The empty tomb, not the cross

…is the most significant symbol of the Christian faith.  The cross is where Christ took our place, judged and condemned for our sins.  The pivotal moment, that.  But the empty tomb proved he wasn’t just a madman on a fool’s errand with delusions of grandeur.  Christ claimed to be the Son of God, equal to the Father.  Thus, as C.S. Lewis famously wrote, there are only three ways to respond to Him: call Him a liar, call Him a lunatic, or call Him Lord.  Eternity hinges on which one you choose.

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:14-22

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

A shift in the narrative?

I can only hope that Conrad Black is correct, and that the majority of people are waking up to the fact the Left and the media (but I repeat myself) have been projecting false realities as smokescreens since late 2016:

For more than two years, the United States and the world have had two competing narratives: that an elected president of the United States was a Russian agent whom the Kremlin helped elect; and its rival narrative that senior officials of the Justice Department, FBI, CIA, and other national intelligence organizations had repeatedly lied under oath, misinformed federal officials, and meddled in partisan political matters illegally and unconstitutionally and had effectively tried to influence the outcome of a presidential election, and then undo its result by falsely propagating the first narrative. It is now obvious and indisputable that the second narrative is the correct one.

The authors, accomplices, and dupes of this attempted overthrow of constitutional government are now well along in reciting their misconduct without embarrassment or remorse because—in fired FBI Director James Comey’s formulation—a “higher duty” than the oath they swore to uphold the Constitution compelled them. Or—in fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s words—“the threat” was too great. Nevermind that the nature of “the threat” was that the people might elect someone he and Comey disapproved of as president, and that that person might actually serve his term, as elected.

Black concludes that “Without realizing the proportions of the emergency, America has survived the greatest constitutional crisis since the Civil War.”  Call me a jaded pessimist, but I think it might be too early to say that with any certainty.  Just because Trump’s enemies’ narratives are unravelling doesn’t mean they are any less committed to removing him from power, or at the least trying to hobble his freedom of action through “lawfare.”  Their actions over the past two years define the term “subversion.” Meanwhile, Trump’s base (including me) is increasingly exasperated that those miscreants have yet to see any semblance of justice applied to them, and that States and cities continue to defy the Federal government by declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for unauthorized invaders.

No, we haven’t “survived” anything yet.  We just don’t know how long the fuse is on this particular powder keg, or whether anybody can unlight it.  And yes, it’s appropriate to compare it to the crisis of the Civil War.  These are not ordinary political differences.  They are instead existential in nature.

Stay tuned, boys and girls.  In the meantime, ask yourself how prepared you and your loved ones are if the explosion does occur, and take action accordingly.

Satan’s scribes

 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  John 8:44

Trump’s rallying cry of “fake news!” doesn’t resonate with Middle America because of any personal charisma.  It resonates because Middle America figured it out long before a person running for office was willing to say it out loud, repeatedly.  Traditionalists have known for some time that reporters will go to great lengths to cast them as villains, dangerous throwbacks who are out of touch with the present.  It stands to reason, then, that anyone who appears to speak for them on the national stage will be excoriated for it.

Despite presenting an opportunity for sobriety and excellence, the election of President Donald Trump has been an unmitigated disaster for the political media, which have never reckoned with their role in Trump’s elevation and eventual selection, and which have subsequently treated his presidency as a rolling opportunity for high-octane drama, smug self-aggrandizement, and habitual sloth. I did not go to journalism school, but I find it hard to believe that even the least prestigious among those institutions teaches that the correct way to respond to explosive, unsourced reports that just happen to match your political priors is to shout “Boom” or “Bombshell” or “Big if true” and then to set about spreading those reports around the world without so much as a cursory investigation into the details. And yet, in the Trump era, this has become the modus operandi of all but the hardest-nosed scribblers…

When a headline reads “Lawmaker Involved in Scandal,” one can immediately deduce that the lawmaker is a Democrat. Why? Because if he were a Republican, the story would make that clear in the headline. Without fail, stories that begin with “Republicans pounce” are actually about bad things that Democrats have done or said, while stories about bad things that Republicans have done or said begin with “Republican does or says a bad thing” and proceed to a dry recitation of the facts…

Which brings us to the press’s most infuriating habit: its selective defense of American institutions… Institutions matter until the Supreme Court rules in a way that annoys the editors of the Huffington Post, who immediately cast the same judges who yesterday were beyond reproach as “illegitimate” or “corrupt” or too male or too white or too Catholic or too rich or too mean. Institutions matter until the economy produces results that irritate Paul Krugman, at which point the system is held to be “rigged.” Institutions matter until Barack Obama wants to change the law without Congress, at which point the story becomes what the president wants and not whether what he is doing is legal. Institutions matter until Donald Trump wins an election, and then the entire system needs junking and is probably being run by the Russians anyway.

Read the entire piece excerpted above.  Nowhere has this consistent slant of the press been more visible than in the propaganda “coverage” of the Mueller investigation…

Continue reading

How we became unthinking mobs

The recent rush to judgment over the Covington Catholic High School group’s actions after the March for Life in D.C. is merely the latest in a string of events, including the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, that demonstrate far too many of our citizens react to events via emotion and bias rather than reason.  One only needs to spend a brief time on Twitter to realize our national discourse has largely descended to the level of junior high school taunting back and forth.  Insults, rather than insight, is the currency there.

The danger is that these “two minutes’ hate” events have become so regular, that people who should certainly know better–like Disney producers–begin tweeting things like this:

woodchipper tweet

Sure, he “apologized” as the original narrative about what happened utterly collapsed.   That’s irrelevant — the fact many adults thought it appropriate to say such vile things shows how close we are to actual violence breaking out in our country.  These public utterances simply show what is in the heart of far too many people.

I’ve often noted how close we are to violence now, or the need to defend our freedoms by force.  And while I’ll admit to occasionally thinking like Han Solo, the truth is I’m well aware of what such circumstances would mean.  As a military veteran of multiple deployments, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when the last veneer of civility is ripped away.  And it’s the last thing I want for the country I love and pledged my life to defend.

How did we get here?  Not by accident, that’s for certain:

In terms of communication, people will say what they think. The problem with the sad state of civil discourse today occurs because people are mostly really bad at thinking. The dismal failure of the education system is what created our poisonous public discourse.

This degeneration of the public’s ability to think did not occur instantaneously. The destruction of reason and logic was a gradual process, spearheaded by the adoption of postmodernist subjectivity in the late 1960s and pushed into the American schools since then.

Those of us who are partial to objectivity are instinctively aware that classroom methods of encouraging feelings and emotion are fundamentally problematic. Children are encouraged to express what they feel when it comes to understand the world around them. For example; climate change feels bad because humans are destroying the planet. Capitalism feels bad because we are exploiting the poor. Masculinity feels bad because males oppress women. Environmentalism feels good because we are saving the planet. Socialism feels great because we take care of the poor in society. Feminism feels wonderful because girls are empowered against male oppression.

The method of teaching students to “feel” (i.e. perception from senses) instead of to “think” (i.e. conception from judgement) is the problem with education. It is the reason why Johnny can’t think. Johnny’s mind hasn’t been trained to think in integrated concepts because he has always been taught to rely on his feelings. Johnny’s world is presented to him in a fragmented chaos of sensory perceptions.

It is quite an interesting exercise to note how most people are unable to think in concepts. Take for example, when a criminal kills with a gun, someone who is incapable of thinking in concepts can only see the instrument of murder and thus mobilize against banning guns because they think that it is the gun itself that is responsible of the crime.  The same lack of conceptual thinking applies to those who are incapable of seeing a successful white male for his character, skills and habit as the factors shaping his success because their thinking capacity only allows them to see his gender and race as the factor which determines his success.

The American schools has succeeded in reducing the public’s intellect to the level of the perceptual beast. …they do not know how to put together the data they observed into structured logical thoughts. And like a lost animal incapable of making sense of the world around it, that person lashes out like a beast because the world is unintelligible around them.

These are excerpts from a much lengthier piece I encourage you to read in its entirety.  It goes far to explain how a sitting member of Congress can wonder aloud why people might be more concerned about “being precisely, factually and semantically correct than about being morally right.”  This is not a new development.  Back in 2004 the New York Times actually ran a story about alleged records (proven to be forgeries) of then-President Bush’s service in the Guard that had the headline “Memos on Bush are Fake but Accurate, Typist Says.”  (But whatever you do, don’t call the New York Times “failing” or “fake news!”)

Emotions have their place.  But they must be kept in their place.  That place is not the drivers seat of law and policy.  Our compromised public schools, though, have taught multiple generations to “follow your heart” regardless of any inconvenient facts (example: the 100 million body count Marxist ideology racked up in the 20th century).  So now we have a body politic where one side thinks the other is stupid for ignoring reality, and the other responds by thinking the rationalists are uncaring and evil.

That kind of divide is not likely to end well.

A flood of evidence

Scientists are still seeking an explanation for a significant gap in the geological record:

When the famed explorer John Wesley Powell bumped, splashed and thrashed his way down the Colorado River in 1869, he discovered one of the most striking geologic features on Earth. Not the Grand Canyon — although that too is a marvel — but a conspicuous boundary between the sunset-colored sediments of the upper walls and the dark, jagged rocks below them.

Powell had learned to read the layers of desert rocks like pages in a book, and he recognized that the boundary represented a missing chapter in Earth’s geological history. Later, researchers realized it was more like an entire lost volume, spanning roughly one-fifth of Earth’s existence, and that a similar gap existed in many places around the world.

There must have been some sort of special event in Earth’s history that led to widespread erosion,” said Steve Marshak, a geologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who studies what has come to be known as the Great Unconformity. (emphasis added)…

Since there are so few rocks from that period, the researchers had to look for other kinds of clues to figure out what happened. They reasoned that the missing layers probably went through the full geologic spin cycle: They would have been broken down into sediment and washed out to sea, then deposited on the ocean floor and recycled into the mantle during subduction before finally melting into the magma that feeds volcanoes.

Keller’s team found stark variations in the oxygen and hafnium in zircons, consistent with the continents losing an average of 2 to 3 vertical miles of rock.  “We are talking about an absolutely huge amount of crust being eroded,” he said. “In which case, we should have noticed it missing — and we have.”  (emphasis added)

The story’s headline notes a leading theory for this erosion being repeated eras of glaciation — “snowball earth” — but the story also notes the theory may not explain the rate of erosion.  Here’s another idea:

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.  And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights… The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. (Genesis 7:6-10, 24; emphasis added)

The Flood was more than just torrential rain.  The “springs of the great deep” imply massive tectonic upheaval — just the sort of thing to produce the enormous recycling of crust described in the linked article above.  There’s no question these combined effects could account for the erosion and “Great Unconformity,” because Scripture also tells us:

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.  By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.  (2 Peter 3:3-7; emphasis added)

There IS a ‘great unconformity’ between the world that is, and the world that was.  There is an even greater unconformity between the world that is, and the world that is to come. The present world is filled with evidence of the Creator and the truth of His Word — for those who “have ears to hear.”

No matter what credentials are attached to one’s name, there is no excuse for denials.  Sadly, that won’t prevent many of today’s most brilliant scientific minds from reflexively ruling out any chance that Scripture has something to tell them.

A More Merciful God?

I’ve just finished reading a book that really provoked me into a closer examination of Scripture and my understanding of it.  It’s humbling to realize that even as I close in on five decades on this earth, there are things I’ve never considered and discussions of which I’ve been ignorant all this time.

The book coveris “A More Merciful God: Truth is Older Than Tradition.”  It’s a powerful critique of the common traditional view that those who fail to put their faith in Christ will suffer an eternity of conscious pain and torment.  Prior to reading it, I was only aware of two schools of thought about the destiny of the lost: the aforementioned traditional view, and universalism, which posits that even the lost eventually are relieved of their suffering and restored after a period of punishment.  The latter view being patently unfounded in Scripture, I’ve held to the traditional view, as horrifying as it is when you really stop and consider it.  In “Amazing Grace” we sing of how after 10,000 years of praising God we’ll have “no less days… than when we first begun.”  This is rightfully an encouragement to the believer, an anticipation of our future with our Creator.  Left between the lines of that great hymn, though, is the thought those same 10,000 years leave “no less days” of agony and torment for the lost in eternity.

What if tradition is not only wrong, but slandering the character of God in the process, making it more difficult for people to come to faith in Him?

There is another viewpoint of which I’ve been unaware till now: conditional immortality. … Continue reading

Substituting factions for faith

A person’s life is meant to have meaning, and for that meaning to derive from a relationship to their Creator.  It’s no surprise, then, that those who reject God are driven to seek meaning anywhere they believe they can find it.  Some turn to self-destructive vices in an ever-more-vain pursuit of moments of perceived happiness.  Other alternatives, though, while not as immediately and physically destructive, ultimately lead to the same futility.  One important current example is in our political climate.

Seduced by scientism, distracted by materialism, insulated, like no humans before us, from the vicissitudes of sickness and the ubiquity of early death, the post-Christian West believes instead in something we have called progress — a gradual ascent of mankind toward reason, peace, and prosperity — as a substitute in many ways for our previous monotheism. We have constructed a capitalist system that turns individual selfishness into a collective asset and showers us with earthly goods; we have leveraged science for our own health and comfort. Our ability to extend this material bonanza to more and more people is how we define progress; and progress is what we call meaning…

But none of this material progress beckons humans to a way of life beyond mere satisfaction of our wants and needs. And this matters…

[S]ocial-justice ideology does everything a religion should. It offers an account of the whole: that human life and society and any kind of truth must be seen entirely as a function of social power structures, in which various groups have spent all of human existence oppressing other groups. And it provides a set of practices to resist and reverse this interlocking web of oppression — from regulating the workplace and policing the classroom to checking your own sin and even seeking to control language itself. I think of non-PC gaffes as the equivalent of old swear words. Like the puritans who were agape when someone said “g–damn,” the new faithful are scandalized when someone says something “problematic.” Another commonality of the zealot then and now: humorlessness.

The same cultish dynamic can be seen on the right. There, many profess nominal Christianity and yet demonstrate every day that they have left it far behind… This is why they could suddenly rally to a cult called Trump. He may be the least Christian person in America, but his persona met the religious need their own faiths had ceased to provide. The terrible truth of the last three years is that the fresh appeal of a leader-cult has overwhelmed the fading truths of Christianity.

This is why they are so hard to reach or to persuade and why nothing that Trump does or could do changes their minds. You cannot argue logically with a religion — which is why you cannot really argue with social-justice activists either. And what’s interesting is how support for Trump is greater among those who do not regularly attend church than among those who do…

And so we’re mistaken if we believe that the collapse of Christianity in America has led to a decline in religion. It has merely led to religious impulses being expressed by political cults… And this is how they threaten liberal democracy. They do not believe in the primacy of the individual, they believe the ends justify the means, they do not allow for doubt or reason, and their religious politics can brook no compromise.

I found these to be interesting thoughts, particularly coming from a writer who seems to believe he can reconcile his Roman Catholic practice with being an openly gay political pundit.  One of my first thoughts is that perhaps the Spirit is getting through to him.  I hope that’s the case.  He is correct about politics replacing theological faith as a source of meaning in our culture.  He is also correct about the effect of that on both Left and Right.  I supported Trump in 2016 because I thought that, even with his personal baggage, he’d do less damage than Her Hillariness.  I still hold a modest hope that he’ll be able to enact long-lasting reforms in some critical areas.  But unlike other Trump supporters I’ve encountered (who’ve made me very uncomfortable at times), I do not see him as America’s secular messiah, and I remain well aware of his flaws.

Sullivan may or may not have grasped the deeper point of his ponderings.  Reading the entirety of the piece, I’m not sure.  He compares the “Great Awokening” of modern times to the “Great Awakening” of old.  Only if we have another “Great Awakening” will our people once again channel their energies toward pursuing Christ.  And it is that pursuit that produces the fruit which previously sustained our society.  May God grant us revival, from “Awoke” to “Awake.”  As we’re painfully finding out, finding our identities in anything other than Him is a very poor substitute indeed.