Keeping the Faith

I can’t speak for you but, this has been the longest summer I can remember. It has had many distractions in my life, and our lives as Christians and citizens of free countries and it seems like none of them were for the good, or at least they seemed to have little good at the time. My friends, and my God have pulled me through, sometimes nearly against my will. I’m not sure that the trials of ’14 are over, in fact, I’m quite sure they are not.

Still, as always, I find comfort in the music of my faith, in many ways, I think it one of the great contributions of Protestantism is in the awesome (in the real sense) hymns of faith that we have brought to our worship. These are some of my favorites, and I’m sharing them with you today mostly because maybe they will help you in your troubles as they do me in mine.

I was reminded today of a poem that Jess adores, and I’m going to use part of it but, I will let her introduce it. Jess’ words are all from Naught for your Comfort and are in italics

Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse deals with an episode in what must have seemed at the time the doomed attempts by King Alfred of Wessex to deal with the invading Norsemen. No one did historical-Romantic despair like GKC, and I adore the whole poem. It is far too long to quote in full, but the lines which came back to me as the result of reading the two posts were those Our Lady speaks to King Alfred at the lowest moment of his fortunes: Read more of this post

VIDEO: Dr. Alveda King On Building Community, ISIS And Bringing The Nation Back To God

NEO:

What used to be considered “Common Sense”.

I also note that Gandhi commented more than once, that his nonviolent tactics would only work in the British Empire, which by easy extension included the United States, but certainly would not include the Middle East (with the exception, as always, of Israel).

Originally posted on Rat Nation:

So much for the United States no longer being a Christian nation

“You cannot build a beloved community by putting young men in front of a camera and cutting their heads off.” – Dr. Alveda King, September 2, 2014

You know it’s bad when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s niece says it’s time to forget all the pussy-footing and go after the bloodthirsty wackadoodles in the Middle East.

Dr. Alveda King in many ways exemplifies her uncle’s message of peaceful non-violence, but even she knows when enough is enough.  Her threshold for whether or not to attack an enemy is rather high, and is a standard that all Christians should, and generally do, follow.  Her voice joins that of spiritual and religious leaders of a variety of stripes – some of whom live by the mantra of peace – who all say that the menace and threat of ISIS MUST…

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To Every Thing There is a Season

The Very Best of The Byrds

The Very Best of The Byrds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I woke up this morning with a song in my head (as is not all that uncommon). I’ve liked music all my life, and a decent song can often become an earworm, as we all know.

But this was different, this was the song

The Byrds obviously were promoting peace back in 1965 but now its 2014 and the cry is “Peace, peace, but there is no peace” and we are witnessing a butcher’s bill not seen in 70 years. And so, Obama and Kerry have both said the work ‘Genocide’, if I remember correctly; US domestic law compels the USG to take whatever measures it can to combat genocide, as well as to protect American citizens.

And so, now, again, it is a time fo rend, to tear down, and for war.

God help us all.

That song, not incidentally, is almost direct quote of Ecclesiastes 3

 

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

 

Audacity

The audacity to aim for a new apogee

The audacity of a civilized people to defend themselves.

Make no mistake, the IDF is on the front line, in defense of all civilized people, for truly

There are barbarians at the gates.

I have been told that the friend of a friend, a young woman who, in college, married a Muslim, is very distressed that she has received bad comments on the street. As I said last night, her distress distresses me, but these are becoming hard times, when western civilization has little leadership, and so the barbarians are restless. I recognize that in years past, the chasm between Christian and Jew on the one hand, and Islam and the secular humanist on the other, did not seem so wide. But I am afraid, unless she can find a way to recant her choice, she will have to live with the consequences of choosing darkness. May God have mercy on her, for it may not be possible for man to.

It bothers me to say that because I think many, likely including her, made this choice lightly, thinking that joining Islam was a cultural choice, like going to the Methodist church instead of the Lutheran, that in many ways it was the same. In truth, the leadership of the Christian churches have encouraged this, all the while knowing, or at least they should have known, that Christianity, like Judaism, is a religion of life, while Islam is a religion of death. We are now starting to see that decisions have consequences, even when we didn’t think so when we made them. God help us all.

On a lighter note, for it is indeed Saturday

The audacity of proper English

 

The audacity of silver linings at perigee.

 

This week has felt a good bit like this hasn’t it?

THE SECOND COMING

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

 
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

 
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

William Butler Yeats

 

 

Legitimate Government, Evangelical Lutheran Style

‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Hermann Sasse.

‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Hermann Sasse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 I will shortly be posting an article at All Along the Watchtower (Jess’ site) on Luther’s Two Kingdoms doctrine. [It is now up, and is here.] In it I am talking about the interference we are currently seeing in our churches, both here and in the UK, from the secular authorities. I think you should read it. I will update with a link when it is available.

In any case, while researching that article, I came across an essay by Hermann Sasse entitled: THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE FOR THE PRESENT This essay was originally published in the Kirchlich-soziale Blätter in 1930. In April 1928 he was called to be pastor at St. Marienkirche, Berlin, and Sozialpfarrer in Innere-mission (“social pastor in inner mission”).

[...]The assertion “The power of the state arises from the people” is false according to Lutheran doctrine, if it would be more than a formal description of the proceedings in a modern state, by which a government is formed. The power of the state proceeds from God. One last reminder of this lives on in the religious formulas and forms with which modern peoples still surround the state and civil life.

Any political power which has arisen out of anarchy may become a God-given governing authority, if it fulfills the tasks of the office of governing authority. This task is the assurance of peace and the maintenance of law through external power, the symbol of which is the sword. The governing authority is a “Servant of God, the avenger for those who do evil.” [Rom 13:4] Legal governing authority is distinguished from religious power in that it not only (as does the latter) possesses power [Macht] but uses its power in the service of law. Both belong to the essence of the state; Power and law [Macht und das Recht]. A governing authority which bears the sword in vain, which no longer has the fortitude to decisively punish the law-breaker, is in the process of burying itself [gräbt sich selbst das Grab]. A state which removes the concepts “right” and “wrong” from jurisprudence, and replaces them with “useful” and “injurious”, “healthy” and “ill”, “socially valuable” and “socially inferior”, [a state] which in the place of the principal of remuneration places the principal of inoculation [Unschädlichmachung] a state which in its civil law dissolves marriage and family, ceases to be a constitutional state and thus the governing authority.

A governing authority which knowingly or unknowingly makes the interests of social position or class the norm for the formation and definition of law, or which allows the norms of the law to be dictated by the so-called “legal consciousness” of the time, sinks to the level of raw power. This danger exists now—and this is not addressed by the Augustana—for all governing authorities, and shall for all time. It exists especially in the modern democratic forms of government and in the dictatorship. For the result of the secularization process of the last century has been that the consciousness of eternal legal norms which are not determined by man, has nearly perished. But where this consciousness ceases to exist, there God-given power is changed into demonic power, resulting in its ruin among peoples and states. But wherever on earth a governing authority—irrespective of which form—is conscious of a [civil] righteousness independent of its will, exercises the power of its office, upholds the law and guards the peace, there it is “God’s good gift”, there it is “by the grace of God.”

The essay (PDF) is available here. The paragraphs and emphasis are mine.

The German statement of where legitimate power comes from may be jarring to Anglo-American readers, after all we have been taught that the people are sovereign. I don’t find them mutually exclusive, however. God established the family for man before the fall, and government after the fall, to provide a semblance of justice in the world. It’s easy enough to see how, under God’s direction, families got together to form first cities and then states to protect themselves. It is also important for us to remember that all the revolutions in the English-speaking world (and only there, strangely) have been more counter-revolutions, than anything else, always the goal has been the restoration of “The Good Old Law“. That is also why we have never gone into the stage of anarchy that has followed all the other (French, Russian, et al) revolutions. We were going back.

The other thing here is that you see how Weimar manged to delegitimize itself. How close are our governments coming to doing the same? I’d say very close, indeed.

Broad Stripes and Bright Stars

633701545In one of her first posts here, Jess said this:

When I was ten, I lived in America for a year – in the mid-West. I remember when we got to O’Hare airport looking at its size and marvelling; it seemed bigger than the town in which we lived in Wales. I recall going to St. Louis and seeing the Arch, and going up it and looking across the vastness of the city and asking my mother: ‘What is America for mummy?’ I can’t remember what she answered – she probably thought it was me trying to be clever; but it was a real question, and one I came to ask a few times whilst I was there.

I think I asked it for the reason many foreigners ask – there is something different about America.  I remember going with my mother to a Kiwanis Club and being stuck by the way everyone put their fist on their breast as they swore the oath of allegiance to the flag. Indeed, I was so impressed that I memorised it so that the second time we went, I could do it too.[...]

This

I think she had a point, America is special, and it always has been, ever since the first settler came, and one of them a stern preacher named John Winthrop (by the way, he was born not far from where Jess lives in England) said this.

For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. Soe that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.

That still, 400 years later speaks to us, doesn’t it? We Americans are of the elect, our ancestors chose for us to be by coming here. And that is why so many of us care so passionately about America. That is much of what motivates me in writing here. And it is an American thing. You don’t see Europeans worrying much about morality, ethics, or indeed freedom in their lands. We’re different, and we always have been.

And this weekend is our birthday party. Yes we started from the English concept of freedom, fair play, and justice but, we have kept far closer to it, than even they have. Much of that, I think is the wisdom of the Founders in writing it down, and making it difficult to change. But enough.

Let’s party!

But before George M.we had already fought our hardest war, with ourselves

And more after

One of the unique things about us is our love of our armed forces, particularly when you realize that the Founder’s detested a standing military. But they have proved to be the best friends freedom ever had.

But it’s not all guns, God and soldiers, either, It a beautiful place

Are we perfect? Nope. we’re just people who try to do the right thing. One of the bloggers I most respect Cassandra at Villainous Company wrote this yesterday

I love my country not because she is perfect, but because she wants so badly to be. I even love her faults, even the kind of obsessive navel gazing angst that mistakes fallible humans and imperfect realization of our ideals for evidence of pervasive moral rot and in so doing, makes conscience the scourge that would make moral cowards of us all…It is a dangerous moral equivalence which is so afraid of sinning that it would not kill a rabid wolf, lest it starve the flea on its back.

America is not a destination but a journey and in loving her, we must not become so firmly fixed upon the goal that we lose heart when we stumble a time or two upon the road. For stumble we will. After all, we are but human; all too imperfect clay with which to form the more perfect union our founding fathers envisioned.

I love this country because she was born in turmoil; baptized by fire and lighting; conceived from the highest aspirations of Enlightenment thinkers: words that ring as true today as they did over two hundred years ago:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

After everything, those words can still bring tears to my eyes. America is a nation of idealists, founded by men who risked their lives and fortunes to reach for something the world had never known before. Something that is spreading like wildfire across the globe.

Democracy, with all its faults and upheavals and failures. And successes.

May it ever be so.

And that about sums it up.

But certain songs have become America to the world, and to us as well

And some speak of that Banner of Freedom, and our hopes for the future.

And some of the best were written by that American, who will always be known as “The March King”.

Happy Birthday America

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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