Category: Evil

“Hell; The Anti-Eden”

2004 vacation 095 - Version 2Biblical descriptions of Hell include a lake of fire, outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth, Gehenna and Hades among others, none of which offer much appeal.

While Hell is largely considered to be a dungeon created to torment and punish unbelievers it is actually an accommodation for those who want nothing to do with God. It is not God who makes Hell the frightening dystopia we understand it to be. The cause of it’s hellishness is the absence of any essence of God. I would suggest that it is a place created in neutrality by God but, absent of God’s influence became a place where man’s imperfect and selfish nature reigns sovereignly.

There are Biblical prophecies that are not part of any grand design but are illustrations founded on a divine foreknowledge of what happens when man’s freewill runs amok. Imagine a society devoid of any semblance of God. (John Lennon’s song notwithstanding)

Hell, as described in the Bible, awaits any soul choosing not to enter into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Since Heaven is a place where the physical presence of God is manifest in the omnipresence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, why would anyone who does not want to live with God on earth have any desire to live with Him in a heavenly city where His presence is constant?

Hell is devoid of any evidence of God’s existence and so, once inhabited by fallible, imperfect people the social trajectory is predictable; unbridled selfishness.

To summarize, Hell is a place with which God has little or nothing to do. He created Eden as a paradise to be shared by Him and His beloved human creation. He created Hell as a place for people who do not welcome fellowship with God. Consider it the Anti-Eden.

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“Dichotomy”

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Can east meet west?

Can right meet wrong?

Can love meet hate?

Can light meet dark?

Can wet meet dry?

Can holiness meet debauchery?

Can life meet death?

Can eternity meet now?

Can right meet left?

Can cold meet hot?

Can yes meet no?

Does yin meet yang?

Can right meet left?

Can sky meet earth?

Can right meet might?

Can comfort meet pain?

Can friends meet enemies?

Can earth meet heaven?

Can injury meet healing?

Can peace meet war?

Can judgment meet mercy?

Can heaven meet hell?

Can people get along?

“Everyone Agrees with the Gospel, They Just Don’t Know It!”

2004 vacation 095Donald Southerland was recently interviewed on Good Morning America about his role as President Snow in The Hunger Games movie series. When asked about his desire to play the role he said, “I asked for it”. He asked for the role in the franchise because “I wanted to end my life being part of something that I thought would maybe catalyze and revolutionize young people because they have been so dormant. This election, it was the lowest voter representation in 72 years. Young people have to get out, you have to get out and change things, you really do. It’s up to you. We’ve wrecked this world and if you’re gonna fix it, you’ve gotta do it now.”

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His statement that “We’ve wrecked this world” was validation of the message that followers of Jesus Christ have been saying since the church’s inception. We live in a fallen, broken world that needs fixing, healing and restoration. While I applaud Mr. Sutherland’s call for the young generation to fix what we’ve wrecked I have to say that this is nothing new. The cultural revolution of the 1960’s was an attempt to accomplish the same objective as was so well illustrated by the 1967 “Summer of Love” phenomenon. The problem is that while a call for everyone to love one another was delivered, it was done so without the divine power of unconditional or agape love. The love that was being called for was a conditional love and therefore fell short of realizing the transformative result that was desired.

Jesus has the answers, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus also said, “Do to others what you would have them do to you”. Jesus has the answer and Jesus is the answer.

My Kingdom for Non-Biased News!

2004 vacation 095While recent videos depicting Muslim Street Patrols attempting to enforce Sharia Law in East London, UK disturbed me I decided that it would be prudent to investigate further before forming an opinion.

The threat of a movement bent on imposing Sharia Law in western nations, particularly the UK and the US appears to be real but to what degree? The majority of Muslims living in the west seem to be peaceful people who enjoy the freedom of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution and the British Human Rights Act. In my experience they are willing to live by the law of the land and accept the rights of others to worship according to their own beliefs and traditions.

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The more I researched, the more I discovered that completely unbiased information on this issue is about as common as the proverbial needle in the haystack. Conservatives highlight instances within the US involving court cases that factor in Sharia Law when the litigants are Muslim and from Islamic nations. Liberals are quick to downplay the same instances as anomalies and nothing more than fuel to feed the fires of unwarranted fear.

Further investigation begged questions as to whether or not such decisions have contradicted US law or not. Navigating the complexities of Constitutional Law is a daunting task, as provisions exist allowing for the enforcement of contracts and obligations established in other nations according to foreign laws.

Attempts in some states – most notably Alabama and Oklahoma – to implement state constitutional amendments prohibiting any foreign law to be factored into US court cases have produced a confusing quagmire of complexity that could actually conflict with the US Constitution.

Any aspect of Sharia Law that conflicts with the US Constitution should not be considered regardless of whom the litigants or defendants might be. If I were arrested in Iran for violating Iranian (Sharia) law what is the likelihood that I would be afforded a trial based on US Law?

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Groups advocating the implementation of Sharia Law in the west are small. However, as I considered that fact, I remembered a question I asked my mom and dad when I was young. My parents were young adults in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s so I asked them what they had thought of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi’s before the invasions of Europe and Africa began.

They’re response was telling.  “We thought that he was a funny little man with a funny mustache on the other side of the ocean and that the brown-shirts were insignificant gangs of street thugs.”

Everyone should be free to sleep at night – even if it is with one eye open. If someone, anyone would provide an accurate and comprehensive assessment of this complicated issue then perhaps we could sleep with both eyes closed.

 

“When is The Race Card Valid?” (Pt. #1)

 

2004 vacation 095For years I patiently listened to members of ethnic minorities direct accusations of racism against anyone by whom they felt slighted or injured.  Internally, I would roll my eyes saying to myself that their description of the offending slight sounded more like the actions a rude individual might inflict on anyone regardless of race.  However, I would never voice that thought because I am well aware that as a white man it would be disingenuous of me to presume that I can sympathetically speak to their concern.

The tables were turned however, when I was living in Costa Rica and utilizing public transportation.  On one occasion I found myself in a sort of perfect storm.  Late for an appointment I was waiting at a crowded bus stop during rush hour in the middle of a driving rainstorm.  There were no orderly lines; it was a chaotic every-man-for-himself struggle to board the overcrowded buses as they inched there way through the stop.  At one point I was just about to step on to the bus when two people took my place in the bus doorway by knocking me off the step.  My initial reaction was to say to myself indignantly, “They only did that because I’m an American!”

As quickly as the thought entered my mind I remembered the countless complaints I had ignorantly endured by those who had experienced exactly what had just happened to me.

When one stands out or when one is aware of his or her difference from the perceived norm it affects our perception of how the mainstream population treats us.  I knew intellectually that the rude mistreatment I experienced trying to board that bus had nothing at all to do with my skin color or my nationality.  Somebody else wanted to board that bus as badly as I did and I was simply an obstacle – nothing more, nothing less.

It is imperative for all of us regardless of race to center our perspectives and mutually work to first understand the position of our perceived adversaries and second to detach our personal experiences as much as possible from our worldview.  It requires a level of clinical understanding devoid of as much emotion as possible allowing just enough passion to focus on finding solutions to racial insensitivity and injustice.

Granted, despicable acts of racism occur every day against both minorities and whites but solutions lie in collaboration and mutual respect acknowledging that racism has happened and that it continues to happen.  But we all need to take a united stand against it for more headway to be achieved.

Will racism ever be fully eradicated?  Sadly, I don’t think so. As long as man is capable of hatred we will find excuses to hate.  But if we can work together to eradicate the culture of racism then vast improvements can be gained.

“My Heinous Insensitivity”

2004 vacation 095In light of the ongoing events in Ferguson, MO I am compelled to share what I consider to be arguably the most shameful act that I ever committed.  Although I performed this act over 35 years ago, my insensitivity still haunts me.  Because my actions were so reprehensible until now I have shared this with only a few people.

My dad went to great lengths to insure that I understood that racial prejudice was unacceptable under any circumstance.  I accepted his teaching and his spirit.   Growing up in lily-white Orange County, CA during the 60’s and 70’s I was not adequately prepared for the realities of multi-cultural life.  Of the 2,000 students who attended my high school less than 100 would have been identified as ethnic minorities.  As was common in those days, racial jokes and stereotypes abounded.person-ran-through-smoke-after-police-launched-tear-gas

None of this excuses my actions of October 31, 1978. In an ill-conceived attempt at humor I dressed myself for a Halloween party as a stereotypical “black man.”  I covered my skin with “creole” makeup and tucked my straight auburn hair into a ski cap.  I donned clothing in keeping with the stereotype.  But it was my choice of accessories that best illustrated by ignorant insensitivity.  In one hand I carried a basketball and in the other an empty box from a fried chicken food chain.

The Lesson

Before the party I entered a Huntington Beach liquor store.  While I searched the store for snacks to take to the party I noticed that the proprietor was watching me intently.  I smiled to myself confident that he was duly impressed by my costume.  When I arrived at the check-out counter the proprietor recognized my farce and in stunned awareness exclaimed, “You’re white!”

I was proud of the quality of my masquerade.  As I left the store however, I was kicked in the teeth by a revelation. The storeowner hadn’t been watching me out of admiration for my costume; his diligent scrutiny was based on an assumption that I was black.  This wasn’t about a Halloween costume; this is the sort of treatment common toward African Americans every day in our nation.

I was cut to the quick with shame.  This was not, or so I thought, the kind of person that I was and it was definitely not the kind of person I wanted to be.  That lesson has both haunted me and been a constant reminder that with all of the effort directed at bringing an end to racism the problem continues.

News footage from Ferguson produces chilling reminders of the urban race riots of the 1960’s that, as a child I watched on television from the safety of my suburban Orange County home; trying to understand the reason for the violence.

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There have been significant improvements in race relations over the years, a rather hollow assessment from a white man but we still have a long way to go; on all sides of the ethnic discussion.

“Sympathy for the Devil – Part #1”

2004 vacation 095The French philosopher, François-Marie Arouet, better known as  Voltaire, has long been vilified as one among many who publically declared, “God is dead!” Christians derive pleasure highlighting the ironic legend that the very presses used by Voltaire to print his atheistic declaration were later employed to print countless Bibles.

But who is grieving the lost soul who, having become disenchanted by the factions and divisive doctrines of his contemporary church essentially turned away from God following a sincere yet fruitless search for divine understanding. Voltaire suffered a broken heart when the God he wanted to know could not be found in the teachings and examples of His followers of that day.

6a00d83451c27169e20115703989df970bLike Voltaire, there are countless legends of noted individuals from every corner of culture that have been mistreated or at least perceived to have been mistreated by the church causing them to later exercise their influence against God.

The issue is less about whether or not people believe or want to believe in God, as it is about the negative impact of harmful religious experiences.  Insensitive council, incorrect theology or lack of ministry altogether during a life tragedy could lead to such disillusionment. When a well-intentioned individual tells a parent that his or her child has been raped and murdered because “it was God’s will” unspeakable damage is done to the Gospel. Such erroneous comments are grave distortions often causing people to doubt or abandon any hope in God.

Throughout history individuals have embarked on strategic attacks to malign Christianity.  As followers of Christ many of us have responded in kind to these attacks failing to understand the motivation behind them.

This topic provides enough examples to fill a multi-volume series of books but I will highlight just a few to illustrate my point.

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The rapid decline of the Western European church over the past six decades resulted from the perceived support on the part of state churches toward the Nazi Party and its atrocities. At the very least unwillingness for the church to provide any defense of the victims was evident.

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Similarly, a primary justification for atheism in the Soviet Union stemmed from the support of the Russian Orthodox Church toward the Romanov monarchy and the oligarchy. These two privileged groups displayed no apparent concern for the countless masses that were starving and freezing to death while millions of rubles were wasted on wars that promised no practical benefit for the working class and peasants.

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Is it any wonder that people doubt the existence of God when His people provide so little evidence of His powerful love within us?

We serve a just and merciful God. The widespread evil in our world is our own doing. God is not the cause He is the solution. Our responsibility is to reveal His justice and mercy through lives of love, mercy and truth. He will be the judge.

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord,
 He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”   – Proverbs 16:7 –