Wednesday, 22 June 2022

The sick of soul

 "For they have a zeal... but not according to knowledge".

"I'll pour this pestilence into his ear". Iago - Othello.

Most zombie films bore me. I guess it's because the genre is best served when you can add something genuinely unexpected into the mix, so que Shaun of the Dead! One personal exception to this proved to be the Scorch Trial series.In a totally dystopian and decimated world, it made sense that the real trouble was an engineered virus that turned normal people into monsters.

I say all this by way of pre-amble to recently coming across the work of Peter Boghossian. Peter has spent a great deal of time travelling around university campuses in America seeking to engage with students in respect to their views and how easy it is to express these in a public manner. His conclusions are whilst there are certainly a diversity of views to be found, many of these are not allowed to be openly expressed and discussed because of the dominance of those on campus who seek to hold and steer such realms to their woke message.

This, he notes, is a cancer that is killing the country.

The dreadful truth in this is that we are seeing a generation that has entirely lost its place, because it has become rootless.

In a fascinating extrapolation derived from reviewing Douglas Murray's new book, Richard Grannon examines what has happened to the essential nature and state of those who have given themselves to this movement. He concludes they have placed themselves into a state that is essentially the worst of all worlds - people who have buried their vital nature beneath a mountain of lies that have to be held to avoid truth.

The consequences of all this painful in the extreme. In this short video, Doug Wilson astutely comments on Jordan Peterson's righteous, angry response to the social raping of an entire generation.

These are the very core issues we are facing, but so few are willing to engage with these in the manner that is necessary.

What Boghossian, Grannon, Murray, Peterson and Wilson's comments all share in common is that they point to a far more deadly virus at work amongst us than anything caused by climate change or the recent pandemic. That richest 1% have decided to grasp everything for themselves and leave the rest of the world sinking in the mire of an acidic political correctness that deems anything which genuinely brings wholeness in society as evil and thereby due for immediate extinction.

The growing cult of social self righteousness is the weapon our times is encouraged to employ, continually, to murder itself in a miserable mantle of guilt and unrelenting shame, whereby we are enslaved into a misery of inherent extinction - having no worth, no identity, say that of what is 'defined' for us by the 'message' of the day.

Beyond the corruption of now, outside of the negation of ourselves to the blankness of the present moment, there is a health that cures each and all of the cruel incarceration so murdering this day. The vital reality is that another kingdom, a brighter day, a heavenly and eternal reality, has already broken into the hear and now, and if we can but glimpse that healing, we can be set free, forever, from the destruction that is eating us alive.

It is time for us to look to a truth far deeper, higher and richer than the abyss that is tearing apart our wrecked and violated world. Jesus Christ provides the answer.



Sunday, 19 June 2022

The Longing

"Creation is the canvas upon which God has painted His character". Anon.


On a school trip to Olympia in the late 70's, I was overwhelmed as I encountered a wall of TV's projecting with the aid of quadraphonic sound the latest pop video by ABBA of their latest hit, Knowing Me Knowing You. It was a stunning, yet somewhat tragic moment, as the display was truly astonishing, but the song was a tale of the sorrowful end of romance and love.

The combination of media in this fashion, of course, has become commonplace over the length of my life, and yet, the actual ramifications of this are only just beginning to truly hit home, as I discovered in London this month.

Literally days after ABBA's new immersive concert experience opened in London, I visited the War of the Worlds experience, which, like the new musical extravaganza, employs both live action material and virtual avatars to re-create a 'larger than life' re-telling of H G Wells' classic novel, punctuated by the music of Jeff Wayne.

The experience was certainly totally engaging and allows an inter-action with the story that is unique, but the most enthralling part for me was the additional scene (derived from Wayne's musical version) at the end of the experience, where you take a final 'balloon ride' out of the atmosphere and find yourself looking down on the beautiful blue and green gem that is the earth, and out towards the moon and on into the gorgeous cluster of stars that is the Milky Way.



Nothing really prepares you for such a moment which, for me, was indeed breath-taking. It took the VR experience to an entirely new level, and answered the question for me of what it must be like to look down upon our world from the realms of space.

Virtual Reality on this scale is truly impressive, but the new ABBA arena has taken the concept to another level, allowing the 'image' and the music of this band from nearly half a century ago to be renewed to, in effect, look and sound as fresh as it did then.

The intention here is very clear. In their first number of the virtual show, the key idea in the performance is one of re-birth or a rejuvenation of what had been at the pinnacle of their careers. The invitation, then, is to embrace and participate in such a renewal, which then gently nudges its beckoning into various other parts of the show. Only in the final moment are the audience allowed to briefly 'see' the group as they were in the days when they became the characters that had been projected for the previous few hours - the intent was clearly to transcend such limits with something 'outside' of the present.

So, what do we gather from this new phenomena?

We yearn for such splendour because however harsh or cruel nature may be, however dark and dangerous the human soul can become, we still understand the 'sparks' that tell us continually that something more than such woes is actually vital to who and what we are - there is a genuine transcendence at work in these feeble forms of ours, and however old and frail our souls become, we know that the intent is for this to be woven into us, forever.

Escapism will always be popular because we know we need to be elsewhere in respect to essential nature - to inhabit somewhere where what is genuinely good is extolled and what is deplorable is concluded - that is the longing we all share.

A few hours spent in such recreation needs to remind us that only one far greater than ourselves can truly bring about a true renewal, an eternal home, for our benighted race, and that the reality of the cross makes that true for today, and ever more.




Saturday, 18 June 2022

Third Day Theology

 "And God saw that it was good (the third day)" Genesis 1:12.

"He was raised on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures". 1 Corinthians 15:4.

The longer I go on in this life, the more I realise just how deep the waters are when it comes to the opening three chapters of the Bible - pretty well everything is there. That doesn't mean that it's all really easy to unpack; there are some pretty sophisticated things in play when it comes to what the text is expressing with regards to our reality, so it's really important to pay attention to what's being said.

Take this little nugget from the late Robert Farrar Capon on the third day of creation's major event - the coming of plants: "On the third day you have the first real good whiff of the scent of good and evil because you have death introduced as the mechanism of life. Everything eats everything else. Seeds must die in order to become plants".

It's interesting to consider how this major theme is then continued into Eden itself with the material reality of the two central trees - and which of these comes to dominate our present realm in respects to what is deemed the 'natural' state of affairs.

This is when the Gospel nature of creation also becomes unmissably explicit, but what struck me recently was that this pattern was kneaded into creation from the very beginning, hence, the 'good' of light being brought out by the work of the Word and the Spirit on the "emptiness' and darkness of the void on the face of the deep. 

Then take into account how the Lord speaks of Himself to Job forging what was necessary (in respect to the seas and the darkness) to ensure such powers were bound to allow the radiance of His might to be expressed in the sheer splendour and strength of what was forged (Job 38).

What becomes clear in these passages is how the Lord Himself journeys through the void and chaos of the primal materials to employ His Word to bring about the structural manifestation of order and majesty in this realm - He 'broods' upon the waters so that they are bound and then fashioned into something useful and productive - elemental to the splendours that will derive from their being separated and ordered.

The marvel that is being wrought in the earth, tasted in the glimpses given in Eden, is made so by a Redemptive expression in all that is enacted upon it by the Lord.

Ours is a God who takes the very raw materials that we would deem of no value or use and forges them by the miraculous splendour of His vibrant nature into what is good, to facilitate a day when they shall be refined to a beauty that genuinely, continually, conveys and exudes the Majesty of their founder and perfecter.

From the chaos and the dust, we evidence the coming of heaven upon our world.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Watching the Watchers

 In Biblical parlance, a tzafah is qualified to keep watch upon others because he is also someone who keeps a close eye on his own "rightness" by persistently 'hearing' truth and seeking to abide by it.

Which brings us to the present.

Doug Wilson's latest certainly makes for interesting listening. He recently sought to apply some of the perspective of the late Francis Schaeffer to our current situation, and found himself deemed guilty of misinformation by various evangelical watchdogs for seeking to do so, so in this latest retort, he seeks to ask a couple of highly pertinent questions about the late philosopher's perspective and in so doing, challenge the rejection of those who believe he erred.

After a speedy review of USA 2020 to 22, we are presented once again with what Dr Schaeffer stated:

"Humanism, with its lack of any final case for values or law, always leads to chaos. It then naturally leads to some form of authoritarianism to control this chaos. Having produced the sickness, humanism gives more of the same kind of malady as the cure"  (The Christian Manifesto).

This certainly clearly matches the manner of 'progress' we have seen of late - a political "idealism" that promotes certain politically correct ideals at the cost of everything and everyone else, so why have some Christians refuted such clear analysis?

Mr Wilson zero's-in on the real problem, as stated by Schaeffer himself - Christians have become too naive and ambivalent when it comes to those in authority (their motivations and goals) - they now only "see" (refer to and discuss) the parts they can extol, but not the vast holes that such leaders are always seeking to have left hidden from public view.

The ramifications of this are dire and leave the church in general entirely detached from the reality of what is actually occurring in front of us.

The poignant questions asked in the final section of this statement are exactly what we need to be addressing right now... but the air is tellingly still when it comes to appropriate, vital answers from the evangelical world.

As Schaeffer put it, his manifesto was addressed to those who stand against such neglect, such silence, such abuse. He wrote the work as he understood what was taking place - the rise of a new totalitarianism in the West that threatened us all, and had to be robustly engaged and countered by Christian truth. Leadership was "on the move" that wanted to see the annihilation of men and women fashioned in the divine image and thereby set free to live and love well. It would ensnare society in the 'freedom' of an individualism tied to the entire annihilation of the soul, which would become readily traded for a realm of continual new senastionalism - not necessarily good or meaningful, just "new". 

The 'deep state' has become the common state. The reset is in play, and the minute men are back, fighting on skirmish lines to seek to retrieve what has been stolen by these raiding parties from on high, and the church, for the most part, has merely relented or remained irrelevant.

When servitude (or, in our times, just neglect) is offered up to "The Message" (political correctness in all it various tropes), then we sell-out to the entire package.

It isn't enough to treat the "words of the prophets" with nostalgia. They must punch us where it hurts until we weep tears of repentance, or we might as well just sell the store and go home. Reformation is going to cost. Healing always does.



Sunday, 12 June 2022

One Small Hope

 "Those that dwell in darkness shall see a great light".

Alistair Pinch is on the verge of total failure. His acting career is well-nigh washed out because of a perpetual drinking problem, and now, he finds himself charged with the murder of his wife, and he cannot remember anything about it! His one hope is a washed-up detective named Waldo who left the force because he too found himself far less competent than he believed, and then became a recluse. Necessity brings the two men together in a final struggle, filled with mishap and misadventure, to find a way back to life.

That's the basic premise of the movie, Last Looks, which I watched this weekend. Pinch (a verbose and eccentric Englishman) is played superbly by Mel Gibson, who brings genuine moments of pathos and comedic genius to his portrayal of someone painfully in need of a deep redemption. Mirroring his struggle is Charlie Waldo, portrayed by Charlie Hunnam, who finds himself taken into a vortex of atypical human behaviour (lies and misdirection), meaning he has no choice but to discover the truth or die trying.

The story generally rumbles along well enough, but it is the moments when something honest about these men comes to the fore and we realise that what is needed for them is far more than an immediate resolution that we see what is actually at the core of what counts. Pinch knows he must change, but it will hurt, and require something more than his usual flare for distraction and delay. Waldo must knock down his natural proclivity to just leave, and finds himself being literally knocked around, several times, to get the message. It's a film that says we may not chose the road we're on, or like what we encounter on the way, but what matters is where this is leading - to somewhere worth reaching or, as in the case of some the secondary characters, merely to a vicious cycle of pointless aggrandisement.

Jesus is essentially asking us to face that same issue - what is happening to you by what you're doing? Are you heading somewhere meaningful as a result, or are you merely trapped in the same vicious cycle of pointless insignificance.

If you're looking for a movie that's a tad quirky but with some good performances and a clear statement of what actually matters, this isn't a bad watch.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

BUSHWACKED

 "How can someone enter a strong man's domain and plunder the goods there unless he first constrains the usurper - then he can take what is desired". Matthew 12:29.

Tom Cruise got very mixed reviews for his portrayal of the popular character, Jack Reacher, but there's one characteristic I really enjoy about his two films in this role - the way he is always one step ahead.

This is used to particular good effect in the opening of the second movie, which 'jumps' into the very middle of a series of events. It looks as though he's slipped up - staying too long at a location after some uncalled-for incident, and as a result, he is about to become a victim himself of some exploitative injustice... but then, the phone rings. In a couple of moments, the tables are turned, and the hand-cuffed Reacher informs his antagonist that life is about to take a very sudden and total change, and it's already too late to change that.

Victory is snatched from the presumed face of total defeat.

That's part of the reason I'm a follower of Jesus.

Satan thought he could run Jesus out of town by pushing Him all the way to the cross - all the way to the reviling, savage rejection of the crowd and the cruelty of the Roman death squad.

The devil couldn't see past his own miss-placed arrogance - totally ignoring who it was he was actually dealing with.

Then came the empty tomb.

The world has never been the same since.

The last few years have been vile, primarily due to the manner in which a small group of elites have oppressed pretty much everyone else 'for their own good', but whilst some are still seeking to continue that policy (just look at China), the cracks have now appeared, and there is a clear push against this nonsense.

Like the Disciples before leaders or princes or kings, it's time to say NO - to reject 'the narrative' of fear, because it has been proved wrong, and entirely no good.

Christians need to truly re-gain their voice, stand-up and be counted.

The times, they are a changing!


Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Downfall

 "For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal"  2 Corinthians 4:18.

Some years ago, I found myself having to suddenly oversee and speak at the family funeral service for my elder brother.

It was something of a surprise for everyone... except me. Earlier that day, God had shown me in a premonition that this would happen, so when the moment arose, I was surprisingly calm and inwardly prepped for what was required.

I often recall that moment, and how the Lord must have done similar things with others to ready them in an hour of crisis.

We live in a day when such troubles are commonplace, so where do we cast our gaze? From where do we find our aid in such an hour.

In this troubling yet assuring talk, Todd Brewer examines the certainty of the troubles ahead but also how this has to allow us to welcome a far greater and more permanent reality into the here and now if we want to be properly prepared to remain calm and carry on.