Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Muslims Are Coming!

Opened my email to find a forwarded message from a friend about the National Day of Prayer being canceled. I read further to find that the originator was exhorting Christians to be enraged concerning the cancellation and the favor shown to Muslims over Christians. It went on to read that the Christian should be fearful for the direction this country is going.

"The direction  this country is headed
   should strike fear in the heart of every Christian,
   especially knowing that the
   Muslim religion believes that if Christians cannot be
   converted, they should be annihilated."

I thought this statement to be especially unChristian. It assumes that Christians fear for their lives because of Islam. But Islam is not something to fear. Like Elijah laughing at the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, the Christian knows of its powerlessness. The mujaheddin cannot do anything to the Christian that is a cause for fear. If a Christian dies by the scimitar, he gains Christ. If the Christian lives under Sharia, he suffers like Christ. If everything tangible is stripped from the Christian, he still loses nothing, because it was all considered nothing in the first place. The Christian is a Stoic in this sense; he is unshakable because the world cannot take from him what has been promised. Martin Luther, in his 95 Theses, writes,

Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells.
And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.

For the Christian, "to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21) And to live like Christ often entails suffering, like a lifelong crucifixion until they are dead, buried and resurrected; like the prophets and saints of antiquity who "were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them." (Hebrews 11:34-38) These were all commended for their faith.

I am not saying that Christians should invite this kind of torture from those who hate them, but it should not be a thing to be feared. And if it is to be resisted, it is to be resisted only in as far as the Christian has an absolute love for his God, and therefore his neighbor and does not want his countrymen to be subject to such hostilities. The impetus for resistance should be out of love not fear.

It seems to me, that the only thing Christians have to fear is God. Because "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 9:10) And it is wisdom that will help to steer the country in the right direction. However, ours is a world, as Malcolm Muggeridge states, "of empires rising and falling, revolutions and counter revolutions, wealth accumulating and wealth dispersing." Such is the nature of the Kingdom of Man. It adheres to a law of undulation. In fact, one could say that the most basic thing about the Kingdom of Man, or the most foundational thing is that it oscillates. And anyone who builds their house on a shaky foundation should have reason to fear, because the house will crack and crumble. But the Christian's Kingdom is fixed. It does not waiver. It is constant and it is eternal. It is perfect for building a house because the foundation is faithful.

And so the Christian puts his trust in this foundation, eliminating the fear, but still builds on the undulating one. His care for earthly kingdoms is still one of divine calling, like Adam tending the garden, or Kings appointed to reign over cities. It is demonstrated over and over in Scriptures that Christians do care for the ephemeral, but they understand, too, that it is ephemeral. Thus, a Christian's reaction to a withering flower is not one of shock or fear. The Christian loves his neighbor, who may put his trust in the flower, as beautiful as it may be, but unlike his neighbor the Christian does not dread when the flower finally turns ugly and bows to the passage of time. He knows that it wilts and that it is not a thing to be trusted.

It is good to call Christians to civic duty and to be active in just cause. Christians are called to do so. But fear of death should not be the animus, instead it should be love for God, who commands Christians to love their neighbor. A soldier does not fight a war because he fears for his life; he fights because he loves his brother.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How Gingrich Is Worse Than Clinton

Recently Newt Gingrich launched a platform on his website dedicated to defending himself against the attacks of his political opponents. On the site, he compares himself against Bill Clinton, stating, "I'm no Bill Clinton." Newt never committed perjury being the difference. So Newt never lied under oath. Really? When he promised to love his wife until death; was this not an oath? Clinton, for however much a sham his marriage may be, is still married to his first wife. Newt has been married three times...I think. Hard to keep track of these things.

The social mores of the post-modern world frown upon this type of infidelity, but accept it. It is assumed that his current state has reached some type of resolve. Christians assume the same, but should they? Christians do not, or at least should not, determine what is righteousness according to the world, for that is our own righteousness, but what is righteousness to God. So accepting this premise, and accepting that God has spoken to us through the prophets of antiquity, we look to the Scriptures to view God's standard of righteousness. From Scriptures we know that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." We will never attain the righteousness God requires for us to be with Him. This is why Jesus Christ died as an atonement for our sins in order to place us in right standing with Him. And this Jesus, whom Christians claim to follow, said, "Repent and believe for the kingdom of God is at hand." Why must we repent if God has died for our sins? "Shall we take God's grace as a license to sin," Paul asks the Romans. "By no means," is the answer. We are to turn away from our sins, to hate what is evil and to cling to what is good. So we look at what God calls good in marriage. Jesus points to the proper form of marriage by recalling the beginning in Matthew 19 - Adam and Eve. One man and one woman for life is the model form of marriage. Anything that deviates from this is not a marriage, but a form of adultery against the original partner.

Accepting this to be true, it can be deduced that Gingrich is currently committing open adultery, not a third marriage. The woman he is with now is not his wife, but his mistress, whom Christians everywhere accept as his wife. How did we come to this dull resignation? This right standing before the world, and unfortunately before fellow Christians, is made possible through the auspices of a divorce and then remarriage, which is clearly defined as adultery in the Scriptures. But we are beyond the protection of cultural norms, are we not? And our goal is not right standing before the mass of men, but before God alone. Christians are held to a standard of righteousness that God has called His followers to, well, follow.

Clinton apologized and acknowledged what he did as wrong. And, yes, I doubt the sincerity of his repentance. I believe more in the sincerity of his regret for getting caught. Nonetheless, Clinton is a lesser fraud than Newt. Newt displays his sin like Sodom. He does not even try to conceal it, as Clinton had. The prophet Isaiah warns that those who sin in such a manner, bring evil on themselves. And Paul says that those who sin in such a manner bring evil upon the community. I think Gingrich to be a prime candidate for the GOP according to worldly standards. But in this case, I am a single issue voter who will not be supporting this particular principle of darkness. For it wraps itself in comfortable warm blankets of Truth, but usually never in cold shrouds of Falsity. Which makes it difficult to see, but I see it and refuse to partner in it.

Let me be clear in saying that Gingrich should not be branded with Hawthorne's scarlet letter. To do so would make his sin permanent and unforgivable. I am saying that Gingrich willingly wears the letter and we do not acknowledge it. Though we should acknowledge it as long as he wears it. The sin is indefinite as long as Gingrich does not repent. As such, he should be treated like Hester and worse than Clinton.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sigh No More

Serve God, love me and mend
This is not the end
Lived unbruised, we are friends
And I'm sorry
I'm sorry

Sigh no more, no more
One foot in sea and one on shore
My heart was never pure
And you know me
You know me

But man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing
Oh man is a giddy thing

Love it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design, an alignment, a cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be

- Mumford and Sons 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

C.S. Lewis on Myth

Now as myth transcends thought, incarnation transcends myth. The heart
of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the
dying God without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of
legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens – at a
particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable
historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying
nobody knows when or where, to a historical person crucified (it is
all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease
to be myth: that is the miracle. I suspect that men have sometimes
derived more spiritual sustenance from myths they did not believe than
from the religion they professed. To be truly Christian we must both
assent to the historical fact and also receive the myth (fact though
it has become) with the same imaginative embrace which we accord to
all myths. The one is hardly more necessary than the other is.

[C. S. Lewis, “Myth Became Fact,” in The Grand Miracle and Other
Selected Essays on Theology and Ethics from God in The Dock, ed.
Walter Hooper (New York: Ballantine, 1970), pp. 38-42 (41-42).]

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why I Desire the Eremitic Life

I have just now come from a party where I was its life and soul; witticisms streamed from my lips, everyone laughed and admired me, but I went away — yes, the dash should be as long as the radius of the earth's orbit ——————————— and wanted to shoot myself. - From the Journals of Soren Kierkegaard

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Hollow Liturgy: Till Death Do Us Part

You would think that a body of believers obsessed with the unconditional love message would start to resemble the message, but this is not the case. Recently, Pat Robertson said that a person whose spouse is suffering from Alzheimers has the right to divorce and remarry because the person suffering from the disease is already dead. I do not even know where to begin with this. 

Christian voices from everywhere have denounced Robertson's remarks, but why? They say it is an assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is true, but what do they know of this? They take communion with those who have divorced and remarried. They go to the remarriage ceremonies. They are the ones that are divorced and remarried. It is a web of contradictions. The reason for the divorce with respect to Robertson's remarks is a more obvious, "of course you don't divorce" case. But all cases, whether obvious or not, have to do with conditional verses unconditional love. The fellowship loves to hear about the unconditional love Christ has for them, but then they fail to love unconditionally, even when they know that they are supposed to emulate Christ.

Most marriages, seem to me, to be predicated on conditions. The relationship is built on the fact that I will love you only if you stay exactly like you are now and make me feel like I feel now. Well what if years later that person becomes someone different and they do not make you feel the same. What then? Sayonara, I guess. See it's a conditional love. It's a love that says I will only love you if you make me feel a certain way or do a certain thing, which is really no love at all.

Additionally, Pat Robertson believes in healing. So what if that person becomes healed of the Alzheimers and their spouse is married to someone else? How does this show Christ to them?

And then you have the obvious, which I think Pat's co-host may have brought up - in sickness and in health. It does not apply to Alzheimers apparently.

A few weeks ago a friend told me about a co-worker whose wife shot him with a shotgun in his arm and chest during an argument. The lawyer and everyone around him said to divorce. My friend was asked by his co-worker what he should do. With the world and every principality of darkness against him, he responded with this:

"Jesus says that if you divorce your wife and marry someone else you commit adultery. And think about all the times that you have been faithless to Christ, yet he remains faithful to you."

So you know what his co-worker did? He decided not to press any charges, not to divorce his wife, and he took her home the very same day as the court hearing. THAT is love. THAT is what Christ has done for us. And THAT is being Christ to your spouse. Let me say this again. This guy was SHOT by his wife and he still said I love you anyway. Could you get a more similar picture of what Christ did for us?

Even when we were nailing Him to the cross, Jesus said "Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do."

This is my prayer. And it is my prayer that our myopic understanding of love would begin to expand and that the Holy Spirit would illuminate, strengthen and awaken the minds and hearts of a deaf, dumb, self-seeking, cowardice and adulterous generation.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Empirical Proselytizers

Logic - an intransient, universal abstract cannot be empirically tested. Yet, atheists readily accept it as something to believe in. The atheistic worldview is supported by it. One cannot accept 2 + 2 as 4 without first presupposing logic. But when atheists presuppose logic, it contradicts their dogmatic assertion that we cannot know anything without empirical proof, which is what they mean by evidence. There is no evidence, according to their qualified term, to support their presupposition. And presuppositions are something that everyone has regardless of their worldview. On these presuppositions rests the worldview. The new atheists, those arbiters of reason and logic, attack Christian a priori and act as if they have none, but they do. They believe in logic without having any "proof" or in other words empirical evidence for that belief. Their worldview is not exempt from presuppositions, which makes the scientific method as an epistemological absolute absolutely absurd. Everything a posteriori flows from faith, that insufferable word to some and that which to live by to others. We all have it. We all exercise it. It's only a matter of degree. From this, a foundational flaw in the constructs of the empirical proselytizer.

But are not logic and God different things? Is it comparing apples and oranges?

Certainly the objects of faith are different things. That is not the point. The point is that the atheist operates in faith with certain things, but not with others. He constructs a worldview in which only empirical proof will satisfy his belief in a certain object of faith, God. But belief in God is supported by evidence that is not empirical in nature. A statement like “you have no evidence for the existence of God" is true given the definition of evidence in an atheistic worldview. There is no empirical proof for God, logic, reason, morality, value, or any other abstract thing. These take some degree of faith to believe and all except God are accepted by the atheist. The atheist utilizes logic by faith, amongst a host of other things, but attacks the faith of others. The angst should not be directed at the principle of faith because there is no justification to criticize it. Instead, the atheist must take issue with the object of that faith, which is done and understandably so, but faith itself is disparaged without warrant. He accepts some things without the ability to scientifically test them and rejects others, depending on what suits him best. The comparison is much different than apples and oranges. It’s like apples and orchardists. The atheist eats the fruit and uses it for his use, but says, “There is no orchardist and if there is one I hate him.”

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Monica: A Love Story

Monica married early in life. Rather she was given in marriage early in life. Her husband, a brutal and dissolute man, regularly demeaned her and committed infidelity. Monica committed to prayer continually for this man. Her wayward husband eventually became a Christian, reaching salvation, but died shortly thereafter, leaving their three children who were licentious as well. From youth, the eldest stole fruit for the sheer ephemeral thrill of sin. He went on to have a child out of wedlock and became an adherent of Manichaeism, a gnostic heresy. She committed to prayer for him as she had done with her faithless husband. Years later, he became a Christian, like his father. Though he did not die shortly after. He went on to become one of the most well known Early Church Fathers. City of God and Confessions being among the most reputable of his works, Augustine of Hippo and his writings are still studied by serious Christian thinkers and theologians to this day. Augustine, a product of an arranged, abusive and most unhappy marriage, was shaped and no doubt influenced by the example his mother had shown him of Christ's love.

Had Monica lived in 21st Century America, would she have been advised to stay with her faithless husband? I think we know the answer to that question. Did she deserve better? Absolutely. Does Christ deserve better? Yes. We are not worthy, yet He loves us the same. Did her husband love her like Christ loves the Church? No. Did she love him like Christ loves the Church? Yes! Her love for him is a manifestation of true love. It is the kind of love that Christ shows us. Christ is faithful to the faithless and He loves the unlovable. Christ loved us even when we were sinners. He loved us when we spat on Him and nailed Him to the cross. She loved when there was no earthly reason to love, but Christ showed us how to love truly. Monica understood this and followed The Divine Exemplar. And this example was no doubt a powerful witness to her own children. The spiritual fruit of which is evidenced in life and work of Augustine.

"From my tenderest infancy, I had in a manner sucked with my mother's milk that name of my Saviour, Thy Son; I kept it in the recesses of my heart; and all that presented itself to me without that Divine Name, though it might be elegant, well written, and even replete with truth, did not altogether carry me away." (Confessions, I, iv)

Here we see the promise of our Lord, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6). Through obedience, the Holy Spirit implemented His glorious and transforming power, which is able to penetrate and change the hearts of the hardened brute and the hedonistic intellectual. Monica, believing this, and devoting her ways and prayer to God, demonstrated true love. What if we who claim that Divine Name exercised such love to the unlovable and the enrichment of marriages and godly children that would accompany? The Kingdom indistinguishable and abhorrent becomes vivid and attractive. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34-35)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

He is Hanging Here on This Gallows

Where is God when evil things happen? The Word made flesh, as with most good questions, answers this or at least gives us some understanding. The incarnation makes it possible for God to fully understand the plight of the afflicted. No greater injustice has ever been committed than at Calvary. Christ, a perfect and innocent being, underwent one of the most brutal deaths ever contrived by man. He was forsaken by those he loved. He was abandoned by His Father. He had the hate, malice, and sin of the world whipped and nailed into His body.

In Chapter 4 of Elie Wiesel's Night, there is a scene where a young boy is hanged. His weight is not enough to break his neck, so he slowly suffocates to death for over half an hour before a crowd of fellow prisoners. Having reached their pinnacle of hopelessness, Elie hears a man behind him ask:

"Where is God? Where is God now?”
And I heard a voice within me answer him:
“Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows."

This is often read as Elie losing faith in God, but the death of faith and the death of God are two very different things. The death of God has power and hope because of the ultimate good resulting from it, where death of Faith does not. I think Elie is writing of the former. Christ's crucifixion places Him at the center of every atrocity ever committed. God is not distant whenever injustice occurs. God is hanging in the gallows at Buna. He is the starved. He is the raped. He is the murdered. Where is God when evil things happen? He's there. He's been there and He knows it well.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Youth of Our Last Epoch

"He entered upon this path only because, at that time, it alone struck his imagination and presented itself to him as offering an ideal means of escape for his soul from darkness to light. Add to that that he was to some extent a youth of our last epoch -- that is, honest in nature, desiring the truth, seeking for it and believing in it, and seeking to serve it at once with all the strength of his soul, seeking for immediate action, and ready to sacrifice everything, life itself, for it. Though these young men unhappily fail to understand that the sacrifice of life is, in many cases, the easiest of all sacrifices, and that to sacrifice, for instance, five or six years of their seething youth to hard and tedious study, if only to multiply tenfold their powers of serving the truth and the cause they have set before them as their goal such a sacrifice is utterly beyond the strength of many."  - The Brothers Karamazov, Part I, Book I, Chapter 5

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chesterton on Courage

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. “He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,” is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice. He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine. - G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 91-92

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Sleepy Citizenry

If there is one fact we really can prove, from the history that we really do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy. As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty; and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep. - G.K Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, The Antiquity of Civilization

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Christianity and Culture

So long as we consider finance, industry, trade, agriculture merely as competing interests to be reconciled from time to time as best they may, so long as we consider “education” as a good in itself of which everyone has a right to the utmost, without any ideal of the good life for society or for the individual, we shall move from one uneasy compromise to another. To the quick and simple organization of society for ends which, being only material and worldly, must be as ephemeral as worldly success, there is only one alternative. As political philosophy derives its sanction from ethics, and ethics from the truth of religion, it is only by returning to the eternal source of truth that we can hope for any social organization which will not, to its ultimate destruction, ignore some essential aspect of reality. The term “democracy,” as I have said again and again, does not contain enough positive content to stand alone against the forces that you dislike––it can easily be transformed by them. If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God) you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.- Christianity and Culture, T.S. Eliot p. 50

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Unrighteous Indignation

"Obama to reporter: Let me finish my answers next time."

Does liberal mass media pitch soft balls to President Obama during interviews? Yes. Does this mean that those on the right should counterattack by not only challenging President Obama during interviews, but being disrespectful as well? No. This kind of behavior demonstrates two things. First, the interviewer has very limited experience in executive positions of authority. Anyone who has not been in a leadership position like President Obama cannot even begin to grasp the difficulty of decisions he has to make. Second, the interviewer is not serious about being Christian, if a Christian at all. And in this case, he is from Texas, so I think we can safely assume he is Christian by name at least. But perhaps he is not. If this is the case, who am I to judge an outsider?

Either way, I think the interview is a microcosm of right leaning Christians in their disposition towards President Obama. They are carried away by passions that more often than not result in vitriolic and disrespectful speech of the President. They are not led by the Spirit. If they were, then it would be evidenced by the fruit of self-control. Christians are right for speaking out and taking action against bad policy. Christ challenged the hypocrites and bad leadership of his day, even choosing to call them a "brood of vipers" and "evil". The error that followers of Christ make is in their haste to criticize, the unwarranted disrespect, condescension, and lack of control over their emotions and speech. Followers of Christ are held to a higher standard. Which means Christians need to be accurate, justified, and righteous in their indignation. It's a delicate balance for sure, but it can be found. You can challenge bad policy and bad men righteously.

Here are a few verses to consider before setting fires with your tongue:

Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. - Romans 13:7

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. - I Timothy 2:1-3

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. - 1 Peter 2:17

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau: Inoculation Complete

I just returned from seeing The Adjustment Bureau. At face value I liked it. The acting was good. The idea was somewhat novel. And it had a happy ending. However, the subtleties did not sit well with me. Like most things in popular culture, there are subtle inoculations and messages that are instilled into the consumer. Movies, music and television programs do a good job of playing to emotions in order to get the viewer to sympathize with a certain belief, morality or axiom. The viewer doesn't realize it, but over time these simple movies, songs and programs begin to infect the consumer with the conveyed worldview. It causes the viewer to take a certain side in a controversy later on in life without even realizing it. In the Abolition of Man, Lewis writes about the effects that a simple literary lesson, written by authors he dubbed Gaius and Titius, has on a child.

"The very power of Gaius and Titius depends on the fact that they are dealing with a boy: a boy who thinks he is 'doing' his 'English prep' and has no notion that ethics, theology, and politics are all at stake. It is not a theory they put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him to take one side in a controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all. The authors themselves, I suspect, hardly know what they are doing to the boy, and he cannot know what is being done to him."(C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man, Ch. 1 Men Without Chests)

Popular entertainment can do the same thing to the viewer. At least it can do the same thing to a viewer who has no notion that ethics, theology, and politics are all at stake. It's just a song, right? Most people, especially youth, who gobble up popular culture are as fictile as the little boy in Lewis' example. Of course, they would deny this, but where else are they forming their worldview? Home? Church? Yeah right. They're being inoculated with false assumptions by the popular culture with which they surround themselves. And The Adjustment Bureau conveys a scathing deviation from Truth. Namely, that your plan is better than God's plan. This can be stated many different ways, but if I had to boil it down to one assumption, it would be that. To better understand this, let's look at the storyline.

The Adjustment Bureau is about David Norris (Matt Damon), the authentic, ambitious and young congressman who cannot help but fall head over heals for the beautiful Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt). Elise is captivating, a dancer, has a witty sense of humor and a dash of spontaneity. Elise and David are perfect for each other. Their conversations are filled with playful, witty banter. They keep running into each other serendipitously. And they kissed the very first time they met. The chemistry between the two is undeniable. They're meant to be together. However, the Adjustment Bureau does not plan for them to be together. They have a different plan. David is supposed to become the President of The United States and Elise is supposed to become one of the world's greatest dancers. If they stay together these plans will not unfold. This plan is written out by the Chairman. "Humans have many different names for him," says Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie), Damon's assigned adjuster who keeps him on track with the plan. Mackie's statement about the Chairman is an allusion to God, Providence, the Supreme Being...what have you. The adjusters are alluded to as angels. These angels all carry around little books and everything has to go according to the plan in the book. No allusion is made about the book being the Bible, but for the sake of my argument, let's say the subtlety is there.

The problem comes in with the subtleties. On the surface, there is really nothing wrong with the film. But we know, from Lewis' observation that these things teach. And they teach things that will put us on one side of a controversy somewhere later on down the road. So what is under the surface? During the climactic chase towards the end of the film, Matt Damon declares in a tone of revelatory conviction, "this can't be wrong."

"Why is it wrong for us to be together?" Blunt asks.

"Because their book says it's wrong!" Damon replies.

BAM! That's it. Inoculation complete. This won't hurt at all. Just look away and you'll feel a little discomfort. There, it's all over.

And what exactly is being inoculated against? Truth. Here's where I place my cards on the table and bring out the issue that I annoyingly will not let die. A certain battle is being fought in the spiritual realm, which spills out into every area of our lives, to include movies at the theater. Most of us have been hoodwinked into falling onto the wrong side of this controversy. Any reasonable person who reads The Bible will logically conclude that "anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12) And "Christians" do not want to commit adultery. Or do they? They do. One out of every two "Christian" marriages are not really marriages, but adulterous affairs. Why this contradiction? Setting weak leadership and outright disobedience aside, it's because we have been conditioned to go with our emotions and not our reason. The Book says we can't be together? Well my heart says this is right, so let's make our own destiny. Let's  fulfill our own plan. The Adjustment Bureau is just one example of inoculation or conditioning. The message becomes tiresome and is seen over and over in everything from Full House to Fireproof to the endless amount of popular songs telling us to listen to our hearts. Well guess what, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) And so-called believers will claim that the Holy Spirit has led them into their second, third, fourth marriage. Sorry guys, Scripture trumps what you call the Holy Spirit and what I call your unrestrained emotional passions. Stop co-opting something beautiful for your deceitful heart's wicked desires. I digress (or do I?). Back to the film.

The movie is resolved by Matt Damon committing to the relationship and going over the top to find God in order to allow the two to be together. His incessant devotion to his significant other and his pursuit of God results in Damon's salvation. God sees his devotion and decides to rewrite the plan so that they can be together. Go Matt Damon! What a great picture of what we see in church. I'm sure this is the plan that all of the so called believers who are living in adultery have decided to pursue. Hey God, I didn't really like your way so I decided to do my own thing. I'm also pursuing You by being involved in every ministry, Bible study, and social event my church has to offer. And my unfettered devotion to my second wife will result in salvation right? As Rob Bell puts it, love wins. I hope that works out for you on Judgment Day. 

"Just remember, we tried to reason with you." 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hayek on Responsibility and Freedom

It is doubtful that democracy could survive in a society organized on the principle of therapy rather than judgment, error rather than sin. If men are free and equal, they must be judged rather than hospitalized.         - F. D. Wormuth
Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions and will receive praise or blame for them. Liberty and responsibility are inseparable. A free society will not function or maintain itself unless its members regard it as right that each individual occupy the position that results from his action and accept it as due to his own action. Though it can offer to the individual only chances and though the outcome of his effort will depend on innumerable accidents, it forcefully directs his attention to those circumstances that he can control as if they were the only ones that mattered. Since the individual is to be given the opportunity to make use of the circumstances that may be known only to him and since, as a rule, nobody else can know whether he has made the best use of them or not, the presumption is that the outcome of his actions is determined by them, unless the contrary is quite obvious. 

This belief in individual responsibility, which has always been strong when people firmly believed in individual freedom, has markedly declined, together with the esteem for freedom. Responsibility has become an unpopular concept, a word that experienced speakers or writers avoid because of the obvious boredom or animosity with which it is received by a generation that dislikes all moralizing. It often evokes the outright hostility of men who have been taught that it is nothing but circumstances over which they have no control that has determined their position in life or even their actions. This denial of responsibility is, however, commonly due to a fear of responsibility, a fear of that necessarily becomes also a fear of freedom. It is doubtless because the opportunity to build one's own life also means an unceasing task, a discipline that man must impose upon himself if he is to achieve his aims, that many people are afraid of liberty.

 - Friedrich A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, Chapter Five : Responsibility and Freedom, Page 71-72.