All Things Hold Together

 

“For almost a century, the Universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago. However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating is astounding. If the expansion will continue to speed up, the Universe will end in ice.” Saul Perlmutter, astrophysicist

~~~

I find it interesting that light tells us where we have been. Astrophysicist and Nobel winner Saul Perlmutter and his team of astronomers at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory focused the most advanced telescopes on 80 super luminous Type 1a supernova. Using red shift (a Doppler-like effect, the wave lengths of light rays increase towards the red end of the spectrum when the source recedes from the viewer) to determine the speed of recession of distant galaxies, Perlmutter concluded from the data that the universe was accelerating its expansion-the universe was expanding faster and faster. 

And since the known universe has only about 20% of the mass density needed to affect a slowdown and then a stop and a re-Bang, Perlmutter concluded that the universe must be infinite.

Guess who stands at each end of infinite?

Guess what Light has no red shift or shadow of turning?

Guess which Cosmological Constant is greater than the one once proposed and later rescinded by Einstein and is now back on the table after scientists learned about Perlmutter’s findings?

Sound trumpets. Now tympani. Start your crescendo all instruments of praise…

“I am the Alpha and the Omega…” Revelation 1:8

“I am the first and the last…” Revelation 1:17

“Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Revelation 21:6

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22:13

Guess Who will meet you at every level of your existence and at any time during your existence and at every question you have during your existence?

Guess Who you will meet when you study biology, chemistry, anthropology, origins, genetics, physics, astronomy, philosophy, medicine and engineering?

Guess Who you will meet when you think science and faith are acting incompatible and seem to be accelerating in opposite directions based on cultural shift readings?

See the above. The audacious claims that Jesus makes in Revelation mean that…at the beginning of any sequence and at the end of any sequence is the Person Jesus. In the middle of the sequence is the Person Jesus.

At every level of study, in every field of science, in every atom, quark, super-quark and boson, if you go to infinity and beyond…you will encounter Jesus. The Hound of Heaven is looking for you there.

Let’s get personal for a moment, as did the Psalm writer.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139: 7-12

Perfect love casts out fear, so start here:

“Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts” 139: 23

 

~~~

You wonder if God is silent. You watch a movie about God’s supposed Silence based on a novel written in 1966 by the same name. Like the main characters, you may even stand on the face of Jesus and commit apostasy because you think that God doesn’t hear and doesn’t see what is going on in your space and time. You behave as you think God should behave in that situation. Your perception of God, as observed through the prevalent Epicurean/Deist worldview, is reaffirmed: God must be off somewhere in the cosmos and not involved in man’s day to day life; God won’t save his own; we are our own salvation and other’s salvation; God is silent, therefore we must act.

You watch a sci-fi movie about the Arrival of aliens. The main character must learn the language of the aliens to gain the alien’s purpose for coming and to learn whether or not a threat to earth is imminent. Near the end of the movie the main character has a salvific vision. In the vision, time is shuffled as a language and an understanding barrier are overcome, vertically and horizontally. A world saving decision is made. Then, at the end of the movie, a personal choice is made, the ends of which are reconnected to the beginning of the movie.

 

Two movies. The one reveals a lack of personal knowledge about the Alpha and Omega. This accounts for a lack of faith and for actions done out of fear. The second movie attempts to show that a personal encounter with another that is completely other. The main character seeks to understand the other’s language. Full understanding comes from a personal encounter with the alien. The acquired personal knowledge brings about saving transformation for everyone involved.

Now imagine the personal knowledge that you would gain from this lesson: you are the bride at your wedding. Your head server tells you that you are out of wine just when the party is ready to get on the floor and dance. At that moment the Beginning and the End does a work of transubstantiation: Jesus turns the physical properties of water into wine.

For your personal knowledge, here is a poem about the centrality and supremacy of Jesus, from Paul’s letter to the Colossian church:

 

He is the image of God, the invisible one,

The first born of all creation

For in him all things were created,

In the heavens and here on earth.

Things which we can see and things we cannot-

Thrones and lordships and rulers and powers-

All things were created both through him and for him.

 

And he is ahead, prior to all else,

And in him all things hold together;

And he himself is supreme, the head

Over the body, the church.

 

He is the start of it all,

First born from the realms of the dead;

So in in all things he might be the chief.

For in him all the Fullness was glad to dwell

And through him to reconcile all to himself,

Making peace though the blood of his cross,

Through him-yes, things on earth,

And also the things in heaven.

Colossians 1: 15-20

Now, one may read this and say, “this passage is all about Jesus and not about me and my worries”. I say to them, “Read the passage again, but this time see that “all things” includes you and your worries.”  ”And in him all things hold together…”. Wherever you are broken, confused or lost Jesus is there to heal and make whole.

 

Fear often paralyzes us. Then, as we sit in the dark unknown biting our nails and thinking that God is uncommunicative, we act. In so doing, we deny the Alpha and the Omega an encounter with the beginning and the end of our fears. We also deny ourselves a personal knowledge that will sustain going forward. Consider Peter walking on the water until fear kicks his legs out from under him.

Perhaps your universe is expanding faster than you can keep up with it. When there is change and accelerating change, remember that God was there when it began and God is there when it ends.  If God can hold all things together in the cosmos, why not hold onto God-The Ultimate Theory of Everything– for the ride of your life?

 

Meditate on this:

Jesus said, “ἐγὼ τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω”

Not One and Done

 

Don’t you know that when people run on the racetrack everybody runs, but only one person gets the prize? Run in such a way that you’ll win it. Everyone who goes in for athletics exercises self-disciple in everything. They do it to gain a crown that perishes; we do it for an imperishable one. Well then: I don’t run in aimless fashion!” The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian church, 9: 24-26

 

Some collected thoughts…

Watching the qualifying heats of the IAAF World Championship in London during my Saturday morning workout, I recalled my days as a runner. Before entering high school, I signed up for cross country. I loved to run. On the team, I ran long and hard and, always last. To finish with a flourish, I sprinted the last fifty yards in every distance race I ever ran. My legs were willing but my endurance lagged behind.

Coach Hammond took notice and mentioned that he wanted to time me doing the 50-yard dash on the track. When I did, the coach was pleased with my time. He said I should sign up for indoor track that winter. So, I did.

What I learned that winter: I could run hard and fast, like a Cheetah, for a short span. Others could run a strong pace and keep it up for miles.

Spring time came around and outdoor track began in my freshman year. We trained hard, repeating wind sprints at every practice. I found that I could handle running to each end of a football field when I had time to catch my breath between repeats.

As a sprinter, I practiced staring out of the blocks. Our relay team practiced passing the baton. We practiced 220 repeats.

During my freshman year I was timed at 5.6 for the 50-yard dash. I was told by my coach that I was the fastest person in the high school. After having finished last in X-country I began to feel better about my abilities. I just had to find the right race to employ them.

Socially, my speed worked to remove me from guys that wanted to take advantage of me.

Over four years, I attended Inter-high school track meets. My coach would have me run qualifying heats for the 100-yard dash, the 220-yard dash, the 440-yard dash and the 440-relay. And, when a slot was open, he would have me run the 880 relay.  Imagine running at least eight races in one eight-hour period. I was fit but exhausted after the last race.

When you compete in sectionals, you compete against top athletes from area high schools. The qualifying heats narrow the field down to the final race qualifiers. The first-through-third place winners received medals. And back then, there were no participation trophies. In the races, you either placed or you didn’t. The races I had run before only helped me up to the starting line. The next race was mine to run and to win. A good athlete is not one and done if he doesn’t place in the heats or finals. A good athlete is not affirmed from outside but from within. In the end, a stop watch holds the runner accountable to the mastery of their body.

I ran to win. I ran to win for my team and, without any thought given to it, I ran to push myself to be the fastest and most consistent sprinter I could be. Showing up to receive a medal at the end of a race would not make me any faster. The hard-disciplined training beforehand would. The competition only helped me to fire on all cylinders. And, it didn’t hurt that Flash, a comic book superhero, was popular then. (After my X-country hopes were dashed, I traded icons: Jim Ryan (first sub-4-minute miler) for Flash.)

~~~

You’ve run races for 88 years. You are in the final stretch of the final race. Your legs can no longer carry you to the finish line. You are being pushed in a wheel chair. Your strength is almost depleted. Your mouth and your thoughts run dry. Even with crowd support, you know that you’re on your own and your own is being pushed forward by others. You ask God for a finish line, for your running is dissolving into a blur. The Coach’s voice is somewhere near and yet, distant.

Mom, My Oldest Son and I

The other day, as I was leaving my mother after an extended visit, she hugged me and then said that she wanted to sit down and tell me something. She mentioned that she is tired and that life has nothing for her right now. My dad passed away several years ago.

“What’s the point?” she said.

“Mom, I don’t have an answer for you,” I replied. I didn’t. And, this was no time for spiritual bromides. But, I did have some understanding of what she was telling me, having reached an age where life seems to be asking me “What now?” And from that unsettled question I could suppose that at some point near the end of your life, you have seen all that you want to see and tasted all that you want to taste and enjoyed all that life has to offer. And you believe that you have endured all the loss and pain humanely possible.

Mom is unable to get out of the house by herself. And her eyes are dimming. She often sits alone in her house watching a TV that, she says, offers almost nothing of value. And though family live nearby to care for mom, I am only able to visit her for a time. I live in another state and see her as often as I can while working a fulltime job.

I asked my mother if she knew what would make a difference right now. She didn’t know of anything. Right then I knew that this life would no longer hold her up. She had seen the Lord’s salvation and was ready to leave this “vale of tears,” as she had once joked in the past. Nunc dimittis.

I looked at mom and said, “Ask Jesus what it is that you are doing here and now. Ask him and he will tell you. He has spoken to me often. Right before I drove out to see you mom, my spirit was troubled. I could not put into words what the matter was. Then, the other day, I sat down at my desk and heard the Lord say to me, “I am with you. You are not alone. I will go with you.”” My spirit understood that whatever I would go through, even though I wasn’t in control of what I didn’t even know, that I wasn’t alone. Finish the race. The outcome is God’s.

Mom has faithfully run the all races given her. Like Paul, mom has not run in aimless fashion. I am a witness of her life in Christ. She will receive the imperishable crown awaiting her at the finish line.

God help me as I follow in her train. Many more races must be run and done.

~~~

Today, August 6th, is the Feast of the Transfiguration. I am reminded that when things are out of focus for disciples like me that God has a way of bringing a bright cloud over my head and then speaking into my good ear: “This is my dear son,” says the voice, “and I’m delighted with him. Pay attention to him.”

What Were You Expecting to See?

“What were you expecting to see,” he asked, “when you went out to the desert? A reed wobbling in the wind?” Jesus speaking to the crowds about John the Baptist, Matthew’s gospel account 11: 7

“A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today. The Western world has lost its civic courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, in each government, in each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elites, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society. There are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life…

…Must one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the first symptom of the end?” Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, Commencement Address Delivered At Harvard University, June 8, 1978

~~~

Imagine an Old Testament prophet combined with John the Baptist and with the Apostle Paul. Now imagine this unremarkable bearded composite standing and speaking to an intellectual group at a modern-day Mars Hill…

In this fascinating audio clip, Christian philosopher Dr. Peter Kreeft delivers a reflective dialogue with Solzhenitsyn, with a teaching associate and with himself. He does this as he recalls sitting in the audience listening to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Commencement Address at Harvard on June 8, 1978.

This is July 26th, 2017. Look at “the ruling and intellectual elites of our age”. Look at our leaders. You’ll find poll watchers and equivocators and ditherers and alternate-truth liars. You’ll see symptoms of the end.

Dr Peter Kreeft on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Commencement Address at Harvard

 

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Commencement Address at Harvard

Dr Peter Kreeft

Try to Remember

 

The bumper sticker in front of Tom read, “Try to remember what you wanted to be.” Tom thought for a moment and then the light changed. He remembered that he didn’t want to be late for his date with Sherry. Pulling up to the next light Tom remembered that he wanted to be a missionary and a band conductor and a secret agent and a shortstop and an army guy and someone other-worldly, like a saint or an astrophysicist. At the next light he coughed as he said, “I never thought I’d end up as a welder.” 

Tom knocked and Sherry came to the door. “Dinner’s almost ready. C’mon in.”

“Wow what a day. How about that heat? I had to keep lifting my helmet to wipe the sweat off my face. I came home drenched.”

“You did take a shower, didn’t you?” Sherry joked.

“Yes, my dear. I see you did, too.”

“Yeah. I had the same problem you did. Welding that half-inch plate, I couldn’t see for all the sweat burning my eyes.”

“Maybe we should be welders in Alaska.”

“Yeah, and then could eat fresh wild-caught salmon and caribou.”

“You know the way to a man’s heart, don’t you kiddo?”

“As long as we are on the same path, I’ll know the way to your heart.” Sherry smiled.

Tom and Sherry sat down, gave thanks, and started eating the chicken tacos Sherry had prepared.

“I saw a bumper sticker on my way over here.”

“What did it say?”

“‘Try to remember what you wanted to be.’”

“I remember wanting to be Weather Woman on TV. I wanted to tell everyone what the weather would be while wearing nice clothes. I was ready. All my clothes were solids and not patterns.”

“You can tell me the weather forecast anytime you want Weather Woman. I hope I’m on your radar screen.”

“Yeah, you’re a blip.”

“Ahem. I remember wanting to be more than a blip. I wanted to save the world from the bad guys and run fast like Flash and play baseball like Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Look at us now. We are both welders. You know, I read in Welder’s Weekly that…”

“Welder’s Weekly?” Sherry looked puzzled.

“Yeah, I am the only subscriber. Anyway, the Bead Column said that welders should date welders. “

“And why is that?”

“They’ll carry a torch for you.”

“I see why you are the only subscriber.”

“And there were bumper stickers for sale, too: “Be the Bead” and “If the Weld Smells Like Pork You’re on Fire.”

Sherry choked on her food. “That last one is hilarious.”

Sherry cleared her throat and said. “Well, you had me at first arc. C’mon. Help clean up. We have work to do.”

After putting the dishes in the sink, Tom and Sherry went to the garage. They set up the gas welders and the welding rods. They worked together creating a sculpture for a nearby church garden.

After a couple of hours, they came in for dessert – Key Lime pie. It was then that Tom gave Sherry the ring and said, “many are called, one is chosen.”

 

Later that night, while sitting together on the front porch, Sherry asked Tom a question.

“Tom, have you ever wondered why you and I were born in this time and place?

“I usually ask that in the middle of laying a bead and the temperature is ninety-degrees. But, what are you thinking?

“When I think of the millennia of time which has passed and the millions of people who have gone on before, I think we were born here and now to be a who we are-man and wife-to continue what God has begun, to continue creation.”

“Well, when you put it like that, welding makes sense in the cosmos. Joining two metals to become one creates something greater than the individual pieces.”

“You’re a philosopher now, Tom?”

“A stitch-er of thoughts, more likely. When I was on the road in New York and Indiana and Louisiana MIG welding together these towering static mixers I told you about I had time to think. There inside a hollow eighteen-foot diameter shell of twelve-gauge steel I realized that I am here for a purpose greater than me and greater than me welding together something that will benefit somebody today but will fall out of use some day. I saw that I am. Why that happened right then, I don’t know. But after what you just said, we make sense together. I better get home. I am exhausted.” 

Sherry looked at the ring on her finger and then looked over at Tom. Tom reached over and gave Sherry a kiss and asked, “Do you know how diamonds are created?”

“No, Tell me.”

Diamonds are made from the residual carbon of the earth’s first land plants. The carbon is exposed to extremely high temperature and pressure in the earth’s mantle. They are pushed up to the earth’s surface by volcanic activity.”

“Did you read this in Welder’s Weekly?”

“No. I read it in A Brief History of Welding.” Tom grinned like Alice’s Cheshire cat.

“So, to reach our Diamond Wedding Anniversary we will be subjected to high temperature and high pressure?”

“There’s only one way to find out and we’re going to go through it together.”

Tom gave Sherry another kiss and said, “See you in the morning. Don’t forget to wear cotton. It’ll be another hot day. Oh, I just thought of another bumper sticker: “Welders keep you in stitches.”

“You are exhausted. Good night.”

 

A year later, Tom and Sherry began marriage counseling with pastor Dave. The wedding date had been set.

During the first session with Pastor Dave, he asked them, “How did you two meet each other?”

Tom responded. “We met at Marsh Technology Center. We were both in a welding class. She flipped my lid.

Dave laughed. Now you have my interest. Explain.

“Yep. It was the first time I put on a welding helmet and I was trying to adjust the tension. Sherry flipped my helmet up and showed me how to adjust it. The tension has to be just right. When you are ready to weld you need to flip the helmet down to cover your eyes. Your hands are full so you flip the helmet down with a jerk of your head.” Tom showed Dave “the flip.”

During that first session pastor Dave asked about their family back grounds. As the session was wrapping up, Dave said, “Everyone who gets married comes to marriage with a lot of baggage. Each of you can share the load of the other but don’t think that the other will somehow resolves whatever issues you brought to the marriage. You own those issues like you own your credit report. It is yours to correct. Your spouse is there to support you but is not there to fix you.”

The second session was about finances. “You each come to your marriage with a certain way of dealing with money. Marriages break apart over how finances are handled. Marriage is a coming together-an intimacy-of finances where you must hold each other accountable. Set up a budget spreadsheet. Set up an accounting of debits and credits using available software. Set up financial goals for a home, for children, for retirement and most importantly-for giving. Remember. You cannot give what you do not have.

Look at each other’s credit report now before you get married. Look and see what each of you has done with their money. Love covers a multitude of sins, but a pile debt sticks out on credit reports. Stay away from consumer debt. It will eat you alive. Become financially savvy.”

During the third session Pastor Dave talked about in-laws–keeping one’s marriage separate, away from meddlesome in-laws. He said that becoming one takes focus. What Tom remembered was “Location, location, location.” What Sherry remembered was the ache in the pit of her stomach.

The fourth session: “long live intimacy.”

“Intimacy is the every-aspect-relationship that you have with your spouse. You have to work this out together day by day, minute by minute. And, don’t compare. Don’t ever read a couple or watch a TV show and say to your spouse, I wish we were like that couple.

Your marriage will face a test of wills. Your goal is to become one. That doesn’t mean the one is dissolved into the other. It means that the understanding, forgiveness and love you each bring to the other is forged-welded, is the better word for you two-to become one stronger whole.

Intimacy is broken when there is no forgiveness. Do not got to bed angry. A root of bitterness likes to grow in that kind of harsh unyielding soil. Do not apologize and say, “I’m sorry. I said it because of what you said.” You might get slapped. Holding grudges will quickly destroy your marriage. If you are angry, take some time to cool off and think about why you are angry. Are you angry because of what happened reminded you of something that happened earlier in your life that your spouse doesn’t know about and had no hand in? Beware. Unresolved anger is self-justifying as means of protection. Unresolved anger places others into exile. True forgiveness removes people from exile and embraces them. You may feel strongly about some wrong done to you. If so, tell your spouse that you are angry and why you are angry. Tell your spouse that you need some time to process your anger and that you do not want to reman angry with him or her. See what happens next. And, deal with your past baggage now so that the present and future are given to your spouse.

Intimacy is not sitting in front of a TV with your spouse. As it says, “make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” Find a church community which supports this truth. I recommend staying away from TV. Don’t make TV a third person in your marriage”

Tom interjected. “Neither of us own a TV and we don’t plan on having one after we are married. I think of the irony that so many people will go buy organic foods or be vegetarian or try to eat healthy and workout and yet they fill their minds with all kinds of trash from the TV. There is too much in this world to explore and to wonder about for us to sit in front of a box.”

“Good.” Pastor Dave replied. “Now let’s talk about sex.”

Both Tom and Sherry looked at each other and then rolled their eyes up to look at the ceiling.

“My wife Karen will talk to you, Sherry, and I will talk to you, Tom, alone. Let’s go.

Sherry met with Karen. Karen talked about sexual intimacy with a man and how to prolong a man’s excitement.

Pastor Dave talked to Tom. He began by drawing a picture of a vagina and then asking Tom to draw in where the clitoris was. Tom had no idea so, Dave drew it in and circled it. Dave then talked about how women are in no hurry to achieve orgasm but men are. He said that the two becoming one must find a happy oneness.

During the fifth session Pastor Dave talked about having a faith community that will support your marriage. He said to find a church where truth and beauty are combined into the daily life of the church. A church which is all preaching and teaching is missing the inexplicable and the transcendent. Find a church, he said, that loves mystery and encourages adventures of discovery. Find a church where art, music and drama play major roles in worship and teaching and are not considered asides to some pulpit ministry.

Pastor Dave’s sixth session: “When children come, life is turned upside down. Be prepared. Your marriage will be put to the test because everything you are came about during childhood. Having children is like attending a therapy session: the past is brought up and you are forced to confront it as little Tommy Jr. decides he will not obey, no way and no how. Rearing children requires patience you don’t think you’ll ever have enough of. Rearing children requires discipline for yourself and for your children, so know what and how that looks like. Listen to other parents. Learn to set and enforce proper boundaries for your children. Children feel secure when they bump up against sure and solid.

Their wedding day was a month away when Tom and Sherry came to Pastor Dave’s seventh and final marriage counseling session. Tom wondered why he was sweating sitting in Pastor Dave’s air-conditioned office. Pastor Dave surprised the couple by showing them the Princess Bride wedding scene. Tom was no longer sweating. Instead, his Cheshire cat grin reappeared.

“Alright then. You’ll need a sense of humor for your marriage to survive all the stuff thrown at it. Now, I want you two to focus on what I am about to say: Marriage is a rose that enfolds the mystery of truth and goodness and being within itself and then opens for the world to behold its beauty. A Kingdom marriage means taking vows-a sincere and binding promise made with full understanding. Together you will help each other to flourish. You will witness and worship together. Together you promote the glory of God. Together you will discover and uncover the mysteries of the universe.

And you should know that God created the gender identities of male and female not just for procreation of the human race. I believe that God’s creation of two distinct gender identities, both rooted and fixed in sexed bodies, was also for the creation of mystery.  You see, men and women who come into a marriage relationship begin a journey of discovery. Men discover and grow into their maleness and women discover and grow into their femaleness. Within the give and take of a marriage relationship the mystery of your gender identity and the other’s gender identity is explained and affirmed. The same thing also happens for a single person in a healthy Christian community. God created mystery for us to discover Him and each other and His whole creation over a course of a lifetime. We should never be bored.

God, in His infinite-personal love, created mystery and romance. Look at how much we do not know about the universe. Our God is surrounded in mystery.  Clouds and thick darkness surround him. God does not do boring, to put it another way. Reason alone cannot tell you all you need to know. Emotions and your senses cannot tell you all you need to know. No, we discover what we do not know when we are in relationship with Him and with others. Your marriage, the dancing embrace of male and female, will venture off into God’s uncharted universe to go where no man or woman has gone before.

“Bead me up,” Tom replied.

Pastor Dave looked over at Sherry. “Do you really want to marry this corny guy.”

Sherry looked over at Tom who was grinning his cat grin, “Well, he does keep me in stitches. That’s his welding joke.”

“You two were made for each other. Now for the welding. I mean the wedding.” Pastor Dave prayed a blessing on the couple and then dismissed them after discussing the wedding details.

 

At the wedding Pastor Dave again prayed a blessing on the couple. As Tom and Sherry drove away from the church Tom noticed the same bumper sticker that he saw before: “Try to remember what you wanted to be.”

“I remember what I wanted to be. It is what I am with you.” Tom leaned over and kissed Sherry.

Their car’s bumper sticker read: “With This Ring, I Thee Weld.”

 

 

 

 

© Jennifer A. Johnson, 2017, All Rights Reserved

Form Should Never Follow Function

 

 “I heard a loud voice from the throne, and this is what it said: “Look! God has come to dwell with humans! He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them and will be their God.” Revelation 21:3

~~~

Let me ask you. Where do you go “to get away,” to rejuvenate?  Someplace ugly or someplace transcendent, otherworldly, awe-inspiring and beautiful?

~~~

Cabrini-Green Housing Project

Form follows function:  the principle is that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose.

Louis Sullivan’s phrase form (ever) follows function became a battle-cry of Modernist architects after the 1930s. The credo was taken to imply that decorative elements, which architects call “ornament,” were superfluous in modern buildings. However, Sullivan himself neither thought nor designed along such dogmatic lines during the peak of his career.

~~~

As a student of Moody Bible Institute in the 70’s, one of several mandatory Practical Christian Ministries (PCMs) offered to me was to go to the nearby Cabrini-Green Housing Project and witness to the residents. (I chose ministering to alcoholics who frequented Chicago’s Skid Row Rescue Missions on West Madison St., “a 12-block stretch of flophouses, gin joints and battered dreams.”)

~~~

Cabrini-Green: Chicago Housing Authority’s approach to the “urban renewal”

 

CHICAGO (AP) — To some, Cabrini-Green’s infamous high-rises were a symbol of urban blight — towering testaments to the failure of Chicago public housing to give safe shelter to the poorest of the poor.

But to the remaining residents being ousted from the complex’s last building, Cabrini-Green was simply home.

The closure of Cabrini’s high-rises this week marks the end of an ugly era in public housing. The 70-acre development was initially hailed as a salvation for the city’s poor that was emulated nationwide. But it quickly decayed into a virtual war zone, the kind of place where little boys were gunned down on their way to school and little girls were sexually assaulted and left for dead in stairwells….

The Cabrini-Green development began on Chicago’s North Side in 1942 with row houses named for St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the Roman Catholic patron saint of immigrants. A few years later, high-rises and mid-rises were added. Eventually Cabrini housed up to 13,000 people.

The buildings, however, weren’t well-kept, and crime and drugs soon became rampant.

The complex drew national attention in 1981, after a gang war killed 11 residents in three months. Then-mayor Jane Byrne and her husband moved into a Cabrini apartment for three weeks to publicize her efforts to clean up the area.

~~~

Chicago is now reaping the ‘benefits’ of post-modern architecture, constructions built without reference to natural forms. And you thought deconstructionism only applied to literature and to the meaning of words. It applies to the de-humanization of mankind:

Cabrini-Green: Chicago History Museum / Getty Images

Known in the Things Made

 

“What can be known of God, you see, is plain to them, since God has made it plain to them. Ever since the world was made, his eternal power and deity have been seen and known IN THE THINGS MADE. As a result, they have no excuse: they knew God, but didn’t honor him as God or thank him. Instead, they learned to think in useless ways, and their heart grew dark. They declared themselves to be wise, but in fact became foolish. They swapped the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of the image of mortal humans-and of birds, animals, and reptiles.” -Paul’s letter to the Roman church

“A man who lies to himself is often the first to take offense.” Zosima, the Elder, The Brothers Karamazov, F. Dostoevsky

~~~

Let’s start here:

 

Some observations, after debating pro-homosexuality Catholics on Twitter:

1/Appropriating Scripture to fit within your worldview is perilous. I see this happening all the time in Twitter replies to me: appropriating Christian love to accept homosexuality, to justify national health care and redistribution of wealth, aka, socialism. Of course, LGBT appropriated ‘love’ does not justify them loving a Christian or a Christian way. LGBT love is only one way.

2/Many preachers of Scripture use their own Post-modern and Epicurean worldview to template Scripture and then make life application love potions from that admixture.

3/The post-modern view is one of deconstructionism: nothing, including the Bible, has any authority because such authority has been up till now been viewed only through the eyes of dead white men who must, according to feminist ideology, have been Patriarchal to a fault. Professor’s claiming authority deconstruct meaning from any text offering you nothing or nihilism. In effect, one is told that your present experience is more than enough compared to the millennia of knowledge, wisdom and tradition passed down through the ages to present day.

4/ Following in deconstructionism’s path, language is being changed–emptied of meaning or meaning nullified-to promote homosexuality:  from “marriage” equaling the sacred union of male and female as understood for millennia to “marriage” equaling the secular union of two men or two women under the banner of “equal rights”, thereby equating male/female marriage to homosexual ‘marriage’, equating love for a different but complementary other to self-love narcissism.

5/Homosexuality has been around throughout Scripture’s long and many cultured history. Never once is it condoned and shown as normative in Scripture. Never. God’s rejection of such behavior-sexual immorality-does not change with the calendar, as God’s covenant with men has never changed

6/In Scripture, homosexuality is presented as a form of sexual immorality. Sexual immorality, like all sins, is a form of idolatry-placing a much-revered image between you and God. In spite of this self-serving and toxic myopia, today, many in the church give homosexuality a pass. They prefer to render homosexuality as an adaptation-a coming to terms-of one’s sexuality. Therefore, Scripture must be updated to validate this ‘enlightened’ position as another form of need-love ministry which is then on social media likened to what minorities, immigrants, the poor, the suffering, etc. must feel.

Practicing sexual immorality (idolatry of any kind) automatically keeps one out of the kingdom of God. Scripture is very clear and empathic about this. Yet, Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Universalists and a host of new age churches suppose themselves magnanimous with God’s grace. God’s grace is never cheap and affordable. His grace cost him everything to sanctify a people to himself.

As self-styled oppressed and hurting minorities, the LGBT community will tell us over and over that we do not understand them-their needy love nature bent towards the same-sex. They will call us (and me almost daily) “homophobic”, a pseudo-psychological term used to shut down further conversation and to claim that we have the mental problem and not them.

7/Three key New Testament passages concerning homosexuality: Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10

8/Romans addresses the aberrant nature of homosexuality and man’s wickedness in the context of first century Epicureanism. With the gods ‘away’ the men with men will play. The Roman church is surrounded by images, cults, idolatry, prostitution, and homosexuality, not unlike our modern-day “diverse” culture. Paul’s letter to Roman church outlines his vision of the church and of the Kingdom of God on earth. Jews and Greeks and Romans are to come to together in the unity of holiness and in their acknowledgement of God’s covenant faithfulness which now means that Jesus is Lord. The unity and diversity revealed in Romans are exactly what the culture is trying to fashion, on its own terms. The Satan is a plagiarist who then perverts what God has written on the human heart.

9/From Genesis to Revelation, Scripture presupposes that heterosexuality is normative (1 Corinthians 7; Ephesians 5; 1 Peter 3; et al.) and highlights such relationship:  The Wedding feast at Cana, Christ and His Bride. Jesus was not born out of a homosexual relationship. Mary submitted herself to God purposes, not to her own purposes, even though the social-media of her time-gossiping-would have condemned her.

10/ New age thinking, Oprah style, synthesizes all kinds of gnostic elements, elements of good and evil to form a theology they can ‘live with’. I find this thinking in many tweets, where a person tells me that homosexual marriages is as good as male female marriage: it’s “love” that matters, and “Isn’t God love?”

11/The LGBT-ers and their corporate sponsors demand that transgendered ‘women be allowed to use the women’s room. They posit that such person will have mental anguish if not allowed to do so. What they will not posit or acknowledge is that if males who are trying to look like a female enters the women’s room, millions of women would suffer mental anguish. Bottom line: the LGBT-ers demand that the common good be thrown away for the individual’s ‘right’ to pee wherever one feels, to lessen one’s mental anguish. For the LGBT, the needs of the one outweighs any consideration of others.

12/The Obvious:  nature alone reveals that homosexuality is anti-human. No homosexual relationship will produce offspring. The words of procreation– “Be fruitful and multiply”- was stated at the beginning of God’s written communication with us

Of course, homosexual advocates will posit that gay men and gay women can have adopted children, that such configurations, now denoted as “gay families”, are equal to male-female families. This appropriation of male-female families to connote equality with male-male families reveals the loss of meaning to the word “equal.” “Equal” now means: plagiarizing God to obtain a waiver from all accountability.

13/Fourth of July message: a nation which turns its back on Christianity and its coexistence with the neutral State to promote secularism’s “values” and individual rights will lose all its authority as a nation state. Radical secularism will induce governing paralysis. It is happening in Europe and we, in the U.S., are seeing this happen before our eyes.

To be continued…

 

 

 

Added 7-3-2017:

Here’s are interesting column:

Queer divorce in the time of Pride

“What does a lesbian bring to a second date?” my then-girlfriend joked early in our relationship. A U-haul.”…

 

“The complicated human experiences of LGBTQ folks often come at the cost of producing images that heterosexuality will accept. In places like Chicago, most LGBTQ folks are allowed to thrive as long as they follow the same rules as their progressive, straight-identified allies.”

Added 7-4-2017

Resources added 7-8-17:

BORN OR BRED? Science Does Not Support the Claim That Homosexuality Is Genetic

Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth Paperback – February 1, 1996 by Jeffrey Satinover, M.D.

A Christian psychiatrist examines the latest research, refuting the alleged genetic basis for homosexuality and assessing the social power homosexuals have gained.

 

 

 

 

Dragon-Skin or What Not to Where

 

Maybe you can relate. As often happens when I am out and about I come across a homosexual* waiter or cashier. They want to be queer-noticed. They present themselves with false feminine affected speech and limp-wristed affectations. I am immediately repulsed by such an unnatural demeanor as I am by the sight of graffiti-tattoos on the human body.

I do not find such behavior cute, charming or creative. Such behavior is not distinctive of the homo sapien species. It is actually of the animation genre – shallow, fabricated, meant for sale, a sham within a sham.

It doesn’t take much insight to see that homosexuals scream for attention, validation and for positive affirmation. Homosexuals compensate for their neurosis by idolizing their missing symbol-male or female, as the case may be, and by preening to gain the missing symbol’s attention. When I encounter such unnatural behavior, my impulse is to look away when I pay the bill. But, I have wondered about my response.

If I smile and act polite in these situations, is that encouraging them to continue in this behavior when I know such behavior depraves their humanness? If I look and act disgusted, does that incline them decide to harden their ways?

Of course, I am not responsible for their reaction. I am responsible for my Kingdom behavior. So, my Kingdom of God response is to look him or her in the eyes, human to human, and to pray in the spirit for the waiter, the cashier, for the boy or girl under the dragon skin. Under that ‘protective’ veneer of inhumanity is a human.

~~~

“C.S. Lewis put this so poetically in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. There’s a boy named Eustace, and everybody hates him and he hates everybody. He’s selfish, he’s mean, and nobody can get along with him. But he finds himself magically on a boat, the Dawn Treader, taking a great voyage. At one point this boat pulls in to an island, and Eustace wanders off and finds a cave. The cave proves to be filled with diamonds and rubies and gold. He thinks, “I’m rich!” And immediately, because he is who he is, he thinks that now he’ll be able to pay everybody back. Anyone who has laughed at him, stepped on him, slighted him, will now get their comeuppance. Eustace then falls asleep on a pile of treasure—which he doesn’t yet know is the hoard of a dragon. And because he falls asleep with greedy dragonish thoughts in his heart, when he wakes up, he’s become a dragon—big, terrible, and ugly. Soon he realizes there’s no way out. He can’t go on the boat, he’s going to be left on the island alone, he’s going to be horrible all of his life. He falls into despair.

One day the great lion Aslan shows up, leads him to a clear pool of water, and tells him to undress and jump in. And suddenly Eustace realizes that “undress” means “take off the dragon skin.” He begins to gnaw and claw off the scales, and he realizes that he can shed his skin. Working at it, he finally peels off this skin—but to his dismay, he finds that underneath he’s got another dragon skin. He tries a second time and a third time, to no avail; the same thing still happens each time. In the end the lion says, You’re going to have to let me go deeper”

-from Timothy Keller’s “King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus”

 

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”

Eustace speaking about what he let Aslan do for him – C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawntreader:

~~~

Consider Jesus word’s in John 16: 8-11 regarding the Spirit and our indwelt mission:

“When he [the Helper] comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong on three counts: sin, justice, and judgement. In relation to sin-because they don’t believe in me. In relation to justice-because I am going to my father, and you won’t see me anymore. In relation to judgement-because the ruler of this world is judged.”

 

Any outworking of sin is idolatry. Idolatry replaces belief in Jesus and the Triune God with man-made symbols.

When Jesus, the perfect Israelite who had no sin-the spotless lamb-came, he came not to judge but to give his life as ransom for many. Those of us filled with the Spirit reveal Kingdom of God justice–the ruler of this world is judged. Jesus is Lord. No one has to live under dragon skin. We tell others that the skin comes off, as it did in our case, and that it hurt, but that abundant life is uncovered.

~~~

Consider that Jesus, who, though he worked many healings (restoring sight to the blind, making the lame to walk), talks about amputation as a form of deliverance to be done by the individual now or later by God. Choose your pain.

‘And if your right hand trips you up, cut it off and throw it away. Yes: it’s better for you to have one part of your body destroyed than for your whole body to go into Gehenna.” Matthew 5: 30

I’m sure some people felt bullied by Jesus when he said this. Others wanted the dragon skin to come off.

~~~

Once again, I am reminded of the pernicious nature of homosexuality and pornography. Within the last few weeks I sadly learned of a fellow Christian-an Anglican priest, a friend and former homosexual-who fell back into sin. He confessed to the trustees of his ministry that his fall was because of stress which led to pornography which then led to a homosexual encounter.

This man has ministered, in the U.S. and in Europe, to thousands of people who have desired to leave homosexuality. I have known this man and have worked in parachurch ministry alongside him. My son played with his son. This man left the homosexual lifestyle after twenty-some years, married and had several children. He developed his ministry into a full-time ministry to help others gain freedom from homosexuality. Now, according to his Board of trustees, he is on extended leave. According to a Facebook post, his wife is divorcing him

~~~

-*I do not use the LGBT disposed word ‘gay” for this human dysfunction. Homosexuality is a psychological disorder that is based in neurosis, a splitting off from the proper symbols put in place by God when He created us in His image.

Homosexual neurosis may include separation anxiety issues or abandonment issues. A homosexual response is a learned response towards the path of least resistance and the least amount of pain. Their response is narcissistic in that the individual choses to pamper their wounds instead of address them as wounds. Their responses are stoked in this Epicurean age where Pride Parades reinforce the idolatry of false, mentally engraved images

If you were to look up homosexuality on Wikipedia, you would find that everything is cool, homosexuality is a non-issue.  That revisionism is the work of LGBT lobbies who do not want the DSM to diagnose them as having a psychological problem. In fact, homosexuals will use the psychological sounding term “homophobia” to claim that you have the mental problem and belong in the DSM and they do not.

The insidiousness of homosexuality is now beginning at a very early age. Its promoters want to seduce middle age kids into thinking that they must be gay if they have feelings toward the same gender. You and I know, parents know, that middle school age kids deal with a LOT of feelings on the new social roller coaster they are on. Kids at that age are trying to define themselves and their relationships. Beware! The LGBT is right there to persuade kids that same sex feelings must be gay and must be validated as such. Beware! The schools, which are supposed to teach the three ‘R’s, are teaching your children LGBT ‘values’.

Why would a boy or girl come from school and say “I’m gay” if they were not informed of that word and that such behavior was promoted as an acceptable “variation” of humanness? There is nothing human about homosexuality. No wonder The Satan promotes the narcissistic antithesis of the image of God

 

 

 

Become informed…

Microphone cut after Mormon girl reveals she’s gay at church

Britt Jones, a bisexual Mormon who runs a podcast called “I like to look for Rainbows” that featured Savannah’s story, said the leaders should have allowed Savannah to finish.

“Queer issues don’t get talked about in the church enough,” said Jones, who is married to a woman and has children. “It was really brave and really admirable, particularly for somebody that young, that she not only wanted to talk about it herself but be a voice for others suffering in silence.”

All Sex, All the Time

“…children inhabit a highly sexualized world earlier and earlier, and social pressure upon them to exhibit sexualized behavior starts earlier and earlier. A schoolteacher friend recently told me how she had comforted a seven-year-old who was in tears because a girl in his class had insulted him, calling him a virgin. She asked whether he knew what the word meant. “

“No,” replied the little boy. “But I know it’s something horrible.”

Obituary of 15-year-old who committed suicide calls out school bullies

“For a young lady so excited about going to high school, things sure went terribly wrong for her.”

Father’s Way

I would estimate that, over the years, my father took thousands of photos with film cameras.

My father wasn’t in most of these photos.

Most of what a father is and does is not captured in an image…

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.

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