Who Says So?

As kids we preceded “Who Says So?” and “Who do you think you are?” with “Oh yeah!” “These questions weren’t posed to source a truth-bearing authority we would readily accept. Rather, they were a demand to know “Who thinks they can tell me what to do?”

The hands-on-the-hips stance has been around since the Garden of Eden. It became the posture of mankind after Adam and Eve accepted the serpent’s imperious challenge to God’s authority. The posture of the defiant adolescent is in vogue today.

By way of a prolonged adolescence – from playground to the political realm, say – the childhood attitude has remained the same: “Who thinks they can tell me what to do? The past holds no authority. Truth holds no authority. Only my power holds authority.”

And so it was that elected officials dismissed the U.S. Constitution as an afront to their dictatorial ways. The playground stance became Woodrow Wilson’s “living Constitution” posture under the ruse of “progress”:

All that progressives ask or desire is permission—in an era when “development,” “evolution,” is the scientific word—to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.

Owing to the same progressive posture, FDR bullied the Supreme Court into accepting his definition of the Constitution’s “commerce clause”. He was then able, with the tentacles of bureaucracy, to regulate and control the banks and the U.S. economy. This wasn’t crisis management. This was the elitist “Who thinks they can tell me what to do?” FDR taking over “we the people”.

FDR’s reign created a monstrous welfare state. With the government’s imposition of the “New Deal” and the National Recovery Act, millions became dependent – infantilized – under the government’s new parenting role. Later, FDR would take account of his “enlightened administration”. He would call government welfare “a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit”.

LBJ, an FDR lackey, adopted FDR’s imperious attitude. He extended the New Deal’s use of a big and more powerful government to overhaul society.

“The truth is, far from crushing the individual, government at its best liberates him from the enslaving forces of his environment.”

With the enslaving forces of government and apparently ignoring FDR’s admission of welfare’s dehumanizing effects, the imperious LBJ created the ruinous Great Deal: the “Great Society” and “War on Poverty.”

Within the same “nobody can tell me what to do” echo chamber of elitists, the haughty Barack Obama’ announced the “fundamental transformation” of America. This was to bring about Obama’s version of “hope and change” for us little people.

Remember Obama’s spiritual and ideological mentors Jeremiah Wright, Frank Marshall Davis, Bill Ayers and Saul Alinsky? Remember these bullies with the playground attitude “Who thinks they can tell me what to do? I tell you what to do.” They taught Obama to impose his will onto others for the sake of radical transformation.

Remember Obama’s despotic weaponization of government against naysayers? Remember Lois Lerner and the IRS targeting scandal?  Remember the high and mighty Obama trashing America to foreign nations?

The almost inorganic “Oh yeah! Listen man!” Joe Biden and his regime, an Obama franchise, are “Building Back Better.” The regime wants $35 billion dollars to add 75,000 agents to further weaponize the IRS.

The regime is in the process of tossing the Constitution and creating a Woke “living constitution” form of government. This takeover of America will benefit most those in positions of power including globalists. You and I will have the Constitution ripped from our hands. We will be handed a “Here’s who says so” card. The European Union has already issued “permission” cards.

(The Biden regime’s focus on the WOKE religion of racialism will buy them votes. Biden and Progressives (FDR, LBJ and Woodrow Wilson among them) infer that black Americans are inferior and can’t function in society – whether in business or as a voter or in feeding and housing themselves – without them. Their solution is more of their “enlightened (Woke) administration” and less of the Constitution.  

“Juneteenth” is Biden’s token gift – a refrigerator magnet – to black Americans. It also serves to keep America annually focused on racialism, BLM and CRT.

It appears that behind Anthony Fauci’s defense of himself on MSNBC as the embodiment of science – people’s attacks on him “are attacks on science” – is “Who do you think you are?” 

Owing to a prolonged adolescence – from playground to philosophical realm, say – the religion of deconstructionism was born. Its tenets hold that there is no legitimacy or “Who says so?” authority in the world. This was the stance of the 60’s French deconstructionist Jacques Derrida.

The deconstructionist theory of textual analysis holds that a text has no stable reference. The theory questions traditional assumptions about identity, truth, certainty, and the ability of language to represent reality. Critics have rightly called deconstructionism a dangerous form of nihilism.

Due to a prolonged adolescence – from playground to popular culture, say – we hear “No one has the right to tell me what I can and can’t do except my political tribe.” The shutdown mind – no debate, no questioning, censored social media, etc. – is sold as the right thing to do.

Maintaining narcissist affirmation from an elitist’s perspective is the objective. Hence, the culture of repudiating and canceling anything that doesn’t conform to a narrative of empowered-self.

Just this morning I went shopping for groceries in a local super store. I passed the women’s clothes section. On the wall was a large ad photo of a large woman modeling some of the clothes being sold. The statement above her read “The maximum of self-love”.

The childish attitude of “Who thinks they can tell me what to do?” benefits no one. In fact, when it’s the posture of political overlords, philosopher-ideologues and the power-hungry, people are canceled, put through struggle sessions, de-platformed, blacklisted, killed, forced into labor camps or deported.

There are the willing who submit to a system that will not countenance disagreement. But minds that shut down to only accept the pablum given it by its tribal overseers will find that they have become infantilized. They will remain little children under the watchful eyes of the parent state.

(Read Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom to gain insight into the progression of narrow-mindedness since the ‘60s.)

A grown-up post-modern stance of questioning the source and legitimacy of assertions, is a welcome posture in any discipline. Science (including medical science Dr. Fauci!), philosophy and theology depend on inquiry. Questioning is a healthy stance when its objective is sourcing truth. Questioning is squashed for political ends or for the negation of truth.

Note:  a key indicator of whether something is true or a lie: truth never manipulates or coerces one to accept it; lies and half-truths serve to manipulate and coerce. As humans, we want to live in truth and be respected for that desire. We do not want to be manipulated by ideologues, technocrats, and bureaucrats.

One last thing before I move on. By now you know that Progressives, like the willful children they are, believe they know everything and that you should know everything about them. That is why they walk around with the offended attitude “Who do you think you are?”

Progressives are not mortals. They are superior omniscient beings with “enlightened” WOKE morals. Not only do the WOKE know their own hearts and minds inside and out from constant reprogramming, they also know what is in another person’s heart and mind. Yes, they are mind readers and the ministers of “science” and “hope and change”. Progressive Jesuits come across as being more Christian than Christ with what they readily accept.

Out of their prolonged adolescence, Progressives, like the proud and stubborn children they remain, project onto others all kinds of intent.

Progressives condemn people on the spot. That is how they can call me, a white woman, a “racist”. That is how they can call the Founding Fathers “racist”. That is how they can say that any disagreement is an attack on them, the embodiment of “science”. That is how they can criticize people about their purported effect on climate change or about gun ownership or about any multitude of internalized offenses.

We have ‘progressed’ out of the post-modern age back to the age of Pontius Pilate: “Truth is what I say it is and don’t you forget it.”

It is no surprise that the mental health of the users of the narcissism-based narcotic of Progressivism has declined dramatically. Social media documents the decline.

*****

The hands-on-the-hips stance has been around since the Garden of Eden. It has been used to stare down and de-platform anything that challenges a certain mindset. During the first century AD, Jesus encountered “Oh yeah! Who do you think you are?”

The gospel according to Mark reads as a response to that very question.

Mark opens the “good news of Jesus the Messiah, God’s son” with the authority of centuries-old Scripture. Words from prophets Isaiah and Malachi preface his account. (Note: Mark ascribes both texts to Isaiah, the more prominent author.)

Isaiah the prophet put it like this: “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of me; he will clear a path for you.”

A shout goes up in the desert: “Make way for the Lord!” Clear a straight path for him!”

John the Baptizer is then presented as the one clearing the way for the Messiah – the Ultimate Authority. John tells his followers “Someone a lot stronger than me is coming close behind.”

Jesus is baptized by John in the river Jordan. The heavens open. The spirit in the form of a dove descends onto Jesus. A voice out of heaven says “You are my son! You are the one I love! You make me very glad.”

One would think that that event alone would suffice to qualify Jesus as the Ultimate Authority, but Mark continues to document the outworking of Jesus’ Ultimate Authority.

Jesus announces the kingdom of God (1: 15).

Jesus calls disciples (1:16-20).

Jesus teaches with authority in synagogue (1: 21-22).

Jesus casts out demons (1:23-27).

Jesus heals the sick (1:29-43).

Then (in chapter 2), a lame man is lowered through a roof to where Jesus is teaching. Religious legal experts were in the room. They were listening and waiting for Jesus to produce Messianic credentials.

 Jesus tells the lame man to get up and that his sins are forgiven. (2:1-12) These shocking words blew the roof off of the expert’s thinking.

“How dare the fellow speak like this?! Only God forgives sins!” Who do you think you are?

The next thing the legal inquisitors find out is that this guy who forgives sins also eats with sinners.  (2:16) What kind of Messiah is that? We don’t behave like that!

Mark records more hand-wringing by the religious authorities (3:1-5).  Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. This healing did not go over well – it was deemed as doing ‘work’ on the Sabbath. Jesus wasn’t “following the science”. So, Jesus had to be de-platformed:

“The Pharisees went out right away and began to plot with the Herodians against Jesus, trying to find a way to destroy him.”

Jesus continues to not “follow the science”. He “scolded the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Shut Up!” The wind died down and there was flat calm.” (4:35-41)

Jesus touches the unclean. (5:25-32)

Mark records that Jesus sends out his disciples with his authority. (6: 7-13)

Jesus feeds 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. (6:34-44)

Jesus walks on water. (6:47-51)

Jesus’ disciples eat with unwashed hands. (7: 1-15)

Jesus removes an unclean spirit from a child. (7:24-30)

Jesus feeds 4000 with 7 loaves and “a few small fish”. (8: 1-9)

Jesus heals a blind man. (8: 22-26)

Jesus is transfigured (his glory revealed) before Peter, James, and John. (9: 2-8)

Jesus casts out an unclean spirit from a boy. (9: 16-27)

Jesus teaches his disciples about authority. (9:35-49)

The first half of Mark’s gospel account documents Jesus’ ultimate authority over nature, diseases, evil spirits and the “follow the science” orthodoxy of his day.

In the second half of Mark’s “good news”, we read that Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem. What awaited him there was not a triumphal entry nor a clear path. He would encounter soldiers, betrayal, an angry mob, Pontius Pilate, scourging, and crucifixion. It was intended punishment for not “following the science”.

Jesus was handed over to be questioned by the “Who do you think you are?”- “What is truth?”- “follow the science” authorities. They proceeded to ‘de-platform’ Jesus.

The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus revealed his authority over evil, sin and death. It also revealed his authority over man-made narratives. Jesus answered “Who says? with utter humility and self-denial. Jesus is the Ultimate Authority. Yet there are those, still with hands on hips, claiming to be the ultimate authority. Let’s see them do what Jesus did and prove it.

*****

Episode 1,041 – The Age of the Digital Wallet is Here 

*****

COVID Court:

Ex-Pfizer VP Yeadon Warns: Children 50 Times More Likely to Die From Vaccine Than Virus (rumble.com)

Former Pfizer VP issues warning: ‘This is Israel now, UK in just a few weeks’ – America’s Frontline Doctors (americasfrontlinedoctors.org)

93 Israeli doctors: Do not use COVID-19 Vaccine on children

Woman says ‘severe allergic reaction’ to second dose of Oxford vaccine left her unable to talk | Daily Mail Online

19-Year-Old College Freshman Dies From Heart Problem One Month After Second Dose of Moderna Vaccine (noqreport.com)

Exclusive: Dad Says Life ‘Not the Same’ for 21-Year-Old Student Who Developed Myocarditis After Second Moderna Shot • Children’s Health Defense (childrenshealthdefense.org)

Are Covid Vaccines Riskier Than Advertised?

CENSORED: Pro-vaccine doctor Francis Christian, over Covid-19 vaccine safety concerns | Sharyl Attkisson

(VIDEO) Exclusive Investigation: Separating rumor from fact on Covid-19’s origin | Sharyl Attkisson

CENSORED: Hydroxychloroquine | Sharyl Attkisson

Shocking lab results on masks… – CITIZEN FREE PRESS

Covid has emboldened our modern censors | The Spectator

Top Virologists Admit Lying to American Public for Months on Likely Wuhan Lab Leak Theory Because They Didn’t Want to be Associated with President Trump (thegatewaypundit.com)

Chief of Pediatric Critical Care: ‘Never Taken Care of a Single Patient With a Vaccine-Related Complication Until Now’ • Children’s Health Defense (childrenshealthdefense.org)

The following video was removed from YouTube for “violating community guidelines”:

Top Immunologist and ‘Pro-Vaccine’ Doctor Issues Urgent Warning…

Dr. Byram Bridle Professor of Viral Immunology University of Guelph

‘We finally learned how and where the Vaccine antibodies are stored in the body’

‘The spike protein in Vaccines can kill you’

Top Immunologist and ‘Pro-Vaccine’ Doctor Issues Urgent Warning… | Populist Press 2021 ©

Hydroxychloroquine + Azithromycin therapy at a higher dose improved survival by nearly 200% in ventilated COVID patients (news-medical.net)

“You are a pathetic liar”: CDC senior scientist to CDC’s head of immunization (DOCUMENT) | Sharyl Attkisson

Former Trump Official Slices Fauci Apart Over Hydroxychloroquine Fiasco by Matt Vespa (townhall.com)

Why Has “Ivermectin” Become a Dirty Word? – TK News by Matt Taibbi (substack.com)

Heart problems in vaccinated students trigger medical, legal scrutiny of campus COVID mandates | Just The News

30 Cases where PFIZER/BIONTECH COVID Vaccine produced symptoms of Brain Contusion or Brain Damage or Brain Injury

Fight Back:

TRO: Motion for Temporary Restraining Order Against Use of COVID Vaccine in Children

TRO – America’s Frontline Doctors (americasfrontlinedoctors.org)

The Eyes Have It

At the cross. At the burial. At the empty tomb. Three wait-and-see days. Three women.

The gospel according to Mark begins with the ushering in of “the good news of Jesus the Messiah, God’s son” (Mk. 1:1). Composed of short narratives that could be easily visualized by those who heard its reading, Mark’s terse and unembellished gospel clears a straight path so that the reader can see and perceive Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises (Mk. 1:3).

For example, Mark uses literary bracketing (inclusio) to focus in on that fulfillment. Two accounts of blind men receiving their sight bracket Jesus telling his disciples (three times) that he will be rejected, handed over to the authorities, killed and then rise from the dead after three days.  (Beginning Bracket: Mark 8:22-26; End Bracket:  Mark.10:46-52.)

Because of their own unwillingness to really really look at Jesus (cf. Mk.8:25) the disciples do not perceive Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises through death and resurrection.

At a mission critical point in the gospel account -Mark chapter 8 – Jesus reproaches his disciples for their lack of understanding. We learn from the brutally honest account that those closest to Jesus, each with two good eyes and two good ears, still did not grasp that the Messiah had to be crucified and then rise again. We hear that in Peter’s repudiation of that mission (Mk. 8:32).

Peter is Mark’s principal eyewitness source of what Jesus said and did and of the disciple’s reactions. But after the end of Mark chapter 14, where Peter’s denial is recorded, Peter and the male disciples are nowhere to be seen or heard from.

Three women are introduced into the passion narrative (Mk 15). They are the source for Mark’s passion account. They are eyewitnesses of what occurred at the cross, at the burial and at the empty tomb.

Earlier in the text, Mark wrote of the blind gaining sight, of those with two good eyes not seeing and not perceiving what was taking place. Mark now places emphasis on seeing that would lead to perceiving and, hopefully, to belief. He records the seeing of the women seven times:

Henry Ossawa Tanner

At the cross. Some of the women observed from a distance. They included Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome. They had followed Jesus in Galilee, and had attended to his needs. There were several other women, too, who had come up with him to Jerusalem. (Mk. 15: 40-41).

(Note that Mark added that these women had also been with Jesus for most of his ministry. He is telling us that they had observed Jesus from his early ministry to the empty tomb. These women likely heard Jesus teach his disciples new things: about him being handed over to be killed and his rising from the dead after three days. (Mk. 8:31-32; 9:31-32; 10:32-45)

At the burial. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where he was buried. (Mk. 15:47)

At the empty tomb. After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could come and anoint Jesus …” who’s going to roll the stone away for us?”

Then, when they looked up, they observed that it had been rolled away. (It was extremely large.) (Mk. 16: 1-4)

So they went into the tomb, and there they saw a young man sitting on the right hand side. He was wearing white. They were totally astonished.

“Don’t be astonished,” he said to them. “You’re looking for Jesus of Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been raised! He isn’t here! Look – this is the place where they laid him.

“But go and tell his disciples – including Peter – that he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just like he told you.” (Mk. 16:5-7)

The earliest manuscripts of Mark’s gospel account end at 16: 8:

They [the three women] went out, and fled from the tomb. Trembling and panic had seized them. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

This is a curious ending for a gospel that begins with “the good news of Jesus the Messiah, God’s son”. Mark clearly wanted the readers to perceive Jesus as the Messiah, God’s son. He clearly wanted the reader to take in the crucifixion of the Messiah and his bodily resurrection. Why end good news with fear and trembling?

Mark’s gospel account may have had a longer ending. If the original manuscript was written on a scroll (likely), the edge of the scroll containing his ending may have deteriorated. This also happened to many dead sea scrolls.

Later copies of Mark contained appended text (Mk. 16: 9-20). This text may have been added by a scribe in the second century who was familiar with Luke’s gospel account. There are similarities. Mark’s promise of “the good news of Jesus the Messiah, God’s son” has been restored- fulfilled – with the added text. And so was Mark’s emphasis of those not perceiving what is taking place.

Mark’s narrative emphasis on hardness of heart leading to unbelief – rejecting what has been seen and heard by eyewitness accounts– is reinforced in the added text:

When Jesus was raised, early on the first day of the week, he appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went and told the people who had been with him, who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive, and that he had been seen by her, they didn’t believe it.

After this he appeared in a different guise to two of them as they were walking into the countryside. They came back and told the others, but they didn’t believe them.

Later Jesus appeared to the eleven themselves, as they were at table. He told them off for their unbelief and the hardness, for not believing those who had seen him after he had been raised. (Mk. 16: 9-14)

At the cross. At the burial. At the empty tomb. Three wait-and-see days. Three women seeing seven times. Eleven hard-hearted disciples. And you? You still don’t get it? (cf. Mk.8:21)

All God’s promises, you see, find their yes in him: and that’s why we say the yes, the “Amen,” through him when we pray to God and give him glory (2 Cor. 1:20)

The eyes have it. Amen.

****

Episode 836 – No Sanctuary in a Church … Mask Police Attack Pregnant Woman
Episode 843 – The Deep Church … Fraud and Fines Against Christians
Episode 847 – Descent Into Hell Transhumanism and the New Human

****

“Nowhere in early Christian literature do we find traditions attributed to the community as their source or transmitter, only as the recipient. Against the general form-critical image of the early Christian movement as anonymous collectivity, we must stress that the New testament writings are full of prominent named individuals . . . Compared with the prominence of named individuals in the New Testament itself, form criticism represented a rather strange depersonalization of early Christianity that still exercised an unconscious influence on New Testament scholars.”[i]


[i] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., Grand Rapids, MI), 2017), 297

Copy-cat Revenge

 

“How many children around the globe, we continue to ask, are growing up with “jihad,” “war,” “crusade,” “revenge,” “hatred” not only inscribed in their names but woven into the very fabric of their lives! For reconciliation to take place, the inscriptions of hatred must be carefully erased and the threads of violence gently removed. This, I think, is one important lesson of Jesus’ proclamation of the reign of God”.  – from Miroslav Volf’s book Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation

~~~

“Here Comes Revenge”

Little grave I’m grieving, I will mend you
Sweet revenge I’m dreaming, I will end you

I’ve been here since dawn of time
Countless hatreds built my shrine
I was born in anger’s flame
He was Abel, I was Cain
I am here
I’m hell unbound
Burn your kingdom to the ground
To the ground

Here comes revenge, just for you
Revenge, you can’t undo
Revenge, is killing me
Revenge, set me free
Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth
A life for a life, it’s my burden of proof
Revenge, just for you
Revenge
You ask forgiveness, I give you sweet revenge

I return this nightmare, I will find you
Sleepless, cloaked in despair, I’m behind you

Man has made me oh so strong
Blurring lines of right and wrong
Far too late for frail amends
Now it’s come to sweet revenge
Desperate hands
That lose control
Have no mercy on your soul
On your soul

Here comes revenge, just for you
Revenge, you can’t undo
Revenge, is killing me
Revenge, just set me free
Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth
A life for a life, it’s my burden of proof
Revenge, just for you
Revenge
You ask forgiveness, I give you sweet revenge

Here comes revenge, just for you
Revenge, you can’t undo
Revenge, is killing me
Revenge, set me free
Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth
A life for a life, it’s my burden of proof
Revenge, just for you
Revenge
You ask forgiveness, I give you sweet revenge

Sweet revenge

 -Metallica, Here Comes Revenge

 

Revenge has media backing. Entertainment media is suffused with violent images of revenge. Is not most of what is called action and drama cable programing and movies about taking revenge? Gladiator and Kill Bill come to mind but there are hundreds of revenge programs and movies. Tough guys and gals go settle scores via jihads, wars, crusades, etc., and pander to the basest of emotions for entertainment dollars. Revenge is valorized. 

Revenge is shown as what the character (and the viewer vicariously) must do to obtain closure. So, the ‘victim’ becomes the avenger. After killing the perpetrator, the avenger walks off mollified that he or she has justifiably killed another. Yet, in reality, taking revenge is never the end of the story. Revenge never brings the curtain down. How is this impulse for revenge, as depicted so often on the screen of black box, inscribed into our lives?

On Twitter a while back I engaged a woman in a conversation. As the thread became about control gun around a school shooting, I jumped in with a reply and stated that the media and those who consume those things are also blameworthy. I said that what is shown on TV and in movies and video games reinforces the idea that violent revenge is the answer to injustice.

In her replies to me, the woman was adamant that the media was benign. She replied with several of her Google search findings which she felt supported her position. I could tell from her responses that she also had a vested interest in saying the media was harmless. I learned that the kids she was caring for played video games. I ended the conversation with her mentioning that the sheer volume of programing that depicts violent revenge as the answer to a wrong must influence a person’s behavior subconsciously. She was resistant to the notion.

What I wanted to add: commercials are made to influence consumer behavior. The hourly and daily repetition of the same commercial will soon have a person, in Pavlovian response, finishing its jingle or its phone number or reciting the words of its comical product sketch at the office. Clearly, those who want to influence behavior use the media. The nightly newscasts that talk about “gun violence” are meant to stir up emotions against guns and their owners. Consider what the volumes of violent revenge images in the media do to the viewer, especially to the lone viewer and to the viewer with unresolved anger at some perceived offense? The scenarios do not depict reconciliation. The scenarios depict anger and rage fulfilled.

Consider also the effects of the news media’s attention to mass killers.

Most copycats have their private agenda in a rampage killing but seek to tie it in to other events that received a lot of publicity. In this way, they bask in the reflected publicity, so to speak. In many cases, the rampage killer wants to commit suicide but opts to take others with him…it is difficult to escape the conclusion that copycat killings are partly inspired by the publicity surrounding the original. Quote from Copycat Killings: Making sense of the senseless

 

As I thought about revenge and the incessant revenge depictions, the image that came to my mind was the one invoked by Jesus:

You heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you: don’t use violence to resist evil! Instead, when someone hits you on the right cheek, turn the other one toward him.  Matthew 5: 8-39

As I try to wrap my mind around those words, I come to some conclusions:

A slap of my face would be a stinging rebuke. A slap of my face means someone is in my face about some matter and it is personal.  A slap of my face is a challenge prodding me to answer back with equal force or to walk away in shame. A slap in my face is a show of power.

A person acting out ‘An eye for an eye’ revenge says to himself, “There is no God who will hold the other accountable and therefore I must avenge myself.” Or, “There is a God but he is off somewhere. I will have my vengeance.” A person acting out revenge says to himself, “I am not responsible for what happens next.”  A person acting out revenge says to himself, “I will not stop the cycle of violence until I have conquered the other and have brought them to their knees.”

A person acting out revenge rejects the words of Scripture…

Don’t take revenge, my dear people, but allow God’s anger room to work. The Bible says, after all, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will replay, say the Lord.” Romans 12: 19

 

I am told by Jesus to turn my other cheek into the line of fire. Doing so is the real show of power – restraint with the knowledge that God sees the offense. My Father in heaven, who also sees me when I pray in secret, will make things right. How can I be sure? Jesus, with servant-restraint, made it clear as he stood before Pilate that there is a Kingdom not of this world where he reigns as king. Jesus let Pilate know that there was a new power in town and with it comes a new justice system based in truth.

How can I be sure? Jesus endured whipping and slapping and mocking – evil’s stinging rebukes – and yet Jesus did not retaliate. Jesus did not call down angels to annihilate his accusers and torturers. Revenge would not reconcile the world to himself.

This is how it came about: God was reconciling the world to himself in the Messiah, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting us with the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19

 

Turning the other cheek is about the ministry of reconciliation. To take revenge is to reject reconciliation. To not forgive as a means of revenge is to reject reconciliation. To copy-cat violence back onto another is to reject reconciliation. To take revenge with words is to reject reconciliation.

The message of reconciliation will be offered out of red swollen cheeks. Keep that image in mind and reject the images of revenge. The inscriptions of hatred must be fully erased and the threads of violence yanked from the media. End “sweet revenge”.

 

Interactive media has influence over you if you let it. Added 6/19/2018:

What is gaming disorder?

Gaming disorder is defined in the draft 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

 

Don’t Inherit the Wind, Inherit The Relationship

fiddler47

Or…Looking for Value in All the Wrong Places

 

“There was a ruler who asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit the life of the age to come?”

“…for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to safely guard all that I have given him until the day of his return.”  The Apostle Paul, 2 Timothy 1:12

As I read the Scriptures, I have come to the understanding that whenever Jesus talks about money in terms of riches he resets the scale, the metric, by giving ultimate gravity to a Relationship with the Father. And so the reset is offered in the Gospel account of the rich ruler (Luke 18).

“Life of the age to come” is a relationship with the Father.  And all that the Father is is made available to the one who inherits it. Such an inheritance could only be acquired through a transaction made possible because of Jesus’ own relationship with the Father. Legal decisions on the part of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit would be required for such an inheritance.

“Life of the age to come” would perhaps be something perceived by the ruler as a means to continue his power and wealth generation without interference.

When asked by the rich young ruler “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit the life of the age to come?” Jesus first responds by connecting the dots about who he is – the legal authority and means to an inheritance and its Trustee.  Then Jesus reminds the rich man of the gold standard used by his servants in his earthly Kingdom: The Ten Commandments.  The gold standard of his Kingdom is that which orders right relationships – relationships between God and man and between man and his neighbor.

“Why call me ‘good’?” said Jesus to him. “No one is good except God alone.  You know the commandments:  don’t commit adultery; don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t swear falsely; honor your father and mother.”

The ruler responds, “I’ve kept them all,” he said, since I was a boy.”

Thus, the man appears to imply that his accounts are up to date, his credit line is perfect. And like any successful businessman and devout Jew he may have wondered if inheriting “the life of the age to come” would be the return on his moral investment.

It occurred to me that material wealth was often perceived as a “sign” of God’s blessing in those days and as far back as the days of Job. What an inheritance “of life in the age to come” may have meant to the ruler:  a means to further his accumulation of wealth and possessions and influence…. God’s blessing…forever?

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Unlawful Entry (Adam Lanza, Dec. 14th, 2012)

Unlawful Entry (Adam Lanza, Dec. 14th, 2012)

The Unthinkable:

20 children dead.

First Man Adam chose unlawful entry into the things of God,

Sin followed him in.

First man Adam expelled from the Garden,

Sin followed him out.

First Man Adam returned to the garden

 ~ unlawful entry ~ with vengeance

And self-hate loaded with evil’s murderous projectiles.

The Unthinkable:

20 children dead within a sharp picosecond of eternity where angels wait,

20 unopened gifts are carried to heaven.

…..

The Unthinkable:

God becomes man ~ Second Man Adam,

Born during the time of Herod and

The Slaughter of Innocents!

Later crucified, One Innocent Man atoning for all First Adams,

Second Man Adam endured the Unthinkable as one of us.

 

By this evil is kept outside the door in outer darkness,

But access is granted to all who hear His resurrected Voice,

To all those who choose lawful entry:

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”

 

Under the wings of the Almighty ~

They overshadow you –

The terror by night or by day cannot enter.

 

Just ask the 20 children when you see them again.

 

 

© Sally Paradise, 2012, All Rights Reserved

The Theory of Social Gospel Relativity

“You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.” The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church.

Increasingly I hear about a new and ‘relevant’ kind of ‘gospel’ called “social gospel”. The marketers of this ‘qualified’ gospel are saying that our government must be the instrument to meet human need. Perhaps this social gospel policy is an extrapolation of James’ admonition to the church in Jerusalem “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” Perhaps it is an extension of the Good Samaritan parable or and maybe it is an inference to the feeding of the five thousand. In any case, it is a stretch to fit any of the Gospel texts to fit their meaning of ‘social gospel’ as a national domestic policy.

More to my point: I have recently been reading the apostle Paul’s letters, specifically Corinthians and Galatians. I see how very much Paul desired to maintain the purity of the Gospel at all costs. My first and only concern in writing this post is how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being used today to market social justice in the political arena. Especially after hearing a ‘Christian’ in that context say that “wealth redistribution is what Jesus would do”. This is completely false and misleading.

WWJD: In his letter, the Lord’s brother James describes a practical close-to-home “work” to help those who are not able to help themselves. The Good Samaritan parable tells me who my neighbor is: He is a person you meet with a need. The parable also shows me how I am to treat my neighbor when a need arises: use my resources to help and then followup. Jesus fed the five thousand as a sign of His Person and His Power. This sign revealed His ability to provide for me in any situation. I am to depend on Him. He controls the outcomes. He controls the government, even in a Democracy. Nowhere is it written or inferred in the Bible that a socialized gospel should become a government’s domestic policy. Nowhere is it written that people should be forced to pay for others. Jesus never pushed political agendas and He certainly never taught that coercion in any form was the answer to need.

At no time did Jesus offer to heal or feed the entire world. At no time did Jesus demand that the Roman government feed or take care of the entire world, civilized or otherwise. Of course, Jesus could have said and done these things but He did not. He did not infer that his disciples would do this. Jesus did talk about individual responsibility and accountability to God, His Father, and to one’s close-to-home neighbor. He never talked about collective compassion or wealth redistribution. He never said “it takes a village to raise a child.” He did talk about the widow who, without coercion, freely gave her mite unto God. This willing, sacrificial act, done in secret, was an act of love for God and for her neighbor. The current social ‘gospel-eers’ market their brand of ‘gospel’ on the main stream media.

Having read and studied the synoptic Gospels and the letters of the Apostle Paul many times over I do not see any form of socialized or collectivized gospel in any way, shape or form within these writings. What I do see now, though, is that the true Gospel is being used as advertising label for a type of religious social movement in the US. This branding, I believe, would attract many Christian college students. These students are ready to take on the world; they are chomping at the bit for worthy causes. The social gospel gurus are very eager to take them into their fold. Many of the gurus are sixties radicals, now recycled and looking to make something of themselves before they pass on.

At no time did Jesus ever speak to his disciples about being a disciple of social need. As a Christian, you are not a disciple of a political-social-economic system or of a community organizer. Being absolutely and singularly identified with Jesus and His Kingdom is the key here. The medium (Christ’s disciple) is the message, so to speak.

You should know that it was the disciple Judas, the community organizer, who wanted a social gospel. Judas thought that Jesus would make the perfect radical. He thought that Jesus could bring about sweeping political, social and economic change for the struggling people of Judea. Judas, as the disciple’s treasurer, controlled the purse strings of charitable donations. He controlled the money bags of what he hoped would become a social gospel. Judas believed in the power of wealth redistribution, especially for himself. This is no different from the social gospel being preached today: control money and throw money at a problem to make it go away. This is what today’s political progressivism is all about. And, that is exactly what Judas does at the end of his life – throw money at the feet of the Pharisees. Judas, as we all know,  had betrayed Jesus, a political neutral, because Jesus didn’t fit the social gospel paradigm desired by Judas. To Judas, Jesus didn’t do what radicals are supposed to do: revolt, reign and redistribute. Akeldama, the field of blood, is where Judas ended his cutting-edge version of social gospel.

Let’s make it simple: Social gospel is progressivism and progressivism is a form of paganism and this paganism says that “You don’t need God. You can have effective social engineering in place of religious belief. You don’t need Christ. You have us. You can have our ‘gospel’ policies to meet your needs. We will throw in Jesus for free. Why look elsewhere.” Clearly, this form of ‘gospel’ is a subversion of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and it wrought by the Evil One. This form of gospel is a synthesis of good and “sounds good” at its core.

The Apostle Paul makes it even simpler: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatian church.

May God give me the grace and the resources to help others as He shows me their need! Having said this, I do not want a progressive political social agenda enacted to determine my personal gospel outreach (and thereby make it vicarious) through a forced redistribution of wealth to the poor. I believe compassion and empathy are to be individual, one-on-one matters, separate from the government’s intrusion, imposition and inefficiencies.

Regarding the Church, the Body of Christ: The apostle Paul, speaking in his Corinthian letters, desires that the church keep itself pure and undefiled just like his desire for the Gospel of our Lord. To me, the church is becoming a political organism and the social gospel I’m hearing about is another gospel – a gospel for a utopian society. The Lord knows what His Body needs. He will do what is necessary.

This post is not about being cruel and unkind to people. Rather, this post is about keeping the Gospel of Jesus Christ pure and undefiled by the world.  The pure and undefiled ‘religion’ of Christianity is about helping widows and orphans in their distress.  It is about offering a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.  This ‘religion’ is not to be synthesized into a government policy.  We as Christians should seek and pray that government will stand back and let us do good works.  We must maintain our liberty and freedom from government and its coercion (being unjustly taxed to pay for social programs) in order that we may continue to help those in need, freely, with love.

***
For more information see my 09-15-2010 post about Stolen Goods.

The Crucifixion

The Crucifixion by Gustave Dore

Walking on Water

Jesus Walking on Water by Gustave Dore

Wise Blood

The boy didn’t need to hear it.  There was already a deep black wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.  He knew by the time he was twelve years old that he was going to be a preacher.  Later, he saw Jesus move from tree to tree in the back of his mind, a wild ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark where he was not sure of his footing, where he might be walking on the water and not know it and then suddenly know it and drown. 

(Hazel Motes, Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor)

The blind man gave his edgy laugh.  “Listen boy,” he said, “you can’t run away from Jesus.  Jesus is a fact.”

(The blind preacher Asa Hawks speaking to Hazel Motes, Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor)

The Life of the Party

Mary wrapped her blue cotton shawl over her shoulders. She knew the night air would later become chilly. She called to her son hammering on something in the workshop and set out for the synagogue, nestled down at the end of the ox cart-burrowed street. Jesus, hearing the invitation from his mother, quickly brushed off the sawdust from his tunic, grabbed his mantle and threw it over his head. He cinched a leather belt in place, quickly washed his face and hands and ran off to catch up to his mother who was halfway to the synagogue and the wedding celebration.

“Jesus, would you bring the fish that I bought from Peter?”

“Yes mother. Is there anything else?

“No, son.”

“I will return to the house and bring the fish. Go ahead with out me.”

“I’ll wait. With such a son, I will walk with you to greet our neighbors on this festive day.”

“Yes, mother, I’ll hurry.”

Jesus returned minutes later, running down the slope with three fish in his hand, the translucent fish tails flapping.

When he had caught up to Mary he said, “Father loved to go to weddings and to listen to the music.  He loved to be with his friends. Father was a quiet man until he came to a wedding. Then he would smile from ear to ear and sing all of the wedding songs. I remember his unstoppable smile. I could see that weddings had a special place in his heart.”

“Yes, I wish he were here.” Mary answered. “At the weddings he would look into my eyes and tell me that the twinkle in my eyes had reminded him of the stars on the night when you were born. Come let’s go in before I start crying and the stars begin flowing.”

Jesus and his mother entered the large thatched-roofed synagogue after removing their shoes. Inside they greeted their neighbors.  Dusty feet were washed and dried by the bride’s father, the host. Blessings were bestowed on the household and then Mary asked to see the newly weds.

The bride and groom sat outside in the middle of an expansive garden. They were seated at the center of a low cypress wood table near a Sycamore fig tree.  A large canopy shielded them from the hot afternoon sun. Jesus recognized the table as one of his workshop creations. Many of the guests had seated themselves around the table for the start of the wedding feast. Children scurried around the tables, giggling their pleasure at finding so many of their friends. The whole town had come to celebrate.

Their town, Khirbet Kana, was located nine miles northeast of Nazareth and about nine miles east of the Sea of Galilee. It was nestled against the southern hills of Upper Galilee. The Bet Netofa Valley, which lay between Cana and Nazareth, was situated about half way between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee.

As Mary began talking with the exuberant couple, Jesus walked over and sat down with the men discussing Cana’s political landscape within the Roman Empire. From their heated discussion he could hear that they were unwilling subjects of Rome. The local authority was King Herod and King Herod reported to the Roman Emperor Tiberius. They decried the fact that Roman rule limited the power of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court with its own legislative and judicial authority. They earnestly looked for the deliverer of their own people.  Jesus listened while stoking the fire with a branch.

The men sat around the glowing coals of a fire pit used for cooking. The three fish that Jesus had brought were placed on the fire pit’s heated stones. In the middle of the pit, a large pot held boiling lamb stew seasoned with salt, onions, garlic, cumin coriander, mint, dill and mustard. Dates and grapes, cheese, wine, vegetables, fruit and eggs were in plentiful supply. Common serving bowls were set on the feast table along with wild honey to sweeten the meal.

A little boy came over and stood next to Jesus. He watched his father talking from across from the fire pit.  His father, face snarled and shoulders slumped, talked angrily about the Roman taxes being placed on their town. The boy knew that his father became especially enraged when talking about King Herod. It was Herod who had placed Roman idols in the Holy Temple of Jehovah.  Today his father spoke in a hushed voice to those seated around the fire. He did not want to spoil the celebration.

Off to the side, several little girls, unaware of such important discussions whirled in their tunics to the rhythm of a tambourine, pretending that they, too, had just been married.  The sound of lyres, lutes, castanets, and cymbals permeated the multitude of voices.  The garden was lush with a wonderful sense of joy.

Wine poured freely. The bride’s mother made sure of it. But it wasn’t long before Mary noticed a worried look on Anna’s face. Mary pulled Anna into corner of the garden. She quietly spoke with Anna.

“Anna, my friend, what’s the matter?”

“Oh Mary, the wine is gone! I didn’t think that this would happen.  Unexpected guests have come from nearby towns. Your son’s followers have come too. What shall I do? We haven’t even toasted my daughter and her husband!”

Mary turned and looked for Jesus. Her eyes found his.  He was seated among the men where her husband Joseph usually sat when he was alive. She quickly came over to him and quietly put her hand on his shoulder. Jesus got up and followed her to the front of the synagogue.

“Son, there is no more wine.  What is left is old and almost undrinkable.”

“Good woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn’t come yet.”

Now, Mary knew in her heart that Jesus was sent from God. She felt that He had to do something in this family crisis. Mary invoked her pregnant hope. She looked over at the servants and said, “Do whatever he tells you.”

The servants gathered up six large clay jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, and took them to the cistern in the town’s courtyard. They filled the jars, each holding 30 gallons, with cistern water and then carted them back to the party.  Jesus had ordered the servants to fill the empty clay jars with water. When they had done so, Jesus told them to draw out some of it and take it to the head waiter. After tasting the wine from the jar,  not knowing what Jesus had done (though the servants who drew the water knew), the head waiter took the bridegroom aside and told the bridegroom that he had departed from the usual custom of serving the best wine first by serving it last. The bridegroom responded with open-mouthed amazement. He then proclaimed loudly, “Thanks be to Jehovah for this wonderful gift.”

When everyone had a cup of new wine before them, Jesus raised his cup in the direction of the bride and groom. Everyone quickly raised their cups as well. Seven blessings were recited before the bride and groom.  The final blessing:  Blessed art Thou LORD our God, king of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.  The joyful couple was toasted.  New wine again filled the cups and music returned to the garden. 

As the evening wore on Mary got up from her place at the table.   With the fire dying away the cool night air now chilled her. She pulled the cotton shawl snug over her shoulders and went to look for Jesus.  She found him at the edge of the garden looking towards the night sky.  The scene reminded her of God’s vision given to Abram:  “Look up at the heavens and count the stars-if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be.”  Without saying a word, Mary stood looking at Jesus from across the garden.  In the expanse of the indigo-black night infinite points of starlight blazed creating a sparkling diadem for her son.

(And so it was that Jesus’ first sign, recorded by me, was the changing of water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. I was with his mother and several of his disciples who saw this miracle. We began, that day, to believe in a Deliverer.)

-John, the beloved disciple of Jesus

***

© Sally Paradise, 2010, All Rights Reserved