Monthly Archives: October 2014

Bread Language

We often speak of things as a ‘language’ besides our common tongue.  Computer languages, or coding, or languages of love or art or design.  But unfortunately in the dismal state of our education we often miss the basics of actual language.  Our spoken or written language is capable of a lot more than many people are aware of.  Language can be like a code where there is extra meaning than what you see on the surface.  Language can say half a dozen things with a single line, all legitimate and all intended.  Those who speak or write language may even convey more meaning than they intended.  Not just by making errors but by communicating rightly.  Borrowed phrases may have more meaning than they even knew.  There may be more senses than they were aware of when they used a single sense, and yet the unintended adds richness, which is legitimate.

We are all moderns in our way of speech.  We were all raised under modernism, despite the rebellion of post-modernism in some areas.  Modernism was born as a result of science, or the worship of science.  We began to appreciate what disciplined, careful, technical study could bring us, fabulous machines that could make life on this earth easier.  So, we began treating everything like a machine, persons, groups of people, social relationships, religion, and language.  C. S. Lewis always makes a connection between magic and science.  Because really the desire is the same.  The old magicians wanted to control this world just like the modern scientists.  By doing this we thought we were doing something better.  But like all false worship it leads to disaster.  Christendom forgot it’s worship of Jesus the Word, and began to worship it’s own achievements, and whatever ‘worked’ now became good.  We thought that language that was more and more technical and more and more precise was better, it works in the lab.  Unfortunately we are not machines, fortunately we are not machines.

While the goal of most pre-modern education was to teach people how to read, today we don’t know how to read.  We were taught a strange combination of finding whatever we want in the text and being nit pickers about spelling and grammar.  But we are missing out on all the fun, we are missing out on all the meaning.  The nature of language is poetic.  Words are not words, they are symbols for words.  The word ‘house’ is not a house, it is a metaphor, those five roman characters conjure up meaning.  The images brought to the mind of every person may  be different but each is still be the literal meaning of house.  But each connection is a metaphor, that’s just how it works.  We don’t really know how, and inquisitions into it have tended to actually make us know less.  This is deconstruction.

Texts may be like computer code in the way they create images in the minds of the hearers.  We are very ill trained in understanding current texts.  Old, or ancient readings in reading texts require even more work and practice.  The most honest approach is to try to put ourselves in the place of the hearers.  It requires great imagination, or charity to see the world as they did.  Humbly removing our selves from the equation.  When you practice doing this, and really love it, it really opens things up in an incredible way.  So many levels, so much meaning.

I was so struck by the larger picture of chapters six, seven and eight of Mark’s gospel.  The Disciples have been in our shoes.  Before they were the foundation stones, upon which the whole church is build (Ephesians 2:20), they were clueless.  They portray themselves as clueless often, leading further credence to the truth of their story. Those blunt words which Jesus often uttered, he says again in Mark 8: 21 ”You still don’t understand?”  These are words not even allowed between teacher and student these days, but Jesus the great teacher found them appropriate.  And he was right, he did get through to them.  After the resurrection, they put it all together.  We can see it in the way Mark put his gospel together.  It might not be the exact order of events with every minute detail of everything Jesus did or said. But it is a path for others to follow, bread crumbs.

Jesus sends out the disciples in 6:7 and he tells them not to take any bread.  They made a huge raucous, even King Herod heard about it.  Then they find themselves in the country with thousands of people and no food.  Jesus leads his flocks to green grass and feeds them, bread, with twelve baskets left over.  Bread for the twelve tribes, he is here to feed Israel.   Then he gets into a fight with the religious leaders who think his disciples are eating their bread incorrectly.  Jesus rebukes them “What goes into a man is not what defiles him but what comes from his heart is what defiles him.”  We are working on a different level here, and his disciples still don’t get it.  But he keeps working on them.  Then a gentile woman comes to him begging for crumbs, begging for her daughter to be healed.  Jesus heals her daughter.  Then again he and his disciples were out in the wilderness with a great crowd and no food. Jesus again feeds them, bread, this time with seven baskets left over.  A number or a sign of completeness, he had fed the Gentiles, as the woman requested, he fed the whole world in completeness.  Then the stark contrast as the religious leaders beg for a sign.  He has given them more signs than they could possibly understand.  They are blind, their sin has blinded them, to the bread of life standing before them.  And the poor disciples don’t demand a sign they don’t even seem to know they should be looking for one. “We don’t have any bread” never have truer words been spoken, they don’t have any bread even though he is right there.   After all that, a conversation on another topic spurs them to worry about bread!  They have all the bread they could ever wish for, did they miss the signs too?  They have the bread of life.  They don’t need to worry about their physical well being. Who cares?  All they need is Jesus.  They don’t need the rules of the Pharisees or the diligent preparation of packing a lunch, they need Jesus.  This man recreates with his hands and they are afraid of going hungry.  Worse they are afraid he is worried about going hungry and upset at them for not being prepared.  They are prepared, they have Jesus.  Again Jesus is more concerned about them, than himself.  He teaches them,  ever so bluntly “Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember”.  Jesus recaps the story, Mark learned well.

Do we learn?  It is easy to get caught up in the details, focusing on how Jesus changed dietary laws, focusing on how bad the Pharisees were, focusing on how incredible Jesus’ miracles were.  But the point is we need Jesus.  He is the bread of life and we can trust him to provide for our needs.  He offers the bread of his very Words.  They remake what is wrong with the world.  They help us to do the same.  We ignore them at our own peril.  And ignoring them is very easy to do. Jesus wanted to teach them to be careful about the Pharisees, they are still stuck back on square one, trusting Jesus.  We can do the same thing focusing on all the false teachers instead of clinging to the bread of life.  Rely on Jesus and then you can work your way up to diciphering false teachers.

The Judge vs. Left Behind

the judge leftSo many movies so little time, so I only went to one.  And even going late I was treated to so many previews as to forget what movie I actually went to.  Let’s see, maybe you can help me.  One movie was about the redemption of a small part of God’s earth.  It involved reconciliation with family, a willingness to repent and go a different way.  It involved reconciliation with one’s community, coming to love all the things that pride had led you to hate.  It was about facing difficulties, that you turned tail and ran away from in the past.  It was about swallowing your pride and entering a place of brokenness.  Brokenness discovered in the pursuit of justice, and debts paid, instead of the pursuit of money.  Justice was served, the debt was paid and a small corner of this world and a man’s soul were redeemed.  It was not perfect, but the common man was vindicated in his humble position, and loved.

The other movie was, about a fantastic escape from the problems of this world.  Certain special people are whisked away from all that ails them only to leave total disaster in their wake.  Responsibility was shunned on a huge scale and every thread of the civil fabric was torn.  But who cares if everything burns, I’m going on eternal vacation.  But one man, will maintain sanity, and save the world, or at least a few people. So, some people manage to stave off immediate destruction, but thousands more die horrible deaths.  All in vivid fake violence, with slow-mos and everything.

It is amazing how un-Christian Christians can be.  The themes of the gospel are blatant in one movie and completely absent from the other, yet it is praised as being a breakthrough Christian movie.  Gosh we are dumb.  And I love that word, ‘without speech’.  God created by speech, and we show ignorance in silence.  And it’s right there in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”.  Which movie sounds like that?  Jesus says “the meek shall inherit the earth”. So does that mean the scorched earth after everyone is taken away and burned up?  And how meek is it to latch on to this type of doctrine?  Sounds very pretentious to me?  Thank you Lord I am going to be taken up on high so I don’t have to deal with this rabble on this cursed rock.  Oh yeah and matter is also bad, floating in heaven good.  Because no one ever called that a heresy before.  It wasn’t like that was exactly what Plato and his followers believed for 2400 years.  And I’m really apt to devote my life to bringing his will on this earth when I have a magic pass to exempt me from any consequences and it’s all going to burn anyway.  Do not be deceived, we reap what we sow.  If you throw a bar from a lamppost into the narnian soil you reap a lamppost.  What is bound on earth is bound in heaven.  What we do here matters.

But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. -II Peter 3:7

The image of the Earth being burned is not the fire of total destruction, it is the fire of testing the fire of a smelter. The gold and silver will pass the test of fire and be made into crowns for our glory.  The chaff shall burn.

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.  -I Corinthians 3: 12-15

His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.  -Luke 3:17

Our task is not to hasten the destruction, or advocate the destruction of everything as a sign of eschatological progress. We ought to be holy and godly and the new earth will come.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. – II Peter 3:10-13

As you probably already know I am against the modern judge-not movement, I say go for The Judge.

5000 + women + children + feminists

It is unfortunate that pastors always make a big deal about counting people in the Bible.  Oh, they only counted the men, those evil mysoginist cavemen.  But we enlighted futurists count everyone.  We think because someone in China can build cool technology that we are so much better than people in the past.  Meanwhile the social decay around us in every form would lead an honest person to conclude that we have no idea what we are doing and will very shortly wipe ourselves out.

Before modern times, households (Attempting to number families today involves complex calculus, because the families we do have are divided and split and made-up and now you can ‘marry’ your gay cat or even yourself.) or fighting men were numbered and not people.  What business is it of the government how many children or even wives you have?  But today we are fine allowing the government in to do whatever it want’s in our houses, in fact every area of our actual houses is mandated by the government.  And for all the good it has done houses are built worse and worse every year.  And so are social structures.  But we moderns are so much more precise.  And so we have things like the metric system which are very helpful when one wants to quickly measure a room.  Oh it’s 500 centimeters, thanks. I’ll just step it off with my foot here.  Now obviously there are uses for the metric system, like in a lab, but do we really want to turn our families and our governments into a science experiment?  Apparently so, because that is just what we have done.  To the detriment of both.  We now have almost no idea how to raise children or organize governments, problems our forefathers had thoroughly figured out.  Or I should say, they followed the wisdom God laid out for them in scripture.

God set up three realms of government on this earth the family, the church and the state.  In an ideal situation, which is almost what we had at the founding of this country, the church is made up of families and the state is made up of churches.  Fathers are the head of the home, elders and pastors are the head of the church, and monarchs or councils were the head of the state.   This is federalism.  Larger governments made up of smaller governments.   Wisdom led founders to follow this scheme in the arrangement of the state.  The United States Governments was made up of, surprise surprise, united states.  Each state was made up of smaller entities like counties or townships and cities and boroughs.  Most things are decided at the local level and issues that involve more than one locality are dealt with at a higher level. So, most of the power was local.  We see this laid out in Exocus 18 as Jethro advises Moses.  We even see it in Mark 12:17, render to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and to God the things which are God’s.  Taxes are Caesars, your children are not.  Military service might be Caesars, church doctrine is not.  Paul discusses these layers in his criticism of the Corinthians in chapter 6, don’t go to the state for matters that you should be able to figure out.  Yet he submitted to the charges against him by Rome.  We can see the pattern in the early church at the council in Acts 15.  For the most part matters were handled in the home unless an appeal to the church was necessary.  And larger problems might require all the churches getting together to decide.

But today we have idealized the individual.  We all have our rights, or so we think.  We misunderstood the concept of ‘equal before the law’, and turned it into ‘the same in every way’.  But the right to vote is not the same as the right to a fair trial.  Voting is not an inalienable right, if it were you would get to vote when you were born.  Voting is about the smaller governments, the families, choosing representatives to represent them in the larger layers of federalism.  So the heads of those families voted.  Single women, you are not a family.  A family is that thing you left when you cut your hair, pierced your face and stomped off to your career in Advanced Feminist Literature of Pre-America  Minorities.  But all this civil rights chatter, which is more about the triumph of tyranny than any one’s rights, has led to every one demanding the right to mess up our republic.  How has it worked out for us?  Well it can all be summed up by Paul’s words to Timothy, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”  In just the last election, Democrats successfully deceived women into believing that the Republicans were waging a “war on women”.  And what we got as a result is less women working, and less work for their husbands and children as well. Not to mention furthering an actual war, or jihad on women in the Middle East.   Such tactics in the past brought us Bill Clinton who single handedly destroyed the lives of countless women, personally, and millions more with the example of his public immorality.  Women vote badly,  in particular single women. Their voting has led the there almost not being any households anymore.  Men no longer do the honorable thing and marry women, no they just sleep with them when the can and take off when any responsibility comes.  Almost fifty percent of first children are born to single mothers.  We are the ones who hate women?

And since women now have all this power, passive though it may be, all of culture is altered.  Politicians, marketers, universities, the media must all be driven by what women want.  And what do women want?  Haha if even they knew.  They want to drug boys for being boys, and ensure that men don’t happen, or so it seems.  And so men don’t happen.  They are leaving colleges in droves, they are leaving the workforce in droves, they are leaving leadership in droves.  Which is why we read things like “the gay lesbian freak show mayor of Houston subpoenas pastor’s sermons”.  This is why we have countless laws about the safety of everything, rules and rules and rules, sounds a lot like your mother, hmm.  Women were created to rule with an iron fist–in the home.  Because this is what children need. This is the most beautiful thing in the world, woman saved by childbearing.  But when she leaves the home

Modern women defend their office with all the fierceness of domesticity. They fight for desk and typewriter as for hearth and home, and develop a sort of wolfish wifehood on behalf of the invisible head of the firm. That is why they do office work so well; and that is why they ought not to do it. -G. K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong With the World

It is difficult to quote a small section of Chesterton because he is making points within points, all of which are very good.  In his day, feminism was newer, or as new as it could be, the battle has always been waged but never so much ground conceded.  There was a discussion about the woman’s right to work in the factory down the road, as some sort of liberation:

But meanwhile do not talk to me about the poor chain-makers on Cradley Heath. I know all about them and what they are doing. They are engaged in a very wide-spread and flourishing industry of the present age. They are making chains.

And so slavery. For you see, following the rules prescribed by scripture, is liberation.  If it sounds weird it is only our lack of faith speaking.  Or for a people as blessed as we are, with unparalleled access to history, lack of research.  God’s rules actually work.  This is what Chesterton wants this is what I want.  This is the God of the universe desiring his children to accept his blessings rather than playing in the mud.  If you want freedom follow the crazy men foolish enough to dress up and paint their faces for battle, and fight for it, as they fight their wives in the paradox of marriage.  If you like tyranny put all the single women in charge and the men will be happy to play video games and take soma I mean Ritalin.  It’s easy to count 5000 testicles their live in girl friends have them all nicely organized in cute little decorative boxes. Meanwhile her boyfriend got 5000 points at Slaughter the Zombies VII.

Kanye the Fool vs. The Right Honourable Edmund Burke

From what I can tell Kanye West got into the fame, I mean music business, the same way the mafia get into the ‘protection’ business.  ”I’m the one telling you how it is, or else”.  That or it is something about the sheer force of charm.  He clearly has no talent by any objective standard.  Which is the real issue.  Today art is defined by whatever ‘artists’ decide to do.  Once you get the label, you are in and what you do is art.  This view stands in stark contrast to the rich tradition imparted to us in the West.  This tradition was sharply cut off by Modernism.  The remnants lingered for a while and now under postmodernism, whatever anyone wants to do is accepted, but we do still have people at the top, who serve or represent a large number of people with their ‘art’.  Based on consensus this is the new model.  Kanye is king.

'F' is for Fool.

‘F’ is for Fool.  I was going to photoshop this and then I found an actual picture.

Edmund Burke lays out the traditional view in his excellent book A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.  Which is what he did, he made an inquiry as why things were the way they were.  Another famous work, by Adam Smith had a similar title, which we often forget, as we turn it into his belief or a perscription rather than an observation; An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.  So they made observations and commented on them.  This was the status quo of the day.  A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origins of Pop Culture, I believe was exhausted in the short paragraph above.  Seriously, who is writing treatises on this mess that will last more than 200 years?  No one.  I hope this post doesn’t last more than a few years and is replaced by something better, by people who write longer sentences containing deeper thoughts.  But for now, we have Kanye.

At this point I really just want to recommend Burke’s book and stop writing.  But most people won’t get around to it.  And I don’t really feel like a review.

Burke took for granted that there was an objective standard for beauty present, to some degree, in all people, because that’s what everyone thought at the time.  Truth was something fixed.  That’s why science was born out of the Christian West, because Christians believed that God was faithful, and operated his world consistently.  Therefore we could observe those operations, systematically and Science was born.  Today we have come unhinged from this basic assumption.  Today truth is in the eye of the beholder, so of course beauty is.  Oh the Medievals had such a beautiful idea that creation of any art was simply a discovery.  Modern science has ‘discovered’ much the same thing as they experiment with music.  Infants who should have a clear objective palate, respond consistently to different types of music.  C. S. Lewis, a pre-Modern to the death, explored the idea of sehnsucht, that is joy.  The type of joy we are brought to by an experience that is so close to heaven, it is as if heaven is pushing into our world and we get a small taste.  A taste that leaves us hungry and longing for more.  And since God made a world where our longings can be met, with the correct cautions observed, there must be a heaven to satisfy these sorts of longing. God made us, he made this world, we bear the image of God, is it really so far fetched to think that there are inherent good and bad types of art to speak to that humanity?  Christians should believe in objective truth.  Of course man has rebelled, and created his own version of truth.  Lots of people believe it and it seems legitimate.  But Paul says the wisdom of man is foolishness, to God.  And the same goes for the tastes of man.  It’s not hard to see that a people unable to tell the difference between male and female would have a hard time telling the difference between good and bad art.

It is a fact that large numbers of people on this earth developed a taste for human flesh.  Large numbers of people so alter their standards of right and wrong that they no longer have any problem with the evil they do.  It seems normal, and they have a taste for that which is totally forbidden by the word of God.  These sort of people seem to end up destroying themselves with no supernatural intervention necessary, but before they do, they operate with bad taste.  And we all can do this to varying degrees with anything.  Just because you like something or something makes you feel a certain way is no basis for beauty.  You may have been badly trained.  Your tastes may be off.  I am certain that the tastes of our culture are off.  Look around, we exemplify the worst most immoral behavior as defined by the the objective standard of Scripture.  Why should we produce or appreciate true beauty?  Even in the church, we certainly don’t ask these questions anymore.  Taste is up to you, you have a right to do whatever you want.  It’s all about you, and if people don’t realize how wonderful you are, go to another church.   But we don’t have to wander in the dark.  There are many examples of peoples who were in tune with what Scripture said about everything.  They produced much fruit, they produced us, then we threw it all away.  The Medievals are a great example or the Puritans.  We need to get our tastes back on the right track.  We need to do more philosophical inquiring.

That’s enough chattering, go read Burke’s book and throw eggs at Kanye if you ever get the chance.

Coddling While Rome Burns

It’s not surprising that people are often making comparisons between our culture and that of the Ancient Romans.  Our culture was so heavily based on the Greek and Roman world, then baptized by Christianity, that even despite our best efforts to throw away the past there are many connections still present.  Most Universities still have some shreds of a well balanced curriculum in place.  You know those classes everyone is always complaining about because they will never ‘use’ them in the ‘real world’.  Well these people don’t know much about any world real or not.  A major theme in the comparisons is that of their decline.  The parallels are uncanny.  And it’s not just Rome the formula for a people in decline has been followed many times before.  People forget God, become obsessed with sports and sex.  Which results in unwanted children who are sacrificed on alters or disposed of in abortion clinics.  I have heard it since I was a child that the obsession with violence on TV was just like that of the Romans in the Colosseum.  But was it really?

p1533One major difference I see is that we live in light of what the Romans did.  We have learned something from them, or half learned it.  It is not entirely our fault, our culture has taken up the narrative of liars like Gibbon to the point that we don’t even know there is another side.  But what is there we respond too.  We see what they did and try to avoid it, or part of it.  Often our learning just takes the form of avoiding the symptoms.  As if a completely morally corrupt people could have been spared if only they had stopped going to the Colosseum.  No the fact is they went to the Colosseum and did everything they did because they were morally corrupt.  We are like the small child who has been told of the consequences of eating too many cookies and then stubbornly denies that they are in fact sick after having eaten said cookies.  We want to spit in the face of God but we think we have figured out a way to avoid the consequences this time. Oh we kill our babies in a special clinic behind closed doors, by trained ‘professionals’, so that makes it ok.

Violence isn’t really that pervasive in our culture, incorrect violence animated by evil hearts is too pervasive.  Most times and places were far more violent than America today.  Oh so we have depictions of wars on TV, most men through history actually participated in fighting of some kind.  It was a kill or be killed world, even for the civilized Greeks and Romans.  The violent hand of justice was regularly exercised, and rightly so, in every town square.  Those people planted hemp to execute wise justice, we plant it to feed or foolishness.  They were more violent we are more immoral.

But today we live in a world where it is easy to pretend that death does not exist, even the murder of your own child.  This won’t prevent us from following the path to destruction that Rome followed.  Nor will suppressing violent video games.   In fact I believe these are symptoms of another moral fault, cowardice.  It’s having someone else execute violence for us.  Since Victorian England, the west has so tried to sanitize everything and prevent any harsh reality from creeping into corrupt our children that we have become a people of wimps.  The old Christendom in Europe is far worse, but America is not far behind.  There are daily stories about the harsh realities of bullying.  Seriously?  Try having the people in the next village regularly raid your village?  Try experiencing hordes of Moorish Muhammedans invading your entire continent for 300 years.  We can’t keep score in sports for fear of hurting someone’s feelings.  Teachers are told to use purple pens because red is too offensive. There are daily stories about children being punished for holding their finger up like a gun. And on and on the coddling goes, as does the march of evil, because these people certainly aren’t being equipped to stand up and do anything about it.

panini

The apostle amongst the ruins. Panini.

I had to learn this lesson, and I think too late.  I grew up in a culture where passivity was thought to be morality.  Isn’t it more humble?  No, it’s just a good way to have good taken over by the natural course of things which is evil.  It’s a good way to ensure that His will does not happen on earth as it is in heaven. And evangelical Left Behind theology also contributes to it.  Why fight to make anything more true, good or beautiful, when it is all going to burn anyway?  In fact let’s light the fire so Jesus will come back sooner.  That actually sounds like every praise song I have ever heard.

I had a bit of an advantage because I was always strange and grew to not really care what people thought of me, in the constant barrage of criticism.  Courage get’s easier every time you exercise it.  And boy do we need that today.  We Christians stand on the truth of God, and as we act on it despite the bullying from the world, we become more faithful.  The solution is not an end of violence or, closing our borders, or civic education, or not being up in all the conspiracy theories.  The only solution is repentance.  That other stuff is just the means that God uses to allow stiff necked people to wipe themselves off the earth.  It is a little different every time, but it is a lot the same.

A Christian perspective on the fall of Rome might paint the picture a little differently.  The Church out Romand the Romans.  The Romans couldn’t compete with real civic virtue as practiced by Jesus the Christ working in his body the Church.  Christians really ministered to the poor, sick, and abandoned children.  They really were ideal citizens, the highest Roman virtue.  And the old world of Rome just looked like a joke, in light of the new world of the Gospel light shining on every area of life.  We need to get out there and shine that light again, instead of just trying to avoid the symptoms, or sitting back and waiting for the escape hatch of the fictitious rapture.