I Don’t Need Proof

Do you know how you’ll think of something and all of a sudden you see that thing all around you? You never noticed it before but now it’s so ‘in your face’ that you can’t ignore it? The same thing happened to me today.

There I was, minding my own business, just scootin’ around YouTube and it jumped out at me. Shroud of Turin videos all over the place. Why? I’m a strong believer in the ‘Holy Spirit’ moments. When He wants you to do something, or say something, He slaps ya upside your head to get your attention. Ok; maybe I’m the only He has to slap. Anyway …

I watched some videos I had seen before and for the most part, enjoyed them again. Then I remembered a fairly recent news headline to the effect that because it could not be scientifically disproved to be the burial cloth of Christ, it had to be assumed that it is. I haven’t been able to come up with the right collection of keywords to find that particular article, I did find this. It is a long read but well worth the time invested. One thing stands out to me – this paragraph from under the heading “Image formation versus work of an artist”: “These findings support the idea that the image on the Shroud was made by a sudden flash of high-energy radiation.  They also refute the possibility of forgery, since lasers were obviously not available in medieval times.” (my emphasis)

Before I share a couple of videos with you, I would be greatly remiss if I did not share this – “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” King James Version (KJV) John 20:29. I believed long, long before I ever heard of the Shroud of Turin.

The first video I hope you will watch is this:

It is long (or feels like it is!) but if you listen carefully and follow the information, you will understand two things at once. The flash of light/radiation came from Inside the Body and the Shroud shows Movement of the Body at the time of the flash. It is because the flash came from within the body itself, not an exterior cause, that we are able to see the back of the figure as well as the front of the figure. This just staggers the imagination. It did put into perspective something that I had heard on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network – better known as the Roman Catholic channel). I once heard a priest on the channel refer to Jesus as having ‘raised Himself’ from the dead. This video completely changed my mind as to what the priest had said. I had always believed that God raised Jesus from the dead and of course, He did – but as Jesus is with God, in God, and is God, one can say the Jesus raised Himself from the dead.

And now, the last video. It’s as short as the other is long. It is moving in a deep, personal way.

Finally, let me say, I don’t need proof. I know my Redeemer lives.

 

Were You Surprised?

If I had ‘disposable’ income, my house would be filled with Chihuly glass. We are very fortunate that right here in sleepy St. Petersburg, Florida, we have a Chihuly art installation, museum, and his glassworks building.

Aside from the astounding hangings, one red, one blue, there is a quiet area at the back of the museum that holds just the most phenomenal display. There are benches around about this certain display so after you’ve walked around it three times and still not seen every piece in the display, you get the chance to just sit and look at it. It’s then that you’re hit with the idea that the glass moves. The glass, of course, stays in one place but the movement of the angles and planes and shadows and brightness impresses one with the idea that they are sitting on the pond bed, or the lake bed, or the ocean bed and as the currents move, the ‘plant life’ moves with it. Here is a short video:

There are quite a few more at this link. (admin)

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=dale+chihuly+st+petersburg+museum&docid=608012608264997809&mid=ED6B3D9B4C875F39F610ED6B3D9B4C875F39F610&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

Art glass blowing is an incredibly difficult art, fraught with shatters, burns, shards of glass exploding. Quite a dangerous art. But the results, when produced by the truly talented, can simply stun you, overwhelm you, humble you. Another short video of the museum: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=dale+chihuly+st+petersburg+museum&docid=607997416881783718&mid=B7D86A9BB6A84158901CB7D86A9BB6A84158901C&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

Imagine my excited surprise to find a series on Netflix entitled Blown Away. It is a glass blowing competition and it captures the intense work – and heat! – involved in creating such beauty. What can be done with glass when it’s hot is almost beyond comprehension. In an early episode, a young man is creating a hand in blown glass. Excellent work when a camera man – or person – caught the young artist adjusting a finger on the hand. Your mind almost skids back a moment because it knows, as you do, that glass can’t move like that. I was simply awed.

The competitors are a diverse assortment of men and women and color and sexual preference. Some have only been doing glass for a short while, others have thirty years in the art. They are tasked with creating ‘conceptual’ pieces as well as definable everyday objects. It’s amazing to watch them work. They don’t work alone, they have assistants who are quite literally in mental union with their artists; they have to be because glass cools or runs like lava or misshapes without the concert between the artist and the assistant.

I cannot recommend this series highly enough. But please watch it to the end, the grand finale, and tell me if you were surprised by the outcome.

 

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was Queen Margrethe of Denmark’s 80th Birthday. She sounds like an original, and very interesting, lady. From Frontpage Magazine.

Queen Margrethe of Denmark turns 80 today, and to commemorate the occasion she gave an interview that appeared in the newspaper Politiken on Saturday. The conversation was wide-ranging, but the part that made headlines throughout Scandinavia was her admission that while she considers climate change an important issue, she’s not personally panicked about it, and that while she’s aware that climate does change – “it has changed and is changing all the time” – she’s not certain whether humans directly influence those changes. Let it be emphasized here that this is one queen who actually knows something about these matters: she studied prehistoric archeology at Cambridge and hence has an extremely long-term perspective.

(This isn’t the first time, by the way, that Margrethe has failed to strike the approved tone on climate change: in more than one New Year’s address, for example, she’s celebrated the melting of Greenland ice because it opens up the possibility of exploiting the island’s rich natural resources.)

Sounds quite lovely to me. As much as I like Queen Elizabeth II and understand why she is as reticent as she is, I sometimes long for a spirited defense, and it looks like Queen Margrethe is quite willing to mount such.

So the Danes are lucky in their Queen, although their politicians aren’t much different than anywhere in Europe, or indeed ours. But they do have a queen who knows how to think and is not afraid to say what she means. And that’s a very good thing.

Happy Birthday, Ma’am.

One Little Word, and Passover

We going to start this post with one of Jessica’s articles. She speaks here of how Christ chose to send the news of His resurrection by Mary Magdalene, whose testimony would have borne no weight at all under Jewish law at that time. Then I want to speak of something else. Here’s Jessica-

Under Jewish Law, the testimony of a woman was no testimony at all. The first witness to the Risen Lord was a woman – Mary Magdalen. She was tearful. There she was, come to the tomb to anoint Him, and there was the stone moved. Her mind went where most of our minds would have gone – someone had taken Him away. That great stone had not moved itself, and dead bodies don’t walk out of tombs. The grave-clothes were bundled up and there was no trace of Jesus. Hard to imagine her feelings at the point. Only two days earlier her world had fallen apart. The man whose feet she had anointed and whom she had followed so loyally had been taken, tortured and then crucified. She knew that; she’d been there (which was more than could be said for most of those Apostles). It was over. All that remained was for her to do a final duty to the corpse. But even that was to be denied her. They had taken her Lord away.

She ran back to where the disciples were and told Peter the horrible news. Typically Peter, he ran to the tomb, and equally typically was outpaced by the younger John. But John stood at the entrance, and when Peter arrived he it was who, impulsive and brave as ever, went inside to see that the tomb was, indeed, as empty as Mary had said. The men went back home, no doubt to tell the others; Mary, as is the way of women, wanted to stay there a moment longer, perhaps to gather her thoughts, perhaps to mourn a moment alone.

She looked into the tomb again, only to be met by the most amazing sight – two angels asking her why she wept. The answer she gave echoes down the ages:  “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” As she turned away she saw a stranger, whom she took to be the gardener and asked where Jesus was. Then the man spoke – just one word, one word which shattered the world as she had known it and which echoes down the ages, even to the end of all things. ‘Mary’ was that word, the first from the lips of the Resurrected Lord. However much her tears had blinded her, that voice was clearly unmistakable: “Rabboni!” She said. Teacher, teacher, that was what she called Him. She went to cling to Him and He said: ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’  He bade her to go and tell the others what she had seen.

The testimony of a woman was no testimony in Jewish Law, and yet it was to a woman that the Risen Lord first came. He had broken the bonds of death, He had conquered the power of death and of Satan, the hold of sin on mankind was broken; and these things He entrusted to the power of one who in Jewish Law could offer no testimony at all.

She was the first. Let us love and honour her for that this Easter morning: ‘He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!’

[From Neo] A remarkable thing, really, especially when one considers that the Angel had spent the time to convince The Virgin Mary to consent to bearing Jesus. Remarkable in that time and place to show such respect to women. So should we.

I also note that Chalcedon touches on this in his excellent post today.


And something that applies to us Christians but comes from our Jewish (religious) forebearers. Bookworm in her Good Friday post has some good thinking for us.

An antisemitic Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as a celebration of freedom (commemorating as it does the world’s first and, for a long time, only successful slave revolt), justice, and morality (insofar as it gave us the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the genocide of the Egyptian people. What troubles him so much is the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague, culminating in the death of the first born.

As those familiar with the Bible know, his objection is predicated upon ignorance. The tenth plague, which saw God strike down the first born in every family that did not have the blood of the Pascal lamb above their door, was not a random punishment. It was, instead, divine retribution for the Pharaoh’s own ruling, in effect beginning before Moses’s birth, that all first born Jewish males should be drowned in the Nile.

The Jews of that generation were hiding in their houses, fearing death. Sound familiar?

She’s right of course. And how does that apply today? This way –

The Bible is not so superficial. There is, instead, a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, no matter the burdens placed upon his people. A blood filled Nile River may, at first, have seemed appalling, but the red receded and life went on. Pharaoh still held together his government. The same held true for each subsequent plague, whether lice or boils or wild animals or frogs, or whatever: As long as Pharaoh could maintain his power base, he could always reconcile himself to the incremental decimation visited upon those he ruled.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might have a theoretical concern that a starving and frightened populace could turn on him. However, as long as he was assured that his people, despite the horrors inflicted against them, continued to fear and worship him, their suffering was irrelevant. It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh’s power base was destroyed because his citizens were destroyed and when the plague struck in his own palace, killing his own first born* — that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was willing to see its country overrun and its citizens killed. Only when the death toll became too high,when it was apparent that nothing could be salvaged from the ashes, and when the high command realized that the Americans and Russians were coming after them, personally, did the war on the continent finally end.

Read it all at The news from North Korea reminds is that Passover is always relevant.

That was then, this is now. The threats are ever present and often change, there are plenty of bad actors in the world. But the necessary response remains the same. From Book’s Passover article this year.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, no matter the burdens he places upon his people. A blood-filled Nile River may, at first, seem appalling, but the red recedes and life went on. Pharaoh still holds power. The same is true for each subsequent plague, whether lice, boils, frogs, darkness, or any of the other plagues. As long as Pharaoh realizes, after the first panic, that he is still powerful, he will always reconcile himself to his people’s incremental destruction.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might have a theoretical concern that a starving and frightened populace could turn on him. However, as long as he is assured that his people will continue to fear and worship him, their suffering is irrelevant. It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh the plague struck in his own palace, killing his firstborn* — that Pharaoh is convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways. […]

The only way to destroy an evil institution is to decapitate it. That’s what God did with the 10th plague. That’s what Truman did when he dropped atom bombs on Japan. That’s what the Allies did when they engaged in total war against the Nazis. In each case, the only way to end a tyrant’s rampage of murder, torture, and enslavement was directly hurting the tyrant’s person.

Those who prefer the stability of tyranny to the risks of freedom are the same people who refuse to accept that, under tyranny, the innocents are always going to die, with the only question being whether they will die quickly or slowly. That’s the problem with an evil regime. If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, you’re going to end as cannon fodder. Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned, and China’s leadership will release a plague on the world and let tens of thousands of people sicken and die, both at home and abroad — as long as the tyrant can retain his power.

People of goodwill must sometimes recognize that the generation raised under tyranny is a lost generation that cannot be saved, whether because it will die under the tyrant’s lash, in the tyrant’s war, or in a war against the tyrant. Sometimes, when slaves finally taste freedom, they fear it. The Bible recognizes this problem, banning the Promised Land to those who were slaves in Egypt. They were a lost generation.

For this reason, when one sees a people groaning under tyranny the most humane thing to do is to destroy the tyranny quickly and decisively even if that process causes people to suffer. Most of them were always going to be lost. Our actions are for the benefit of subsequent generations and, if we are lucky, for those who survived both the tyranny and the liberation.

Plain common sense, isn’t it?

Today, the tyrant is China’s government and, as was the case with Nazi Germany or Bushido Japan, China’s tyranny has suddenly started to reach far beyond its borders. No matter how China’s bought-and-paid-for American media work to cover up China’s responsibility for what happened, John Adams was correct: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

We know the facts: COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese lab, although we do not know whether this was deliberate or accidental. China, in true tyrant fashion, was so determined to cover up its failure that it willingly let people die by destroying anything (e.g., information and doctors) that might have helped battle the plague early. When Wuhan began to see mass die-offs, China continued to deny there was a problem. As the plague spread beyond China’s borders, its government continued to deny responsibility, so much so that both China and the WHO (which we pay for, but which answers to China) lied consistently about COVID-19’s reach, danger, and origin.

Now that the plague is a world-wide phenomenon, China is sending or selling useless masks and test kits to hurting nations around the world. It is trying to blame America for COVID-19. And it’s almost certain that people are still dying in the thousands in China, even as the government insists it’s tamed COVID-19 and tells the world to start readmitting its people and its shoddy products. The Chinese communist government is Pharaoh.

The only way to stop tyranny is to fight tyranny. Despite media efforts to cover for their Chinese paymasters, Trump is calling China out on its lies and other malfeasance.

All based on the Exodus combined with the American character. And remember:

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety,

deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

And now, Palm Sunday without the Extravagance

I was going to reprint as I often do on Palm Sunday, my post, Palm Sunday, Triumphalism and Leadership, but when well over a hundred of you have already found it in the last week, it seems a trifle superfluous. But because it’s message is timeless and may be more pertinent in this time of plague than even when I wrote it (2013), I will share a bit of it.

What can we learn from this? General Patton put it this way:

“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. . .

A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”


We know that earthly glory is fleeting, who can recite the exploits of Edward Longshanks, or Frederick Barbarossa from memory. Sure we remember some of our founders but its only been a few generations, and we have been trained (some of us anyway) pretty well.

But what is different about the Christ, other than the Resurrection that is. Like most troublemakers through the ages he died a common criminals death. Think about that for a moment. Within a week he went from the darling of the populace, to an executed criminal, that’s quite a fall, in any time or place.

The other thing is: He never forgot the mission. What thoughts must have been in his mind on that long ago Palm Sunday, knowing, as he did, the fate that awaited him. But he never flinched, only prayed that this fate might be averted. He knew, as did his disciples and followers in coming times, that there would be many martyrs, Saints of the Faith, if you will. There will be many more. Christianity, even more than the Judaism from which it sprang, is the religion of the oppressed, the underdog, the person who never got a fair shake in this world, the sovereign individual made in God’s image. All you have to do is: Remember the Mission and take care of your people. The shepherd of the flock. And that is more than most of us can do consistently, without God’s help, because it is one of the most difficult missions ever entrusted.

Do not fall into the trap of triumphalism, earthly glory leads to nothing but trouble. I think most of us know this instinctively. What is the thing we remember about George W. Bush? He had many faults, which most conservatives can recite from memory. But, and it’s a huge but, he was a humble God-fearing man. To me, that is a lot of the difference between him and Barack Obama. Obama wants lives for the acclaim of the crowd, the earthly glory, one could easily call it the cult of personality.

And so the lesson for me from this Palm Sunday is the old one that the US Air Force taught me long ago and far away:

First the Mission

Second the People

Last Yourself.

That’s all very well, and I hope you read (or reread) it but there is a follow-up. Jessica wrote a piece that flowed from this article (as often happened with us, and is beginning to with Audre as well. It tends to strengthen both). Here’s what she said in Leaders and Non-Leaders.

One theme of this blog is the importance of leadership. Those of us who read today’s Gospel for Palm Sunday (though where I live it is more like Arctic Sunday, and we are dreaming of a white Easter) will have seen a perfect example of its absence – and the results.

Pontius Pilate was the prefect of Judea.  It wasn’t one of those top notch jobs, and like most Romans in such posts, Pilate had two priorities: keep things quiet and make money for himself.  The Romans were pragmatists. Gods? Heck, they had hundreds of them. So it was irritating that those Jews insisted there was only one of them. What was worse is they wouldn’t bend the knee to the gods of Rome. Live and let live was Pilate’s motto. He went to Judea in about AD 26, and had been there a few years when the Jews brought Jesus to him. He couldn’t see much wrong in the fellow, and he tried to find a way of avoiding blatant injustice. He was quite willing to have the fellow flogged, but crucifying him – that was another matter.

But there, blast it, went those Jews again. They wanted the fellow crucified. Pilate didn’t want any trouble, and you can almost hear him: “Come on guys, give us a bit of wriggle room here, the guy’s basically harmless, c’mon, cut me a bit of slack.” But they wouldn’t.  On the one side the pragmatic politician looking for a way through; on the other men who knew what they wanted and would stick at nothing to get it. If you didn’t know, you’d be able to tell who was going to get their way, and you’d not put money on the first guy.

Enter Mrs Pilate, telling him that she’s had a dream and that he should let the man be. That was all he needed, the little lady putting her oar in. Didn’t she realise he had enough trouble with those stiff-necked Jews?  Clearly not. Well, only one thing to do, wash his hands of it and let it be. And it all went off well in the end. There weren’t any riots, and although there were the strangest stories that the man had not died, it caused Pilate no problems for a bit. Politics is the art of the possible. You can see him afterward with Mrs P: “c’mon, what do you want? I did my best. Now what’s for supper, not more larks’ tongues?”

Small men, large events. Churchill said that in his father’s day there had been great men and small events, but during the Great War it had been the other way round. But really, we only see the real size of men when they are faced with great events. Cranmer just quoted some recently released papers from 1982 and the Falklands Crisis. Nearly every member of Mrs Thatcher’s Cabinet was for a quiet life and giving in. We remember none of them. She was for doing what was right. We remember her.

There’s a lesson in Pilate for us all – small men never get to grips with great events – and without vision the people perish.

And so we are seeing once again in our midst, the difference that leadership makes to the people. Jess is correct in quoting Proverbs that without vision the people perish. But perhaps we might remember the rest of the chapter, for it applies well today, I think.

Proverbs 29:18-27 King James Version (KJV)

18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

19 A servant will not be corrected by words: for though he understand he will not answer.

20 Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

21 He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.

22 An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.

23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

24 Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.

25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.

26 Many seek the ruler’s favour; but every man’s judgment cometh from the Lord.

27 An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.

Relationships: Who Needs a Partner?

Well, Audre really brought it yesterday, didn’t she? Like her, I think we’ve all written arguably too much about Chinese Bat Soup Flu, and yet there is little else going on. Next week is, of course, Holy Week, one of those times when we are more overtly Christian around here than usual. I suspect we’ll be even more than usual here, as well, simply because we are starting to see the suppression of Christianity in our societies, and that is not acceptable. So we’ll see.

Audre’s article reminded me of an article, considerably more lighthearted, that Jess wrote about John Ford’s reworking of The Taming of the Shrew, which she titled, appropriately A Spanking Good Time, and it is her most popular article ever here, and one of the site’s. If you haven’t read it, you should.

What are we going to do with these girls and their rambunctious posts? I vote we continue to enjoy them.

In any case, the two posts also reminded me of a post recently by John Hawkins. In it, he refers to a correspondent, who has stumbled into a relationship with a woman who wants a submissive lifestyle…

I (M20) am dating a woman (F20) who likes to be mistreated.

Okay. So this is going to sound bad but bare with me here. I’ve been dating this girl for 8 months. Been official 3 months. We care for eachother deeply and really enjoy each others company. From the outset she told me she was a people pleaser and naturally really submissive.

She wanted us to go into a BDSM style Sub and Dom relationship and though I had never been in one I figured it sounded fun and so why not?

She enjoys it when I am commanding and stuff but also enjoys being made to do things she doesn’t want to do. She has a bit of a force fantasy that she enjoys and I currently have her send me a nude every night before bed barring she is on her period when she will just show her breasts.

She is desperate to keep me happy and I sometimes force her to help me masturbate by sexting me even when she’s no in the mood. However when I talk to her about this she says she genuinely is really happy being made to do things. I’ll tell her off for failing to send me a nude every night. I’ll ignore her requests not to do things, if I apologise she says it’s okay she wants me to do as I please.

She sees herself as being put in her place below me and really loves it. It’s now at the stage she told me (because of one of my own sexual fantasies) if I wanted to get her pregnant I could and she’d obey.

The thing is… I just don’t see this as particularly healthy. It’s fun and sexy but the relationship on the whole is largely physical. I find myself being more controlling than I would normally be or would really want to be because I’m now filling a role. It’s wrong to do things when your partner says no but afterwards she will thank me.

I also find myself expecting more of her and demanding she do things I shouldn’t really but it’s part of the role.

I am worried I’m changing as a person and not for the better because of this dynamic.

I also don’t feel challenged or pushed to grow with this girl because… Well she worships me as I am and lets me do as I want.

What do I do??

John says, and I certainly agree, that he’s right to be concerned. Back when dirt was young, I tended to attract these ladies as well, probably because I don’t really back down, gracefully or otherwise. The funny thing was, this was during what we now call ‘second-wave feminism’ and without exception, these women in my life were medium or high powered executive types, who took no nonsense from anyone at work, but at home wanted to be totally dominated. Explanations? I have my suspicions, but I’m just guessing.

What I’m not guessing about is that John’s correspondent is correct. It will damage him, it did me, in all the ways, that John talks about. You know the other thing, after some period of time, for me it was about a month, it got boring. It’s hard to carry the whole relationship, especially if your working, and this is worse than most. Like most guys, I like and respect women, and value their thinking, not least because it’s nearly always different than mine. Well, guys, I’ll tell you, as attractive as it sounds to have some hawt cookie who’ll do anything you want, the one thing they won’t do, can’t do really, is be your friend, and I do not think there can be a proper relationship without a friendship underlying it. Your mileage may differ, but I bet it won’t.

Read what John has to say, as well.

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