Category Archives: Philosophic

Shangmail: How then shall we live?

Among some questions posed by a reader is, “We can see that things are unraveling quickly in this country. What scenario do you think best fits our future?” It does appear as if events are moving quickly. Greece is economically lost, and surely with it the EU. The immigrant invasion in the U.S. and Europe threatens the end of Western culture. The caliphate is steadily wiping out previous Western coalition military and political achievements in the Middle East. China, unofficially mind you, makes regular incursions into U.S. internet and political interests. Russia once again looms ominously in Western Europe. All this not to mention the internal economic and moral implosion happening in the U.S. itself.

I am no expert, nor do I consider myself an effective prognosticator, and in that vein I simply couldn’t come to the point of forecasting a particular dystopian scenario. I would simply cast an opinion based upon some biblical as well as historical and political knowledge. It’s difficult to tell where these events ultimately lead, but I believe one thing is certain. The United States of America is done. I put this very simply so that NSA/CIA/FBI scanners make no mistake. God extended His grace and mercy to what came to be the United States of America for a dispensation of time. As a country we have progressively separated ourselves from that Superintending Creative Power and in so doing degeneration and degradation have slowly taken over. The seeming acceleration of these indications show me that the end is coming. Whether that results in anarchy, a caliphate or the U.S. simply becoming a third-world police-state is anybody’s guess.

Generally, I don’t expect the United States federal government to last effectively past 50 years or so. There are other opinions out there I’ve read which give it less time than that based upon economics. When a government heaps up over $18,000,000,000,000 in debt, there will be a day of reckoning, and I am loathe to think that the reckoning will come at the hands of foreign investors. It may seem like lunacy, and again I am no economic expert, but it seems to me debt means that creditors demand payment. I can imagine a state or states ultimately being sold off, as it were, to pay it (Bye, bye California?). In any event, the federal government is in ominous financial trouble as it tries to foster confidence and obfuscate the depth of its dire circumstances both domestically and in the world. In modern parlance, they’re blowing smoke. All of it, from arguments of raising the debt ceiling to unemployment figures to GDP reports, is a canard. It’s just a side show for the major media networks to rebroadcast and distract the citizenry. Think of it like this. Politicians simply don’t want to be the ones without a chair to sit in when the music stops. The financial events in Greece in the past few weeks are a foretelling of what I expect the banking conditions to ultimately be like here. The more well to do are holding their assets abroad, attempting to be out of the reach of an invasive government, and there is a rise among them renouncing U.S. citizenship. American economic collapse is just a matter of time, and I just don’t foresee the United States as an aggregate of 50 states for much longer.

The sentiments I expressed several months ago regarding the state of this nation, particularly “any semblance of the current United States will cease to exist in approximately 20 years” I still stand behind. By that statement I essentially mean that the geopolitical context we’ve known as the U.S. will undergo dramatic change. Even now we’re seeing the internal unraveling of what was federalism. There is growing conflict between federal and state sovereignty. Marijuana laws (Colorado), illegal immigration (border states), and Obamacare (states refusing to establish exchanges) are just a few examples of that. It’s just a question of time until the practical threshold is reached when federal requirements of the states over reaches federal funding to them, and then the states will decide for themselves what to do in the face of tyranny. How and what that looks like, again anyone’s guess.

Illegal immigration is in reality a territorial invasion. Perhaps the only significant difference between an invading army and mass immigration are the weapons. Essentially, there is no difference if the people being invaded are forced to allow it by arms or by their own government. We’ve seen this not only in the U.S. but with the Islamic invasion of Europe. In that respect, ISIL has apparently struck again in France. The Mexican government’s only interest in all this is to be rid of their undesirables across the border.

In a national geopolitical view, I think what we’re seeing is the balkanization of America. Historically Western culture in the U.S. is being decimated through several factors, not the least of which is immigrant invasion. Such faux ideals as egalitarianism, the rise of “sexual fluidity”, neo-communism and political correctness have contributed to the eradication of any concept of American ideology. The notion of “one nation” let alone “under god” is pure fantasy. Contrary to some prevalent current thinking, the Southron Confederacy was a valid political alternative to an oppressive economic and cultural influence at the time. Because history has that proverbial way of repeating itself, I believe we are culturally, politically, ideologically and especially spiritually revisiting those first causes of secession once again. I’ve had this opinion for the past 15 years or so, but I’ve also understood that secession isn’t necessarily along predefined political boundaries. It’s uncertain what this country’s future geopolitical landscape will look like due to the current nature of the immigrant invasion, the urban versus rural political/cultural complex and the economic fallout to come, but dividing lines are definitely developing. Will there be a Southron Confederacy redux? The wicked keepers of the public conscience, the social justice warriors, can disdain and attempt to eradicate the vestiges of history like the Confederate Battle Flag, but they cannot eradicate history itself. They cannot destroy the will of those, who just as was in that Southron Confederacy, dispatched tyranny from an oppressor. Time will tell where or if there is safe harbor before the end is in clear view.

Will it get a lot worse before it gets better?” It will surely get worse than now, and I shudder to think of a current child’s future as I make that claim. Christians are being pressed, crushed and persecuted into prayer as it has been in history. Think Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Think of the 21 Egyptian Christians. They were true believers. THAT is Christianity, not some convenience about “going” to church, or “fellowshipping” with the saints over a backyard barbecue. It’s about preparing our convictions to face the ugly, disgusting reality of evil and sin, even at the blade of a sword or point of a gun. Consider also the lives of four Americans currently imprisoned in Iran and remember that there is nothing but God now to restrain a federal government from acting in a similar fashion (Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes). “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.” We should pray that we are worthy to die in such a way that will give glory to Him Who is not only the author and finisher of our faith, but in Whom are all the issues of life and death.

Will there ever be a better day before Christ comes?” I wait with expectancy for Christ to come, but live and contemplate these conditions becoming worse as if He is still a thousand years off. What will we do when they come for our guns? What will we do when they come for our children? Christians have to decide what The Tipping Point is going to be. The essence of choosing your battles wisely is to know what truly matters. Christianity doesn’t mean we supinely allow evil free rein. It does mean that as Christians, our lives are hid within Christ and vulnerable to everything else.

“How long do we have?” Simply, all we have are our lives, nothing more. We have our whole lives long, if that’s what it takes, to remain faithful to the Lord and to suffer whatever ignominies of which we are worthy until we find ourselves before Him. Accept Christ or deny Him and live that way. That is all that is left for our generation. The pivotal question, I believe, at this juncture in history is, given all the influences and everything that is happening before them, how will our progeny find Christ? How will they know Him? What Godly legacy will we leave them? I intend to make their encounter with Christ a real one.

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Willie Mays

I’ve been thinking lately how profound Willie Mays was with this quote: “Growing old is just a helpless hurt.” Mays finished the last year and a half of his career with the Mets a shadow of his former self. He was a .211 hitter in New York and a struggling fielder. He retired in 1973,  at the age of 42, the oldest position player in baseball and the oldest position player ever in a World Series.

Growing old is just a helpless hurt. Life’s a cruel teacher. It’s gives the test before giving the lesson. We learn more from our mistakes than our successes. How often we fail from ignorance, and yet we think we’re entitled to know better. We spend our lives striving to improve, to achieve, only to hold the moment in a brief pause of time and then watch it slip helplessly from our grasp as mortal life reminds us nothing is truly ours to keep.

Growing old is just a helpless hurt. Growing old is a submission. Submission has but one purpose, and although it can be learned in a variety of ways, aging is the inextricable reminder of our own futility without a superintending God. Abraham was 100 years old when his child of promise, Issac, was finally born. If that event had happened at an earlier time perhaps Abraham might not have believed as he did. Jesus was only an estimated 33 years when He was crucified, but then His was already a life of submission. He was destined for the cross. And if we are to follow Christ perhaps that is the lesson to be learned. Some submission is painful, a helpless hurt, and some not so. The choice is ours. Happy birthday to me.

He must increase, but I must decrease.

Death Be Not Proud

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee,

Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,

One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,

And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

– John Donne

Near-death experience stories come and go. People describe their heaven-like experiences with characteristic bright light and warm fuzzy feelings. Their stories seem to get more media traction than any who happen to experience a nightmare descent into hell.

Conceptualize what heaven could be like. It’s easy. Lounging by the eternal pool eating every sort of fattening food without a care of a calorie. Suppose for a moment, though, that isn’t the only existence beyond death. I would suggest there are those among “we the living” who haven’t a near-death experience to go on, but know well what hell could be like. Their horrified imaginations have captured it vividly while their hearts haven’t missed a beat nor their brains a synaptic impulse.

Ask William Blake. He is currently a prisoner in Elmira Correctional Facility. He’s been in solitary confinement for 25 years in what is called the SHU (pronounced “shoe”), an abbreviation for Special Housing Unit. In his thoughtful essay from prison he writes of conditions both in his physical confinement and in his mind…

I’ve read of the studies done regarding the effects of long-term isolation in solitary confinement on inmates, seen how researchers say it can ruin a man’s mind, and I’ve watched with my own eyes the slow descent of sane men into madness—sometimes not so slow. What I’ve never seen the experts write about, though, is what year after year of abject isolation can do to that immaterial part in our middle where hopes survive or die and the spirit resides. So please allow me to speak to you of what I’ve seen and felt during some of the harder times of my twenty-five-year SHU odyssey.

Human beings are social creatures. Perhaps this is what God was giving attention to in the beginning when He addresses Adam’s solitary condition and states, “it is not good for the man to be alone“. Men have lost their minds being locked up in isolation. I believe that immaterial part he refers to is where the spirit of man lives. Perhaps that slow or rapid descent of sane men into madness is the path upon which the spirit of man diverges from a glimmer of hope into the darkness of absolute despair. This is where the philosophies and devices of man are ephemeral. But if Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, if He is who He says He is, then His is a hope most precious and incorruptible indeed.

Your options in what to do to occupy your time in SHU are scant, but there will be boredom aplenty. You probably think that you understand boredom, know its feel, but really you don’t. What you call boredom would seem a whirlwind of activity to me, choices so many that I’d likely be befuddled in trying to pick one over all the others. You could turn on a TV and watch a movie or some other show; I haven’t seen a TV since the 1980s. You could go for a walk in the neighborhood; I can’t walk more than a few feet in any direction before I run into a concrete wall or steel bars. You could pick up your phone and call a friend; I don’t know if I’d be able to remember how to make a collect call or even if the process is still the same, so many years it’s been since I’ve used a telephone. Play with your dog or cat and experience their love, or watch your fish in their aquarium; the only creatures I see daily are the mice and cockroaches that infest the unit, and they’re not very lovable and nothing much to look at. There is a pretty good list of options available to you, if you think about it, many things that you could do even when you believe you are so bored. You take them for granted because they are there all the time, but if it were all taken away you’d find yourself missing even the things that right now seem so small and insignificant. Even the smallest stuff can become as large as life when you have had nearly nothing for far too long.

Strip away all the busyness of an average person’s daily life, all the natural comforts or the every day distractions, and I would suggest prison solitary confinement reveals the pitiful dependence any human being has upon the Creator God because it uncovers the true nature, effects and consequences of a deprivation of hope.

Perhaps this is what the biblical passage of Proverbs 20:27 addresses as it says, “The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the innermost parts of his being.” An individual can think themselves self-sufficient in their environment so long as there is even a measure of freedom and choices. Individuals with a modicum of reasoning in that sort of environment might discern the nature of the Gospel and understand their place before the cross of Christ, but there is much to keep an individual’s focus off themselves. Take an individual out of a social environment, leave them to themselves, they may still find the Saviour, but it becomes problematic as to how Proverbs 20:27 develops. Anyone can easily slip into the descent of insanity. As a man descends into madness how does he, how can he then respond to the Gospel?

No matter what the world would think about things that they cannot imagine in even their worst nightmares, I know that twenty-five years in solitary confinement is utterly and certainly cruel, moreso than death in or by an electric chair, gas chamber, lethal injection, bullet in the head, or even immolation could possibly be. The sum of the suffering caused by any of these quick deaths would be a small thing next to the sum of the suffering that this quarter-century in SHU has brought to bear on me. Solitary confinement for the length of time that I have endured it, even apart from the inhuman conditions that I have too often been made to endure it in, is torture of a terrible kind; and anyone who doesn’t think so surely knows not what to think. I have served a sentence worse than death.

From Mr. Blake’s position, one can understand how he would think solitary confinement with its cruel treatment of criminals is a fate worse than death. Suppose, on the other hand, solitary confinement, even with all its darkest conditions, is just a sampling of what follows after death. No one really knows, but the sure difference between the dead and the living is one of involuntary condition. A living, breathing person is a mercy from God.

In the biblical story of Job, after all of his calamities and sufferings, after his questioning of God’s ways and God’s answer, he responds thusly:

Then Job answered the LORD and said, “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” – Job 42:1-6

Submit to the only One Who exposed life beyond the grave and put death to an open shame. Death has no more sting, and the grave has no victory.

Slaves to the master

This won’t be another blog post defending Louie Giglio or his invitation to speak at the benediction of the president’s inaugural.  There’s been enough about that from people like Gabe Lyons and Stephen Parris, and I really couldn’t care less. Although I respect Giglio, his opinions and his devotion to Christ, I couldn’t care less about what he would say, how he would pray, or what he would do at the inaugural. Freedom of conscience, whatever that means, hasn’t anything to do with it. Some think there’s an awful irony in it, that the very man championing a modern day abolition movement could be labeled a bigot. There is that, but there seems to me to be a greater irony.

People are free to follow their thinking as they choose. One’s own conscience can be regarded or disregarded. Would that people follow the conscience of the Holy Spirit every day in every circumstance as it would dramatically change the course of events in the world, but such is the nature of sin. The nature of human freedom is that there are choices which can be made and that the decisions rest solely with individuals. The human conscience is a complicated thing, and faced with the conditions of freedom, it can be motivated by selfish interests or higher more nobler principles or ideals. I don’t propose to know more than the average individual about the conscience, but my thinking is drawn from experience and precepts of the Scriptures, which I believe reveal the wisdom of God.

It is the Scripture which teaches me that consciences can be “seared” (1 Timothy 4:2), or in other words, desensitized or unfeeling to the choices presented by human freedom. It is also Scripture which teaches me that there are only two real choices in life. That there is a great war between two great spiritual powers engaged for the mind, soul and will of mankind. There is much made of God’s love for mankind in Christian circles, but it leaves the impression that God is needy, that somehow God has some sort of fixation with individuals to follow Him.

And this is where I get back to Louie Giglio, Barack Obama, Gabe Lyons, Stephen Parris, Elmo Shangnaster, etcetera and the events of mankind. Yes, God loves them all. What does God think or do, though, if Gabe Lyons turned in his “freedom of conscience”, as he put it, to follow the ways of the world? Does it really matter to God if there is or isn’t a speech given by Louie Giglio? Does the Lord God regard more of Mr. Obama as being president than any other human being? Is God codependent upon individuals to behave as He would like? My answer would be that God’s treatment and conditions of humanity haven’t changed and won’t regardless of the individuals or who they think they are. God handles them all the same, although those who follow Christ have a disparate reward apart from the condemnation of those who don’t. The significance of individuality people apply to themselves is something which I believe God disregards, or may consider pride.

The greater irony is the laughable significance that Mr. Obama will apparently be sworn into office with bibles used by Lincoln and MLK. To take an oath is to call upon God to witness themselves as bound by truth. Essentially, it is to declare oneself subordinate to the greater power, to be a slave to a master. All the talk of slavery, abolitionism, homosexuality and homogamy is myopic to the greatest irony. In the end, the irony that anyone considers themselves free as they always serve one of two masters is the foundation to the events of man.

Why It Really Is A Wonderful Life

Almost every Christmas a favorite movie is “It’s A Wonderful Life”. The story is well known. George Bailey has to be convinced that an apparent desperate condition isn’t so desperate as he thought. Hope is alive, and from the storyline of the movie, it’s because George has made a difference in life just by his being in it. If not for him, many of his closest friends and family would have been much worse off, or even dead.

The thing about the movie is that by the end as George discovers how truly wonderful his life really is we discover how much like George we are. How much of life has choked out the joy and changed us into cynics. It takes a miracle to change George, and we yearn to have a miracle change us. We yearn because we believe. We want to believe in miracles. We want to believe we can change. The story turns out well, just as most all stories do. Justice is done, right endures, good prevails, and something deep inside us wants that for ourselves.

We hope all will turn out right. We hope because we refuse to believe evil triumphs in the end, but without cause we cannot believe. Into this world came cause to believe. Into this world came Truth, and the substance of our hope. Born into flesh, conceived by Spirit, He is the blessed hope of all who expect the story to turn out well.