Saturday, December 15, 2012

Some Thoughts for Difficult Days

The Times We Live In Deserve Contemplation

Sunset Flight
An airliner streaks across the sunset sky.

Times Like These...

SAM: "It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something."

FRODO: "What are we holding on to, Sam?"

SAM: "There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for."

FRODO: “I wish the ring had never come to me”, I wish none of this had ever happened”

GANDALF: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

I just had to refrain from blogging and pray. I thought a hiatus was in order. This is a time to be still before the Lord, not engage in deep analysis. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. Perhaps as we pray, we might allow ourselves to be challenged. What sort of  a society have we become? If the answer frightens us, what might we do about it? Might it be time for a national period of prayer and reflection? Indeed, the evening of September 11, 2001 found many of us gathered in our churches. The evening of December 14, 2012 probably found too many of us on the internet.

Earlier in the day I was discussing what happened in Benghazi with a friend who said: "surely people will see the wrong in this situation." I shook my head: "No, I'm afraid Dennis Prager describes the fact that there are two Americas now. One, that we recognize and identify with, acknowledges G-d and an individual's responsibility to Him; the other does not, it is secular."

The Academy, the media and popular culture all are, for the most part, aligned with the secular humanists. They will argue that religion causes things like this (suddenly discovering the Taliban they seem to have forgotten). They will rail that G-d cannot be because He allows evil, or that He IS evil. Of course, they will argue that He is nonexistent. They will scoff at the notion of God-defined evil as they use the evil they recognize to invalidate the notion that there is a G-d.

They will be quick to argue for gun control or concealed carry for administrators as the best answer. While these discussions are necessary, they need not happen right now. Rushing for pragmatic solutions might miss what William Wilberforce saw as important as his crusade against slavery; The Reformation of Manners. I don't mean a crusade against elbows on the table here, Wilberforce saw a cruel society... cruel to animals, cruel to the African slaves, cruel to each other. In short, he saw a society that needed a work of G-d. He sought to enact what reforms he could in the English Parliament, but really, revival is a matter of the heart.

Mark Steyn writes of Wilberforce: "What we think of as "the Victorian era" was, in large part, an invention of Wilberforce that he succeeded in selling to his compatriots. We children of the 20th century mock our 19th century forebears as uptight prudes, moralists and do-gooders. If they were, it's because of Wilberforce. His legacy includes the very notion of a "social conscience": In the 1790s a good man could stroll past an 11-year-old prostitute on a London street without feeling a twinge of disgust or outrage; he accepted her as merely a feature of the landscape, like an ugly hill. By the 1890s, there were still child prostitutes, but there were also charities and improvement societies and orphanages."

"What Wilberforce vanquished was something even worse than slavery, something that was much more fundamental and can hardly be seen from where we stand today: He vanquished the very mind-set that made slavery acceptable and allowed it to survive and thrive for millennia. He destroyed an entire way of seeing the world, one that had held sway from the beginning."  writes Eric Metaxas.

Wilberforce  was able to craft legislation that built upon the teachings of Christ. Most of his contemporaries acknowledged G-d and could see the morality of his arguments. Today we see a cruel society as well, but steeped in the teaching of moral relativism, it is much easier to justify defying the mandates of Scripture. But, Like Sam, the noble hobbit, we must find a way to hold on to this: "There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for."

Most of all, I want to be party to the healing of hearts in Newtown. The only statistics that matter right now are these: For everyone murdered there are two grieving parents, probably four grieving grandparents, dozens of other relatives, in fact, each life lost creates a hole in many lives. I pray G-d will fill that hole. His Word says "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart;" -- Psalm 34:18 and when I see Him so engaged, may I be drawn close to Him in His purpose.

Some Thoughts [click to read] from Pastor Chuck Balsamo.
Remembering the Victims [click to read]
from Lynn Mitchell. Please pray for their families.
The Reformation of Manners [click to read]
from Stand to Reason Blog.

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