The Uses of History, 15 – Utopian Interlude

Every time we have witnessed one of these socio-political-economic tsunamis attempting to create the latest and greatest plan for Utopia, we have seen a hecatomb of mayhem and slaughter in its wake. The body counts belie every claim that humans can create the Promised Land; the ensuing multi-generational devastation denies every claim of every Utopian vision, whether Marxist, Maoist, Fascist, Nazi, Capitalist, whatever-ist.

The Uses of History, 13 – Christmas, 2

When you study at a university or any institution of higher learning, you study at an institution which was born in and emerged out of the Christian culture of medieval and early modern Europe. When you enjoy the benefits of universal public education, you are reaping the benefits of the foundational work of many generations of churchmen and churchwomen who believed in the right of ordinary people to know how to read, write, and do basic mathematics – then extended that to the right of all who could and would seek it to pursue the knowledge and skills God had created them to understand and be able to develop.

When you go to a hospital and receive medical care dedicated to “doing no harm” and treating you with the respect you deserve whether young or old, rich or poor, male or female, of any religion or ethnicity, you are benefitting from the Christian view of human beings as being made in God’s image and worthy of all care and consideration because all lives are of equal and infinite value in God’s eyes. That is the whole basis of universal public health care, of universal public education, of universal human rights.

The Uses of History, 12 – Christmas, 1

the Bethlehem Baby … grew up to be the greatest inspirational figure in all human history. Remove all the subsequent distortions of what He and His first followers said and began, and no message ever brought or still brings greater light and hope. Try as hard as we might, He and His Good News cannot ever be replaced with anything remotely comparable from any source.

Cold Love, 6 – Enduring to the End

While science tends to negate “faith” as a religious notion, it holds fast to its own creed, with little beyond affirmation that its methodology will someday solve all the mysteries – even the ultimate ones. If that is not as great a religious faith as the Theist’s, I don’t know what is! But as to hope for something beyond the here and now, it will all be futile in the end.

Cold Love, 4 – The Quality of Mercy

The Christian Story says that the Creator-God did not sit back and shrug. Instead, speaking anthropomorphically, (S)He is deeply grieved, even distressed, and even angry. However, God’s ultimate response is mercy rather than wrath, although wrath has been allowed to fall. If we are willing to face our rebellion and defiance of God, we must see that, just as with human offenders in human society, there is an inevitable day when judgment finds the unrepentant transgressor. This is called “natural consequences”, and it applies in both the physical and metaphysical realm. It also comes as a legal requirement.

Cold Love, 2

Hot zeal for God’s judgment to fall on sinners can be a shield protecting the zealot from actually having to practice the harder things such as agape-love (agape being the Greek word used for love in all of these citations) Jesus is talking about. As pointed out in Cold Love, 1, Jesus is talking about the highest form of love (agape) which governs all others. It is this kind of love which we need to live by, and this can only happen in constant relationship with its giver – Yahweh-Adonai, the Creator and Author of all that is.

Cold Love, 1

Jesus was not saying that people would stop falling in love, stop having sex, or stop caring about family and friends. However, if those other kinds of love are to truly reach their highest potential, they must be ruled by something yet higher – agape. That is what Jesus was predicting would “grow cold” for most people.

Psalm 73 – A Parable for Our Time, 3 – Strange Time, This Time

Strange time, this time

the deaf and blind

have taken charge

a rumor comes

and panic reigns

a storm streaks by

the ship is blown

now right now left

the course unknown.

Psalm 73 – A Parable for Our Time, 1

Asaph, our ancient Protester (Protestant?) is talking about the conscienceless ultra-rich and powerful oppressors of the underclasses of his time. He asks all the sorts of question which any person with a still functioning conscience and sense of justice and right and wrong would ask today. He might even have been looking at the oppressive rule of Israelite Kings as he wrote this, or at least at some of his oppressive officials who, like the bloatedly opulent Kings, were using their high offices and trade and business connections to grow richer and richer while oppressing, over-taxing, and gouging the poor farmers and laborers.