Good? Friday

Christ Before Pilate. Friedländer (1969): p. 83.

Christ Before Pilate. Friedländer (1969): p. 83. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a child, I always wondered how the day when Jesus suffered murder by the state could be called Good. As I grew up and put away childish things and thoughts, I came to understand the story. It is the ultimate story of servant leadership. It is the story of how God himself came down in the guise of a man, to show us the way. Here’s a part of the story.

And so now we come to the climax. We have seen Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we have seen the Last Supper with its echoing call “Do this in Remembrance of Me”, we have seen the arrest during prayers in the garden.

We have seen Peter, renamed Cephas (the Rock) deny the Christ 3 times. We have seen the trial before the Sanhedrin, and the passing of the buck to the Roman, Pontius Pilate who could find no fault in this man but allowed him to be condemned according to Roman practice.

We have even seen the treachery of Judas,who for 30 pieces of silver betrayed his Lord, soon repented, attempted to return the reward (which ended up funding the paupers cemetery) and his death as a suicide.

And so now we come to the fatal procession from Jerusalem to Golgotha.

In one way or another we will all walk the Via Dolorossa. One of the mottoes I use to keep trying to do the right thing, “No one, not even Christ, ever got out of life alive”. For me, that about sums it up. You may as well do the right thing, you might not get the reward on earth that you were striving for, but at the judgment seat you will be rewarded.

Here is the story according to St. Matthew:

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross, and the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew.

And the chief priests said unto Pilate, It should be written and set up over his head, his accusation, This is he that said he was Jesus, the King of the Jews. But Pilate answered and said, What I have written, I have written; let it alone.

Then were there two thieves crucified with him; one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it again in three days save thyself. If thou be the Son of God come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others, himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now; if he will save him, let him save him; for he said, I am the Son of God.

One of the thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. But the other rebuked him, saying, Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation; and this man is just, and hath not sinned; and he cried unto the Lord that he would save him. And the Lord said unto him This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli,lama sabachthani?(That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?) Some of them that stood there, when they heard him, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let him be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.

Jesus when he had cried again with a loud voice, saying, Father, it is finished, thy will is done, yielded up the ghost. And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and the bodies of the saints which slept, arose, who were many, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, heard the earth quake, and saw those things which were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him for his burial; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.

Now, remember this was on Friday following the triumphant entry the prior Sunday. How the mighty had fallen, from the crowd’s hero, one might say a rock star, to an executed criminal buried in a borrowed grave in a week.

This was the man many had expected to free Israel from Rome, there would be others for that mission, it would culminate at Masada and in the destruction of Jerusalem and the diaspora. The next ruler of the city, after Rome, would be Islam, contested by the Crusader knights. But until our own time Jerusalem would not be ruled again by the Jews.

And so the Messiah, the King of the Jews died. The lesson would seem to be not to upset the applecart, to go along to get along, even to sit down and shut up, wouldn’t it?

It’s a pretty sharp lesson too. One of the most cruel methods of execution ever devised by man.

And so ends the story;

or does it?

Cooked Books and Corrupt Government

English: Three-quarter length portrait of Rudy...

English: Three-quarter length portrait of Rudyard Kipling, photographic postcard, by Bourne & Shepherd. Image courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University.http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl/oneITEM.asp?pid=2022961&iid=1088883&srchtype=VCG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And so, as I imagine most of you know, the administration has decided to cook the census books to get ‘better’ numbers for Obamacare. I wasn’t particularly surprised, they’ve cooked all the other books, why not these? Apparently, Megan McCardle was surprised. She had this to say:

I’m speechless. Shocked. Stunned. Horrified. Befuddled. Aghast, appalled, thunderstruck, perplexed, baffled, bewildered and dumbfounded. It’s not that I am opposed to the changes: Everyone understands that the census reports probably overstate the true number of the uninsured, because the number they report is supposed to be “people who lacked insurance for the entire previous year,” but people tend to answer with their insurance status right now.

But why, dear God, oh, why, would you change it in the one year in the entire history of the republic that it is most important for policy makers, researchers and voters to be able to compare the number of uninsured to those in prior years? The answers would seem to range from “total incompetence on the part of every level of this administration” to something worse

But I fail to see why we would expect anything else, we passed beyond the “Rule of Law” sometime late in the Bush presidency, or early in Obama’s, it hardly matters anymore. And if you’d like to know why there is no inflation, it’s mostly because we don’t count food, and fuel, anymore. Been to the grocery store lately? As usual Kipling said it best:

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

It’s all a sham, the corrupt books passed cooked to the apathetic. Nobody knows what is going on because the reports are, quite simply, lies. Nobody knows, not even the corrupt kleptocrats who perpetrated it. Why can’t anything be saved? Because the laws don’t work, especially the corporate bankruptcy laws, anymore. The housing bubble and the GM and Chrysler bailouts ruined all confidence in the market. Why do we have illegal aliens? Because unless you can afford the disguised bribes, or you work for an employer that wants cheap labor, you cannot immigrate legally.

But that’s all water over the dam, it simply doesn’t matter anymore. Why? because a huge majority of the citizens simply don’t give a damn, haven’t in years. They don’t care if they earn a living. Eat the Rich! What they’ll do when there are no rich except their masters in Washington never enters their minds.

That’s too much like cause and effect for their simple minds, so never mind.

And so Kipling again applies:

Recessional

God of our fathers, known of old,

   Lord of our far-flung battle-line,

Beneath whose awful Hand we hold

   Dominion over palm and pine—

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;

   The Captains and the Kings depart:

Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,

   An humble and a contrite heart.

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;

   On dune and headland sinks the fire:

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

   Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,

Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose

   Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,

Such boastings as the Gentiles use,

   Or lesser breeds without the Law—

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust

   In reeking tube and iron shard,

All valiant dust that builds on dust,

   And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,

For frantic boast and foolish word—

Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!

 

Well, you know what,it’sMaundy Thursday, and it’s my birthday, another year closer to getting worthless (by then) Social Security. In my lifetime, I’ve watched my country consistently hold the line on freedom, and win the cold war, and then gone from that triumph, on to become a lawless, rogue regime, that couldn’t find enough leadership to lead a horse to water. And so, I’ve nothing particularly important to do today, so I think I’ll go find a bottle of whisky, and get drunk as a lord.


After all, Who is John Galt?

 

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Hope

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Thomas Merton wrote that ‘Only the man who has had to face despair is really convinced that he needs mercy. Those who do not want mercy, never seek it.’ One of the things which puzzles me is how those who do not know of God know they need him and come to him. I have been privileged to share in a remarkable example of how this question is answered by God.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine had a knock on the door of the vicarage where he lives. It was a young woman. She was pregnant and did not want to be. She could not get an immediate appointment with a doctor or a medical social worker, or even the counsellor she was seeing at the abortion clinic; she’d heard that you didn’t need an appointment to see a vicar – so there she was. She’d never been to church and admitted she didn’t know what ‘it was all about’, but she needed an ear. My friend listened to her for about an hour. He did not try to influence her against her will, but to discern that will. She was clearly confused and in some desperation.  After the hour, she left, thanking him.

We heard nothing more until Friday evening, when she telephoned to say she was going to have an abortion the next day; she asked if he would come to see her on Sunday. He asked if he could bring a friend – me, as he felt a woman might help in the situation; she said that would be fine.

I posted about her on my own site and asked people to join me in prayer for her. Most of those commenting did so, although there was one poster who thought we ought to be telling her what a dreadful sinner she was, although, since she knew not the Lord, it is hard to know what she would have made of that. We went, wanting to be there to extend compassion to her, and to do whatever the Lord wanted.

When we went into her small flat, it was clear that she was depressed – it was like a huge cloud over her. She told us that she had been counselled about all the medical things, and the side-effects, but she had never felt so empty and so ‘wrong’. She cried, and it was hard to know what to do, so I held her hands. I asked if she’s mind if we said a prayer, and through her tears she said she didn’t really mind, though couldn’t see it would help. The three of us held hands and I asked God to have mercy on the three sinners in the room, and to grant His grace to the dead child. The room filled with light. We all felt the same thing. She gasped. We sat in silence, holding hands for as long as was needed.

As he light faded, I asked her how she felt. She said: “As though God has spoken to me saying that I should go and sin no more,” I asked if she knew where those words came from, and she laughed and said “I’ve just told you, God told me.” I said I knew, I had heard them too, but did she know they had been said before? She asked what I was talking about, so I told her about the woman taken in adultery. She got very serious: “But I thought you Christians would condemn such a slut – and one like me, but you haven’t, and God loves me.” We all cried.

God, alone, can comfort the child who will never be born, but whatever anyone says, I believe that child is with God. But the would-be mother, a soul so lost she did not even know she was lost, had come to know God’s mercy.

Out of the stuff of tragedy a new hope was born. We cannot know what He has in store for her, or for us – but we can trust and love and show the compassion He shows to us. Is there anything more to Christianity at bottom?

Social Observation #2987 – (Or: America’s Hard Core) Blog

map_largeThe Adaptive Curmudgeon has some things to say about America, the real one, not the hothouse we sometimes show to the world, where we’re always arguing about things. No he’s talking about the America where the trucks bring the cornflakes, and the churches advertise on one page. It’s something that America does better than anybody ever did, and we’re still doing it, every day. Read and learn what America really is.

I will only tell you that he talks like a real American too, if you’re offended by, say P.J. O’Rourke who says things much the same way, well I’m sorry for you. In my part of America we speak the truth, often with the bark on. Enjoy.

I’m traveling from nowhere to nowhere. Today I’m hanging out in the 98% of the continent called (by some) “flyover country”. It’s nice. Serene even. They should organize guided field trips so urbane coastal sycophants and butt sniffing politicians could see what the world is like where people make the engines of civilization run. (Lets be frank, these are the places that really matter. If the supply of corn flakes and crude oil stops rolling out of the heartland, nobody’s going to give a shit about gun control and gay marriage in New York or LA.)

Over shitty coffee and worse breakfast in a forgettable hotel restaurant I was exposed to “news”. Fortunately the TV was on mute. People in a country I couldn’t readily identify were busy carrying on a centuries old social improvement project by hitting each other with sticks and rocks. They appeared to be screaming at each other. Here’s a hint, if you’re screaming to make the world a better place, you’re a dipshit.

I supposed the argument was about God and how his biggest interest in running the universe is the life and welfare of rock throwing nitwits on one side of some age old dispute. Perhaps they were yelping about how the heathen scumbags on the other side of this super damn important dispute were evil incarnate? Presumably the streets, once filled with the blood of unbelievers, would no longer have potholes? I couldn’t tell if they were fighting over a whole nation or a city block. There was a burning Fiat in the background. No Fiat is important enough to burn. It could have been breaking news or a replay from decades ago.

Continue reading Social Observation #2987 – (Or: America’s Hard Core) | The Adaptive Curmudgeon’s Blog, and learn how the modern world was created.

 

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Holocaust

A Knights of Columbus sign at the March For Life.

A Knights of Columbus sign at the March For Life. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And so, 41 years, and 55,000,000 +, American babies ago we decided that it was OK to kill babies. The apologists call this abortion. But here we speak plainly.

There is a term for killing babies, it is infanticide, and it is one of the ugliest acts in all the sordid history of man, killing our own young, for no better reason than because having a child is inconvenient.

Today, the anniversary of Roe v Wade will be marked by The March for Life.it will go forward in cold and snow, because these people know right from wrong.

I know all the arguments, I once was pro-choice. And by that I meant pro-choice, not pro-infanticide, as the movement has become.

And now infanticide is one of the main factors that is killing western civilization itself. In Europe, especially, we are not producing enough babies to replace ourselves. It is a singularly stupid way to end the civilization that has served the world so well.

I see reports that a majority of Americans now self identify as pro-life. That’s good, even if many have quite a few caveats, late-term and such. Rome wasn’t either built nor destroyed in a day, and so their will be more martyrs. Personally, I see no need for exceptions, medical science has made such progress that even the old shibboleth about the life of the mother no longer holds water for me.

Contraception, I am willing to discuss some forms, that are preconception. But in truth, it’s very simple, if you don’t want a baby, don’t have sex. Chastity has only failed once in the history of the world, and that took God himself to make happen. It works.

If you mess up and get pregnant (both sexes here, it takes two, and they are equally responsible) there are plenty of people around who will enthusiastically adopt and love your baby, if for some reason you don’t think you can, isn’t that far better than killing a baby.

You know when i was a young man, I saw our soldiers return from Vietnam to the cat-calls of ‘baby-killer’ (of which they were nearly all innocent) but how many in the crowd doing the jeering of the troops went on to become cold-blooded baby-killers themselves? Quite a few I’d warrant. There is no difference.

Father, forgive them [us]; for they [we] know not what they [we] do.

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Trust the people?

God-Bless-America

By the time you read this, Neo will have returned, but I don’t think that 3 a.m. finishes to journeys are productive of blog posts, so I am going to do one more to round off the short series I have been contributing in Neo’s absence.

In many ways I have been riffing on one of his main themes, which is the disillusionment of so many of us with the current political offerings. This isn’t a party political issue, and, as I tried to suggest in the posts of Solzhenitsyn, it isn’t confined to the USA. There’s a malaise across the Western world as we realise that material wealth and prosperity doesn’t scratch that itch deep within us; and yes, there’s also an anger that so much of that wealth has either been squandered or hoarded in a few places. There’s also an anger in being betrayed. We can’t put a finger on it, but we know in our hearts that our leaders have not done what they promised, or promised quite what they ought to have done. – and there is, as the old Anglican general confession has it ‘no health in us’. We feel somehow cheated – but then there is also the sense that what we were being offered was bread and circuses when we needed something deeper and more satisfying.

As a Christian, I don’t think that the restless heart can be satisfied apart from God. We can try filling that God-shaped hole with all manner of strange and wonderful things, but fill it we can’t. That said, it seems a reasonable thing to argue that the American republican ideal provided something which, even apart from God, gave man an ideal which gave him something to strive for; that it also provided room for men to find God was just, I think, what made/makes it, the best attempt at government this world can offer. What it demands and demanded of people was a commitment and some effort. It demanded civic virtue in the sense that if you opt out, if you take from the communal pot and no one gives, then everyone loses: if he will not work, he shall not eat. It demanded and demands communal effort – a people working for itself. That is harder than you might think, because we can’t really blame our rulers (although we do, of course). If we don’t participate, if we leave it to others, then we can complain all we like, but we have failed in our public duty; where does it say in the res publica that I can leave that good to my fellow citizens? What am I doing to make it work, to make it better?

In a  monarchical, constitutional system like the British one, power still comes downwards, and try as you might, you can’t ever become the Queen or the King. We inherit a system where the aristocracy wrested power from the monarch and was forced, reluctantly, to share it with the middle classes, and then the workers, and finally even women (1928 those of us under 30 got the right to put an x in a box to vote for s guy). America, which inherited so much from the British system, did not inherit that. The Founding Fathers laid a charge on the electorate (which admittedly expanded thereafter) and that charge was that of the Republic – a free people governs itself, It entrusts some of its fellow citizens with the responsibility of governing, since all cannot govern. That greatest of American Presidents (well, next to Washington), Abe Lincoln got it right, The question asked in the Civil War was the question perennially asked of America  whether: ‘the government of the people by the people shall not perish from this earth?’ This, in reality, is the question facing America and the Western world today – are we still worthy of that ideal? It falls, as it always does, to American to answer that question anew in every generation.

JFK’s comment is as relevant today as ever: ‘ask not what your country can do for you, ask rather what you can do for your country?’ Well, let us, in the dark cold reaches of the night, ask that of ourselves.

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