Make The Costs Too High To Pay

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I have posted this pic several times. I have it in a special folder on my computer. It is the pic of a woman who has just escaped East Germany to the West, and the only stopping her from being harmed are good men with guns.

This reminds me that this is the kind of world we live in. Yes, there is more to this world than force and violence. The love of God is a power that will one day redeem it all. But while we live in this world, the light of civilization is sheltered by those who see the nature of the conflict and are willing to front the tide of evil that would sweep all else away.

Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1950s reminded us of this truth even as utopian philosophies drifted through the church blinding it to deep darkness marshaled against the good. Ronald Reagan saw this, and though mocked and derided as a neanderthal and cretan, restored America’s military power to resist. The drama of the Cold War evaporated. And now with our military degraded again due in large measure to Obama’s blindness and George W. Bush’s military blunders, it is time again to restore the necessary power to good people to resist those who mean harm.

I am thankful for realists who daily see the risks and lift a voice to cry out a warning. Be strong, America, even while you adhere to the good. You are being watched, and the calculations are being made about the costs of resisting you.

Make those costs too high to pay.

God Wanted It Darker – An Appreciation For Leonard Cohen

I can’t number the times I have laid awake at night listening to the music of Leonard Cohen in my earbuds. His Jewish background made him a constant reflector on the biblical story and its insights into what it means to be human. His years as a Buddhist priest quieted him and gave him the aura of man who was in touch with awful truths.

He came onto the music scene when I was in college in ’67 after years as a poet and novelist. Dylan-like in his music, unlike Dylan he never did leverage his music into the top echelons of the industry yet he was constantly there. His most famous song is “Hallelujah.” 

He died in November, 2016, and his final album, “You Want It Darker,” brought it all together. The album is named after its central song. It is the story of God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and the truth that the promise of God led him into a darkness Abraham could not have imagined, to be stripped by his own hand of the life of his only son. God wanted it darker. Abraham saw that and accepted it. It was the only way to the light. Joel Osteen Cohen is not!

The album was released six weeks before Cohen died at age 82. The New Yorker Radio hour has an interview with Cohen shortly before he did die. Intriguing. I commend it to you.

Evangelicalism Has Always Been A Rodeo

If you think the moniker “Evangelical” is no longer worth keeping because of what it communicates to the broader culture, go back to George Whitfield (d. 1770), the father of Evangelicalism, as it were, and see what epithets were hurled at him. By many he was considered a snake oil salesman, a showman, an incurable huckster always interested in getting your money, a dis-repecter of respectable religion, a threat to the political order, a constant critic of the establishment.

As many Evangelicals over time have moved into the mainstream culture, they are disinclined to shoulder the opprobrium of the movement, which has always been a people movement that moves deep into the masses of the “unwashed,” where things aren’t always so ordered, tidied, and clean and can be a bit rough.

Our Evangelical elite are opting out of the rodeo that is the Evangelical heritage.