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…

County-Election

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

half-staff-1

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.

A Number Hard to Calculate

fidel

How Many Did Fidel Kill?

Since 1959, a minimum accounting includes:

5,600  – firing squads

 1,200  – “extrajudicial assassinations”

2,199  – prison deaths

5,300 – guerrilla warfare

Not counting lives lost due to the foreign military excursions in Bolivia, the Congo, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Angola, and 125,000 + refugees fleeing the island utopia…

Colin Kaepernick can keep his T-shirt version of history.

“…in the long run it is character that counts. “

t-r

“For the very reason that in material well-being we have thus abounded, we owe it to the Almighty to show equal progress in moral and spiritual things. With a nation, as with the individuals who make up a nation, material well-being is an indispensable foundation. But the foundation avails nothing by itself. That life is wasted, and worse than wasted, which is spent in piling, heap upon heap, those things which minister merely to the pleasure of the body and to the power that rests only on wealth. Upon material well-being as a foundation must be raised the structure of the lofty life of the spirit, if this Nation is properly to fulfill its great mission and to accomplish all that we so ardently hope and desire. The things of the body are good; the things of the intellect better; the best of all are the things of the soul; for, in the nation as in the individual, in the long run it is character that counts. Let us, therefore, as a people set our faces resolutely against evil, and with broad charity, with kindliness and good-will toward all men, but with unflinching determination to smite down wrong, strive with all the strength that is given us for righteousness in public and in private life.

Now, Therefore, I, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, do set apart Thursday, the 26th day of November, next, as a day of general thanksgiving and prayer, and on that day I recommend that the people shall cease from their daily work, and, in their homes or in their churches, meet devoutly to thank the Almighty for the many and great blessings they have received in the past, and to pray that they may be given the strength so to order their lives as to deserve a continuation of these blessings in the future.”

Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States – Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1908