Archive for April, 2015


Thursday, April 30th, 2015

For years, the American notion of a hero has been accosted, compromised, and generally diluted. Gone are the days when John Wayne rode into town and took care of business. We knew he was good — really good — and we were comforted by the fact that he would kill no one who did not deserve to die. “A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do,” is a quote attributed to Wayne.  Women have the right to work wherever they want, as long as they have the dinner ready when you get home.”1 Oops! I guess he said that, too, but never mind. . . .

Not so today. Heroes exude empathy not goodness. Witness Robert Downey’s flawed, self-centered Ironman. Or Hugh Jackson’s moody Wolverine. And who can forget the poor, pathetic Hulk? Everyone wants to forget the shady, morally dubious Christian Bale’s Batman! But my personal favorite for sissy of the year is Spiderman. One Freudian self-identity crisis after another. He whines all the time. Can you imagine John Wayne whining?

One sidebar — I am arguably a candidate for sissy of the year myself. Last week I had to have a tetanus booster. Don’t you hate doctor waiting rooms? And I emphasize WAITING rooms — sometimes for hours. As I waited for my tetanus shot I imagined myself waiting for the guillotine with Sydney Carton at the end of A Tale of Two Cities.

Finally my executioner appeared. “Roll up your sleeve,” the perfunctory and sturdy 8´3” Nurse Roxanne quipped.

“Hello,” I replied.

“Do you mind shots?” the Nurse Roxanne asked as she ignored my greeting.

“Yes, I do,” I quivered, almost in tears.

“Too bad,” Nurse Roxanne replied with the first hint of enthusiasm.

I muttered, “It is a far better thing I have done than I have ever done before. . . .”

Nurse Roxanne, who obviously had not read Dickens attacked me with the needle as if she were going after a dart board.

I whimpered a little and Nurse Roxanne frowned and pointed her index finger at me, “No wimps allowed.”

No wimps allowed. Yes, fellow Americans, we have dumbed down, glamorized, and wimped down our heroes to the point where they hardly seem to be heroes at all.

But now, suddenly, on the silver screen, appears Captain America. Captain America is a different kind of hero. In 1940s America, ordinary, unspectacular, five-feet-something, Steve Rogers inadvertently receives an injection that turns him into a superhero. But not a run-of-the-mill hero, he is actually a genuine hero. As one reviewer explains, “He’s got a lot of ailments, but it
hasn’t made him bitter or jaded in anything. Even after he has been given his great gift, he still continues to do the right thing.”2 No that is a novel idea — doing the right thing. Take that, Will Smith and your character Hancock!

Yes, a new hero has arrived — a hero who does the right thing without equivocation or self-interest. Captain America. Or is he that new after all? Sounds to me like Moses who left the courts of Egypt to obey God. Or Joshua who conquered the Promised Land. Or Peter, even after much failure, found that even hell itself could not prevail against the Church he founded.

Yes, and again perhaps we meet a man who even John Wayne would like. Wayne was fond of saying, “Courage is being scared to death — but saddling up anyway.”3 Roll up your sleeves, America — Nurse Roxanne and Captain America are finally here. And there is no room for wimps.

More Than Conquerors

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Quite literally this generation will have to create a new world. How to create a new society? These are the new Pilgrims, the new Puritans. They need the tools to create a new world because the old world as we know it will not last much longer. Risk takers–Esther 4 (find the reference). Daniel 3: 16-18–Whether we burn or not, we will never bow down to you, oh King!!!! John Winthrop, the first Puritan governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, called his generation and ours to be “a city on a hill.” Memorize this famous passage. My challenge to this generation is to be salt and light to the world! Isa. 39: 1-8 tells one of the saddest stories in the Bible. King Hezekiah, on again and off again king of Judah, has invited his enemies into his camp. The King of Babylon’s emissaries have come to negotiate with Judah. They really do not want to conquer Judah–Egypt is the real enemy–until they see how rich the nation of Judah is. Hezekiah opens up the kingdom and shows everything! An OT version of putting pearls before swine! The prophet Isaiah comes and warns Hezekiah about the grave mistake he has made. Hezekiah reasons, “Oh, well, there will at least be peace and security in my days.”

In Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim Jim is instructing a young person steering a ship how to handle a storm. “Steer neither to the right or to the left of it,” Lord Jim says, “Steer right into it.” Christian homeschoolers, we need to steer right into the storm. We can be and will be more than conquerors in Christ Jesus!

Ten Moral Issues Every Christian Should Address

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

1. Punishment and Blame: What is fair punishment?
2. Property: What is property and who owns it?
3. Affiliation Roles: What are the motivations and obligations of a good family member?
4. Law: When if ever should laws be disobeyed?
5. Life: What makes life valuable?
6. Truth and Contract: What is the truth? Why is truth telling valuable?
7. Governance: What is a good citizen?
8. Social Justice: What are basic political, economic, and social rights?
9. Sex: Is sex merely a biological response or is it related to religious or social guidelines?
10. Morality/Conscience: What is the nature of morality and what is the basis of its validity?

The Spiritual Child

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

My goodness . . . check this out. Dr. Lisa Miller, Columbia University, in her new book THE SPIRITUAL CHILD observes that children who have faith: :

  • are 40% less likely to use and abuse substances
  • are 60% less likely to be depressed as teenagers
  • are 80% less likely to have dangerous or unprotected sex
  • have significantly more positive markers for thriving including an increased sense of meaning and purpose, and high levels of academic success.

Prayer is the key.

A Creed Outworn

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

My life goal is to love and to glorify God, to help fulfill the Great Commission, to affirm, to encourage, to equip, and to empower parents and teachers to educate and to disciple their students with excellence. I am, and what I write, are not merely a home school, or any school support resource—I want to participate, even in a modest way, in the coming revival/renewal we see coming to this nation!
Recently I received my latest edition of my alumni magazine Harvard Divinity Today, Vol. 7, Number 3. I must admit reading the Today is not exactly the highest priority to this “alumni” who really reserves his allegiance to Gordon Conwell Seminary, but something caught my eye. “HDS [Harvard Divinity School] to Expand Program in Buddhist Ministry Studies.” Silly me—I thought John Harvard bequeathed money in 1636 to found Harvard to prepare “men for Christian ministry.” Can you imagine what John Harvard would say if he knew his endowment spawned a special Buddhist ministry program? Oh my.

But that is only half of it. Buddhism—a sort of higher consciousness atheism—is no religion at all. It has no formal priesthood, no serious understanding of soteriology (salvation) or redemption. Buddhism is pretentious humanism; it has no serious belief in the supernatural. It is a banana split of human effort but hardly a sugar cone of metaphysical reality. No real ministry can occur without evoking the presence of a reality outside human existence, so, really, “Buddhism ministry” is an oxymoron.

Religious America invests a lot of resources—a generous donor gave $2,500,000–to enable Harvard to do something that cannot be done—equip Buddhists to do ministry. But isn’t that the sign of the times. An erstwhile classmate of mine, 150 years ago, now deceased of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson, hardly a champion of Christian orthodoxy, but very much a vintage Harvard Divinity School man, speaking to the 1838 HDS senior class, in Divinity Hall, down the hall from where I lived, warned “One would rather be ‘A pagan, suckled in a creed outworn,’ than to be defrauded of his manly right in coming into nature, and finding not names and places, not land and professions, but even virtue and truth foreclosed and monopolized.” Virtue and truth are rarely discussed in 2014 America.

But virtue and truth are very important to me and to For Such a Time as This Ministries.
What is my vision? What are my core values?

  • The family, whether it is with a single parent, or two, is the God breathed entity that God has ordained to nurture, to equip, to challenge this new generation.
  • We value life and abhor any political or social policy that seeks to take life away.
  • We encourage parents to raise a generation who is not afraid to be overcomers in an increasingly hostile culture.
  • We urge families neither to conform to, nor to run from, secular culture but to transform this culture in the name of Christ.
  • Like Deborah’s generation in Judges 5:11, we seek to share Christ at the watering holes–cultural creating centers of this society. In that spirit, we fear no human institution or world view.
  • We hope to establish an alternative culture/society of hope to this society of hopelessness so that His Kingdom might come on this earth as it is in Heaven.

One final note. Education is the most personal of human experiences and belongs first to the Creator God, and then to his designated authority. Therefore, For Such a Time as This strongly advocates and encourages parental input into education. We passionately encourages full time home education but understands that public and private education, in some cases, is necessary, and even desirable. We therefore support all education endeavors!

Finally I need to say one more thing. For Such a Time as This is not interested in retreated from Post-Modern, secular, Post-Christian American culture. We are afraid of no worldview. We will not pretend we serve any God but the awesome, omnipotent God we serve! We are servants; we will die daily for one another. But we will not participate in the culture of fear that is so pervasive in our nation, and I am afraid (no pun intended) in the homeschool movement. I am heartily tired of attending homeschool conventions and hearing that we should be afraid of this and that—where is the Romans 8 assurance that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus? We intend to, and we encourage you, neither to conform to, nor to run from, secular culture, but to transform this culture in the name of Christ. The newsletter encourages parents to raise a generation who are overcomers in an increasingly hostile culture. The newsletter is part of establishing a culture of hope and confidence so that Christ’s Kingdom might come on this earth as it is in heaven.


Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Recently Berkeley University, the bastion of liberal toleration, was accused of being anti-Semitic. Well, clearly chicanery is abundantly available at Berkeley but anti-Semitism is not in the repertoire. In our post-modern,post-Christian world, populated by Aristotlian, Hegelian pragmatists, bordering on Godwin anarchy, who claim to be “intellectuals” but actually are modern-day Gnostics, to be anti-Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic, because, these modern intellectuals are like Mary Shelley’s monster Frankenstein; they function in the realm of empathy and mind but have no soul or pathos. In this milieu, arcane post-modern intellectuals have fallen into Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole and, claiming open-mindedness, cannot see the door handle of the escape hatch in front of them because it would smack of pedestrian parochialism. In short, “religion” is not merely the opiate of the people, these folks claim, it is like watching Disney’s Maleficent, the characters are fictional inventions who more or less try to survive in an anemic world. Hopefully “good” will prevail, but “good,” for the first time since Plato introduced the concept into Western Philosophy, is divorced from metaphysics. In other words, we might have finally reached unadulterated atheism in our intellectuals, something Nietzsche prophetically warned would someday come.

Destiny waits in the hands of God, not in the hands of statesmen . . .

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Destiny waits in the hands of God, not in the hands of statesmen . . .

The Murder In The Cathedral by T. S. Eliot, American and then British modernist poet, is my personal favorite 20th century play and full of encouraging truth for the growing Christian believer. It is a diatribe against the excesses of Modernism and a lamentation of the state of Western culture.

Eliot’s play concerns the assassination of Archbishop Samuel Becket by Henry II. The play begins with a Chorus singing, foreshadowing the coming violence. The rest of the play concerns four temptations (roughly paralleling the temptation of Christ).

Every tempter offers Becket something that he desires–but he will have to disobey the Lord and his own conscience.

The first tempter offers long life. He makes an existential appeal that is quite persuasive.

Take a friend’s advice. Leave well alone,
Or your goose may be cooked and eaten to the bone.

The second offers power, riches and fame.

To set down the great, protect the poor,
Beneath the throne of God can man do more?

The third tempter suggests a coalition with the barons and a chance to resist the King. This –compromise– temptation is very appealing. He even uses biblical language!

For us, Church favour would be an advantage,
Blessing of Pope powerful protection
In the fight for liberty. You, my Lord,
In being with us, would fight a good stroke

Finally, he is urged to seek martyrdom! The very thing he may do is thrown in his face as a selfish act!

You hold the keys of heaven and hell.
Power to bind and loose : bind, Thomas, bind,
King and bishop under your heel.
King, emperor, bishop, baron, king:

Becket responds to all of the tempters and specifically addresses the immoral suggestions of the fourth tempter at the end of the first act:

Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain:
Temptation shall not come in this kind again.
The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.


Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

The Modernist movement, at the beginning of the 20th century, marked the first time that the term “avant-garde”, with which the movement was labeled until the word “Modernism” prevailed, was used for the arts. Surrealism was the “the avant-garde of Modernism”.

Art historian Clement Greenberg states, “The essence of Modernism lies, as I see it, in the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself, not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence. The philosopher Immanuel Kant used logic to establish the limits of logic, and while he withdrew much from its old jurisdiction, logic was left all the more secure in what there remained to it.” Modernism, in its attempt to attack everything traditional, created an autocratic liberalism.

In 2013 we live with the consequences of this liberalism. We presume to know more than we know; to solve problems we cannot solve. Along the way we have lost perspective on what time it is. As I have mentioned several times, I love to swim at the YMCA. As my body shape attests, such lugubrious activity to my comfort, but laudable activity to my blood pressure, has done little to help me shed unhealthy pounds. But I do it almost daily. Today, I went swimming. There are two clocks in the pool area: One is located at the beginning of the swimming lanes; one at the end. The one at the beginning is 8 minutes slower than the clock at the end. So, quite literally, I begin at one time–say 4:00PM and I end the lane swim at 4:12PM (It takes me 4 minutes to swim the lane–I know! I am slow!). I love this arrangement. I only swim about 1/2 hour so as long as I start at the time on the beginning clock and end on the time at the ending clock I cheat time out of 8 minutes. I ignore the beginning clock and only look at the ending clock. Sometimes I think our government thinks it can cheat time by playing with the clocks. But it never works. Sooner or later, when I think it is 4:30 and time to quit, I happen to look at the beginning clock and see that it is only 4:22. I live in a sort of blissful ignorance . . . but sooner or later, I will have to realize the real time and that will be a hard thing. Sometimes I wonder if we really know what time it is . . . just thinkin.

The Best Of The Best

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

In September, 1976 I sat in Harvard University Chapel and heard Pastor Peter Gomes, the Harvard University Chaplain, tell us that we were the best of the best. The hope of America and the world. I and I suppose other Harvard souls were awfully glad to hear that. We certainly wanted to think we were the best. Like I enjoyed doing all over Boston, we wanted to flash our Harvard IDs to God and hope that He was impressed. It turned out He wasn’t but that is another story.

Pastor Gomes told us to look around and see who the next president, governor, great author, and theologian would be. As one professor quipped, “there are those who go to Harvard, and those who don’t.” Why, on that day, should I, a born again, evangelical, be greatly concerned?

British writer Virginia Woolf’s assertion that “on or about December 1910, human character changed” is all so true. About that time, Modernism emerged as the primary social and world view in human history. Modernism aims at that radical transformation of human thought in relation to God, man, the world, and life, and death, which was presaged by humanism and 17th century philosophy (e.g., Immanuel Kant), and violently practiced in the French Revolution. French philosopher J.J. Rousseau, was the first to use the term but it will not blossom fully until the 20th century.

If the world view deism suggested that God was out to lunch, Modernism, a cousin of naturalism, suggested that God was absent altogether.

Modernism, in its broadest definition, is cultural tendencies originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The world, including America, had rapidly changed from an agrarian to an urban society in one short generation.

Modernism fervently believed in science and technology. It was an optimistic vision of the future. It was also a revolt against the conservative values of limitation and pragmatism. The trademark of Modernism was its rejection of tradition. Modernism rejected the lingering certainty of Enlightenment epistemology and also rejected the existence of a compassionate, all-powerful Creator God in favor of human progress. The first casualty of this Quixotic thinking was Judeo-Christian morality.

Modernism was universal in its rejection of everything conventional. Literature, art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were all targets of this surprisingly arrogant movement. Perhaps no social movement has been so confident in its moral ambiguity, as Modernism was.

The poet Ezra Pound’s 1934 injunction to “Make it new!” was paradigmatic of the movement’s approach towards the obsolete. And Pound is a good example of the paradoxes inherent in Modernism. On one hand, Pound embraced a new understanding of human liberty and free expression while embracing nascent totalitarianism and anti-Semitism. Pound, like so many Modernists, felt he could separate his ethics from his world view. This delusion would have disastrous consequences. Adolf Eichmann had a similar view in Nazi Germany and designed and implemented the Holocaust.