Friday, October 14, 2016

The Meek and the Extinction of the World.

Jesus is begotten of the Father, the world is begotten of Jesus.
Jesus is the ruler of a great kingdom, an eternal kingdom that will last long after this world will cease to exist.

As believers, we are confronted by eternity every time we open up the scriptures.  Likewise, we are shown the intimate connection between Christ and his creation, and our relationship to it.

The scientific evidence points to disappearance of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.  A giant meteorite, crashed into the planet near the Yucatan peninsula, triggering volcanoes around the world which created a massive alteration of the earth's climate.  This was the 5th time this kind of catastrophic event had happened in the past 400 million years.  The mass extinction that followed is only now being understood in relation to the current level of species elimination being caused by human activity and climate change. In a very real way, the children of Adam and Eve are actively despoiling the creation of our Lord Jesus.

This is a theological challenge of utmost importance in our lives.  How do we square the biblical narrative that speaks of Christ the Creator’s kingdom persisting long after the earth's destruction, with the scriptural call to take care of the creation?  (Genesis 1 and 2)  Based on the current destruction of habitat and the impact of climate change, up to 1/4 of the earth's plants and animals may be extinct by mid century.  We must ask, how does this square with the biblical ethic of Noah, who rescued the creatures from the wickedness of humanity?

In a parallel manner, the gospel teaching that the “meek shall inherit the earth,” is in juxtaposition with the destruction caused by the consumptive, industry driven lifestyle of the wealthy West, including each of us.  

The writer of Hebrews, Chapter 1:10-12 describes the power of Christ the creator and the ultimate fate of the earth.  

10 And,  “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
   and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
   they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
   like a garment they will be changed.[a]
But you are the same,
   and your years will have no end.”
For us mere mortals, this concept of eternity is difficult to fathom.  The fact that one day the creation will cease to exist, even as we can see the light emitted by distant stars billions of years in the past, can boggle the mind.  Likewise it can be difficult to see what difference it makes whether or not we as individuals, communities or nations work to protect and preserve the planet and its creatures.  

For me, this conundrum is resolved in the person of Christ Jesus, the creator that so loved the cosmos that he became flesh, and laid down his life.  We too have an eternal obligation to live our lives for Him and for our neighbors, indeed, for the whole world.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pride of People from our Place

Why do we take such pride when people from our place make a name for themselves in athletics, the arts, business or politics?  I have experienced the feeling and have even bragged about someone from time to time.  Our emotional heart strings resonate when a native daughter is successful in the “outside” world.  

I think that part of this phenomenon has to do with our connections to community.  We see how so many work so hard to make our place special and invest in the lives of the people around us.  And so when the “larger” world recognizes a special talent or a contribution to the nation or world, we think, they are a part of us, we are a part of that.  And so we are.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could turn this love of place, our home, our land, literally, our patriotism,(from the Greek Patris, native land)  and turn it towards the protection of our place and people and in turn the preservation of the world and its peoples  The good news, is that we can, if we can learn to see the world ecologically.

We live on a planet that it intricately designed, and while it is large in scale compared to us as individuals, it is threatened by human consumption.   Our interconnection, by transportation and communication is made possible by our consumption and can be used to help us understand our place and conserve it, or to expand our consumption at the expense of the future of people and planet.

Our pride of people from our place can result in a kind of self-satisfaction that borders on idolatry, of thinking that prominent people deserve our attention while the weakest of people really need to be in the forefront of our thinking, planning, working and politics.   Pride in place needs to be complimented by a wholehearted life long preoccupation with the protection of the ecosystem that sustains our civilization.  If the words of the prophet are true, “the meek shall inherit the earth”, only if we are willing to perfect our meekness

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ecocide versus "Economic Development"

 

We must question the sanity of anyone who would be enthusiastic about the creation of "jobs" in an industry explicitly designed to decimate all life on earth.  Of course I am referring to the proposal for a missile site at the Ravenna Arsenal.

 

Yes, I understand the thinking," any job is a good job if you don't have one", but if the "work" that the job requires that we set aside our moral obligation to "love our enemy", as the gospel requires, and instead "defend" ourselves against the unthinkable, then we have not only lost sight of our work, but our humanity.

 

Don't get me wrong, those who work in the field of "economic development" are making their best effort, from the context which our society has framed our changing economic predicament, to find a way to generate tax revenue, which mostly comes through income tax.  The problem however, is that we have lost sight of the fundamental problem of the continuous innovation of the industrial economy to always leave some people behind.  Unfortunately, we cannot fix this so long as our faith in progress goes unabated, and our willingness to degrade our values increases day by day.

 

Dare I suggest that the 1000 acres of the old arsenal proposed to be used for such a base could easily support many more than 100 jobs, considering that 18,000 people worked there at one time.  These jobs could be created by protecting the land and earning a living from it instead of filling wetlands and moving streams to make way for a killing field.

 

Of course I understand that some see this is a strategically vital and necessary development, given the "reality" of nuclear weapons in the world.  The tragedy of course is that we are too preoccupied with a handful of "jobs" to ask the simple question.  Don't we want the blessing of our Lord, who calls us to be Peacemakers?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

GRUMPY OLD MAN

According to AARP, I am officially a “Grumpy Old Man.”   (and yes, I know that many of you already know this)

Every month, like clockwork, I receive an official “membership” card in the mail, and I have been for what seems like a decade.  I mean, come on, I am only 59 years old!

I know, there are many among us that retire at 50 or 55, but most of us won’t be retiring any time soon, if ever.  

I am not sure if AARP is desperate for members or just desperate.  I mean, they are really just a front for businesses seeking our new customers aren’t they?  I guess if you are retired, you have nothing better to do than hassle people that are younger than you.

Not that I have any issues with getting older, especially considering the alternative!

In recent years I have lost many friends and relatives that have not made it to the big 6-0.  Believe me I am grateful to be old enough to be hassled by junk mail from a bunch of crotchety people with time on their hands.  

I for one, am certainly glad to be participating in this thing called TIME. Yes, I know, when I leave this earthly realm I won’t need time any more.  But I thank Jesus for every day that he has given me a little bit more of it.
Now if I can only work on being a little less grumpy.

christian law courts

All the panic about Sharia Law would go away if Christians would follow the biblical admonition to not take each other to court.  The bible is very clear that disputes among Christian are to be settled among believers.

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you.Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers![a]         1 Cornthians 6:5-8, ESV   BIBLE GATEWAY


There is a clear process for doing this outlined in the 18th Chapter of Matthew.


15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[f]in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

While many churches follow this admonition about disagreements among their members in terms of doctrine and behavior, we aren't hearing about those that do so in civil matters.  Does anyone know of those that do?   Why aren't the churches setting up courts of arbitration to hear such cases?

Since scripture admonishes believers to set up our own justice system for matters between us, why are we surprised when our Muslim neighbors to do the same?  Just asking?

 

Monday, August 15, 2016

judging the world

In recent years, bad theology has taken over many Christians running for office and running our state legislatures.  In the face of homosexuals being affirmed to have civil rights, many of our brethren have sought to create "religious freedom" laws to provide legal protection to refuse business to those who consciences are affronted by what they see as the he sinfulness of some of their customers.  The challenge of course is that these types of laws are seen by many, including many courts, to be unconstitutional because they aim to discriminate against a class of people.

Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians,  addresses sexual immorality within the church (incest in this case) and in the course of doing so, speaks to the different ways the church is to respond to such behaviors;

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders?Is it not those inside the church[b] whom you are to judge? 13 God judges[c] those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”1 Cor. 5:9-13

Paul is pretty clear: if we try to disassociate ourselves from the sin of "this world", we would need to "go out of the world."  While some believers, in an attempt to reconcile their disdain for the sin of others have tried to do exactly that, retreating to communes and cults of various types, most of us are going to associate every day with sexually immoral, greedy, swindlers, drunkards, revilers and idolaters. Indeed, our society is built in no small measure on greed and all sorts of idols that we put before God and the Creation that we are called to restore and protect.


  Paul makes clear that there is a distinction in the way we discern and judge, and this distinction has to do with our standing in the church.


What is perhaps most difficult for me, as one guilty of some of these and other sins, is that I can get caught up in the judgement game.  I have evil in my own heart and need to be open to the way the Lord deals with that.  It is unfortunate that in the effort to make our world better and more in keeping with the Christian worldview we can get caught up in the very things we detest in others.  Even worse, spending our energy on trying to discourage the sin of others can turn us into revilers - "To revile is to criticize in an abusive or hostile way, or to spread negative information about. When you verbally attack someone and call him names and say mean things,"  (yourdictionary.com)


I understand that some see homosexuality as a sin, and as a sin somehow more destructive than greed, reviling and idolatry.  What I don't understand and agree with, is why they think they need to be the morality police for the world.



Friday, April 8, 2016

HOW COME?

HOW COME?


 How come the average garage in America is 400 SF,

But it is still bigger than most houses belonging to our global neighbors?


 

How come we build these garages but we put so much stuff in them that the cars are rarely parked in them?


 

How come we spend more money on our cars than on taking care of the people around us that desperately need our help?


 

How come it seems we are more concerned about what kind of car we drive, than getting involved with making the community we live in a better place to live?


 

(perhaps it is because everybody's cars are in the driveway instead of the garage?-you know, machine envy.)


 

How come we spend so much time, energy and strength working to pay for a way of life that requires us to commute 30 minutes or more all day, when all it does is fray our nerves and pollute the planet...and especially when we know how to build better communities?


 

How come we have built a world dependent on private vehicles that do nothing but take up space 23 hours a day and require our constant care and feeding, all for a kind of costly and irresponsible convenience?