A parable of sorts …

The neighborhood in which I live is usually fairly quiet, except for the occasional loud truck passing through. We have a “neighborhood watch program” and try to keep an eye on unusual activities. Across my back fence is another household (neighbor #1), on another street which is not part of the program. They have not caused problems on my side of the fence. However, another neighbor next to them (let’s say neighbor #2, again not part of our watch program) is basically a bully to them – loud music, trash in the yard, dangerous dogs, arguments and angry confrontations when anyone dares try to address the situation with them. I heard it escalate last week, with #2 attacking neighbor #1. Most of the neighborhood couldn’t help but hear it – at first a loud argument, then lots of shouting, followed by the sound of fighting and screaming by spouses and children. Leaning over my fence I could see some of it – it was no contest as #1 was overpowered by #2. Lots of damage to the house and yes, even some blood.

However, although I was a witness along with the rest of the neighborhood watch, since neighbor # 1 was not part of our program, we did nothing since we had already agreed we would not take action unless one of us in the program were involved. Sure, we called the police but they only separated the parties, lectured them and left. Later than night it happened again – more fighting, more damage, more blood. Still, following our agreement we did nothing, even though it was disturbing our tranquility and it was obvious #1 was getting the shit kicked out of them by #2. And no police. Last night, there were gun shots and more screaming. Bound by our agreement we did nothing, since none of us had been attacked. We made speeches and statements at our weekly meeting about how wrong it was that it had happened. Still, despite the cries for help and urgent pleas, we did nothing as we concluded our hands were tied by our agreement.

As of today, the neighborhood is quiet again. It seems neighbor #1 is no longer at the residence since they’re in the hospital. So, it seems our neighborhood watch program has been a success since none of us got involved. Neighbor #2 continues to play their music loud, trash still covers the lawn and the dogs are still a nuisance but seems placated by the events so far. I’m sure they will improve their behavior as we made it clear that we disapproved of what happened and emphasized that no matter what occurred in the future, we would do nothing since it was not against one of our neighborhood watch members. I’m sure they’ve learned their lesson!

(Similarities between NATO, Russia and Ukraine are purely intentional)

Is there a future for post-tRump evangelical MAGA churchianity?

“I am amazed how quickly you are deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is not even a gospel. Evidently some people are troubling you and trying to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be under a curse.”                                (Gal. 1:6-8)

“We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church were permitted to abandon the form of its message and order to its own pleasure or to changes in prevailing ideological and political convictions.” Declaration of Barmen, 8:18 (1934)

With the campaign and election of Donald J. Trump (serial adulterer, liar and fraudster) in 2016, MAGA ideology spawned a virulent infection of many evangelical Christian churches, leaders and pastors with a distorted “gospel” of white, “America First” supremacy and racism, political rallies disguised as “worship” and FOX News like messages cloaked in biblical phraseology with little grounding in truth. How many churches and followers this metastatic cult of personality with its distortions, lies, & hype has spread to remains unclear but the ease with which the cancer of lies spread leads one to question how much the MAGA disciples were grounded in any semblance of historical orthodoxy or orthopraxy in the first place, as spiritual leaders clambered over one another to curry favor with the  “new Cyrus” or “anointed one” who would restore America to mythic greatness.

While there are a few voices for reform and repentance in post-Trump evangelicalism, even the violent attack on the congressional proceedings to finalize the electoral college votes on Jan. 6th has not persuaded most MAGA believers to re-consider their allegiance or devotion to an alien gospel, masquerading as the real thing.  Just as it is not possible to change a counterfeit dollar bill into a real one, so too it is impossible to reform counterfeit preaching, worship and practice into the genuine. It is by nature false and must be rejected. The cure for heresy is conversion to the truth.

Revising X-Mas

“Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men.”

Athanasius – On the Incarnation of the Word (2.8)

This has been a difficult holiday season for many. 300,000 + Americans lost to COVID -19 with more dying every day due in part to the Trump administration neglect, malfeasance, incompetence and politicization of the pandemic, MAGA media disinformation and genuine human stupidity that prefers conspiracies over common sense. The changes in work, school and family, from isolation to unemployment have meant this year’s holidays will be much different than years before. In addition, catastrophic fires in Oregon and California and hurricane damage in the south have added to the pain and misery.

With the shorter days and lack of sunshine, I usually feel like Scrooge this time of year but even more so with the loss of 98% of our family’s possessions in the Almeda fire on Sept. 8th, realizing that we are starting from scratch when it comes to decorating for the holidays. No tree, no ornaments, no family momentos from Christmases past. No big deal that ordering from Walmart can’t fix besides the family heirlooms. However, it reminded me of my discomfort with the holiday and the idea about revising Christmas. No, I’m not a Puritan who wants to ban the holiday like was done in New England in colonial days. Maybe Dec. 25th should be renamed (Super Solstice? Mid-Winter Mania? suggestions?) and an alternative date established to recognize the true significance of the birth of Jesus which is his incarnation. This way shoppers and vendors could have their fun and profits for Dec. 25th and believers could contemplate the true meaning of Christ “born for us” with out all the other accompanying pandemonium (after all, Orthodox Christians have been celebrating the Feast of the Nativity in January for centuries without any vituperation from the MAGA media).

The reason I suggest this change is not because I’ve been reading too many Chick comics. It simply doesn’t take long to notice that all the myriad traditions I have kept & enjoyed over the years as well as most Americans (such as colored lights, flocked trees, ornaments, inflatable nativities, reindeer and the jolly old guy in red) that make up the collective, cultural menagerie have little to do with the profound implications of the incarnation. And this year especially we need the incarnation –  how God’s mercy, promises, goodness and compassion meet the stark reality of humankind’s suffering, poverty, cruelty, brokenness, sorrow, disease and death.

It’s just an idea. That way we could still have fun with the presents and eggnog, corporations & retailers would make their profits and we could let the good news that brings great joy sink deep, deep into our heart and soul.

May our world know more of the peace of Emmanuel, “God with us.”

Navigating the conflagration

Our nation faces multiple perils, akin to a battered car, low on gas, with wobbly tires, weak headlights, steering down a pothole filled road. On the right is the blazing, growing conflagration of MAGA, white- vigilante-militia-supremacy, fanned by a rudderless alt-right media. On the left, are the crumbling guardrails of constitutional authority, the slippery mud of the cult of personality. Ahead is thick fog of a “stolen” election and imperiled transition. Behind is the growing tsunami of a criminally mismanaged, deadly pandemic and an approaching, expanding funnel cloud of unpayable deficits and inequity.

Worst of all, behind the wheel, is a temper-tantrum, toddler, throwing a fit of self-pity.

It’s time for the adults to take the wheel.

MAGA or Magi?

The good news of Jesus is not “Make America Great Again.”

The good news of Jesus is not “America First”

It is the Glory of the Lord rising upon all nations.

It is the kings, petty tyrants and rulers of this age quaking in fear at the loss of their power.

It is not needing any other savior, political or otherwise to fulfill God’s purposes.

It is bowing down and worshiping Jesus.

It is the preemptive invasion of divine love.

To vote or not to vote…


Should Christians vote? Honestly, I’m surprised the question even comes up.

I find the “no vote” view short on hope and at times, heavy on eschatological despair and cynicism, that may lead to a contraction from engagement in society. It has a dualistic view of government that I don’t think is accurate in light of Jesus Christ as risen, victorious and reigning in heaven over all powers since his ascension. Rev. 11:15 declares “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” The aorist or past tense is used. That has been a present reality for almost 2,000 years. It is an accomplished fact. That shows some of my eschatological leanings. However, that does not mean I believe the current administration is the dawning of the millennium. Far from it. It’s testing the hearts of believers in this country to see where their allegiance lies – to the gospel or a vicious, white nationalist political ideology.

In contrast, I consider the example of the British member of Parliament and Christian believer, William Wilberforce who believed in political engagement for change and resulted in the end of legal slavery in the British Empire in 1807 (without a civil war as in the US, decades later). His life long battle had redemptive value that increased God’s justice and manifested God’s common grace in the world.

I have already voted for 2018. I count it a privilege to have a say in what happens in my community be it taxes, the retention of judges, public funding which helps pay for the roads I drive on or whether the incarceration of migrant children as young as 2 years old continues in the name of national security by my representatives in Congress. If the Apostle Paul, a citizen of heaven, used his Roman citizenship for the advancement of the gospel, then I think I ought to do the same when and where I can.

Voting or not voting, and who one votes for is ultimately up to each person that has no bearing on one’s salvific status.  But I’m all for an increase in God’s justice and common grace in the world.

Remembering the most recent

Events at Arlington National Cemetery

Navy Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Kyle Milliken, 38, of Falmouth, Maine, died May 5, 2017, during an operation against the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab in a remote area west of Mogadishu, Somalia. He was assigned to a U.S. East Coast-based special warfare unit.

1st Lt. Weston C. Lee, 25, of Bluffton, Georgia, died April 29, 2017, in Mosul, Iraq, from injuries while conducting security as part of advise and assist support to partnered forces. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

From http://www.militarytimes.com/

A Dirge on the Occasion of the Ascension of Der Gropenfurher


Its twilight in America, the false dawn of greatness,
the robber barons have returned,
pillage, plunder and profits for the 1%,

The reign of the small-handed vulgarian has begun,
policy determined by the terrorism of the Tweet,
post-truth, post-news, post-ethics, p***grabbing power by hack.

Its twilight in America,
when the shadows fall,
the view is obscured,
the way is unclear;

But the wheel of history turns round & round, what goes up must come down,
The pumpkin headed dirigible ascends on high, swollen with the swamp gas of pomposity & grandiosity,
But soon, none too soon, the overinflated, bloviator will float back to the ground, down, down, down to the mucky mire from which it crawled.

Twilight is the time for vigil,
for wakefulness and watchfulness, not for slumber
of listening, of waiting, not of despair,
No twilight lasts forever, even night gives way to day.
Every reign of error comes to an end.