Hypocrisy

I recently reviewed several stories, studies, and presentations about Mount St. Helens since its eruption in 1980, the largest natural disaster in United States history to date. At the time, the talking heads and experts said the devastation to the ecology was so severe that it would most likely never recover.

The year 2020 marks the fortieth anniversary of the cataclysm and the experts were amazed to the extent of awe and wonder because of the exponential development and restoration of the natural splendor found around the active volcano; something that was extremely unfathomable in the Nineteen-Eighties. But nature proved it would rebound despite the prognostications. Nature and God, who created it.

Mount St. Helens presents a quandary for evolutionary humanists. The scientists agree that as powerful as the eruption was, Mount St. Helens (MSH) was tiny in comparison to others, historically and currently. The potency was so terrible that all life was destroyed and feared never to return. But, we were led to believe that a catastrophic event, purported to be billions of times worse, called the Big Bang, brought forth into existence all of the known universe, including our own galaxy. The intense heat of the earth’s primal formation coagulated to form a magma globule with all of the prerequisite elements necessary to lay the foundation for life over billions of years. Yet the experts told us that MSH would not afford the same kinds of odds even though its magnitude was infinitesimally smaller than the Big Bang.

Within a year of the eruption, new life began to spring up from the newly laid topsoil. Significantly, the heat of the lava and pyroplastic flow was not hot enough to destroy the seeds embedded within and prevent them from germinating. When the new plant life had time to proliferate, other critters, terranean and subterranean, were drawn to the new life spawning where life was deemed uninhabitable. Strangely, many creatures, mostly aquatic, survived the volcanic aftermath because it was winter when it happened and they had been in hibernation. Those that survived adapted to the changed environment.

Two lakes and a river were drastically altered.

Two government agencies had two opposite approaches to the dilemma regarding how to manage the new landscape. One called for a “hands off” approach while the other determined to take preemptive measures to prevent further catastrophes. Neither had the foresight to properly address the potentialities. Both played their parts in contributing to unintended consequences, assuming the best of intentions.

Proponents of the “hands off” approach wanted to study how nature would respond to the challenge. They unwisely chose not to allow the logging industry to harvest the millions of fallen trees or to remove the logs from Spirit Lake. The fallen trees presented future wild fire threats. The log mat on Spirit Lake prevented new life to develop in that part of the lake and cluttered the banks near the drainage tunnel the Army Corp of Engineers built. The other agency decided to plant pine trees and non-native grasses. Unfortunately, according to one government agency, an unknown source transplanted trout into Spirit Lake which upset the natural course of recovery, but it gave them an opportunity to research the fish with astonishing results.

One positive outcome from not removing the logs from the lake proved how trees could be buried upright with multiple layers of sediment reminiscent of similar phenomenon globally that defy the evolutionary presuppositions and give credence to the proposition espoused by Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents.

There is also the problem of the Toutle River Watershed. The river rerouted itself after its original course was blocked by sediment. The interventionists decided it was a good idea to counter the natural occurrence by strategically placing upright logs, forcing the flow onto its original course.

Whether right or wrong to intervene or not, it is peculiar that when government agencies want to engage in terraforming of magnitude, then they go right ahead without regard to the consequences. But if a private individual wants to improve the use of their property, they are either prohibited (in the name of protecting the environment or ecosystem) or they must go through the labyrinth of bureaucracy and at exorbitant costs because of burdensome regulations.

There is one more story I’d like to share.

I saw a news story about a teacher who duct taped a student’s mouth as a form of discipline because the little girl was being disruptive. Now substitute the duct tape with a face mask. The teacher will most likely be fired for the unnecessarily abusive tactic of using duct tape, and rightly so. She’ll probably be charged with child abuse, assault and battery, among other offences. But the same teacher would be commended if she had applied a face mask to the child by force. The only difference isn’t methodology, but the choice of medium.

The height of hypocrisy know no bounds. There is no consistency to the extent people want to justify themselves even if it means they contradict themselves in the process.

America: The Parable of the Good and Bad Seeds

We are living in an unprecedented time of American, world, and Christian history, and the three are intertwined. From ancient history and on, America would play a pivotal role in the world, long before the world recognized the continent that would come to be known as North America.

There are many ways we can view history.

Shakespeare, in As You Like It, expressed it this way:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
https://www.nosweatshakespeare.com/quotes/famous-shakespeare-quotes/all-the-worlds-a-stage-quote/

Draw your attention to the first four stanzas.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts
,”

The nations of the world are like the mere players, except on a larger scale.

According to the Bible, Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith.” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews%2012:2&version=KJV

It also says, “The king’s heart is in the hands of the Lord.” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+21%3A1&version=KJV

I have taken liberty to loosely paraphrase it differently, “The hearts of the kings are in the Lord’s hands, and he will do with them as it pleases him.”

Over time, God prepared the land, and the people who would eventually inhabit it (not exclusively to Europeans). The intricacies of God’s handiwork can simply be compared to writing a book (and he does have A Book and Many Other Books), with each book containing many chapters. In each chapter, God introduces a variety of characters, living epistles, or little stories, as it were. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Corinthians%203%3A1-3&version=KJV

Those intricacies had to take a certain course that fit within the framework of God’s overarching will, or story. Epic is probably a better word for it. When it was the appropriate time, God wrought a work in the hearts of kings and minor players, alike, to contribute their roles in accomplishing what he wanted to achieve.

Then something unique happened in world history, the creation, or birth, of the United States. That birth came with all of the pangs of a woman in labor. However, there was an enemy, who like a great serpent, awaited to devour the newborn. Yet the newborn was delivered, for a season. The enemy saw he could not defeat God’s designs with blunt force, so he resorted to more subtle ways.

Like the Garden, east of Eden, so was America, beautiful and pristine; virgin territory. It had offered a New Beginning to the world and beckoned welcome. Without a true name, God knew it, Christians, as flawed as they may have been, believed they could escape the ravishes of the Old World and live in a paradise and give the New World a name that would be a beacon light and hope to the rest of the globe. But like the parable of the farmer, who planted good seed in the field, and the enemy planted the tares, so, too, did the enemy to what God planted in America.

In Jesus’ parable, the wheat and the tares grew together until the harvest time, then afterword they would be separated and the tares would be destroyed by fire. In the time we are in now, we are beginning to see the good fruit (wheat) and the bad fruit (tares) that had been sown in the American field. How long will it be until the actual harvest? That I don’t know. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+13%3A24-30&version=AKJV

We await to see how God’s Book concludes (as we see it from the reader’s point of view) knowing he will not disappoint our expectations. Like a good author, he has foreshadowed things to come, and as Jesus said, “Let him who has eyes to see, let him see.” America has it’s role to play and we have our part in it. We are all living in a parable, an object lesson. As the Apostle said, the scriptures, were written for our examples to learn from. The scriptures, we are told, were written by holy men, and that the scriptures, as well as the holy men, were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Not one punctuation mark will be voided and God will finish what he began. Or perhaps, we may view it this way: Jesus said, “It is finished.” Maybe we are witnessing the curtain being raised to the final act of the play God set into motion so long ago?

There are a flood of Bible verses that come to mind which are relevant, but I honestly don’t want to make this any longer than it is already.

But I would like to conclude by saying that we must try the best we can to understand what we are witnessing through the eyes of the Author. There is another who has from the beginning tried to wrest the control of the narrative from the Author of this Great Book, and who has pawned off a counterfeit copy as the authorized version; but it’s not. It’s an unauthorized book with all of the material stolen from it’s original source, which is copyrighted in Heaven.

As for America, it has two destinies. It has two authors. It has wheat and it has tares. Now we will hopefully understand the full scope of the Author’s Original Intent of the story he’s written as its ending is revealed.

Faith Amidst Crisis

I haven’t written for a long time, mostly because I didn’t want to write for the sake of writing, trying to appear more intellectual than I am. I also haven’t written for this duration because current events avalanched faster than I could collect my thoughts to put it all down in type; my mind was whiplashed by the surrealism of it all. It didn’t help to second guess if anything I discussed was impactful upon the readers.

What is apparent is the prevalent spirit of fear being thrust upon the world over the disputed threat of the virus that has caused otherwise rational people to become psychologically unhinged to violent degrees. The subsequent suicides and other forms of despair, because of the hopelessness and helplessness enveloping the weaker constitutions of people who cannot cope with the stresses involved, are harbingers of things to come if we don’t collect ourselves and face our supposed fears.

The abruptness of the current crisis has taken me aback to some measure because I long expected a crisis to occur, but not in the manner it has appeared, nor of its projected timing. Particularly dismaying is the level of deception that has impressed the world that should otherwise be as believable as a bad magician whose every move can be clearly evident to even a child.

I realize there are multilayered factors playing into the crisis beyond the much discussed Coronavirus and its derivative effects. Unfortunately for the average person, the fear factor is the preoccupying feature they are fixated on that distracts them from more consequential dilemmas. As such, it’s very difficult to reason with people who are irrationally fixated on a hyper-inflated, manufactured, and self-inflicted paranoia, and anyone who refuses to capitulate to their mass-psychosis is branded with the Scarlet Letter of public shame for having the tenacity to be a critical thinker; which ironically, is what they are taught to be from grade school to post-graduate school.

Let me flesh out a different, but relevant thought.

There is a great spiritual battle taking place. Not that it hasn’t been before, but the intensity of it is exponentially powerful to the degree that humanity is being pressed heavily under its weight and is causing everyone to take notice and to take pronounced stances they would have otherwise suppressed, rationalized, or eschewed. There is no escaping awareness. Cognitive dissonance is a problem, but part of that can be attributed to willful ignorance. By pretending something doesn’t exist, or hoping that it will just go away, won’t alleviate the discomfort or pain we’ll inevitably experience. We are all going through this together, but how we manage it, and how we deal with each other, will determine the short-term outcomes.

Admittedly, one of the obstacles I’m confronted with is growing in grace and expressing that grace appropriately with people who are panicked over the seemingly insurmountable chaos and confusion unfolding before our eyes without a logical solution in the near future, except to succumb to the demands of would-be authoritarians and despots, who would drain us of all freedom: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, unto the point where we are absolutely exhausted and without recourse; forever resigned to abject servitude and everlasting chains.

These are the dreaded times I had hoped would never rear its ugly head. But, alas, it is here.

I have to interject, however, that while we all struggle with the cascading turmoil and tribulations, we must be reminded that God has sent us his Comforter, the Holy Spirit. We are promised that God will never leave us nor forsake us. It’s not always easy to hang in there, but Jesus is Faithful and True, even when we feel weak and waver. I speak this to myself, as well as to you.

God has said that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. It is so easy for us to be distracted by the commotion around us, listening to the thousands of voices and white noise confronting us daily, not to mention the blitzkrieg of attacks against our sanity. But we must for dear life cling ever more so to Jesus.

The devil is a liar, a deceiver, a thief, a murderer; the author of chaos; he has come to steal, kill, and destroy. But the Good News is that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. And Jesus said that the work of God is for us to believe on Jesus, whom God sent. We have a hope, but it is a hope hard won. Jesus said that God’s Kingdom is taken by force. We are comforted in knowing that the battle belongs to the Lord, but that doesn’t excuse us from the field of battle because our faith must be tried. As the Apostle said, our faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

As hard as it is, we cannot live in fear. God is love and perfect love casts out all fear. If we live in fear, then we don’t live in faith; and if we don’t live in faith, then that is sin. But it is not our faith that we exercise, but the faith of Jesus Christ that operates within us.

I read the stories, and hear the testimonies, of the saints living today in the world, as well as those who have gone on before us, such as those mentioned in Martyrs Mirror, who have had to endure terrible hardships and suffered great losses, if not their lives, for believing in Jesus or for the righteous acts of faithfulness. When their stories are shared, I can’t fathom the depths of depravity exhibited by the workers of evil against those beautiful souls whom God loves and cherishes dearly. The horrors God must witness throughout history are beyond comprehension, but he assures us, he sees it all and he will recompense all that evil upon the perpetrators. Nevertheless, we can’t rejoice in their suffering, but instead in that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

There’s a lot more I’d like to share, but I hope this message makes some sense to you.

Let me close with this:

In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons (children) of God.” Jesus is the Prince of Peace, among other titles. My heart is in that Spirit. I hope there are others who are of the same kindred spirit and desire to share that same Spirit of Peace. Jesus said that his peace is different than what the world promises; his peace is internal and eternal; the world’s peace is external and temporal. Nevertheless, I pray for both.

Preserving Our Freedoms

People want to feel like their decisions and actions matter. Everyone wants to be validated one way or another. Problems arise when disparate individuals or groups converge to make their positions known, demanding or assuming concurrence, without dispassionate consideration of the other’s perspective or extending a mutual respect, regardless of the apparent dissimilarities.

My response, to a conversation regarding how people recognize the service of the men and women during the Vietnam War and the factual representations or misrepresentations surrounding the war, I hope will exercise prudence and a manner of tone that doesn’t massage egos, but neither would it inflame insensitivity. This interjection into the conversation is intended to address larger principles beyond that of the particulars of whose facts are the correct ones, for to do that will only mire everyone deeper into the swamps of discord and endless, vitriolic guerilla warfare toward one another characteristic of the mortal combat that should remain on the battlefield; not against our fellow American brothers and sisters.

Though not a scholar, as a student and teacher of history, and as a veteran, I believe I may speak with an educated opinion.

The author wrote:

“On this Vietnam War Veterans Day we honor those who fought and won that war and preserved our freedom.”

My reply to the post was, “What freedom?”

The prime focus is on the concept of freedom, not on the honoring of Vietnam Veterans specifically, and veterans generally. The preservation of freedom is the secondary focus.

Freedom and Liberty are frequently interchanged, but I believe they are more nuanced. In my layman’s terms, Freedom is the ability to do what you want. Liberty is the Freedom to do what is Right without persecution (or better phrased, the Right to Conscience). But not to be confusing, I will use the word freedom.

Before we can address the preservation of freedom, we must know where that freedom comes from. More brilliant people than I have eloquently expounded on the matter, but suffice it to say that freedom, specifically freedom of conscience, comes from God. Some may take umbrage with the presupposition of God being the author of our conscience (soul/will), but I leave to the individual to accept or reject the premise, and I will move on.

Our forefathers (gender inclusive) knew and accepted their lives depended upon God alone. From the earliest colonists to the establishment of the Republic, it went without question that our society would last only as long as we committed our faith to Him and his Son as the sole source of our existence, individually and as a united people. It is only by God that we can even consider defending, much more keeping, our freedom. That freedom will be lost if we turn our backs on God. Without this knowledge in the public sphere, or body politic, our labor is in vain.

So, defending our freedom becomes a losing battle when our society says it no longer welcomes God. When we look at the history of our Republic until the present, we can see our shifting from our dependence upon God to our collective rejection of Him. As a result, we see our freedoms disappear. What was our birthright became a “benefit”, “entitlement”, or a “permit” granted by government, instead of the government acknowledging the formerly indisputable, self-evident, fact that government derives its “just powers” by the consent of the people. The people no longer are needed to give their consent. It has been subverted by the power-hungry obsessed with ungodly ambitions to our own chagrin.

Our defense of freedom shrivels with each passing day, and the respect due to the veterans becomes a moot point when it devolved to patronizing platitudes by the masses who only want what government can give them to satiate their infinite appetites, and to the end of their ingratitude.

I believe in the Great Principles set before us by our forefathers, but my faith is in the Almighty and not in men. I do honor those, who, for those Great Principles, did commit themselves to serve and die. But we have sacrificed them for the sake of convenience and ease of life, and do dishonor them when we willingly relinquish our birthright for a bowl of porridge.

I submit my petition to a candid people of true spirit.

Matthew 5:9

 

Burning the Koran

I recently shared a news story with a friend overseas regarding the burning of the Koran in his native country. Coincidentally, the person who burned the Koran was a close acquaintance of my friend. He asked me my thoughts about the matter. This is my response.

All have fallen and come short of the glory of God, says the Bible. Every person is born with this sin condition. The Bible also says that in due time Christ died for the ungodly. I was numbered among those. In fact, Christ Jesus died, in part, to identify himself with us: in other words, he did not exempt himself, but bore the death penalty for us. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death, and though we die in body, in spirit we live in Christ’s resurrection. This is what separates the Christian from the rest of the world, including the Muslim.

When a man came up to Jesus, he called him, “Good Master.” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? There is no one good, but God.” The Bible commends us not to think more highly of ourselves than we should and to walk humbly before God and man. Likewise, Jesus told us that we are to judge with righteous judgment. That righteousness, and goodness, can only come from God. God also admonishes us to walk peacefully with all men as much as is possible.

Keeping these things in mind, I address the question as to whether the burning of the Koran is appropriate. The short answer is God is Judge and his judgment is just and true. The day will come when all things created will be cast into the Lake of Fire, which is everlasting.

While I recognize the serious threats Islam presents, especially to the Western world that has predominately Christian and espouses diametrically opposite principles, values, and morals, instigation against that demographic is not necessarily prudent nor wise. The Koran burning will only serve to infuriate the Muslim faithful. Those actions will only serve to provoke retaliation.

The greatest weapon available to Christians is prayer and fasting, including spiritual warfare. Another way of combating the threats presented by Islam is seeking former Muslims who had a saving encounter with Jesus. The are more equipped with the fundamental elements of the Muslim faith and their testimonies are powerful tools to reach the mass of Muslims who are not engaged in the activities invading Western sensitivities and traditions. The key battle is spiritual in nature. Not political.

Though symbolic, the attempt to demonstrate opposition to Islam in Europe and America by burning the Koran is not effective. I would encourage everyone who professes to be a Christian would first seek the Lord in prayer, asking him for his guidance on how to handle the growing anxieties arising out of the Muslim question.

We must remember that Christians have the advantage of knowing who we worship and that we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. He is always available to us and he’s always willing to hear our prayers and petitions. Our weapons are not carnal.

Some trust in horses. Some trust in chariots. But we will trust in the name of our God.

 

 

Entry Twelve: Thought Censorship

I was listening to a morning radio talk show on the way to work. The host made a disturbing comment that is more common than not by the talking heads; it’s both subtle and inflammatory. What the host said really got under my skin because the language used has been utilized by other groups in order to corral people into socio-political corners that they can’t get out of without a significant amount of crow-eating and boot-licking. The idea is to use words as a weapon to cow people from formulating their own thought processes and coming to their own conclusions. Instead, the result is “group think” or the “hive mind” or “heard mentality”. This tactic is used by both Left and Right, but most effectively by the Left.

In this case, it was a self-professed conservative. In his mid-Atlantic Southern drawl, he criticized a local bureaucratic liberal for the belief aircraft didn’t hit the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001. He labelled her a “denier” and unworthy to be an appointee to a government board. Subsequently, within a couple of days, her appointment was rescinded. The ad hominem attack irked me, not because of the woman’s opinion, but because she was attacked for having an opinion that didn’t agree with the radio host, and because I knew what he was doing by rallying the troops to his cause with an invective or a loaded word that pigeon-holes people into a political mind trap.

So I thought about it.

Hypothetically, what if a hiring manager of a business had several candidates for a job opening, but some may have been higher profiled personalities? What would be the best method of selecting the right person for the job? A subordinate would remove the names and submit the applications for the hiring manager to select in a blind review to select the best qualified candidate based on those. The manager hired the best qualified candidate who performs the job flawlessly and without controversy within the work environment. In other words: he/she is the ideal employee.

But, customers of the business, patrons, discover the employee has unorthodox philosophies and associates with characters, albeit not a public danger, who have the appearance of holding similarly unorthodox beliefs. This person and their associates are quite vocal outside of their vocations, but never let it interfere with their professional duties and their private and public lives never intersect. In less than 72 hours, the business executives catch wind of the public backlash to the hiring of the employee in question, goes to the employee and instructs them to back their belongings.

The employee learns from their coworkers the true motive for their firing: Because they held an unpopular belief. What recourse would that person have?

That is a scenario that ran through my mind. But the bigger issue isn’t about the workplace, but the public space. In the Land of the Free, how is it our society has become so toxic that unpopular thoughts and opinions can’t be tolerated or civilly debated?

The word denier has been wielded quite efficiently elsewhere, whereby merely questioning, criticizing or challenging the socially or politically accepted dogma has become a criminal act with punishment enforced to the point of imprisonment; all for the sake of silencing others who hold unpopular beliefs.

Let’s make a list of Thought Crimes that fall under the category of deniers:

  • Flat Earth proponents
  • Global Cooling / Warming / Climate Change skeptics
  • Vaccine Efficacy antipathy
  • Sexual Identity Politics
  • Extra-Terrestrial existence
  • Paranormal Activities
  • Holocaust
  • September 11

The above are topical and used as examples, but the case in point is that it’s bad enough when self-proclaimed liberals vociferously clamor for muting the freedom of conscience, save for their kindred spirits; yet the crowned royalty of conservative radio flare their frequency laden clamoring against the liberals while employing the same tactics. The problem isn’t political partisanship, but the mentality that people aren’t entitled to their own free thought. Forcing people to fall into camps or punishing them for refusing join in the mass mental illness is immoral. Using pejoratives to get people to self-censor for fear of being ostracized or publicly shamed is a form of coercion that ought to be sanctioned against because it anathema to a society that calls itself free. Anyone who boasts of America’s greatness because of the freedoms we have, but chooses to ignore, or worse yet, join with, attempts to verbally harrang individuals with the intent to cow them into mental submission, should surrender their U.S. citizenship cards.

When I began this blog post, it was spurred by a precipitous comment from a local radio host who used to be this state’s governor. But within the last few weeks, developments in the entertainment industry have dove-tailed nicely with this subject.

A burgeoning grassroots gaming and graphic novel/comic book subculture has emerged as a result of industry-wide changes that has created a huge void for the disenfranchised to fill at an astronomical rate. Specifically, Hollywood has created a toxic environment this subculture is accutely reeling from, which subculture is soon to explode into a sweeping movement as a result. More specifically, the major corporations are on a Sherman’s March against an unsuspecting and broad spectrum of movie and comic book themed related fandom. A plethora of new forums and media have taken root, sprouted, and created offshoots and alliances that may not have otherwise happened had it not been for the overreach, and overreaction, by the media giants that caused the blowback to begin with.

It is a culture war manifesting in even the minutae of whether people are allowed to criticize the quality of entertainment being produced, going so far as to squelch public opinion as it pertains to whether they would like to patronize their movies. If the fans don’t like what they see, the media giants take their footballs and go home. Even questioning the integrity of the entertainment elitists and frontmen, or if their credulity is challenged, it’s cause for stern retribution.

For example, when a voice-over actor is accused of inappropriate behavior, and someone makes an observation that the accusation didn’t appear to be backed by evidence, then the person who made the observation is accused of defending the allegations and subsequently their credentials to a convention are revoked. To boot, a litmus test is then placed on potential attendees, as a condition of entering the convention, as to whether they support the banned personality’s attributed positions. Furthermore, false accusations of threats of violence are leveed against the growing list of an imaginary army invented entirely in the minds of the culture warriors.

Then, if it hasn’t gotten any stranger already, a prominently known and accessed source for movie feedback strickens all opinions not in agreement with the ecochamber, essentially, elimnating tens of thousands of voices in one fell swoop. All because the numbers were demonstrating the general public’s discontent toward the maltreatment toward them. That action caused a greater sunami of opposition.

It’s not just a matter of zeroing out the freedom of conscience, but attacking the livelihoods of many who have built a career for themselves and have no other sources of income. These are microcosms of a swelling problem pervasive across America in venues beyond the media giants to almost every aspect of daily life for the average citizen.

Entry Eleven: Pax Americana

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. – Matthew 5.9

Since it was the Fourth of July, 2018, I was searching for classic patriotic music and came across beautiful renditions of God Bless America and The Star Spangled Banner by The Red Army Choir. I thought about it, not so much about the music as it was who was singing it. It occurred to me how much has changed in thirty years as it regards our nation’s reputation in the world. The idea that the Soviet Union produced a choir that sang their enemy’s national anthem, but also honored God, demonstrated an amount of respect that has long been lost.

Taking history, especially the Cold War, into account, there has been more lost than respect from the nations of the world. Seemingly, respect has turned into contempt. There are many reasons, contributing factors, and circumstances, and I can but only make it simplistic to be understandable.

To begin, Americans have forgotten their history and they have abandoned honoring God. It will be given that our history reveals many flaws and contradictions, and there are plenty who would exacerbate them in order to deflect their culpability and to cast dispersion upon their sworn enemies. It is not the case here, except to acknowledge we as a society have to be mindful of those things and not to reject our heritage because of the imperfections of our ancestors.

What made our national character unique is that we honored and acknowledged God as being the source of our freedoms, our liberty. Not just any God, but through Christ Jesus. Our ancestors made it clear their desire was for the New World, and for the New Republic, that their posterity would sincerely place their trust in God.

Jesus Christ was central in our national character. “No king but Jesus Christ,” was the motto of the American Revolution. One of Jesus’ titles is Prince of Peace. Throughout most of America’s young, but short history, the principle of  entangling foreign alliances with none and trade with all was predominant. The idea was of isolationism. With two great oceans on the coasts, and with one nation to the north and another to the south, the notion of being attacked by enemies was remote at best. It was easy, then, for Americans to come to the conclusion that perpetual peace was evidently possible. At least it was certainly the goal.

It is not so inconceivable that there are still a remnant of people who still believe in following the path least traveled to achieve a lasting peace. There are many who believe in perpetual war, albeit not under constitutional and justifiable grounds. That means ideological believers in peace are in a type of battle against the war-hawks.

In today’s geo-political climate, we face more internal enemies than we do external, but we are presented threats to our freedom, epitomized in the shadow puppetry of the Russian nemesis. Russia has not always been our enemy. In fact, history has shown Russia has come to our aid more than often reported. Likewise, Russia is ostensibly considered a “Christian” nation, just as America is identified as one. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to pursue peaceful relations with Russia as opposed to provoking or antagonizing them into conflicts or outright war while proclaiming their hostilities against America.

(Editor’s note: A lengthy intermission occurred since my last addition to this post due to the ever changing American climate at a rapid pace and in every conceivable way; so the tenor of this dialogue may digress from its original intent, but will remain true to its original fabric.)

Seeking peace, not for the sake of peace only, but for all, is not undesirable in the least. It behooves us of good natured souls to pursue that end without being naive to our enemy’s (or enemies’, if you will) tactics and strategies. Notwithstanding, we can’t be distracted by the smoke and mirrors, dog-n-pony show, shell game, and we certainly can’t be suckered into becoming the evil we wish to expose and defeat; keeping in mind that we are in a spiritual battle of epic proportions. EPIC. We are constantly bombarded with a barrage of assaults against our very souls, our minds, our wills, our tenacity and weaknesses, at every front to break us down, to demoralize us, so we would surrender due to the overwhelming onslaught. It is an effort to eviscerate our spirit of resistance.

We see this battle epitomized at the national level in the attacks against Donald Trump. The palling spirit behind this is strong, and it has a name, but I haven’t the insight to identify it other than to say this spirit has many tentacles; more like an emanating, sprawling fog-like cloud, with black and grey hues, rolling like thunderclouds the world over, not just the U.S. Beginning at his candidacy I could sense something amiss and I was enormously skeptical, cautiously observing, suspicious of the unseen dynamics manifesting within the political spectrum. The seemingly disparate issues facing our nation are spiritually connected, howbeit spurious and chaotic.

There is a Spirit of Confusion. This spirit acts in the role of shock troops. It disrupts, disharmonizes, pillages and plunders, among other methods, keeping the masses distracted by looking in every direction, seeking new enemies, even when there are none, like when a person gets punch-drunk and starts swinging at everything and everyone because they can’t discern who or what the enemy is.

That’s what the Russiagate/Collusion contrivance was all about. Meanwhile, our enemies within were covertly provoking our would be enemies into a confrontation that would justify our actions against them. Perhaps, then, to place further blame on Trump and his supporters as treasonous co-conspirators, or at least as sympathizers and collaborators.

Regarding the election, having a cursory knowledge of Trump’s history, it was difficult to get on that train, especially considering his known, or perceived, moral character (not that Obama, Clintons, Bushes, et al were of any higher caliber), but people can and do change, so I was guarded. It seemed to me a Rope A Dope proposition to squeeze Hillary into the White House, almost like what they did with Kennedy vs Nixon by making Tricky Dick look so bad the people would vote for JFK, not that he needed the help. Nevertheless, I take high umbrage at injustice. The unfounded accusations, innuendos, and other nonsense against Trump and his family unnerved me. My attitude at the time was “don’t make me defend him.” Everything was a red herring. Everything was a wild goose chase. What was worse yet was how the uninformed so readily latched or glomed on to every little and scintillating prop that glittered before them like mesmerized children or brainless zombies. It later became recognized as Trump Derangement Syndrome or TDS. Madness was unfolding before our very eyes.

One thing after another kept unraveling and the people became increasingly unhinged. As the insanity became ever more quote-unquote mainstream, the partisanship became even more divided. Something which I refuse to become a part of.

(Updated: December 25, 2018)

America is suffering because it is no longer a Christian nation, or better phrased, a nation of Christians. People will argue it never was, but the truth is into the Nineteen-Eighties there was still a vestige of honor toward Christ and respect toward our nation’s Christian heritage, though it was waning. There has been a major spiritual shift in the 2000s in the degree of anti-Christian sentiment and the and the rejection of God; and conversely, the warming embrace of blatant paganism in all of its forms and glory. The only feigned semblance of a God-honoring society comes from so-called Christians who have “a form of godliness (God-likeness) but deny the power thereof.” (See 2 Timothy 3.5)

So, America, you have been given a wake up call. This is your last chance, your last hurrah. It’s not about who is in the White House: it’s about Who is in the house of your heart. But it will be with individuals. The rallying cry will be heard one by one, but the net result will be of transformed lives and it will manifest as a groundswell of people who have become cognizant of America’s spiritual degradation and will call upon God once again. This will not cause a political revolution, not as would be expected, anyway. Instead, it will reveal America’s watershed moment of Elijah’s Challenge: Will America choose the paganism as symbolized by the god Baal or will America choose God as represented by Christ Jesus?

 

Entry Ten: Public Education, Among Other Things

It’s time to end public education. As someone who was a licensed teacher, it is evident our system is archaic and isn’t worth the cost spent with little to no positive outcome in the way of how our young adults are exiting secondary education. At the time of this writing, there have been two tragedies, one in Texas and another in Georgia, within a span of a week. People are clamoring for solutions, but aren’t addressing the roots of the problems. The mass killings are only one element or symptom.

When one does history research on public education, it becomes quite evident the end results are products of people who had ulterior motives at the onset. Education, at the beginning, was entirely established by Christian churches. People with strong anti-Christian biases, like John Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal System, understood to best undermine the influence of Christian education was to create a subversive program that steadily indoctrinated subsequent generations away from Christian, Biblical principles, values, and morality. For a while, Christianity was tolerated because it was the predominant culture and worldview. The ultimate goal was to eventually drive Christianity out, replacing it with a faux humanist agenda.

Decent people are looking for solutions to our recent tragedies spanning back to Columbine. There is a growing movement to increase security precautions, including, but not limited to: metal detectors, checkpoints, fenced-in (with serpentine wire?) property, armed guards and teachers at public schools. In essence, what the well-intentioned are demanding for is to place our children in prisons in the name of safety. But if anyone looks at prison life, they will discover anything but safety; and definitely no freedom. Who would be punished, but the students? Not to mention our students aren’t leaving the education system any brighter.

The best solution is to dissolve the Department of Education at the federal level and let the respective states determine whether they want a public education system or not. Where there is a vacuum, resourceful individuals, organizations, associations, charities and churches will drive innovation to fill in the gap. The free market and competition will provide better educational opportunities in less vulnerable targeted environments. To be sure, predatory corporations and opportunists will also rise to the occasion, but discerning watch groups will ensure the more trustworthy industrious will be endorsed. But, as it stands, certain corporations, in cooperation with the government, already hold a particular monopoly with the education process; so by dissolving the current system it will open the door to broader opportunities and a rethinking about how best to teach our youth.

It would be disastrous to imprison our children, compulsory at that, because of the threats of rogue individuals. The solution is not to waste more resources on a failing system in more ways than one. One crisis after another draws the same criticisms from one camp or the other, who in turn offer either the same, repetitive tripe that has lasted for more than forty years, or insist on newer draconian solutions that would produce worse unintended consequences. Besides, why would reasonable people want to cede further control to a system that has thus failed to provide for the safety of our students to begin with.

We as a society can no longer remain in the current system that is breaking down, nor can we afford to sacrifice our freedoms in the name of safety because, as one Benjamin Franklin once said, if we sacrifice liberty for safety, then we deserve neither and will lose both (roughly paraphrased).

Our first order is at home. We need to search our own hearts and minds, to stand for what is right, good, and wholesome.

Our second order is to teach our children to revere God and life, which are inseparable from liberty.

Our third order is to value virtue. Without it, our Republic will crumble under the weight of debauchery.

In the end, too much damage has already been done and it will take time to undo the damages; and the cost to reverse course, as great as it might be, will be considerably less compared to the price we are already paying. We have to learn how to suck it up to make the necessary sacrifices in order to bring healing and restoration to our ailing society, if we can only find the courage to do so.

Entry Nine: Reverence or Sentimentality?

When I visited France, I went to several chapels and cathedrals that dated as far back as the Gothic Era. Some of the chapels had faded and flaky Fresco paintings. Every location had either elaborate or primitive statues, paintings, relief sculptures, dedicated conclaves, architectural decorations, stained glass windows, and shrines, among other things, that paid homage to saints, Mary, the Christ Child, or the Crucifix. Although I’m not Catholic and don’t have any particular affinity to relics or to icons, I did greatly admire the dedication, attention to detail, and reverence of the church and its artisans who constructed the buildings at the times they had been built. I could feel a certain serenity, peace, and veneration. There was a spiritual connection. But it wasn’t in the things, the architectural designs, or the locations I visited.

The reverence I felt was the Holy Spirit communing with mine on a level that bypassed my thoughts and feelings. Part of it was an appreciation of history, especially in a land where religion is not highly esteemed, but the landmarks hold value as tourist sites, and for the faithful few as sanctuaries. Some of the buildings were in disrepair, but remained open to the public for anyone who sought refuge in the midst of a spiritual vacuum. Yet even in the deteriorating conditions there was solace to be found; a solemnity.

There are times when I pass by a church of some denomination or another that was built in a classical architectural design which conjures memories of my youth when I visited similarly styled churches with dark wooden arches, hard wooden benches, beautiful stained glass windows, and cold stone walls. There aren’t any particular memories, but the sentiments associated with my formative years. For a fleeting moment I capture a glancing emotion that has a definite source, but not found in a specific location or place in time.

To some, it would not be unreasonable to think the feelings I get are simply nostalgia, and nothing more. There may be some truth to it, but the impressions of my youth were nondescript, leaving residual impact. My significant experiences came much later, and not in the traditional religious settings. My reaction, then, to the stimuli of a stolid structure cannot be attributed vague emotive memories. Instead, it is God’s subtle way of reminding me of his ever present involvement in my life, even when I fail to immediately recognize his gentle nudging.

So, every now and then, whether it be a large cathedral-like building, or a small, wooden, single room chapel, as I pass by I catch a reverential sentiment that resonates from deep within, an awe that is not overwhelming, but distinct and familial.

Entry Eight: A New Hope or Tragic Despair? How ‘The Last Jedi’ depicts the dichotomy of Modern American Culture

Entry Eight: A New Hope or Tragic Despair? How ‘The Last Jedi’ depicts the dichotomy of Modern American Culture

By now, most of the world has watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi and there are a plethora of passionate reviews, especially of those with scathing criticism for how Disney has ruined the entire franchise. I do not intend to add my opinion as to how great or terrible the movie was. Instead, I’d like to offer an anecdotal assessment of modern American culture as depicted in the newest installment.

Perhaps the most egregious problem commonly cited by Star Wars fandom was the portrayal of the saga’s hero, Luke Skywalker. As a member of the generation that was first introduced to the inaugural cult classic feature film, nostalgia is the biggest factor contributing to the visceral, knee-jerk reaction against the development of his character, who, as the archetypal symbol of Good versus Evil, evidences a flawed, and inflated, sense of his own importance, to the chagrin of the most diehard loyalists to the Good side of the Force.

At the heart of the controversy is the moment when it was revealed Luke was prepared to preemptively execute the antagonist, Kilo Ren, aka Ben Solo, his nephew. Luke repents of his decision, but not before Ben awakens to see Luke’s activated light sabre. Naturally, Ben defends himself, unaware Luke was about to retreat. The parallel, or symmetry, of this highly charged moment can be compared to when Jedi Master Mace Windu attempted to execute Emperor Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith, saved by Luke’s dad, Anakin. It disheartened fans of the original trilogy, Episodes IV, V and VI, to see a bitter, old recluse who would entertain the idea of killing his own kin, someone who desperately sought to convert his father back to the good side, and succeeded. To see their fallen hero left a bitter taste in their own mouths. But they may have forgotten that this was not the first time Luke was tempted to murder, who, when you come to think of it never killed anyone, at least in cold blood, unlike his father. That moment came when the Emperor stirred up Luke’s anger, daring him to strike him down. Though he tried to show restraint and self-discipline, the temptation was too great, so he acted, but Darth Vader, aka Anakin, once again came to his master’s defense. Then shortly after, Luke came within a hair’s breadth of taking his father’s life, prompted by the Emperor, but looked at his mechanical hand after chopping off his father’s mechanical hand in recollection of their first duel when Vader severed Luke’s hand.

There is a biblical comparison, too. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. Being faithful, Abraham complied with God’s command, but how it must have grieved him to have made that choice. Yet, God provided a substitute, sparing Isaac’s life and Abraham’s despair. The whole situation foreshadowed the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all of humanity. In like manner, as Abraham was grieved to put a blade to Isaac’s neck (Isaac was born to Abraham and his wife Sarah when both of them were probably in their seventies), so too it must have been equally gut wrenching for Luke when he decided he needed to eliminate his sister Leia’s, and friend Han’s, son before the evil could manifest itself like it did in his father. If he had followed through, how would he have been able to face the two he loved most with such devastating news? So, instead of killing his nephew, Luke decided it was best for him to disappear for fear of giving in to temptation.

Luke represented goodness, purity, light overcoming evil, impurity and darkness, and the fans took it as an affront where it appeared this image was tarnished by a studio and director that had no respect for the franchise or its leading characters, especially the hero. Even Mark Hamill, who played Luke, was not so subtle in expressing his displeasure with the twist of fate perpetrated against his on-screen alter-ego.

In this day and age when we witness evil growing on a daily basis, we as a society seek solace in knowing there is still good in the world, even if it is represented in a fictional character. We escape the real world by going into a fantasy world of entertainment. There our very real hope is reinforced by a silver screen illusion. Our illusion is shattered when we see our symbol of hope painted uncharacteristically as severely tainted, weakened, and forlorn. We vicariously personalize the goodness we expect to find in our heroes and existentially attain our heroes’ dramatically exposed imperfections. In other words, we see our embellished blemishes reflected in the mirrors of our esteemed heroes, and hate what we see we’ve become.

But it’s easier for us to point our fingers at the studios, blaming them for our subconsciously recognizing the darkness in our own hearts, rather than admitting to ourselves we don’t measure up to the ideals we demand of our fictional avatars.

Undoubtedly, Hollywood is being exposed as a cesspool of moral depravity, yet we seem to have this unrealistic expectation the cesspool produce wholesome movies and television shows to embody our deluded sense of collective virtuosity.  Then we get mad at Hollywood when they inadvertently reveal our true human nature that we avoid to acknowledge at all costs.

It should come as no surprise to us when the title unveils the intent of the studio to change the spirit of the Star Wars saga. It should come as no surprise when the common refrain throughout the movie is “we need to kill the past.” There’s a lot more to be explored on that point.

Could it be that all of the negative backlash to The Last Jedi isn’t so much about the desecration of one the most beloved movie characters of all time, but the fact of how desecrated our own hearts have become?