Marcus Garvey was a Jamaican poet and civil rights campaigner. He had a level of popularity in America during the early post-war years, from 1919-1922, wasn’t an academic, but had a keen eye for studiousness.

He was intelligent, talented and charismatic, but appears to have lacked consistent success because he lacked staying power.

Garvey clashed with intellectuals like W.E.B De Bois.

He had a flair for the flamboyant and not being an American, at times found himself outside the very communities he was seeking to raise up.

Because of this he is credited by some, as having a significant role in laying the early foundation for what would become the African American Civil Rights movement.

The decline in his popularity coincided with Garvey’s radical views on Africa, and the way forward for Americans, such as his support for Black Nationalism and pro-segregation.

His five year imprisonment in 1922, for mail fraud, sealed his, now inevitable, ultimate removal from public life. He served two years before being released and sent back to Jamaica.

Garvey was schooled and later self-taught. His radical racial views aside, Garvey’s short treatise called ‘Educate Yourself’ is a back to basics organic approach to education. The kind of stuff homeschoolers do daily.

It’s clear that some of the ideas on education presented by Garvey are not unique to Garvey. What is unique is the fact that Garvey saw these ideas as worth reflecting on from within his own experience.

Taking into consideration the racism of the era and the muddied struggle for equal educational opportunities, Garvey’s words here carry inspirational gravitas.

 ‘’Never stop learning. Never stop reading […] Make pencil or pen notes of the striking sentences and paragraphs that you should like to remember”
“You should also read the best poetry for inspiration. From a good line of poetry, you may get the inspiration for the career of a life time.”
“Read history incessantly until you master it. You can only make the best out of life by knowing and understanding it. To know, you must fall back on the intelligence of others who came before you and have left.’
“Never write or speak on a subject you know nothing about, for there is always somebody who knows that particular subject to laugh at you or to ask you embarrassing questions that may make others laugh at you. You can know about any subject under the sun by reading about it.”
“By reading good books you keep the company of the authors of the book or the subjects of the book when otherwise you could not meet them in the social contact of life.”
“You should learn the two sides to every story, so as to be able to properly debate a question and hold your grounds with the side that you support.”
“Always have a well equipped shelf of books.”
“In reading it is not necessary or compulsory that you agree with everything you read. You must always use or apply your own reasoning […]Pass judgement on what you read based upon these facts. When I say facts I mean things that cannot be disputed.”
“Don’t waste time. Any time you think you have to waste put it in reading something.”
 “Never pass over a word without knowing its meaning.”
“Read a chapter from the Bible everyday, Old and New Testaments. The greatest wisdom of the age is to be found in the Scriptures.” [i]
“God gives you intelligence to do things intelligently for yourself. You will get no more out of life than you put in.” [ii]


References:

[i] Garvey, M. The Ultimate Collection of Speeches and Poems.

[ii] Garvey, M. 1937, Speech (source) Hill, R.A. (Ed.)

[iii] Sandbrook, D. 2008 The Rise And Fall of Marcus Garvey, The Telegraph (source)

.

.

Weightless effigies collide in a disembodied world.
Time and space melt through pixelated moulds.
Ambulating artefacts plugged into wire, fiction,
and the illusion of communal hold.

Minds are plunged into formlessness.
There is no such thing as peace.
Life plugged into lifelessness,
.      where reason and faith cease.

Human blood runs through silicon veins,
.   false achievement becomes a commodity,
.            buying and selling souls chained to the game;
.   false lords, colluding with extremes,
Masters to slaves,
.            forcing the fight for existence between gambit and guillotine.

Every written opposition,
.         each noun,
.         each verb;
.         each electrified word,
.         even if eloquently sung,
.         via comments, is from the gallows, hung.

The society of strangers lined up in drab, conforming rows.
Thought, faith and true freedom, filtered out from within the flow.

But, lightening moves knighted apparitions,
.      there one second, then gone the next.
Holy attendants, heads covered in hoods.
Concealed by the night, as if concealed by soot.

Their presence whispers,
.            of what is to come,
.       as their voices hymn in the Gregorian, baritone, tongue:

“For God still lives, and so, God speaks.
The arrogance of human revolution is breached
Know, He comes,
.          the new exodus, claimed via Crucis.
The once and forever,
Prince of Peace, God’s only begotten Son.”


(©RL2017)

‘…the poor man that loveth Christ is richer than the greatest man in the world that hates Him.’

(John Bunyan, Pilgrims Progress, Faithful talking Christian)

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’ 

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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 as is 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

μαρτύριον

July 10, 2017 — Leave a comment

Tell your story and shout from the rooftops, “…look at what the Lord has done” (Psalm 118:17).

‘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.’
  (Shelly Rambo, 2010. Spirit & Trauma: A Theology of Remaining)

Part of my story:

The Light In My Darkness

Christian “selfies” reflect Christ.

‘Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.’

(Matthew 5:13-16, ESV)

In a recent blog post Eitan Chitayat presented some high powered dialogue, choosing as his conversation partners those who (unwittingly?) position themselves as reactionary activists. Most of whom are from social media.

Despite the unfortunate, but forgivable title given to the article, the overall point rightly made by Chitayat is clear.

His words make up a necessary “no” to a protest filled with thoughtlessness and blind rage. (Both characteristics of any chaos fuelled lynch mob.)

He writes that:

‘If anyone doesn’t understand any of the above; if anyone doesn’t get it;
if any of my friends are going to post anti-Israel messages in a time where over 500 Palestinians have tragically died in this current conflict yet you remained silent while almost 200,000 Arabs were murdered by Arabs these past few years;
if you’re not writing about Assad using chemical weapons against his people; if you’re not writing about ISIS who crucified 8 christians the other day and who are telling Iraqi Christians ‘convert, pay tax, or die’;
if you only have criticism for the State of Israel that is doing EVERYTHING in its power to avoid civilian losses to Palestinians during a war;
if you’re going to do nothing but sit wherever you’re sitting and just dish out your anti-Israel dirt while rockets are being aimed at my house, family and friends as our boys are fighting to protect us – and you’re going to dish it out simply because we’re living in this land and you haven’t got a clue as to our connection to it;
if you’re going to join the anti-semitic and anti-Israel demonstrations flaring up in the world like we’re seeing in France, Turkey, Berlin, most Arab states and even in the US that have nothing to do with this conflict but are really just expressions of hatred directed at Jews and Israelis (and these expressions will be directed at the host countries soon);
if you’re going to stay quiet and just accept, then go ahead and unfriend me from Facebook now because you’re probably no friend of mine.’[i]

As I suggested in my own blogpost, written the same day Chitayat posted his article:

‘With small amounts of fact and/or information these glass houses become the launching pad for mobile projectiles of shame and exclusion. (We might need to also add ridicule.)
This is an ‘activism’ that measures efficiency by likes, shares and/or followers. Reflecting the fact that ‘thoughtless approval’ can be translated into hard currency by selling the side of story that is the easiest to sell (i.e.: the most believable or assumed to be most likely – potentially anything that continues to feed into the pipeline of hype)’[ii]

With the global community still trying to balance technological freedoms with responsibilities, it might be worth noting the words of Jean Bethke Elstain who, citing Hannah Arendt, highlighted the ‘strange interdependence of thoughtlessness and evil’.

According to Elshtain, identifying the ‘banality of evil disarms the seductive nature and hype surrounding evil’. What might also be applicable here is the imperative found in the New Testament letter of  1 John 4: ‘do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,…by this we know the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error’ (ESV –  additionally, we might want to consider how fitting the practice of ‘Due Diligence’ is in this context).

Here we find ourselves reminded to keep a keen eye on context, details, and careful comment. This way we can defuse antagonism and walk through the confusion, towards healthy contributions that not only seek to speak truth but also listen. Resulting in informed conclusions actually worth sharing and/or liking.

If we aim for this, we aim to move responsibly, in a loving way, towards the place where we can play a part in denying ‘evil any form of representation that it might be seeking.’[iii]

The conclusion then is this: the Christian must not fail to hear and act, on what Dietrich Bonhoeffer , Edith Stein and those like them understood clearly:

(Judeo-) Christian hope does not permit a politically sterile withdrawal.’[iv]

References:

[i] Shalom, motherf****r. | Eitan Chitayat | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/shalom-motherfr/#ixzz38RLvkRb8

[ii]Truth & Balance Vs. The Side of The Story That Sells Best

[iii] Bethke, E.B. 1995 Augustine and the limits of Politics University of Notre Dame Press, pp.74, 75, 81

[iv] Markus,R.A. 1981 Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St Augustine in Augustine and the limits of Politics, Bethke, E.B. 1995 University of Notre Dame Press

Image:”In Mosul homes are marked with the letter “Nun” (ن), the Arabic equivalent of our “N” and the abbreviation for Nasara, or “Nazarenes”: what they call Christians in a gesture of contempt to make them seem like outsiders in their own land….”(Source: http://www.patheos.com/…/muslims-marking-christian…/)

[Originally published 7th July 2014]

grace and law_Barth

Here is Bruggemann[i] discussing the significance of Yahweh’s Kingship in ‘Zion: The Jerusalem Offer of Presence’:

‘The Kingship of Yahweh resolved the enduring battle between the life-giving creation order and the restless, surging destructiveness of chaos. Jon Levenson has shown that surging chaos is known in Israel to be still on the loose and as yet un-tamed by Yahweh.

Israel’s dominant metaphor for this threat of chaos, which is both cosmic and intensely existential, is “the mighty waters” that surge out of control so that the life of Israel and the life of the world are under threat. In the liturgy of Yahweh’s kingship, worship is the drama wherein the waters are driven back, defeated, and contained’     (2005, p.655-656)

This seems to contain a certain percentage of relevance to our contemporary condition (or it stands as a contradiction to our current conditioning).

The biblical text explains that God established himself as King, establishes himself as King and will establish Himself as King. (E.g.: The covenant formula: I will be their God and they will be my people)

Bruggemann points out, that psalm 48 in its entirety asserts the claim that this God-king is not the king Israel expects. Building on this it might be fair to say that this remains pertinent to humanity today.

He is the King who adopts[ii]; invites and exists for us. In a loving and just stand against our self-destructive ways he extends possibilities for correction, because ‘he wills not the death of the sinner, but their correction’ (Ambrose of Milan, ‘On Repentance’).

He is the King who acts in mercy and justice towards his people. Even in our rejection of him, we still find his acceptance of us calling for a response.

Even though God has revealed himself as the living embodiment of the King we long for, in our fascination with the righteous king of stories such as King Arthur and Robin Hood, attempts are made to make this God-King redundant.

History dictates that men and women who burn for total power are the napalm that burns everyone under them, or anyone who stands in the way of their quest for total power.

Take for example, some of Machiavelli’s more interesting comments which provide an insight into the socio-political condition of his day. Bare in mind these comments were made in 1513 (four years before the reformation):

People are so thoughtless they’ll opt for a diet that tastes good without realising there’s  hidden poison in it…if a man or woman cannot spot a problem in the making, he or she can’t really be a wise leader’[iii]

‘For the ruler already in power generosity is dangerous; for the man seeking power it is essential’[iv]

‘So these rulers of ours, who were well-established kings and dukes yet still lost their states, should spare us their bad-luck stories; they have only themselves to blame. In peacetime they never imagined anything could change – it’s a common short coming not to prepare for the storm while the weather is fair.’[v]

These alone should tell us that humanity without this God-King cannot be trusted to rule a kingdom that bears the marks of His authority, but has jettisoned all acknowledgement of God’s current and future rule. (Man over Lord equals man overboard.)

Further back from Machiavelli, we hear the Old Testament prophets reminding us that the world must not fall to ignorance and complacency. When we hear this, we do well to listen because the pain and suffering of history is broadcasting warnings into the present; warnings about the ensuing calamity of ideological crusades when they are served by men and women, under the promise of establishing ‘God’s kingdom without God in it’[vi].

In this case Barth’s words ring true:

‘where there is no genuine authority, so there is no genuine freedom. There is only action and reaction between despotic arrogance and an equally despotic despair.’
(Barth, K.1938 CD I/II Hendrickson Publishers p.668)

Christus Invictus!


References:

[i] Walter Brueggemann, 2005 TOT: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy Augsburg Press

[ii] Ephesians 1:5 ‘In love God predestined us for adoption as sons and daughters’ through Jesus Christ’

[iii] Machiavelli, N. 1513 ‘The Prince’ Penguin Classics, p.69

[iv] Ibid, p.63

[v] Ibid, p.97

[vi] Johnny Cash & U.2, ‘The Wanderer’

 

©RL2014; reposted 6th July 2017

 

Therefore…

July 4, 2017 — 2 Comments

‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.’

(Paul, 2nd Letter to the Corinthians, 5:17, ESV)

Atomic Skies

June 29, 2017 — Leave a comment

.

There’s a cloud of pink resting on the horizon,
mixing sunset throughout the sky.
Tinged by elegance,
.           the day signals its moving end;
.           its pending goodbye.

Yet, every atomic element;
.      every condensed vapour,
.                 smiles.

With the announcing of this new dusk,
in faith, by  trust, with hope,
comes the announcement of a new dawn.

Where God’s new mercies are met and friendships are forged.
.           Friendships renewed
.                  and life is endorsed.

All foreseen by this saturated sunset,
Layering its light through low rain clouds
Accompanied by the birds in flight.
Entertaining rest as the earth spins the sun towards the West.

Dazzled. Mushrooming clouds,
.              reflect an anchored light,
as it drags over countryside, city and human might;
.       the weighty blindfold;
.       this dark sheet of all consuming night.

There’s a cloud of pink resting on the horizon,
mixing sunset throughout the sky.
Tinged by elegance,
.           the day signals its moving end;
.           its pending goodbye.

Yet, every atomic element;
.         every condensed vapour,
.                    smiles.

With the announcing of this new dusk,
in faith, by trust, with hope,
comes the announcement of a new dawn.

Where God’s new mercies are met and friendships are forged.
.           Friendships renewed
.                  and life is endorsed.

.


(RL2017)

‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.’

– (Lamentations, 3:22-23, ESV)

A few years back I did an online retreat for a spiritual formations class I was taking. It was a core subject, with a large amount of flexibility in what classes you can choose from[1].

What was revealed to me during of one of these classes was the short but sweet statement, ‘aim to bless, rather than impress’. Recently, I found myself questioning it’s viability as a theological statement from which society can be critiqued.

I began wrestling with the question, is there ever an appropriate time to impress people? As a budding student theologian, I immediately started to critically work out a reasoned polemic.

The answer I came up with was no. There should never be a need to try to impress people, ever. If there is follow Paul’s advice and run, run far and run fast (2 Tim.2:22 ESV).

I’m a fairly confident guitar player, and I love a large variety of musical genres, so putting on a show is in my very westernized and socially engineered self-conscience. Throughout junior and senior high school, getting the latest riff right down to its semitone and crochet, determined a high level of social acceptance.

As a result I derived my sense of self-worth from how well I could play (i.e.: put on a show). In my pre-Christ alignment, this became an idol I obsessed over.

From hard learned experiences, for me appearance determined reputation and was therefore everything. The language of acceptance was, at least from my prespective, my musical ability.

The statement ‘aim to bless, rather than impress’ is counter-cultural. We know this because God’s standard is to ‘look upon the heart and not outward appearance..not as humans do’ (1.Sam.16:7).

This means that a statement like aim to bless rather than impress, is the ordained orientation for humanity, even if it is not always the reality. This statement appears on the ‘horizon of the possibility’s of grace’ (Leonard Ravenhill).

Father, Son and Spirit rushes towards us, not unlike the prodigal’s father running towards his son, undeterred by his “wasteful” public display of affection, joy, gratitude and forgiveness (Lk. 15:17) [2].

For now, I have concluded that humans are called to be bothered with how we bless people, as opposed to how we impress them. This does not mean I give up on performing, it means that I resist any area in my life where my performance, worth and acceptance is tempted to become about simply just ‘putting on a show’.

Today, I was reading my news feeds and stumbled across this relevant gem by Wendy Murray:

”Your worth, and mine, cannot–I dare say, must not — be reduced to “likes,” “retweets,” “shares,” and “mentions.” Your worth and, mine; your influence on others’ lives, and mine, have nothing to do with measureable algorythms. It is a lie…be who you are, before God. Do what God made you to do. Look people in the eye. Show up. That is enough’’

What that all means is this:

In order to express excellence we must only do our best! Outside simply giving our best, the contemporary ”virtue” of excellence and the quest for it can become an idol.

In doing so we live out of a darkened sense of self-worth dictated to us by others, instead of God’s idea of who we are. When we aim to bless, rather than impress, we set our feet on the Christological reality that says,

‘it is only from God that men and women know who they are’ (Bonhoeffer 1966, p.31).

This is the only measuring stick, and from it we ‘intuitively recognize that we, ourselves are more than what has been defined for us’ (Cone paraphrased p.11, 1975).

Give thanks, for “we are found”… (David Crowder)


References:

Bonhoeffer, D. 1966 Christology William Collins Sons and Co Ltd, London

Cone, J.H. 1975, God of the oppressed Orbis books, Maryknoll, N.Y

(Edited from an article originally posted in 2013)


[1] I plan to write on some of my experiences, if I get the time to formulate them into a coherent and linear framework.

[2] Luke 15:17 ‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (ESV)

Photo by José Martín on Unsplash

 

‘Mate! what a bloody good thing,

Jesus recruits soldiers amongst His enemies.”

What a naïve scoundrel I once was!

Unknowingly

unbalanced

Scared,

lost,

scarred.

Bloody terrified!

What a bloody good thing that

Jesus recruits soldiers amongst His enemies!

All too aware of the past,

unaware of my ego

Confidently uncertain of my confidence,

transparent, I was see through

Such

was my existence.

Damaged,

broken and fallen….

Ruined, and in turn destined to ruin

….What a bloody good thing,

Jesus recruits amongst His enemies

Ignorant,

manipulated,

blind to aggressors, unkind to the carers

Invulnerable to vulnerability…..

”Mate! what a bloody good thing,

Jesus recruits soldiers amongst His enemies!”


(©RL2013)

Inspired by:

‘Bloody Darwin’ (circa 1941, Anon).

Cornelius (Acts 10, ESV).

‘Jesus recruits soldiers amongst His foes’ (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Military Orders, 12th Cent. In praise of the new Knighthood)

 

This is the closest I might come to writing an old-school, blues influenced, straight-up, Gospel song. It was written in 2013 and still holds an element of relevance.

“Everlasting Father[i], Son and Holy Spirit, divine
You are ‘I am’…Yahweh…pure breath…pure life.

Help me to hear your encouragement and receive
the whispers…that silence my pain

Help me to be set free
From the words that have hurt me
From the wounds and rage that won’t let me go
Help me to see your version of me, not the version I see reflected by others.

Striking healer; mighty God, accept my response

I confess that I have shown you contempt
I confess the pretence of my “worship”, and the self-absorbed pretence that enters my prayers.

Holy One of Israel you are great in our midst,

I acknowledge your complete presence.
“Show me how to kneel” …I surrender my brokenness.
I know you have not abandoned us
I know I need to be more vulnerable. Help me  speak precisely from your heart.

Father God; creator; redeemer; sanctifier
You ‘do not grow weary’ (Is 40:28)

Thank you for ‘good news’ (Is 61:1)
Thank you for ‘uniting the pieces of my broken-heart’ (Is 61:1)
Accept my brokenness and tears
For this, Lord, ‘you do not despise’ (Psalm 52:17, NLT)

Let your blessings that shine through provision bring us to say:

With you, I rise and speak to the calamity in Jesus name ‘peace, be still’ (Psalm 107:29)
With you, I rise and speak to the conflict in Jesus name ‘peace, be still’
With you, I rise and speak to the suffering caused by misunderstanding, in Jesus name ‘peace , be still’ (Matt.8:23/Mk. 4:39/Lk 8:24)

……worthy is the lamb….may the  lamb that was slain receive the reward of his suffering‘.

Amen.”

[Isaiah and the Gospels speak into our lives. They suggest that rescue  will only come from the ‘serenity that results from Jesus’ intervention’ (Green 1997, p. 331).

This is ‘Jesus acting as God acts’…it is Jesus looking for my ‘faith to show itself in those circumstances’ (ibid 1997, p. 333), by gifting me with the patience and ability to forgive.

A faith that looks to His resurrection, as a signal fire that points me to Isaiah’s Yahweh, as the ‘wounding healer’ (Baer 2010). The one who dynamically responds in grace to my inconsistent gratitude.

‘God gives himself to sinners and sinners cannot escape that gracious decision…the sinner who refuses this election of grace resists that grace and is resisted by it…Humanity is not sheltered from God but exposed to him and bound to him as never before in a bond of forgiveness and reconciliation’
(Torrance, ‘Incarnation’ 2008 pp.110 &113)

References:

[i] ‘He predestined us for adoption as sons & daughters through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace’ (Eph.1:5-7 ESV)

[ii] Green, Joel 1997 NICNT: The Gospel of Luke Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, Michigan

[iii]  Baer David, ‘Praying through Isaiah’ lecture notes October 2010, Tabor Adelaide

Knight The Wounded

June 22, 2017 — 2 Comments

Rose At Night

.

Find this level of emptiness.
Forgive my heart’s forgetfulness.

Engulf my worship of sadness.
Embrace this prayer, despite my often awkward reach.

Tear these broken words apart.
Reorder each, so that I may hear,
.             You, my adopted Father speak.

Then accept these groans as prayers without speech.
Grip grace like a vice around our fears
.              and take these shivering hands,

.               that for so many years,
.               were so often drenched in tears.
Enter our darkness, breach the brokenness,
Holy Spirit, teach.

Be the fight, deploy Your word
With one firm sound, crack the violence;
that each stand may be under Your standard.

That all focus will be brought to hear
.               the noise of battle cease.

Seize upon the ashes.
Rejoice at the sight of
minds drawn to fellowship from desolate lands;

.                hearts of substance,
.                because every broken ounce and splinter
.                has been gathered,
.                       and placed gently into Your hands.

Walk through the garden of faithlessness,
.                that Your light will pierce the dark, choices and the consequence.

Then mend the overgrown path,
.        tend to the request for forgiveness.

And as all actions of wounding significance
.        are humbly brought before Your grace.

Knight the wounded,
Raise up the contrite,

Breathe Your life into this place.


(RL2017)

‘Where the grace of God encounters us, where we are led, pulled and made to grow, there, the Bible becomes clear […] He is the redeemer of that sighing creature within us.’

– (Karl Barth, 1917. The New World In The Bible)

#inhaledgraceignites

 

Australia receives snow in its Alpine regions and on its higher inland plateaus. For those areas that’s freezing.

For everywhere else, it’s freezing if the temperature gets to anything below 12 degrees Celsius (53.6 Fahrenheit).

For us, this means that homeschooling gets a little easier. Winter and reading go hand in hand. We don’t have to navigate the Australian heat. We just have to aim at keeping warm.

It doesn’t appear to matter which culture you come from. Short, cold days, and the inner warmth of houses, incubate tranquillity.

Creating an environment which encourages us to slow down, sit, zone out and learn from the stillness that surrounds us.

Picking up a book and reading it isn’t just easy, it’s tempting and looked forward to.

Our dedicated reading list this winter is fairly straight forward.

1. Trends in Food Technology: Food Processing (Anne Barnett)

I was apprehensive about taking this on. It appeared to be full of jargon, almost unusable. Since working through the 43 pages, however, I haven’t regretted the decision. Barnett’s approach is conversational. She also provides a glossary in the back for bold text words featured throughout the book.

Food Technology fits in perfectly with our PD.H.PE curriculum needs, discussing a range of areas including food processes, preservation, flavorings, fats, oils, and key distinctions. One I’m seriously considering adding permanently to our library.

2. The Reason & The Mystery (Lacey Sturm)

If you’re tagging along with me on the internet somewhere, you’ll be no stranger to the fact that we like Lacey Sturm. I read Lacey’s book, ‘The Reason’ in 2015 and wrote some thoughts on it, which can be found here [Review: The Reason].

Whilst the idea did occur to me, at that time I had no plans on using it for homeschool. However, believing the subjects discussed and the overall way Lacey handles those subjects, I decided to include ‘The Reason’ in our core texts for both Junior and Senior High School. Attached to this decision was the intention to follow this up with ‘The Mystery’.

As per our goal, we’ve completed ‘The Reason’ and are now moving through ‘The Mystery.’

These books were also chosen because of similarities between my own journey and that of Lacey’s. I think most people who’ve walked through darkness and pick this book up would find some form of consolation.

Those who haven’t receive an open window into a world of brokenness they may not fully understand or know little about. I ran an open discussion per chapter, which inspired productive and passionate dialogue between, and with my two older homeschoolers. Key learning areas include music appreciation and PD.H.PE. Each book raises topics that provide for a holistic lesson on physical development, mental health, boundaries and relationships.

3. Explore the World of Man-Made Wonders (Text by Simon Adams &  Illustrations by Stephen Biesty)

The journey we took together here wasn’t dull. We even managed to link in Matt Damon’s movie, ‘The Great Wall.’ Simon Adams and Stephen Biesty have created an illustrative tour which moves from the leaning Tower of Pisa, to the Pyramids onto St. Basil’s Cathedral, in Russia.

Add in a tablet and Google Earth, this activity became a whirl wind tour of some pretty cool sites. I think the only sour note for our homeschoolers, was having to the book work after it.

4. The Rime of The Ancient Mariner (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Similar to the previous book, I linked in a movie. This to me was a natural progression. The content of the poem can be seen reflected in The Pirates of The Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl. This might be news to some, but I guarantee you, there’s got to be a link somewhere.

Coleridge’s poem is big enough to be a small book. A very small book, of course, but a book none the less. If you have never read it, or are looking for an easier way to teach it, I used a PDF version – which can be sourced [here]. The length isn’t big enough to be a problem. I used three copies and lead from my treasured Penguin book of Coleridge Poems.

Finally, I added the book of Numbers to the schedule for this term. We’ve pulled through it and loved every second of it; made even more insightful thanks to John Calvin’s Commentary, a bit of Sun Tzu and some material from Charles Spurgeon.

All of which, while dated, still find traction in the connection between relevance, rubber and road.  Some of which I discussed in a somewhat well received (for me and my stats anyway) post called, Orderly Disorder: The Book of Numbers & Sun Tzu’s Five Pitfalls of a General.


Related reading:

Our Current Read & Discuss List (The 2017 Autumn Edition)
Our Current Read & Discuss Lists (The 2016 [Fashionably Late] Spring Edition)
Our Current Read & Discuss Lists (The 2016 Fashionable Winter Edition)
Tandem Reading & Technology

Sedated Polis

May 2, 2017 — Leave a comment

.

Images swallowed
are emptied of resonance;
Voided passion.
Pay-offs and silence; twisted resistance.

Social media degradation.
The mind controlled, so-called superior,
.              “tolerance” generation.

Enablers that scream “love”;
.         and define it as a constant “yes” in affirmation.
.Manipulators against love’s reasoned “no”;
.         a “no” given with loving consideration.
Those who make sex a commodity and confuse love with infatuation.

Violent conversions;
.          legalized perversions
.     the convulsing spasms of warring factions
.           stain and fill the still preventable,
.      but encroaching eulogies for the West.

The Eastern sands move closer,
.      the warlord and his progenitors howl louder,
.      all muffled by incompetence,
.       joined in its chorus by insanity incorporated.

By misplaced compassion and
.    ignorant multi-indifference,
.                 citizens become enslaved to ‘isms, under the guise of freedom
.    human words from over-lords,
.                  throw man-over-board;
.     man and woman over-Lord.

Abandoned for agendas
Anchoring to chaos,
God and Christ jettisoned for feel-good propaganda,
.      sold out subjects left watching,
.      numbed by entertainment,
.      numbered and tagged,
.      sentenced to clinics for containment.

Swirling incantations
.           of Utopians, red flags,
.           and mass ideological indoctrination.
Such is the sedated polis.
The coming cold and its dark solstice.


(RL2017)


 ‘The reason why was hazy in their minds[i]

After being summoned by General George C Marshall to meet with him on February the 11th, 1942, Frank Capra,  of ‘It’s a wonderful life’, and ‘You can’t take it with you’ fame, walked into the Pentagon .

Before Capra had received the invitation, he had been in the process of reviewing an offer of a partnership which, in his own words ‘would have made him part owner of “United Artists”. Easily placing him in the multi-millionaire class’[ii] and potentially exempting him from War time service.

In wrestling with the decision Capra wrote:

‘Why trade fame, glamour, and wealth for a number stamped on a dog tag?…I was bored with the applause. Furthermore, I had a guilty conscience. In my films I championed the cause of the gentle, the poor, the downtrodden, yet I began to live like the Aga Khan.[iii]

Responding to the invitation, Capra went from red carpet to khaki green.
Expecting to be assigned to the Signal Corps, he was surprised, and a little annoyed to find he had been reassigned to the newly created Morale Branch (Special Services)[iv].

Despite being uneasy, tense, and apprehensive[v]. His appointed meeting with Marshall on the 11th  of February went ahead better than he’d expected it to. Capra’s straight up honesty and his clear separation from being a typical “Hollywood type” – someone who ‘wouldn’t step on a carpet unless it was red’ [vi] – appeared to have justified Marshall’s choice.

Under his authority and at his request, Capra would produce a series of documentary movies that would serve as training videos for Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and Britain, to help counter Axis propaganda.

Marshall explains why:

‘The assumption of the Axis powers is that our boys will be too soft, too undisciplined to stand up against their highly trained, highly indoctrinated, highly motivated professional armies. They are sure the spirit and the morale of their individual soldier is superior to ours. He has something to fight and die for – victory for the superman; establishing the new age of the superstate. The spoils of such a victory are a heady incentive.
How can we counter their superman incentive? … Will young, freewheeling American boys take the iron discipline of wartime training; endure the killing cold of the Arctic, the hallucinating heat of the desert, or the smelly muck of the jungle? Can they shake off the psychological diseases indigenous to all armies – boredom and homesickness?
In my judgement the answer is ‘Yes’! Young Americans, and young men of all free countries, are used to doing and thinking for themselves. They will prove not only equal, but superior to totalitarian soldiers, if – and this is a large if, indeed – they are given answers as to why they are in uniform, and if the answers they get are worth fighting and dying for’
‘That Capra is our job – and your job. To win this war we must win the battle for men’s minds. I want you to nail down a plan to make a series of documented, factual-information films that will explain why we are fighting and the principle for which we are fighting’’[vi]

In response to Marshall, Capra said:

“I have never before made a single documentary film. In fact, I’ve never even been near anybody that’s made one”

Marshall countered back:

“Capra, I have never been a chief of staff before. Thousands of young Americans have never had their legs shot off before. Boys are commanding ships today, who a year ago had never seen the ocean before’’

To which Capra replied:

“I’m sorry, sir. I’ll make you the best damned documentary films ever made’’

He then turned to resolving the question of how? :

‘‘Shortly after General Marshall ordered me to make the ’Why we Fight’’ films for our servicemen, I saw Leni Riefenstahl’s terrifying motion picture, Triumph of the Will…it fired no guns, dropped no bombs. But as a psychological weapon aimed at destroying the will to resist, it was just as lethal…
I sat alone and pondered. How could I mount a counterattack against Triumph of the Will; keep alive our will to resist the master race?’ [viii]
Capra is by far one of my favorite filmmakers from that era. In his own words he tells us that he wrestled hard with the issues, and in the end chose to fight propaganda with facts. Throughout this initial struggle he credits prayer and the Bible for having inspired his creative direction and determination to see the job done.
.
‘I needed a basic, powerful idea, an idea that would spread like a prairie fire; an idea from which all ideas flowed. I thought of the Bible.There was one sentence in it that always gave me goose  pimples: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Did this also mean that the truth would make you strong? Strong enough to stop the Axis powers? What was the truth about this World War?
Well, Fascists and Warlords were trying to stamp out human freedom and establish their own world dictatorships…But how could I know that statement was true? Who proved it to me? Why the enemy himself proved it to me, in his acts, his books, his speeches, his films. That was the key idea I was searching for – on my feet in Pentagon halls, on my back in bed, and on my knees in pews.
Let the enemy proveto our soldiersthe enormity of his causeand the justness of ours!’ [ix]

Why We Fight became the end product of this prayer filled decision. Seven documentaries – or information cinema – were produced. They were Frank Capra’s answer to Leni Rienfenstahl’s Nazi propaganda film, ‘Triumph of the Will‘; something Capra himself called, ‘a blood-chilling super-spectacle; the ominous prelude to Hitler’s holocaust of hate.’ (p.328).

Given the current state of the world and the increasing examples of threats to religious freedom, free speech, freedom of association & freedom of conscience.

Threats posed by excessive political correctness, militant LGBT activism, the twisting and quest to “own” science, the placement of feelings over facts, Islamism and its sympathizers in the West; all pushing for the triumph of the will, the will-to-dominate; to satisfy the libido dominandi and it’s lust for power. All tell us that Capra’s work here is not something that should be easily mocked or dismissed.

We can hear the tone his work resound in our ears today reminding us that:

“[In the slave world] men insist that progress lay in killing freedom.” (Why We Fight, 1942)

Like Capra, we are confronted with Jesus’ historical and eternal reminder,

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

And we stand on this, determined to not let the reasons for why we must take a stand, become hazy in our minds or the mind of society. We do this with the same skill, grace and determination because it is:

‘for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery’
(Paul to the Galatians 5:1, ESV)

 

References:

[i] General George C Marshall, 1942 cited by Frank Capra, 1971

[ii] Capra, F. 1971 The Name Above the Title Da Capo Press p.314

[iii] Ibid, p.314

[iv] Ibid, p.318

[v] Ibid, p.326

[vi] Ibid, p.325

[vii] Ibid, p.327

[viii] Ibid, p.330

[ix] Ibid, p.330

Pic credit: 

Poster for IAWL (Wikipedia)

Photo of Frank Capra receiving the Distinguished Service Medal from U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall (Wikipedia)

(©RL2017)