Monthly Archives: November 2014

Thankful for Complaining

On this holiday week I would like to take the time to complain.  Yes I know, not exactly a change for me, but I think it is an important topic to clarify.  I want to complain about all the people who say you should always be thankful for everything all the time.  I want to be thankful for people who stand up and complain, at the proper time.  It is easy to turn the complex wisdom of the Scripture into platitudes that apply to everything.  But that’s not how it works.  God doesn’t require you to go beyond what you are able, but we all have brains and we are supposed to use them.  This should be simple, but sin makes it complex, we corrupt everything.  And so it takes complex thinking to unravel the sin mess.  Simple platitudes don’t fare well against complex sin.

Ah, how warm and fuzzy.  If only it were that simple.

Ah, how warm and fuzzy. If only it were that simple.

Complaining can be a good thing.  God asks us to cry out to him and there are countless instances in scripture of God’s people crying out to him and God hears their cry and changes something (Exodus 2).  The whole Exodus story begins with the people crying out to God against their Egyptian oppressors.  And God heard them and rescued them.  We should remember that God had used the Egyptians to save the people of Israel (or literally Israel, another name for Jacob) from famine.  Joseph said it was good. Genesis 50:20.  Yet a little later the people of Israel are complaining against their Egyptian rulers.  We can’t just make inspirational posters with simplistic formulas for every situation.  Egypt which was once good under Joseph, had become evil.  As the beginning of Exodus tells us.  Egypt became afraid of Israel because they were multiplying, and so they kept repressing them more and more.  Their complaints were justified.  We need to be on the right side of what God is doing.  There was a time when Egypt was the savior, and a time when they were the tyrant.  The same is possible with any institution, be it King George III’s government or the Catholic Church in 1517.  Those under the blessing of God have a responsibility to be thankful, those under tyranny have a responsibility to replace lawlessness with order.  Early on Pharaoh recognized the blessing of God upon Joseph, and so he promoted him and was blessed.  Later as the Israelites were blessed with lots of children, Pharoah didn’t recognize that blessing, he wanted to keep them down and have some free labor.

And that gets to the purpose or the motivation.  There is a lot of confusion these days about what is evil or bad.  It is so crazy that damaging someones’ delicate sensibilities is now the highest evil.  Motivation is key.  If you verbally attack someone because they did something to you and you are trying to get back at them, that is sin, because you are just looking out for yourself.  If you tell someone they have committed a wrong in some way and you haul them before the proper authorities for justice to be done, that is good, even if they are innocent.  The first person is selfish, the second is concerned for the law of good or the good of society.  The same works with complaining.  Addressing a complaint to the proper person, which is the person who did it, then up the chain if they don’t respond, is good (Matthew 18).  Groaning about how bad things are for the sake of getting other people on your side, or because you can’t control your tongue, is bad.  English seems to have a lack of words for these two things.  Perhaps we could distinguish ‘whining’ from ‘making a petition’.

I think in the area of complaining this simplistic view has led to complacency in almost everything and even pacifism.  We just let whatever happens happen, without a word or thought.  There is a religion with a god like this, it’s not Christianity it’s Muhhamedanism.  Or you might just call it laziness.  The God of Christianity, has a real relationship with his people.  He really wants to hear our problems, and he want’s us to boldly ask for them to change, sometimes.  And if we don’t get it right away, and our cause is just, we should still keep asking until we change or the situation changes (Luke 18 1-14).  We are called to minister to a broken world, but complacently letting it fall apart is not ministering, it’s withholding the light, it’s depriving the world of the preserving power of salt. It’s stupid.

A good pastor should be complaining all the time. He should see the problems in his flock and address them.  That is good preaching.  If he is not addressing the problems of his flock he is meerly playing the us-vs-them game as he attacks other people.  These are bad complaints.  You can tell by evaluating their purpose.  So what the Catholics or the Charismatics did this or that?  Why point that out?  What are we doing?  Get the log out of our own eye.  Protect the flock from the wolves in it’s midst, beware the sidelong glance with other flocks.   He should also be aware of other tyrants trying to force their way on his flock, and he should hold them accountable.  We see in Exodus the improper response to the blessings God was pouring out on Israel.  Pharaoh, wanted to repress the people. The same thing happens today.  Obama want’s to repress the blessings God has given to the west, or whitey as his pastor might say.  This is because he is a jealous tyrant, just like Pharaoh.  This often happens to God’s people, they are blessed and everyone wants a piece.  ”It’s not fair.”  Actually it is fair.  God’s people are blessed for their faithfulness.  And people who encourage the murder of innocent children and the furthering of sexual deviancy, are not blessed.

But a pastor shouldn’t be doing it for his own comfort or ease.  Moses was God’s appointed instrument, but even he tried to do things in the wrong way at the wrong time, as he killed and Egyptian (Exodus 2:11-14), so God sent him into the wilderness for 40 years to cool off until the time was right. Then later the people were complaining, apparently rightly, and God sent them water from a rock Exodus 20. But Moses was upset and struck the rock instead of speaking to it, as a result he was the one punished.  He was not allowed to enter the promised land. Sometimes even the right leaders, are doing it wrong, and need correction.

History can teach us much on the subject.  The people of the thirteen colonies in America had the highest biblical literacy, and probably the highest percentage of faithful Christians, of any nation ever.  They were mostly Puritans who came over here seeking to spread the Gospel and establish a Christian community for all the world to see, a city on a hill.  And they did, and they were blessed for it.  Fifty of the fifty-five signers of the Constitution were faithful, trinitarian, Christians.  And a similar number for the Declaration of Independence, which was a list of complaints against George III.  He saw this people being blessed and he wanted some of the action.  He was a corrupt tyrant(of course he was nothing to the tyrants we have today). The people rightly objected.  They sought every legal measure, possible. They waited patiently. They prayed.  Then things escalated.  They threw the taxed tea in the harbor.  Nothing else was touched, unlike the mess we have going on in Ferguson.  The Pastors were the ones leading the charge to hold the King accountable for his lawlessness.  They were called the Black Robed Regiment.  It was a principle which that godly people knew very well, it was a doctrine they carried in the notes of their Geneva Bibles.  Notes written by Calvin expounding on the scripture.  It was the theology of the duty of lower magistrates/leaders to stand up to the tyranny of upper magistrates/leaders. Then they told the king they were leaving.  He didn’t like that very much and he started a war.  As a result the Colonists, won.  They won more law and order. It is clear God was on their side, and their cause was just, even though they complained.

Shortly after that another ‘revolution’ began in France.  It was not based on forming a more godly, or a more lawful society.  It was formed by mobs of people griping and wining against God, and actually spitting in His face.  They actually sought to overthrow the 7 day week because it was based on traditional Christianity.  It was all about selfishness.  And as a result, all of the original leaders were killed by the mob they incited, the cult to madame guillotine. France has never recovered. To this day they are a chaotic malaise, soon to be overtaken by multiculturalism, as they were by the germans time and again.  This is very similar to the rioting in Ferguson.  Where is the evidence that these people can take care of themselves?  If you won’t govern yourself, God will send a government to stop the evil (Romans 13).

complaint

There is a time and a way to complain.  And there there is a time to be thankful.  And both need to be precise.  Don’t just thank God generically.  How would your spouse like it if you just told them you loved them like a lame generic praise song?  Tell them specifically.  Tell God specifically.  And if you have a problem with something he is doing tell him specifically.  And if your brother sins against you, let it go, unless it is a larger issue affecting many people.  Think these things through.  Don’t forget to complain when you can change something for the better.  For his will on earth as it is in heaven.

Further Reading:

The Origin and Principles of the American Revolution, Compared with the Origin and Principles of the French Revolution, Friedrich Gentz 

Rules for Reformers, Douglas Wilson

Interstellar

interstellar3I wanted to say a few things about Interstellar that are worth thinking about, but I don’t think the movie is necessary.  It was ok, but my purpose here is not to promote it, just critique. We should think about everything around us. So, I am going to ‘spoil’ the plot.  I happen to think that if plot giveaways ruin a book or a movie, then it wasn’t that good to begin with.  Modern movies are all about plot, instead of about the complex themes, messages or beauty of the expression.  Good art is that which can be read and reread, watched and watched again, studied.

I’m not sure if it’s the level of technology or studio competition, but movies tend to travel in packs.  This is one of the, floating around in space pack, including Oblivion or Gravity.  I don’t think the cinematography was particularly beautiful, nor the special effects unique.  But they were seamless tools in delivering the experience, which is good.  The purpose of Art being to conceal itself as Ovid said.  I found that, yes I do want to watch Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway float around in space for three hours.  It seemed like only two.  I liked the use of the robots as unremarkable square blocks, they were then not characters but merely useful computers.

The scene is earth in the near future where a form of blight, or plant infection, has killed all the food crops.  They are down to corn, and that seems to be dwindling.  Mankind has given up “We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars 1. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.2” Says Coop, the hero of the movie. We are introduced to the professional government school teacher criticizing Coop for confusing his daughter with false narratives about man landing on the moon.  Those in the know, know that the space program was faked to make the Soviets waste a bunch of money, so we could win the cold war. This is a scene that takes place over and over in the real world.  The professionals know how to raise your kids better than you do, even as they lie about recent and distant history, ostensibly to promote a more better, Godless, way for mankind.  My first problem is here.  Coop is the modern American hero in many ways, not the hero of todays’ feminist tyrannical universities and culture but that of our grandparents.  He is an engineer, with dreams that exceed his grasp, he works hard and smart and takes risks, to explore the frontier, to conquer any problem with science.

But even this is a rewriting as offensive as saying the space program didn’t happen.  It didn’t just happen, and it wasn’t just an achievement of freedom or democracy or science that went to the moon.  It was the height of Christianity that went to the moon.  Just as it was Christianity that sailed the ocean in 1492.  Muhammedans didn’t discover science, they didn’t seek to set the whole world right because it was not in their religion.  Muhammed was a tribal warlord.  He told his people that god has promised him the defeat of all of his enemies in battle.  And so the people set about attacking all the other tribes.  They still do it today. And the fact that they have not been successful in battle for  a couple hundred years, has led them to teenage terrorist angst.  Something is wrong, and instead of ditching their false religion, they lash out like a rebellious teen who was never taught to properly control his urges.

Christianity on the other hand is a message of self sacrifice, leading to the total redemption of the whole earth.  We follow Christ by laying down our life for the lives of those in our midst, in our town and out on the frontier.  This is why Christians have always produced explorers and missionaries, the two were often one.  Christianity produced explorers of science, because we believe in a faithful God of fixed rules and order.  Yet he is not a standoffish God, he participates with man in bringing about his ends.  We are not fatally trapped in our position, we can make things better.  We can build and develop all for the glory of God.  Christendom lost a bit of this spirit, in the high church 15th century, but the Reformation brought about a great revival.  Every profession is good, because it is for the glory of God.  The humility required to always be embracing new technology, new ideas, is a requisite for or modern conveniences.  It takes a Christian humble people to found and build the America that even the most staunch atheist has to admit is a very comfy place.  We can’t really expect this much from Hollywood, when the Church today doesn’t even get it.  There really is no excuse it is the most obvious fact of history.  But we have been sitting in classrooms, like the one in the movie, for far too many generations. Classrooms where history is twisted to meet pragmatic, functional, darwinian ends, rather than to tell the truth of what God has done on this earth.  We want scientific robots rather than moral men with character.

Hi my name is Dr. Michael Mann,  like long walks on the ice, falsifying data and suing people who disagree with me.

Hi my name is Dr. Michael Mann, I like long walks on the ice, falsifying data and suing people who disagree with me.

But to this function, the movie actually speaks rightly.  The people content with living in the dirt, seem to have given up all hope and wait to die.  While another group of scientists, seek to save humanity, yet only for functional reasons.  They are NASA going underground to hide their research from the farmers 3.  The villain of the movie is Dr. Mann.  He is willing to throw out any morals, and even abandon his fellow NASA pioneers, ‘for the good of humanity’ i.e. saving his own skin.  This picture is truly hilarious.  Dr Mann, is of course a mockery of Michael Mann, global warming alarmist and creator of the computer-predicted hockey stick graph.  Those familiar with Mark Steyn know this nut is currently suing Steyn, for mocking his hockey stick.  I love how the movies sets up Dr. Mann, as a very small man, alone on his ice cube of a planet, falsifying the data he sends back to earth, claiming his planet is livable, warmer than it actually is, to save his butt.  In a bid to get them to come and save him.  He is a coward and a liar.  I am not sure how they got Matt Daemon to play Mann since he is definitely in the church of global warming.  It truly brings one great satisfaction to see Daemon mock himself and the foolishness of global warming.

Also the Nolans were careful to point out that the blight on the earth was not the result of man’s activities or waste or not listening to Algore/Mann.  It was just the earth battling or expelling mankind.  Which is a bit like reality.  The earth was cursed, whether just the earth or dirt that made Adam or the whole earth is a little unclear in Genesis.  But Christians have generally seen the earth as capable of evil. Though there is a line in the movie about how nature is not evil, the only evil is what they bring with them.  But the punishment for animals that take human life in Scripture leads me to believe that nature is corrupted.  Though we as humans do have the unique ability to disobey God, to be evil.  We are the one silent planet, the rebellious planet, in the great symphony of God’s creation.

But the Interstellar replacement for the cold hard scientific religion of existing to exist, isn’t much deeper than the pop song version of ‘love’.  Love which seems to be the emotion of liking someone, crosses all galaxies and dimensions. I’m not sure how you live in a purely physical world lacking anything metaphysical, with no God, and still have a love that trancends, but that seems to be the new goal, to create that world.  And so the film leaves me with the feeling that all is not quite right, in this imaginary world.  Having travelled into the worlds created by the classics of Christendom, I was left with a strange taste in my mouth. I even find the Matrix more satisfying.  If the best we can do is this lame version of love, I’m not celebrating.  We can do much better, humanity has, and our culture has been systematically throwing out all those lessons, all that Christianity, rather than building on it.

Many recent apocalyptic movies portray a notion that is quite common today, that we must leave this earth and find another home.  Because we are going to destroy this planet or because it’s part of evolution.  This even seems to be the motivation of NASA these days, to colonize Mars.  This is all crazy.  There is some of this in the movie but it comes closer to reality than other movies.  Humanity is saved, rather than just moving to another planet, they move to small earths or space stations around the same sun.  But it still lacks the imagery of Scripture, it is this earth that man is called to rule.  Sure we can destroy some things, but it is arrogance to assume we can destroy the earth.  We are not a virus who sailed across the Atlantic to destroy the native perfection.  Our promise in Scripture has always been a glorified earth where Christ reigns.  The future for Christians it to bring about a renewal of every corner of this broken earth. And so Christians have done this, so successfully that most people take all these blessing for granted.  Now they have started in criticizing the past for not being as good as what Christianity did.  Of course there is nothing wrong with exploring the moon, or mars. And so in the movie both happen, the people of earth are saved and an outpost is set up on a far away planet.  But living by the false narratives, the false religions of scientism, or insipid ‘love’, is going to be about as successful as those tribal Muhammedans.

Why go to the moon or spread the gospel when you can have an orgy in the mud?

Why go to the moon or spread the gospel when you can have an orgy in the mud?

  1. I think the endless wondering is because we have been set adrift from our Christian heritage. We content ourselves with movies composed of explosions and fights, but no content.  We content ourselves with entertainment rather than a quest for a better, more Christian world. We content ourself with lame stories, when Christendom has given us so many wonderful moral stories.  The Medieval man knew his place, on Earth, center stage in the drama of God.  Man the height of creation, but also the center of sin.  Today, we just float around in postmodern hyper-individual, confusion.
  2.  This reminds me of a similar quote by C. S. Lewis, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”― C.S. LewisThe Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses
  3. The allusion to the conflict between the passive farmer and the NASA scientist, is not meaningless.  On July 20, 1969, NASA sent the first man to the moon, a month later the hippies rolled around in the mud of Woodstock.  Ever since there has been a battle and the hippie losers of Woodstock have mostly won.  Today they are the political leaders filling Washington, the professors filling our universities, and the producers filling Hollywood.  As such we don’t rule and subdue the earth, we don’t innovate, we languish in the mud of government bureaucracy, held back by Dr. Mann and his dope-smoking band of godless environmentalists.  We don’t bravely conquer new problems that arise, we cower and hold back other nations from the progress we made, “for the earth”.  

No Political Messiah

We in Montana know something about being occupied by a foreign government.  We are a conservative Republican state with a Democrat governor.  Oh sure he pretends he’s from Montana and has our best interest at heart.  But confiscatory taxes keep rising, and freedoms keep shrinking. The reality is that he is stuck between following orders from Rome, um, I mean Washington, and trying to still maintain favor with the people.  It seems that there are daily reminders as life continues to grow worse and worse, that we are not truly free.  Large bureaucracies thousands of miles away tell us what we can do with our land, our children and even our churches.  We have seen deliverers before.  There was Reagan only a few decades ago, who rescued us from Jimmy Herod Carter.  But soon the tyranny returned under another name.  If only someone would come and rescue us.  And so was the situation at the time Jesus walked this earth.  The Herods, ruled like the Clintons and the list of mysterious dead enemies was about the same length.  Unlike the Obama’s, Herod would never tell your kids what to eat, or which doctor you could see.  In the recent election many people put their hope in Republican, politicians.  Oh, “Steve Daines, random business man, with no personality, tepid faith and an unremarkable record, is the Messiah!”  I think I heard them chant.

Added to this the Jewish people, were only a people because they were united by a promise.  A promise of a Messiah, who would rescue them from bondage.  Who would come and destroy the unfaithful, those outside the family of God.  Their Ronald Reagan was Judas Maccabees (Ironic that another Judas would be forever remembered as the betrayer.).  He had thrown off the Selucid rulers, and won the right to freely practice temple worship, for the nation of Israel.  It is for this temple rededication, that the eight candles of Hanukkah burn (Again, ironic that Jesus destroyed that temple when he returned again in 70A.D.).  Judas had done his great work only about 200 years prior.  Which is similar to how we remember the exploits of George Washington.  Well unless we went to Government school, in which case we remember some Indian tribe that the Indians, I mean, native people don’t even remember, when they–native.

Then John the Baptist bursts on the scene.  Followed shortly by Jesus.  He seemed to fit all the qualifications for the Messiah, and then some.  I was struck by the phrase in Mark 7:37 ”He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”. . .”let’s bag him.”  This is the guy let’s make him king.  John 6:14,15 “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!”  Let’s send this guy to Washington he will fix everything.  ”This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” As Barack the Obama might say.  Politics these days have extended a little beyond everyday needs, as some insane politicians promise to stop global warming and bring back extinct species from the dead.  Yet Jesus had something better in mind.  He was going to not only conquer Herod and the Roman Empire, he was here to conquer death.  Man’s final enemy.  ”O death, where is your sting?”  And no this is not accomplished by sequestering CO2 emissions or colonizing Mars, it’s done by dying.

Repeatedly Jesus told people, whom he had healed, not to tell anyone, because the mob was waiting at almost any time to seize him and make him king.  This was the political reality.  In reading through Mark you can’t help but notice the repeated statement.  They weren’t allowed to tell the story, because they didn’t know the whole story.  They just knew about magnanimous healings, or provided food. And that part of the story they misunderstood, they only saw the perfect earthly, political savior.  But the story continued, this Messiah, went to Jerusalem, like a conquering king.  The people cheered, this was their savior.  And then he was killed.  What a downer.  Everyone fled, even his disciples.  What the heck is going on?  This can’t be right, and we get to follow Peter as he misunderstands it too. What a contrast, after just proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, he proves he doesn’t know what the Christ was to be.  Jesus rebukes him “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the plan of God, but on the plan of men.(Mark 8:33)”  This guy was the savior of the world.  ”Truly this man was the Son of God.”  It took a Gentile soldier to say it.  He died all right, but then he rose from the dead.  He appeared to hundreds of people, it was beyond a doubt.  The story was now complete, and so Mark tells it. He dramatically ends his gospel of the lion, no longer with, “don’t tell anyone” but with “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”

Christ Enthroned.  Surrounded by the four Gospels., Stained Glass, Christ Church Cathedral. Oxford, England.

Christ Enthroned. Surrounded by the four Gospels., Stained Glass, Christ Church Cathedral. Oxford, England.

You have to make sure you tell the whole story.  Jesus tells people to consider the cost, before you decide to follow him.  You don’t just latch on to the healing or the free food, it’s not about receiving.  It’s about giving, giving your entire life.  He who would gain his life must lose it.  Do you want to enter the Kingdom and take your place beside your King?  Then you must live selflessly. And so the early Church did just that.  They cared for one another, and the poor, and the widows, and the sick.  And they conquered Rome.   Then they conquered the world.  Yet somehow we forget all this and put our faith in politicians.  We like having important things happen miles away, then we don’t have any responsibility, yet we can still complain all the time.  ”It’s not my fault, I voted for the other guy.”  But it is our fault, especially the Church.  We are the light of the world.  We should know how this works.

We haven’t been living selflessly.  We climb over each other like rats trying to get as much as we can.  Then when one of the rats gets to the top we send him to Washington as if that is going to fix anything.  We throw away children when it is convenient.  We feed our pleasures, sexual, culinary, monetary, influential, and then wonder why God does not bless our nation.  We are worse off than the people who didn’t know better.  II Peter 2:21.  We must fall on our faces and repent, and go a different way, the way of self sacrifice.  Leaders are not the ones who scramble to the top by riding the wave of State surplus, and mediocre tech money to notoriety.  Leaders are the ones who would rather do something else but are called upon to do their duty, to serve.  The ideal king in Scripture is the one who sacrifices for his people.  He is not a dictator.  He is Jesus.

 

The Count of Monte Cristo

The only notable thing about Europe these days is that Christians used to live there.  ”You didn’t build that,” we might say.  And the same thing is becoming true in America.  So with the great joy at rediscovering the forgotten treasures they left behind, there is also the weight of sadness that it was so easily cast aside.  Fortunately those great men built such a rich and durable culture, it has taken us a long time to destroy it.  It is never to late to repent.  Like Josiah rediscovering the scrolls of the law, there was great joy, but the king tore his clothes, because he knew they deserved judgement for their apostasy.  But they reformed nonetheless knowing that our God is compassionate.  So it should be with us.

Bramer_Leonaert_The_Scribe_Shaphan_Reading_The_Book_Of_Law_To_King_Josiah

Bramer_Leonaert_The_Scribe_Shaphan_Reading_The_Book_Of_Law_To_King_Josiah

Oh we live in a time of so much opportunity.  I can do my work all day and have people read the great classics of Christendom to me, all for free.  So I was blown away this week as I began to listen to the Count of Monte Cristo.  If you have heard of the book at all you were probably taught that it is all about revenge, this is the overwhelming theme of all the movies I have seen (Interesting that the actor who plays the count in the latest movie also played Christ in the Passion).  Wikipedia and other sources only speak of revenge.  Woe to the men who perpetrate this lie, they will receive their millstones (Matthew 18:6).

The New Testament brings about great changes in God’s relationship with his people.  One of these is in the area of the arts.  In the Old Testament many of the arts represented paganism and were forbidden.  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” -Exodus 20:4.  Art, was idols.  We do see Solomon adorning his temple with cherubs, pomegranets, and palms.  So it was with their literature, which centered mostly around commenting on the law, or poems of praise.  So it was with the art of Christendom, but in a different way.  The floors of churches were now covered with mosaics of animals, while the synagogue had featured only geometric patterns.  Christianity took the implements of paganism, and baptized them for the glory of God.  It was a tremendous victory.  And it extended to all the arts.

Jesus unlocked a different way of looking at the Old Testament.  He read the same words as the Jewish people had done, but he read them differently, he fulfilled them to the letter but in a way no one had expected.  This shift or double meaning, opened up a whole new world of literature.  No longer did Christians merely comment on the Law of God, they mimicked it.  As with the parables of Jesus, stories could teach, they could also hide.  The truth of the Old Testament had been hidden.  Jesus revealed it by writing the new story of his life to fulfill it, to change the meaning.  It is no wonder that the Church began to have  an affinity for allegory.  The New Testament writers followed the lead of Jesus and began finding rich comparisons in the stories of the Old Testament.  Sure they were the actual historical accounts of what happened to the great patriarchs but they were also images, themes that could be applied today.  And so they applied them.  Rich art traditions formed around these characters and those of the New Testament, literature, art, sculpture, architecture, music.

One of the most popular books of all time, second only to the Bible, is Pilgrim’s Progress.  A blatant allegory written by the vibrant Puritan, John Bunyan.   But many men wove the themes of their Faith into more subtle tapestries.  These threads connected from work to work, building and building, and then the weaving went dormant as the modern age set fire to the past with it’s coal furnaces of industry.  I discovered this week the Count of Monte Cristo, as Jesus the Christ.  The Count of the Mountain of Christ, it should be obvious.  And so it was after less than a quarter of the book.  The blind can see only revenge in the book, just as they think Christianity is only about rules and a cruel judgemental God.

tumblr_mlnrtvSIkp1rrnekqo1_1280The words of the Gospel are, true, they should not be changed or twisted.  But they are not dead.  As they create new stories in the lives of each saint, they can also create rich stories in the minds of great writers, sub-creators, as Tolkien calls them.  The Gospel can be told in new and creative ways, as the arts are explored, and discovered.  These other worlds can knock down our biases and give us perspective on our world. What a wonderful world has been given to us.

It really would not do justice to try to summarize the rich story, read it, listen to it for yourself.  But, it is so incredible having the Gospel story retold, as if it were the first time.  Far better than a hundred sermons.  Each man is judged, but it is not revenge, each chooses his path himself, just as on this earth.  The treatment of Edmund is either rewarded or punished, just as the treatment of our Lord.  No cup of water given to his disciples, for his sake, will be forgotten (Mark 9:41).  Each story of each man is a gambit, they are given even another chance.  They could repent, and be blessed or heap judgement upon themselves.  We often forget the end of the gospel, the return of our Lord.  But that is the gospel too.  It is the Justice, which we, the faithful servants of Jesus, thirst for (Matthew 5:6).  And the Christ will come and set it all right.  Our sense of justice is not misplaced it is only not yet realized.  But it shall be one day.  The Count will return.  The Innocent shall be set free, and blessed to party with the count in his bejeweled luxury.  The guilty shall be left to destroy themselves, in utter darkness.

 

Read:  http://www.amazon.com/Count-Monte-Cristo-Penguin-Classics/dp/0140449264/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414862143&sr=1-1&keywords=count+of+monte+cristo

Listen:  https://librivox.org/the-count-of-monte-cristo-version-3-by-alexandre-dumas/