Month: October 2015

For the [ordinary] beauty [of our old screen door]

For the beauty of the world
is unparalleled in anyone’s imagination
as the old screen door slammed behind us
and we raced madly to the sea
and the brown-bread baked
and the worn, straw broom
and its smooth, wood handle
kept watch along with the water-urn
for brewing our coffee
continued to wait
as we rushed head-long into the breakers
and the paint-palette began to dry
in the sun beside the cats
sleeping out their afternoon
until the clock ticks to gong
at three and they stretch
and yawn awhile in peace
and the yarn on the pine loom
is thick in blues, browns, yellows,
greens, and vermillion
while the tide rising pushes forward
the gulls and shells
ticking as the clock does
and we dry our feet
and faces in thick towels
made of Egyptian cotton
when the whole earth seems at rest
and the dust settles on the mantle
above the stone fireplace
where we so often sat together
and sang of worlds we once knew
or wanted to know
with a glance of shared hope
and put down the book
to whisper in awe
that ‘all shall truly be amen . . .’

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Christianity, Culture, Literacy, and Biblically Prophetic Perspectives

Christianity, Culture, Literacy, and Biblically Prophetic Perspectives

Cultural-LiteracyIn recent decades, there has been a widely chronicled rise of Evangelical interest and participation in cultural pursuits. This has been seen as a return from the wilderness of isolationism (or cultural separatism), typically blamed on what many pejoratively have labeled “Fundamentalism.” There are many academic, political, philosophical, social, and aesthetic examples of this resurgence, and welcome to those of us who are advocates of cultural engagement. Therefore, these brief comments are not intended as an academic rehearsal  of these examples, but rather some personal reflections on Christianity and culture in relation to that engagement and our own cultural literacy.

The question is, do we have any moral responsibility to seek such literacy?
See essay here: Christianity, Culture, and Literacytelevision_67345
cartoon from http://www.toonpool.com/user/250/files/television_67345.jpg

The generosity of God for the world from Ecclesiastes

“To such a world, Ecclesiastes has something to say. He does not come as a formal philosopher; it is a word from God he has to share, despite his reflective low-key approach. He does not present half-a-dozen arguments for the existence of God. Instead he picks up our own questions. Can you cope with life without having any idea where you are going? You don’t have all the answers to life’s enigmas, do you? Your neo-pagan view of life doesn’t give you any hope of achieving very much, does it? Nature will not answer your questions, and you are bored by it anyway. History baffles your attempts to understand it. You don’t like to think about your own death; yet it is the most certain fact about your existence.  What would it be like, asks the Preacher, if things were utterly different from what you thought? What if this world is not the ultimate one? What if God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek him? What if one of his supreme characteristics is his utter, incredible generosity, his willingness to give and give and give again, his utter acceptance of us just as we are. Could it be, asks this provocative and seemingly negative Preacher, that the barrenness and hideous purposelessness of life stems only from the fact that you will not believe in such a God?” Michael Eaton, Ecclesiastes, IVP, 1983, p 158.

Speaking of the Baltimore press on the so-called “Uprising”: some throwback thoughts on Socialism-Communism

MarxHistoryI have shared below some sobering insights from Berdyaev that might seem a bit out-of-date and unwelcome, since we all know that “Communism has collapsed.” And also, no-one likes to hear from alarmists. Nevertheless, if you can bear with me momentarily, I suggest that there is recent evidence of an increase of deluded ignorance about economics in our beloved USA: it is seen in the Baltimore riots, the Marxian news anchors who keep calling it an “uprising,” the Anarchists’ and Communist Party’s support for the riots, as well as the meteoric rise of people like Bernie Sanders in the (Socialistic) Democratic Party. It is true that many people try to differentiate Communism from Socialism, but in Marxian theory they are simply different stages in the supposed dialectical evolution of the class struggle. In both cases, the small details that are often overlooked by careless historians and Messianic-Dreamers of the New-World-of-equal-everything, is that it will require the impoverishing of all (but the Party), millions of deaths, gulags, and the eventual destruction of civilization. Have we forgotten that all of the above happened not-too-long-ago in the DeathCamp of The Soviet Union, The DyingField of Vietnam, the WalkingDead of North Korea, the sixty-million who perished in Mao’s China, as well as the uncounted deaths in numerous other nation states? Have we become a nation of Amnesiacs on Huxley’s Soma? Is it time to re-read Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984?


“All the untruths of Communism come from its Godlessness and inhumanity; the falseness of the sanguinary coercion by which it wants to found social justice, the falseness of the tyranny that cannot bear man’s dignity; its admission of every conceivable means to further the end it considers as supreme and unique; rancour, hatred and revenge as a way of obtaining perfect life, the brotherhood of men. There was a demoniacal element in Marx’s teaching, which gave it its invincible dynamism. He believed that good can be produced by evil, that light can be obtained through darkness, that freedom would result from dire blind necessity. Evil must increase, darkness must thicken. That is how he understood the dialectics of the social process. The workmen’s lot must grow worse in capitalist society (the Verelendungstheorie), the labourers must become more and more embittered and penetrated by vindicative and violent emotions. That is the basis of Marx’s revolutionary messianic hope. He wants the working class, which is an empirical reality, to be saturated with proletarian consciousness. When that happens, feelings of resentment, envy, hatred and revenge will grow up in it.”
N. A. Berdyaev,THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION, Sheed and Ward edition, p. 84 (entire book available on  http://krotov.info/library/02_b/berdyaev/1931_eng.htm).


Dualism (divided fields of knowledge): two story living and some good news

platos_cave_escape_plan_t_shirtsIt is an obvious truism to note that human life is touched by many aspects of brokenness and fragmentation, since the fruits of disintegration touch every aspect of our lives. In order to consider some possible explanations for this, I suggest that it relates most directly to the spiritual/theological/ philosophical makeup of how we perceive reality (God and creation). This is seen especially in the way knowledge and understanding (worldviews) are fragmented into many polarizations of perspective. These then become the modus operandi of world-view development and expression, as well as living in this world.  For example, today there is the widespread belief that secular science provides “facts” while religion only affirms “values.” This is what is called the sacred/secular divide. I suggest that this is a myth born of the devaluation of the concept of truth as true to all that is. Indeed, truth can not only be about “values.” For it to be truth, it must concern total reality. Further, “secularism” is itself a religious world-view governed by disbelief in God and many other philosophical assumptions. Secularists often claim they have no religious assumptions or motivations, when in fact they are driven by deep religious assumptions governed by unbelief. Since such dualities are pervasively active today in the minds of many millions of people, it is helpful to consider them carefully to recognize and evaluate their insidious and often deleterious influence upon perceptions, beliefs, and actions (compiled from various sources, as follows . . .   To read more, click here.  Dualism, divided fields of knowledge, and biblical dichotomies