For more than a thousand years, the divide in the West’s soul created the dream of “Christendom” on the one hand while still lured and divided by the old habits of heart and mind of power, greed, and lust. The cynics, or perhaps realists, have always had plenty of ammunition to question the dream of the coming of the Kingdom of Christ in the warp and woof of human history – Christendom!
Point of fact, there are no cultures or societies on the planet which have any reason to believe themselves more righteous in this sort of history than any other. Indigenous enslaved and oppressed other indigenous –even before the coming of those devilish Europeans. Ancients enslaved other ancients in the millions. Muslims perpetrated (and some still do) all the same sorts of evils on peoples they conquered and forced to assimilate or face all the usual sorts of consequences for not doing so.
“Money is the root of all evil,” a saying of the Apostle Paul, must be understood as part of an even bigger picture: that humans have turned their faces away from the Creator towards the bewitching glitz of things that can never do more than give fleeting pleasure and simulated happiness (and yes, even fifty, sixty, or seventy years is fleeting beside eternity). Beneath the hunger for the glamour and shine and sense of being in control that real or digital bullion promises, there is the age-old original lie. “You will not die if you take it, but you will become as wise as God, knowing all about [and by implication controlling] good and evil.”
The “War” between science and religion is a misconception. Theists and atheists both believe we can discover much about reality by the scientific method. Both believe that our innate creativity and remarkable intellect can use the creation to bring into being things that would not exist without human invention.
“Navigating” change and transition is a helpful analogy. Traveling the road of transition and change is much more like a voyage in an old sailing ship than in a vessel equipped with powerful engines to combat the forces of nature. Even powerful modern ships are often blown off their planned course. “Nature” and Life do not play by our rules. Life is embedded in Nature and not governed by how humans hope, yearn, and strive to control its course and outcome.
As long as we have breath in our bodies, we have the opportunity to aim at becoming what we were originally intended to be. We can choose to use that breath, which in Hebrew also designates the living essence of who and what we are, to act like the Creator’s agents and image-bearers or to pursue what Solomon and every other great potentate and magnate has typically pursued in place of that.
When culling (cutting them down), they need to be treated with respect. They are not tame. They can hold secrets—even dangerous secrets—that can suddenly jump out and lash you, even imperil your very life. There are lots of stories I could relate—mine and those of friends or relatives—on that score.
Real hope is based on faith, and faith is not an empty leap in the dark – not even, in fact least of all – in Christianity. Despite the caricature of Christian (and “religious”) faith so often used by sceptics and critics, some of them even within the Churches, the Bible never suggests “blind” faith. The best definition of faith in the Bible, perhaps in all human expression in any language of any time, is this: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In another translation, “It is what gives assurance to our hopes; it is what gives us conviction about things we can’t see.” (Book of Hebrews 11:1 – New Testament.)
without Jesus, beyond the binge and after the bloating indigestion, mega-sugar-crash, and fortified eggnog and other spirits hangover, what was it about? Fantasizing about Santa and goodwill to all people for some vague reason? Receiving some gifts that symbolize a love which is usually neglected in practice? Feeling a nice glow for a few days but then crashing back into the loneliness or shallowness of regular life for most of the rest of the year?
The central meaning of the story, as it swiftly emerged from the events of his life, death, and reputed resurrection from the dead, is simple when accepted as it was told by his earliest followers. The man Yeshua was in fact the incarnate Son of Israel’s God, the One God, the only God, the very Creator of the universe and all that is. He had been promised to the first human as a Saviour and Redeemer to restore humanity’s broken relationship with and estrangement from the Creator. As such, he was the heir of King David, the rightful King of Israel, but he was not to make Israel the new world superpower overwhelming all the nations with judgment and wrath, but to bring universal peace, reconciliation, and restoration between God and humanity, and among all humans, and between humanity and the broken creation.