freedom or security or maybe both

“Anyone who can appease a man’s conscience can take his freedom away from him.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Grand Inquisitor

That unmistakable musty smell of old books and papers is still lingering in my nose
despite the needed shower in order to purge my skin of the accumulated dust and debris
from a previous life now clinging to my now older self.
The allergies are revving up as I sneeze, I mean type.

We’ve spent the last three days in our attic emptying it of its hoard of boxes and stuff…
most of which has been sitting in the same spot where it was deposited some 20 years ago
when we packed everything up from our first house before departing and moving
to where we are now.

Being the parent to an only child is both blessing and curse.
The curse is found in the saving of each and every little shred of his existence.
What that only child wore, played with, made or accomplished in school.

Treasures of the heart, but way too much stuff.

Throw in the boxes that have cradled mom’s china-head dolls, her tea set from childhood,
three generations of toys and stuffed animals, photographs upon photos,
outdated electronic this and that…add in those boxes of the well-read and dearly loved
books both from those who have called this house home as well as those who have not—

And so we have had a real mess!

I did, however, manage to rescue a few books left over from college.

You see that book sitting on top of my lap?…that Dostoevsky book?
And yes it does smell.

It is a paperback book of the Notes from the Underground and The Grand Inquisitor?
Well, you should know that that single little musty dog-eared book got me in a bad spot
during my sophomore year in college.

I’ve mentioned this tale before but I think given our current day and time, a revisit
just might be warranted.

But first a bit of background regarding the tale of the book…

According to Britanica.com

Dostoevsky’s novel The Brother’s Karamazov is most famous for three chapters that
may be ranked among the greatest pages of Western literature.

Brothers Dmitry, Ivan, Alyosha and the illegitimate Smerdyakov.
Within the story, there is another story…a poem written by Ivan…
that being The Grand Inquisitor.

In “Rebellion,” Ivan indicts God the Father for creating a world in which children suffer.
Ivan has also written a “poem,” “The Grand Inquisitor,” which represents his response to
God the Son.
It tells the story of Christ’s brief return to earth during the Spanish Inquisition.
Recognizing him, the Inquisitor arrests him as “the worst of heretics” because,
the Inquisitor explains, the church has rejected Christ.
For Christ came to make people free, but, the Inquisitor insists,
people do not want to be free, no matter what they say.
They want security and certainty rather than free choice, which leads them to error and guilt.
And so, to ensure happiness, the church has created a society based on “miracle, mystery,
and authority.”
The Inquisitor is evidently meant to stand not only for medieval Roman Catholicism but
also for contemporary socialism.
“Rebellion” and “The Grand Inquisitor” contain what many have considered
the strongest arguments ever formulated against God, which Dostoyevsky includes so that,
in refuting them, he can truly defend Christianity.
It is one of the greatest paradoxes of Dostoyevsky’s work that his deeply Christian
novel more than gives the Devil his due.

Here is another look behind this troublemaker of mine…
a quick tutorial thanks to Sparknotes.

I didn’t have Sparknotes back in my day.

If I had, then maybe I would have tempered my more impulsive and defiant self
by having perused the gist of the story before meeting it cold turkey and in turn, going
rogue on a most liberal atheistic professor who pretty much thought he “got me” and my head on a platter.

The story is based on the notion that Christ has come back to earth.
He came to Seville, Spain where he performed miracles and was embraced by the people.
But the head of the Spanish Inquisition comes to town and has Christ immediately arrested.
The story then proceeds with the Inquisitor leading the majority of dialogue of the tale.

The Grand Inquisitor tells Christ that he cannot allow him to do his work on Earth,
because his work is at odds with the work of the Church.
The Inquisitor reminds Christ of the time, recorded in the Bible,
when the Devil presented him with three temptations, each of which he rejected.
The Grand Inquisitor says that by rejecting these three temptations,
he guaranteed that human beings would have free will.
Free will, he says, is a devastating, impossible burden for mankind.
Christ gave humanity the freedom to choose whether or not to follow him,
but almost no one is strong enough to be faithful, and those who are not will be damned forever.
The Grand Inquisitor says that Christ should have given people no choice,
and instead taken power and given people security instead of freedom.
That way, the same people who were too weak to follow Christ, to begin with,
would still be damned, but at least they could have happiness and security on Earth,
rather than the impossible burden of moral freedom.
The Grand Inquisitor says that the Church has now undertaken to correct Christ’s mistake.
The Church is taking away freedom of choice and replacing it with security.
Thus, the Grand Inquisitor must keep Christ in prison,
because if Christ were allowed to go free,
he might undermine the Church’s work to lift the burden of free will from mankind.

The Grand Inquisitor tells Christ that it was Satan, and not Christ, who was in the right during this exchange.
He says that ever since the Church took over the Roman Empire,
it has been secretly performing the work of Satan, not because it is evil,
but because it seeks the best and most secure order for mankind.

Our professor was young, probably 30 if that, teaching a room filled full of late teens and early
20 somethings.
He came to class barefoot.

This was the height of the preppy fashion trend…of which I embraced.
A barefoot instructor was a throwback to about 10 years prior add
my being a conservative Reaganite and I did not have a settled
sense of anything good.

He sat cross-legged, Indian style, on the classroom’s generic desk.
Some day’s he’d take us outside to sit in the grass.

He’d wax and wane over the advanced literature we were to read and discuss.

He rarely gave grades but when he did, what I received were A’s and B’s.
Of which was pretty good for me and I was most pleased.
We were reading challenging tales…some of which captivated me.
If it hadn’t been such…I would have lost interest quickly and then struggled.

He announced on day 1 that he was raised Catholic but was now an ardent Atheist.

“Great”— I felt my eyes roll within my head.

I was a 20-year-old who, despite living that hard balance of lose and large in college,
I was also a conservative and an ardent Christian,
.
For when it came to push or shove, I knew what was my Truth.

When it came to the end of the quarter, we read Dostoyevsky’s book.

Our illustrious professor took on the role of Inquisitor, of course, in the open class discussion
as I embraced that of Christ.

For each dig he offered to the class, I spoke up a counter thought.
For I took on the role of defense attorney for a man who truly needed no defending
but I wasn’t about to let this flippant professor spew falsehoods to a captured
audience.

The final exam was based on the story.
I wrote feverishly for the allotted 3 hours examination time.
I turned in the infamous blue book, walked out, got in my car, and in turn drove home
for the summer.

When the grades were mailed out, as they were back then since these were the days before computers,
my report noted that I had received a D in my Lit class.

WHAT!!!!!!????

I immediately called the University and eventually made my way to the English Department where I was told
that my professor had resigned his post and left to teach in Arizona…taking all of his records with
him.

That was that.

No recourse.
No petition.
No action news interviews.
No legal action as we see so often today.
No “one call, that’s all.”

My GPA dropped and I was crestfallen because it wasn’t that great, to begin with.
My mother knew I had been cheated and therefore did not say a word about the “D”
And I had been cheated for one reason and one reason only, my faith.

I know now that this was to be the beginning of what we currently see today—
that being a staggering indoctrination and persecution of the Christian faith
on college campuses.

And that single frustrating event came flooding back today when I opened that musty old box
full of books.

And so I flipped through the book.
There was underlining and pen scrawled notes in the section dedicated to Notes From the Underground…
“Pope [Alexander] says that if you want to see how to run a society, look at an anthill”
Hummmmm…

As I went back and looked over the premise of the story, I was struck by what the Inquisitor tells
Christ….that the Chruch is seeking “the best and most secure order for mankind”
and I find that exceedingly telling.

Just look at the Episcopal Chruch and the Chruch of England—both desperately trying to appease
man while turning a blind eye to God’s word.
Other denominations now follow suit.

“Satan was right,” the Inquisitor tells Christ—who only politely listens while remaining silent.

With our having been given free will…of which the Inquisitor sees as an inherently impossible burden
for mankind, he ignorantly believes that it is his sole responsibility to thwart what God, and in turn Christ,
afforded man. He does so in the name of the Chruch.
The Bride fighting the Bridegroom for dominance.

Hummmmm…

We see that it is the Inquisitor who knows what is best for humankind, not so much God nor His Son.

Historians agree that Dostoevsky is noted for having a canny understanding of the psychology of man.
In part because of his life and upbringing.
He is also oddly prophetic regarding the future of Russia and her undoing Revolution–
a theme that runs throughout much of his work as he often foretells of a great fall and of man’s ultimate
demise as there is always the struggle between free will and what is perceived as security…
as in what does man really want for his life and living?

I for one find Dostoevsky works most telling for our own day and time.
So much so that I need to reread this “poem”
Because it seems we are currently living the life of the Inquisitor as we prefer a sense of security,
a guarantee of living life in the 21st century rather than that of choice.
The choice of eternal life or eternal death.

In the end, Christ rises to kiss the Inquisitor as He takes His leave.

May He not take His leave of us.

If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not,
let your peace return to you.
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words,
leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.
Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment
than for that town.

Matthew 10:13-15

The Truth versus that of silence…speak on

“Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you,
remember Christ crucified and be silent.”

St. John of the Cross


(the week’s gathering / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2018)

“Yet such are the pity and compassion of this Lord of ours,
so desirous is He that we should seek Him and enjoy His company,
that in one way or another He never ceases calling us to Him…
God here speaks to souls through words uttered by pious people,
by sermons or good books, and in many other such ways.

Sometimes He calls souls by means of sickness or troubles,
or by some truth He teaches them during prayer,
for tepid as they may be in seeking Him,
yet God holds them very dear.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p.26
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

Ok, I admit that I’ve been a bit remiss in my reading here in blogland as of late.
As I’ve been here, there and yon for quite some time—
really, if the truth be told, I’ve been running willy nilly since February
when the ‘wee one’ was born.

And I will be out of pocket once again starting today, on and off throughout the week
and weekend as I scoot back and forth babysitting.

Yet sadly, all good things must come to an end as next week a new routine is to
be established.

With our son’s position and hours soon to change and our daughter-n-law beginning
a new school year teaching in a new school, the ‘wee one’ will be going to a lady
who keeps about 8 kids in her home—two of whom are the ‘wee one’s’ cousins.

So it will be an all in the family sort of home care situation that is the best and
more viable solution.

The other option…

my husband and I sell our house and move…
Not exactly practical but don’t think for a minute that I’ve not entertained the idea.

But I digress…

So back to the issue at hand…
I’ve been noticing a rather alarming and running theme amongst many Christian bloggers.

Frustration.

For there is a growing and rising tide offered by non-believers, nay-sayers and
even from within the ‘family fold’ to silence those who continue to hold true to
the Word of God.

Not some watered down Word.
Not some rewritten Word.
Not some progressive liberalism mishmash of The Word…
Not some uber feminist militant anti-male bashing blatant denial of The Word.

But rather an adherence to the authentic Word…
as in Words that are a couple of thousands of years old, Holy in inspiration, and stated
as is for all of eternity…

As in God said it and therefore, it is.

Be it an Aramaic text, Greek text, Jewish or Latin text…His authority does not change.

I AM remains I AM.

His Words, His tenents, His commands have not changed nor evolved with the times.
We are the ones who are evolving with the times and those various cultural norms and sins…
sins that we continue to claim as new truths…

And no, I’m not talking about the argument of evolution of monkey to man or
anything to do with Darwin…
I’m simply talking about us not being a consistent lot.

We are fickled and we like to have our cake and eat it too while eating everyone else’s as well
or telling others how and what to eat and when they shall eat it.

Now my dear friends, Bishop Gavin Ashenden and Pastor David Roberston, have each been quite
busy as of late posting various observations and articles…as have most of my
dear blogging family…all while I’ve been torn for time.

And one thing I’ve noticed while playing catch-up in my reading of blog posts is the
same theme…that being the theme of frustration—

And I should know….as I’ve had my own share of frustration from those who come
around pretending to want to engage in dialogue when their main objective is to belittle,
malign and obliterate as they are frothing and rabid with atheistic zeal.
So much so that they cannot nor will not rest until they feel as if they can silence
a Believer’s words.

Slaughter the lambs as it were.

There are many in the fold of the Faithful who have also come across these rabid foxes and
wolves…each on a daily basis…

Our dear Oneta over on Sweet Aroma became “embroiled” in my absence with a younger
whippersnapper on FB, who was bashing the social media of her day…
that being handwritten letters and autograph books.

Not one to be on FB, I don’t know the 1, 2, 3 of her tale but I have gleaned that
somehow the conversation turned,
or perhaps it was an entirely different conversation with an altogether different
commenter, but the gist was that Oneta challenged someone for stating that John McCain
was a traitor…she wanted documentation to back up that statement but
somehow it came across that Oneta was echoing that notion of McCain as traitor…
but the thing is, Oneta never said such.
She merely stated some negative observation against the dear senator while also wanting to
see documentation as to his acts of treason.
(see, I have no idea of how it went from social media to traitors)

Oneta responded that she had not labeled Sen. McCain a traitor but rather her
negative observations regarding the good senator could stand as negative without
her words being twisted around that she was now calling the senator a traitor.

I admire McCain as much as the next person for his service to our country and for being
an American war hero, but his time representing the Republican party in a strong positive
light is rapidly spiraling outward and downward as are all of his kith and kin of the
old guard on both sides of the aisle.
And last I checked, we are each entitled to our thoughts on the legendary senator along
with his colleagues…

Oneta is a positive and well-learned person who engages with a wide and diverse audience.
She is a woman of deep faith and conviction.
And one whom I greatly admire for her life lessons, knowledge and the teaching of that very wealth
of knowledge.

I don’t think Oneta would mind my sharing her observation.

“Just called it off with my FB “foe.”
It was fun.
You know I would enjoy that.
The issue was that someone posted that John McCain was a traitor.
I challenged by asking for documentation.
I couldn’t seem to get through to my responder that I was not calling McCain a traitor.
But I did have plenty of negative charges to pass on.
He said he was 56 and a history buff who had read three books about McCain.
I told him I was 84 and I didn’t need history. I lived it.
I would say we parted as almost friends.:D
Have a good rest, dear friend.”

Oneta is 84 and is not new to this world’s rodeo—she’s ridden her fair share of bronking
bucks and has lived to tell about it.

So to be silenced when it comes to God’s Truth and tenants or to be silenced when challenging
the observations of those who turn personal notions into sweeping accusations…
accusations which ring of falsehood…accusations without any sound basis…
well none of that is going to be happening around our tenacious little octagenarian who expects
nothing but the sound Truth…because there is no need to quibble over Truth.

And of course, we next have IB.

Insanity Bytes is a woman around my age who resides in what she likes to claim to be
the 9th circuit of hell…
or so I think it to be the 9th circuit as most of our current ‘circuits” are none too friendly
to certain political leanings nor to that of certain faith leanings these days…
so it’s not surprising that I can easily get my circuits confused.

IB actually seems to stay embroiled whether I’m around to
read about it or not…and she lives not only to tell about it but to actually
laugh about it all…like it or not she finds the last word and her last word is
build on that notion of Truth.

IB mixes it up with those who are unbelievers as well as many who actually confess
to be believers…it’s just that their beliefs are more of that rewritten Word business.

IB knows her stuff and isn’t afraid to say her peace…
a peace I might add that is steeped in that same unrelenting ancient Word of Truth that I was
talking about earlier.

And as for our friend the Wee Flea, Pastor David Roberston, notes in a recent posting on his blog
“Keep silent or speak out?” that…
“As an undershepherd of the Great Shepherd,
it is my job to counter such error and to protect the flock of God.”

Keep Silent….or Speak Out?k

David has been taking a really rough beating by the Scottish press as well as from
those progressive liberals and atheists who troll his blogs, his speaking engagements,
his magazine columns, etc.

And yet he does not waiver…never wavering from the Truth no matter how hard the beating.

Yet David has expressed his frustration and exasperation with what he sees playing out
against the Chruch from both within and without her sacred halls.

Of which brings us next to our good friend and rouge Anglican bishop, Gavin Ashenden—
a non-wavering soul who has also been lambasted for his firmly rooted stance within
the Word of God…a stance constantly hounded by the British liberal press.
Bishop Ashenden challenges the powers that be within the Anglican Chruch over their growing
acceptance of all things transgenderism as well as all things of homosexuality and the ever
growing liberal theology…The Chruch of England’s continuing push for the total acceptance
and teachings of all things that run counter to God’s Word.

In a recent offering on the latest edition of Anglican Unscripted, with the sad reporting of
a horrendous incident committed by a once beloved bishop along with the apparent cover-up from
a former Archbishop of Canterbury, the good bishop notes that “there must be a moral independence
of the Chruch such that She is to say to the State (the government at hand) that “you’re getting
it all wrong”—
yet sadly we are reminded that the Chruch of England and the State of the British Government
just happen to walk hand in hand without separation…so rather than holding each other accountable,
there is actually a deeply obvious collusion.

As I paraphrase the good bishop, he goes on to say, ‘if we set ourselves up as saints then
all is lost. But if we admit to being sinful creatures, the Lord can and will pick us up…
and it is in that picking up where Hope actually begins…

There is forgiveness but that forgiveness is predicated upon our asking for it and then admiting that
we must now live with the consequences of our actions…yet we will live with the knowledge of
redemption.

Naked disaster in the Church of England. Anglican Unscripted. IICSA, Carey & Ball.

And so I’ve found a rather interesting book that I’ve just ordered…
“The Cost of Our Silence: Consequences of Christians Taking the Path of Least Resistance”
by David Fiorazo.

This one excerpt grabbed me:
Christian in name only, America has become an epicenter for the culture war as too many of us
keep ducking the issue of sin.
Due to decades of Christians being silent,
failing to preach the gospel and speak the truth in love,
we’ve reached a tipping point in which political correctness refuses
to coexist with religious freedom.
Why do you think Christians who defend God’s Word are often called hateful,
intolerant, or judgmental?
There are consequences in this life and for eternity,
when Christians take the path of least resistance.
We cannot reverse the moral decline, but we can choose to stand for righteousness
as we pray for revival and be the salt and light Jesus called us to be while we’re still here.

Hide the light of Christ and retreat,
or let it shine and expose the darkness; live an inconsequential life,
or bear fruit that will last. If most Christians remain silent,
fewer people will be saved, society will collapse,
and we will continue to be part of the problem.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it best:
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.
God will not hold us guiltless…”

And so we are slowly learning the cost behind remaining silent in a
world that is so opposed to the Truth…
the cost is much greater than most of us are willing to imagine.
Yet thankfully there are those voices who continue speaking…refusing to be silenced.

And we are all the better for it.

Speak on…

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come.

John 16:13

the irony of the dog others just love to kick

And it’s bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Jim Croce — Bad Bad Leroy Brown


(some poor junkyard dog courtesy the web)

It may be a mangey ol good for nothing mongrel…but…
it’s your mangey good for nothing mongrel right??

One that you treat so terribly bad.

You bad mouth it,
you belittle it,
you kick at it…
but after all, it is yours to beat and berate right?

And well, you just don’t feel right about others kicking it to the curb do you?

So that’s pretty much the sense I got from reading the following article.

It’s an article focusing on the avowed demigod of all things atheistic, Richard Dawkins,
sounding the alarm over the demise of Christianity in Europe.

Could it be the ultimate oxymoron …an atheist troubled over the demise of Christianity!?

But there’s a catch.

“Not so fast,” he says…”Don’t rejoice over the seemingly impending doom of Christianity in
Europe” he exclaims…the open-ended question he offers…
what is it that could fill the void that would be worse…???

Islam.

Dawkins is referring to Islam…

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/03/22/atheist-richard-dawkins-warns-against-celebrating-alleged-demise-christianity-in-europe.html

How ironic that one of the most vocal opponents of Christianity would surprisingly
raise concern for something he’s spent his entire professional career demeaning,
despising and belittling—
warning others not to rejoice over what appears to be the demise of his arch nemesis…because
of that which could follow….would be a far more wicked foe…

Interestingly ironic….

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

Silence, authentic and evil

“The Islamic State’s genocide of Christians in the Middle East is well
documented. Yet this modern atrocity is often judged less newsworthy than the
jihadists’ destruction of the region’s cultural heritage. What are the roots
and human realities of this unfolding tragedy in the birthplace of three
great religions?”

back cover offering of the book The Last Christians by Fr Andreas Knapp


(one of our trees in last week’s snow / Julie Cook / 2017)

Speaking of books arriving via the post….
another bookmailer showed up in my mailbox yesterday…

Dare I say that this most recent book will take us in a vastly different
direction than the children’s book seen in yesterday’s post
If My Moon Was Your Sun by Andreas Steinhofel….
Not to say that there won’t be both poignancy, sorrow and loss…
but such will be on a scale that will touch all of us rather than some of us….

This recent book does not look to be an easy read.
Not that there should be great burdensome amount of academic depth but rather simply
the hard tale of human loss and suffering on an epic and historic proportion….
and yet mostly on an overlooked and even ignored level.

Of which is actually most perplexing given the significance of the situation.

The book is entitled The Last Christians by Andreas Knapp

“For a long time Christians in the Middle East have been condemned to silence.
For centuries they have been discriminated against by a predominantly Muslim
society and, as a minority, they have been forced to quietly accept
injustice and lead an inconspicuous life in the shadows.
Even I, a preist and theologian, was for a long time unaware of the moving story
of Christians in Syria and Iraq.

Two years ago, I met some Christians from the Middle East who now live in my
neighborhood of Grunau, in Leipzig, Germany. Having listened to their stories,
I was so moved I had to write them down.
They may not be entirely politically correct, but they are correct in
the sense that they are authentic.”

Fr Andrea Knapp

It is noted from the publisher that “remarkably, though these last Christians hold
no hope of ever returning to their homes, they also harbor no thirst for revenge.
Could it be that they–along with the Christians of the West, whose interest will
determine their fate–hold the key to breaking the cycle of violence in the region?

Their’s is a story that I have actually written about before…
around the same time Fr Knapp, the German priest,
came to see with his own eyes, then came to write down his interactions
and observations…
but yet this is a story that is still exceedingly timely and necessary to hear.

My origianal post is from March of 2015 and is more informative
than what is offered here today…as it includes a 60 Minutes segment in which
Lara Logan had also gone to visit the region in order to see and hear
first hand the plight of this particular group of ancient Christians.

The post offers images and insight into the barbarism used by ISIS to systematically annihilate this last vestige of the original Christians who have existed in this
region since both the death and resurrection of Christ.

Regarding the book…I have not yet had a chance to delve into it…
but from what I have gleaned from the tantalizing tidbits…
this will be not only a very important tale to Christians but also a hugely important
story for historians, Jews as well as Muslims…as it actually determines the course
of humanity.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/blood-of-the-lamb/

And perhaps ironically today, as I was thinking about these first Christians who are
lined up to be the last of their kind, I caught a very brief, like all of 2 minute,
video clip of an interview of sorts given by the Reformed Presbyterian Minister David Robertson—
a clip where he is responding to the question of
‘How does the existence of Evil undermine the atheistic worldview?

Pastor Robertson notes that in the mind of an atheist, the existence of Evil
is a clear sign that there is no God.
As they will rationalize that if there was a God,
He would in turn be all powerful and therefore He could and would prevent all Evil….
So since there is Evil, there is obviously no God.

Yet on the flip side of all of that is how then does the atheist define Evil
with no moral absolutes?
If there are no rules, no judgements, no afterlife, no God, no way of resolving
or dealing with Evil, how does the atheist actually deal with the concept of
evil in any sort of defining way.
The answer… He cannot.

So the non believer has a conundrum…with the mindset of ‘well, since there is no
God and Evil isn’t Evil, we might as well just live it up….

This as humankind wrestles with what to do about the historic and epic genocides…atrocities which have taken place throughout all of time.

And so you are now asking as to why I would write about such during this time of
Advent—a time of all things full of Expectancy, Anticipation and Christmas…
a time that is to be of softness, love and dare we say, hope…
Why should we worry ourselves over the ugliness of reality as those are problems
not on our particular or given radar—things that are happening over there some
place and out of sight.

Why write about the annihilation of Aramaic Christians, atheists and their fight for disbelief and the very concept of Evil….

‘Please not here, not now, not at Christmas…’ we are each heard to lament.

Well it actually is because it is Advent and the Christmas season that we should be
and need to be most mindful of such….

As those of us who confess to be Believers must not find ourselves falling
into the hole of secularism and the Societal notion of Christmas…
of which we have done.

This secular celebration of all things Christmas that is currently in all
its full glory and regalia is lulling us into a time of contented ignorant bliss.

And just as I reminded us in Tuesday’s Meat and Potatoes post….
this time of year is particularly very loud and very noisy…for a reason…

Do you not think that there is one who delights in the pure distraction
from what is to be our Truth?

Advent….
yes…
be ready,
be watching,
be waiting…
for there are epic things taking place all the while as we busy ourself with
the minutia of the moment while missing the importance of the day…

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.

Isaiah 14:12-15

bits and pieces

In designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences.
Pope John Paul II

You can’t sacrifice truth because some people will suffer because of the truth.
Ben Shapiro


(shelf fungus deep in the woods / Julie Cook / 2017)

Slowly a Nation is learning the bits and pieces of the unimaginable horrific puzzle that now makes up the small Texas town of Sutherland Springs.

A town shattered…along with families shattered…
as a Nation shatters just a little bit more.

The stories of a madman now percolate to the surface as fact is sifted from fiction.

People have raced to conclusions—be they true or false, mainly because people
want to validate their own thoughts, fears and notions of the hows and whys.

But as I said yesterday, the real how and why is simple.

Satan.

Satan, Evil, demons exist and it is all very much real…
all because you and I live in a fallen world.

So believe and argue as you may, there is no other rationale or
understandable explanation but for where we fall into the world of
the Creator as His created.

Evil is evil and will perpetuate itself throughout the course of all of time
while human beings walk this planet…until Salvation returns….

Yet people will blame everything and anything else, the this and that of things
because they refuse to accept that the root of all the blame is simply Evil’s
product…with that being hate.

Hate for people…
Hate for self.
Hate for God.

The Scottish Pastor David Robertson offered his own take yesterday in an article
written for Premiere Christianity:

In June 2015, when Dylan Roof, who was a militant racist, killed nine church members
in a church prayer meeting in Charleston South Carolina,
there was justified outrage which highlighted the continuing poison of racism in
US society and even led to the removal of several Confederate monuments throughout the nation.

So when a professed atheist goes into a church and kills 26 Christians,
why is that not even considered as a possible factor?
Where are the demands to remove all memorials of famous atheists?

….I have already seen several comments which mocked Christians who have prayed for the situation. “They were in church. They had the prayers shot right out of them. Maybe try something else.”
Even the BBC news report on it this evening signed off with a snide gibe that Americans seem to think the answer is in guns and God.

https://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/The-Texas-Christian-Massacre-and-the-man-who-committed-it

Hate.
It was a word growing up as children we were told never to use.
We were taught that ‘hate’ was not to be a part of our language,
let alone a thread in our fiber as a human being…
If you were good and decent, you didn’t hate…rather you cared for, you loved,
you were empathetic, you were compassionate…you were to be anything but ‘hate’

And yet we subconsciously saw and heard it in its nuanced guise hidden behind our
fears, phobias and our sense of both right and wrong…
and when those bad unimaginable things happened,
we allowed ourselves to finally speak and feel the full fury of the word..
as the full level of our hate was unleashed under our own sense of self righteous
indignation.

Just as we now see how easily it rolls out of our mouthes and emerges ever so freely
from our own actions.

As the one glaring fact remains…that hate indeed begets further hate.
As in a perpetual state of a hate filled continuum.
And it is a continuum that we have bought into and adopted as our own.

Yet our Faith constantly admonishes us…Do Not Hate.

But how hard, how difficult that all is when Evil kills children at point blank range.

My thoughts and tears are now there in Sutherland Springs for the Holcombe family
who lost 8 family members Sunday morning to Evil’s hate.

Sons, daughters, husbands, wives, unborn babies….all gone, all taken…
as prayers were being said and hymns had been sung.

In his book Lessons in Hope George Weigel shares the tale of his personal
time spent over the years with Pope John Paul II—
Weigel recounts the assassination attempt on the Pope’s life by the assasin Ali Agca.

“In salvation history—that inner core of world history in which God’s purposes are
worked out through the action of divine grace on individual lives—there are neither happenstance nor coincidences. Rather, what appears to be sheer happenstance or coincidence is an aspect of Providence we don’t yet grasp.”

So here we now are…feeling alone, vulnerable and reeling from what seems to be
an endless march of madness against humanity….
We are left grappling with our own emotions and fears and lack of security.
We are left struggling while sorting out our disbelief, denial, acceptance,
forgiveness and even our hate…

All the while we wrestle with what is to be our reaction to Satan

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.
For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen,
cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love
their brother and sister.

1 John 4:20-21

bitterness

“The fiercest anger of all, the most incurable,
Is that which rages in the place of dearest love.”

Euripides

“Up from behind a sand dune close beside her rose the form of her enemy Bitterness.
He did not come any nearer, having learned a little more prudence,
and was not going to make her call for the Shepherd if he could avoid it,
but simply stood and looked at her and laughed and laughed again,
the bitterest sound that Much-Afraid had heard in all her life.”

Hannah Hurnard, Hinds’ Feet on High Places


(image of wormwood)

Anyone who spends any amount of time in a car alone… commuting or traveling…
knows that such time is spent basically as a virtual prisoner of one’s car…
yet it is time spent providing one with ample time for thought and reflection.
That is if the radio isn’t blaring or you’re not jabbering on the phone.

Finding myself commuting to and from Dad’s these days….
Just one way I am alone in the car from anywhere from a little over an hour to upwards
to 4 hours and beyond given the happenstance of life on Atlanta’s interstates….
One little wreck or stall or the never ending construction projects…
and I can find myself with plenty of “alone” time in which to ponder, reflect or fret…

The other evening I found myself quickly playing catch up with some of
my favorite blogs.
One of my brother’s in Christ and his wife are currently in Israel.

This blogging friend has been dutifully posting pictures of his trip along with a bit
of historical commentary as time has allowed.
I’ve enjoyed playing virtual tourist as have others who read his blog.

Yet sadly there have been a few commentators who have been very negative and even critical
of my fiend’s trip….likening such a trip to Israel, Jerusalem in particular,
as a type of Disneyland experience.

Now I understand that any sort of historic tourist draw is going to have its fair share
of those hawking to make a fast buck made on the backs of unsuspecting tourists.
Think posing with Roman clad gladiators outside of Rome’s Colosseum…paying
upwards of 20 to 40 euros for a shot and you get the idea of money being made
at historical sites.

I experienced a very similar sordid encounter at another overtly tourist site
on a trip once to Pompeii.
Pompeii being the ancient Italian city, just outside of Naples, that was destroyed in the year
79 AD by a catastrophic eruption from the volcano Mt Vesuvius.
The city is frozen in time and is a sad and eerie testament to what it means living in the
shadow of a volcano…

Pompeii is an ongoing archaeological site as well as a protected and perseved historical site.
Buildings have been identified as various homes, governmental offices, stores….
as well as the identification of even a local brothel.
Pompeii was a port town and well, one has always heard about sailors on leave…

The brothel was readily identified because of the stone carved man’s genitalia placed above
the threshold of this particular building.
It seems that the locals now capitalizing on the universal interest in sex and so
replicas of this particular “carving” are for sale all over the area outside the city gates.
Think Disney and Mickey’s ear and Pompeii has, well, male body parts for sale.

So I get the whole Disney mentality of tourism…
But there was more to this viewer’s comments than that of causal observation…
as his comments actually turned bitterly hateful.

For you see, this particular blog visitor is an avowed nonbeliever.
He is not a stranger to my friend’s blog, my blog, nor others who profess to
be believing Christians.
It would probably be more accurate to note that this fellow is a former believer now
turned ardent atheist.

I don’t know much about him but that he enjoys taunting Christians.

His taunts on my friend’s site, concerning this trip to the Holy Land, actually
began to border on almost sick…even as he alluded off color to my friend’s wife.

So naturally when I found myself in my car, alone, I began to recall those vicious words,
as well as the words of those who did not care for this
“raining on the trip parade” as it were.
The volley of insults began bouncing back and forth…

What I do know is this man lost his father several years ago—
to cancer is my understanding.
That he was a believer and also what I understand was actually a minister.

I realize that by watching those we love who suffer,
grievously suffering in anguishing pain,
can certainly test and try the faith of the most ardent among us.
And I must confess that I’ve been known to raise my fist to God during the various trails
throughout the course of my own life… so I do not begrudge anyone those emotions
of sorrow and frustration associated with heartbreak and agony.

Yet as I ruminated over those rather wicked words…reflecting even on the tone
to which they were delivered…
only one word kept coming to mind…
bitterness.

Pure unadulterated bitterness.

Bitterness, according Merriam Webster, is a deep-seated ill will caused by anger,
distress or sorrow.
Chances are we have all experienced bitterness or its fist cousin resentment, at some
point during life.

Yet bitterness which is not eventually banished, takes root within one’s being…
Allowed to fester and ferment it is easily recognized.
It is highly unattractive and the outward seeping and spewing of bitterness,
which easily bubbles up to the surface,
is readily and regrettably tasted by any observer.

Bitterness creates an isolating barrier…
Repelling anyone who dares to offer an open hand.

Bitterness is not a welcomed human trait nor is it tolerated for long by others…
It becomes a never ending cycle of brokeness….
as bitterness simply begets more bitterness…

It seems to me that more often then not, non-belivers and bitterness
often walk hand in hand…
whereas the followers of Christ are grounded in what many note as
an unexplainable settled peace…

So as I continue my journey of commuting and ruminating,
I know my friend is throughly enjoying his trip, just we are…
those of us who are enjoying reading of his travels as we
enjoy being virtual tourists…

As one thing I have gleaned…there is certainly no time for bitterness when one is selflessly
sharing with ones friends…
Happy travels Wally….

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander,
along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32