spiritual abuse, double standards and changing times

“In a world of ‘safe spaces’ it appears that no space is safe.
So it was with interest and a degree of concern that I heard of a new term
about to be added to our legal vocabulary.
As well as sex abuse, child abuse, racial abuse, hate crime abuse,
emotional abuse, psychological abuse and domestic abuse,
we now have ‘spiritual abuse’ SA”

David Roberston on the Wee Flea


(a bumper sticker as seen from sitting in a parking lot/ Julie Cook / 2018)

“Mother, what are you doing?!”

“I’m taking a picture of that bumper sticker.”

“Mother, why are you taking a picture of that sticker?”

“I think I may want to use it in a post on the blog”

“MOTHER! NO!
Do Not Cause Trouble!”
Life isn’t that easy Mother, you can’t call people out like that!”

I’m not calling anybody out Son…nobody knows that car, where it is, who it is
or who you are for that matter.
I’m just wondering what would happen if I had the same sort of sticker on the back of
my car—something like…
‘Why Christianity.org”…Faith, Hope, Love…”

“Somebody would probably throw something at your car or slash your tires Mother.
And who says there isn’t already some sort of organization out there
pushing Christianity like that?
Mother why do you want to cause trouble?
This is not the same city you knew growing up.
Times are different…
Muslims recruit and you’re not supposed to be bothered by that.”

“Exactly.
I’m not supposed to be bothered by that, yet everyone would be bothered
if I was the one out recruiting for God and Jesus…
I’d be ridiculed, mocked or branded a homophobic, or NeoNazi or the racist…
the list goes on…
And I for one don’t like a double standard.”

He may be almost 30 but I can still sense the eyes rolling when he’s seated behind
me in the car.

After lunch, we’d run by the grocery store while his very pregnant wife ran into
the store to grab her last bottle of prenatal vitamins.
She’s decided to give up being pregnant for Lent.
The doctor told them that it’s any time now…
but if our little baby-to-be decides that the womb is a happier place,
they’ll induce next week.

I’m with her—the womb just might be a happier place!

And as sure as shootin’, there would be those who would jump on some sort of box
scolding me for actually really noticing the bumper sticker in question.
They’d tell me that “they”, whomever the “they” may be,
have just as much right to advertise, recruit and spread the love as anybody else…
that is…
all but for me…
the American Christian who doesn’t like a double standard.
Throw in my gender and ethnicity and we’ve got a real scandal on our hands.

And no, I’m not trying to cause trouble…
because I for one believe in our freedoms…
those very freedoms that men and woman have been dying for since before 1776.
Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from tyranny…and freedom from being
bullied because I will not hide that I am a Christian.

So yes I pretty much believe in freedom…
Yet I am discovering, each and every day, that that same notion of Freedom
does not apply to me as a Christian nor does it apply to Christianity as a whole.

Now we should all know that I really don’t care that a Muslim wants to put a bumper
sticker on a car.
Nor do I care if a non-Muslim wants to put a sticker about an Islamic organization on a car.
Just as I don’t care if a Jew, a Buddhist, a Pagan or even me, the Christian, puts a bumper
sticker on a car…becasue we are free to do so—I think we call that freedom of speech.
I’ve even seen offensive ‘F’ word bumper stickers that I find highly offensive…
but that whole freedom thing doesn’t give a didly that I’m offended.

What I do care about however is the growing contempt for Christianity.

So it should come as no surprise that today our friend the Wee Flea Scottish Pastor
writes a post about some new nonsense now out there being touted as “spiritual abuse”

Now when I think of “spiritual abuse” things like Scientology comes to mind.
Cults come to mind.

The sort of things my mother was always worried over when I was growing up.
Because I grew up during those late 60’s and 70’s–a time rife with movements and cults…
Think Charles Manson. Think David Koresh.

Kids were all the time running off to crazy places and things—
places and people who witnessed parents having to kidnap their own kids and
have them “deprogrammed.”
Things my parent’s generation were afraid of for their children, my generation…
just as I am now most worried about my grandchild growing up in a civilization where
Christians are now more globally persecuted than ever before,
while no one says a darn thing.

A bit tongue and cheek, a bit heavy-hearted, our Wee Flea friend lists the definition,
as he sees it, as to what Spiritual Abuse is all about…

What is Spiritual Abuse?

From my point of view those who take their stipends from the church but do not teach
what that church teaches are being spiritually abusive.
Those who manipulate in any unbiblical way are abusive.
Liberal theology is abusive.
Legalistic theology is abusive.
Most BBC religion I find to be quite manipulative and abusive.
Should they be prosecuted?
Should we ban Jehovah’s Witnesses?
The Mormons?
Catholics?
Anglicans?
And what about the dreadful Free Church of Scotland –
with all their ‘keeping the Lord’s day and refusing to work on Sunday’ nonsense….
is that not abusive?
What about the Baptists putting psychological pressure on people to almost drown them?
Or charismatics ‘laying on hands’ –
surely that sounds dodgy?
Almost anything or any group can be termed ‘abusive’.

The trouble is that the term ‘spiritual abuse’
(as opposed to emotional, physical and psychological abuse)
is so lacking in definition that you are going to end up with the government
telling us what is really spiritual and what isn’t.
Do we really want the government and lawyers determining theology?
How ironic that in the name of the secular state,
the separation between church and state will be broken down,
as the state starts telling the church what it should teach and do.
It will be the end of religious freedom in this country
(and given that religious liberty is the foundation stone of all freedom,
it will lead to the end of all freedom – as the authoritarian state,
led by the civic priesthood, determines all our thoughts, words and actions).

The Real Danger

Where this madness could lead was exemplified at the Anglican General Synod last week
where one member asked if the spouses of clergy who had had extra-marital affairs
could be described as ‘survivors of spiritual abuse’.

A Catholic woman could claim that she has been spiritually abused because the
Catholic Church does not allow her to become a priest.
Jayne Ozanne could claim spiritual abuse if Christian Today published an article
that upheld the biblical teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.
A child brought up in a Christian home could claim spiritual abuse because they
were made to go to church with their parents.
The list is endless.
And so are the dangers.
The bottom line is that, whatever the good intentions of some,
this is not primarily about stopping abuse or protecting children,
it is about using the danger of abuse in order to control and suppress.

The crime of spiritual abuse: One of the most dangerous ideas in decades

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil,
but living as servants of God.

1 Peter 2:15

Caritas

“Intelligence and love are not in separate compartments:
love is rich in intelligence and intelligence is full of love.”

Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth: Caritas in Veritate


(a modern day icon depicting Saints Benedict and his sister Scholastica)

Ok so if the truth be told, I have about 6 or so posts in the making just sitting in
the draft pile waiting for expansion and or completion.
Much like the pile of books that I keep accumulating…
the must-reads that must be prioritized…
add a heavy and liberal dose of life…
and thus so many good things are simply left hanging and or waiting…

But as I am a strong believer in the power of the Holy Spirit,
there will always be a good nudging or even a shove into the direction I need to go.

So since today (yesterday for those reading this as intended on Sunday)
February 10th is the feast day of St Scholastica.

“Who??” you’re probably asking…
We’ll get to her in a minute.

Sometimes I am so tired or weary when putting the finishing touches on a post
that in my strained eyed state, I’ll push publish rather than preview well before it’s time…
In turn, sending myself into a fit of near hysteria as I try to undo what I have
erroneously done lest anyone pop onto a half-finished and more ill edited post
than they should.

Add to my posting troubles that my favorite clerics,
all who oddly are each located on the Isle of Great Britain…
those being that delightfully rouge Anglican Bishop, that no-fuss,
no holds barred free Presbyterian Pastor and that rather conservative Orthodox Australian
Catholic monk stuck in the middle of the UK…
each has been serving up more than the ample plate of refreshing and deeply
heartening truths—all of which is making me run around like some sort of chicken
with my head cut off as I’m finding myself hard pressed just trying to keep up—
Trying to discern and pick what I must in turn digest and later share…

Father, or rather Dom, Hugh offers a most intriguing Latin-based themed post entitled
Contemplatio, Consideratio & Caritas—
or for us laymen, contemplation, consideration, and love, or charity,
whichever word you’d like to use.

Fr Hugh focuses in on St Benedict of Nursia and Benedict’s sister St Scholastica,
along with the power of prayer and what is the true nature of our actions and prayers.

St Benedict is considered to be the father of Western Monasticism and is the patron
Saint of Europe. A saint whose current job,
I would suspect, is quite busy given the growing secularism sweeping
across Europe but that’s a post for another day…
like I say, waiting in the queue.

This saintly brother-sister duo was born and raised in Itlay,
in what is modern-day Norcia, sometime
in the 5th century. Some historians believe the two had been twins,
others merely note them being merely brother and sister.

Benedict is probably best known for his Rule of Benedict.
A playbook of how to live…in a monastery….
but whereas it is most a relevant and practical book for those living a cloistered life,
it is also a book most relevant for those of us outside of the monastery.

This little book is still in huge demand and is widely read today.
In fact, many businesses have adopted Benedict’s Rule as part of a guiding
and directional tool for their employees.

The good Father relays the teaching found in the homily offered on the feast day
of St Scholastica during their morning mass.
Where the notion of Contemplatio, Consideratio & Caritas was put before the gathered monks.

The abbot offering the homily tries to explain the balance between body and soul,
prayer and our often misguided practicalities…

“Put another way, it is to apply the primacy of love to any situation;
not the schmaltzy love favoured in muzak, but the love of God and of our neighbour
as ourselves, seen in one harmonious whole.
A good example would be Our Lord’s healing on the Sabbath:
he did not devalue the sabbath but put it in a proper sense of proportion,
as being made for man not man for it.

The abbot shared a story about Benedict’s sister the nun coming for a visit to
her brother the monk.
Her brother met her at the gate. Benedict and a few of the brothers left the
walls of the monastery in order to visit and share a meal with Scholastica.

Scholastica was keen to spend the day with Benedict and his brothers,
sharing stories about God’s power and grace.

As evening fell, Benedict told his sister that he and his fellow brothers
needed to be getting back to their abbey as she must hers.
She implored him to stay that they still had much to share.
But he insisted that he must leave her.
At this point, Scholastica took her brother’s hands within her own and began to
earnestly beseech God to impress upon her brother the importance that he should stay,
even throughout the night, in order that they may share in God’s good word.

And so a storm suddenly ensued.
Benedict reprimands his sister “What have you done?”.
Scholastica replied, “I asked you and you would not listen;
so I asked my God and he did listen.
So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.”
The storm was beating down too hard for Benedict or his companions to return to
his monastery, and they spent the night in discussion.”

(solemncharge.com)

The storm had made it impossible for Benedict to take his leave back to the
abbey and in turn, he had to spend the remainder of the evening in his sister’s
company discussing God’s glory and wonderment.

Benedict felt that the rules of his order, that he and the others were bound to follow,
that their return to the abbey was far more important
then talking about God all night long with his sister.

Finally, as daylight arrived and the storm had abated, Scholastica bid her brother farewell
as they each retreated and made their individual ways back to their respective abbeys.

Three days later Scholastica died, and Benedict had a vision of Scholastica’s soul
ascending to heaven in the form of a dove.
He sent his fellow monks to retrieve her body to his monastery and they laid it
in his own tomb.
She died about the year 543.
Her feast day is February 10th.

(solemncharge.com)

Benedict later reflected that because his sister “loved” more in her prayer of pure
earnestness, her will prevailed over his idealism of practicality.
Think Martha and Mary.
For her prayer that night was one of the pureness of charity and of a deep abiding love
as she most likely realized that her time death was imminent—
and that to spend what time was remaining together was most important.

Dom Hugh notes that “if we truly have charity for even those who disagree with us,
who peddle a line that reeks of error,
then we will achieve far more by persuasion than intimidation.
The achievement might come in God’s good time rather than our own,
a salutary reminder that instant gratification is not of the Gospel.
A sense of proportion, a healthy discretion, will keep us to this way.
It is all there in the Tradition.

It is interesting to note that when dealing with sinners Jesus was mildness itself.
His more strident tone was reserved for those who should have known better
or thought they knew better.

Caritas indeed.

Contemplatio, consideratio & caritas

A place where everybody knows your name

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart,
and all they can do is stare blankly.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald


( the wall inside the Bull and Finch Pub in Boston that was the inspriation to the television
hit series Cheers / Julie Cook / 2014)

I’ve always considered myself a rather independent individual,
as well as one who relishes in the quiet of being”alone”…
yet for the notion of loneliness, I am, like most folks, not a fan.

I’ve spent most of my married life on my own—not so much because I wanted to
or because my husband was always traveling or in the military but rather because he’s
owned and run a smalltown family retail business for right at 50 years.

He has worked 6 days a week, often 12 or more hours a day, for most of his life…
and he was working in the family business long before I came along.
The Christmas holiday season saw that time of working up to 7 days a week
at 14 or more hours a day.

At first, this wasn’t an easy adjustment.

My dad, for most of my growing up, worked for the County–a 9 to 5 sort of dad.
At one point early in his life, he had been a traveling salesman for my
Grandfather’s company, but Dad had hated it.
Dad was more lazy than not, so the idea of being on the road 24 /7 was less than appealing.
So as soon as my Grandfather died at the young age of 67 in 1967,
my dad and his brother sold the family business and dad went to work as an engineer
for the Fulton County Health Department.

So I was used to a dad who got home at a reasonable hour for supper
and who was always home on weekends.

That was not the case for the man I married.
For he has worked more than he’s been home.

He carries a great deal of regret with all of this as far as our son’s growing up was
concerned–but I continue to reassure him that he did the best he could and managed to
squeeze in good quality time with our son when it was most needed.

And I too have rendered my time to the store, especially during the holidays—
but as a career educator and eventually both teacher and a mom, my own time was
equally filled. Yet it seems that the two of us have, more or less,
been more apart then together…

So I was intrigued this morning when I caught the title of our friend the Wee Flea,
Pastor David Robertson’s title to his latest blog post—
Loneliness-the cord of three strands- Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

The Cure for Loneliness – the Cord of Three Strands – (Ecclesiastes 4:7-12)

It seems that the idea of loneliness, as a rife problem, was recently noted in
a commissioned report produced regarding life in the UK…
and it is now seen as such a real problem that the UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May,
has just appointed a minister to be in charge of the UK’s problem of loneliness, having
named Tracey Crouch as the new Minister of Loneliness.

A rather interesting title…and I imagine there’s a song in there someplace…
such as the song ‘One is the Loneliest Number’ by the 70’s rock group, Three Dog Night,
which suddenly comes racing back into present-day focus.

Our Wee Flea friend notes that “according to the aforementioned Jo Cox report there are
9 million people in the UK who always, or mostly, feel lonely.
It’s a problem recognised in our media.
The long-running Australian soap reminds us of the importance of ‘good neighbours’
who become ‘good friends’.
Yet how many of us live in streets when we don’t even know the names of our neighbours
(other than when the Amazon parcel arrives),
never mind identify them as friends?
Likewise, Netflix has just introduced a new generation to the ever popular
Friends with its instantly recognisable theme tune, ‘I’ll be there for you’.
How many of us have friends who will be there for us?
How many of us have substituted the handful of friends that come from deep and
committed relationships, with the hundreds of online friends who mean virtually nothing?”

The long-running comedy series, Cheers was the show that first popped into
my mind when thinking of the notion of loneliness along with friends and family
being found is the some of the oddest of places.


(yours truly, along with the ever working husband who, on a business trip, found time
to go visit that place where everyone knows your name / 2014)

The story, if you recall, was set in Boston at a fictions pub named Cheers.
The actual real-life pub that was the inspiration for the TV show is named the
Bull and Finch; a Bostonian pub dating back merely to 1969.
The Bull and Finch is a much smaller place than the television version’s pub
known as Cheers–yet is set up in a rather similar fashion.

One does indeed descend down a small set of stairs from the street level while walking
into a more cramped, low ceilinged sort of tightly configured quasi-tavern.
The bar, however, is long and somewhat spacious. There is a bronze plaque screwed
to the end of the bar, commemorating the iconic seat reserved for the character Norm who
always appeared arriving at the bar after work.
He’d take his usual place at the end of the bar where he would receive his usual,
an icy cold mug of beer while he was often heard to lament about life with his wife who
was obviously home…alone.


(a plaque on the bar at the Bull and Finch Pub commemorating where Norm always
would sit / Julie Cook / 2014)

There is also a back set of stairs similar to the stairs in the TV show, that does lead up
to another restaurant, along with, of course, a Cheers gift shop.

This was a show about the lives of the hodgepodge mix of folks who were each connected
to the pub. From the bar owner, bartenders, barmaids down to the patrons–
and how they had all developed their own sort of close-knit family despite having lives
outside of the bar.

The bar was a place where regular patrons could come, having their very own seat…a place
where the bartenders knew what to serve without the patron ever having to say a word—
simply coming and sitting down said it all…as strangers each gravitated to
this nondescript little pub while eventually becoming most important one to another…
much like an extended family.

A place where everyone knew your name…your likes, your dislikes, your history,
your story, your ups, and your downs…

And whereas our friend the Wee Flee was drawn to the book of Ecclesiastes and the
pinning of a now wizened old king found in Solomon…

Ecclesiastes 4 deals with the oppressed having no comforter, a man without
the companionship of family and friends and a lonely king.
The early church had some quite fanciful interpretations of this passage.
Jerome, for example, saw in the three-fold cord the faith, hope, and love of 1 Corinthians.
Ambrose was more interesting – in speaking of Christ as the friend who sticks closer
than a brother he sees him as the one who lifts up the companion when he falls,
the one who warms, and the one who went from the prison to be a king.
He points us to the real solution for loneliness.

I myself seem to find much more comfort in those words and thoughts
offered by our friend St Ambrose rather than that wisdom uttered by the aging King Solomon.

That being the notion of Christ being closer to us than that of our very kin…

The fraternity of Christ, is closer than the fraternity of blood.”
He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.

And thus we find that it is in our very relationship with Christ in which our loneliness
dissipates as He and His very essence of being seeps in turn, into our very being,
filling every void and crack within often lonely lives.
Thus being truly the One who knows our name, our ups, our downs, our dislikes, our likes,
our best and our worst—staying right by our side despite what He knows about us
and sees—because He is us and we are Him…

Abide in me, and I in you.
John 15:4

Generational monkeys and angst, part deux

A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.
Proverbs 21:2

He took what is mine so that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.

St Ambrose


(a selfie taking Macaque at the center of a debate regarding images
and monkeys / wikipedia—why does he look like he’s missing the same tooth I just had pulled??? At least I’m crossing my fingers for the implant!)

As promised, our friend of Wee Flea fame, David Robertson is back with part II
of his takeaway from Rod Liddle’s book
Selfish Whining Monkeys, How we ended up greedy, narcissistic and unhappy

A cheeky book examining “our” generation—along with the hows and whys as to our
having totally careened out of control…
leaving the roadway, having crashed, rolling over and over…
as we are now slowly burning in the bushes.

As I mentioned yesterday, David reports that the book is not written by a Christian
nor is it directed toward a Christian audience as it is a tome laced with a rawness
along with a gracious offering of the F word…
yet David offers that once you look past the junk, the insight is actually
very telling.

And so David in his kindness has pulled out a top 25 highlight list that he has
graciously compiled on his blog for those of us who might not want to
actually, read the book.

1-13 was in his Part I post from yesterday, today he offers us Part II—
I’m just pulling out a few of the tidbits that sting me the most…

I’ll let you click the link at the bottom for the
full coup de grâce—-
Oh, and you do know what coup de grâce actually means don’t you???
It is the merciful death blow allowing the misery to end…
I fear we still have our fair share of suffering to endure…

14) The Uneducated Generation

“children are not, in general, capable of making sensible decisions which impact upon their future. They make decisions based upon the here and now. They are not old enough to take the long-term view.” Page 89.

“The children – the students – emerge, as a consequence, with a highly developed, perhaps unreal, sense of entitlement. They have not been corrected; they have instead been indulged. The world, later, will come as a shock to them, I think.” Page 93.

“It is the poorest kids who suffer most from this modernist approach to education. Middle-class children have the amenities, the infrastructure at home to compensate. The poorest kids depend upon school as their sole conduit of learning. A policy, or ideology, designed to improve the chances of the least well-off as had the results of penalizing them still further.” Page 94.

“British kids, then, are squeezed by ideologies from the left and the right. From the left: you are your own masters, sort out right from wrong and take no shit from supposed figures of authority. From the right: live, consume, die.” Page 96.

“We do not wish for them to be bored, of course, and we think that we can buy boredom from them with consumer durables, corporate entertainment and early evening courses in tae kwon do.”Page 97.

15) A Motherless Generation

“The children born in 1970 to working mothers were much more likely to fail educationally, more likely to be unemployed, more likely to suffer psychiatric problems or mental stress than those born to mums who stayed at home and looked after their children. Irritatingly, the amount of time a dad was at home with the kids mattered not one jot. It was the mother who was important.” Page 106.

16) The Unequal Generation

“Almost 70% of total national newspaper columnists went to fee-paying schools, whereas this gilded elite, this expensively educated, comprise just 7% of the population….. In fact, anywhere there is power, or dosh, the sons, and daughters of the wealthy predominate.” Page 118.

“Some 58% of those working in the law – rising to 80% when you get to High Court judges in the very top barristers – and 55% of senior civil servants. They also make up more than 60% of the top echelon of those in the City of London, some 70% of surgeons and consultants, and 55% of journalists,…… 80% of the very top jobs in society are held by people who went to private school.”Page 121.

“when I joined the BBC today programme at the end of the 1980s, I noticed very quickly that almost everyone else to work on it had been privately educated.” Page 125.

23) A Deluded Generation Enslaved by its own Freedom

“We have been led, since the middle of the 1980s, by an elite which increasingly bought into the secular social liberalism and moral relativism of the 1960s and the laissez-faire economics of the Chicago school. And while the rest of us followed along more or less willingly, it was the Metropolitan bourgeoisie that gained the most.” Page 230.

“As we always will, we did what we thought we could get away with. Now it transpired that we could get away with an awful lot; we could get away with stuff we hadn’t dreamed of before. The thought that along the way we got rid of those controls that made our life more pleasant, more coherent, better for children, more peaceable and communitarian, did not seem to occur. We thought we liked this new way we were, these new deregulated humans, fearful of nothing but I think that we have deluded ourselves. We filled our boots and deluded ourselves.” Page 231.

And so I will leave you to go over to the Wee Flea in order to peruse the remaining
nuggets which David has pulled out of Mr. Liddle’s book—of which just so
happens to all thankfully be the ‘G’ version versus the ‘M’ version
in the actual book—-with ‘M’ standing for mature—

As I am certainly a “mature” individual…I just happen to prefer to read, hear,
digest that which is not so crass nor crude…

Now if I could just work on our President’s choices…

Selfish Whining Monkeys – Part 2

Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
I instruct you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.

Proverbs 4:10-13

atheists ain’t got no songs…..

Do not be afraid.
Do not be satisfied with mediocrity.
Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

John Paul II


(Steve Martin appearing on David Lettermen singing Atheists ain’t got no song / 2011)

When I scanned my emails and saw that I had a notice of a new posting
from a blog I follow, I opted to investigate a bit further—

I realized there was actually a videoclip in the posting that was sitting at
roughly 42 minutes…
I wasn’t really certain I wanted to be contained for almost three quarters of an hour watching a videoclip in the middle of the day.

There were things to do.

How could I justify sitting at the kitchen table watching a video clip for nearly 45 minutes….what about the cleaning, the wash, the filing, the bills, the shrimp…
the shrimp that needed deveining for this evening’s supper….???

I am a person who isn’t one to sit around.
I am a doer and constantly moving about…as something always needs tending to.
Sitting in the middle of the day, listening and watching a videoclip is a little
hard for me to justify

45 minutes, really??!!

Yet I was curious.
And I also do quote this man all the time.

I am constantly offering this man’s teachings, his preachings, his defenses,
his proclamations…to you…and so do I not owe it to you to really
know a bit more about him????

Of course I do.
If one wants to be truly credible, one must invest time and understanding
before sharing.

Yet I’m not Scottish…well that is… not me exactly but in heritage, yes.
I’m certainly not a Presbyterian nor am I an Evangelical…
I’m still an Episcopalian by name…but just one who happens to no longer
agree with the direction of the Episcopal Church.

What I am is a conservative Christian who believes in the importance of
spreading the word about God, Jesus, sin, death, life and salvation….

So perhaps I needed to invest the time.
Something was nagging at me to give it a look.

I clicked on the video and after about 2 minutes in, I stopped it.
I knew I needed a pen and paper as there was much to be writing down.

David Robertson, the Reformed Presbyterian Minister who heads St. Peter’s Church
in Dundee, Scotland had posted his latest blog post in which he was offering
a videoclip from address given in 2010 for the Christian organization that he
is apart of, SOLAS.
And despite the videoclip being nearly 8 years old,
David had stated that if one really wanted to understand what he was about,
this was probably the best explanation.

The Christian group there in Dundee named SOLAS—was something I really had no idea
about or what it was, I just knew it was something he had his hand in…
but now know—
Solas is a Gaelic word meaning Light—and that Light is the Light of Jesus Christ….

If you visit my world here often, you hear much reference to David.
I found him via this little blog world of ours.
And when I read the things he was writing on his Wee Flea blog, I found myself
most often in total agreement, not all the time mind you, but most of the time as
I’d find myself nodding and offering a silent “Amen”

And as I don’t always agree with everything…
I’ve yet to meet a Christian who is usually 100% with another Christian—
heck most folks find something to disagree over with their own priests, pastors or minister. I don’t know any Christians who totally agree with
each and everyone’s doctrines or denominational background…but at the end of the day
if the bottom line is Jesus Christ for each of us then that is truly our common ground.

Doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic or Baptist, Pentecostal or Greek Orthodox…
if Jesus Christ…His birth, his life, his ministry, his death, his resurrection
is the chief cornerstone in your life—then we are all on the same page.

I had not read any of David’s books.
I hadn’t even heard of him before…but it seems he was pretty famous for
having debated and besting the avowed Atheist Richard Dawkins.

He even went on to write a book that acted as a Christian follow-up to
Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion.

So today’s videoclip, which I’ve attached below was indeed enlightening.

It made me think of Wally’s little meme and comment yesterday which was
“If somebody took a poll of 10 of your acquaintances and asked them the most
notable thing about you, how many of them would say:
“Oh they really love Jesus!?”

(https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com)

This really made me think.
I told Wally I’d probably get “good wife, good mom, good cook,
good teacher’…..but would anyone start with the fact that I do love Jesus,
proclaim Him as my Salvation…have I simply done that more inwardly and
just for self….??
I wasn’t sure I could answer that “thought” and even told Wally I
had been given much to ponder.

I will spend some time over the next couple of days focusing in on some of the key
thoughts I took away from watching David’s video.

He did offer something rather hilarious and that was a mention of Steve Martin singing
the song Atheists ain’t got no songs.
He said if you’d not heard it or seen it, google
it, it was worth the look….and it was!

It was a clip from a David Lettermen show and in true Steve Martin form,
it is hysterical while ringing of so much truth…

I don’t know about Steve Martin’s religious beliefs but I think he leans
toward agnosticism….but no matter, as I thoroughly enjoyed the song…
I think you will too

Plus—do yourself a favor, carve out the roughly 42 minutes to listen to David’s
address.

It matters not that his focus is the Church there in Scotland.
Scotland has a rich Christian history—and was once the loudest Evangelistic voices
in most of the world…but then something happened…just as it is happening here
in the US.

It matters not that you may be Lutheran, Anglican, Southern Baptist, Methodist,
etc…the message is the same.

And I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again…it was a quote from the
former Anglican Bishop Gavin Ashenden,
“It is the secular culture that is attracting many believers”—as more and more
people leave the Church, preferring the worship at the altar of the worldly….

There was a time when my mom, God rest her soul…my quiet, shy and very Episcopalian
mom would have warned me not to be talking about such…I wouldn’t want folks to think
I was some sort of nut, religious fanatic or “Jesus freak” or God forbid,
part of a cult…
but I would have to now say to mother, what better time then now Mom?
What better time than now….?

Give me Scotland or I die

Crystal ball gazing

“If it is hard to make predictions about what the year ahead holds for society,
it is doubly difficult to predict what will happen to the Church.
It’s not just that we suffer the vagaries of all human sinners and societies,
but the Holy Spirit will not be restricted to our timetables and limited visions.
Imagine being a disciple of Jesus after the crucifixion and before the
day of Pentecost – who could have foreseen what would happen?”

David Robertson


(Wizard of Oz / 1939)

Oh hear the wistful sighs…..

Ode that we could somehow take a peak, a gander or even predict….the future…
Ours, others, the world’s….
All whilst gazing into our very own all seeing and all knowing crystal balls.

We humans, particularly as we have advanced in areas of all things scientific,
communication and technological, have grown, over the past couple of centuries,
increasingly frustrated when we can’t see how it’s all going to go, going to be,
or going to end…

And despite saying we aren’t ones to sneak a peak at how the book or the
story will end, deep down, we all really want to know…

Perhaps it is the odd peace in knowing… or perhaps more aptly,
it is a peace in accepting, that which is to be….
For the lack of not knowing eats away at us more than the actual knowing.

We want that total knowledge and peace that everyone is going to
live happily ever after…
And if that’s not to be the case..then by George, we will do something about it…
because that who we are and how we operate, we do something about it, or we
get those who can do, to do…..

We prefer to leave nothing to chance because if we ‘know’ we can therefore control;
and if we can control, we can therefore orchestrate; if we can orchestrate,
we can therefore be in charge…

Becoming the masters of our own ships, our own destinies and our own souls!
In essence becoming our our demigod.

In the mid 19th century in Victorian England there was a huge rise in public
interest in occultism and spiritualism…
but not exactly for that of Christian spiritualism.

In his article The Victorian Supernatural, Roger Luckhurst notes that
the 19th century is routinely thought about as the era of secularisation,
a period when the disciplines and institutions of modern science were founded
and cultural authority shifted from traditional authority of religion to
explanation through the scientific exposition of natural laws.
The sociologist Max Weber spoke about this process as the disenchantment
of the world.

Yet he goes on to note that “while we might still accept the broad brush strokes of this story, the Victorian period is also of course a period of deep
and sustained religious revival.
There was an evangelical revival in the Christian church but also a host
of dissenting, heterodox and millenarian cults.
It was a golden age of belief in supernatural forces and energies,
ghost stories, weird transmissions and spooky phenomena.
For a long time historians ignored these beliefs as embarrassing errors or
eccentricities, signs of the perturbations produced by the speed of cultural change.

Roger Luckhurst who is Professor of Modern Literature at Birkbeck College,
University of London goes on to note, that in the turbulent,
revolutionary year of 1848, a new religious movement emerged from the melting pot
of upstate New York.
The young Fox sisters had claimed to have come into contact with the
unquiet spirit of a murdered man in their house,
who communicated with them by loud knocks on wood.
This very local sensation (later shown to be a fraud)
was the origin point for the Spiritualist movement,
which elaborated a method of communicating with the dead in séances through mediums. Mediums were often women because they were deemed to have more delicate,
sensitive nervous systems than men.

Men who were mediums – such as the famous D D Home who so enraged Robert Browning
that he was the source for his poem ‘Mr Sludge’ –
were often abjected and despised.

Although communication with spirits was strictly forbidden in the Bible,
this became a popular form of dissenting belief, a ‘proof’ of the survival
of bodily death in an era that demanded empirical testing and experiment.
The spirits would exchange banal but comforting messages with loved ones;
some would elaborate extensively on the social and political institutions
of the afterlife, called Summerland by some.

So as we consider the thoughts of one historian’s observation,
or better yet his little explanation into this lasting fascination of humankind
with its endless quest of being able to reach the other side, see beyond today,
desiring to know how the ending will be…there remains that single notion—
the “demanded of empirical testing and experiment….
i.e.the knowledge of the truth.

But what truth is that?

As we are reminded of a similar resigned and rhetorical
question, uttered nearly two millennium ago by a weary Pontius Pilate
“What is truth”
….as man is still hounded by that very query, despite having been offered
the most sound statement of Truth itself that very day….

And so our friend the Scottish Pastor and Wee Flea blogger gives his own
take of what 2018 might just be holding in store for those who are curious
or perhaps even worried about such.

Yet we must note that Pastor Robertson’s “predictions” are not those based on
Mediums and Occultism nor of séances, Ouija boards or even crystal balls….
but rather his thinking is based of keen observation, historical observations,
insight into the human psyche as well as a heavy dose of Biblical study
and of course always prayer…..

For an article in Christian Today, the good Pastor offered his
“10 prophesies for the Church in 2018

(see link: https://theweeflea.com/2018/01/02/10-prophecies-for-the-church-in-2018/)

And it is with keen interest that I pay particular attention to number three
as it addresses life on this side of the pond….

3.The American church will continue to fracture and decline as the word
‘evangelical’ becomes even more meaningless.

The American church is rich and powerful and has need of everything.
Whilst J I Packers’ quip that the US church is
‘3,000 miles wide and one inch deep’ may have been unfair,
it is nonetheless the case that whilst there are vast resources in the US church
(people, money, gifts) there is a danger it could implode.

This is especially true in the evangelical church where the word
evangelical has become increasingly meaningless.

‘White evangelicals’ who don’t go to church and don’t believe
(according to one survey) 60% of the basic Christian doctrines can hardly be called evangelical. And yet everyone wants to be called an evangelical
(or ‘post evangelical’ if you want to be cool).

On the other hand the heirs of 19th Century Protestant liberalism are 21st
Century liberals like Brian McLaren, Rob Bell and Steve Chalke,
who use the language of evangelicalism but give it a completely different meaning.
Such a church cannot survive. And does not deserve to survive.

As this thought reminds me of the words by Bishop Gavin Ashenden,
“our secular culture is attracting many believers…..”

And whereas none of us actually have a true working crystal ball,
allowing us to see into let alone accurately predict what may come…
And whether we agree or not or even like to consider such ominous words
of a murky future…there does remain,
as the good Wee Flea reminds the Faithful, always hope.

Because that is but one thing that remains forever unchanged…..
the Truth of God and His Word.

He was, He is and He will always be—

And it is in that simple fact, that we may rest—

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God,
mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

Deuteronomy 10:17

what’s really real anymore?

“It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it;
but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal
which have been instilled into them,
and each time they come in contact with the real,
they are bruised and wounded…”

W. Somerset Maugham

Between the books I’m reading, the barrage of breaking “news” stories,
our caustic and even catastrophic political world..add to that those issues that
scream for our attention yet go woefully ignored….
throw in a good dose of life, seasoned with “this time of year”…
and something or maybe everything is leaving me a bit unsettled..

By all outward appearances I am going through all the proper motions…
I am saying all the right things while doing all the necessary things.
Nothing would lead anyone to suspect that anything was awry.
And yet something unseen continues to pull at my sleeve as I unconsciously try
pulling back….such that the unconscious is almost becoming conscious.

Am I just becoming Ebenezer?
Perhaps more Grinch than Scrooge?
Or am I simply now jaded beyond repair?

After thinking about the two posts I wrote earlier this week—
the first being about meat and potatoes vs purposeful yet empty noise and distraction….
with the second tale being about of the continuing saga of the annihilation of
the oldest, as in the very first group of collective Christians, I have found myself wrestling with what it is that we think we’re passing off as Christmas.

Whoa.
Sacred cow now being looked at sideways…

I’ve allowed this thought to ruminate as I’ve chewed the cud over it.

Christmas is for children….that is a certain absolute..as in for sure.
And I have loved Christmas–both past and present as I anxiously await
sharing it with a new granddaughter next year…..
but…..

Christmas, for me and mine, has basically been a joyous time of melding
tradition and custom with Biblical teaching.

But something is starting to really trouble me….
There are…
Advent wreathes with the lighting of candles while there are “Advent” calendars
counting down the days until Christmas—with more and more equating simply to
good food, family and presents…..

There is…
Santa Claus Christmas
and there is….
Jesus Christmas.

Hummmm….

I have Jewish friends who have decorated Christmas trees, stockings on their mantles,
a menorah in the kitchen as they take the kids to Santa for pictures
and wrap up gifts and goodies in red and green paper to nestle under the tree.

I know nonbelievers who have decorated Christmas trees, stockings on their mantles
and presents wrapped in red and green under the tree…as their children, along with
those Jewish children, leave out cookies and milk for Santa.

Christmas.

Expectation verses Expectancy
Lights verses Light.
Gifts verses Giving…

Has it all gone too far?
Have we allowed it to go too far?
Have we been sucked into a lie?

I think that which is tugging at my sleeve is the Holy Spirit Himself.
I am being reminded that what I’m seeing as Christmas has nothing to do with
Christ’s Mass….nothing to do with the expectant waiting of the birth of Salvation.

And so I wrestle—where do we as Believers now draw the line?

Do we do so silently…or…a bit more loudly?
Loudly as in no longer just riding merrily along in the sleigh with everyone else
jing jing jingling into the oblivion of Currier and Ives… or rather do we say
a collective “hold up”…

First and foremost Christmas is about one thing…and one thing only….
and that is the birth of Christ…
So don’t try to pass this societal thing you’ve created off as anything
other than secularism masquerading as the Christmas of Christ.
You want your Yuletide but you don’t want the Christians to have their
Christ’s Mass…
You want your goodies and your holidays but you don’t want to acknowledge the
Savior of all mankind…..

And so while wrestling with this gnawing notion rolling around in my thoughts
and heart, I caught the latest offering by the Wee Flea Pastor
David Robertson….talk about reading my mind…

It is the tale of fake news verses real news…..

Is Christmas Christian?
….But what about as a Christian festival?
It can be argued that Christmas becoming a secular/pagan festival is just
returning to its pagan roots.
It was the Church that took over the midwinter festival and turned it into a
celebration of the birth of Jesus
(who was not born on December the 25th – more likely to have been a day in April).
Was this a bad thing?
Some of our ancestors thought so –
and famously refused to celebrate Christmas.
Even in living memory there are those who can recall Christmas just being a
normal working day – with New Year being the main festival.
Most Free Churches still do not have a Christmas Day service
(unless it is on a Sunday) but we do have a New Years Day.

It’s not wrong to celebrate Christmas,
and its not wrong not to celebrate.
Let each be persuaded in their own minds.
What however is wrong is to turn the birth of Jesus Christ,
into an orgy of commercialism, greed and drunkenness.
The idea that people will get themselves into enormous debt to buy things
they don’t need in order to celebrate the birth of the one who though he was rich,
yet became poor, for our sakes, is grotesque.

We are able to use our building to proclaim the good news of Jesus,
as opposed to the ‘fake news’ of the secular Christmas.
In that respect I love what the angels told the shepherds as they looked
after their flocks
“Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will bring great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David,
a Saviour has been born to you.;
he is the Messiah, the Lord”
.
(Luke 2:10-11).

Great Joy for all the People – The Christmas Record