The Search ‘Engine’ Above the Cloud

 

“So if you were raised to life with the king, search for the things that are above, where the king is seated at God’s right hand.” The Apostle Paul, Colossians 3: 1-2 

 

 

Studying Paul’s letter to the Colossian church this past week, I came across the above verse. It is one which is well-known to me. I’ve read it many times. Looking at it very casually over the years, the verse seemed to hold a nice greeting card thought, one that seemed more sentiment than prescription. But this time, words stood out. First, I wondered: what does Paul mean by “search for things above”?

Paul wrote this letter in prison. His limbs were likely aching from the dampness. His eyes, possible bleary with cataracts, saw dark figures of vermin looking for morsels of bread he may have dropped. The torch in the cavern flickered dark images onto the wall in front of his cell. Looking above his circumstances, Paul warns the Colossian church, with words preceding the above instruction, of placing faith in the temporal:

“If you died with the king, coming out from the rule of the “worldly elements,” what’s the point of laying down laws as though your life was still merely worldly? “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!” Rules like that all have to do with things that disappear as you use them.”

Paul goes on to point out the pretense of these man-made rules: “They may give the appearance of wisdom since they promote a do-it-yourself religion.” Instead of a religion of here-today-gone-tomorrow works, Paul was pushing these Christians to live in the resurrection life they had received. Good works would flow out from them. And he knew that no DIY secular religion would honor King Jesus. So, in order to help them come out from “the rule of ‘worldly elements’”, Paul placed them under the rule of King Jesus.  Paul wrote, “So if you were raised to life with the king, search for the things that are above…”

Two things popped out at me reading the above verse. I mentioned the first. The second:  Paul writing “…where the king is seated at God’s right hand.” Immediately I remembered where I had heard something similar before.

“Look!” Stephen said. “I can see heaven opened, and the son of man standing at God’s right hand!”

These words are found in Acts chapter 7. There we find Stephen forced to address the Assembly of religious leaders. He provides the audience with a marvelous summary of Israel’s history. Stephen ends his discourse with some piercing words and the words above. The crowd would never forget those words, even though they covered their ears and yelled at him at the tops of the voices. So unsettled and angry was the crowd that they took Stephen out and stoned him to death. This was all done before a witness, a young man named Saul.

Who do you think Saul/Paul had in mind when he wrote, “…where the king is seated at God’s right hand.”? We don’t know for sure if Paul was in the Assembly that day Stephen spoke. Even if he wasn’t he would have been very aware of what was said. Paul was the Assembly’s appointed Inquisitor. He was ordered to stop the insurgents called “Followers of the Way”.

Paul, the witness and persecutor, was now Paul the prisoner and fellow sufferer in Christ with martyred Stephen. His relationship with King Jesus had taken him to new personal lows. But, Paul searched for things above and found them. They sufficed. Paul saw King Jesus sitting at God’s right hand.

 

What about our search?

Have you watched the TV series The Curse of Oak Island? Over the many episodes I’ve watched, the Lagina brothers search for buried treasure. In their search they have looked at maps. They have been to the library and to France. They have sifted dirt and information. They found both material fragments related to the historical period of the treasure and fragments of information also related. They have talked to many people who have knowledge of the island and the treasure. And, they dug and dug and dug. They are relentless in their pursuit of the treasure. They have a hope in what they do not yet see but visualize. What they do see are milestones that point in the direction of the fulfillment of their hope.

Have we stopped searching “for things above”? Have we stopped digging deep into the Word? Have we thrown away fragments of our character that would have pointed us to hope realized?

Does our search involve Scripture reading, studying Greek and Hebrew and history, praying and visualizing? Does our search involve hours and days and months and years looking for the pearl of great price? If you are looking at yourself and people’s reactions to you online then you will not find the treasure. Looking at the “worldly elements” won’t reveal it. Searching is lifetime, long-haul hard work. That is the Indian Jones adventure and romance of life. Except, we chose fantasy and the illusory.

In TV commercials one can see someone talking into an impersonal box. The ‘intelligent personal assistant’ box is connected to a search engine which is tied into a data cloud which is linked into a data storage island somewhere. But “the box” does not have the answer to life’s most pressing questions. As an engineer, I hold no grudge against technology. I just know that technology will not “search for things above.” You are responsible for that.

Many will use a search engine like Google to find information related to a certain topic. Now, consider searching “for things above” for answers to all of life’s “topics”. These ‘topics’ would include “Why is there pain and suffering?”; “How do I go on?”; “Who should I marry?”; “What about my wayward son? “How will I afford this surgery?”; What hope do I have when I can’t see things getting better?”; “What is my raison d’être?”; “What is God’s will and how will it be done on earth as in heaven?” Back to Paul and his words to the Roman churches about searching questions and seeing results.

“We were saved, you see, in hope. But hope isn’t hope if you can see it! Who hopes for what they can see? But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait eagerly — but also patiently.” Romans 8:24-25

So, hope means waiting for what we do not yet see. But, are you uneasy when you can’t visualize the person you are talking to? Then learn to see Jesus sitting at the right hand of the father, with all authority in heaven and earth. Still struggling with searching “for things above”?

“In the same way, too, the spirit comes alongside and helps us in our weakness. We don’t know what to pray for as we ought to, but that same spirit pleads on our behalf, with groanings too deep for words. And the Searcher of Hearts knows what the spirit is thinking, because the spirt pleads for God’s people according to God’s will.” Romans 8:26-27

In prison and on the road, Paul tapped into resurrection life – into “the things that are above, where the king is seated at God’s right hand.” Paul was well aware that earthly and evil forces would love for us to remain in our petty, self-serving and secularly pious ways, embracing “worldly elements.” The Evil One wants us to focus only on ourselves and our material concerns. The Evil One does not want us to look above. Remember Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the desert. The Evil One wanted Jesus to acknowledge him, in effect, as the top Search Engine of the World. A ‘search engine’ that offered the world to his web-surfing devotees.

“Then the devil took him off again, this time to a very high mountain. There he showed Jesus all the magnificent kingdoms of the world.

“I’ll give the whole lot to you” he said, “If you will fall down and worship me.”

“Get out of here, you satan!” replied Jesus. “The Bible says, ‘Worship the Lord your God and, serve him alone!”

The Searcher of Hearts – the only Authoritative ‘search engine’-sits at God’s right hand. We are told to “search for the things that are above”, where our king “is seated at God’s right hand”. What are you waiting for? There’s a seat waiting for you.

 “This will be my gift to the one who conquers: I will sit them beside me on my throne, just as I conquered and sat with my father on his throne.” Revelation 3:21

Wake up, you sleeper!

 

“So, you should be imitators of God, like dear children. Conduct yourselves in love, just as the Messiah Jesus loved us and gave himself for us, as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God…

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 light, since everything is visible in light. That’s why it says:

Wake up, you sleeper!

Rise up from the dead!

The Messiah will shine on you!

 

-from the Apostle Paul’s circular letter to Laodicea, called The Letter to the Ephesians

 

The Origin of the Habitable Zone

 

The Origin of the Habitable Zone

 

the exoplanet Proxima Centauri b. Credit: ESO, M. KORNMESSER

the exoplanet Proxima Centauri b. Credit: ESO, M. KORNMESSER

Behold and look attentively upon…

 

Ten years. That is what it takes. It takes ten years to travel to Alpha Centauri’s Proxima b at 45% light speed in a Bema Nano StarCraft. Of course, one goes to an exoplanet to get away. And that is what my father did twenty years ago after my mother passed. For the last ten years Proxima b’s Decider Colony – the settlement was named Decider Colony by my dad after he declared, “Once you have decided to come you don’t look back” – has provided research data and food and shelter for those who are completing their “bucket list”.

Dad joined the first eXoCrew to Alpha Centauri AB as a researcher. The crew, deployed with detectors specifically tuned to wavelengths corresponding to molecules found in earth’s atmosphere such as water, methane, oxygen and ozone, found these elements in comparable amounts on Proxima b, a planet slightly larger than earth and which orbits in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri. When the crew also found nothing that would disrupt the equilibrium of the habitable zone they set about terraforming.

When dad said his goodbyes I asked him if he would be lonely on Proxima. He answered, “I have my research and my smokes. Maybe, when I am happy again, I’ll be lonely. Finish your doctorate, Penny, and then join me.” Dad hugged me, kissed my forehead and then drove off.

After submitting my dissertation, “The 21st Century Religion of Climate Change:  Oracles, Inquisition, Denier Extirpation and Crusades,” I needed to get away, far away, as I was no longer welcome at home. A tenure-track faculty position would not be in the offing and I could not see myself teaching anyway. So, I applied to the Interplanetary Research and Terraforming Inaugurating Consortium (IRTIC) for the position of Lead Argo-Chemist on the Centauri Project Team. My application was processed overnight.

I received my commission to go to Proxima b the next day. I was told that I would go as a settler-researcher, just as my father had done ten years earlier with IRTIC. I was glad. Now I could go where I would feel welcome. In Chicago, I was all alone. My mom died when I was six. Dad was the only family I had left. Friends, you ask? There is Ruth of Ruth’s Restaurant and Refinery. She knew my mother. Ruth met mom when Ruth came to Chicago on a business trip. So, my journey to Proxima will be a sort of coming home.

When you travel for ten years you have plenty of time to study. I studied Proxima b and found out that the exoplanet is about seven million kilometers from its star, Proxima Centauri. Its orbit is twenty-one times smaller than earth’s orbit. This has Proxima sitting on its star’s doorstep. Any solar hiccups, flares, or coronal mass ejections are likely to hit Proxima b head on. Settler beware!

I also exercised every day for ten years. Living in a micro-g environment impacts the body in three ways: loss of position-movement sensation – you don’t know what your limbs are up to, changes in fluid distribution, and deterioration of the musculoskeletal system. Space traveler beware!

On Proxima b one has to get used to the fact there is no night and day. Light and dark are locational. So, you must to travel back and forth, light side, dark side, light side, dark side… to simulate earth’s 24-hour cycle. And, get ready for this:  The planet is so close to its red dwarf host star that it is tidally locked into an orbital eccentricity of 0. This means that one side of Proxima constantly faces the host star, a red dwarf sun, a blazing orb that looks huge in the sky and is exceedingly hot. The other side – the star side – is dark and cold to the other extreme. Along the terminator line, between light and dark, hot and cold, lies a moderate zone where Decider Colony is. One good thing: under the zone’s constant cloud cover, Proxima b retains water. One bad thing: I do too.

 

Once on Alpha Centauri’s Proxima b I headed to my dad’s cabin near the Tuomi Ocean. Tuomi is just three clicks off of Limbo Line Highway and only 1.295762111 parsecs from my home on the west side of Chicago, in case you wanted to know. Not far from my dad’s cabin is Charis City the home of Ruth’s flagship restaurant.

The colony and the cabin are just over on the dark side of Proxima b since no one could handle the extreme light or heat on the star side. For our light and power, wind turbines provide electrical energy. Fierce stellar winds blowing across the ubiquitous mountain ranges propel the turbines.

Proxima is a jagged, rocky place.  The kind of place you read about in science fiction or see in space movies. I brought my repelling gear for climbing when I’m not walking on star dust at the beach.  The cabin is within a narrow cove surrounded by the Nearing Cliffs. It is protected from the ferocious winds, which howl across the tops of the cliffs a mile above sounding like a thousand wolves in chorus.

Dad, a hobby fisherman, uses VR goggles to go fishing on Tuomi Ocean. When he wrote to me years ago he told me that he has a hologram of a fish he caught in his library. He also told me that he had plenty cans of reconstituted fish in the kitchen. I made it clear to dad that I would prefer to eat at Ruth’s Restaurant and Refinery where the food is superb and fresh.

How is it possible on Proxima b to offer fresh meals? Only Ruth knows and she will only say that she is thankful that she can. And, another thing I wonder about.  Some say that Ruth has been here forever. When asked about this she tells them, “I’ve been here as long as I can remember.” All I know is that if her restaurant here on Proxima b is like the one at home in Chicago, then there will be a sign above her cash register which offers, “Ask about our daily special.”

 

When I arrived at the cabin Dad was very happy to see me but above his smile was a look of sadness in his eyes. A couple of nights later I looked out the front door and saw dad sitting on the front porch step. He was staring at the burning point of his cigarette.

“Penny, come out on the porch and join me.”

I sat down next to dad.

“Wow, look at those stars, dad. They talk about light pollution on earth.  Chicago has so many lights you can’t see stars.”

“Yeah, I remember.”  This”, dad pointed to the sky, “is one of eleven panoramas. One year on Proxima is eleven days, so the night sky changes every day.”

“Whoa, age before beauty, here.”

I could see dad smile.

“What were you thinking about just now, dad?”

Dad flicked his cigarette and took a deep breath, “Well, when I was younger I would look at the night sky just like tonight. I would imagine myself as a meteor, blazing across the sky, every atom in me a magnificent glow and that would someday I burn out in a ball of fire. I did not want to be snuffed out by dry-rot existence. I wanted my end to ashes and not accumulated dust. That’s one reason why I came to Proxima. But, there is something I haven’t told you that I’m not proud of.

Back home I was asked to change some data – climate data. I was told that I was a rising star in the scientific community and that I would receive tenure if I papers concurred with my university peers. I saw no harm in doing it. I figured the change would just make people concerned about the environment. And, with tenure I could afford your education at the university.

Well, about a six months later, I was asked again to change another set of numbers. I did and then I received tenure just like they said I would. I was young. My attitude was “Either you are virtuous or you enjoy yourself but you can’t be both.”

But then the bribes started coming. I said no and kept saying no but the pressure was incredible. They showed up at the house. They threatened to hurt your mother if I didn’t agree.  Then…I don’t if I should call it fate or bad luck or…It was during that time your mother came down with cancer.  So I saw my chance to leave the university and the whole mess. I stayed home with her till the end.  After that I joined IRTIC hoping for a chance to leave all this behind.”

“Wow. I don’t know what to say. I could have used your experience in my dissertation.  Anyway, I’m glad we are together and all that is behind you.

“When you get piled on, you just shrug it off and move on,” Dad put out his cigarette, thought for a second and then turned to Penny

“When I die, Penny, I hope to go to a better place–whatever that is–and I want to be able to afford the price of admission.”

“What you need right now, dad, is a piece of cherry pie.  C’mon dad, let’s go to Ruth’s for lunch.”

“No thanks. Not interested.”

“Why?  The food is good.”

“Meh. My parents took me to one of Ruth’s restaurants a long time ago. I didn’t like the food and the place gave me the creeps.  Later, your mother took me there once. I found out I couldn’t smoke inside – the manager told me to go outside. After that everything I tasted there was bland. And, what’s with that sign she has hanging everywhere –“Spreading life and beauty throughout the universe? There is no beauty ‘cept these stars and I see tooth and claw in them too.”

“I’ve wondered about that sign myself.  Let’s go ask about it.”

“No thanks. I’d rather eat my own food then go and pay for something I don’t like.”

“I’ll buy dad.”

“No thanks kid. I’m old and set in my ways. You go and have fun. I have some fish to catch.”

 

I poked my head inside the restaurant door. “Hi Ruth, how’s things at Ruth’s Restaurant?”

“Come in and see, Penny. Would you like some Black Tea?”

“Yes. And, I’ll have the salad with Green Pastures Dressing.”

“Coming right up.”

Ruth returned and placed the tea cup in front of me. She poured the fragrant tea.

I looked up, “I am still getting used to the idea that plant life on Proxima is black and not green.”

“All my customers say that but they come back for more. The dressing helps them get it down.”

“I’m going to bring some home to my father.”

“Do you think he’ll like it? I haven’t seen him around here.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve tried to get him to come. Oh, and he wanted to know what that meant.”  Penny pointed to the sign over the kitchen.

Spreading life and beauty throughout the universe? Why that means exactly what it says. You see, I am not only a chef and a restaurateur. I am an artist, too. I create collages out of things which had former value. I reclaim broken and discarded things, rework them and make them into works of art. And, I have my refinery. I refine rare precious metals found on the seven exoplanets. Those seven planet ores are not found on earth. When refined they make the most excellent necklaces, rings, bracelets and even crowns. “

“Crowns?”

“Why yes. I have seven planets and I have appointed seven kings. I made a crown for each one.”

I looked around. “I don’t see any collages or crowns.”

“Wait one second.” Ruth left and returned with a bottle of red wine and a glass. “Here, this is my house red. Take a sip.” Ruth poured the wine.

I held the wine glass up to the light. The dark ruby-red wine had a mineral aroma that reminded me not of a flavor but of a time. What was that memory? I drank it down. It was warm in my throat.

“What do you see now?”

“I…I see collages, of people… made of collages and their eyes are like jeweled sunlight!”

I saw that all the faces in the restaurant were turned towards Ruth.

I looked up at Ruth. “I need to sit down.”

“Penny, you are sitting. Now, I’ve also been known to refine people’s taste buds.” Ruth smiled. “So, eat up.”

 

I came home not sure what I had just seen and desperately wanting to tell my father about it. But dad was not around. His bedroom was empty. I checked the kitchen. Empty fish tins lay in the sink.  The fish smell was so pungent that I threw the tins in the garbage, put the lid on and lit a candle. It was confirmed. Dad doesn’t smell things anymore.

Dad’s library door was always closed. I had never been in there. I knocked and there was no answer. So I entered.  What I saw could be described as a “Hemmingway hangout.” On a credenza was a hologram of dad’s favorite fish – the walleye. On the lamp table next to his reading chair was a worn copy of Jack London’s Call of the Wild and an open copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species. A half-gone bottle of thirty-year-old scotch was on a shelf behind the desk along with a framed picture of mom and a mug from Last Ounce Bar and Grill. On his desk were an ash tray, several photographs of Ana Nill, dad’ girlfriend on Proxima and his VR goggles. Dad wouldn’t have gone fishing without his VR goggles.

I turned around. On the wall above the shelf was a framed quote.

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.” ― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

I left the library not sure what I had just seen and desperately wanting to ask my father about it.

The front door banged open. In stumbled Ana with dad under her arm. Dad was shivering uncontrollably.

“What happened?

“The boat capsized. It shouldn’t have happened.” Dad’s teeth chattered as he spoke.

“You could have gotten hypothermia, dad.”

“I’m good at this. It shouldn’t have happened.” Dad fell to the floor.

 

After dad’s accident, the day finally came, two weeks later in fact, when dad relented and agreed to come to Ruth’s restaurant.  Dad, angrier over the accident than concerned for his own safety came to see that something had to change…. with a lot of my pleading.

 

Ruth’s Restaurant and Refinery on Proxima b is unlike anything else in the universe. When you arrive the first thing you notice is a large cornerstone made of Substantium, an element found in only one place in the universe – you can guess where. It sits at the right hand corner foundation of the restaurant. Emitted out of its four sides and at right angles are red lasers – coherent light beams. The four perpendicular lasers provide direction plots of the universe like four surveyor’s transit theodolites. And when those on a space quest comes across one of the four laser beams he or she will know how to find the Origin of the Habitable Zone, so I’m told.

And I am also told that at the opposite corner of the square building are several more laser lights. Three beams are directed toward the night sky. The color of the three beams change within a visible spectrum as if in rhythm to some ancient song. The beams, though infinite in their trajectory, also appear to hover in an ever-widening circle. The corner’s other stream of monochromatic coherent light is directed toward Ruth’s metal working refinery directly behind the restaurant. There, the refocused light is used to work precious metals.

 

“Welcome. I have a booth for you over here.” Ruth led us over to a sky booth.

There are no windows in the walls of Ruth’s Restaurant but there is a vast skywindow above the booths and tables. The candlelit room feels like it is slowly moving but that feeling is due to Proxima’s eleven-day-year rotation of constellations.  Three lights, those three lights, dance in front of the stellar panorama. We are eating in an observatory.

I asked, for my dad, “Ruth, did you know my mom?’

“Yes. She came to my Chicago restaurant often. She spoke of both of you.” Ruth sat down across from dad and poured him some wine.

I was soon surprised. I heard dad tell Ruth what he had told me on the porch one night.

“I was wrong to fudge those numbers. I didn’t have 4.6 billion years of data to review. And I wasn’t sure where the supplied temperature data came from, if it was reliable. I was told to use the data and that it would likely fit the profile of adverse climate change due to CO2.”

“Then I’d come home every night feeling like more and more of me was being negated. I couldn’t tell your mother, Penny, out of fear of government reprisals. But later I had to.” Dad dropped his head. “Your mom, waiting for me to come home every night, watched TV. I would come in the door and find her very agitated and concerned about what she was seeing. I soon found why when I was forced to attend the Interfaith Theosophist Climate Conference in Paris.”

“There I learned that the state controlled Climate Channel ran ITCC approved videos of weather catastrophes in order to frighten people into embracing environmental justice. The conference speakers, of course, never used the words “frighten or alarm.” They used “motivate and encourage.” The 24/7 programming ran Viral Weather –special effects video of ice melting and seas rising, floods destroying homes, displaced-looking polar bears, erosion and mud slides, on and on. And all the disasters would be connected to anthropological causation. Viral Weather never showed pastoral scenes or farmland with crops or any of the life-sustaining effects of CO2. And Global Cable never showed on any channel the hellish wars on earth that were started over global climate control.”

Ruth lifted dad’s head. “Following the Time of Enlightenment men began to put function before form, utilitarianism over being. The objective “what” was given preeminence over the subjective “why.” Later, many people rejected life expressed without significance. Some looked to nature and the protection of the environment for the “why” of their lives, to fulfill their need for meaning. Soon, though, their well-intentioned drive to reclaim what was lost converted into a religion with a “save the planet” mission and a Malthusian dogma when impassioned demands for certain outcomes were met with resistance. In turn, any dis-belief in climate change was met with hostility by the environmentalists.”

“A coordinated global crusade was begun by the environmentalists, who became collectively known as New Age Dominionists. The Dominionists campaigned to have the environment legally protected from mankind. Under their influence nation states passed laws and the UN passed resolutions that made humans – their methods, their mechanisms and their manufacturing – subject to nature. Of course this meant that humans would become subject to data and again to the “what” in order to stop Global Climate Change.”

“The situation on earth is now dire. In the last ten years meaningless climate data had been fed into quantum computers. The quantum computers fed AI into Malthus Qubots and Malthus Qubot AI became a singularity. After that the Malthus Qubots unleashed themselves to destroy mankind in order to save the planet.”

Ruth put her hand on dad’s. “Now, my Proximinian ears perk up when I hear the truth and I heard you tell the truth just now. Yes, you were wrong. The people of Earth need truth.  Worthless data will always be behind man’s desire to reduce everything to an interplay of power and resources. When the Qubots with their AI singularity took over earth they only saw matter to be mastered. Man had relinquished everything of value to obtain control of air or vanity, as we say here on Proxima b. Nothingness will destroy everything in its path if you let it. And now, not for nothing, I forgive you.”

At that moment two guys from the next booth came over to our booth. They wore dark suits with cardinal red SSICCA insignias. They were from the Secular See Interstellar Climate Control Authority.

The taller man with a patch over one eye started. “We heard what you said. You are coming with us. You will face trial on your way back to earth. A special Qubot tribunal has been appointed to punish deniers and flagrant violators of Environmental Justice.”

“I…I left earth and came to Proxima b so that I wouldn’t li…so that I wouldn’t say what I couldn’t.”

The sweaty and squat bald agent pulled on dad’s arm.  “Get up. You have some papers we need you to write.”

Ruth placed herself head-on between the agents and dad.

“This is my place. You have no jurisdiction in here. You’ve had your meal now go.”

“We’ll be waiting right outside.” The two men sneered at dad and then walked out the door.

“I guess this is goodbye Penny.”

“Hold on.” Ruth turned and walked over to another table.

Dad turned to me. “Sorry kid. My past has caught up with me. It looks like the meteor has become a wad of paper.”

Ruth returned to the table. Dad looked up.

“Penny says that your food is the best. I should have come here sooner.”

“Well, come back tomorrow then.”

“You know I can’t. Those two goons are going to cart me off forever.”

“No they won’t. I talked to the seven princes of the seven planets.” Ruth pointed to a table where seven men were sitting. “They are the Society Against Nihilistic Causation Terrestrial Authority (SANCTA). They will escort those two to the East-West Mining Company’s automated starship, the Tierra del Fuego, where they will be put to work feeding coal into a blast furnace. The mining barge goes back and forth throughout an alternate universe smelting ore deposits it finds. They will be busy for a long time.”

“Oh, thank you Ruth.” My dad fell to his knees. He clung to Ruth crying.

Ruth lifted him up, gave him a hug and then handed him a signet ring. “Here is your new identity. Safeguard it.”

Dad looked at the ring. Engraved on its face was a name in Proximanian, one he couldn’t pronounce.

“And, I want you to join SANCTA. Here, you will need these goggles.”

“What is this? I have VR goggles.”

“These are UR goggles – Ultimate Reality goggles. You’ll see better when you go fishing.”

Dad fell back into the booth limp.

“You look exhausted.” Ruth motioned to a waiter, “Bring them some warm bread. I will bring the wine. It’s time to celebrate. You two won’t need these menus.” Ruth picked them up. “ You’d like the special of the day.”

“Ruth, what is the special of the day?” dad asked.

“I’ve already paid for your meal.”

 

 

 

 

 

©Sally Paradise, 2016, All Rights Reserved

Kingdom Continuum

 

“…how constant, how divine,

this song of ours will rise…”

-David Crowder’s “O Praise Him”

 

The Anglican church I attend will be celebrating one-hundred and fifty years of Kingdom Life in 2018. Preparations are being made by the rectors and vestry to tell the narrative of this faith community. A cloud of witnesses will oversee the events.

Chapel & Cemetery ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Chapel & Cemetery ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Reflecting on the Kingdom of God several years ago I came to the understanding, with the help of the writings of Pauline Scholar N.T. Wright, that the Kingdom of God on earth is here and now. The Kingdom was inaugurated by Jesus when he walked this earth. Why mention this?

As I walk around on Resurrection ground I am reminded that I walk on the same earth as all the saints from all nations who have gone on before me. Their lives and their faith in God’s covenant faithfulness have made it possible for me to have faith in 2016.  The organism of their faith now lives in me.

Now, I could consider myself an Enlightened person who needs nothing and no one but reason and self but then I would shrink myself into a private rather than a public form of consciousness – a community of one, isolated and where the sacred is eschewed and nihilism offers nothing. Rather, I chose this continuum of faith and have identified myself with it. This continuum has, in turn, given me an identity, through baptism. I placed myself in the waters of the Kingdom Continuum.

Our faith community’s coming together to participate in ages old ritual is with the knowledge that we are under judgement. We must recite what we know to be true about God and about ourselves.

We come together in the liturgy.  The Celebrant starts…

“Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit…Almighty God, unto all hearts are open…Hear what the Lord Jesus Christ said:  Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Our Kingdom community, in worship of the One True God, recites The Gloria. Together we hear sacred texts read. Together we recite the ancient Nicene Creed. Together we participate in the Prayers of the People. Together we kneel accepting judgement.  Together we confess – say the same thing about our sin as God does – and then hear the words of absolution. We rise to extend God’s Kingdom peace through a handshake or an embrace of the other.

The Eucharist – the Feast of Thanksgiving – is a rite commanded by The One who said “Do this…” and “I’m telling you a solemn truth. If you don’t eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. Anyone who feasts upon my flesh and drinks my blood has the life of God’s coming age, and I will raise them up on the last day. My flesh is true drink and my blood true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I remain in him. Just as the living father sent me, and I live because of the father, so the one who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven; it isn’t like bread which the ancestors ate, and died. The one who eats this bread will share the life of God’s new age.” The Word became flesh and the Kingdom Continuum becomes sustainable.

We come together knowing that we stand under judgement but also knowing that there is One of us whose sacrificial death pronounces us restored.  This inversion, our Lord’s sacrifice into sacrament, is a gift that reminds us that we are redeemed:  from fallen to restored.  The judgement of many has been answered by the One Death. And like a Greek tragedy, this our tragedy is reenacted over and over in the hearts and souls and minds of the one-hundred and fifty-year-old faith community that is built on Resurrection ground.

One Nation Under Epicurus?

Previous posts have exposed the false either/or thinking of Epicurean philosophy and its now universally subverting High-Horse Mal-ware, a mal-ware that bifurcates mankind’s worldview.

At ‘ground level’ there is science, scientism, facts and secularism. In the attic are God, religion, values and meaning. Richard Dawkins and other angry atheists such as the former Christopher Hitchens, both keenly Epicurean, would opine “There’s probably is no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy life. Here is your ground game:  avoid pain, seek pleasure and BTW there is evil in the world therefore God must be AWOL.”

The "Great Divorce" bus? vide C.S. Lewis

The “Great Divorce” bus? vide C.S. Lewis

The Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-ware landed on the shores of the New World ready to create a new saeculum- a new age. Thomas Jefferson declared himself to be Epicurean. Look at your dollar bill: ANNUIT CŒPTIS NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM=“Initiate the new world order”. The new world order of America was to become the Enlightenment’s gift to the world-Governor John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” (1630).

Mankind in this New-Age-New-World, already exposed to “High-Horse” mal-ware, was thought by many to be made of random atoms which materially evolved without any help from above. Ergo, mankind would just as ‘freely’ determine its fate via scientism using a co-opted and modified European/Westphalian system of order (17th century) while keeping God at attic’s length. The pilgrims did inject a belief in an Epicurus defined fear-mongering God but their distant “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Deist God would later only be mentioned at funerals and never mentioned on resumes. (I realize that I am summing up at lot in a short post.)

Now that you have heard about the Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-ware you will begin to see its effects in every day life. For instance…

Recently Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a potential 2016 POTUS candidate, was asked if he believed in evolution.

 “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a potential U.S. presidential candidate, on Wednesday declined to say whether he believed that humans evolved from other life forms, a theory widely supported by scientists but rejected by many American voters.

 “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other,” Walker said during a question-and-answer session at Chatham House, a London think tank…

 …When asked by the moderator whether he accepted the theory of evolution, Walker also declined to answer.

 “I’m here to talk about trade, not to pontificate,” he said. “I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin.”

 Scientists widely agree that humans have evolved from other life forms over the course of millions of years, as English naturalist Charles Darwin first proposed in 1859.

 But the theory of evolution is rejected by many evangelical Christians, who view it as conflicting with the Bible’s story that the universe was created in seven days.

 More than four in 10 Americans reject evolutionary theory and believe that God created humans in their present form, according to a Gallup opinion poll conducted last June. Creationism runs strongest among older, more religious and less educated voters, the survey found”

Wow! “less educated voters”!! Talk about pompous “High-Horse” Mal-ware social manipulating scripting!

The intent of this line of questioning reported here and by other high-horse trolls was to expose Walker as intellectually weak: “Are you a “down-to-earth rational being who believes in science and evolution or are you another one of those silly Christians who believes in Creationism created by an AWOL god?”

The interviewer was hoping Walker would click on the “High-Horse” mal-ware message, make a fool of himself with a reply and then get spammed by the media. The question (Obviously I can’t read the interviewer’s mind but the question itself in this context was meant, I believe, to divide ‘rational’ believers in Darwinian evolution and materialism from the silly ‘superficial’ believers in a Creationist God.) The intent also, as I see it, was meant to contrast those who consider themselves really really smart, proud of their belief in scientism, Epicurean in their default cynicism against those who (in the interviewer’s mind) hold ‘silly’ religious “God is not dead” views. And, this question was posed to divide Walker’s base constituency of Christians. There are those who still hold to a young earth literalist Creation and there are those who have moved on with science and accept theistic evolution. These latter Christians accept that the first two chapters of Genesis are poetic in nature and are not to be interpreted as literal. These latter Christians also accept that these two chapters most definitely give us God’s perspective on mankind’s origin and purpose–Humanities 101.

Here’s another similar post ‘taken over’ by “High-Horse” mal-ware:

 

“Scott Walker Humiliates Himself On The World Stage By Dodging A Question About Evolution”

Walker was asked if he was comfortable with, and believed in evolution. It was a simple question that made the Wisconsin governor look like a fool, “For me, I’m going to punt on that one as well. That’s question a politician shouldn’t be involved in.”

Moderator Justin Webb of BBC Radio4 took Walker to task, “That is a question any British politician right or left wing would laugh and say, “Of course, evolution’s true.”

Gov. Walker replied by digging himself in deeper, “To me, I’m here to talk about trade, not to pontificate about other issues. I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin. It’s going really well, and I’d like to see it even bigger.”

The implication being here, if I may, that “you are way too stupid to govern you silly little man, Scott Walker, if you don’t agree that science is the court of last resort and far superior to any irrational belief in a god.” “High-Horse” mal-ware defaces truth once again.

The interviewer’s question not only echoes Epicurus but also a Garden of Eden questioner. Remember the Genesis account of a ‘serpent’ speaking to Eve in the Garden? “Did God really say that you could not eat the fruit of that tree?” This could be taken as, “Does God really get involved or care or even know about your daily life? He shows up now and then. And what about that rule “don’t eat the fruit of that tree”? Would a ‘good’ God deprive you of the pleasure of ‘that’ fruit?

Epicurus would later answer (supposedly), “No, don’t deprive yourself. In my opinion even if there was a god he wouldn’t mind if you took your pleasure in the fruit of that tree. And is there a god? Men do evil and no good god would allow it. Let go of your fears. Go on Eve “Let It Go”, eat it. Any more questions?”

Now, if I were Scott Walker in that situation, my response would be, “Yes, I accept theistic evolution-a finely tuned theistic universe, a personal cause of the universe and a theistic objective morality. Science is only one of several tools for understanding the material world we live in and it won’t supply meaning. Science does not prove or disprove whether there is a god but it most assuredly hints at there being an Omnipotent Outsider. And.…(deep breath) I also accept the historical facts of the birth of God Incarnate–Jesus Christ, His “Sermon on the Mount” life among us for thirty years, Christ’s death on a cross, and his bodily resurrection. I accept the historicity of each of these facts. And, (another deep breath) I accept that all of this was done so that God could set up his Kingdom here on earth among men in order that He could make the earth righteous as he is righteous by redeeming and reconciling His eagerly awaiting creation to Himself. There will be no more bifurcation of heaven and earth. Any more questions?”

 

As I write this the U.S. is one nation under Epicurus, but not for long. The kingdoms and rulers of this world will soon be under submission to the One True God-The Lord Jesus Christ.  This King of Kings and Lord of Lords shall reign for ever and ever.

“Worthy is the Lamb…”

 

Adoration of the lamb Jan van Eyck (circa 1390-1441) Ghent altarpiece

Adoration of the lamb
Jan van Eyck (circa 1390-1441)
Ghent altarpiece

For further theistic evolution information see the Biologos website.

The Good News and Capitalism All Under One Tent

tent-making

Over the past several months I have been reading several of the Apostle Paul’s letters. He wrote to churches he had planted and to those he intended to visit such as the one in Rome. 

 His two letters to the Christians in Thessalonica struck me, especially in light of the terms “social justice” and “fair share” being pandered today by so~called Christian groups (Sojourners & Jim Wallis, etc.) under the guise of helping others.

 What struck me within these particular letters is that Paul, without healthcare, without government subsidies, without insurance of any kind went about the business of the Kingdom of God, working with his own hands, as he states, making tents, paying his own way. 

 Paul said that he could have “entitled” himself to share in their “wealth” because he was a hard-working minister of the good news.  Instead, he chose to not become a burden to the people he was talking to and therefore not a burden or an impedance to the freely offered Good News of the Kingdom of God.

 “Here is a command we have for you, my dear family, in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.  Keep away from any member of the family who is stepping out of line, and not behaving according to the tradition that you received from us.

You yourselves know, after all, how you should copy us. We didn’t step out of line, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it.  We worked night and day, with labor and struggle, so as to not place a burden on any of you.  It wasn’t that we don’t have a right; it was so that we could give you an example, for you to copy us. And indeed, when we were with you, we gave you this command:  those who won’t work shouldn’t eat!”  II Thess. 3:6-10

  

From a provocative post by R.J. Moeller:  “Hayek on Socialism,”  American Spectator

 “For my fellow Christians who are skeptical of free-market capitalism, I’m all in favor of having those internal discussions about the most God-honoring, effective ways to help the least among us. But if you’re a believer who takes the Bible seriously and you actively (or even passively) endorse government~enforced and funded “social justice,” you’re wrong. You may mean well, but you’re wrong.”

Today I see many young people wanting to help others “socially.” Social media impacts and drives a lot of this desire and also a lot of misinformation about Capitalism and the Free-market. One only has to look at the Occupy Wall Street “movement” to see that there are some who have angst and anger about Capitalism, angst and anger revved up by the main stream media pushing Progressivism’s socialist agenda.

But we need Capitalism more than ever to restore human flourishing to our country.  More importantly, we need Capitalism to help us Christians increase the Kingdom of God here on planet earth. Think fishermen, disciples, non-union community and fellowship, image-of-God creativity, Jerusalem~Christian-like charity, sparrow~like dependence on God ~ agape love feasts and more.

 Capitalism combined with a knowledge of God and the freedom to act, can enable an individual to freely share the Kingdom of God with others and to do this without the middleman of government and apart from the propaganda of the main stream media. Why else would the Evil One so push for a centralized government where he can consolidate his power?

 Here are some authoritative thoughts about capitalism’s creativity and information sharing that could have a positive impact on the Kingdom of God: 

In a recent book by George Gilder “Knowledge and Power:  Information Theory of Capitalism and How It Is Revolutionizing Our World,”  he writes, 

 “In order for the entrepreneur to succeed, he must know that, if his creation generates an upside surprise, the related profits will not be confiscated or taxed away.  If they may be confiscated, his entire project will not be able to attract the necessary resources to bring it to market.” 

 “The successful entrepreneur has found a creative way to serve his fellow-man, and his profits are the measure of the extent to which he has been of service.  He needs to be able to keep those profits in order to be able to use what he has learned to bring other creative ideas to market to further serve his fellow-man.  When a government takes away the entrepreneur’s profits, it essentially takes away his creative lifeblood.”

 Also,

 “A leftward administration can destroy the value of the 1 percent’s property, but cannot seize it or pass it on….Under capitalism, wealth is less a stock of goods than a flow of ideas and entropy….Capitalism is a system that begins not with taking but with giving to others.”

 And,

 “All economic growth ultimately stems from innovations. …Innovation is always a product of individual innovators, a rare and dynamic breed not always appealing to the millions who depend on their creativity for their own comfort, health, and security.”

“In capitalism, “the givers or investors must be willing to focus on others’ needs more than on their own.  The difference between the value of an item to the giver and its value to the recipient is the profit.  Profit is thus an index of the altruism of an investment.”

Capitalism is the most effective way of expanding wealth, not because it offers the most powerful incentives…but because it links knowledge with power.  It gives control over resources and over the future flow of investment not to political bureaucracies of certified experts or to the most avidly self-loving pursuers of leisure and luxury, but to the particular entrepreneurs who manage successful experiments of enterprise.  It grants riches to those very individuals who have proved their ability to forgo immediate gratification in pursuit of larger goals, and who refuse to waste or to hedonistically consume their incomes.  …Under capitalism, economic power flows not to the intellectual, who manipulates ideas and basks in their light, but to the man who gives himself to his ideas and tests them with his own wealth and workThe greatest damage inflicted by state systems of redistribution and industrial policy is not the ‘distortion of markets,’ the ‘misallocation of resources’, or the ‘discoordination’ of producer and consumers, but the deflation of capitalist energy, the repression of new entrepreneurial ideas, and the stultification of wealth.” (emphasis mine)

  

And remember, there are those who seek to profit by selling the Kingdom of God message in exchange for “social justice:” 

 Judas held the disciples’ money bag. The other disciples suspected that Judas stole coins from the purse.  Judas likely decided that his “fair share” should come out of the donations received.  And then, horrifically, Judas decides that he would sell out the Kingdom of God for the “good” of his nation ~ for his take on “social justice.” 

 Judas received thirty pieces of silver for his socially “conscientious” efforts.  He then hanged himself (because you can’t invest blood money in good conscience).  And finally like all revolutionaries, a public site ~ Akeldama ~ was named after Judas to memorialize his “social work.” Now that is “social justice.”

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Recommended reading for those who need help understanding capitalism and the free- market:

 Defending The Free Market:  The Moral Case For a Free Economy

 Books by George Gilder:

 Knowledge and Power:  Information Theory of Capitalism and How It Is Revolutionizing Our World, copyright 2013 (see above reference)

 Wealth and Poverty, 21st century edition

Recommended website:

The Acton Institute

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“Play is the exultation of the possible.” theologian Martin Buber