayed for them over the past few months...

Then last week when we found a copy of one of Lola's e-mail notes. So we were able to find her on-line journal again...... (See link above.) Only to find out the bone marrow transplant had failed..... She's home with her family.... One son lives in the area so she has some grand-children around to give her joy in what may be the last year of her life.

Only Lola will live forever.... She is a Christian, trusting in Christ alone, and in the mercy, grace, and love of God. She has the hope of the resurrection from the dead. Her body may fail and be placed in the grave, but it will be raised up in that Great Day, and reunited with her spirit to live forever in the New Heavens and New Earth... And all who are in Christ, and who love her will see her again... Come quickly Lord Jesus!

We wish we lived much closer to Bob and Lola so we could be with them in this time... But Spokane is a half a continent away, and only the Lord knows if we will be able to get out there before her spirit departs to be with Jesus.

Bob and Lola, we love you and we are praying for you. And I'm publishing this to ask others to pray for you also, holding you up before His Throne of Grace. Someday, here, or there, or in the air, we will see you again... Blessed be the Name of the LORD...

With love, tears, and hope,

~ The Billy and the Nanny Goat ~