Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Love has to return

Taking charge of our own evolution. Without actually stating it in plain language, this is what the philosophy of the ‘modern’ world is. This ‘philosophy’—and I must put the word in quote marks to alert the reader to my disassociation of it with what I believe philosophy really is—this philosophy has infected every aspect of life, producing a theory of society which in the end will end society, and possibly the human race. To take charge of our own evolution is tantamount to committing suicide.

It’s quite common for moderns to assume that if one is a Christian, then one is hopelessly stupid, bigoted, backward, and given to fundamentalist fantasies and other lost causes. We are all assumed to almost believe in a flat earth, since we believe in other such nonsense like literal six-day creation of the universe by a tribal god, and we can be relied upon to oppose every progressive thought or achievement or legislation to better mankind. It doesn’t help that there are Christians who fit their stereotypes.

I am a Christian. I also believe in a Creator whom I identify as God. I’m a Church member. I believe that the universe is probably as old as scientists say, and that it has become what it now is probably by evolving over time—yes, evolution, at least cosmic, but quite possibly biological as well, seems to be how the Creator God fashions time and space and whatever else is ‘out there.’ I don’t waste my time trying to prove the inerrancy of the Bible as a scientific or social history book. Life itself is its proof.

The God I believe in is not the same god that the atheist doesn’t believe in. The Church I belong to is not the same christianity that the anti-religionist likes to bash and ridicule. The Faith I confess is not the same faith that the end-times prophet or the wild-eyed street preacher pushes, or the diamond-studded evangigolo promises as ‘this is your day.’ No, I believe in, I trust, the God of whom the Bible is written icon, the Church that’s always existed in one piece, and the only Faith that people will die for.

Enough said, these three things exist, and you know where to find them. I don’t tie them as bait or as reward to anything I am about to say, and one doesn’t have to be a Christian or even a believer in God to see, know, and understand this: Nobody alive today has seen or lived in a world where evolution, and God, are honored and followed exclusively, universally, and without question—except for the members of peripheral communal societies whose intention is to do exactly that, to the best of their ability.

Tradition, a word that usually provokes either of two responses, neither of them exactly correct—either you are roused by a usually subliminal indignation, or you are filled with a vague feeling of sweetness and sentimentality. The modern person hates tradition, even when he has been raised in an environment where ‘tradition’ is a component, hence the two either/or responses. This is nobody’s fault, because we’re generations deep in our preoccupation with the philosophy of the ‘modern’ world.

We have to go back before the age of revolutions, even the almost innocent ones (or maybe not so innocent), to a time that most of us regard as the dark ages, although the historical ‘Dark Ages’ (just a Western construct) begin with the fall of Rome and end sometime about five centuries later. What we have been conditioned to call the dark ages is any time or place where our modern civil rights are or were non-existent. There was slavery, inequality of the sexes, superstitious religion, and poverty.

For many moderns, the time we’re living in now are actually nothing better than the dark ages in milder form. For them, we still are suffering from the aforementioned blights, and with regards to three of the four, I agree with them. I oppose slavery, though I am aware that it exists today even more prolifically than in any past age. I oppose superstitious religion, but that is a matter I can do nothing about for anyone but myself. As for poverty, well, that’s an ambiguous state. It can be good or bad; it depends.

What I find outrageous, is that the very people who promote and insist on the truth and primacy and importance of evolutionary theory are the first to oppose it when it doesn’t confirm their prejudices. They believe in evolution but are not willing to let it take its course. They want to take charge of it, be its director. They want to be—in my language the being I call—God. They’ve been doing this even before Darwin gave evolutionary theory its vocabulary. They’ve been taking charge of our evolution.

Or, so they think, because even the many false starts and wrong turns in just one area of evolution, human society, that they’ve taken (many of which are still in process, so we can’t see what their outcome will be) are actually still part of evolution, that mindless, almost eternal thrust forward, onward, and upward, which is from a Christian’s point of view—my own—actually the guiding and providential hand of the Creator and not (forgive me, for calling it) mindless, bringing us, the human race, to Him.

Making themselves enemies of Tradition, which they consider blind, backward, and stifling, thinking themselves superior to it, they have outwitted themselves. Why? Because Tradition is the visible and tangible and practical face of human evolution. It is what has guaranteed that we have survived as a species to this very moment. It is the continuous cutting off of false starts and the discovery of new paths for our emergence as—the living images of God on earth, and possibly, in the universe.

I see. I’ve just made the modern man’s (or woman’s) head spin. How can tradition, which has always been anti-progressive, be viewed as something good for humanity? And the traditionalist, the same head spinning, only in the opposite direction. What do patriotic and religious ceremonies and family holiday get-togethers have to do with becoming (gulp!) the living images of ‘you know Who’? Well, it’s like I said, ‘Nobody alive today has seen or lived in a world where…’ not even me, but we have history.

Let’s start with the one of the four blights of the dark ages which I was unable, with the modernist, to classify as a bad thing—inequality of the sexes. What most people mean when they use this term is that men and women are treated differently in society. They might be doing the same work, but men will be paid more than a woman for doing the same job. Certain professions are open to men only, but not to women. In the recent past, men could vote, and women couldn’t, or do any number of other things.

Well, the modern world has been doing its best to change all this. You’d be stared down or shouted down, if you were to say that many if not all of these changes were actually working against evolution. If you objected to the changes because they were against tradition, well, you might be hissed at, but then ignored and marginalized as a pedantic, old fool. But the relationship between the sexes that we have inherited and is now being discarded is part of our racial evolution and is necessary for our survival.

That relationship can’t be defined as a relationship between equals. Equality between man and woman is not analogous to equality between man and man, which is a relationship of the outer world. The man woman relationship is a meeting of outer world (man) and inner world (woman), where each gender reigns in its own sphere. Man builds and guards the outer world, woman the inner. Man prepares the world for it to be inhabited. Woman provides the inhabitants. She ensures the survival of the race.

The old saying of ‘throwing out the baby with the bathwater’ should have been saved for this moment in human history, where the degradation by transformation of woman has deprived her of her role as the guardian of the survival of the race. The baby thrown out simply dies. There is no next generation now or ever. The equality of the sexes that is promoted by the modern world turns men into women and women into men, but men cannot be mothers, nor women fathers, except in exceptional circumstances.

We all know what some of those exceptional circumstances are. Families lose one parent or the other, and so a father has to be a mother to his kids as best he can. Or a dad dies or abandons the family, and so the mother must be the father too. We have already seen the effects of the latter situation, which is far more common, in every western society. Single parent families are usually headed by women, and the lack of a father’s presence in the lives of children of both genders usually has very negative effects.

Tradition is the source of practices and attitudes which have survived because they worked to ensure the survival of the species, but because it is another name of evolution, it is necessarily going to be in flux. Some things that we did as humans in the past worked for us, but don’t work now. These have to be discarded, but they are not discarded by fiat of revolutions. Evolution takes time, and so Tradition takes time too. Change for the better happens slowly, not cataclysmically, otherwise—catastrophe.

It will not be easy to get back to the main road of our human evolution. By taking charge of our own evolution we’ve drifted so far from that road that it’s almost invisible to us. Fortunately, evolution still works even when we are trying to hi-jack it. Nature always finds a way to correct itself, when agents anti-natural, such as humans under the mystique of false divinity, attempt to divert it from its path. The saying, ‘Love will find a way,’ is another way of expressing the same truth. We’ll get back, at least some of us.

Because the sad truth, the very sad truth is, that the longer we wait, the harder it will be to return to the path of Tradition, the more dangerous, the more costly in human lives. Our whole social experience has to be re-imaged, and it may already be out of our capacity to return, short of another kind of cataclysm—one that we don’t cause in our impatience for radical change, but one which Nature herself will supply. We don’t need to be end-times fundamentalists to prophesy this. Perhaps, it’s not too late.

These thoughts, I am writing as a Christian, and so I am already assured in principle of the survival of the race. I know from the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, and from the example of the universal Church throughout the ages, that what we Orthodox call the ‘Holy Tradition,’ when fully and intentionally accepted, produces a human world in which ‘all things are possible,’ but that this world has not appeared yet. It’s enough to know that it hasn’t, but that it can, when we want it badly enough.

We ourselves are the reason why, no other explanation is necessary. All discussion about human rights and social responsibilities, all the schemes by which we attempt to short-circuit the operation of evolution, to take short cuts by hiding the only possible road (because we abhor it) and carving out for ourselves alternate roads, are simply wasting precious time. Families need to be founded. Fathers need to work, beget and raise children. Mothers need to bear, nourish and teach them. Love has to return to the world.

Monday, May 23, 2016

To be a human being

Thinking about rules, and about unity. We are Orthodox Christians. The world, if it hears of us, thinks that we must be loaded with rules. My Catholic friends jokingly console me when I am about to enter Holy Week because they know our services are very long, and that I’m probably fasting. These imagined sufferings, they think, are due to our super abundance of rules. We still fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.

We raised our family of four sons mostly in the Greek Orthodox Church. Our oldest spent his lonely ‘only son’ years anything but lonely as he was ‘all our eggs in one basket.’ We were Episcopalians, then, but high church, meaning, more Catholic than the pope. That was a more rule-laden religion than the Orthodoxy we encountered and joined, along with his three younger brothers, when he was fourteen.

Bottom line is, our family lived according to the rules. We never for a moment considered that there might be another possibility. Rules were the human expression of God’s orderly universe, scaled down to our minuscule size, given to us so that we could live together in love, peace, fairness, and freedom. We knew that ultimately the rules came from God, but that humans were the middlemen all the way.

Knowing that the rules we lived by were mostly man-made didn’t startle us. The God we believed in, though responsible for supernatural miracles as recounted in scripture, we nonetheless knew, mostly communicated His will to us through each other. We could tell, without thinking about it much, which rules were from God and unalterable, and which were from us and therefore changeable.

Οικονομία, oikonomía (ee-koh-no-MEE-a), a word with many meanings—the law or management of a household or family; also, God’s plan of salvation—for us had the special meaning of our ability to bend, break or even suspend a rule, if there were sufficient grounds to do so. In other words, our right to loop hole a law, though it had better be defensible. Again in other words, a right to be exercised responsibly.

Yes, our family lived, and still lives, according to the rules. Our sons knew without us telling them that we expected them to live according to the rules we taught them. They knew when they broke them, even when they broke them defiantly, that the rules weren’t going away any time soon. Now that they are adults, I know without them telling me, that they expect me to keep living according to the rules.

This is where unity comes in. As children they saw that we as parents were subject to the same rules. In starting them out as citizens with us of the Kingdom of God, we did not give them the ‘freedom’ to accept or reject the rules. We simply imposed them. As they grew up they realized that the Orthodox Church was a community, even a nation, that they belonged to, because they followed the rules.

There was a certain stability in that, which they could not only sense, but build upon. Along their way to adulthood some were obedient, some rebelled, but both ended up in the same place. Sometimes obedience can breed a kind of mindless conformity, so I was always glad to see some rebellion in them. I myself am rebellious. Rebellion for the sake of righteousness has its place even within the Church.

Both ended up in the same place, I said, without qualifying it. What place was that? The Kingdom of God, as we mature we realize, despite what we think are boundaries hedged about by rules, is actually limitless. No matter in what direction or how far you try to run, once you have lived there and eaten its food, you can never leave it because you can never find the boundaries. It is not a flat earth universe.

Again, this is where unity comes in. What we experienced, and still do, in the microcosm of humanity called Orthodoxy, is a unity that is essentially indivisible. It is its unity which makes its members human. You can be divided from it, yes, but then you are no longer human. The rules are the oikonomía that inaugurates and preserves our humanity and our unity. Without them, we are only irrational animals.

There is no such thing as a single man. In the scripture we read, ‘It is not good for man to be alone,’ and then we find that a helpmate is found for him, not from any species other than his own. Just as there can be no God that is mathematically one, there can be no man in utter solitude, no true individual. The nature of existence itself posits plurality in unity, an essential unity that is personalized by—the rules.

Now, modern society is at its existential nadir, its lowest point, a hair’s breadth from de-resolution. Why? Because it has rejected the rules in pursuit of what it calls ‘freedom.’ Rejecting the rules for the sake of this freedom has the result of destroying the essential unity of society and encouraging isolation and addiction among its members. Then, a different set of rules and a different kind of unity are imposed.

The rules we have inherited over the course of human civilization, God-given from the beginning, are the laws inherent in our human nature, initiating and preserving that unity which makes us humans. They are what define humanity itself; without them there is no humanity. They are imposed on us by human nature, itself the vehicle of God’s revelation, and not by humans acting alone or in concert.

The unity we have because of the rules gives us true freedom, freedom from fear, because by them we know ourselves, we know who the man or woman is we meet in the street, even without knowing their names. We know that they are us, that we are them, that we are each other, now free to be ourselves because we are in relationship, free to do good, and to be good, because we know what good is.

The unity that society has been imposing on us as it has been dividing us with promises and deliveries of false freedom, the ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ of the continentalists, is a fabricated unity. It stands on nothing in our nature, and it is our human nature—if we are still human—that forces us to fight it, and fight it for our survival. That fight, we find, is for the rules, and for the unity, that was ours from the start.

Nothing can be added to them, nor should be. We know the rules are true because there are so few of them, do not require being written out, or ratified by parliaments, or enforced by uncrowned kings. Following them, if we must fight to do so, we defend not only our liberty, but our humanity, and our unity is not something that we or anyone impose on us. We cannot be anything other than united.

Modern society, and we are surrounded by it, may be at its existential nadir, but we who live together according to the rules constitute a true humanity, practice a true humanism, and by the rule of ‘survival of the fittest’ cannot but predominate over its existential collapse. Unity among us is not severed along religiously denominational lines, because the rules that make us human are universal, common to all.

They don’t need anyone, least of all me, to teach them. They are simply there just as you and I are there. It’s up to us to follow them, and keep alive what it means to be a human being.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Once upon a time

Once upon a time, there was a God, the only One actually, who had created a world and peopled it with beings just like Himself, only in miniature. His original idea was that the world that He had created should, through these miniatures, experience and even participate in the Being that He was. Although there was only One of Him, and always had been only One, His Being could not but be shared out equally and eternally among at least Three.

Why was this? Because Being itself is none other than Love, which is both a force, that is, a Spirit, and a source, that is, a Father, but there is more. Love cannot exist, either inside of time where we live, or outside of it (whatever that means) without an object, that is, a Son, a Someone who is both an exact reflexion of the Father, who reflects back that equal and eternal Love with which the Father loved Him, and also Himself a source, as true image of the Father.

Among at least Three, that much we know, and yet innumerably One, what theologians articulated as ‘One in essence, but Three in persons’ or something like that, this is what had been handed down after many generations, people who were so sure of the formula that they forgot its meaning. Beings just like Himself, only in miniature, this God created the same way He created everything, from His angle in the blink of an eye, from ours, evolving over countless æons.

Now, this God became one of His creatures, not just any kind, but the kind that were made as exact miniatures of Himself, the kind that He designed for this purpose: that when the world looked upon him, ‘in the image of God He created him,’ seeing them, ‘male and female he created them,’ the world would see and know them as God, and willingly obey and serve them. This kind of creature, designed and intended for this purpose, also had perfect freedom, as God has.

Most of us already know the rest of the story. Many of us think it is just a fairy tale, which is why I began telling it as a ‘once upon a time’ story. Some ask themselves, ‘If God was so smart, so perfect and all-knowing, why would he have created things like us, which were bound to fail? Perfect images of his nature? Right! Give us free will like he has, but no power to really use it. Any time we try, we dig ourselves an even deeper hole. If there is a God, we don’t want him!’

Back to our story, this is what happened. The equal and eternal Son only begotten of the equal and eternal Father, His exact reflexion and true image, did from eternity what He saw His Father doing. The result was the world we now see, ranging in likeness to its Creator from little to great, those of great likeness the beings just like Himself, only in miniature, what we call the race of Adam. Their likeness extended even to reason, will, love, and eternity, all of them free.

The freedom of the One God in Three divine Persons operates as it should within uncreated, eternal Being. However, in created being, even though eternal, a change took place. Those miniatures of God, created for the universe to worship, to love, and to obey, doubted the Love who had brought them into being. Having been given everything into their hands, they still doubted, and the freedom for which they were made was corrupted and changed into its opposite, slavery.

At this point, yes, and once upon a time, and very quickly too, the Son who had created the world and the miniatures of Themselves, Father, Son, and Spirit, entered the world. The Spirit somehow completed the semination of a virgin womb, and He that was eternally Son without a mother, was born one of His own creatures, the Uncreated and the created uniting in one man, whose nature it was both not to sin and not to die, whose freedom was incorruptible as was His body.

This is where ‘once upon a time’ no longer functions to describe what happened next, because eternity had now invaded time and subdued it, just as incorruption had vanquished corruption and soon, Life would be seen to trample death. The Son, both source and original of the Godlike miniatures, had arrived, like the original, to make invisible God visible, to reign over His creation, to receive the worship due only to the Unearthly, Divine Triad, Themselves the One God.

There could have been no other outcome. It was foreseen by Father, Son, and Spirit from before the beginning. In order for Love to become truly incarnate, embodied, in Their image and likeness, He must suffer every humiliation from conception, to birth, to death, to entombment. He must recapitulate every step He had taken in eternity, in time, on earth. Then, maybe, the beings just like Himself, only in miniature, now indissolubly wed to Him, might take their place.

Wed to Him? What can that mean? but that the Bridegroom of the universe, having been laid to rest, incorruptibly finished His work of creation. Majestic and triumphant the wounds from which gushed anew the Blood that had made so fertile the earth, that once it bore such fruit as bedazzled the angels—the first Adam, the first Eve—the second Adam came forth from the tomb as a Bridegroom exits the bridal chamber, His Bride no longer hidden, not in, but at His side.

Now it begins. No more a tale of ‘once upon a time’ that can be dismissed as a pious fantasy. No more a story told in the past tense, ‘for the world of the past is gone.’ There He stands among us whom He has remade. There the One in Three He stands, the open Door which none can close, now Paradise in male and female form, rekindling the Fire once brought down to earth, His story no longer captured in the telling, but taking captives now, presenting us as tribute to the Father.

The story was finished two thousand years ago, but we hadn’t noticed, finished, but not completed.

Not long to wait, O universe, not long, for they that sleep are about to awake, and the glory of the Lord is soon to shine upon you.


No waiting

As mankind comes to the threshold of the most amazing scientific accomplishments, his cruelty and self-destructive behavior escalates as well. We cannot be trusted, in our natural state, with our own 'perfections', which are not perfections at all but only more liabilities.

No matter where I look, there is no hope, no love, no wisdom, no accomplishment, no perfection outside of Christ, only death, death, death. They say we are escapists to have faith in the only-loving God, and that salvation is a mercenary incentive, that if God were loving and good, He would accept us all as we are, perfect and imperfect.
Do they really know what they are saying?

Only human perfection could be that incredibly stupid, not to know that heaven, or hell, is in our pockets, depending on which we have put there.

This is one of those moments for me where with Isaiah I want to cry out, 'Oh that You would tear the heavens open and come down…'
but I must confess that I cannot.

Isaiah could cry out because the Christ had yet to appear.
As for me, He is standing outside my door daily, knocking to be let in.

Always, and already, here. No waiting.
No one in the line ahead of me, only the old man.

Why can't he just get tired of waiting and leave the line.
Then, I would be next.
And the One at the wicket would not put up a sign,
'Next window please.'

What we are capable of

Everything that Jesus does is absolutely extraordinary. Whether or not He is God or the Son of God, the question pales into insignificance if we let ourselves look at Him and what He does with eyes unclouded by our mortality and unexpectation. It’s as if he appears on the stage of history to show mankind what we are actually capable of, what we can really accomplish, what we can be. We always want to say ‘No’ when someone expects something of us that we don’t believe we can do, be, or give, and that is almost everything. We live our lives as individuals and as nations in a constant state of fear and failure, in a state of perpetual negation. And so, we create a different world than the one that God creates for us. He gives us everything, and we take nothing from His hands, instead stealing only what is forbidden.

In His most extreme moment, Jesus, an innocent man crucified between two criminals, as He is going to meet death, cries out to God, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!’ This is not the kind of thing we expect a man on death row to think, let alone say. He has nothing more to gain or lose, yet He says this. Who is He asking God to forgive, and who is He to ask? Is He asking that the two thieves that are dying with Him be forgiven? Or the Roman soldiers who stripped and beat Him, nailed Him to the cross, and cast lots for His robe? Or the government officials, prefects and kings, who judged Him? Or the crowd that called for His execution ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ in exchange for the release of a known criminal? Or the religious leaders and the righteous who could not endure His words and deeds?

We don’t dare stand with the Pharisee who challenged Him when He told the paralytic ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ yet inwardly we are just as critical, just as negative, ‘Who can forgive sins but God?’ and so in our own day-to-day lives we execrate Him and call Him a liar by our thoughts and behaviors. We don’t really believe in forgiveness, His or anyone’s, except ritually, going to confession with our pittances of misdemeanors while we treat not only our neighbor, but the whole world, with contempt. If we listen to the words of the Gospel at all, ‘Which is easier, to say to this man, your sins are forgiven, or, take up your mat and walk?’ we hear them as tinseled words to decorate our vanity, and call it ‘piety.’ We never ask ourselves, ‘Who is He asking God to forgive?’ or even, ‘Who is He to ask?’ We know both answers.

But everything that Jesus does is absolutely extraordinary, everything He says. In everything He shows us what we are capable of. He is not God appearing as a human just to show off His miraculous powers. He is a man appearing as God to show us what we are made to be. He is not a figment of our imagination that we haul out on Sabbaths and festal days, to be put away, or even trashed, when our celebrations are over, like pagan, or rock-star, idols. We don’t really believe in the Creation story or in Adam and Eve, neither do we know, nor do we want to know, that Adam is mankind, created by God to be God on earth, and so Jesus, whom we call the ‘second Adam,’ is equally dismissed as just another story. He comes, He says, to make all things new. All things, even us. Renewed in the Image, of ourselves.

Our real selves, not what we have fashioned. What God made us, not what we pretend ourselves to be. Everything that Jesus does He does to show us what we are capable of. We really can heal the sick, give sight to the blind, preach the good news (that is, give hope to) the poor, even raise the dead. Our prayer can move mountains. Our forgiveness can transform the world. We can bring salvation to the earth. ‘Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father’ (John 14:12). Yes, we can even walk on water. We can exceed the myth. We can go beyond the saying, ‘God became man, so that man could become God,’ by actually manifesting, experiencing, living what the words are saying, and that is Truth.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Saturday evening prayer

O Lord, the Heavenly King,
the Comforter,
the Spirit of Truth:
Have compassion and mercy on me,
Thy sinful servant!

Absolve me, who am unworthy.
Forgive all the sins I have committed this day
both in my humanity and my inhumanity,
behaving worse than beasts in sins voluntary and involuntary,
known and unknown, from my youth,
from evil suggestions, haste and despondency.

If I have sworn by Thy name
or blasphemed it in thought;
if I have reproached anyone or become angered by something;
or slandered or saddened anyone in my anger;
or have lied, or slept unnecessarily;
or a beggar has come to me and I have despised him;
or have saddened my brother or quarreled with him;
or have judged someone;
or have allowed myself to become haughty, proud or angry;
or, when standing in prayer, my mind has been shaken
by the wickedness of this world;
or have entertained depraved thoughts;
or have over-eaten, over-drunk or laughed mindlessly;
or have had evil thoughts
or seen the beauty of someone
and been wounded by it in my heart;
or have spoken inappropriately;
or have laughed at my brother’s sins
when my own transgressions are countless;
or have been indifferent to prayer;
or have done any other evil that I can not remember—
for I have done all this and more:

Have mercy, O Master, my Creator, on me,
Thy despondent and unworthy servant!

Absolve, remit and forgive me, in Thy goodness
and love for mankind that I, who am prodigal, sinful and wretched,
may lie down in peace and find sleep and rest.

May I worship, hymn and praise Thy most honorable name,
with the Father and His only-begotten Son,
now and ever and unto ages of ages.

Amen.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A conspiracy of love

Conspiracy theory, a nice way of saying that anyone or anything that opposes my philosophy of the world, be it scientific, political, or religious, must be participating in a massive cover-up, perpetuating a great lie, and since there are so many, their efforts must be coordinated by some hidden power.

Another new book on the topic of the flat earth has been written. Wading through the hundreds of comments in a flat earth forum trying to answer someone’s question, ‘If the earth is flat, why has no one ever seen the edge?’ I am bewildered at the ingenuity shown in defense of the indefensible.

Everything from pseudo-scientific explanations like, ‘Near the edges the atmospheric pressure drops to zero and it’s so cold and dark, you can’t get near it,’ to the politically conspiratorial, ‘The edges are patrolled by armed guards from NASA preventing anyone from going to the edge and looking over it.’

The same mind set is at work to prove that the current savagery going on in the Near East, in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere, even the ravages of ISIS, the neo-caliphate, are actually the result of a conspiracy by the United States to destabilize the region, and to keep Arabs fighting each other, so as to secure Israel.

Sometimes I think there is a conspiracy against me too. Why is it that after working very hard all my life, raising a family of four sons, paying my taxes, going to church regularly and even tithing in the days when I had the money, I am not wealthy and blessed with a happy retirement in the home I built?

If I believed in ‘the prosperity gospel’ I would be a very bitter man today. I could say to God, ‘Look! All these years I’ve done this and that for You, followed your rules, kept myself uncontaminated by the world and even come to the aid of orphans and widows like the Bible says, and what have I got?’

In this case, there must be a conspiracy. Was it imps, evil spirits, the devil and his angels, that cheated me out of my rightful inheritance? That’s one conspiracy theory. Or was it God? If it was, then that’s the biggest conspiracy against me there ever could be! Better not go there. Ah! I know, it was the Jews!

That’s the one group, human and tangible enough that we needn’t blame supernatural beings, that we can blame and even sometimes feel all the more ‘Christian’ for doing so. It must be the worldwide Jewish conspiracy that has robbed me of the life I think I deserve. After all, they crucified Christ.

The writer of the biblical Epistle of James, no one less than the very brother of Jesus, cuts through the illogical logjam of every conspiracy theory. ‘You want something and you haven’t got it… You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy… Why you don’t have what you want is because you don’t pray for it.’

He goes on to say that when we do pray for something and don’t get it, it’s because we haven’t prayed properly, that we’ve prayed for something to indulge our own desires. ‘Sounds like he’s lock, stock and barrel involved in the worldwide Jewish conspiracy, using circular arguments. He was a Jew, wasn’t he?’

People will stop at nothing to blame others for what they lack. I’m not sure what flat-earthers are lacking that makes them hang on to a theory thrown out as irrational by Egyptians and Greeks thousands of years ago, maybe common sense. As for the rest of us, why do we kick against the goad?

An ox goad was a stick with a pointed iron tip used to prod the oxen when plowing. The farmer would prick the ox to steer it in the right direction. Sometimes the ox would rebel and kick out at the goad, and the point would be driven even further into its flesh. The more an ox rebelled, the more it suffered.

Yes, maybe conspiracy theory is correct. Maybe we are, after all, just human oxen, born to work for what we can never own, being fed and watered and stabled by masters who just use us for their own ends. Maybe that’s why we never really get what we want, even when we pray for it (if we’re religious).

Or maybe the truth is, the universe doesn’t revolve around us as the flat-earthers believe. Maybe we are all just part of a very gigantic picture, maybe the huge hologram some scientists say the universe is, and maybe what we call our happiness is not something we can impress on or extract from the world.

Maybe we are born, live, and die in this holographic universe as characters in a very long and involved drama, one in which the actors start out as mere fictions in the Author’s mind, but by shouldering our burdens, playing our part in the story, we end up being not actors but real people in a real universe.

Somewhere else. Yes, I know, that’s what they’re always telling us, ‘Work hard, boy, and you’ll find, one day you’ll have a job like mine, a job like mine, a job like mine’ croons Cat Stevens, once again affirming the Truth hidden in metaphor by his crypto-Orthodox tripling of the essential line in his songs.

‘But I know, for sure, nobody should be that poor,’ he continues, crying out against that conspiracy secretly woven as a spider’s web to catch its unwary prey. Perhaps it is a conspiracy, after all, but maybe it’s this kind of conspiracy. Someone working in collusion behind the scenes to bring us out of misery.

‘He tore the net, and we escaped,’ croons another bard and singer, this time the unknown psalmist, maybe David himself, but who knows, he didn’t sign this one. ‘He tore the net and we escaped; our help is in the name of Yahweh, who made heaven and earth.’ If there was ever a conspiracy, this is it.

They are looking for a way to save us, not hamper, hurt, or destroy us. They made us, it’s true, for Themselves and for Their purposes, Father, Son, and Spirit, and we do have to suffer, even work a little, and They give us only what we need right now. But if this is a conspiracy, it’s a conspiracy of love.

No one ever conspired so constantly, worked so unweariedly, prepared us so patiently, and loved us so lavishly as this holy cabal, hidden before us in plain sight, even fleshed out as the Jew we groundlessly fear the most, Jesus of Nazareth, who is one with the unearthly Triad. If there is a conspiracy, it is He.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

That one is you

The Orthodox fathers use the sun as an analogy to the Holy and Divine Triad. The sun itself is the Heavenly Father. The light of the sun is the Divine Word and Son of God. The heat of the sun is the Holy Spirit.

No one can see the sun, except by the light, which enters our eyes and shows it to us. We have no other way to be in contact with the sun or even know for sure that it is there, but for the light (and the heat). If you approached the sun to touch it, you would be incinerated long before you reached it. The Father, thus, is ever intangible and unreachable to us, in His essence.

The light of the sun, though, both shows us what the sun looks like and tells us that it is there. ‘Who sees Me sees the Father,’ says Jesus, the Son and Word of God. In Jesus the Father is both visible and reachable. We make our prayers known to the Father through the Son. Moreover, light itself has two natures. It is both particles (photons) and waves (pure energy), and in the same way, Jesus the Son of God is both human and Divine. Yes, and He is the Phos ek Photós, ‘Light from Light.’

The heat of the sun would be evidence, even to a blind man, that the sun, or at least some source of heat, is out there, because he can feel its effect on him. In a similar way, even if a man is spiritually blind, he can still feel the warmth of the Holy Spirit falling on him, telling him that there is a Father in heaven, yet he can still move out of that sunlight and into the shadows. It is his choice.

There was never a sun without light and heat, yet the light is not the sun, nor is the heat the sun; each is distinct, yet inseparable from the source. In the same way, the Orthodox fathers teach that the Father is the source and principle of the Godhead, of the Divine Nature. The Son (only one of Him) is begotten eternally from the Father as light emanates eternally from the sun. As heat proceeds from the sun by means of the light that emanates from it, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, but by means of the Son of God, who said, ‘I will ask the Father and He will send you another Advocate.’

Co-eternal, consubstantial—these are words that seem overpowering and mystery-laden, making the Holy Triad seem to be unthinkable and unexperienceable by man. But the Orthodox fathers show us that the mystery is not that God should be three yet one, but that we could have ever imagined a God who is only one.

The unity of the Divine Nature, ‘Hear, O Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is One’, is not diminished by His being a Triad. His Oneness is so One without second, so beyond numerical oneness, that even His triadic nature does not take away from it.

God is changeless, and yet He is One. God is changeless, and yet He is love. There can be no love except ‘between’ and no pure love, impartial and selfless love, except between ‘three.’ Hence, the Divine Nature says, ‘Let us make man in Our image.’

No one has ever seen God, only the Son of God, Jesus Christ, has made Him known and shown Him to us, being Himself God and yet not the Father. And the Holy Spirit, that third member of the One God in Triad, is our own membership in that Society of Persons which we call the Holy Trinity. Through Him, through the Spirit, we take our places at the banquet of the Divine Nature, becoming by genuine adoption what Christ is by nature, sons and daughters of the Most-High.

Théosis (divinization) is what we were made for, sotiría (salvation) is the process of our transfiguration.

Christ ‘was, is, and is to come.’
We were saved, are being saved, and are to be saved, that is, to be one with the Divine and Holy Triad, as Christ prays, ‘that they may be One, even as You, Father, and I are One.’

See the Orthodox ikon of the Holy Trinity, the original written by Andrei Rublev, posted above. There you will see the three ‘angels’ seated around a table, with one place left open for another.

That one is you.

One in essence and undivided

Be silent out of strength, powerful through prayer, untroubled by opposition because of irreversible certainty, and trusting of the Lord who giving us free choice yet protects, preserves and saves all who turn to Him. Yes, as Christ teaches, ‘Be as sheep among wolves,’ or in another place, ‘Be as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves.’ What all this is leading us to, ever so gently by the meek Lord Himself, is to make us understand that there really is no ‘us and them,’ that ‘what the Lord has joined together, let no man tear asunder.’ We think this phrase applies only to marriage, but then, what is marriage if not a special instance of this unity that underlies all our being? Marriage and the life of the Church are both examples of the life of the Holy Trinity, ‘one in essence and undivided.’

Christ prays the Father—not just in the gospel according to John, but throughout all time and in every place, unceasingly—‘that they all may be one, even as You and I are One.’ What He is doing is not asking the Father to bestow upon us something that is alien to our nature—our true and original nature, that is—but to open our eyes to see the Divine Image which we in fact are, the unbroken, undivided, Image of God, that which He became a human being to reveal to us. He says, ‘If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father,’ but also to see Christ is to see Adam before the Fall. Everything that Jesus teaches us about ourselves leads us to only one conclusion: Our neighbor is our brother, is our other self, and no one hates himself, no one considers himself his enemy, but he loves him and seeks his good. This is where the words of Christ take us.

The human race is a single organism, ‘one in essence and undivided,’ as God sees us. How else can He love each of us as though we were His only creature? The universe's Divine Spouse loves His Bride and in the tunnel of time is perfecting her, preparing her for Himself, making her also Divine. Though the tunnel can pass through deep darkness, at its end is Light, and that Light can be reached by no other way than that which He has revealed to us—the Cross. Let's take up that Cross, brethren, because it's not heavy like His earthly cross was, nor are we mocked and despised on our way as He was, nor do we bear it, nor will we die on it, as He did, and does, for the sins of the world. No, my brethren. He has done the hard part, ours is the easy. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

And your neighbor as yourself.’

Desiderata

The current social experiment will end in cataclysm, because nature reasserts itself when it is restrained. We are what we are. Everyone has his or her place in the organism that is mankind.

It is not by abolishing nature, but by fulfilling it, that the race will continue, will prosper, and reach maturity. By acknowledging human nature, both sexes can live in harmony.

No human society has yet arisen where intelligence and justice, that is, conformity to nature, has fashioned the social constructs necessary to satisfy human nature, and establish freedom.

All societies, especially those which ignore the nature of man and of woman, devolve into slavery. Neither neo-medieval fundamentalism nor modern liberalism escape this condition.

Within Christianity, human nature is expounded in the Old Testament scriptures, and the perfect ordering of that nature is supplied in the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ.

History, especially Christian history, is a result of the misapplication or intentional denial of the precepts of Jesus Christ, taking notice of nature but not fulfilling it, abusing it instead.

This abuse has resulted in every social upheaval and revolution in the name of human rights, but none of these reactions have produced anything different, because the Gospel is rejected.

Human society has not been transformed by the Church under submission to its leaders. It has remained a victim of human nature mismanaged for gain, in spite of having the truth written down.

The test of any and all social movements and philosophy is, whether the individual is free thereby to be what he or she is by nature and at peace with all other members of the society.

Democracy without an educated, intelligent, and self-regulating populace is worse than personal dictatorship. True monarchy leads humanity to the level needed for true democracy.

In the end result, the maturity of humankind will be brought about by right application of the Gospel and acceptance of nature, a society where hierarchy is operating in universal monarchy.

That universal monarchy is the true form of what some propose as anarchy and others as democracy, and what is prophesied in the New Testament scriptures, ‘a nation of priests and kings.’

The masculine terms always include the feminine, a semantic equivalent of the mythic Eve hidden in Adam’s side, and so this nation is comprised of priestesses and queens as well.

Only in the true freedom of the Gospel does humankind enter into these—goodness, life, and peace. Must Christ return bodily before this is accomplished, or is His presence among us in each other enough?

Friday, May 13, 2016

As face looks upon Face

What is it that has caused the immense interior crowding in the souls of modern people—men, women, and children—that results in so many physical, emotional, psychological, and social disorders?

Disorders themselves being a dislocation of, a scrambling of, what we know is an orderly universe, one that exists on its own without our help, and is permeated by form, structure, and hierarchy.

The question seems complex and forebodes a complicated answer, but no, the answer is quite simple. It is caused by the fact that almost none of us in the modern world ever faces night and the stars.

That portion of the human population of the earth is now fifty per cent urban, living in cities. In the developed world the percentage is much higher, even as much as ninety per cent or more.

Not strangely, city dwellers focus their attentions on activity during the night and sleep only when they’ve exhausted every other possibility. Even if they look up at night they cannot see the stars.

A star here, a planet there, and of course the moon, is about all anyone can see even where I live, out here on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River in a secluded neighborhood of Portland.

I can’t even remember the last time I was out in the wilderness, or even in a rural area, and was able to see the night sky emblazoned with stars studding the milky road of our home galaxy.

Well, yes I can. It was forty years ago or more, when I worked as a hired man on a dairy farm in central Alberta. Before that, it was when I was at college in a small town, and lay in a farmer’s field.

Just as Christ Pantocrator in the dome of an Orthodox church somehow umbrellas us from the rain of human weakness, so does the canopy of stars in the night sky, unhindered by man-made lights.

The more we can find ourselves at home under those stars, the more we will find ourselves at home on this earth, in the world, in our bodies, our emotions, our souls, and with our neighbors.

To lie alone or with a friend in that sweet darkness, our eyes piercing to its uttermost depths the infinite universe, our minds melding with the stars, restores order in us, as face looks upon Face.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Your mercies, Lord, Your mercies…

…are what fill me with dread. You are not a God who is pleased with wickedness. Boasters collapse under Your scrutiny. But I, so great is Your love, may come to Your House, and before Your holy Temple bow down, in reverence to You.

Your love, Father, upholds all the world. You are not a God who like a watchmaker designs and builds a clock, winds it up, and then leaves it to tick out its time moment by moment while You go away to live Your real life.

You hold us and everything that is, suspended as thoughts in Your mind. You never cease thinking of us, You never cease loving us whom You call the apple of Your eye, You never give up on these thoughts of Yours whom You have endowed with freedom.

The whole world is bathed in Your blazing light, yet we still wander through it unseeing as blind men, thinking and doing deeds of darkness, while You follow us with Your eyes, waiting and watching to catch us when we fall.

Your mercies, Lord, Your mercies are so great, and so great your patience, Your long-suffering love, maintaining and renewing the world by the Word of Your command, that we do not notice, Your mercy is too great for us of small mercy.

I cross myself to confess that I am the reason You ascended the Cross of Your own free will, and I bend down to touch the earth before You to acknowledge that I am but dust, but You raise me up, You raise me up and straighten me when I am most afraid.

Come into Your own, Lord, come among us visibly, reveal Your power, grant pardon to us sinners by Your saving Presence, anoint us with the myrrh of gladness, Saviour of fugitives, for to You, to You alone, do we run, O God our God, hope of all the earth.

Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Spirit Holy, Triad One in essence, Eternal, YHWH, the only lover of mankind. Glory to You.

Keep alive in yourselves...

…what you were taught in the beginning.
1 John 2:24a

It's time to remember the signs. Let's do that before we forget them. Things will always look different down here, so let's not be caught unawares.

The Border
Originally, the border between the Church and the world was put up, not by the Church, but by the world, which could find no use for, and would not tolerate, this indigestible people. The Church constituted something like an Indian reservation or a ghetto, or even worse, a leper colony within society, a social entity which should not be, but nonetheless was. It was an embarrassment for and accusation against the classes that ruled the world.

Among those untouchable and unmentionable people, leaders arose, chosen not for their excellence or eminence in any worldly endeavor, but for their abject surrender to the service of the others. The world looked on in wonder at these hopeless imbeciles following a crucified criminal, surprised that they could have so much love for one another, but even more stupefied at their lack of survival instinct—they didn’t fight back when attacked by the world, they prayed for, and even more incomprehensibly, thanked those who injured and killed them!

They would not contribute any more than was exacted from them for the maintenance of the world system. They didn’t stand up for their own rights. They didn’t agitate for social reforms or strive for the betterment of any society except their own. Only among themselves, by common and unwritten consent, did they abolish customs that the world regarded normal, but which they abhorred—infanticide, sexual license, slavery, the ‘festivals.’ In this regard, the world felt justified in labeling them ‘haters of humanity,’ in segregating and controlling them by an elaborate system of ‘tests,’ such as the performance of acts of public worship to the state deities.

The charge of atheism brought against them was designed to infuriate the working masses of the world, which by and large were ‘religious,’ and which could be depended upon to punish the Church at the slightest provocation, thereby freeing the world rulers from overt responsibility for the persecution of these deranged trouble makers, undeserving of the name ‘human.’

No, the world had no use for, and would not tolerate, this indigestible people. It would give them no avenue for worldly success or security—economic, educational, social—not unless they, individually, renounced their allegiance to their pathetic God by publicly conforming to the world system and taking what they called among themselves ‘the mark of the beast.’ If they did that, they were allowed the cross the border. They were free at last from the unreasonable restrictions placed upon them by their crazy beliefs.

After some time had passed, the Church, to the astonishment and discomfort of the world and its rulers, had grown much larger than had been anticipated. The elaborate system of tests and containment strategies that they devised could not keep the borders of this neglected area from expanding. The Church even crept into places it had never been seen before. It was to be expected that among the unschooled rabble, some would defect to this weird cult, lured by the rumors of ‘brotherly love’ and other such nonsense. Everyone knew that these were just cover-ups for their unnatural practices, hypocrites all of them.

But now, and with more and more regularity every day, it seemed that once responsible citizens of the world were becoming uncooperative and difficult, excusing themselves from participating in the rites and rituals, even refusing the world’s most reasonable demands. The infection had spread, from the mere denizens even to the rulers of the world order. What was to be done? How was the world to maintain the border between itself and the Church?

There was nothing else to do but, swallowing its pride (just for a moment), the world would have to ‘become’ the Church. It would have to get inside (disgusting!) the barricade where all that refuse and filth calling itself ‘human’ was holed up, and somehow harness that teeming multitude to a new ‘world machine’ under its benign and rational management.

Since the other side of the border was now larger than the world, there was nothing to do but jump the fence. Soon, ‘under new management’ the Church, having become the world, would be so universal, so thoroughly ecumenical, that to be a leader of it would be an even greater honor than it once was to be a world ruler in former times.

It didn’t matter, not really, that the world would have to let go its old props and proof texts and principles. The Church had a Book that it had gathered together from one of those barbaric, backward tribes, adding to it a few chapters of its own. These could be imbued with new meanings, this Book could be used as a kind of Trojan horse by the world rulers to bring their powerful premises into play, first blocking, then replacing the so-called ‘promises’ in that stupid Book.

‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.’ See? Their own Book is talking about us! Now, no one can oppose us! To make sure of this, all we have to do is establish ‘tests’ to qualify only those who agree with us, send them to school, and teach them to parrot our plans. As for those who won’t…

So a new border had to be put up.
Again, it was put up by the world, not by the Church.

It became difficult, sometimes and in some places, to distinguish just who was on this side of the border, and who was on the other. The world had learned how to juggle names, titles and powers in such a way that sometimes even it got confused about who was who and which was which. The new border, though, did work. The Church was contained, even though imperfectly. The world now had a free hand to save itself, to save the planet, to liberate all humanity from the darkness of ancient superstition—Imagine that! A dying and resurrecting God!—and from the ‘haters of humanity’ who think that they alone possess the truth, and that there is only one way!

‘The nerve of that bunch of fanatics who call themselves “the Church”—why, we can’t even see them! But we can hear them, and they trouble us still, even to this day.’

But, my brothers, let me remind you of these things…

There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the Kingdom.
Luke 12:32

You must not love this passing world
or anything that is in the world.
The love of the Father cannot be
in any man who loves the world.

1 John 2:15

If the world hates you,
remember that it hated Me before you.
If you belonged to the world,
the world would love you as its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
because My choice withdrew you from the world,
therefore the world hates you.
Remember the words I said to you:
A servant is not greater than his master.
If they persecuted Me,
they will persecute you too;
if they kept My word,
they will keep yours as well.
But it will be on My account that they will do all this,
because they do not know the One who sent Me.

John 15:18-21

I have told you all this
so that your faith may not be shaken.
They will expel you from the synagogues,
and indeed the hour is coming
when anyone who kills you will think he is doing a holy duty for God.

John 16:1-2

I have told you all this
so that you may find peace in Me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but be brave:
I have conquered the world.

John 16:33

The Border was written and first published on February 6, 2008.
I felt that it would be good to bring it back and share its message again.
It's important to remember who and what we are.
Because “the time is close.”
Revelation 1:3

Where does it come from?

Politics is not a subject I venture into very much. I just don’t know enough, and I know it. At least, not about what passes for politics these days. Well, I take that back. Politics has been crazy and enslaved to hormones rather than guided by logic for a very long time. Goes back to the European monarchies once they’d forgotten they were supposed to be inheritors of the Christian Roman tradition. Anyone can praise Constantine but when it comes to administering a state, well, something between Nero’s and Diocletian’s policies rules. When revolutions changed monarchies into oligarchies, or worse, the same loss of morality and faith-fulness (hyphen intended) characterized most states. My saying applies to politics as well as everything else down here, ‘This world is like a pot of boiling meat: the scum always comes to the top.’ It would be nice if even one country escaped fulfilling this metaphor, but none does.

I have a young friend whom I admire very much. She writes, and this is one of the things she wisely wrote, ‘Government as a human act of governing oneself and one’s responsibilities and one’s dependents is very different from the modern institution of the State.’ What she says here is, I think, the foundation of all true government, and when one has this kind of government, one needs very little else for the proper functioning and maintenance of the state. The country I live in, (the United States of) America, was designed and established to operate on this model. Our original Constitution and Bill of Rights can only be successfully applied ‘as is’ to a free people, folks who govern themselves and manage their responsibilities responsibly. Every true democracy and revolutionary state started out this way, but none has successfully followed through. They (like we) alter the original documents to ‘make do.’

I like the original Communist idea, that society will evolve in such a way that people of good will can govern themselves and deal with each other responsibly and with high morality to the point that ‘government,’ that is, what we call ‘the state,’ will just wither away. Living in the nineteen sixties and seventies as a young ‘revolutionary’ myself, belonging to various kinds of ‘people’s this-and-that,’ you know, co-ops and so on, I could almost feel what a stateless society would be like. Well, I am a historian and know what actually happened to my generation’s ‘revolution’ and everyone else’s. Flop! At least, in our case, the death casualties were much less than those of the French Revolution of 1789 or the Russian which ushered in the Soviet Union. There were casualties, nonetheless. Spiritual casualties, and in the time since then, the worst calamity ever to occur in America, the devolution of education.

You see, a dumb people cannot be a free people. They can only be what ignorance makes them, babies. Well, a baby is a cute and cuddly thing if you don’t mind the dirty diapers, the food messes, the unintelligible bauble and cacophonous crying, not to mention the fact you’re tied down with babysitting or carting them with you everywhere—Whew! I’m glad that’s over! But when a whole nation is gradually reduced to this ‘state of helplessness’ (pun intended), somebody has to step in and manage the menagerie. This is why the saying is pungently and urgently correct, ‘If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.’ Well, let me tell you, we’ve tried ignorance in America, perfecting it as a tool of the political elite for as long as I have been alive. Fortunately, I started my life early enough to see the vestiges of an educated, informed, and free people, before they all died off, and I remember.

It shouldn’t be this way. ‘America’ shouldn’t be something you only read about in history books or an idea that people say is only an impossible ideal. Yes, as I have said many times, ‘America’ is not just a country, it is an idea. It is an idea that any thinking person in the whole universe would want to live for, and want to live in, if it ever were a real country. The hope of that still resounds throughout the world, even though the land of its birth, the United States, now demonized as the moral refuse of the earth, called ‘the Great Satan’ and other less flattering epithets, has fallen from it, still motivates people to want to live here. I’m sure most of them, once they are apprised of the current reality, still want to, not because it’s perfect here in America, but because we still have hope, and free speech. If only those two things remained in America, it would still be worth living in, and dying for (if it ever came to that).

Today I noticed yet another ‘Republican’ candidate announcing his intention to run for President, that office of elected monarch that, in view of its current occupant, makes Napoleon look good. The man that caught my eye today is a proven successful politician, having been governor of the largest of the old states, bringing ‘gold coins by the bushel’ (as predicted a fortune cookie I once opened) to his state’s coffers. Well, none of this impresses me. It’s not that he is a successful politician that makes me disregard him. It’s his stockpile of worthless band-aids. Like almost everyone else who is entering the race, he is focusing on symptoms, not on causes. What has gone wrong with America from top to bottom has nothing to do with jobs, or the environment, or people not getting enough rights, and so on. What’s wrong with my country is its profound and engineered ignorance. We need education.

And education without hindrance by cultural and political correctness, because these false moralities have eroded not only our sense of real morality, but our spiritual (not religious) base, that national character that makes us capable of living as a free people. Just as paper Christianity has little holding power, so does paper Liberty. You can proclaim that we are a free people till you are hoarse, but it will mean no more than the Maoist platitudes puked out by the Chinese politburo during the Cultural Revolution. Politicians, we can see right through you. Your promises are as dear as fast-food commercials, and your faces as beautiful as the rear end of an ass. Please, stay home and play computer games or do your online stock deals to your hearts’ content, but get off the podiums, put down your megaphones, retire your cheerleaders, and leave us in peace to decide our future. We deserve better than you.

Back to education. This is, or should be, the priority that decides the fate of America in the next election. What? Education will pay the bills? Education will preserve the ecology? Education will defend the country against its enemies? Well, uh, yes, it will. But better than that, and if for no other reason, an educated people is a free people. They can really vote in elections, and know how to vote reasonably and not as a response to automatic subconscious stimuli dished out by invisible sociopaths. An educated people knows what is right and wrong. They are not afraid of God or the Ten Commandments. They understand what the Constitution really means, not what they are told it means. They can think, and speak, for themselves. O my God! Can a people really be trusted to be free? I might not think so, if it weren’t for the fact that God actually showed up in person and said, ‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed’ (John 8:36).

Have I said enough? Am I expressing myself politically? Have I incited controversy? Well, no one pays any attention to me anyway, and for good cause. I’ve never really learned how to live successfully in this world, and now I am almost too old to try. But in almost every encounter I have with anyone or anything outside my front door I am disappointed by the ignorance I meet. This is not intellectual ignorance. Not everyone has to speak three or four languages and be able to recite from memory every British monarch since Henry VII in correct order (with the dates). No, it’s an ignorance of a greater magnitude. It’s an ignorance that dissolves ‘the other’ person and makes service a lie, friendliness an act, righteousness a function only of balanced books and a good credit rating. It’s an ignorance that doesn’t know what to do when your house is burning down and there’s an unused fire hydrant right in front of it.

People! Let’s come to our senses, wherever we live, in America of the outer or the inner worlds, people of good will, let’s lay down our false political allegiances which are no more than the shackles of slavery, let’s learn to live by reason, let’s learn before it’s too late how to build our house, how to maintain it, how to guard it and sustain it. Educate ourselves! Free ourselves from the darkness of laziness and apathy. Follow not the swine as they, demon-jockeyed, hurl themselves down the slopes into a lake from which there is no return. Remember the Gospel, Christians! Remember our Freedom. He is that and much, much more, as those who become His friends will discover. But if you’re not able for whatever reason to accept Him as He is, then at least, think on these words penned by one of His also unchurchable disciples,

To the States, or any one of them, or any city of The States,
Resist much, obey little;
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved;
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, of this earth,
ever afterward resumes its liberty.
— Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1860)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

White for harvest

In spite of all the ‘wars and rumors of wars’ and the ‘nations rising up against nations,’ what Christ calls ‘merely the beginning of birth pangs’ (Mark 13:7-8), to me it looks not like ‘Armageddon on the horizon,’ but something very different. First of all, what He is describing is not something peculiar to our era. These things, along with the natural disasters He names, have been happening all through recorded history. Our days are, in fact, less violent and oppressive to humanity in general than many earlier ages. What Christ calls ‘merely the beginning of birth pangs’ is the period that is finally now coming to an end. The birth pangs are nearly over. The birth is in process. What birth? The birth of the new humanity of which Christ is the first Example, the Harbinger not of a new religion or ‘dispensation’ but of a new human race.

What? Hasn’t this already happened? I mean, aren’t we, the Christians, in fact that ‘new humanity’ that Christ has been creating ever since He became a human being? Don’t we ‘put to death the old man and put on the new’ in our baptisms, chrismations, and Christian lives? Well, yes, and no. As individuals and as a people—the Church—we are incorporated into the Body of Christ and given a chance to live our earthly lives in a heavenly way, and what have we made of it? Has the Millennium arrived? We’ve had two of them already and are now beginning a third. Hasn’t it occurred to anyone that something is wrong with this picture? Are we too busy pushing our own versions of ‘the Good News’ to let the eternal Gospel ‘kick in’?

Eternal Gospel? Yes, you know, this one…

Then I saw another angel, flying high overhead, sent to announce the Eternal Gospel to all who live on the earth, every nation, race, language and tribe. He was calling, ‘Fear God and praise Him, because the time has come for Him to sit in judgment; worship the Maker of heaven and earth and sea and every water spring.’
Revelation 14:6-7 JB

People call this book of the Bible mysterious and either avoid it completely or use it as colors to paint their own images of the end of the age, but it was meant to be ‘read aloud’ so that those ‘who hear and keep what it says’ will be blessed (Revelation 1:3). God forbid I should use this book or the Book itself as a spade to dig with, but the living God did not make it His own for nothing.

Since the beginning, He has been speaking to us, first through the prophets, then appearing Himself in the God-man Jesus Christ, He not only spoke, but breathed the new humanity into existence, into us, making a new and eternal ‘covenant’ just as was foretold…

‘It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD. ‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, “Know the LORD,” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’
Jeremiah 31:32-34 NIV

What is ‘new’ about this covenant, or agreement, between God and mankind is the absence of an outward authority, ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts,’ and the need for one, ‘No longer will they teach their neighbor… because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.’ This is echoed and reiterated after Christ’s coming by one of the apostles, writing to the Hebrews, to emphasize, not that this was something still to come, but that it was a present reality…

There will be no further need for neighbor to try to teach neighbor, or brother to say to brother, ‘Learn to know the Lord.’ No, they will all know me, the least no less than the greatest, since I will forgive all their iniquities and never call their sins to mind. By speaking of a new covenant, he implies that the first one is already old. Now anything old only gets more antiquated until in the end it disappears.
Hebrews 8:11-13 JB

The old covenant, a system of priesthood, laws and ritual sacrifices, we know as Christians was ended by this new covenant of which both prophet and apostle speak, but what exactly was ended? The Jewish priesthood? Yes, and as proof of this, the Temple was destroyed, and along with it, the sacrificial code was retired, never to return. All this, ‘divinely revealed’ in the Torah of Moses, was religion, and though unlike the religions of man-made, mythical gods, even this religion was destined to disappear. What about the laws? This is not as easily answered.

Just as religion is a prop to prepare humanity to meet God face to Face in the Messianic age, the law too is only a caretaker until the childhood’s end of the race. When will this ‘childhood’s end’ arrive? That is the question most needy of answer, and to this very day none is forthcoming, though it is plain in the words of Jesus in the Gospel…

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:17-20

‘Not to abolish, but to fulfill’ are the keys to understanding the words ‘until everything is accomplished.’ What is this ‘everything’ and when will it be accomplished, or has it already been? Obviously not an easy question, as we’ve wasted two millennia by not trying to answer it, and a third is waiting ‘for the sons of God to be revealed’ (Romans 8:19). Christ Himself in the same passage prompts our thinking in the right direction, ‘unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter.’ Enter what? The kingdom of (the) heaven(s). I put in parentheses what is written in the Greek to demonstrate the iconic nature of the phrase, which in other gospels is called ‘the kingdom of God.’ Both terms stand for the new humanity which Christ has created.

This new humanity is the fulfillment of ‘the Law and the Prophets.’ It is the ‘everything’ that must be accomplished. It was accomplished by the death-defying life and the life-giving death of Christ on the Cross, at His words, ‘It is finished.’ Its realization comes only in surpassing the righteousness of ‘the Pharisees and the teachers of the law’ not just talking about surpassing it. Jesus makes no excuses for Himself, His teachings, or His kingdom, nor does He give us an excuse for not following Him. There is no consolation prize for the losers of the new universe, only ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Luke 13:28). He is explicit. Why are we implicit? What do we gain by stalling His ‘new creation’ by our religious and legal systems?

‘Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.’ When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
Matthew 7:24-29

Yes, ‘and not as their teachers of the law.’ We’ve heard this passage so many times, memorized it even, know it so well, that we assume that everything we haven’t done is compensated for by everything we have done, even though very little is what He tells us to do. He is telling not only the Pharisees of His day but also us, the Christians of former ages till today…

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
Matthew 23:23

He says in effect, ‘Yes, you want to be religious. Well, then, be religious. Pay your respects and reverence your traditions to the letter. Pay your tithes till it feels good. But this is not what God our heavenly Father expects. What He really wants has never changed. He wants you to grow up. To treat each other with the same love that He shows to you. The more important matters of the law, in fact, its spirit—justice, mercy and faithfulness—that’s really all you need to do. Everything else runs like clockwork—your well-being, your prosperity, your world—when you do what you know is right.’

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them. This will take place on the day when God judges people's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
Romans 2:13-16

Yes, ‘the day when God judges people's secrets through Jesus Christ’ is not a threat uttered to some distant, future age, but yesterday, today, and forever, to us. We read and we hear these words in scripture and, removing them from our real lives, ensconce them with our ikons and enshrine them in our liturgies, and we remain—children. We confuse childish with childlike and, clinging to Christ’s comfortable words, scramble onto His lap as we kick others behind us away. They aren’t like us. We’re better than them. We’re saved, or we’re Christian, or we’re Catholic, or we’re Orthodox. ‘I’m for Paul. I’m for Apollos. I’m for Peter. I’m only for Christ’ (1 Corinthians 1:12). Meanwhile, outside our gates—after all, we’re the Church!—the human race at its best is following Him without knowing who He is, ready to take the step we have already given up on. And, in spite of what looks like social chaos, at this very moment people are taking it, without our permission, our religion, our rites and rituals, or our righteousness.

Soon, there will only be one thing for us to do, and we had better start soon.

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.
John 4:35

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The making of kings

To be on the winning side. This is what is important in today’s world, and when has it not been? As a Christian I notice this emotion rising in me when I hear of some new outrage being perpetrated in the social or political sphere. I temporarily forget that I am a follower of Jesus who says ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you and spitefully use you.’ I join the bandwagon inwardly, even if I don’t express my indignation outwardly.

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, at the time not yet an integral part of the United States, just a convenient colony where we could muster our naval resources, after the initial shock of having been attacked, something we hadn’t experienced since the War of 1812, the country turned its collective eyes on States-side Japanese and Americans of Japanese descent, and took action. They were rounded up and relocated to internment camps.

My guess in retrospect is that very few, if any, Japanese in America were actually rooting for and collaborating with the Empire of Japan’s plans to create a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere 大東亞共榮圏 Dai-to-a Kyo-ei-ken. The Japanese attack was never intended to be a first step in taking over the United States, only an ill-advised puppy nip at a big baby’s face that resulted in that big baby dropping the biggest bomb ever on that pup.

If I had been alive then, would I have gone along with the internment order and watched my Japanese grocer or next door neighbor have to close up shop, board up his house, and leave with his family and a few suitcases to live somewhere far away for who knows how long? As a Christian, judging by what other Christians did at the time, my guess is, yes, I probably would’ve accepted it, trusting that the American government knew best how to keep me safe.

I am alive now, and a danger of far greater magnitude has encroached on the safety not only of America but of the whole world. That danger is not a gentle genii that we awoke from its slumber by rubbing its lamp, though it was asleep. It hasn’t emerged to grant us our wishes, but exactly the opposite. It emerged from a religious community which, more than any other, has had a history of violence both internal and external, and now that violence is directed against me.

No, my next door neighbor doesn’t belong to this religion, but I see its adherents everywhere I go in my neighborhood and my town. In fact, I possibly only notice the females of the species that go out only in full body covering, and many of them don’t. I’ve never personally been threatened by any of them, at least in recent times. A fellow student when I was in college said he’d kill me if ever I said the name of his prophet again in a disrespectful manner. I can’t remember the context.

That fellow student stayed in America. I met him online after over forty years. He married a co-religionist, raised a family, and is now a retired grandfather. After meeting me again, he backed off, or maybe just couldn’t see the point of really being friends after so many years. I have felt the same way. I think, though, that he is the same person I knew back then, just as I think I’m the same person who must’ve mentioned the prophet too lightheartedly. People don’t really change.

Now the menace we’re faced with is, in my opinion, far greater than that posed by Japan’s imperialist ambitions, and people are being roused to take measures. I find myself agreeing with their proposals, because in this situation, my Christianity retreats to the paper it’s written out on and which I avoid reading, but I can’t keep from hearing the voice. That voice speaks the words of Jesus, even if spoken to ears that are deaf to it, but mine aren’t, and I grieve.

I grieve because I too want to be on the winning side, so easily forgetting that I am already on the only winning side that wins permanently—the side of Christ. That side not only endured all the sins of every human creature from first to last who walked, walks, or ever shall walk the earth, as the lance was plunged into His suffering flesh, but the wound we opened in it became our refuge from our crimes, and the entrance to a new life that has neither beginning nor end.

Above and beyond the half-measures we take to save ourselves from our enemies in this world, He who in enduring all our fears along with all our self-inflicted punishments as He hung on the Tree, reigned, reigns, and shall always reign, King and, yes, God, by being, by becoming everything that for us in our human weakness is unthinkable, unimaginable, unendurable, yet which is also for us, the making of the new humanity, in us and in all people, the making of kings.