Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Massacre of Children

As the pain of watching the news Friday evening wet my cheeks and stabbed my heart, I heard the words more than once from those who were closer to the event than I: “There are no words.”

No words?!
I realized in the words of those reporting the horror, I had many words. My thoughts were full, and many of my words were not polite. I wasn't cussing in my head, though I had anger in desire--lusting?--to curse that twenty-year old killer to hell. I am human, right?

Thoughts banging in my head were not crude or vulgar words lobbed at the gunman. Few people have ever heard me list the moral and on-paper laws I violated as a twenty-year old. I have no condemnation for immature decision-making. I have been forgiven, and we all need the grace in which I am immersed.This gunman represents something more than a badly behaving twenty-something.

My thoughts as I worked my way through a wretched, sputtering sleep, would be called boorish or uncivil in the general social climate of tolerance in the 21st Century. Likely some will label me the worst possible pejorative, fundamentalist Christian. Risking that label, I write this post.

No words?
In the case of the parents who suffer the greatest loss in the most horrible way, the only words are words of prayer for their consoling in the midst of a towering grief.

No words?
For society, I have plenty. We Americans reap the whirlwind as we have sown to the wind. What happened yesterday is logical. It is predictable, and all our law-making, social activism, editorializing and psychological counseling will not stop it. The First Testament of the Lord God (Some refer to it as the Old. Thanks Frank Viola for the more accurate label.) warns that disobedience brings a cursed state or condition. The warning is intended to protect not punish. He warned humans in understandable words of that historical context of a consequence of living life according to natural desires, of being governed by selfishness. Negative consequence follows idolatry. 

Earlier this week, the front page of the national publication USAToday displayed a title, Urban Outfitters Holiday Catalogue Gets Naughty—followed by the details of the store's nationally distributed catalogue using a vulgar term that starts with "f" in multiple contexts. The article states advertising gurus were praising the marketing strategy. From the article: “Marian Salzman, a national trend-spotter and CEO of Havas PR. ‘It's the right voice for the teen market.’" The article explains that where such a publication would have met serious repercussions only a few years ago, in today’s climate of social media—read, anything is acceptable to say publicly  nowadays—the catalogue is “brilliant.” This is but one minor example of how our culture exhibits a cursed state of humanity. A state which naturally occurs when the Creator of love, self-control, and kindness is rejected. 

The evil of the Newtown school massacre is a much more serious example of societal descent into living out the cursed state of separation from the Lord. Some are shaking their heads at my narrow-mindedness by now. I am but another one lost in myths of spirituality, eh? The modern logic says, "This isn't anything more than a mentally ill person who had easy access to guns." If you live in the secular world and understand all things as more or less random that is the answer…and there are no words except the sifting ramble of psychological terms to attempt a relief from an unbearable grief.

In the Christian paradigm, there is a spirit rampant among humanity which is rallied against the Lord Jesus and His holiness. It lives strong in casual attitudes which are a function of loving pleasure, fame, and wealth. We debate ethics nationally while the population explores all possible human experience. What is often explored is just this century's version of human depravity. Mental health professionals work to alleviate situations where illicit sexual drives and anger have caused immense suffering among individuals and in families, while the entertainment industry pushes graphic sex and death...and we buy it.  We teachers are mandated to teach character ed while the kids are fascinated by and reinforce among themselves on the bus and through social media what gratifies them in the latest pop-culture movie or video-game.

In my seventh grade classroom recently, the fire marshal for the county was showing a video of a night-club fire a few years back. It happened in Rhode Island, and 100+ people died within two minutes. A member of the audience watching the band was video-taping with his phone. Fire leapt from a pyro-technic display onto the ceiling. Within seconds, the flame was spreading and the camera man was caught in a crush of people headed out the only available exit. Finding himself outside, he panned back to the one exit. It was then blocked fully by a human log-jam, a plug made from too many people trying to shove out in panic mode. One of my seventh graders began to laugh, though it had been clearly explained that over one hundred people were trapped inside and dying from smoke and 1000 degree heat. Was my student simply a bad attitude kid who disrespects basic humanity? This disconnect is the result of knowing death only as entertainment.

Why are we shocked when a mentally-ill person or a sane person chooses to act out dark, human feelings and desires which our collective fascination with sex and death has constantly communicated in the entertainments of movies, books, television, video-games, and  through the sensationalism of the news broadcast?  I do not claim here to know what the gunman in Friday's massacre held in his mind or heart. Perhaps he saw himself enacting revenge against some perceived wrong. The dark side of humans is dark for multiple reasons. How does anyone connect with such darkness? We know, but we are in denial. The culture of family and simple living is disdained by pop-culture while sex and death are enshrined. Something in humanity reaches for the dark spirit.

It is logical when the eyes of those who are disconnected from a general understanding of what love and respect mean, and who have been conditioned to view life as just a means for gratification, that the horrors of the Newtown massacre will then visit the larger culture of family and home. I contend, it is an invited spiritual condition of the cursed state upon ourselves by our national disobedience and idolatry before a holy God, the Lord Jesus.

No words?
Our national collective tolerating and celebrating sexual license and blood lust has embraced a spirit associated with lust and power and perversity. However our culture rejects "spiritual" answers and prefers labels like neurotic or psychotic to explain human depravity. As long as a human involved in depravity is a consenting adult or just pursuing fantasies as entertainment, we either laugh knowingly or turn the deaf ear of denial. Once the fantasy becomes a nightmare and violently kills innocent people, we grieve deeply over the loss and lament the randomness of the universe. Sometimes we blame our Creator, though He did warn us faithfully about the fruit of our choices, while graciously giving us the choice we cherish.

No words?
Repentance comes to mind.  Adam Lanza lived out his sickness...a sickness of the heart embedded in our culture. A sickness in the human heart which we have embraced as normal thus confusing our young as they develop and cocking the gun in the minds of the mentally ill.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Eyes on Mordor and not on Christ

In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a great evil lives. By the end of the story, we are confronted by the image of an oversize eye floating atop a massive stone pillar. The pillar and eye form nothing more than an emotionally thrilling, deeply threatening lower case “i”. The metaphor is simple: "i am God" is a great evil. The lower case indicating the human.

From the most logical stand point, all of life is spiritual. There are choices and activities which hinder spiritual development. Even a weakening or stagnant spiritual life is a spiritual condition. The paradigm shift that needs to occur in the practice of the Christian faith is a decision, an awareness, a self-discipline to reject the notion that some aspects of the Christian life are mundane, human and not spiritual. Rather, there are no coincidences, no simple happenstances which we simply live through. The mundane and every other aspect of our existence is meaningful in Christ.

Christians are sometimes confused or overly confusing regarding what is and what is not spiritual truth. In that confusion, folks influenced by such winds of doctrine are very likely to emotionally disconnect…to not realize, recognize or respond to God as real in a every moment. String several of these together, and the result is to describe our condition as a “dry time”. The wind will blow a dust in our eyes, stinging and blinding. We are likely to blame God, or in the least lose our focus on Him.  

Our Lord is not the author of confusion nor is there a desert in His Presence. 

Or perhaps, we may not be confused, but experiencing the effects of the great darkness on the earth. In not being aware of how we continue to love life in the earth and what it offers, we unwittingly live on the dark side while professing Christ. Several of the groups into which Christians have sub-divided make a portion of their teaching  to include “spiritual warfare” against the devil. True Ephesians tells us to wear the whole armor of God, and that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers in the heavens. Yet it appears to this author in the fights of his life, that what we blame on the devil are very often simply decisions and desires that reside within us in our fleshly-- read that oriented toward our physical body--minds. In being our own person, the "i" rules. In loving ourselves over God, we choose sin instead of submission and reap the natural consequences! Making blanket statements about how the devil is attacking us and asking others for their prayers in the face of this onslaught sounds spiritually effective and dedicated to life in Christ, but such is nothing more than pretense at the forms while denying the awesome power of the love of God.

i know what i am talking about.