Monthly Archives: April 2014

Cleansing the Temple

After He entered Jerusalem Jesus went to the temple area. As the center of Jewish life, it only made sense for him to go there. No doubt many expected him to make his claim for the throne of his father David there as well. But that isn’t what Jesus did…

15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons; 16 and he would not allow any one to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he taught, and said to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and sought a way to destroy him; for they feared him, because all the multitude was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city.

(Mark 11:15-19)

This is not, however, the first time that the temple area had been cleansed. Back in the days of the Kingdom of Judah, before the Babylonian captivity, another son of David entered the temple area to cleanse it of its evil. In this instance it was King Josiah:

And the king commanded Hilki′ah, the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the threshold, to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels made for Ba′al, for Ashe′rah, and for all the host of heaven; he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. And he deposed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places at the cities of Judah and round about Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Ba′al, to the sun, and the moon, and the constellations, and all the host of the heavens. And he brought out the Ashe′rah from the house of the Lord, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and beat it to dust and cast the dust of it upon the graves of the common people. And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the Ashe′rah.

(2 Kings 23:4-7)

This was a shocking passage when I re-read it a few months ago. The notion of prostitution going on inside the temple area, the “House of the Lord”, is in some respects unbelievable. And yet, is it really all that hard to imagine? Perversion of proper worship of the Lord will invariably lead in that direction, and so it should be no surprise that it ended up happening. What got me thinking is how what is going on nowadays in many churches isn’t far off from what happened back then. As far as I can tell, the only real difference between then and now is that back then the idolaters weren’t hiding their activities. Such openness of sin isn’t the norm right now. At least, not yet….

8 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Sin, Temptation, The Church

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #21

Today is Palm Sunday, when we celebrate our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. His arrival and procession into the city of David was foretold by the Prophet Zechariah long before his birth:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on an ass,
    on a colt the foal of an ass.
10 I will cut off the chariot from E′phraim
    and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.

(Zechariah 9:9-10)

Here is the account from the Gospel of Mark:

And when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Beth′phage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat; untie it and bring it. If any one says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away, and found a colt tied at the door out in the open street; and they untied it. And those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said; and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it. And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!”

11 And he entered Jerusalem, and went into the temple; and when he had looked round at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

(Mark 11:1-11)

Reading this, it is amazing to think that only a few days later many of these people would have been among the crowd jeering at Jesus as he made his way to Golgotha. Yet such is the fickle nature of the human heart.

But that isn’t the real lesson to be learned here. Rather, what we should draw from this episode of the New Testament is that how we, as human beings, expect God to act doesn’t matter. It is immaterial. God is in no way bound to act however we want. He has His own purposes, His own plans. At the time of Jesus the Jews in the Roman province of Palestine were awaiting a Messiah, the Lord’s anointed one. They were expecting a king in the likes of David- someone who would drive the oppressive Romans and other foreigners out and restore Israel to its former glory. What they didn’t, couldn’t understand is that it was their own sin that was oppressing them. Like their ancestors in the days of yore, they had lost touch with the true faith. They professed to follow God but turned their backs on His ways. They followed the Letter of the Law, but not the Spirit. The Jews expected a savior who would set them free from their captivity. And this was true. But it was sin, not Rome, that was holding them captive. They couldn’t grasp that the Messiah was sent to ransom them from the captivity, and that He would pay the price for their lives:

Who has believed what we have heard?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
    and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb,
    so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him;
    he has put him to grief;
when he makes himself an offering for sin,
    he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand;
11     he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous;
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out his soul to death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

(Isaiah 53)

Leave a comment

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

Saturday Saints- #11

The Saint for today is Saint John of Damascus:

Saint John of Damascus (Greek: Ἰωάννης ὁ Δαμασκηνός / Iōannēs ho Damaskēnos; Latin: Iohannes Damascenus; Arabic: يوحنا الدمشقي / ALA-LC: Yūḥannā ad-Dimashqī; also known as John Damascene, and as Χρυσορρόας / Chrysorrhoas, literally “streaming with gold”—i.e., “the golden speaker”; c. 675 or 676 – 4 December 749) was a Syrian monk and priest. Born and raised in Damascus, he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem.

A polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology, philosophy, and music, he is said by some sources to have served as a Chief Administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus before his ordination. He wrote works expounding the Christian faith, and composed hymns which are still used both liturgically in Eastern Christian practice throughout the world as well as in western Lutheranism at Easter.He is considered “the last of the Fathers” of the Eastern Orthodox church and is best known for his strong defense of icons. The Catholic Church regards him as a Doctor of the Church, often referred to as the Doctor of the Assumption due to his writings on the Assumption of Mary.

(Wiki article here)

Here we have yet another influential Saint who I wasn’t familiar with. What I found especially interesting about him was the impact he had on the church and the theology of Christianity, and the time that he did so. He marks the end of the Fathers of the Church- those leaders and thinkers who came afterward were no longer building new foundations so much as reinforcing existing structures. That this took place during the heyday of the original Islamic expansion is probably no coincidence; Christianity was (in my view) forced to grow up and solidify as a result of the rise of Islam.

It is interesting to me as well that there is a lot known about his works and influence, but less so about the man himself. I suspect that he wouldn’t mind, St. John of Damascus strikes me as the kind of man who would want to be remembered for his teachings more than anything else. As always, I recommend reading the whole article.

1 Comment

Filed under Saturday Saints

No Man Is His Own Master…

…at least, not in today’s culture. I overheard this today (slightly edited for clarity and to protect the innocent):

Man 1: So, what do you do for a living?

Man 2: Well, I’m retired now, but I used to run my own business.

Man 1: What was that like?

Man 2: Tough. Lots of stress. Always something demanding my time.

Man 1: Still, must have been nice being your own boss.

Man 2: Eh, well, I have a wife….

Man 1: Well, second-in-command at least?

Two things came to my mind after hearing this conversation.

1) Things really have become this bad. Even as a joke this would have been bad enough, and it was far more serious than joking on their part. [If one wanted to treat it as a joke, it was the kind of joke that one would laugh at only so you didn’t cry. And no one laughed.] I could tell both via the facial expressions and the tone what was really going on. Man 2 was not in charge of his own life, and he knew it. Whether it was because he feared his wife, and the power she could bring against him via the state, or because he had been conditioned to accept it, Man 2 was subject to her, and not the other way around. No idea if they were Christians or not. Or rather, called themselves Christians or not. Because a more complete reversion of Scripture would be hard to find.

2) Egalitarianism was never the goal. Never. The intent of feminism all along was to subjugate men. You cannot have a “perfect” power balance between the sexes. Period. And that is because perfect power balances are simply not possible. Eventually someone has to buckle, or the whole thing will break apart. Someone must submit. Authority must ultimately vest in one entity. That is just how the world works. It is the way of things.

Applying a Christian context to this event, this is what “Mutual Submission” looks like in practice. Oh, there might be those who have some other ideas- they still include notions of wifely submission and husband headship, of reverence and love. But if that is what they are practicing, then it isn’t Mutual Submission as meant and applied by 99% of the “Christians” out there. For that overwhelming majority, Mutual Submission means “equality” in power. And that means, in practice, that the wife rules and the husband submits. Or else.

57 Comments

Filed under Blue Pill, Christianity, Churchianity, Feminism, Marriage, Masculinity, Red Pill, Women

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #20

Today’s Gospel reading in the Catholic Church is the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11. Given the theme of the raising of the dead in church today, the next few passages will address that subject. The first is the story of Elijah raising the widow’s son from the dead:

17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; and his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Eli′jah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her bosom, and carried him up into the upper chamber, where he lodged, and laid him upon his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, hast thou brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s soul come into him again.” 22 And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Eli′jah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Eli′jah took the child, and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and delivered him to his mother; and Eli′jah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Eli′jah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

(1 Kings 17:17-24)

Compare that account of a prophet raising someone from the dead with how Jesus accomplishes the same act:

11 Soon afterward he went to a city called Na′in, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report concerning him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

(Luke 7:11-17)

Elijah had to appeal to God to raise the widows’ son. He had not the power himself. Instead, it was only through the intervention of God, acting through Elijah, that the young man was raised from the dead. Elisha likewise, who inherited the station of his mentor Elijah, also had to appeal to God to raise the Shunammite woman’s son. Jesus, however, was under no such restriction. He merely had to say “arise”, and life returned to the dead man. No appeal to God was necessary, because Jesus himself was, is, one with our Father in Heaven. As Jesus explained to Martha:

“I am the resurrection and the life;he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

(John 11:25-26)

Despite the obvious differences between what occurred with the prophets and Jesus, the crowd in Nain failed to realize this. They believed Jesus to be a prophet, and yet no prophet could have done what he did. They could not understand that the divine intervention which took place was Jesus Himself. The Resurrection, Life itself, walked amongst them, and they did not understand. They were so set in their ways they couldn’t see God when He was in front of their very eyes. Let us avoid their mistake and, like the man born blind whose eyes were opened by our Savior, see things for what they are, not how we expect or want them to be.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

A Thousand Words, Poorly Spoken

In Vox Day’s latest post at Alpha Game, Delta Face, he treats the subject of Brandon Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla. Vox is anything but complimentary. Including a picture from wikipedia of Eich in the post, this is what he had to say in his initial paragraph:

No one who saw this picture and understands Game was even remotely surprised by the way the Mozilla debacle played out over the last week. Human socio-sexuality is visible to the naked eye; just look at the soft features, the large, teddy-bearish frame, and most important, the uncertain, ready-to-please smile.

Vox continues to go on about how Eich is a Delta in Vox’s own socio-sexual hierarchy, and how other ranks would have reacted in the same situation that Eich faced. While interesting as speculation, that isn’t what drives this post.

Rather, I wanted to briefly echo the old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It really is true, and in fact pictures might be worth far more than just a thousand words. They can convey an awful lot, whether we intend to or not. This is something I have become particularly aware of since I found this part of the ‘net. If you aren’t careful, a poor picture of oneself can make those who view it believe you are something other than what you are. Or it can reveal a truth about you that you didn’t intend to reveal.

Here is the photo that Vox was using as the basis for his post:

Now, I have never met Brandon Eich. At least, that I can remember. I’ve met a lot folks over the years, so who knows? I certainly don’t recall any meeting though, so will treat him as an unknown. So I don’t know what he is really like in person. But if all that I had to go on of him was this picture, well… it just isn’t very favorable.

Its not that he is ugly or anything. Or that he seems like an unpleasant person. Or lazy or a bum or anything like that. But his smile is simply awful.

It is tepid.

Weak.

Unmanly.

That really gets to the heart of it. Eich’s smile here is completely unmasculine. Without knowing more about him, I would evaluate him as the kind of guy who would buckle when the going gets tough. Of course, I knew that about him before I saw the picture. But if I had seen the picture beforehand, I would have guessed that he would do what he eventually did.

Of course, he might not have been that way at all. He could have just been at the dentist earlier, and so his mouth was sore and his smile was awkward as a result. Or maybe the picture was taken in some other circumstance that would explain away such a weak smile. But I don’t know that, and neither does anyone else who sees that picture. It conveys weakness, whether he realizes it or not, and whether he intends it or not.

Compare that photo with this one:

[Edit: This has been suggested as a better picture. I included it originally in the comments, but have moved it here:

For those curious, it is Sean Connery as James Bond.]

Quite a bit of difference, right? Does anyone get that same impression of weakness and indecisiveness that was present in the first photo? I don’t. Again, I don’t know this guy. Never met him, probably never will. He could be the very worst White Knigh to ever live. But this photo conveys the impression of a suave guy who is in control of his life, and won’t bend or break easily. And  this is due not to his looks, but the expression on his face. For those inclined to use the word “Alpha” when describing a man, this would fit the bill. He carries himself as an “Alpha”, whereas Eich carries himself as (in Vox’s terminology) a “Delta.”

So what is the point of all of this?

Well, I have had some pretty awful pictures of me taken in my life. Some that I hope are lost and gone forever. Because as I look back on them, I realize how utterly unmanly I was in them. This is something that I think all men need to be careful of. If we want to provide a good impression of ourselves, good photographs matter, a lot. You will be judged by your demeanor, and you shouldn’t forget that.

So if anyone tells you to smile, and they don’t like the cocky grin that you give in reply, too bad for them. Hold your ground, and tell them that it is how you smile. If they have a problem with it, it is their problem, not yours.

If  pictures are going to speak for you (and they will, whether you like it or not), don’t let them speak poorly.

23 Comments

Filed under Alpha, APE, Attraction, Beta, LAMPS, Masculinity, Men, Red Pill

Saturday Saints- #10

The saint for today is Saint Ignatius of Antioch:

Ignatius of Antioch (Ancient Greek: Ἰγνάτιος Ἀντιοχείας, also known as Theophorus from Greek Θεοφόρος “God-bearer”) ((c. 35 or 50) – (from 98 to 117)) was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. En route to Rome, where according to Christian tradition he met his martyrdom by being fed to wild beasts, he wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology. Important topics addressed in these letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops.

(Wiki here)

Saint Ignatius is an extraordinarily fascinating individual. Our understanding of him is greatly helped by the fact that many of his writings have survived to the present day. Unfortunately a number of spurious writings were also attributed to him as well. Still, his writing provides a valuable glimpse into the life, history and theology of the early Church. Three things that I found especially interesting:

1) He was one of the earliest teachers of the dualistic nature of Jesus Christ as both God and Man.

2) It seems that he was an early advocate of the doctrine of transubstantiation, given his statements on the Eucharist being the flesh of Christ.

3) He is also known or believed to be the first person to use the Greek word katholikos to describe the church. The word means universal or complete. Here is a bit from the wiki:

It is from the word katholikos (“according to the whole”) that the word catholic comes. When Ignatius wrote the Letter to the Smyrnaeans in about the year 107 and used the word catholic, he used it as if it were a word already in use to describe the Church. This has led many scholars to conclude that the appellation Catholic Church with its ecclesial connotation may have been in use as early as the last quarter of the 1st century.

The universality of the church thus seems to have been a very early development, dating perhaps even to the Apostolic period.

I encourage everyone to read the whole article at wikipedia, as there is a great deal to absorb there that is worth reading.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

4 Comments

Filed under Saturday Saints

An About Face

Will S. over at Patriactionary has a new post up wherein he dissects a claim by Russel Moore that young Evangelicals aren’t moving left, just rejecting the Christian right. Instead they are just “freakish. I don’t have much to say about the post, or the piece it covers. Instead, I wanted to throw in my thoughts on the change in the Evangelical movement.

You see, I have, in my (relatively) short lifetime observed a monumental shift in the Evangelical movement. In fact, from what I can tell, in the space of a single generation the Evangelical movement has made a near complete transformation. When I was younger my Evangelical friends were very much opposed to the world. They stood out from everyone else, and basically didn’t bother to fit in. I would even say that many enjoyed standing apart from everyone else.

That isn’t the case any longer. Now many of my Evangelical friends have become leftists to some degree or another. They hardly resemble the people I remember growing up. Now most are just pro-life liberals. And I’m not sure about even that any more. As far as I can tell they have all gone full Churchian. Of course, many were that way to begin with. But now they aren’t really hiding it anymore.

Frankly, the transformation has been shocking. It amazes me to think of how quickly a broad movement like that can shift so quickly. Especially given how influential it was in some quarters. Yet the change is there, especially amongst my generation. Given the troubles of the Catholic Church, and some rumors of feminization of the Orthodox Church here in the US, well… I dare say we are heading towards Remnant territory. Brace yourselves folks.

29 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Churchianity, The Church