SNATCHING DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY

“You’re gonna choke!  YOU’RE GONNA CHOKE!!  YOU’RE GONNA CHOKE!!!”

When I was a kid, I used to play pinball against a close friend who was considered very skilled, hard to beat.  Mostly this was true.  However, sometimes he would be having an “off day” when I was “on my game,” and so just as I began racking up what might be the game winning points, my opponent would begin chanting, “You’re gonna choke!”  It was a desperate strategy, but it seemed to work a lot of the time.  I rarely beat him.

I recall the big ball game in high school.  We were ahead by forty-eight points at half-time.  We were ahead by fifty six points at the third quarter.  It seemed we were about to spank the other team and put this one away.  But then we relaxed a little too much.  We got a little cocky.  We threw in the towel, and didn’t even realize it.  And in the last few minutes of the game, the opposing team rallied to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  At least, that is how the idiom worked from OUR VANTAGE point.

This week, we just surpassed the number of war dead from the Vietnam War as we fight coronavirus.  In less than two months of quarantine, in a battle in which we have come from behind in a battle where our nation became the epicenter of a worldwide conflict, we have started to win this deadly battle.  And now we are feeling cocky.  We are protesting the victory against the virus in favor of the economy.

(The economy?  I thought it was the virus that killed the economy!  I watched our leaders try very hard to ignore the virus until it crashed our economy!)

We act like the very quarantine which is saving so many lives is choking us.

Hmmm…

Let me just say, even with my very limited intel and very limited ability to analyze the science, I saw this pandemic coming back in January.

JANUARY.

I saw it coming in January and told my wife then to order some face masks THEN which were immediately on back order THEN.

IF I HAD BEEN IN CHARGE THEN, I would have closed down all international travel, put a stop to cruise ships, and I would have warned the NBA and all the other sport gatherings, concert gatherings, and even movie theaters to prepare for emergency shut down!  If I had intel back then about the lack of PPE and medical equipment needed to fight the virus nation wide, I would have asked GM, Ford, and other manufacturers to consider voluntarily producing needed resources BACK IN JANUARY, and would have warned that making it mandatory might be necessary.  If I had been in charge, we might, JUST MIGHT, have sidestepped this quarantine and a stock market crash!

Think of it!  I would have effectively closed our borders and created jobs!  And that’s not my schtick.  But you gotta make adjustments in a pandemic.

I would NOT have waited until the stock market crashed 3 days in a row before moving on this virus.

By the way, THE STOCK MARKET CRASHED day after day DUE TO FEARS OF THE VIRUS!  This means the economy depends on the defeat of this virus.  It is not merely incidental.

I am pleased to see that the pandemic, even coming from behind, has begun to lose its steam.  However, the very battle plan which beat it is the very battle plan we are now relaxing.  How many GIs in Vietnam wished for a little more resolve?  And meanwhile, labs around the world are racing to create a vaccine, and now is projecting one by September.  SEPTEMBER!!!  Wow!  That is fast!  Fast for a cure!

I understand that there will always be risk, and we must face it.  I understand there will be mistakes and missteps, and we must accept that.  But I do not understand the willy-nilly way so many of us are just throwing in the towel in the fight.  There is still one more quarter until the buzzer, but we seem to have walked off the court, there is one last stronghold, and our soldiers have just surrendered.

Why?

Money? Politics?

Why does freedom demand we be stupid so that we can express it?

Why does politics demand we be stupid to be loyal?

Mark my words

Well, this virus’s genius is how it spreads BEFORE the symptoms manifest.  We will see if all this relaxing of the fight pays off or not in about two weeks.  Mid-May.  And the second half of May will tell the tale.

The scientists and doctors are in fairly good agreement that quarantine is warranted.  I trust their intel better than mine, and I would have shut down major industries back in January based on my limited understanding.  If we had done what I would have said back then, we would NOT have shut down worship services.  We never would have shut down restaurants.  We would have ramped up American manufacturing.  It would have been a HUGE financial sacrifice, but that HUGE financial sacrifice would have PALED IN COMPARISON to the one we make by waiting for the stock market to crash and putting 26 million people out of work.

I could have done better than this, and I am no expert.  A monkey would have done better.

Self-interested Politicians

But then I am not running for office.

You know who runs for office?

Politicians.

You know who pushes around politicians?

The Rich.

If you have a person running for office, that person is a politician.  If that person is an incumbent running for re-election, then that person is a politician.  If you have a person who pays for their own campaign, you have a RICH, SELF-INTERESTED POLITICIAN.

(This is a simple definition.)

I thought we hated politicians.  I thought we faulted them for holding their own jobs and self-interest and vanity above the interest of those they are supposed to represent.  I thought THAT was the problem with America – at least according to the popular rhetoric of the last 40 years.

I don’t see that critique working out.  I think we are losing another battle on that front too.

I hope I am wrong.  I hope all the reckless re-opening of commerce and beach tanning somehow sidesteps all the best science and that the economy suddenly no longer hinges on fears of a virus.

But that is not very conservative.  That is not very prudent.

I am very concerned that we might be handing victory to the virus on a silver platter.  We will know a lot more as the second half of May unfolds.  But I want to lay down this marker now.  Because more people died in the last two months from this enemy than died in all of the Vietnam War – another war we handed victory on a silver platter to the enemy (and then regretted for 50 years).

WELCOME TO THE POOR HOUSE, AMERICA

About two years ago, I saw a story about a family in Venezuela who had newly become poor.  Each parent alternated eating each day to conserve food for the kids.  I saw that and knew, it could be us.

This pandemic is not the first time Americans have lined up for food or jobs.  My grandparents were born into such an economic disaster.  It was called the Great Depression.  A lot of people died.  Life was hard.

But in time, they came to call my grandparents “The Greatest Generation.”

Seems that those hard times played an important role in forming that generation to be thankful for what they had, to be wise with it, to save, to be generous, to work hard and not complain (excessively).  Hmmm.  The Greatest Generation.

Seems this is how you Make America Great Again…

Hmmm…

I know that nobody from my grandparents generation ever shot a kid in the park for his Jordan sneakers!

Well, maybe there is a connection there; maybe not.

Either way, I see those food and work lines forming again.

Welcome to the poor house, America.  

If you need to ask a bum for advice about living on the streets, let me know.  I can introduce you to a few.

If you want to meet in front of the locked up church house door, pray and knock on it with Jesus (Rev. 3:20), I will meet you there.

MAN! THAT’S POOR

Preacher got up and made his little sermon illustration many, many years ago saying:

Two old jazz musicians from New Orleans meet at the funeral for their band leader.  The deceased had requested he be buried sitting upright behind the wheel of a fine Cadillac.  As the car is slowly lowered into the ground, the old trumpet player leans over to the drummer and says, “Man! Dat’s livin’!”

I suppose it’s just “an expression” as we sometimes say.  Still, the irony is kinda funny.

I think of my dear old grandfather biting into a piece of cheesecake lovingly prepared by my grandmother, and as soon as he swallows the first bite, he proclaims, “Mmmmm… That’s rich.”

Of course, I happen to know his favorite meal was beans and cornbread.  He was raised during the Great Depression, and they didn’t always have a whole lot of options for dinner.  It was simple food for poor people in simple times, but it was good times, and so he remembered them fondly when he ate such a simple meal even 75 years later.

(I referenced his love for this meal, and my effort to introduce it to my kids during our current economic collapse in a recent post.)

And so just tonight, we ate beans and cornbread for supper again.  This firmly established, white, middle-class home where we are quite accustomed to grilling out back (sometimes even a good ribeye), devouring pizza, pot roast, and not infrequently arranging takeout from the elegant Asian place, is trying to tap into that joy my grandfather would recall when he ate beans and cornbread.

(As I referenced before, I trick my small kids into enjoying it by feeding them from my plate, so they think they are eating mine. It works again!)  I tell them there will be farting later tonight, and it makes them giggle.  And then I hit the cornbread with real butter, drench the bread in bean juice, and I gotta say, it’s really good!

It’s just then that the most ironic expression comes from my mouth, almost without thinking.

I say, “Man! That’s POOR.”

And somehow it seems soooooooooooo right.

(Hope I am still liking it 7 years from now.)

SOME PARTS OF THE BIBLE THAT TROUBLE ME (PART 2)

So I offered a post just a few days ago bringing up parts of the Bible that trouble me, but the post hardly got any traffic.  In fact the blog in general seems to be getting less visits in recent days.  But I did finally get into a rich conversation with one reader – at least I had the opportunity to explore my thoughts further with a real person.  Perhaps someone else will yet find the post and help that conversation blossom again.

That said, I am dealing with still another passage of Scripture that seems to challenge me to the core.  In fact, if my read on it is anywhere near the mark, it is deeply challenging to my whole culture – even Christian culture – at depths I find practically NO ONE discussing.  (That alone gives me cause to think I might really be off base, BUT I already suspect my church and the broader culture of collusion and conspiracy to throw the Gospel off track – meaning I might be right after all.)

However, this part of that Bible that troubles me is a recent development in my life and worldview.  Up until recently, I did not make the connection between this text and my world – not like this.

What is this passage (you ask)?  What does it say???

(So glad you did ask….)

I find the concept in other passages too (at least doing business with other passages), but it seems most succinctly laid out in John 3:19-21.  Jesus has just been approached by a non-committal, yet curious, Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus.  Nicodemus comes to Jesus AT NIGHT (under cover of darkness) to confess that he and the other leading Jews know that Jesus comes from God and is empowered by God to work his signs.  This confession by night elicits a response from Jesus about rebirth.

The passage as a whole, over the course of my life’s experience, has always provided us a chance to talk about baptism, and that is appropriate enough, I think.  However the discussion Jesus has with Nicodemus does not end there; it ends with 3:19-21, and thus seems to bookend the passage with an examination of light and darkness opposite Nicodemus’s approach to Jesus by night.  Perhaps our discussion of baptism is meant to be filled out with this discussion of Light and darkness.  Or maybe rebirth points to this.

Here is the quote:

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Bible Context

It’s a judgment passage.  Jesus is defining judgment and describing it.  The immediate context here is that of Nicodemus coming by night to confess in the darkness.  He does not, nor does his Pharisee friends, come to the Light for fear that his/their deeds will be exposed.  He/they do not love the Light, but rather the darkness because their deeds are evil.  This is John’s immediate context, and it reveals things about Nicodemus and his friends; it characterizes Jesus vis-à-vis Jewish leaders; thus it informs all the talk about baptism and rebirth too.

We know that Jesus will be crucified and they will not.  We know that Nicodemus’s colleagues will manipulate empire to have Jesus crucified and will do it with their conniving behind closed doors, but Jesus will do his image bearing in the Light of day!

Thus there is a broader context still within John’s Gospel, and, with the word study, we find it hinted at in 1:4 where John tells us that in Jesus the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overpower it.  Then, even though the terminology about “light” is dropped part way through, we find in 1:9-11 that Jesus (seemingly the embodiment of Light) comes into the world to enlighten humans but the world does not know him, and he is not received by his own kind.  This too colors the passage we find in chapter 3, for there we are getting a flesh-n-blood, historical account of two people talking in which this idea from John’s prolog is working out.

But there is yet a far larger context here too, one which John obviously has placed his whole Gospel inside of which is the story of creation from Genesis 1-3.  John’s whole Gospel account opens with a partial quote from Genesis 1:1 – in fact both books open the same way using the same opening words.  This is not accidental.  It is not merely a stylistic effect.  In fact we should read John’s whole Gospel account as a reworking of Genesis – especially the creation account!  And this is no fruitless endeavor, let me tell you!!!

I am not a Bible scholar, and my toolbox is lacking some of the tools which surely would aid this study, but even with my limitations I find sooooooooo much deep and rich connection between the creation account of Genesis and John’s presentation of Jesus that I proclaim John always intended this to be the Gospel of New Creation.

Here are just a FEW of the incredible observations I have found which point this direction for me:

  • Jesus performs SEVEN signs in John’s Gospel.  This does not mean he performes ONLY seven miracles according to John.  No, not at all.  John himself makes this clear in the final verse of his book (21:25).  But John chooses seven signs to talk about which correspond perfectly to the seven days of creation.

 

  • John’s account leaves the garden where Jesus is arrested NAMELESS.  We know the name of this garden, not least, from the other Gospel accounts, AND we know John has not changed the location for any theological purposes, because he describes the correct location for Gethsemane without ever mentioning the name.  Also, at the resurrection, Mary Magdalene finds the risen Jesus in the garden (nameless again) and mistakes him for the gardener!  I submit for your consideration that John quietly drops the name of this garden so that you can better see the correspondence between the Garden of Eden and the work Jesus (the “last Adam” according to St. Paul, I Cor. 15:45).  Also, John, rather than calling the place of crucifixion “Golgotha,” instead tells us it “was a garden” (19:41).  Thus, Jesus completes the unfinished and incomplete work of Adam back at the start of the first creation.

 

  • John’s Pilate presents Jesus after his beatings with a crown of thorns on his head proclaiming, “Behold! The Man!” in a perfect correlation with the Friday of creation in Genesis 1 where The Adam (“Adam” means “man”) is given dominion and rule over all the beasts and all of creation in a marriage/coronation ceremony.  Also, The Adam/Man is made in the image of God!  Those creatures not bearing the image of God are animals, thus when Pilate says, “Behold! The Man,” he conversely places himself and all those there to witness this presentation in the position of animals being ruled by the image bearer – thus New Creation!

 

  • One more titillating observation… At the crucifixion, according to John 19:34, the soldier pierces Jesus’s side with a spear and immediately blood and water come out.  This, I think – THINK – echoes off the wedding at Cana where water is turned to wine, but I really don’t know what the significance of that is (I keep studying and praying for more enlightenment), but I certainly see the divine surgery performed on The Adam of Genesis 2:21-25 where God causes a “deep sleep” to fall upon The Man (Jesus will be in the tomb three days in this same deep sleep) and he takes a rib and fashions it into a Bride.  This, I believe, is the birth of the church, the Bride of Christ, according to John – a scene that looks very different from that of Luke’s account, but nonetheless true to Jesus, God, and the Bible.

 

Well, that is quite a digression into the larger scope of John and the Bible as a whole, but all of these things help set the contextual stage upon which our current passage plays its role, as I see it.  I am sure my digression overwhelms my point, but let me get back to it.  The point is to say that we are justified in looking at The Beginning (Genesis) as we reflect on the context of our troubling passage (3:19-21).

Applying My Life’s Experience to the Context

BEFORE I begin relating Genesis to this passage, though, let me explain the current application I THINK I see in this passage.  This is the part that is REALLY troubling, at least for me, and I may as well go ahead and play this card now because my connection to Genesis will make better sense that way.

In my view, I have come to see “the darkness” Jesus speaks of here in John 3, as he talks to Nicodemus by night, as roughly equivalent to “privacy.”

This statement cuts against everything I ever thought before.  It strikes me as completely absurd.  This is not something I WANT to see in the Bible.  It’s a sin-destroying observation that feels life threatening down to the core of me.

Is ALL privacy a matter of darkness?  Just saying it like that makes the idea sound rediculous, I think.  But don’t write it off until AFTER we look closer at both Genesis and Jesus’s crucifixion in relation to it.

I think about the first time I ever encountered the word “private,” I recall a large gate with a sign that read “Private Property” which my family used to drive past when I was a very small child.  The fence was high and you could not see through it or over it.  I asked my parents what the sign said and what it meant, and though the explanation was somewhat esoteric to my four year old mind, I got the idea it basically meant “keep out” or “you are NOT welcome,” and somehow that translated in my view into “We are better than you.”  It quickly came to have a very negative connotation for me.

However, even from very early on in my life, I came to understand that any temptations I desired to succumb to needed to be dealt with in private.  “Look both ways before you cross the street” morphed into Look over your shoulder before you take a cookie from the forbidden cookie jar!

Oh yes.  There were evil deeds in which I wanted to engage, and even before I was out of the first grade, I knew well enough to take care and do them secretly – in the “darkness.”  And some deeds I came to love.

I remember stealing once.  I was with a group of kids who were a little older than me and a little wilder too.  We met in the little club house almost like The Little Rascals, except one of the boys had the idea we needed soda pop and candy, but we did not have the money.  However, we could steal some at the corner grocer and come back to our little hideout.  We did.

I felt terrible about it.  I finally confessed this to my parents.  But first I lived with the secret – we all did.  We had a brotherhood of darkness where we did these evil deeds.

Now that I am older, I think about privacy much more as a legal matter.  There is the government and the private sector.  There are HIPAA laws preventing me from talking openly about clients, patients, and foster children.  These are not necessarily matters of evil deeds, but they are matters of darkness.  And no doubt a published list of all the channels on TV or websites I view and a few other matters of that sort do, in fact, deal in matters of evil deeds done in the darkness, and I LOVE them and do not want to come into the Light where they are manifest for fear they be manifest!

Hmmm…

So every time I hear about privacy advocates and privacy rights, I gotta say, I have a visceral reaction.  I plainly see how easy it is to lose such rights, how hard it is to get them back, AND the damage done in the meantime!

Also, I want privacy, which SEEMS appropriate, every time I go to the restroom, every time I check into a motel, every time I speak on the phone.

None of these desires for privacy carry any overt shroud behind which to hide my evil deeds, per se.  On the contrary, how can we order the public world if we let go entirely of privacy?  We surely can’t have NAKED people running hither and yon… shopping at Walmart… worshiping in church!

Right???

The Genesis Context

And then there’s Genesis.

Oh… yeah.

Genesis… the first week of creation.  Creation where at the end of nearly each day God holds Judgment on his world and declares it was “GOOD.”  And after day six, at least, it is populated with NAKED people running hither and yon bearing the image of God full frontal and no one says that you will die if you see him.  No.  It’s all good.  NAKED and GOOD.

And then New Creation with John’s Gospel which so clearly echoes and resonates with old creation from Genesis, and where Pilate puts forth Jesus wearing nothing but a crown and the wounds of empire declaring “Behold! The Man!!!”  And they enthrone him on Rome’s punishment set aside for runaway slaves and rebels with a sign saying he is King!  And NAKED there, Jesus is coronated and married (or at least undergoes the divine surgery which will produce a mate befitting him rather than all the animals!).

This is the NAKED Light which came into the world and the darkness could not overpower it.  This is God full frontal!  LOOK AT HIM and LIVE!

Oh… yeah…

Can you see why I am troubled by this?

I realize that I love my evil deeds in the darkness and fear them being made manifest.  This comes ever more to LIGHT for me as I dare to Behold! The Man!

And he calls me to take up a cross and follow.  One thing is clear to me now.  When they crucify you, which is what is happening when you take up a cross and follow (assuming you do), then they strip you NAKED and you have no privacy, you have no darkness left to hide in.  You are exposed to the light!  Your deeds are manifest as having been wrought in God.

So how can I continue to be worried about my privacy if I am taking up a cross and following Jesus… if I love the Light?

Nicodemus and his colleagues carry no cross, nor do they follow Jesus.  They love the darkness, and their deeds are manifest in the Light of Christ, the very thing they fear.

I wish I could just say that privacy rights are something different and have nothing to do with darkness, but I know that back when God judged the world GOOD, there was no privacy rights.  There was NAKED vulnerable TRUST and complete fidelity in its place, and there was no need for privacy to manage the public sphere.  Every particle of creation looked at the image bearer and saw God!  And thus every particle of creation was accountable to him and found Shalom.

There is a lot of talk in recent weeks about “contact tracing” and Covid tracking” which has the potential to threaten our privacy.  I have a deep aversion to that idea.  But it seems therein the world finds healing.

As a modern American, I am deeply troubled by the idea that I might first and foremost be a Christian who seeks to be reconciled to God completely and to live in a world of his making and ordered by his will.  And my little private places are merely pockets of darkness – pockets of resistance to that.

… or maybe I am just really mistaken about that…

What do you think?

 

HOW’S THAT WHEN-HELPING-HURTS POLICY WORKING RIGHT ABOUT NOW???

Here we are FIVE weeks into pandemic unemployment with roughly 26 million Americans out of work.  The “newly poor” who many might consider “the deserving” poor, but who nonetheless are a drag on the prosperity of everyone else (well over 2 TRILLION dollars of tax-payer money so far!) make all the headlines.  We are more than a month in to this apocalypse now, and though several states and municipalities are trying to “reopen” for business (Mammon) – too early, according to prominent doctors and scientists, but I am hearing very, precious little about the current plight of the homeless.  Thus meanwhile I am wondering how that When-Helping-Hurts thingy is working out right about now….

Yeah, the United States Congress wasted no time coming together in bipartisan cooperation to pass a monstrous financial aid package for the nation – basically paying Americans to stay home from work.  Yeah.  We are paying people NOT TO WORK!  How ironic is that???  In fact, there was NO DISCERNABLE debate or fear or books or seminars coming out telling us NOT to do this since it will create dependence, “enable” poor choices and addictions, and ironically do HARM to the very people all this help is meant to serve.  None.  Nada.  Zilch.  (Maybe I just listen to the wrong news sources.)

Where are Corbett, Fikkert, and Lupton now?

Are they promoting job training at the homeless shelter?  What job would a homeless person train for?  Shouldn’t the homeless be sheltering in place?

Wait… what shelter do they have to do this sheltering-in-place?  A giant dorm room where they all get compact together in an enclosed space???

Wow!  Do you wish right about now that we had forked up tons of money to put them in their own apartments and homes?

Yeah.  Right about now, I am thinking that by NOT doing that, we have done ourselves great harm!  We are keeping these folx in ever risky situations in a huge effort to NOT REWARD their neediness, but by doing THAT our non-help style “help” has caused great harm to them and to US!

Hmmm… When Helping Hurts is causing the very harm it seeks to avoid!

Wow!  Who knew?

I pray the homeless emerge from this fairing well, but all I see is the ingredients for a disaster cake put in the oven and waiting to ding when the timer goes off.  Very few segments of our population face more risk of both getting and spreading infection than the poor.  And our efforts, back when times were “good” to avoid helping them too much for fear it would harm them and us have totally backfired.

Think about it.

And pray.

Pray God moves through the poor for our salvation like he did among the slaves of Egypt, the whore of Jericho, the widows of Moab, the ruddy, little shepherd boy, the beggars of Samaria, and especially tax-burdened carpenter and his mysteriously pregnant, teenaged wife placing their new baby in a feed trough.  God has a track record of moving through the very people we scorn with our contempt – a far longer track record than he has doing ANYTHING with the US Congress or POTUS.  FAR LONGER.

And far longer than ANYTHING he ever did with When Helping Hurts.

AS EVEN HANDED AS I KNOW HOW

In light of the coronavirus pandemic calling for tough choices and placing Americans in a fearful state, allow me to try to say something careful for public consideration.

ON THE ONE HAND: We have a deadly virus to mitigate, which entails “social distance” and other precautions such as gloves, masks, and handwashing.  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Wish we had done more to prevent the spread of this virus back in January when it was first featured in the news, but we didn’t.

Wish we had closed down all international travel, back then.  Just imagine if we had.  We might still be going to church, to school, and to work at most jobs.  It would have been a HUGE blow to our economy, but nothing like shutting it down almost entirely!

So we failed to mitigate at the start and now we pay a pound of cure.  Let us take that seriously.

ON THE OTHER HAND: All our mitigations are hard on the economy, and make no mistake, if the economy gets bad enough, that will cost lives too.  In fact, we have deemed many jobs “essential” and never closed those jobs down.  This isn’t JUST the medical professionals and first responders; it’s truck drivers, delivery drivers, housekeepers, agriculture workers and actually many more.  Not enough to keep the economy going, but quite a lot of people keeping us fed and clothed while we “shelter-in-place.”  IF WE DONT WORK AT REVIVING THE ECONOMY, THE PROBLEMS WILL MUSHROOM!

There is more than one way to die in this pandemic.

Oh… and the “essential workers” are getting sick too.  Meat packing plants shutting down despite the fact they are “essential” should give EVERYONE cause for pause.  Now is a good time to pray.

I hope I have shown proper respect to BOTH issues.  I am trying to be brief, so please pardon me if I failed to mention some pertinent point on one or the other hand.  I am sure there are more complexities there than I have covered, but I think I have been even handed here.

NOW…

To those itching to get back to work.

I see you protesting in the streets, out front of state capitols and so forth.  They catch you on TV cameras real good.  I appreciate your concern that we get back to work to prevent ONE kind of problem, and I hope your concerns are being addressed quickly.

HOWEVER, I see MANY of you clustered together in close quarters to make your point.  MANY of you have no observable precautions (masks, gloves, “social distance”), yet you are making very partisan and political protests.  MANY of you seem more menacing than concerned.  You are arguing, not just with political opposition but, with scientific reason.  You are exacerbating the first problem in your mad rush to address the second one which was already caused by the first!

Look.  I know you are scared.  So am I.  But now is not the time to lose your head or start a fight.  I am fine with your protest, and I will back your concern even, however your recklessness I do not support.

My wife is a nurse – a frontline warrior against this virus.  If and WHEN you get sick with this reckless behavior, it is her life YOU will put at risk AND SHE IS ONE OF THE FEW STILL WORKING AND KEEPING A TRICKLE OF THIS ECONOMY GOING. (I put that in all caps and bold type in case the fact that her human life isn’t valuable enough for your consideration, I want you to see she has value in other ways too.)

Please, please, please… be honest about your fears. DID YOU TALK TO GOD ABOUT THIS?  (I didn’t see that on any placards or hear it in any sound bites.) Or did you just go to protesting and spreading the disease?  Your little mad is a mask for your deep fears.  Your deep fears are quite valid, but your anger is not.  Your little mad is going to cost a lot more lives.  I hope you will get in touch with your real feelings, deal with them instead of all the dust you kick up.  Let’s all just be cool.  Your desire to go back to work and to address the economy is valid.  I support you on that.  But your actions fly in the face of reason and stir up trouble with the very people who are tasked with saving your life.  (Think about it.)

Wow!  Just think of all the homeless people who don’t have any money to begin with!  And they don’t have a choice – or very little – when it comes to “sheltering-in-place.”  You, by-n-large, do have the choice.  Please, voice your concerns, but do so wisely and carefully.  And quit writing off human lives so cheaply.

If you can’t or won’t, then the nurses in my life are asking you to sign a waiver.  Put your life where your mouth is.  Decide if you are wanting to make the world a better place or just wanting to fight.

Thanx

SOME PARTS OF THE BIBLE THAT TROUBLE ME

I don’t know about you, but I find some parts of the Bible to be flat out inspirational, some parts comforting, and some parts troubling – in various ways for various reasons.

Of those that trouble me, some parts are hard to understand (and I am not sure I really do), some are just too hard to think through and others just too hard to accept.  Some just challenge me beyond my comfort.

I am not sure I can even list them all, but here are a few:

Pick up your cross and follow…

That is tough.

Sell all you own, give it to the poor and come follow sounds just a tad easier, but honestly, if I keep it at arm’s length, I feel better about the other parts of God’s Word that really do comfort me.

Count it all joy when you experience trials….

Yeah, that one bakes my noodle.  Just contemplating it is hard.  Understanding it is hard.  Committing to it… well… I don’t know.

Maybe this one comes easy for you, but not me.

But there is another… which really surprises me.  A part of the Bible I might have read hundreds of times over the course of my life… might have heard read and even remarked upon in sermons perhaps countless times over the course of my life… but which in recent years – especially the last five years or so – has come to haunt me… to trouble me… and possibly convict me (but I am not sure yet).

Over the course of my life, the little familiarity with this part of the Bible which I have found in personal readings and in group studies and in sermons – all put together – has done very little for me except to flesh out a picture.  But what if there is MEANING to this small aspect of the larger picture?  And what if that MEANING somehow directs my life and that of the church?

By now you surely are wondering what in the world I am talking about (or else you have clicked off).  Enough with the suspense.

I find this part voiced most potently in Luke’s writings, but perhaps there are echoes of the same idea in other places too.  But here are two references which you can go to look this up for yourself: Luke 24:53 & Acts 2:46.

The troubling part?

Jesus’s disciples, after all his “earthly ministry” (as we sometimes call it) is said and done, are STILL MEETING IN THE TEMPLE!  The temple of the Jews which was the “den of robbers/rebels” (according to Jesus) that just a few years later will be utterly destroyed by Rome (God?), never to be rebuilt again.  And of course we find some very significant events unfolding among the fledgling church IN THE TEMPLE COURTS especially at the opening of Acts.  And I am finding the SETTING to be convicting.

Hey… I am interested in talking more about this stuff if you are.  But maybe I should ask you what parts of the Bible trouble you?  Got a passage or two that stubbornly trouble you?  Care to share what they are?

Let’s talk.

So many of us have little more to do these days that sit home worrying about the world crumbling around us.  How about we talk about the Bible a bit?  See if God doesn’t have a Word for us…  That kinda thang.

I look forward to your feedback.

 

Hey Republicans: So you want me to die for the Economy?

The last time I reblogged this blogger, he won my blog post of the year award. Of course, that is not a real award, but it is a good name for it. Anyway, I think this post hits pretty stinking close to the bulls eye again. If I can get THIS conversation circulating, I want to do so. As a conservative, myself, I am finding conservative politics to be a very cold, ugly, insulting, and deadly game. And I used to think that was liberals. Hmmm… Yes. Let’s talk!

Peter's Outer Cape Portico

Recently, our Dear Leader admonished us that “we cannot let the cure [for the Covid-19 pandemic] become worse than the disease,” meaning that we can’t allow trivial concerns about human life jam the wheels of American commerce. Texas Republican lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, has suggested that he and other grandparents should be willing to risk their health and even lives in order for the United States to “get back to work” amid the pandemic. Indiana congressman, Trey Hollingsworth, told a radio-show host that it’s Congress’s job to sit Americans down and explain to them that dying in a pandemic isn’t as bad as the havoc said pandemic is wreaking on the economy. “We are going to have to look Americans in the eye and say, ‘We are making the best decisions for the most Americans possible…And the answer to that is unequivocally to get Americans back to work, to get…

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PULL YOUR BUSINESS OUT OF THAT WHORE! (Rev. 18:4)

Fallen is Babylon!  Pull out, MY people, of that whore!

The kings and the merchants (on the decks of their ships) mourn the death of this bitch by whom the people became drunk, seduced, and turned away from God.  I am sure she seduced me a few times (uh huh huh huh … I said FEW…)

Oh… the sadness of those poor little kings, those poor little rich people, and the merchants who did not pull out of her, but who kept pushing, and pushing, and pushing their business in a dead whore only to finally realize she is dead.  (When did they finally notice?  Was it the stink?  Was the stock market crash three days in a row that finally tipped them off???)  And so now they mourn.  They ache.  All the fun they had is gone.

There will never be another whore like the great whore Babylon.

“Re-open her!”  They shout!  “Let us get back to business enjoying her drunkenness!  Pump her with our business like CPR, and maybe we can still have a “new normal”!  We became rich off her tricks!  We did things with her unmentionable which can never be repeated!  Let us get back to normal with the great whore just as fast as we can  We cannot imagine life without her! … Oh to be with her again!”

But you MY people, come out of her!  She was haunted by every evil, every unclean spirit and beast.  She was no LOVE to MY people.  She is dead.  Good riddance.

Hmmm..

What does the Bible say?  What is God’s Word?

Do you belong to God or to a dead whore?

What about the church?  Does the church belong to a dead whore or to God?

What say you?

(Seriously.  Make a response to this.  What say YOU?)

STAYIN’ ALIVE WHILE SAVING OTHERS

It’s a challenge, but Mrs. Agent X (more commonly known as “Mama”) is doing her best.  We got a selfie from her at work keeping watch over small souls struggling (potentially) with pandemic crisis.  If you wanna see “Mama” – you gotta look deep in the eyes…  Past the protection, past the mask, past the fear, past the frustration… and somewhere in there is some deeply self-sacrificial LOVE.  That’s the part we call “Mama” around here.

Hey.  Do us, yourself, and everyone else a favor… as far as it is possible. STAY AT HOME!

Thanx