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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Three Trails to Traditionalism: What Evangelicals Are Running From and Running To . . . and Why

by Michael Svigel

Back in the 1990s, when I was a student at a conservative evangelical Bible College, one of my fellow students shocked many in the student body (and alarmed several professors) when he announced that he was becoming Greek Orthodox.
This confused me.
Weren’t Orthodox Christians just Greek-speaking Catholics without a pope? Didn’t they pray to saints and worship Mary? And their worship! Didn’t they kiss icons, sniff incense, sprinkle holy water, and rattle off irrelevant prayers and creeds that had nothing to do with either the Bible or real life? Why in the world would anybody convert to that?
Then I heard about a free church evangelical who became Anglican—still Protestant, of course, but it made me wonder what would motivate a person to make such a drastic change in doctrine, church order, and worship style. Then I heard about a Baptist who converted to Roman Catholicism, leaving Protestantism completely behind. Surely this had to be some kind of sign of the end times!
However, before too long I learned that many Low Church or free church Protestants had left what they regarded as evangelical “wilderness wanderings” to follow the “Roman Road,” the “Way to Constantinople,” or (for those who desired to remain within the Protestant tradition while restoring a liturgical worship) the “Canterbury Trail.” Those who couldn’t take such radical steps into a High Church community sometimes ended up in more traditional conservative Protestant denominations like the Presbyterians or Lutherans. Over and over again I kept running into more examples like these: men and women leaving the open fields of free roaming evangelicalism for the gated gardens of a clearly defined denomination.
Naturally, I was curious about why anybody would go from Southern Baptist to Eastern Orthodox, from Lutheran to Roman Catholicism, or from an Evangelical Free church to an Episcopal church. As a young believer who was perfectly happy in my evangelical subculture, these radical departures seemed inexplicable.
Through the years, though, I discovered that these conversions were not isolated cases. Rather, they represented a widespread movement, especially among younger evangelicals, away from free church and Low Church communities toward more traditional High Church denominations. In order to better understand this trend, I began to discuss these conversions with the converts themselves and to read books and articles on the phenomenon. As I did, I discovered that these converts tended to fall into one of three categories:
1. Aversion-Driven Converts
2. Attraction-Driven Converts
3. Preference-Driven Converts
Let me briefly explain each of these motivations and then explain how this book helps address their concerns.
Aversion-Driven Converts
The aversion-driven converts are those who simply have had enough of Low Church, free church, or no-church evangelicalism. Frustrated with the “anything goes” instability of their evangelical megachurches or megachurch wannabes, some just can’t stomach the ever-shifting sands upon which their churches seem to be built. Or they have endured just too many church coups, splits, or hostile takeovers to continue appreciating the “who’s in charge here anyway?” debates within their independent congregations. Or they’ve “had it up to here” with the stifling legalism and heartless dogmatism of their fundamentalist upbringing. In other words, their motivation to convert to a stable, well-defined, traditional denomination has more to do with what they’re running from than what they’re running to.
The problem with this kind of conversion, however, is simply this: reaction against something—even if that something is bad—is no way to make a wise choice for something. It’s no wonder that many of these aversion-driven converts become dissatisfied with their destination tradition and end up reacting even to that! Lesson learned: if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll never find it.
Attraction-Driven Converts
The attraction-driven converts are completely different. They don’t start with any particularly serious problem with their current evangelical churches. Instead, their entrée into the traditional, historical denominations comes more gradually. The attraction-driven converts claim to arrive at “the Historic Christian Faith,” or to discover “the One True Church,” or to happen upon “the Holy Tradition” either by accident or by careful investigation. As they explore these churches more deeply, they become disillusioned with their historically shallow evangelical background while coming to believe that the traditional denomination has a greater continuity with ancient and historical orthodoxy. They conclude, then, that their Protestant evangelical tradition is really a Johnny-come-lately at best or a devilish usurper at worst. These converts then claim that they were compelled to forsake their evangelical tradition because of their study of church history.
The problem with this approach, however, is that those who claim to have found the one true church through the study of the ancient church often have no idea how to study church history. Rather than engaging in a so-called objective exploration of the facts of church history, they are often unwittingly fed a particular version of church history that just so happens to favor a particular tradition.
Preference-Driven Converts
Finally, the preference-driven converts are motivated not by the ills of evangelicalism or the merits of classic Christian denominations, but by personal preferences regarding worship. I’ve heard numerous friends, colleagues, and students tell me they switched to a High Church or non-Protestant tradition because they “like the liturgy.” They love traditional forms of worship such as lighting candles, offering incense, reciting creeds, partaking of weekly Eucharist, observing the Christian calendar, or some other element of worship completely missing or outright rejected by many evangelical churches. Thus, their decision to convert to a liturgical church was more about adopting a worship style that felt more authentic, appealed to their sense of mystery, engaged their senses, or made them feel connected to a broader and deeper historical faith than their narrow and shallow evangelical churches. In the final analysis, they have nothing against Baptists and Bible churches, but those less formal ways of worship just aren’t for them.
The problem with the preference-driven converts is that they make their decisions in an extremely me-centered, consumerist fashion. They’re less concerned about content and more concerned with contentment. They’re less interested in fact and more interested in feeling. Though they opt out of the typical external forms of the evangelical subculture, they do so in a very typical evangelical way—through individualistic personal preference!
While I sympathize with many of the concerns shared by those who have chosen to travel the trails toward traditionalism, it seems that many have abandoned their evangelical heritage far too hastily and unwisely, driven by emotion, ignorance, or unquestioned assumptions about Scripture, history, and theology. On the other hand, we need to understand why many evangelicals are driven away from their evangelical heritage or attracted to other traditions. I believe the answer is simple. Despite its strengths, there are severe problems with contemporary evangelicalism that are reaching a point of crisis.
Why does evangelicalism appear to be spinning out of control, losing appeal to younger generations, dwindling in numbers, or selling out to pop culture to muster a crowd? Where is evangelicalism headed? What can we do about it? In my book, RetroChristianity: Reclaiming the Forgotten Faith and at the companion website, www.retrochristianity.com, my goal has been to introduce concerned evangelicals to the historical theological branches of the Christian faith that have grown through the Patristic, medieval, Reformation, and modern eras. The approach of “RetroChristianity”seeks to challenge us to begin thinking both critically and constructively about history and how it informs our current beliefs, values, and practices as evangelicals. However, unlike many attempts to change the present by looking to the past, this approach also begins exploring practical ways for both individuals and churches to apply its principles today. Arguing that the way forward is to draw on the wisdom of the whole Christian past, RetroChristianitynot only points out the trailhead of the biblical, historical, and theological path, but it supplies provisions for the journey without forsaking the healthy developments that have benefited Christianity along the way.
RetroChristianitydoesn’t naively defend evangelicalism as if everything were just fine. As I review the history and survey the current landscape of modern evangelicalism, I conclude that things are in pretty bad shape and are likely to get worse. However, I don’t believe the retreat into traditionalism is the necessary or most beneficial response—though it is certainly the easiest.
RetroChristianityfully acknowledges the frustrating and upsetting elements of evangelicalism. However, we can’t afford to simply whine about the flaws of the evangelical movement. We need to provide directions for addressing these problems, resting firmly on biblical, theological, and historical foundations. This will help us respond appropriately to extremes within evangelicalism and contribute to its improvement rather than its destruction.
RetroChristianity also acknowledges the egocentric nature of many evangelicals’ approaches to church and spirituality. We need to counter the preference-driven mentality rampant among so many churches, replacing it with a more biblical, historical, and theological framework through which we can make informed decisions regarding doctrine, practice, and worship. This will help us wisely balance the vital elements of church, worship, ministry, and spirituality, avoiding excesses, extremes, distractions, and distortions.
In short, I believe that careful biblical, theological, and historical reflection should make us better evangelicals, not former evangelicals.
[Excerpted and adapted from the introduction RetroChristianity: Reclaiming the Forgotten Faith (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), pp. 17–21.

Christ's Shroud Goes on Display in Turin

March 30, 2013
 
 

When Men Forsake God, Tyranny Always Follows

By Chris Banescu


The prophetic words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn resonate like thunder across the history of man. "Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened." Thus summarized the Nobel laureate, Orthodox Christian author, and Russian dissident the main reason why the communist revolution was able to enslave, terrorize, and murder tens of millions of innocent people. An atheistic mentality and a long process of secularization gradually alienated the people from God and His moral laws. This led them away from truth and authentic liberty and facilitated the rise of tyranny.

Godlessness is always the first step to the concentration camp. Tragically, that same process is now at work in America and many other parts of the world. Too many refuse to see it or believe it.

America has long been a beacon of freedom for millions of souls who came here seeking liberty and opportunity. It achieved this unique place in history by recognizing the authority of God and his moral laws and declaring that men have the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Founded by faithful and God-fearing men who despised government tyranny and sought religious freedom and individual liberty, America incorporated these universally true principles in its Declaration of Independence and Constitution. These ideals eventually became the bedrock upon which all our laws, government, and institutions were originally built.

America's Founding Fathers understood and proclaimed that all rights come from God alone, not governments. They insisted that government must always serve man and that man was created by God to be free. Their deep faith and reverence of the Almighty inspired and guided their actions and motivated their decisions. It is this belief and trust in God's authority and wisdom that ultimately transformed America from a tiny British colony with a handful of refugees to the mighty economic and military superpower and an oasis of freedom, opportunity, and prosperity for tens of millions of immigrants.

The Founding Fathers, like Solzhenitsyn, understood the dependence of freedom on morality. A virtuous and faithful people who placed God at the center of their lives and the foundations of their institutions helped America become that shining city on a hill "whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere," said President Ronald Reagan. "We've staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government," wrote James Madison, "far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us...to govern ourselves according to commandments of God. The future and success of America is not in this Constitution, but in the laws of God upon which the Constitution is founded."

This same theme is found throughout the writings of the Founders. John Adams clearly understood that our "Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." "He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard for his country," observed Samuel Adams. Patrick Henry wrote that "virtue, morality, and religion ... is the armor that renders us invincible[.] ... [I]f we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed[.] ... [S]o long as our manners and principles remain sound, there is no danger."

Solzhenitsyn warned that by forgetting God, America and the West faced a "calamity of a despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness" that would weaken their foundations and make them vulnerable to moral decay and internal collapse. Only by turning back to God from the self-centered and atheistic humanism where "man is the touchstone [measure] in judging and evaluating everything on earth" would the West have any hope of escaping the destruction toward which it inevitably moves.

Unfortunately, America did not heed Solzhenitsyn's warnings. In the last several decades, America has been rapidly transformed from a God-fearing and worshiping nation into a secularist and atheistic society, where communist and atheistic ideals are glorified and promoted, while Judeo-Christian values and morality are attacked, ridiculed, and increasingly eradicated from the public and social consciousness of our nation. Under the decades-long assault and militant radicalism of many so-called "liberal" and "progressive" elites, God and His moral laws have been progressively erased from our public and educational institutions, to be replaced with all manner of delusion, perversion, corruption, violence, decadence, and insanity.

"Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants," warned William Penn. Throughout history, the most serious threats to man's freedom always arise when men refuse to acknowledge that God is ultimately the source and protector of real and lasting liberty and freedom. When that timeless truth is erased from men's consciousness, when God's wisdom and laws are forgotten, when morality is no longer a virtue to be treasured and emulated, when human life is no longer sacred, and man becomes the only standard of all that is true, then genuine freedom will begin to vanish from any group, institution, community, or society. Carnality, greed, selfishness, and worldly pleasure and power become the main goals of human existence. The moral and ethical clarity, conviction, and courage required to defend freedom and protect genuine liberty ultimately disappear, to be replaced by the most cruel, unethical, tyrannical, and godless ideologies.

It is no coincidence that advocates and followers of Fascism, Nazism, and Communism -- all secular, immoral, atheistic, and godless ideologies -- enslaved and murdered the greatest number of people in the history of mankind. All produced some of the most cruel, violent, and evil tyrants this world has ever known -- despots who persecuted their own citizens, slaughtered the innocent, destroyed their own people, and brought calamities to other nations. All subjugated the liberty and property of men to the absolute power and control of the state. All were enemies of God and blasphemers of His Holy Scriptures. All viciously persecuted the most devout and religious members of their societies, primarily the religious Christians and Jews who righteously and faithfully followed the Lord.

This is the lesson the 20th century expended so much blood to teach us. It appears that without a marked change in course, the Western world is going to have to learn it again.

Chris Banescu is an Orthodox Christian attorney, conservative blogger, and university professor.

Middle East Christians Flock to Easter Services

CBN News

Catholics and Protestants in Iraq and throughout the Middle East flocked to churches to celebrate Easter Sunday, praying, singing and rejoicing.
It was the first Easter since the election of Pope Francis in Rome, and many Catholics said they hoped their new spiritual leader would help strengthen communities that often feel themselves cut off from their countries' Muslim-majority societies.
At the St. Joseph Chaldean Church in Baghdad, some 200 worshipers attended an Easter mass led by the Rev. Saad Sirop, held behind concrete blast walls and a tight security cordon. Militants have in the past attacked Baghdad churches.
"We pray for love and peace to spread through the world," said worshiper Fatin Yousef, 49, who arrived immaculately, dressed for the occasion: her hair tumbling in salon-created curls, wearing a tidy black skirt, low-heeled pumps and a striped shirt. "We hope Pope Francis will help make it better for Christians in Iraq."
In the holy city of Jerusalem, Catholics worshiped in the church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the hill where tradition holds Jesus was crucified, briefly entombed and then resurrected. The cavernous, maze-like structure is a series of different churches belong to often-rival sects crammed into different nooks and even on its roof.
Clergy in white and gold robes led the service held around the Edicule, the small chamber at the core of the church marking the site of Jesus' tomb. Many foreign visitors were among the worshippers.
"It's very special," said Arthur Stanton, a visitor from Australia. "It represents the reason why we were put on this planet, and the salvation that has come to us through Jesus."
Israel's Tourism Ministry said it expects some 150,000 visitors during holy week and the Jewish festival of Passover, which coincide this year. A similar number arrived for the holidays last year, the ministry said. It is one of the busiest times of the year for the local tourism industry.
Protestants held Easter ceremonies outside Jerusalem's walled Old City at the Garden Tomb, a small, enclosed green area that some identify as the site of Jesus' burial. Another service was held at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Jesus' traditional birthplace.
Catholics and Protestants, who follow the new, Gregorian calendar, celebrate Easter on Sunday. Orthodox Christians, who follow the old, Julian calendar, will mark it in May.
There are no precise numbers on how many Christians there are in the Middle East. Census figures that show the size of religious and ethnic groups are often hard to obtain.
Christian populations are thought to be shrinking or at least growing more slowly than their Muslim compatriots in much of the Middle East, largely due to emigration as they leave for better opportunities and to join families abroad. Some feel more uncomfortable amid growing Muslim majorities that they see as becoming more outwardly pious and politically Islamist over the decades.
In Iraq, since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Christians have suffered repeated attacks by Islamic militants and hundreds of thousands have left the country, with church officials estimating their communities have at least halved. The worst attack was at Baghdad's soaring Our Lady of Salvation church in October 2010 that killed more than 50 worshipers and wounded scores more.
There are an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 Christians in Iraq, with most belonging to ancient eastern churches. There has been no census in Iraq for 16 years, making precise numbers difficult to get.
Some two-thirds of Iraq's Christians are Catholics of the Chaldean church and the smaller Assyrian Catholic church. Worshipers of both churches chant in dialects of ancient Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke.
Yousef, the worshipper in Baghdad, said lingering fear pushed her to send her son to live with relatives in Arizona last year. Yousef said she was arranging for her other daughter and son to immigrate.
"There's still fear here, and there's no stability in this country," she said.
Iraqi officials have made efforts to secure churches since the violence of 2010.
High blast walls topped with wire netting and barbed wire surrounded the St. Joseph Church in Baghdad in the middle-class district of Karradeh. Blue-khaki clad Iraqi police guarded roads surrounding the church and checked papers of passersby as worshipers filtered inside.
Four Iraqi Christian volunteers, two men and two women, stood at the church entrance, double-checking people entering.
White-robed church volunteers marched down the church aisle behind Father Sirop, who waved incense and chanted in the white-painted church adorned with three ornate chandeliers and a series of simple paintings illustrating the life of Christ.
Worshipers stood for lengthy passages of Sirop's mass, at one point bursting into applause when he told them, "Celebrate! You are Christians!"

If we only Read and Believe


Federal Framework Being Set Up To Arrest Sheriffs

March 30, 2013
Ken Jorgustin

Colorado, and apparently Texas are being targeted with an attempt to set up a federal authority framework that will enable Secret Service agents (not just those guarding the president), and others of the U.S. Secret Service including uniformed division officers, physical security technicians and specialists, and other ‘special officers’, to arrest and remove an elected sheriff for refusing to enforce the law.
The bills being introduced defines law as including any rule, regulation, executive order, court order, statute or constitutional provision.
Why are they doing this? Here’s why…

It would establish federal authority police powers in a State, enabling an enforcement arm reporting directly to the president (Secret Service).
It would enable the president / executive branch to theoretically override the actions and preventative measures that are now being taken by many States throughout the country who are trying to preserve 2nd Amendment gun rights and who are prohibiting the enforcement of unconstitutional law passed by Congress or pushed by executive order.
As some of you may know, a growing list of sheriffs (more than 340 so far) across the country have expressed that they will not enforce a Washington mandate that clearly violates the Second Amendment.
Many State laws to preserve gun rights are gaining momentum. States include Montana, Ohio, Kentucky, Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Michigan, Utah, and New Mexico.
However, in Colorado, Senate Bill SB-13-013 has evidently just passed, and is now ready to be signed by the governor, giving police powers and arrest authority to the federal/executive branch of government (Secret Service) within the State. In Texas a similar bill has just been introduced in the State legislature.
The president and vice-president Biden have been actively pursuing state legislatures and pushing for passage of the bills. Obama is scheduled to visit Colorado in just a few days. “Colorado is a pawn for the Obama-Biden plan,” and then on to the next… at least those that won’t fall into line.
It is a full court press by the federal government to empower themselves even further by inserting themselves as police authority within the state, to eliminate opposition.
…thought you’d like to know

Obama Signs Executive Order To Bolster Gun Registry

This article was originally published at Activist Post

From Oath Keepers:

President Obama has not just been speaking in front of cameras with victims of gun violence staged behind him, he’s also been busy bypassing Congress by signing executive orders and other actions.
In January, Obama issued 23 executive gun control proposals that were mostly organizational and procedural in nature. But now he has officially signed his first definitive executive order to take gun control into his own hands, according to The Hill.
The Hill reports:
The president has used his executive powers to bolster the national background check system, jumpstart government research on the causes of gun violence and create a million-dollar ad campaign aimed at safe gun ownership.
The executive steps will give federal law enforcement officials access to more data about guns and their owners, help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and lay the groundwork for future legislative efforts.
Obama’s Department of Justice says their aim is to strengthen the “quality and quantity of records contained within the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).”
Last week the DOJ announced that it is pouring $20 million into beefing up the national gun registry.
“As part of President Obama’s comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence, the Administration is committed to enhancing and strengthening the national criminal record system in support of stronger firearm background checks,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “The Department of Justice intends to take immediate and effective action to work with states to fill gaps in information currently available to the NICS system.”
The DOJ describes the new program as follows:
Funding will be provided under National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP), NICS Act Record Improvement Program (NARIP), and a new, one-time initiative called, Improving the Completeness of Firearm Background Checks through Enhanced State Data Sharing. This new initiative creates a competitive grant program designed to incentivize states, territories and tribes to share information with NICS by closing information gaps that inhibit complete and accurate background checks.
Obama’s administrative action also included plans for more research into “trigger locks and firearm safe standards to determine if they need to be improved” - aka smart guns, and $1 million to promote gun control through a propaganda campaign.
The Hill writes:
Separately, the administration has given $1 million to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) to create, produce and distribute a nationwide multimedia ad campaign on safe gun ownership and storage. The campaign is heading into the research phase and is expected to air by the early fall, according to a NCPC spokeswoman.
Isn’t this something the NRA does for free, funded by memberships? These multimedia ads will most likely be some ghastly “see something, say something” campaign to help viewers identify “irresponsible” gun owners.
Finally, this executive order will subsidize the surveillance-industrial complex through a “Cooperative Purchasing” program to provide schools with discounted rates for ”surveillance cameras, emergency communication systems, security design and support, and employee background check systems.”
Federally-funded Big Brother surveillance for schools by executive order. It seems the gun control frenzy is bearing more tyrannical fruit than could have been dreamed up by Orwell himself.
In summary, Obama has signed an executive order to expand and improve the gun database with $20 million in funding, appropriated money for a anti-gun propaganda blitz, and wants all schools tracked, traced, and databased.
If the motivation for an executive order like this was anything but gun control, Americans would probably be mortified. But instead, the numbed masses will likely cheer that he is finally doing something to avenge senseless murder. Problem-Reaction-Solution accomplished.

On David Stockman's Out-Rage

by Bruce Krasting on 03/30/2013

A few years ago I walked around David Stockman’s backyard. I was admiring his stone walls. We fell into a conversation about rocks and masons. David has a good eye for stone, and he knows the proper way to lay it up (A balance of symmetry and chaos, with the least amount of mortar possible). I was pleased to learn that he holds stone masons (all artists) in much higher regard than lawyers, bankers and politicians. My kinda guy.

We talked about the macro/micro issues at length - Stockman knows the numbers and the history. He has an interesting perspective on the global economic scene. I thought about the meeting later. I concluded that Stockman was not just passionate about the state of affairs – he was out-raged. I wondered why.



Stockman is still out-raged. His new book, The Great Deformation, is his opportunity to vent some of that emotion. He does a pretty good job of it. There are a dozen “names” who will cringe reading it.



stockman_0131364421181



This is a history book. It’s a detailed account of the key events since the Depression that have shaped modern finance. I love history, and I’m familiar with those events. Stockman’s spin on financial history makes for a very good read. There’s something for everyone. For example, were you troubled by the bailout of AIG, and TARP? If so, you’ll love this chapter:



Paulson's Folly - The needless Rescue of AIG and Wall Street





Do you worry that Bernanke has overplayed his hand with monetary policy? Stockman rips him apart:



The Bernanke Bubble: Last Gift to the 1 Percent

or

How the Fed Brought the Gambling Mania to America's Neighborhoods





Do TV talking heads influence Fed policy? Stockman says "yes".

The Rant That Shook the Eccles Building: How the Fed Got Cramer'd





Worried about US indebtedness to foreign central banks? That’s covered in:

Monetary Roach Motels


Stockman puts meat on the bones to some old stories. A few examples:

Nixon took the USA off of the gold standard in 1971. The motivation and timing was Nixon's burning desire to win the 1972 elections. He devalued the dollar for a short-term boost to the economy. Tricky Dick rigged the global currency markets to achieve his ends. That makes Watergate look like small beer. Very high stakes poker was played. Nothing new today.



During WWII the Fed capped long-term interest rates at 2.5%. To hold that level, the Fed bought up all the supply (A slightly different version of today’s QE). The rate cap continued until 1951. How it ended (and the secret fight between Truman and the Fed) is history worth studying. This is a window into what will happen when the Fed is forced to end the current QE. Not surprisingly, it was 5% inflation that ended cheap money in 1951. How do you think Bernanke's QE will end?





A central element of the US economy is Roosevelt’s New Deal – Stockman shreds it:

The payroll tax has become an anti-jobs monster
In truth the trust funds are both meaningless and broke.
The fast approaching day of reckoning is thinly disguised by trust fund accounting fiction.





There's plenty of one-liners; a few of the many I found amusing:



On George Kaiser's "loss" in Solydra: (How not to make friends in Tulsa)

by essentially "shorting" Uncle Sam, George Kaiser stands to harvest a 4.6 times return on his sham investment to "rescue" Solyndra



On Elon Musk (How not to make friends in SoCal)

That a megalomanical promoter like Elon Musk could walk off with half a billion in taxpayer money, blown in less than four years, and make himself the toast of Hollywood in the process is powerful evidence that the putative conservative parted has vacated the ramparts of the US Treasury.



On Bernanke ("befuddled academic") and Janet Yellen ("career policy apparatchik"): (How not to make friends at the Fed):

these hired hands keep the carry trades well lubricated and generate continuous opportunities for speculators to extract vast economic rents from deformed financial markets
Bernanke is the godfather of of the debt zombies.



On former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and the AIG bailout:

in one of the most egregious derelictions of duty every recorded, Paulson and his posse of Goldmanite hotshots hastily and blindly shielded these behemoths (the TBTF banks) from even a dollar of loss on their AIG insurance policies.

On economists:

New Deal revivalists Like Paul Krugman are essentially telling fibs and peddling historical legends is not offensive merely because it distorts the distant past. These legends actually compound the deformations of the present by rationalizing policies that cannot succeed and will only bury the nation deeper in debt.

Glenn Hubbard was of the opinion that the Wall Street-coddling policies of the Greenspan-Bernanke era had been a roaring success.

The preposterous Fred Mishkin headed the posse of debt-bubble deniers who dominated the Fed's supporting cast. In a major study he concluded that the only bubbles in Iceland were those welling up from its famous hot geysers.

Keynes fancied himself a dandy, of course, and would never have been caught wearing the equivalent of Gandihi's loom. But when it came to nations and their unwashed masses, it is not at all surprising that he thought the nationalistic and autoartic Nazi Germany was the most likely candidate for early adoption of his program.

My only disappointment with The Great Deformation is that there is very little in the way of what could be done, versus what is being done. Stockman does offer up a few thoughts of what might be considered. These will get more than a few eyebrows raised on Wall Street and in D.C.:

- Abolish deposit insurance, strangle the Fed and shrink the banks.

- Adopt a Super Glass-Steagal. Abolish bailouts.

- Eliminate the Electoral College and establish strict term limits.

- A balanced budget, eliminate economic subsidies, shrink the federal government.

- Impose a 30% tax on wealth to reduce debt to 30% of GDP (assumes a $10T tax on the top 10% - think Cyprus on steroids)

- Eliminate income taxes and replace it with consumption taxes.

This is all blue sky stuff. It sounds alright, but it's not feasible for the USA to consider any of these measures. Stockman acknowledges that his list will never see the light of day, "They would never be adopted in today's regime of money politics, fast money speculators, and Keynesian economics".



Stockman sees nothing but trouble ahead for the USA. He realizes that the changes that are needed to avoid the big fall are simply not in the cards. Now I understand why he's so out-raged.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hooking kids on sex: PP starts “saturation process” in kindergarten

This is not your grandmother’s sex education about how things work and what can go “wrong.” In fact, the exact opposite is the essence of the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP): Obamacare funnels $75 million annually into PREP, which must be used exclusively for Planned Parenthood-style “comprehensive” sex ed programs where no type of sex is wrong and the only sexual behavior PP considers “unsafe” is becoming pregnant.
More than one-fourth of the funds ‒ $20 million ‒ has been awarded to a coalition of six Planned Parenthood affiliates, operating under the name Northwest Coalition for Adolescent Health, to implement HHS’s TOP program across Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Alaska at over 50 sites. In Oregon schools, Planned Parenthood is paying children cash incentives to participate.
PP is funded with our tax dollars to market sex to our children in our schools under the guise of sex education, anti-bullying, diversity, and tolerance. Once sexualized, those children then become PP sex customers for contraceptives, STD testing, and abortion.
“A glance at the teacher outline for Lesson 1A, the introductory lesson (page 12 of the linked PowerPoint presentation), shows exactly how abstinence plays out in the sex-encouraging scheme at Planned Parenthood. ‘Abstinence,’ it says, ‘means choosing not to do any sexual activity that carries a risk for pregnancy or STD/HIV,’” says Rita Diller, national director for STOPP.org. “In other words, abstinence has nothing do with abstaining from sex acts. So long as the student avoids STDs and pregnancy, and is comfortable with what he or she is doing, it’s an anything goes.”
Last year Diller’s parent organization, American Life League, released a video titled “Hooking Kids on Sex,” graphically detailing just what Planned Parenthood sex education is. It went viral and was viewed almost one-quarter million times in the first week before a PP activist got YouTube to suspend it. ALL came back with Hooking Kids on Sex (II). Even those who thought they knew Planned Parenthood were shocked.


The video’s moderator, Michael Hichborn, argues that PP follows the same business model as a drug dealer: Young children are encouraged to masturbate and explore their bodies with mirrors to introduce them to sexuality. Hichborn says of the graphic pictures used to “educate” pre-pubescent children, “If a dirty old man showed these things to a ten year old in a park, he would be arrested. But when Planned Parenthood shows them to kids in a classroom, it gets government money.”
Back in 2000 at Tufts University, a state-funed sex education workshop targeting 14-21 year olds caused a scandal dubbed Fistgate. A Massachusetts state official who spoke to teens at the conference said:
“Fisting (forcing one’s entire hand into another person’s rectum or vagina) often gets a bad rap … [It’s] an experience of letting somebody into your body that you want to be that close and intimate with … [and] to put you into an exploratory mode.”
This bizarre and dangerous sexual act was presented to children as young as 12-14 as run-of-the-mill normal sex. When PP participated the next year, in 2001, recording devices of any kind were banned and the media was not allowed in to any of the workshops.


Kevin Jennings, cofounder and executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a sponsor of the conference, wrote it off as a glitch but also criticized those who filmed the precedings as proof. Jennings was later appointed by President Obama as America’s “safe” schools czar: assistant deputy secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools inside the Department of Education.
Jennings told attendees at a GLSEN conference over a decade ago that he looked forward to the day when promoting homosexuality in schools will be seen in a positive light. GLSEN activist and kindergarten teacher Jaki Williams has said that during kindergarten children are “developing their superego,” and “that’s when the saturation process needs to begin.”
So if you ever wonder why more and more young people accept homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage as ho-hum, look no further.
Thanks to Obamacare, both Jennings and Williams are getting their wish.


Michael Bloomberg and Mayors Against Illegal Guns Caught Lying to the Public

By William A. Levinson


Colonel Paul Linebarger's Psychological Warfare (1954, page 1) says of propaganda: "Yet success, though incalculable, can be overwhelming; and failure, though undetectable, can be mortal." Unfortunate examples of overwhelming success include the following:

  1. The Yellow Press, specifically the newspapers run by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, fomented the Spanish-American War. Hearst even bragged about his role in starting the war.
  2. Visceral propaganda, such William Allen Rogers's depictions of dead children from the Lusitania, drew the United States into the First World War. This cost the U.S. more than 100,000 lives, and also killed countless Germans with whom our country had no legitimate quarrel.
  3. Mein Kampf proved that Adolf Hitler was, unfortunately, the German who learned the most from Germany's failure to counteract the Triple Entente's propaganda effectively. Hitler's infamous use of propaganda to take over Germany killed tens of millions of people, including, in the end, more than seven million Germans.

Linebarger's own success during the Korean War, however, saved countless lives on both sides. He showed Chinese soldiers, to whom "surrender" was shameful, that they could "cease resistance" by shouting the words for "humanity" and "duty," zi-ren-dao, to Americans, who then accepted their "surrender." (Dao, or Tao, is the Asian word for duty, or the Right Way.) Honest propaganda also saves lives when it discourages people from driving drunk, or texting while driving. We must, therefore, confine our communications to honest propaganda while we expose the enemy's dishonest propaganda as widely as possible.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns: A Psychological Crime Ring


"Psychological crime," the term used by Henry Ford, does not refer to an actual criminal offense (although eleven of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG)'s members are under indictment for or have been convicted of such), but rather the abuse of another person's trust with dishonest propaganda. Ford himself, despite his awareness of the problem, became a psychological crime victim and unwitting accomplice himself when he accepted as authentic a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion from a Tsarist propagandist named Boris Brasol. This hard lesson, along with those from the three wars described above, should reinforce to every citizen the danger of dishonest and manipulative propaganda.

One cannot be fined or jailed for a "psychological crime," but the public relations counterpart of the death penalty is available for the cause that one represents. Linebarger introduced the Propaganda Man, or the hypothetical audience whom we wish to persuade to our point of view. We are his friend, and he is ours -- but only until he catches us lying to him. Then it would have been better to have never tried to persuade him at all, for few enemies are more implacable than a friend whose trust we have betrayed. Ford elaborated as follows:

What kills propaganda is the obvious purpose behind it. One little admixture of self-interest and your effort is wasted. You cannot preach patriotism to men for the purpose of getting them to stand still while you rob them -- and get away with that kind of preaching for very long.

Suppose, for example, that Germany had proven in 1915 that the Lusitania had carried ammunition, which made the ship a legitimate military target despite the presence of civilians. This would have proven to William Allen Rogers's Propaganda Man, the American citizen to whom he directed countless images of drowned American children, that the United Kingdom had knowingly, willfully, and recklessly endangered the ship's American passengers. American outrage over Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare could have easily turned squarely against the Triple Entente, and perhaps even in favor of the Central Powers.

This is exactly the kind of outrage we now have the opportunity to direct against Mayor Bloomberg and MAIG, because the organization has just been caught red-handed in a flat-out lie. The instant MAIG's Propaganda Man realizes that MAIG is lying to him, he will become a firm advocate of the Second Amendment, and an implacable enemy of MAIG and everything it represents.

MAIG's and Bloomberg's Big Lie


Joseph Goebbels said that "[i]f you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." The Bloomberg-funded ads from Mayors Against Illegal Guns follow Goebbels's advice perfectly. Here, for example, is a MAIG video of artists repeating "Newtown," "How many more?" "Enough," and "As an American" repeatedly. This exemplifies the following advice from Mein Kampf: "But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over."

Goebbels also warned, however, that the Big Lie could be maintained only for a certain amount of time unless the government used its authority to stifle dissent. This is the United States and not a totalitarian regime, so this is simply not going to happen. We will now expose MAIG's recent ad, in whose circulation Mayor Bloomberg's money had an apparent role, as a lie that is aggravated by the associated description:

Mayors Against Illegal Guns released this ad featuring a gun owner who understands that support for background checks goes hand in hand with support for the Second Amendment and defending their families.

The man in the video is almost certainly not a gun owner, and nobody ever taught him to hunt. He is probably an actor who was paid to portray a gun owner -- and a stereotypical one, complete with pickup truck and Southern drawl -- so Mayors Against Illegal Guns could claim that even the NRA's constituency supports universal background checks. Why do we think MAIG is lying? Its own video provides the evidence, which is the worst imaginable propaganda blunder.

  1. The shotgun's barrel is pointed horizontally, thus endangering anything within its line of fire unless the backstop of something like a target range is directly in front of it. The context of the video suggests that this is not the case.
  2. The shotgun's breech is closed, which makes it impossible to see whether there is a live round in the chamber.

The original reference appears, however, to be wrong about the man's finger being inside the trigger guard. It is difficult to tell, given the lighting in the video itself, so I took a screenshot and then increased the intensity in Corel PhotoPaint. His bent finger suggests that it might be inside the trigger guard, but it is actually behind it.


Two violations of basic firearm safety rules suggest, nonetheless, that this man is not familiar with firearms. Hollywood actors handle guns this way, and even worse, all the time, but real gun owners do not. We can, therefore, believe with ample cause that Michael Bloomberg and Mayors Against Illegal Guns employed a shill to pretend to be "one of us," when he is nothing of the sort. This, in turn, makes Mr. Bloomberg and MAIG liars.

Colonel Linebarger warned that bundles of leaflets that fail to disperse make little impression on the Propaganda Man, unless one lands on his head -- in which case, it is unlikely to be the impression we want to make. This scandal can turn the enemy's $12-million ethical lapse into a far more costly public relations catastrophe, but only if it circulates widely via the internet and other media. The instant the Propaganda Man wakes up to the fact that Michael Bloomberg and Mayors Against Illegal Guns have abused his trust, it will be all over for the latter's credibility and cause.

William A. Levinson, P.E. is the author of several books on business management including content on organizational psychology, as well as manufacturing productivity and quality.

Here is the Blood!

http://herestheblood.com/

America’s Great Depression Quotes of the Week: Bank Failures and Real Monetary Reform

By John P. Cochran
The Road Not Taken in 1933 and its Modern Consequences
The crisis in Cyprus is awakening some to the true nature of fractional reserve banking as evidenced by headlines such as this (from the Drudge Report March 28, 2013) ‘THEY HAVE STOLEN OUR MONEY’… . Compared to responses to previous crises and applications of too big to fail, at least this response has moved away from tax payer financed bailouts of bank creditors. See for example: 1. In today’s Wall Street Journal Luskin and Roche Kelly, “Regime Change Comes to Euro Policy who argue, “The banking crisis in Cyprus prompted an overdue financial reckoning that, with luck, will spell the end of ‘too big to fail.’; and 2. From yesterday’s WSJ “Shocked About Cyprus”, with its subtitle, “How dare a European bank rescue not hit taxpayers.”
This should be a great time to re-awaken the public again to the true risks of money substitutes and fiduciary media and begin a focus of meaningful banking reform as a beginning of true recovery and sustainable prosperity.
Rothbard (AGD, 21) provides an strong argument for the bebefical aspects of bank failures:
Banks should no more be exempt from paying their obligations than is any other business. Any interference with their comeuppance via bank runs will establish banks as a specially privileged group, not obligated to pay their debts, and will lead to later inflations, credit expansions, and depressions. And if, as we contend, banks are inherently bankrupt and “runs” simply reveal that bankruptcy, it is beneficial for the economy for the banking system to be reformed, once and for all, by a thorough purge of the fractional-reserve banking system. Such a purge would bring home forcefully to the public the dangers of fractional-reserve banking, and, more than any academic theorizing, insure against such banking evils in the future.
And later in the same work, Rothbard commenting on the bank panic-bank holidays of late 1932 and early 1933 (AGD 329) provides a template for handling a bank failure in line with protecting property rights and the rule of law in a way that could ultimately end the boom-bust cycle:
The laissez-faire method would have permitted the banks of the nation to close—as they probably would have done without governmental intervention. The bankrupt banks could then have been transferred to the ownership of their depositors, who would have taken charge of the invested, frozen assets of the banks. There would have been a vast, but rapid, deflation, with the money supply falling to virtually 100 percent of the nation’s gold stock. The depositors would have been “forced savers” in the existing bank assets (loans and investments). This cleansing surgical operation would have ended, once and for all, the inherently bankrupt fractional-reserve system, would have henceforth grounded loans and investments on people’s voluntary savings rather than artificially extended credit, and would have brought the country to a truly sound and hard monetary base. The threat of inflation and depression would have been permanently ended, and the stage fully set for recovery from the existing crisis. But such a policy would have been dismissed as “impractical” and radical, at the very juncture when the nation set itself firmly down the “practical” and radical road to inflation, socialism, and perpetuation of the depression for almost a decade.

Student loan crisis getting worse

Rick Moran
You didn't think it was possible, did you? This CNBC article details how the snowball keeps picking up steam as it rolls downhill, threatening to crush the entire student loan program:

Student-loan defaults surged in the first three months of 2013, while efforts to collect bad loans are faltering, according to credit analysts and government audits. It is the latest twist in a college debt crisis that is hanging over recent graduates and dragging on the broader economy.
Credit-rating firm Equifax said $3.5 billion in government and private student loans went bad in the first three months of 2013, the most since the company began keeping track. The U.S. Department of Education said 6.8 million federal student loan borrowers are now in default, representing $85 billion in debt. And the department's systems for collecting the bad loans are struggling to keep up.
The Department's Office of Inspector General found in December that more than $1.1 billion in defaulted student loans were stuck in a sort of computer limbo.
"The Department is not pursuing collection remedies and borrowers are unable to take steps to remove their loans from default status," wrote Assistant Inspector General for Audit Patrick Howard in the December 13 report, which blames a system installed in 2011 by Xerox that is supposed to transfer defaulted loan accounts from servicing companies to private collection agencies. Those collection firms have considerable power, including the ability to garnish up to 15 percent of a borrower's wages. But none of that can happen until the accounts are transferred.
A Xerox spokesman declined to comment, referring inquiries to the Department of Education.
"While we regret this delay, we are taking active steps to work with the vendor to resolve the problem," Department of Education spokesman Chris Greene said in an e-mail. He denied that borrowers who have cleared up their defaults are not being removed from defaulted status, but acknowledged "a small percentage" of bad loans have been caught up in the problem.
He said some $600 million of the affected loans will be transferred "in the coming weeks."
Eventually, you and I are going to foot the bill to bailout these scofflaws and it won't be cheap. Do you think then that they'll reform the program or will they just throw good money after bad?
What posseses an 18 year old to saddle himself with $100,000 in debt in the first place? Do philosophy majors really think they're going to be able to pay that loan off?
Madness.




 
 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sermon - Easter - 1910

Paul Dwight Moody (1849-1947) was the son of famous evangelist Dwight L. Moody, who had first initiated the urban renewal movement and preached revivals across the world. His son served as pastor at South Congregational Church in St. Johnsbury, Vermont from 1912 to 1917. He also served as the 10th president of Middlebury College from 1921 until 1943. This is a transcript of Paul Moody’s Easter Sermon preached in 1910.




THE FIRST EASTER SERMON
AN ADDRESS

BY

PAUL DWIGHT MOODY


“I have seen the Lord.” – John 20:18, Revised Version.


“I have seen the Lord.” In these words we have the first Easter sermon ever preached. For nineteen centuries since then countless preachers in all the different sects of Christendom have yearly preached their Easter sermons, but the honor of preaching the first Easter sermons belongs to a woman. This was, moreover, in a day when woman held a low place in the estimate of man, and in no corner of the world was she thought much less of than in this very land of Syria. And this woman, Mary of Magdala, was one who had been looked upon with aversion certainly, and possibly with pity, for she had been afflicted with a complaint, the nature of which was so awful whatever it may have been, that she was said to possess seven devils. There was not a single follower of our Lord whom the disciples would not sooner have named as a candidate for the high honor which was ultimately hers, for by all the canons by which they – and we like them – passed judgment she was probably neither spiritual nor even good. According to the Jewish view that suffering was the result of and punishment for sin, Mary was a great sinner or passed for such in their eyes.

How came it then that this woman, despised and neglected until the Master came, should have been ordained the first preacher of the resurrection, and so, in a measure, the first Christian preacher? If we trace the story perhaps we shall see the reason for this.

TRACING THE STORY



Upon that first morning of the week, early, when it was yet dark – and dark in more than one sense of the word, for the darkness without was light as compared to the gloom in the hearts of Jesus’ friends – came Mary Magdalene to the tomb. To come she had to conquer all her womanly fears of the darkness, her superstitions – so rank in a Jewish breast – her natural terror in the lonely presence of a tomb. But love had aided her to do this, and she had come through the darkness to Joseph’s tomb to do what little remained of service to the body of her Friend – the One who had brought healing and comfort and happiness into her troubled life. Although now she could make no return for His goodness, show Him no gratitude or sign of devotion, she found relief in being near His grave.

It was the grave of Israel’s hopes. In her confused mind she had taken in but little of His words, but must have shared with His disciples the confident hope that ere long He would restore the kingdom of Israel – He, another David, but undefiled by sin; another Maccabeaus, but tasting no defeat. And now He was resting in a dishonored grave, having drawn no sword, having won no victory and no crown!

It is to her credit that she came at this time when all else had fled, and when He could no longer bring her happiness.

Through the darkness she describes that the stone has been rolled back from the mouth of the tomb. It is not hope which leads her to see this, but despair: and in despair she runs to tell those who have a right to know – the disciples. John and Peter set out for the tomb, and John, the younger perhaps, seems to have outstripped Peter. But at the tomb he pauses, detained perhaps by reverence, perhaps by fear, till Peter, ever impulsive, comes and leaps in. John follows and they find the tomb empty. John, writing his narrative long after, tells us that he “saw and believed.”

Saw and believed what? That Jesus was risen?

Hardly, we think. Two things disprove it: the express statement, “For as yet they knew not the Scripture that He must rise again from the dead,” and then the fact that they went to their homes. Had they believed in anything more than the emptiness of the tomb they could never have returned quietly to their homes.

An empty tomb is an important feature of the resurrection, but it is a small part. That is not the dynamic which sends men and women to the uttermost part of the earth. Christ’s resurrection was to mean infinitely more than an empty tomb. Men to the present day who hunger for certain proof of immortality submit this story to the most microscopic examination by all the canons of historical criticism, and the evidence will always yield one fact – that the tomb was empty; yes, and that its occupant had risen, leaving it of His own volition. But the resurrection is more than this.

Though grief and curiosity carry them to the tomb on the run, they return to their homes puzzled and alarmed when they find the tomb empty. But Mary remains. What caused her to do this is as uncertain as the object of her coming to the grave, unless it was what we may call the unreasonableness of love. She had not followed them into the tomb, nor even now did she enter. But she waited, for here at this spot, barren of all hope and consolation as it seemed, the body of her Lord had last been seen. And her waiting was rewarded, for as she stooped to look through the meager light of the dawning day into the shadowy recesses of the tomb she saw the angel messengers – saw them through the haze of her tears. John and Peter had seen nothing at all. Their curious eyes – even though they entered the tomb – saw nothing but its emptiness and the linen clothes; but the weeping eyes of Mary saw.

Many of us are slow to realize that in the realm of spiritual things there are some truths visible only through the lens of tears. We darken or smoke glass when we desire to look at the brilliance of the sun. In like manner, through our tears we sometimes see things hidden generally from the sight of men. Tears are often telescopes, if you will, bringing near to our sight things otherwise far off; often microscopes, revealing hidden beauty and design in little things which the world calls ugly and coarse and purposeless. The Christian on his knees, we are told, sees further than the philosopher on his housetop. Yes, and the Christian through his tears often sees truths invisible to the keenest sight.

The angels have surprise for Mary’s grief, but they offer her no comfort, for behind her in the background they see One standing, waiting. When His children weep, he Master is always near by. He may be unheeded, but He is not far off.

Never a sigh of passion or of pity,
Never a wail for weakness or for wrong,
Has not its archive in the angels’ city,
Finds not its echo in the endless song.

Not as one blind and deaf to our beseeching,
Neither forgetful that we are but dust,
Not as from heaven too high for our up reaching,
Coldly sublime, intolerably just;

Nay, but Thou knowest us, Lord Christ,
Thou knowest!
Well Thou remeberest our feeble frame!
Thou canst conceive our highest and our lowest
Pulses of nobleness and aches of shame.

[The above quotation is from Frederick Myers, St. Paul (London: Macmillan & Co, 1892), p. 15.]

Mary turns at last, thinking the presence of which she is conscious is the gardener’s; so often is He near us that we think it something less. She does not know Him until He speaks her name. But at this sound, sorrow and sighing flee away as clouds before the sun, and in an instant the gloom and darkness of her night of despair are changed into the sunshine of that first glorious Easter morning. And Mary receives her commission – the commission and message which is the certain sign of every true vision or sight of the Lord – and returns to the city which in the darkness she had left with greater darkness in her heart, returns thought the morning sunshine with a great light flooding and warming in her heart. And then in the city, in those glad tidings of the resurrection, she becomes the first preacher of an Easter message.

Let us see, if we can, the meaning of this Easter message of Mary’s. In the first flush of the joy that was hers, Mary little realized all the content and extent of her words. She could not estimate the full significance of what it all meant. Mary’s heart was busier than her brain, and tears of joy doubtless interfered with the process of computing the full importance of the news she carried. Aye, and after nineteen centuries (though from our childhood we have known the story), our hearts give a great bound when we read again these words: “I have seen the Lord,” and realize, however faintly, all that they mean.

Her message meant for one thing that at last Death had found an equal and superior, and had been conquered.

This same Galilean had stood by the grave, and by the power which God had given Him called forth its prey; but now for the first time from within, not by miracle from without, Death had been overcome. For our sakes the sinless Son of God had suffered the defilement of the touch of Death, but suffered only the touch. We naturally, for we owe too much to it, shrink back from imaging how for hours, all unseen, in the desolate shades of the underworld, a struggle has gone on in which all the powers of Hell were taxed to their utmost to keep in the place they had appointed for Him this one quiet Man who alone had resisted their hitherto limitless tyranny. But at the hour set, He passed from their grasp victorious by His own pure sinlessness – passed from the loathsome grip of Death – passed through the great iron doors of Death, leaving them open, forever open, making a broad pathway to life which all who follow Him may tread, leaving His enemies vanquished, prostrate and bound and becoming Himself the first fruits of them that slept, indicating that all the rest of the vast harvest of the sleeping dead belong not to the Evil One but to God. Of this weird and awful struggle He bore no scars (save the nail prints in His hands and the deep wound in His heart) whereby we may recognize Him as our Lord and Master when we see Him. Made perfect through suffering, He has become the Captain of our salvation, and at His shout we will all respond, for He has Himself already for us won the battle.

Again, the resurrection set the seal of God’s approval on the work of Jesus.

Mary doubtless did not realize this in all its fullness, but to us (as in our day we consider all that the resurrection means) it is not the least that it is the earnest of God’s acceptance of the finished work of Jesus. We might not know with the certainty which can be ours that this was the Son of God were it not for the resurrection. We do not derive our belief in Christ’s deity alone from this, but the sure evidence that He rose from the dead places beyond dispute that which our hearts already recognize – that there is a difference between Him and all others. Others have died in behalf of their cause. Others have believed in their mission and found an even readier acceptance of their teaching among the men of their own day, as Mahomet did. Other have, for the time being, seemed just as real to the eyes of their infatuated followers as Jesus did. But Death has put an end to all their claims and pretenses alike. Yet Death, when it touched Him, but recognized its Lord, for He overthrew it.

Great and wonderful as these things are, the resurrection of which Mary was first herald has yet another meaning. It is over this we pause. While the fact that Christ was victorious over the grave may comfort us in sorrow, and the truth that the resurrection is the sign of God’s approval may cheer and strengthen us if distressed by problems in theology, there is yet a more practical aspect to the meaning of the resurrection. For though now and again God causes His children to go through the affliction of bereavement, that which is only of use as comfort at such a time is of limited value as compared with all the resurrection means. The simple statement of Mary: “I have seen the Lord,” meant – though she could hardly have measured all its significance in the first rush of joy – that the historical Jesus of Nazareth had become the Savior of universal experience, and that the matchless Man of the first generation of the Christian era had become Christ of all time. Death had not destroyed Him or taken Him away but had rather freed Him from the shackles of time and place so that He Who in His body could be in but one place, could now be with all men everywhere.

No longer need men travel to find Him, for He is very nigh unto all of them. When Nicodemus came to Jesus that night in Jerusalem, he alone of all that crowded city could enjoy the Master by Himself. Now in palace or in hovel, on the throne or in the dungeon, by day or by night, wherever the heart truly seeks Him, there He may be found. Jesus traveled to the afflicted home of Lazarus for days that to the waiting and sorrowing household seemed endless. Now He stands instantly by the side of the dying and mourner alike. Time and space no longer bind Him. Stone walls are powerless to hold Him, nor can armed guards keep or drive us from His presence. No long and dreary and costly journeys to bring us to His presence in distant Palestine, for “closer is He than breathing, nearer than hands and feet.” Those who have learned the message of Mary by their own experience know the unspeakable preciousness of this very truth – that Jesus lives as much today as ever.

Loud mockers in the roaring street
Say Christ is crucified again;
Twice pierced His Gospel-bearing feet,
Twice broken His great heart in vain.

I hear, and to myself I smile,
For Christ talks with me all the while.

No angle now to roll the stone
From off His unwaking sleep;
In vain shall Mary watch alone,
In vain the soldiers vigil keep.

Yet while they dream my Lord is dead
My eyes are on His shining head.

Ah, never more shall Mary hear
That voice exceeding sweet and low
Within the garden calling clear;
Her Lord is gone, and she must go!

Yet all the while my Lord I meet
In every London lane and street.

Poor Lazarus shall wait in vain,
And Bartimaeus still go blind;
The hearing hem shall ne’er again
Be touched by suffering humankind.

Yet all the while I see them rest,
The poor and outcast, on His breast.

No more unto the stubborn heart
With gentle knocking shall He plead;
No more the mystic pity start,
For Christ twice died is dead indeed.

So in the street I hear men say,
Yet Christ is with me all the day.

[Quoted from Robert La Gallienne, The Second Crucifixion]

We will not try to contrast the value of these different meanings of the resurrection, but surely this is not the least of them, that Christ is risen and still walks the earth.

No fable old, no mythic lore,
No dream of bard or seers,
No dead fact stranded on the shore
Of the oblivious years;

But warm, sweet, tender, even yet
A present help is He,
And faith has yet its Olivet,
And love its Galilee.

[Quoted from John Greenleaf Whittier, The Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co, 1886), p. 320, “Our Master.”]

The form of Mary’s sermon interests us. All we know of it is that it was the statement of a fact of personal experience: “I have seen the Lord.” It may have included more, but we doubt it. There is no indication of argument, explanation, or citation of circumstances which might be considered analogous. There are no quotations of Scripture. Nor is there any elaboration of her credibility as a witness. There is only the plain statement of the fact: “I have seen the Lord.”

This is the ideal form of a sermon and is what every sermon shall be – the declaration of a fact – the heralding of the Gospel which is good news. Men are asking, when dead in earnest, for no metaphysical arguments on the possibility of the great facts of our faith, and they are but superficially interested in learned disquisitions on the credibility of the sources of our knowledge, but they do demand a statement of the great facts. The church has had enough, and more than enough, of the lawyer with his pleas and the judge with his decisions, and needs and cries for the witness with his plain declaration. There is a place for discussions of credibility, perhaps, and for psychological arguments and investigations, and the lawyer and the judge have their places in the great temple of Christian truth. But the herald has no call to defend, only to announce; and the ideal sermon is neither apologetic nor a philippic for a decision, but a declaration and invitation – a declaration of the Father’s love and an invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

ALL CHRISTIANS



should be preachers of the resurrection, for it is at the very core of our faith. If Christ rose not, then preaching and faith are alike vain, and of all men are we the most miserable. And though we may not be called upon to herald it in great cathedrals or crowded churches, still by life and word we are to declare that the Lord has risen. Every man or woman who takes upon himself the name of Christ honestly, subscribes to the belief that He rose from the grave and thereby witnesses to that belief. And this we must preach. And if the resurrection is real to us, we will. We must declare that the Lord is risen – that we have seen the Lord. And if we have, we will; for every true vision contains in it that which makes its beholder an evangelist. For the person fresh from contact with the living Lord there is only one thing to do: tell about it. Tell about it he will; the very light on his face would reveal that he had seen the Lord if his lips were dumb.

But inevitable as it is that one who has seen the Lord shall tell about it, it is as impossible for one who has never seen Him to preach this. Many have given intellectual assent to the position that Christ rose, for it can be proven, they feel, by many a process. The resurrection is a fact, but they cannot say: “I have seen the Lord,” and their testimony is powerless. Or it may have been that whereas once they saw Him, it was so long ago that the vision has faded – lost in the clouds and mists that always rise from the lowlands of selfish, useless life. They no longer feel the reality of it. The fact has passed from the forefront to the background of their consciousness.

Yet it is even more than the declaration of a fact from deep conviction. The objective side is here, but the subjective is also here in this great message of Mary’s. “I,” said Mary, “have seen the Lord.”

It is not the statement that the Lord has risen, great that would be; nor is it the declaration, however earnest, that others have seen Him. It is no second-hand information that Mary brings. Her own personality is enwrapped in the message.

It is a great and blessed thing to declare our conviction of certain truths which we have never, perhaps, ourselves experienced, but such declarations carry but small weights compared with the message linked to our personality. It may do some good to others to say that he, or she, or someone else has had a vision of the Lord, but if we would make Him real to others – would prove to others that He yet walks the earth and may be known to men – we must say:
“I have seen the Lord.”

If we take our stand, unashamed, by our experience, then our experience becomes real to the world about us. Let us but be untrue to a vision, and the world will doubt the truth and reality of that vision. This is worthy of emphasis, for the one thing this world hungers for is certain conviction that that which it hopes for is really so. Over and over again the question is asked:
“Do you believe what you are saying when you declare sublime truths? Are you sure? Have you seen the Lord?”

Tell a needy and a dying world that the Lord of love is not dead but here in our midst; and that you yourself know of His presence not because of a father’s, or mother’s, or a pastor’s conviction of this point, but because you yourself have come into living contact with Him – have seen Him – and hope will kindle in despairing hearts and men will rise up to serve God and be new men, saved by reason of your vision.

Why was it that of the generation which is passing, few men every preached so meaningly and so powerfully as one who always called himself “an old bum”? He had but one message. His was no efficiency gained in college or seminary. Sometimes he was tempted to imitate other men a little, and to preach conventionally, but at such times he was always ill at ease until he threw over such attempts and made his way back to the old facts he was familiar with, and told again how the Lord came to him as he sat ding on a beer keg in a saloon, how He came to him and saved him. Sam Hadley had seen the Lord, and said so; and though we might hear that story again and again it never failed to touch the heart and make Christ real, as many an able discourse or learned exposition was powerless to do. [Sam Hadley became a famous missionary to the down and out in New York. In 1870, he had been fired from his job and became an alcoholic. Later when in jail, he reported that he saw demons telling him to kill himself, but he also heard Jesus saying, “pray.” Pray he did, asking for Jesus to have mercy on him. When Sam was released from jail, he went to his brother’s house and attended church with him. At that service in 1882, he committed his life to Christ, and four years later he became the Superintendent of the Water Street Mission, where he had earlier committed his own life to Christ. Sam held that post until his death in 1906.]

This is what the world needs – men and women to whom the great fact is that they have seen the Lord. This is what we must tell the world. We need not theorize or argue. The world cares little for our theories and less for our arguments, but it is hungry for a knowledge of Him and for the certain assurance that He is knowable.

HOW MANY GAINED THIS VISION.



It is important and helpful for us to see how Mary gained this vision, and thus won the high honor of being the first Easter preacher. Whenever a man or a woman has preeminently been gained through some experience or another which we may hold in part accountable for the message. Great heights are never gained without a struggle, and when a man or woman sees further than those about him, or sees more deeply or clearly, it is because of something added which is the others did not have.

What accounts for Mary’s keeper sight?

Her saintliness?

Whatever we make of the expression “seven devils,” we know that it was an affliction which must have led in those days, when all suffering was felt to be the result of sin, to her ostracism. Some would have us think it has a mental significance and that Mary, till she met our lord, was afflicted with epilepsy, or was insane, or a mental degenerate. Others, that it has a moral significance and that Mary was a moral degenerate and without the pale of society; hence has come the meaning of “Magdalene” which properly means merely an inhabitant of the village of Magdala. Whatever the meaning of the expression, however, whether Mary was a mental or moral degenerate, she was probably the last person the twelve would have chosen, or even thought of, for this high honor. The scribes and Pharisees would have shunned her as a leper, and the priests would have drawn aside their white robes as they passed her lest they should be defiled by the accursed thing.

So it could not have been her social position or her influence which secured her this honor. The little village of Magdala from which she came lives in our recollection only as Domremy [the village where Joan the Arc was much later born, around 1412], for instance, for the daughter to whom it gave birth.

It could hardly have been brilliance of intellect. This simple peasant woman doubtless could not read or write, and it is improbably that she knew anything of the law or the prophets. She was, in short, of all women the most unlikely for this position it would seem.

But she had one claim, and that the best. She loved. Love for this Man who could no longer do aught for her had brought her to the tomb when the disciples and all others had gone to their homes. Maternal love is strong, but the Virgin had left the lonely tomb. The love of a strong man for his friend will bear much, but the loving John and the devoted Peter had gone back to the city. Mary stayed on. We have said it was unreasonable; and in a worldly sense it was. But, reason or folly, love bound her to the spot where last she had seen the body of her Lord. No hope had dawned in her breast. Faith, too, in all but His goodness would seem to have disappeared. A greater than she was later to write that faith and hope are two of the very great things, but that love is greater than either of these. And love has outlasted faith and hope, and here, as so often, proved itself the greatest and most enduring.

Aye and when prophecy her tale hath finished,
Knowledge hath withered from the trembling tongue,
Love shall survive, and love be undiminished,
Love be imperishable, love be young.

Love was believing, and the best is truest;
Love would hope ever, and the trust was gain;
Love that endured shall learn that Thou renewest;
Love, even Thine, O Master, with Thy pain!

[Quoting from Frederick Myers, St. Paul (London: Macmillan & Co, 1892), pp. 29-30.]

There are some who will not listen to this sermon of Mary’s. For them indeed He is dead.

For hence he lies
In the lorn Syrian town,
And on his grave with shining eyes
The Syrian stars look down.

[Quoting from Matthew Arnold, New Poems (London: Macmillan, 1867), “Obermann Once More”.]

For such, death is and ever must be the inscrutable mystery. Easter brings to such no uplift and no joy. For them we must have the profoundest pity.

There are others for whom the resurrection is real, who admit it as a fact and know that in it they find the proof of their own resurrection and the credential of the efficacy of the work of Jesus. Yet, nevertheless, in their hearts there is no sermon like Mary’s. They must say: “The Lord has risen,” or “Such an one has seen Him,” but they have not seen Him; they cannot say: “I have seen.”

We know very well that we are gifted and trained beyond Mary, that we are endowed with more insight, that we have all the right to preach that she had; yet upon our lips the words have a hollow ring when we declare this truth. We affirm that we have seen Him; yet we have no such message as Mary’s which may send us out with speedy feet to share with others the glad news. The reason for it is that we have not seen Him through the eyes of love. We have not loved enough. It was love that first unlocked the fact of the resurrection. It was love which was the force that spurred Mary on and which was her commission.

Surely this is a glorious and a comforting doctrine. We are not gifted, perhaps, and may have no talents, or certainly no great ones. Birth and circumstance may have forever closed to us certain avenues of service. We are cut off from any hope of being of service to God along certain lines. We are not even good by our own weak standards, to say nothing of the higher standard of God of which we hardly dare to think. Yet, as followers of Christ and believers in the resurrection, we are called upon to be preachers of it. The one supreme qualification which we may have is love. Through love we will discover those things which the Spirit reveals to those who love Him, and not only will we gain our message through love but by love will we be empowered to preach it. Love was the sum substance of the first great Easter sermon, and since that day it has always been the first qualification of the preacher, and the essential part of every Easter message.