Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Giving it all away...

"We are creatures that are totally alone,
precariously living upon a realm of myths - our fabricated realities".

Andrew Marr -BBC radio.

Edmund Burke famously once said that the only thing needed for evil to prosper is good men to do nothing, but as we touched on in a recent post, there are no good men, so evil is easily and often done, especially by those who deem it good to define our present alienated condition as the only reality we can know.

In His ministry amongst us, Jesus spoke of the true purpose of evil - like a thief, it comes amongst us to steal our actual identity, kill our longings to be more than strange, half-life creatures of the night, to destroy us, body and soul, by incarcerating us in the lie that we are no more that a bag of animated dust, limited to a brief moment, then gone.

Evil, a friend used to say, is de-personalization...defining ourselves in such a way that, in effect, we have no value beyond the moment - the thoughts and appetites that pertain to this instant. Christ tells us something very different. We are fallen, lost, broken and corrupted children, victimized and plagued by a lie that we can become 'free' in our rebellion by being less than we are - the heirs of a realm provided by a Creator who has entered into our very meaninglessness in order to rescue us from our terrifying peril, at a great cost to Himself.

The real fear of redemption, I sometimes think, is not that there is a God, or that He loves us so deeply, but that it carries such a great 'weight' of recognition - that we mere shadows of humanity were made and delivered for so much more, and the broken creatures we now are cannot but wail at but a glimpse of such vision - better to order and discipline ourselves in misery and pain, to inhabit the realm of non-being - the sphere of evil.

The call of Christ challenges our reality. It decrees such usurpation cannot last...
That the day approaches when all creation will once more be granted its full worth.
Only His renewing mercy can clothe us well for such a day.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Buried within the bruises.

"Deprived of older loyalties, tribal sensations of a 'generation' -
the fashions, the trends, the propensity to the illicit - becomes the badge of the day".

Peter Hitchens - Born Yesterday.

How do you speak to these "interesting" times in a way which actually 'says' something about the truth and the human condition?
I often find moments in Science Fiction shows which resonate, but aside from the occasional block-buster, you need something a little more universal to appeal to most people,
but this certainly says you can use media well.

Recently, a friend introduced me to a 2009 American TV production which ticked the boxes and showed just how contemporary the truth can be.
Based around the Biblical story of David and Saul, if somewhat dramatized, Kings really shows us that aside from driving cars rather than riding chariots, our condition and needs as people haven't changed at all from those times.

There are way too many excellent scenes in this production to select the best, but there won't be many who can watch the first few episodes and not identify with the trials and triumphs of the characters - it is simply compelling viewing, which, in my own case, has lead to several deep conversations already - and I'm only half way through the season so far. This manner of drama really asks us to think about ourselves - how we view who we are, what we aspire to and, most important of all, if such a state is opening or closing us to deeper realities.

I highly recommend seeing this if you get the chance... it will get you thinking.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Beyond the noise and fury...

Larry Norman once wrote some telling lyrics...
"I've been shot down, kicked around,
some people scandalize my name,
but here I am, talking about Jesus just the same"

In a day when the message of Jesus Christ is very much, as always, the target
of derision and 're-interpretation', here's a reminder of what it's really all about...

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Present Danger?

"The Bible clearly testifies of numerous supernatural events,
and if God doesn't over-rule the natural, we have to throw the book away,
and its God...
We would have to eliminate our belief in all of Gods miracles, including the resurrection,
in which case, we might as well reject the message of Christianity altogether".

Chris Tiegreen - Love, power and a whole lot of evil.

Back in the mid-1990's, journalist John Horgan produced an intriguing work entitled The End of Science, in which he postulated that we were reaching the limits, empirically, of what science could actually tell us about a vast range of observations, and that the 'gap' left would therefore have to be filled by 'detail' which some observers rightly have noted would temper certain theories as immune to falsification - in reality, leaving these approaches redundant, because their assertions do not really explain anything.

It's not the first time humanity has found itself here. The 'whole' world view our culture generally espouses today bears traits of commonality to those propounded in some of the early Greek states, as does the amount of confidence invested by many in such ideas, but perhaps the most telling thing about all this for me is the impact such suppositions have upon many who apparently express 'christian' beliefs which seek to adapt to these assumptions.

Take this morning, for example - a television discussion on whether we are born good or evil.
The majority present who were 'religious' ('christian', Muslim, and Hindu) held we are born good, seeking to express this in a fashion which didn't cause any real opposition to atheists, who saw such matters as derived in a small way through genes, but predominantly through learning. What was clear was they all saw 'traditional' Christian belief - that we are born with corruption - as wrong and entirely irrelevant - the important thing was to live liberated and without any guilt.

I truly worry when Christians start teaching me that 'what Adam did doesn't matter' - that, in effect, we were not 'conceived in sin', but I'm no longer really surprised. After all, the Eden record, in this view, is just a story, like the Creation or Noah's flood and the tower of Babel, the offering of Issac or the Exodus - these things didn't really happen... they're just what was written down (we're not sure by whom) in 'special language' to tell us our lives mean... something.

I understand the logic. For the world to be "safe" to our natural way of navigating it, there just cannot be any real place for the miraculous - for a God who acts directly in our world - any notion of that kind would have to entirely conform to a spirituality that would be to 'our' benefit (how we see and understand things now). Christianity actually unseats us there.

How can God fashion something complex as our universe in six days, or then destroy the earth bar what He held safe through a great flood? Why make a place as perfect as Eden and allow such a location as the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to be visited by the Serpent?
Why demand of Abraham the life of his son? These are deep questions, which 'speak' of far more going on than what is defined by science, so they are certainly not going to be faced well by a modern approach which, like that of the Epicureans, views such 'history' as impossible, because naturalism has no place for the miraculous or the non-material in the manner the Bible speaks of it.

The God who caused the light to shine out from the darkness, notes Paul, is the same God who causes the light of the knowledge, the true significance, of God, to shine into us through the truth concerning Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Christianity is inherently marked and defined by this - there is simply is no other 'message' of value, for this alone gets to the very core of our reality, not only in the 'here and now', but regarding our origin, our departure from that realm, and how all creation will be returned to it.

We cannot escape what the New Testament defines as 'the truth that is in Jesus Christ'.
The time has come, for us to face this.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

It's not what it looks like...but it's exactly how it works.

Talking to a friend I turned around,
and found a total stranger,
hiding out for safety's sake I found,
I'd put myself in danger...

I saw somebody earning more and more,
and he was getting poorer,
it seems the more things that you know,
the less you can be sure of.

From Dancing in the Shadows by After the Fire.

Human Beings.

We are the epitome of spin.
I've watched, often with frustration, these past few weeks, as British politicians have employed
lashings of craft and 'smoothiness" to expertly weave and dodge the public on the crucially painful questions of what life is really going to be like as one of the darkest economic periods truly begins to bite in the next few years (yes, that's right - the reality of the recession hasn't even begun yet). Deftly poised on their proverbial pin-heads, the leaders of the main parties would have left the pied piper of Hamlin redundant, until this week, when an unguarded moment disrobed the Prime Minister. The mask dropped, and we saw what really goes on.

Of course, none of this is new - I've had a good dose of the West Wing over the past few months - we can 'look' into the machinations if we so choose. What amazes me is that we so often choose not to, and not just about politics. It's common for us to embrace the naive notion that everything tomorrow will just carry on like it did today - that everything will be fine, but it really isn't so. Scratch the surface just a little, and there's a broken, wounded world right here - it's bleeding to death, and applying the trite responses wheeled out by politicians and the like just won't fix it - or you.

Another blog this week raised an interesting question.
In a traumatic situation, if someone asked you "Why do you believe in God", what would you say?

I know that part of the answer is what God reveals to us about ourselves - that we are broken, and we don't like to go there. We equally live in a world which scurries away from seeing humanity where it should be - "crowned" with a particular 'weight' (significance), but beneath the domain of heaven.

For the last 30 years (at least), I've lived in a society where 'freedom' has been defined by some very narrow ideas which derived from Game Theory and have been woven into every field of policy in America and the UK, whatever the political stripe. This is still the case, but such issues are just not touched upon, even in the heart of an election.

Larry Norman said it right:
you say all men are equal all men are brothers
then why are the rich more equal than others
don't ask me for the answer I've only got one
that a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son

The Great American Novel.

If the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed.