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What Should We Then Believe

When I was a young child growing up in Pennsylvania, one of the attractions that was popular at the time was a game called Green Ghost. It was a game that was played in the dark, because it eerily glowed in the dark. Ouija boards were popular also. I received one as a present from an Aunt, which after a few experiences, mysteriously went missing. Years later a conversation with my mother solved the mystery with the disappearance, which involved the wisdom of my Dad and Mom disposing of it discretely. During that time my cousins and I searched the area for haunted houses and we did have an experience at one that left us high tailing it out of the area.

This was the 60’s, a time when superstitions were being challenged by the new intellectuals being placed in key positions throughout society to challenge the orthodoxy of belief in anything beyond what one could scientifically observe and measure. In a sense, it was a good move, because many people of that time had a belief system that believed a superstitious tale just as easily as a door to door salesman with “an honest face” and a convincing handshake. It was not very long after those times that a period of long overdue skepticism in a substantial portion of the population began taking root.

But the skepticism had unintended consequences, of which only a few seem to recognize today. For instance, an honorable women’s suffrage movement started to gain the vote for women morphed into a movement that initially was opposed to “sexist” treatment of females until those in the movement were revealed to have the same sins, and so finally morphed into the ultimate change agents goals of unfettered access to abortion services, or the right to kill a baby in the womb, an essential doctrine of the materialist, Marxist creed.

Martin Luther King’s efforts to raise the respect and status of oppressed black Americans with his “I have a Dream” speech, and “Letters to a Birmingham Jail” morphed into Marxist organizations such as the NAACP, SCLC and leaders like Al Sharpton who make it impossible for their believers to ever realize the dreams of a society built on respect and good will if they ingest the poison of their hate inspired Marxism.

The supposed sexual repression of our ancestors was blatantly propagandized through the efforts of Hugh Hefner and others who promised a new age of sexual freedom, only to effectively damage the expected commitment of men to women through marriage. The so called sexual freedom touted by the 60’s gurus morphed into a lethal weapon against anyone who tastes the poison of  “sexual freedom”. Just as Edmund in “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” came to find out that Turkish delight was a trap for his appetites, so have many found that accusations can now be made against them for their sexual indulgences that will destroy them just as well as a Supreme Court nominee.  And now, a media that has sold its soul to the Marxist creed that views sex as a primal appetite versus the gift of God it was intended to be eradicates any voices in its high places who do not bow to the false god of this new socialist order. Theirs is the role of the “secret police”  brought on to prey on the work of Hugh Hefner and his ilks. Even to this day with the firing of Trish Reagan, the pogrom continues to ensure the potency of this media weapon against men or women who would exercise moral leadership against an order that is the definition of evil and human oppression with its roots in “sexual freedom”.

So what should we believe of the Wuhan virus, aptly named due to its origins, which even now has leftist howling memes of racism over the term that in their view should be called by its medical term COVID-19? I detect a non-sequitur in the use of the term. “Abortion”, a colloquial feel good term serves no one but the ignorant, frightened or callous woman who makes this moral choice, including the void of conscience “doctor” who administers the act. “Abortion” as a term should be replaced by “homicide” based on the logic of the media cabal’s angst over Wuhan. At least the term “Wuhan” transmits to everyone a piece of useful, factual information.

I have friends on all sides of this issue, and news articles from any news source one cares to hear that present the polar opposites of “the sky is falling” and “the emperor is wearing no clothes”. Some do not see the serious chasm that exists in our nation today on this issue, as well as many others. It takes me back to my youth days where I wanted to believe that fun and adventure were vested in uncovering the mysteries of haunted houses and playing games in the dark. I didn’t understand that the polar opposites at that time were the ideas held by my cousins and those of my parents. At the time I chose to believe from the basis of my emotions that playing with the occult was just another way to have fun, and my parents just didn’t understand what I believed to be true. I clearly was wrong then, and I only have myself to blame. I have learned that my emotions can lead me to believe something that rational thought will not support, and no rational argument can sway. And I have learned that rational thought, unhinged from a morality that is transcendent to my own can lead to just as erroneous and steadfast of a conclusion, if not more dangerous.

What does that leave? Belief. But belief that involves both emotions and rational thought, that incorporates all our faculties; belief in something or someone that transcends my ability to imagine a perfect world. John Lennon was just as slick as the door to door salesman selling inferior products to start his propaganda song with imagining away the very basis of finding that perfect world we all desire. Nice package, terrible product. I’m reminded of something about a millstone in regards to the outcome of the matter.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, NET)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NET).

So whether I read an article stating that a healthy 17 year old French girl receiving the best medical care available living south of Paris caught the virus and died within 72 hours, or whether I read that epidemiologist Neil Ferguson who was behind the highly cited Corona virus model drastically downgrades his projections; whether I listen to the recent White House press release with leaders working diligently to balance health care concerns with freedom and economic impacts or choose to wallow in the latest fears of the media “elite” of global economic and civil catastrophe, I choose to believe that we will come through this time in history because of God’s love with opportunities to love, serve and recognize the beauty that God created for us to enjoy and preserve.

How Shall We Then Discriminate?

Discrimination/distinctiveness/categorization/classification all have implications when the words are used in a conversation, but would you say they all essentially convey the same intent? Our eyesight depends on us discriminating the difference between a stationary object and a fixed one. For instance, a moving car, and one that is at rest. But we can also tell the qualitative difference between a red car and a white car. Some, through experience and assimilated information can recognize the difference between a Ford and a Mazda, or a Dodge and a Ferrari. They can do this because there is a distinctiveness that is observable and repeatable with a person’s investigation of the attributes of a Ford and a Mazda. To discriminate between a 1965 Chevy Impala and a 1966 Chevy Impala, however, requires more detailed knowledge of both of those car models and their unique attributes. One can have an opinion on whether a given car is a ’65 or a ’66 model, but unless they have accrued the ability to recognize the distinctiveness between those models, their opinion may be wrong. Our ability to hear is much the same way. We are able to discriminate between each person’s voice based on the attributes our minds store and recall of that voice.

The ability of a person to classify the objects and methods of a given profession among the engineering/medical/flight sciences/legal and other professional fields is a desirable attribute. Certainly, in this technological age, this capability has been fundamental to the world’s accoutrements we enjoy and depend on today, like roads, air travel, electricity, and so on. So, when a categorization emerges in our society that defies normative, historical and obvious attributes, how should we react? In my mind there are four alternatives to analyzing categories:

  1. The categorizations are based on verifiable attributes that are universally observable through functional senses or logically and truthfully derived means
  2. The categorizations are based on discovering attributes that were previously not observable or understood
  3. The categorizations are based on ideas that are not verifiable or consistently defined
  4. The categorizations are based on a false premise

The reason for understanding where a given set of classifications are derived from may start to become obvious to some. If the classifications are derived from alternative 3 or 4, one could legitimately question whether the categorizations of a subject are valid or appropriate for universal acceptance.

You may have noticed by now that I have used all four terms I introduced in the first sentence in an interchangeable manner, and that the meaning of the sentences were not maligned by the term I chose to use. But in our minds, I believe we do understand the implications between the terms, and the use of a specific term may be intentional at times to hide the basis of categorical assignments. For instance, it is it is generally considered bad to discriminate, but not to categorize. In the political field we seek out the distinctiveness of a candidate, but it can be ambiguous to classify a politician with terms like “liberal” or “conservative” unless those terms have been well defined (which they are usually not). The term that is used when one wants to obfuscate potentially damaging categorization implications is “moderate” in this situation. This classification seems to fall into the third alternative above, which is a categorization based on an idea that is not verifiable or consistent.

Could it be that when someone uses these terms, they intend to convey a personal preference about the topic of discussion? For instance, when one wants to cast dispersion on a person for their ability to distinguish qualities, one would say that they are “discriminating against …”. If one wants to market a person’s ability to distinguish qualities, one would say they are able to “tell the truth” against an idea that is anathema to their target group. Sound familiar? It should in today’s culture.

The take-away is partially this: if we are to give an audience to someone’s categorizations, it may serve us well to question what the categorizations are based on. There’s a verse in the Bible that states: “Who can know the heart (mind) of a man?” If the categorizations in use during the conversation are based on unsubstantiated or undefined categories, we should not be swayed to accept their conclusions unless we can frame the subject in categorizations that are based on true and verifiable attributes. Otherwise one has to presume upon a person’s inner motivations for the meaning, and consequently “who can know the heart of man”?

For instance, the classifications of male and female have been substantially observable via methods of sight and function as long as humans have been distinguishable from other forms of life. Function pertains to the innate potential each gender has at birth; sight is the mature result of a person’s unique physical characteristics. We have been carrying these classifications through every culture which builds up a body of law regarding each gender based on cultural understandings of the attributes regarding each gender. There are other less dependable distinctive qualities that are used to discriminate between male and female such as temperament, physical strength and proclivities toward certain illnesses of the body.

So, what do you think the new so called “gender identities” are based on: 1, 2, 3 or 4? This would be a great framework to conduct dialog with a friend and establish a basis for evaluating the merit of a given assertion regarding “gender identity”, or any other categorization that is proposed to support a change in the way our nations laws are written. Our first task as humans according to the writings in Genesis were to name (classify) the animal kingdom. Categorizations are the basis of much of our communication, indeed our ability to communicate rests on the classification of sounds with meanings, or words. To discriminate, then, is to separate one thing from another. The connotation is that one thing is preferable over another, or, in the case of a caste system, one thing is allegedly less than another and can be discriminated against. So how should we then discriminate? I propose that it should always be based on alternative 1 or 2 for a civil and just society, where dialog is respectfully honest and the underlying assumptions foundational to the categorizations can be exposed.

Family Expansion

This past weekend our middle daughter was married in a picturesque setting with fresh white snow during a bright and clear sunny Colorado day with friends and family witnessing the creation of the new family union. Tears and laughter intermingled with the realization that while something new was being formed, something that was once a new and welcome delight was fading away into the land of memories gone by that would exist now only in our minds and hearts, devoid forever of its original context.

The new had come, the old was done away with in that wonderful ceremony where two hearts were united. The metamorphosis of a cocooned caterpillar into a butterfly remains a vivid analogy of what we experienced at the wedding. A beautiful bride, a handsome groom, the two combining into something greater than either of them as single beings emerged to fly into the future that is filled with hopes, dreams, expectations and vigor.

Rachel and I, Ryan and Sasha witnessed it from our perspective as parents, but there were other perspectives just as vivid. Siblings, family members, friends and adult mentors filled the wedding atmosphere with their joy and acceptance of this union of two souls in Christian marriage. Vendors who supplied the necessary artifacts to celebrate the occasion openly expressed their approval and blessing over the event that they were happy and eager to support. It was a confluence of people that memorialized the event with their presence and a sharing that will be uniquely ours for as long as we live and remember.

It is the beginning of a venture that brings new hope, meaning and possibilities to the world in which they will live. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth (I Cor 3:6)” is analogous to the culmination of a wedding, the realization that there are factors beyond parental oversight of any one individual that converges to create this vital and unique union. I thank God for the growth I tangibly see in the ones who are the object of this wedding, and it provides renewed hope for the growth I do not yet see in other areas where God will work unseen and powerfully both in my life and the lives of each of the wedding guests.

Congratulations to the groom and bride, Tyler & Carisse Warrum! You have our support, our love and our shielding thoughts and prayers over your marriage union that we now provide to Brandon and Alicia, with the assurance that we will continue our support, love and fervent prayers for your two other siblings, Daniel and Katy.

Interruptions, Distractions and Plan Changes

In the past when we made resolutions for the New Year, we noticed that it didn’t take long for interruptions, distractions and schedule plan changes to dash our aspirations once they had been delayed or set aside for pressing circumstances. Can anyone relate to that?! We remembered that Joseph and Mary’s plans were disrupted, to say the least when God’s time to come to earth was actualized. Census takings and wars have also disrupted many plans and schedules down through the ages, although at this time a census does not disrupt the way it did in previous times. Other things, like layoffs, new jobs and family emergencies seem to have taken that place in these times.

So we decided on a “mission statement” many years ago that would help determine what our priorities should be, and work through our circumstances to implement things that were important to attaining some measure of that mission statement. That worked for years, until the mission statement became controversial among some family members. We didn’t converse about the disagreements specifically like we had during its inception and adoption. One day it just became apparent that the mission statement of the family was only embraced by certain members.
What caused the drift? In short, the unexpected, the unplanned, the thoughts and ideas that germinated in receptive minds without salient conversation. If we observe that in our family, which is a microcosm of our society, is it any wonder that we observe it growing within our society towards the underpinnings of this nation and at times, the church?

But the same mechanism which causes such turmoil also provided the way in which the decay of our souls and society could be arrested and transformed back into something that was at one time beautiful and desirable. So if there is any resolution that seems to prevail in my mind this year, it is that we should not be adverse to those divine interruptions, distractions and plan changes that bring about seminal changes in our life trajectory here on earth that allow more of God’s kingdom to prevail around us.

We still have made plans, and we still have goals to accomplish this year and ways to measure our progress in attaining them. How we will balance those goals and aspirations with the interruptions, distractions and plan changes that will inevitably come is our prayer this year. Prayer for grace and wisdom to know the difference between a divine intervention or a challenge to overcome. Prayer for each of our friends and family to also grow in their understanding of God’s purposes and enabling in their lives and families as they navigate the year.

2020 vision is a wonderful ability to naturally have, but in truth Christians know that “we see through a glass darkly”. Because of this, we are more open to recognizing our own blindness to God’s goodness and purposes and working through those ramifications when interruptions, distractions and plan changes seep into our lives this year. How about you?

Dipping our toes in 2020

We began our year on midnight, January 1 at home with some party poppers, throw down snappers, toasts to each other’s health and prayers for us to be more sensitive to God’s leading and His wisdom we need for this new year. Our family there had shrunk in size in terms of numbers.

Two were missing at our home this time to ring in the New Year with their friends and new families. While we would spend part of the next day with dear friends that have also weathered storms more severe than ours; the time together, just the four of us was a great way to start the new year.

We’ve had to realize this past year that forgiveness is a part of living with each other. That our perceptions of what was said or done may not be interpreted the same as they were intended. Sometimes the intentions need to be addressed when there are underlying modes of thinking or habits that have created a blindness in us. We have been learning that we each carry a perspective that is shaped for good or evil by influences that are often beyond our control, and that they influence how we perceive those near and far from us. How we handle our perceptions says a lot about where our ultimate beliefs reside, which everyone has at the very basis of their thoughts.

We’ve listened to quite a few people speak to these issues from a variety of perspectives and contexts such as churches, Ted Talks, conversations with friends and certain books. Discovering Frederick Buechner’s Telling Secrets was one book that sticks out in my mind. There was also Joseph Minich’s book Enduring Divine Absence which addressed questions that reside deep in one’s conscience at times when God seems distant. Lesslie Newbigin’s Proper Confidence provided a framework for thinking about faith, doubt and certainty that I am still digesting in my thoughts. Those books set the stage for Peter Hitchens book, The Rage Against God, which I am starting this month, and hope to understand his journey from atheism to faith more deeply than I might have in previous years.

The break from a regular work schedule has been good for me, allowing me time to be more relationship focused and a bit more introspective about this year of changes destined for our family. I hope that we are able to process the changes we may experience this coming year as welcome or even exciting, even though sometimes they may not be easy to adjust to. I do know that they will bring us closer to that time when our understanding will be opened to know fully even as we also have been fully known (see I Corinthians 13:12). And that promise spoken so long ago is, I believe, a blessing to those who look to Jesus’ return to earth, recognizing that His kingdom is not a temporal one like the ones we experience now, but an eternal one.

Welcome 2020!

2020. Wow! From one who was born in 1956 and the other who was born in 1966, being here is quite the thrill! And now that the children are starting lives of their own, there is the opportunity to begin new adventures, find new challenges, continue to love deeply and preserve that which has been a light to our path and lamp to our feet and face this decade hand in hand, filled with the expectation that there is still much to learn and experience.

Rachel and I will see our second daughter married this Spring, and our third daughter make decisions about what she will do after High School graduation soon after. What an experience to raise four children that are quite diverse, and yet all raised in the same home. We’ve started this blog to begin writing about our experiences both new and old, passing on our thoughts about life, love, happiness, struggles and balancing contentment with expectations. We may write about friendships that have been meaningful and/or instructive while preserving their privacy. We hope to write about things that are inspirational and supportive for our friends that will take time to read our thoughts.

So this is what we hope will be just the beginning of a new discipline/joy for us in this new decade. We wish all who read this a Happy New Year, and a decade filled with joy, peace and love!

Jim & Rachel