Tag Archives: Christianity

Fear, Faith, and Politics

The 2016 Election is unique for me, in that it is the first in which deciding my course of action is a matter of spiritual crisis rather than politics. Now content to consider myself a Christian first and a conservative after, I was previously aligned with Republican positions. This was a result of Ronald Reagan’s second term being my first election after reaching voting age. Those were good days, when faith and admiration in conservatism were rewarded with quantifiable gains in American culture and the economy lasting two wonderful decades.

Things were as they should be. So we thought then.

What happened, slowly, and cyclically, was the degradation of character in the children of America’s success. Affluence sired distraction culminating in the arrival of the Internet, after which it was possible to find a peer group to affirm and reinforce any level of substandard thinking.

Faith and Christian witness should have found a foothold there in the arena of ideas as well. It hasn’t, at least to prominence, and there’s a particular reason why; such can be called consensus censorship.

The sense of community enabled by long-distance collaboration discovered a powerful mechanism to avoid facing criticism of their behavior. It was for the few to assume the appearance of many, and thereby control discussion through threats, intimidation, and economic sanctioning.

Too many bought into their specious arguments and let their false premises ride. Left-think occupied cultural ground faith should have contested, and territory was lost. Defining sin was labeled intolerant by those who identify with and advocate for sinful behavior, and conversation was chilled by force. We became mired in an intimidated, secularized national culture.

Since then we’ve degraded into the nation whose choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made our democratic process a laughingstock. In this tiresome time, when many are contemplating fateful courses of action and pondering the nature of civic duty, I am reminded of a foundational premise from long ago. In this I concluded our primary concern is to deliver back to God our soul in some semblance of order after a lifetime of formative experience.

Fear will not do that, nor compromise, nor faithless pragmatism. Those are vices: grand delusions cast as a veil to guide us away from our potential and our work.

A statist Congress of one flavor or another will not save us. Neither will a Supreme Court stocked with the same affliction of compromise and willingness to consider expansive government an established paradigm. The only power able to redeem our nation is the Spirit making the longsuffering seedbed of virtue overcome the lure of vice. Easy answers, lesser evils, and incremental reduction to nominality are not and never were the path toward a better tomorrow.

It’s a time for a revival of faith in a nation in which the gift of the Spirit seems to be withdrawn. When this episode of history is over, we each will have at best held our ground, or diminished into compromise, or at worst embraced reprobative thinking and provoked predictable, disastrous consequences.

It is evident that someone is going to have to rebuild. Only those who appreciate concepts of the level, square and plum and who know how to live will prosper soon. Those precepts have been available for millennia. For as long, we’ve been presented case studies of nations who forget the God Who Is and lapse into idolatry, and the thought we live in another such epoch is sobering. Unfortunately, it is also an increasingly unavoidable conclusion.

Faith, as I’ve said elsewhere, is given to overcome fear. That gift from God allows us warn and advise while opportunity remains. Faith invites the Spirit, who brings discernment as a gift in return for our hospitality. Clarity follows, where we see God remains dominant throughout Creation, and the noisome discordance of the enemy fades in comparison to divine glory.

All is not lost with an election cycle. One need not align with Baal to hinder Moloch. Even with things as they have been before, and as they were predicted long ago, God will be glorified in the days to come. No device of the enemy, no weapon formed against His plan will prosper. The decisions of our days should reflect our sure knowledge that it is so, and that He will keep enough of his own people for Himself, if we hope to be numbered among them when this is over.

It’s a time when everyone will have the opportunity to define themselves in the ordering of their loyalties. Mine are defined: The God of Israel bought me with the blood of Christ long before I was, and better men defined the righteous and descendant principles of just governance through the American Constitution. Afterward follow my marriage and loyalties to the ones I love.

People whose perception culminates at the level of human government might see things differently than I, and it seems much of the right wing acts out in just such a way these days. Fear those as much as you do the secular leftist; in each camp is the temptation toward pragmatism that has marred humanity in the past. I’m no prophet—only someone who pays attention.

Choose to love, for the road to redemption begins there. -DA

Megachurching

I admit not being a regular attendee of Christian services. I was raised Catholic, and the disillusionment of discovering—on my own—the depth of commitment to false doctrine in that faith caused me to move on.

Truth is what I craved. Bits and pieces of it surround us, pointing to the state of actuality our God wishes to display in His progressive revelation. To see it, one needs to look, so I did. I was, at the time, studying martial arts, and Eastern philosophy often is dominant there. Buddhism struck me as more of a philosophy, and the Zen flavor as practiced in Japan seemed an unworkable perspective of denial.

The image of Christ heading the sanctuary in every Catholic parish stuck with me, sanitized as the portrayal of the Crucifixion might be. From childhood I grasped its significance, and in my wandering my exposure to that basic truth—that the events relayed in the New Testament happened, and that the implications thereof are profound—never did entirely let me go.

Precept by precept I defined what I believed, tested those interrelationally, and remain satisfied the mission of Christ was actual, necessary, and personally needed. Step by step, my faith became R.E.A.L. I Realized my need, Explored for truth, Accepted God’s gift of forgiveness and now Live what I believe. Salvation is a simple message, really; it is so simple, a child can understand it. Its basics are all we need. What accumulates after is doctrine:  the good, bad, and cumbersome.

Because we need salvation, some, driven by fear or guilt, are desperate to have the assurance of it. Fear and faith are incompatible emotions. Of the two, opportunists leverage fear in exploitation.

I attend services to assuage the Editress or humor friends as politeness requires, and on this last occasion encountered just such a pastor, who I will not name here. I will not attending there again, as my exposure to the man leaves me with a vision of him at home, masturbating to a photo of a popular mega-church icon.

One must belong to a church to live as a Christian, you see. One must undergo baptism to belong to a church. One must tithe in support of one’s pastor. One must help the church grow so the cycle may repeat. The message with this organization is consistent, and tiring, when faith would like to hear less of obligation and more of divine love, saving grace, and the sufficiency of Christ.

While there is a Cross in each of the two locations of this growing organization I have attended, I find it significant that it displays off to the side of the sanctuary, almost as an afterthought. The messaging area is what holds prominence.

When someone tells you who he is, you should listen. Discernment, that gift of the Spirit, allows a faithful person to see others from the inside out. Followers need leaders, I guess. It is a pity that sometimes one encounters ambition in the search for edification.

As for belonging to a church, congratulations:  you have belonged to one since you accepted Christ as your savior and received Him into your heart. No one else did that. He did that, Paul tells us, so that no one should boast.

Paul also made a point that he had baptized no one but two disciples of his own and another household. The testimony of ceremonial water baptism is a beautiful thing. You should undertake it, if at all, on that basis rather than under coercion or sense of obligation.

Likewise, giving is evidence of how you live. There is no biblical obligation to allocate a given percentage to any organization, particularly when your own books have not balanced first. Your greatest contribution can be the satisfaction that you are a burden or debtor to no one. Following that happy circumstance, give as much as you wish.

Testify to what Christ has done for your soul out of the vital choice to love. Your faith will leave you no choice but to see the desperate need for clarity in the world surrounding you. God’s enemy is using pain, fear, and desperation to propagate disorder and hopelessness, in which the plans he influences will prosper for a time of trouble.

These days are necessary in God’s plan, as were every bad period for Israel, her diasporas, even the Holocaust. The world needs Christianity’s message as much here at the end of the Age of the Church as it did in the first century, and for the same reasons. Our need to find Him, the nature of truth, forgiveness, and the benefits of faith have changed not at all.

My character Jon Anthony spoke of his personal method of understanding being reduction to essence, where matters of faith become simpler when better understood. Such a mindset might not lend itself to achievement or ambition, but there is the peace of valid faith and a worthwhile way of life waiting for those who embrace it. It is my hope you will. If Jon’s, Sean’s, or Boone’s stories can help you, so much the better.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

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In production news, Novel8/Sean3, King of a Lesser Hill, is approaching the ninety-percent mark in Main Edit and remains on schedule for a late September release. Next month’s post here, God willing, will present how writing the novel personally affected me, and how this story, set in 1995, remains relevant today.

 

Inadequate Theology This

If one choose to write substantively—and I do—one may encounter people who are not necessarily well equipped to absorb a particular read produced. A pity in itself, the inadequacy can also at times manifest itself in negative feedback. The opinions of the ignorant are always a burden, and more annoying when made available for propagation on the Internet.

My free title, The Anvil of the Craftsman, is also the most widespread of my work. This in itself is a joy. While I am currently working on my eleventh full-length title, had I been blessed to produce only one, Jon Anthony’s 2006 Iraq adventure would suffice.

Anvil, in the paperback edition, is at this writing customer-rated in the top one percent of 7,300+ Political Fiction titles. Some, of course, did not like it as much. There is a reason why people swear in my novels, and that reason is for the sake of realism. Likewise, sexual situations—not something I usually care to put on screen, by the way—are portrayed because sex is a reality also encountered in the living of life.

I regret introducing these things into the puritanical fortress of solitude some readers have raised around their carefully ordered literary world, but that’s the way it is, boys and girls. Possibly, there is a better way for you to deal with realism than capping on my novel for content I warn about on the book’s retail description page.

Regardless of the preceding mini-rant, those minor quibbles do not bother me … much. More frustrating are the opinions of the readers whom the FAQs on my website (linked below) designate “pontificating self-righteous jerks.” You know who you are, or should. The next time you are speaking, ask Jesus what He would think of underrating a five-star novel you downloaded for free.

I’m not sure what some of you people expected of Jon Anthony in Al Anbar Province, addressing an assembly of Muslims, tribal elders and opinion leaders. That, gentle reader, was not the time anyone with Jon’s level of intelligence would have launched into his rendition of a Southern Baptist tent revival. Instead, he focused on commonalities, which is an attribute of civilized men and women and the orientation of anyone, as Anthony puts forth in his tripartite choice, who chooses to love.

Per the Greatest Commandment of Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV):

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Well, it seems pretty clear cut, does it not? It was also the foundational premise Jon was attempting to propagate.

In reaction, my novel has been called heresy, unChristian, and theologically inadequate by the sort of reader I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. Allow me to retort.

When Christ died on the Cross, that centering point of history served not only as a historical reference going forward, but backward as well. The moment was the act of a loving God, accommodating in the only way possible the differential nature between Creation and Divinity. It is as accommodating of the righteous person who, for whatever cultural reason, has never grasped the significance of the mission of Christ as it is to those who can recite the story chapter and verse without realizing its universal applicability.

The Cross was inclusive act. It allows for the imperfect to become perfect in the sight of a perfect Creator, and enables our undeserved life through the counterweight of an undeserved death. Regardless of the empowering dogma of any theological hierarchy, I do not believe in and cannot accept the sacrifice of Jesus as a point of excluding legalism. As such, otherwise loving humanity would be cast into the flames of hell on a technicality.

Should you be a Christian? Dear God, yes! To do otherwise makes you ignorant of a wonderful act of love at best, an ingrate otherwise, and a contemptible reprobate at the worst. Will I consign any of you to hell for your current stage of development? No, I do not, because your Craftsman has not yet finished His long work of your life.

Somewhere along our way, the Spirit whispers His guidelines: first, that He Is … afterward, that life is better than death, that love overcomes hate, and that our essential orientation to either is our responsibility. There arrives a time when the heavens declare the Glory of God, and we see, and in seeing are changed from our essentially inadequate state to a viable child soul of a loving Creator. Everything we need to know in the work of our Craftsman follows to His ends.

Such happens in billions of places, with billions of souls, and in an unimaginable number of ways. This is so because the Spirit has no point of overload, no bandwidth restrictions, and a limitless capacity for concurrent projects. He is very good at what He does, and His work is life. Those hours of agony Jesus endured on our behalf—and, in a metaphysical sense, always did and always will, though that point is another topic. This actuality is what takes His work to the best end imaginable.

Readers are, of course, free to rate my work at whatever level they wish. That is their right. Regardless, realize first that I do not write haphazardly and am well able to defend any point I hold dear. If one thinks otherwise, perhaps he or she should read my novel again, more slowly. Rest assured that I’m well capable of doing this all … day … long.

*****

As far as news of production: Boone’s second, The Bonus Pool—my sixth full-length title—is on schedule for June, 2015. Her third and my seventh, One Last Scent of Jasmine will follow, God willing, sometimes around the end and beginning of the year. Next year, if we are so graced, Sean’s third, King of a Lesser Hill, and Boone’s fourth, Meat for the Lion, will appear. I hope to see you there. As always, more information is available at www.daleamidei.com.

Choose to Love, -DA