Moral Complexities

It is a real challenge to stick to a heart-led conviction and wade through the mass of lies. For those of us still learning how to live by divine conviction, seeking to shake off generations of false religious teaching with false moral values, we need a lot of time in prayer and contemplation to catch up. I encourage you to get close to Creation and learn to hear the voice of God in communion with unfallen nature. Learn to pray and worship outdoors in relatively wild settings; get used to just sitting and absorbing that personal moral truth of God’s character. It’s not so much a matter of pristine untouched wilderness — though that is good if you can find it — but a place where the normal noise of human traffic is far enough away that you can hear the sound of nature singing the praises of God.

And then, I encourage you to keep that thrumming song of glory alive when your human responsibilities pull you away from those moments. Stay heart-led; keep an ear on your convictions. This is how we overcome our own sinful tendencies. This is how we restore justice to as much dominion as God grants us individually.

This way, you’ll be in a position to understand when I tell you that a critical element in divine justice is living in that tribal social structure. While it may mean blood kinship, the real point is covenant kinship. That business of shared covenant is the core of divine justice in this fallen world. This is why I characterize shalom as “social stability” — you cannot possibly have genuine social stability any other way than to elevate the covenant to the status of divine law in your thinking.

Of course, we never lose sight of the vast difference between our world of divine justice versus the world around us. Our lives are characterized by the eternal conflict between what is versus what ought to be. We do not control the outcomes; we can just barely control the process within ourselves. Adam — symbolizing our fallen nature — is like a zombie that won’t stay dead, won’t stay nailed to the Cross (Galatians 2:20). We should hardly be surprised that the world around us lives like moral zombies.

I don’t expect the world to understand this kind of talk. It’s not just the way I use language, but the whole thing rests on a moral awareness that only God can give. Instead, I have to speak to the world just a few things that represent their best interests in terms they could understand if they wanted. Instead of talking about the tribal covenant orientation, I refer to nationalism. Whatever bad things might come with that, it’s far better than what comes with other political agendas. If I can persuade men to embrace a nationalist agenda, it’s about as close as they’ll get to social stability and God’s divine blessings.

We are not going to escape death in this world. It’s not what God intended for us, but now it’s the only way out of this mess. But as noted in my previous reference to Galatians 2:20, we can choose death before we actually die. We can sacrifice our sinful nature and God will grant us a trans-dimensional awareness that means we get some kind of taste of the Tree of Life. We face the Flaming Sword at the entrance to Eden and use it on ourselves; it accomplishes the same moral purpose that way. So we become aware of things we can’t really expect to experience in our fallen existence. We see not just the conflict, but the full meaning of the conflict. We can discern the nature of things and characterize for others a vision, a path that leads them somewhat closer to that Flaming Sword. We tell them to embrace nationalism and already know that it means people have to bleed and die. We understand that the Canaanites had to be slaughtered or God could not bless Israel in the Conquest.

A lot of Israeli warriors didn’t quite have that deep moral vision of the Covenant, but they did have a certain useful bloodlust. Humans have a capacity for violence and it’s just plain goofy to suggest that violence is inherently sinful. It has its place in the fallen world. Don’t try to overly analyze this with your reasoning; God commanded His people to destroy and kill because it was part of His inscrutable plans. The problem was that Israel got lazy about it; it’s the sin of Adam in eating the Forbidden Fruit. Fighting moral evil is a dirty job and Adam had competing interests to distract him. He should have attacked the Devil. And Israel failed to bring God’s wrath against the Canaanites in full measure. That violent human tendency does have a godly purpose, but it requires some strong preparation to see what’s the real threat that needs killing instead of seeking fleshly convenience.

Don’t ask me why God would desire whole portions of humanity to die in their sins. This the world in which we live. It’s sad to see so much potential lost that way, but the real problem is our moral blindness. Our intellect is arrogant and imagines it could find a way to redeem those folks and make them more useful. As if we could succeed where God has closed the door…

We aren’t living in a society that embraces the Covenant of Noah, and I’m not appointed by God to take political leadership. I’m not going to tell you whom you should go and kill with any kind of moral authority from God. Rather, I’ll tell you that the question of using violence is valid under Biblical Law; it’s a valid question for those who follow Christ. But you have to get with God and know for yourself what He wants. We don’t listen to the shrill false morality of our society because it stands on a false moral approach to everything. It flies in the face of God and His revelation; it makes the State your god and demands you do violence only at government behest. Some of you reading this will, in the near future, be confronted with moments when violence is God’s will for you, never mind what government says. I’m utterly convinced I will face those moments. God can redeem our bloodlust, too.

For the rest of humanity in our current American political context, I would say that violence against the likes of the Antifas is justified. But I would also say don’t get lost in that. You may need to save some for the real threat: the globalists behind the Antifas. Do you honestly imagine those folks will peacefully surrender their political power? They are the ones funding the Antifas. Sure, wait for them to force your hand — they will. They most certainly would not hesitate to kill you as a simple matter of convenience.

Would you rather we just keep going in the same muddled direction where the plutocrats plunder everyone of everything? How bad does it have to hurt before you act? If you want to stop the oppression, the path is to take down the globalists first, then the imperialists — the former is shielding the latter. As the linked article notes, there will come a time when the imperialists will send out fake Antifas to keep you distracted from attacking the imperialist agenda. So while you have a little fun punching out the Antifas, don’t get confused about the real threat.

In the end, the thing you imagine you are protecting or recovering will lie shattered on the ground. In the back of your minds, realize that the system as come to an end already, and it’s time for you to build something new once you have broken the plutocrat power over you.

Europeans: I can’t help you much. The globalists own you already; God has delivered your countries into their hands. Your lands are already swamped with implacable foes and your future is lost. The Islamic conquest fended off in 732 at the Battle of Tours has now been embraced by your political elite. You folks will have to find your own answers. The tide cannot be turned back now. You’ll need to learn violence merely to survive on a daily level. God help you.

For those of us who walk the heart-led way, don’t get trapped in political concerns. Learn to recognize what’s happening and be ready to exploit the opportunities for Christ’s glory.

Nagging Memories

There’s something troubling me.

On the one hand, your sense of moral conviction does not reside in your physical heart. The lamp of spiritual truth would burn just as brightly if you depended on an artificial heart to pump your blood. On the other hand, there is simply no way to deny the unique ability of the heart as a sensory organ. If it’s not your physical heart pushing out that powerful electromagnetic field, then something in your body near the heart is doing it. The field has been measured and it emanates from that spot just to the left of your sternum and inside the ribcage. I suppose the question of whether an artificial heart takes away that measurable field is something that hasn’t been tested by the medical researchers who discovered the heart’s sensory field. Thus, I am not able to explain just exactly how the literal sensory heart connects to the metaphorical heart of moral conviction, only that there appears to be a connection.

What I can declare without reservation is that when you make a conscious effort to connect your awareness with that sensory field in your heart, it changes your whole perspective on reality. It’s more than my personal experience; it’s amply testified by others on this blog and in other places on the Net. Further, once you’ve entered that realm of awareness, there’s no going back without something inside of you dying first.

As part of that shift in consciousness comes a sensitivity to moral health. Not just your own, but the environment in which you live. More to the point, it pulls you into a place where your moral health becomes deeply connected to the moral environment. It’s not a question of dependency, but the interaction is there. Your sense of internal peace can be afflicted by what’s wrong around you, and there comes a call inside of you to deal with it in some way to avoid going insane. Each of us in our unique calling from God has to discover what we were meant to do about the context in which He has placed us. Between you and the Lord, no one else can fully understand just where you will find that balance point between bearing up under sorrow and taking some action to reduce the sorrow.

But there are some common elements for all of us. A part of that is healing old moral wounds. That is, the Spirit of the Lord works through this moral sensitivity to heal those wounds, but the means of doing so is where things tend to be unique. A part of the common experience is how the ghosts of bad experiences come back to haunt you. Pay particularly close attention to something that makes you feel out of sorts, as if you were being pulled out of your normal self. In the mirror of such moments of torment, anything that makes you feel like someone you don’t really know — someone you may not like — there is a signal in the heart to seek the Lord’s face for an answer: What does this torment signal for me?

I can assure you that sometimes the answer may literally take years before it reaches some point where your conscious mind knows what to do about it. That’s not meant to scare you, but to assure you that there is always an answer. You have to realize that it may require moving you a very long way before you are in the place where it starts to make sense.

Over the years there have been a handful of troubling experiences that play over in my mind, creating a very disturbing atmosphere in my soul. It’s not some sort of guilt, either false or justified. It’s an unanswered question: Why does this still trouble me so much? Why does it provoke deep emotions that conflict with each other? I replay this event and test variations, changes in how I could have responded, to see if any different choices make better sense. Could I had done it better? Sometimes that’s enough to find a solution and I get peace about that thing. Sometimes it continues beyond that, typically because it’s much bigger than my own failures. When something from the past makes me angry enough to kill, it’s a signal that there is an unanswered question with a much wider implication.

What’s troubling me today is something that merits a separate blog post.

The Taste of Truth

We are wired for narrative.

The Hebrew culture was mystical in nature; it was part of the Ancient Near East (ANE), which is a collection of cultures and civilizations that shared a mystical orientation. Westerners have struggled to make sense of that peculiar brand of mysticism because it is so very alien. Our language and culture makes mystical things “spooky” and dangerous, whereas the ANE folks took it for granted and were entirely comfortable with it. Their “unknown” was never threatening; it was where man could find God.

It’s further exceedingly difficult to get across to Westerners that there is a third level of awareness beyond first, fleshly wiring in appetites and emotions, or second, intellect and reason. This is why genuine faith and trust in God is so very difficult for Westerners. What Western Christianity ends up with is a requirement for orthodoxy (“right thinking”) to force pre-approved outcomes. We simply cannot have something open-ended like faith is meant to be. Thus, it provides a phony “faith” that is some form of iron logic, which is supposed to conquer the flesh. But it cannot conquer flesh because intellect is still flesh; it’s still man doing something the mind imagines is God’s work. To be “spiritual” means some better quality of cerebral exercise in reason.

The only real difference between that kind of belief versus atheism is simply a matter of starting assumptions. It rests entirely in the fallen flesh. It’s all the same kind of thing. People choose their assumptions on some grounds they cannot comprehend because reason cannot admit to dependency and need. The seeming power of reason is too enthralling to ignore; intellect cannot choose to surrender the myth of superiority in all things. It is the God-complex woven into the human soul. In other words, you cannot start from logic and arrive at truth because there is nothing on which to stand. Logic is a tool; it has no substance in itself. Thus, the choice to believe or not is nothing more than subconscious sentiment.

This remains the sad story for the vast majority of those seeking to practice Western Christian religion. Especially as the size of the organization grows, the portion of people in it who are simply believers without genuine commitment on that third level grows higher because the size of the crowd makes it easier to hide the weakness. There’s so much shared enthusiasm that it feels like it must be the power of God; it didn’t come from within the self.

This, despite the rather flatly literal teaching in Scripture that genuine faith in the individual defies the whole world if necessary; even the end of reality itself does not vanquish true faith. Move those individual members to a hostile environment and their belief suffers. Something nibbles away at the edges of the fragile belief. It requires a constant exposure to that mass enthusiasm to reinforce those cerebral boundaries. There’s no fountain of life welling up within.

Nobody says the mind cannot be strong; it’s never strong enough. It can’t bear you into God’s Presence. We don’t need more teaching. There is no truth in explanations that meet the tests of intellect. I use it here in our virtual parish only to deconstruct, to indicate how you shouldn’t rely on it. I use the tools of reason and intellect to poke holes in what the brain can do by itself.

The truth of God isn’t in teaching. The closest we come to divine revelation in human language is parable and narrative. Do you understand that two or more narratives can conflict on the facts and still tell the same truth? Two people can come away from a narrative with entirely different experiences, but still stand in the same faith. Narrative brings with it a whole raft of experiential truth that touches the places mere data cannot find. And it’s those other places in the soul where we can provoke or crush genuine faith. A well told story that rests on certain assumptions will convey those assumptions by drawing the listener into them. It becomes the reality in which that soul stands for a time.

Thus, the very concept of communication and language in the ANE was all about the narrative, drawing us into the place where we can find truth. We are wired to absorb that truth. Once we get used to this, we can detect lies because they bring us to the wrong place, a place that feels alien and hostile. But only if we are used to thinking in terms of the narrative and its purpose as communication. As long as we hang everything on the data, anyone can slip vast deceptions into the narrative and we’d never know it.

A morally strong narrative finds a witness in your convictions. It feels like home; it restores your faith. It tastes like something eternal.

Faith Will Not Forget You

Faith has not been forgotten while I devote so much time to recovering from surgery. And you can be sure faith has not forgotten me, because recovery would not be possible without it.

If you want some religion chatter you can go back to my post A Word for Men and check out the lively exchange of comments between Steven and I. He’s Eastern Orthodox, and if that sounds interesting, he offers a couple of links. It’s not for me, but that should hinder no one who feels drawn to it. Being familiar with the early history of how that branch of Christianity came into existence, the theological disputes from that period were enough to turn me away from it. I can’t summarize it here, but if you read explanations of their unique beliefs, you’ll see why I say it’s too cerebral for me. It reminds me of the difference between Western mysticism versus ANE, because Greek thought (wedded to Greek language) is where Western thought started.

But while this blog seems rather silent, I can assure you that my faith is working hard carrying me forward. Sometimes there isn’t a lot of energy left to ponder things I might say because I’m pondering what I need to do. It’s not so much the physical therapy stuff and trying to move the leg as much as it can take, but exercising faith during this silence while the City considers my claim along with all the other crap they have to do.

I still believe someone out there with a higher public profile will be drawn to our parish. I still believe mainstream Christian religion is headed for a major problem like never before, with some level of exodus from the membership. I’m still certain America as we know it is doomed under God’s wrath, and it will most certainly affect other countries. And I still believe it was God’s requirement of me to let the City of OKC have a chance to do what’s right. I am convinced I’ll still be out there riding and taking pictures for the glory of God, once this recovery has taken its course.

Faith is an adventure like nothing else.

Charity Without Conviction

Conviction is another word for heart-led living.

Conviction is always consistent with God’s character and with His revelation. Our grasp of what it requires of us will surely vary over time, but conviction itself is eternal. Conscience is our mental awareness of conviction, and the content of conscience will change as we strive to obey. What it demands today will surely change tomorrow, but the grasp we have tomorrow is unlikely to improve much if we don’t obey what it means to us now. Conviction is the imprint of God’s divine Presence in your soul.

In John 3 Jesus tried to pull Nicodemas back into the ancient Hebrew mystical mindset, away from the rationalist frame of reference that rabbis had embraced after Alexander the Great made his charismatic sales pitch for Hellenism. Nicodemas couldn’t understand how Jesus could exercise the obvious miracle power of the Creator while operating outside the legalistic boundaries of Judaism. In his darkened mind, it was a curiosity that could someone exercise the privileges of the Covenant without the Covenant as he imagined it. Already, Nicodemas reflected the mindset that God was bound under the rabbinical definitions of what had been revealed in the Law. God was no longer a Person in the ancient sense of His revelation, but had been reshaped into someone who must bow the knee to some higher authority that they imagined as “The Law.” They completely lost the proper image of Law as arising from the character of the Lawgiver. Today’s Talmud in part reflects this comical mental image of God, but it was already inherent in the corrupted rabbinical teaching back before Jesus was born.

So Jesus, as the ultimate living expression of God’s moral character, took precedence over the written expression of the Covenant. You could mistake what Moses wrote and argue about what it could mean because Moses wasn’t there to correct a corrupted imagination more than a thousand years after his death. However, the rabbis could not argue with the living God when He chose to walk in human flesh. The miracles Jesus performed were promised in the Law; His miracles aimed to establish His credentials as the Law of God in the flesh. It was contrasted against their lack of miracles. It was the proof that He could use His Father’s Creator authority to remake Creation at His whim, but He did so in accordance with the revealed Law of God, because His actions and words manifested the heart of God, the moral character of God.

In Matthew 13 Jesus taught in parables and told the story of a man sowing his fields — a parable about parables. It was a parable about how His teaching was planting seeds of moral conviction. There are plenty of things in human existence that can keep us from absorbing the truth on any level. But seeds don’t stay seeds forever; they are meant to grow and take root and produce the Fruit of the Spirit.

When Jesus fed the 5000 they were ready to make Him their Messianic King (John 6). To them it looked and tasted just like the bogus Messianic Expectations that arose from corrupted rabbinical teachings after the Return from Exile. So this crowd figured tactical and practical considerations didn’t matter; here was someone who could change reality to suit His whims. That was true as far as it went. Jesus could have called twelve legions of angels and no army could have withstood even one angel. But Jesus wasn’t in the business of fixing Israel’s political discomfort. He was there to announce that Israel had rejected the Covenant so completely that the inherent promise was going to be offered to all humanity and on a different level. It never was a matter of DNA, but the Covenant had always been a matter of commitment to the Father’s moral character. Anyone in the entire world who embraced the provisions of the Covenant could become an Israelite. But because the people who claimed the name of Israel and were in the best position to exercise the Covenant refused to obey it, and refused to let anyone else obey the Covenant, it called for drastic action.

Jesus instituted the same basic mission with a different charter. So there was no use in trying to fix the current “Israel” but to create a wholly different kind of Israel. But Jesus gave them a chance to figure it out before the final end to that Old Covenant. Their rejection manifested in attempts to make Him a worldly king. Eventually He had to drive away everyone who was unable to get it. Later in John 6 we see where He used parabolic language to polarize the crowd. Too many of them considered the bread of bellies as the best that God could offer. Jesus wanted to winnow out those who would prefer the Bread of Heaven.

Since when does Christian charity have to obey human reckoning? I can’t count how often I’ve read or heard “Christian” teaching on charity that insisted we cannot share the gospel message until we have filled empty bellies. If that’s what it takes to get a hearing, then it’s not the gospel they are hearing. The gospel is seeds of conviction. Let those who are tied to this world do charity their way; we aren’t offering food, but food as a symbol of compassion. If we don’t have food, we offer compassion any way we can. But if they don’t respond to compassion itself, then they cannot hear the gospel. The genuine power of conviction works all the way through human death, so hunger is no impediment to the truth. And if we aren’t sharing the gospel, we have no reason to build our own separate charity works. An orthodox message does not make relief work somehow “holy.”

What makes it holy is ensuring that compassion isn’t just a word that becomes the excuse for milking people who lack conviction to resist emotional manipulation. We don’t build some “respectable” organization that makes a comfortable living for those running things. If the figurehead for a charity dresses better than you, keep God’s money in your pocket. Don’t donate your time because they’ll simply despise you and abuse you.

Sow the seeds of conviction.

Psalm 88

The psalm is addressed to the Sons of Korah, but attributed to Heman, son of Zerah, son of Judah by Tamar his daughter-in-law (1 Chronicles 2:3-6). That’s a mouthful and it requires you remember the sad stories of Judah’s sin regarding Tamar (Genesis 38). As such, this represents truly ancient wisdom, as Solomon is compared against the legendary wisdom of this psalmist (1 Kings 4:31) among others.

The Ancient Near Eastern wise men were not witch doctors, but their brand of deep wisdom is surely different from anything commonly found in Western society. Genuine Hebrew mystical awareness recognizes multiple levels of moral consideration in our human existence. This psalm is a contemplation; it is not meant to assert answers but to ask wise questions. It serves to indicate territory for exploration. What you find is between you and God. The contemplation covers only one of the many levels for moral consideration. If you take the language literally, you would conclude these are ignorant savages who don’t really know God. You would also miss the point completely, because from such is the source of our knowledge of God. To these Hebrew wise men He revealed Himself most clearly, so we best guard against the folly of literalism when reading Hebrew mystical poetry.

If we are to conquer our human frailties by faith, we must first explore those weaknesses. There are plenty of songs that celebrate the victory of faith; this one delves into the human experience of depression, the place you have to visit before you can meet God face to face. It is Job without the errors. It is the deepest, darkest sorrow and shows that our Creator understands how it feels and offers no condemnation for those who confront their valleys of death. If you need an answer, it’s hidden in the call on God. That in itself is victory, but this psalm has no happy ending because it addresses itself to human nature, not divine redemption.

Heman begins in the right place, calling out to God. If there is any bright spot in this vale of sorrow, it is the shining light of God’s revelation of redemption. So he calls on God to hear this outpouring of sorrow over his own weakness. Instead of bluntly confessing his sin, he is more artful in simply acknowledging that he is as good as dead. Nothing here pretends that he deserves any better, only that it’s something he could never survive on his own.

Indeed, he emphasizes what it’s like to see death as a near neighbor. This is the death of someone who has not yet found the assurance of salvation. This is a very common dramatic figure of speech based on a whole range of literary symbols that arose far back in ancient Mesopotamia. And while those far ancient folk might have actually believed some of this more literally, it takes its place in Hebrew poetry as a familiar expression, a mere image of death while still in sin. Heman echoes more than once the image of having no friends, because in genuine depression you are unable to see beyond your own sorrow and imagine that anyone else knows what it’s like. Instead, death is closer than any human friend, and death is no friend.

Thus, he makes it sound as if death is not welcome at all. If someone dies in their sin, they have lost that one last chance to engage even the mere ritual of praise and worship. Once into the shadows of death, the miracles of God mean nothing to those who failed to find mercy. The soul’s doom is sealed. Again, nothing here is intended as literal, but as imagery of the sorrow of dying without a vivid connection of the heart to God.

So Heman continues his weeping, crying and calling out for redemption from God. He expresses lavishly how it seems to a man under conviction for his sinful fallen nature. This is the moment of walking into that Flaming Sword to the East of Eden. Will it carve off his sin, or will he be consumed fully? The psalm ends without a resolution for the simple reason that, unless the Lord redeem you in His mercy, there’s nothing left to say.