Magic Trixter FoX

Magic Trixter FoX

Friday, December 5, 2014

You Can't Stop God from Reconciling to Anything (An Open Letter to Greta Christina)

One thing saddens me, and it is that we (Believers & Atheists) do not see each other's points-of-view very clearly.  We've been arguing for and against the existence of God in our private worlds for a long time now, largely preaching to our own respective choirs. When we actually engage each other the tone is off.  I do not know what it is.  Probably a lot of Believers are trying to convert You.  Probably some Atheists are, too.  But I do want to stand for at least one position: our Conversation here is Interesting, and can be productive.   Quite independently of whether or not you think the question leads to one conclusion or the other, just in the chat there is substance.   Eventually, if we approach this conversation in the right spirit we could stand to learn a lot about ourselves as Humans.  We are all, after all, Humans.  And it is interesting that we are having an ages-long debate about God's existence.   Would prove to be a pretty epic piece of the story of humanity, just that we had debated this concept at all -- either way.

I like hearing about Faith vs. Atheism.  I enjoy the back-and-forth.  What I don't enjoy is that tone.  When one side just assumes that everything which can be said, has been said, and everyone else needs to accept defeat -- it just seems like a counterproductive attitude to bring into the debate.  Greta Cristina, in this article, is ready for the question to be decided, based on what I think is a very slim approximation of her opponent's side.   She does an excellent job pointing out that Nature is full of deformities, full of cruel riddles and bizarrely designed (if designed) body parts.  But she makes a quite common mistake of assuming that opponents cannot possibly have known about this, or considered it, and that therefore there is no theology to answer it.  I was once confronted on an online forum with a similar question - if God exists, why anencephaly? It is a heart-wrenching question, on the face of it; there are many questions like it in theological studies, and always these questions provoke our sense of justice about suffering.   Surely no good, omnipotent God would allow x, y, and z to happen!  But you see, by no means is this where Christian argument has ceased its questioning.   This is not an end-point, but a beginning point, where a whole, rich world of the philosophy of suffering begins.  It is a felt philosophy, and has provoked many great books, one of which, that I dearly love to recommend, is A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken.

In the article I just linked to you from Greta Cristina, she has listed "4 Reasons that 'God Made Evolution Happen' makes no sense."  I think I'll take them one at a time, so everybody might want to read her original post too.  Ms. Cristina, I'll now switch to direct address format.  I am pleased by the way to make your acquaintance.  Thanks for making me think and write!  Let's begin.

1. "But in evolution, there is no direction."

     Ah but, might I suggest, in evolution, there is connection.   An overwhelmingly interconnected, biological and chemical mess (I'm giving you that word, there mess).  With all the same rush and reverence you might experience if you fell down Alice's rabbit hole, try to look at Nature and deny that the Connection itself is whole and sublime, and something higher than direction itself.  God is in the wiring, you see.  "Evolution is all about the immediate present and the very near future," I get it.  Evolution is all about The Now, in other words.  In deeper Christian philosophy, I would say that is also where God is said to be located.  Random Chaos?  Hey that's right up His alley!  One hundred thousand quirks? Yeah, that sounds like His address.

2.  "There's not a scrap of evidence for it."

    You see, this is what I was talking about earlier.  "Without dying in childbirth?"  No, God has not obligated himself to such parameters.  If you imagine the Web of Life itself, that bio-chemical yet mystical interconnectedness, you will understand that the concerns of a single individual for more or less pain, more or less illness, more or less misfortune, are by no means the deciding factors in "the plan of God" if you can conceive of such a thing existing.  For the Web of Life itself is quite lively, and pulsating, and even when the Earth experiences a major extinction event (like it may do soon), life Itself goes on, and on, and on.  And I daresay when the Earth herself dies Life may still yet go on.  Life Itself, you see, according to the best definitions, is precisely what exists as the core of God.  God is the sentience and interconnectedness of all Life.  I don't have to be significant to the plan of the Universe for God to exist.  In fact, its probably better if I see myself as profoundly insignificant. Rather than looking for a God who behaves as a genie, look for a God with an indomitable will and a profound imagination and a real zest for doing the job erratically and eccentrically, and there's evidence a-plenty.

   I mean, the Universe itself doesn't actually exist you know.

3.  The Evidence Against

     Yes, the vagus nerve likes to take its time and so does the vas deferens, especially if you are a giraffe.  I like that bit, but half-assed? You have to admit its all interesting, at least.  And we're having this conversation spanning centuries about whether or not God did it.  Your criteria was, "God is supposed to care" if an individual is comfortable or happy.  Well no, technically God is not supposed to do anything.  Stop telling God what to do!  I am sorry it is all a bit gory and grotesque at times but as Life continues to go onward and as we are all here for one another knowing that we all are going to die, and some of us suffer, it helps to reach out sometimes, to the Supreme Intelligence which some of us very much feel in the Connection of Everything.  And does He answer?  Well, see, conditions for Life sure could be a lot worseI am grateful that they are not.   I am grateful for all the persons and places I love, and for their health, and I hope it all continues.   My faith is, by and large, concerned with the immediate present and the very near future.  Somewhere in the core of me is some DNA which is highly connected to all the other carbon in the Universe, and it is hopefully making split-second decisions to benefit 'me' as my mysterious 'consciousness' experiences myself.  To quote Kevin Flynn, "Bio-digital jazz, man."  Or maybe that's all scientific language for the justification for prayer.  Have you conceived of prayer as participation with God rather than petitioning from God?  That would go with equating God less with direction and more with connection. What if words themselves were powerful?  What if intents were even more so?  What if the Universe could be shown to be malleable in the face of your psychic involvement?  The only laboratory in which God has ever consented to prove Himself is in the laboratory of the Human Heart.  But billions have found it proved there. Some have not, I know.   Most of the New Atheists used to be Christians, and prominent in their churches.  But what are the constants in a faith experiment?  For many people, there are more constants in a faith experiment than there are constants in life.  A bad church can be a pretty bad detriment to a faith experiment, and I think most Christians today acknowledge that there are a lot of bad churches.  To really begin a fresh look at the subject with the humble and open heart which is required, my best recommendation is a long time spent alone, in Nature, in silence.  This should truly be a central experience for having these sorts of discussions go a step further.

4.  Now the real meat.  Is God brutal?  Calloused? Malignant?  Is that who I am arguing for?  No, not at all, God does care, but I wish you would allow yourself the bigger picture.  Religion teaches that there is a body and there is a physical world, and that there is suffering a-plenty, but that the lives we live out here in pain and misfortune are reversed hereafter.  Jesus' parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man shows how this was reversed for the case of one rich man and one poor man.   Lazarus lived his life in squalor and neglect outside the rich man's house.  In the afterlife it was the rich man who desperately craved charity and respite while Lazarus had it all.  And if you're reeling right now because I just tried to argue that God is not brutal by bringing up the possibility of Hell, then you're not paying close enough attention.  The philosophy of hell is also a nice, long rabbit hole to go down sometime when you feel like doing theology, but it requires a lot of heart.  I largely see Hell not as something God created and throws us into to punish us, but as something that God is swallowing up and redeeming, barring entry to, ransoming from and emptying and rescuing us from.  What I am trying to do is give you the bigger picture.   There would also be Heaven to discuss, for example.   Or the possibility of multiple incarnations.  Does it all even out in the end?  Will we look back and say, "That was all worth it?"  Well, isn't that where Faith comes in?  Because we don't know, do we?  I don't, and neither do you.  Judgment Day is kind of like the pair of dice we are all waiting to see what number it lands on.

I am sorry that for you religion is so divorced from reality.   But I sincerely suggest to you, that you have not yet plumbed religion's depths.  Or, for that matter, reality's.  And more research is necessary, so let's not can the debate just yet.

KiJjiT the FoX

P.S.: In case you didn't like my answer, here's a much better one.

Reach the Police

The latter half of 2014 has been the era of Police Brutality.  Several cases have made national headlines, including the killing of Eric Garner on July 17th, the killing of Michael Brown on August 9th, and the killing of Tamir Rice (12 years old) on November 22nd.  In addition to these most well known killings, there is also the Nov. 2nd death of Sheneque Proctor, a young mother who was in good health but died with no official explanation after reportedly calling her mother and reporting that the officers had been handling her roughly.  On November 25th, Dornella Conner, a pregnant woman who was not part of the protests in Ferguson, was nevertheless shot by an officer's beanbag round, and lost her eye.

There is a lot to be angry about in all of this.  When we consider that police officers are also getting away with these and similar offenses seemingly all the time, the sense of rage only increases.  The mantra of the police force -- "to serve and protect" -- rings increasingly hollow.  As Andrew Napolitano has said, "The definition of a police state is when the government's prime concern is for its own safety, not for the lives, liberty, and property of the people it has sworn to protect."  Nowhere has this been more apparent than in Ferguson, where the police response to protests about the Michael Brown killing and the subsequent grand jury decision have included the use of tear gas, which is banned by the Geneva Convention for use in warfare.  An over-militarized and over-zealous police force is quite obviously no longer protecting and serving "We the People."  This should raise the question, who then, are they protecting and serving? While "they" is by no means an all-inclusive term for every police precinct in the nation (Nashville's police behaved quite admirably when their citizens protested the Michael Brown verdict), it can still nevertheless be said that "they" seem more and more to be behaving like a cabal, and less and less like public servants.

As I have taken to my Facebook page to share my own frustrations about the police, I have been met by a lot of support from others who are similarly outraged.  I also ran into a great deal of opposition, which went far beyond the public comments and escalated into private messages and then harassing phone calls (not only to myself but to members of my family) from individuals who were not police officers but were closely and personally connected to police officers.  The whole mess frankly just stinks to high heaven.

But I would like to say, I disagree with this chaos.  Let's be done with the noise now.   Beware the narrative of "Us vs. Them."  Because the truth is, that if we who are the champions of freedom and peace, justice, and transparent government, could make our voices heard by the officers themselves, and convert the very police to our principles, then we could be well night unstoppable when it comes to turning this country around.  The uncanny timing of all these highly publicized killings, so close to one another, also makes me wonder if something grander and more sinister is behind it.   Perhaps some entity wants the protest movement to come to hate the police -- because the alternative, that we respond with love and win them over, would be precisely the missing ingredient in the formula for truly wide spread Change.

I have had many discussions to this effect over social media, about what could really change the world.  By far the most interesting suggestion has been that we need to consciously reach out to police and the military.  AFTER ALL, do they not work for We The People?  Do we not elect the sheriffs, impact the laws, help set the salaries?  By fully and strongly asserting ourselves democratically, perhaps we could finally reign in the police brutality by reminding some of "them" that we in fact, DO hold the strings, and besides that, we share a common humanity.  Police officers of the world, you do not have to be beholden any longer to corporations and crony government.  Open YOUR eyes, recognize the family you are among, and join the protests. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Peace this Side of Hell

"I'm feeling the Urge to start Everything Over," thought God.
And He scratched the Ground.
The Earth was created from distant Stars,
but for these very last drops of Clay,
He bent His Knees and employed His Fingers.
"I love how fallible You are," He whispered, as He worked it.
Then He looked into History, into faraway places.
Inside was a thoughtful pause.
How many untold stories did the Holy Spirit foreknow in that instant?
Every deed of love and every idle word.
The times of Peace and the times of Tribulation.
The preservative power of Day,
tick tick tick,
the vultures descending.
The betrayal, the arrest, the trial.
His Fingers quivered.
Did He dare to go on?
Just then the Spirits of Matriarchs and Patriarchs called out to Him through Time.
Such extraordinary harmonies!
They sacrificed their fullness,
But they could even escape Hell.
The smile of a child.
The song of a bride.
By Saturn!  There was dancing.
There were hayrides, there was laughter.
The beautiful youths wet in the hot Summer.
He saw it all, from the very first Snake
to the Chemical Herbicides.
"My Sheep have gone astray," He said.
But the Earth conceals a Trap of the Lord,
To bring us back to the Keeper of the Sky.
He saw the Order of Julian Assange.
He saw a Chinese billionaire,
rich with things that won't be useful in Hell.
But some things...

Quite nervous, the Keeper of Heaven fused His Knees
with the mud, like a Spouse.

"My feet will love You in the Earth," Adam's soul called out.
"There will be Peace this side of Hell."

And God heard the howl for courage and justice, arising in the streets of Rio and Athens.
Anti-corporate, pro-democracy movements, shaking the Earth.
He heard the cries of the Poor and Humble.
He saw the Redemption in the dirt.
"I love watching over You," He said.
"And I will Rescue You, to run wild in Eden,
To walk the long way down,
Until the very last day of Creation."
Then God - His Name is very rare and Amazing -
Hid Himself in Everything,
Even deeply inside of Adam,
And kissed him.
And he came to Life.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Repentance Prayer

Lord, I need more of You in my Life.
I need the help of the Lord.
I need Jesus to be on my side.
Or rather, put me on Your Side.

Preserve me from Traps.
Preserve me from Errors.
I need Your Guidance!
I need Your Mercy!
I have transgressed wickedly and I require Strength.
I cannot get all of my work done.
I need Help, and I need Mercy, for not being all I am meant to be.

Lord please bless my Family.  Thank You for them!
Make me capable to lead and Love them.
Lead me!  Love me!  
Thank You for all I have.
Thank You for what I have been given
And Thank You SO MUCH for Your Every Generous Gift.
Why have You given it all to me?
I am not worthy.
But preserve it for me.
Keep me lowly,
Make me Holy,
Write my Story,
Raise my Family.
Work my job, and heal my Lands.
Do my work for me.
I am lost in You,
Let Me Thru,
Let Me Thru,
I am used to You.

I am used by You.
And I, too, use You.

Forgive me all my usurpations.
My hedony, my hubris.
Lord I seem useless.
But oh what a journey You have placed me upon!
Do not let my self betray it, I pray it;
Do not let myself betray it.

A record of my thoughts has been kept.
And though I know you know,
And I know You planned it,
I can't stand it.
Give me a fresh Mind all over again.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Devil Worship

In case you had not heard, the Temple of Satan is about to place a 'Satanic Monument' on the grounds of the Oklahoma State House.   Here is what it is supposed to look like:

According to the article linked to above, When the monument is finished, the Baphomet will rest on the block beneath the inverted pentagram. His lap will serve as a seat for children.
You may ask why this is happening.  The answer is because of conservative Christian stupidity.  For years, the Christian Right has failed to comprehend what "separation of Church and State" means.  Attempts to Christianize America's public space with crosses, nativity scenes, and Ten Commandments displays have been the bread and butter of conservative politicians and pundits since 1962.  In fact, the 'Satanic Monument' is a direct response to the erection -- not in 1950, but in 2012 -- of a Ten Commandments display which is also outside of the Oklahoma State House.  The Satanic Temple will place their monument directly next to the Christian one. 
In a democratic, pluralistic society, where Congress is not supposed to have respect to establishments of religion, it should be unthinkable for religious displays to proliferate in public space.  Although each citizen should be free to practice their religion in their own way, as they see fit, the government should strive for a neutral secularism in all of its affairs.  The culture of our nation should welcome all faiths equally and never appear to favor one over the other.

But loopholes have been found in this doctrine.  In Oklahoma, the Ten Commandments display went up on public space because a wealthy state representative build it with his own money and donated it to the State.  It seems that it never occurred to him that other religious people, from quite different persuasions, might also have the means and the desire to promote their peculiar ideologies: which of course is precisely the problem.

So now we are going to have an altar to Satan outside one of our nation's State Houses.  And that is not all: the Satanic Temple is prepared to fight this same religious turf war anywhere in the United States where Christian symbols are displayed on public land.  The Constitution is on their side.  The law is on their side.  Public opinion is even on their side.  This Satanic Monument has been entirely crowdfunded.

The stupidity of conservative, ethnocentric, nationalistic Christians has done us in. Always, they insist on their own narrow views!  They are deluded to think they can force the United States of America to be an officially Christian nation. They are perpetuating an undemocratic Christian privilege. They are being consummately unChristlike.  And it is because they have prostituted the faith of Jesus to the point of becoming religious bullies, that the door is now opened for Satan to have himself altars built all across America.

My friends, the ends do not justify the means.  I am all for pluralism, and all for democracy.  But it sickens me beyond words to know that altars to Satan are soon to be built in public spaces.  I lay the blame squarely upon every Christian who has ever parroted such slogans as "Put prayer back in schools!" or "We need God in America again!"  Congratulations, church of the Right: by crusading and browbeating people with your faith, rather than living your faith attractively, gracefully, and with love, you gave Satan the toehold he was looking for. 
In the ancient world, altars to the gods of a city-state were always in public spaces.  Whichever gods or goddesses were represented in the streets and law-houses were the ones thought to preside over that city-state.  So in a mystical way, giving Satan a monument outside of a state house does, in fact, give Satan influence.  Don't think it doesn't.
The Satanic Temple itself is not made up of people who believe in a supernatural being called Satan.  In interviews, the leader of the Satanic Temple, Lucien Greaves, has made that quite clear.  He says that they embrace "an atheistic philosophical framework that views “Satan” as a metaphorical construct by which we contextualize our works." But if you are breathing a sigh of relief at that statement, you shouldn't.  This "atheistic philosophical framework" is every bit as sinister, and every bit as much a problem as actual Devil worship.  It is rooted in the works of Anton LaVey, author of The Satanic Bible, as well as in the works of Ayn Rand, and in the work of Ragnar Redbeard, Might Is Right.
In a now famous interview conducted in 1989 by the televangelist Bob Larson, the High Priest (Nicholas Schreck) and High Priestess (Zeena LaVey) of the Church of Satan laid out the philosophy of LaVeyan Satanism bluntly.  In essence Satanism is social Darwinism.  Schreck praised Adolph Hitler as "an excellent black magician" in that interview.  He stated that he would have no feelings of compassion for starving people in Africa or suffering people in war-torn regions.  He believed only in the supremacy of the individual.  He advocated evoking Satan within so that the Satanist's will was dominant over all others.  He told the interviewer that he had no interest in converting people to Satanism however because, frankly, the Church of Satan "doesn't want the 'least of these,'.  "You keep them," he said.  "We are for the elite, we are for the 1%."
Lest there be any doubt, the Church of Satan's Web site has an article called "Satanism and Objectivism" which reiterates: "
The Satanic view sees as ethical the reality of domination of the weak by the strong." 
Also ethical in the Satanic view is "
the use of force to cause others to submit to the will of the stronger or cleverer individual" (italics mine). 

“Satanism has far more in common with Objectivism than with any other religion or philosophy," the Church of Satan's Web site goes on to say. "Objectivists endorse reason, selfishness, greed and atheism. Objectivism sees Christianity, Islam and Judaism as anti-human and evil. The writings of Ayn Rand are inspiring and powerful.”
"Satanism is a “brutal” as well as a selfish philosophy," the Web site admits.  "We do not hold, as do the Objectivists that the universe is “benevolent.” Satanists view the world as neutral, beyond the concepts of benevolent or treacherous, good or evil. Satanism enables the Satanist to codify his life beyond the ethical and metaphysical straightjacket which Objectivism unfortunately offers.”

So let me get this straight: Satanism is a religion for the 1% which teaches that there is no ethical or moral reason to behave with compassion toward your fellow man?  And this is a philosophy which we are comfortable commemorating outside a State House in a nation which is supposed to be democratic?  It seems to me that by straining at a gnat, we have swallowed a camel.  Many liberals are tickled to death that this Satanic Monument is going up because they want to sock it to the conservative Christians.  And yet the philosophy of Satanism is antithetical to democratic views.  It is straight from the devil himself!  The ends do not justify the means here.  We have been deceived by the Father of Lies.  The entire Church and State debate has been a ruse to distract Christians and to channel our energies away from doing good.  All the while our own actions as the body of Christ have served only to pave the way for Satanic altars to be built.  This is a black magic conspiracy to win the Dark Lord an advantage.

Lest I be accused of unfairly criticizing the Satanic Temple, I do need to add that the Satanic Temple is a different institution than the Church of Satan discussed above.  In fact, Lucien Greaves has suggested that he wants to update LaVey's philosophy.  "Social Darwinism, interpreted in brutal, strictly self-interested terms, is counter-productive," he says.  "We do better when we work in groups, where altruism and compassion are rewarded..."   This is a nod toward the common values of our society, and it makes for good PR.   "That said, however," he continues, "I believe in a system that runs meritocratically."   He goes on to say that revenge is a natural impulse and should be the basis of our justice system. 

The fact remains that the Satanic Temple is connected ideologically to the Church of Satan, to Ayn Rand, to Social Darwinism, and via Social Darwinism to Adolph Hitler, to black magic, and yes, I believe, to Satan himself.  Lucien Greaves of the Satanic Temple was asked to write an introduction to the book Might is Right by Ragnar Redbeard (and also to illustrate it), which was one of Anton LaVey's favorite books and which is heavily borrowed from in The Satanic Bible. The person who asked him to write that introduction was Shane Bugbee, a High Priest in the Church of Satan, himself appointed by Anton LaVey.  The Satanic Temple appears friendlier and worldlier.  It has "renounced supernaturalism," but then again, simply watching the 1989 interview with Nicholas Schreck and Zeena LaVey will show you that the Church of Satan back then was also willing to consider Satan an "archetype" rather than a literal being.  It matters very little whether they consider Satan to be an actual being or not.  If they are giving him honor and if they are promoting that philosophy of selfishness, brutality, and greed, they are in fact worshiping the Devil.

So where do we go from here?  It seems there is little to be done to prevent the Satanic altars from being built across America now.  God help us!  Unchristlike Christians have done it to themselves, have brought the demonic influence down upon us.  I believe we can expect the Prince of the Power of the Air to use his newfound influence to spawn even more destructive, oligarchic, plutocratic policies than before.  I suspect somewhere amongst the 1%, the elite for whom the Satanist religion was founded (according to Nicholas Schreck), there is a black magician rejoicing that his Dark Master has found a backdoor loophole way of erecting his monuments on public lawns.  I suspect that the fight for a peaceful, more humane world has transcended the political and social arenas now and will need to be fought on a supernatural plane.  YES, I believe in the supernatural and in a literal devil, and in angels and demons and magic.  YES, there is more here than meets the eye.  We have a hell of a fight on our hands now. 

"We staged a rally in support of Florida Governor Rick Scott’s passage of Senate Bill 98, a bill that essentially allowed for prayer in school," said Lucien Greaves. "While many groups were upset and offended that Scott was advancing a conservative Christian agenda, we staged a Satanic rally thanking Rick Scott for endorsing a bill that allowed Satanism in schools, ensuring that children who might otherwise never learn of the Satanic creed could be exposed to it in the classroom."

My one Prayer is that, as children are now increasingly going to be exposed to the Satanic creed, they will also be exposed to a genuine display of Christianity.  One which does not bully or insist on its own views, one which "does not behave itself unseemly," does not "seek its own advantage," is not proud or puffed up, which is not provoked and does not always think evil of others (in case you missed it these are descriptions of how Christians should love according to 1 Corinthians 13).  I pray that in an America which is about to become increasingly more Satanic, the philosophy of kindness, benevolence, charity and compassion will also find a strong voice somehow.


Friday, April 25, 2014

On Biblical Prophecy

To be Clear: I, the FoX, believe in Bible prophecy, and that we are living through prophetic times.  Times of enormous Change and Challenge.  You might even say, if you cast your eye toward Syria or the Ukraine, that I believe parts of our Planet are experiencing the Tribulation.  Oh yes, I believe there are anti-Christs in the World, too.  I would say there is a Satanic plot to enslave and deceive mankind.  Perhaps I'm a conspiracy theorist!  Or the left-wing alternative to a right wing religious nut.  Because I believe, in fact, a lot of the things about the "Apocalypse" which are routinely laughed off by secular media, and sometimes even by mainline Christians, whenever one of the End-of-the-World type of Christians gets particularly vocal and causes a stir.  I am watching signs in the Heavens along with them, and I have a sometimes uneasy, sometimes excited feeling that things are changing all around us.

HoWeVer, in saying all of this, I am not saying (and I do not believe) that we are arriving at "The End of the World."  The Bible does not teach the End of the World, rather, it teaches the "world without end" (Isaiah 45:17, Ephesians 3:21... click here for a fuller explanation).  I believe that Bible prophecy should be very carefully evaluated, and that its historical setting should be taken into account.  I believe that a responsible interpretation of Scripture would arrive at very different conclusions than what the Right Wing Christian talking heads arrive at when they talk about "the end of the World.,"  And yet, I would still agree with them in the assumption that the Scriptures of prophecy can be applied to our own times.

Before I explain further I will also say that I do not believe that the Rapture of the Church is necessarily imminent.  I haven't ruled out a Rapture (of some sort), but I highly doubt that it is coming in the way that the Right Wing Church imagines.  God is not coming only for the Christians, for example.   And He does not have a time limit where patience or grace will run out.  I believe that the grace and patience of God are infinite, that the Lord looks on the Hearts of humans with a sensitive and inclusive eye.   I believe that the Family of God cuts across religious and denominational lines.  Furthermore, I think that even if we were to enter the End of the World, it would be highly uncharacteristic of God for Him to remove His People, and His Spirit, entirely from the Earth.  If the World were experiencing its death throes (which it isn't), then it stands to reason that God would send ever more ambassadors of Love and Light to see Her through.  Not recall them, to -- in essence -- damn the rest.

So what does the Bible teach?

To answer this question we must first realize that every generation of Christians has believed itself to be the last.  Even Christ's own apostles were fairly certain they would see the end... not of the World, but of the kingdoms of fallen man.  Christ, in fact, predicted that some of them would still be living when they saw the Son of Man coming in his kingdom (Matthew 16:28).  Jesus was not wrong when he said this, and neither is there an Apostle, unbeknownst to us, miraculously still alive somewhere until the Apocalypse begins.  But in point of fact, the prophecies of Scripture can be applied at any time in history to the current realities.  There is always a moment when the kingdom comes into our midst, is born in our circumstances.  Every generation beholds a drama of worldly powers and eternal forces unfolding before their eyes.  The Scriptural passages which televangelists are so quick to throw at Rapture theology are in fact universal to all generations of believers.

To prove this, we shall look at specific prophets.  Consider Isaiah.  Although he is oft-quoted as a herald of the Incarnation of Christ because of such passages as Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 53, and oft-referenced as a support for the idea of the Millennium at the End of the Age because of chapters like Isaiah 2 and Isaiah 49 and Isaiah 54, the fact is that Isaiah was a man firmly rooted in his own time.  And his predictions had far more immediate fulfillments for his audience of ancient Israel than we are giving them credit for now in most churches.  Even the virgin who shall conceive and bring forth Emmanuel was actually not Mary, initially, but was the prophet's own wife, who did in fact have a son named, not Jesus, but Emmanuel.  Then the various oracles throughout the book of Isaiah which detail the destruction or defeat of Israel's enemies, like Assyria and Babylon, were actually fulfilled by the destruction of Assyria and Babylon, and do not necessarily require further fulfillment in a global judgment day.  The multitude of passages which are purported by right-wing scholars to apply to the future Millennial reign of Christ can with even greater ease be applied to the time that the Israelites returned to statehood from Babylonian captivity during the time of Cyrus the Persian.

Also consider the Olivet discourse, Matthew 24.  Although the verses in this chapter are frequently applied to coming events, the disciples likely understood them to have been fulfilled when Jerusalem was invaded in A.D. 70, and the Temple destroyed.

The entire book of Revelation can be convincingly explained from the theological standpoint known as "preterism," as applying to events in the early days of the Roman empire.

But with all of that said, I am not a preterist.  I think that to wholly explain Bible prophecy as having been fulfilled by historical events is to deprive the prophecies of their life and their relevance.  Why would something be inspired Scripture, valid for all time, and yet be an expired prediction?

What I actually think happens is that Bible prophecies find multiple, even repeated, fulfillment in world history.  I think the events described in Bible prophecy are archetypal.  The names and the faces may change, but assuredly, Adolph Hitler was an anti-Christ.  And so was Nero.  And so is Bashar al-Assad.

'Tribulation' is an ongoing thing.  It is a generational, recurring crisis in which witnesses stand up.  Plagues and disasters are indeed the Earth's way of groaning under our harsh mastery as humans.  Angels are indeed involved in the struggle, as well as devils.  Witnesses do indeed rise up, speak their truth, and are then murdered in the street.  We may apply prophecy in poetic ways to the realities around us, and we do not have to conclude that this is the last time we will face these same spiritual entities as the human race.  "There is nothing new under the Sun" said the Preacher in Ecclesiastes.  I argue for the language of Apocalypse applied to each new and exciting time.  In reality all people in history had their own battles to fight and had to be true to themselves and to their faith in God in order for us to get where we are today.  To the degree that they were successful, they have left us a better Planet.  To the degree that they were unsuccessful, we still have work to do as the Salt and the Light.  And the Kingdom, still, is coming...

Lunar eclipses, when the "moon turns into blood," are indeed signal events that typically mean War or Revolution or some other form of bloodshed.  John Hagee has recently alerted his flock to the blood moon tetrad that stretches from April 2014 to September 2015, but in fact there was a blood moon as well on the Winter Solstice, 2010.  It signaled the start of the Arab Uprising, as I have mentioned on this blog many times.  The heavens are complicit in our struggle, as humans.  And events like a lunar eclipse which conjuncts with a solstice have something to tell us.  Genesis 1 does teach that God put the sun, the moon, and the stars in the sky to be signals for us, and so there is something akin to astrology which has merit and spiritual value.  Lest we forget, the wise men employed a method of astrology in finding the baby Jesus.

When we apply prophetic Scripture to our times, we must always be quick to examine the Spirit in which we are doing so, however.  John Hagee has applied Scripture to his political understanding of world events, and has created a vision of God which is that of an ethnic cleanser.  This does not honor God.  The Lord is not a respecter of persons.  And yes, although He has indeed entered into a covenant with the Jewish people, for many reasons this cannot be assumed to apply to the modern apartheid state of Israel: nor is God's covenant with Israel an exclusion of the rest of the Earth.  Isaiah 19 reminds us that not only is Israel God's inheritance, but so is Egypt His People, and Assyria is the work of His hands.  Throughout the Torah Jews are reminded to be kind to the strangers who live among them, and yet today the Israeli state dehumanizes its Palestinians, bullies them, steals from them, and tries to keep them out of sight.

The Apocalypse, my friends, is not a pro-Jewish and anti-Arab conspiracy to finish up history with the world at Israel's feet.  It is however, a continual teaching that God will save the poor and needy, the oppressed of every part of the Earth, with flair!  God always promises succor and deliverance in His Time.  And He always calls His Church to bear witness, and to endure affliction.  These truths will be true whether the year is A.D. 70 or A.D. 7070.

If there is a prophetic narrative for our time to be drawn from the Bible, it is indeed a narrative about the love of many waxing cold, it is everyone being right in their own eyes, and it is the cause of the poor and the cries of Creation being ignored by the unjust.  The prostitution of faith is a part of it, as well, just as it was in the days that Jesus cleansed the Temple.  And God's commitment to renew His People is also still a part of it.  In a way, the most prophetic thing that can be said is that the Future, though in God's hands, is not entirely written, and that we all have a part to play in bringing about the Kingdom on Earth.  Our part is not to condemn the rest of the World and await escape from the ungodly mess of Planet Earth in a 'Rapture.'

So those are my thoughts (for now), and it is my hope that from them a conversation might follow which will deepen my understanding even more.

Respectfully submitted,
KiJjiT the FoX

Friday, January 31, 2014

Flows and Crows of February

(I will Sing a New Song or Two in 2014...)

In the Years previous I have called February "the Flux"
and regarded it somewhat with suspicion.
It is a cold month, and a short one, and one in which I always turn a Year older.

In February, my jaunts through the Woods to Pray or Think are generally accompanied by noticeable flocks of Crows.   They watch me, sometimes caw at me, sometimes caw amongst themselves about me. Sometimes, they even follow me down a path, occupying Trees by turns always just above and ahead of me, and keenly watch where I'm going or what I'm doing.  Because of this, I theorize mightily about the possible spiritual meanings behind these Crows, about the possible mystical implications, about the totemic symbolism... you know what I mean.  I consider the fact that the Crows might be more than just crows in the Woods, and might actually be Sentient Souls who possess their own uniquely Crow-like understandings of Reality.

As a Fox, my opinion on Crows is that they are Tricksy.  Usually their tricksiness is shown in literature to be kind of a bad thing.  They appear on the shoulders of witches, for example.  But then again, the Fox is also sometimes feared in literature: sometimes made out to be quite the Predator, quite the sneaky little threat.  And it is precisely because he's such a Trixter that he is cast this way.  I suppose the truth is, the both of us, FoXes and Crows, know how to look out for our own interests and we know the Magic tricks and mysteries.

But they are not the same tricks and mysteries by a long shot.
Foxes know Woods paths, scents, where the mice are and where the mushrooms grow.
Crows know Sky-things, Tree-top things, and a lot of... you know, Crow things.

Both of us know the Moon.  But then again, who doesn't?
The point is, that Crow is a good Teacher to the Fox.  She knows things I do'nt.  She starts to come around in February, and the Pace of my World turns up a bit.  She follows me down my paths, and disturbs my Thinking and Prayer time with noisy caws and crowds of Herself.

 I will watch Her.

I think if one could descend deeper into the River of the Year, sink beneath the Flux and into the Flow, they would discover that Crow is deep in that Flow, too.

February is not just cold and short and suspicious.
February is a time of real quickening:
If you have responsibly used January to unleash intentions and goals for the Year,
then you can begin to see Seeds Planted in February which will germinate and Open.

The Crows are busy and organized.
The Crows are loud and, kind of in charge.
One thing they probably know is, who is planting what?

The Unfolding Process begins in February.  This is the first Station of the Spiral.  Fibonnaci number 2!
So I pledge to continue to unfold!  I plan to be as busy and as organized as the Crow, and to allow myself to become a part of the quickening.  To Come Awake with a Newer Spring!

We must never grow so tired of this Moving Wheel as to let it outpace us.
The Ride is Eternal, so long as the Sun ever Shines.