Is Kevin Swanson going to maintain that nothing questionable would slip out of his mouth while battling a genocidal Artificial Intelligence on the cusp of perpetrating an extinction level disaster?
The radical homeschooler’s critique of the film went beyond questionable dialog selections on the part of the screenwriters.
Tony Stark in particular was condemned as an individualist and not being much of a team player.
But isn’t that the characteristic of Robert Downey’s interpretation that has made his performance endearing over the course of the interlocking Marvel films and one with which sarcastic loners with a tendency to dance to the beat of their own drum have been able to identify?
As the review progressed, Swanson finally revealed the nature of his ultimate disapproval with the film.
For you see, with the exception of the archer Hawkeye, the protagonists are to be condemned because the are SINGLE (as in unmarried) for a variety of reasons.
For the most part, shouldn’t these characters be applauded for that decision because of the particular vocations in which they find themselves?
Captain America was in suspended animation for over 70 years while the woman he loved, Agent Peggy Carer, aged at a normal rate and if developments in her own TV miniseries are any indication, eventually moved on to marry somebody else as she didn’t even know those many decades that he was even still alive.
So in the eyes of the radical homeschoolers, is Steve Rogers not supposed to work through that profound emotional trauma before wedding someone else that he might not really love?
As to the Incredible Hulk, despite the slight sparks there with Black Widow, perhaps Bruce Banner has character enough to realize that he is better off without a relationship in which the normal stresses of which could set off his condition to the point where he wouldn’t simply snap at his wife in a less than courteous tone but instead level his entire neighborhood.
Though it was amusing to discover that Hawkeye had a secret family that he had concealed from his colleagues in the espionage and costumed adventurer communities and that served as a reminder of what these heroes are fighting for, these are action adventure films (not chick flicks).
While passing romance and flirtations add flavor to the narrative, the primary purpose for these films is to see robots and aliens blown up.
I don’t really care to see Superman flying Lois Lane from store to store looking for new drapes for the Fortress of Solitude.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing said by Swanson in his analysis was that we must be careful not to limit the designation of witchcraft to those claiming to be witches.
Instead, anyone whose power comes from a source other than God is guilty of this grievous offense.
An argument can be made as to the technical accuracy of that claim.
However, it must be remembered that Swanson advocates a political philosophy known as theonomy or Christian Reconstructionism that calls for the implementation of Biblical law as the nation’s comprehensive social policy and statutory code.
Since that is the case, how ought and to whom should the Biblical injunction of “Suffer not a witch to live” be applied?
For if definable limits are not placed upon such a principle, it could certainly be manipulated as a clever way to justify executing your political and philosophical opponents.
Vigilance is required whether one is dealing with a maniacal artificial intelligence or a podcasting minister that hasn’t fully considered the implications of his theological pronouncements.
By Frederick Meekins
If Independent Baptists insist that their practices are derived from sola scriptura, where is the precedent for the described classroom procedure described in the pages of Holy Writ?
If a church requires such rigmarole, doesn't the church run the risk of alienating those with social anxiety?
For I know I'd go running out of there at the end of the class like Chiroptera fleeing Ghenna.
Some churches require potential members to endure lengthy interrogations and questionnaires that go beyond determining whether or not the catechumen ascents to the basics of the Apostles or Nicene Creeds before being granted that particular status.
If failure to answer in the preapproved manner will result in a denial of membership, what is to prevent the applicant from simply answering in the manner that the leadership expects to hear?
For example, is it really the business of a Christian school administrator whether or not your child has a TV in their room in the privacy of your own home.
Furthermore, who can blame these applicants for fudging their answers when across Christendom the believer is berated and beaten over the head homiletically on a regular basis if one is just an attender and not necessarily a formalized member?
By Frederick Meekins
Fundamental to the creed of the contemporary skeptic is the notion that everything is relative and that there are no absolutes. However, that is itself an absolute. And no matter how cool it is to feign the attitude that one exists beyond right and wrong, no one wants to be treated as if right and wrong did not exist.
Of this universal truth, Lewis observes, “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right or Wrong, you will find the man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining 'It's not fair' before you can say 'Jack Robinson' (15).”
Since law exists whether we like it or not, it must have a source beyond us in order to be binding upon us and to avoid degenerating into a matter of mere preference or opinion. Since this universal law represents the codification of a set of principles, it could not have come about as a result of random choice, but rather through some kind of purposeful intelligence. Thus, a second issue confronting the skeptic in “Mere Christianity” is whether the source of this law is personal or impersonal.
The views regarding God can be divided into two basic viewpoints. On the one hand, pantheism believes, in the words of Lewis, that “God animates the universe as you animate your body: that the universe is almost God (30).” Traditional monotheists, on the other hand, believe that God is distinct from creation in a manner similar to “...a man making a picture or composing a tune...A painter is not a picture (30).”
From our understanding of law as a set of principles established for determining right and wrong, the monotheistic conception would be the one most in keeping with the evidence. For if God and the universe were co-terminus as postulated by the pantheists, by definition whatever is, is ought. Only by being distinct from what He has made is God justified in pronouncing judgment upon it.
Since God is the source of perfection and man so marked by imperfection, there must be some way for these seemingly irreconcilable twains to meet. Since man is imperfect, there is nothing he can do of his own merit to bring himself to God's level. Rather, the imperfect can only be made whole and elevated to a higher status on the terms of the perfect.
Since God is the ultimate authority and source of power, it is up to Him to determine the method through which man can be reconciled to God. Of all of the religions of the world, orthodox Biblical Christianity is the only one where that particular belief's conception of salvation is not granted on the basis of the adherent's own merit or accomplishment but rather as a result through the realization that one's own works are as filthy rags and by throwing oneself on the mercy of a loving God willing to extend forgiveness to those embracing what God has done for them rather than on what they have done for Him. In the Christian tradition, this eternal pardon is granted to those believing that Jesus as the only Son of God lived the perfect life that we could not, suffered and died upon the cross for the sins of the world, and rose in bodily form from the dead.
Thus, the most important issue the skeptic is forced to confront is exactly who do they think Jesus is. Impressed with the morals of Jesus but not wanting to admit that they themselves are sinners, most unbelievers think they are broadminded enough by giving Jesus an esteemed status as an ethical teacher from the past with no present claim on their lives.
However, as Lewis points out, a moral person would not say the things about himself that Jesus said about Himself. Lewis writes, “A man who...said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be a lunatic --- on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg --- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice (41).”
Much of the spiritual danger of the contemporary world lies in the numerous distractions available to those preferring to avoid those fundamental questions nagging at the human soul. C.S. Lewis, in “Mere Christianity”, forces the reader to confront these issues in an engaging and forthright manner.
By Frederick Meekins
Without a doubt, Bertrand Russell stands as one of the most formidable minds of the modern era. Through his efforts with Alfred North Whitehead in “Principia Mathematica”, Russell further elaborated the relationship between mathematics and deductive logic. Russell's endeavors, however, were not confined to complex philosophical treatises having little influence outside of academic circles. Russell's work spanned the intellectual spectrum, ranging from works on the history of philosophy to international relations and political theory. Russell even produced newspaper articles for mass consumption. But despite his prolific intellectual output, Russell did not apply his mathematician's logic and objectivity to much of his non-scientific thought, especially in the area of religion as embodied by his work “Why I Am Not A Christian”.
Instead of addressing a single topic throughout the entire work, “Why I Am Not A Christian” is a collection of articles and essays addressing Russell's position on religious matters in general and issues regarding Christianity in particular. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so he is.” Many times influential voices speaking in the opinion-molding institutions of academia and media contend that one's views on religion do not necessarily impact other areas of existence such as the political or the sociological. Scripture teaches that this popular opinion is incorrect. However, the Bible is not readily accepted by those arguing for the mentioned opinion. Even though the work argues against the traditional positions of Christianity, the power of “Why I Am Not A Christian” resides in how it links one's views regarding religion with one's beliefs about society and the world despite the author's attempt to argue otherwise.
Russell's religious beliefs (or lack thereof) found their basis in his position that the theistic proofs are not as conclusive as believers make them out to be. When asked what he would say if confronted by the Creator at his death, Russell said he would respond by saying, “God! Why did you make evidence of your existence so insufficient?”
In “Why I Am Not A Christian”, Russell proceeds to critique each of these arguments. None of them escape his scathing scrutiny. Of the argument from the First Cause, Russell remarks that, if everything must have a cause, then God cannot be the uncaused cause by those following in the intellectual lineage of Aquinas. Russell claims that this argument actually results in an endless digression of creators begetting creators much like those mythological cosmologies where the Earth rests atop an elephant resting atop a tortoise etc. etc (7).
From the outset, Russell argues from faulty notions. According to Norman Geisler in “Introduction To Philosophy: A Christian Perspective”, in a thoroughly naturalistic context something cannot come from nothing. But by its definition, a noncontingent being does not require a cause since its existence is complete in itself (289). Only finite contingent beings require a cause.
The next proofs tackled by Russell are the arguments for the existence of God from the evidence of creation. Russell argues that, in the light of Einsteinian relativity, the Newtonian system of natural law is not as binding upon the universe as originally thought. Therefore, these scientific principles cannot be used to argue for the existence of a rational creator. However, one could turn the tables on Russell and point out that the revelations of Einsteinian physics actually provide a better testimony to the existence of God than even the previous Newtonian model.
According to Russell, natural law is nothing more than statistical averages resulting from the laws of chance (Russell, 8). John Warwick Montgomery in “Faith Founded On Fact” rebuts Russell's position by pointing out that the Einsteinian and quantum paradigms actually allow for miracles while maintaining that an ordered universe exists. In those systems attempting to account for the totality of the physical universe, it is God who keeps the universe from instantaneously dissolving into the chaos of individual atoms flying off into their own paths and who can rearrange the normal operations of reality when doing so suits His greater glory such as turning water into wine and resurrecting the dead (Montgomery, 43).
Besides drawing faulty conclusions regarding the validity of the theistic proofs, Russell errs as to their purpose as well. Russell is correct in pointing out that these arguments do leave room for some doubt. Yet this can be said about any other linguistically synthetic proposition about the world as well.
If one wants to get really nit-picky about the matter, one could doubt whether Bertrand Russell himself even existed since the Analysts were not above doubting the veracity of historical knowledge. As much as it might irritate the so-called “scientific mind”, one cannot exist without exercising some degree and kind of faith.
The theistic proofs can serve as a guide pointing towards faith or as a mechanism to help rationally clarify it. They do not properly serve as a replacement for it. Norman Geisler points out that one ought not to believe in God because of the theistic proofs. Rather, the theistic proofs provide one with a basis to reasonably assert that God exists (Geisler, 269).
Having taken on the first person of the triune Godhead, Russell turns his sites onto the second, the Lord Jesus Christ. To his perverse credit in a perverse sort way, Russell does not hind behind the phony religiosity of the liberal and the modernist which states, “Jesus was a good teacher, but...”
Russell openly wonders whether or not Christ even existed. And even if He did, Russell asserts, Jesus is far from being the greatest among human teachers as asserted by the likes of the Unitarians and the New Age movement. At best, according to Russell's scorecard, Jesus comes in at a distant third behind Socrates and Buddha (16). According to Russell, Christ's greatest flaw was His belief in the reality of Hell and His condemnation of those who would not heed the Messiah's call. Socrates provides a superior moral example since Socrates did not verbally castigate his detractors (Russell, 17).
Russell's disdain for those believing in the reality of Hell exposes his own bias rather than prove his dedication to the ideas of truth that he invokes elsewhere to undermine the claims of religious faith. In appraising the idea of Hell, Russell does not give much consideration to the realm of eternal damnation, instead dismissing the concept as a cruel idea (18). But if Hell is real, is not Christ doing the proper thing in warning how such a terrible fate might be avoided? Employing Russell's line of reasoning, it becomes cruel to chastise someone standing under a tall tree with a piece of sheet metal during a thunderstorm since such an exhortation also warns of the dire consequences likely to result from such foolish behavior.
But while Russell questions the historicity of Jesus Christ, he readily accepts that of Buddha even though Christ is perhaps the best documented figure of ancient history. The first accounts of Buddha appear nearly 500 years after the death of that particular religious figure. Those regarding Jesus appear within the first several decades following the Crucifixion.
Allegedly having removed God from His thrown as sovereign of the universe, Russell proceeds to lay out what he does believe primarily in the chapter titled “What I Believe”. Replacing religion as the tool by which man approaches the world, Russell would have man utilize science to determine meaning, reducing the totality of reality to that of mere physics (50). To Russell, even thought is nothing more than the chemical components and electrical impulses arising from the brain's physical composition.
Yet despite believing the material world to be ultimate, Russell saw no problem with making pronouncements regarding the areas of life transcending the material base such as ethics and social organization. Russell boldly states in italicized print for all to read, “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge (56).” However, elsewhere in the very same chapter, Russell says, “...nature in itself is neutral, neither good nor bad (55).”
If humanity is nothing more than the sum of the physical composition of the species, it is then inappropriate to elaborate a theory of morality. Morality poured into such a naturalistic crucible becomes nothing more than individual personal preferences, which do seem to serve as Russell's source of moral reasoning. According to Russell, traditional morality is based upon cruelty and ignorance. However, according to John Frame in “Apologetics To The Glory Of God”, to invoke the values of love and knowledge (even when done so to undermine traditional conceptions of virtue) is to inadvertently defend the divinely established order of creation traditional moral values rests upon in the first place since such values are only desirable if a divinely created hierarchy exists (93-102).
Ultimately, one cannot craft a system of ethics solely based on science legitimately defined as science. At best, science can only assess and clarify the situations to which moral principles must be applied. To say that science is the source of moral values is to argue for a scientism or a naturalism as loaded with as many conceptual presuppositions as any theistic creed.
One can base one's ethical beliefs on the record of Scripture, which II Timothy 3:16 says is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for corrections, and for instruction in righteousness. Or, one can operate under man's own unaided reason, which is finite, corruptible, and known to change every five to ten years subject to FDA approval. History reveals which has the far better track record.
Unlike many Christians who do not take their worldview outside the church sanctuary or seminary classroom, Bertrand Russell was not one content to keep his philosophy and ideology confined to the level of an academic exercise. In terms of political activism, this was manifested by his vocal opposition to the nuclear diplomacy engaged in by both the United States and the Soviet Union during the tensest days of the Cold War.
However, the application of Russell's worldview did not always lead him to pursue admirable yet perhaps naive goals such as world peace. In fact, Presbyterian minister D.James Kennedy suggests in “Character & Destiny: A Nation In Search Of Its Soul” that Russell may have formulated his philosophical position regarding religious matters as a justification for his erotic proclivities, the lanky intellectual having actually had numerous adulterous relationships including philanderous escapades with the daughters of friends and colleagues (173). In fact, Russell social views derived from his foundational assumptions sparked considerable controversy. After all, it was not his “Principia Mathematica” that cost him a professorship at the City College of New York but rather his views regarding marriage and personal morality.
Seeing man soley as the product of natural processes and merely as a highly evolved animal, Russell's views regarding human intimacy and procreation reflect this sentiment. According to Russell, much of traditional morality --- especially that dealing with sexual ethics --- is based upon superstition. In fact, Russell believes that it would be beneficial for society and family life if the traditional understanding of monogamous, life-long, God-ordained marriage was openly violated. In these matters, Russell sounds much like a contemporary Planned Parenthood operative or public school sex educator. For example, Russell argues for no-fault divorce, unhampered sexual promiscuity provided children do not result from such illicit unions, and for temporary trial marriages not unlike the phenomena of cohabitation (Russell, 168-178).
Despite his attempts to expand human freedom and happiness in regards to these matters, Russell's proposals are in reality prescriptions for heartache and disaster. The segment of society sustaining the highest number of casualties in the sexual revolution are the young that Russell had hoped to liberate. According to syndicated columnist Cal Thomas in “The Death Of Ethics In America”, by the age of twenty-one 81% of unmarried males and 60% of unmarried females have had sexual intercourse. However, such carnal stimulation is not necessarily the fulfilling personal growth opportunity Russell claimed it would be.
Venereal diseases rank as the number one form of communicable illness in the United States. And the varieties of this pestilence prevalent today do not always react as well to penicillin as those ravaging the morally deviant of Professor Russell's day (Thomas, 92). Those engaging in Dr. Russell's trial marriages --- what use to be referred to as living in sin --- fare little better. Those participating in such arrangements on average go on to experience higher levels of marital discord and incidents of divorce.
God did not establish the regulations regarding human intimacy in order to rain on everybody's parade. These rules were promulgated in order to bring about the maximum degree of individual well-being and personal happiness. Matthew 19:5 says, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. Hebrews 13:4 adds, “Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
To his credit and the shame of the church, Russell does note how women have over the course of history often endured oppressive marriages many times under the sanction and justification of misunderstood interpretations regarding marital submission. However, any cruelty justified under this command is a misinterpretation of the passage's true intent. In Ephesians 5:25, just two verses away from the famous Scripture misused as an excuse for all manner of masculine cruelty, the Bible clearly reads, “Husbands, love your wives even as Christ loved the church.” This love is to be a sacrificial and gentle love; not the decree of a tyrant even though the husband is the king of the house. Studies indicate that, in reality, marriage is far safer for women than the live-in arrangements advocated by Russell under the euphemism of temporary marriage.
Having dismissed the traditional family and religion (both organized and otherwise) as impediments to humanity's progress, Russell puts his hope for the betterment of mankind in the state. Rather than punish individuals committing sins so heinous that they infringe upon the well-being of society, the state is to manipulate human behavior in order to bring about desired outcomes beneficial to the greater community. In fact, according to Russell, sin defined as an action committed by an individual in defiance of the universal moral order as established by an omnipotent creator does not exist. Sin is merely that which is disliked by those controlling education (159).
Even those committing the most heinous deeds are not beyond the pale of psychological reprogramming or pity much like that lavished upon a wayward dog that cannot help scratching up the furniture. To bring about his scientific utopia, the state would be granted expansive powers in even those most private aspects of existence. For example, Russell's state would go so far as to decree that children must be confiscated from their parents and raised by trained statist experts (Russell, 163).
Russell also suffers from the same paradox afflicting Marx and other socialists in that Russell desires to shrink the power of the state while at the same time dramatically increasing it. While wanting to put economic power into the hands of workers through a system of guilds and syndicates, Russell also sought to establish a world state having a monopoly on the use of force as well as establish guaranteed incomes and the human breeding restrictions mentioned earlier.
The issues raised by Russell's political opinions still possess relevance today with much of contemporary civic discourse an ongoing debate regarding the very kinds of policies advocated by Russell and his leftwing associates. F.A. Hayek noted in “The Road To Serfdom” that, while liberals might have naive but benevolent intentions behind their social engineering proposals, these ultimately require more bloodthirsty totalitarians or others of a similar vain lacking concern for innate human freedoms and constitutional liberties. Even Russell admits that much of human liberty is the result of the interplay between church and state (185). What then would result should the influence be nullified as Russell proposes?
Reflecting upon Russell's proposal of state-run childcare, it is highly doubtful whether or not such a program could be implemented without a great deal of bloodshed or a massive multi-generational conspiracy such as Hillary Clinton's it takes a village mentality and the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of The Child. Programs and policy outlooks such as these seek to alter the fundamental nature of the family primarily through bureaucratic stealth and covert legislative manipulation. Realizing that the proclivities towards marriage and family ran so deeply in the human psyche, even the Soviets had to back off their plank to so openly undermine the oldest of human institutions as part of their diabolical agenda.
And while the wars plaguing mankind are deplorable, the geopolitical landscape allowing them to arise is still preferable to the global tyranny and persecution that would result from a planetary regime that would impose its iron will on any portion of the world refusing to heed its edicts and decrees. At least under the current world order, a small percentage of humanity is able to enjoy some measure of freedom until the Lord's Second Coming.
Contrary to what even the National Rifle Association claims, America's Founding Fathers did not draft the Second Amendment to protect skeet shooting and squirrel hunting. Instead, this constitutional provision established a sense of liberty by creating tension between freemen and the operatives of the state by implying violence could result should government authorities over step the confines of their legitimate powers. Something similar is true with a system of nation-states competing with one another, none of which can tyrannize all of mankind at one time.
By reading “Why I Am Not A Christian”, one is reminded that the current culture war besieging America did not begin with either the inaugurations of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. It is in fact decades and even centuries old. While setting out an agenda and its ideological justification, Russell's “Why I Am Not A Christian” also provides a glimpse into the cultural disputes of another era.
The final chapter of the book consists of an appendix detailing the court case that ultimately prevented Russell from obtaining a professorship of mathematical and scientific philosophy. Whether or not Russell's critics should have acted so vehemently is open to debate as (to utilize a phrase just employed) there is some virtue to settling things through “open debate” with each side detailing their merits and revealing the weaknesses in the arguments of their opponents. However, history has shown that the concerns raised by those opposed to Russell's appointment were based in legitimate fears.
Though Russell cannot bear sole guilt as much of that must also go to his colleagues sharing in his worldview of loose sex and paternalistic government, this philosophy has gained such prominence in social institutions such as education, entertainment, and even religion. Regard for the family and human life has deteriorated to such a degree that is has become regular to hear in news reports of former mailmen mowing down with machine guns their fellow employees (the act itself now referred to as “going postal”) or of prom queens killing their newborns between dances. The world has never been perfect since the expulsion from Eden, but seldom in history has there been times where such outright evil is openly justified by those in authority such as certain psychologists, elected officials, and media personalities.
Bertrand Russell's “Why I Am Not A Christian” will not stand as a classic regarding what is explicitly written upon the pages. For the highest rational principle appealed to is that the world should enshrine the thoughts and preferences of Bertrand Russell simply because they are the thoughts and utterances of Bertrand Russell. However, the message it propounds between the lines of each man serving as his own god ranks among the central apologetic challenges of this or any other era. The clear style and detectable fallacies found within the pages of Russell's “Why I Am Not A Christian” will prepare Christians to take on more sophisticated versions of these arguments wherever they might appear.
By Frederick Meekins
The minister insisted that it is not possible for someone to depart this world before one has completed one's work for God.
Therefore, there really isn't any reason to be concerned about how one will die.
Perhaps the pastor is correct.
You won't depart this world before you are supposed to.
However, it does not follow that the reason you are scheduled for an early departure is not the result of your own stupidity or actions.
When the pastor left church, did he look both ways before turning into traffic?
To employ the kind of logic applied in the homily, wouldn't such a vehicular procedure denote a lack of faith?
If we weren't meant to give much consideration as to the ways in which we leave this world, perhaps God should not have allowed most of them to be so painful.
A pastor confessed to the congregation that he is going to donate his body to science after he dies.
Is the point to see at the Resurrection or the Rapture if any donated organs come flying out of any reprobates that they might have been reassigned to as they are remanded during the process of sanctified glorification to the individual originally holding title?
Furthermore, doesn't this pulpit revelation negate any potential criticisms of cremation this particular Biblical expositor might enunciate in the future?
One can't really berate a congregation or a perplexed individual making a sincere inquiry about how throughout Scriptural and Church History the precedent is for the believer to be buried when one does not intend to be buried oneself.
Throughout my own studies of Christianity, I do not recall any passages where it is detailed that the Apostles, Disciples, or foremost among the Saints willingly surrendered up their remains for the purposes of dissection or experimentation.
By Frederick Meekins
At a prayer breakfast in Florida, the backwoodsman took direct aim at the ethical bankruptcy of moral relativism.
In the example, Robertson postulated an atheist family where not only are the daughters raped, the wife decapitated, and the father threatened with bodily mutilation but where the Nietzschean assailants revel philosophically in their debauchery in light of the possibility that there is no transcendent standard by which these actions could be categorized as wrong.
Media elites such as those at the Huffington Post are insisting that Robertson's remarks are part of a bizarre and disturbing fantasy.
However, the elaborated scenario is not that markedly different than what is taking place across vast swathes of Islamist controlled territory.
And if all there is is what transpires in the realm of physical matter, on what grounds does civilization stand against these kinds of atrocities?
By the moral vision and worldview of ISIS, it is perfectly acceptable to not only brutally eliminate the infidel but to enjoy carnally defiling the women of the targeted population while engaged in such genocide.
The atheist views human kind as little more than an animal.
In nature, all that matters is continued survival, the propagation of your particular genetic line, and your own pleasure.
It is not unheard of for members of a particular species to inflict all manner of what would be categorized as violence by polite society upon their own kind in pursuit of these particular goals.
Others will insist that, even if Phil Robertson is correct in his observations, he needs to be sensitive that his verbal formulations might unsettle a number of those in the listening or viewing audience, particularly liberal females.
Interesting how these very same marms that don't want Phil Robertson heinously describing heinous acts certainly didn't mind plopping down their money at the bookstore or cinema for “Fifty Shades Of Grey”.
Others certainly don't mind overlooking the violence utilized as a literary device by Stephen King, especially if as part of a narrative for the purposes of making traditional religion look bad.
The cultural and moral relativism the Duck Commander warned about in his prayer breakfast homily is a nefarious and manipulative thing.
Under it's rubric, we are obligated to not only refrain from criticizing but must also enthusiastically applaud balladeers from the ghetto celebrating all manner of crime and debauchery.
Educated effetes in metropolises such as New York and Los Angeles might not be accustomed to the plainspokeness of rural elocutes.
However, by the same standard such elites impose under threat of ruination for those failing to abide by it, if they are not members of Phil Robertson's culture and demographic, who are they to impose their values upon despised White Christian Southerners?
By Frederick Meekins
This is because of an engine failure that nearly resulted in tragedy but which was averted through the skill of an experienced pilot.
With a new aircraft, the ministry assures that Dollar will be able to continue the mission of spreading the Gospel around the world.
In an age of instantaneous global communications thanks to high speed Internet, why is this even necessary?
Savages in Third World sewer pipes have certainly mastered social media technologies such as Twitter and Youtube in uploading their own propaganda.
Are we to assume that these are too complex for the likes of Creflo Dollar?
Is Dollar that conceited and full of himself that he believes that the Great Commission cannot be fulfilled without him?
Is he so far about the remaining dregs of humanity that he can't fly Southwest Airlines or Jet Blue like everybody else?
By Frederick Meekins
But in the analysis of this policy under consideration, Bill O'Reilly instead decided to spoof and lampoon the President's most profound reason for making this suggestion.
“Transformative” is a euphemism invoked in support of mob rule and the socialistic redistribution of resources and property.
Instead of warning the American people as to this danger, O'Reilly wasted valuable broadcast time feigning ignorance by inquiring if “transformative” referred to some kind of “robot thing”.
O'Reilly knows full well that the “robot thing” is a Transformer.
The correspondent did, after all, make a cameo playing himself in one of those films.
This verbal obfuscation means that O'Reilly is deliberately deceptive or more profoundly dimwitted than expected.
And regarding which, to borrow a slogan from his own network, we report you decide.
By Frederick Meekins
In one of the the remarks, he observed that one hand must be on the wheel.
He expanded on that declaration by saying, “At the church house, someone has to be in charge. A leader is a necessity. The pastor is the scripturally appointed, God-anointed person to be the leader.”
Smith further clarified, “Many of our churches are sitting idle and getting nowhere because just before they put the pastor in the driver's seat, they tied his hands behind his back...So let's get real! And let's be scriptural about it! Let's get a driver who knows how to handle the vehicle and let him drive it. Amen!”
Very well then.
Let us be scriptural about the matter in compliance with Shelton Smith's admonition.
Where in the corpus of divine revelation is blind obedience to the pastor commanded?
If anything, it seems that quite the opposite might be called for.
Acts 17:11 reads, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scripture every day to see if what Paul said was true (NIV).”
Let's continue a bit with the driving analogies.
Despite dealing with her own doctrinal challenges as she navigates reconciling the demands of celebrity and the Christian faith, Carrey Underwood exclaimed “Jesus, take the wheel.”
How is what Shelton Smith is arguing for that much different in kind than the papal infallibility and the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church where those in the pews are expected to keep their mouths shut if they want to be considered acceptable members?
If anything, isn't the pastor more of a tour guide than a driver that is not to be questioned or challenged?
For is not Christ or the revealed Word of God in Scripture the one theoretically driving this bus?
In the age of the child predator, the fit parent reinforces in the mind of their offspring not to get into a vehicle with someone they don't know, don't trust, or have a suspicious feeling about.
In this day where all kinds of abuse (both spiritual and physical) is taking place in a variety of churches across Christianity's vast theological spectrum, contrary to the impression given by the likes of Josh Harris in his book “Stop Dating The Church”, you as an individual created in the image of God are free to get off the bus of a particular congregation any time you want.
A minister that insists upon broad pastoral powers without teaching that these are curtailed within explicitly delineated boundaries has neglected his responsibilities in a manner not that markedly different than an intoxicated motorist as he veers into lanes in which he ought not to travel.
By Frederick Meekins
From the clip highlighted as the sound bite of the week, one gets the impression that articulating a defense of the gunned down editorial office's freedom of expression isn't really all that much of a priority.
After all, the ultimate concern of the church is not so much with things such as innate or constitutional liberties but rather with the proclamation of the Gospel message.
That might be true in regards to those called to the ministry in the strictest sense of that narrow vocation.
However, not everyone within the church is required to emphasize the exact same aspect of the comprehensive Christian worldview.
Given that this program is Lutheran, one would think they might be quicker to remember the wisdom of Martin Niemoller who reflected how, because he remained silent as the acolytes of totalitarianism hauled off a variety of dissidents, that there was no one left to protect him when the Fascist hordes came to take him away.
Christians don't have to applaud religiously offensive artwork.
However, when bloodthirsty savages begin murdering those that they disagree with, the believer needs to realize that it won't be long until these demoniacs gun down worshipers for little more than singing doctrinally distinctive hymns or reciting the classic creeds.
By Frederick Meekins
Reworking his classic catchphrase, he declares, “THEY'RE GR-R-ROSS!”
Additional copy on the cover reads, “Carbs, sugar and stubbornness are killing Kellogg.”
How is this dietary staple any more disgusting than these so-called “health foods”?
“Organic” is simply a euphemism for having been grown in digestive excrement.
The same hipsters and neo-beatniks vowing never to feed these breakfast confections to their own spawn certainly had no problem pigging out on these foods in their own childhoods.
It has always been said sausage is a food that you do not want to see being made.
Apparently the same is true now in regards to breakfast cereal in a world where what constitutes nutrition is as much about embracing the proper politics as about keeping a body energized.
A government panel suggested that Americans cut back on the consumption of meat not so much as a way to prevent clogged arteries but rather to prevent global warming.
Interestingly enough, this proclamation was handed down amidst the coldest winter temperatures in years.
If Businessweek insists on being this blatantly honest regarding what we are eating for breakfast, do the editors intend to be as graphically startling as to what transpires in the average abortion clinic or during gay rights parades?
By Frederick Meekins
In the synopsis, he name drops that the upcoming film features Harry Anderson.
The cinematographer reminds that Anderson, before his descent into obscurity, starred as the judge on the sitcom “Night Court”.
So if the truly sanctified believer is to refrain from these kinds of wordly entertainments, how is anyone in the listening audience even supposed to know what “Night Court” is?
Admittedly, I saw a few episodes of Night Court in my youth.
From what I remember, the comedy was heavy on innuendo,
I will confess I enjoy doubled-meaninged word play a little too enthusiastically at times.
However, I don't host a podcast insinuating that your daughter is going to end up being a lesbian if she's too infatuated from a literary or dramatic standpoint with the world of “Little House On The Prairie” as Generations Radio suggested some years back.
Are we to take away that it is acceptable to watch “Night Court” but we need to repent if we find “Hunger Games” to be an intriguing dystopian projection of the world to come in a few decades?
For this very same director that bragged about casting a former celebrity from “Night Court” insisted that it is not enough for a movie to be family friendly, wholesome, or make valid moral observations.
Rather, to be acceptable, a movie must deliberately push Christianity onto the viewer.
Christiano went on to lament how Christians don't get excited over Christian movies.
Sorry, but I don't plop down $10 for any movie where the characters do little more than sit around crying about their everyday feelings and common disappointments.
To be theater worthy in my opinion, considerable spectacle is needed such as some kind of mass battle, talking animals, robots, superheroes, space aliens, clashing wizards or spies.
Christiano further observed that someone couldn't remember what their pastor preached about a month ago but could recall details about “The Wizard of Oz” despite having not seen it in years.
Before heaping hellfire and damnation upon those that might respond similarly, a number of things need to be taken into consideration.
Firstly, how old are they now compared to when they first saw “The Wizard of Oz”?
So isn't that more of God's responsibility for how He allows the brain to decay overtime where it is often easier to recall things that happened to minutest detail 30 or 40 years ago but you can't for the life of you remember what you had for dinner last night?
Secondly, perhaps the blame should be placed more upon the pastor for lack of showmanship and presentation rather than upon the average Christian for failing to retain the intricate details.
For I am sure the next time that there are flying monkeys and dancing midgets in church that you are going to remember it.
Which brings the discussion to another very important point.
One goes to the movies precisely to see an out of the ordinary spectacle.
That is not the the case necessarily in regards to a church worship service.
Upon further consideration, what is retained from a sermon might not be all that different from what is retained from a film.
For example, unless one sees especially at a young age a particular film over and over again, does anyone really retain much beyond a memory of the basic plot usually?
As I approach middle age, sometimes I find I can't recall what happened the previous week on some of the dramas that I follow quite closely.
Thus, instead of condemning a congregation or group of random Christians if they can't elaborate the specifics of a single sermon, shouldn't the professional clergy be more pleased and concerned that those under their care recall the main points of the comprehensive Christian saga rather than the obtuse actions of a single Old Testament character with a name that defies pronunciation?
Along the lines of this criticism about the moviegoer longing for innovation and spectacle, Christiano lamented how movies never satisfy and people always want to see the next big blockbuster.
Let's apply that presupposition to other aspects of life one would otherwise consider wholesome, admirable, and desirable.
For example, according to this logic, shouldn't it be enough to go to church once and never have to go again to quench one's spiritual thirst?
If one's marriage is truly based upon love and not upon the titillation of fleshly desires, by Christiano's thinking, would a couple need to enjoy carnal relations more than once throughout the course of their entire marital union?
Media spectacle will never replace sermonic exposition as the primary didactic methodology through which concise doctrinal content is transmitted to the believer.
However, it often seems that certain Evangelical factions aren't that interested in making much use of these supplementary media formats to augment the learning experience.
In regards to the upcoming “AD” miniseries, the hosts of one program after remarking just moments before about the tendency of a number of Christians to stay in their own bubble, didn't really give much of a reason to avoid the production other than that its producer Roma Downey is a Roman Catholic with mystical New Age tendencies.
Wouldn't it have been better to wait and see if there are any factual errors in Downey's narrative rather than condemn the production on the basis of whatever errant peculiarities she might gravitate towards in the personal aspects of her devotional life?
After all, most conservative Evangelicals allow the King James Bible to stand on its own merits without the homosexual and Romanist proclivities of the monarch for which this translation of divine revelation is named allowed to detract from its literary, historical, or theological merits.
Like it or not, believers find themselves in a culture surrounded by media.
It is therefore imperative not only to figure out how the media can be used to disseminate the Christian worldview but to also understand where the methodologies of entertainment and the church can diverge from one another without there having to be a spirit of hostility between the distinct purposes of each of these modes of communication.
By Frederick Meekins
A variety of assumptions worthy of additional comment were propagated for public dissemination through a number of Super Bowl commercials.
In one anti-bullying spot, a social engineer instructs the one to be mentally reconditioned to run or fight like a girl.
Upon compliance, the unenlightened male is subjected to Pavlovian denunciation (akin to what one would receive in a prisoner of war camp) over how he has insulted his sister.
Rather than an instructive analysis of preconceived notions, the lesson to be learned from the public service announcement is that, irrespective of whether you comply with or ignore orders issued by a women, you are going to be reamed a new one anyway.
For if the ambushed lad had not been told to run like a girl, he would have not likely perpetrated the offending action.
If producers of this broadcast spot are so outraged about thought crimes regarding gender, it would be interesting to hear their perspective regarding the commercial featuring perennial pottymouth Sarah Silverman.
In that one, she says after delivering a baby to the parents, “Sorry, it's a boy.”
Would such blatant denigration of the female gender be permitted in a similar commercial?
Lastly, what about the Scientology advertisement?
In 2011, Fox rejected a Super Bowl commercial that broadcast the message, “John 3:16, what's that mean?” on the grounds that the message contained too much religious doctrine.
Of course, that is unlike the moral-free content of the constant litany of erectile dysfunction commercials where the term “partner” but never “spouse” is constantly verbalized.
It is certainly instructive that programming executives at NBC had no problem, however, with a commercial for Scientology, which is a cult that believes that human beings are reincarnated space aliens and whose sexfiend founder tried to live aboard a cruise ship in order to elude capture for his assorted crimes.
It is easy to assume that the commercials are a momentary distraction allowing the viewer time for a quick trip to the bathroom or to grab another handful of chips.
However, in those brief 30 second spots, there is a contest underway for minds and at times even souls that is as pitched as any struggle on the gridiron
By Frederick Meekins
A Facebook theologian has commented in agreement with Christian broadcaster Chuck Swindoll that we should never pray for God to take a loved one home to eternity.
It is contended doing so can apparently derail His sovereignty.
Apparently, if we believe that He is sovereign, we should know that He is fully capable of taking us home when He believes that the time has approached.
Isn't that formulation itself an affront to God's sovereignty?
For if God is sovereign in an absolutist sense and the religious thinker not precise in their statements worthy of considerable condemnation as the ultra-Reformed insist, doesn't God KNOW rather than BELIEVE?
In such a theology as being advocated by this Facebook theologian, prayer is not about bringing our requests and concerns to God but rather about formulating statements that we think will make us appear exceedingly pious before certain audiences.
Just how far are we to take the presupposition embodied by this religious postulation under consideration?
If it is wrong to pray for God to mercifully end a life that is suffering, is it just as wrong to pray that God restore life and vitality to a life that He might prefer to draw to a conclusion in this world?
And given that this criticism was posted by someone that is quite vocal in expressing their support of a predestinarian understanding of soteriology so thoroughgoing as to deny any place for human choice and liberty, it must be asked is it a sin to pray for the salvation of a family member that God would rather see slip into Hellfire and damnation?
As justification for this position, the account of Elijah is referenced.
In I Kings 19, while on the run from Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah succumbs to a moment of despair where he declares to the Lord, in verse 4, “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors.”
From the Lord's response, apparently unlike Chuck Swindol, the Lord did not find what Elijah asked that much of an outrage.
Instead of chastising Elijah for his despondency, on two occasions the prophet was given a meal so that he might have strength for the journey that was ahead.
Thus, about the only conclusion that can be drawn from Elijah's lamentation that God end his life is that God does not always answer our prayers the way that we would like.
And if He does not, we might find Him lending us assistance in ways that we did not initially expect.
By Frederick Meekins
Furthermore, it is pointed out, if you retain traditional insurance, you are sending your money to a large corporation rather than assisting fellow believers.
So long as I get the services I contracted for in a satisfactory manner, what do I care if a corporation is large?
The broadcasters claimed that insurance allows for control over people's lives.
Instead, believers would be better off if oversight over medical affairs were transferred to the church.
But what is to prevent the church from exercising increased control over people's lives or from allocating access to healthcare in a preferential manner?
For example, would ecclesiastical medicine be dispersed to the truly ill or to the missionary couple with the saddest sob story with so many children that you can't help bring to mind the old nursery rhyme about the old woman that lived in the shoe?
During the 1990’s, Christian broadcasters would dedicate entire episodes of their programs shilling for a telecommunications provider with the angle that if you remained with these companies you where as complicit with these companies in the part they played in furthering the agendas of pornography and homosexuality.
Despite such grandiose moralizing, the thing was that this service was a pain in the backside to use when you needed it the most.
Do you really want the same thing to happen to you in terms of securing essential medical services?
by Frederick Meekins
The Lutheran seminarian insisted that this symbolically represented the precedence of the spirit over the human tendency to emphasize the body.
The expositor lamented that such a characteristic was the result of the sin nature.
But how is it our fault that the aspect of reality that is the fist to overwhelm our perception on an instinctive level is the physical?
We did not ask to exist as embodied intelligences.
That was part of our original design even in the sinless state.
Unless the demon was cast out first of the person whose body Christ healed and He then had them wait in contemplation for a time before He healed their biological infirmity, isn't this reading too much into the passage?
If one wants to be that attentive to the text, the first miracle in the chapter is actually the bodily healing on the Sabbath of the man with the withered hand.
And what about taking the Four Gospels as a comprehensive totality?
If so, isn't the turning of water into wine at the wedding feast actually thought to be Christ's first miracle?
So do we want to start reading meaning into these as well other than what we are told in the text?
The case could be made that, in terms of a miracle, turning water into wine would appeal more to man's extraneous physical desires than a desire to avoid overwhelming pain and disability.
You make a choice for wine; by design you feel a compulsion to seek the alleviation of pain.
Furthermore, are Lutherans really sure they want to open the door of reading profounder spiritual meaning into the miracles beyond the miracles themselves?
John 2:3 reads, “And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said unto him, They have no wine.”
Since Christ ultimately relented to her request, why shouldn't we build detailed Christological speculations like one particular denomination does about how Christ's decisions are especially swayed by her contemplative petitions if we are going to read profound truths into something as commonplace as the order in which Christ performed these miracles?
If the definition of God's omniscience is that the Deity knows everything, wouldn't that also include alternative temporal potentialities?
Therefore, isn't it just as valid to conclude that, if Jesus went first to heal Peter's mother-in-law, Christ night not have gotten around to this particular demoniac before this pitied soul's life ended in some convulsive spasm?
Among Bible scholars and theologians, the Gospel of Mark is noted as a summarative action oriented narrative.
Why would there need to be some esoteric reason as to the order in which the events described transpired other than that this was the order in which events “organically” unfolded around Jesus?
By Frederick Meekins
According to the synopsis, Edgar doesn't like company but notices he is followed by a worm. So he tries to get away from the invertebrate.
The summary reads, “Edgar asks for the other animals on the farm to help him, but eventually he realizes he might have been part of the problem all along.”
One cannot comment definitively without having read the story.
However, the question can be raised why does a children's book need to paint those that might prefer to be alone to as if they are defective or some kind of villain?
Will there be a sequel to the story teaching the worm about the impropriety of pushing his affections upon those that don't want them?
Perhaps the text could be titled “Wiggly Worm & The Restraining Order Process Server”.
Some might think that I am reading too much into a children's book.
Eerrdman's has published another storybook by the very same author titled “The Chicken's Build A Wall”.
That book is advertised with the following copy: “At the farm, the chickens are building a wall, convinced that the hedgehog that wandered in must be trouble. But eventually they discover that he might not be as dangerous as they thought.”
Only the most obtuse liberal (of the variety those publishing this propaganda hope children will be indoctrinated into becoming) will refuse to acknowledge the kinds of agendas such a narrative is promoting.
Firstly, just because the first hedgehog is harmless, isn't it just as much an act of unconscionable prejudice to assume that the next hedgehog is just as affable?
Secondly, if the barnyard or however else you want to categorize their enclosure belongs to the chickens, on what grounds are the chickens obligated to allow the hedgehogs to remain there?
And if the flock does allow the one hedgehog to remain there, are the chickens obligated to allow his entire hovel to take up residence in the chicken coop?
Furthermore, if the hedgehog decides to move into the chicken coop, shouldn't the hedgehog learn to cluck like a chicken or will the chickens be required to grunt like a hedgehog?
It must also be taken into consideration how many hedgehogs can be allowed to move onto the farm before the farm begins to more resemble a hedgehog burrow rather than the original barnyard.
And perhaps most importantly, since it seems that the perimeter can be breached by an animal as innocuous (we are assured) as a hedgehog, shouldn't that serve as a warning for those chickens to get that wall erected before creatures of far more nefarious intent such as foxes, wolves, and weasels make their way into the chicken coop?
At that time, will these carnivores form lobbies and activist networks insisting that, since the hedgehog was allowed to take up residence without protest, that they too be allowed to remain even though their intention is to prey upon the chickens and destroy the avian way of life since these species have been in conflict with one another for nearly two millennia?
To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a story can be just a story.
However, when an author or publisher is explicit in conveying didactic propaganda through the medium of a children's narrative, the discerning should not slink back in fear.
It is because such impressionable young minds are potentially on the line that such concerns must be raised with renewed vigor.
By Frederick Meekins
However, in a sense, isn't it better to blow off steam online rather than physically slapping the taste out of the mouths of those that they are ticked off about?
As an example, he referenced those that post about getting shoddy service at Starbucks.
But as expensive as those beverages are, shouldn't you be able to vocalize your dissatisfaction somewhere?
But without complaining, wouldn't a pastor be a bit like a firefighter without a hydrant or something akin to a one armed boxer?
Complaining about things is the bread and butter of the ministry.
A pastor remarked that a status update is nothing more than an attempt to be a star for a moment.
So how is that in essence much different than what a pastor does whenever they ascend the pulpit and do anything other than a rote recitation of the Scriptural text?
A pastor admonished that Facebook friendship does not constitute real friendship.
But still isn't it better than nothing at all for those that do not derive much satisfaction through traditional human interaction or happen to be someone most don't really desire to interact with?
Most of the same information can be conveyed through a variety of posts that would otherwise be collected through means that would be categorized as “human intelligence”.
The pastor attempted to solidify his argument by insisting that Facebook friendships are not Biblical friendships.
But frankly, doesn't any relationship where you do not fornicate with, steal from, or murder the involved party pretty much pass Biblical muster?
By Frederick Meekins
The Catholic News Service has the Pope on record as saying “It's true, one cannot react violently... But...one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith.”
Such a standard would seem perfectly reasonable in a culture steeped in Christian values.
However, in a profoundly decayed postmodern era, the Pope's recommendation raises more conundrums than his attempt at sage advice actually resolves.
For example, how is insult or making fun of being defined?
Some of depictions of Muhammad (as well as of Christ) published in the French satire magazine no doubt crossed the boundaries of good taste.
However, in this age obsessed with sensitivity to the point where certain agitators can't seem to shake off the sting of an insult after a few hours, the bar as to what constitutes being offended has been shockingly lowered.
For example, there are those that insist it is improper for adherents of one expression of the Christian faith to criticize what are believed to be the doctrinal shortcomings of another.
At the same time, those uplifting such a spirit of ecumenicity in the next breath let loose with a litany of rants against the brand of Christianity adhered to by the person being badgered into acquiescence and silence.
Likewise, what if the legitimate beliefs of a religion compel that religion to act in ways or profess beliefs that are perceived as offensive or insulting to others?
Muslims aren't too keen on the doctrine of the Trinity; is the Pope willing to renounce this foremost Christian fundamental in order to comply with the spirit of the age?
There are some that believe that it is not the place of church functionaries to bar an individual from the elements of Communion or the Lord's Supper.
So what if someone feels slighted by the Roman Catholic Church assiduously monopolizing what adherents of this understanding of Christianity believer are essential ingredients in the liturgical pursuit of salvation?
Likewise, to what extent is the remark “...one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith” to be adhered to?
To some, an insult to faith can be little more than to insist that your doctrine is right and someone else's is wrong.
It must be remembered that when an American hears these sorts of principles, they are more like rules of etiquette in that they are good ideas to aspire to but not all that much will be done to you if you decide to ignore them.
However, when nearly anyone else around the world says these sorts of things, they mean these notions should be imposed as a matter of statutory law with punishments such as fines or incarceration.
It, therefore, must be asked does the Pope stand with those wanting liberty to prevail throughout the world or does he side with those wanting to plunge civilization into an interminable tyranny?
By Frederick Meekins
“The final frontier” --- since the mid 1960’s these words have characterized Star Trek’s perception of the adventure and the discoveries to be found in the distant reaches of outer space. Yet can this vast interstellar ether really be said to be the final frontier in terms of providing an ultimate foundation or purpose? For despite all its wonder, at its core the cosmos is not that much different than ourselves in that its external composition is simply another manifestation or component of the physical universe.
Thus, no matter how far man might one day voyage beyond the confines of the earth, he will still require belief and value systems through which to process and understand the role of the mysteries he is likely to encounter both within the human mind and those external to himself with which he has had little prior experience. Often the fields of science fiction and future studies are used as tools by which to forecast scientific and technological developments. However, in Religion 2101 A.D., Hiley H. Ward shows these speculative methods can be used to gauge the form religion might take in the distant future.
According to Ward, the astounding breakthroughs of the future will force humanity to rethink the most basic of concepts as these will be stretched beyond traditional understandings in light of extraordinary circumstances and conditions. For example, Ward points out that the very concept of what it means to be human might be altered beyond current recognition. With the advent of artificial organs and the possibility of growing replacements in a laboratory, there could come a day when death might be delayed indefinitely.
Many would no doubt embrace existence as a cyborg (an organism half biological and half mechanical in its physiology) if the interchangeability of parts presented the likelihood of staving off the grim reaper as long as possible. Eventually, man might no longer have to endure the inherent limitations of an organic body as range, perception and locomotion could be enhanced by directly interfacing the brain with a computer controlling an array of exploratory robotic sensors (28). In essence, some could live out their lives as a stationary central processing unit while their secondary android bodies simultaneously explored both the depths of the ocean and the peaks of Mars all at the same time.
Ward predicts that these kinds of innovations will spark profound renovations in man’s religious consciousness. Faced with the overwhelming enormity of the universe, man may feel forced to cope with the daunting fruits of this exploration by downplaying his individuality by fully embracing his place as an insignificant cog in a machine. In biological and sociological sciences, this theory is known as “macro life”, the propensity to view the individual in society as analogous to a single cell in an organism (30).
Such a framework places worth and value instead on the overall group as a whole. Ward foresees this prospect taking more concrete expression in the form of a hypothetical spaceship whose command decisions are arrived at by electronically tapping into the thoughts of the crew and melding these divergent consciousnesses into a single imperative authority greater than the sum of the component perspectives. Even though Religion In 2101 AD was published in 1975, this suggestion foreshadowed its fullest development in science fiction in the form of the collective consciousness of the Borg, the cybernetic aliens from Star Trek that perceive themselves as a single entity and who value the individual members of their society as little more than drones. This concept of all taken as a singular mind bears a striking similarity to pantheism in the realm of religious studies.
The diminution of individuality will not necessarily be heralded as a bad thing by those clamoring for its demise if it can be marketed as an elevation in consciousness as an ontological unification with the universal totality. There are few greater ego boosters, after all, than considering oneself God (or at least as some tiny part of the divine intelligence).
Regarding this perception, Ward provides insightful comments from some of science fiction’s most prominent names. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry says, “Man will come to see himself properly as part of God. God is the sum of everything, all intelligence, all order in the universe...It is not inconceivable that as intelligent beings we are part of and ultimately become God, and ultimately create ourselves (Ward 136).” Harlan Ellison, author of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, adds to this perspective: “I guess I worship man. Each has the seed of God in himself (Ward, 136).”
While the religious philosophy of the future will strive to approach the majesty and wonder of outer realities by turning inward, many adherents of the coming cosmic confession will still feel the traditional need of experiencing the divine through a relationship with or by receiving guidance from what they perceive to be an intelligence or symbol objectively transcendent from themselves. Seldom can man pull himself up by his own metaphysical bootstraps.
But whereas the so-called God of old is seen as standing distinct from His creation but actively sustaining it by His loving hand and revealing His message through angels and prophets and later revealing Himself in the form of His Son Jesus Christ, the God of Tomorrowland will employ different couriers and manifest Himself in ways actually less personable. Erich Von Daniken in Chariots Of The Gods hypothesizes that UFO’s and extraterrestrials may serve as an explanation for the supernatural phenomena occurring in ancient times when these harbingers of universal wisdom appeared bearing enlightenment. Von Daniken does not believe in the traditional conception of a transcendent God. Rather he believes in a God composed of the sum of all knowledge in the universe, of which each individual is an autonomous piece of information akin to a bit within a computer to be reunified into the singular totality once the evolution to a state of pure energy has taken place (Ward, 129).
And speaking of computers, eschatologists might take note of the role of these devices in future religious thought as considered in dramatic speculative literature. One cannot dismiss such claims on the part of the likes of Hal Lindsay or Jack Van Impe as outright exaggeration. In David Gerrold’s When Harlie Was One, the Graphic Omniscient Device (G.O.D.) is a supercomputer capable of solving all problems and answering all questions. In the novel The Fall Of Colossus, Colossus is a computer designed to administer functions on earth and is ultimately deified as part of a new religion. Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling observed, “...with increased dependence of technology, we will find ourselves worshipping at the altar of machines (Ward, 133).”
Ward does an impressive job culling through the religious insights found across an impressive array of objective analytical forecasts and fictional literary accounts. Yet it is in the final chapter where Ward synthesizes the observations found in the preceding study into his own narrative vignette that the reader gets the best feel for where these cultural trends might take humanity in the year 2101 AD. It is at this point the reader becomes most engrossed in the issues under consideration.
In the year 2101, humanity’s major religion is the Church of the Celebration of the Holy World Cosmos whose members are called “Celebrators”. Celebrators strive to embrace all the latest fads in religious thought and philosophy such as panantheism, extraterrestrial wisdom, theories of multiple Christs and avatars, and claim to value harmony and expansive tolerance above all else (Ward, 217).
The Celebrators are opposed by religious traditionalists derisively referred to as “Pewsitters” because of their insistence upon utilizing pews and other ancient religious traditions such as monotheism. The reader would initially suspect the Celebrators to be the heroes of the story since they are depicted as the vanguards of progressivism and enlightenment. However, the church to which they belong is as conniving as the most reactionary of ecclesiastical authorities.
Through an agreement worked out with the government, Celebrators are forbidden from traveling, must be free of political ambitions, and have their minds telepathically scanned to prevent disharmonious thoughts. Pewsitters forced to attend Celebrator services face possible disintegration by a laser beam if they disrupt the proceedings. Despite the facade of technology and innovation surrounding the philosophy of religion underlying much of the science fiction addressing these kinds of questions, man cannot seem to escape his most basic requirements and desires --- no matter how much he might try to suppress them --- regarding his need for a personal God. In Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, God or the “First Speaker” is depicted as a kindly, elderly gentleman who travels the universe helping where he is needed (Ward, 115).
Ward puts his own spin on this concept in his fictional vignette postulating a God dwelling anonymously among humanity as an inconspicuous New York cabbie. Fortunately, the Bible teaches that not only did a loving God come to dwell with men upon the earth in the form of His Son Jesus Christ but that He also provided for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life while He was here through His sacrificial death upon the cross and His resurrection from the dead. If that is not good enough for either the literati of speculative narrative or the mundane realist alike, that is their choice and they must live with the consequences.
When contemplating literary undertakings addressing the philosophy of religion, science fiction with its accompanying connotations of laser guns, rocketships, and creepy aliens does not initially come to mind. However, as Hiley Ward points out in Religion 2101 AD, this particular genre known for stretching the limits of perception can serve as an excellent conceptual mechanism through which to explore intimidating themes of belief we might otherwise be reluctant to approach.
By Frederick Meekins
The email making the suggestion begins, “Advent is a time when sentimentality and spiritualization reigns. But in more ancient forms of Christianity, Advent was more a season of penitence, not unlike Lent. Today, that call for repentance includes a call for justice.”
Interesting enough. Given the ongoing moral decline these days, at times culture could use a dose of a little more guilt and shame. However, individual repentance as understood by the classical Christian or Evangelical is not exactly what the subversives at TransFORM have in mind.
A beloved Yuletide ballad intones “I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.” The types at TransFORM are such outright leftists that, upon hearing such lyrics, they'd probably rend their garments and flagellate themselves while putting on sackcloth and ashes. For you see, despite likely ranking among the palest of the pale as a result of anemia linked no doubt to their vegan diets, they probably don't like being White very much.
The second paragraph of TransFORM's cheery Christmas greeting reads, “This Advent will unfold against the ongoing protests in Ferguson, the results of the ...grand jury report, the ongoing oppression and ending of life by the triple evils of poverty, militarism, and the ceaseless lynching of Christ through black and brown bodies.”
Thus instead of reflecting upon Christ Himself this Christmas season, He is to be replaced by a new messiah. And unlike the original that offered His forgiveness to all who would ask for it irrespective of color, skin pigmentation is about the only thing those speaking on behalf of this racialist godhead care anything about.
Before presenting yourself or someone else as a new Christ, you had best compare yourself to the original and contemplate how what you are offering measures up or falls short.
For example, Jesus was not walking down the middle of the Appian Way when a Roman charioteer simply heralded Him to admonish Him as to the error of His way. Nor did the Messiah reach inside the chariot to pilfer the broadsword and then proceed to bum rush the centurion.
Those attempting to justify the destruction of property as a form of social protest might attempt to respond by comparing such actions to Christ's passionate expulsion of the moneychangers from the Temple. After all, did He not turn over tables and chase the scoundrels with a knotted chord according to John 2:15?
The Temple was the house of God, a representation of where His Spirit dwelt among the people of Israel. As God incarnate in the form of the only Begotten of the Father, the Temple was Christ's to throw out of the structure whomever it was that displeased Him.
In comparison, those committing acts of vandalism and violent sabotage across the nation possess no such legitimate claim to the property which they have so blatantly destroyed. Those were other people's windows smashed and businesses set ablaze.
In the accounts of the Biblical text, Christ condemned those that had turned His house into a house of merchandise. He did not abscond with a bandit's share of loot under the guise of some grandiose pronouncement regarding social justice with some shiny bling and a pair of Air Jordans.
The direct email appeal reads, “...we are inspired by the intersectional justice displayed by Ferguson October and welcome a variety of visions of justice as part of the conversation.”
Worldview thinking postulates that Christian thought as expounded in the pages of the Bible posits a comprehensive understanding that touches upon all facets of existence. If one tugs at one string, all of the others are affected to the point where the entire system could potentially unravel or collapse. This sounds similar to the concept of intersectional justice.
One of the foremost teachings of the Christian faith is that each individual is responsible for his own actions. Outside influences might prod or tempt the person in a particular direction. However, this does not ultimately excuse the actions that an individual might decide to take.
As such, on what Christian grounds does an individual justify destroying the property of someone not even involved in the particular dispute at hand? These beatniks fancying themselves as intellectual revolutionaries will probably drone on about free market economics deploying police power to impose its hegemony and what not upon the backs of the proletariat. But to be considered working class, wouldn't those rampaging in the streets first actually have to work or at least be willing to hoe their own path in life?
Societies are composed ultimately of individuals. It is these that Christ came into the world to shed His blood for, die, and rise from the dead so that each that would call on His name might receive forgiveness for their sins so that they might enjoy eternal life with Him in Heaven.
It is only by addressing the sin in each of our lives --- irrespective of whether we are White, Black, man woman, police officer or civilian --- that there is any hope of ameliorating the problems of a world marred so horribly by the effects of the Fall. Any group that attempts to hijack these festive yet profound celebrations that commemorate this cosmic saga are more than likely in league with the Father of Lies than the Prince of Peace and the Lord of Lords.
By Frederick Meekins