Demonic Progression

29 01 2010

Axiom 1: not all potential hosts are equal.

The demon roamed the countryside in search of a suitable host.  A matter of chance brought him to the eastern shore of the Galilee, mostly populated by gentiles.  As such, they were mostly followers of pagan gods.  But not all of them were to become the host to this parasitic spirit.  Only one would fall victim to that fate.  The fact that he was a subject of an idolatrous religion probably helped.  Likely, he was a little further along than his neighbors.  How the demon homed in on him is left to speculation, but something about the man was a draw.

There he was, living on the peaceful coast, drawing fire from the well with no bottom.

Axiom 2: a subdued host is an easier target for further possession.

The thing latched onto the man with its talons, digging deep into the poor victim’s mind.  After a psycho-spiritual struggle, the demon won, and the process of further possessions had begun.  One by one, new monsters found him and came to feed off of his life.  Ultimately, a whole legion of these vile things had him.  It was not the entire countryside that became possessed, though there were enough demons to do so.  Nay, as with the first axiom, not all potential hosts are equal.  A man already subdued makes for easier colonization by others.  A legion in one body is easier than one in a legion of bodies.

Axiom 3: the host cannot or must not die.

As with any parasitic relationship, the goal is to take a little here and a little there…as much as possible, without actually killing the host.  When the host dies, the parasite is in jeopardy.  No matter how many demons possessed a single human, the human soul was not to be parted from the body.  This was not to say that such a thing could not be done.  If one demon could subdue the human spirit, then a legion might be able to permanently separate it from the body.  Such a thing would be death.

Axiom 4: the demon is not a counterpart of the human spirit.

Separating the human spirit from its body would be death, and as by axiom three, such a thing would be undesirable.  If the human spirit could be completely replaced by a demonic one, then there would be no problem with this mortal severance.  However, a human spirit apparently has traits that a demon does not.  The demon cannot take the place of a human spirit, because it is not comparable in nature.  Therefore, no matter how many of these evil things involve themselves in the human psyche, the human’s spirit-body connection must remain intact.

Axiom 5: possession causes insanity, a mental disconnect from the body.

The poor demoniac, now hopelessly consumed, went raving mad, wandering the land, howling and wailing.  He cut himself with sharp rocks and bits of pottery.  The pain no longer evoked the same kind of reaction in him that it would have in a sane person.  Something had come between him and his senses.  This may be why he had seemingly gained superhuman strength, like a man drugged and unable to feel the pain of over-exertion.  His friends and family attempted to subdue him and to chain him, but he was able to break the chains.  Eventually, they were not even able to subdue him enough to put chains on him.

Axiom 6: demonic possession causes demonic affinity.

Taking on the unclean spirits, the poor man developed an attraction to graveyards, where the unclean decomposing bodies were stored.  Could he but roll away the stones blocking their entrances, one might wonder what he intended with those bodies.  Perhaps he succeeded.  His interests were no longer his own but the ones cast upon him by the alien influence.

Axiom 7: demonic possession may be contagious.

Were there two demoniacs, or was there one?  Most say there was one, but one person recorded that there were two of them.  In all likelihood, there was one primary victim, the most notable case, someone who had been possessed longer and to greater effect.  The second victim may have come later, or been a weaker case.  Either way, they were found on the same shore, together, grappling with the same enmity at the same time.  This can be no coincidence.  They were related cases.  The vastly overwhelmed original demoniac may have spilled over to a second victim.

Axiom 8: demons in possession have perception that extends beyond the limits of the human senses.

This is another throwback to axiom four.  The human spirit cannot see beyond the confines of its own mortal shell, but the demon can.  They are not built the same.  One is not just an unclean version of the other.  Somewhere across that lake, they perceived an enemy.  He was coming.  Their hosts could not see that man, but they knew well that he was on his way, even as far away as he was.  They knew that if this man were allowed to arrive, that their demise was imminent.  They knew that he must be stopped.

Axiom 9: demons in possession have powers that extend beyond the limits of the body.

They would cause a storm.  Somehow, though they were physically confined to the shore, they were able to reach out across that lake and stir up the winds and the water.  They filled the boat with water and terrified its passengers.  They nearly capsized it.  But they could not overcome just a few words spoken by that man.

Axiom 10: demons are absolutely helpless against the Word of God.

He could not be stopped.  With a few words, he caused their power to melt like butter on a griddle.  The storm ceased.  He stepped onto the shore, and with a few words, they knew that he would remove them from their host.  Like a parasite removed from the body, they would writhe and suffer.  Nothing could be done to stop the Word.  Once spoken, it was an unbreakable law.  They begged and pleaded to not be left without a host.

Axiom 11: between one body and the next lies an Abyss.

“Don’t cast us into the Abyss,” they pleaded, “Don’t torture us!”  The option on the table was not to stay in their current host.  They already knew the intentions of that man, the Word become flesh, the Son of God.  They could not keep their present abode.  They begged for an alternative better than being left with nothing.  They asked to be cast into a bunch of pigs.  The alternative was the Abyss.  A spirit without a body is thoroughly dead, lost in darkness.  Anything would be better than that.  And then they were granted their wish.

Axiom 12: possession of an animal is not comparable to possession of a human.

They could not adhere to axiom three.  The pigs could not be controlled the same way as a human.  Once in the pigs, their behavior was different from that of the human.  Unlike the human, they caused the death of the porcine host.  Something went wrong.  The connections didn’t line up, or the host response was erratic.  What they had not anticipated was that the pigs would cast themselves into the sea.  At least, they had not expected the pigs to drown.  The host was lost, and the end result was the same.

Axiom 13: a newly freed host is a vulnerable host.

The former demoniac begged and pleaded to follow the Son of God back into the boat and across to the other side.  He sensed his own weakness, and he knew that he was vulnerable.  He was afraid of being left alone without his savior, and for good reason.  Had the demons returned and found this host clean and uninhabited, they might have possessed him in greater numbers yet.  But God did not leave him alone.  He would be safe.  Though the Christ got back into the boat and left, the spirit of God remained, and the man was safe.

Managing the Forced Dilemma

23 01 2010

They want to kill us, and we want to live.  This is the problem at hand, that Muslim fanatics in this world aim to destroy as many of us as possible.  The question is how we are to stop them.

Every person has a list of priorities.  When we let someone take something from us that we value highly, this is only for the sake of something that we value more highly than what we lost.  A man in Beirut was assigned to guard Bathist headquarters.  He was not disloyal, nor was he willingly derelict in his duties when he let PLO terrorists inside to steal paperwork and set explosives.  He did it for a note and a lock of hair.  He did it to save his kidnapped wife.  A forced dilemma was set before him.  He could sacrifice his job and his employer’s property, or he could sacrifice his wife.  It was the essence of any effective diplomacy.  If you want a thing that someone values highly, then you offer him something that he values more highly, or else you threaten to take it away.

There are those who value our destruction highly.  We must bribe or threaten something that they value even more if we wish to have diplomatic leverage.

Eve was not generally a disobedient woman when she took the forbidden fruit.  If she had been, then she would already have been fallen.  Therefore, it stands to reason that she was not without loyalty to her God, and she did not disobey for disobedience’s sake.  When the matter came down to the fire, she valued her vanity higher than her loyalty to God.  The snake appealed to the higher priority, and the lesser one was sacrificed in the process.

A man may value his job, may wish to be appreciated for his work and may wish to be esteemed by his coworkers.  However, he may also wish to relax, and this priority may be higher on his list.  Everyone has a list of priorities, and no two things are of equal value.  When put to the test, when forced to choose between two things, a person’s prioritization determines the outcome.  The homeless bum does not wish to be homeless, but, very often, his desire to avoid strenuous work is a higher priority.  A homosexual does not necessarily want to be a sinner or face possible wrath in the afterlife, but his desire to live the homosexual life is a higher priority.

Life is all about priorities.  We can all say that we want to be good people.  We can all say that we want to do the right thing.  Even the common criminal could say it, but the will to do the right thing is a lower priority than the desire to indulge in someone else’s property, some defiled lifestyle or some manner of vengeance.  One might easily say “I can’t help it.  That’s just the way I am,” when we want to do the right thing but never actually do it.  Of course we want to do the right thing, but we value something else even more.

Of course we don’t want to die in a nuclear inferno.  We must find that thing that the enemy wants more than our destruction if we are to survive.

Iran is working on making nuclear weaponry.  This is not for energy.  They have enough crude oil to provide them with plenty of energy.  This is not for defense.  They don’t need provocation.  The people in charge over there just want us dead.  We make fools of ourselves when we threaten sanctions.  We could starve their economy into oblivion, but it wouldn’t touch their nuclear ambitions.  We in the West put such a high priority on the almighty dollar that we can’t imagine other people not shaking in fear when money is at stake.  If they don’t stop their uranium enrichment, then we’ll stop buying their stuff.  Money, for the terrorist, is just a means to an end.  The bad guys in this case aren’t looking for prosperity this side of the grave.  Some of them are, but the martyrs aren’t.  When a man is willing to blow his own flesh to a thousand bacon bits just to kill you, one might wonder what a person could possibly offer or threaten to convince him to stop.  If Iran gets nukes, then Iran will use nukes, and unless we can find something more important to the Ayatollah than paradise, then this is the unavoidable end.

How did we come to the point where a weak nation with one bomb could cow a superpower with many bombs?

It’s all in the priorities.  We wish for prosperity.  We wish to live normal lives.  We wish to think well of ourselves.  We want people to like us.  We want to avoid conflict.  We want to close our eyes and make it all go away.  A few nukes from submarines and the Iranian threat could be gone by tomorrow.  It could be gone forever, but we have a higher priority, which is the preservation of human life.  Much as the crazies want to kill us, we don’t want to actually lash out and hurt their people.  But, even if we did, the question to ask is whether those madmen value their own peace and security above our demise.  To this, the answer is a resounding no.  If they wanted to live in peace, then we would not be in this situation to begin with.

They want paradise.  Can we take paradise away from them?

Much as people whined about the war in Iraq, it had the worthy effect of casting doubt as to whose side Allah is on.  If I’m going to blow myself to bits for God, then I’d better be absolutely certain that I’m really on his side.  There’s no sense in losing Paradise with a misdirected waste of life.  Then, the Muslim must be in a bit of a bind in that department.  Allah doesn’t make his intentions very clear on the specifics.  When the Muslims lose war after war, the favor of their god is in doubt.  When that happens, the dynamite belt might just be a blast-off to nowhere.

But the defeat of a Sunni regime is no deterrent to a Shiite.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  We know that.  They know that.  At least, people are conscious of their own evil.  Show a man his shame, crush a woman’s pride, reveal that sin and do what you like, you only illustrate something that nags universally at the back of the human mind.  We are a bunch of sinners.  Promise a man his get-out-of-Hell-free card, and he’ll do anything for you.  We are all aware of our shortcomings.  The suicide bomber doesn’t don that belt because he’s a faithful Muslim.  He does it because he knows he’s screwed up, big time.  Death by jihad is to him an automatic win, despite his failures.  Overcoming sin is a higher priority than life, itself.  Losing life means losing everything.  When you kill yourself, you give up on friendships, family, prosperity and everything else.  It means you don’t get that promotion, that sunny weather, that cup of coffee, or anything else.  What does the terrorist want?!  He wants to be absolved of his sins when his own efforts are clearly in vain.  He wants to be forgiven by God for all of the wickedness that stains his soul like grease on a new white dress shirt.  Every other thing is a lesser priority.  Nothing trumps it.  There is no higher priority to use for diplomatic leverage.

That man needs Jesus.

Once, so long ago, there was a martyr who gave his life in a battle to absolve all sin, but the sin that he absolved was not his own.  It was yours.  He died the martyr’s death so that we, who could not get into Heaven by merit, could still get into Heaven.  That martyr was Jesus.  He is that automatic pass to Paradise.  It is only through him that we are saved.

Because an exploded sinner is just a sinful mess.

Hang on to Your Gold

19 01 2010

Money…it started out as an attraction to pretty things, namely gold and silver.  It became a means of efficient bartering.  It was coined and standardized.  Then it was replaced with paper as a substitute.  Then the paper was not a substitute but the thing itself.  Then the paper was represented by an abstract number.  Soon, the number will be the thing itself.  But the number will not be strictly under control of the people who use it, but, instead, it will need to be managed by a central industry, a governing authority.  The people will not own it.  The government will be in complete charge of it.

In 1933, our dear late president Franklin D. Roosevelt banned the ownership of gold.  The penalty was up to ten years in prison or ten thousand dollars’ fine for those who failed to comply.  Contracts that were insured against inflation by using the gold standard for adjustment could not longer use the gold standard.  The purpose was to make people rely entirely on the toilet paper being produced by our benevolent government for use as money.  It would be worth whatever they told us it was worth, and when they needed more, they would simply print more.  The New Deal (raw deal) was an artificial economy, giving great boatloads of people some manner of employment, where there was none.  The catch was that these jobs did nothing to actually promote the economy.  The government is not a participant in the law of supply and demand.  The economy must be powered by the private industry.  An all-public economy is a cannibalistic system that keeps recycling the same value over and over, until it diminishes into nothing.

So how did the New Deal survive?  It lived off of the backs of what was left of the private industry, not through taxation, but through inflation.  When the government produces money like a wild drunken counterfeiter, it has plenty to spend, but the value of everyone else’s money drops like a rock.  The dollar amount in the bank is an arbitrary number that means nothing.  The real value is an abstract concept wrapped up in that dollar, and the government can take it straight from our accounts without a single tax or fee.  We cannot easily track it.  We hardly notice its absence, until the price of everything at the store increases.

Until 1933, gold was that bastion of wealth that retained its value in the face of inflation.  When a square foot of dollars was worth less than a square foot of toilet paper, people might buy gold and abandon faith in “money,” because money isn’t really money.  The government stole everyone’s gold in exchange for fewer dollars than it was worth.  Then it cranked up the presses.  Had World War II not spurred on private contracts and actual manufacturing in the private sector, we might have ended up like post World War I Germany.  In the years since the war, government has striven, to our great relief, to stabilize our monetary system.  Under Allan Greenspan, the dollar was probably at its most stable point in recent history.

All of that is about to change.

Advertisement for your gold is at an all-time high.  The government is buying it up as fast as it can.  Fortunately, the acquisition is currently voluntary.  Whether it will always be so remains to be seen.  Hang on to your gold.  When the government is in a frenzy to buy gold, it intends to pay its debts through inflation.  The less gold you have, the less recourse you have.  For FDR, it was an attempt to force people to put their trust in paper.  But then and now it was also the government’s insurance against getting hurt by its own inflation.

So what happens to all of this gold?  Foreign investors, like China, don’t like putting their money into American interests, when they know that the return will be worth less, even though they get more dollars back.  They won’t want dollars.  They’ll want gold when the dollar is no longer a global standard.  When you sell your “unwanted” gold to some of these private firms out there, it goes to the federal reserve, and from there it makes its way out of the country.  If you plan to buy a wedding ring, then you’d better buy it now.

So who gets hurt worst?  Anyone who holds ownership of cash gets bit.  Money under the mattress evaporates.  Money in the bank leaks away.  All lenders of any kind get hurt.  The good news is that you’ll be able to pay off your fixed-rate mortgage easier.  The bad news is that the rate on your adjustable rate mortgage is going to go way up.  Interest rates of all kinds are going up.

As it is, every penny costs two and a half cents to produce.  Congress hates to make the stuff.  Nickles are also worth less than they cost.  Inflation is coming, and it’s coming hard.  Government buy-out of gold is the canary in the mine, telling us to grab our stuff and get out.  This could be the move that makes pocket change unfeasible.  If the coins go, then it will be one step closer to a monetary system without substance.

I don’t know when electronic money will hit the system, but when it does and wealth becomes nothing more than a number in the government’s ledger, then everything we do could ultimately be subject to our lord President’s dictates.  Who buys and who sells, what they buy and what they sell will all be subject to government control.  This, in light of some environmental policies seeking to outlaw the incandescent light bulb, black cars and the internal combustion engine.  We already know that the government is to the point of controlling things that it has no business meddling with.  I mention electronic money because the last time our dear Big Brother took that nasty dangerous yellow ore from us, it intended to permanently change the way we do business.

You will be hurt if:

  • you have much money in the bank or under the mattress, in CDs or bonds or loaned out to anyone.
  • you borrowed loans on a variable interest rate.
  • you need to get a loan in the future.
  • you sell your gold (or they take it from you).
  • you need to buy gold in the future (even now it is already more expensive).

Further, you will be hurt simply by living in the United States, because our economy will be drained to pay the whims of our government.  Look out, China, because we’ll be the cheap labor, now.  Learn to make a home from mud and sticks (I jest, I hope).

And if the government takes the notion to force your gold from you, I advise civil disobedience…but be careful.

A Mirror Among the Ugly

16 01 2010

How do you tell someone that he’s ugly?  You do it very, very gently.  If you’re his friend, then you’ll probably never tell him.  If you’re his mother, then you’ll lie.

They live in a house without mirrors.  Over the bathroom sink hangs a picture of the Mona Lisa.  On the bedroom door hangs a full-length picture of Audrey Hepburn.  They brush their teeth and shave in front of these images, making believe that they are really seeing themselves in a mirror.  They eat breakfast with tarnished silverware, and they drive to work with the rearview mirror adjusted away to avoid accidentally seeing themselves.  Unfortunately for them, their workplace is an uncontrolled environment.  They can’t help but occasionally glimpse themselves, reflected in the bathroom mirror or a shiny surface.  They are the ugly.  They are everyone.

 Within everyone grows an innate evil, an ugliness that we try not to look at.  We do not, cannot, see ourselves for whom we really are, because we live our lives from the inside out.  A thing seems right because we want it.  A thing seems wrong until we do it.  Our house has no mirrors.  At work, people see us, and they react to what they see.  It shows us some reflection of ourselves.  But they only see us on the outside.  They are the reflection of our fully clothed selves, and we look away from that image, even.  We are as beautiful as we like to think we are.  So long as we never see ourselves, we can live in that fantasy.  All who know us may see us as arrogant jerks, but we remain unaffected.  We avert our eyes.  We break the mirror.  We try to buff the ugliness out of the shine.  We blame the lighting.

 God has sent to us a full-length mirror, and we stand naked before it.  It is the Holy Spirit, and it shows us what we are.  The fools among us shudder and walk away, trying desperately to forget what they saw.  Some of us stand and stare in shock for a while, only to convince ourselves that what we see isn’t so bad.  Others accept the image, realizing that they do not rise above the ugliness of the world around them.  Your Mom was ugly.  Your Dad was ugly.  You followed the trend.  Your friends are ugly.  Your dog is ugly.  At least the whole world is ugly, too. 

 But God has not sent this mirror simply to make us feel bad about ourselves.  We need that mirror in order to change what we can.  We use it so that we might not walk out the door with toothpaste in the corners of our mouths.  We use it to improve ourselves.

 Cooper’s Looking Glass Self is the principle that even when we look in a mirror, we do not see ourselves for what we are.  All we see is some person staring blankly at a mirror.  We use other people’s reactions to us to shape our self-image.  They see us in a natural setting, smiling naturally, reacting naturally.  Unfortunately, our friends usually don’t tell us everything we need to know about ourselves.  They’re often not brave enough to tell us when we’re behaving badly.  Worse yet, our ugliness gets filtered through theirs.  All we see is any extra ugliness that exceeds theirs.  Anyone who shows us the wickedness of our ways we malign and ignore.  We refuse the image they show us of ourselves, because we do not like it.  It does not fit what we’d like to imagine.

 Christians are often accused of being judgmental.  This, more often than not, is a complete lie.  We have been through that fire, are still going through it, being shown our flaws in painful high-definition by the mirror of the Holy Spirit.  We don’t have the luxury of living our fantasy.  Those of us who haven’t gone through it are those who do not have the Holy Spirit, and, therefore, have not really accepted Christ.  If you want to play that role and be that Christian, then you’re going to look in that mirror, and you’re going to go through that fire.  You get to peer into that image and see that wart, that pimple and that crooked nose.  You get to see your arrogance, your selfishness and your shallowness.  On the plus side, you get to work on fixing it.  You don’t have to stay that way.  On the minus side, you can’t pretend you’re beautiful, when you’re not.  It’s no wonder the world calls us judgmental.  In us they see a reflection of themselves, shining off of the sheen cast by the work of God in our lives.  They will look upon us, and they will hate what they see.

 We did, too, at one time.  Some of us still do.  No one is perfect.

 So, how do you tell a man that he’s ugly?  If you want to be his friend, then you don’t.  He won’t brush his hair if he doesn’t know it’s a mess.  He won’t pluck the dangling booger from his nose if he doesn’t know that it’s there.  In fact, anything true is potentially useful.  People don’t use truth to hurt themselves.  We reflect upon people by hinting at them what they really are.  The Holy Spirit reflects like a mirror, abruptly and plainly, holding nothing back and sugarcoating nothing, but neither does he mean any of it for harm or insult.  Likewise, we should speak the truth in love, gently, not to insult but only to help.

 In return, we can expect to be thrown to the floor and stomped on.  Such is the life of a mirror among the ugly.

God Gave Rock and Roll to You

11 01 2010

Warning: Do you have a problem with photosensitive seizures?  If you do, then please navigate away from this page.

It was a rather informal gathering with John Schlitt and Bob Hartman, just two guys from Petra on vacation, doing some performances along the way.  Between songs, Schlitt told about an incident where some staunch Christian told Hartman that rock and roll is of the Devil.  During the telling, Hartman visibly wilted.  The thing happened years ago, and yet it still lingers painfully.  He didn’t have to say that it hurt him, because there was no hiding it.

“What’s wrong with getting excited about praising Jesus?” Hartman said, plaintively.  There’s nothing wrong with it.  Rock music may not be of the Devil, but discouragement certainly is.  Criticism comes easily.  Traveling the world to sing about God sounds glamorous, but it’s really just a lot of hard work and a huge inconvenience.  It means being away from home for months at a time, and only being at home just long enough to produce a new album and hit the road again.  The kind members of Petra gave so much to bring us encouragement through music.  In return, they were told that their contribution, their way of praising God, was of the Devil.  This was surely an undeserved cut.

I can imagine singing worship music in church and being told to stop because my worship was of the Devil.  What I might say in response could easily be of the Devil.  What right does any Christian have for blaspheming God in that way?

“As the Ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window.  And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.” (2 Samuel 6:16)

Now, not all music in the Christian rock genre is genuinely religious.  Some of it lacks anything even remotely related to the faith.  However, if that claim could be made against anyone, it certainly would not be Petra.  They were the forerunners of contemporary Christian music, revolutionizing the way we looked at worship, and their purpose was at once deeply reverent and thoroughly syncopated.  If this accusation could be leveled against them, then it could be leveled against anyone.  Clearly, the statement is a broad generalization not based in an objective assessment.  Either that, or the slander against God was intentional.

Is rock music worldly?

“…I will celebrate before the Lord.  I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.  But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” (2 Samuel 6:22)

That Christian rock bands are held in high esteem by lowly teenagers or us ordinary folk is no reason that the typically religious among us should despise them.  They are not worldly for their choice in style.  Hymns were once the popular music style.  They were converted from old beer-drinking songs.  The tunes were the same, but the words were different.  Gregorian chants and even the music of the Old Testament were of the popular style of the time.  Style is nothing.  Some people figured out a new way to do music, and some people deemed it to be more advanced and more enjoyable.  Our elders heard it and plugged their ears.  Okay, so it isn’t for everyone.  That doesn’t make it evil.

The sense of evil is often a gut reaction rooted in nothing more than fear.  When has this fear ever been from God?  People fear change.  They fear the unfamiliar.  They even fear new technology.  When music changed, many Christians refused to change with it, and they even made their stubbornness a facet of their own doctrine.  It wasn’t enough to say that they were unaccustomed to it.  They had to make the outrageous claim that it was evil.  When technology marched onward, the Amish held to their old ways, fearful of the new.  They rejected mechanized agriculture.  They rejected the use of electricity.  It wasn’t enough that they were paralyzed by their fear of new ways, but they incorporated this fear into their faith, as though that fear were a tangible real problem and not just a matter of their own maladaptation.  We who saw the value in the new way of doing things are condemned as being worldly.

We need not fear anything but God.

We ought not condemn the ministry of others, unless it genuinely contradicts the law of our Lord.  I thank God for Christian rock.  I thank God for Petra.  I take joy in the day that such enthusiastic, energetic music entered my life and gave me encouragement when I was trapped between the head-splitting mundane church music and the nearly Satanic roar of secular rock.  When Christianity splits through the Iron Curtain, do we insist that the Chinese believers not worship in a pentatonic scale?  When Christianity breaks out in a revival in Africa, do we tell them to do away with their drums and dances, to stand still and sing the strophic verses written by people half a world away, long since dead and gone?  No, we should not.  Neither should we expect our own culture to worship according to someone else’s style.  Music is a language.  When we insist that the older style is more sacred, we force our church services to be held in an old, out-dated language.  We held our masses in Latin, a language that no one understands.  We rejected that dead practice long ago and for good reason.  If the faith is to grow and thrive, then it must be alive within us.  We must not be afraid to worship God in the purest, sincerest, rawest way.

We must worship God in our own language.  We must sing his praises like we mean it.  We must rebuke anyone who dares condemn us for honestly praising God.

The Other Omission and Commission

7 01 2010

By now, you may have read in other sources that there are two kinds of sin, the sin of commission and the sin of omission.  One is the transgression that you do, and the other is the thing that you didn’t do but should have.  However, there is another side to this story, for there are two unfavorable responses from God, along these lines.  There is a curse by commission, and there is a curse by omission.  There are the plagues that demonstrate a deliberate intent on God’s part, and there are the diseases that exist as a result of God’s lack of intervention.  We preach so easily on God’s love that we neglect his wrath.

As described in the previous post, there is old age that comes as a result of random effects from our environment, but there is also a more potent aging that comes from a deliberate function within our bodies to kill us.  On the one hand, we are weakened by God’s lack of intervention, by his doing nothing directly to heal us or maintain us in spite of our environment.  On the other hand, we have a deliberate mechanism to hasten our demise.  The same can be said of every disease.  Much as sickness looks like a shortfall of intelligent design, the tapeworm and the virus demonstrate definite design.  Unless the Devil has gotten into the business of bioengineering, which I am reluctant to accept, we might reason that God was in that detail.  This is a very hard idea to handle.

Bacteria can fall to one side or the other.  Some of them make us sick because they happened to be in the wrong place.  Sometimes there might be some ambiguity as to whether the toxins that they produce were a deliberate attack on our health or a means for some other function.  However, there exists an entire category of microbes that fall into the classification of gram-negative cocci, which can be described in no other way than that they exist to make us sick.  Specifically, they exist to make the promiscuous among us sick.  Remove these organisms from the body, and they die very quickly.  They have no natural home outside of a human.  The Evolutionist might not have trouble explaining this one, but there is a certain spirochete called syphilis that defies a naturalistic explanation.  It appeared suddenly, from seemingly nowhere, with no relatives, to infect an entire army of French soldiers after their conquest of a single Italian city.  One might say that sickness is not a function of intelligent design, but the design of a microorganism is clearly evident.  While sickness caused by microbes does not always indicate deliberate intent, there can be no question that this microbe was specifically designed to cause sickness.  It is a curse of commission.

Diabetes, many cancers, hemophilia and other genetic diseases all find their causes in the omission of an intelligent design.  There was supposed to be a function in the body to keep a person healthy, but random change destroyed that function, and God did not reverse that change.  We are not hurt by what God did, but by what he didn’t do.  We can easily overlook the rest of the genome that still serves to keep us alive.  We could easily see that one little missing thing as a direct attack on our health.  However, what it all comes down to is the original curse, the Fall of Man, when disorder was allowed to come into the world.  The curse, here, is not that God brought things into disorder, but that he does not actively keep it in order.  Fortunately, he did build within us a great many functions to resist random change.  As time produces random change that ruins a person, it also produces random change that ruins humanity as a whole.  We accumulate this drift, and what doesn’t kill us makes us weaker.  If any random change is beneficial, then it is only because it happens to partially reverse one of the many harmful changes that came before it.  This is a losing battle we fight.

The tapeworm has intelligent design.  We thank God for the daisies and the roses, but we never thank him for the tapeworm.  I don’t think we’re even expected to.  Yet, as disgusting as this creature is, it is only acting in that great war of nature known as the food chain.  Nature is not our mother.  It is a battleground.  Animals devour each other and parasitize each other as a result of entropy and the constant battle to fight the drive toward disorder.  The virus is no different.  One particular virus appeared out of nowhere, with no known relatives and no known history.  It infected one man, who traveled the world and infected many others.  Some have said it was God’s punishment against homosexuals.  The first person to suggest this was a homosexual with that disease, known as AIDS.  God does not hate the homosexual.  Let’s make that clear from the beginning.  If he hated homosexuals, then they would all cease to exist in a moment, for there is nothing preventing him from making that happen.  His only concern is eternity.  Whether a person’s life is longer or shorter, pleasant or full of trouble, the only thing that matters is what they do with the rest of eternity.

I used to feel critical of people who saw trouble and disease as having come from God as punishment for human depravity.  I especially felt critical of anyone who might suggest that AIDS was a curse from God against homosexuals.  Then, one day, a coworker asked me where the virus came from, and we were both at a loss.  It could not be explained by evolution, or any natural means.  I had to shrug my shoulders and suggest that maybe God had produced it.  It was a paradigm shift for me.  In truth, it is the modernist philosophy ingrained in each of us that causes us to lash out at the idea that plagues and disasters befall us at God’s direction.  It is not the blacksmith that hits the anvil, we say.  It is the hammer that hits the anvil.  We like to think that the blacksmith does not exist.  The hammer just happens to be there, and it just happens to hit the anvil over and over.  In truth, without the blacksmith, neither the hammer nor the anvil would exist.  Without God, neither the homosexual nor HIV would exist.  The fact is that God does love the homosexual, and that’s why HIV exists.  The alternative is to wipe out all sexually immoral people, or else let them go to Hell without threat or warning, had he hated them.  The fact is that, if we are objective and totally honest with ourselves, then we must see that HIV has intelligent design, and, crazy as it sounds, it does, in fact, seem to have been targeting homosexuals.

There are those curses that result from our separation from God.  They exist because we change, and we don’t change according to his design.  We change as we will, because we and our world have been released to go our own way.  These are the curses of omission.  God is not our mechanic.  He does not keep us in order.  Then there are those curses that come about through causative agents containing intelligent design, like a virus or a worm, whose action against us is not accidental, but deliberate and part of the design.  These are curses of commission.  They happen because God does not want us to continue going our own way into oblivion.  He wants to get our attention, and he’s determined to do it even if it kills us.  Eternity is just on the other side of death, and we can’t afford to enter it heedlessly, as though it did not exist.

Christians hate the idea of a God that curses.  We like to see him as God the redeemer, lover of our souls.  Plagues and curses are a thing of the Old Testament, almost as though that were a different god.  Jesus came to break the curse, but his kingdom is not of this world.  Every day we still die, just like we have since the very first man breathed his last.  The laws of Moses have not been overturned, and neither has the curse, this side of death.  But there is a hope that goes beyond the grave.  Our treasure is not in this life.  No pleasure, no gratification in this life is worth the cost of losing our treasure in the next.

It is for that reason that we are scared out of our wits by the specter of a biological weapon engineered by God, himself.  If you think that cancer is scary, then you have no grasp of Hell.  If the wost thing you can imagine is losing your life, then you have no hope of Heaven.

A Couple of Curses

5 01 2010

“Getting old is the pits.  Don’t ever do it if you can help it,” my dad always used to say.  The irony, of course, is that I can’t help it.  It’s one thing that science still hasn’t cured, and I’m not so sure they ever will.  It comes in two parts, really.  The first is the curse of Genesis 3:19, and the second is the curse of Genesis 6:3.  It’s a pity that we failed to get past the sixth chapter without incurring not one, but two curses.

There exists one overriding principle that acts upon all things, living and non-living, that causes all things to tend toward disorder.  This is the force of entropy, and it acts upon our bodies every day, in ways that cannot be completely remedied.  Our teeth wear out.  Our synapses accumulate junk.  Most cells cannot be replaced, if destroyed.  Still, our bodies are astoundingly resilient.  If this were the only problem, then current theory holds that people would live in the range of a thousand years.  Despite that fact that our environment works tirelessly to tear us down, we could hold up for many more years than we do.  This curse of entropy was the only one that the antediluvian people knew, and they lived for hundreds of years.  Something happened to change human lifespan to what we know today, and that change began to take place around the time of the flood.

The first curse is well-known.  Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit, and death entered the world.  Thorns and thistles grew where they did not belong, and food came by much work.  Not only were the people affected, but the whole world was affected.  Everything was cursed.  Yet, they lived over nine hundred years.  In Genesis, chapter six, humanity’s hope for longevity was sharply curtailed.  God said that he would only tolerate people for 120 years, and many take that to mean that the Great Flood was to take place after that term.  That may be true, however, the human lifespan also began to diminish at that time.  Today, the hard limit to the human lifespan is about 120 years, and it isn’t because the environment is acting more strongly upon us.

For those of you who think that God would never do harm to anyone, let’s just make one thing clear.  Within each of us is a ticking clock with a time limit, counting down our self-destruction.  This is a scientific fact.  The reason that we outlive our dogs is not because we have better genes than they do.  We are not more robust.  In fact, we are utter weaklings relative to most species of our category and size.  The reason we live so much longer than dogs is simply that we were made to do so.  People have mapped out the human genome, and they seem to know all of the information stored there, but they have yet to understand why some genes are used and some are not  within any given cell.  Generally, this is a beneficial trait.  If every cell used every gene that it had at its disposal, then we would all die.  Cells need to specialize, and that means that not every cell can do everything.  Unfortunately, with old age, cells begin to do less and less.  They disable even the genes that they need to use.  All of that information is still present and intact, but the body ignores it.  Nobody really knows why.

Within each of us is a biological clock set for destruction.  It just happens that we were given more time than our dogs.  Make no mistake about it, though, that there is a definite intent in this.  Entropy may destroy us slowly through random external effects upon us, but this timer is a deliberate function meant to kill us.  There is nothing random or incidental about it.  Evolutionists cannot explain it, because there is no reason why a body should choose to end itself rather than live to make more offspring.  Yet, as the curse of entropy was placed not only on people, but also on everything else, so, too, was this biological timer.  Your dog has you to thank.

At about the age of sixty, things begin to happen.  The weakest among us begin to kick the bucket.  This is only the beginnings of the event, though.  Between the age of seventy and eighty, humanity takes a nose dive.  By seventy-five, half of your peers will be dead.  By age eighty, only the strongest survive.  The mortality curve looks something like a waterfall, starting gradually at first, then dropping suddenly.  Between the age of 80 and 120, the attrition rate becomes linear, rather than hyperbolic.  This means that no matter how many people there are on earth, or how long we wait, we’re not likely to see anyone reach 130.  Though it may have been beaten a few times, just barely, the hard limit still looks very much to be 120.

I hear so often about how modern medicine has enabled people to live longer lives.  This notion is used often in the political arena, especially around the subject of health care.  I have personally studied graveyard statistics and followed obituaries, and I can honestly say that the death curve of the 1800s looks very much like the one of today.  Modern medicine has eliminated a large number of childhood, infant and other early deaths, but death by old age has remained constant.  People simply aren’t hanging on longer at the end of life now than they did two-hundred years ago.  That clock still ticks the way it always did.

So, why did God do it?  Cursing humanity with eventual death through entropy wasn’t enough, apparently.  Nine-hundred years must have been long enough to make people feel like they were going to live forever.  “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal….”  The end was not in sight.  People were not conscious of their own mortality.  Consequently, they fell to the basest of depravity.  The age of the antediluvian race ended with the age of the Nephilim, a time of giants and sorcery.  It’s like telling a child that he’s going to get spanked when he gets home, and then he disobeys again before he even gets home.  The punishment had to come earlier than originally planned.  With mortality comes the anticipation of the afterlife.  Your dog dies younger, so that you might be made more conscious of your own mortality.

Your dog would hate you if she only knew.