Archive for June, 2008

30
Jun
08

Choosing Satan

I seem to be stuck on Satan and Hell a lot lately and I’m not trying to be; much like my streak of posts about speaking in tongues not so long ago, I guess the Holy Spirit is pushing me in a certain direction. Anyway, many of my posts about Hell (and more recently my father-in-law’s stuff about Satan, which I posted) have discussed the fact that many people will choose Satan and choose Hell rather than select God’s way. I’m sure many readers have thought me crazy to think that anyone would choose Hell.

But consider this image:

 

In a post at The Jesus Gang that features this graph, the author says simply:

Whose team would you want to be on? I’m just sayin’.

I know the graph is likely meant in humor. And I’m twisted enough to see the joke, despite being a child of God and a follower of Jesus Christ. But it points to a larger issue here. People don’t get it. Satan is a liar and a deceiver. Truth be told, Satan’s devices have led to far more death and suffering in the world. Has God been responsible for some killing? Sure. And there have been reasons for it. But most deaths are not at God’s hands; only a miniscule percentage in the history of humanity have been. Yet, too many people think that disasters are sent from God, that God is to blame when people kill each other over religion, that human illness in this world is a creation of God’s.

Nothing could be farther from the truth but still, people cling to that notion. Some even preach from the pulpit (or just on their media-based religious soapboxes) about how God sent the floods to punish wickedness in New Orleans or sent HIV/AIDS to punish gays or whatever else. Bullshit bullshit bullshit.

The world and the mess it’s in is a joint creation by Satan and humans. God didn’t create a world of suffering; we have repeatedly rejected His way though to follow our own. And when we follow our own way, we are all too often taking Satan’s path.

You think Satan won’t be telling folks in Hell: “God sent you here. He doesn’t want you. Look, I never smote the first-born of every Egyptian. I never declared war on any people who were in the way of the Hebrews. Stick with me and you’ll be better off.” I can almost gol-damn-guarantee he will. And if not that track or those words, some other form of misdirection. Satan isn’t going to reveal how he’s moved people and races and nations through his tricks. He’s not going to call attention to his evil. Shit, in this world he tries hard to give the impression to most folks that he doesn’t exist at all or that he’s just a comical guy with red skin and a Snidely Whiplash mustache and a pointy tail.

But God gives us honesty and truth, and we can’t handle it. We’d rather be stroked by Satan than to be held by God. We’d rather have transient pleasures than long-range salvation.

People choose Satan all the time. And many will choose him even when they have a clear chance to choose something better.

And that’s a fact.

For the record, here are most of my recent (and not-so-recent) other posts on Hell and Satan:

29
Jun
08

Acts of the Hummus Idol – June edition

Here begins a possibly monthly series wherein imaginary people’s burning questions will be answered (maybe) or ridiculed (likely) by the Hummus Idol. If you haven’t figured it out yet, say the name fast and you’ll get an idea of the kind of attitude this advice- and opinion-giver will possess. Take it all with a grain of salt, please.

I, the great and powerful Hummus Idol, will now entertain your questions and grant unto you the wisdom that only a pile of very angry crushed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil and other seasonings can offer. Don’t let the smiling face fool you. I am a fridge-cold killah. Bow down before me, speak your question, and incline your ears or any other convenient part of your anatomy as I spew my advice upon thee.

Q: Jesus tells us that we should love our neighbors but David Duke tells me I should only love my white ones. Who should I believe? – Cletus Percival MacNally, Vorchester, Mass.

A: That is “whom should I believe,” young man. The Hummus Idol does not abide poor grammar and hereby curses your descendants to rise no higher than working the fryers at Burger King, unto the seventh generation. Now, then…where were we? Ah, yes. Should you believe an embarrassingly self-important blowhard who once attended bonfires in forests with a bunch of guys who think white bathrobes with pointy hoods are a political fashion statement and who is associated with dangerously whacked-out website Strormfront.org…or should you believe a guy who brought people back from the dead, could turn tap water into Chardonnay and routinely drew crowds of hundreds to thousands wherever he strolled? If you need help on this decision, you are unworthy to breed and should forthwith remove your danglies with some pruning shears.

Q: We are a very devout, righteous and proper Christ-loving family with 19 children who, up until now, have been church-going, choir-singing, door-to-door evangelizing angels. But our 17-year-old girl has suddenly embraced tatoos, multiple head-to-toe body piercings, group sex, drugs and punk rock/heavy metal music. What can we do? – Mr. Edwin A. Demarcater Sr., Areola, Mont.

A: First, use these enlightened times to your advantage. Women can serve in the military in places just as dangerous as men have always tread before. Sign her up with whichever branch of the military has a recruiting office nearest to you, or send her to military academy if her GPA is high enough. This will probably do absolutely nothing to straighten her out, but it will give her additional complexes and allow you to wash your hands of the situation while feeling you have actually accomplished something. And there is only a very small two-digit percentage chance that she will one day use her military training to kill you in your sleep. Hopefully before you have a 20th child. Please see the previous answer for a possible use to which you can put those pruning shears in your garage.

(Image by Stewart Butterfield, who is not affiliated with this blog and who doesn’t even know I or my opinions exist, and used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License)

(Hummus Idol does not speak as a representative or agent of Deacon Blue or anyone else associated with this blog. In fact, Hummus Idol doesn’t exist. He is wholly and completely a manufactured character that acts as an angry facade behind which Deacon Blue can hide for petty entertainment purposes and for times when he needs to be extra crusty and get shit off his chest. That said, you can feel free to shower the Hummus Idol with offerings of jewelry, money or fine art…he will make sure it goes someplace where it is needed.) View complete list of Humus Idol entries here.

28
Jun
08

Worship at the altar of estrogen by Miz Pink

Who else here has noticed just how much the whole goddess worship subset of the pagan/wiccan/new age crowd has grown over the past 10 or 15 years? Come on now…raise your hands.

One…two…three…look, I can’t be the only one whose noticed this. I mean the bumper stickers alone tell the tale.

Isis, Isis, Ra Ra Ra
In Goddess We Trust
Ankh If You Love Isis
Goddess in Training
Goddess is Alive and Magic Is About!
The Goddess Does Not Seek Worship – She rejoices in being vividly imagined
The Goddess Loves You. Everyone Else Thinks You’re a Jerk
You Call Her Mother Nature. I Call Her Goddess

Those are just the ones I’ve seen in my tiny corner of the world. And I never saw them a decade ago. I’d swear it. I know that the pagan religions themselves have been seeing a big boost lately so it doesn’t really surprise me that the goddess subculture would grow too. And there are so many old goddesses to pick from if just plain old “Goddess” won’t do: Isis, Ishtar, Hecate, Hera, Athena, Kali. Many more I’m sure.

But what interests me is how this seems to be growing alongside some odd new theories of motherhood and femininity. I know I’ve told y’all before a couple times that I am myself a little hippy dippy in some of my mothering and lifestyle choices. But still, I look at some of the following trends I’ve taken note of in mothering discussion boards and shake my head:

  • Women who want to be stay at home moms and expect their husband to work at least one job full-time and bring home ALL the money, also do half the chores…and yet allow that hubby to have only about 10% of the say (if that) in how the kids will be raised.
  • Women who tell their husbands they are “touched out” from spending all day with the kids and put off not just sex but even basic intimacy for months or sometimes years…and then get mad when they discover their husband has porn on his computer or Blackberry. What’s even better are the ones who start getting ready to leave and/or divorce said husband for having porn, even though most of these husbands haven’t stepped out or otherwise actually touched or spoken to another woman sexually
  • Women who feel so empowered about their ability to bear a life and bring it into the world and who are so fearful of every opinion that isn’t their own that they homeschool their children despite the fact that many of them have zero aptitude for the job. What’s even scarier are the ones who unschool their kids.

Why do I bring up examples of women whose non-standard choices are even more radical than those of moi? Because its like…I don’t know…it looks to me like there is something in the estrogen lately. Or something in the water. I don’t know. It’s like feminism mutated somehow into this weird mix of 1950s housewife mentality, late 60’s hippy earthlove stuff, and 70’s radical bra-burning stuff. It makes my head hurt the way this kind of mixture bubbles and boils and well smells bad. A lot of these elements aren’t meant to mix. And yet I see women complaining that their husbands don’t make enough money for them to stay home with the kids and aren’t home with them enough yet these same women will cut fruits and vegetables from the grocery budget and try to figure out how to make their own ketchup and salad dressing from scratch to prevent having to pick up a job themselves (even part time) and leave the house or (God forbid) put the kids in daycare for even a couple partial days each week. And then some of them want to keep having even more kids even though the income level never goes up and they already can’t make ends meet.

So the heck what, Miz Pink (you might ask)? What does this have to do with religion or even goddess worship? What it has to do with is what I see as an overinflation of the importance of being a woman. Don’t get me wrong I’m a woman and I want my opinions and achievements noted. We ladies are some powerful stuff. Sir Pink is not allowed to give me marching orders (I don’t give any to him either…well, mostly I don’t…not every day at least). But how does it serve us to get so pumped up about the fact that we have a uterus that we start to act like we’re the most important people? Isn’t that what we’ve spent so long getting mad at men about: Thinking that they were masters of teh universe just because they have a pair of cajones?

And now to try to bolster our feelings of self worth, I think many women are turning to goddess worship not because they really believe in any particular goddess but because it feels good. We women give birth therefore (so many of them think) the highest power should be a woman …even though there hasn’t been any record left behind by any goddesses to give us any reason to believe they ever existed as anything other than mythology…along with most of the gods by the way.

We are turning our female parts into altars and we are worshipping at them. Idolatry. That’s how God sees it I bet.

So many of us women want to reject the way the feminists did things in past decades and we also want to kick men to the side. Frankly too many of us have convinced ourselves that we are goddesses. This is confusion and chaos.

It’s a powerful thing to be a woman. But the things that make me special for being a women don’t make me better (or worse). I don’t need to create a goddess to validate myself. I don’t need to bring back a dead religion/mythology as a way to prove to the Christian church (or Jewish or Muslim) that I don’t need them.

27
Jun
08

A Super Team-Up

OK, we’re going to lean heavily into geekdom today, but I’m a nerd at heart, so forgive me. I’m going to talk about a couple of comic-book heroes today to make a point. Largely because I didn’t have a topic in mind so I actually looked through my pile of images for inspiration, and Green Arrow and Green Lantern provided it.

Also, the topic is really short (for me), which is a plus; I’m still digging out of a backlog of paying work.

You don’t need to know that Green Arrow has all sorts of high-tech trick arrows and Green Lantern has an obscenely powerful ring that can create almost anything he needs in a whoop-ass fight. I’m telling you anyway, but you don’t need to know. What you do need to know are the personalities of these two heroes, particularly back in the early 70s, I believe it was, when they were teamed up together in a single comic book.

Green Lantern was a very law-and-order type. I think he would have been voting along “red state” lines. He was ex-Air Force test pilot, and thus a more military/heirarchy minded kind of guy. He fought the good fight, but he did so as a soldier or lawman. Even as a superhero, he took his marching orders from an interstellar organization that had appointed itself to keep order and peace in the universe…something much like the miliary he had once served.

Green Arrow was a more social justice type of guy. Liberal. You can make some safe bets he probably voted along “blue state” lines. He wasn’t out to turn people into pincushions. I mean, look at the way he dressed. He’s all swashbuckler/Robin Hood, ain’t he? And who did Robin Hood sidle up to? The poor and disenfranchised.

From a moral standpoint, neither character was better than the other. They balanced each other out and they complemented each other. This is something I’d like to see more of among Christians.

I don’t necessarily expect the far right wing to get along with the far left wing in the religious circles. I mean, when one side might believe that everything in the Bible is 100% literal and the other might be trying to say that not only is it symbolic but most of Jesus’ words weren’t even his own true words, well, that’s not a recipe for success.

But most Christians aren’t that extreme, I don’t think. I think most of the conservative ones and the more liberal ones have enough in common to sit at the same table. What we need is working together, even if we argue about the fine points of how best to serve God. What we need is dialogue instead of picking apart whose views are “right.” What we need is synergy, and not arguments about who loves Jesus more.

Working in opposing corners not only diminishes our strength in terms of evangelism and education about Jesus but also makes us look bad. Because when two big groups of Christians seem to be almost always at odds with one another, following Jesus doesn’t look like such a savvy choice.

There is a whole world hurting out there, and it’s time for us to team up, just like in the comic books.

26
Jun
08

Old school part 2 – Got an umbrella?

Today, we’re going to tackle the Great Flood. You know, Noah. The ark. Two of every beast. His sons and their wives? 40 days and nights of rain?

As we all know from the Bible, God was quite wroth with mankind for being so nastily sinful and for completely disregarding His will, and so He flooded the whole Earth and killed everyone and everything that wasn’t on the ark, and…

(Chuckle. Snort. Heh he.)

*Ahem* And those folks repopulated the Earth to the level of species diversity we have today, and billions and billions of people, and this was some 6,000 or 7,000 years ago. And so…

Ummmm….

And so this…

Hah ha. BWAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Heeeee. Whoo!

I don’t think so.

Look, I’m not saying God didn’t bring a flood. I’m not saying there wasn’t a Noah or an ark. What I’m saying is that while I don’t think the tale is metaphorical, given that Jesus actually preached Noah as a real person and wasn’t a person prone to lying, I don’t think it’s precisely as cut-and-dried as most fundamentalist folk would have you believe.

Look, there is just no way the ark that Noah built would have big enough for two of everything. Also, what about all the trees and bushes and stuff? I think 40 days of flooding would have done a number on the foliage, don’t you? And this very small sample of humanity and husbandry was able to spread across the world in several thousand years? Look, God can work big miracles. But this shit just doesn’t jibe with history and the archeological evidence of primitive people at all.

So, what did happen? I see two most-likely scenarios.

First, God did indeed flood the whole world, but it happened millions of years ago. That’s a nice simple answer. As I mentioned in the post for Old School, Part 1, the family trees laid out in the Bible likely skipped over untold numbers of generations to focus on the key predecessors to Jesus.

Second option is that God flooded the “known world” of Noah and the folks around him. That is, God flooded a very, very large region of land, most likely in the Middle East, and everything pretty much played out as described in the story. I still think this would have happened far more than 6,000 or 7,000 years ago, but way less than a million.

Frankly, I like the second option better. The thing about God is that while He can do very large, dramatic miracles, He doesn’t generally do that. God’s much more into subtlety and long-range planning. He prefers to put people and events into motion to create a chain, sort of like a huge bunch of dominoes that knock each other over across an unimaginably large landscape to form innumerable possibilities and eventually knock out certain results that God wants.

One of those results—the most important result of God’s planning in fact—was Jesus. God picked the Hebrews as His “Chosen People” for a number of reasons, but one of them was to define a specific group from which Jesus would be born. And it took a long time to get events to play out for the people and time and circumstances to be right for Jesus’ entry into the world.

What I believe is that Noah and his neighbors were one of the earliest precursors to the Hebrews. Way before Abraham and the first covenant and all that. God intended those people to keep on breeding and growing and eventually producing what would be his officially Chosen People when the time was ripe. But they were a foul bunch and not fit to bring forth Jesus at any point. People were just that bad. Seeing that there was only one really righteous man, Noah (and presumably his family was at least nominally righteous), God wiped out the rest of the folks in the region to start with a clean slate.

This makes the ark a plausible vehicle and the two-by-two crap no longer looks like crap. Yes, some repopulation was necessary because new entries of animals from other areas would take a while, but there was no need to repopulate an entire world—only the world of the pre-Hebrew folks that God had to mostly destroy to make the path to Jesus’ birth possible.

Click here for Part 1 of the Old School series

25
Jun
08

That Ole Devil

Being sick meant a backlog of work that I spent all day slogging through, and now I have an hour before midnight to make sure I get a post in. So I’m going to cheat a little. My father-in-law is having me transcribe some tapes he recorded as part of the process of him writing a book about one of the more famous—or, more accurately, infamous—characters in the Bible: Satan.

I thought it might be interesting for me to share a little of the first chapter of his four-chapter work, which talks about the origin and nature of Satan. To avoid too long a post, what I will do is post a little now and then over the course of several days (yes, I’ll make original posts too during this time) add more as comments to this post. So, if you want too see more, just tune in the next day to see when I’ve added a comment to it. Here we go:

The church today—the church universal or the earthly church—has failed to set forth Satan as a real and formidable adversary. The church has done well in lifting up Jesus Christ, but it has failed to make known the evil one called Satan. If we will consider the model prayer that our lord and savior Jesus Christ gave the apostles, gave the disciples—and instructed them to give us—what we call today the Lord’s Prayer, we are usually very attentive in reading and praying this prayer. Again, these are words from the mouth of the Lord Jesus himself. Are we ignorant of that phrase in the Lord’s Prayer? Where Jesus clearly tells us to ask God our Father to deliver us from the evil one—that, of course, being Satan.

When we take an impartial and even a historical view of Jesus—and when I say historical writers I refer to Josephus, Origen and several other fathers of the church—we see that a vast majority of Jesus’ earthly ministry was rebuking the devil and his agents—what we would call today exorcisms.

Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ was well aware of the creature called Satan.

The purpose of this chapter is to set forth undeniable proof from the Word of God, as well as living experiences, testifying to the existence of our adversary Satan.

If we fail to comprehend, if we fail to acknowledge the realness of Satan, we will never understand the nature of the Christian ministry. We will never fully understand the ferocity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now, without being technical, what am I saying? We need to understand why the child of God suffers so very much in this Christian life. Satan, according to the writings of Paul in the book of Corinthians, both 1 and 2, clearly tells us that Satan has placed his agents in the pulpit of many churches today. We read in the second book of Corinthians, chapter two, where Paul tells us that we shouldn’t be surprised that Satan has placed his ministers in the pulpit, for he says, “has not Satan himself transformed himself on occasion into ministers of light?” We read in the book of Revelation where it tells us that Satan has deceived this whole world.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, Satan has deceived the earthly church.

We are in a battle. And to understand that battle, we must understand the enemy. Even nature—and Paul told us to look to nature, the visible world of nature, to see the invisible God—even nature and perhaps this most common phenomenon of night and day, darkness and light, testifies of the struggle of good and evil in this present-day world.

On this present Earth, why must we know Satan? Because if we don’t know him, we will not resist him. If we do no understand Satan, we will not understand the nature of our misfortune as children of God. Hence, we will not resist.

(You want to know something really weird? As of reaching the word “resist” above, my intro and this excerpt together totaled 666 words…LOL)

24
Jun
08

Sick leave

Been sick, and never got a topic out to Miz Pink for us to write about (nor have I been in any shape to post), so no Two-fer Tuesday today and no substantive post at all. Expect to be back in action tomorrow and plan to have dual Two-fer Tuesday posts back again next week.

Apologies,

Deacon Blue

23
Jun
08

Pro-Con(traception)

Dear Pope:

I realize that running the Roman Catholic Church, a global entity with millions upon millions of members, is a frightfully massive task. I understand that you are an elderly man with some old-fashioned standards. I know that you have issues with sexual immorality in the world. I’m sure that you love the sound of newborn babes uttering their first cries before putting their heads to their mothers’ bosoms. I sympathize with you, truly.

But, with all due respect—where contraception is concerned—please get your head out of your ass. Particularly about this condom thing.

How can you and the rest of your Vatican hoard be against something that prevents rampant overpopulation in struggling nations and can greatly slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, not the least of which is HIV/AIDS?

Jesus might not have been in favor of premarital sex, and in his day having as many kids as you could was a good thing. But he’d be ashamed of your short-sighted dogmatic habit of clinging to an outmoded notion that condoms promote immorality and that preventing pregnancy is by its very nature a slap to God’s face.

The Vatican has had some 2,000 to get its act together. On this issue, I tell you simply:

Grow the hell up.
                                                                                                      

I realize that many Islamic leaders and many on the conservative Christian right also seem to equate contraception with contravention of God’s will. And they think that for government agencies and others to spend money condoms for disease prevention and pregnancy prevention (and other forms of birth control just to stem the tide of unwanted pregnancies) is somehow the same as advocating immorality.

They are also full of shit. But there are many of them, and only one pope, so it’s easier to write a fictional pissed-off memo to him. Besides, the Vatican has been one of the most prominent evildoers when it comes to anti-contraception bullshit, having spouted off around the world even in recent years that condoms are bad. C’mon! Pulling out early is acceptable and using the “rhythm method” is OK, but physically stopping the sperm from getting near the ova is a sin. I’ve heard some talk from Vatican folks more recently that suggests condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS is the “lesser evil” but that isn’t much of an improvement. I understand if they want to speak out against premarital sex but to talk of a barrier form of contraception as evil is so mind-numbingly idiotic my brain just wants to shut down even writing about it.

I’m willing to concede that none of us really knows when life begins. I’ve heard arguments that birth control pills and IUDs aren’t simply anti-pregnancy measures but also sometimes abortive measures. Some of the reasons given for that seem a bit specious scientifically, but I’m willing to entertain the possibility, at least, that they sometimes may be interefering with the formation of life at a stage that is after conception (the fusion of sperm and ovum).

Personally, I’m not entirely comfortable with the concept that a small human isn’t yet a true life—and thus open season for abortion—simply because he or she has no possibility of survival outside the womb. Seems to me at some point before it has a chance to be a legit preemie in a hospital  incubator, a baby in the womb has organs and the beginnings of a mind and deserves more than a casual brush off on a scientific technicality. But that doesn’t really come into play with contraceptives from any reading I’ve done on the subject. I don’t know of any half-formed fetuses dead with IUDs in their chests. And condoms and the pill and foams and the rest likewise have no effect on an actual embryo or fetus.

And still, what gnaws at me most of all, even if you can come up with some slim argument against chemical means of birth control or the IUD: How can you speak out against condoms?

What kind of absolute moron do you have to be to oppose condoms? Are we to believe that the moment a man ejaculates, a soul is deposited into one of his sperm—the exact right sperm to do the job? If God is that freakin’ precise, he wouldn’t have given us men millions of swimmers and given them such an overall shitty chance of impregnating a woman.

I swear that if someone ever tells me a condom is evil because it subverts God’s will, I am probably going to smack that person across the mouth. I won’t be proud of it, but may just lose my cool. Because it is such idiocy.

Men’s sperm die in the testicles and get reabsorbed all the time. St. Paul commented on how wonderful it would be if more people could simply be celibate and focus on spreading the gospel instead of splitting their heart between a human lover and Jesus. So God apparently doesn’t mind if sperm or ova go unused in the body.

Yet we have numbnuts who want to go on about how bad condoms are because they prevent a sperm and egg from ever meeting up. Oh, I’m sorry. So, every husband and wife should be saddled with as many kids as fertility allows, even though their finances, time or even sanity (and society’s) might not be able to handle that many kids. Everyone who engages in premarital sex should be required to have the very real and high-level risk of a unwanted pregnancy that might lead to an unhappy union, a neglected child or an abortion. Everyone who engages in sex, married or otherwise, should be exposed to the risk of contracting a potentially lethal sexually trasmitted disease.

Yeah, very forward-thinking, you religiously extreme contraception fascists.

I’m not very comfortable with abortion overall. I’m not pro-life in the sense that I would take the choice away from women, but I freely admit the idea of abortion just doesn’t sit well with me personally. But contraception? I see not one problem with it. If we can stop the process before a human being is formed—in cases where a couple doesn’t want a baby—I’m all for it.

And for those who would rail against the use of contraception, and condoms in particular, I feel like saying you should all pull a damn condom over your head until your brain starves from lack of oxygen and you relieve the world of one more irredeemable idiot.

But I’m against suicide, so that won’t work. Oh, well.

(Photo by Ian Britton, from http://www.freefoto.com)

22
Jun
08

The Great Divider by Miz Pink

Wooooopsie!

Little miss me was supposed to post something on Saturday. That’s supposed to be my regular day around here now (in addition to the twofer Tuesday thang) I could go blaming my girlfriend who is about to go through a divorce and wanted to hang out last night, but truth is I still had time to post something. But it probably woulda been crapiolio because I was fresh outta ideas. But church today gave me a nice gospel passage to talk about, so it’s all to the good now.

And what am I gonna talk about? Gospel o’ Matthew chapter 10, verses 24-39. I know, I know, a decent chunk of reading for the average American but you’re reading a blog so how average can ya be? You must like reading. But if you’re really pressed for time you can focus on verses 34 through 39 becasue that’s the controversial part…the part the really rankles some people. Including the woman who read that passage before today’s sermon at church. And the pastor apparently almost lost a close friendship a few years back talking about this passage. Here’s that thorny part by the way:

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 “For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36 and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. 37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

As the liturgist today was fretting about verbally as she prepared to read the entire passage (which is about the meaning of discipleship), she even said, “I like to think that Matthew didn’t really understand what Jesus meant to say.”

And to that, I ask “why the heck not?”

I know it sounds harsh of Jesus to put it that way, but what’s wrong with putting the son of God, the savior of the world…and by extension his big daddy upstairs…ahead of your family? Are the creator of the universe and the guy who is responsible for making it possible for you to avoid eternal damnation some punks you should disregard? Isn’t their eternal cause…and the mission of evangelism and discipleship they put before us more important than any of our worldly concerns?

I’m not saying we should disregard our families and I’m not saying everyone should go out and spread the gospel while leaving their loved ones in the dust. But when you get down to it, that’s not what Jesus was talking about really.

Remember, he was preaching to guys and gals who were Jewish! Waaaay back in the day! To follow him and accept that he was the messiah when most people thought he was a fraud and a troublemaker (especially the saduccees and pharisees) was to put yourself at direct odds with your families. Most people had to basically reject what their families were telling them to follow Jesus. So, back then (and even for some time after Jesus rose from the dead, since the vast bulk of Isreal was still Jewish and not followers of Jesus and most of the Gentiles worshipped multiple other gods and goddesses) Christianity was a huge divider of families. But to embrace your family’s desires would have been to reject Jesus and thus salvation and redemption. Jesus was telling them it was a hard choice but a needed one. People had to choose sides and that meant pissing off family and friends and employers and even the leaders of society.

Today, the average Christian in the first world at least doesn’t really have to deal with that. Let’s face it. If you’re born into a Christian family in America or Europe or someplace else where Christians aren’t persecuted, your family isn’t likely to be divided much by your beliefs in Jesus. Though it is still possible. Maybe you have liberal Christian parents who think the entire Bible is just symbolic. Well then if you take a more fundie view, you might have to choose Christ over your kin. Doesn’t mean you have to reject your family but it does mean you have to be willing to incur their anger maybe to do the right thing. And if your family is Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu or whatever else and you take up believing in Christ, well you can best be sure you’ll probably ruffle some feathers and maybe be unwelcome at family gatherings.

And how about not being in a Christian tolerant country  at all? Think of the missionary folks who go out to the Middle East or China or wherever to preach the gospel. They find people who hear and take the gospel to heart. Sometimes they get imprisoned and tortured and even killed for doing it. And the people they preach to may risk the same. Imagine choosing Jesus and not only having to face the wrath of your parents but also the wrath of you own country and police.

But Jesus is that importnat. Salvation is that valuable. Hearing and sharing the gospel is that important.

Jesus came in love…filled up with it…and he came as representative to us of God’s love for us. But he also was willing to tell us things that would make us queasy and shake us up, because choosing faith in Jesus and his Father and accepting the holy spirit aren’t easy things. They come at a price. But the reward is so much greater than the price.

Christianity is meant to bring humans back into grace with God. It aint meant to bring people together on Earth. It can. And ideally it should. But sometimes, it is impossible to do both. We shouldn’t hear Jesus’s words that he comes to divide as being counter to his mission. It’s a recognition that what he offers isn’t always an easy pill to swallow. But few things of true value in this world ever come easy. So why should something that is of the next world be any easier?

20
Jun
08

Cleansed by Fire, Part 2

For the previous installment of this story, click here, or click on the “cleansed by fire novel” link under the Tags heading for this post (or click here) for the full listing of installments. 

Cleansed by Fire

Chapter 1, Requiem for the Red Pope (continued)

Lyseena barely made it out the door to the admin suite when she was intercepted by the administrative steward, Willem Staffordis, the only other person to share the large office suite with her and the three admin officers she had just left behind. Willem was both secretary and liaison, her employee but also a de facto agent of the Vatican itself. He was too honest and forthright to be considered a spy, a trait shared by most stewards, thankfully, but still his presence engendered a certain motivation to operate by the book.

He was at least 40 years Lyseena’s senior, although no one knew his true age—Kevan had tried to work it out from scraps of information and queries to some well-paced friends when they celebrated his birthday last year, but stewards’ personnel records were bare of anything but the most basic information: name, month and day of birth, gender and past postings. When asked Willem would typically say that he was young enough to remember he once had youthful desires but old enough to no longer remember why he should miss them. His skin was still so healthy and the lines on his face so fine, despite their overwhelming number, that calling him wrinkled seemed undignified; he almost seemed to be carved from supple pink marble.

His fine lines were deeper and darker this morning, Lyseena noted. He looked more his age today, and the commander templar knew her quest to find some peace for an hour or two was about to be delayed—and perhaps irredeemably poisoned.

“A word, if I may, xec-Juris,” Willem said, taking her gently by the arm before she she could pass into the pit on her way to the roof access door, and leading her off to a quiet alcove. “Your morning has been long and hard already, but you need to know there has been a breach in the pit.”

He caught the darkening in her gaze and added quickly, “A moral breach, xec-Juris, not security.”

Lyseena let out a relieved breath. “Can it wait?”

“Devan and Sutco. Fornication. On premises. With contraception. Yesterday, it seems. The incident came to light while you were alone in the suite.”

“Damnation,” she hissed. Adam Devan and Elisya Sutco—two of her most talented logistical communications specialists; the kind of people she would need to rely on heavily in the coming days to keep all the balls she was juggling airborne. She paused a moment and rubbed at her temple. “They’ve been officially courting for four years without mishap. Elisya would have been old enough for them to petition for the marriage sacrament in what? Two months? With their qualifications, they could have had approval to start a family in less than two years.”

“Four months before she was of age,” Willem corrected her. “But yes.”

“Still, why are you bringing this to me now with everything I have to oversee? Process them and send them to the Jesuits for trial.”

“There will be no trial. They were recorded on video by a drone on routine janitorial duties. It was pure chance that there is any video at all and that someone saw the scene in a random image sweep. It was a maintenance drone, after all, not security. There is no doubt that it is them. They have been shown the video, they have confessed, and they are throwing themselves on your mercy.”

Idiots! They thought too much of what they thought was a friendship with me. They were her people and they could go straight to punishment from the Office Templar upon confession, but did they think she could be merciful in this? They stood a better chance of leniency in a trial. How could they work around templar officers day and night and be so ignorant? A 24-year-old and 28-year-old breaking the laws of the flesh and looking for mercy as if they were merely naughty children.

Lyseena set her mouth in a tight line, looked toward the two empty seats where the two lovers should have been, and shook her head. “Send Devan to Lukas to be gelded, and then have him reassigned to a work farm somewhere near the Pacific. I want him far from me and far from family and friends. Put Sutco into observation until we can be sure she’s not pregnant. If she is, she can raise her child among the Dry Sisters in Capetown, Porto Lima or MiamiDade and then take the vows. If not, she can take the vows right now. If she consents to have her ova harvested, she can have her pick of the three Sistercamps. Otherwise, give her to the harshest Sister in whichever camp is most overcrowded right now.” She waited a pair of heartbeats. “Is there more?”

“What if she doesn’t want the vows?”

“Then tell her I will find her the oldest and coldest cell in Yukkon and personally decorate it to be even more ghastly than it already is, and she can stay there until she is postmenopausal.”

Willem took his cue from her tone and headed for the admin suite to make the necessary preparations. Lyseena simply looked at her suite’s door, the two empty chairs and the door to the roof. The day had started cloudy outside, but the real storms have been indoors. How many more before the day was done?

She sighed, felt to make sure her collar was straight and continued her path to the top of Templar’s Tower. She no longer had an appetite for her midday meal. But she had to eat nonetheless, and now she had other needs to feed as well.

She keyed a private channel on her linkpad. “Dine with me up top if you would.”

(for part 3 of the story, click here)




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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