A lot of people leave out the Christian part when it comes to Martin Luther King Jnr because they either don’t know, or don’t really wanna know. Like all, especially those who move from the position of spectator, to being on the field, he wasn’t without sin, but he was a man who knew that ALL sin is answered first and foremost by God, in and through Jesus Christ.

After posting this illustration from Vince Conard to Facebook, a friend pointed out that given the tone, aggression and disunity of our day, mention of Martin’s faith, is anathema on some circles within the West. The fact that he was named after a German theologian and reformer, in 1934, of all years, presents a challenge to those who rail against the West in the name of a mostly concocted cause, in ways far from King’s own.

Martin Luther King’s legacy is first of all a Christian witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the overcoming of sin. All sin, not just the bits and pieces some people choose to focus on over others, including the sin of treating others, who are created in the image of God, differently because of the colour of their skin.

Martin Luther King’s legacy is a Christian witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the liberation of humanity from its primal atheism. This is a liberation from humanity’s rejection of grace, its self-displacement, subsequent displacement of others and self-destruction.

Karl Barth spoke consistently about his view that the “no” of God heard in Jesus Christ has nothing on the great “yes” of God, spoken at the same time. This humiliation of God is the exaltation of humanity. This is something He chose and in exercising His freedom God hands to us freedom.

Freedom consecrated by response, responsibility, partnership with God, prophesy, ministry, healing and teaching. Freedom made real by His choice and His suffering at the hands of whip, condemnation, betrayal, spear, and death on a Roman cross. Freedom vindicated by the empty tomb and the resurrected Jesus, who is not another myth like that of the half-god/half-man Hercules, but is Himself very God and very man.

What grounded Martin Luther King from the start was faith in Jesus Christ. It’s well documented that when things weighed MLK down, he would lean on the gifts of Mahalia Jackson, who would minister to him through word and song. It’s his defiant Christian faith that should inspire us and point us to the goal of liberation as he saw it, liberation from ALL sin, in the name, word and deeds of Jesus the Christ.

“God is neither hard-hearted or soft minded. He is tough-minded enough to transcend the world; He is tender-hearted enough to live in it. He does not leave us to our agonies and struggles. He seeks for us in dark places and suffers with us, and for us in our tragic prodigality.” (A Tough Mind & a Tender Heart, Gift of Love, p.9)

The faith of Martin Luther King Jnr is not to be confused with optimism. It’s not the “faith” of optimists and psychologists who preach from the pages of positive psychology. The clever term they use in order to justify reducing the Christian faith to principles that can be lived without any need for a relationship with the One who authored that faith; the One who anchors humanity to the living hope this defiant faith testifies to.

To segregate Martin Luther King Jnr from this defiant Christian faith, is to fail to hear what it is that he had to say, what he set in motion, and what he hoped to see achieved.  This segregating of King from his faith and theology may serve the secular political aims of modern liberals and their quest for total power by any means necessary, but it ultimately enslaves King to the servitude of ideology-as-master and the reactionary political groups it controls. Groups and agendas, he, in all likelihood would never have signed on to because they persist in denying their own sin, and yet, are loud and proud in their condemnation of the sin of others.

Paraphrasing Thomas F. Torrance from his book Atonement: ‘all self-justification is a lie’.

Beware the auctioneers.


References:

Artist: Vince Conard, https://www.instagram.com/vince_conard/  (Used with permission)

King, Jnr. M.L. A Tough Mind & a Tender Heart, Gift of Love (p.9)

Torrance, T.F. 2009 Atonement: The Person & Work of Jesus Christ InterVarsity Press

Born out of conversations with a friend from the United States, I was given the opportunity to read a compilation of fragments and essays written by Simone Weil called: ‘Oppression and Liberty’.  The compilation flows in chronological order and presents some of Weil’s thoughts on anthropology, economics, politics, ideology and war.

Simone was a French intellectual. Like Jacques Ellul, whom she presumably never met, Weil worked in the French resistance and was well schooled in Marxism.  Among many others in the elite French communist circles of mid 20th Century, she was a contemporary of rebel and excommunicated member, Albert Camus.

Later in life, Weil matured back towards Roman Catholic Christianity, taking an interest in aestheticism and Catholic mysticism. Detaching herself from the French intellectual trends of her day, Weil also made a break with Marxism. Whilst remaining a fan of Karl Marx, Weil set alongside her criticism of [crony] capitalism, an intense critique of Marxism, detailing the threat posed by plutocrats and bureaucrats when they choose to entertain and ride the backs of both monsters.

Unpacking this threat is ‘Oppression & Liberty’s recurring theme. Weil makes it known that she is no fan of big business or big government. It’s more apparent in the latter than the former, but both big business and big government form big bureaucracy.  This creates a ‘bureaucratic caste’ and is dangerous because ‘all exclusive, uncontrolled power becomes oppressive in the hands of those who have the monopoly of it’ (p.15).

Readers wouldn’t have to look far to locate examples of where big business and big government corroborate to create big bureaucracy. Some corporate promotion and imposition of new cultural laws such as those posited by radical feminist ideology, punishment for disagreeing with any forced imposition or disloyalty to the LGBT flag and the questioning of the movement’s agenda; weapons factories, political groups, career politicians, Islamist shar’ia, some parts of the institutional Christian church, pharmaceutical, oil and power companies, information tech companies and, the education and military industrial complexes, all provide adequate proof.

From an historical point of view, it’s easy to see the beneficial relationship that developed between industrialists and “Captains of industry” with the rise of National Socialists in Germany, Europe and America throughout the 1930’s. As is shown by Thomas Doherty in his 2013 book ‘Hollywood and Hitler’, European and American corporations did their best not to upset the newly established status quo. It could be argued that this is one of contributing factors to why Winston Churchill was so highly criticised for speaking out against the ‘gathering storm’.

Additionally, the Soviet nonaggression pact with the Nazis also gives further credibility to Weil’s conclusions about how big government and big corporations create big bureaucracy. Stalin had imperialist ambitions. Hitler was a way to implement them. Hence the Soviet attack on Norway on the 30th November 1939, three months after the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (23rd August 1939) between the Nazis and the Soviets was signed. This gave parts of Eastern Europe to the Soviet Union and open commercial ties with the Nazis.

Weil is right then to say that the ‘bureaucratic machine, though composed of flesh, and well fed flesh at that is none the less as irresponsible and as soulless as are the machines made of iron and steel.’ (p.13)

The ‘bureaucratic machine excludes all judgement and all genius; it tends by its very structure, to concentrate all powers in itself. It therefore threatens the very existence of everything that still remains precious for us in the bourgeois regime […] Instead of a clash of contrary opinions, we end up with an “official opinion” from which no one would be able to deviate. The result is a State religion that stifles all individual values, that is to say all values’ (pp.15 & 16).

For Weil, bureaucrats, like [crony] capitalists, can become parasitic. They receive benefits by causing damage. The three main areas Bureaucrats operate in are ‘Trade Union bureaucracy, Industrial bureaucracy and State bureaucracy’ (p.16). The working-class only exist as pawns, even in the ‘hands of trade unions’ (p.26). The worker and the poor are putty in the hands of the revolutionists, who utilise the hope that revolution inspires, unaware that ‘fanning revolt to white heat, can serve the cause of fascist demagogy’ (p.21).

This last point then leads into her much larger criticism and separation of Karl Marx from Marxism, which is something I don’t have room here to delve into. Very briefly, Simone applies Marx’s critique of power structures, including Marxism, stating:

‘All power is unstable, there is never power, but only a race for power – the quest to outdo rivals and the quest to maintain’ (p.64). This is the black hole of greed, the ‘aimless merry-go round’ (p.65) which the lust for power drags humanity into.

Weil concludes that all monopolies (centralised power) to be a leading cause of oppression. This might surprise some, but her conclusion aligns with capitalist economists such as Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell and Hayek. All of whom, see and saw, monopoly and big government as a being a restriction on the free market.  There are of courses differences between them on this, however, the object of their concern is the same. For the latter group, monopolies are oppressive to the free market, for Weil monopolies are oppressive to people. Despite this difference, they are essentially saying the same thing because economics is about people. There is no free market without people, who are free to operate responsibly within it.

My only point of real disagreement with Weil in regards to this subject is her position on Nazism and Socialism. For Wiel Nazism was not socialism, and attempts to bring National Socialism into the Marxist framework are ‘vain’ (p.7).

This is contrary to the well defended conclusions of F.A Hayek, George Reisman, Jacques Ellul, Roger Scruton, and Richard Wurmbrand. All of whom present National Socialism and Communist Socialism as branches of Marxism.

Simone seems to have her own definition of what Socialism and National Socialism are.

‘The orientation of the Hitlerite masses, though violently anti-capitalist, is by no means socialist, any more so than the demagogic propaganda of the leaders; for the object is to place the national economy, not in the hands of the producers grouped into democratic organizations, but in the hands of the State apparatus.’ (p.7)

On these points, genuine capitalists would agree that the economy should be in the hands of producers grouped into democratic organizations.  Genuine capitalists understand that capitalism without compassion is not capitalism. Greed strangles the life out of the free market. This is one of the reasons, why, in the West, Frank Capra’s 1946 movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ remains the number one film of all time.

Not because people long for a socialist revolution, but because they understand that a market weighed down by monopolies, big government and big business is not free. It is instead chained to the aimless merry-go round of big bureaucracy where the bureaucratic caste do what they can to outdo each other and maintain power.

Oppression & Liberty’ was a surprise. It wasn’t something I planned on reading, but am thankful I had the chance to. Simone’s work isn’t easy to read. ‘Oppression & Liberty’ sometimes comes across as lofty and too complex, which is very much a reflection of her schooling in French intellectual circles. That, however, doesn’t subtract from Simone’s sincerity or the insights that this compilation of fragments and essays offers.


References:

Weil, S. 1955 Oppression & Liberty, 1958, 2001 Routledge Classics NY

Those who helped stir up fear by recklessly labelling Trump and all Trump voters as Nazis or white supremacists [et.al], aligned themselves, through the decision to do so, with those who are hell-bent on their destruction.

Decisions like this aid in the downgrade of all that is best about the West.

As most of you know I’ve been calling this out since I made my thoughts on this public in August 10, 2016. I’ve had to leave forums because of that and I’ve been unfriended, blocked and ridiculed for challenging the wave of dissonance and hypocrisy, in the hate Trump/ love trumps hate movement:

Why Trump is Not Hitler & Why Evangelical Americans Are Not German Christian Movement

Why Social Justice Warriors Are The Brethren of Iscariot, Not Christ

In an article published on January 1st of this year, called ‘About That Trump Autocracy‘,  the WSJ calls us to not forget the serious lessons of 2017:

‘Democratic institutional norms are worth defending, which is why we called out the Obama IRS for bias against the tea party. We’ll do the same if Mr. Trump exceeds his constitutional power. But the lesson of the past year is that progressives should have more faith in the American system—whether they’re in power or not. Losing an election isn’t the same as losing a democracy.’

I agree with this. We need to celebrate our healthy traditions, not walk blindly with mobs that seek to undermine or destroy them. All the evidence needed to show how different Conservatives, allies to Conservatives and Leftist modern liberals react to losing an election can be seen in the Republican candidate Roy Moore’s recent loss in Alabama.

There were no riots. No over-the-top claims and subsequently expensive investigations into fears of foreign interference.  Conservatives did not organise nationwide marches, fly Antifascist-fascist flags and shout out an insanely ignorant praise of Communism, as part of their protest against losing the election or against [mostly] phantom Nazis. What we did see is a lot of introspection, regrouping and the need to present better candidates in the future.

Losing an election is not the same as losing a democracy. Kudos to the Wall Street Journal for stepping up and saying so. Conservatives and those allied to the current concerns of Conservatives know this because they understand Classical Liberalism. They also see how dangerous the Leftist cult of modern liberalism is to truth, society and healthy tradition.

The lessons of late 2016 right throughout 2017 should not be ignored.  If we are to ask ourselves, would Jesus approve of Trump as President? We must also ask, would the same Jesus approve of the spite and venom, thrown Trump’s way?

The most important lessons of the Trump era may very well come from the decisions and reactions of those who hate Trump. Those who fund, and celebrate, the spite and venom, all while carrying sharpie coloured posters, that preach love trumps hate.

Charles Spurgeon:

‘…some two faced men are hypocrites by nature; slippery as eels, and piebald like Squire Smoothey’s mate. Like a drunken man, they could not walk straight if they were to try…They are born of the breed of Judas. The double shuffle is their favourite game, and honesty their greatest hatred. Honey is on their tongues, but gall in their hearts.’ (The Complete John Ploughman, p.115)


References:

The Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal, 2018 About That Trump Autocracy sourced 3rd January 2018, from www.wsj.com

Epiphany marks what is technically the end of Christmas. The wise men, avoiding Herod and his schemes visit Mary, Joseph and Jesus. They mark the birth by way of tribute to the child born to be King.

Advent closes and the door opens to a new year and with it the remembrance of what Christ’s election means. Instead of being crowned a king, He moves past the crowds willing to crown Him as such. His response was wrapped in the fact that His kingdom was not of this world. His rule is like no other.

How we approach Jesus Christ, might be like that of the Shepherds, fishermen, tax collectors, Mary, Joseph, His cousin John, or the Roman and Jewish officials. How we come to Christ is nothing compared to how He comes to us.

As Karl Barth rightly saw it,

‘we live by the fact that God Himself willed to be the Bearer of our contradiction, that in the full mystery of His Godhead He so deeply condescended to us. We live by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, by God’s own suffering and triumph, sorrow and joy, by His original participation in the twofold nature of our being. Enduring to be what we are and as we are, He bears us.’ (CD. 3:1:382)

That in the appointment of Jesus Christ,

‘as the Bearer of creaturely existence and its contradictions, God did not in the same way will and accomplish His humiliation and death on the one side and His exaltation and resurrection on the other […] He took to His own heart very differently in Jesus Christ the infinite hope of the creature and its infinite peril.’ (ibid, p.383)

Jesus Christ is the living action of God.

‘He sees the hopeless peril of the created world which He has snatched from nothingness but which is still so near to nothingness. He sees that it cannot and will not check itself on the edge of this abyss [therefore] God Himself willed to become man, to make His own the weakness and frailty of man, to suffer and die as man, and in this self-offering to secure the frontier between His creation and the ruin which threatens it from the abyss. God is gracious to man and woman.’ (ibid, pp.383-384)

Thus Barth adds,

‘we cannot stop at the suffering, death and burial of Jesus Christ. This is not the final word. The cross is followed by the resurrection, humiliation by exaltation, and the latter is the true, definitive and eternal form of the incarnate Son of God. This is the Yes for the sake of which the No had first to be spoken’. (ibid, p.384)

We stand in ‘defiant confidence’ not because we ‘cling to an idea of God, but because that confidence has its origin and object in God’s self-revelation’ (ibid, p.380). We don’t construct God, in Jesus Christ, He confronts us with the truth about Himself. Any response to this that is neutral or indifferent is, according to Barth, ‘of radical and genuine ungodliness’ (ibid, p.379).

For ‘Christian faith sees and knows what it holds. It does not need to persuade itself of anything. It has nothing to do with a tense clinging to the consequences of an idea or a laboriously constructed concept of God.’ (ibid, p.379)

Reason dictates that if God has revealed Himself to humanity, like those wise men, we should follow and respond in gratitude and obedience to that knowledge. As risky as the journey is, and as limited as we might be in being able to comprehend it completely.

For 2018 may epiphany mark for you a return to this defiant confidence, not because it proudly boasts of its own ideas or because it rests on human constructs of what and who we think God is, but because in the freedom given to us in Christ’s incarnation, under God’s grace, you find His “Yes” to you, and then by the light of that, your own “Yes” to the Him. The One who was, who is, and is to come.

‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.’ (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)

 


References:

Barth, K. 1945 The Doctrine of Creation, C.D. Volume 3 Part 1  Hendrickson Publishers, 1958

Photos excluding heading image: RL2018

Here are the top ten articles of 2017.

 

1. Nein: Why I Will Be Voting “No” To Same-Sex Marriage

2. Biology Is Not a Social Construct: Why “P” Cannot Equal “Q” Without Perpetual Revolution

3. A “No” To SSM Is a “Yes” to Freedom, Not a Denial Of It

4. Marcus Garvey: Educate Yourself

5. God Is No Master of Puppets, Nor Does He Will to Be So

6. The Confessing Church Is A Church of Martyrs: Church, Sleep No More!

7. Barth & Scruton: Where God’s Revelation Meets The West & All The Rest

8. To Everything There Is a Season: Deifying Our Neighbour Isn’t One of Them

9. Moral Therapeutic Deism: Christless Christian America

10. Let The Pharaohs of Our Age Also Learn: Pride Comes Before a Fall

 

I don’t seek to be intentionally controversial, but commenting on current issues and drawing a theological response tends to be confronting. This confrontation impacts me as much as anyone who might read or take an interest in my perspective on those issues. For in the end it’s not my word that I seek to share, it is God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life.

What the past year has shown me is that theology is not superfluous. It is made superfluous by theologians and their audience. There is little room for fence-sitting when proclaiming truth in a world hellbent on following all manner of untruth. There is no room for employing the Gospel (read:Jesus Christ) into the service of an agenda.

We cannot serve two masters for ‘if we once serve another master alongside Christ, as will always be the effect of this procedure, we must not be surprised to see bad fruit growing from a bad tree’ (Karl Barth, CD 3:1:414). We can speak into the world boldly, but we cannot ‘if we do not find a place for confessing Christ’ (Ibid) in the midst of doing so.

In the past year I have aimed to be true to the truth that confronts me daily. This truth isn’t a concept I created. It isn’t God made in my image or a set of moral principles that I have set up to lord over others. As flawed and clumsy as my approach may be sometimes, I’m simply its messenger.

Hence the theological haiku, Gratia Veritas Lumen, which forms the title of this blog. Meaning we live by God’s grace, through His truth, in His light.

This past year I’ve been cut off, unfriended, abused and had to remove myself from abusive forums for seeking to present a perspective that challenged the logical fallacies and reckless conclusions of those around me. For that I was called a bigot, falsely accused of making money off of bashing gays online; I was called a racist, pathetic, loser, Trump supporter and other explicit things I won’t repeat here.

Why? For entering into a dialogue with a different point of view that didn’t agree with the mainstream. For giving Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt and offering conditional support to the concerns of many Conservatives who are increasingly becoming marginalised for holding to a position that seeks to maintain the good from the past.

Progress is not progress, if it ejects tradition. Progress becomes oppressive when it fails to build upon, maintain or restore healthy traditions.

May God have mercy on us as we all move forward into the New Year. May He, in Jesus Christ, especially bless those of you who take the time to support this blog, and take an interest what I write here.

‘Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’ (Isaiah 40:30-31, ESV)

Happy New Year, folks.


 

Come Alive‘ by the Foo Fighters is over ten years old, yet it remains an example of Christ alive in contemporary culture.

“…Nothing more to give I can finally live
Come alive
Your life into me I can finally breathe
Come alive
I lay there in the dark
Open my eyes

You saved me the day that you came alive.”

(Foo Fighters, 2007)

‘Come Alive’ was part of the 2007, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace album.

Viewed through the eyes of a child, teenager, husband or wife the words could easily reflect the sentiment of gratitude for an abusive/self-abusive person who has changed and is in the process of recovery.

The repetitive  “come alive” is about the solemn gratitude that comes from an awakening. Within it is the mixture of a cautious relief, recognition and acknowledgement that when “good turns to bad”, “good can come from bad”. Accompanying this theme of thankfulness is the apparent rescue, and the author’s proclamation that rescue from the abyss is possible.

This isn’t an optimist speaking about a positivism detached from reality. ‘Come Alive’ is a proclamation and an invitation. Sentences like, “you saved me the day you came alive” could be taken to be a reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection as the point of our conversion – our being saved;the reconciliation with God made possible by the free decision of God to dwell among us, showing us our freedom to reject or accept that state of reconciliation.

The message speaks of promise for the broken, from the broken, to the broken.The message speaks to the recovering and those still stuck in a cycle of abuse, reminding them that Inhaled Grace Ignites.

The song starts with clear lines of remorse, empathy and remembrance.

“Seems like only yesterday
Life belonged to runaways
Nothing here to see,
No looking back

Every sound monotone
Every color monocrome
Life begin to fade into the black
Such a simple animal
Steralized with alcohol I could hardly feel me anymore

Desperate, meaningless
All filled up with emptiness
Felt like everything was said and done I lay there in the dark,
I close my eyes…”

From a theological  perspective, the voice of proclamation and victory (one I would confidently say is empowered by the Holy Spirit) is to be heard moving out from behind the pain, and the silent groans which rest in what the author is reflecting on.

This is Jesus Christ alive in contemporary culture.

Within the song there is an active, raw acknowledgement of grace, and the gratitude given within it is a recognition of an awakening, a personal apocalypse, now very real, and very present to the author.

Dave Grohl confirms as much, stating that ‘Come Alive’ is ‘about reawakening after becoming a father. Anyone who’s a father understands how the world becomes a different place when your child is born. I just feel and see everything differently now.’ (Fooarchive)

Although the song is in the end about fatherhood.The overall weight, tone and presence of the song, even with its lack of a clear object, is worship.

It’s the intensity of these kinds of songs, which are created outside the ”Contemporary Christian Music Machine”, that make statements like the made by Kevin Davis, all the more intriguing:

“art and artists are vital for teaching us how to live. And, therefore, art is part of the gospel, whether or not the artist is fully aware.”  (Kevin Davis, ‘The Grace of Holly Williams‘) 

Jesus is Victor.

‘How precious is your steadfast love O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Oh continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.’  (Psalm 36:7-11, ESV)

 

 


(Updated from a post originally published on 5th May 2014)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a man of faith. Who like the rest of us, struggled from time to time. His poetry, some of which is tainted by “prescription” laudanum (the liquid variety of opium), can seem to us to be untouchable. Coleridge’s original meaning almost unattainable.

Kubla Khan being a quintessential example, followed closely by his ‘Aids to reflection: confessions of an inquiring spirit’ written in latter part of his life. The work starts out strong, but veers off in strange statements that appear unrelated to the whole.

Throughout his life Coleridge moved from Christian orthodoxy towards Unitarianism and back again. Ever since my first encounter with Kubla Khan, Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and Frost at Midnight, I’ve had an interest in this wild–at-heart eclectic 18th Century Christian.

Reading Coleridge is an adventure. Over the years I find myself finding new depth in the way Coleridge expressed his theology through poetry. It’s his theology that interests me. Especially where it becomes obvious in certain portions of his work.

One of the less obvious poems where Coleridge expresses his theology through poetry is ‘Ode to the departing year’, written near the end of 1796. The poem is nine stanzas long and reads like a political sigh.

Coleridge’s tone is sombre, firm; paralleling the same, very human gasps for breath, found in the imprecatory Psalms, which call on the name of Yahweh for guidance and deliverance.

Reflecting on this piece R.A Foakes wrote:

‘in such poems Coleridge frequently falls into a sort of quasi-Miltonic heroics that morph into gothic melodramatics…but Coleridge was a man deeply engaged with the political problems of the time’.[ii]

It’s easy to agree because “Ode to the departing year’ was written during the late 18th Century, a ‘time of great political turbulence’ (Foakes, 2009:2).

The ‘French Revolution’ and its reign of terror, general turbulence in Europe, and war. A spiral of conflict triggered  by the beheading of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in 1793.

‘Ode to the departing year’ is rich in imagery. It could be mined for days, by anyone with a keen theological eye who has the gusto to read, reread and discover the many new ways the passages could be understood.

For example, in its closing refrain Coleridge ends with an almost introspective note to himself:

‘Away, my soul, away!
I unpartaking of the evil thing,
With daily prayer and daily toil
Soliciting for food my scanty soil,
Have wailed my country with a loud lament.
Now I recentre my immortal mind
In deep Sabbath of meek self-content;
Cleansed from the vaporous passions that bedim
God’s image, sister of the Seraphim’.[iii] 

Understanding what Coleridge means by ‘sister of the Seraphim’, and how it is used in this context is difficult to determine.

I presume he means that nations stand alongside Angels in close proximity to God. Like the Seraphim, humans can also stand before God [v]. Since in Christ, we are permitted to approach as freely as He has chosen to approach us.

The reference to Seraphim is strange. Does Coleridge mean the Seraphim of the Bible? If so, the image takes on a whole new picture when the historical context is applied.

‘The “fiery serpents” for which the Israelites feared the desert (Num 21:6–8; Deut 8:15) become further embellished as “flying serpents” (Is 14:29; 30:6). The serpents, designated by the same Hebrew word as seraphim, are distinguishable from them only by context (Is 6:2, 6). This pairing suggests that the image of a seraph may have had more in common with our idea of dragon than of angel’.[vi]

The reference to the ‘Lampad seven’ indicates light, candle or torch. Perhaps even Light bearer. Lampad is a term found in Greek mythology, a connection that Coleridge exploits in order to paint an image of blinding light.

‘‘Throughout the blissful throng,
Hushed were harp and song:
Till wheeling round the throne the Lampads seven,
(the mystic Words of Heaven)
Permissive signal make:
The fervent Spirit bowed, then spread his wings and spake!
”Thou in stormy blackness throning
Love and uncreated Light,
By the Earth’s unsolaced groaning,
… Seize thy terrors. Arm of might!…
The Past to thee, to thee the Future cries!
Hark! how wide Nature joins her groans below!
Rise, God of Nature! rise”

Coleridge may have borrowed from the significance of the imagery surrounding God’s heavenly throne in Rev.4:5:

From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. (Rev. 4:5, ESV)
From the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven torches with burning flames. This is the sevenfold Spirit of God. (Rev. 4:5, NLT)

There are ‘torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God‘ gathered before His throne, along with the unique creatures (Seraphim) assigned to the task of protecting God’s Holiness.

Coleridge’s words are a lament. Carried with this is a solemn prayer. ‘Departing Year! ’twas on no earthly shore My soul beheld thy vision!’ War and calamity appear to be what the closing year has brought upon his world.

It’s not just the year, but the era that Coleridge now sees as being brought to a close. For Coleridge this is the apocalypse. Hence Foalke’s comment about Gothic melodramatics that I mentioned earlier.

The only source of solace is in the one who commands Heaven and earth. Fixing eyes to heaven, even when ‘human ruin chokes the streams’; when ‘Ambition is marked in his war-array!’ and when nations take ‘mad avarice [as their] guide. [And] At cowardly distance, kindle with pride‘. 

Coleridge isn’t alone. Minus the Gothic melodramatics, Peter wrote with a similar grasp of the times:

‘The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.’ (1 Peter 4:7-11, ESV)

For the Christian, the New Year is also about an ending. It is a new beginning to the beginning of the end of all things!! With the New Year we are reminded that God owns time and space, just as He owns everything He created; and with that we are reminded that God entered time and space in Jesus Christ, and we have His promise that He will do so again for the final time.

The New Year also a good time to be reminded that faith is not a feeling. Faith is lived out through prayer and gratitude. Faith impacts emotions and as such it walks alongside reason. As such we should take a moment to reconsider all that we can be grateful for in the passing year. Laying down before God, like Coleridge does in Ode To the Departing Year, all that we may struggle with, giving over to God, also those things that have perhaps weighed us down or look to weigh us down.

With the New Year, we may not be able to see beyond the days ahead, but we are called by God to rest, recognise and acknowledge that He is the one who does. As the clock moves past 12 on the evening of 31st, may we too, sing with those gathered around His throne,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
  who was and is and is to come!” (Rev 4:8)

 


References: 

[i] Foakes, R.A 2009, Shadowy nobodies and other Minutiae: Coleridge’s originality in The Coleridge Bulletin,  The journal of the friends of Coleridge Summer new series 33 (NS) 2009

[ii] “beings who stand before God” (see Isa. 6:1–2), McGee, J. V. Thru the Bible

[iii] Coleridge, S.T 1796 Ode to a departing year in The complete poems, 1997 Penguin Classics, Penguin Group (p.126)

[iv] Ryken, L., Wilhoit, J., Longman, T., Duriez, C., Penney, D., & Reid, D. G. 2000  Dictionary of biblical imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Christmas Eve 2 Zero 1 Seven

December 24, 2017 — 1 Comment

Copywrite RL2017“Christmas Eve 2 Zero 1 Seven” is my latest original musical offering. Give it a thumbs up here or you can check it, and my other tunes out on YouTube.

What I like about this is the piano. The harmony and bass worked out okay as well.

I’ve been having some technical issues with my recordings since upgrading some of my equipment, so my newer recordings have suffered in the quality department.

If you’re following my musical art diary on YouTube it’s fairly obvious. I’m working on fixing that so the creative side doesn’t suffer as a result.

Anyways, Merry Christmas, folks. Thanks for tagging along with me this year.

May God bless you, keep you and bring to us all His best in the coming New Year.


 

The synoptic authors recall the sending forth of the disciples by Jesus.

Matthew, Mark and Luke discuss the event with particular attention to polarity. Their focal point is the contrasts between the ‘for, against’, ‘peace, swords’, ‘binding, loosing’, ‘finding and losing’.(Mt.10:14/Lk.9:3-5/Mk.6:811/Acts 13:51)

Within the texts Jesus employs an economic[i] and political rhetoric. We read words like labouring, wages, authority, power, court and persecution.Within this discourse the sender and the sent are engaged in an economic project of proclamation.

This could be viewed as an economic protest that is both transactional and transformational. Words such as ‘value, worth, pay, giving, receiving, work and reward’ all rotate in and around the commanded reordering evident within the text.There is a transaction taking place, it precedes the announcement of transformation. Accompanying the message is exorcism, deliverance and proclamation of true value and true cost.

We read the words “take up your cross” in recollection of the steps taken by Jesus from stable, temple, workshop, garden, cross, empty tomb, upper room, and the promise of His physical reappearing.

When Jesus points to cost it is true cost. We are found or lost in underlying the notions of presence, arrival, departure and acceptance or rejection. Acknowledging presence means we hear the cost of wrath, value, worth, or worthlessness, unforgiveness or forgiveness.

Here we see that life-is-proclamation. It is not just economic but political. The transaction has no monetary value and yet it becomes transformational. These distinctions are about the strategic advancement of the Kingdom of God which lies outside human conjuring.It is given and cannot be purchased.

We, the post-modern hearers of the texts are confronted by the weight of declaration and doubt. This is a heaviness which takes place in the recollection of John the Baptist’s  call to ‘Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand – God has come near’ (ESV)

In the reminder of the horror and shame of crucifixion, and John’s call to repentance, we are redirected to align our thoughts onto the polarity between acknowledgement – acceptance, and denial – and evasion (in a word, rejection).

For instance: we read of dust, feet, and wiping away.

Dust in its Anglo-European context is understood as confusion, disturbance, something worthless, a state of humiliation, particles into which something disintegrates[ii]. For the first century audience, dust would have been ‘symbolic’[iii].Reminding them that ‘divine displeasure rests on any place that refused the Gospel’[iv].

Dust can announce arrival and signify departure.The finite significance of dust is its strength as a silent symbolic act of re-ordering; possibly forgiveness. A loving push-back; an assertive handing back of the hat, label,or false accusation that doesn’t fit.

Dust as a declaration of disturbance points us towards distinctions. The qualitative[v]: God is the majestic giver of life and ‘humanity, in its misery’[vi] runs hard and fast towards and artificial light, believing in the ability and power of self to justify.The proclamation mentioned within the texts are not about preaching the ‘manifestation of God as an idea; but about acknowledging that the revelation of God as a whole is a spiritual reality[vii]

Proclamation here is a declaration of disturbance. Our self-reliance is disrupted; as such we are not left in our sin to wallow – because “God has drawn near”.

We are forgiven, raised and reminded, by proclamation, that this state of forgiveness is not about ignoring deliberate injury.  For sin is not justified or legitimised by forgiveness. Forgiveness acknowledges a wrong, and calls for a response, a re-ordering; change. Otherwise there would be no cause for forgiveness. For the sinner this means that we are justified by the final act of the forgiver.

Proclamation calls us to acknowledgment. Here we experience acceptance and see shadows condemned in the true light of ‘veritas’ and the true cost of forgiveness.  By doing this we drop the dust from our feet, stop feeding the echoes of the past and as a consequence find ourselves moved towards healing.

‘In Jesus Christ God comes forth out of the profound hiddenness of His divinity in order to act as God among and upon us…
…In Jesus the living God has spoken to us in accents we cannot fail to hear’[viii]

In repentance thought and speech must meet deed.We acknowledge the negative but assert the positive. In this sense diverse forgiveness, including the act of forgiving the absence of apology, is like exhaling dust, and inhaling grace. The act of removing the dust from our feet.


References:

[i] Green, J.1997 NICNT:The Gospel of Luke, Wm.B.Eerdmans Publishing Company, p.413

[ii] Merriam-Webster

[iii] Hendrickson, W. 1978 NTC: Luke, Baker Academic p.575

[iv] Ibid, p.575

[v] Kierkegaard’s ‘infinite qualitative distinction’

[vi] Barth, K. 1938 The Miracle of Christmas in CD.1.2:173 Hendrickson Publishers

[vii] Ibid, p.178

[viii] Ibid, pp.182-183

Originally posted 17th February 2014  ©RL 

Pol Pot was a Marxist, schooled in France; part of the French communists such as Sartre et.al.

As I noted in a quote  from Simone Weil on Facebook the other day:

“Marxism is a fully-fledged religion, in the impurest sense of the word. In particular it shares in common with all inferior forms of the religious life the fact of having been continually used, according to Marx’s perfectly accurate expression, as an opium of the people.” (Simone Weil, Oppression & Liberty p.165)

Weil was a fan of Marx, but chose to leave Marxism behind.

In the particular fragment the above quote comes from, Simone’s conclusions pull up alongside Roger Scruton’s in ‘Fools, Frauds & Firebrands (2015)’, and Jacques Ellul’ in ‘Jesus & Marx (1988)’.

I would also add in here F.A. Hayek’s ‘Road to Serfdom‘ (1944), Richard Wurmbrand’s, ‘Marx & Satan (1976)’, Albert Camus’, ‘The Rebel‘ (1951) and for good measure, Jean Bethke Elshtain’s, ‘Sovereignty: God, State, & Self‘ (2008).

In an article called, A dark century’s blackest cloud, from November 2004, The Economist gives a decent summary of what an ideological allegiance made to Marxism demands, and the tragic consequences that follow it. The piece brilliantly summarises the pain caused by Pol Pot to the people of Cambodia. (If I could, I’d quote the whole thing).

“…it was the pseudoscientific certainty of Marxism-Leninism, that malformed child of the Enlightenment, which was chiefly to blame.
…All Cambodians were to become workers on the land. There were to be no wages. Meals were to be provided by collective kitchens (“unity of feeding”). Each Cambodian had to refer to himself or herself as “we”, forbidden to use the first person singular. When one region found it did not have enough food, supplies were not sent from better-off places; rather, the hungry were marched off to look for them.
Of course, it did not work. Up to 1m people died of starvation.”  (The Economist, 2004)

Marxism can be defined very simply as this:

Rich people manipulating not-so-rich people, into eliminating rich people, that rich people don’t like.


Further relevant reading on the snares of Marxism:

The N.Y. Times: Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. But in the last three years its economy has collapsed.

BBC News:  Venezuela protests: Man set alight as death toll rises

The Washington Post: It’s official: Venezuela is a full-blown dictatorship

Guest post by Josiah Luithui.

Christianity came to Nagalim about 100 years ago, and now 99% of the population in Nagalim is Christian. Then, we can be sure about this – Christmas is the most awaited and important festival of Nagalim.

It is the festival of joy and merry-making; a joy for the birth of baby Jesu and a merry-making of this joy. It is a season of rest and fellowship and gathering; a season when dear and near ones comes home from afar to be with their parents and family at home. It is the most precious festival for the Nagas.

In this festive season farmers take complete rest from farm works; students comes home from their schools/colleges/seminaries, and villages are once again full of merry-making voice and gathering. So, for the tribal Nagas who mostly dwells in villages, Christmas is the most wonderful and beautiful festival and time God has made for His people.

Let me tell you about how Christmas is celebrated in Nagalim.

Usually, the celebration stresses for 4-5 days, i.e., starting from 24th December mid-night program (this is to welcome the born of baby Jesus at mid-night) and the celebration goes till the 28th night. People gather in a place, usually the village football playground.

At night, since the weather is cold, people gather seating around the fire.

At 24th, mid-night, the whole gathering crowd goes for Christmas Carol, and at 1 am they will move out from the place where they are gathered. They are led by the village Torch bearer, followed by the Church choir master with his choir, and followed by the crowed. They will sing the Hymn songs and go door-to-door collecting the carol gifts. All these gifts they collected are done for auction in the Church after Christmas, and the fund is for the Church.

During day time, people gather from 10 am- 4 pm, they play different games and are rewarded with prizes- pen, cup, plate, exercise books, utensils etc. The games are usually played categorically, i.e., children, adult and old folks; also men and women.

Common games played are: race, volleyball and football. Nagas, both men and women, are football lovers. The program begins and ends with prayer; before the departure of the day, a very special kind of “delicious sweet” is distributed to the crowed, one piece each- called “Genikur,” which is made of sugar-cane juice- an apple size.

At night, people gather around the fire and there is competition: song, dance and drama, fashion show etc. The winners are rewards with prizes. The night program is from 7 pm- 10 pm. The program begins and ends with prayer and the delicious “Genikur.”


The most delicious and choice food for Christmas is “Pork.” Poor people buy 2/3 kgs for the festival; but this does not stop them from the joy of receiving baby Jesus. And, especially for children, Christmas is the time when they buy new: toy guns, barbies, and dress.

This is the time the parents spend their saving for children’s clothing.

To sum up, for the Nagas, Christmas is the one all-in-all celebration; a celebration of joy and merry-making, singing “joy to the world, the Savior Jesus is born.” Amen.


Josiah is a student of theology.

Servant of the living Lord Jesus Christ.

To learn more about Nagalim,

you can connect with Josiah @ the Facebook page Council of Nagalim Churches

The Flower Of The Holy Night

December 16, 2017 — 2 Comments

December 12 is National Poinsettia Day in the United States.

Running with a few ideas for the remaining weeks of term 4, I settled on one which contributed to our encounters with cultures different to our own.

Combining craft, theology and horticulture, we looked at, painted, cut and pasted together the Poinsettia; otherwise known as the ‘Mexican Fire plant’ or the ‘Flower of the Holy Night’.

Poinsettia Collage 1_0

The resources included ‘Christmas around the World Scrapbook {Supplement}’ from Sarah Cooley, a TpT contributor, and a video presentation of Tomie dePaola’s book,  The Legend of the Poinsettia’. (Both worth checking out).

I didn’t have the room to advance beyond this activity supplement and launch into the scrapbook. I was, however, able to merge the activity into a hands-on discussion surrounding the history, theology and tradition.

Poinsettia Collage 1_solo 1

According to the official website for Poinsettia Day[i], the plant was renamed after American Statesman and botanist, Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851), who brought the ‘red-leafed plant into the United States’[ii] from Mexico.

‘Mexico’s relationship to the plant begins with The Aztecs, who called the plant “Cuitlaxochitl” meaning “star flower” and used it to produce a red dye. The sap was also used to control fevers. Mexico’s use of the plant to celebrate Christmas dates back to the 17th century.’ (Source)

Mexican tradition speaks about how the Poinsettia came to be an important part of Christmas celebrations there.

‘The flower connects to the legend of a young girl, distraught about not having anything with which to honour the Baby Jesus in a Christmas procession. An angel tells her that any gift given with love is a wonderful gift. Later the weeds she gathers by the roadside to place around the manger miraculously transform into the beautiful red star flower we think of as Poinsettia.’ (Source)

The Smithsonian Institute is also loosely connected to the Poinsettia with Joel Poinsett being a founding member of its progenitor, ‘The National Institute for the Promotion of Science’. An organisation later renamed the Smithsonian after James Smithson, its primary benefactor. ’[iii]

Should you receive or see a Poinsettia this Christmas, its history and tradition are good conversation starters.

As far as facilitating a homeschool lesson that includes horticulture, history, tradition and theology. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Related reading:

Poinsettia care tips


References (not otherwise linked)

[i] http://www.poinsettiaday.com/

[ii] Smithsonian Institute, A Smithsonian Holiday Story: Joel Poinsett and the Poinsettia sourced 13th December 2014

[iii] Ibid.

This post was originally posted on the 13th December 2014.

The Polonius Platitudes

December 14, 2017 — Leave a comment

Cross 3Whether Hamlet is referenced, like it is in the underrated Danny DeVito movie ‘Renaissance Man’ (Army Intelligence[i], or played word for word in theatre-to-DVD productions , I am a curious fan.

Next to Hamlet, the greatest lessons we learn within this play come from Polonius, the well schooled political advisor[ii].

Polonius’ platitudes and actions provide insight rather than just entertainment.With Polonius, Shakespeare rolls out the inevitable decline to any castle made of sand or well hatched plan for revenge.

His monologues appear within a set of dialogues. Lines that don’t fall within the range of the soliloquies assigned to Hamlet. They are different, unique and deep.When reading the play, it’s easy enough to mistake a form of reminiscing for remorse.

His words reflect a sense of sentimentalism. Carried forth on a quiet retrospection that gives voice to an understanding of interpersonal relationships. Wisdom accumulated over the years in his role as a devoted father, loyal diplomat and crafty politician.

Some examples of this are expressed in Polonius’ address to his son Laertes, and later to his daughter Ophelia:

To Laertes (abridged):

‘See thou character. Give your thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion’d thought his act. Be familiar, but by no means vulgar…
Do not dull thy palm with entertainment of each new-hatcht, unfledged comrade’
(Translation: steer clear of people pleasing for the sake of acceptance, not duty)
Beware of entrance to a quarrel…Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice.
Costly thy habit as they wallet can buy, but not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel often proclaims the man.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be: for loan often loses both itself and friend.
This above all, to thine own self be true;…Thou canst be false to any man.’
– Polonius (Act I/III: 20-77)

To Ophelia:

‘It seems it as proper to our age, to cast beyond ourselves in our opinions,
As it is common for the younger sort to lack discretion.’
– Polonius (Act II/ I: 87-II.14)

Polonius to Ophelia in front of the King:

‘Tis too much proved, that with devotions visage and pious action we do sugar coat over the devil himself’
– Polonius (Act III/ I: 24-67)

There is a lot that can be mined from Polonius’ role in the play. He has been corrupted. It is this mixture of light and dark; truth, half-truth and outright lie, all the result of activities which affect the storyline.

Although he is outsmarted by Hamlet (who manages to convince a suspicious Polonius’ of his supposed madness), the affable Polonius navigates the whimsical nobility face to face. He is a confident man.  Speaking what is necessary rather than what is needed.

{Hamlet} – Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?
{Polonius} – By the mass, and ‘tis like a camel indeed.
{Hamlet} – Methinks it is like a weasel.
{Polonius} – It is backed like a weasel.
{Hamlet} – Or like a whale.
{Polonius} – Very like a whale.
(Act III. Scene II)

Polonius comes across as a man who doesn’t care about the difference between what he knows to be true and the lie he is upholding in order to maintain the status quo. Serving both the King, Queen and his own self-preservation.

There is a moment of irony which seems to suggest that Polonius has unknowingly predicted the path his downfall will take:

{Hamlet} – What did you enact?
{Polonius} – I did enact Julius Caesar; I was kill’d in’ the Capitol; Brutus killed me.
(Act III. Scene II 75-117)

Not long after this, rattled by confirmation of the conspiracy, Hamlet comes to confront his mother. Polonius, hiding behind a curtain in the Queen’s bedroom is then ‘slain’ (in self-defence?) by Hamlet.

Imaged by Polonius hiding behind an ‘arras’ {tapestry that divides rooms}.The scene plays on the deception which Polonius has been part of. Hiding behind the truth, his veiled participation in the great deception is unveiled. Polonius is silenced.

From this point on, the sand from which the castle  has been made begins to rapidly erode.

Hamlet’s objective in uncovering their deception by using it against them is only partly achieved. Revenge and cunning culminating in the tragic end of all major players excluding that of Hamlet’s close friend Horatio.

Is there a theological point?

Yes. Polonius is no martyr. What is seen on the surface is a veil of innocence, a hard-working loyalty; a wise, tolerant and considerate person. By all appearances a devout and pious man.

Polonius himself states:

‘I hold my duty, as I hold my soul. Both to my God and to my gracious king’
(Act II/II: 15-57)

In Polonius, Shakespeare reasons us with a warning:

 ‘Tis too much proved, that with devotions visage and pious action we do sugar coat over the devil himself’
– Polonius (Act III/ I: 24-67)

Hamlet PicThe point is that only a false grace sugar coats reality.

Instead the Christian understands that true grace testifies to a cost.

The existence of ‘judgement – the shadow side of the Gospel’. Justice hand in hand with the ‘lighter side of mercy’; where ‘light is seen in the midst of darkness’ – the ‘righteousness and the wrath of God.’ (Karl Barth) [iv]

God’s loving “no” enables us to say “yes” to life. If were not for this restraint we would devour ourselves and each other.

So it is with a parent to their child, who practicing absolute freedom would play in busy traffic – {based on the arguments against restraint of some within todays intellectual and political class} – if it were not for the restraint and instruction of loving parents the results would be catastrophic for the child.

Rather than finding a trusted friend, Hamlet finds a nemesis. Someone he must outmanoeuvre in order to get to the truth. In short Hamlet refuses to believe a lie. Saying ”no” by refusing to conform to the deceit of those around him.

The crux of the story encourages us to see the dangers of loving enablers; people who tell us what we want to hear rather than what we need to hear.

It moves us to see the problems caused by those who discount the events and impact which negative experiences can have on others.Those who are satisfied with appearances over substance. From there we walk away challenged to live wisely in extreme days (Ephesians 5:15-16). Encouraging those around us who might have misplaced a thinking faith in exchange for cheap grace and blind allegiances.

Next to Hamlet himself, the greatest lessons we take away from Hamlet, the play, come to us by way of Polonius.

 


References:

[i] Released in Australia under the title ‘Army Intelligence’

[ii] Machiavellianism finds its way to being the most likely among an assortment of other ideological possibilities.

[iii] The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Volume Two, Wordsworth Editions 1999

[iv] Barth, K. 1940 C.D II/I:121-122 The Doctrine of God: The Readiness of God Hendrickson Publishers

In criticising Marx’s Utopian communist dream, Simone Weil also provided an exemplary commentary on the final part of the movie Wall-E. The crux of which is found here:

“We have only to bear in mind the weakness of human nature to understand that an existence from which the very notion of work had pretty well disappeared would be delivered over to the play of the passions and perhaps to madness; there is no self-mastery without discipline, and there is no other source of discipline for man than the effort demanded in overcoming external obstacles.
A nation of idlers might well amuse itself by giving itself obstacles to overcome, exercise itself in the sciences, in the arts, in games; but the efforts that are the result of pure whim do not form for a man a means of controlling his own whims. It is the obstacles we encounter and that have to be overcome which give us the opportunity for self-conquest.”
(The Causes of Liberty & Social Oppression, 1934:80) [i]

Weil is critiquing Karl Marx’s ideal society. Oppression and exploitation, as understood by Marx, can only be eliminated when we have eliminated the curse of work. This is an either-or fallacy and Weil rightly takes it to task. Even if the worker owns the means of production, instead of being the means by which production happens, the worker is left with having to overcome his or her own vices, such as sloth.

Creativity requires work. Tending to gardens in order to enjoy them requires work. Adam, for example, was given the task of tending and keeping the garden before the fall (Genesis 2:15). This was one of God’s first commands to humans. Work becomes cursed once Adam and Eve fall out with God by eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:19, 23). Something that were explicitly told not to do.

Despite this, God graciously works to clothe them, and in what could be described as discipline, moves to protect humanity from further destruction, by closing the Garden off to humanity. Eden’s gates are shut and guarded by angel and flaming sword (Genesis 3:24).

The result is that work is redefined by sin. It’s no longer something done in partnership with God. Work becomes what it was never intended to be, cursed, because humanity took it upon themselves to become the source of morality, good and evil.

Every dictator this side of Eden’s gates stands as the master, determining right and wrong, good and evil, to be whatever he or she dictates. The transcendent word of God, made imminent to us by His revelation, is replaced by the word of man and the word of woman.

Weil’s criticism doesn’t specifically mention Genesis like this, but the sentiment is shared. Work cannot be eradicated, it can only be reformed. It can only be redeemed. Work that begins in God’s work on our behalf. Just like the clothes made for Adam and Eve to replace their own meagre work (Genesis 3:7).

This is because the absence of work, which is said to set the worker free, only ends up enslaving the worker. Likewise the absence in our own work is flawed, if the God who lovingly summons us through His own work is ejected or forgotten. The worker is subjected to an ‘unconditional surrender to caprice’ [ii].

According to Weil, there is no way to avoid work, no way of eliminating it without also eliminating ourselves. Therefore, work, in the quest to fight oppression and exploitation of the worker, has to be redefined, reformed, then validated, it cannot be eradicated.

True liberty, writes Weil, is not ‘defined by a relationship between desire & its satisfaction, but by a relationship between thought & action.’ [iii]. Life requires work. Progress requires effort and a reliable foundation, not a mechanised overlord, or a machine that replaces human thought. I see a lot of room in Weil’s thought here for Dallas Willard’s mighty theme, ‘grace is opposed to earning, but not to effort’ (The Great Omission, 2006).

Weil writes:

“Bureaucratic machines almost reach the point of taking the place of leaders. Thus, in all spheres, thought, the prerogative of the individual, is subordinated to vast mechanisms which crystallize collective life, and that is so to such an extent that we have almost lost the notion of what real thought is.”
(1934. p.104) [iv]

My translation:

“If we have machines to tell us what to think, who needs to learn how to think? ‘Ah, just google it’ or ‘I don’t need to be interested in government, if I leave them be, they’ll leave me be. Each to their own.”

Weil’s words match perfectly with the story-line of Wall-E. When the time comes for humanity to return to earth after a long period of waiting, the machines designed to keep humanity safe, become humanity’s prison wardens. They know what’s best. When evidence is presented that earth is now liveable again, the machine seeks to destroy it. The only thing in its way is a lowly earth robot called Wall-E, who, while still a machine, has human-like consciousness. Unwittingly he finds himself in a struggle for human freedom.

Wall-E is a good illustration for the soulless mechanisation that Simone Weil was criticising. On board the ship, humans have gradually become obese, having nothing to do, but be served by their machines. All work has been eradicated. The worker is free, only to find themselves held captive under the dominion of their own creation. Even the Captain is moved around in a chair. All he really does is fill a role to assuage appearances that says to everybody on board that a human is still in charge.

Another example comes from the band Styx. ‘Mr. Roboto’,  lifts Weil’s concerns straight up from the page they were written on:

“The problem’s plain to see, too much technology.
Machines to save our lives, machines dehumanize”
(Dennis DeYoung, 1983)

Simone Weil isn’t advocating a troglodyte existence. Her criticism is about our dependence on technology; a dangerously indifferent and slothful dependence which ultimately works against humanity.  As Weil wrote, ‘the picture of a completely oppressive social life is where every individual is subject to the operation of a blind mechanism.’ (p.94) [v] This is already happening when it comes to who we rely on for information, morality, ethics, and how we approach education.

To be so convinced that true reality (or freedom) is existence without the One who birthed that existence, is to give in to an arrogance which rejects God’s grace, and chains humanity to the Dark agenda of total extinction.


 References:

[i] Weil, S. 1934 The Causes of Liberty & Social Oppression in Oppression & Liberty, Routledge & Kegan Paul 1958.

[ii] ibid, p.80

[iii] ibid, p.81

[iv] ibid, p.104

[v] ibid, p.94

Image: Simone Weil, date unknown sourced 9th December 2017, from brainpickings.org

An Advent Jigsaw Journey

December 6, 2017 — 2 Comments

A few years back we came across this 24 piece jigsaw by Juliet David (Author) & Pauline Siewert (Illustrator).

U.S: Amazon, AUS: Koorong 

Advent_JigsawPuzzle

At some point in November 2012, my wife and I got to talking about one of Ann Voskamp‘s family traditions. In a moment of inspiration, we wondered out-loud how cool it would be to use this jigsaw as an interactive advent calendar. Participating in Advent is another act of worship. It’s lived out daily. Hence, I’m not an admirer of chocolate filled cardboard Christmas countdown boxes, so this fit the bill.

IMG_20131202_093013

The general idea is not complex.

First: set up the jigsaw by numbering the back of each piece from one to twenty-four in a permanent marker, leaving the 24th piece with Jesus on it for Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day.

Second: match the date with each piece, daily.

Worth noting: after some rough starts, we decided  to create a basic roster on our calendar for December. That way each child was free to monitor it, knowing when and who got to have their turn. We found that this fostered a sense of community. Discussions each morning nearly always included reminding each other who’s turn it was on the day.

The end result is a historical scene that comes into view over the course of December. Empowering a very real experience of reverence, hope and anticipation. I’m a big fan of encouraging theological themes where relevant, this deeply entrenches us in what the Christ-Advent is all about.

Advent_JigsawPuzzleexample2012

We’ve done this alongside our Nutcracker Advent calendar every year since. Not just because the kids loved it, but because the process also reflects an interaction with the history surrounding the curious journey of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Angels, shepherds and wise-men.

I wouldn’t quite call this sacramental, but I would emphasise the significance of its symbolism and its potential as a very simple spiritual discipline.


Last year I posted a quick response to the hysteria surrounding the election of Donald Trump. I headlined that post, ‘Why Trump is Not Hitler, & Why American Evangelicals Are Not German Christians’. My aim was to counter a lot of what I was seeing posted on social media by people who were usually level-headed and intellectually responsible.

It was disappointing to see normally sane individuals suddenly join the ranks of anti-trump – which really were I’m angry because the Leftist power structures and its monopoly on power, were diminished – riots. (It’s safe to say, that after twelve months, they’ve started to lose their shine as well.)

Worse still, were some Christian conservative academics who took to social media to virtue signal to the all-powerful Left in what I can only describe as a sycophantic attempt to validate themselves in the eyes of those on the Left. Even I felt pressure to censor my view of Trump and the current political scene, so as to not fall foul of the power brokers in my field of academic work and study.

Generally balanced academics picked up Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, forged both into anti-Trump weapons, and started swinging them around in unison with the “Trump is Hitler” chorus. Despite the intimidation, I decided to work a way back towards unity; shared ground.

Informing my post at the time, is the fact that both Barth and Bonhoeffer, who were anti-Nazi theologians, would be unlikely to leap before they looked, when it came to the political scaremongering surrounding Trump. They weren’t fans of labels, generalised slogans, and false doctrines. Nor were they supporters of the imposition of new cultural laws, restrictions on freedom of speech, inciting the mob, Nazi flags in churches and, collective conformity to party-lines. That’s part of what made them anti-Nazi theologians.

Did some Christians commit the blasphemy of looking to Trump as though God Himself had been elected to the White House? Sure, but no differently to how people deify celebrity, or in the relevant political arena, how people fell apart when President Obama was moved on and Clinton lost.

I also agree that there are similarities between the power structures in the 1930’s and today. However, where I disagree is where we draw those parallels. The similarities, as I’ve pointed out many times in my writing, fall parallel with socialism, repression and control of the universities by the Left. Among other points of constancy such as dehumanising anyone who disagrees them. For more on my thinking about this, take for example this quote from an article I published in October:

The danger should be clear enough. From a psychological point of view this rampant ad hominem is recognised as emotional manipulation. Recklessly calling someone a Nazi is a shaming technique designed to control the opponent in an attempt to discredit and silence them. The same goes for those who would paint all white people as racist.
Link both the reckless labelling of people as Nazis and the slogan “all white people are racist” together and the cocktail of hate is complete. All that’s needed are chambers filled with the pesticide Zyklon B, cyclone fencing, and all those determined by the Left as having “life unworthy of life”.
Any well-informed reader who knows the history behind the genocidal rampaging in Rwanda, of the Tutsis against the Hutus, will see that there is good reason for concern […]
Since the Left give us permission to do so, if a group of people calling other people Nazis are doing exactly what Nazis did, shouldn’t those being called Nazis have the right to punch a Nazi?
The answer is a tentative “no”. Those who stand opposed must do better than employ the same tactics used against them. Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Thatcher didn’t bring about an end to the Cold War by feeding the status quo.
(Let the Pharaohs of our Age also Learn: Pride comes before a fall, 18th October 2017)

Another similarity is the indoctrination of those on the Left by their ideological masters. Some may say that this is ridiculous. That those on the Left aren’t indoctrinated. That there is no, as I call it, leftist cult of modern liberalism. If that is true, then why has the past twelve months show the Western world that something is amiss and, although the man has his moments, it’s not Donald Trump or the “Christian right”.

Examples of how the culture of repudiation and its dehumanising has taken hold in the psyche of the average individual are magnified by social media, and those examples are incriminating. Such as the comment to this YouTube video.

This person is a victim of the times. So rather than argue with them online, I decided to write a general response outlining five reasons why their statement was flat-out wrong:

1. Unlike, North Korea, People aren’t risking their lives to escape America into Mexico, Cuba or Canada.
2. Unlike Zimbabwe, North Korea or Turkey, soldiers aren’t defecting from the United States, nor are America’s defences forces attempting a coup.
3. Unlike Syria, the United Nations is not monitoring the Government because of previous gas attacks on the Syrian people.
4. Unlike Turkey, the media and academics, despite their vicious and continued harassment of the Trump administration have not been rounded up and arrested.
5. It’s a logical fallacy, involves a poor reading of theology and it’s reckless labelling. One just doesn’t name-drop the anti-Christ or Hitler without qualifying the accusation in order to say why.

The real tragedy in all of this is that by crying wolf about Nazism, the Left desensitises people to the heinous crimes of Nazism. It reduces Nazism to the absurd and reduces the ability for anyone to call out the real thing, when and if it, or an equivalent, God forbid, rises once more.

False accusations turn the blood brother of Communism into a joke, potentially doing great damage to the legacy of the millions who fell and suffered at the hands of both their Nazi and Communist oppressors. The meaning and reverence in the words “never again” and “Solidarity” are not the battle cries of cultural Marxists, Antifa, Leftists or Trump haters.

Those words are prayers, and their meanings are forged in the fires of hell on earth, something far removed from the Nike Air, Apple iphone, iMac, ivory tower professors, millennials, and anyone else, sucked in by those on the Left who feed them lines about oppression, privilege, the need for safe spaces and all manner of pejorative phobias used to conveniently dismiss opposing opinions.

Like its Marxist brother, Nazism is pure evil. We cannot allow these attacks on the legacy of its victims. We must not let their memory fade at the hands of those who would rather use the fallacy of moral equivalence, for cheap applause, or to maintain the power structures of the Left, than think through what it really means when they accuse Trump of being Hitler, and most Trump supporters of being fascists.

Perhaps the best statement about Trump, I’ve read so far, comes from Mark Landsbaum,

‘Yeah, his style is rude, crude and clumsy, to say nothing about childish. But we’ve tried polite, considerate and grownup and guess what – that’s what got the country where it was a year ago. I don’t much care how crude and clumsy he is as long as he continues on the trajectory he’s charted: millions of babies saved and 150 victories in 10 months. He’s not my pastor. He’s my mechanic.’

I am, when it comes to President Donald Trump, as I have been from the beginning, a cautious optimist. I see him as a diamond in the rough. I’m not yet a fan, but the person and thousands like them on the internet, who are quick to call Trump another Hitler, should be called out for what they are mindlessly repeating. Word for word, Leftist dogma and its party-line propaganda.


References:

Artwork otherwise not tagged: author unknown

The Catholic herald in the U.K. recently published an excellent article called The Australian church is in desperate trouble. Although I’m protestant, I stand in solidarity with most of what’s written.

Three things are worth highlighting and commenting on:

The first, it’s too simple to say that Australia was never a Christian country. Australia was founded on enlightenment ideals, WHICH have their foundation in an understanding and living “robust Christianity”.

It’s fairly clear from history about what happens when that foundation is either ignored or attempts or made to completely severe it. I think in Australia’s case its going to be a matter of, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”…People are already without hope, exhausted, and only happy when its “payday”.

Showing that the worship of money is the real contender for ”who’s to blame, for that lack of hope and unhappiness” spotlight, not Christianity.

The second, some churches have made some serious errors of judgement and even become accomplices in crimes against some young people entrusted to their care. No thinking, loving Christian would ever say that those church communities haven’t sinned and or that now their sin (as the Bible warns us in Numbers 32:23) isn’t finding them out.

That’s what’s been good about the Royal Commission. It’s a refining and a reminder to keep vigilant when it comes to protecting the young. Hence the large amount of “no” voters arguing against “safe schools” and saying “no” to SSM.

Why create a new stolen generation, because it ”seemed like a good idea at the time”? Why allow a system where abuse is too easy to hide behind a veil of tolerance, fear and politics?

Some Christians are rightly held accountable for their failure to stand up and speak out against child sexual abuse. That reverberates throughout the Church universal.

Yet, when the Church, who learning from their mistakes and the sins of others in their communities, decide to act and stand up, then speak out against what they see as potential abuse and potential for abuse, they’re called, intolerant, bigoted, unloving and worse.

It’s inconsistent and vile to say to the Church that they were wrong for not speaking out then, only to turn and tell the Church they should be silent now. The Church must rise to the challenges of life, in grace, truth and the light of Christ.

The third, it’s not the end of Christianity if it is forced into the shadows of Australian life, politics and society. Nor is it the end of Christianity, if it is silenced at the order of political correctness and enforced by the slaves of the bureaucratic caste who, through a false doctrine, indoctrinate them, and pay their cheques.

The end of Christianity, is, as it was with its beginning, centred in God’s triumph in and through Jesus Christ. The alpha and omega is not centred in temporal, abstract human power or human triumphalism (both inside and outside the Church). God, in Jesus Christ, has the final word.

Time to dust off Augustine’s City of God & Tertullian’s Apology. Our Christian forebears; our brothers and sisters in Africa, China, India; those who lived under Soviet rule and those brothers and sisters who suffer in the Middle East, already outline what our response should look like, they lived and live through much, much worse.

As the article concludes:

“For gold to be purified, it must be first tested in the furnace. Perhaps this is what is happening to Catholicism in Australia.
But the Church doesn’t end with the furnace; it ends in hope.
Last Sunday, which was the last of the liturgical year, we celebrated the feast of Christ the King. The Church in Australia will face the new year as the Church will do across the world – not with a sigh of relief, but with confidence that the battle is already won.” [i]

Jesus is victor!

#bewaretheauctioneers


References:

[i] Catholic Herald, The Australian church is in desperate trouble Sourced 2nd December 2017  

Life With God…

November 2, 2017 — Leave a comment

 

The shape of things to come?:

‘Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) was constantly battling an [oppressive totalitarian] Polish government that was seeking to harass the Church and reduces its influence over the Catholic population of Poland.
[…] Priest were taxed excessively, and often followed and beaten up; students were denied admission to universities if their parents were churchgoers; permits for the building of churches were withheld when new towns developed;
the state abolished old religious holidays and invented ersatz national ones; and there was a constant ideological compaign of lies in the media designed to weaken religion and reduce it to an expression of patriotic nostaligia. Wojtyla  resisted all these pressures by evading them inventively as much as by challenging them boldly.’
(O’Sullivan, 2006. )[i]

Czech playwright, poet, President, and political dissident, Václav Havel:

“Anything that in any way opposed the vision of the world offered by Communism, thus calling that vision into question or actually proving it wrong, was mercilessly crushed. Needless to say, life, with its unfathomable diversity and unpredictability, never allowed itself to be squeezed into the crude Marxist cage.
All that the guardians of the cage could do was to suppress and destroy whatever they could not make fit into it. Ultimately, war had to be declared on life itself and its innermost essence.
[Having come from a country once ruled by Communism] I could give you thousands of concrete examples of how all the natural manifestations of life were stifled in the name of an abstract, theoretical vision of a better world. It was not just that there were what we call human rights abuses. This enforced vision led to the moral, political and economic devastation of all of society.”
(Havel, 2002) [ii]

 

What should our response look like?

Jesus:

“Be as wise as a serpent, & as gentle as doves” (Mt.10:16)

Martin:

“God is neither hardhearted nor soft minded. He is toughminded enough to transcend the world; he is tenderhearted enough to live in it. He does not leave us alone in our agonies and struggles. He seeks us in dark places and suffers with us and for us in our tragic prodigality.” (MLK, 1963) [iii]

Never give up.

Even when they try to kill you:

P.J.P II: assassination attempt, St. Peter’s Square, 1981.

Reagan: assassination attempt, 1981, Washington D.C.

Thatcher: assassination attempt, Brighton, 1984

‘[In the 1970’s] All three were @ or near the peak of their careers. All three were handicapped by being too sharp, clear, and definite in an age of increasingly fluid identities and sophisticated doubts. Put simply, Wojtyla was too Catholic, Thatcher too conservative, and Reagan too American.’
(O’Sullivan, 2006. ) [iv]

 


References:

[i] O’Sullivan, J. 2006. The President, The Pope & The Prime Minister: Three Who Changed The World Regnery Publishing, (p.14)

[ii] Havel, V. 2002 Preface to Karl Popper’s ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies’, Routledge

[iii] King, M.L. 1963. Sermon: A Tough Mind & a Tender Heart; A Gift of Love, Beacon Press

[iv] O’Sullivan, ibid, 2006. (p.2)

Related reading:

Karl Barth, 1939: “Dear France,” Appeasement, Eschatological Defeatism & Resistance

Reagan’s Reminder: “The Martyrs of History Were Not Fools.”

The Confessing Church Is A Church of Martyrs: Church, Sleep No More!

 

Treating the slippery slope argument in the SSM debate as if it were a fallacy is to commit a fallacy.

It’s ridiculous to discount the slippery slope argument as reactionary, backward, uncouth and pessimistic. It is valid and has value.

Most of us who live by a monetary budget use the slippery slope approach, for instance: “if I spend ‘x’ amount on this, the consequence is that I cannot, or may not be able to afford this”.

With very few exceptions, most “Yes” voters in the SSM debate who dismiss the points made by the slippery slope argument, generally do so based on reductio ad absurdum – whereby they reduce the “no” side to the absurd; dehumanising “no” voters by way of labels and slogans ( = classic Marxism).

This goes hand in hand with employing an identity politik that somehow grants “yes” voters a divine right to make judgement on others through a doctrine which brazenly declares, that there is life not deserving of having an opinion, or the freedom to responsibly support or respectfully share that opinion. It would seem that all attempts to do so, must be policed, shouted down and violently resisted.( = classic fascism).

Emergency laws and the threat of a fine up to $12,600, only bolster this. If anyone is proven to have vilified on the basis of sexual preference, religion, or politics,  they will be potentially crushed by the weight of this law, all judged case by case by the Attorney General. Although, this emergency law is only in place for the duration of the plebiscite on Same-Sex marriage. The immediate question it raises is this, will some on the Left find exemption from this law, since some appear to have broken them already?

With all of the abuse from “yes” campaigners, it makes me wonder whether those voting “yes”, actually know what it is that they are voting “yes” to? What this, and things that have been said to me indicate, is that the culture of repudiation will bring with it a culture of silence.

I don’t see how any thinking person can vote “yes” to this, and so willingly align themselves with those who only throw abuse, instead of reasoned and respectful argument.

Some of which has been well documented. One such high-profile example includes Mothers, who, featured in a vote “no” advertisement. Since they did have been slammed, publicly insulted and threatened.

Other, more recent examples, include the poor treatment of celebrated Australian athlete Margaret Court, the questionable firing of Royal Australian Army Veteran Bernard Gaynor and the ridicule endured by Christian Democrat leader, The Rev. Fred Nile, who sought to bring together politicians to have a reasoned discussion on SSM. In response, Jeremy Buckingham, a member of the Greens, posted a video on his Facebook wall, vilifying Nile as bigoted and showing Buckingham shredding Nile’s invitation.

Even I’ve coped some flak for raising questions & expressing valid reasons for why I am voting “no” to SSM. Not once in my discourse in regards to this matter, have I engaged in, or encouraged abuse, slander, homophobic rants, emotional manipulation or tried to bully people into voting the same as me.

In response some people have taken to social media, and rather than discuss the issues or answer any of the questions I have posed, they’ve decided to troll me, attacking me and my faith. I politely disengaged  when it became clear the person had never read any of what I’d written on the issue.When someone else tried to carry the conversation on in a civil way, it ended with this:

 

Contrary to popular sentiment, being a Christian doesn’t make one ignorant or blind. Faith seeks understanding. Therefore, I am open to hearing disagreement, I draw the line at mockery, reductio ad absurdum, and the cherry of picking of bible verses; the taking them out of context, to show how supposedly ignorant, unloving and unChristian I am. For good reason, this isn’t tolerated when racists do it, so why shouldn’t it be pushed back on, when members of the LGBT community or their supporters do the same?

Misusing the bible in the service of a political, or even personal, advantage is the equivalent of burning the Quran. It does violence to the text. This was the heresy committed by the puppet apparatchik, German Christians, in their pro-Nazi opposition to the Confessing Church, which stood firm against Nazism in Germany during the 1930’s.

 

 

Why are the Left so okay with practising what amounts to anti-Christian bigotry, when they wouldn’t attack a Muslim in the same way? Two very good reasons. First, they know that Christians are more likely to respond with a forgiving answer. Second, Muslims, in Australia have a close relationship with the Left. This connection was made clear when Ali Kadri from the Islamic Council, said in an interview for the ABC, “We are afraid that the LEFT may abandon us, if we speak out and express our opinion.”

Ali Kadri’s concern is that the Left will abandon Muslims to the “Right”. I acknowledge that concern. There are extreme elements who do not differentiate between Islam and Islamism; along with the fact that some of their policies appear to breach freedom of religion. Because they do, those policies require rigorous consideration, as all legislation should.

Nevertheless, if we have read the Quran and understood Shari’a Law, through countries who practice it, the SSM debate shows that our Australian Muslim neighbours should be more fearful of the Left, than the Right. The alliance between the Left and Islam surely cannot be a happy one.

It’s helpful to remember the often quoted words of German Pastor, Martin Niemoller, who was imprisoned by the Nazi’s: “First, they came for…”

All claims, in this debate, that Christians are haters or bigoted, are negated, by the very fact that the Left launches an assault on them. In addition, some advocates, like the  Van Vuuren Bros  have taken to essentially, bashing Christians with the bible, and committing the very crime they say ALL Christians are guilty of. It seems the only ignorance and hypocrisy here, although some can exist on the Christian side from time to time as well, is coming from those on the Left.

From what we’ve witnessed this week, we can be certain that any “yes” to SSM, is a diminishing, if not an outright denial of rights. It is therefore a “no” to freedom.

This makes its reverse all the more important. Not just for us, but for future generations.

Any “no” to SSM, is a “yes” to freedom, not a denial of it.

“To the good Nazi not even God stands before Hitler”. [i]

Beware the auctioneers.


References (not otherwise linked):

[i] Julien Bryan, Henry Luce & Louis de Rochermont, 1939 March Of Time 

Brave German Pastors, The Argus, Melbourne, Australia 14th August 1934 Sourced 15th May 2017 from  http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/10953135

German Pastors Sent to Concentration Camps,  The Sydney Morning Herald, 30th March 1935, Sourced 15th May 2017 from http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/17157115

Whether you’re for or against same-sex marriage, room needs to be made for answers to fundamental questions about the consequences and fabric of the issue.

Swiping these away with the empty words of “love is love” or “it’s about equality”; or the equally dismissive ‘’God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”, does harm to the overall debate.

Dismissals like this rob the debate of substance, thought and meaning.

There are substantial questions which very few people are willing to answer.

Fewer still, appear to have the courage to stand by conclusions that have already been determined by either biology, or worked out through the centuries and, by reason and faith, accepted as tried and true.

Heterosexuals, by matter of their biology and biological function are already ahead of alternative unions which lack this biological function. That it is easier for heterosexuals to have children, for example, isn’t something they’ve chosen. Heterosexuals are born that way. It isn’t a deliberate affront, social construct, or conspiratorial plan to oppress homosexuals.

Yet the tone of SSM advocates places this biological fact and its “superior” function, as an oppressive tool used against a minority group of individuals who, by the inconclusive, and therefore current understanding of science, choose, are groomed, or nurtured into, a sub-culture that is, by all appearances and dynamics opposed to that union between a man and a woman. It is opposed because same-sex unions cannot be the biological equal of the union between a man and a woman.

This raises serious questions like: at what point does the push for SSM, which seeks, outside just provisions already made in Australian law for Homosexuals and homosexual unions, become more about contempt, resentment and heterophobia, than actual equality?

For example, one store in Melbourne took to Facebook to effectively ban anyone who voted “no” from their store:

By precedent, does this “refusal to serve” now mean that Christian bakers, Pastors and other service providers, in Australia, can ALSO REFUSE to bake cakes for Same-sex weddings, should marriage be redefined? Based on examples from countries that have legalised SSM, the answer is no. They would be sued, and as evidenced below, would have to ‘run the gauntlet’ set up by social media lynch mobs, as they are smeared, and destroyed for their dissent.

With so many questions, sitting without answers, all I hear is the mindless and empty retort, “love is love” or “it’s about equality”, which is, as I’ve pointed out here, and here, not an argument for Same-Sex marriage.

In addition, how is SSM not about the imposition of an unhealthy gender segregation that says we should stick to our own kind; since, by definition of homosexuality, there is no reconciliation between the genders of male and female; no loving union between male and female?

There has been no discussion about the role of misogyny or misandry, either. Which is ironic, since misogyny has been, rightly, taken up by Left-wing politicians as a great evil in need of purging.  Does their stand on misogyny make them hypocrites, when they deny the presence of misogyny or misandry when “yes” to SSM supporters vilify “no” voters?

The apparent double standard from the Left was witnessed by Australians yesterday, when, Benjamin Law, sometimes ABC guest, writer and gay activist, threatened Conservative politicians with “hate sex” – {rape} – on Twitter.

This double standard from the Left is reinforced, by the fact that the Left remained predominantly silent about Benjamin’s ”violent sexual threats”, yet only a few weeks ago, were taking the stick to Christians, claiming that  “Christians were more violent than Muslims”, by exaggerating a study done by W. Bradford Wilcox, in the United States, on domestic violence among American Evangelicals.

Why can’t we get answers to questions, like, how or does SSM, for the sake of self-aggrandizement, seek to undermine, through ridicule, the natural biological union shared between heterosexuals?

At what point can we say “no” to strategies of evasion that circumvent this, such as the false claims that biological sex and all that pertains to it, is fluid?

“P” cannot equal “q” without the violence of perpetual revolution and proposed idea of utopian reconstruction:

In the English speaking world, the letter “p” can never be the letter ”q”. A true ”q” can never be a true “p”, it, despite any claim that would seek to displace ”q” from its true value, would always be a false claim. This is because the identity of “q” is found in it’s relation to the truth value of “p”.
Anything outside this means we are no longer talking about ”p” or ”q”, but a distortion of relationship; a falsification that impacts, not just the value of ”q”, but also ”p”.
To do so would be to commit ”q” to a false truth-value; a construct that in the end, tyrannically imposes falsehood over the correct functions of both ‘p” and ”q”. This reassignment of values, doesn’t just surrender truth to an untruth, it creates confusion in communication by way of relational dysfunction.

At what point can we ask how this push for SSM undermines true equality – does it seek to rip the heart out of the beauty of a man loving a woman and vice versa?

Likewise, does SSM undermine friendships between men and men/women and women, by confusing close friendships with same-sex attraction or homosexual activity?  When can we ask, whether or not SSM will destroy the very idea of friendship?

Where it becomes necessary:

‘in our time to rebut the theory that every firm and serious friendship is really homosexual. The dangerous word really is here important. To say that every friendship is consciously and explicitly homosexual would be too obviously false…[unfortunately, though] The fact that no positive evidence of homosexuality can be discovered in the behaviour of two friends does not disconcert the wiseacres.’ (C.S. Lewis, 1960) [ii]

Biology is not a social construct. Demanding that the world eradicate, in the name of so-called equality, the recognition of the biological union between a man and woman, that commitment and marriage seals, is an attempt at reconstruction. It is classical Marxism, involving the creation of a social construct built up and imposed on society, by the very people who claim to fight against one.

How does this debate involve Marxism? At the core of Marxism, Leninism and the socialist agenda is perpetual war. Will SSM become a perpetual war because the goal of biological equality, should that be the aim of the LGBTQ movement in regards to SSM, can never be reached?

The main goal of Marxism is perpetual war/revolution against those who stand opposed to what they say you shouldn’t be opposed to. You are, will, do and say, what they tell you to, or else. :

‘The building of socialism implies the destruction of capitalism…To forget this is to forget socialism. Socialism, Lenin noted, “is not ready-made system that will be mankind’s benefactor. Socialism is the class struggle of the present day proletariat as it advances from one objective to another objective tomorrow for the sake of its basic objective, to which it is coming nearer every day.’ (Fedoseyev, 1980) [ii]

Based on the imposition of this “revolution” and it’s new cultural law/s, and the actions of those on the “yes” side of the SSM debate, just being a heterosexual could one day, if it isn’t in some circles already, be considered a crime against the “revolution”.

As such, our young and the unborn will be the victims of this “revolution” in the name of an (unattainable and unrealistic) equality.[iii]

Where, then, will the insatiable desire be countered? At what point will humanity, hand in hand with reason and faith, draw a line in the sand and so no more?

Will the “no” of future generations be far more determined and perhaps violent? Generations who were handed over to confusion, loss and fear, their pain ignored, all in the name of mindless, feel-good, slogans such as “love is love”?

This raises some final questions: Is SSM really about a demand for a biological equality, where there, biologically cannot be equality?

Such as the biological fact that two women, or two men, cannot procreate together; Where they cannot become one flesh. At least not at the moment, and certainly not in the future, without the aid of petri dishes, test tubes, chemicals, and or mechanical apparatuses; a sedated polis, and twisted science.

By the tone and language of most SSM advocates, the very existence of any natural biological union between a man and a woman, [I would add within the boundaries of cohabitation and commitment], and any who celebrate that union, can be viewed as being oppressive towards the LGBTQ.

Suggesting that, by way of their very existence, heterosexuals are offensive to homosexuals. If true, does this mean that every male and female in their “yes” to each other, whether within committed cohabitation (defacto) or sealed by marriage (dejure) stands as a “no” to same-sex marriage?

What eventually will humanity, in particular heterosexuals, be demanded, subjected or commanded to consent to?

At what end, will this “revolution” find its own answers and closure? Is it, by all current social trajectories, possible that the imposition of new cultural laws, under the Rainbow Flag, ends tragically with: “The existence of “breeders” should only serve one purpose”?


References:

[i] Coalition MPs lash out at ‘vile’ tweet by same-sex marriage advocate Sourced 12th September 2017, from News.com

[ii] Lewis, C.S. 1960 The Four Loves HarperCollins Publishers (pp.72 & 73)

[iii] Fedoseyev, P.N, 1980. ‘What is Democratic Socialism?’  Progress Publishers, U.S.S.R Sourced 9th September 2017 from archive.org

 [iii] Ardent, H. 1936 On Revolution, as Hannah Arendt argued, in her discussion on the French Reign of Terror, ‘revolution must devour its own children, [and in the case of France, “perpetuate a sequence of revolutions”]’  (p.57)

I purchase the Wednesday edition of The Australian, not only for the mid-week news coverage, but also for the commentary. Given the hostile nature of the debate and the level of excellence I admire Janet Albrechtsen for, issuing this response is either really smart, or really dumb.

Last week I laid out some of my reasons for voting “no” to SSM in a blog post called, “Nein: Why I will be voting “no” to SSM?

That remains relevant, of course, only if a high court challenge to the planned Government survey (plebiscite) on SSM, doesn’t overrule giving Australians the right to voice their opinion, on this issue, in a democratic way.

What hasn’t been blocked, although major attempts from SSM advocates have tried to do so, is the debate.

Today, in The Australian (p.14), Janet Albrechtsen, a libertarian conservative, laid out her reasoning for having changed her position on same-sex marriage. Janet argues that protecting/preserving freedom – liberty – is the reason conservatives should vote “yes” to SSM.

The problem with this position is that for freedom to exist, it must be governed. If not, why have road rules and enforce them? Why have flags on a beach to protect swimmers from unknown dangers? Why have workplace safety laws?

If I understand correctly where Janet is coming from, it is a secular humanist view of humanity. This view sees humanity as inherently good; therefore it has no problem with advocating absolute personal freedom, but that position has a distinct lack of accountability and individual responsibility. It turns a blind eye to the blood soaked ground of the 20th Century and blurs the crimes committed in the name of liberty, during the Reign of Terror in the late 18th Century. This position rejects the Judeo-Christian pillars which form the foundations for the very liberty, Janet says she wishes to protect. To argue that by voting for SSM, a person is preserving freedom, is myopic. It is short-sighted.

Freedom exists in limitation. Edmund Burke wrote, “liberty must be limited in order to be possessed”. Karl Barth, who stood up against Hitler, carefully stated: ‘Where there is no genuine authority, so there is no genuine freedom. There is only action and reaction between a despotic arrogance and an equally despotic despair. (C.D.1938, p.646)’.

Likewise, C.S Lewis, states in the Abolition of Man that, ‘the heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it.’ To vote for SSM based on an idea of absolute personal freedom, no matter how sedated that might be, is as senseless and dangerous, as the words “love is love”.

I’m not yet a card-carrying conservative, but I do consider myself an ally in some of their current causes. Janet’s newfound position on SSM and her arguments for why conservatives should vote “yes” to SSM, isn’t a convincing one.

To her credit, the abuse of SSM advocates towards their opponents is acknowledged, but that Janet didn’t address the broader concerns, such as the long-term effects and the consequences of SSM on society as a whole, is the equivalent of dismissing the elephant in the room.

After holding out against the gathering storm, Janet, now seems, sadly, to be saying, “I’ve had enough of all the whining and tantrums. Just give the children what they want, or we’ll never hear the end of it.”


References:

Albrecthsen, J. 2017 Same-sex marriage: A libertarian conservative case for voting ‘yes’  Sourced from The Australian, 6th September 2017

Barth, K. 1938 Church Dogmatics 1.2: The Doctrine of the Word of God, Scripture as the Word of God Hendrickson Publishers, p.646

Burke, E. Letter To The Sheriffs of Bristol, (Sourced 6th September 2017 from https://archive.org/stream/sheriffsbristol00burkrich#page/42/mode/2up/search/liberty

Lewis, C.S, 1944. The Abolition of Man, HarperCollins Publishers

Commenting on contentious issues comes with a level of risk. These risks include misinterpretation, malicious dismissal, personal attacks and harassment. Therefore, I proceed here with the utmost caution.

Over the course of the next month Australians of voting age will be having their say in a postal-vote on same-sex marriage. From this plebiscite the Government will, presumably, discern the will of the people and act accordingly.

As a Christian theologian, I acknowledge that I may be accused of having a bias. I respond to this with humility, saying I have given this matter a great deal of consideration. As such I have endeavoured to speak truth in love.

I have also refrained from delving into biblical exegesis which backs our scientific understanding of human biology, procreation and the dangers of irregular sexuality. I have chosen to leave this out, not because of a lack of knowledge on my part, but because these subjects have been addressed at length by people, who are far more eloquent than me, and have more time and resources to devote to the subject at hand.

However, since Australia is still a country that values civic principles such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion, in writing this, I am choosing to exercise my right as a free citizen, who is not a subject of a party, a church denomination or secret society.  It is in the spirit of these civic principles that I present the following:

I will be voting “no” to SSM because genuine marriage equality is no better displayed than in traditional marriage. This is a union that is equally shared between a man and a woman. This is where male and female, who are not brother and sister, come together to create a home. This is true equality. As such, it makes marriage the property of those who inherited the truth that man, is free to be for woman, and woman, is free to be for man.

From this union comes a new generation, who is at the mercy of this equality and by being conceived into it, becomes an heir to true equality. To eventually take on the responsibility for preserving it.

From this comes the nurture of children. This involves the man and the woman, as father and mother, who are given, not just an inheritance from those men and women who nurtured them, but the responsibility to preserve the tried and true, against its usurpation. In some cases, to even move beyond abuse and neglect, where true equality has become compromised, or irregular; to rise up, and be what they were not shown.

Man and woman invite each other into this equal union. It is an act of reconciliation between the man and woman. Misogyny and misandry are alien to it, and only pose a threat to the unity, balance and true equality that such a union encourages.

There can be no compromise with misogyny or misandry. No allowance for a whole generation to only know one parent and be withheld unjustly from the other. We see on a daily basis, the results of fatherless homes. Some of us have even experienced the brokenness of an orphan heart and wrestle daily with wounds caused by the absence of a mother or a father.

Love is not defined by the state, which is governed by whimsical fads, customer satisfaction ratings and is often bloated and self-serving.

I will be voting “no” to SSM because I also believe in the Biblical witness which proclaims this true equality. It points to centuries of witnesses who followed its faithful path.

Their witness is an inherited and loving “no” against those who would replace Father and Mother with ”parent one and parent two”. It is an inherited and loving “no” against those who would chain innocence to irregularity, by confusing a child about their own identity, imposing adult presuppositions, fads or twisted social experimentation on them.

God is love. Love is not God. If love was god, it would be a false god; a god made in human image. It would not be God. Therefore love is love, is a lie. If love is love, then there is no argument against racists who love their race more than others and proudly show it. The answer then is that love cannot, does not and must not be construed as, being able to define itself.

As the anti-Nazi theologian Karl Barth stated in 1938:

‘God is not what we know as love in ourselves…We are taught by John’s Gospel [et.al] and [his] 1st letter, not about the deity of love, but the love of the Deity’
(C.D 1:2 1938:374)

I will be voting “no” to SSM because love is love, is a lie.

An environmentalist seeks the preservation of nature and what is good in nature. They rightly stand against the imposition of human structures, specifically, the violence done to nature by grotesque pollution, and human pride and greed, which arrogantly justifies the unnecessary destruction of nature.

It stands to reason then, that any environmentalist who argues for SSM based on the argument that love is love, and all that is behind love is love, necessarily allows the person who loves his or her money, more than the environment, to destroy the environment. Empowering them to act in violence against the environment.

Making, by default, the environmentalist in their “no” to the greed and pride of the lover of money, and their ”yes” to SSM, a hypocrite of the highest order. Not only are they not protecting the natural union between man and woman, woman and man, for the generations to come, they are negating their stand against the abuse of the environment. Therefore any environmentalist, who supports SSM, makes environmentalism obsolete.

I will be voting “no” to SSM because there is no creative power in darkness.

The moon is dressed up and reflects the light of the sun. It is imitation light. It is not light itself. It does not produce life, nor does it have the power to nurture it, without corrupting it. It is a morbid light. Light imitating light.

The moon can never be or fulfil the role of the sun. No matter how much man and woman, in worship of that morbid light, may wish to twist this fact. Light which imitates light, is a false dawn; at its end there is only darkness; the flames of annihilation, self-annihilation and the malady of nothingness. Light that does not become light, cannot produce life.

“the moon gives off light, but not life. It is a cold, morbid light. It is light without heat ; a secondary light, only a dim reflection from a dead world.”
(Orthodoxy, p.18 paraphrased)

I will be voting “no” to SSM because as a son broken by the absence of his father, I cannot in good conscience consign others to the same depth of pain and loss, felt by the absence of a mother or a father.

Coming from a background where my father was not around, not just because of his own failures, but those of others, I cannot, in good conscience, consign others to experience that pain, and loss.

I cannot in good conscience consign a child to confusion over their gender, which is determined biologically. I cannot in good conscience consign a child to a numerical system such as parent 1 and parent 2, where they may never know the love of a father and a mother.

I cannot in good conscience consign a man to abandon his children, for want of being a woman, or a woman abandon her children for want of being a man. Then demanding those children accept the loss of that parent and accept the heartache and longing it causes with the self-justification that the adult’s want overruled the needs of the child.

I cannot in good conscience surrender love to abuse and the perversion of science to aesthetically turn the moon into a sun, and the sun into a moon, and then demand it be widely accepted as scientific fact.

I see a loving “no” as being part of our corporate responsibility towards future generations, and our collective responsibility to preserve, for those generations, the good, like that of civic principles which uphold true freedom and true equality, that have been handed to us, often at great cost.

It is with these considerations in mind that I say “no” to same-sex marriage.


References:

Barth, K. 1938, Church Dogmatics 1/2 Hendrickson Publishers

Chesterton, G.K, 1901 Orthodoxy Relevant Books

Related reading: 

When a Man Loves a Woman: Barth’s Freedom in Fellowship

Bonhoeffer’s Discourse On Pride, Identity, Lust & Christian Discipleship

#loveislove?

Tell Me

August 29, 2017 — Leave a comment

.

Ask me what I see, and I’ll show you battle scars.

Tell me what I’m not
and I’ll show you my old home, and its prison bars

Tell me how I’ve failed,
and I’ll show you my bible,
its well-worn corners, impressed with the mark of a child’s hopeful embrace,
and how, though, lost in a sea of loneliness
that child broke through the bitter dark.

Tell me to prove this
and I’ll show you healed marks,
of how they illustrate a trophy of grace;
the miracle that is this mended heart.

Tell me why I’m not enough
and I’ll tell you of teen intoxication,
of long midnight footsteps away from temptation,
and the gut wrenching sound of the devil’s bark.

Tell me how none of this ever happened,
and I’ll take you right back to the start,
then speak of father wounds,
and in minute detail, roll out the saga of abuse
and the many cruel people who joyfully played their part.

Scream at me that I’m wrong,
and I’ll have to walk away,
for I was there in that moment,
you abandoned your right to have a say.


(©RL2017)

Create in me a clean heart, O God,and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence     or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

– Psalm 51:17

Л. Н.Толстой рассказывает сказку внукам. 1909

The quote below, taken from Tolstoy’s ‘A Confession’, reads like a critique of the leviathan that is social media:

We were all then convinced that it was necessary for us to speak, write, and print as quickly as possible and as much as possible, and that it was all wanted for the good of humanity. And thousands of us, contradicting and abusing one another, all printed and wrote — teaching others. And without noticing that we knew nothing, and that to the simplest of life’s questions:
What is good and what is evil? We did not know how to reply, we all talked at the same time, not listening to one another, sometimes seconding and praising one another in order to be seconded and praised in turn, sometimes getting angry with one another — just as in a lunatic asylum.
Thousands of workmen laboured to the extreme limit of their strength day and night, setting the type and printing millions of words which the post carried all over Russia, and we still went on teaching and could in no way find time to teach enough, and were always angry that sufficient attention was not paid us. It was terribly strange, but is now quite comprehensible. Our real innermost concern was to get as much money and praise as possible. To gain that end we could do nothing except write books and papers. So we did that’[i].

Of course, it is anachronistic to suggest that Tolstoy was talking about social media as we know it. Tolstoy’s words are, however, a critique of 19th Century, Russian media, its medium and the noise therein. Therefore, they are an early critique of the content and form which makes up a large part of social media. As such, they are a relevant criticism for us to take seriously, particularly when applying them to a 21st Century context.

Today, Henry Ergas from ‘The Australian’, made an interesting observation. In writing about sensitive information, how it is monitored, distributed and delivered. He provided an historical insight, which although topically unrelated, helps us to contextually frame the sharp poignancy of Tolstoy’s reflection:

“19th century’s Pax Brittanica, was built on a solid technological foundation: Britain’s control of global telegraphy. As late as 1890, 80 per cent of the world’s submarine cables were British; Britain ruled the wires even more decisively than she ruled the waves… The sophistication of today’s communications networks is obviously many orders of magnitude that of Britain’s global telegraph system. In 2012, daily internet traffic was in the order of 1.1 exabytes, one billion times more every day than the 19th century system could carry in a year. And the growth rates remain breathtaking: wireless traffic alone is now eight times larger than the entire internet in 2000[ii]

If Ergas’ facts are correct, that is a lot of information being exchanged. For better or worse we engage, encode, disengage and decipher information at ‘breathtaking’ speeds. Matthew McKay suggests that ‘55% of all communication is mostly facial expressions’[v]. Thus, my conclusion is that because most of the information exchanged via social media is in written form, it seriously limits our ability to receive a message, in the same way it was intended to be received by the author. (there are many examples of how comments have been wrongly interpreted).

I consider Tolstoy’s reflection a full-stop. An important interruption that encourages us to take a breath and ask ourselves:

  • Is the information we are consuming authentic, well-informed, or is it just propaganda; distortion (noise)?

Further questions might be:

  • Are we consuming information without really processing and retaining what it is being said?
  • Who is saying this, and why are they saying it?
  • Is the source trustworthy?
  • Will my time be well spent reading this or not?

There is a further word worthy of consideration here. Augustine, in his day, had this to say about grace and human nature:

…’many sins are committed through pride; but not all happen proudly. They happen so often by ignorance, by human weakness, and many are committed by people, weeping and groaning in their distress[iii]

Perhaps there is a timeless clarity by which these words help us to reflect on the interpersonal conduct, and content of the information exchanged on most prominent social media sites today?

Diary of Leo Tolstoy

Diary of Leo Tolstoy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even with all its pitfalls, the strength of social media is in its ability to connect people and strengthen relationships. I remain a cautious participant of social media, aware of its limited ability to ‘properly allow a healthy and fair exchange of ideas’ (Elshtain, 2007). Therefore, I find here in Augustine and Tolstoy’s words, a reminder about the limits and the responsibility which coincides with the right to use such mediums. Augustine’s insight here could be bridged to Tolstoy’s reflection, and therefore buttress our proposition. Their words present us with a useful framework for a theological critique of social media.

Finally, if we look at Proverbs 4:20-5:6, we can see a parallel logic that could exonerate this train of thought.

Be attentive to God’s word

Keeping them close.

Guard your heart with vigilance,

Avoiding spin and smear.

(“Refusing to be conned by the rhetoric of either the new right or the new left’’)[iv]

Looking forward, ponder the path of our feet.

Be attentive to wisdom.

Use words that guard knowledge,

And ponder the path of life.


Related articles

Tolstoy’s Faith – GVL

The Who, What And When Of Social Media – RVD, The Christian Pundit

Sources:


[i] Tolstoy, L. 1879 A Confession (Kindle for PC ed. Loc. 92-100).
[ii] Ergas, H. 2013 Wrong for Abbott to follow Obama and add lying to spying, The Australian, Sourced 25th November 2013
[iii] Augustine, ON NATURE AND GRACE (With Active Table of Contents) Kindle Ed. Loc. 704-706
[iv] Wright, N.T. 2013 Creation, Power and Truth: The gospel in a world of cultural confusion, SPCK & Proverbs 4:27
[v] McKay, M., Martha, D. & Fanning, P. 2009 Messages: The communications skill book p.59, New Harbinger publications

©RL2013

johnabigailPart of the beauty of the ‘Letters of John and Abigail Adams’ is that every sentence suggests careful consideration.

There are sentences for example, where John cautions Abigail against openly sharing his letters for fear of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. They reveal a husband and wife, both loving parents who are also very much the exemplary, one for the other, each for God.

‘Their mutual respect and adoration served as evidence that even in an age when women were unable to vote, there were nonetheless marriages in which wives and husbands were true intellectual and emotional equals.’ (History.com)

I picked this book up out of curiosity about its historical and theological significance. As I continue to casually read through them, I am more and more convinced about the gravity of their contents, context and the important message they carry to the world, not just Americans.

Part of a letter written to John in May, 1775, from Abigail, further clarifies my point :

‘The Lord will not cast off his people; neither will He forsake his inheritance. Great events are most certainly in the womb of futurity; and, if the present chastisements which we experience have a proper influence upon our conduct, the event will certainly be in our favour’[i].

The Adams family epistles have contemporary relevance. The most pertinent of which is that they challenge Christians to steer clear of anti-intellectualism. They encourage Christians to engage; to understand current events in light of the biblical texts, and move away from disengaging in informed debate, dismissing it as uninteresting, convoluted and/or unnecessary.

Here are a people on the cusp of necessary conflict; a people not yet prepared for what they hope to avoid; a people who understand the danger of the mob; a people who acknowledge that they bear the burden of responsibilityand are God’s participants in necessary decisions that will require courage, faith, hope, prudence, calm justice and fierce mercy.

The same people who, under God, will stare down the supposed divine right of a king, and challenge his exercise of freedom without restraint.

The same people who will instead assert that under God all are created equal, and that authentic freedom can only come with the caveat of authentic responsibility.

One example is that both John and Abigail looked unfavourably on slavery, made clear by Abigail’s rebuke: ‘I wish most sincerely there was not a slave in the province. It always appeared a most iniquitous scheme to me— to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have. You know my mind upon this subject.[ii]

Both husband and wife lived out their faith – not in a cloister, reserved pew or in pious appearances.

A constant in the letters are references to biblical texts. Used comfortably, they form an important part of the extraordinary exchange. It might not be so wrong to suggest that these letters read like small sermons, shared between a loving, overburdened husband, and his equally loving and overburdened bride.

Unfortunately, the letters are not without theological issues.

Gaps exist. Such as Abigail’s allusion to a form, of what Shirley Guthrie called, the ‘common heresy’ of Pelagianism (Christian Doctrine, 1994:127) – an ancient misinterpretation of God’s salvation, grace and the role of the responsive sinner.

‘God helps them that help themselves, as King Richard says; and if we can obtain the Divine aid by our own virtue, fortitude, and perseverance, we may be sure of relief.[iii]

In addition, I’m uncertain as to whether or not the countless references to ‘Providence’ are in fact veiled 18th Century Congregationalist references to the Holy Spirit. The context implies they are.

‘I pray for you all, and hope to be prayed for. Certainly there is a Providence; certainly we must depend upon Providence, or we fail; certainly the sincere prayers of good men avail much. But resignation is our duty in all events.[iv]

Nevertheless, reformed theology appears to dominate the politics, parenting philosophy, orthodoxy and sociology. Prayer and references to God’s care, wisdom, provision and guidance are ever-present.

This is not something that is the result of a cultural Christian appendage. To begin with Abigail Adams is openly critical of appearance only faith.

‘General John Burgoyne practices deceit on God himself, by assuming the appearance of great attention to religious worship, when every action of his life is totally abhorrent to all ideas of true religion, virtue, or common honesty.[v]

John affirms this in a similar way stating that:

 ‘The man who violates [destroys] private faith, cancels solemn obligations, whom neither honor nor conscience holds, shall never be knowingly trusted by me. Had I known, when I first voted for a Director of a Hospital, what I heard afterwards, when I was down, I would not have voted as I did. Open, barefaced immorality ought not to be so countenanced.[vi]

The Adams family epistles are unique in that they present an organic living relationship between husband and wife, grounded in God’s freedom. What has caught me by surprise is that God is not reduced to second place. Alongside great concerns, God is still in the forefront of their thoughts, and as a result a good deal of theology permeates the wisdom that informs their actions, wit and dialogue .

One thing grasps me as I read through these letters. That is the relevance they hand out to a contemporary audience still concerned with the matters of God, love, liberty and the caveat of responsibility.

Braintree, 19 August, 1774:

Did ever any kingdom or state regain its liberty, when once it was invaded, without bloodshed? I cannot think of it without horror.
Yet we are told that all the misfortunes of Sparta were occasioned by their too great solicitude for present tranquillity, and, from an excessive love of peace, they neglected the means of making it sure and lasting.[vii]
– Abigail Adams.

History forgotten is history repeated.


References: (Not otherwise linked)

[i] Adams, J & Adams, A. 2012. The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (Kindle Ed). Start Publishing LLC, 7th May , 1775

[ii] Ibid, 24th September , 1774

[iii] Ibid, 16th September , 1775 & John Adam’s agrees with this. See letter 62. 1st October, 1775

[iv] Ibid, John Adams, 8th May , 1775

[v] Ibid, Letter 55. 25th July, 1775

[vi] Ibid, Letter 72. 23rd October, 1775

[vii] Ibid, Letter 13. 19th August, 1774

Image: Abigail and John Adams (Source)

Stumbling through some images yesterday, I came across an ‘old’ e-formatted copy of Leo Tolstoy’s 1879 work – ‘A Confession’. I had originally been looking for humorous pictures about coffee, power etc. Instead, I found myself navigating my way through this book.

As I made my advance into Tolstoy’s world,  I found it difficult to put down.

There are free versions of this available from Christian Classics (Link: A Confession CCEL).

In short, Tolstoy’s documented struggle with theology, science, life, faith, the Greek Orthodox church, severe depression and mental illness, is ripe for contemporary reflection. Which is saying a lot for a 134 year old academically astute work of art.

Karl Barth was aware of Tolstoy’s work. However based on the indexing in his Church Dogmatics I could only find a loose connection to the imagery of being ”held over the abyss by the infinite” (CD, IV:I:411), which Tolstoy uses in the abridged quote below.

Considering that Barth was born in 1886, there is a strong possibility here that Tolstoy had a big influence on Barth’s thought and theology. I am keen to confirm this link, so if anyone can point me in the right direction with this, I would appreciate it.

For me, among the highlights of this journey was this postscript (Some of which I hope to write and post about this week. After I pray and mine it some more):

I had a dream.

Leo Tolstoy

The dream was this:
I saw that I was lying on a bed. I was neither comfortable nor uncomfortable: I was lying on my back.
I looked down and did not believe my eyes. I was not only at a height comparable to the height of the highest towers or mountains, but at a height such as I could never have imagined. I could not even make out whether I saw anything there below, in that bottomless abyss over which I was hanging and which I was being drawn.
My heart contracted, and I experienced horror. To look thither was terrible. If I looked thither I felt that I should at once slip from the last support and perish. And I did not look. But not to look was still worse, for I thought of what would happen to me directly I fell from the last support. And I felt that from fear I was losing my last supports, and that my back was slowly slipping lower and lower.
Another moment and I should drop off. And then it occurred to me that this cannot be real. It is a dream. Wake up!
I try to arouse myself but cannot do so. What am I to do? What am I to do? I ask myself, and look upwards.
Above, there is also an infinite space. I look into the immensity of sky and try to forget about the immensity below, and I really do forget it. The immensity below repels and frightens me; the immensity above attracts and strengthens me.
I am still supported above the abyss by the last supports that have not yet slipped from under me; I know that I am hanging, but I look only upwards and my fear passes. As happens in dreams, a voice says: “Notice this, this is it!” And I look more and more into the infinite above me and feel that I am becoming calm.
I remember all that has happened, and remember how it all happened; how I moved my legs, how I hung down, how frightened I was, and how I was saved from fear by looking upwards.
I ask myself how am I held: I feel about, look round, and see that under me, under the middle of my body, there is one support, and that when I look upwards I lie on it in the position of secured balance, and that it alone gave me support before. And then, as happens in dreams, I imagined the mechanism by means of which I was held; a very natural intelligible, and sure means, though to one awake that mechanism has no sense. I was even surprised in my dream that I had not understood it sooner.
It appeared that at my head there was a pillar, and the security of that slender pillar was undoubted though there was nothing to support it. From the pillar a loop hung very ingeniously and yet simply, and if one lay with the middle of one’s body in that loop and looked up, there could be no question of falling. This was all clear to me, and I was glad and tranquil. And it seemed as if someone said to me:
“See that you remember.”
And I awoke.

Source:

Leo Tolstoy 1879 A Confession  Kindle for PC. (Loc. 962).

Image credit: Tolstoy, Wikipedia

(Originally posted 7th July 2013)

 

Moving slowly with the wind,
.  elements of thread bare rags
.  sit idle on the parched and colourless ground.

Curled up in a ball.
Like a wounded child dressed in dust.

Frayed fabric sways,
shifted by the breeze and its biting thrust;
fragments of its former self.

Silently dancing to discordance
.            bowing to abandonment and its solemn discourse.
No owner to be found.

O dry-eyed,
.                   whimpering bundle;
.                   rarely loved,
.                   emptied of life,
.                   left to lie on the cold and barren ground.

Resolved you sit,
.               begging for patience to fill every tear less cry,

Sorrow heaves like vomit
. up through whisper, heart, and broken tongue,
.     the only prayers are sighs.

O hear the beating of distant drums
From morbid light to cheerful sun.

Raise your head to see
Your shadow in the hands of the One
.       who now stands,
.       and by your side,
.       picks you up to breathe.

Picks you up to give you life;
.  Life emptied of lifelessness,
.     Like day emptied of night.


(©RL2017)

‘And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.’

(Matthew 8:2-3, ESV)

Image credit: Rembrandt, The Leper at Capernaum, 1657-60

On page 291, of his 2013 book, Hollywood and Hitler, Thomas Doherty makes a small, but note worthy statement about the song “God Bless America.”  Written by Irving Berlin from an earlier tune called “Yip!, Yak!, Yaphank!” , “God Bless America”  was to become an unofficial second national anthem.

 ‘as the wave of antisemetic violence [during what was penned by journalists as Krystallnacht], in [Nazi Germany], was subsiding, the singer Kate Smith had long planned to dedicate her variety show program to the 20th anniversary of Armistice Day, a solemn look back at the last war as the world stood on the brink of another. Smith asked Irving for a patriotic theme suitable for the occasion’[i]

Whilst it is right to describe “God Bless America” as a patriotic song, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it also fits well within the rubric of protest songs.

Cast in the light of his original intent, Berlin’s song is an anthem for peace. It rallies people of all races, around the banner of peace.

God Bless America” is perhaps also the most significant musical push-back against the onslaught of mid-20th century Nazism, to come out of America during that pre-WW2 era.

Post-1939, into, America’s 1942 involvement in the war; first in the Pacific, then in the North African, and European theatres, this prayer for peace, while still holding its integrity, extended its meaning towards a prayer for freedom.To call on God’s blessing is to call on His grace and victory.

And if prayer is, as Karl Barth asserted:

 ‘…the beginning of an uprising, [a revolt] against the disorder of the world’[ii]

Then “God Bless America” is a protest. It is an effective protest that draws people’s attention towards the great Other. Towards the God, who, in His Covenant with Israel, and it’s fulfilment in Jesus Christ, sets out to present Himself as the revolution against the disorder, that is set in play by false lords, false claims to authority, and all human versions of “ordering” the world, which takes place under those false claims, in total allegiance to those false lords*.

Irving’s lyrics join up with the voice of the Confessing Churches, who, in the 1934, Barmen declaration, led by Karl Barth, declared that any proposition that suggests, or asserts that salvation could come through Hitler, or any human, outside of or abstracted from God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, is false, and is therefore is to be utterly rejected. This is because:

‘Jesus is the one Word of God and the proper hearing of this Word takes place in trusting and obeying […] The one Word is the way upon which, and the door through which, God comes to us in his truth and in his life, comes as the light that overcomes the lie and as the resurrection that disempowers death’[iii]

There are no ways to God, there is only one way from God to us. Founded and expressed entirely through, and in Jesus the Christ. No man, woman, leader, idea or natural organism can lay claim to this revelation that lays claim to all of humanity, without usurping God. It’s not something that can be moulded, crafted and raised in the name of human triumphalism.

Irving Berlin’s song declares that before nations and governments, there is no other Lord, but God.

As problematic as ambiguity and nationalism[iv] that is attached to the song, can be; at its inception, “God Bless America” was conceived as an anthem for peace. It was written at a time when the majority of Americans understood God as the one who makes Himself known in history, as testified to in the Judeo-Christian Bible.

What “God Bless America” became was both a prayer and protest. It focuses, unites, humbles, and in combined song, rouses a challenge against all those who actively seek to do the opposite.

God Bless America” is a song of defiance in the face of an adverse and overwhelming enemy. As a prayer, it becomes the anthem for revolt. Not just against an oppressor from without, but also from within; against the sinful nature of the flesh that exists within each of us, to which God has answered, not by the way of man’s religion, and feeble attempts to save himself, by way of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

In “God Bless America” both the Sh’ma Yisrael and The Lord’s Prayer are heard. If we lean in close enough, we’ll hear Irving, Kate, Barth, Roosevelt and the many others, who, in fox holes, camps and gas chambers, ‘prayed both'[v], we may hear them “whisper their legacy”[vi] to American and non-American alike. I should point out that I’m not an American, but that doesn’t mean I’m exempt from joining in and singing the same kind of prayer and following the same kind of protest. For:

‘Even the “devils believe and tremble,” and I really believe they are more afraid of the Americans’ prayers than of their swords’
(Abigail Adams, 1775, Letters #55)


References:

[i]  Doherty, T. 2013 Hollywood & Hitler: 1933-1939, Columbia University Press, p.291

[ii]  Barth, K. CD Fragments IV:4

[iii]  Busch, E. 2010 The Barmen theses then and now: the 2004 Warfield lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary, Wm.B Eerdmans Publishing Company Grand Rapids Michigan, U.S.A. pp.23 & 37

[iv] For more on this see Sheryl Kaskowitz’s article ‘How “God Bless America” became a conservative anthem’

[v] Victor Frankl: we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions. Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.’ Man’s Search for Meaning, Beacon Press. p. 134.

[vi] Robin Williams, 1989. The Dead Poets Society.

*According to an unverified source, the Klu Klux Klan, only with Pro-American Nazi’s are said to have boycotted the song. The only source I could find, so far, which mentions this, is parade.com:  6 Things You Didn’t Know About the Song ‘God Bless America’ 

Original image credit: Photo by Jake Ingle on Unsplash

Tomorrow we embark on Term 3. The past year has been full of privilege and anticipation. We’ve made some new friends, been encouraged and branched out into new areas of learning. One of the biggest being our commitment to Driver’s Education.

In my particular State, each learner driver has to complete 120 hours of supervised driving before sitting for a practical drivers test. If they pass that, they can go on to drive unsupervised, working their way up through two different levels, over three years, before being able to attain their full licence.

One of the challenges of drivers education is monotony. Discipline requires repetition. Practice requires discipline. Overcoming a dreary routine requires creativity.

So, from the beginning I laid this journey before the Lord, and then come up with a road map. Each lesson will be a road trip. They won’t be the same every time and each lesson will have a deliberate goal and destination.

In addition, once we nailed down the basics, and worked up confidence to a satisfactory level, we’ve just come into the stage where we can safely add “mix tapes”. Music and driving go hand in hand. Since our young drivers are at this more confident level, adding music, takes the lessons to a new level.

With this in mind, here’s what’s on our current A-list:

1.  Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains) [feat. Tedashii] [Live], Crowder

The lyrics and music already shine, but Tedashii makes this version. Heart felt, honest, raw.

2. Ghost Ship, Theocracy.

I started listening to Theocracy around the beginning of the year after having had the band pointed out to me in a Facebook post from an internet friend. The quality this band puts out meets the genre head on. It’s solid, lyrically intentional and well thought out.

3. Kyrie (Eleison), & Serve Somebody, Kevin Max.

Released this past week, Kevin Max’s cover album, ‘Serve Somebody‘, fills some gaps missing in the eclectic, electric musician’s anthology. His version of Mister Mr’s, 1985 Kyrie Elesion (Lord, Have Mercy) levels up against the original, at some points, even exceeding it. I had added this song without really thinking about the lyrics, but God has a sense of humour, so as He does from time to time, the humorous set-up couldn’t be more relevant. The album also contains a rock version of Bob Dylan’s, ‘Serve Somebody’. It’s the best cover of the Dylan original that I’ve heard; Johnny Q. Public’s version on their ’95 album, ‘Extra*Ordinary‘, coming in a close second.

4. Golgotha, W.A.S.P

I never really clung to this band. It wasn’t until last year when I read an article about front man, ‘Blackie Lawless’s’ conversion to faith in Jesus Christ, that my interest in the story of W.A.S.P. was peaked.

“Certainly, lyrically everything is written from the eyes of my faith, everything is through that filter. You’re also talking about a genre that, in general, is obsessed with the idea of God and/or the Devil. Jazz, pop, there is no other genre that is absolutely obsessed with it as this genre is.’ [i]

Golgotha is lyrically intense. It reaches straight into the void, the silence, its pain, the feeling of absence, abandonment and points the listener to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As a bonus the finale of this epic seven minute song, contains one of the best guitar solos I’ve heard. There’s no glam rock finger tapping, every string is hit, every note played, every beat felt.

5. Who’s The (Bat)man, Patrick Stump.

After watching the Batman Lego movie, our homeschoolers came to me and said, ”hey dad?”, ”check this song out, it’s you’re new anthem.” So, I log into Spotify and find it added to a few of my lists. It’s not a bad song. The guitar work, works. The lead solo is okay and the lyrics remind me of Weird Al, so win-win.

 

‘If there is one word, which describes learning, it is process. Hence, to teach is to enhance and facilitate that process. The teacher is the facilitator. The function of education is to do everything to promote the process.’
– ( Obed Onwuegbu, Teaching That Guarantees Learning).

References:

[i]  Sourced 16th July 2017W.A.S.P. Frontman Blackie Lawless Delves Deep Into His Faith + New Album ‘Golgotha’ 

.

Sanity pins the past out in patterns;
doors emerge between then and now.

.    Ghosts live here,
.    and they dress memories in dread.

Surrounded by four right-angled curves of abuse;
Weighed down by broken mirrors,
.    their cursed shards scream out in cycles of excuse.

As the fog of their image fades in and out,
.    painted words scratch blood lines onto my reflected face.

Attempting to lay old claims;
.    then from within them, as if in pain,
.    silent snarls and smirks, distort their pale images.

Drawn, like swords, their fingers point to my chest.

Some unseen presence has disturbed them, in their contorted place of rest.

Drawn, like swords, their fingers point to my right and then to my left.

Midnight Walkers, absent of wings,
.              uphold the bereft.

Transparent companions,
.                    their prayers always accompanied by command
.                    and gracious invitation.

Never demanding for themselves my attention.

These human-like strangers travel in pairs.

Acting with intention,
.          only ever seen in rare moments of intermission,
.          they serve God’s interventions.

Messengers, autographed in blood-red.

Echo the Living Word and what He has spoken:

“You’re never alone. For angels shadow the broken.”


 (©RL2017)

“it is the spirit of man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand; the Spirit of God. Has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. For God is greater than man. He has redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.”

(Job 32:8, 33:4, 28, ESV)

The word martyr [μάρτυς] means to ‘bear witness’, this is derived from the word marturion [μαρτύριον] which is understood to mean evidence testimony; witness; to be testified.

The word martyr is also connected to martyromai [μαρτύρομαι] ‘I am urging; I am bearing witness; I am declaring; I am insisting.’ [i]

Along with a lot of His colleagues, family and friends – of whom one was Karl Barth and the other Martin Niemöller, Bonhoeffer fits the profile of declaring; bearing witness; insisting. He was a martyr.

Today, fascist theory might only exist in fringe elements of society, but the style of political activism employed by the Nazi’s isn’t.

Rhetoric and labels offer to tempting of a tool to withstand. Evident in the ‘punch a Nazi‘ slogan, which when translated comes to down being a leftist justification for punching a Trump voter, conservative or anyone who is deemed to be an ”oppressor” by pharisees on the Left.

Anyone who, in their opposition, falls foul of the tar and feathering. The put downs. The emotional manipulation and the slurs. Such as the tattooing of the ”wrong side of history” on the social media arms of their victims. People who in their disagreement and opposition, find themselves, ridiculed into silence, falsely branded as racist, bigot, phobic or worse.

The significance of Bonhoeffer, Barth and Niemöller’s resistance must not be overlooked. Their resistance is as relevant as ever. In 1993, Lutheran academic Gene Veith pointed out that the Fascist political play book is still in service today:

…’fascism is a worldview….the defeat of Hitler and the Axis powers in World War II meant the military defeat of fascism, but an ideology cannot be defeated by military power alone. Ideas linger…despite the military victory over fascism, it will long continue to live’ [ii]
(Veith, 1993 Modern Fascism)

Although the Church in the 21st Century shares a different context with the German Church struggle; the Kirchenkampf,  there are parallels.

It  can, however, be difficult to see those similarities. Some similarities are subtleties. The pretenders are in large part invisible to the majority, but are working hard at ‘gradually liquidating the True Church through intimidation.’ (Bethge cited by Metaxas, 2010:294, italics mine).

‘Marx’s categories [generalised dehumanising labels] have been used to complete the work begun by Napoleon [in Europe] and continued in another more horrible way by Hitler […] to replace civil society with a committee of intellectuals – as the official ”voice of the worker” – in which only abstractions can be uttered and only Leftist bureaucrats takes part’ [iii]
(Roger Scruton, 2015. Fools, Frauds & Firebrands)

Part of the Christian and his or her response to this new Church struggle may perhaps require applying Bonhoeffer’s admonishment to ‘not defend God’s word, but testify to it…’ (Metaxas citing Bonhoeffer, 2010:261).The Confessing church is a church of martyrs.

Rather than retreat into gated communities, under the appearance of defeat, or defeatism, the church must, like Bonhoeffer, in Christ, step-up:

…‘Although I am working with all my might for the church opposition, it is perfectly clear to me that this opposition is only a very temporary transition to an opposition of a very different kind, and that very few of those engaged in this preliminary skirmish will be part of the next struggle. And I believe that the whole of Christendom should pray with us that it will be a ‘resistance unto death’, and that the people will be found to suffer it’
(Eric Metaxas citing Bonhoeffer 2010:195-196 [iv])

Marxist, Leon Trotsky saw the danger of not supporting the Church struggle in Germany, which by default meant negatively affecting, through the compromise of freedom, the proclamation and testimony of the Church:

‘…It is only necessary to find real and effective methods to intervene in the struggle, to stir up the religious-democratic opposition, to broaden it and to assist the young Catholics, especially the workers, in their struggle (and not, of course, the Nazi police, which wants to “destroy” these religious organisations). Thus, in Russia we always defended the struggle of the Armenian church for its autonomy.’ (19th August 1935) [v]

The work of the church today is to try and define this new Church struggle, not be defined by it. It comes from within, by way of pressure from without: culture seeking to determine the agenda of the Church. In pushing back, the church today must be cautious of schism. Those involved in the opposition, because of their opposition, must be careful not to trigger it. The Church must be careful of it’s “no” and even more careful of it’s “yes”, but speak it must!

Right from the start those in the church opposition have to ask:

1.  How does struggle connect with ‘bearing witness’?

2. Is ‘bearing witness’ found in the act of struggle as opposed to full subjugation to the powers with which the Church struggles against?

3. Who or what are those powers?

In 1964, Ronald Reagan said that ‘the martyrs of history were not fools [vi]’. Those who speak out are not fools. Those who bare witness to Christ, to the truth and grace that impacts and transforms are not fools. In Bonhoeffer’s story there is holy ground. His stand and those who stood in the same opposition; their ‘no compromise’ theology and service to the Church are real examples of genuine resistance.

‘The reaction should be one of a spiritual and psychological nature, and on a scholarly level.’
(Jacques Ellul, p.67 [vii])

The term martyr (marturion), is understood to be witness. One who declares and insists. All who are raised up in Christ, are called to raise up Christ. As Shelly Rambo puts it:

‘Perhaps the figure of ‘the martyr’ [μαρτύριον – marturion] that we need to mobilize [recover] is not the one who sacrifices him-or herself but the one whose compulsion is to witness and to provide testimony.’ [viii]

How Christians tell their story, live out the struggle or ‘bear witness’ in testifying to that story, may require more effort and attention than is currently being wielded. One thing is clear, the struggle is something we share. Genuine resistance can and should employ testimony.

If this should eventuate in the way it did for Bonhoeffer, and has done in the Middle East, then, with the Moravians of old, from sigh to prayer, “may the lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering.”

The Confessing church is a church of martyrs. Church, sleep no more!


References:

[i] Goodrick,W.E & Kohlenberger.J.R 1999  NIVAC:The Strongest NIV exhaustive concordance Zondervan USA

[ii] Veith, G.E.1993 Modern Fascism (Kindle Locations 179-181). Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

[iii] Scruton, R. 2015 Fools, Frauds & Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

[vi] Metaxas, E. 2010 Bonheoffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet and Spy Thomas Nelson Publishers

[v] The Church struggle under fascism, 1935 Leon Trotsky

[vi] Reagan, R. 1964 ‘A time for Choosing’, PDF transcript

[vii] Ellul, J. 2015 Islam & Judeo-Christianity: A Critique of Their Commonality, Wipf & Stock Publishers

[viii] Shelly Rambo, 2010. Spirit & Trauma: A Theology of Remaining