We now pause our regularly scheduled programming (three more Cain and Abel re-writes on their way) to bring you some of Robert Louis Stevenson’s best sentences.
From Treasure Island
Silver was roundly accused of playing double–of trying to make a separate peace for himself, of sacrificing the interests of his accomplices and victims, and, in one word, of the identical, exact thing that he was doing.
From Prince Otto
(This first one hits strikingly close to home–perhaps ol’ Bob stumbled upon Ecclesiastes?)
Do you not know that you are touching, with lay hands, the very holiest inwards of philosophy, where madness dwells? Ay, Otto, madness; for in the serene temples of the wise, the inmost shrine, which we carefully keep locked, is full of spiders’ webs. All men, all, are fundamentally useless; nature tolerates, she does not need, she does not use them: sterile flowers!
And this one (Prince Otto, too) persuades whatever inner-workings lie behind the long development of some men’s seemingly hard, dark faces to rush to just beneath the surface the brightest and rosiest hues of red.
There is nothing that so apes the external bearing of free will as that unconscious bustle, obscurely following liquid laws, with which a river contends among obstructions.
Today my pizza delivery adventures took me (on a delivery) to a hospital with an automated, high-tech, and brisk revolving door. *I think* this sign is supposed to warn parents that the unmanned, potentially lethal object (UPLO) may not “see” children as surely as it does us big people.
But I also couldn’t help notice that this sign looks like the famous scene from the Sistene Chapel–if viewed through the eyes of the pizza-loving, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo.
From Star Wars Episode VII until Logan, I had determined, for spiritual reasons, to not watch any movies. That’s fourteen months of no movies. While I do confess that several times during those months, I told folks, “If it gets solid reviews, I’ll go see it,” no solid reviews came in for those films. Finally, my childhood hero, Wolverine, seemed to rise to the occasion. Rated-R Adamantium claws and solid reviews? How could I resist?
Unfortunately, I seem to not be able to fully “escape” anymore–darn you, books!
By my thinking Logan normalized the act of harpooning little girls through the chest on screen and also advocated lying to children if it keeps them hopeful while the world falls to shit. No thank you, Hollywood. As Colonel Nathan R. Jessup once said, “You see Danny, I can deal with the bullets, and the bombs, and the blood. I don’t want money, and I don’t want medals. What I do want is for you to (censored) extend me some courtesy.” Do we really need to see a bloody (red-not-British) harpoon point sticking out of a little girl’s chest to be entertained? Fool-ish-ness.
Then, as if I needed another reason to not visit the cineplex again, I resumed reading some Tolstoy short fiction and came across a story called, “God Sees the Truth, But Waits.” It’s a brief account of a wrongfully convicted man spending his adult life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. And while in prison he finally meets the real killer, who proceeds to try to escape by digging out, little by little, and dumping the sand from his pockets onto the prison yard. Upon light investigation, sho’ ’nuff the internet tells me I’m not the first to notice that Shawshank Redemption totally ripped off Tolstoy.
So I’m back on the movie fast. Twenty-eight plus years of staring at screens. And for what? What a waste.
I fought in Iraq.
Not often, but sometimes while I was there I felt a unique-to-me sensation which I later determined to be my body’s response to feeling afraid-for-my-life. For me, this kind of fear feels similar to run-o-the-mill crying. But whereas everyday crying feels localized to my face and eyes, afraid-for-my-life doesn’t leave any part of me untouched–plus it is many times more intense. Put another way, I might say crying cuts like a scalpel, afraid-for-my-life cuts like a semi-truck.
That said, as I keep reading about these attacks, I hear the interstate. What about you?
Maybe you don’t think you’re smart enough to see what is going on. It’s not that difficult. If you can read, you can get it.
Here’s what I could track down as the formal response of some of the West’s leaders. One formal statement is different from the others. Can you discern whose it is and how it is difference? Or do you need pictures?
Germany – Merkel: “We have to assume it was a terrorist attack.”
Russia – Putin: “This is a shockingly cruel and cynical crime committed against peaceful civilians.”
America – Trump: “Our hearts and prayers are with the loved ones of the victims of today’s horrifying terror attack in Berlin.”
America – White House Spokesman: “…we stand together with Berlin in the fight against all those who target our way of life and threaten our societies.”
Poland – Szydlo: “…with pain and sadness we received the information that the first victim of this heinous act of violence was a Polish citizen..”
London – Khan: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the awful suspected attack on Berlin last night…”
Can anyone explain to me what Khan means by “suspected”? Does he not know what “an attack” is? Does he not know that even if it turns out to be the equivalent of a Columbine or Sandy Hook mass-murder that it is still an attack? Is he really asking us and expecting us to withhold forming an opinion?
What about you? Are you with Khan? Am I being silly? Does he seem reasonable to you? Should we put our ability to match like-with-like on hold? Also, who is he praying to? Allah? The same god that the “suspected” attacker prayed to? How does that work?
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is only path to victory. For H-‘s sake, do not believe the lie that the war is against flesh and blood.
Our God’s Word–the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who loved the world so much He sent His son Jesus the Christ to die for us and whom He resurrected on the third day, this God and no other–could not be clearer: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Do not send our children to fight flesh and blood. Instead, turn off the television and fulfill your calling and proclaim the Gospel. In our day this looks like ensuring and insisting the people in your life know that Our God is not their god. This begins with you knowing this is the case. Do you know this? Do you know our God? Do you know Jesus? Really know Him? If you have any doubt, then track down a “Christian” and ask them to remind you what the Gospel is. If they don’t seem to know, or if what they say doesn’t sound like good news, thank them for their time and find another one. (Christian churches are a good place to start…)
The 1910 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica uses “Mahommedan Religion” to describe what we now call “Islam.” Times have changed so much that my 2016 spell-checker thinks even the spelling of “Mahommedan” is wrong–both times. Here’s how the entry opens,
“The Mahommedan religion is generally known as Islam–the name given to it by Mahomet himself–meaning the resigning or submitting oneself to God. The participle of the same Arabic verb, Muslim (in English usually spelt Moslem), is used for one who professes this religion. The expression “Mahommedan religion” has arisen in the West probably from analogy with “Christian religion”, but is not recognized as a proper one by Moslem writers.”
(As a grammar refresher, a participle is a verbal adjective. In English, it is usually an “-ing” word: running, walking, or in this case, in Arabic, Islam (“to resign/submit [verb] to Allah”) becomes Muslim (“resigning/submitting” [participle] to Allah”).
Before getting to radicalization, I want to take one moment to call your attention to the name change–or how no one says “Mahommedan Religion” anymore. My point is not to romanticize the past, but instead to suggest that we can benefit from the admission that there has been a change. And not just a change in names, but in the way we write–a change in our methodology. That little paragraph is very observational. The writer merely recorded what was going on. The writer was very honest. He admitted, “We say ‘Mahommedan Religion’, they say, ‘Islam’.” (period)
I cannot speak for you, but to me that kind of honesty feels as refreshing as a new pair of wool socks on a snowy winter morning in the Rockies.
On the whole, though, like the American prize-fighter Muhammad Ali demonstrated, I fully support letting each person decide their name. This should be no surprise considering the theme of my last two posts. At the end of the day, I just want to be able to swap stories and ask what you mean if I become confused.
And I am confused these days.
See, we hear the word radicalization more and more. In my social circles, I seem to be the only who is confused by this word.
By my thinking, radicalization is a distinctly non-Christian word. By my thinking, radicalization implies some form of neutrality at an earlier stage. And by my thinking, followers of Christ–those of us filled with the Spirit of the Living God–know that there is no such thing as radicalization. Instead, we believe that there is redemption. For we believe that all have sinned–even the terrorists.
There is no neutral–not in our story at least. I certainly was never neutral. I have only ever been in motion. And I think no matter what story you have believed up to now, you have only ever been in motion too.
I have been moving forward or backward or left or right my entire life. It was never a question of “should I move?” or “should I grow?”, but “which direction?”
Cars have neutral. People–not so much.
You want to use the word radicalization? That’s cool. But can you please tell me what it means? Because as of this moment, I can’t seem to ground your word except in relation to redemption. And redemption only comes from the blood of Jesus Christ.
I’m wearing down. I’ve been studying Hebrew nearly all day. I figure I have one more round of flashcards in me after I write this. Then the big final is in the morning.
This wraps up my third semester of studying ancient biblical languages (though, unlike Koine Greek, Hebrew is alive and well). I love it. Really, I do. I even switched my degree program and concentration so that I take more languages. But I have one big beef with the way the material is being presented. Often times we are told something like, “So because of this, then, we know we’re working with a nominative noun, and that’s how we know he meant ‘ship’.” Or what have you.
That’s flatly wrong. Grammar does not give words their meaning, we do. Grammar is a tool we invented to help communicate meaning, but at the end of the day, we give words their meaning–you and I.
Words are not transcendent. They are here. They are mine and they are yours. They are me. They are you.
Do you understand my words?
We are each responsible for our words’ meaning. It’s not like there are a bunch of words floating around and we just grab them out of the air and order them in some aurally or visually pleasant manner–no. We have something to say (or not) and then we begin to utter the words within us. Where do we get new words? People. How do we know what the new words mean? People tell us.
Looking for fun in unexpected places? Join me in telling “men of letters” that they give their words meaning. Sheesh. It’s like I was arguing for flat earth or something. It is quite frustrating. The more “educated” someone is, the more they desire, perhaps unwittingly, to turn words into numbers. Folks want each word to mean one thing and only one thing. This desire and the attempt to manifest the desire is selfish. By calling it selfish, I do mean to communicate clearly that I believe it is downright evil.
To be sure, if you’re ever confused about what I meant, just ask. I will tell you what my words mean. If I’m confused and ask what you meant, then you tell me what your words mean. This back and forth is called talking.
Welcome to Erff.
H- answered, “Officer Judy is from Zootopia.”
“Zootopia, eh? When were you watching that?”
“So you wake up early enough to watch movies before school when you’re at your mom’s?” I asked.
“I wake up when my alarm goes off.”
“What time does your alarm go off?”
“I go down stairs and eat breakfast and then I change clothes.”
“You change clothes downstairs? Why downstairs?”
“Well, my mom throws down my clothes, and then I put them on and watch tv until it’s time to go.”
“I see. Where is your mom while you are watching tv?”
“She’s upstairs with C-.”
“Oh,” I said, cutting myself off quickly. Unable to resist the pull to follow inquiry further, I rejoined with, “What is she doing with him?”
“I think they play with each other.”
“Hmm. What do you mean? Like play games? Maybe play video games?”
“No,” she held the note, “not video games.”
“I don’t think I understand, H-. What are they playing?”
“I don’t know,” she said.
As if Truth’s gateway, the rear-view mirror reflected that her searching eyes did not notice mine.
Finding no satisfaction, H- concluded, “More like wrestling, I think. I don’t have the word.”
But who can explain longing to my child?
The teardrop tries but fails,
For it carries many.
The silenced voice is unheard,
The pounding heart, muffled.
The knotted gut is unseen,
The lumped throat, concealed.
But who can explain longing to my child?
I could explain longing to my child,
But for it is not when I am with her.
As you’re no doubt aware, we’re giving up on God. Why? The research group “Pew” knows.
If you’re a redeemed sinner, washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ, and it pains you to see so many other sinners harden their hearts, close their eyes, and cover their ears, please keep reading. In response to Pew’s findings, I’m going to do my best to give you some tips on how to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with folks similar to those Pew surveyed.
(RFL is ‘reason for leaving’ and GR is ‘Gospel Response’.)
RFL 1: Learning about evolution when I went away to college.
GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally has nothing to say about evolution. Not in an “evolution is wrong” sense, but in a “the Gospel of Jesus Christ also has nothing to say about Harry Potter’s prowess in a quidditch match” sense.
RFL 2: Too many Christians doing un-Christian things.
GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is literally the good news that un-Christian things can be forgiven.
RFL 3: Religion is the opiate of the people.
GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. Good news is not a substance or thing that I put into my body.
RFL 4: Rational thought makes religion go out the window.
GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally has nothing to say about rational thought. Not in a “rational thought is wrong” sense, but in a “the Gospel of Jesus Christ also has nothing to say about the fact that Batman’s costume switched colors from blue and grey to black over the years” sense.
RFL 5: Lack of any sort of scientific evidence of a creator.
GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally has nothing to say about science. Not in a “science is wrong” sense, but in a “the Gospel of Jesus Christ also has nothing to say about Christian Grey’s preference for BDSM” sense.
RFL 6: I just realized somewhere along the line that I really didn’t believe it.
GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally is the good news that there is hope–even if we don’t believe it.
RFL 7: I’m doing a lot more learning, studying, and kind of making decisions myself rather than listening to someone else.
GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ literally has nothing to say about learning, studying, and making decisions by yourself. Not in a “learning, studying, and making decisions yourself is wrong” sense, but in a “the Gospel of Jesus Christ also has nothing to say about Rocky Balboa’s decision to train Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son” sense.
RFL 8: I just believe that religion is a very personal conversation with me and my creator.
GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. The ability to have a personal conversation with your creator is not good news. Muhammad had a very personal conversation with Allah.
RFL 9: I don’t have a particular religion because I am open-minded and I don’t think there is one particular religion that is right or wrong.
GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. The fact that you can have an open mind and/or choose to not condemn a certain religion as “wrong” is not good news. Muhammad didn’t condemn a certain religion as wrong; he just agreed that other religions were on to something. Being “on to something” is not good news, either.
RFL 10: I don’t have time to go to church.
GR: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a calendar event that you find time for in the same sense that bad news is not a calendar event that you find time for.
Here’s another way to explain how I (a diligent Evangelical Christian seminary student) interpret the passing scene.
Blacks are being killed by law enforcement in a newsworthy manner. They, then and rightfully, became angry and began to protest and to draw more attention to the killings. Someone, somewhere thought “Black Lives Matter” was catchy and accurately communicated what blacks are feeling. It proved to be catchy for sure, but non-blacks could not tell what it means. Rather than ask a black what they meant, they adhered to post-modern thinking and assigned the phrase whatever thought they thought it meant. Given that fear was the catalyst behind the initial killings, the fear only grew. The only reason I, Pete in the flesh and blood, am any wiser on the passing scene than you, is that I joined a black Christian church about 2 years ago and humbly sought understanding, I learned and confirmed that what blacks mean by “Black Lives Matter” is “Ouch”. Upon learning this, it makes total sense why tensions have only risen and now blacks are killing police. (And now it is apparent that no one was ever really killing over skin color, but culture. This explains why white culture blacks aren’t being killed, and why black police officers are being killed. This also happens to perfectly cohere with how evil works. Evil feeds on fear.)
But, like I’ve said and demonstrated throughout my 35 years of life, I hate being afraid. I refuse to do it at nearly all costs. Proof of this is that I flew combat missions, I worked in the oil fields, and I managed a strip club. Most people, but especially most white people, do not hate fear like I do. In other words, most white people are afraid. How else do you explain the suburbs? Rather than facing fear, they (we) ran. Fear is the reason the blacks are being killed, and fear is what prevents us (white culture) from asking a stranger from black culture what the heck they mean when they say something that seems racist, in response to the newsworthy killings.
White culture: Black Lives Matter is not a liberal movement–it is a liberating movement. Christians especially, we need to understand the Gospel and the freedom from fear that the Cross released. There is hope. Repent! In the name of Jesus Christ, repent.
The weapons on the MH-53 that I flew in Iraq (while a captain and pilot in the Air Force…I’m standing third from the right in the last photo in that video) were for defensive purposes only. We had three machine guns, all manned by enlisted aircrew (sweaties). Essentially, our missions were supposed to be secret, so in theory, no one (friend or enemy) knew that we were doing our thing. But, on the off chance that we misplanned the route or miscalculated the threats, we had some guns with which to attempt to stay alive whilst completing the mission.
The crews I was a part of never came under direct fire in any of my ten months of combat missions. Well, I take that back. There was one mission where our formation came under fire, probably just from one pissed-off Iraqi who didn’t realize what he was up against. In response, my tail…
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