Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

The Meaning of Language … in the context of Killing, and Sin, and The Resurrection …

Hamachidori“, by Ryutaro Hirota, played by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra & Kazumasa Watanabe, from the album “Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

Sunrise on The Last Day

I am writing these days about the consequences of misusing language, of imprecise argument, of discussions which are based on unconfirmed or unproven “facts” or even no facts at all but simply one of the “every right minded person knows this to be true” type of argument. This might be a bit of a rant but we’ll see how it goes.

I am thinking about the detachment of thinking and philosophy from reality such that “Truth” becomes “whatever we want it to be depending on what our emotions and thoughts and desires lead us into.

If we understood how we lead ourselves into delusion and sin by looking at our lives and our conduct through the lens of all the usual daily “wax on, wax off” of redirection and euphemism which we use to preserve our self-righteous belief in our own “goodness” we might make some progress along the narrow path to living in God’s will.

But lack of precision in language leads us into an ever deeper pit of double speak, innuendo and euphemism. We no longer say exactly what we mean and before long we forget what it is we are actually doing because we start thinking and acting in ways which are no longer connected to reality in any meaningful way. We transport ourselves to a reality of our own making in our own mind and no longer understand what we are doing or how it affects  everyone around us.

Unfortunately, “reality” isn’t rooted in our heads, in what we desire or in what we believe. In previous posts I have mentioned Venezuela as one of the Poster Boys of the inevitable outcomes of “Progressive” living and acting as if “subjective truth” were “reality”. Liberal Socialism is “Progressive Subjective Truth” in action. Here in Canada we are already dangerously far down this path, where even Canadian “Conservatives” are far to the left of American Democrats. Canadian Liberals and “National Democrats” are so far off the reality map as to be clinically delusional in their expectations and beliefs.

When we depart from Truth based on reality, we move into a “Brave New World” of ever expanding “subjective Truth”. Reality now becomes an ever changing landscape dependant on individual desires and thoughts.

If man himself is “the author of Truth” and it is subjective … that is to say “your Truth” may well be terminally different from “my Truth”, with potentially disastrous fall out for everyone, then absolutely any evil becomes possible and even acceptable depending on our personal power to influence. In a world of malleable truth our reality is limited only by our ability to force others to conform to our circle of influence.

This easily translates into public policy initiatives especially if one of the objectives of the policy initiators is to avoid the repercussions of accountability for the outcomes of those policy initiatives. Imprecise language leaves lots of loopholes for dodging silver bullets.

Thanks to subjective truth, and subjective thinking, Canada has, in one generation, moved from homosexuality and abortion being immoral and illegal practices, to general acceptance of homosexuality as being “normal” and OK, and to the widespread legal killing of innocent people because of their geographical location or state in life, currently running at about 150,000 people a day in our western “civilized” culture. I am not sure if that statistic is for the whole world, for Europe and North America or just for here in North America but it is still a scary number however you think about it.

This whole area of “thinking” is wrapped about with euphemism, innuendo and misdirection where all concepts of right and wrong are turned on their heads to aid the policy designers in pursuing their desired direction.

So, for starters, relating to “subjective Truth”, here is an open letter to a Canadian MP regarding the current effort underway on the part of the Canadian government to widen the net and expand the criteria for qualifying patients for the medical procedure known as medical assistance in dying (euphemistically known as MAID).

Basically, MAID is the process of qualifying (selecting) targeted patients to be killed off to relieve these targeted patients of the “burden” of their suffering, all the while presenting the case that this “choice” is the patient’s desire, rather than the Health department’s desire.

So here is the letter:

*****

As a concerned constituent,

I am writing to give you direct feedback about the possibility of the criteria for medical assistance in dying being further expanded.

First, and this point needs to be explained clearly by all parties, since it is the most critical factor in this argument, is the irrefutable fact that there is not a single argument being used by the MAID camp, to expand the state’s ability, selection network of target victims, and “legal” right to kill selected citizens, which cannot be completely addressed by properly applied palliative care, up to and including medically induced coma.

What the published arguments by the MAID camp leave unstated, is the only argument not refuted by “palliative care and medically induced coma”. This unstated argument is the potential cost savings involved in the full implementation of MAID, thus enabling the shifting of budgetary resources to other health care programs going forward.

This curious omission of the “costs argument” flies in the face of government’s willingness to invoke the “Costs” argument in other budgetary areas.  I agree that $35,000 per man woman and child in Canada for health care in 2018, is likely unsustainable in the long run. Terminal end-of-life health care costs a lot of money for “only a few patients” and it would seem to be the best argument for implementing MAID.

The rest of this note fits the current narrative. I recognize that the specific purpose of this consultation is in response to the court ruling that struck down the “reasonably foreseeable death” criterion for MAID. However, this clause was added to the law when it was passed in 2016 to protect people with disabilities, including those with mental health concerns. The timing of this court ruling by the Quebec judiciary seems curiously coincidental but we will leave that question for another day.

Anyway, Doctors know that often persons with disabilities or with serious mental health concerns consider suicide rather than to face life with a physical or psychological limitation. But with love, a strong support network and proper medical care, many do change their minds and lead their lives with dignity and self-respect. People in this circumstances need to be offered assistance to live, not death. The current safeguards are completely inadequate. I ask you to consider the adoption of the Vulnerable Persons Standard: https://www.vps-npv.ca

I am also concerned that there is discussion about expanding the criteria for assisted suicide and euthanasia to allow children, those whose primary diagnosis is a mental health concern, and those who want advanced directives to qualify for MAID. How can we allow even more vulnerable groups to be put at risk when we don’t have adequate access to care across our country?

Thank you.

*****

No answer to the above letter is expected nor has any answer been received. Why is that not a surprise? We, that is mankind, are extraordinarily skilled at dissembling and covering up our wrongs and our evil doing.

We have a huge vocabulary of code words and euphemisms to hide what our actions and conduct really are all about and their effect on our neighbours around us. I suspect that many of us go through life thinking “we’re pretty good, not like those other horrible people”, a lot like the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.

Greta is angry with us …

Recall that the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican is a parable of Jesus that appears in the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 18:9-14, a self-righteous Pharisee, obsessed by his own virtue, his obvious superiority to those around him, his virtuous life and his good works, is contrasted with a tax collector, one of the ordinary folks, who humbly asks God for mercy.

This parable demonstrates the need to act and pray humbly in our daily lives, to see ourselves as we really are rather than to see the imagined evil motives behind the lives of others.

For example, I don’t suppose that teenage talking head Greta Thunberg ever had to keep a farm running all winter without oil but I can tell you that she and her backers are fundamentally divorced from our current winter reality in rural Alberta.

Well, she must be OK because the Wickedpedia loves her, and if one doesn’t think Greta has got powerful backers with an anti oil agenda there is a flavor of unreality in that thinking as well. Sigh …  so here is another point of view on that topic, just to give both sides some coverage.

George Soros 2012

These days, and perhaps for at least the last several thousand years, humility has been rather thin on the ground and pride reigns in many hearts. There is certain biblical precedent to the current objections to the hydrocarbon economy and, as it has always been, it is all about controlling the narrative.

Ancient Egypt got rolling by 3000 BC  and was really hitting its heights by the time Moses and the Jews departed around 1500 BC, and its likely that Pharaoh wasn’t the first God King to go down in flames, or in his case to drown in the sea, and go down into the flames.

But why? he just wanted to control the narrative, didn’t he?

God gave Egypt 2 thousand years to get their act together and they rose to the pinnacle of power in their world before they crashed and drowned in the Red Sea while refusing to acknowledge GOD and chasing Moses and Israel to kill them for delivering God’s message.

Then He gave Israel about 1500 years to rise to their pinnacle. 500 years after Moses King David got things going along nicely in Israel’s golden period. But within a thousand years they rejected God and killed His son who had been sent to teach them a better way. They were wiped out shortly after that disaster and scattered to the four winds by Rome in 70 AD.

Now He has given Western Christendom, the Gentiles of scripture, about 2000 years to rise to their pinnacle and it sure looks to me like we are looking at our own crash and burn epic right now.

Whose agenda are we really following, whose instructions and commandments? It doesn’t feel to me like God’s Will figures very largely in our world’s goals and agendas. The western world has rejected God and refused His divine Son in an orgy of self worship and self love, perversion and decadence.

Contrary to the (in)famous TELUS commercial, the future is definitely not friendly, and woe to anyone who openly disagrees with the path we are on.  Who will be the next chosen people once our corrupt society is dead and gone.

*****

14 The beginning of the pride of man, is to fall off from God: 15 Because his heart is departed from him that made him: for pride is the beginning of all sin: he that holdeth it, shall be filled with maledictions, and it shall ruin him in the end. (Ecclesiastes 10:14–15/Sirach 10:14-15)

*****

Ah yes, tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps on this petty pace, to the last syllable of  time … nothing ever changes, it’s all pride, the mother of all sin.  It seems, judging by some of the comments, that I am not the only one dismayed by the semi-literacy and lack of precision in language surrounding us everywhere in the media and on our social networks. So let’s call a spade a spade, and let’s call sin what it is … SIN the action of evil in the world.

I have been reading a new book by Christine Watkins called “The Warning: Testimonies and Prophecies of the Illumination of Conscience“. This little book lines up precisely with where my head has been for a couple of years now. Here is a quote regarding sin, from that book:

*****

What horrified me and left me shaking the most was seeing the nature of sin itself. It does nothing but destroy and is infinitely worse than poison. Poison can kill the body, which is temporal, but sin can kill the soul, which is eternal. Jesus revealed to me that every sin, large or small, is significant.

A little lie was more serious than I thought because Jesus looks at our hearts. The lie may seem small, but the deceit within us can be huge. Or with slander—casting another in a negative light, thinking it and speaking it can look the same in God’s eyes because God sees the seed of judgment in our hearts. The slander is simply an expression of it.

When Jesus said in Matthew 5: 27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” He meant exactly what He said.

God revealed to me how sin spreads like a malignant cancer. Just the simple act of treating one person negatively initiates a spider-web effect. If I yell at someone in the morning and put them in a bad mood, they take that with them into their day and spread it easily to others, who in turn, bring the anger home with them, and take it out on their loved ones, who bother their neighbors, and so on … and so on … and so on …

Like the many branches of an infinite and insidious tree, it expands from one small sprout. Every single sin multiplies this way, even those we think are hidden, affecting both the physical and the spiritual realms, travelling across generations, sometimes continents. Sin unveiled is a gruesome thing.

What happened next shocked me to my core. I was standing before Jesus, with no memory of how I had come back to the Church two years earlier and repented. The Lord of heaven and earth was hiding this from my awareness because He was about to let me fully experience what would have happened to me had I died in my sins. Jesus gave me my personal judgment. Immediately, I saw my sentence within His eyes. The verdict was hell for all eternity.

I was frozen, speechless, in overwhelming, silent terror. I knew I deserved it, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. The experience felt frightful beyond sheer horror. I couldn’t argue back. I couldn’t talk my way out of anything. I fell silent before the divine truth that justice demands. I was undergoing my personal judgment in miniature, and by the life I had lived, I had freely chosen my sentence: an eternal “fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth (Matthew 13: 42 b).” Human language cannot convey the regret that seized me.

As Jesus took the scroll from the Father, I was also made to understand that this judgment, unique to each individual, is coming upon the world. Every person on the face of the Earth will experience their personal judgment, either while alive or at death, and every single sin will have to be accounted for.

What made the experience so scary for me, and what makes me so concerned for the world is that at death, there is no way to alter one’s sentence. There is no way to go back and change things, to correct the wrongs. It is absolute. For me, the door to heaven had locked with an iron deadbolt, and my fate was to be sealed forever.

Watkins, Christine. The Warning: Testimonies and Prophecies of the Illumination of Conscience. Location 1783-1834 Queen of Peace Media. Kindle Edition.

*****

So I am continuing on to look at the Resurrection. As I remarked in a previous post, the gateway to Belief is flanked and supported by the two pillars of reality, the Incarnation and the Resurrection supporting the lintel of Faith. But even the transmission of divinely revealed Truth is derailed by academic argument about the meaning of words and the validity of arguments and statements based on those words.

Lack of precision in communications, that is in speaking and writing, makes the propagation of Truth difficult. When we divorce “Truth” from precision and reality and relegate it to being in our own mind, that is, what “Truth” mean “for us”, then we really destroy TRUTH.

Most of what I am going to relate here about my thoughts on the second pillar, the Resurrection, is drawing from the work of N.T. Wright in his huge book Resurrection Son of God V3: Christian Origins and the Question of God”.

The lack of precision in language contributes to the facility of denying the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and even the existence of God. If we don’t believe it, that God exists and cares about us, then we can walk any path and believe that literally anything is “Truth”.

*****

He (Wright) writes: “In what sense, if any, can Jesus’ resurrection be spoken of as ‘historical’? Second, how did people in Jesus’ day, both Gentiles and Jews, think and speak about the dead and their future destiny? In particular, what if anything did the word ‘resurrection’ (anastasis and its cognates, and the verb egeiro and its cognates, in Greek, and qum and its cognates in Hebrew) mean within that spectrum of belief? 12 … As George Caird once pointed out, when a speaker declares ‘I’m mad about my flat’ it helps to know whether they are American (in which case they are angry about their puncture) or British (in which case they are enthusiastic about their living quarters).13 When the early Christians said ‘The Messiah was raised from the dead on the third day’, what might they have been heard to be saying? This may seem obvious to some readers, but it was by no means obvious, according to the evangelists, when Jesus said similar things to his followers, and a glance at contemporary literature will show that it remains far from obvious to many scholars today.14  …  As well as the question of meaning (what did this kind of talk mean at the time?) we must consider the question of derivation: what, if anything, did the Christian shaping of ideas and language about Easter owe to the wider context, both Jewish and non-Jewish? What was the way that the non-Jewish world of the first century looked at these two questions in mind; what was the way that the Jewish world looked at it.15 Let me then spell out somewhat more fully the brief, almost formulaic account given a moment ago of how the argument develops from there. … Granted the wide range of views about life after death in general and resurrection in particular, what did the early Christians believe on these topics, and how can we account for their beliefs?

This method recognizes that all knowledge of the past, as indeed of everything else, is mediated not only through sources but also through the perceptions, perceptions, and hence also the personalities, of the knowers. There is no such thing as detached objectivity.

To say, therefore, that we can investigate other historical claims in a neutral or objective fashion, but that with the resurrection an element of subjectivity inevitably creeps in, is to ignore the fact that all historical work consists of a dialogue between the historian, in community with other historians, and the source materials; and that at every point the historians’ own worldview-perspectives are inevitably involvedBut this does not mean that all knowledge collapses into mere subjectivity. There are ways of moving towards fair and true statements about the past.”

Wright, N. T.. Resurrection Son of God V3: Christian Origins and the Question of God (pp. 8-29). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

*****

What I am doing here is trying to explain to myself, to reassure myself that my belief in, my Faith in Jesus Christ is justified … Jesus Christ was/is real, was/is Divine, was/is Man, was Incarnated as The God Man, and Resurrected after his death on the cross.

If any of these points could be proven wrong then I suppose that Christianity would be a sham, a lie, but so far, 2000 plus years of trying by all the usual suspects have failed to disprove any of the above points and they are left with denying the existence of GOD hence the new-found popularity of Atheism in our polite secular society.

“Red Dragonfly” by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

So, end of the post, sipping my coffee, enjoying a new creamer called “SuperFood Pumpkin Spice”, and it gives a nice flavourful coffee but I still add a few ounces of 36% cream to fatten it up. But what would coffee be without a little scripture?  Paul would have recognized our current Social/Political landscape … here is part of his letter to Timothy:

*****

… But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. …

Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra– what persecutions I endured.

And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Ti 3:1-13)

*****

Anyway, that’s enough fun for now. It is encouraging to know that there are other folks out there who see the current state of confusion in communication as problematic. I suspect that the “usual suspects” calling me a “pedant” are not really that sure what exactly “pedant” means anyway.

So for those who got this far, you must be amongst the blessed literate on this long journey. We understand that we have to look at our lives and our conduct without all the usual daily “wax on, wax off” of redirection and euphemism we use to preserve our belief in our own “goodness”.

Cheers

Joe

Ahhh,  time for another stress free “nice conversation with my friends”. Who cares what the words mean anyway, they just sound so “pleasantly conversational”.

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

The Meaning of Language … communication?

Hamachidori“, by Ryutaro Hirota, played by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra & Kazumasa Watanabe, from the album “Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

This is what -30 to -40 looks like …

So, what to say … first, a week ago this morning I slipped on the ice while walking in my driveway and fell on top of my leg as it folded under me, thus breaking my ankle.

That gentle “crunch” as I settled onto the ice was the give away but I chose to ignore it and “shake it off” and proceed to drive to my lunch date with an old service friend an hour and a half away and ignore the pain and tough it out in the interest of having a pleasant social gathering. Always push through and complete the mission, right?

On Wednesday last, my daughter insisted that I go to the hospital with her and get it X-rayed to prove that “It was only a serious sprain”. As life would have it, I was wrong … I admit it … and both my doctor and my daughter insisted that I repeat that several times. I. Was. Wrong. And the next day, Thursday, I found myself in surgery in the nearest city getting things repaired with plate and pins and screws.

Now, I sit in my favorite chair under doctor’s orders to keep the ankle elevated and to not put any weight on it until the next doctor’s appointment on March 14th. This is not only a pain in my ankle, but a right royal pain in my A__ since virtually everything I do including something as simple as visiting the washroom is hugely complicated by “Don’t you dare put ANY weight on that ankle!”.

Sigh … what is one to do.

Well, I guess this is one of those times in life when “tough” is another word for “stupid”. I guess I accept that. Most of what I do for work is something I can supervise over Facetime while others less crippled actually punch the keys, and the rest can just wait, I guess. My first wife of 40 years or so just laughs at me and says “I guess you will be giving up “Control” for Lent.”  I reply, “I guess that it’s nice to have “history”, to which she replies that she just wishes there wasn’t so much of it. Ha! spoken like a true loving wife.

Which brings me to the topic of “History”. What does one do when one can’t get out of the chair without enormous effort? Well, in my case I blog … This post may not be of much interest except amongst those of us who actually care about the details and precision and what things actually mean, as opposed to “just having a pleasant conversation over coffee with our friends”.

I like the term “praxis” meaning “that which people do habitually, characteristically and usually unreflectively“, as a wonderfully concise summary of our polite daily narrative. It gives me a nice handle on the state of action, conversation and thought, or the lack of same, in our social media society.

I have had an on-again, off-again, love/hate relationship with the use of our English language as a means of alleged “communications” for at least 40 years now.

After spending most of the 70’s as a practitioner (Rad Sea 251) of military communications, with it’s huge emphasis on precision and accuracy and warding off confusion, no matter the status of the current shit-storm, even to the extent of using a phonetic alphabet and spelling words and coordinates out in detail, I find myself still habitually thinking and speaking in annoyingly precise ways.

It is part of the very fiber of how I think and communicate. After all, the consequences of “getting it wrong” back then had a high probability of a Blue on Blue with predictably bad results. It is hard to shake those old life-saving habits.

I have found since then that the civilian world shows a distressing lack of precision and understanding of the meaning of common words, used every day, and in the communication of thoughts which when examined, have no relation whatsoever to the words in use to express the “feelings” of the speaker except perhaps in some vague syllabic sort of way, the more syllables the better.

The speaker(s) lack a basic understanding of what the words they use moment by moment actually mean in English is a never ending source of distress and misunderstanding. Should one raise any objection to this misuse of the language one is immediately vilified as a “pedant”, supposing that term exists in the speakers lexicon, and worse if the vocabulary is lacking.

“Red Dragonfly” by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

One very common example is the now popular “modern” journalistic use of and confusion of the words “honing” and “homing”, used interchangeably and it seems in use to mean a general sense of something bad coming that we can’t shake off, or of being on the right track depending on context. For just one example of many, at CNN :” Sources say Turkish investigators are honing in on a Saudi intelligence officer who allegedly led the torture and murder of “Washington Post” columnist Jamal Khashoggi.”

I sometimes question the writers in the comment column of their articles … in one recent occurrence, when asked about the confusion, “Do you mean “homing” as in “the missile is homing in to blow us to hell”, or do you mean “honing” as in “I am honing my blade in preparation to slitting your throat”? the latest writer I called on it got quite upset with me and not only refused to clarify the confusion but continued to repeat the obviously confusing misuse in subsequent writing. What is one to do? Pray, pray, and pray some more, I guess.

I am currently reading “The Resurrection of the Son of God V3: Christian Origins and the Question of God” by N.T. Wright, from “Fortress Press” . It is a joy to read, what I have in the past referred to as “Brain Candy”.

And Dr. Wright spends a significant part of the first 70 pages or so clarifying this exact problem of meaning and the need for clarity in the context of historical writing and theology …  and that same confusion is equally prevalent in daily social exchange and is arguably more important, since in the immediate sense, history is only important to historians.

This is so much fun that I am simply going to quote from the book and let the chips fall where they may (your mileage may vary):

*****

What, though, do we mean by ‘historical’?20 ‘History’ and its cognates have been used, within debates about Jesus and the resurrection, in at least five significantly different ways.

First, there is history as event. If we say something is ‘historical’ in this sense, it happened, whether or not we can know or prove that it happened. The death of the last pterodactyl is in that sense a historical event, even though no human witnessed it or wrote about it at the time, and we are very unlikely ever to discover when and where it took place. Similarly, we use the word ‘historical’ of persons or things, to indicate simply and solely that they existed.21

Second, there is history as significant event. Not all events are significant; history, it is often assumed, consists of the ones that are. The adjective that tends to go with this is ‘historic’; ‘a historic event’ is not simply an event that took place, but one whose occurrence carried momentous consequences. Likewise, a ‘historic’ person, building or object is one perceived to have had particular significance, not merely existence. Rudolf Bultmann, himself arguably a historic figure within the discipline of New Testament studies, famously used the adjective “geschichtlich” to convey this sense, over against “historisch” (sense 1).

Third, there is history as provable event. To say that something is ‘historical’ in this sense is to say not only that it happened but that we can demonstrate that it happened, on the analogy of mathematics or the so-called hard sciences. This is somewhat more controversial. To say ‘x may have happened, but we can’t prove it, so it isn’t really historical’ may not be self-contradictory, but is clearly operating with a more restricted sense of ‘history’ than some of the others.

Fourth, and quite different from the previous three, there is history as writing-about-events-in-the-past. To say that something is ‘historical’ in this sense is to say that it was written about, or perhaps could in principle have been written about. (This might even include ‘historical’ novels.) A variant on this, though an important one, is oral history; at a time when many regarded the spoken word as carrying more authority than the written, history as speaking-about-events-in-the-past is not to be sneezed at.22

Fifth and finally, a combination of (3) and (4) is often found precisely in discussions of Jesus: history as what modern historians can say about a topic. By ‘modern’ I mean ‘post-Enlightenment’, the period in which people have imagined some kind of analogy, even correlation, between history and the hard sciences. In this sense, ‘historical’ means not only that which can be demonstrated and written, but that which can be demonstrated and written within the post-Enlightenment worldview. This is what people have often had in mind when they have rejected ‘the historical Jesus’ (which hereby, of course, comes to mean ‘the Jesus that fits the Procrustean bed of a reductionist worldview’) in favour of ‘the Christ of faith’.23

Snow”, by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”  (2013).

N.T. Wright

Confusion between these senses has of course bedevilled this very debate about the so-called ‘historical Jesus’, the phrase being used by some to mean Jesus as he actually was (sense 1), by others to mean what was significant about Jesus (sense 2), by others to mean that which we can prove about Jesus, as opposed to that which we must either doubt or take on faith alone (sense 3); by others again to mean what people have written about Jesus (sense 4). Those who, as I mentioned, have taken the phrase in sense 5 have often rejected the Jesus not only of that sense but, apparently, of the previous four as well.24

“Jesus and the Victory of God” constitutes, in part, a response to this position. But we must now face one very specific, particular and in some senses peculiar case of the problem. In what sense, if any, can Jesus’ resurrection be spoken of as ‘historical’?

Second, how did people in Jesus’ day, both Gentiles and Jews, think and speak about the dead and their future destiny? In particular, what if anything did the word ‘resurrection’ (anastasis and its cognates, and the verb egeiro and its cognates, in Greek, and qum and its cognates in Hebrew) mean within that spectrum of belief?12

Chapters 2 and 3 address this question, clarifying in particular—a vital move, as we shall see—what the early Christians meant, and were heard to mean, when they spoke and wrote about Jesus’ resurrection.

As George Caird once pointed out, when a speaker declares ‘I’m mad about my flat’ it helps to know whether they are American (in which case they are angry about their puncture) or British (in which case they are enthusiastic about their living quarters).13

When the early Christians said ‘The Messiah was raised from the dead on the third day’, what might they have been heard to be saying? This may seem obvious to some readers, but it was by no means obvious, according to the evangelists, when Jesus said similar things to his followers, and a glance at contemporary literature will show that it remains far from obvious to many scholars today.14

As well as the question of meaning (what did this kind of talk mean at the time?) we must consider the question of derivation: what, if anything, did the Christian shaping of ideas and language about Easter owe to the wider context, both Jewish and non-Jewish?

Chapter 2 examines the non-Jewish world of the first century with these two questions in mind; chapters 3 and 4, developing the brief discussion in the first volume of this series, the Jewish world.15 Let me then spell out somewhat more fully the brief, almost formulaic account given a moment ago of how the argument develops from there.

I shall come at the main question of Parts II–IV by asking: granted the wide range of views about life after death in general and resurrection in particular, what did the early Christians believe on these topics, and how can we account for their beliefs?

This method recognizes that all knowledge of the past, as indeed of everything else, is mediated not only through sources but also through the perceptions, perceptions, and hence also the personalities, of the knowers.

There is no such thing as detached objectivity. (To say, therefore, that we can investigate other historical claims in a neutral or objective fashion, but that with the resurrection an element of subjectivity inevitably creeps in, is to ignore the fact that all historical work consists of a dialogue between the historian, in community with other historians, and the source materials; and that at every point the historians’ own worldview-perspectives are inevitably involved.)

But this does not mean that all knowledge collapses into mere subjectivity. There are ways of moving towards fair and true statements about the past.”

Wright, N. T.. Resurrection Son of God V3: Christian Origins and the Question of God (pp. 8-29). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

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Anyway, that’s enough fun for now. It is encouraging to know that there are other folks out there who see the current state of confusion in communication as problematic. I suspect the usual suspects calling me a “pedant” are not really that sure what exactly “pedant” means anyway.

So for those who got this far, you must be amongst the blessed literate on this long journey.

Cheers

Joe

Ahhh,  time for another stress free “nice conversation with my friends”. Who cares what the words mean anyway, they just sound so “pleasantly conversational”.

But what would coffee be without a little scripture?  Paul would have recognized our current Canadian Political landscape … here is part of his letter to Timothy:

… But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. …

Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra– what persecutions I endured.

And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2Ti 3:1-13)

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The Inner Struggle

The Never Ending Story … Faith

Hamachidori“, by Ryutaro Hirota, played by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra & Kazumasa Watanabe, from the album “Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

The struggle between “The Good” and “the absence of good” is a battle of life or death, a never ending struggle since the first instant of time. This is how nations, corporations, the creatures and entities of this world fall, their self love is their fatal weakness.

Their soldiers don’t fight for them, they fight for themselves, as a mirror of their tribe or group, for their self, because of their own self love. They don’t believe in their leaders. When it comes to a battle of life or death, that lack of faith is fatal.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God, because faith is the foundation of all our relations with God. For the man, the creature, the entity without faith, God has no meaning, value, or place in their existence, their reality.

With faith, however, God can enter into a self-centered existence as the belief in something greater than the self makes room for the Other. The stronger the faith the more God can enter into our life and the more we are willing to accept the Other, and put the self away.

Ultimately, I am told that He becomes our All, the one great reality for which we live and the One for whom we are willing to suffer, and face sorrow and death. Faith does not depend on data or the perceptions of our senses, in fact it is focused on something outside of the passing realities of everyday life. Faith allows us to begin to perceive God and other creatures as He, and they really are.

And perceiving this, the desire to give glory to God as one’s creator gradually grows until life is really about making everything you do a devotion. A devotion is a prayer but more than a prayer.

A devotion is a service to God. A prayer is sometimes seen as a dialogue, a request made to God. Then when people do something extraordinary and devote that act to God, or proclaim that they do it to glorify God, they see that as something different than prayer.

But a devotion, in the way that a monk or any other religious would perform it, is to do every task of daily life as a meditation. To do even the tiniest task as if it is solely for the glory of the Creator and of all creation. Tending a garden, washing dishes, keeping livestock, writing, making music, creating art, fixing a car, taking out the garbage, listening patiently and with charity to others.

When I think about this I wonder that when we transcend the natural self centeredness of the human person, are we no longer just a human? Has God entered into our soul and rendered us “supernatural” in proportion to the vitality and strength of our faith? St. Thomas Aquinas says “Faith is a habitual disposition of soul by which eternal life begins in us”. It is a “beginning of eternal life”.

But other thoughts arise, have I changed in ways that mean I cannot worship God as well, because my self regard is actually stronger for that thought? I do not believe that, but I look beyond my current view of things and wonder if this is dangerous. Am I just indulging in “being clever”? I think that any sentient entity is necessarily filled with contradictions.

Since one essential element of faith seems to be the absence of evidence it seems normal to me that my intellect from time to time doubts what it cannot see and cannot understand. I think these doubts are temptations encouraged by the forces of “the absence of good” in a continuous struggle to separate me from the “Good”… “I do believe, Lord, help my unbelief; Increase my faith” Mk 9,23 – Lk 17,5

Cheers

Joe

 

 

 

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Life in a small town

Human Qualities …

Hamachidori“, by Ryutaro Hirota, played by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra & Kazumasa Watanabe, from the album “Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

“Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

“Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

Sunday morning again … dark and cool, with a howling wind … +2 Celsius, 35 Kph wind … translates into +36 F and about 21 Mph for my American friends.

Spent a couple of hours over coffee with some gentlemen friends of mine yesterday who came by for a visit from a much larger city than my little village here in the Shire. While we get along great and have many things in common we also have great divides and differences.

One is a librarian by trade and the other is in the media business, both highly literate, both card carrying Canadian Liberals, and both very sure of the truth of their Liberal articles of faith regarding socialism, people, voters, guns, gun crimes and violence, and non-Liberal players.

They also have the typical Canadian knee–jerk reflex regarding the relative civilizing virtues of Canadians and Americans, and other non-Canadians, especially in the media, academia, and government.

While they do not exactly share my opinion that academia is the agar in the petri dishes of the Liberal Progressive weaponization lab called “university”, they acknowledge that a lot of the “qualities” of academia might lead one to that opinion absent the un-examined qualifiers inherent in the Liberal worldview.

We continue to be friends, and in reality became friends in spite of rather than because of our political and religious differences. The hallmark difference between both of them (and a few others) and the legions of zombies we all contend with when we move out of our comfortable shire is that they do not automatically assume that everyone who disagrees with them is just plain stupid.

These gentlemen assume that there must be a reason (more or less valid as the case may be), for our differing views and that people who are seeing a different world and draw different conclusions based on different life experiences are not automatically relegated to the dumpster of group opinion.

The Right of Free Speech ...

The Right of Free Speech …

What they (and I, I guess) are exhibiting are the human qualities of affability, thoughtfulness, courtesy, sociability, sincerity, and understanding. My considered opinion about the zombie hordes is just that – considered – after countless attempts to make friends with many of them, employing all of the above mentioned qualities, and being rejected, sometimes violently, by the majority and vilified for my efforts.

Eventually I step back and and consign them to the zombie straw-man dumpster for convenience, always leaving the door open for pleasant surprises and always understanding that one of my responsibilities in the universe is to protect all of them from the inevitable consequences of their affliction. Gee! I’m just so great and loving and understanding! I’m just such a nice guy … NOT!

Torches and Pitchforks ...

Torches and Pitchforks …

And that is MY affliction … that nasty red-necked neanderthal knuckle dragging a-hat is indeed one of the passengers in my personal bus of self on whom I keep an especially tight reign.

But he is still there and probably will be until I die. I pray that, if I manage to stay out of hell, that he stays there, but worry that eliminating him may be one of the contingent requirements for admission to heaven, or at least purgatory. I’m working on it.

So, these human qualities … passing lightly over the fact that they are godlike because they originate with God who is all goodness … are what one might reasonably qualify as the “better part” of humanity.

The degree to which we cultivate these qualities and apply them in our daily lives is the degree to which we ascend to some level of sanctity in our relations with our neighbors … what our church talks about when it exhorts us to practice “fraternal charity”.

“Hotaru” by Kobudo, from the album “Ototabi”, (2013)

St. Teresa of Avila (St. Teresa of Jesus)

St. Teresa of Avila (St. Teresa of Jesus)

Saint Francis de Sales used to say that “More flies are attracted by a drop of honey than a barrel of vinegar”, and Saint Teresa of Jesus  recommended “The holier you are, the more sociable you should be with your sisters (brothers). Although you may be sorry that all of your sisters’ conversation is not as you would like it to be, never keep aloof from them if you wish to help them and to have their love. We must try hard to be pleasant and to humor the people we deal with” (Way, 41).

“… Let him learn, then, and show by his works, the dignity proper to human nature and to society; let him regulate his countenance and bearing in a dignified manner and be faithful and sincere; let him keep his promises; let him govern his acts and his words; let him have respect for all and not harm the rights of others; let him endure evil and be sociable …”. (Pius XII, 1951)

Quagmire?

Quagmire?

These words drop into the dark well of our current society, politics and media and echo like the death knell of our civilization. These words encapsulate everything wrong with our current excuse for human relations.

How do we step back from this brink? How do we extricate ourselves from this hometown “quagmire” of our own making? There is an answer which has been around for about 4 thousand years … is anyone listening? I doubt it.

The answer is doing the “right” thing no matter what the cost, no matter how painful, no matter how we “feel” about our immediate personal interests … sometimes you just have to stand and die for the right thing … ever has it been so, world without end, amen.

Our polite society's view of "friend or foe"?

Our polite society’s view of “friend or foe”? Aren’t we just a little confused about what matters?

I used to have a friend, who I haven’t seen in years, who always used to remark “Joe!  This is not a hill to die on!” And he was mostly right, but every now and then those hills come around and the choices made set the direction for the future, and the path leads up or down as we make the choice.

Things are not as bad here as in the Middle East, but it gets really confusing when everyone who disagrees with us is “the enemy”, when we make the choice to take the easy, the complaint, the self interested way out.

How can we survive without “Fraternal Charity”, without Love?

“ゆりかごの歌”, William W. Spearman IV and Tomoko Okada, from the album “Beautiful Japanese Songs”, (2006)

The “Excellence of Love” has been in the public domain for at least two thousand years …
1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

11When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Cheers

Joe

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Life in a small town

The Task Of Government …

Hamachidori“, by Ryutaro Hirota, played by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra & Kazumasa Watanabe, from the album “Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (Japanese Melody Series)” (2004)

Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies

Konomichi―Favorite Japanese Melodies (2004)

David Warren has a concise salient post yesterday – and here’s an excerpt reflecting or echoing my long held views on “gubm’nt”:

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… The task of government, in the course of a natural catastrophe, is to maintain order and provide the simplest possible traffic directions to the response. For the most part this must necessarily be neighbour helping neighbour.

Relief efforts on the national scale need some coordinating, too, but they should be drawn from military and other “fixed assets” — from organizations that should themselves be designed to respond, nimbly and flexibly, to any kind of trouble.

A bureaucracy that does nothing but wait ghoulishly for the last widely-publicized disaster to repeat itself is merely a cash pyre. (ed. … as could be said of any bureaucracy after some time has passed)

With less technology but perhaps more science, public authorities in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus, north China, built canals and reservoirs for irrigation and transport, which also anticipated floods.

They did not e.g. spread suburbs across flood plains, then invent insurance plans to recompense the stupid. An extraordinary event might still overwhelm them, but if survived it would provide hints for general improvement and reinforcement. Prudence anticipates the known, but sensibly leaves the unknown to propitiatory prayer.

This we might do again, some day, should we happen to recover our sanity. Build to withstand what can be withstood, whether the power holds or fails. Go with the grain of nature. Think like engineers, not social workers. Let the people make provisions for themselves, and let them, too, learn from experience.

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Lichtenstein Castle

Schloss Bernhart – a humble abode of stone

Too bad the current societal zombie apocalypse has shut down all thought and left only virtue signaling and social programs for the narcissistic inept. It’s all just so … banal.

Banality! Challenge for the ages … domain of the witless, proud tower of the stupid, scan the faces of the crowd at any disaster, hurricane, accident, fire, news report, reality show, Honey Boo Boo … Oh Oh … here we go …  “after 100 years on the bottom of the sea divers were amazed to find the pool on the Titanic was still full …oooohhh …

Harvey, Katrina, what kind of suffering humanity do we find interesting, worthy of coverage … this time … not so many Hollywood Heroes rescuing a photo-op, not so many looters, or signs on rooftops asking for drugs instead of rescue … not this hurricane, not this time.  Hmmmm … I think I like Texas … my kind of people?

Cheers

Joe

command centre - lower bunker - Schloss Bernhart

command centre – lower bunker – Schloss Bernhart

Stardate: 201708301300 ONSCREEN!  Is it sinfully uncharitable to observe that prudent rectitude might preclude giving aid to egregiously short-sighted performers for provably sub-optimal choices with predictable results?

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