Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

“Hollow Men” Today

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Eliot’s “Hollow Men” closes,

“This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

Seeing the trends today, with the “Progressives” having their way in Church and in Government while people who know better stand and stare. If previous generations had seen such abuses there would have been blood in the streets, or at least the key players in these coups would have been locked out of the game rather permanently. Everyone sees, but nobody notices. Everyone knows, but nobody cares. Eliot’s poem was called, “The Hollow Men.” Calls us to a later work, an essay by C.S. Lewis, “Men Without Chests,” in which he pointed out the current trend in education to rob schoolchildren of the ability or desire to feel, to give any credibility to their hearts, to their for any sense of beauty beyond what can be measured and dissected in a sterile laboratory.

Now, a generation later, we see all the things we hold dear, or would hold dear if we could hold dear, stripped away from our paralyzed grasp as we stand by and say, “Oh, what a shame,” or rationalise it away as “one more sign of the Last Days!” We have been seeing such signs since the birth of the Church. Diocletian’s persecutions were seen as a fulfillment. So was the great darkness that covered the Earth in the mid-6th Century. Also the great plagues, the Saracen invasions, the Reformation wars in Europe, the great World War, the European Union, and the coming world currency. All these are warnings: signs that Christ is indeed coming back. If we sit back and watch for it, then how are we not like the “slothful and wicked servant” in the parable whom his master cast into the outer darkness for knowing his master was coming, and yet did not prepare?

We must- not can, might, could or should consider- we must go in by where we got out. We must rediscover the things we are lacking, the things of the heart. It is not enough to agitate and militate over issues, threats, or even atrocities. Attempts to do this, even over the past five hundred years, have all in the end only made things worse. Anger has its uses, and they are all short-term. So with pride, and even loyalties to family, tribe, or nation. What fuels and supports these emotions is just the ethos we are now lacking, not only as Easterners or Westerners, Americans, Bosnians, Chileans, or Deutschlanders. And it is the ethos we must reclaim.

A young lady, very dear to me, was born with a severe disability which left her with real damage to parts of her brain. People would “compensate” by telling her how clever she was. As a result, she was crippled farther by believing what she was told, but still could not add or subtract. Once she accepted that the polite noises did not define her reality she was better equipped to deal with life as she was best able. I grew up in the USA, and have seen in the US a certain trend in education. Reports from other countries, in Canada, Europe, and Asia show the same thing. Knowledge levels are falling, but “self-esteem,” based in group identity, is skyrocketing. “You’re so smart” has replaced “Good job!” in the students’ experience.

As with self-assessment, so with assessment of the world around them. Literature, which forms a vast part of the students’ understanding of the world outside the classroom, is carefully selected to support an ideology. The 20th century writers tend to have histories either as fighting for the communists in the Spanish “Civil War,” or Communist or Workers’ Party credentials. Poetry is largely from the Romantics and Transcendentalists, and if a Christian writer is included it is generally to provide fodder for “critical thinking” exercises, that is, seeing the world through the blinders provided. Music or art appreciation, or history generally, is either limited to the past fifty years or presented as mere dates and names, with not a glance at motivations, effects, or personalities involved: at what has developed our world and world-view!

What I call for, what we so desperately need in the “free world” or the world at-large, is not easy, or all that simple. It may not even be possible, but it is worth every effort. It is revolutionary in the deepest sense of the word. I will not even try to describe the conditions our grandchildren will face without these measures, because the particulars are not nearly as important as simply seeing the trends and acting accordingly. We must, by all means,

I. Begin by committing our lives to God, in Christ, for His guidance in all things.

1.Search out the “sources” of what life in Christ entails. The earlier the better.
2.Begin to live what we discover.

II. Search out the literature left out of the textbooks. Surely Milton and Danté weren’t the only poets to believe in Christ! Are pride of place and resentment of the rich really the driving themes of human existence? Or is the “raw material” of the human person so much more “authentic” than what that person can make of him/her self?

III. Learn History! Not just, “Who did what to who and when,” but “Why?” So many millions of lives have been lost simply from people not knowing the issues behind the conflicts they have been drawn into; so many are enemies today from not knowing the others’ backgrounds.

1.Learn about art: What made the Dutch Masters depict reality as they did? Why were the old icons painted in such a way? How did the different schools and trends relate to the thinking of their day?

2.Learn philosophy: How did the prevailing beliefs- the various trends of humanism, nominalism, existentialism- influence the art, literature, politics, of that day? Were those philosophies ultimately based on sound bases or prejudice?

IV. In all things, think critically! Not based on the latest, politically correct, trends of thinking, but from the truths we are learning as we continue in Step I. Not just asking how we as members of our “modern” society should see things, but how would these things square with the revealed truths of Christianity? With the Person of Christ Himself, Who is Truth?

V. Finally, make all these things not merely individual pursuits, or allow them to become mere hobbies or side interests, but all parts of one main pursuit: and not as individuals, but involving as many people as possible, and going as very far as possible. And in all things, calling out to God for His forgiveness, His cleansing and renewing of our minds, and His guidance!


Written by Robert Easter

Monday, 20 July, 2009 at 12:20

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Eternal Security in the 21st Century

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eternal security card
“..nor any other creature can separate us from the love of God.”

Just to say, for any who might wonder, I do believe in eternal security. Scripture is full of promises that God will never cast out his faithful children or change His mind about His salvation. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” cannot be any firmer either in the English, or in the Greek from which it is taken. Psalm 23 ends with the promise, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” and begins with “The Lord is my shepherd.”

What causes problems with some people, though, is not eternal security, but eternal presumption. Eternal presumption claims the Lord as his shepherd, but insists on shepherding himself. When he hears the Lord calling, “follow Me” he imagines he also hears, “and you can take the lead,” or, “wherever you want to go.” We preach that Christianity is a relationship, but do we then exclude
Jesus from the picture? We say that Christianity is a party, but is it Jesus’ party we’re going to or do we somehow throw a party in His honor, but leave him off the guest list? Here in America, the polls tell us that 85% of the people are Christians, most of these claiming a “born-again” experience. Jesus gave us a parable, in which the Word of God was eagerly received, and imparted life and promise, but from it not being allowed to take root and assume its rightful place as a plant growing in the soil, the life and the promise died away. The ground where it had been planted then became dried and hardened, covered with obnoxious weeds. Consistent with that picture of God’s Word being like a seed, Paul writes, “..if anyone be in Christ, ..all things are made new.” The Christianity of that 85% has so little effect on their own lives that militant atheism and a “rights” agenda aimed at turning the world into a homosexual “paradise” (both representing a scant minority in the US, have them cowed to even mention the name of Christ in public. Like the withered seed, they have no power, no confidence or joy, their lives do not make a difference because their lives, for the greater part do not differ from the “norm” of the non- Christian “minority.”

King David, in Ps. 19, speaks of two kinds of sin that can affect our lives. First, there are “errors” and “secret faults.” In the Law, these sins, when discovered, could be atoned by some kind of sacrifice as a kind of “personal housekeeping” to keep things right with God. Also, there were the “presumptuous sins.” Presuming on God’s mercy and “niceness,” violating God’s commands and principles regardless. Even in the New Testament there is no blank-check guarantee that this can be forgiven. In Hebrews we read, “They that sinned knowingly under Moses’ law received no more sacrifice for sin, but a fearful looking-for of wrath and fiery indignation.” and, “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Is it all hopeless? Not necessarily, but as the Spirit continues in that passage, it is on us to remember the goodness of the Lord, call on Him, and commit our lives to being His people, on His terms, rather than presuming that He is ours, on ours.

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 11 July, 2009 at 14:34

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Independence Day!

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patriotic-desktop02-640Today’s the 4th. Happy 4th, to all Americans! This day commemorates the children of English and European settlers binding together to form a new nation. Lately, though, that seems to be about all we know about it. Our schools spend precious little time on that era, and what time is taken is put to memorising dates and names the students know nothing else about, making the very study of history repulsive to them. If we understood the story behind the “story” we are fed, we would have a far greater appreciation both for the price paid for our freedoms in this country and the relationship of the American Experiment to the rest of the world.

From what I”ve gathered of the readers who have come to this small site in the past two and half years, it seems that the average person is probably a lot smarter and better-educated than me. Instead, then, of launching into one more Internet history lesson, there are some questions that need to be answered if we are going to be able to preserve the heritage that was begun some 233 years ago today.

Was this land first settled to establish a political system, an economic system, or to establish God’s kingdom throughout the world?

We know that the majority of our Founding Fathers claimed an evangelical faith in Christ. What of the spearheads of the independence movement?

What is there to learn from a closer look at our country’s early conflicts that might help us see our development as a nation among the nations more clearly?

What was the relationship between the populist / socialist movements in Europe in the mid-18th century and the developments here during that time?

How did FDR “save” the US economy, and social structure, by increasing taxes (decreasing the money supply) and spending the money of throwaway projects which forced men to leave their wives and children for extended periods, producing a fatherless generation?

How is it that what we call Patriotism we learned in a school system developed by self-proclaimed Socialists?

Is there a link between public-school “socialisation” and Socialism?

Could any of this be a factor in the so-called “Change” we are now witnessing?

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 4 July, 2009 at 12:03

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The Economics of Murder

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deaths_headA murder in Kansas  has the attention of all the news media today. However many innocents have died in Sudan or Congo, how many Christians have been imprisoned, tortured, murdered in countries throughout the world, none of that is newsworthy. Neither, apparently, is the growing toll of abortions in this country. One man, one of a handful who openly aborted even babies at the point of birth, and who used the bloody gains of his butchery to bankroll his own filthy agenda in the halls of Government, has himself been killed. Do two wrongs make a right? Or could there have been a better solution? Doubtless this fellow Tiller (Was he yet a doctor, or was his license to practice as an MD actually pulled as I vaguely recall?) At any rate, the “abortion provider” awaits his Judgment while Public Opinion suffers a new wave of opinion engineering as the Media trade on the the shock value of his death to create a martyr.

What will come of this? Will his death reduce the number of abortions, or are there too many more dogs in smock coats ready to lap the filth he left behind? Will it cut off the funding to his favorite Governor, or with her new appointment would he have actually have been more of a liability than an asset? Interestingly, the police seem intent on finding ties to pro-life groups instead of simply looking for what ties there may be.

For you and me- Will we content ourselves cluck our tongues over the terrible situation (pick one!) as we go about our daily business of generating tax dollars, or do we bother ourselves to pray, fast, and examine our own hearts & lives that the Lord will still have mercy on this country, that we as a country may turn from our corporate individualism, petty selfishness, and our growing thirst for the perverse, and commit to the right thinking, right loving, and right living that He wants to restore in our lives?

A wise priest said recently that if a politician has no respect for the life of the most innocent and helpless among us, why should we expect them to protect the rest of us? And “it’s the economy, stupid?” Righteousness establishes a nation, but sin will only, always, destroy it. No politician, but only God can do anything to save us.

Written by Robert Easter

Monday, 1 June, 2009 at 16:09

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The End of America?

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Wiley+Miller+Judgment+DayOkay, so you’re a Christian. Odds are if you’re reading this you’re an American, where 85% claim to be “saved.” There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of agreement on what we’re supposed to be saved from, or saved for, how we came to be saved, or why. But we’re saved. You can bet on it.

So a Christian society endorses pornography, abortion, drunkenness, adultery, divorce-for-convenience, euthanasia, and all kinds of sexual immorality in degrees unparalleled since the fall of Rome, and brags about its “liberty.” It even sits idly by as its leaders enact a new law giving pedophiles protected status that in the same stroke they denied their returning war veterans. Yet we indignantly wonder that other countries, despite lavish “foreign aid,” don’t love us unquestioningly. Do we even imagine that the fragrance of our religion doesn’t utterly gag the Almighty? Yet we’re so sure we’re all destined for eternal glory. We’re Christians, after all! Well, let’s not bet the farm on it. Or our old bug collection for that matter.

God had His witness in Sodom. “Righteous Lot” lived among the people as God’s representative, but his desire to do business compromised his life, and he nearly died in their judgment. His wife did not even survive. Nineveh was, if anything, worse even than Sodom, but one unwilling prophet appeared on the scene to proclaim, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed!” Nineveh turned to God, and He held off His judgment.

Is there hope for this country? Will the US survive? Every lesson from history seems to scream to the negative. America has in the past been a savior to the other nations, pouring military and humanitarian aid into many nations to defeat dictators, to fight hunger, to help in education. Lately this is being more and more off set by our role as the UN’s pet bulldog in areas like the Balkans and the Mid-East. The humanitarian aid often “misses” areas that are in the worst need, and the education is more about self-worship and greed than anything useful or even honest. We think of Sodom as being some city-wide, full-time, romp, but the descriptions we see in the Bible could as well be about any city in this country. Where are the prophets? For over sixty years our recognised “prophets” have been clucking their tongues like an indulgent grandmother about, “not having God’s best” when the Spirit would have them issue a call to repent from the sins that are destroying this nation, and each life in it, from the inside out.

These “prophets” tell us that a revival will come when God “sovereignly” decides to send one, so we sit calmly in our sinking boats, refusing to either bail or row, and assure ourselves that we are in God’s will. God’s will is not for the churches in America to founder and sink. He has given us everything we need to not only stay afloat but to rescue those drowning all around us, but we adjust our deck chairs and religiously mutter, “But that is God’s job!” The Church is not preaching repentance, is not preaching righteousness, but is telling those drowning all around them that such things are only invisible legal fictions in the courts of Heaven. Can this nation survive if no preachers are even calling it to receive the life God has been trying to offer it? Can this nation turn to God if it truly believes that such a turn is only a matter of putting the right face on things? Nineveh heard their prophet, turned, and lived. Sodom compromised their prophet, and corrupted his message. Is there hope for America, or is this encroaching “secularisation” merely the darkness approaching as God withdraws His light?

The answer is up to us. “Ask, and you will receive, seek, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened.” By His grace we are able. Let us not let it slip!

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 24 May, 2009 at 9:24

So What About Liturgy?

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FractionLarge parts of the Church today are effected by the anti-liturgical movement which seems to date back about five hundred years ago. The main fruit of that vine seems to have been that more and more parts of the Christian Faith have been labeled as “extraneous” or “non-essential,” often with the cynical eye of a 1930’s SS officer looking for “useless eaters.” As the author of this movement1 left behind a wide path of bloodshed and upheaval, and apparently no testimony of ever having surrendered to the Prince of Peace, we do have a fair reason to re-examine his legacy.
Liturgy, of course, merely means “work of the people,” and is no more from the start but a way to involve the congregation in worship. But, first, it is said that Liturgy is “of man,” or even “Catholic” in origin, and so not to be tolerated. Leaving the latter charge for later, we must ask how repeated prayers and creeds are more peculiarly “human” than unplanned prayers, or sermons, hymns, or church architecture. For that matter, what makes humanity or a human response to God bad, when it was to redeem humanity that Christ died? Second, We hear that Liturgy is “peripheral:” that preaching of the Word is what counts. Yes, the proclamation of the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ, is the key focus. For just that reason we have a liturgy which continues that proclamation from the early days of the Church. When we lose the Liturgy or, even worse, re-write it to suit modern agendas, the Church loses her memory of her own past and becomes a prisoner of the immediate present, much like an amnesiac or an Azheimer’s victim. Such a picture put far too great a strain on the pastors to not only guide the Church into the future but to continually remind her that she does, in fact, exist in the present, having at least some sense of having been around earlier than last week.
Speaking, now, of catholicity: It is only by regaining her past, her memory, that the Church can come to realise that if she is Christian, then she is Christian together with all others who honestly love her Lord. Political movements within her history, the growth and concomitant corruption of Roman influence in the West, the various Reformation and counter-revival movements, are features in the landscape, but the road through it all is God’s unfailing love for His saints. This is the message that defines the Church as one body, that makes and keeps her truly catholic.

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 9 May, 2009 at 14:32

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Recipe for Revival: Living the Life

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these-rocks-rockAn anonymous visitor reminds me that it’s one thing to talk about why we need to go on to know the Lord, and not merely presume our eternal future on a past moment.  Where it gets really sticky is when we ask what we should, or can, do with that information.  The whole Bible covers a time frame, not including predictions, of at least 4,000 years, up until about 1900+ years ago.  Daily life has stayed about the same all through the Biblical stretch, and really until the past hundred fifty years, when the Rugged Individual became the model for our society.  What’s all this about?  The Old Testament is written for a people who lived together, sharing the same covenant, as a nation, with God.  God’s flock.  The New Testament was written for a people who gathered together, sharing the same covenant, as a Body, with God. Again, God’s flock.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.”   The Church today is a scattered flock with a lot more in common with rock goats than sheep of His pasture, showing up maybe once a week for a twenty-minute “feeding,” and then off we go to our own favorite rocks.

How do we grow?  How do we live a Christian life like we read about in Scripture? What means has God given us so we can?  Let’s look back to the New Testament, to the second chapter of Acts, verse 40 & following.

And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”   So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

The first key here is simply that the people who were joined to the Church saw that there was something very wrong with the world they had been part of, and they didn’t want to share its fate.  This was about like a fish in the lake realising it is wet.  The Holy Spirit was involved in this!

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  And awe came upon every soul,

As a result of continually learning about Jesus, getting to know each other and seeing God’s work in each other’s lives, and in communing together with the Lord in the Holy Communion and in prayer, their lives were marked with the awe of God’s presence,

and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.   And all who believed were together and had all things in common.   And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Miracles became commonplace, and the most notable miracle was that the Believers loved each other “as more worthy than themselves” so that they could not bear to see a brother or a sister suffer need.  Investments were sold off to make sure the poor were cared for.  Christ’s Body was of more value to them than their own possessions!

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,  praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Worship became a way of life.  God’s joy so filled them that people were glad to see them coming, and the Church was growing, not just by a dozen or so on Membership Sunday, but continually, day by day.

The First Church had a number of things going for it that we need to take hold of.

1.They saw that “going with the flow” of the world around them was not a healthy choice.
2.They identified with the people of God.
3.They allowed the Holy Spirit to implant His Truth in their hearts through Gospel teaching.
4.They allowed the Holy Spirit to join their hearts to others whom He had placed alongside them.
5.They allowed the Holy Spirit to renew their souls with the sacraments.
6.They allowed the Holy Spirit to live through their spirits in prayer.
7.They allowed the Holy Spirit to have His way in every aspect of their lives, not “just the church stuff.”

We notice also that a major part of the picture was that they continued on in the worship at the Temple, so breaking off from our current churches to “start a new work” is not necessarily a good idea.  But what can we do to make the change from being a gaggle of stray goats who show up on the odd Sunday, provided the “feeding” is short, sweet, and convenient, to a flock- no, a Body- who knows God’s love, and lives it, with each other, as a daily way of life?  If the Jerusalem Church allowed Jesus so be their joy, and they enjoyed the new life He gave them to the point that thousands were being saved and added to their number, and we are clinging to our comforts and conveniences and seeing our own children leaving the Faith at a rate of over 80% with virtually nobody being “added to the Church,” just what price are we paying for those “conveniences?”

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 28 March, 2009 at 18:27

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