Take “The Shack” Out Back

 

(And yes, I know that each century since Christ, artists have rendered each person of the Trinity. For the most part they have done so being faithful to a Scriptural rendering of the Trinity, e.g., The Father as a voice coming from a cloud; the Holy Spirit as a dove or as wind. Artists portray their subjects through their worldview, hence there are Italian looking depictions of Jesus and of those around him., e.g., the paintings of Caravaggio.)

I do not want to read or see the Shack. I do not want those images in my mind when I think of the Trinity. Besides, there are no images of Jesus’ physical appearance. This, to me, reinforces the notion that Jesus came to show us the invisible God: “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. Col. 1:15. So, what has been passed down to us about Jesus? His appearance or His words and actions which represent the Father? His appearance or His words and actions which represent true humanity?

Another reason I avoid The Shack: I have lived with loss. I lost a child. I have suffered other losses. A deeper understanding of Jesus came out of each loss. Each loss is unique. Each growth experience is unique. I learned about God as I turned to Jesus. The Shack would add nothing to what I have gained and would likely diminish that knowledge by its lack of reverence.

As best as I can tell, The Shack is not allegorical. Its disturbing ‘symbology’ of the Trinity is portrayed by three ready-made culturally ‘approved’ characters who are not unlike the emotionally ravenous people reading and watching. We are shown reality TV characters who portray a “diversity” promoting God, a God who would otherwise be irrelevant to modern sensitivities. I am not surprised that the ‘patriarchal looking Morgan Freeman was not used in The Shack. Instead, the goddess of feminism was served by an African-America woman who ‘manifests’ as God the Father (The Sugar Shack is so much more palatable for angry women). The Shack is a post-modernist’s collage of drippy feelings for the Age of Feelings. Title (and subtitle): “the house you build out of your own pain (and using your own fashioned gods).

Finally, I’d rather take in good fiction. Movies are, at best, vicarious roller coaster rides edited and enhanced to titillate. So, instead of ‘meditating’ on sentimental cultural iconography which does more harm than good, as in dumbing down ergo popularizing (a best seller) ergo offering schmaltzy messaging about God and evil, I’ll read The Brothers Karamazov…

“The Problem of Evil” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Paper: “The Problem of Evil” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

A Foot in the Door

A Foot in the Door

A Monologue in One Act

 

Setting:  A small and very old chapel. A crucifix shrouded in black gauze is on the wall. There are three candles. Front and center is the Host and a candle. Midway up the aisle is another candle. At the door is the third candle. The light of the candles is the only light. Good Friday Vigil watch, 3 AM. The chapel is empty except for one parishioner.

Characters:

Bill Penny

Parishioner 1

Parishioner 2

 

Penny: (enters chapel from rear door, hobbling) Ouch, this hurts like a son-of-a… (Parishioner 1 turns around and glares at Penny, Penny puts finger to his lips, mumbles) Sorry. Sorry. (Penny hobbles to a front pew favoring his right foot; sits down; carefully takes off right shoe) Owww, ow, ow, ow.

(After a minute, Parishioner 1 leaves the chapel; Penny is alone)

(Grimacing in pain Penny slowly kneels down onto the pray bench. He makes the sign of the cross) Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner. (Beat) Lord, like the dumb sinner that I am, last night I ate Delores’s corned beef and I woke up with this gout. Every time I eat corned beef I get this blasted gout. And it hurts like…like…like you know what! But I am here like I promised You, like I promised her. (Looks at the shrouded crucifix on the wall for a time)  “Go or else!” she said to me. “You have issues,” she said to me. But, who doesn’t have issues? She has me going to marriage therapy to get “fixed”. I am not a dog who needs to get fixed! But, what’s to be done? I am married to her… or else! (Beat) You remember the time, Lord, when I was lonely and Delores made those cow eyes at me.  Now, I all get is bee bee eyes! (Beat) Well, I’m lonely again. What’s to be done? We both know that Delores liked to sit in front of the TV with her glass of wine and watch movies after the kids were in bed. I would have liked to go out to the garage and putz around and fix whatever is broken and listen to baseball. You know I can’t sit still not even with this awful gout. The universe isn’t static. Space-time isn’t static. I read somewhere that the galaxies are separating at the proportion of their distance from each other. That reminds me of my father. He never sat still. Even when he was sitting his knee would bounce up and down like he was pumping a manual sewing machine.  You know me. I have to be a part of something moving and not watching it move in some little box. I’d rather play baseball than watch it but ever since I pulled my groin muscle running to second base, I benched myself. Talk about pain.  Oh, that was miserable. (Beat) You know what else I read? That my body’s cells are replaced every ten years. That’s good. I am in need of new toe cells! (Penny lifts his foot to rub the area around this big toe) In the same article I read that after fifty half of my heart’s cells have been replaced!  Maybe that explains why I don’t feel the same way I did thirty years ago. Maybe that explains why I am so lonely – I miss those old cells. (Beat) When I sit with Delores she thinks my knee is bouncing because of too much coffee. We better keep that to ourselves. (Beat) If I don’t sit with her she says she doesn’t feel loved. So I do. But then, after two glasses of wine, she says to me “Bill, you have issues”. Between You and me, I think her mood bounces because of the wine. (Beat) “Well, Yes”, I want to say.  “Give me time. My cells are going to be replaced,” I want to say.  “I am not the same person I was or will be,” I want to say. But, you know I can’t go there with her. The wine doesn’t make her laugh and I can’t make her laugh anymore. Too bad the cell replacement thing doesn’t work on dispositions. (Beat) (Penny sings) When you’re smilin’, when you’re smilin’, The whole world smiles with you. Hah. We both know who else doesn’t smile: my sister the tattooed Atheist. According to her, we are evolving organic life that happened to develop on the edge of a minor planet in a universe that emerged from preexisting quantum foam derived from out of nothing. It amazes me how people create something out of nothingness. Then she tells me, “any narrative or language explaining origins came down to us from power hungry men who only wanted to oppress”. Besides, she says, “Christians think the world is six thousand years old, because some man in a pulpit told them it must be so.” So, I say to her, “Look, the earth is only 14.54 billion years old. Give them time.” And, when I mention You, she waves her hand in my face and says “let’s not talk about God. Let’s focus on the manageable world in the moment and not think about what we can’t manage”. “Live in the moment” she says to me, “in the unbearable lightness of being”, she says to me. It’s no wonder the whole world is not smiling with us. It’s been turned on its head. (Beat) (Penny sings) When you’re smilin’, when you’re smilin’, (The wind blows the door open, slams it shut. Penny turns to see. The candle by the door goes out.) …the whole world blows your candle out.

(Pause.)

(A passing car’s headlights shine though a stained-glass window; Penny looks up at the stained-glass window) Ah, there’s St. Mark at the window!  And the lion! Please pray for my big toe. It hurts like a… like…like I said. (Beat) As you know, St. Mark, Delores, she never forgets. I said something years ago. I don’t know what I said and it’s still echoing back as, how shall I say it in church?… You know, she keeps her distance ‘as far as the east is from the west.” St. Mark, she told me to come here tonight and confess my issues. So…. yes, I curse…I’ll admit that. Yes, I eat corned beef pretending it doesn’t give me gout.  But, I can’t admit to what someone holds against me if I don’t know what it is I did twenty years ago. St. Mark, Delores wants the marriage therapist to find an issue with me that fits her unhappiness!  (Beat) And, now, can you believe it!? Delores won’t forgive my brother, either. You know what happened. Sam turned fifty and turned into a woman. I knew that my hearts cells were replaced after fifty but I didn’t know that brother cells would be replaced with sister cells after fifty! (Beat) Well, my brother did try. He was married three times. Marriage does have a way of bringing someone to their knees. I get Sam. Life is hard. I get that he saw his change as a means to create, of giving birth to the art he wanted to create. But, I don’t get Delores after 35 years. She says that what my brother has done is absurd. “Compared to what”, I say. I pulled out my copper ore and showed her. “Now look at this copper ore which came from an exploding star that is hundreds of light-years away”, I tell her, “The universe of things does not happen in a box with a screen.”  Well, You saw the look on her face. You saw Delores roll those bee bee eyes and grit her teeth. And, You heard Delores’ mother tell me that You do not have a sense of humor! Well, she doesn’t think I am funny either! I told her the goldfish joke. You know the one. One goldfish says to another, “If there is no God, who keeps changing the water?” She just stared at me. Now, that does make me wonder. If You don’t have a sense of humor where did the goldfish get their sense of humor? (Makes the sign of the cross) Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner. (Stops kneeling and sits back in the pew, puts right leg carefully out straight, fishes in his pocket, pulls out a rock- copper ore – and looks at it) That reminds me. I read somewhere that a star’s intense heat and pressure fuses together new elements. There’s a shoving match between gravity and the energy released (Laughs) Maybe a star fused a new sister element. Maybe there was some inner gravity drawing Sam to be a woman and some enormous release of energy in trying to appear normal. “Wonders never cease”, my father would say to Sam. (Holds up the rock) Dad gave me this chunk of copper ore and said to me, “Bill, you are made from stardust from an exploded star. And to stardust you shall return.”  (Penny drags his finger along the top of the pew, looks at it) See. This stuff is everywhere. This dust probably came from an exploded star 100 light-years away and here it is on this pew waiting to be touched! My sister should get a bang out of this! I’ll write a technical paper:  The Physical Properties of Dust and Its Unearthly Edge of the Universe Origin. I’ll give it to my sister and include You as the main source in the footnotes. She’ll freak out. (Beat) Well, it’s no wonder that I sneeze all the time when I sleep on the couch. (Sits back in the pew and grimaces) And my back, Lord. You know that Delores has me sleeping on the couch. She says I snore. So, you see why I am in the doghouse? I snore. I bounce my knee. I have (drags out the word) Is…sues! (The wind blows the door open, slams it shut. Penny turns to see. The aisle candle goes out.) Whew, I thought Delores heard me… but it is the Winds of Change! (Beat) You know what I wanted to be when I was a boy. I wanted to be a conductor. I stood in front of my parent’s stereo and conducted all of the classical LPs my grandfather passed on to me. Now, I am an engineer and I conduct current flow. Hah! Wonders never cease. Speaking of wonders. The dream I had last night was a doozy. You probably saw it. I am conducting Dvorak’s New World Symphony and Delores is sitting in the percussion section holding a timpani mallet in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. She is watching TV and yelling at it so she misses my tympani cue. Then I see my sister off stage and she’s at a grocery checkout buying Oreos with a coupon. After each purchase, she gets another coupon for more Oreos. She eats the Oreos she just bought and then she goes and buys another bag of Oreos and gets another coupon. I watch her going back and forth and eating and then all of a sudden Delores stabs my right foot with her drumstick and says, “Who’s watching the kids?’  I wake up and… You know the rest. Must have been the corned beef. (Beat) (Penny looks around) The people who built this place 175 years ago, they knew that heaven and earth belonged together.  Priests of creation, that’s what I’d call them. They put a garden around this chapel, not a parking lot. When the windows are open, you can smell the lilacs and the hyacinths, the actual earth. (Takes a deep breath) Ah, nature, the fresh scent of rain, creation! (Beat) You and I agree. The best architects and artists and engineers and scientists in the world draw out all kinds of glory from creation. (Beat) Which now makes me wonderchurches today…many look like drab government buildings. It is as if those churches had to box up their faith and keep it earth bound so that people wouldn’t get carried away… at least not until they were “Raptured” away, as they call it in their fantasy books, to some nebulous cloud in the sky. To that my father would say, “everything done decently and in order.” Then he’d wink and say, “just like the big bang”. (Wind opens the chapel door and slams it closed. The candle on the altar is blown out. The light from a street lamp projected through a stained glass window is the only light. Penny pulls on his chin.) Damn, it’s getting dark in here. Oh! Yeah! You know me. I get frustrated with things. You know when I first started cursing? About a month after I turned sixty-five. Joints I didn’t know I had started aching. My knees retired. Little things started becoming big things, like trying to say a word I just had thought. And when I do curse Delores yells “Stop that! Little ears!” I don’t know what’s gotten into me. (Beat) I know. I know. What comes out of a man corrupts a man. But, Lord, the corned beef that my wife Delores gave me, I ate it and it went into me and corrupted me with this gout. How can anyone keep from cursing this awful gout! You know what else I read? Cursing helps to ease pain, but if you curse all day long, then it doesn’t help. (Beat) I’ll tell You one thing. I don’t want my whole life reduced down to shopping for cookie coupons. …And, I am not afraid of dying. I am afraid of cursing my life.

(Pause.)

(Parishioner 2 opens the door and stands there backlit; Penny holds his watch up to the dim entrance light) It looks like my time is up. (Makes the sign of the cross) Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner. St. Mark, a small request before I go. The next time Delores offers corned beef for dinner, could you have a word with my wife? And, maybe you know the answer to this? Did the apostle Paul have gout? You know. Was that his “thorn in the flesh”? And, the disciples? It would have been hard to be your follower, Lord, having gout: all that walking around and not being able to curse. (Carefully puts his right shoe back on) Ow…ow….ow…da…ang! (Gets up from the pew, turns to leave, sees Parishioner 2 in the light of the door, puts finger to his mouth, mumbles) Sorry, sorry. (Hobbles toward rear door; points to foot) Big toe… Wife’s corned beef… What’s that? …Why is it so dark in here? (Stops for a moment to rest) The wind came three times and blew out the three candles. Wonders never cease. (Begins hobbling again and then stops to listen) What? Where’s the light switch?… Did you hear the one about the two goldfish?

(Parishioner 2 opens door wider for Penny.)

(Penny exits)

 

Curtain comes down.

 

 

 

 

© Jennifer A. Johnson, 2017, All Rights Reserved

 

(Beat) =  beat – a break or space of air in between lines or words

 

Michael Novak – Catholic Scholar and “celestial philosopher”

 

“Capitalism forms morally better people than socialism does,” Mr. Novak said in a 2007 interview with Crisis, a magazine he and the scholar Ralph McInerny founded in 1982. “Capitalism teaches people to show initiative and imagination, to work cooperatively in teams, to love and to cherish the law; what is more, it forces persons not only to rely on themselves and their own moral qualities, but also to recognize those moral qualities in others and to cooperate with others freely.”- Michael Novak, Catholic Scholar Who Championed Capitalism, Dies at 83

“At the heart of the Novakian vision is freedom—free people, free markets, free institutions. But Novak’s vision of freedom, like [Irving] Kristol’s, is not the doctrinaire libertarianism that the word evokes for many today. Much less is it the “me generation” liberal counterfeit of freedom that licenses people to do whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want, with whomever they want, so long as there is no immediate palpable harm to others.

Rather, it is the idea of unleashing the human spirit for the creative pursuit of excellence.”

” –Michael Novak, 1933–2017, by Robert P. George, On the life and influence of the prolific Catholic philosopher

 

~~~

On February 17, 2017, we lost a great Catholic intellectual and “celestial philosopher.”

This Acton Institute video introduces Ambassador Novak and offers a conversational look at his life and work. Novak’s valuable experience and his wealth of wisdom makes this video well worth viewing.

Novak’s masterpiece:  The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Pope John Paul II was one of many admirers of Michael Novak. It would be worth your while to read this entire encyclical written in 1991. It addresses social issues, Marxism, socialism and capitalism.

CENTESIMUS ANNUS, JOHN PAUL II

42. Returning now to the initial question: can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?

The answer is obviously complex. If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy”, “market economy” or simply “free economy”. But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.

 

“New Things”:

43.…Man fulfils himself by using his intelligence and freedom. In so doing he utilizes the things of this world as objects and instruments and makes them his own. The foundation of the right to private initiative and ownership is to be found in this activity. By means of his work man commits himself, not only for his own sake but also for others and with others. Each person collaborates in the work of others and for their good. Man works in order to provide for the needs of his family, his community, his nation, and ultimately all humanity.

 

Centesimus annus

Mother’s Day Limerick – Post Modern Partum

 

 

There once was an XX who named itself YY,

(Being gender fluid made her mother cry),

Then YY had a baby,

And was no longer gender hazy,

Mother’s Day and Joy made her cry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Jennifer A. Johnson, 2017, All Rights Reserved

Mary Cassatt, Young Mother Sewing (1902)

Added 5-16-2017:

 

You won’t find this in a Hallmark card:

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem says lack of abortions caused climate change

“Listen, what causes climate deprivation is population,” she said. “If we had not been systematically forcing women to have children they don’t want or can’t care for over the 500 years of patriarchy, we wouldn’t have the climate problems that we have. That’s the fundamental cause of climate change. Even if the Vatican doesn’t tell us that. In addition to that, because women are the major agricultural workers in the world, and also the carriers of water and the feeders of families and so on, it’s a disproportionate burden.” Steinem (emphasis added)

OK, then. Feminism – Malthusian, barbarous and ungodly – is not for me . God said be fruitful and multiply. Steinem says be abortive to serve Gaia.

Added 5-17-2017:

The ‘Out of Sync’ Debate, Log 5-4-2017

“My job is to make clear to everyone just what the secret plan is, the purpose that’s been hidden from the very beginning of the world in God who created all things. This is it: that God’s wisdom, in all its rich variety, was to be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places – through the church.” The Apostle Paul, Ephesian 3: 9 & 10

~~~

Often, I will engage atheists, the LGBT, SJWs and others on Twitter. I seek to debate them from a Kingdom perspective. I will inject myself into a conversation where I see a bashing of God and Christians with throwaway statements and a misuse of Scripture to promote, say, socialized health care.

It is easy for atheists, the LGBT, SJWs – anyone – to make such statements on Twitter. There is the cover of anonymity and a copy and paste groupthink mentality. Invariably, the ‘conversation’ ends with the atheist or LGBT-er or other being dismissive, derogatory and using ad hominin.  In the socialized health care debate, misappropriated Jesus quotes are used for shaming by SJWs.

As I debate, I find that atheists believe that “science” is all-you-need truth, trumping anything one might have to offer.  They readily assume that science is superior over ‘subjective’ Christianity, which holds dogmatic beliefs. In practice, though, the atheist asserts his belief system, his values, as being dogmatic and backed by a nebulous theory of scientific evidence.

The other day, I engaged Heisenberg @Atheist_in_nc. He made a reply to someone denigrating Christians. He asserted that mind and body can be “out of sync” per evolving scientific evidence, evidence which he doesn’t provide. Science had nothing to do with his original antagonistic reply. Here are our two Twitter profiles:

Our Twitter Profiles:

Heisenberg @Atheist_in_nc

“Spent 27 years as an adult pentecostal. Soul winner. Prayer warrior. Bible college graduate. Was born again through the gospel of reality.”

 

Cindy wity @WityCindy

“A follower of The Way and a Milton Friedman Libertarian in the midst of the demolition derby called Illinois. Always pithy, never picayune. Pro-human & Debate”

 

Here is the (complete>) Twitter feed and more evidence of the fact-value split in our world. I “cut” to the pre-op chase:

~~~

Debating helps me define what I think about issues. I often find that I need to research more. And, I learn from each encounter, especially about how other’s think and how they view the world. Post-modernists eschew the overarching domain of right and wrong – Christianity, for the domain of particularity – personal values couched in scientism.

It is not easy to debate in 140 characters. So, such encounters help me tweak my words to have more meaning in less space. Another reason to take a stance on issues: to stand out for the Kingdom of God in the rubble created by the post-modernist destruction of institutions. Sadly, I don’t get much collegial help from other Christians in these debates. I don’t know if the intellectual Christians have opted-off Twitter to write books and blog posts but Twitter appears to be a battle front in need of push back. Kingdom Christians must engage the culture where the people are and not from their Bible towers and fortresses. How else will Epicurean and Deist people know that Jesus is alive and actively engaged with mankind and that his Kingdom has been inaugurated on earth?

 

Here is another (complete>) Twitter feed, about socialized health care as pushed by James Martin SJ. James has been characterized as the Bill Nye of Catholicism by other Catholics:

Here’s James Martin, SJ, being ‘inclusive’:

To be researched:

At 64

 

At 64,

The pages no longer turn at will,

The knees no longer salute,

The mind carries on

As if yesterday mattered,

As if tomorrow began anew.

 

At 64,

Worries takeover

As tomorrow encroaches;

Surmise sets

On what tomorrow will be.

 

At 64,

The sunrise still finds its setting,

After today sings its songs;

Tomorrow’s edge of existence

Creeps in to cut another day into cliché.

 

 

 

© Jennifer A. Johnson, 2017, All Rights Reserved

Sin is a Symptom

(or, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Idol)

“In most popular Christianity, “heaven” (and “fellowship with God” in the present) is the goal, and “sin” (bad behavior, deserving punishment) is the problem. A Platonized goal and a moralizing diagnosis—and together they lead, as I have been suggesting, to a paganized “solution” in which an angry divinity is pacified by human sacrifice. The zealous theological Boy Scouts have gotten it wrong. Humans are made not for “heaven,” but for the new heavens and new earth.

“The human problem is not so much “sin” seen as the breaking of moral codes—though that, to be sure, is part of it, just as the headaches and blurry vision really were part of the medical problem—but rather idolatry and the distortion of genuine humanness it produces. These two mistakes go together, reinforcing the basic heaven-and-earth dualism that continues to haunt Western theology.”

From The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion by N. T. Wright. (Emphasis added)

David Hockney, Untitled, Portrait of an Artist, Pool with Two Figures, 1971 © David Hockney

 

Artemis of Ephesus

Artemis of Ephesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ox and the Frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~~~

“The church is never more in danger than when it sees itself simply as the solution-bearer and forgets that every day it too must say, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner,” and allow that confession to work its way into genuine humility even as it stands boldly before the world and its crazy empires. In particular, it is a problem if and when a “Christian” empire seeks to impose its will dualistically on the world by labeling other parts of the world “evil” while seeing itself as the avenging army of God. That is more or less exactly what Jesus found in the Israel of his day. The cross was and remains a call to a different vocation, a new way of dealing with evil and ultimately a new vision of God.” ~ N. T. Wright

A Blessing on Those Who Hear God’s Word!

 

lo·go·cen·tric [ˌlôɡəˈsentrik, ˌläɡə-]

 

ADJECTIVE: regarding words and language as a fundamental expression of an external reality (especially applied as a negative term to traditional Western thought by postmodernist critics, e.g., French philosopher and Deconstructionist Jacques Derrida, 1930-2004).

~~~

Deconstructionism is taught and practiced extensively in colleges and universities today.  It directly affects our world by removing traditional meaning from texts and, thus, effectively shutting down debate. Here is philosopher Roger Scruton’s take on deconstructionism and Derrida:

“Deconstructive writing refrains from stating anything directly or assertively. It quickly withdraws from any proposition that it sets before us, and spirals off into questions – as to deny a foothold to the skeptical outside…. the deconstructionist critic will not engage in philosophical argument…Derrida is aiming for a radical ‘reversal’ of our ‘Western tradition’, and of the belief in reason that has guided it.”

–Roger Scruton, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture, the chapter entitled, The Devil’s Work

For Derrida and other decons, there is no authority, sacred or otherwise, except for their self-referential community, the ‘intelligentsia’. For them, there is no truth and no creator and nothing transcendental to be found in texts. Texts contain only words on a piece of paper and they will gladly help you deconstruct those words down into gobbledygook. They are the purveyors of absence of meaning, the dispensers of Nothing. Decons turn language against itself. And, it seems now that Orwell’s 1984 was prescient, presenting us with Newspeak.

But those of us in the Kingdom of God know better. Or do we?

~~~~

Scripture as read, in the churches that I grew up in, was just snippets of text meant to support the preaching. In liturgical churches, such as the one I attend now, Scripture readings include Old and New Testament texts, a portion of a Psalm and a Gospel text. In both scenarios, the choir rehearsed, but, sadly, the Scripture readers did not.

As a youth I was encouraged to memorize volumes of Scripture. Scripture memory contests were held over several weeks in Sunday School. I am thankful for such a time as many Scripture texts were imbedded in my memory. I recall memorizing texts like Psalm 103. In my twenties, I memorized the Letter of James.

When I attended Moody Bible Institute the curriculum included Old and New testament Survey classes. I had to read the 66 books of the Bible. These courses, along with N.T. Greek, gave me a broad overview of the Scriptures. I have since read through the Bible again and again. But, when I look at the church today, I see that broad overviews and whole book reading of Scriptures have been deconstructed from our worship.

We certainly live in an accommodation culture. Everything, including church, is abbreviated to fit our lifestyle. It seems that we have Twitter-ized Scripture reading down to one-hundred forty characters. Perhaps this is so that we can get out of church on time to watch the football game or to make a lunch commitment. As such, it isn’t any wonder that the church is crawling along on all fours and being fed with droplets of milk. And, man cannot live by the Four Spiritual Laws alone.

Lacking a big picture understanding of what God began in Genesis and is summed up in Revelation (heaven and earth coming together; God making his tabernacle with man) makes a Christian and a church spiritually ineffective and worse, of little value to the kingdom of God. Those who see the big picture use their talents wisely (see Luke 19: 11-27).

~~~

Reading God’s word in public is an act of worship and not a pre-text for a sermon. Reading Scripture – whole book readings- in public offers the listeners a narrative and a context and, better, an eye-opening understanding of what God is doing.

There are many ways to read the Scriptures. Using actors to read the text is one way. Another is to invert the liturgy. Read the whole Gospel of Luke text and insert the elements of the liturgy into the reading. See The Big Read.

Added 5-22-2017:

Here is one example. Recently deceased, British actor Alec Mc Cowan recites the Gospel of Mark in one evening. This can be done in churches, instead of the deconstruction of texts.

Palm Sunday and the “Epicurean Paradox” is Solved

 

“The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not, or, being willing to do so cannot; or they neither can nor will, or lastly, they are able and willing. If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent. If they can but will not, then they are not benevolent. If they are neither able nor willing, they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent. Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, why does it exist?” ― Epicurus

 

Just a few centuries before the first Palm Sunday, Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 B.C.) promoted to his followers the notions of another ancient Greek philosopher, Demetrius (c. 460 – c. 370 B.C.). Demetrius’ had proposed the theory of Atomism to account for the change he saw around him.

The theory in brief: random, unguided ‘atoms’ (as he called them) smash into each other, thereby creating the world and life as we know it. Such a hypothesis turned philosophy by Epicurus gave Epicurus the ‘means’ to do away with a personally involved god and remove human accountability. He went on to tweak Demetrius’ theory. He said that atoms do not always go in straight lives but can “swerve”. As such, his philosophy was then able to avoid atomism’s inherent determinism and to allow for man’s free will.

“What was most important in Epicurus’ philosophy of nature was the overall conviction that our life on this earth comes with no strings attached; that there is no Maker whose puppets we are; that there is no script for us to follow and be constrained by; that it is up to us to discover the real constraints which our own nature imposes on us.” ― Epicurus, The Epicurus Reader

Epicurus also taught that nothing should be believed, except for that which was tested through direct observation and logical deduction – believed via the sensate and reason. Hence, the beginning of the fact/value split so prevalent in man’s thinking today. Epicurus formed this dichotomy when he decided that he had to fend for himself.

He taught that the ‘gods’ were off angry somewhere upstairs. The Roman and Greek ‘gods’ were distant and uninvolved and therefore unrelated to ‘thinking’ and ‘sensing’ man’s life. Man had to make do with the atoms he had. So, too, Deism, began to take root.

“It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself.” –Epicurus

 

Palm Sunday. Enter Jesus. Divine glory is riding on a donkey weeping over Jerusalem and the people who rejected their vocation. He is riding on a donkey to meet evil head on and to put the world right. The “Epicurean Paradox” had been addressed and solved. On Palm Sunday, every theory about God had been proven false. Jesus would be everything you need to know about God.

Epicurus didn’t see this “swerve” coming, but the prophet Zechariah did.

 

 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!

   Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!

See, your king comes to you,

   righteous and victorious,

lowly and riding on a donkey,

    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

I will take away the chariots from Ephraim

    and the warhorses from Jerusalem,

    and the battle bow will be broken.

He will proclaim peace to the nations.

  His rule will extend from sea to sea

   and from the River to the ends of the earth.

As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,

   I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.

Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;

   even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

Zechariah 9: 9-12

 

Coincidental fact:

“Epicurus’ school, which was based in the garden of his house and thus called “The Garden”, had a small but devoted following in his lifetime.”

 

 

More about Epicurus:  Aren’t You a Bit Epicurious?

A Just Wage–Flourishing in the Balance

 

Without a doubt, this past year you’ve heard the Bernie Sander’s mantra “a just wage”. When Bernie wasn’t chanting, Bernie railed against the 1 %, Wall St., corporations and just about anyone who made money (except those on the Left making money (i.e. George Soros, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett)).

And, as you know, Bernie’s answer to income differences was the penumbra of socialism’s cloud by day and a minimum wage increase to provide a home fire at night.

Yet, nothing happens in isolation, Bernie. Griping about unfairness may get you ten thousand followers but it doesn’t feed those followers in a desert economy. A kingdom understanding can and does. So, for starters, ….

Below is an excellent brief discussion about the minimum wage. Samuel Gregg, of the Acton Institute, speaks of a need for awareness on the part of both employers and employees about economic conditions and for each not to be myopic in their concerns.

 

Nothing happens in isolation.