The things we miss in our current political climate

Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily – whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence – whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

“Among free men,” said Abraham Lincoln, “there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs.”

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach nonviolence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul. — Robert F. Kennedy, “The Mindless Menace of Violence

 

 

The devaluing of human life

Usually when it comes to war and use of force, especially use of troops, media sources like The New York Times are fairly pacifist. (Depending on the president in office at the time and their political party, of course.) Generally speaking, many media outlets back off the calling for use of force.

But this editorial in The New York Times was strident.

They want force against ISIS. NOW. Tough words are laid down in this piece:

Will the world do nothing to stop extremist groups…

And this:

But the United Nations says it is largely powerless to deal with the threat, and Western governments claim they have more urgent military objectives.

This is dangerously wrong.

And this:

Why hasn’t the international community responded?

I’ve certainly asked questions like this of the media before. Where IS your outrage?

The difference is this: I am burdened over the loss of life. There is a systematic persecution raging in many part of the world against Christians. Thousands displaced. Thousands killed. Slaughter every week that should shock us. Al-Shabaab killed 148 Christians in Kenya last week. Targeted them in a university and shot them.

The outrage The Times has over ISIS? National treasure… STUFF… is being destroyed. It took the destruction of artifacts for the paper to shout, “Why aren’t we nuking these people???”

Not one word in this piece about the extreme loss of human life. It’s not even that they’re silent on Christians being slaughtered. It’s any religious group. The silence, as they say, is deafening.

It is the height of hypocrisy and it is revealing of a soul all at the same time. I could call it an “elitist” attitude or a “liberal” attitude, but that’s just too narrow. What it is… is scary. People of influence, people of means, people of persuasion who sit back and say nothing about the loss of human life… and if they do they will hesitate to show the loss is due to religious affiliation… but destroy a painting and they are ready to call for nuclear war.

This is the world they want. A world without religion in the public square. They don’t want people going “all moral” on them about the value of human life. This is a world where “freedom of religion” is about the “individual” and their right to keep their religion to themselves… just don’t drag it out there for the public to see.

This isn’t about conservative or liberal theology, or conservative or liberal Christianity. This is about a deep desire in those spouting off a false belief in the “progressive improvement” of humanity without religion getting their ultimate way. The value system is warped, and it’s on full display in this ridiculous opinion piece. Center stage.

Religion at its core isn’t the problem. It’s the insistence on not having religion in the public square adding to the debate that is the problem. Without religion in the public square, there is the false belief that humanity will only get “better and better” and if there are problems in this world, it is religion that is at fault.

It is not religion. It is human. Humanity has a problem. At our core, we want to be the little gods. We want to be in ultimate control. And left to our own devices… we don’t improve ourselves very well. We tend to start world wars and find more ways to destroy people than ever before. That’s not religion. That’s humanity.

But a world with less religion, and by that if it means fewer religious people, so be it, is a GOOD thing… in their view. Just save the artwork!

Save us from the “Rah Rah” Resurrection

Every year there is some comment, post, article, etc., out there that will wonder why Christians go through the “morbidity” of Lent or “dwell” on the crucifixion. It’s a braggadocious claim about how they live in the resurrection power. Jesus is alive!

Jesus IS alive. And the resurrection IS where we dwell. We live in the power of the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.

But the grave has to be considered to understand the power of the resurrection. And considering it once in some bygone era is like saying, “I love you” to your wife on the wedding day and then thinking that’s all done.

The POWER of the resurrection is only effective because of the grave. To remember and consider brings to remembrance the incredible depth and power of the resurrection. It is a refresher.

But it is more. The more I walk in the discipline of Lent the more I consider not just my own sin, but just how deep the problem of humanity really is and how desperately we need the work of the cross and the resurrection in our world. I don’t want just the “rah rah” cheering of a resurrection Sunday, quite honestly.

The Spirit brings me to a place of humility where I just don’t feel like a “cheer.” I sense the depth of sin and then understand the need for the power of the resurrection. And that saves me from a “rah rah” Christianity. It saves me from pat answers.

The depth of humanity’s problem comes home to me right now in the issue of human trafficking. Over the past year or so I have dug deeper into the issue and have asked my church to step into this issue as well. We have had some in-depth discussions and right now the awareness of the issue is the biggest thing. The “what” to do is still uneven because laws are uneven, treatment of prostitutes is uneven, and even our acknowledgement of the existence of human slavery is uneven.

Over the past several months I have been able to wrap my mind around the statistics. Today when I hear a presentation and the statistics are given, I only confirm what I am learning. I am hearing the same numbers… and the numbers are staggering. I am also thinking about the numbers not only in terms of sex trafficking, but in labor.

Last night, however, was another layer of the depth of this problem. I was in a meeting with the presenters being from an organization helping women and girls get out of trafficking. The statistics were not “shocking,” meaning they were still the numbers I had learned. But one of the presenters was a young woman who came out of that slavery. Her personal story brought home again the utter horror of sex trafficking. She told of the physical and mental torture applied in her own life to keep her trapped.

It is these stories, and it is not lost on me that I heard this story during Lent, that save me from a “Rah Rah” Resurrection mentality. I am reminded of the depth of sin. I am reminded that the problem is worse than we like to admit. One of the gods of this culture is sex and we just don’t like to name it. If we have struggles in some area, we call it an “issue.” We pretty it up with other names, but the beast is still the same. It is sex. It is the god we worship. It demands full allegiance and will slap down any opponent or any potential rebel with a fierceness that causes people to simply shrink back and stay in bondage.

We are a nation of addicts and it is sexual addiction driving the slavery involved with human trafficking.

In just this one area I have been impacted since that meeting feeling the depth of the problem. It is the absence of fathers. It is the absence of authority. It is the absence of standards held high as to what true sexuality should look like. It is the absence of parenting. It is the absence of spiritual parenting.

And make no mistake: this is a problem that must be exposed and addressed as a truly “justice” problem AND a spiritual problem. It’s a both/and problem. And we need both/and solutions.

We have more people bound up in human trafficking today than we had slaves on plantations in 1860 in the United States. And then that gets multiplied around the world.

And “rescuing” people out of just sex trafficking isn’t enough. It is one person who has suffered physical and mental abuse for years. They don’t know how to function. They have to be trained in living. Think of the tremendous amount of human capital it takes to take ONE person out of some sexual slavery situation, where they have only known abuse since being a young child. The mental state that person is in. No education. No job skills. No mental capacity to handle properly interacting with men or women…

The TIME it will take to help that person gain a new perspective on the world. The money it will take to house and feed them… then educate them. Then find them a job. Then keep them close in ongoing relationship so they know how to handle human interaction in a healthy way…

Now, multiply that by 3 million, if we could save almost everyone just in the United States involved in sex trafficking. (And that estimate is low.)

And it is at this point I am overwhelmed by the stunning depth of human depravity. My own desperate need for the cross and resurrection is brought into perspective. And then I see the utter bondage of humanity. It is here I cry out for repentance… and resurrection. And it’s not feeling very “rah rah” in this moment.

Lent keeps me in focus. It’s not a pleasant walk, but friends, we need this walk. We MUST understand that no matter how much we say, “This world is in trouble,” unless we come to a place in our lives where from time to time we face the facts, we are only saying hollow words.

And realize this: I have only mentioned one thing. Human trafficking. I have not touched on war, poverty, refugees, persecution…

It is a world in trouble. It is a world in need of a Savior. It is a world where I know I need the power of the resurrection and not just some “rah rah” attitude.

Lent brings me back to the place where I quit the trite phrases, roll up my sleeves, and wade into the muck and mud of this world knowing I live in the power of the resurrection.

The situation is dark. Our Savior is great. Our work is needed.

Thank you, Lord, for Lent. 

The Root of the Human Condition: We All Want to be God

The root of human failure is the desire to be like God, or be God.

We strive to fight off what is already set. We will be crushed if we keep thinking WE are “god.” Yet, we keep trying.

A Russian billionaire is funding the next great project:

Although James Cameron’s “Avatar” took place more than 140 years into the future, a Russian billionaire has teamed with dozens of scientists to lay out a plan that would use avatars to transfer human consciousness into an artificial form. The goal: human immortality by 2045.

The 2045 Initiative, a life-extension project founded by 31-year-old Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov in February 2011, offers a timeline for immortality over the next 33 years. Beginning with remotely controlled robotic avatars and re-creating the human brain through computer models, the end result would be human immortality in the form of holographic avatars.

We are still listening to the serpent in the garden.