Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Folly of Hope

Among the many great reads in the Bible are the accounts of Paul and his struggles to gain the understanding of the Gnostics in Corinth. Their failure to fully understand the facts of the resurrection and its deeply personal message for them was, I am sure, painful to him. He did pursue the matter earnestly and argue the reality with great skill. There were many who were convinced but there were also those who chose to ignore his vital words.

To properly shine the light on Christ, his presentations were appropriately laced with humility born of respect for the Savior. He acknowledged his own failings and humanity. He encouraged others to seek the perfection which only Christ can bring to ones life. While he was a powerful force in advocacy, I am certain that there were those who saw in his admitted failures, a weakness in the overall message. They did not see the strength in his humility.

These Gnostics are still with us. They are impatient for God to come in person and pave the pathway for personal ease in this present life. Their narcissism prevents looking ahead to plan for their own eternity. This condition was summed up by the late William F. Buckley by the use of an unwieldy phrase: “immanentizing the eschaton.” Like much of what Mr. Buckley had to offer, it captured precisely what he meant to say. Rather than send you off to Webster, let me offer a definition. “Immanentizing” roughly means to “bring into a current state.” “Eschaton” at its simplest refers to the afterlife. The phrase therefore calls for advancing the due process of reaching heaven to today. To experience the future in the here and now then becomes the goal.

For those who seek this solution the most important aspect of their lives is today. They fail to understand that God works on His own timetable and their protestations notwithstanding are meaningless. Much as Paul was surrounded by the Gnostics in Corinth, we are assaulted with the same in our very real time world. If you question this assertion I would suggest you turn on the TV, open a periodical, or pay attention to the purveyors of hope.

Progressives, fascists, and Marxists through the ages have attempted to gain the support of the people through offerings of ease and comfort in terms of their present life through their own vile programs. They promise the joys of the afterlife in untenable doctrines which invariably work to diminish the individual in the favor of the state. They indulge in endless promise of perfection here on earth which they promote at the expense of those who actually contribute to the enhancement of life. These people, while offering untenable proposals, are not nearly as insidious as two other categories of endless “promisers.”

Politicians have a special corner in the universe of those who imagine the prospect of heaven on earth. We are asked to accept that men in high office have the capacity to effect change which will bring us to an unearthly joy and peace through their efforts. They invariably project a messianic image to garner our support. They urge us to see the man and his trained and well coached abilities of communication as the avenue to earthly salvation. Better this than a hard look at such mundane things as associations, voting records, and stated policy opinions. Their rallies and caucuses take on the aura of an old time gospel camp meeting with the fervor, swooning and altar calls one might expect. Those in attendance would not be too surprised to witness “speaking in tongues.” Come to think of it, some of their preposterous offerings come very close to just that.

Perhaps the most offensive of those who offer heaven on earth are the religionists. If any should know better, those who occupy pulpits should. Our scripture is rife with the examples of men of God who have suffered, been killed violently, hungered and endured all manner of affliction to promote the concepts of Christianity. Are they merely an historical anomaly? No, they followed the path which they knew and were willing to forego earthly comfort for the eventualities of the afterlife. They did not preach a “prosperity gospel.” They understood the promises which God has made and continues to make for the richness of the Spirit today and tomorrow.

It strikes me that pursuit of heaven here on earth by those who should rightfully be promoting the realities of the message are the greatest of offenders. They are in essence failing to understand the entire concept of their faith. They simply demonstrate their actual misunderstanding of the gospel. They claim to seek a zionic condition with “no poor among us.” Poor can also be interpreted as poverty of the spirit and understanding. It would be wise to be wary of those who would promise hope without substance.

For those who seek the ideal life, cling to the "rod of iron" as you have been clearly instructed. It, the ideal life, exists, but not in this world. This in no way means that we should not seek to perfect our lives and circumstance. In summary, let me quote one of my favorite writers, Jonah Goldberg: “But even though Utopian dreams are forever out of reach, there’s no reason for us to assume that people won’t always strive for them. Such is both the audacity, and the folly of hope.”

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Friday, April 4, 2008

Musical Genius

You may trust me when I tell you that I have never watched American Idol. It is also my intention to never ever watch it. We already have an over-abundance of celebrities in our culture. I find the public’s reaction to this type of programming shallow and vacuous. From various comments and general reactions to this blog I believe our readership has a seriousness which precludes them from being fans of this sort of thing.

As a life long musician (baritone, guitar, trumpet, piano, etc.,) I have developed an overly critical view of performance artists. I can barely tolerate listening to over paid and under talented people take the stage. If you think I am curmudgeonly about faith, politics and global warming you haven’t seen the epitome of high dudgeon when I am exposed to “artists” who are untrained, unprepared and untalented. For what it’s worth, I am also highly critical of my own performances. If folks are going to devote time and their attention I feel that I owe them preparation on my part. At the least, a church “talent night” features offerings which have a measure of sincerity to offset a lack of musical training.

Imagine my pleasure and complete surprise when I found this link while surfing the net this morning. This young lady demonstrates the talent, poise, discipline and God given skills to impress even the most critical observer. If you click on no other link this year, this one should be your number one choice. Enjoy it to the fullest.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Common Sense R.I.P.

I was saddened today to receive word of the passing of Common Sense. It was not surprising to hear the news since it had been around for so long. We were, my parents and I, raised on it and had a rich appreciation of its value. I am certain that the demise was caused by so many ignoring it in favor of other dicta. One observer was heard to remark, “use it or lose it.”

Well, we lost it so the least we can do is pass along this obituary in remembrance.

"Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch, and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student only worsened his condition. Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Aspirin, sun lotion or a Bandaid to a student, but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion. Common Sense lost the will to live when religions became businesses and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know my Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I'm a Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing."

Thanks for taking the time to recall this lost value.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Re: Accommodation Gone Mad

UPDATE: You did remember that yesterday was April Fools Day, didn’t you?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Accommodation Gone Mad

Courtesy and respect are part of the glue which holds our society together. There is a measure of necessity to provide an equal opportunity to all Americans, regardless of physical circumstance or possible disability. Some accommodations though, really seem to carry things too far.

Recently, the Burger King Corporation announced the intention to offer a new menu item. For the 32 million left-handed citizens, they will be offering a Left-Handed Whopper. It will contain the same ingredients as the original but all the condiments will be reconfigured by 180º. The familiar lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc. will remain unchanged but only repositioned. Those persons who are afflicted with “left-handedness,” will probably welcome this development. Since Burger King has enjoyed remarkable success, this is a measure which will affect million of Americans.

Surely there is an end point to this sort of thing but it just continues apace.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Sex, Lies and Video Tape

That was the name of a movie I saw some years ago that really wasn’t all that great. I have since decided it would be an apt title for the current political scene. Each component has played a major role in recent events.

We have witnessed a string of three governors of New York (2) and New Jersey (1) in the recent past who have publicly admitted various sexual dalliances. So far, two have tendered resignations. I realize that sex and power are connected but this is ridiculous. It must be the water in the governor’s mansion which provokes this abhorrent behavior. I fully understand the characteristics of addictions, having traveled that road, but I do not understand how anyone in such high office could be so arrogant as to believe they had no risk of consequences. (Ed. note: Ah, but where were the consequences in the case of a certain presidential candidate's hubby?) If they were drunks or druggies they would immediately be hustled off to rehab. Where is the facility for the sexual addict? I guess I missed that one.( Ed. note: Ask a certain presidential candidate's hubby.)

Unfortunately it’s not just a problem for the married couples involved. The people are involved as well since each is also accompanied by charges of or insinuations of playing fast and loose with either state monies or campaign funds. Either way, it’s not their money, it’s yours. Attorneys general take a dim view of that sort of thing, especially when one of the accused was formerly one of their own. Each, with a stoic spouse by his side, has made an embarrassing apology and is preparing to fade off the public scene. (Ed. note: But that wasn't the case with a certain presidential candidate's hubby, was it?) If they are convicted of felonies on related charges they could also lose their law licenses. By virtue of their public confessions at least they are not threatened by perjury charges.

The “lies” part of the title is so common as to almost become the norm for some of the presidential candidates. Probably the most egregious was the allegation of “ducking sniper fire in Bosnia.” Fortunately, in my military career, sniper fire or for that matter, any fire was scarce. When it did happen, I remembered it. For most vets, this would be the rule. I could easily understand a person exposed to near continuous fire in a variety of locations for a prolonged period having some difficulty remembering certain places and the exact situation. Since this individual obviously knew in advance of the claim that it was not true; it was a lie! Now that the voting public has become aware of this, the prospect of acceptance has diminished nearly 10% against a variety of contenders.

Among those contenders is one who has made equally ridiculous assertions. They include claims of extreme poverty and disadvantage in the formative years. Another is the burden of educational expense which remains as a result of student loans. The third is the sudden expedient disassociation with a long time (20 years) mentor/pastor once claimed as an advisor. Eye witness testimony and conflicting evidence conflicts with the poverty claim. Even those poor in mathematics realize that persons with a household income in excess of a half million a year are not jeopardized by student loans of any size. As we say in the Ozarks, it just doesn’t scour. So how does the average handle puller in the voting booth ever know the difference?

This is where the video tape comes in. In the first case, abundant footage of the event is available in video archives. The much touted “fire fight” turned out to be welcoming men, women and children. In fact, one beautiful little girl braved the “withering fire” to deliver a welcoming bouquet. Archival tape is definitely no friend to a serial prevaricator. The whole scene revealed a secure situation and genuine joy on the part of the reception committee.

In the second example, video tape also provided copy after copy of the hate filled rants of the candidate’s advisor. His venom, interspersed with anti-American rhetoric and “tin-foil hat” tales of imagined conspiracy and revisionist history provide some insight into what the person feels about our beloved country. Let’s assume that the candidate only went to church or had casual contact once a month for those twenty years. How is it possible then, after 240 exposures, to avoid hearing any trace of his diatribes? It is not possible; it’s a lie!

The truth is simple. These people believe that they can say or do anything and the public will pay no attention. To a large degree, this is true. Some have become blinded by partisan prejudice which does not allow the truth to enter. I have avoided names and party affiliation to identify these folks because politicians as a group appear to share these traits. I freely admit to exercising “prejudice” but it is based on observation and the evidence of reality.

The worst of it is their failure to realize the capacity of the ordinary citizen in today’s information ripe world to do individual research and actually reach the truth. They do not seem to understand the power of “you tube”, Drudge, and two million other bloggers. Over time, I have found the bloggers to be as pure as Ivory, 99.77%. Once a reader catches a blogger in an intentional falsehood he no longer returns. Since traffic is the currency of the blogosphere, most are scrupulous followers of the truth. Yes, they have opinions but they also recognize in their milieu, that the “video tape” can come back to haunt you. I shudder to think of these politicians in positions of authority.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 31

Mr. Andrew Potter of the Ottawa Citizen has graciously provided the grist for the morning mill. We are definitely on the same page regarding his concept of “declinism.” This is a pessimistic outlook which attaches an apocalyptic outcome to nearly every facet of climate, politics, environment, commerce, health, and chemistry.

The declinists see the predictability of world-wide collapse under every bush. Population explosion was the popular cause fifty years ago. The era of vile chemistry was ushered in with the complicity of Rachael Carson and her book Silent Spring – never mind the incumbent death of tens of millions as a result. Nuclear holocaust and the total destruction of the world was then around the corner for another sixty three years. Every where one looked there was another looming peril. Today we have an even greater burgeoning industry in fear mongering. We choose to ignore our progress and comfort in modern society and focus on improbable factors in our lives which could possibly result in our extinction. For lack of anything else more dire, we can now await an impact with a meteorite the size of Iowa for our ultimate destruction.

Personally, I question that we can live like this and honestly say; we understand and give thanks to God for the marvelous gifts He has presented. We not only possess the physical features which surround us but also the encouraging presence of the Spirit. He is there to buoy us and give us the confident hope for our future with Him. I can only imagine that once in His presence, how trivial all these man-made frights will become. At seventy-six, I am far more concerned with my reception beyond the veil than the means of my departure.
A problem which has vexed me on an increasingly regular basis is that of supplying power to the myriad of devices I own which operate on AA batteries. I thought that buying the monster packs from Sam’s Club (80 count) would be the answer. It proved otherwise because I ran out this week when I tried to reload the camera.

At last, out of nowhere came the answer. I sincerely believe this should do the job:

Now, all I have to do is figure out how to get it in.
In a news release over the weekend, I came up with a Reuters report from Monsignor Vittorio Formenti from the Vatican. Monsignor Formenti is in charge of the statistics and his records indicate that the current Muslim population is 19.2% worldwide. This is in excess of the 17.4% calculated for Catholics. This marks the first time in recorded history in which the Catholic Church has fallen from their number one spot.

Happily, the figure does not include the total of Christians as a whole. Since it does represent an increasing number of Muslims from former calculations, I can’t help but wonder why. The presence of Catholic missionaries worldwide is ubiquitous but apparently not as aggressive as that of the Muslims. Additional Protestant missionaries are obviously not keeping up either.

I find it difficult to believe that our message of hope, love, and a verified resurrection is failing. I am not suggesting that we should adopt recruitment by violence and intimidation but it’s plain we are doing something wrong. Some Christians change denominations into and out of different groups with great regularity. What becomes difficult for others is the mixing of ecclesiastical and governmental authority. If offense to one equates to a crime in the other, it would certainly discourage any urge to seek the truth. In most Muslim countries, apostasy can result in severe penalties. (See the previous post on “Teapots”)

Returning family members have supplied anecdotal evidence of touring ancient cathedrals and religious venues in Europe and reporting them more as museums rather than places of worship. The burgeoning Muslim population on the continent must certainly be instrumental in that development. That, coupled with their nearly double birthrate would easily answer the question of how it is happening. Large families and selfishness cannot abide together.

One of the frequent toasts heard at a wedding reception is the admonition to “go forth and multiply.” Every one chuckles and the newly weds then continue on their merry way and ignore the advice. As a result they deprive themselves of one of God’s greatest gifts and Christianity suffers. If we continue to neglect this particular aspect of our stewardship, it will not be just the Catholics who are slipping backward; it will be all of us.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Works For Me

A friend sent this to me so I thought I’d share it with you:

”The Hillbilly's Ten Commandments (posted on the wall at Cross TrailsChurch in Gainesboro, TN )

(1) Just one God
(2) Put nothin' before God
(3) Watch yer mouth
(4) Git yourself to Sunday meetin'
(5) Honor yer Ma & Pa
(6) No killin'
(7) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal
(8) Don't take what ain't yers
(9) No tellin' tales or gossipin'
(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff”

I must be a natural here in the Ozarks because I find this pretty much says it all. Five “do’s” and five “don’t’s” just like the Good Book says. If anyone wishes to criticize, first assure me you observe all ten and then we’ll talk.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon