Archive for April, 2010

Our Story Begins a Long, Long Time Ago, in a Far, Far Away Place (Part 1)

Friday, April 30th, 2010

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. (John 18:38) Jesus Christ was concerned about the truth.  “I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said, “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matt. 5:18).  And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42). And so forth.  For over a hundred times Jesus punctuated his aphorisms with this phrase, “I tell you the truth. . .”

Home schoolers are concerned about the truth.

The pursuit of truth is older even than our Lord’s bodily presence on this earth.  Besides the Old Testament dialogues about truth (e.g., Proverbs, et al.), secular philosophers were also discussing truth.  For example, the Greek philosopher Plato (a contemporary of Daniel) was discussing truth 500 years before Christ was born.  In a long, long, time ago, in a place far, far away, Plato was discussing things like truth, politics, justice, and beauty.  To Plato the pursuit of truth was the beginning and ending of all things.  Plato was convinced, for instance, that if people knew the truth they would obey the truth.  Plato argued that if people knew the right thing to do they would do it. In other words, immorality was nothing more than ignorance.

Lech Walesa: World Has ‘Lost Hope’ of America’s Moral Leadership

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Lech Walesa: World Has ‘Lost Hope’ of America’s Moral Leadership

February 6th, 2010

by Kathleen Gilbert

Lech Walesa, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former president of Poland, has warned that the world has “lost that hope” with which it once turned to America as a moral leader.

Walesa was co-founder of Solidarnoœæ (Solidarity), the Soviet bloc’s first independent trade union, which lead led the non-violent uprising that overthrew communist rule in Poland in the 1980s and delivered one of the major death-blows to the Iron Curtain.

The anti-communist icon gave his brief remarks on America during a Chicago rally Jan. 29, 2010, endorsing Adam Andrzejewski in the Republican primary for governor of Illinois.

“The United States is only one superpower. Today they lead the world. Nobody has doubts about it – militarily,” said Walesa via a translator. “They also lead economically, but they’re getting weak.

“They don’t lead morally and politically anymore. The world has no leadership,” he continued. “The United States was always the last resort and hope for all other nations.

“There was the hope, whenever something was going wrong, one could count on the United States. Today, we lost that hope.”

One million Chicago residents are of Polish descent, making it the city with the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw, However, the Walesa appearance received almost no media coverage in Chicago, President Obama’s hometown.

In an interview with FoundingBloggers.com, Walesa added that “the world today needs some order, values. The world needs solidarity, the new solidarity.”

Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International (HLI), said that Walesa “has reiterated with much greater authority something that HLI says on every continent.”

“America’s leaders have squandered our country’s unique moral status, and as Mr. Walesa recognizes, the world is worse off for it,” Euteneuer told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) this week. “It’s not that America cannot return to greatness, but it will take some serious soul-searching and conversion from hateful practices like abortion.”

“I pray that our country will see how far it has fallen and elect leaders who will restore our moral authority again.”

Computers—yuk!

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

I hate my computer. Yuk!  Just as soon as I halfway understand a windows platform they change it.  Where is Windows 98 when you need it!  I mean peanut butter is the same forever; why can’t computers stay the same.  And, to make matters worse, Peter persuaded me to buy a MAC.  A what????? A MAC!  The darn thing has a delete key that moves to the left instead of to the right.  What is wrong with a world that creates a computer that has a delete key that moves to the left instead of the right?

I share the misgivings of one of my least favorite philosophers, existentialist Martin Heidegger. What Heidegger called “the essence of technology” infiltrates human existence more intimately than anything humans could create. The danger of technology lies in the transformation of the human being, by which human actions and aspirations are fundamentally distorted. Not that machines can run amok, or even that we might misunderstand ourselves through a faulty comparison with machines. Instead, technology enters the inmost recesses of human existence, transforming the way we know and think and will. Technology is, in essence, a dehumanizing influence by humanizing us !?!

Heidegger died in 1976, long before the personal computer and computer networks, such as the Web, much less I Pods, I Pads, etc., became a reality. However, as early as 1957 Heidegger foresaw the computer, what he called the “language machine.” But it is no such thing—the computer creates no language at all.  It creates symbols that are meaningless.  FYI KWIM (For your information, know what I mean? DUMMY!)

Peter and his generation think that man is the master of the language machine. But the truth of the matter is that the language machine takes language into its management and thus masters the essence of the human being. (portions are quoted from http://www.regent.edu/).

When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you (Friedrich Nietzsche). On Looking Into the Abyss: Untimely Thoughts on Culture and Society by Gertrude Himmelfarb argues  that the “abyss is the abyss of meaninglessness. The interpreter takes precedence over the thing interpreted, and any interpretation goes. The most obvious aim of such a creed is to weaken our hold on reality, chiefly by denying that there is any reality for us to get hold of; its most probable effect, if we were to take it seriously, would be to induce feelings of despair and dread.  This view invites the tyranny of the subjective—anything goes so long as it does not hurt anyone and it is believed sincerely.

Contemporary Americans are dedicated to the pleasure principle. They yearn to be considered creative and imaginative; casting off the chains of mere causal and chronological. They conceive of history as a form of fiction. Postmodernist fiction, to be sure: what one of them has called “a historiographic metafiction.”

Himmelfarb argues that contemporaries play the harlot with words like “freedom” and “liberty.” She makes a startling claim: Absolute liberty is itself a form of power—the power to destroy without having to face the consequences.

The Fear That There is no Reason to Ban a Book

Monday, April 26th, 2010

I was reading an essay by Neil Postman, author of Amusing Ourselves To Death.  He reminds us that 1984 came and went and Orwell’s nightmare did not occur.  The roots of liberal democracy had held.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another equally chilling apocalyptic vision : Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

These are Postman’s words, but all our fears.

The Days of Obadiah are Over (Part IV)

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

This is the generation of Elijah. The generation that will have to walk the long, arduous walk up Mt. Carmel and they will challenge the gods of this age. Bring it on!  We are ready!  Every knee shall bow, every tongue shall profess, that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Bring on the fire of Elijah, again, on this nation! God is calling forth our children–Elijahs who will go to the high places of our nation to challenge the prophets of Baal—in the courts, in the university, in the shop, in the home, in churches.

Elijahs brought Good News but not welcome news.  Good News that we gave them in our modest homes.  Year after year, one music lesson after another, one coop meeting after another, year after another, we raised this generation.  And today, today they are on the threshold of changing their world.  They are housewives, they have small businesses.  They are writing scripts in Hollywood.  Writing speeches for presidents.  Lobbying for Godly causes in Congress.

Do we have a vision of what lies ahead? Will we seek the Lord’s face to cooperate in His equipping , enabling and empowering process?  Will we trust God?  Elijahs are wild and crazy! They will move beyond our traditions and our comfort  zones.  Elijahs always do.

Challenge the gods of this age home schoolers!

In Eudora Welty’s short story “Worn Path,” the elderly and slightly senile grandmother  protagonist, Phoenix, has come to the doctor to obtain medicine for her grandson.  But, she cannot remember why she came!

The nurse tries to tease out of Phoenix her reason for coming.

“You mustn’t take up our time this way, Aunt Phoenix,” the nurse said. “Tell us quickly about your grandson, and get it over. He isn’t dead, is he?’

At last there came a flicker and then a flame of comprehension across her face, and she spoke. “My grandson. It was my memory had left me. There I sat and forgot why I made my long trip.”

“Forgot?” The nurse frowned. “After you came so far?”

After coming so far, after working so hard, have we home schoolers forgotten why we came? Are we at the place where we can get the solution to our problems, but have we forgotten why we came?    The challenge for us in 2010 is to sit down together and talk.  Look around at all that God has done, and give thanks.  And then go forth, Elijahs, and challenge the gods of this age—at Harvard, at the Supreme Court, in Hollywood.  Give no quarter and ask for none.  We must give God everything we are and will ever be.  The God we serve deserves nothing less, accepts nothing less!

The Days of Obadiah are Over (Part III)

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Elijah is coming in 2010, Christian brothers and sisters.   The days of Obadiah are over.  Elijah is coming to town.

Home school parents.  You are not only discipling your children to be faithful believers and good students.  You are preparing them to fight a war, a culture war.

Are you ready? Can you give up your anonymity? Will you risk everything this year to prepare this generation to be salt and light in a world that is losing is light and flavor? Will you go the extra mile in your home schooling to make sure that this generation will stand on Mt. Carmel and proclaim the sovereignty and goodness of our God?  So they can bring the Kingdom on this earth as it is in heaven?

They cannot be simply good writers, they must be the best writers.  They cannot merely pass through with an engineering degree.  They have to be superb, gifted engineers.

In the hallow halls of Vanderbilt, Rutgers, and Harvard, it was my honor to learn with some of the greatest minds of my generation.  I grew in Christ in the places.  I prospered.  I met my wife at Harvard.  On Thursday night hundreds of strong believers gathered to lift up the name of God.  But, slowly, year after year, enthusiasm waned.  The exigencies of life took the fervor out of many of my friends’  faith journey.  It isn’t that we all are not believers:  we mostly are walking with the Lord.  But what happened is that many of us were tamed, made impotent, by life itself.  This must not happen with this generation!

The stakes are high; the potential rewards astounding.  We have a chance, perhaps in our lifetime, to experience an unprecedented cultural revolution.   In your homes are the new revolutionaries, who will go to the high places of this nation and proclaim the radical goodness of our God.

The Days of Obadiah are Over (Part II)

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I don’t know, home schoolers, when we crossed the Rubicon.  Perhaps it was when we turned off the television or refused to buy the latest entertainment center.  Maybe it was when we drove our old cars another year so we could buy the best curricula for our kids.  Or was it when we decided to read classics together in our homes?  Somewhere, sometime, we crossed the Rubicon and there is no going back.

To push my metaphor farther, we were first “Obadiahs,” perhaps from 1985 to today.  There is nothing wrong with being Obadiah.  Faithful, Godly Obadiah, like Daniel, was very influential in a very evil regime.  Obadiah served evil Ahab and Jezebel well, and he served God’s people well too. For instance, he was able to protect hundreds of prophets who otherwise would have been killed by Ahab.

King Ahab and Jezebel are very capable, and in many ways, successful monarchs.  From their perspective, they are the Atrue@ leadership.   Elijah, and the prophets, are radical, unreasonable, uncompromising troublers of Israel.    They are not team players.  No doubt Ahab and Jezebel could not understand why Elijah could not carry on a civil discussion about what they saw as tangential, civil issues.  Likewise, recently our president was genuinely concerned that “conservatives cannot be civil and polite in their discussions about abortion.” To many of us pro-lifers, and to Elijah, murder and apostasy do not engender etiquette.

This home school generation is the Elijah generation.  To Elijah, the behavior of Ahab and Jezebel is absolutely appalling. While claiming to worship the Hebrew God they also fill the land with syncretism, with apostate worship of the BAALS.   The crowning blow, to Elijah, is when these scoundrels placed the Asherah poles (places where believers could have sexual relations with temple prostitutes) on the hill next to the Temple.  Enough was enough and Elijah is ordered home to confront these evil powers on Mt. Carmel.

And Elijah was not accommodating nor was he running away—don’t you just wish Ahab and Jezebel!—he is coming home to challenge the gods of this age.

Ahab and Jezebel are Post-Modernists. They celebrate the subjective.  They are committed to compromiseBit is their religion. Live and let live!  What is the big deal?

Well, you see, Elijah cannot compromise with the stuff they are doing.  There is no wriggle room in Judah and there is getting to be precious little wriggle room in the U. S. A. too.

There is some good news here.  The world of the Baals, folks, is falling apart.  And quickly.  As sociologist Peter Berger explains, “American mainline culture can no longer offer plausibility structures for the common man.  It no longer sustains Americans.”    Or, as my old friend Professor Harvey Cox, at Harvard, coyly  observed, “Once Americans had dreams and no technology to fulfill those dreams.  Now Americans have tons of technology, but they have no dreams left.”

In  short order the Ahabs and Jezebels are going to find out that Elijah is not in a compromising mood either.  Folks, there are some things one cannot compromise. Elijah and Jezebel are going to meet a man of God who speaks with concrete clarity, who carries the weight of truth.

The Time of Obadiah is Ending (Part I)

Monday, April 19th, 2010

In 49 BC, the crossing of a small stream in northern Italy by ambitious Roman general Julius Caesar became one of the pivotal events in world history. From it sprang the Roman Empire and the genesis of modern Europe.

An ancient Roman law forbade any general from crossing the Rubicon River and entering Italy proper with a standing army. To do so was treason. Caesar was well aware of this. Coming up with his troops on the banks of the Rubicon, he halted, and reminded his fellow officers of the importance of the next step.

“Still we can retreat!” he said. “But once let us pass this little bridge, – and nothing is left but to fight it out with arms!” (Suetonius ).  He crossed the river and we all know the rest.

America is very different from the America in which Karen and I began home schooling in 1985.  Really different.  Moral boundaries are violated; sacred fences are down.

The first strophe of William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming” begins:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
The blood-dimmed tide is tossed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

American in the beginning of the 21st century is spinning out of control.  We are stretching our wings adventurously, but drifting farther away from our God. We are in trouble.

In 1 Kings 18-19, Elijah and his peers live in a similar world.  Choleric Elijah is coming home—and no one wants him to come home. He is crossing his Rubicon. After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, of course, hate him.  But even, Obadiah, a faithful follower of God and trusted advisor to the king and queen, who had learned so well to survive in this hostile land, who has done so much good for God’s people—Obadiah was not too thrilled to see him either.   In fact, no one welcomed Elijah—not the hostile king and queen nor the pious evangelical Obadiah.

Even though Elijah brings good news—it is finally going to rain—no one welcomes him.  Elijah’s fish-or-cut-bait prophetic messages are irritating the life out of the status quo.  That is bad enough.  But what really scares the dickens out of everyone is the fact that Elijah has come home to Zion, to the City of God, to challenge the gods of the age to a duel.

Moral Man and Immoral Society (Part II)

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Moral Man and Immoral Society, by Reinhold Neibhur, was written during the period of the Great Depression. In this book, Reinhold insists on the necessity of politics in the struggle for social justice because of the sinfulness of human nature, that is, the egotism of individuals and groups. He sees the limitations of reason to solve social injustice by moral and rational means, “since reason is always the servant of interest in a social situation” (xiv-xv). This is his critique of liberal Christian theology, which strongly believes in the rational capacity of humans to make themselves be moral, and he accepts this vulnerability as our reality. In other words, Neibhur correctly saw the immorality of systems in society (e.g., social welfare) and its futile attempts to ameliorate individuals and their needs. http://people.bu.edu/

Neibhur cautions us about embracing “herd mentalities.” According to him, individuals are morally capable of considering the interests of others and acting. That is, individuals can be unselfish. Societies, however, find it virtually impossible to handle rationally the competing interests of subgroups. Societies, he argues, effectively gather up only individuals’ selfish impulses, not their capacities for unselfish consideration toward others. According to Niebuhr, this collective egoism of individuals-in-groups is overridingly powerful. “In every human group there is less reason to guide and to check impulse, less capacity for self-transcendence, less ability to comprehend the needs of others, therefore more unrestrained egoism than the individuals, who compose the group, reveal in their personal relationships” (xi-xii).

Today, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are living moral lives in an immoral culture or society.  We are called to be salt and light in a society that is losing its flavor.  We live in a post-Christian era.

As sociologist Peter Berger explains, “American mainline culture can no longer offer plausibility structures for the common man.  It no longer sustains Americans.”    Or, as my old friend Professor Harvey Cox, at Harvard, coyly  observed, “Once Americans had dreams and no technology to fulfill those dreams.  Now Americans have tons of technology, but they have no dreams left.”

What are we to do?  For one thing, we must raise the generation to prosper in Babylon.  To prosper in Babylon, without becoming Babylonian.  We must raise this generation to be so radically in love with Jesus Christ, that no matter what the obstacle, what the enticement, they will remain moral persons in an immoral society.