That Evil

Segoe UI – My magazine bore this letter to its editors: “I’m unsuscribing from this magazine because its views are not in line with a modern understanding of evil. Satan and demons do not exist.”

Believing in a modern understanding of evil should not neccessarily rule out the truths about evil mentioned in the Bible. Perhaps they were quick to blame demons, but we are lacking if we rule them out altogether. Does evil’s m.o. change?

The German made fun of the fact that our former leader condemed another country and its leader as evil. “Surely, they are not evil. We simply have a culture that values opposite the way that they do it and it only seems evil to us.” To which this is the sort of thing that my sister would respond, “But in WWII, Germany’s leader, his political party and ideas, as well as anybody who went along with it could be called evil on account of the Holocaust.” Once the particulars were debated out, they would both agree that Germany’s WWII leader was a brilliant speaker turning the people’s passions against them while painting the sorce of all economic problems were the Jewish people. He was an evil madman, to be sure, but brilliant enough to succeed at taking over half of europe.

I searched the phrase “modern understanding of evil” hoping to find a sermon that could clear up why neither Satan or his minions don’t exist, but I only found psychological papers and whatnot that didn’t fit the bill. After all, if it is possible to explain away supernatural evil, then when people are met with it they would not know that is what it is. We have ruled out supernatural evil, and in the process gotten rid of supernatural good. Since the greatest supernatural good is Jesus’ ressurection, what have we left to believe? Unless of course, Jesus’ ressurection did happen. Thus proving supernatural good can and did happen. Perhaps it still does every now and then, for those with faith enough. The sort of mountain-moving faith that Jesus taught about.

It also rules out what the Bible says is true. Satan was once an angel of heaven who turned his back on it so he could make his own thrown higher than God’s. His rebellion turned many angels to his side. They were all cast out of heaven. Some are kept in chains in Hell, the prison designed for fallen angels that also serves as a convienient place to put wayward humans who reject salvation by Jesus’ blood. Those fallen angels became demons. Some we know, such as Legion. others were nameless in the Bible but left a mark enough to be mentioned in the Bible. What of Jesus’ very teaching on the subject?

I wonder then, what good is a modern understanding of evil in these times. Is it only an absence of good on the part of the people? The Bible, that timeless word of truth, says that we are to expect evil being called good and good being called evil in the confusion as the world descends toward its ending. How terrible that time will be when all the good things are condemed as evil. How much worse for us when all things evil will be celebrated as good. I am told that in Hitler’s day, the Hitler youth were honored when they turned in their relatives who helped the Jews. The confusion under that one leader will return, under one leader of all the world. I’m honored to be the sort of evil the future leader will condemn. Are you that evil?

Dangers of Christianity

Palatino Linotype – (Yesterday was an all-around good day, surprisingly. I got the two star wars episodes I didn’t have, two geneforge games, quite a bit of chocolate, and I know that two stargate sg-1 seasons will be ariving today. I don’t know how we’ll divy those up. Jericho has the run of the house now, everywhere except Cleo’s domain. He’s so cute it’s difficult to be mad at him. He’s even able to beg The German for food, not a task that any other pet succeeds with. Although it’s the boxer look to crop the ears and dock the tail, we opted to keep the ears natural and dock the tail. That’s how his father looked. He’s keeping himself occupied wrestling his mother.)

From the way that people in other countries treat Christianity, one would think it was dangerous. Christians are either accepted or targeted. They are either free or restrained by law.

Dangers of Christianity (From the World’s Point of View)

Freedom – Christians believe that they have been freed by the blood of Jesus Christ. His death allows them to escape the chains of sin and death itself. His ressurection allows them to walk with him in Heaven. This freedom is carried over into much of daily life. They feel that they are free of many things including fear. Freedom is dangerous. Too much and people feel like they are in charge. They need only enough so that they think they are free but to be controlled by whomever is in charge.

Perspective – The Christian perspective says that this is the proving grounds that determines the rewards one will get in heaven. In fact, they are told to expect troubles of all sorts. Without the world’s perspective, they seem to be happy without riches, success, and excessive possessions. This perspective keeps them from seeing the truth that only riches, success, and posessions beyond number actually matters and proves ones status.

Interfereance – The Christians are asked to go to places where they are not and share the messages of perspective and freedom. They turn the people there to their way of thinking and we lose control of them. They go to places that we have made hostile to them and keep on comming no matter the death or violence. They turn the hearts of people to their cause. Our only solution is to keep them grounded by problems in their homelands.

Truth – Christians claim to have the truth. They believe it ever so greatly that most of them have nine copies of it. We have tried to disuade them by telling them that it is not possible for their truth to be true after two thousand years of mistreatment, copying, and re-telling through the generations. At least if the rich ones keep so many copies and the poor ones aren’t given any access to these copies then it keeps it from spreading. Can you imagine what harm it would do if each Christian had one and gave the other eight away?

God – Most dangerous of all, Christians believe that Jesus is the gate to God. They call him the creator. If he were, we would know, wouldn’t we? They believe he is in charge lets them  be free, shows them a better perspective, and interferes all things with the truth. When he is in charge, we are not. If people thought this then our most potent tool, greed would be ineffective. Let us be glad that Christians believe what they believe but don’t change much overall. If they did then it would be the end of us.

The White Flag of Truce: Rage Awareness

MS Sans Serif –

It was Sunday. The pastor had just finished his sermon. The band was still playing. With the drums and guitars blaring as the singers wailing it was difficult to hear anything. The German and my sister proceeded downstairs for the fellowship luncheon. My family seperated into two vehicles. We weren’t staying for the lunch. Having figured that everybody else was downstairs, my father and I proceeded downstairs. They were in the line, getting some food on their plates. One third of my family was already headed home, one third would not eat, and one third was about to eat where we would not be staying. Believing that he had conveyed the message “get your food and take it with you when you come out to the car.” Dad proceeded to go to the vehicle. I was a few steps behind. I just knew things were about to get worse. Some minutes later my sister appeared from the building. She hadn’t gotten much, but she had eaten it before she came out to meet us. The fighting began and the gloves were off.
 
When it was apparent that the German would not arrive soon, I took it upon myself to enter the church and retrieve him. I said something to the effect of “I’ve a very impatient father waiting on you.” I don’t know if the fighting had continued in my absence, but once we were all there and all on the way home it was time for round two. The particulars are forgettable, but the jabs are not. Upping the volume, her right hook was “You’re as bad as you’re father.” Dad responded with “I’m ten times better than your grandfather.” Silence. Five minutes of it. Then like a 1-2 punch he dropped the dynomite of “If they don’t up your hours, I’d appreciate you getting another job so you can get out on your own.” My sister finished with “Ok, You’ve won, now drop it dad.” Not letting the last words be hers, Dad said something, I forget. Dad sped home. My Sister went to her room, turned up the music, locked the door, and choked herself until she passed out. (This I did not learn until Monday.) Ahh, Sundays.
 
As for me, I talked to ther German outside some time later. It seems nobody else I know has to put up with similar episodes of fighting. I grew up walking on eggshells around my sister. She can fight at the drop of a pin or a hat, whichever makes her mad. She gets irrational about it. Even awhile afterward if you try to say something one way she’ll percieve it the worst way possible and get mad again. Now were this just one fight it wouldn’t be worth mentioning. This is an off an on thing over years. It just seems like nobody else ever wins. That’s just not humanly possible. She tried once to get rid of it, at a christian tele-cast. I hung back to keep an eye asking myself “Is she really going to stop being angry? Will it go away?” The answer as it turned out is no and no. The thing of it is, she doesn’t know what it’s like for us when she gets angry and stays angry. It just strikes me that this anger is not normal. It’s more like, well:
 
Main Entry: raging
Function: adjective
Date: 15th century
1 : causing great pain or distress
2 : violent, wild
3 : extraordinary, tremendous
 
It’s half-way into Monday. There’s been an uncomfortable silence. We didn’t know if she was still mad. I’d tried to make some small conversation. Having read her xanga entry I knew that she felt ignored. I seemed to think that she was making herself inaccessible. I told her that the communication lines were open if she wanted to talk. She talked alright. In short order I was a hypocrite who didn’t involve myself into her fight or stand up for her I walked away as some cursing escaped her lips. I knew from her tone that her thinking was different from her usual rational self.
 
Like any concerned sister, I took to the internet and found this: What Rage Looks Like –
Screaming, physical expressions of anger, violence or threats of violence, sulking, manipulation, emotional blackmail, silent smoldering, and anger used to punish.
 
After twenty-plus years I made the diagnosis quickly. I’d seen it all in some form or another. In the last fight it was screaming, sulking, emotional blackmail, and silent smoldering. The site told me that the rage was a result of shame. It also gives her power. So I’m thinking that all those episodes, the time she got herself so worked up in her anger that she couldn’t breathe, and that deep anger that she doesn’t deal with are all apart of her rageaholism that she doesn’t even know she has. Don’t get me wrong, my sister is a stand-up girl, a survivor to the core, but there is the five percent of the time where a hat drops or a pin drops and things get troublesome from there.
 
So what is the source? That site says: Ragers were typically shamed or punished by their caretakers for expressing emotion when they were young; i.e.: “Be a man and don’t cry”, “Nice girls don’t get angry” or “I’ll give you something to cry about.”
 
I delved deep to see if it was a possibility. My Dad’s dad was difficult. It took me five years to find one good memory of him. My dad put up with him all his life. My dad did his best not to be like his dad. He was successful in most areas, but the emotional scar left behind by his dad took its toll. What he couldn’t express he couldn’t show his daughters to express. So one daughter got mad, really mad and addicted to madness. The other grew up to paralyze when in the proximity of fighting. I know not why we aren’t both rageaholics, just one is enough, I would think. My dad is inexcusable, he’s never had a sense of when not to say the wrong thing. If there’s a wrong thing to be said, he’ll probably say it. My sister is not innocent. She knows that dad has this thing about respect so she’ll get disrepectful toward him. That’s when he starts saying things that he shouldn’t.
 
I’m not saying that by being a rageaholic that you’re always mad. From what I understand, being mad changes the chemical make-up of the brain and it is not the anger that you’ve become addicted to, but that chemical make-up that can only be satisfied when you’re angry. Don’t think that it is a weakness. It’s not too different than it is with mom and her depression, only it is simply a different form. Perhaps it explains why you appear to be a whole other person in your anger.
 
We’ve got to deal with this. That scar has done its harm, let’s not pass in down in that family pride of ours. The stigma of “getting help” is going to be alot less worse than the pain of a total breakdown. I’ve had enough of fighting, haven’t you? I don’t hear the words or reasons behind them. I hear the tones, the bombs, the snipe-ing, and the verbal attacks. Sister, we have seen you through twenty-plus years of it. We’ll support you, that’s what family does. We’re no t.v. family and we might make reality television families look like ameteurs with our fighting. We can change things when we recognize that a change is needed and help is required for a change. Let’s pacify the rage and enjoy a true and lasting tranquility. Here’s the thing though, there can be peace, but you have to want it for yourself. You have to want to stop being angry. You’re going to need help that we can’t provide. As long as I’ve know you, I don’t remember you accepting any help like this. For your own sake and your own health, please do want help. Please do accept help. We can’t change things unless you want it and accept it. So it’s all up to you.

Inhibiting In Habiting

Georgia – As I was reading Mere Christianity, I found something of interest. C.S. Lewis said that everything we do contributes to that inner creature which is becomming either of the heavenly or hellish sort. It cut me right though because I’m having enough trouble to just get by these days. That is just it though, we’re Christians, not Worldians. It’s so easy to neglect that new man and return to the old man’s habits. The hard thing is to esablish good habits for the new man, after all, isn’t it said that it takes twenty-one days to do just that?

Actually, that’s not a bad idea … I’ll come up with something eventually, I hope. Anyway, when it came time to sell the puppies, we kept the public areas excessively nice. The dishes were done often, and the surfaces unusually void of junk. Not even three days after all that business was done did we have our junk accumulation zones piling up (that is, any flat surface not used for anything productive such as the shelf, the table, the desk, and the countertop.) Old habits die hard. Old man habits die harder. New man habits are just as hard to establish and keep going. The conscious effort of twenty-one days to remember the new habit might take until it hits a roadblock. A sudden schedule shift sends it south.

Now I admit I know who is in charge and what He’s got planned. I don’t know the why’s of the current goings-on, but I know who we’re expected to be just alike despite this. I don’t imagine that when Jesus first walked the earth things were any less turbulent. Especially not in his neighborhood. Yet, nobody could find fault with him. To our way of thinking, we don’t like to roll up our sleves after a long day of work and see to the needs of everybody, but He did it.

I can’t help but wonder if, in the effort to keep myself afloat, the new man suffers. Perhaps there are alot of us who can’t drop to our knees and attend to the new man part of us on a moments notice. What if we considered our new man self of more importance than just ourself? What if the new man wasn’t visiting on Sunday but lived out each and every day as if it was Sunday?

Second Chances

Franklin Gothic Medium –
 
Acts 11:19-30, “19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
 22News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
 
 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
 
 27During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.”
 
Good old Barnabas. Sometimes I think with all the focus on the Apostles, Paul, and Timothy, we miss out on what Barnabas’ contribution was to the early church. His name was really Joseph, but the apostles called him Son of Encouragement. When we meet him in Acts 4, the last few verses tell us that he sold a field he owned and gave the money – all of it – to the apostles. Then Barnabas stood up for Saul when he – as a new believer – met the apostles for the first time. Barnabas sticks by Saul’s side as becomes the great Paul that books are written about.
 
Eventually, somebody came through those church doors in Antioch and laid down his opinion that all Christians ought to be circumcised. There was only one thing to do, take the matter before the council. So Barnabas and Paul did just that. It’s easy to imagine Barnabas doing all the talking, after all, he did give a sizeable donation to the church not too long ago. Soon the matter was settled, no circumcision required. They took that message back to Antioch along with a couple of brothers. Then one day Paul decided to go back and see how the people were doing that they had met along the way. Paul and Barnabas couldn’t get along on who was to go with them, so the two parted company.
 
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about what happened afterward, only that the person in said argument was John/Mark who had abandoned Paul earlier when the going got rough. He was also Barnabas’ cousin, which explains the second chance from from Barnabas. The last mention was a certain dinner party where Barnabas and a couple of Apostles acted hypocritacally against a group of gentiles there. Paul set him straight.
 
Outside of the Bible, it is said that Barnabas was caught preaching and subjected to all sorts of tortures before he was martyred. His cousin John/Mark put his body in a cave and piled up stones its entrance.
 
You know what I take out of Barnabas’ whole story? He did alot by Paul’s side, but when he couldn’t resolve his argument he missed out on the oppurtunity to live up to his name. Timothy whose name means ‘honoring God’ became like a son to Paul in the faith. You see, I too have a cousin who is nothing but trouble (actually, I’m pretty sure that quite a few of my cousins are troublemakers). He’s burnt through his second chance, used up his third, thrown away his fourth, and has worn our patience thin in the process. Bringing him along a mission trip is asking for trouble. Then again, I find it lacking of Paul who got the biggest second chance ever to fail to give one to an immature brother. What’s your take?

Who’s your master?

Courier – It’s one of the more toxic emotions that we can’t seem to put to right use. It’s hatred. Didn’t know that there was a right use? We’re supposed to hate evil. We on the other hand, use our hatred for evil. We hate things that are different from – exactly opposite of – us. Now we are seing a resurgence in hatred. Hate groups are founded by the hundreds. The popular hatred is against races, but that isn’t the only thing out there to hate. Hatred has a legacy that is longer than its shadow.

I grew up where out of hate, an entire indigenous people was marched on a trail of tears to their territory which was later awarded as prize to those fast enough to lay claim to it. I grew up knowing that in its early capital a riot had caused the death of almost every african american in the city. I’ve seen what happens when people hate.

Now I see a new kind of hate, right where the line is drawn at same and different. Everywhere legislation comes up to be decided on, two crowds gather and both are suffienctly hateful of the other. Opinions become weighty and tensions run high. Both sides try to use the media to get their message out: They are right and the other side is wrong. As long as even an ounce of hate comes from your side, you are wrong.

I’m on one side and I’ve got family on the other. That family member’s spiritual situation is of more importance than earthly hapiness. Those of us who have our spiritual dominoes in order fall exactly in line with the Word of God. So it is possible for that person to be a Christian on that side? Let’s find out. Take a rubber band. Let one hand be that side and the other be the other side and pull. Keep on pulling. A little more. It should snap about now. As long as one feels the pulls both ways, guess which one is going to win? It’s the same with most vices. Now all that rubber band is good for is to be thrown away.

You can’t mess with the word of God, people have tried to do something about it for the last two thousand years – without success. It’s unlikely somebody would come up with something anytime soon. Of course, Jesus already told us this story:

“19”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
 22″The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

 24″No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” – Matthew 6:19-24

You can’t serve two masters. Be it God or money, God or hate, self or selflessness, or whatever else it is. There is a reason why God gets a pretty big share of the things that are hated pie. His words are unchangeable. Nobody is innocent in his eyes. Not even me. So which master has your heart?

Clue: “Communism is just a …”

Comic Sans MS – They say that the phrase ‘red herring’ originates with training hunting dogs. Once they were trained to know that scent, it would be used to throw them off of the trail of other game with much fainter scent. Eventually they would learn not to follow the scent of the red herring. While the use of the phrase does meet with comedic standards, I can’t but help wonder if all the goings-on around here is a red herring sort of thing to keep us busy from going after what we should be.

We’ve got a global economic crisis, unemployment beyond the hundreds of thousands, pirates in the seas, hostile governments murdering its own people with designs against others, and who knows what going on at any moment. It’s hard to really focus on what we should be doing. This is why I think a certain enemy of God loves to put red herrings in our way. You see, we’re the hunting dog that is supposed to follow the scent of a certain game, but the strong scent of a red herring leads us astray far too often.

The real test is if every single red herring will lead us astray or we’ll ignore it for once. In the time it takes to realize that we’ve been decieved, that original quarry has gotten that much further ahead, or we’ve gotten ourselves that much further behind. My biggest red herring would probably be video games (I’ve got a team almost to lv 75). I do know that if I put as much time into that Bible of mine as did on that game, I’d have a much greater understanding of what I believe (as opposed to a working knowledge.) I’ve been reading more lately, so I’ll get there. (But I’m sooo close to level 75.)

We’re told in Luke 9:23-24, “23Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

That is something we’ll need both hands for, so we’ll have to put down those red herrings that we’ve been toying with, be it video games, books, music, food, the remote control, or whatever else it is. And every single day put God first. Anything else is just a red herring.