The “Anything Goes” Flood

 

“This is the lie that is at the heart of our society, the lie that encourages every form of destructive self-indulgence to flourish: for while we ascribe our conduct to pressures from without, we obey the whims that well up from within, thereby awarding ourselves carte blanche to behave as we choose. Thus we feel good about behaving badly.” ― Theodore Dalrymple, Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass

~~~

Warning! Mixed Metaphors Ahead!

So last night I had a dream…

The past several days I was made hyper aware of the inundation of God’s world with a flood of “the world, the flesh and the Devil.” We know from Scripture that God promised to never flood the world again. His promise would be signified by a rainbow for all to see. God will keep his promise even as the level of man’s inhumanity and depravity rises again.

This last Friday in particular, I sensed the overwhelming “Anything Goes” flood waters of a world system that detests Jesus as Lord. I decided to take Friday off from work, as my workload had slowed. As usual I went to the fitness club to work out first thing in the morning. Inside, the background noise turned foreground noise – a percussive sound – was so loud and so overwhelming and so meaningless in content that I had to use ear plugs and listen to the TV on the elliptical machine to drown out its convulsive effects.

After working out I ventured over to my favorite breakfast restaurant, the one I visit every weekend. The waitresses know me. The service and the food are good. The background music, not so much. And then there is Liz. Liz has waited on me many times. When Liz fills out the check it is impossible for me not to notice the creeping scrawl of tattoos that cover her arms. Liz asks me if I want the usual (what I’ve ordered over and over for three years, now). I say yes. Liz repeats the order to me and gets it wrong. Every time, she gets it wrong. “OK”, I said to myself again, “life is hard”.

After breakfast I went to a large grocery store, a store like Target. I needed to pick up a few things before heading home. Again, the background pop music is flooding forward into the large cavernous room bringing with it cultural rot –lyrics (not the right descriptor) that slither around an accelerating tribal dance beat.

I go home to rest. I turn on the TV to check the stock market news and sure enough commercials flood the room with their raised volume level and carnival barker announcements of products that will fix whatever ails your modern life. Everything is for sale in our culture.

Later in the day, I decided to go out for dinner. The temperature outside was 90 degrees. And, I cook every day, so I tell myself, “Why not go out for a change?” I check out a new “Modern Japanese Cuisine” restaurant in town. I enter and see the hostess looking deeply into her Smartphone. Out of the corner of her eye she notices me at the door and picks up a menu while looking at her phone. She throws the menu onto a table that is between the only two tables in the restaurant where people are eating.  There are about hundred open seats elsewhere. No matter. I pick up the menu and move to a table I like.

Minnie, the tattooed waitress who looked barely 21, came to my table. I asked about a certain Sake. She couldn’t answer. So, I asked based on the pricing, “It looks like the smaller price is for a glass and the larger price is for a Sake carafe?” She couldn’t answer. I then said that I wanted to try a small (I used my fingers to show her small!) glass of sake. Five minutes later and she’s back at my table to ask me what size I wanted, of the two sizes. I go along and tell again, using sign language and words.

Minnie brings the Sake and takes my food order: a Bento box with teriyaki beef. (I like sushi, but I haven’t had teriyaki in a while and besides, I saw that the Sushi chef had tattoos.) Fifteen minutes later Minnie returns with my Bento box. She uncovers the box. The meat portion looks teriyaki-ish so I don’t think there is an issue. But then I pull off some of the meat with my chopsticks and realize that she brought me teriyaki salmon instead.

It took several attempts, in the almost empty restaurant, to flag Minnie down. When I told her my dinner order was wrong it was like I slapped her out of a trance. I was starting to see a pattern develop.

~~~

Last Friday I experienced only some of the effects of what I see as the flood waters “of man’s inhumanity and depravity rising again”. Look around, carefully. You will see TV shows called “Real Housewives of…” which depict mostly women clawing and fighting to be top cat. You will see TV shows of the Kardashians where women preen and fawn over themselves before you, the mirror. You will see sitcoms which trivialize God and exalt man (and his social science). If you watch such things, how will you transform your mind?

You will see movies of fantasies – superheroes who save mankind within two or so hours and who need to be recycled to save the world again and again (for profit). There is also the trio of leave-nothing-to-the-imagination-PC-approved characters who presume to speak for God in The Shack fantasy (see my previous post). If you watch such things, how will you transform your mind?

There is the upcoming Chicago Gay pride parade on June 25th with its flood of manmade rainbows meant to stave off judgment for its celebration of inhuman behavior. If you watch such things, how will you transform your mind?

Christians are so inundated by the world system that it is easy for them to take it in and accept its sashaying flirtations with evil as just “fun and peace and love”, to accept gays as being “differently ordered” instead of “objectively disordered” (a change in terms for the Catholic Church as directed by Pope Francis)

I could write a whole lot more about the rising level of inhumanity, about abortions, euthanasia, homosexuality, about Disney’s social justice animation, about climate change population control, etc. Suffice it to say, if the Spirit of God is living in you, you will experience the dissonance: the unrelenting and pummeling sounds of this world system demanding submission and the voice of God asking you to follow here and now.

 

One example of a response to the latter:

 

Important Note: In writing these things, I am not judging these people. I am observing that this world is hurting. I and all believers are a royal priesthood who stand between earth and heaven to intercede for a world that is hurting. When I see the tattoos, I pray for the person. When I hear commercials, I pray for those who are in pain, in need, who seek relief for the struggle of everyday life. When I tweet debate a homosexual I pray for their emotional and psychological needs and for the seed of the Word to be planted and to take root. Within every situation I encounter I am learning to pray in the Spirit for the person before me.

~~~

Keep in mind the words (and mandate) of those around the throne:

 

“With your own blood you purchased a people for God and made them a kingdom of priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5

 

Keep in mind this warning from the Apostle Paul in his circular letter to the churches around Ephesus (Chap. 5):

“So don’t get involved in the works of darkness, which all come to nothing. Instead, expose them! The things they do in secret, you see, are shameful even to talk about. But everything becomes visible when it’s exposed to the light, since everything that is visible is light. That’s why it says:

Wake up, you sleeper!

Rise from the dead!

The Messiah will shine on you!

So take special care how you conduct yourselves. Don’t be unwise, but be wise. Make use of every opportunity you have, because these are wicked times we live in. So don’t be foolish; rather, understand what the will of the Lord is. And don’t be drunk with wine; that way lies in dissipation. Rather, be filled with the spirit! Speak to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and chanting in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for everything to God the father in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.

Note:  the “Wake up, you sleeper! quote Paul uses is likely from an early Christian poem or song.

~~~

So, last night I had a dream: I am sitting in the backyard of what I perceive to be my house. I am sitting next to someone I perceive to be my spouse. I look up and in the kitchen window of my house are two men in dark suits with guns. I perceive they have taken over the house. Next, I see them tearing up our passports. My spouse says to me, “You need to take care of this.” So, I get up and go look for my handgun which is in my car in the driveway, but then I sense that my car is parked at the train station. I then felt helpless against the two men. I wake up.

Write the Other Way

 

 

“Dover Beach”, Matthew Arnold’s lyric poem, describes the shore at the narrowest part of the English Channel. Dover, on the southeast coast of England in the county of Kent, is famous for its white cliffs and its popular ferry port. The ferry crosses the Strait of Dover to Calais, France. Dover Beach is where Arnold honeymooned. His poem reveals that he also thought about life in the mid 1800’s. dover beach 2

“Dover Beach”, with imagery of the restless sea and allusions to Ancient Greek Figures, is a metaphor for the ebbing of Christian faith and the surge of the industrial age sensed by Arnold. Mankind is moving away from the community and the collective experience which fosters faith and finds itself left behind “as on a darkling plain” without solace.  The poem was written around 1850.

Further Context:  T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, also filled with allusions to the collective past, was published in 1922. Eliot is considered the first true modernist in English literature. Eliot’s spiritual quest ended when he embraced the Anglican Church.

(On the right-hand side bar is the sound file where you can listen to Thomas Hampson, world-renowned baritone, sing Dover Beach.)

 

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.

The tide is full, the moon lies fair

Upon the straits; – on the French coast the light

Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,

Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.

Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!

Only, from the long line of spray

Where the sea meets the moon-blanch’d land,

Listen! you hear the grating roar

Of pebbles which the waves draw back,and fling,

At their return, up the high strand,

Begin, and cease, and then again begin,

With tremulous cadence slow, and bring

The eternal note of sadness in.

 

Sophocles long ago

Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought

Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow

Of human misery; we

Find also in the sound a thought,

Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

 

The Sea of Faith

Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore

Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d

But now I only hear

Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,

Retreating, to the breath

Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear

And naked shingles of the world.

 

Ah, love, let us be true

To one another! for the world, which seems

To lie before us like a land of dreams,

So various, so beautiful, so new,

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;

And we are here as on a darkling plain

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,

Where ignorant armies clash by night.

 

~~~

A world of “neither joy, nor love, nor light” …
The character Montag, in the novel Fahrenheit 451, reads the last two stanzas of Arnold’s poem to Mildred, his wife, and her female friends. He attempts to expose their shallow nature. Mildred cautions him not to do so:

Mildred: “Montag, hold on, don’t …”

Montag: “Did you hear them, did you hear these monsters talking about monsters? Oh God, the way they jabber about people and their own children and themselves and the way they talk about their husbands and the way they talk about war, dammit, I stand here and I can’t believe it!”

After much resistance, Montag goes on to read the last two stanzas, finishing with

And we are here as on a darkling plain

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,

Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Mrs. Phelps was crying.

~~~

To those who have ears to hear…

Fahrenheit 451 (1966), at 58 minutes, Montag quotes another book’s passage out loud to the unwilling (and yes, the acting is atrocious):

Onward Christian Fortresses?

 

Viewed from the six lane highway, the structure appears to be a brick fortress surrounded by acres of treeless grass and a vast moonscape of parking lot. The function without form building inspires no awe, no upward glance and no transcendent thought. The surrounding barren landscape contains no greenhouse, no food or flower gardens, no observatory and no animal shelter. There is nothing of nature’s bounty in my view, only the requisite shrubs to offset the stark landscape. Behold, another mega-church built to feed the souls of six thousand; another unadorned mega-church in a far western suburb of architecturally savvy Chicago.

Every other Saturday I visit someone several towns away. As I do I pass this mega-church going and coming, typically between 10 and 11:30 am. This Saturday, like all the other times before, I saw, again to my astonishment, that there were no cars in the parking lot. There was no activity whatsoever. I wondered at a stewardship that builds a Scripture fort surrounded by acres of asphalt parking that is to be filled only periodically by the six thousand. The transmutation of creation into an austere block complex hurt my soul to see. And, what about the transmutation of the six thousand?

As a child, I first attended a Baptist church and later, Bible/Free churches. Beauty was a no show at these churches. There were, of course, colorful Sunday school materials – what is considered Christian education resources – for the kids. And with a constant pamphlet diet – a three point sermon with alliteration – there was no hunger for intellectual activity. I observed, as did Mark Noll in his book “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind“: The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” I saw extreme resistance to obtaining knowledge. The pews were there to be used, but scholarly books, not so much. It would not be too far off to say that understanding was gained by and strictly limited to what the Bible ‘teachers’, self-help pablum and popular seminars say the Bible says.

Over some fifty years I have heard the same bad theology passed down from generation to generation. Not once in the Bible church did I ever hear a sermon or a class talk about the Kingdom of God being here and now – a major thrust of the four Gospels. The sermons, to an Amen, were, “You need to get saved so you can get to heaven. If you are saved then you need to come forward to rededicate your life. Then you must think seriously about becoming a missionary. Everyone must get to heaven because this world will be judged harshly.” Imagine how our world would change if we prayed for and practiced “on earth as it is in heaven”, and prepared for the return of our King? He will be bringing heaven down to earth to join them together.

There was and is also the highly profitable Rapture fantasy series based on a mis-reading of the Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. And, of course, there is the teaching of a literal six-day creationism. Science must be eschewed as being antagonistic toward God and His Word. I learned otherwise on my own.

And, there is the constant reiteration of the mis-understanding of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Sadly, Romans, since the Reformation and the Enlightenment, has been reduced to a quirky systematic theology – all about us. Paul’s circular letter to the Christians in and around Rome speaks of God’s plan to redeem his creation. The letter is a well thought out dissertation reminding Jewish and gentile Christians in Rome of God’s covenantal faithfulness, his righteousness. It was meant to reinforce an Old Testament understanding of God’s plan for redeeming his creation that was in place all along.

I never heard this at church. Instead, I heard the four spiritual laws imposed onto Romans. And with this I was taught that God imputes – gives – his righteousness to me, sinner that I am. But, this thinking has no basis in Romans given its Scriptural context of Genesis 15 and the Abrahamic covenant. Regarding my righteousness: I am made righteous in the law court of God by God’s exercise of His covenant faithfulness and his desire to put the world to right.

I don’t recall anyone over those years, except for a few visiting professors, who seriously studied theology, N.T. Greek or Hebrew to understand the context of what was written. Often, the visiting seminary professors would reassert the same bad theology using highfalutin terms and out-of-context proof texts.

I have heard countless sermons based on poached verses to create a ‘relevant” topic to preach on Sunday mornings. Relevance and accommodation are apparently key to mega-ness. The mega-church I’ve mentioned offers two services: traditional and contemporary worship. As such, this church divides the Body of Christ into sects for mega-accommodation.

Am I jaded about the Evangelical church? After many years of being involved with these Bible churches, in some sense I am. That is perhaps why I can see the six thousand continuing to come back to the mega-church because it looks… bigly: “There has to be something for me inside this Yuge Assembly of Bricks Church.”

If the election of Donald Trump, supported by the many Evangelicals who voted for him tells you anything, and if the existence of the mega-church tells you anything it is that the Evangelical assembly line approach to Christianity must go onward. And, Bible fortresses must be built.

~~~

A coincidence? I found this audio link on Twitter this morning:

Reflections on horrible preaching

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“The day-to-day services of the Christian churches are embarrassing reminders of the fact that religion is losing its sublime godwardness, and turning instead towards the world of mass production.”

― Roger Scruton, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture

“Beauty is vanishing from our world because we live as though it did not matter.” ―Roger Scruton, Beauty

What is revealed to me in the experience of beauty is a fundamental truth about being – the truth that being is a gift, and receiving it is a task. This is a truth of theology that demands exposition as such.” ― Roger Scruton, Face of God: the Gifford Lectures

“The point of Christian scholarship is not recognition by standards established in the wider culture. The point is to praise God with the mind. Such efforts will lead to the kind of intellectual integrity that sometimes receives recognition. But for the Christian that recognition is only a fairly inconsequential by-product. The real point is valuing what God has made, believing that the creation is as “good” as he said it was, and exploring the fullest dimensions of what it meant for the Son of God to “become flesh and dwell among us.” Ultimately, intellectual work of this sort is its own reward, because it is focused on the only One whose recognition is important, the One before whom all hearts are open.” ― Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

I Spy Meaning

 

“As you get older, ideas go and come. Questions, answers, loss of the answer again and more questions, and this is what really interests me. Yes, the cinema and the people in my life and my family are most important, but ultimately as you get older, there’s got to be more. Much, much more.

The very nature of secularism right now is really fascinating to me, but at the same time do you wipe away what could be more enriching in your life, which is an appreciation or some sort of search for that which is spiritual and transcends? That’s one of the reasons why I made the George Harrison documentary. Silence is just something that I’m drawn to in that way. It’s been an obsession, it has to be done… it’s a strong, wonderful true story, a thriller in a way, but it deals with those questions.” silence-poster-700x1092

Martin Scorsese

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The above recent quote of director Martin Scorsese regarding his passion project the film Silence underscores the human need for meaning. Pre-Enlightenment, that meaning had been intuited in a common culture taking in the aesthetic. Contemplation of nature and high culture pointed us away from ourselves and our situation to that which transcends and to the sacred. Fine art, classical music, drama, architecture and classical literature prodded our imagination, our consciousness. Value and virtue could be envisioned and then acted out and gained. Meaning so derived offered a way to rise above our daily existence and provided hope. But today, in the days of the Post-Enlightenment’s reductionism of everything to science-truth and of deconstructionism’s relentless push to zero out meaning and the never-ending consumption that offers only temporary fulfillment in its quest, we are left with that which does not relate to the subjective within us: fake art, pop art, pop music, the desecration of the sacred, fantasy, cynicism, sentimentality and secularism’s clichés. We take in rubber chicken soup for our souls.

Instead of seeking meaning which transcends, many find comfort and community with others in a complicit collaborative deception – the lies of the secular and the fake that are “inviting us into a realm where we deceive each other into thinking that we are thinking when we are not.” -philosopher Roger Scruton (on recognizing fake philosophy)

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More from philosopher Scruton:

“People need beauty. They need the sense of being at home in their world, and being in communication with other souls,” – philosopher Roger Scruton.

“In so many areas of modern life – in pop music, in television and cinema, in language and literature – beauty is being displaced by raucous and attention-grabbing clichés,” laments Scruton. “We are being torn out of ourselves by the loud and insolent gestures of people who want to seize our attention but to give nothing in return for it.” Roger Scruton On Beauty

“Music is a wonderful example of something that’s in this world but not of this world. Great works of music speak to us from another realm even though they speak to us in ordinary physical sounds.” ― Roger Scruton, The Soul of the World

~~~

Once in a blue moon a movie offers the public something of value. Last night I watched The Lives of Othersthe-lives-of-others-1

Here is what the back of the DVD says:

“This critically acclaimed, Oscar-winning film (Best Foreign Language Film, 2006) is the erotic, emotionally-charged experience…

Before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, East Germany’s population was closely monitored by the State Secret Police or Stasi. Only a few citizens above suspicion, like renowned pro-Socialist playwright Georg Dreyman, were permitted to lead private lives. But when a corrupt government official falls for Georg’s stunning actress-girlfriend, Christa, an ambitious Stasi policeman is ordered to bug the writer’s apartment to gain incriminating evidence against the rival. Now, what the officer discovers is about to dramatically change their lives – as well as his – in this seductive political thriller…”

the-lives-of-others

This write-up is sensationalist-weird (“erotic”; “seductive”) and does not do the film justice. Having watched this film several times in the past, and again last night, I came to see, within the historical-political-power-over-others context, that Stasi Captain Gerd Wiesler was in desperate need of meaning in his drab German Democratic Republic (GDR) socialist life. Wiesler becomes obsessed with playwright Georg Dreyman’s life, a life which included drama, literature, music and the art on the walls of his apartment. Dreyman found meaning in aesthetics and in his close relationships. That’s all I am going to say about that, so you can watch the film. Note: the movie is rated R “For some sexuality/nudity”. I did not find the “sexuality/nudity” gratuitous. Rather, the brief sexuality/nudity scenes were in keeping with the story.

The story takes place in 1984. The fall of the Berlin Wall began November 1989.

Footnote:

Born during the days of the Harry S. Truman presidency, I have seen a lot of history in the making, including the collapse of socialist states such as the GDR. History matters when making new decisions. History matters in your quest for meaning. Fill your life with high culture music, art, literature, drama as provided by the lives of others throughout history. Do your own surveillance on meaning.

The Disconnected

 

Another day and the same dream:  I am driving a compact car and I’m trying to park in a space meant for compact cars. On each side of the parking space is a monster vehicle – a Sierra Massive Madre and a Himalayan Mountain All Terrain I-Drive-a Ram-cuz-I’m-a-Man-In-Your-Face Pick-up.  I finally park my car and then try to get out. But the vehicle next to me is so space -staking large that I can only open the door but a pinch. That is when I wake up.

The same day and, as usual, I went to the local health club to do my cardio routine.  And, as usual, thunderous testosterone overdosed music was there to assault me.  The large fitness club has two floors. The resistance weights are located upstairs and the cardio, yoga classes, etc. are located on the main floor. The upstairs looks down onto the main floor; the floors are open to each other. This arrangement means that the screaming hellish heavy metal music is inescapable. Not having a toggle switch on the side of my head to turn off outside noise, I put on headphones, and once again, I hear my own blood pumping.

Workout complete, I head to the women’s locker room wishing there was something to take my mind off of the music that comes from the bottomless pit.  Yet, when I enter the women’s locker room there are six large screen TVs blaring out the local news. In Chicago, the local news is mostly about the west and south sides of Chicago and about who is killing whom over gym shoes or for a gang initiation or just because they feel welcomed in Chicago by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and IL Representative (D) Luis Gutierrez. Shooting off guns is what they do to celebrate in third world countries.

To find relief from the harmful drug-like effects of constant and pervasive packaged noise, I choose a locker near the showers, away from the din. Further away, in the sauna, I believe that I can find a quiet place. But that occurs until a young girl in head-to-toe sweats comes in. Bypassing the body, her brain is plugged into a Smartphone which dispenses her self-image – the latest sweet-bad-girl-nymph chirping infantile sexuality. I then move to the shower where there is sure to be a respite from… But wait! What is that I hear?

Lately, on Tuesday, 4:30 AM, a young black girl shows up and uses the shower across from me.  Her ambience is set with the wailing ecstasy of bowel-wrenching R & B music, music which plays out of speakers of some device impervious to shower water and to others.

 

Noise exhaustion cannot break my contract. My contracted membership with this health club cannot be voided except if I die or suffer a physical disability, such as severe stroke. 

Touché!

Intrinsic, Not Extrinsic

 

“God has committed himself, ever since creation, to working through his creatures–in particular, through his image-bearing human beings–but they have all let Him down.”
― N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity makes Sense

~~~

The waitress who brought me my order of eggs and bacon this morning at the Sweetened Sacks of Flour caught my attention as did another waitress last Saturday – their arms were covered in graphic cartoon-like black scrawl that seemed to slither up their arms toward some nether region of their bodies. My heart sank again this morning at the sight.

This young waitress – a twentyish woman with a beautiful smile and bright black eyes – had defaced herself and the Lord only knows why. Perhaps it’s the enticing effects of the reality TV culture, aka Pop culture, aka Cartoon Culture that we live in.  Donald Trump was elected president in such a culture – and that makes perfect sense. “Winning” the Presidency has become a cartoon choice award.

Found on many cable channels, reality TV programming reveals people participating in all manner of human folly including the ritual of “inking”.  To a great extent, The Media – the televised “news” programs, the newsfeed websites, the print and blog formatted- is also reality programming meant to arouse consumer’s attention and to provide a common denominator of baseness where one-upmanship is pulling one man’s pants down to use to pull your readers/viewers up out of the same swamp they are all in. Did we really need to be reminded of our broken humanness and subscribe to folly? But then again, watching the latest version of Sodom and Gomorrah in action may cause some to repent – but I doubt it. Just walk away and don’t look back.

Yes, my heart sank again this morning at the sight of this young woman who submitted herself to a pagan ritual. Tattooing is not adornment. That butterfly on the back of your neck is not adornment. You are telling the world that you belong to the ruler of this world and he – the Satan – has been kicked out. Anyone can be The Satan’s hands and feet, just as any Christian can be the hands and feet of the Lord.

At the health club, I see dozens of women who have “adorned” their bodies with graphic comic-like tattoos. Many have knowingly given themselves over to paganism with the “tat” being the sign that they are part of a death-Goth community which exists within a milieu of despair. They have thereby shown their allegiance to the former ruler of this world. As viewers of The Media, these who have dehumanized themselves with tattoos may have thought that God had given up on them and the world. Or, maybe they do not want anything to do with God and do not want to be a human who was created in God’s image. Paganism throughout human history has sought to destroy God’s image in our humanness. It has sought to make a god of man’s own image. Inking injects dye and idolatry into the skin.

Paganism is dehumanization. Paganism converts a person’s thinking so that they only live out their lives at a skin-deep level. Ultimately, paganism’s goal to make their supplicants into the image of The Satan. Before that point, one will look a lot like Gollum.

Paganism’s devotees find all sorts of religious ways to be rid of the indelible image of God. Some paganist’s devotion may be pantheistic in nature (diluting God in a solution of everything, thereby watering down any notion of a personal God) and some devotion may be populist in nature (watching TV), though the two are closely connected at the hip (pun intended).

Paganism’s alter ego is “enlightened Epicureanism. Both “religions” preach the same lie: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Both “religions” cultivate fools.

A fool will say in his heart “there is no god…and if there was I don’t want him anyway or to reflect his image. I will tattoo myself and shed any claim God may have on me”. In the end, when this fellow stands before God, he will say “I spent my entire life divesting myself of you. Get me out of here now!” And so, God will give him the desire of his heart.

 

Those of us who desire to be in the Kingdom of God, who desire the same true humanity as our Lord put on…we do not need to be in abeyance – the position of being without, or waiting for, an owner or claimant. God laid claim on us when we were sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever” (BCP, 380).

~~~

The DIY short list of how to become less human and deface the image of God (i.e., how to dehumanize yourself and others):

 

Murdering

Aborting

Euthanizing

Committing Adultery

Fornicating

Viewing pornography

Practicing homosexuality

Involving yourself with bestiality

Lying

Stealing

Being unjust

Gossiping

Being sentimental

Worshipping the creature and not the creator

Dishonoring your mother and father

Watching and paying for fantasy-ridden movies and cable shows which glorify the above

Watching cartoonish “animated” movies a la Disney, DreamWorks

Taking drugs

Crucifying someone

~~~~

“When human beings give their heartfelt allegiance to and worship that which is not God, they progressively cease to reflect the image of God. One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only to the object itself but also outward to the world around. Those who worship money increasingly define themselves in terms of it and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners, or customers rather than as human beings. Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, their practices, their past histories) and increasingly treat other people as actual or potential sex objects. Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors, or pawns. These and many other forms of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging to the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and of those whose lives they touch.”
― N.T. Wright, Surprised By Hope:  Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

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Do you want a POV from a well-read prison psychiatrist who’s also an atheist?

“The correspondent asked me: what was wrong with tattooing, if that was how people wanted to adorn themselves?

I asked him whether he would have himself tattooed—whether he would be happy if his teenaged children had themselves tattooed—and if not, why not? After all, if he would not like it, he must have some inner objection to tattooing.

True, he said, but tattooing was not illegal. And since even I, who deprecated it, did not think that it should be illegal, there was nothing further to say about it. If tattooing was legal, it was thus of no social, moral, or cultural significance.

I tried to point out some of the cultural meanings of the vogue for tattooing. First, it was aesthetically worse than worthless. Tattoos were always kitsch, implying not only the absence of taste but the presence of dishonest emotion.

Second, the vogue represented a desperate (and rather sad) attempt on a mass scale to achieve individuality and character by means of mere adornment, which implied both intellectual vacuity and unhealthy self-absorption.

And third, it represented mass downward cultural and social aspiration, since everyone understood that tattooing had a traditional association with low social class and, above all, with aggression and criminality. It was, in effect, a visible symbol of the greatest, though totally ersatz, virtue of our time: an inclusive unwillingness to make judgments of morality or value.”

-Theodore Dalrymple’s Law Isn’t Enough

Whole Lotta Searchin’ Goin’ On

 

2016 Proverbs (Observations, generally speaking.):

 

Astronomers search the universe for cosmic origins.

Physicists seek to understand the behavior of systems at atomic length scales and smaller using quantum mechanics.

Geneticists, in search of disease prevention and cures, scan the genetic code for the secret of life.

Archeologists search fossil and radiometric dating records for what has gone on before.

Anthropologists search for “missing links” and the ways and means of the past.

Nurses sonogram pregnant bellies for signs of life.

Philosophers search for why there is something rather than nothing.

Nihilists search for meaning in nothing and come up empty-handed and nauseous.

Wise men searched the night sky for kingdom beginnings.

Mathematicians seek solutions in our design-inherent universe.

Social scientists seek to nudge a human’s free will toward a “proper” response.

Capitalists seek value.

Socialists seek other people’s money.

Traders seek to buy low and sell high.

Long term stock and bond holders look for a return on their investment at some point in the future.

Investors seek the highest returns while shouldering prudent risk.

Psychologists, asking “how do you feel about that”, seek to redefine consequences away from morality.

Psychiatrists seek out the next tranquilizer to medicate “the problem.”.

Political scientists seek to define the perfect social order with or without property rights.

Attorneys seek favorable jurors and favorable verdicts.

Politicians seek power.

Progressives seek unicorns with your tax dollars.

The Ruling Class seeks to rule by fiat, making us serfs.

The ignorant seek to be reaffirmed in their ignorance.

Media conglomerates seek to capture our attention and our budget.

Homosexuals seek pride in their love of the creature rather than their Creator.

The transgendered seek to be ‘normalized’.

The lazy, self-absorbed and intolerant, but “diverse,” want something for nothing and call their demand “a right.”

Conservatives seek to preserve longstanding meaning, community and high culture.

Millennials, in this Age of Feelings, seek protectionism in safe spaces.

Blue-collar workers, who have not learned new skills, seek trade protectionism.

College students seek affirmation rather than the meaning of life.

Athletes seek trophies and endorsements.

The Good Shepherd searches for the Lost Sheep.

The son of man came to seek and to save the lost.

A woman searches for a lost coin, finds it, and rejoices.

Joseph and Mary searched for the boy Jesus and find him at the Temple, where God dwelt with men.

Christians seek and find faith as small as a mustard seed.

The House of Islam seeks to bring the whole world under submission to a supreme caliphate by any jihad necessary.

Buddhists seek enlightenment within themselves by numbing their consciousness with mantras.

TV preachers and faith-healers seek to wrench filthy lucre from wrenched bodies and souls.

The addicted seek a “fix” and so share a needle with others.

The contented seek to share life’s bounty with others.

High culture seeks to deepen our common religious/ethical community bonds.

Fiction writers seek to tweak our imaginations with universal questions posed by imaginary beings.

Architects seek to place function before form, denouncing the sublime in the process.

Art, high culture art, seeks to give the viewer laudable content in laudable form, evoking old and new sympathies.

Modern art seeks to give the viewer content in shock form, in order to deny meaning its value.

Climatologists seek anthropocentric fault in weather changes and “find” data to say it’s your fault.

“Enlightened” Epicureans seek godless pleasure and find a “way which seems right”.

Abortionists search the womb for “tissue” to suck out beginnings.

Euthanasians search for a vein to end beginnings.

Atheists, with a God-given consciousness, seek for nothing and find it and then credit themselves.

Fortune tellers search horoscopes, crystal balls and tarot cards for the almighty dollar.

Agnostics and Deists seek for a way around God.

And the search continues…

~~~

 

“At its best our age is an age of searchers and discoverers, and at its worst, an age that has domesticated despair and learned to live with it happily.” –Flannery O’Connor

“Attention Must Be Paid”

Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman and “82,000” has been on my mind lately.

Here is a brief intro video. No comment will be necessary. The video following is where “Attention must be paid” to 63-year-old Willy Loman [2:50]

“We were almost free and clear.” I suggest watching the entire play.

Juxtaposed! News ™ Hot Off the Wire – Safe Spaces

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News Anchor:  “Good Evening.  We start tonight’s news with a special report: Campus ‘Safe Spaces.”

Video w/reporter voiceover:   “When Brown University president Christina H. Paxson, announced that the university would hold a simultaneous, competing talk to provide “research and facts” about “the role of culture in sexual assault” student volunteers put up posters advertising that a “safe space” would be available for anyone who found the debate too upsetting.

Katherine Byron, a senior at Brown University and a member of its Sexual Assault Task Force, considers it her duty to make Brown a safe place for rape victims.”

Byron:  “A “safe space” is intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. I provide a room equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma.

Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall to listen in but feeling overwhelmed, she returned to the safe space.

Hall:  “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs.”

Reporter:  “Now the safe space concept seems to be growing and encompassing larger ground on many campuses.  Last fall the president of Smith College, Kathleen McCartney, apologized for causing students and faculty to be “hurt” when she failed to object to a racial epithet uttered by a fellow panel member at an alumnae event in New York.

“The offender was the free-speech advocate Wendy Kaminer, who had been arguing against the use of the euphemism “the n-word” when teaching American history or “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” In the uproar that followed, the Student Government Association wrote a letter declaring that “if Smith is unsafe for one student, it is unsafe for all students.”

Kraminer:  “It’s amazing to me that they can’t distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech, between racism and discussions of racism.”

 

After we come back… “Taking the fear out of bathrooms.”

locker room

….

News Anchor:  “A leading North Carolina newspaper issued an editorial last week telling girls to attempt “overcoming discomfort” at the sight of “male genitalia,” should transgender bathroom laws be enacted.

Video w/reporter voiceover:   “In a defense of President Obama’s order compelling schools to allow access to restrooms on the basis of gender identity, the Charlotte Observer editorial board compared the discomfort of school-aged girls seeing male genitalia in locker rooms to the discomfort of white people being around black people in post-segregation America.”

Here is what The Charlotte Observer May 13th editorial had to say:  Quote:”This is what the Obama administration nudged the rest of the country toward Friday. Yes, the thought of male genitalia in girls’ locker rooms – and vice versa – might be distressing to some. But the battle for equality has always been in part about overcoming discomfort – with blacks sharing facilities, with gays sharing marriage – then realizing that it was not nearly so awful as some people imagined” .End quote.

While admitting that exposure to male genitalia is a possible outcome of transgender bathroom laws, the editorial went on to say that the notion that such laws constitute a threat to the privacy and safety of women and children is a “political fiction” pushed by Republicans.”

safe space 2

News Anchor:  “Join us later tonight for our special report ‘Possession is nine tenths of the law.’”

Thank you for watching.  Good night.”

Here are Your Juxtaposed! News™ Top Stories”

In College and Hiding from Scary Ideas

Charlotte Observer: Girls Must Overcome ‘Discomfort’ of Seeing ‘Male Genitalia’ in Locker Rooms, Taking the fear out of bathrooms

Just Juxtaposing! 5-24-2016

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“Good evening.  From our National News Desk, our top story tonight…”

“The Bernieverse:  Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign:”

Video w/voiceover:   “.  On Sunday night the chant from thousands in the stands was certainly loud, clear and heartfelt: “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!””

Sanders: “Real freedom includes economic security. That was Roosevelt’s vision 70 years ago. It is my vision today. It is a vision that we have not yet achieved, and it is time we that we did.”

Video w/voiceover: “Sanders went on to speak of Medicare for all, tuition-free public college, a $15 minimum wage –  a host of ideas intended to help America’s poor and middle class. Ideas that define his vision of socialism, a vision he says that will require top down centralized government with him as president to produce the desired outcomes.”

Sanders: “The only way we bring about real change is to create a political revolution where millions of people stand together and say loudly and clearly that this country belongs to all of us.”

 

“And in international news…”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

 “Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has placed Venezuela under a “State of Exception and Economic Emergency.”

“Maduro, also president of The United Socialist Party of Venezuela, has blamed capitalism for speculation that is driving high rates of inflation and creating widespread shortages of staples.  He has often said that he was fighting an “economic war”, calling newly enacted economic measures “economic offensives” against political opponents that he and loyalists state are behind an international economic conspiracy.

Video w/voiceover:  On Tuesday, a state-funded news service reported Maduro’s threat to dissolve the national legislature, which the opposition party won in a landslide election last December. “The National Assembly has lost political validity,” Maduro told reporters. “It’s a matter of time before it disappears.”

But Maduro is probably beyond saving. At this point, only 15 percent of his fellow citizens approve of his government. Political protests roil the streets, and normally law-abiding citizens have resorted to looting to get their hands on basic necessities. The government has responded with force.

Venezuela’s hospitals lack not only medicine but even soap, and cannot keep patients — especially at-risk infants — alive amid constant blackouts. Infant mortality rose by a hundredfold in 2015 from its 2012 levels, and five times as many women now die in childbirth. When his political opponents passed a law allowing foreign aid to prop up Venezuela’s hospital system, Maduro blocked it, calling Venezuela’s healthcare system the envy of the world.

Government agencies are now open only two days a week, as a cost-saving measure. The economy is in collapse, in the midst of its second straight year of double-digit contraction. Everyday items, including food, have long been difficult to buy in Venezuela, but they are now becoming impossible to find. Government-imposed price controls, combined with an astounding 700 percent inflation rate, have made toilet paper so scarce that it’s more valuable by the square inch than the Venezuelan currency one must use to buy it.

“Venezuela has been ranked as the top spot globally with the highest misery index score in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2014, Venezuela’s economy entered a recession.”

 

“After the commercial break, we take a look at this country whose future you won’t believe.”

Supermarket staff work next to partially empty shelves of toilet paper in Caracas May 16, 2013. Supplies of food and other basic products have been patchy in recent months, with long queues forming at supermarkets and rushes occurring when there is news of a new stock arrival. The situation has spawned jokes among Venezuelans, particularly over the lack of toilet paper. The government announced this week it was importing 50 million rolls to compensate for "over-demand due to nervous buying." REUTERS/Jorge Silva (VENEZUELA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTXZPIP

Supermarket staff work next to partially empty shelves of toilet paper in Caracas May 16, 2013. Supplies of food and other basic products have been patchy in recent months, with long queues forming at supermarkets and rushes occurring when there is news of a new stock arrival. The situation has spawned jokes among Venezuelans, particularly over the lack of toilet paper. The government announced this week it was importing 50 million rolls to compensate for “over-demand due to nervous buying.” REUTERS/Jorge Silva (VENEZUELA – Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) – RTXZPIP

Video w/Voiceover: “Venezuela Reaches the Final Stage of Socialism: No Toilet Paper””

“And at ten o’clock, our special report “Soda-less Socialism.””

Video w/Voiceover: “Sugar shortage forces Venezuela to stop producing Coca Cola as country struggles to fight crippling recession. Venezuelans struggle to get food, toilet paper, medicines.”

Your Security News Headlines:

Bernie-mania spreads to Texas as Sanders’ speech draws crowd of 5,000

Venezuela is ‘democratic socialism’ in action

Venezuela Reaches the Final Stage of Socialism: No Toilet Paper

Now Coca Cola! Sugar shortage forces Venezuela to stop producing soda as country struggles to fight crippling recession

Europe’s unemployment crisis is much worse than you thought

Breaking – Small Democratic Socialist town in middle of nowhere 8th most expensive to raise family