Urbania; 345,600 Seconds of Paradise

30 11 2009

Monday through Friday they drive safely, resigned to their daily grind.  They get up, go to work, then come home again.  There’s no rush.  Then comes the four-day weekend, Thanksgiving Holiday, and their brains, whatever exists of them, fly out the window with the fast food wrapper.  For them, there is no Heaven, apart from what can be spared here on Earth.  Each second of bliss arrives once, and then it’s gone forever.  In four days, that’s 345,600 seconds, and every moment lost is a moment of paradise wasted.  Before they know it, it’s all gone, and they return to their weekly chore of earning the next one.  Eventually, there will be no more weekends or holidays, and the passing of this one marks another milestone toward that end.

The speed limit is sixty-five, and everyone is trying to go eighty, following the next car at a distance of a murderous few feet.  Occasionally, two drivers get into a micro-disaster, slowing the rest of the herd to a maddening crawl.  I look in the rear view mirror at the car behind me, cringing every time its headlights disappear below the line of my trunk hood.  My presence has robbed him of several of his precious seconds, and he threatens my life with his car, like putting a gun to my head and demanding that I do the impossible and speed through the car in front of me.  Through the night, our river of headlights winds, snaking up through the Tejon pass like a line of ants returning to the colony.  Over the mountains we pour, gushing like a waterfall into this basin, this sea of humanity that we call the Greater Los Angeles area.  While it may be large, there’s nothing good about it.  It’s the home of Hollywood, selling us fantasy to soothe our postmodern minds.  It’s the pornography capital of the world, the ultimate whore.  It spreads like a lake of lights, hemmed by the ocean to the west and south, and by the mountains to the north and east.  They keep reproducing themselves, not knowing why they are here, not caring where they are going, passing the onus of that discovery ever to the next generation.  It is a place where people are not best measured by the numbers, but by the kiloton of human mass.

In the middle of it all, there lies an open grave, just west of Baldwin Park, a city named for a dead rich man.  Few people know it as a designated mass grave, mostly filled with water at the moment, but ever ready for the fateful eventuality of the big one.  It’s like they expect a big hand to reach out of the sky with an industrial-sized can of RAID and spray our colony, watching us wriggle as we die.  Then we might need a big gaping maw in the ground to put our casualties.  Their grave is already dug and waiting, and they don’t even know it.

The colony is better prepared for death than for life.  Had they been prepared for life, they would not be burning with frustration, watching as the seconds tick by, counting down on their temporary paradise.  Instead, they would be drawing life everlasting from a source that never runs dry, like ants to a cornucopia that is renewed every morning.  Four days is nothing.  They could have eternity.  They would have so much that they need not fight for anything.  What’s infinity plus a few more hours, a few more dollars, or a few more feet along the asphalt trail?  There is no deadline, no scarcity, no limit for those tapped into the eternal source of life.

But they choose, instead, to fight for every last piece of the pie, and every last second of their four days of paradise, until it is over, never to return.

Postmodern Madness

23 11 2009

I have mentioned before in an earlier post, Three Universes, there are essentially three levels of reality in our world.  God, who is not confined within his own creation, exists outside of the physical universe.  This makes him his own universe.  Within his domain, there exists our physical universe, which can be affected from without.  It is a lesser reality, being less absolute, not existing forever, and depending upon God for its existence.

Within the physical universe is another, lesser reality, called the mind.  That’s where we actually live.  The mind is even less absolute than the physical world, capable of spontaneous change, inconsistency and a certain degree of incongruity.  Yet, when we experience the physical universe, we do so indirectly, through reconstruction within our brains.  If any of the processes between the actual sensation and the final experience goes awry, then we do not experience the physical universe accurately.  Nerve damage or brain damage disrupt the transfer of information, and what we see no longer resembles reality.  We do not really have a complete grasp on the physical world.  What we really hold, completely, is the image in our minds.  What we experience is all that the universe of the mind contains.  Nothing can exist within the mind except that we are aware of it.  Similarly, nothing can exist within the physical world, except that God is aware of it.  Hence, God is omniscient.

The physical world is not a piece of God.  Nor is the mind a piece of the physical world.  The physical world is corrupt, but that doesn’t make God corrupt.  Similarly, anything can happen in the mind, but it does not escape the mind and infiltrate the physical world.  In fact, nothing in the physical world explains the mind.  Cognitive processes might be explained in physical terms, but not the mind, itself.  A computer thinks, but it does not have a mind.  The mind is as much its own universe as the one we live in, but in a lower fashion.

Now, I’ve said all of this before, but there’s something more to consider.  Before the industrial revolution, humans were grossly subject to the whims of nature.  We had not developed technologically enough to conquer our world.  In that era, through most of our history, we looked to God for the answers to our problems.  That meant that we looked outside of our minds, through and beyond the physical world to God for truth.  With increasing understanding, we became confident in our own power and began to look no further than the physical world for answers.  This was the advent of modernism.  This was also the birth of naturalism, the belief that all things could be explained through the physical universe alone, with no need of God.  We had conquered the world, and we became our own gods.  Technology was the answer for everything that ailed us.

When we sought understanding from God, we attempted to live our lives and order our world in his likeness.  That is, we strove to be godly.  It is no different than the mind attempting to resemble the physical world.  If the lesser world fails to resemble the greater one, then it becomes detached, and its survival becomes imperiled in the one that gets rejected.  If a man goes insane, he no longer sees the world as it is.  Functionally, he imperils himself in the physical world, because he is not firmly grounded in it.  The same is true for our relationship with God.  If we reject God and the supernatural, then we become imperiled in the supernatural.  That is to say that we risk death, spiritually.  For those who still don’t get it, that means Hell.

Modernism was madness.  We might think that what followed, the rejection of modernism, would be the cure to this problem, but it wasn’t.  Rejection of a lie is not necessarily the embracing of truth.  Postmodernism was a flight in the opposite direction from God.  Today’s movement is to seek truth no further than the mind.  Postmodernists don’t even look to the physical world for answers.  For them, there is no absolute truth, because the world that they draw truth from is a world lacking in absolutes.  The mind is not subject to such things.  You have your own truth, and I have mine.  The idea of God is not even on the table.  They’re two steps removed from the truth of God.  They worship whatever their mind creates.

Pre-modernists prayed for rain.  Modernists attempted to make rain.  Postmodernists criticized the modernists for causing climate change.  Where the modernists attempted to improve life through their own hands, postmodernists attempt to improve life by undoing everything that the modernists did.

Pre-modernists believed in the immortal human soul, absolutes and God.  Modernists believed that nothing would last forever, and there was no God, but at least there were absolutes.  Postmodernists believe in no God, no absolutes and nothing eternal, but they play with fantasies in their own heads.

Pre-modernists used the physical world to understand God beyond it.  They worshiped him physically, and they prayed aloud.  Modernists used their minds to understand the physical world.  Postmodernists are primarily concerned with finding themselves.

Now, this postmodern revolution is a religious one, also.  Modernists sought out the “God particle,” reducing God to physical circumstances.  However, postmodernists are a little peculiar, in that they can be just about anything that they want to be at any time.  One could easily attend church one hour and a Buddhist temple the next.  Some of them do exactly that.  Their belief system is not absolute, because the universe of the mind is not absolute.  In Christianity, we know them as the Emergent Church.  In reality, they have even less of a grasp on God than a materialist, who at least recognizes the value of the world that God created.  Had they at least grasped the physical world, they would have held to some concept of an absolute.  In truth, the Emergent church is less of a  Christian than a Darwinist.  They are even further from God.

Now, consider what I said before about sanity.  When a man’s mind ceases to relate intelligibly to the world around him, he is considered insane.  When we, with our lives, ceased to relate meaningfully to the God beyond this world, we took the first step toward our own insane demise.  Postmodernism was the second step, detaching us even from the physical world.  Society is gradually slipping into a state of insanity.  Perhaps this is irreversible.  Perhaps this is the end.  The real travesty is that the Church, which was meant to be the salt and the light of the world, has developed its own form of postmodernism, the Emergent movement.  The real blasted shame is that our own fellow “Christians” have betrayed us and the world to this madness.  They were supposed to be there with us to help stem the tide of this sickness, but they have stabbed us in the back.  The Emergent Church has chosen the same fate as the world.

Therefore, they are also condemned to a world separated from God, a place where he never goes.

God’s Protagonist

20 11 2009

Now we come to the notion that gave birth to it all.  Someone asked me why God allows bad things to happen to us.  That was my senior year in high school, and I was in the middle of trying my hand at writing fiction for the first time.  My mind was on my story all day, every day, and everything that happened in my life seemed to relate to it, somehow.  What it translated to was, why did I allow bad things to happen to my characters, specifically the good ones?  The answer was easy enough.  Every event was part of the story wherein the protagonists fulfilled their destiny.  Some events were beneficial to the protagonists.  Some events were harmful.  Either way, the outcome was that good would triumph, and the main characters, the heroes, would win in the end, even if they died trying.

That brings us to our second point.  The fiction writer is the god of his world.  No one has absolute power like an author has over his fiction.  It’s as close to godhood that a person can reach.  Case in point, secular fiction, like the stuff they made you read in English literature class, is typically dreary and leaves a person wondering if life has any purpose.  After a thousand pages of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, you’d need a couple of days to get back to thinking that there really is God, who really does hold us accountable for our selfishness.  Every author, even the atheist, portrays God, and usually very badly.  Do you have any idea how a novel would read if an atheist wrote it to portray a world without God?  It would be several hundred blank pages.  There would be nothing, no one and no universe for anything to happen in.

In as much as the author attempts to make his world true to life, he attempts to portray God for who he really is (though it doesn’t necessarily mean that he does a good job of it).  Therefore, it does matter who’s works you read.  This is not about the language or the content, but the nature of the plot.

Secular fiction:

Earnest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea: A poor old hungry man catches the world’s largest marlin, which the sharks promptly devour.  Now he’s a poor hungry man with a fish skeleton.  The end.

A Farewell to Arms: A medic gets his kneecaps blown off, spends his nights in the hospital fornicating with a nurse and drinking himself into a bad case of jaundice.  She gets pregnant, and drinks until the fetus dies.  She dies during childbirth.  The end.

Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath: A poor family move to California to get jobs.  They get their low paying jobs and continue to live in squalor.  The end.

Tennessee Williams’ Glass Menagerie: A loser drunk gets a blind date for his pathologically shy sister.  The man happens to be engaged already.  Too bad.  The end.

This is typical stuff for people who don’t believe in God, or, at least, people who don’t accept who he really is.  They attempt to portray real life.  Life happens…we’re miserable…the end.  What they think of real life says everything about what they think of God.  Tragedy happens for no reason…blah, blah, the end.  When you read their stories, you have no confidence that good will overcome.  You have no faith in the author to bring you through to a meaningful outcome.  When evil befalls the protagonist, it’s for no real reason whatsoever than because the author wanted something bad to happen to someone.

Christian fiction, on the other hand, has a certain predictability to it, most of the time.  Bad things happen to those characters, too, but the over-all impression that you get, walking away from the book is that it was not all for nothing.  Most of the time, good overcomes evil, and when it doesn’t, we start wondering why it was sold at a Christian bookstore in the first place.

Christian fiction:

Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness: A journalist and some other ordinary people struggle to overcome an evil and powerful corporation.  They win.

C. S. Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe: A bunch of kids and a magical lion fight to free the world from an evil witch who turns the inhabitants to stone.  The lion gets killed, but the witch is defeated, and good prevails.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: what, you didn’t know he was a Christian?  You saw the movie.  An evil monster sought to control the world, and a handful of good guys defeated him.

The difference between the works of unbelievers and those of Christians, is that we trust the Christian writers to bring good out of the plot, no matter how bad it looks.  It is their aim to attempt to test our faith in them, only to reward us for holding onto hope.  When the godless writer makes things seem dim, there’s a good chance that things really are as bleak as they seem.

What, then, shall we say to real life?  Even in our case, the situation is no different.  Either we look at bad events and wonder how God is going to bring us through it, or we look at bad events and get angry.  Either we know that God works for good in all things for those who love him, or we think that he has smitten us out of spite.

Either we are his protagonists, or we’re not.  Not everyone is, you know.  We spend a few years on this planet making up our minds which way we will go, and then we spend the rest of eternity going that way.  To an eternal God, a hundred years is like the blink of an eye.  Only eternity matters.  Either we are his friends in Heaven, or we were never his friends and never with him.  He already knows which is which.  You’re not going to go to Hell with God thinking, “You know, I really thought she was going to come around some day.”

The ultimate protagonist, though, was Jesus.  He was a case of the Author writing himself into his own story so that we could know him.  He suffered his own tragedy so that good could overcome evil.  In the end, he lived, and he went to his reward.  Those who have faith in the Author of our lives know that through our tragedy there comes, ultimately, a happy ending.  Good will overcome evil, no matter what the circumstances may presently show.

I wouldn’t want to be the character of a human author.  What they go through at the behest of their authors is more than I want to bear.  The atheist complains that there is no God, or if there were, that he must be a cruel God, indeed, but then they play god in their own fiction and do far worse.  Humans make terrible gods.  They play with and torment their subjects ruthlessly.  I like the real God better.  He’s easily amused with my dull life.  Boring is good.  It means that nothing is going wrong.  I like that.

There are two things that I want you to keep in mind.  When I say “you,” I mean exactly whomever God happens to make read this thing.  The first is that every novel portrays God incorrectly, because the role of God is always played by the author.  The less godly the author is, the worse he will make God look.  The second thing I want you to keep in mind is that if you love God, then you are his protagonist; life has a purpose for you, and you will overcome.  Even death cannot keep you down if you love God.  Trust God in all things.  Keep his word in your heart like a loved lady keeps the letters of her lover.

We are all on a stage, but none of us are actors.  The script has already been written, and the end is determined, but we have not learned it.  The only question you have to ask yourself is, “Is this the sort of author whom we can trust to bring good out of an evil situation?”

Tilting at Windmills

17 11 2009

Mr. Buck was a brave fellow, to be commended for his vigilance, warding off impostors and guarding the herd.  One should wonder what would happen if he had used his seven-point antlers to defend against actual predators, rather than other elk.  He fought off the weaker bucks, those endowed with fewer points and a lower crown.  He tolerated nothing but the best for the does: himself.  Then he encountered a defiant one, a buck made of concrete.  They fought through the night, neither acquiescing to the other.  At dawn, the morning’s sunlight found them both lying on the ground, dead as a doornail.

He is the vigilant Christian, defender of the truth, the one who sniffs out heresy and exposes it.  He is dutiful, a credit to his faith.  We can hardly criticize such a person.  He does the Lord’s work.  But while he spends his hours weeding out the so-called Christians who use indelicate language or misread scripture, the world lies in wait.  They are the predators who seek to destroy us.  They are the greater threat, who seek ways to marginalize us, hide us, outlaw us, or even kill us.  While the world picks us off, Mr. Buck uses his seven points of theological prowess, not against the predator, but against other believers.  May the strongest theology prevail.

No, there is no wrong in the refinement of our understanding of God’s word; quite the contrary.  No, there is no vice in seeking to banish those who would poison the faith.  It is a virtue that most do not have.  However, as with most things, such vigilance can go too far.  Not only can it narrow our focus to those who profess to be believers, blinding us to the larger threat, but it also stands to pit us against a false threat.  Once in the habit, we can find fault in anyone.  This Christian used the word “piss,” when he should have said, “pee.”  Nay, he should have said “urinate.”  No, he should have used a code word, like “do number one.”  Bother, he should not have mentioned it at all.  Never mind that he’s trapped in the back of your car and barely holding on to his dignity.

This person baptized his infant.  Why, that’s not Biblical!  These people celebrate Christmas, a Catholic holiday that good protestants should avoid.  The Charismatics force acts of the Holy Spirit that have an eerie disturbing nature.  The Northern Baptists have emasculated God, giving him no room to work a single miracle.  The Calvinists blame God for everything.  The Lutherans act and talk just like Catholics.  The list goes on and on.

I did a little experiment, once.  I wanted to see how much evil one could pin against my blog if a person wanted to make a pariah out of me.  I was rather startled at how easy it would be.  Am I cutting my own throat in mentioning it?  I probably am.  Any of those people whom I am describing would certainly take this and run with it.  Therefore, I would start by saying that none of the following was intentional, nor does it imply anything about me.

1)  The name, Nonaeroterraqueous could be abbreviated to NATAs, or Satan, spelled backward.  I’m serious, folks.  This was never my intention.

2)  The name is eighteen letters long.  Eighteen is the sum of the digits 666.

3)  The symbol looks like three sixes put together (again, that was not the original intent).

4)  The symbol resembles the binary number 1110, which translates to the number eighteen, the sum of the digits 666.*

5)  The author’s name is Mark (that’s me), which sounds a lot like the mark of the beast.  Didn’t Revelation mention that the mark could be the Antichrist’s name?

Hopefully I didn’t just kill myself.  In fact, I probably did.  In truth, I’ve just given ammunition to the very people I want to address today.  If you found these reasons sufficient to condemn my site, then you are tilting at windmills.  You are clashing antlers with a concrete foe.  The enmity is purely imaginary.  There is nothing to it.  I know, because it is my own site.  I know what my own meaning is.  But you know what I’m getting at.  We’ve all encountered people who could read an evil meaning into every symbol and every mysterious word, and extract and twist condemning evidence from anything a person says or does.  I know what it’s like, because I used to be such a person.  I could be very good at this.

Christians come in two extremes.  There are those who would permit anything, and those who look to condemn almost anything.  The first group is wrong, but it isn’t what I’m discussing at the moment.  The second group is among my friends, and I don’t want them to self-destruct against imaginary enemies.  Our religion can either explode or implode.  Either we can destroy ourselves by including doctrine from every external system, or we can destroy ourselves by ripping apart anyone who believes anything unscriptural, or anyone who does anything even remotely questionable.

Argyle socks?  How worldly!  It’s the dress of heathens.

Saxophones in church?!  Those are the instruments of brothels!  (and how do we know this?)

Your skirt shows your knees!  That woman is wearing pants!

That preacher is a Post-Tribulationist!  That deacon thinks we have to be baptized to be saved!

Heretics!  The church is full of heretics!

Forgive me for my heresy.  I humbly beg it of you.  I cannot, nor will I ever, have a theology that is anything but wrong to some degree or another.  No one on this planet has a perfect theology.  No form of Christianity is entirely correct.  That which unites us is Christ, and no other.  It is his death and resurrection that brings us everlasting life, such that anyone who puts faith in him will not ultimately perish but have everlasting life.  He didn’t come into this world to condemn us.  Don’t do what Christ would not do.  He came that the world, through him, might be saved.

Lead the world to Christ.  Let Christ be the one to complete his work in us.  I humbly beg it of you.

*Correction: 1110 is binary for 14.  10010 is binary for 18…not that it matters much.


14 11 2009

bowlby's monkeyIf I had not known better, if I had to look at this world without the aid of scripture and verse, I would have likely been sucked into the brainwashing influences of atheistic public education.  Then again, perhaps not.  The complexity of life on this Earth is amazing.  It screams of an intelligent designer, especially when disorder is the juggernaut that trumps all.  I do make arguments for the existence of a Creator, but it is not a very intellectual pursuit.  I might as well make arguments to show that the sky is blue.  It’s what I write about when I have a bad case of writer’s block, but I feel the need to put something down.  It’s too easy.  Evolutionists have inadvertently resurrected the old mythologies, that the Earth spontaneously formed out of chaos, that life just happened to appear all by itself.  This is all fine for a work of fantasy fiction, but it doesn’t belong in any serious text about real life.  My finger is far more sophisticated than the computer that it types on.  Both demonstrate design.  There’s no getting around it.

 If I had not known better, if I had to see this world without any Christian background, I would have seen that humanity has a need for a god, or God, whichever the case may be.  Seemingly every culture throughout all time has worshipped something.  In desperation, they have even carved out gods from wood and stone, just so that they could have something to which they bow down and worship.  It’s not unlike a man stranded on a desert island, so desperate for companionship that he draws a face on a soccer ball and talks to it.  In the absence of the real thing, we forge a pathetic substitute.  Even the atheists, who claim to have no god, waste so much good paper to write about how Evolution “designed” the eye, or what “purpose” it had in “making” colorful feathers on a tropical bird.  If I were a new observer, I might wonder who this Evolution god is.  He sounds very much personified.  With time, he might evolve into an idol.

 A scientist named John Bowlby cruelly experimented with macaque infants, giving them wire mothers to cling to.  The young monkeys desperately needed the affection of a mother, so they sought this relationship even from a cold inanimate substitute.  This is remarkably similar to the creation of a cold lifeless god of stone.  What becomes abundantly clear is that we have a desperate need for God.  If we can’t find a real god to worship, then we make a sorry imitation of one and bow to it.  However, every need has a solution.  We hunger, because there is food, and we need it.  We thirst, because there is water, and we need it.  We need friendship, because there are other people in the world, and we benefit from being with them.  Not one single human need is without some means of fulfillment.  Truth is, we need God so badly that we’ll foolishly worship a mannequin, if need be.  We need friendship so badly that we’ll talk to thin air, if it comes to that.  We need food so badly that we’ll eat a boot, if nothing else is available.  We needed our parents so badly that we would have clung to a wire mother draped in terrycloth, if that was all we had.

 Our need of God testifies to his existence.  Our intelligent design testifies to an intelligent designer.

 If I did not know better, I would say that God had abandoned us.  In some respects, the deists are not at all unreasonable in their claims that God does not interact with this world.  This world, ingenious as it is, is winding down like a spring-loaded toy.  Entropy is only increasing.  No external source of life seems to be entering this world.  All of nature is busy cannibalizing itself, one animal devouring another, scraping up every last available source of life and burning it for fuel while it lasts.  God apparently loved the sparrow enough to make it with a stunning complexity and the ability to sustain itself in an environment not made for that express purpose.  The seed was meant to become a plant, but the bird was equipped to use that for food.  Unfortunately, the hawk was equipped to use the sparrow for food.  Every creature, as it exists, is a marvelous creation, made with loving care, but God seems to sprinkle no flakes into our fishbowl.  We are left to devour other life forms, until the system burns itself out.

 There exists an unmistakable chasm between God and us.  Whatever activity God had in the world in times past, it appears to be a one-time event.  The colossal act of creation appears to have stopped.  Forget what they taught you in school; we are not evolving to a better state.  In fact, we are gradually accumulating genetic flaws, and none of them have ever improved us.  The very fact that priests of old had to make idols in the first place is a minder of our want.  People who have chicken sandwiches don’t eat leather boots.  The problem with any need is that we cannot let it remain unquenched without disastrous consequences.  Bowlby’s monkeys were so maladapted and insecure, owing to the uncaring nature of their false mothers, that they were terrified of other monkeys.  It’s like us, spiritual beings, trembling at the sight of an angel, or quaking at evidence of a demon.  The monkey screams at the approach of its peer, as if to say, “Oh, my gosh, it’s moving!!”  Take away its wire mother and it curls into a ball and hides its eyes.  Without affection from its mother, its emotional state is permanently in ruins.  It cannot cope with life.  So, too, without God, we suffer our own consequences.  Our behavior is massively affected.  Our development is thwarted.

 The atheist asks why there is so much evil in the world, and he concludes that there must be no God.  In a sense, there must be some truth to that.  God, apparently, has cursed this world and turned his back on us.  However, the atheist fails to acknowledge that, while God has clearly forsaken this world, he evidently had a hand in its creation, and we desperately need him.  Buddhism, on the other hand, fails even to recognize the problem, while attempting to provide a solution.  It gives us some eight-fold path, tells us to live right, and sends us on our way, without addressing the real issue.  Islam sees the problem, but fails to provide a solution.  In the end, we are still cut off from God, and we have no idea if we will ever find our way back.  We can’t even know if we’re good enough Muslims.

 Every philosophy (they say) seeks to answer these questions:

 Who are we?

 Why are we here?

 Where are we going?

 We are children lost in a crowded shopping mall without our mothers.

 We are here because our mothers brought us here for one reason, then lost us before fulfilling that reason.

 We are slowly going insane.

 If I didn’t know better, I would say that we have a supernatural soul.  It’s one of those things you don’t need a Bible to know.  My body is a machine, and nothing more.  There is no earthly explanation for why I am living life through a machine.  If I could explain that, then I would know what it is that prevents me from living life through some other body, yet enables me to live life through this one.  Therefore, we have something, or, at least, I have something that goes beyond the physical world, something that is the most defining characteristic of my identity.  I have a supernatural soul.

 We are physical beings with a spiritual essence.  We are cut off from God.  We need God.  We were created by an intelligent mind.

 I applaud Christianity for addressing all of these issues.  It sets the stage with a divine creator.  It quickly identifies the pervasive problem that leaves us groveling before teachers, priests, statues, televisions and rock stars.  God created us, and we turned against him.  Our sin separated us from him, and he cursed our world.  It satisfies that need by providing us with the Holy Spirit and communion with God.  It also gives hope of future reunion with God.  To go even further, it identifies the supernatural human spirit, which continues to exist even beyond the grave.

 Who are we?  We are the children of God, made lovingly in his image.

 Why are we here?  We were separated from God at birth, and we need to use this scarce time to find our way back.

 Where are we going?  To Heaven, if we succeed in finding him.

 In the meantime, the world self-destructs through wars, greed and silly superstitions, progressively losing its collective sanity in its efforts to fill the gaping hole that gnaws at it.  But I do know better.  I do have the complete picture.  I have epignosis.


Purpose-Driven Nothing

11 11 2009

motherAh, mother…she worked so hard to keep the house straight, to take care of her children, to take care of the children at church, to take care of the homeless, to take care of foster children, to take care of abandoned animals….  Everything she did has been evidence of a driven life.  Much as I appreciated the clean house and the food on the table, I found myself wondering what it was all for, when at the end of the day she dozed off on a recliner, “playing a board game” with me, where I was expected to play the game for the both of us.  Once a week, or so, she took it upon herself to spend time with me.  There wasn’t much she enjoyed, beyond bored board games, so I learned to decline.  “What do you do for fun?” I asked her one day.

“Work is my fun,” she replied with dignity.

I can appreciate someone who enjoys her work, but there’s a difference between work and play.  Work is not something that you’re supposed to do on the Sabbath.  All my parents ever did on Sunday was lie around the house.  They had no means of frivolous entertainment.  I asked my mom, persistently, what she did that was not work, something done for no other reason than because it was fun to do.  She replied that she was proud of the fact that she did not waste her time on useless things.  Consequently, she did not have much time for me.  This is not to say that she didn’t love me.  It’s just that she wanted to stand before God on the last day and hold her head high, knowing that she had made good use of her time here on Earth.

My father was a hard worker, too.  At the end of his day job, he had dinner and left for his side jobs.  Sometimes he brought me along to sit around and fidget with screwdrivers and wires and stuff.  Sometimes he found things for me to do.  Most of the time, though, I just didn’t see much of him.  I thought he was hard pressed for cash, but he kept us supplied in electronic entertainment and piles of toys at Christmas.  I later asked him why he worked so much, and he replied, essentially, by saying that he was driven.

They were ambitious people, and they took great care of me.  Now, at the end of their lives, they look back on it and worry that they didn’t accomplish enough.  I worry that they accomplished too much.

I have known scores of Christians who strive to please God with their lives.  They struggle to work witnessing into every conversation.  They always keep an eye open for ways to help the needy.  They pray and read their Bibles daily.  I can hardly criticize them, especially in light of those who do no such thing.  Yet, I cannot help but wonder if all of this effort misses the point, not only of faith, but of life, in general.  If I ask them what their purpose in life is, they confidently tell me that they were put on this terrestrial globe to serve God and humanity.  A hammer was made to pound nails, and a Christian was made to feed the hungry.

Adam and Eve must have been the most depressed people in all of history.  In all of creation, nothing was wrong, and there was no one to serve.  Heaven must be the most listless place, with nothing wrong and nothing to fix.

Aye, they are the Marthas of the world, running to and fro, preparing a meal for their unexpected guests, Jesus and company.  They live to serve.  They are efficient, driven people, for whom no such thing as a game or hobby exists.  But we do not have children to be our tireless servants, and we are the children of God, no less.  He did not make us for the work that we do.  Sure, all of these things are well and good, but no good deed constitutes life’s purpose, not a single one.  Continue to care for your brother, but keep your priorities straight.

Your highest priority is communion with your maker.  The greatest commandment is to love the lord your God with everything you’ve got.  The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.  While service can be an act of love, no service is a substitute for love.

Get out.  Enjoy the birds and the trees.  God made them, and they’re yours to enjoy.  Love the creation and the mind that created it.  Let God be your friend, rather than a demanding task master.  Don’t live to serve.  Live to love.  Many people miss the opportunity to get in touch with God, being too busy with doing good things.  Love the homeless first; help them if necessary.

We’re not earning points, here.  This is not our purgatory.  We could do a great many things, but if we miss the point of it all, if we forget to take the time to love God and our fellow people, then we accomplish nothing.

Frivolous things have their purpose, too.  They give us a chance to relax, play and enjoy each other’s company.  Sometimes it’s nice just to be silly.


Profiles of Power

7 11 2009

PutinThe Premier (Prime Minister, etc.) of Russia has more nukes than he knows what to do with.  He eats caviar for lunch and executes dissidents for entertainment.  Even when he leaves office, he’s still in power.  His people are perfectly free to support his reign.  They can even worship God, as long as they get his permission, first.  He likes to pose shirtless for the press, sporting his lean toned flesh for the world to admire.  Yet, that flesh could stop a bullet about as well as the flesh of your obese aunt, about as well as the flesh of an over-ripe banana.  Maggot food, his corpse will rot in a grave just as nicely as the man he had shot just an hour ago.  Russia will move on, and their fine leader will end as all mortals do, moldering in a grave, resident of a fine pinewood box.


The President of the United States is the leader of the free world.  He’s got the biggest, baddest military in his back pocket, to be sent wherever, whenever, whether they like it or not.  Other nations coexist because he lets them.  Harbinger of change, advocate of remittent peace, he’s here to tell the world how to run, how to live, what to drive, what lightbulb to use.  He has the hubris to cover the name of Christ.  He intends to take your money and spend it for you, because he can do it better than you can.  Yet, with all his wisdom, he has neither the will nor the knowhow to prevent a single Iranian nuke from transforming his guts into a radioactive ash heap.  Even if he survives his term in office, he still won’t survive.  He has a one-hundred percent chance of ending up in the dirt, providing nourishment to thousands of hungry nematodes, and there’s nothing he can do about it.


Bill Gates has enough money to buy a small African nation.  We all suspect he secretly owns Idaho.  He was the nerd you kicked around in grade school.  Now, he practically owns you.  Your web browser is his.  Your operating system is his, too.  With a little foresight, he could force this post off of the internet entirely.  Oops, did I forget to say what a nice guy he is?  He’s so important that people will buy his software even when it admittedly has bugs chewing through it like the grubs that will one day celebrate Thanksgiving on his brain.  Like your Windows system, Gates will one day get infected by a worm.  Unfortunately, there is no patch for that.  There can never be a Bill Gates version 2.0.  I see a blue screen in your future.  It’s a lot like a bright cloudless sky, except without the sun, birds, breeze or, for that matter, sky.

boss  Your boss may not be rich, but he has more than you do.  He’s got your financial wellbeing wrapped around his little finger.  When he says, “Jump,” you say “How high?”  or else he says, “Come see me in my office.”  Your Christmas is in his bank account, so your report had better be on his desk.  Maybe you’ll get lucky this year.  Maybe there will be a little something extra in the paycheck.  Maybe your coworkers will get bit in the butt by the recession before you do.  Yet, your boss can’t pay you to live a single extra day.  One day, his suit will hang in his closet, never to be worn by him again, unless it happens to be for his own funeral.  He can fight to keep the company afloat, but he can’t do a thing about his own mortality.  All things considered, at least his fate will be no worse than the others.


That guy in the Beemer who cut you off on the freeway has a nicer car than you.  He’s got a bigger house than you.  He’s got a prettier girlfriend.  Even his children are more attractive than yours.  As he passes you on the right shoulder, he shows you his finger.  That’s when you realize that he even has a better manicure than you.  The jerk has everything and everything is on his mind, including business prospects, wealth, power, dinner, the windshield, a telephone pole, the concrete divider that he didn’t see and about a hundred feet of open asphalt.  Yes, he’s got everything.  His heirs will be quite fortunate when he dies.  The worms are already setting the table for him.  Don’t forget the salt.


The paraplegic down the street got the short end of the stick.  He’ll never be rich.  He’ll never have that car or that house, or any of the things that the others take for granted.  He can’t walk, and he can’t bathe himself without the help of a nurse.  He’s imprisoned in a rolling chair and a malfunctioning body until the day he dies.  But this man has something that the others don’t have.  He has a hope for Heaven, a faith in Christ and the assurance that the God who chose which embryo would be his to inhabit will one day give him a body that will never fail him.  He knows that one day he will dance on the streets of gold, while most of the world serves as fodder to invertebrates.  Indeed, he is more fortunate than the able-bodied souls who never knew God.  He is richer than Bill Gates, more hopeful than Barack Obama and tougher than Vladimir Putin.  God holds his future.

He won’t even wave an obscene gesture at you on his way to Heaven.