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An Anonymous Comment on my “When Homes are Heartless” Post and More

Given I Peter 3:7, what might this book mean? Could it be worth reading at all?

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I posted my short piece Addendum to the LCMS’s When Homes are Heartless: Another Problem from Another Angle on a few Lutheran Facebook groups I am on, and it’s gotten some attention, to say the least.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a good thing, although at the same time I really wish that people would pay as much attention to the recent two-part series I just launched and that I worked very hard on as well, which makes a more fulsome argument and gets to some of the deeper, and more uncomfortable, issues involved with male-female relationships and beyond.

It is called: “Sex and America’s Political Conscience: Seared, Hardened, and “Woke” All at the Same Time”

Back to this hot post: most of the comments I’ve gotten of the post have been critical in one way or another.

My basic response to the persons who think that my comments on this document are out of line (especially after they found out that in my life and I have known of no instance of physical violence among those I personally know — its like the people who say you can’t comment on abortion unless you are a woman or have even had one, I guess) is this:

I acknowledge necessary and responsible self-defense by divorce, period. I said as much in [my original] post. My concern is to *raise awareness* that the facts on the ground say that wives already–and even regularly–kill their marriages in situations where self-defense is not truly justifiable. And that this is, to say the least, a widespread problem.

This is fully in line with the topic matter of When Homes are Heartless, because as the document points out, divorce is violence. And I would urge everyone who says that the common knowledge about men and domestic violence could not be subjective at all to consider watching this short talk from Cassie Jaye, before re-engaging in the discussion (but do what you like, y’all):

 

I did receive a comment in support of the post from one commentator who appears to use a pseudonym. I also got something from another person who read my blog, sent me a response, and wishes to remain anonymous.

As with the previous post, I’m protecting this person’s identity, and so I’ve changed some insignificant details and we’ll keep this person gender-neutral as well, calling this person Pat II (remember Pat I as well, and pkease ponder again the significance of his/her story).

This is not what Pat II looks like.

If more folks would like to comment anonymously, send me your replies at nrinneatgmaildotcom. I might publish replies I get as well in the future, with your permission.

Here’s Pat II’s post, which converges with some of what Cassie Jaye says.

I would rather not comment on this issue publicly.

The fact is, domestic violence is a two way street, and I have known more female abusers than male.

And not just emotional abuse but physical. I have also help quite a few women who were living in domestic abuse shelters and none of them were in there for being abused. They were using it as a homeless shelter. And in order to do so they had to falsely accuse a man and obtain a restraining order against them just on their word (because the system is slanted).

And in reading some of the article, “When Homes are Heartless: an LCMS Perspective on Domestic Violence,” I see it is slanted too.

For instance; “One cannot ignore the overwhelming tendency of violence in male-female relations involving men as the perpetrators (Creator’s Tapestry [2009]).” And “When violence and its threats occur in a marriage, one party to the marriage actually creates a circumstance in which the other cannot remain without endangering herself, and quite often, her children.” Especially in the last paragraph, “one party” is used unbiasedly and in the next sentence, “endangering herself, and quite often, her children” clearly a manipulative agenda based paragraph.

It has been my personal experience and in the rooms of recovery for 30+ years that domestic violence is 50/50. Men have a greater capacity to harm because of their physical strength and the system ignoring them when they claim violence, and prosecuting them more times than not based on he said she said evidence.

Marriage is a two way street as well and I have never met a person who will not blame the other to some extent but usually to the greater extent for a failed marriage. And I would be hard pressed to find any woman who does not claim to be a victim in this culture of blame and lack of personal responsibility. And I can not say that about men.

To a large degree men claim victimhood as well but I could find many who take full responsibility.

I really have no time for these agenda-based article or books where men are demonized and women are perfect virtuous saints. But because I try to help many of these people see their own personal responsibility if I voiced this publicly they would not even consider my words if the thought I had a biased opinion. Which it is very clear to me that I do.

And yet I don’t believe I am judging according to a sexist agenda but rather the way of thinking that leads people into abuse and keeps them coming back. And that way of thinking is the way of blame and lack of personal responsibility, lack of respect for others that only proves their own lack of self-respect, and a complete misunderstanding and manipulation of the meaning of love, which is at its core and is best expressed in Corinthians 13.

Imagine this – the system of American justice, slanted in just this way? (well, I know some lawyers, and let me tell you….)

Another person brought the following harrowing tale from Stillwater, Oklahoma to my attention.

No thank you.

I’ll just give you a taste of the story – now 7 days old — as told by my wife’s favorite paper, the Daily Mail. The title “’Mom, you just shot him’: Shocking video shows acquitted bail officer shooting her client dead in front of her teen son,” says it all, but hear is some more:

  • Chasity Carey, 42, was acquitted on Friday of first-degree murder in the August 2017 shooting death of Brandon Williams in Oklahoma
  • Williams, 38, was a suspect in a burglary and marijuana possession case
  • Payne County District Attorney’s Office on Monday released video from Carey’s office recorded by her 19-year-old son showing the shooting
  • It shows Carey grabbing a gun from her desk drawer and shooting Williams in the back as he attempts to flee through her office window
  • During her trial, Carey claimed she shot her client in self-defense after he tried to grab her gun

I encourage you to learn more about this case and to watch the video below:

 

Well, thank God for cameras, and thank God for the You Tube commentariat:

Just ask yourself how in the world that something like this could ever happen in the American justice system, and then ask yourself if you think it might have anything at all to do with issues of gender in our country.

As one “men’s rights activist” put it, drawing a comparison with this event and the way many a divorce play out in America, there is “getting away with murder” and there is also, analogously, “getting away with divorce”.

I think I need to agree with one of my commentators: violence is not necessarily divorce even if divorce is violence.

FIN

 

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Posted by on March 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Sex and America’s Political Conscience: Seared, Hardened, and “Woke” All at the Same Time (part II of II)

I can feel your love teaching me how
Your love is teaching me how
How to kneel
Kneel! – U2, Vertigo

So, per the last post in this series, there are all kinds of amazing connections with sex and Christianity. It makes sense of course because it was God’s idea.

And, as we know, sexual desire and sexuality can also be highly disconcerting subjects. We might, for example, be certain that we should join Marxist philosopher Slavoj Zizek in appearing to casually dismiss the Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson for suggesting that “’radical feminists’ don’t speak out about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia because of ‘their unconscious wish for brutal male domination.’”

Right?

Then again, on the other hand, there are phenomena like Fifty Shades of Grey, which, to say the least, well…

Chart from 2014. Note there were around 125.9 million adult women in the U.S. that year. Do the math.

And here, even if one rightly condemns this novel as the obscene — and presumably female-friendly! — pornography that it is, these questions cannot be avoided: should a man lead in relationships? (paging Suzanne Venker...)

Sexist. Why not try to reverse this?

Relatedly, is it somehow wrong for a man to aggressively pursue sexual relations with a woman?

Is that necessarily abuse or predation of the weak?

Totally sensible, right?: “A time when women can both enjoy rape fantasies and expect never to be raped or pursued without their consent would truly be the best of times. It’s not too much to ask for.” —  Batya Ungar-Sargon

Does it not depend?

On the man? On the nature of the “aggression”?[i] On what, specifically, he is pursuing? On the situation (um, marriage, anyone?)?[ii]

Need better advice: At least in a Christian culture that respects women and consent, women generally can be the “gatekeepers”. Can say “no ring, no action.”

Christians, more than anyone (Ezekiel 16? Song of Solomon?), should know that the secular world is not all wrong about love. Even how it, on the basis of the passion and vigor that can be found in what the Greeks called eros, understandably calls into question simple political ideas of what it means for human beings to be free (forms of political freedom) and what it means for them to obey (forms of political slavery).

And even as we confess that the Left was right to insist that the personal is the political we also know there is more… much more. Especially when it comes to the spiritual realities that things like sex – marriage’s core expression – point us towards.

So of course passion must be channeled by, must be surrounded by, the love which is described in I Corinthians 13. The fireplace for the fire. And this is the true love that, the Apostle reminds us, is born of the Gospel of Jesus’ forgiveness and life — and willingly and gladly submits to the Most High God.

Can we all admit how badly we need this love here – expressed in God’s Holy Law? In this law that must not only seen as universally “preferable” but as universally binding? As expressing the furious justice and mercy of the living God?

Know this: for the secularist, saying that is high blasphemy.

“[Alfred Kinsey (pictured)] even spoke as if the introduction of Bible-based sexual morality were the watershed in human history, a sort of ‘fall’ from which we must be redeemed” (Pearcey, Love Thy Body, 133)

Of course, in #MeToo we finally have some convergence of concerns on the political right and the left. Finally, because so much focus is being directed towards victims, even the most liberal persons are concerned about sex! Perhaps now is a good time to listen to Joy Pullmann when she points out — no doubt to Batya Ungar-Sargon’s libido’s dismay — that “…[i]f mere consent is the standard, one woman’s rape could turn out to be another woman’s post-encounter regret for kink she consented to at the time, or thought she consented to until she experienced it.”

Joy Pullmann

Pullmann does not relent either, pushing the implications of Ungar-Sargon’s thinking to the necessary conclusions:

Abuse victims very frequently assent to their abuse, whether it’s psychological, physical, or sexual. This mindscrew is in fact part of the abuse. Being able to know and affirm this truth requires establishing non-arbitrary standards for behavior outside of the parties engaging in it. It requires dissenting when morally confused people like [Batya] Ungar-Sargon insist the only arbiter of what is good for women and society is each individual in isolation. It requires deciding what the boundaries should be for the common and individual good and then, yes, enforcing them, both legally and socially. That requires clarity about what, over time, has proven to encourage and hinder human flourishing, not ignorant, short-sighted, experience-shriven, and feelings-driven decisions made in the moment.

You don’t need to be a biblical prophet to recognize that Pullmann helps us see the truth: even if Christianity made a world of free consent imaginable, laws demanding consent alone will never cut it (note that some might argue that many incidents of colonialism were largely consensual to, something that reeks of far too much self-interest to be taken seriously). Legislation which encourages, exalts, and protects “natural goods” like marriage and family — and fatherhood! (and if you wanted to destroy the faith…) — must be pursued.

Come, let us exploit and be exploited: “[Bad dad] Freud…. had nothing but contempt for people who kept sex within the covenant bond of marriage: ‘Only the weaklings have acquiesced in such a gross invasion of their sexual freedom’” (quoted in Pearcey, 131).

Speaking of abuse, what about the abuse of one’s self? Strawn, whose paper on conscience in Martin Luther we looked at in part I, asks concerning homosexual activity:

The Enlightenment ideals of “liberty and the pursuit of happiness” popularly are repeated within American culture in view of homosexual activity with the sentiment: “They can do what they want as long as they don’t hurt anyone else.” But what about harm to themselves? Have we no responsibility there?

“All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” — the Apostle Paul

Once again, one doesn’t need to be a biblical prophet to see this. At the very least, there is no difficulty finding impartial studies which suggest that homosexual activity is much more likely to accompany a panoply of other harmful behaviors. In any case, for good measure we should ask this: are we so sure that such behavior is only harmful to the ones directly involved in it? Certainly, some situations involving those engaging in homosexual behavior will give most anyone pause:

The daughter of famed science fiction author Marion Zimmer Bradley has written an autobiographical account revealing the horrors of growing up in a home raised by LGBT parents who repeatedly sexually abused her and her brothers….

The trauma suffered by Moira and Patrick was so great that both of them chose a new last name, “Greyland,” to repudiate their parents’ last names. The abuse was not only sexual, but also physical and psychological, and was so savage that both siblings continue to suffer from powerful symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.[iii]

Greyland’s conclusion about this is about as un-politically correct – though not theologically incorrect — as one can get…

“[W]hy do materialists choose sex as their religion? Because in materialism, the core of human identity is in the biological, the natural, the instinctual – especially the sexual instincts” (Pearcey, 134).

“I have heard all the customary protestations. ‘Your parents were evil because they were evil, not because they were gay,’ but I disagree,” writes Moira Greyland in her new book, The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon.

“The underlying problem is a philosophical one that is based on beliefs that are not only common to gay culture but to popular culture. And this is the central belief: All Sex is Always Right No Matter What,” she wrote….

Greyland says she has spoken to many others who were raised by LGBT parents and their stories are very similar to her own.

“Every single child of gay parents with whom I spoke had certain things in common,” she writes in The Last Closet. “Those with only same-sex parents in the home ached for their missing parent and longed for a real father, and nearly all of us had been sexualized far too young.”

Nothing to see here. Move along…

But, oh, nevermind (we wouldn’t want to be politically incorrect, “insensitive” and worse, would we?)

Sexual liberty must reign — because it is essentially, in practice, false religious liberty.

Luther: “…it is a rule that whoever has started to neglect faith and conscience soon becomes a heretic and is forced to be zealous.”

What has happened here? How have we become so blind? Why must we now, as secularists increasingly insist, abandon our convictions or be kept from helping children? Why do so many remain convinced that they are actually helping? Why do so many conservatives who give in to the pressure remain convinced that they are helping?

Gerber’s popular new baby Lucas aside, don’t you silly Christians know, per Nietzsche, that aborting 90% of these is the compassionate thing to do?

Well, sin of course. And yet note the distinct, clever form it has taken in our place and context. Here, the very tolerance that Jesus’ love makes possible has now been turned against the Bible itself. Despite the biblical prohibitions to the contrary, more progressive Christians often support, for example, women’s ordination to the pastoral ministry. If you resist this, this is the basic “nice” answer you might get: “You simply do not understand what I am saying; but if you try, someday you will, and you will then embrace my position.”

That sounds really civil and all, but here is the bigger picture – with its persistent undercurrent – just in case you missed it:

  • Then, if you “get it” on women’s ordination but are not the acceptance of homosexual behavior, you are an intolerant bigot, full of irrational animus
  • Then, if you are for the acceptance of homosexual behavior but not gay adoption you are an intolerant bigot, full of irrational animus….
  • Then, if you are for gay adoption but not….

See how it works?

Luther: “In His small flock He has poor and weak consciences that are easily hurt and are not easily comforted. He is a King of the strong and the weak alike; He hates the proud and declares war on the strong.”

God bless the simple natural families that seek to love one another and make their way in the world before Him!

Martin Luther majored in providing comfort to weak consciences – burdened “by the memory of former sins, actual sins, evil events, and the fear of future punishment” — through the Gospel of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

That said, Luther also vigorously upheld the importance of God’s law consistently forming the conscience of man — in the home of the Christian and beyond. Man needs both law and gospel. Before we can be comforted, we need to be confronted with the truth.

That includes the confronting the truth about America and confronting America with the truth.

Hope for compatibility? Well, which one first?

Not so long ago, a student of mine, speaking about a “seeker sensitive” megachurch he had attended, stated the following: “churches play an extremely valuable role in helping people feel the same freedom about their choices with religion that they are accustomed to feeling in other areas of life.”

Because capitalism has been so fantastically successful — with companies able to market directly to youth — the adolescent values ascendant in the 50s and 60s are quite dominant… — Heather MacDonald.

This made me think about something I had said in my 36 points explaining why I was now calling myself a “Liberal Christian Nationalist”. Point #20 said:

The hope that all persons would be able to freely express themselves and become the selves and nations they wish to be is true, pure and lovely (Philippians 4:8) – even as it is a hope that simply cannot reasonably be fulfilled in all situations.

Because of Classical Liberalism’s Bad Conscience?

Is this a lovely ideal that, in the end, is simply untenable in the world? That kicks against the goads of political realities? Because, we either cannot – or if we can we will not – be the people God created us to be? We who mock and blaspheme against God?

Contra David French, steamroll away Christian, unapologetically being formed and forming consciences by the word and grace of God. Converting and cowing your own and other’s flesh not with physical force, but with the Spirit of Truth.

Is that all the church militant does?: “Intersectionality steamrolls right over the lukewarm, leaving them converted or cowed. The answer, of course, isn’t to steamroll back — after all, our faith is supposed to be full of grace — but rather to respond with calm conviction” – David French

That’s right. We’ve been innocent as doves.

It’s time to be as wise as serpents….

Whatever you do, don’t despair – even if America fails – but lift up you heads….

Look to the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

FIN

 

Notes:

[i] So as not to be misunderstood: When love is awakened, as the Song of Solomon speaks of, a strength and vigor which stops at something (that is, rejection of the advances) is, to the world’s eyes, indistinguishable from one that stops at nothing.

[ii] To build on the above, is it, in general, wrong for a women to be attracted to a powerful man who, seemingly undeterred by rejection, gives every outward impression that he will strike while the iron is hot, so to speak?

[iii] More from the whole article, which is worth reading in full:

“Alarmingly, Greyland reveals that her parents’ sympathetic views of pedophilia and pederasty had been a public fact for decades, one known particularly among science fiction and fantasy fans who attended fan conferences. Science fiction fans documented Breen’s molestation of at least ten children by 1963, which had only resulted in his temporary exclusion from the largest science fiction fan convention, Worldcon, and was never reported to the police. Breen continued to attend conferences for many years afterward, baiting children he targeted with abuse with various science education gadgets that would attract their attention.

Greyland writes that Breen was an open member of the “North American Man-Boy Love Association,” and he saw his pederastic proclivities as a natural consequence of his homosexuality. He and Zimmer Bradley jointly published a journal on pederasty and pedophilia, The International Journal of Greek Love, in 1965 and 1966, and Zimmer wrote an article for it treating lesbian pedophilia in a positive manner.”

Images:

U2 on Vertigo Tour, CC 2.5 Generic, by Wikipedia brown ; 50 Shades stats pic licensed for use to me by https://www.statista.com/ ; Joy Pullian from http://thefederalist.com/author/joy-pullmann/ ; Figure skaters: http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Yannick+Kocon/ISU+World+Figure+Skating+Championships+Day/AuAnZUEynCJ ; Freud, Kinsey, Down’s syndrome boy (CC BY-SA 3.0) all CC from Wikipedia. Christian flag from Pixabay (free use).

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Addendum to the LCMS’s When Homes are Heartless: Another Problem from Another Angle

A battery of false accusations against our Father, circa 1995.

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I recently came across and read the document, When Homes are Heartless: an LC-MS Perspective on Domestic Abuse (download it here).

It’s a harrowing thing to read — and while certainly challenging when considered along with the church’s historic teaching on Confession and Absolution — an important document to consider and prayerfully wrestle with.

In it, you will read, e.g.:

  • “One cannot ignore the overwhelming tendency of violence in male-female relations involving men as the perpetrators (Creator’s Tapestry [2009]).”
  • “[Because of things like abuse, marriage’s] permanent purpose — that it is intended to last for good — is also spoiled.”

Cain and Abel, the first example of domestic abuse, and “the first family suffers permanent damage”

 

  • “Conflict within the home is predicted when the Lord declares that childbirth will be marred with pain, that the relationship of husband and wife will potentially involve struggles over ‘rule’…”
  • “Families, despite their imperfections, are the settings in which countless children are protected and nurtured and guided to adulthood.”
  • “The CTCR recognizes that Scriptures do not specifically define the character of abandonment or desertion (Divorce and Remarriage: An Exegetical Study [1987]), noting that this may include not only total departure from the marriage by an unbelieving spouse, but other actions as well that create an enduring separation for the couple” (see I Cor. 7:15 where it talks about separation and I Cor. 7: 3-5).
  • “When violence and its threats occur in a marriage, one party to the marriage actually creates a circumstance in which the other cannot remain without endangering herself, and quite often, her children.”
  • “[P]articularly in cases of domestic violence, individual Christians should seek the protection of police and courts — God’s appointed servants for our good as well as His servants in the restraint of wrongdoing (Rom. 13:3-4).”

Again, give this important document a read.

At the same time, as I read it, I thought about another way that homes are heartless – and which is far less known and talked about.

How do we prevent unhappy men and women from divorcing their spouses?

I was saddened to hear the news this past week of Donald Trump Jr. and his wife splitting up. Actually, to be more precise, Donald Trump Jr.’s wife is leaving him. We don’t know the reasons for this divorce, but I have known persons close to me — very good persons who are now, thanks be to God, happily married — who were left by their spouses, and presumably for no other reason than dissatisfaction and the pursuit of happiness.

As this “When Homes are Heartless” document says:

“Hard-hearted sin leads many to refuse to uphold the promises of marriage. They put away the spouse God has given to them and destroy the unity He created. Jesus calls divorce a form of adultery, which He identifies as profoundly destructive to marriage (Matt. 19:8-9).”

I also think about some of questions that came up as I read the document as well. At one point, for example, we read the following:

“it is important to recognize that sometimes domestic violence or abuse is more verbal and emotional than it is explicitly physical. That does not mean that every example of an angry outburst or a cross word constitutes ‘abuse,’ but it is necessary to emphasize that obedience to God’s laws and expectations is never merely a matter of external conduct. Just as sin flows from the heart (Matt. 15:19), so do genuine obedience and good works. The husband who has abused his wife cannot claim that he is innocent of destroying his marriage since he ‘never caused permanent physical harm’ and, besides that, was a ‘good provider’ or ‘never cheated.’”

I found this passage a bit difficult — and even disturbing — for a few reasons. Why?

First, all of this is said in the context of a part of the document that is dealing with understandable reasons that persons might have for getting a divorce. What kind of evidence might be required to render these kinds of decisions? It seems to me that the dangers for subjectivity here are immense.

Second, I thought about how I often deserve hard words from the Lord, and there are certainly times God deals with His people with words that many might perceive to be abusive. One only need to read the Bible for a while to realize that God accuses us with stinging words, labels and names (even though I tell my kids not to do this with others, I have told them they should call me “fat” — and variations thereof — ever since I discovered I could not fit into a pair of pants the other day).

Third, I tried to imagine a husband divorcing his wife for this reason. What would we think of a man who used this as his rationale to put away his wife?

Fourth, is it just me or does it seem like we are getting very, very far away from the Apostle Paul’s admonition to “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses” (I Tim. 5:19)?

C.F.W. Walther: “a true Christian manifests himself as a person who fears to commit a single sin….” Especially when it comes to your reputation, you nasty patriarch?

Finally, another disturbing element of the document was this: in it – albeit in very understandable circumstances – one is certainly able to get the impression that continued falls into sin after one says they are sorry are a sure indication that repentance has not been genuine.

But no good Christian would take advantage of all of this stuff above, would they? Right?

Let me share a bit about a conversation that I had with someone online about marriage and divorce that continues to haunt me.

I knew a person who claimed Christ and who was always able to give the correct theological answers. This person is very sharp and incredibly isightful, and often would point out things in the biblical text to me that I had missed.

This person, who I will call “Pat,” (and I’m changing a few insignificant details as well) had had two previous “committed” relationships, one of them being a marriage and the other being a 12 year live-in relationship. Pat told me that love is forever and that s/he would die for their previous partners and still loves them as friends. In both cases Pat left this spouse/partner because if both of them were going to be happy this, I was told, was the necessary step.

It was explained to me that Pat chose his/her partners even though Pat knew that they were only about a 75% match. Going into the relationship, Pat saw the 25% as important stuff that both partners would work on together. The problem, however, was that his/her partners did not want to work on that 25% of stuff.

Pat doesn’t look like this classic character.

Pat realized that the problem was choosing persons who were close to him/her and were “safe choices.” It was hard for Pat to really take risks, appropriately demanding what s/he wanted before the relationship would get serious. It was explained to me that the key was a lack of maturity.

Now that Pat has more maturity, things are looking up. The risk was taken – putting one’s self out there – and now a 90% match was attained, with that difference making all the difference. The arguing and bickering and ignoring was no more. Now, the happy couple was working on the remaining 10% together.

The lesson learned was that we can’t expect everyone to have good committed relationships the first time — especially when people grew up in bad homes. Therefore, instead of teaching the traditional way of marriage with its “till death do we part,” we need to teach them not to settle for the things that won’t work just for the sake of love.

Whatever I tried to say to try and to get Pat to doubt these view and to reconsider, I could not do it. I tried my best – and prayerfully – to be unfailing kind, a listener, keep Pat on the line, etc.

Now, is this a good way for any Christian to look at things? Whether they are a man or a woman?

This is a little different, to say the least, from what I heard from mother. When I was little, I knew nothing of divorce. One day, to my horror, I realized it was a thing. So, one day, when my mom and dad fight like they never have before, I, very young, ask “Are you and dad getting a divorce?”. My mom, very serious, looks me in the eye and says “Nathan, your father and I will never get a divorce. There is no plan B.”

Not my mom’s philosophy, thanks be to God.

Now, I don’t think it matters one whit whether Pat is a man or a woman. That said, however, there are some things that I and others have noticed:

I may not have time to defend the idea of why marriage is a good thing for men, who, either burned or seeing others burned, want nothing to do with it (see here). At the same time, I do think something should be done. What does this all mean? Are there answers to these questions? Should not solutions to these issues be pursued vigorously by some?

45 million copies sold in the United States alone by *2014*? I’m sure half of those where by men, right?

How do we prevent unhappy men and women from divorcing their spouses? I wonder if the more pressing question that we must deal with here is this:

How do we protect unhappy women from the idea that divorcing one’s husband is a good idea?

FIN

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Timothy Wengert: no Friend of Confessional Lutherans

Some bound consciences are more equal than others, Dr. Wengert.

 

Just posted the following on the Confessional Lutheran Fellowship group on Facebook:

The ELCA seminary in Pennsylvania is running out their President for once having told Christians to resist same-sex attraction (story here). Evidently, all “bound consciences” are not created equal. Timothy Wengert, who teaches at that seminary, is the contributing editor of Lutheran Quarterly (which many LC-MS authors write for), co-translated the Book of Concord with Robert Kolb, and helped make all of this possible with his 2009 paper talking about Martin Luther and the issue of “bound consciences.”

Wengert either is a very irresponsible scholar or a very dishonest one. In the blog post I shared yesterday “Sex and America’s Political Conscience: Seared, Hardened, and “Woke” All at the Same Time (part I of II)”, I provided Martin Luther’s true view of conscience from Pastor Paul Strawn’s paper on the topic, which you can read here:

https://drive.google.com/…/1ZBlJuBKMOIZVNZBa0mj2_mQ_d5…/view

In the paper, you will learn about:

*Wengert’s “simply tragic” (I’d use a different word) failure to acknowledge existing scholarship that had been done on Martin Luther and the conscience by highly noted scholars (I add, this is a good way to kill your conscience about conscience).

*How for Luther, “the burdening of the conscience with man-made laws or traditions, and the burdening of the conscience by the Law of God in view of sin, are two vastly different things.”

*How an evil conscience can become hardened: “man can and does fight against his conscience and eventually, may even be able to subdue it so that it goes into a type of dormancy.”

*How Luther found these things not only in the Bible, but in the character of Orestes in Virgil’s Aeneid: the Erinyes, or Furies, of Alecto (“unceasing”), Megaera (“grudging”), and Tisiphone (“avenging murder,” hounding the guilty for their sin). If hell is not feared, future pain and suffering certainly is. (Luther: “I am speaking about true knowledge, in which the wrath of God against sin is perceived and a true taste of death is sensed….” (AE 26:148))

*How Luther broke with the scholastic concept of the human conscience which said that it, in part, was a “native capacity to choose to do good,” and instead spoke about the matter in accordance with the Apostle Paul.

*Luther: “[the conscience’s] purpose is not to do, but to pass judgment on what has been done and what should be done, and this judgment makes us stand accused or saved in God’s sight.”

*How a natural conscience, which has a knowledge of God and His Law, can become a seared conscience, i.e. one that functions improperly, where it cannot “accurately judge the actions of the individual.”

*In other words, it becomes “artificial, false, unreasonable, not natural, not true, causing a fear of God, that is worship, where God is not to be feared or worshiped.”

*For a good conscience, “an unfortunate event (which would terrify the evil conscience, bringing to mind former sins, and bringing to light future judgment) is considered not to have happened by chance, ‘but in accord with the good will of God.’”

*In sum “[h]ow Timothy Wengert applied the concept of ‘bound conscience’ to those who claim to be Christian but who would live in homosexual relationships is not to be found in the writings of Martin Luther” (to say the least!)

Please comment below, or if you are in CLF, go there and comment.

FIN

 

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Sex and America’s Political Conscience: Seared, Hardened, and “Woke” All at the Same Time (part I of II)

Martin Luther, free to be?: the conscience must be free from the Law, but the body must obey the Law (AE 9:136, Cf. AE 31:124)

You want to get to the sex stuff and political stuff?

Let’s start with something far more important: Christ’s Church, the Chosen Bride of the King (see what I did there?).

“You can’t take sex out of things.” – Jordan Peterson, here.

For me, as a traditional Christian, “politics is downstream from culture,” and culture, derived from the Latin cultus, means “care, cultivation, worship,” which relates to religious faith. This, in turn, brings me to the Church and its responsibility for educating and disciplining the people of God — keeping its own house in order. In other words, Christian truth — backed up with real consequences when ignored (not only what some call “natural consequences”) — must continually prevail over and against even more “liberal” notions.

This includes even liberal political notions like freedom, equality, fraternity, etc. – things admittedly made somewhat realizable for many only with the help of Christianity.

Steven, again failing to properly credit the real Father.

And this certainly is no small task for today’s church. Why? It is because everywhere, including within the Church, consciences have been and are being increasingly seared and hardened (more on these concepts below) daily….

And, looking out more broadly, in many cases, the world and the Church like how it conscience has been seared and hardened. As Woody Allen so memorably put it, “the heart wants what it wants”. Freedom! (vs. that terrible Christian repression, you know!).

“The Mike Pence Rule” — are this man’s issues setting women everywhere back?

At the same time, there is an annoying side-effect of all this. When these folks think about Christianity, it can ruin their day. Thinking about the faith’s views about sex and gender in particular, they get upset and then proceed to ask the faithful why we fixate on these issues.

Currently, Theresa Latini, newly elected President of United Lutheran Seminary in Pennsylvania, is finding out that a position she took in the past — that Christians should resist same-sex attraction — is enough to have her run out of an ELCA seminary today.

Have you now or ever been a member of OneByOne? (some “bound consciences” are more equal than others, you know).

Way back in 2009, when the Lutheran theologian Timothy Wengert provided the justification for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s (ELCA) acceptance of homosexual behavior by their clergy, many who both reject Christ and who claim Christ were doubtless gratified. On the other hand, the short paper Wengert wrote which did this, “Reflections on the Bound Conscience in Lutheran Theology,”[1] prompted my own pastor – a Lutheran who loves and adheres to the 1580 Book of Concord – to study the topic of conscience in the work of Martin Luther.

…or with Luther’s existentialist, pragmatic interpreters…

I highly recommend reading Pastor Paul Strawn’s paper, as you will learn about…:

  • Wengert’s “simply tragic” (I’d use a different word) failure to acknowledge existing scholarship that had been done on Martin Luther and the conscience by highly noted scholars (I add, this is a good way to kill your conscience about conscience).
  • How for Luther, “the burdening of the conscience with man-made laws or traditions, and the burdening of the conscience by the Law of God in view of sin, are two vastly different things.”
  • How this conscience burdened by God’s Law is an “evil conscience,” “plagued by guilt and despair in the face of the knowledge of God’s judgment upon a specific sin.”
  • How an evil conscience can become hardened: “man can and does fight against his conscience and eventually, may even be able to subdue it so that it goes into a type of dormancy.”
  • How Luther found these things not only in the Bible, but in the character of Orestes in Virgil’s Aeneid: the Erinyes, or Furies, of Alecto (“unceasing”), Megaera (“grudging”), and Tisiphone (“avenging murder,” hounding the guilty for their sin). If hell is not feared, future pain and suffering certainly is.

Luther: “I am speaking about true knowledge, in which the wrath of God against sin is perceived and a true taste of death is sensed….” (AE 26:148)

  • How Luther broke with the scholastic concept of the human conscience which said that it, in part, was a “native capacity to choose to do good,” and instead spoke about the matter in accordance with the Apostle Paul.
  • Luther: “[the conscience’s] purpose is not to do, but to pass judgment on what has been done and what should be done, and this judgment makes us stand accused or saved in God’s sight.”
  • How a natural conscience, which has a knowledge of God and His Law, can become a seared conscience, i.e. one that functions improperly, where it cannot “accurately judge the actions of the individual.”
  • In other words, it becomes “artificial, false, unreasonable, not natural, not true, causing a fear of God, that is worship, where God is not to be feared or worshiped.”
  • For a good conscience, “an unfortunate event (which would terrify the evil conscience, bringing to mind former sins, and bringing to light future judgment) is considered not to have happened by chance, ‘but in accord with the good will of God.’”
  • In sum “[h]ow Timothy Wengert applied the concept of ‘bound conscience’ to those who claim to be Christian but who would live in homosexual relationships is not to be found in the writings of Martin Luther” (to say the least!).

“And if my conscience tried to reproach me, saying, ‘You take a good deal of liberty with your interpretation, Sir Martin, but—but—’ etc., I would press until I became red in the face, and say, ‘Keep quiet, you traitor with your “but,” I don’t want the people to notice that I have such a bad conscience!’” More (see this also).

Now, perhaps, in referring to this nine year old event and showing how utterly bankrupt Wenger’s argument (and scholarship) is, I’ve already really upset some of my Christian brothers and sisters here. Even if it is true that men like Timothy Wengert did not do due diligence as a scholar here – so what? Why do you need to focus here, on this? Why put so much focus here on what people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms and not on people who are poor, who are weak, who are oppressed?

Oh — I didn’t mean that.

Fortunately, I am feeling particularly inclined to engage concerns like this today. In that spirit, let me really try my best to reconnect with you, even as I seek to adjust your frame…:

  • I agree we should be talking about this more and acting here more. In general, we should “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”
  • It is true that to the idea that “I/you am/are not a victim” we need to respond: “We are all both victims and victimizers.” Some of us more so and some of us less so.
  • Liberal: “We should be more concerned about issues concerning women and race.” Conservative: “What about Saudi Arabia and China? Why don’t you care about them?” Well, shouldn’t we take the log out of our own eye first? Point to the Liberal.

No offense, but its true.

  • That said, if you don’t really don’t feel any real strong affection for your own countrymen who contribute to the problems, shouldn’t you just shut up? Point to the Conservative.
  • The left, with good points about greed and living wages. The right, with good points about the power and danger of sex and the rule of law. And never the two shall meet?
  • We should not fail to speak the truth about any issue, no matter where our culture or political party of choice stands on it.
  • Both the increasingly pagan right and the increasingly fake-Christian left (Fully secular? Please….) are loathe to recognize and deal with the fact that notions of progress come from the Bible, problematizing what is “natural” or “ideal” as the case may be.
  • Finally, even if you don’t like talking about sexual issues, people really are harmed by the misuse of God’s good gift of sex.

Yeah, you see how I used that final bullet point to get us back to sex, right? Still, it’s certainly justified: aren’t we all, after all, waking up to this now like never before? If the past few months, have taught us anything, it is that sex appears to be a big deal for most everybody involved…

Sex education literature, per Shalit, says that those who can separate sex from love are sophisticated… “those who still dream of love are immature…” – Per Pearcey, 123

And of course it is. For Christ is the husband and the Church is His bride – that’s meant to include you to. And marriage, as we know, is largely for sex even as sex is entirely for marriage. Sex shouldn’t be our religion – though given its significance it is understandable how this can occur – but is a critical component of marriage, which is one of the primary icons of the True Religion.

Is the practice of monogamous marriage simply communism applied to a “sexual marketplace”? Or is it an icon of our intended destiny?: Christ with His Bride, the Church

I’d go further and argue that the reason sex is such a big deal is because the dynamics often found there – strength, beauty, attraction, desire, seduction – are a microcosm of the dynamics that occur in the world on a larger scale.

I call it Christian heresy: “Through sex, mankind may attain the great spiritual illumination which will transform the world, which will light up the only path to an earthly paradise” – Margaret Sanger (quoted in Pearcey, 132)

This will be explored much more in part II of this series, but for now we can simply say this: part of this is because even as more secularized persons in particular complain about the disenchantment of the world, sex continues to enchant – giving us a sense of the kinds of things that capture our adulation and praise. The philosopher Matthew Crawford smacks us in our politically correct faces:

“Stepping outside the intellectually serious circle of my teachers and friends at Chicago into the broader academic world, it struck me as an industry hostile to thinking. I once attended a conference entitled “After the Beautiful.” The premise was a variation on “the death of God,” the supposed disenchantment of the world, and so forth. Speaking up for my own sense of enchantment, I pointed out, from the audience, the existence of beautiful human bodies. Youthful ones, in particular. This must have touched a nerve, as it was greeted with incredulous howls of outrage from some of the more senior harpies.” (Shop Class as Soulcraft: an Inquiry into the Value of Work, pp. 104-105).

And Christianity’s connection with all of this?[i] Nancy Pearcy, in her fantastic new book Love Thy Body, has many important tidbits to share: (note the impressive review/interview here from, of all places, Religion News Service)

  • “We should never defend Christianity by saying it is traditional. From the beginning, it has stood against the traditions of its day” (70).
  • “Beginning in the fifth century, Christian leaders finally began to wield enough political influence to pass laws against sexual slavery…The most reliable index of how deeply Christianity had permeated a society was whether it outlawed sexual slavery” (72).
  • “[In ancient Greece and Rome] brothels specializing in sex slaves, including children, were a legal and thriving businesses… Jesus shocked his contemporaries by treating children not as contemptible but as valuable…” (104-105).

  • “Scripture offers a stunningly high view of physical union as a union of whole persons across all dimensions” (138).
  • “The communion of male and female is meant to mirror the communion of divine persons within the Trinity” (139).
  • “Some of the early martyrs were slaves who proclaimed their freedom in Christ by refusing to [sexually] service their masters – and were executed for it” (143).
  • “Christianity, we might say, invented consensual sex when it developed a sex ethic that assumed that God empowers individuals with freedom” (143).
  • “When we make sexual decisions, we are not just deciding whether to follow a few rules. We are expressing our view of the cosmos and human nature” (156).

Marriage contra mundum: If sex becomes, for both men *and women*, simply akin to the rationalized exploitation we often see in unbridled capitalism, will marriage as a covenant – and not just another contract – begin to make sense to the West again?

“We are expressing our view of the cosmos and human nature” not only as regards sexual decisions but about politics as well. After all, most political action — that is the governance of human beings in the world — happens organically with marriage, i.e. at the level of the family the one flesh union creates. It should therefore be no mystery why marriage is the ultimate icon of Christ and His Bride, who is the Church — the mother of the children of God who guides them to their Shepherd-King.

“…To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections….” — Edmund Burke

This is why, as Pearcey provocatively puts it, “The early church may have been ‘on the wrong side of history.’ But that’s why it changed history”(188).

The previous title of Professor Alvin Schmidt’s book “How Christianity Changed the World” says it all: “Under the Influence” – namely, of Christ and the Christian conscience!…

Wrong worship!: The internet exists for the proclamation of the word of God. The world thinks its there for pornography! — Pastor Will Weedon (listen)

I hope I’ll see you for part II on Monday. I promise the title of the post will reach its consummation then…

FIN

 

Notes:

[1] [Footnote from Strawn’s paper:] Originally: http://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GPEA_enUS313US313&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=Timothy+Wengert+Conscience. Here as well: http://www.ewaidsynod.org/images/Resolution_12_-_Supporting_Doc_On_Bound_Conscience.pdf.

[i] From an old post: “In the bible, both adoption and marriage – which always includes a physically intimate, or sexual, component – are the two great metaphors of the Bible: this is how God deals with His people. Further, marriage is arguably the stronger of the two metaphors – so perhaps in this sense at least, Christianity is mainly about “sexual issues” (see this interesting post by Rod Dreher that I initially wanted to rebel against**). Though we might find the imagery put forth in passages like Ezekiel 16 disturbing in many ways – the sexualized symbolism here is jarring to say the least – this uncomfortable parable has much to teach us about the nature of God’s relationship with those who trust in Him (I pondered this more here, offering a counterpoint to assertions made in Justification is for Preaching, ed. Virgil Thompson).”

Images: Jordan Peterson, Joseph McCarthy, Mike Pence, Milo Y, Margaret Sanger, and Edmund Burke all from Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0 or Public Domain)

 

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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What do Jordan Peterson’s and Harvard’s Views of Truth Have to do with One Another?

What does this mean?

 

The key similarity is this:

Both are confident that their understanding of what is both significant and true will, in the long run, be justified. This, interestingly, is related to their persons – to the fact that they understand themselves as striving to be as true as one can be.[i]

The idea is this: In the long term, things will work out well, meaning increased benefits and flourishing for many, and therefore, they will be shown to be true.

What is happening here? In sum, truth’s connection with classical ideas of knowledge – that is justified true belief – has been severed. We now have a new kind of knowledge: conceivable useful trust.

Let’s take a closer look.

First, here is a short account of Harvard’s history with the word truth:

The story of the Harvard arms is writ deep in the past. Veritas, which is Latin for “truth,” was adopted as Harvard’s motto in 1643, but did not see the light of day for almost two centuries. Instead, in 1650, the Harvard Corporation chose In Christi Gloriam, a Latin phrase meaning “For the glory of Christ.”

Veritas eventually was discovered in old college records by Harvard President Josiah Quincy III, and re-emerged in 1836 when it appeared on a banner celebrating the College’s 200th anniversary. The word briefly lived on in the Harvard seal from 1843 to 1847, when it was booted off in favor of Christo et Ecclesiae, or “For Christ in the Church.”

In time, Veritas would become the one word most closely associated with Harvard. But it took an 1880 poem by writer and Professor of Medicine Oliver Wendell Holmes to revive it for good. The poem urged Harvard to “let thine earliest symbol be thy last.” If ubiquity is any measure, Holmes’ poetic wish came true. Veritas was Harvard’s oldest idea for a motto and, after centuries of neglect, is here to stay. (from here: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/05/seal-of-approval/)

All this is very interesting when taking into account recent actions that have occurred at Harvard, which you can listen to Albert Mohler discuss here under his heading “Ideological cleansing on campus: Harvard forces Christian ministry to choose between Christian convictions and continued ministry on campus”.

From the Harvard Crimson:

Harvard College Faith and Action will need to sever ties with parent group Christian Union in order to re-earn recognition from the College at the end of its year-long administrative probation, according to College spokesperson Rachael Dane….

[HCFA’s co-presidents] deny that [it] ever fell out of compliance with the College’s nondiscrimination standards.

The two wrote in a previous statement that they “reject any notion that we discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.” Ely and Richmond attributed the Sept. 2017 dismissal of the student to an “irreconcilable theological disagreement.”

Asked to elaborate, Ely and Richmond specifically pointed to HCFA’s stance on extramarital sex. The co-presidents asserted the group believes those in leadership positions must remain celibate, adding HCFA applies this policy “regardless of sexual orientation.”

But the woman who was asked to step down wrote in an email to The Crimson Friday that she and her girlfriend had never engaged in “extramarital sex.” The woman spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

“We’ve been fairly open in our conversations within HCFA about our decision to not have sex until marriage since the beginning of our relationship,” the woman wrote in the email.

From here, one sees that Harvard University – and many of its student population for that matter – do not believe that the Bible’s identifying homosexual activity as sinful is right or true — at least for today or tomorrow. The Right Side of History, you know.[ii]

In order to examine Jordan Peterson’s view of truth, I am going to quote from an email I recently received from a very knowledgeable colleague in my field, library science:

Recently, I discovered the thinking of Jordan Peterson, an academic from Canada, and I haven’t yet reached a final opinion, although he is interesting and all over the web. He did a podcast with Sam Harris, a scientist and it set me thinking.

Peterson is a Christian but of no particular denomination that I am aware of, while Harris is an atheist. Their discussion was interesting because they got stuck on the notion of truth…. From my understanding of their point of disagreement, Peterson believes in the primacy of the moral consequences of any thing or event. Therefore, while something may be objectively (or scientifically) true, if accepting that truth leads to evil consequences, then what we perceive as true cannot be ultimately true.

Therefore, if scientific truth is at odds with moral truth, then the moral truth should prevail. The example was the nuclear bomb. Here is a quote from Peterson: “…I would say that the proposition that the universe is best conceptualized as sub-atomic particles was true enough to generate a hydrogen bomb, but it wasn’t true enough to stop everyone from dying.  And, therefore, from a Darwinian perspective, it was an insufficient pragmatic proposition and was therefore in some fundamental sense, wrong.  And, perhaps it was wrong because of what it left out.  You know, maybe it is wrong, in the Darwinian sense, to reduce the complexity of being to a material substrate and forget about the surrounding context.”

This makes sense for Peterson, who is a Christian and believes in an all-powerful God who is good and loves us.

To Harris, who is a scientist and atheist, such a way of thinking was incomprehensible. A truth/fact is a fact no matter where it leads you, but for Peterson, if it leads to bad moral consequences, that same truth/fact cannot be true.

….This is the link to the podcast, if you are interested but there are lots of discussions about this podcast on the web. https://samharris.org/podcasts/what-is-true/

For now, let us leave aside the question of whether or not Peterson claims to be a Christian.[iii] As for his interesting view of truth, in some ways it does mirror the Christian message, because a part of that message is that God is faithful and true – He will “set the world to rights” in the end.

“It works! It works!” — Jordan Peterson, speaking of the Logos.

That said, all of this is missing something very important, and something that even many secular persons (like Sam Harris and the man who sent this to me) want to hold on to.

Namely this: We can and should say that some things are true (and not just conceivable, useful, and worthy of trusting in). We can make statements that are true, period. Even statements that stand trans-historically and trans-culturally.

That is what things like the Nicene Creed are all about.

The world’s a chaotic sea and the faith is our Ultimate Rock.

Now, I can sense the objections coming: all of this might make some — particularly those in the academic world — think that Christians cannot speak intelligently about change.

On the contrary, I would humbly suggest that Christians are the ones who can most sensibly about the reality of change. If you don’t believe me, listen to this excellent presentation on “The Provisional Nature of Truth” from Pastor James Wetzstein from Valparaiso University, speaking this past week at the first annual Oswald Hoffman lecture at Concordia University in St. Paul:

 

After listening to the talk, I again thought about how there are a lot of things you and I can say that are certain and true (some more readily believed by everyone than others, even trans-culturally and trans-historically) — even if the fullness or completeness of that statement and what it entails, means, etc. is not known.

I checked with Pastor Wetzstein and he indicated to me that he thought that was a good point.

I hope you find that I’ve made another good point in this post. Let me know if you disagree.

FIN

 

Notes:

[i] This is related to my argument here: https://reliablesourcessite.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/sola-commoditas-truth-is-fitness-alone/

[ii] Nevermind.

[iii] He has certainly been willing to let statements implying that he is stand unchallenged. Note the discussion starting around 48:28 in the following YouTube video (Jan. 31, 2018):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRPDGEgaATU. On the other hand, not long before that conversation, in Canada’s National Post, the following exchange took place: “Are you a Christian? Do you believe in God?” Peterson responds: “I think the proper response to that is No, but I’m afraid He might exist.” http://nationalpost.com/feature/christie-blatchford-sits-down-with-warrior-for-common-sense-jordan-peterson

Images:

n-gram: http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2014/04/17/the_phrase_the_wrong_side_of_history_around_for_more_than_a_century_is_getting.html

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Autobiography of a Failed Prophet, a Poem by Keith Horrigan

Poem by Keith Horrigan

When days were bright
and not so grey,
I put my
childish toys away,
and I wandered
from this Eden
unrepentant.

But I was young
and still naive,
when I felt the child
within me leave,
when the venom
of this serpent
struck my heal.

So with my inheritance
in hand,
I made my way
to a foreign land,
and I lived my life
in foolishness
and folly.

When I found myself
broke and alone,
in servitude
for seeds I’ve sown,
I was vanquished
and contrite
at my returning.

To the slaughter
of the fatted calf,
the joyful sound
of my fathers laugh,
and the envy
of the eldest
of the manor.

And I begged my father
to forgive,
said I once was dead
but now I live,
but the eldest
of his seed
would never enter.

So I labored through
my given chores,
strewn out across
these threshing floors,
and the services
I rendered
filled my plater.

And if I built my house
upon this rock,
and I gave it
everything I got,
I am certain
this foundation
would support me.

But I’m faithful as
the foolish man,
who built his house
upon the sand,
and the waters rose
and mighty
was its ruin.

Because truth be told
to my dismay,
in all the bounty
of these days
I found
no satisfaction
in these labors.

So when a brood of vipers
came and knelt,
before a vest of hair
and leather belt,
for the shaking
of this reed
out in the wind.

In fulfillment of
his sacred vow,
he suffered it
to be so now,
and submerged me
in the mighty
river Jordan.

And when from this seed
the chaff was sifted,
up from the water
I was lifted,
and I felt
the whole creation
moving through me.

And a dove appeared
above my head,
when I was salvaged
from the dead,
and the power
of the spirit
breathed within me.

And he promised me
the tree of life,
but left me here
within this strife,
and expected me
to conquer
all these failings.

So for forty nights
and forty days,
I was tempted by
the devils ways,
and the testing
of my faith
produced endurance.

But when tempting me
with silk and lace,
the first time
that I saw her face,
all the value
of this treasure
overwhelmed me.

And the devil wagered
I’d give in,
when he placed
these boils on my skin,
and much greater
than the first
was my undoing.

So to the queen
of Babylon I prayed,
and down her streets
I paved my ways,
to the central
city square
where I found her.

And when I looked into
her deep dark eyes,
I could hear the sound
of angels cry,
and the presence
of the spirit
taken from me.

In a scarlet red
and purple dress,
with precious pearls
upon her breasts,
laid out
in all the filth
of her adulteries.

Her voice like music
to my ears,
came with pain
but soothed my fears,
and the loneliness
and heartache
all receded.

And the cup she held
within her hand,
poured abominations
on the land,
and the kings
of all the earth
bowed down before her.

And more valuable
than desert pearls,
was the softness
of her loose knit curls,
perfected
in the brightness
of the sun light.

And the texture
of her ruby lips,
and the rhythm
of her raven hips,
were in sync
with every movement
of my heartstrings.

And within my heart
I did desire,
to be captured there
within her fire,
and reduced
within my pride
to pain and torment.

So I pulled the fruit off
from her vine,
and intoxicated
I resigned,
to dine on things
unholy
and forbidden.

But her demons
masquerade as light,
reminding all
within her sight,
that the earthly
has no way of
breaking through her.

And I could hide in caves
and among the rocks,
and in fortresses
of hardened block,
and beg
the whole creation
down upon me.

But neither king nor prince
nor slave nor free,
could escape these
demons plaguing me,
and no power
born of woman
could resist her.

And with this leprosy
upon my soul,
I searched for ways
to make me whole,
but the emptiness
within me
never proved it.

And I’ve tried to
recompense this hour,
where moth does eat
and worms devour,
but I cower
and I fade
into her darkness.

And I wondered if
she’s doing well,
if she learned to love
this living hell,
and the fire
and the brimstone
that consumes her.

And seven demons
took control,
and made their way
into my soul,
and the people
of the village
called me legion.

In my Fathers house
are many rooms,
but I’m waiting chained
among her tombs,
for the casting
of these demons
into swine.

And the martyr
that I stood beneath,
with weeping eyes
and gnashing teeth,
confessed to me
he never
really knew me.

Now I walk these
streets alone at night,
and search for ways
to make this right,
but the darkness
and the twilight
all mislead me.

And I wonder if
I’m past reprieve,
if these unclean spirits
ever leave,
if the master
of the house
is even listening.

And I’d like to say
it’s all worked out,
that the price he paid
has soothed this doubt,
but the passion
of this sorrow’s
always wanting.

And now I long to touch
my saviors hand,
as I’m thirsting through
this arid land,
but the ways
of my return
defy expression.

So from Nineveh
I turn my back,
to walk away
with staff and sack,
to a place
where even angels
fear to tread.

I wander back
to her front door,
fall on my face
and beg for more,
and surrender
to the fires
that surround her.

For Delilah
with her beauty rare,
did Samson lose
his locks of hair,
to spend
his blindness grinding
at the millstone.

And for Rehab
and her scarlet cord,
they could not resist
this holy hoard,
and all within
her city
had to perish.

And when Bathsheba
captured David’s eye
Uriah the Hittite
had to die
upon the field
of love
and lust for honor.

And for Salome
the king allowed,
an unchaste dance
and solemn vow,
to leave
this headless prophet
on her platter.

And for warmth of flesh
and earthly love,
I cursed the name
of God above,
and trampled
neath my feet
his holy logos.

And for the worship
of this foreign queen,
and for want of all
these things obscene,
I did drink the wine
of God
in all his fury.

And angels came
from far and wide,
forming lines
on heavens side,
and prepared to fight
these dragons
roaming freely.

And torrents rise
from the great abyss,
to block the sun
with hardened fist,
to place this
blasphemous name
upon my forehead.

And mountains burn
up to their peaks,
and death eludes me
where I seek,
and I thirst
for all these waters
turning bitter.

And hail and fire
mixed with blood,
fills my heart
with rising floods,
and a third
of all things holy
has been plundered.

So I bow before
the throne and lamb,
wearing black
with branch in hand,
to plead
for just one part
of that remaining.

But the roar of thunders
rumbling clash,
with quaking earth
and lightning flash,
is cast
upon my flesh
with all its yearnings.

And the sun turns black
within my hand,
as starlight falls
at her command,
and the blood red moon
shines dim
on my horizon.

And angels play
prophetic harps,
and demons with
their sickles sharp,
descend this
holy harvest
left untended.

And satan laughs
at my defeat,
as fate declares
the day complete,
as I stand within
this final
tribulation.

And upon the earth
all trumpets blow,
as seven angels
empty bowls,
and the walls
of Babylon
fall down before me.

And so I begged the queen
for my release,
before a thousand years
of love and peace,
from the weight
of all the pressure
of these hardships.

But with sharpened teeth
this queen did reap,
my unclean soul
as fuel to keep,
to burn within
the caldron
of her rubble.

And when upon the clouds
the lamb arrived,
beneath his feet
these demons writhed,
as he pulled me
from this grave
to stand convicted.

And Hades followed
close behind,
the paled out
horseman in my mind,
and with ten thousand
times ten thousand
demons crying.

I confessed to him
I still believed,
as he wiped away
this mark I grieve,
as I placed
within his side
my curious finger.

And much to my
hard sought relief,
his chains of mercy
bound this thief,
and restrained him
to the confines
of this chasm.

And with his blood
to wash me fresh,
he set me back
within this flesh,
to walk
within the gift
of his forgiveness.

In arche
is the logos form,
and out of this
all things are born,
to struggle
in the strife
of this world system.

This is the life
and light of all,
within all things
both great and small,
and the power
of this word
is grace and truth.

And in this life
this light within,
enlightens all
who enter in,
but its own
within this world
refuse to see it.

And the darkness
comprehends it not,
but those partaking
of this thought,
will inherit
like a child
this noble treasure.

To wisely spend
so as to earn,
a hundred fold
on its return,
this gift of grace
we gain
so undeserving.

So in gratitude
I make my start,
and praise his name
within my heart,
for the truth
that fills my soul
and mind renewing.

And to be twice born
within his death,
to love once more
with spirit breath,
and to enter
through the gates
of new Jerusalem.

FIN

+++

Keith’s story

(“….I wrote it quickly to you that you might better understand the poem and its meaning.”):

My story is this, when I was young I was wild, I drank and did drugs, dropped out of school, and got in trouble with the law. As I came into my twenties things escalated. I no longer did drugs but drank every day until drinking became not only the norm for me but a necessity. I had a few run ins with the law, DWI, drunk and disorderly, assault, and several treatment centers, but none of these things convinced me to stop. Until I had a beautiful baby girl. But when I looked in the crib I didn’t feel the love. I was shocked at how unfeeling I had become. I thought I was broken. I checked my self into treatment one more time. But I was sure I was beyond reprieve.

While I was in treatment someone asked me if I believed in God and suggested I pray. I told them I did not believe in God and wasn’t about to pray to something that did not exist. They suggested that I might want to give it a try sense nothing else seemed to take away my obsession with alcohol. They said “just act as if you believe” and pray every night before bed for two weeks, and if you don’t get any results than no harm no foul. That night I decided to try to do just that. But when I got on my knees I didn’t feel worthy enough to be that high up off the ground, so I laid my face on the floor and I cried, I said the Lord’s Prayer and I asked God to make me a new man, and if he was real to please give me a sign. I repeated this several times with tears flowing out onto the floor.

When I got up off the floor, I thought, “well I did what they said, what now?” When I laid back down on my bed I noticed a strange light and a feeling of total peace, the light was like white smoke and I thought the place must be on fire, so I got up and looked out my door, and it was there in the hallway too, I looked out my window and it was there too. But I noticed that the patterns in this white smoke didn’t change as they passed through the walls, or moved at all when I fanned them with my hands. I didn’t smell anything burning, and I had a peaceful feeling, and a feeling of wonder. So I laid back down and tried to think about it reasonably. I decided I was either experiencing withdrawal or maybe, this was God showing me a sign. I hadn’t had a drink for well over a week so withdrawal seemed to be a bit questionable, and when I pondered God, I felt my joy increase, and I thought maybe this was the Holy Spirit, and that is what I decided to believe.

This is the best way I can explain what happened because what happened that night is really beyond words. But I saw this light and felt this joy, to a lesser degree, everywhere I went for the next few days until the world came in and took it away, but the feelings did not subside so quickly. They went on for weeks, months, and years.

After treatment I returned to my childhood home and to my mother and father and asked them if I could stay with them until I got back on my feet. And without giving them a chance to respond I told them that something about me had changed, I told them I didn’t know what it was, and I didn’t expect them to believe me, but if they gave me the chance I would try to prove it to them, not through words but through actions, and I told them that although I was sorry for hurting them with all my selfishness, I was not going to ask their forgiveness, because I have said I’m sorry too many times before, and failed to prove it out in action. And I told them that if I fail to prove my self in any way, that I will understand if they asked me to leave, without hard feelings and without question.

By the time I had finished I was in tears, my mother was crying and even my father was tearing up, and they said ok, and we hugged. And they told me they didn’t trust that I wouldn’t drink again and that it might take a long time to gain that trust back. And if they thought I was drinking again I would have to leave. And they welcomed me back.

After this I want to see my baby girl, and I cried tears of joy when I held her, because I had never felt more love for another person than I did for that child. And I decided then that I would do whatever I had to do to prove my love to her everyday of her life. And that I would be her protector and provider and the best father I could be.

Her mother was a drug addict and me and her would never be a couple, so I knew I had to seek custody and try to raise her as best I could on my own, while letting her have full access to her mother, never saying a bad word about her mother, and trying to help my baby girl through all the struggles she was bound to face with her mother’s addiction, with forgiveness, with understanding, with faith and with love.

I found a job pretty quick and bought myself a mobile home in a nice park in the suburbs, and I started saving for a house.

I got my daughter every Wednesday and every weekend without fail until I got custody of her when she was five. Two years later I got married and we had another little girl and a little boy and we bought a house with the help of my parents.

We sent them all to private schools, my oldest daughter to Catholic school because that was my upbringing until she went to high school, when she went to a WELS Lutheran school, my two youngest children went to a WELS Lutheran school because that was my wife’s upbringing, for several years, until we decided to look into the Missouri Synod, and we felt at home immediately, and we both joined and sent the youngest to Central Lutheran K-8 here in St. Paul.

My father passed away in 1997 and I helped my mother to live a comfortable life up until two years ago when we were told she had terminal cancer. She never returned home and passed 6 months latter. She asked me to stop by the home she was in before I went to work, after work, and before I went to bed at night. Not so much to see her, but to let her care takers know that someone was always checking on her, because she felt vulnerable and afraid. And this I did religiously, until she passed. And although it was the most difficult thing I had ever done, I was blessed to get to know my mother on a whole other deeper and more meaningful level then I’ve ever known anyone in my entire life.

When she passed I was lost, I went from every moment being driven to take care of my mother’s needs for six months to having an empty spot in every day. I no longer had any direction, my oldest girl was married and moved out of state, my youngest daughter was finishing up high school and going off to collage, and my youngest was going into high school, being a teenage boy, and not needing my attention as much. The place I worked at decided to outsource my position, my wife was working two jobs, and we were near foreclosure.

And after twenty years of God given sobriety, and service to others, I hurt myself at work, they gave me Vicodin for the pain and not long after that, I drank again. And everything spiraled pretty quickly out of control. Ending in a DWI, a police chase, guns drawn outside the front of my house with all my neighbors, and my wife standing in front of our house, watching the whole thing play out. A night in jail and a very understanding judge.

So these are just a few of the highlights that might shed some light on the meaning of this poem. A wild life, the prodigal son, my conversion, the gift of endurance, and my failure in the face of this one temptation, and the whore of Babylon representing my return to alcohol, and the tribulations that followed, and the free gift of Gods grace, always welcoming, always forgiving, always calling, even in my doubts and questionings, and in my straying, and even when all else is lost, the Lamb is never absent, always present, and all I need to ever do, is look for him, and without fail, he is there, he lives, and the gates of Jerusalem are always open, and no temple is erected, because the Lamb and God are the temple. And he shall be our God, and we shall be his children, forevermore…

FIN

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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