Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Judgment of God IV - Suffering

Suffering is a universal human condition. We all suffer to some degree or another, we generally consider suffering to be unfair, unjust, and we all look for a way to prevent or reduce suffering. This also is a barrier to accepting God’s Judgment, since many people believe the Judgment is about apportioning eternal suffering to people, which appears to condone the worst actions of evil men. After all, a tyrant may have you tortured, but the worst that can happen is you die; compare that, horrible as it is, to the image of eternal suffering with no hope of relief or an end, and God becomes a monster beyond anything known to Mankind. The notion of a truly Just God is incompatible with the notion of a God Who would torment people forever. Also, the notion that God is all-knowing and all-powerful raises the question; why would a God who knows all things and can do anything, allow for Damnation?

As I am only human, and not wise enough to rise to the level of many great minds in History, these questions which have vexed many Philosophers and Theologians must be answered, at best, inadequately from my perspectiove, yet I have noticed a point upon which some resolution may be had. That is the Christ.

In most religious descriptions, we humans live on Earth, while God (or the gods) lives in Heaven, separate from us. The devil, demons, evil apparitions, and the leaders of the opposing political party live and work in some kind of underworld, or else here on Earth. Separation of powers on a celestial scale! And even when God (or His angels) comes to Earth, it’s usually on a short visit, and God is visibly distinct from any mere mortal. This shows up in the Bible, too, and we understand that it is not Pride or Arrogance which so drives God to appear in this way; consider how difficult it is for an adult to appear to a child as anything other than an adult, or how unlikely an athlete in his prime is to be mistaken for an involet. God, being the full accomplishment of power and might, is beyond our comprehension in His full glory, but what we may see is an image of power and glory beyond any man.

If we were talking only about image, this would be a trifle. It speaks, however, to a fundamental problem for Mankind - how can we have a proper relationship with God, when we cannot even approach Him on any level we might call equatable, even to ask for His help? Remember that for my purposes, I am presuming that the Bible is true, in speaking of God as Holy, Pure, Good, and Just. Fortunately, you can add Merciful to that list, as well. This question of how sinful Man may hope to hear Holy God, much less approach Him, demonstrates a flaw in so many religions. If there are many gods, you have to reach a resolution with all of them, each on their own terms, or you can never have peace. If there are no gods, then there is no help at all for you; once you sin, you fall off the cliff and cannot slow down or stop your plunge to destruction. Even if there is one God, but He must remain locked away in some place of required purity, you cannot meet Him. If He is the absolute essence of Holiness, then even though He may approach Man, Man cannot stand His Holiness, and would be destroyed by His sin in the very moment He was in God’s presence. Only the Triune nature of God explains the matter in a way which grants God His perfect Holiness, yet allows a chance for Man. The Father is pure, and Sin is destroyed in His presence. The Holy Spirit then, is that Person of God who is able to reach Man in his deepest heart, even in his deepest sin, and speak both Conviction and Consolation. Man is not compelled to obey the Spirit, but that is the choice.

Now, man understands something of Justice, but many are led to believe that it is only an ideal, and not a fact. The Father is perfect but is not a man. The Holy Spirit speaks to all of us, but is not a man. The Christ is the fulfillment of the Covenant of God with Man, because as the Christ God walks among us as one of us.

Now, to suffering. The Gospel accounts tell how Jesus was born, raised, and lived as a poor man, with no money or property of his own,how He did many great and good things, yet was blamed as a blasphemer and charlatan by the leading mean of His country, falsely accused of sedition, flogged and crucified by the Romans. Surely Jesus knew of suffering, on so many levels, which makes Him approachable by any of us. Have you been cheated, abused, tormented, ridiculed? So was Jesus. Now, consider what it says of God, that he would take such treatment from us.

At this moment, Karol Wojytla is lying on his deathbed, clearly suffering as he has been for a number of days now. Yet, many have noted that there is a dignity in his dying, a sort of lesson and example to us. One answer to suffering, is to learn from it, to make it mean something, to find good even in a thing which seems to have no good about it. And in ending suffering, even in one place or moment, to bring about good where there was not good before. It seems to me that is part of God’s will and Judgment about suffering - we need to learn from it, and in so doing learn our identity in His will.

Friday, April 01, 2005

What Is A Life Worth?

The tragic (and to my mind, criminal) death of Terri Schiavo, along with new concern about the health of the Pope, brings to mind the continuing debate, now observed, now forgotten, of the value of Life. Whatever your opinion in a specific case, it seems fit to me that we should examine that basic question.

Biologically, the will to live is arguably the strongest instinct in any animal. This is why thoughts of suicide are presently considered a sign of mental illness, since it runs counter to the hard-wiring we live with. It’s also counter to almost every social order- suicide and death are signals of failure, resignation, and denial of community. Philosophically, the common theme has been consistently to prefer life – “Where there’s life, there’s hope” is an old and common saying, so pervasive that no one is sure of its origin or source.

Modern society has begun to war against that morality, however. “Suicide is painless” was the title song for the movie and television show “M*A*S*H”, and that theme has crept into the political dialogue, to the point that when Terri Schiavo’s case became a national debate, it was phrased as “right to die”, rather than “right to live”; the assumption was made not only that Terri wanted to die, but that it was morally right for her to commit suicide, even by starvation. Doctors sworn to Hippocrates’ admonition to “First, do no harm” are actually debating the practice of killing patients, sometimes by their choice, sometimes without their consent, under certain conditions. And lawyers schooled in a nation created by a nation founded on the premise of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” and the protections of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, in particular the 14th and the Bill of Rights, argue for the destruction of unwanted pregnancies and the extermination of people unable to speak for themselves. Guardians are now made Executioners in this obscene parody of justice and ethics.

But what is a life worth? A reader on one of the many threads about the Terri Schiavo case observed that by and large, it is the young and physically strong who believed the most strongly that Terri would want to die in such a condition. Those who are older and who have ourselves seen something of what happens in the world, do not jump so quickly at the prospect of leaving life, not from fear of death but love for the gift that is Life.

Back in 2001, my daughter came down with an illness, a fever which rose and fell, but always stayed above the 100-degree mark. The diagnosis came back as Biological Meningitis, but this was scant comfort, as nothing done could lower the fever. After the third straight day, the doctors warned my wife and me, that our daughter might die if they could not break the fever, and in any case would likely suffer brain damage. After the fifth straight day of high fever, anywhere from 101 degrees to 106, the fever finally broke, and my little girl recovered. Fully. I am not able to explain why she recovered fully, anymore than the doctors could ever explain why the fever resisted all efforts to lower her temperature, but I am very, very grateful to God for that grace. But even if my daughter had suffered brain damage from the disease and fever, there is no chance that I would consider her life any less precious, or any less important for me to protect. I love my wife and daughter more than myself, and if necessary I would die to save them. In sickness and in health, for better or worse, as the vows go, and it is true for my family as it is for my marriage. Anyone who will not keep that level of commitment should not offend God by pretending the words in the first place. Thank God no one was in a place or position to kill my little girl, no matter her condition.

A couple years ago, I collapsed at work, dizzy from a stomach virus. An ambulance was called, and they ran all sorts of tests, ignoring me completely, as if my personal and direct experience were worthless in the diagnosis and treatment. The nurses and doctors paid no attention to me at all, and in the end the whole episode was played out to its ludicrous and expensive conclusion, which finally discovered what I had been trying to say all along; if the doctors had just listened to me, they could have saved the insurance company (and my premiums) a lot of money, and themselves a lot of work and time. I know from direct experience, that when professionals do not listen to the source, they are arrogant fools, and there is no shortage.

A few months back, I was laid low with a nasty virus. I couldn’t stand, couldn’t eat, even water made me vomit. So I just laid on the bed, watching things go round and round by themselves. Talking was extremely difficult, and I was effectively helpless. It occurs to me, that if my wife had a mind like Michael Schiavo’s, she might have gotten me confined to a hospital bed with a feeding tube, and I might have ended up badly indeed. Think I’m exaggerating? Stick a finger down your throat and try to talk, and see how coherent you sound. Now, imagine you are under a drug regimen, so concentration and focus are made very difficult, and of course, if the person who put you into the hospital also enjoys control over your treatment and doctors, if you get doctors already convinced you’re a vegetable, it’s that much harder to fight for yourself. Now, imagine more than a decade of such experience, and if torture isn’t the word that fits, you haven’t been paying attention. This is not to berate the many fine medical professionals out there, or disparage the people who really are trying to do the best they can for their loved ones, but it begs the question, of how we really know whether the best interests are being pursued, when the range of options is allowed to include death, especially a lingering torture like starvation of food and water.

Pain and suffering is not a reason to die. Many of our veterans suffer life-long pain, and they go on living very productive lives, and their courage in bearing their pain is continuing proof not only of their integrity and purpose, but a boon to all those who meet them and can learn of heroism from a living example. Some have noted the case of Stephen Hawking; imagine if such a mind lived in a body paralyzed just a little more than it already is; a century ago, his condition might well have been diagnosed the same as Terri Schiavo. Only the truly ghoulish would suggest we should dispose of a person, simply because their body has limits! Admiral Nelson lost an arm, leg, and eye, but went on fighting. Helen Keller could neither see nor hear, yet she went on to write and teach. What cowardice indeed, and how small a vision, to think that a disabled body means a useless life!

And who shall set the standard for a life worth living, anyway? There are artists and writers, whose work is not fully appreciated until long after their lives have ended. There are many types of accomplishments, some of which need to be experienced to be recognized. How then shall anyone say ‘this one is productive and may live, but this one is unproductive, and shall be destroyed’? Who has the right to say that a hundred years is enough if you can still walk around and chat like a talk show host, but if you need a wheelchair or are quiet or seem a bit unusual, you are not worth the effort to keep around? Who has the right to say that a baby may only be born if he/she will be physically perfect, as some have now argued? Who has the right say that an infant must earn his first breath? Who, when it’s all considered, has the right to close off a life when there is any choice? We are none of us perfect, so when a decision is in doubt, why would anything but Life be the choice?

We have turned a corner. It remains now to be seen whether Hell or merely Purgatory is under our next step, but we are moving away from Heaven, if we dare to move away from Life.

The Final Four (Congress)


"Chicago" Regional Final Results

5. Sessions beats 10. Barrett

"Syracuse" Regional Final Results

1. Hastert beats 12. Kyl

"Austin" Regional Final Results

2. DeLay beats 6. Brady

"Alburquerque" Regional Semi-Final Results

16. Frist beats 11. Ryan

Here are your National Semi-Final Matches:

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) vs. Senate Majority Leader (Dr.) William Frist (R-TN)

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) vs. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX)

Who goes to the big finale?

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Judgment of God III – The Purpose

So, by now I’ve colored the picture rather darkly, I’d have to say. Thoroughly Holy God gazes down upon the wretched form of thoroughly sinful Man. Uh-oh. Actually, though, there’s a great deal of hope to be had, again because of the nature and essence of God.

It seems strange to me, but most people don’t seem to spend much time or thought in consideration about why God made us, and what His plan for us means in terms of our future, especially the final Judgment. It might be that subconscious acknowledgement of our sin, which not only bars us from approaching God on the merits of any worth, but also shames us from believing He would still want us. It also might be the devil, whose last desperate act of rebellion is, knowing he cannot touch God, to hurt Him through the proxy of hurting His creation here on Earth.

But God is truly omnipotent, and while we can argue about what that means in any specific detail, it certainly means that His will shall be done, no matter what we have in our hearts and minds. Those He wishes to grant Heaven will surely see it, and those He denies Heaven have no chance of it.

Whatever else we may say about Heaven and Hell, it stands to plain reason that Hell is not at all good, and Heaven is perfect. The problem, of course, is that by its nature only perfect people can enter Heaven, and so it would appear that once again we are undone by even the smallest of our sins.

Thus Christ. By His perfection, we are not only forgiven of our sins, but through His perfection we are ourselves made perfect, reborn into a life impossible to lead through human industry, but given for us all, and to us all who will accept the gift. I will speak more about the qualities of divine ift-giving at some other time, but for here this is surely a great and wonderful gift, that we are not only freed from our sins and wrongs, but made fit as well in every aspect. It follows of course, that a person must be able to reject a gift for it to truly be a gift, and that means that some will in fact reject that gift. By definition, their lot is Hell.

Heaven and Hell have also been very difficult to write about. Heaven is difficult to write about, because we know only imperfection, imitation of the good at best, and so it is beyond us to fully describe the qualities of a perrect abode, much less an eternal dimension of such perfection. But Hell is also difficult to describe fairly. From the Bible, there are different classes of punishment, and this may apply to severity, duration, any number of factors we can consider and some of course beyond our comprehension, since we are again talking about an Absolute, and therefore something beyond our ken.

For here though, there is a purpose to what God does, and it seems to me that a key to His mercy lies in pursuit of that purpose. Jesus told His disciples that whatever they asked, would be granted, and it's qualified somewhat later by observing that we have not, because we do not ask in Jesus' name. That always bothered me, but it seems to me that while we receive much freely as God's gift to all of us, there are things which God disposes to His servants, and to receive these things, one must be in the right place, spiritually, to receive them.

That is the point I am considering today; how to be right in God's purpose.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Judgment of God II – Justice and Mercy

In my entry yesterday on this subject, I considered the denial Mankind embraces about the issue. Not surprising; if there’s anything more intimidating than Death itself, it has to be the notion that there is something even more Absolute, unavoidable, and dire.

The excuses are myriad on why people believe they won’t or shouldn’t be judged, but in simple fact, it’s going to happen, so the questions we ought to be asking, are what is likely to happen, and what should someone do to ensure the best results? This is complicated not only by the critical question of making sure you have the right God in front of you when you worship, but also of being true in spirit before God. That is, while it’s completely natural to want to avoid Damnation and Eternal Torment, it’s not going to help you if that’s your case before God. I suspect one thing which scares the non-religious, is that while the Bible shows all sorts of people entering Heaven, at that particular point none of them looks like the average guy, which sounds like very bad news for the so-very-many of us who are average – on a good day.

Before going further, I think I should emphasize that I am speaking my own mind here. No divine dictation here, no private revelations, just a guy trying to sort out in print how the Great Court will settle these affairs. And with no lawyers either, though there will be an Advocate for some. I realize that to some of my audience, this all seems silly, and the atheists who grace my site with a visit are doubtless wondering just a big a fool I am going to be about this. As a Christian, my answer to them is, by your understanding, a very great one. The wisdom of God is foolishness to Man, though I won’t claim I have all that much of the Lord’s wisdom with me here. I am seeking it, which means that those who reject God will find me unreasonable.

Of course, to some degree that’s intentional on my part. To be “reasonable” as men use the word, is to accept Human rules and conditions, a thing plainly less than the level of God’s standards. The Holy is a thing well beyond our comprehension, and so a thing which must plainly be adored or abhorred. Yet that same Holiness is what makes a truly just judgment possible. It’s not enough that God has total power and knowledge, it is His Holiness which gives us reason to believe He will be just, and which indeed creates and nurtures the hope of mercy.

To understand the situation effectively, we also need to remove false impressions created by our human perspective. Many humans, for example, contend that hell is an unreasonable proposition, that it cannot be just to punish humans eternally and without limits, for limited sins in both effect and duration. The problem with such a statement is the inherent hubris. As an example, I used to drink, and on a couple occasions I was not sure if I was in sober condition to drive, so I didn’t drive. The thing is, I had a friend I used to go out with, and he didn’t think the same way, and one night he got himself pulled over and written up for DUI. I was able to help him keep his job and make bail, but it was still both a bad time of his life, and a lesson he learned. Now, some would say there was no sin here, especially for me – hadn’t I made sure I didn’t drive drunk? The thing is, because I didn’t want to look weak, I never told my buddy about the times I wasn’t sure about my condition, and if I had told him, maybe he could have managed to avoid that problem himself. Even so, some might say, no harm no foul, right? The trouble there is, that I don’t know of anyone who drives drunk in order to hurt anyone; the injury happens because they drive drunk, and it’s just chance that my friend didn’t hurt anyone by driving inebriated. So, what if he had had an accident while driving drunk, and killed someone? Would that still be a sin of “limited” effect and duration, the ending of someone’s life? And so, even though he did not have an accident, my friend’s actions, on the moral level, are the same as if he did. And for my part, my decision not to discuss my own experience prevented my friend from considering his own condition, so I bear my own responsibility in the same context. We are all of us guilty of the same thing, separated only by degrees of environment, so we are all of us guilty of the same sin as a moral offense against God, permanent and total in its duration and effect. Or, if you prefer, consider a bit of gossip you might tell. Have you considered that the words carry on and expand, until invariably some version of them reaches a person who would be damaged by them? Perhaps damaged to such degree, that a life decision may be made by the effect of a careless rumor? When the total truth is known, we shall all be appalled to realize that we are all of us guilty of sin to some degree, but that degree is not, however phrased, sufficiently minor as to claim that we did no permanent harm. We did, and must come to terms with that grim fact.

The next element, is the matter of our plea. In human courts, a person is either expected to prove his innocence, is held to be neither innocent or guilty until the court decides, or is considered innocent until proven to be guilty. In each of these cases, however, the court bears responsibility for producing the facts, to make the guilt or innocence of the accused plain. Not so in God’s Court, where His Omniscience means He already knows our condition. The sole reason for the hearing then, is to record our response. Some cynics have claimed that the Christian faith is false, because it would allow the worst of murderers to enter Heaven by simply saying the right words, while condemning the best of saints to hell if they fail to utter the right sayings. This is not correct, but shows again the assumption that human conditions would prevail. If it happens that a person speaks of faith but his heart is dead, he is still in his sin, and will fool no one when he stands before God. The difference is between ’Attrition’, where one fears the penalty but is not sorry, and Contrition’, where one is truly penitent of his sins and wrongs. The need for this repentance is critical for each of us. We stand in the gravest of peril.

Enter the Lord. Part of the problem Humanity has with God, is that we see things through the filter of what we want and understand. We are just able to understand that we have done wrong, many times and in many ways, and that we cannot correct what has been done; it is beyond us. We fear discovery and consequence, and yet that is a good thing. It is good, because only when someone loves what is right and good, can one fear the consequence of sin and evil. The devil and his angels fear their punishment, but not their sin, and that is everything in this matter. It is exactly what Jesus meant when He said that every sin would be forgiven, save blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The reason for that is plain – the Holy Spirit is an agent of God, the Person of the Trinity who reaches out to us no matter what our condition, so that while we cannot stand the presence of God in even the slightest of our sins, God is able to reach us even in our worst day and conduct.

So, to the question of God’s judgment. Have you ever considered why God wants a judgment at all? I mean, there is some small merit in the argument that God is greater than any man, or all of us together, so that we cannot really affect Him at all. The thing there is, God is not acting in our universe for His own benefit but ours, and the judgment we receive is a blessing from Him, no matter what we choose to call it. Life shows us many times, that a truly great person is able to accept what many would call a curse, and turn it into a blessing. Others, sadly, take what many would call a great blessing, and hate it as a curse. The choice, as always, is made in the heart. The head does little more than come up with a description for what has already happened.

In my piece yesterday, I wrote that I only woke up this morning, because the Lord chose to give me another day of life. I did not earn it, He gave it to me freely. As a result, everything I do comes as a result of what God contributed, which is to say that even if I lived perfectly, everything I accomplished would rightfully belong to God, and be no more than my duty. Since I have failed to live perfectly, even in the one day, I have sinned against God and bear responsibility for that sin, all on my own. Justice then, on the Absolute scale, is very frightening indeed, especially acknowledging the times when I deliberately chose to sin, acting in hatred, lust, or greed.

That brings in Mercy, which ultimately is the stronger component of God’s Judgment. That Mercy does not equate to “free pass”, or say, at all, that God will condone or excuse evil. The devil and his angels are to be thrown into the everlasting torment of the lake of fire, after all, and the same of anyone who chooses to join them. The measure of Mercy from God, then, is the choice to accept Holiness.

I intend to write more of Holiness, and the reason Christ is the way, in my next installment.

Final Four - Presidents

The fourth round of the POTUS Tourney is done, and here are the results (recall that I hid the actual match-ups, asking for 1-10 ratings on the basis of seven key skills):

Dwight Eisenhower defeats James Monroe, 135-109
Ronald Reagan defeats Thomas Jefferson, 216-208
Teddy Roosevelt defeats George W. Bush, 165-160
George Washington defeats John Adams, 217-160

The scores were the results of multiplying the average rating for each skill, by the historical factor for that skill (using the 1-10 ratings for each skill in the six historical areas), then adding the resulting sub-totals for the final score).

The third round is now ready to begin, with 8 Presidents competing head-to-head. To avoid subjective influences, I am again asking the readers to submit 1-10 ratings (1 = lowest, 10 = top) for the Presidents in each of the following skill sets:

Economic Policies
Judicial Doctrine
Military Command
Social Policies
Tax and Tariff Policies

Here are the Final Four Presidents:

Dwight Eisenhower
Ronald Reagan
Teddy Roosevelt
George Washington

And remember, if you don’t enter your ratings, that means the decision will go to those who do enter their choices.

The Pink Mafia


Please don't laugh at the title. The matter is serious, and there are already two recent victims.

I published a story about the attempt to shut down Gay Patriot. It turns out Michael Rogers wasn't done with his vendetta. When Robert posted the same article, complete with a "Gay Terrorist" headline, Michael Rogers contacted his CSP and got his site shut down. Note please, that Mr. Rogers did not try to work things out with either blogger, or discuss the issues. Nope, he tried to cause trouble with one guy's job, and harassed another guy's Service Provider into dumping him. First Amendment? Never heard of it, I guess.

Here is Lime Shurbet's write-up. Note that Robert has saddled up with another provider. That alone deserves respect.

More details about Mr. Rogers' 'gotta whack free speech' campaign can be found at My Pet Jawa.

I want to mention that I have decided not to include the "Wanted" Poster of Michael Rogers, that Gay Patriot and Lime Shurbet used. This is because I do not use the word "terrorist" for anyone except a particular class of villain. That does not mean, however, that Mr. Rogers has any basis or merit in his vindictive attacks on honest bloggers, especially as he is apparently unable to argue his defense through facts or reason. Given the tactics he has used to harass his political opposites, Rogers is actually validating their charges against him, I would say. He's not a terrorist, but he is a thug.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Judgment of God (part I)


I used to be a regular poster on the religion and faith website, Beliefnet. I found the site an interesting place to gain insights from other people’s beliefs and perspectives, and to work to avoid the pitfalls of assumptions about my own understanding and opinion of Reality.

There was a downside as well, I learned. There are the sort of people who cannot allow others to believe freely as they choose, but they must attack them, using ridicule, insult, and intimidation to crush any inconvenient belief. I am saddened to have to say, some of these were people who claimed the same faith as I hold, yet their tactics bore nothing of the love we receive from God, and are commissioned to extend and share. The other most oppressive group were vicious atheists, who ridicule every Christian tenet and doctrine, as well as those who hold them.

Those Christians who attack others for their differences are, I think, misguided, and so I conclude the same is true of those who attack Christianity with such malice. Anyone familiar with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, could not deliberately choose to insult or harm someone in the evangelism to which we are called. I also believe that no one who understood the message and purpose of the Gospel, could find fault with it or anyone connected with it. And an essential part of both sides’ confusion lies in the topic of Judgment Day.

Hollywood has made a lot of money off the theme of Judgment Day, although their version has a lot more to do with evil demons or the final foolishness of Man, than any consideration of the Lord. Yet it is the Lord’s hand in things, which drives much of the emotion on this matter.

Christians understand that we are all of us sinners, in need of God’s love. Accordingly, it seems plain truth to us, that we must confess our sins and accept forgiveness on God’s terms, if we are to have hope. Some believers have concluded, however, that anyone who rejects the premise of the Gospel as we bring it, must be willfully rejecting Christ, and this pains them, sometimes to the point of bitterness. This is unfortunate, not the least because the confusion between the believer and unbeliever is not corrected in such cases.

Those who do not believe in God, as I understand the matter, can respect the desire to do good to other people and to accept a moral code of ideals, but they find it laughable to place trust in a being whose existence cannot be confirmed by any human measure, much less His intentions. To make matters worse, the secular nature of most schools, even at the Collegiate level, precludes sufficient access to the great writings of Theology, to help explain the intellectual reasoning behind the Christian faith. This is not to say that Christians believe because of a philosophical or moral argument on the intellectual level, but it does mean that Atheists and Christians often meet with no common ground, and so there is no common language. Everything must begin ab initio. And since there is so much History and Doctrine out there, even a willing party can only discover so much, and we all eventually prove our limits in ability or comprehension, at which point the conversation either loses its focus, or fails altogether.

For here though, I would like to write, thinking in print as it were, on the subject of the Judgment of God. For it seems to me that this point might be worth the consideration, especially when we compare the image to the truth as I hope to present it.

One of the stranger things I’ve read in religious debates, is the claim that God has no standing to judge people. A variant of that, is the idea that because God is loving, He won’t judge anybody, or if He does, punishment won’t be an option. The rejection of Divine judgment is not surprising, though. First off, if you do not believe in God, you would hardly take seriously the notion that an Omnipotent Third Party would control the final resolution of all our actions. Worse, even believers get caught up in the image of a man sitting in Judgment of Mankind. The Bible has all sorts of images of God, and every last one of them makes God look like a man. A very powerful, large, scary man, but a human for all of that. When we face the image of a human judging the whole of Humanity, it’s ridiculous on its face, and that’s exactly what the non-Christians do. After all, from their perspective, there is no logic that one belief is going to trump all others. The fallacy they miss, is that while Man can and does miss the mark in Absolute Justice, God is Just by definition.

Perhaps I can explain this way. Gravity is a difficult force to understand, but no one really denies it exists. Essentially, if you have enough mass, you have your own gravitational field. Simply being a planet gives you gravity. Now apply that condition to existence. If an existent essence is such that it is the source of all Creation, then any idealistic or moral absolutes are defined by that essence; it is impossible to exist in violation of those conditions. That’s how it is here. If God exists, God is just because God is God. This is also why the pantheist and polytheist explanations fail to work here; power is one thing, but if Absolutes exist, then some essence controls them, and is therefore Absolute by definition. The notion of Yin and Yang imply a balance between equal opposites, but we find that does not hold up in moral discovery; good and evil oppose each other but are not equals. Superiority exists, and from that the exposition into Supremacy follows. That also implies an eventual resolution, the obliteration of either Good or Evil must at some point occur.

One must come to grips with the fact that God will, in plain fact, judge us all. The consensus is non-existent on the matter of what we may expect, but since the Bible speaks clearly about it, I will venture to say that we all will receive a mixture of Justice and Mercy.

Going back to the basics, if we’re going to be logical about it, God has given us everything we have, and everything we are. Most people wake up in the morning, and don’t give a conscious thought to the fact that God was under no obligation to give us life to wake up at all. We received many thousands of these days, each without doing anything worth their value, and we carry on all through our lives in the pursuit of our personal interests, as though we have bought and paid for our lives, when in fact we simply take them with little in even the way of thanks to our Provider. Now, some have argued that because God gives us these lives freely, and all the things which are in them, we are under no debt to God, even to account for what we have done. Of course, carrying that logic to its natural extension, that would also mean that the God who gave us these good things without any responsibility on our account, would be free Himself to do as He liked to us later, even tormenting us for eternity, with no more accountability than we admitted in receiving the good. After all, if there is no obligation created if we receive Good, then we have no rights on our side, and whatever we receive is just by definition, even destruction or torture, using that same definition of terms.

Accordingly, we are going to receive our resolution on some terms, and if there is a judge, then He shall set those terms. As a Christian, I find the Bible true and trustworthy on that point, and therefore come back to my initial assertion, that God will judge us as He promises, with a mixture of Justice and Mercy.

Tomorrow, I plan to discuss the aspects I can see of that Justice and Mercy.

Monday, March 28, 2005

WARNING: Thugs In Your Mirror May Be Closer Than They Appear…


I have linked “GayPatriot” on my Blogroll for a number of months now. This may seem strange for a fundamentalist Christian to do, but if you have taken the time to visit the site and read his work, you will note the intelligence and much-needed perspective he provides from a much-misjudged segment of the population, and a voice which deserves respect on his own merit.

Courage has been present in a number of GP’s posts, not least when he took issue with the malicious practice of 'outing', a means not only of identifying individuals as alleged homosexuals, but also in such fashion as to cause embarrassment and personal cost – in plain words, ‘outing’ is used as a weapon by the Left to punish and attack alleged homosexuals on the Right, in many cases simply for keeping their private lives private. GP put up a post identifying these thugs for the villains they are, and found himself under immediate assault, including harassing calls to his employer. In consequence, GP was forced to remove the post identifying the thugs, and has been compelled to cease his blogging. More on the story may be found at Outlet Radio Network.

Dan, aka “GayPatriotWest”, is not giving up, and deserves our full and vocal support. For my part, the conduct of Michael Rogers in particular is shameful and evokes images one hoped would have died out with KKK membership and cross-burnings. The Old Media may not be expected to address this, as the “Pink Mafia” has proven itself effective in malice and coercion before, always to the applause of Hollywood. It falls to the blogosphere to raise the bulwark against this assault.

It may be that you don’t care about gay rights, especially when a gay happens to be Conservative in his opinion. It may be that you don’t care about a blog’s existence, or you may not be concerned that a voice has been silenced through threats and belligerence.

But one day, the thugs who tear down the rights of those they hate, may find their way to your place, may oppose your beliefs, may shout down your rights. The defense of one voice now, may save your own later.

Hat Tip: Polipundit.

Regional Finals (Congress)


"Chicago" Regional Semi-Final Results

10. Barrett beats 8. Harris
5. Sessions beats 3. Cornyn

"Syracuse" Regional Semi-Final Results

1. Hastert beats 2. Schumer
12. Kyl beats 3. Blunt

"Austin" Regional Semi-Final Results

2. DeLay beats 9. Domenici
6. Brady beats 12. Thomas

"Alburquerque" Regional Semi-Final Results

16. Frist beats 10. Hatch
11. Ryan beats 5. Hyde

Here are your Regional Final Matches:

"Chicago" Regional Final:

[10] Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-SC) vs [05] Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

"Syracuse" Regional Final:

[01]. House Spkr Dennis Hastert (R-IL) vs. [12] Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) 06

"Austin" Regional Final:

[02] H Maj Ldr Tom DeLay (R-TX) vs. [06] Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX)

"Alburquerque" Regional Final:

[16]Sen Maj Ldr William Frist (R-TN) vs. [11] Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Who makes the Final Four?

Elite Eight Presidents

The third round of the POTUS Tourney is done, and here are the results (recall that I hid the actual match-ups, asking for 1-10 ratings on the basis of seven key skills):

John Adams defeats James Polk, 098-097
George W. Bush defeats Franklin Roosevelt, 243-220
Dwight Eisenhower defeats John Kennedy, 265-218
Thomas Jefferson defeats Abraham Lincoln, 131-094
James Monroe defeats Bill Clinton, 165-096
Ronald Reagan defeats Harry Truman, 258-241
Teddy Roosevelt defeats William Taft, 165-123
George Washington defeats Woodrow Wilson, 217-125

The scores were the results of multiplying the average rating for each skill, by the historical factor for that skill (using the 1-10 ratings for each skill in the six historical areas), then adding the resulting sub-totals for the final score).

The third round is now ready to begin, with 8 Presidents competing head-to-head. To avoid subjective influences, I am again asking the readers to submit 1-10 ratings (1 = lowest, 10 = top) for the Presidents in each of the following skill sets:

Economic Policies
Judicial Doctrine
Military Command
Social Policies
Tax and Tariff Policies

Here are the Elite Eight Presidents:

John Adams
George W. Bush
Dwight Eisenhower
Thomas Jefferson
James Monroe
Ronald Reagan
Teddy Roosevelt
George Washington

And remember, if you don’t enter your ratings, that means the decision will go to those who do enter their choices.

Lies, Damn Lies, and TIME Magazine


The lingering death of Terri Schiavo is, whatever else, a tragedy and a focus which has brought about strong emotional reaction. The Old Media has largely failed to represent the matter objectively, however, so that additional issues have been created, to the initial question of whether her feeding tube should have been removed. A representative sample is the latest poll from TIME magazine, which runs a headline claiming “A MAJORITY (53%) OF THOSE WHO CALL THEMSELVES EVANGELICALS SUPPORT REMOVING THE FEEDING TUBE”; the magazine’s sub-title claims “TWO-THIRDS (67%) OF AMERICANS WOULD CHOOSE DEATH OVER LIFE IF THEY HAD TO RELY ON A BREATHING TUBE TO SURVIVE”. The details, however, prove the falsity to those claims. The details may be found on a pdf file attached to the press release.

Let’s start with the most important quality; knowledge of the case. By its own admission, the poll focused on people not familiar with the details of the case. TIME’s poll only found 1 in 3 respondents (Question 4) who claimed to have followed the Terri Schiavo case “very closely”, and given the poor information presented by the Old Media, this invalidates 2 of every 3 answers by the lack of knowledge essential to an informed decision.

In Question 5, TIME sets the stage by describing Terri as being in a “Persistent Vegetative State” or Coma-Like State”. The magazine made no attempt to mention that the diagnosis is in dispute, and that ‘Coma’ is a completely inaccurate description for her condition. Note also that the same question states “Her husband says that Terri would not want to be kept alive artificially in this state”, failing to mention at all that the “husband” already has a replacement wife, to such point that he has had children with her, and that Terri is a Roman Catholic, which religion considers suicide a mortal sin. The poll makes no effort whatsoever to observe the controversy over these claims, but instead presents them as if they were fact.

In Question 7, the poll claims “Florida State Courts … have repeatedly ruled to remove the feeding tube” without once mentioning that the sole decision to remove the tube came from Judge Greer, and that the other State and federal courts have ruled on nothing more than his courtroom procedure, and not the merits of the case or any contested testimony/evidence.

Questions 10 and 11 asked the respondent to say what they would want if they were Terri’s Guardian or Terri herself. Bear in mind, these are, in the main, people who have not followed the close details of the case.

Question 15 asked the respondents if they would like to be kept alive on a ventilator, even though such a condition has no relevance to the Schiavo case.

Whatever one thinks of the case itself, this sort of manipulation of public opinion is shameful, especially as the poll tried to blame Congress, and Republicans in particular, for defending Terri’s right to life and simply to establish a ‘de novo’ review. The people at TIME magazine neglected to ask if any of their respondents would like to have the facts in their own case made clear, in the event they faced a similar situation of having a biased individual given control over their life. TIME referenced a “right to die” (Question 16), but ignored that people might like to have their “right to live” protected

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Some years back, a Jesuit friend of mine explained the historical significance of stained glass windows in churches.

Many of the cultures which the Catholic missionaries met, were not literate, especially in Latin. The stained-glass windows were beautiful and attracted attention and discussion, and allowed the priests of the churches to explain the stories described in those windows. The beauty of the windows only accentuated the message, he said.

I was thinking this week about the images of Christ we see. He gets a lot of publicity, but when you think about it, Jesus is always seen as gentle, loving, ful of forbearance. Basically, one gets the idea from the movies, pictures, and books, that Jesus forgives everyone for everything, pretty much to the point that those who do evil have nothing to fear - a few ‘mea culpas’ and you’re cool, right?

Not at all. If you read the Bible, you see another Jesus, the one whose Holy person does not condone sin, and whose patience has limits. Consider these verses:

“That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness” Zephaniah 1:15

“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evil-doer will be stubble, and that day is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty.” Malachi 4:1

“For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Matthew 7:13b

“I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” Matthew 10:15

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6 (cf Mark 9:42)

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnasking ot teeth.’ “ Matthew 22:13

“Such men will be punished most severely.” Mark 12:40b

“Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter’. He treads the winepress of the fury of God Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh has this name written:

Revelation 19:15-16

Read the darker parts of Isaiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel sometime, and you’ll see confirmation on a larger scale, and to even greater degree. There is a point at which God Himself says “Enough!”, and works His wrath.

I think we ought to see a few portraits of the Angry Christ, to warn people while there is still time. It sure seems that most people are unaware that the Lord is Just. And angry.