Archives For Joy

In a brief five minute video posted to Desiring God’s YouTube channel, John Piper rips apart the cultural control of ‘cancel culture’. The small segment was taken from a talk given in January called ‘Serious Joy, Cultural Conflict, & Christian Humility: Thoughts on Christian Education.’

Piper’s argument is one of the best I’ve heard so far from Christian leaders – Voddie Baucham’s lengthy, but poignant takedown of ‘Cultural Marxism being the only exception (as has been discussed by Caldron Pool’s Editor Ben Davis, here).

Like Baucham, Piper turns the light on where few seem willing to do so. Leaning on work from Jonathon Haidt and Greg Lukianoff in their outstanding book, ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ (2018), Piper briefly addresses the non-sequitur, and vacuous subjective nature of the movement. In sum, Haidt and Lukianoff identify ‘cancel culture’ as part of a broader new paradigm which measures good and evil by the yardstick of ‘safe versus dangerous, instead of true versus false.’

Under the authoritarian, whimsical hegemony of ‘cancel culture’, ‘if you take your stand and speak your truth, you may be subject to call-out, outrage, or being cancelled, because you have not sufficiently coddled’ the feelings of others, or sufficiently met any number of asinine politically correct requirements. As Haidt and Lukianoff quip, the response then is one where ‘you must call out [the offence giver]! Assemble a coalition of the righteous, and shame the evil ones until they change their ways.”

As part of their introduction, Haidt writes that ‘cancel culture’ ‘unwittingly employs the very cognitive distortions that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy tries to correct. For example: catastrophizing (jumping the worst possible conclusions), and negative filtering (negative self-talk; such as saying to yourself, “I’ll never amount to anything”). Haidt then notes, ‘stated simply: Many university students are learning to think in distorted ways, and this increases their likelihood of becoming fragile, anxious, and easily hurt.’

Equating ‘cancel culture’ with the persecution of Christians in Acts 5:27-41, Piper supports this appraisal. Just as the ‘Sanhedrin tried to silence the voice of Christian leaders’, so sways the motion and violent conclusions of ‘cancel culture.’ Being easily offended, or a person having their feelings hurt, isn’t enough just-cause to rage at people, call people out, or “cancel” them.

According to Piper, the response to ‘cancel culture’ is ‘serious joy.’ The Apostle Peter, beaten by enraged, and blood-thirsty authorities, ‘rejoiced’ that he and others ‘were counted worthy to suffer dishonour’ for speaking in Jesus Christ’s name; that name having been banned – cancelled – deemed offensive by the authorities.

Piper’s conclusion:

“If you take a stand the culture hates, and speak a word the culture condemns, and they shame you, and persecute you, and plunder you, but your serious joy remains, they’ve lost their power to control where you stand and what you say.
If your joy comes from the world — its benefits, its comforts, its kudos — you’re like a leaf in the wind. Yours is not a serious joy. It’s a secondhand joy. You are not free. Serious joy sets people free. And makes them the most secure and subversive people when it comes to cultural control.
This has always been true, for two thousand years. Serious joy in Christ through pain has always been radically liberating from cultural control. In getting their joy from heaven, Christians become free on earth.”

Piper is right. ‘Cancel culture’ cannot beat ‘serious joy.’ There’s no excuse for our response to be joyless. Humility wins. We speak truth in love, bearing the name of Jesus Christ. Not falling into step with the spirit of the age, but keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, knowing that though, would-be and actual authoritarians may try to cancel us, our work – or even our entire livelihoods – the unconquerable joy gifted to us in Jesus Christ, and the gracious provision God brings with, through, and because of it, cannot, and will not be cancelled.

Extending out from Piper’s final word is this: ‘stand firm in serious joy’ – for the fact that man ‘is not God. We are sinners. We are finite’ (Piper); and though men and women may arrogantly try to control it, for the very fact that ‘man has no control over God’s grace.’ (Karl Barth, CD. 3:4:105).


References:

Full video & transcript: https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/serious-joy-cultural-conflict-and-christian-humility

First published on Caldron Pool, 20th April, 2020

Image cropped & adjusted from a Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2020

Since 2014 I’ve been committed to considering what different things God might have to say at the close of Christmas. Traditionally this is Epiphany, the 6th January, marking the end of the twelve days of Christmas.

Magi from the East (Persia), following the star (likely to be the well-timed rare alignment of three planets in our Sol system; a Nova or Super Nova) find confirmation of Micah 5:2:

‘but you, O Bethlehem who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from old, from ancient of days’.

The Magi, after arriving in Jerusalem, are sent by the malicious, King Herod, to Bethlehem. The order is: ‘diligently search for the child and report back’ (Matthew 2:9). The Magi are once again ‘guided by the star that they had seen when it rose before them’ (ibid). At this the Magi ‘rejoiced exceedingly with great joy’ (Matthew 2:10). Arriving at the house where Mary and Joseph now reside, the Magi gift their famous tribute of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

This sacrifice honours the One whom they have sought to honour. Their mission is complete. Their journey comes to an end, and they’re offering enters them into a history they never intended to be included in. The Magi aren’t Jewish, but they know the Old Testament; they know of the Jewish prophets. From the East the Magi arrived, perhaps with apprehension and anticipation, but by the time that they end up leaving, they leave having that apprehension and anticipation answered with great joy. The Magi are not disappointed.

With their own eyes they not only see, but joyfully participate in the confirmation of the prophet Micah’s significant foretelling of the birth of the one who comes from the Ancient of Days; the birth of The King of Israel, in insignificant Bethlehem.

This great joy emboldens the Magi. They take heed of a dream in which they are warned not return to King Herod. This is later justified by Herod’s command to kill all male infants aged two and under, in Bethlehem and the surrounding region.

Like the Magi’s visit and their presenting of gifts to the infant Christ (Matthew 2:11), Epiphany is a time of stepping back and gifting God with the attention of our hearts and minds.

Wise men still seek Him, and Epiphany (the traditional close of Christmas celebrations and contemplation) is a good place to end one year and begin another.

Instead of us making our own resolutions, it’s a good time to seek out the resolutions God has already made towards us. Understanding that we ‘worship by the Spirit of God, glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh’ (Philippians 3:3); and that we can rely on His strength to do so, not solely our own.

Looking to what God has already revealed about Himself, we ask, what can we draw from God’s self-revelation that will take us into the New Year with confidence?

What is it about God’s self-revelation that will help us build on God’s resolution towards us, one that outlasts vain and clichéd New Years Eve promises?

Epiphany is not without substance. The great joy of the Magi is not without justification.

They may leave empty-handed, but they don’t leave empty and disillusioned. The Magi leave well guarded; full of the joy of the Lord. This is a joy they’ve witnessed face to face with, and received from, the One who is the ‘fountain of all joy’ (Tony Reinke)[i].

As Karl Barth noted, this great joy is the radiance of God’s glory:

‘God’s love becomes an event and a person, God’s fellowship, powerful and a fact [.…]It is a glory that awakens joy […] God’s glory radiates it […] because it is God who Himself radiates joy […] His glory is radiant, and what it radiates is joy. It attracts and therefore it conquers.’ (Karl Barth, CD. II:1, pp.643, 655, 654, 661) (Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 30:5; Isaiah 55:12; John 15:11)

May Epiphany remind us that ‘the presence of the Creator is not an idle or unfruitful presence. It is not the presence of cold confrontation. It is not a presence which leaves blind eyes blind or deaf ears deaf. It is a presence which opens them. God’s glory is the indwelling joy of His divine being which as such shines out from Him.’ (Barth, CD 2.1:647)

May Epiphany not be a cold confrontation with the great joy experienced by the Magi. May this great joy, be the joy of the Lord working in our lives. May we ‘not be grieved, knowing that the Joy of the Lord is our strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10), and that it is only in Him that great joy is to be found. That we too are guarded and that we too can march on as wise men, when kings, rulers, or the world (and sometimes those about us), are all too happy to deceive, mock, destroy, steal and tear down.

With the Magi, may we say that the great joy awakened in them by the glory of God is now also before us, for us and given resolutely to us. With the Magi, we can embrace the birth of the new and the continuing reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people, and the fact that His joy WILL BE our strength, and none other[ii].


References:

[i] Tony Reinke noted that ‘joy is fundamental to God’s triune nature. To find God is to find the fountain of all joy […] We participate in joy when we reach the essence of all joy: God Himself’. I disagree with how Reinke’s article conflates happiness with Joy, but I agree with the fact that ‘God is the fountain of joy’.

[ii] Dietrich Bonhoeffer: ‘One should, in such times of confusion, go back to the beginning, to our wellsprings, to the true Bible, to the true Luther. One should keep on, ever more undaunted and joyfully, becoming a theologian who speaks truth in love (ἀληθεύοντες ἐν ἀγάπῃ). (DBW 12)

Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2019

Also published @ The Caldron Pool, January 13, 2019 under the same title.

The melody for this was written about two weeks ago. I’ve been casually working it and reworking it to find the right mix, right accompaniment and correct context for a video.

As for the creative process:

I started with sequencing drums, bass and then created multiple semitone bass lines until I had a beefier background. I came up with the melody using the ‘garage band’ piano. The sound wasn’t full enough so I decided to add more keys and liked it for what it was; a fun little tune that offered a welcome distraction to our hardworking homeschoolers.

When I sat down with my guitar to really lay this out, I struggled to find the right tone. Every creative angle I tried didn’t work. Because of this, I made the decision to mute the keys, cutting the riff down to just bass, drums and piano.

Once I’d done this the song started to come together.  I worked the guitar in and then went back to the piano to add a bridge and intro; hence the high F semibreve in the introduction and finish.

After I’d mixed the instruments, I noticed a serious hole in the sound. If you listen closely you’ll hear a wave of air, another layer of bass, and a slight melodic echo. This was created by morphing three separate drum, keys and a guitar tracks.

What I’m happy with is how the piano and guitar ended up sounding together. For now, I’m content with the sound-bed, lead and bass.

What I could improve on is not having the main riff appear as often as it does. I’m conscious of it repeating too much to the point where it starts to sound, as my youngest son pointed out with another tune I was doing the other day, “like a broken record”. I don’t think this song does that.

Thus I present to you, this.

(Side note: due to lack of availability of models, I made an executive decision, and filled in for my own “photo-shoot”. I advance to you an apology for it – on the bright side, it doesn’t take away from the music too much. For the best sound experience, headphones or good speakers are recommended.)

Happy Friday, folks.

 


Source:

Video, images & music are my own.

Karl Barth On Joy & Theology

Joy & Provision.

Epiphany

Protection & Hope.

Caught

Peace.

Weeping

Wisdom & Reverence.

Wisdom

Jesus Is Victor.

Jesus is Victor


 

Images:

Photographer: Ian Adams 

Source: Beloved Life

 

 

Advent Day 7: Humour

A few days ago I did some research on what Tim Hawkins might have had to say regarding the topic of Christmas.Karl Barth_Laughter

I would have posted this earlier, unfortunately I wrestled with how to lay out a blog post about it.  I did not want it to be pretentious and inauthentic. This was due the presupposition that Christians, theologians in particular, are not for laughter of any kind.  Sadly, it seems that we can at times perpetuate this false perspective, and then wonder why such a negative assumption exists.

Contrary to said assumption, Christians like to laugh, celebrate, and smile. Some even laugh at themselves, and even if their humour can be a bit dry, it is difficult to not appreciate the brokenness and the humanity in it all.Emboldened by the hope anchored in Jesus the Christ, His spirit, His humanity and God’s proclamation of reconciliation, and through the narrative accounts of  participants and witnesses. Advent reminds us to listen, to laugh and then pass that joy on.

Of course there is a lot to say about humour, laughter and joy around this time of year. How it fits into our advent journey and the important role it plays in unifying communities instead of dividing them. Laughter is found in giving. Comedians, no doubt, spend hours perfecting how they are going to deliver joy in their message.

Joy, the gift and its delivery are all key themes of Advent.

Karl Barth is reported to have said:

‘Joy is the simplest form of gratitude’
‘Away with the yardsticks! Those who cannot sigh with others and laugh about themselves are warmongers…Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God’

In sum, the end result of my two-hour research session, was a video montage found on YouTube. To me, the funniest clip was the one tagged on at the end.

All the clips can be located on his channel @: TimHawkinsComedy (well worth checking out)

Weekend kick-starter

June 29, 2013 — 2 Comments

Funny stuff.