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Providence, Part 1 – War

Mille Fleur Tapestry (16th Century), Victor and Albert Museum, London, Author Andrew Dunn (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Sometimes we can see the hand of God in events. Other times, the situation is not as clear.

At best, we see the reverse of an intricate tapestry, catch a glimpse of God’s overarching plan.  More often than not, we are left to draw our own conclusions.  That may actually grow our faith.

This series will examine the providential reversal of fortune, i.e. deliverance by the hand of God, in the context of war, the Holocaust, crime, and poverty.

Direct and Indirect Intervention

God can intervene in any circumstance.  He can intervene directly or indirectly. In the biblical heroine Esther’s case, for example, God intervened indirectly [1].  He did not move mountains or part waters.

That God does not intervene as or when we might wish does not mean He is uncaring.  His ways are higher than ours (Isa. 55: 8-9).

God allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery in Egypt, and did not immediately rescue him from prison.  Yet He did ultimately elevate Joseph to a position of power, using him for the good of many.

Always, God allows the individuals involved in events free will to make their own decisions.  That is a reflection of His great love for us.

American Revolution

During the American Revolution, George Washington’s escape from Brooklyn Heights to New York astonished the larger British force he was facing.

Washington managed to ferry some 9,000 troops, horses, cannons, and supplies across the East River under the cover of fog and darkness.  Had that evacuation not succeeded – had the fog not rolled in – the Revolution might well have ended then and there. Read more…

“Coronavirus – Oncoming Eviction Tidal Wave” by Ken Liu

“Homeless Jesus” sculpture by Timothy Schmalz, Barcelona, Spain, Author Canaan (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Below is a message from Ken Liu Esq., Legal Aid Director of the Christian Legal Society (CLS) https://www.christianlegalsociety.org/.

CLS members commit to seeking justice with the love of God.  (For more about Christian legal aid see above.)

Ken addresses the affordable housing crisis in this country, and the large number of evictions predicted as a result of Covid-19.  Please, pray for those impacted.

“As COVID-19 hit this spring and workers were let go by the millions across the country, the federal government and many state governments ordered moratoriums on evictions.  All of these moratoriums have either recently expired or about to expire, at the same time that extra federal unemployment benefits are also ending.  Even before the pandemic, 25% of all renters in the US were already overburdened, paying more than half their income in rent.

Some housing experts predict a tidal wave of evictions in the next few months, leading to massive homelessness.  Many of those affected will be minorities and households led by women, both of whom historically are more likely to be evicted.  Despite the federal moratorium that ended July 24, some landlords have raised rent, issued late fees, and initiated eviction proceedings earlier than the federal timeline, which requires 30 days notice for eviction.” Read more…

Food Justice

Fresh fruits and vegetables at a supermarket, Author Wolfmann (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

“The right of communities everywhere to produce, process, distribute, access, and eat good food regardless of race, class, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, ability, religion, or community.”

-“food justice” as defined by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)[1]

“We weren’t the ones who made fresh food a luxury and junk food an easily obtained comfort.  We didn’t chase the grocery store out of …[the inner city] neighborhood…We weren’t responsible for the poverty that was eating the neighborhood like a cancer, leaving a generation of people exhausted and malnourished.”

-Harmony Cox [1A]

In an excellent article on Narratively, Harmony Cox makes the following points regarding food justice [1B]:

  • The link between poverty and obesity is not one of indolence.
  • There is an enormous divide between what those living in poverty are “supposed” to eat and what is actually available to them.
  • A food budget is more flexible than pre-determined expenses like rent. For that reason, it is frequently the first thing a family living in poverty will cut when trying to save money.

Read more…

The Flying Scotsman

Eric Liddell at British v. US Relays (1924), Source http://lewishamlegacy.wdfiles.com (PD)

“One word stands out from all others as the key to knowing God, to having his peace and assurance in your heart; it is OBEDIENCE…OBEDIENCE to God’s Will is the secret of spiritual knowledge and insight.  It is not willingness to know, but willingness to DO God’s Will that brings certainty.”

-Eric Liddell, “The Key to Knowing God”

Eric Liddell was a beloved Scottish rugby player and track star, a British Olympic gold medalist, and a Christian missionary, memorialized in the film “Chariots of Fire” [1][2].

Born to missionary parents in China, Liddell displayed early athletic prowess.  While still at the University of Edinburgh, Liddell became widely known as the fastest runner in Scotland, justifiably earning his nickname as “the Flying Scotsman” (a reference to the famous express train between London and Edinburgh).

At the 1924 Paris Olympics, Liddell refused to break the Sabbath, withdrawing from the 100 meter qualifying heat and forfeiting his best chance for gold.  Liddell, nonetheless, went on to win a gold medal – in record-breaking time – in the 400 meter race, not his favored distance.

In 1925, Liddell returned to China to follow in his parents’ footsteps.  When in 1941 the government warned British nationals of increasing Japanese aggression, Liddell’s wife Florence and their children left for Canada.  But Liddell stayed on in the missionary field.

In 1943, he was imprisoned at Weihsien Internment Camp.  There he became a leader and organizer of the captives – assisting the elderly, arranging games for the young, as well as teaching science and Bible study.

Liddell died at Weihsien of a brain tumor at the age of 43, his faith undaunted.  Overwork and malnourishment may have contributed to his death.

Langdon Gilkey, a fellow prisoner who survived the camp to become a theologian, said of Liddell:  “It is rare indeed that a person has the good fortune to meet a saint, but he came as close to it as anyone I have ever known.”

Outstanding for both his character and accomplishments, Eric Liddell remains an inspiration.

[1]  Wikipedia, “Eric Liddell”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Liddell.

[2]  Duncan Hamilton, For the Glory:  The Untold and Inspiring Story of Eric Liddell, Hero of Chariots of Fire (2017).

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://avoicereclaimed.com

Religious Spam

Do a Google search on “religion” and you are likely to come across thousands of posts decrying religion.

White Noise

Unbelievers often hold Christian proselytizing efforts in contempt, characterizing such efforts as unwanted messaging – more of a nuisance than anything else.  In short, as religious spam, the equivalent of white noise.

Encyclopedia Salesmen

Missionaries (however sincere, however well-intentioned) are viewed as encyclopedia salesmen, hawking an unnecessary, outdated, and costly product.  Their pitch is compared to cheesy advertising; the Gospel, reduced to a secret handshake; and tithing, seen as “pay to play”.

The Great Commission

“ ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…’ ” (Mark 28: 19).

Why should this matter to Christians?  The answer, of course, is that Christ instructed us to spread the Good News of Salvation to all the world.  We have been commissioned by Christ, Himself; charged with accomplishing a sacred task.

How then can we accomplish the task more effectively?

Led by the Spirit

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Rom 8: 14).

As sons and daughters of God, believers are led by the Spirit [1].  The Spirit’s direction extends to witnessing (Acts 1: 8).  We must pray for obedience and boldness to follow the Spirit’s direction.

But boldness does not exclude sensitivity. Read more…

“A Sacrifice of Praise” by Joseph Veneroso

“The Sacrifice of Abraham” by Giovanni Benaschi (c. 1666), Musee de Beaux-Arts de Brest (Accession No. 975.28.1) (PD-Art, PD-Age)

“We sacrifice little who offer God
Of our excess prosperity or time
As if a minimum of effort would ever suffice
To cleanse our sins or delay God’s justice…

No, authentic sacrifice demands nothing less
Than…An offering of our deepest longing,
Our dearest possession:  our truest self.

Sacrifice requires something precious die
Not for destruction but for consecration…”

Read more…

Warriors of Peace

“Our Lady of Guadalupe” (16th Century), (PD-Art, PD-Old)

In a south side Chicago basement a group of Hispanic teenagers meets to say the rosary.  The teens call themselves Guerreros de Paz (“Warriors of Peace”).  They are part of a ministry that seeks to provide them with “a safe and welcoming space where they can grow in their faith” [1A].

This is an alternate to gang violence.

” ‘We meet…to try to inspire and move hearts with the grace of God,’ says Alberto Rodriguez, 25, who helped to found this ministry in 2016.  ‘Our vision is to inspire our youth in the neighborhood, so they can be leaders like Christ and to love like Christ.’ “

Read more…

A Thousand, Thousand

“Hamlet and Ophelia” by Mikhal Vrubel (1883), (PD-Art, PD-old-100)

“…and by a sleep to say we end The heartache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished.”

– William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”

Ethics and the Law

The law can be a challenging career, demanding commitment, sacrifice, and fortitude.  What may be even more difficult to live with are the compromises the world will impose on us, in the course of our careers.

As lawyers, we are required to adhere to ethical tenets; as Christians, to moral standards even higher.  There is no question about that.  But if we seek diligently to practice within those boundaries, we will encounter opposition.

Conflict

We will be forced to fight for resources, yet against what seem to others profitable – if questionable – courses of action.  We will argue over budgets with non-lawyers who do not see the value of our work.

We will confront internal politics that have nothing to do with protecting the clients, and everything to do with protecting private fiefdoms.  We will work exhausting hours to offset staff reductions.  We will risk our jobs, in the often fruitless attempt to convince management to change bad policies.

All this simply to do our jobs as they should be done.

Natural Shocks

The struggle is not, of course, confined to the legal profession.  Men and women of integrity face it in the workplace, everyday.  Defeats are among the “thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to,” as Shakespeare put it.

Which can be deeply discouraging.

But life still has meaning and purpose.  It is not defined by the terms of an employer, but by the terms of an infinite God with whom all things are possible.

Read more…

China’s Cultural Revolution

Image result for IMAGE communist chinese poster targeting religion during cultural revolution

Poster in support of China’s Cultural Revolution.  NOTE:  Crucifix in lower lefthand corner.

From 1966 to 1976, China engaged in a destructive socio-political movement known at the Cultural Revolution [1].  Launched by Mao Zedong (formerly known as Mao Tse Tung), the Cultural Revolution sought to purge China of the remnants of capitalistic ideas.

The Four Old Elements

The Great Leap Forward (an effort to modernize China’s economy) had failed, starving some 14-36 million, and widening the gap between rural peasants and urban professionals [2][3].  This was contrary to the Communist agenda of eliminating social classes.

In response, the so called “four old elements” were attacked:  old customs, old habits, old culture, and old thinking.

Millions Persecuted

Tens of millions were persecuted, publicly humiliated, tortured, and put to death.  Noted scholars and scientists were killed or committed suicide.  The resulting death toll is estimated between 400,000 and 3 million [4A].

Christianity Targeted

Christianity was specifically targeted during the Cultural Revolution [4B].

Pastor Wang Zhiming was among those who suffered for their faith [4C].  His home was pillaged.  The pastor and his family were beaten, vilified, and paraded from one village to another.  Read more…

The Dangers of So Called “Progressive” Christianity

“The term progressive Christian represents a broad collection, ranging from moderates who claim belief in an ‘authoritative’ Bible yet dismiss passages they deem as stumbling blocks, to liberals who barely believe in God [1A].”

The term “Progressive” Christianity has been adopted by a variant of Christianity which seeks acceptance from the culture while rejecting Biblical views on marriage and sexuality.

The Distortion of God’s Word

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another...” (Gal. 5: 17).

The distortion of God’s Word is the basis for all sin.  Since the Garden, human beings have rationalized sinful behavior.

Many factors (not all fully understood, and not all sinful) may influence the way we perceive our gender.  These are thought to range from hormone levels in the womb to child abuse [2].  Our perceptions can, however, be deceptive. 

The Bible is clear.  God intended marriage as the union of a man and a woman (Gen. 2: 24).  This definition is considered disrespectful of those who view gender as fluid and self-determined.  For that reason, it is not acceptable to the culture.

Compromise No Longer an Option

“[A]s tempting as it is for otherwise Biblically faithful Christians to seek ‘middle ground’ with the prevailing culture’s moral positions – most notably on sexual ethics – such a notion is incongruent with a faithful reading of Scripture… [1B]”

Unfortunately, compromise with the prevailing culture is no longer possible.  Christians are seen as backward, intolerant, biased, and hateful for proclaiming Biblical truth.  Conscience be damned. Read more…