Monday, April 29, 2013

The Convention (A Place to Fit)

After the long, long drive, you finally pull up to the familiar home that you'll be staying in. It never really was your home before. But, it feels like home nonetheless.

You should be impatient, tired, and ready to give up. But, instead you are fueled by the hope that is in you. The long road that you had traveled seems like nothing compared to the joy that has now been released within you.

A smile slices across your face as you think about the people that you'll finally get see again once you're inside. You just need to open the door.

In your excitement, you don't even knock, you just burst through.

And there, just as you had expected are family and friends whom you have waited far too long to see.

Want some even better news?

That's just the beginning.

For, tomorrow is The Convention...

It's the one you've been waiting for the entire year.

You get up and go at the crack of dawn. You don't feel tired or upset that you had to get up. You don't hope to go back to bed for just a couple more minutes. You don't even hit the snooze button. Instead, you feel anxious, alert and ready, giddy even.

The drive seems like a millisecond and the time for preparation minuscule.

You have no worries...

You're going to The Convention!!!!!!

You might not be the most prepared, the most in-costume, or even the one with the most comic book knowledge. You might not be able to tell the difference between Captain America and Captain Planet. But, you're ecstatic just to be there.

The place is full, packed to the brim, in a hall bigger, vaster, grander than you could have ever imagined.

EVERYONE is there: the young, babies, infants, toddlers, kids, teens, the experienced, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, hobbiests, enthusiasts, artists, inkers, painters, writers, vendors, men, women, black, white, red, green... Everyone. Cosplay and "normal" alike.

But, these people really aren't "normal." There's something that sets them apart. It always has. And, it probably always will. They're different than the people on the outside. The thing is, they're all there for one reason, one mysterious and slightly awkwardly deep reason. They're there because they all love comic books.

They show this love in limitless ways. There are people dressed up as the characters that interest them, the characters they respect, or the characters that they'd just love to be. There are artists scribbling, doodling, water-coloring, tattooing, and creating in their own unique way from the inspiration of the stories that they have seen. There are vendors with comics, literature, signs, T-Shirts, sculptures, and buttons. There are pannels to learn more about what you have seen in the comics and what is yet to come. There are even games being played based off of your favorite characters.

And, in this limitless love and this limitless expression of that love, the thing that hits you the most is that they all marvel in it. You know that the people here soak up the experience just because they know everyone else loves being here. Their love radiates love. Although it may not be true, you have the feeling that these people would gather together here at this time, no matter the cost, just because they loved to.

Even without the vendors.

Even without the costumes.

Even without the pannels.

Even without the makeup and costumes.

You have this feeling, this understanding of an unusual love, that runs so deep in all of these people that they would gladly come back again just for the chance to experience it.

And then, before you know it, it's 7:00PM. The lights go off. The Convention is over.

And, you can't wait until next year.

You can't wait to see your friends again.

You can't wait to marvel at all that you see.

But, most of all, you can't wait to come back and see an awkward and mysterious love for a mythology that doesn't even exist unfold once again before your very eyes.

It reminds you that although you are different, although you don't fit outside of that one big building, although you just don't have a place in the real world as comfortable as the place you have there...

You know that you'll be back.

"The kingdom of heaven is like..." this.

After the long, long journey, you finally arrive at the home you'll be staying in. It never really was your home before. But, it feels like home nonetheless.

You should be impatient, tired, and ready to give up. But, instead you are fueled by the hope that is in you. The long road that you had traveled seems like nothing compared to the joy that has now been released within you.

A smile slices across your face as you think about the people that you'll finally get see again once you inside. You just need to open the door. You can't understand how some people could even think about staying outside, avoiding the door at all costs. But, thankfully, the door had always seemed like a pretty obvious entryway to you.

In your excitement, you don't even knock, you just burst through.

And there, just as you had expected are family and friends whom you have waited far too long to see.

Want some even better news?

That's just the beginning.

You're about to experience The Convention.

You have no worries...

You might not be the most prepared, the most well-dressed, or even the one with the most Biblical knowledge. You might not be able to tell the difference between Moses and Elijah. But, you're ecstatic just to be there.
The place is full, packed to the brim, in a hall bigger, vaster, grander than you could have ever imagined.

(Figuratively) EVERYONE is there.

"A great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb..."

"After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, 'Hallelujah!'"

These people really aren't "normal." There's something that sets them apart. It always has. And, it probably always will. They're different than the people on the outside. The thing is, they're all there for one reason, one mysterious and slightly awkwardly deep reason. They're there because they all love God.

...And, in this limitless love and this limitless expression of that love, the thing that hits you the most is that they all marvel in it. You know that the people here soak up the experience just because they know everyone else loves being here. Their love radiates love... And, this peculiar love is deeper than any other sort of love that you have ever previously known. Perhaps it is because not only do they love one another, walking, standing, and sitting in love... You also bask in the source of their love:

"From the throne came a voice saying, 'Praise our God'...'Hallelujah!'"

Although you had forgotten to dress up, you feel as if you're at a party you never deserved to be a part of and you're not even wearing clean clothes, the host provides you with a white garment. He gives you his own pure white gown as he had already done for all of the guests before you... You dread at the thought of the cost it must have taken to provide the garments for everyone who had arrived.

And, the chorus cries out, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the lamb!"

You have this feeling, this understanding of an unusual love, that runs so deep in all of these people that they had waited all of their lives just for the chance to experience it.

And then, you realize, this will never end. The lights will never shut off. The Convention is never over.

And, you will never have to wait again.

You don't have to wait to see your friends again.

You don't have to wait to marvel at all that you see.

But, most of all, you don't have to wait to come back and experience a limitless and mysterious love for the Being who had always existed.

You're already there.

This is why we must not neglect "to meet together..."

"We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus" in a hope that's unwavering. In the vision above, you are already there, in the holy places of God. But, until then, we have a day of Sabbath to acknowledge his holiness on Earth.

Sunday morning should get you excited. You should long for worship.

You should be able to get up and go at the crack of dawn. Because, you don't feel tired or upset that you had to get up. You don't hope to go back to bed for just a couple more minutes. You don't even hit the snooze button. Instead, you feel anxious, alert and ready, giddy even.

The drive seems like a millisecond and the time for preparation minuscule.

And, when you get there, it reminds you that you are different, you don't fit outside of that one big building, you just don't have a place in the real world as comfortable as the place you have there...

There's something that sets you apart. It always has. And, it probably always will. The thing is, you, along with everyone else in attendance, is there for one reason, one mysterious and slightly awkwardly deep reason... because you love God.

That's the purpose of Sunday morning.

Worship and rejoicing.

Love and fellowship.

Word and Sacrament.

If that's not what happens on Sunday morning, there's only one Holy Spirit-inspired person who is able to change it. That person is you. Love begins with God and works its way through you, it goes not without effect as it spreads like a contagion to those around you. It works as it always has and always will, in a mysterious and peculiar fashion.

Once The Sunday Convention begins, you get the feeling that these people would gather together here at this time, no matter the cost, just because they love to.

Even without the hymnals or the slideshows.

Even without the vestments or the simple dress.

Even without the bells or the bass guitar.

Even without the art and decor.

They'd gather because they love God and His love goes not without effect. They marvel in His love as they share it with one another.

They can't wait to come back for the next service.

In fact, the love of God inspires them so much, they get to thinking about the times between services. How can they form panels to discuss what they love? How can they get people together to spread the news of this different and exciting world? What can they do to keep the joy and excitement, the worship and blessedness, the fellowship and enstrengthenment the whole week long?

As the people get to talking, you realize that a convention like this is worth inviting the world to.

It's something worth searching out each individual for, to invite them to join in the celebration, to learn of the feast and its meaning, to rejoice with them as they begin the understand that they now have a reason to rejoice.

And, even more so:

All tribes and nations, peoples and races, would yearn to come... to experience... to know what it's like to be a Christian.

They will not go away empty handed.

For, "If anyone loves God, he is known by Him."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Malaria Initiative (Cause)

Lutheran Malaria Initiative

Malaria is completely preventable and treatable. But, it still kills nearly 1 million people per year.

One child dies every single minute.

What can we do??

We can help give these people a first chance:

How can I help...

            for FREE???
  • First: Pray
    • Pray without ceasing.
    • Whenever you remember this initiative, take a second to bring it up to the Lord.
    • Then, (in the midst of your praying) join everyone else and lead/say a prayer on 4/25.

  • Third: Spread the word
    • Tell your family, tell your friends, tell your church and coworkers.
    • Call, Txt, and Facebook whoever you think would be interested.
    • If you want to be really impressive, you can change your whole Facebook profile.

Want to add impact??
  • 100% of your donation goes right to the people who need it most.
    • $1 gets a child medicine.
    • $10 provides a whole family with a treated bed net (to keep the mosquitoes away) and trains them on its use.
    • $50 covers the cost of broadcasting malaria prevention messages on local African stations.
    • $100 trains a healthcare worker to both diagnose and treat malaria.
    • Anything more could go to improve medical centers and their equipment.
  • Fund-raise.

C. S. Lewis (Why He Matters Today)

Man, I've really been lacking in my C.S. Lewis posts. Ever since I had heard how much of an influence G.K. Chesterton was to "Jack" Lewis, I've dug pretty deep into the Catholic's philosophies (perhaps just as Lewis had done). But, now (at least with this post), it's time to turn back. Here's a refresher on who C.S. Lewis is and why he is needed today:

Not enough?

Here's a little bit more:

And, Prayer by the same man.

I also tend to post more quotes (especially from the Space Trilogy) on our Facebook page.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Clinging to Straw (Slice)

"On a routine trip through well-worn streets, I found myself pulled out of the fragmented consciousness of a mind captive to the day’s worries with the jarring lyrics of a song. Up until that point, the song itself was much like the familiar patterns of scenery, an external factor impervious to the siege of my own fears; I was seeing but not seeing, hearing but not really hearing. But then I suddenly took in the artist’s abrupt words: “Hoping to God on high is like clinging to straws while drowning.”(1)

The stark image of clinging to straw cleared everything else from my mind. It also set me thinking about the descriptive words of a friend hours earlier. Encouraging me in the midst of a difficult place, a friend simply reminded me that I was not alone. She was intending to assure me of her friendship and support, but I also knew she was assuring me of the presence of God. “The LORD is near to all who call on him,” declares the psalmist; and I needed to hear it.

There are many who take comfort in the thought that God is among us, comforting our fears, quieting our cries of distress, standing near those who call, moving in lives and history that we might discover the God who is there. As a following of Christ, knowing that he is with me in struggle and darkness is one of the only reasons I don’t completely surrender to my fears and stop moving forward. Knowing that there is a kingdom of grace, beauty, and mystery is the hope I remember when I fear death, my console when I fear uncertainty, the picture that somehow makes sense of a strand of DNA and quiets my fear of being uncared for and alone. I can relate to the resolution of the psalmist in a world of many and distant gods: “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge” (73:28).

But what good is it if there is a throne but it is empty, a kingdom without a king, a god who is close but like straw? Who is it who is near us? If god is an impersonal force, or a tyrant, or a distant, semi-interested being, the kingdom is no refuge. If the hope we cling to is like straw that cannot save us from drowning, we have good reason to live in fear, “huddled,” as the musician later described, “afraid if we dance we might die.”

The image that brought my distraction to a grinding halt forced me to think graphically about the hope to which a Christian really clings, that promise that is so often on the mouth of God in Scripture: Do not be afraid, for I am with you.(2) If God on high is merely straw and fairytale, then emptiness is inevitable, fear is certain, and hope is futile, for we are ultimately alone. We all cling futilely to fantasy and drown in delusion. Could there really be one both graceful and near enough to answer the cry of a lonely heart, the fears of an entire nation, the uncertainties of the world around?

Throughout Scripture that very divine vow “I am with you” is made with sovereign confidence, but also in stirring circumstance. Speaking into the fears of exile, God said to the prophet Isaiah, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.” To the apostle Paul who was struggling with uncertainty and weakness, the divine voice encouraged him in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” And Jesus even as he anticipated the nearing cross gave his closest followers a promise that remains comforting today: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”(3)

The promise of God’s nearness is one that Christians rightfully utter as encouragement and cling to in joy, in fear, and in sorrow, knowing the face and character of the one who is near. When God assures of with a self-revealing presence, it is more than just a promise of proximity and intimacy. There is a purpose for God’s nearness, the pledge of relationship, the promise of community. It is not an empty or superficial presence, having taken on the things humanity itself to draw intimately near. As the Father reminded the prophet Jeremiah so God attests, the promise of proximity may well be far more profound than we even fathom: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…Do not be afraid…for I am with you to deliver you” (1:5-8)."

--Jill Carattini

(1) Dave Matthews Band, “What You Are,” Everyday, 2001.
(2) Genesis 26:24, 2 Chronicles 20:17, Isaiah 43:5, Daniel 10:12, Matthew 1:20, John 14:27, Acts 18:9-10, and Revelation 1:17 among many others.
(3) Isaiah 43:5, Acts 18:9-10, John 14:27.

Upcoming Christian Philosophy Meeting in Europe

Dear fellow Christian philosophers and apologists,

Do you know any European evangelical philosophers? We need your immediate help in connecting them to a new network for European evangelical Philosophers that will be hosted at the 2013 European Leadership Forum. The Forum conference will be held 25-30 May in Wisla, Poland. A number of philosophers from the Evangelical Philosophical Society have lent their support to this endeavor, including William Lane Craig, R. Scott Smith, Doug Groothuis, and Bruce Little.

Keep in mind these important points:

1. This Network is European in its vision and content. It is being spearheaded by the European Leadership Forum, and it is not an American outpost.

2. This year—indeed, this month—is crucial for ensuring the continued success of this Network, now in its second year. So, we need your prompt assistance in getting the word out to your European evangelical friends/contacts who have a philosophy degree (masters or doctorate) or are at least in the second year of an undergraduate philosophy program.

. 3. In addition to the focus on philosophy, this Network will address apologetics, as well. What is crucial is that we have as many European evangelical philosophers and apologists as possible attending the May 2013 meeting.

4. Current philosophy students will automatically receive a scholarship covering part of the conference fees.

Friday 26th of April is the deadline for registration without late penalty. I'm including a link to the announcement, which contains the application and conference details. Please pass this, as well as the information sheet PDF of the 2013 Philosophers Network speaking program, on to your European philosopher and apologetics friends. All questions should be directed to Kevin Saylor at

Thank you for your help in this important kingdom endeavor.

All best wishes,

Angus Menuge
EPS President

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Better Know a Philosopher | Descartes

RenĂ© Descartes (1596–1650) was a creative mathematician of the first order, an important scientific thinker, and an original metaphysician. During the course of his life, he was a mathematician first, a natural scientist or “natural philosopher” second, and a metaphysician third... Descartes was known among the learned in his day as the best of the French mathematicians, as the developer of a new physics, and as the proposer of a new metaphysics. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Many of you have probably heard of him as the man who proposed, "I think, therefore I am." But, where exactly did he get his basis for trusting his own thought? He seems to prove that man in a thinking thing, self-aware, independent, different from the animals. But, what allows man to think in the first place?

To begin: "Like Bacon before him, Descartes began his philosophy by sweeping away all the 'errors of the past:'" (Baird, 10.)

"The proofs I employ here are in my view as certain and evident as the proofs of geometry, if not more so, it will, I fear, be impossible for many people to achieve an adequate perception of them, both because they are rather long and some depend on others, and also, above all, because they require a mind with is completely free from preconceived opinions and which can easily detach itself from involvement with the senses...

What is more, there is the difference that in geometry everyone has been taught to accept that as a rule no proposition is put forward in a book without there being a conclusive demonstration available; so inexperienced students make the mistake of accepting what is false, in their desire to appear to understand it, more often than they make the mistake of rejecting what is true. In philosophy, by contrast, the belief is that everything can be argued either way; so few people pursue the truth, while the great majority build up their reputation for ingenuity by boldly attacking whatever is most sound."

(Meditations, Letter to the Sorbonne paragraph 5)

What is Descartes trying to prove?

He writes in hopes of "Proving that God exists and that the mind is distinct from the body... to such a clarity that they are fit to be regarded as very exact demonstrations... there will be no one left in the world who will dare to call into doubt either the existence of God or the real distinction between the human soul and body."

(Meditations, Letter to the Sorbonne paragraph 6)

To Descartes, God is not only the basis for man's own thoughts, but also the proof that we are able to have a mind and think on our own.

"Whatever I have up till now accepted as most true I have acquired either from the senses or through the senses. But from time to time I have found that the senses deceive, and it is prudent never to trust completely those who have deceived us even once..."

"When I turn my minds eye upon myself, I understand that I am a thing which is incomplete and dependent on another and which aspires without limit to ever greater and better things; but I also understand at the same time that he on whom I depend has within him all those greater things, not just indefinitely and potentially but actually and infinitely, and hence that he is God.

The whole force of the argument lies in this: I recognize that it would be impossible for me to exist with the kind of nature I have--that is, having within me the idea of God--were it not the case that God really existed. By 'God' I mean the very being the idea of whom is within me, that is, the possessor of all the perfections which I cannot grasp, but can somehow reach in my thought, who is subject to no defects whatsoever. It is clear enough from this that he cannot be a deceiver, since... all fraud and deception depend on some defect."

(Meditations paragraphs 18 and 52)

He also believed that we must know the infinite to understand anything as being finite. I hope to put more of his work up eventually. But, until then, here is:

More on Descartes concerning God's existence:

"For us who are believers, it is enough to accept on faith that the human soul does not die with the body, and that God exists; but in the case of unbelievers, it seems that there is no religion, and practically no moral virtue, that they can be persuaded to adopt until these two truths are proved to them by natural reason...

We seem to be told [in Proverbs 13 and Romans 1] that everything that may be known of God can be demonstrated by reasoning which has no other source but our own mind. Hence I thought it was quite proper for me to inquire how this may be, and how God may be more easily and more certainly known than the things of this world...

I know that the only reason why many irreligious people are unwilling to believe that God exists and that the human mind is distinct from the body is the alleged fact that no one has hitherto been able to demonstrate these points. Now I completely disagree with this: I think that when properly understood almost all the arguments that have been put forward on these issues by the great men have the force of demonstrations."

(Meditations, Letter to the Sorbonne)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Peace and Prayer (Oratio and the Immortal Iron Fist)

There have been many bearers of the name "Iron Fist" throughout history. The current is Danny Rand. Through his experiences on K'un-Lun, he has received this immortal power which enables him to focus in a spiritual way.

He has been on teams such as Heroes for Hire, the Secret Avengers, and the Immortal Weapons. But, most-prominently he is teamed up with his friend Luke Cage.

The reason why I bring him up today is not because of his awesome combat skills, his training in a place known as Heaven, or even his in-depth back-story. It's not because of his death and resurrection story, his dragon power, or even his enchanted fists.

It's because he knows what to do.

Existentialism is a rampant belief in our society. It plagues everything from TV commercials to campaign speeches, it teaches that you can do this on your own. You need no one else. It is flat-out denial of our dependence on God and one another.

While many look within to try to find the answer, they hope somehow they can do this, they can get through, all on their own, they miss the point.

Iron Fist should never be accused of doing that.

Although, it may appear that he is looking within, trying to find the source of his personal power, he knows that this power isn't something that had first began with him. As he meditates, he's searching for something that is already there, something that he cannot control or form, something that he can only receive. This is something that he wishes would work not for him, but through him

Even in the midst of battle, we find him on his knees.

He's not looking to princes or presidents, but to something higher. When he needs help, he knows where to go.

He doesn't hesitate.

Not too long ago, I heard a sermon on the peace that passes all understanding. The preacher had us visualize a time of peace. It might have been an open field or a calm sea-shore. It could have been a happy time with friends or family, even some sort of accomplishment and relief. 

I had thought of a picture that I had seen, a small red bird perched inside of a tiny crevice between sea-side rocks, calmly grooming himself while a horrendous thunderstorm picked up the waves, crashing them against the rocks beneath and around him, lightning lighting up the sky, and thunder booming. Although his world was in turmoil, he was safe, at peace.

As the preacher continued his sermon, he had lost me. Instead, I thought of another image. I remembered the Superman ride at Gurnee's Six Flags, I remembered a roller coaster that spun around and around as it picked up speed at the Mall of America, I remembered the excitement, the wind blowing my face, my family and friends riding beside me. I remembered my joy, my laughter, my peace. You see, I love roller coasters. They don't scare me. Even though my body is being moved at incredible speeds and tugged around like a rag-doll, I know I'm safe. These rides have been tested a billion times before I have ever got onto them, not to mention all of the people riding before me, the theme park probably fears for my safety more than I do, they'd hate the bad reputation and publicity that comes along with a roller coaster crash, and, above all that, I feel the safety bars on my shoulders and my lap. I am safe, secure, at peace.

Then, while the preacher has moved on and neared the end of his sermon, even more scenes play across my mind's eye.

I see a group of men out on a boat, the waves crash, it almost top-sizes. They fear for their lives. They have no idea what to do. The boat's being pushed back and forth, the mast is almost hit by the atrocious waves. It begins to break under the pressure, water starts flooding the ship. Then, a man with a stern face who looks like he knows what to do comes up from the bellows of the ship to face the storm. He puts his hands up against the wind and the rain, the thunderclouds and lightning, his long hair is blowing everywhere and his beard is dripping wet. He shouts in a voice louder than the storm, "Peace! Be still!" And, the wind ceased, it was calm, at peace.

Then, I see a man coming out of a cave and standing on a mountain. He has longer, darker hair than the man on the ship. His skin has been tanned by the sun. He looks scared yet secure. He's been running for his life. He looks malnourished and alone, the sun is beating down on him and he is thirsty. But, there he stands, waiting, trusting. As he waits, a wind overtakes the mountain. The man almost loses his balance, but he is somehow able to remain upright under the pressure of the gust of wind. As the wind continues for the timeless minute, he puts his hand against the stone to brace himself. As he does, there's a crashing and cracking noise. Rocks begin to fall, clamoring their way down the side of the mountain, smashing everything in their path. But, somehow they miss the man. He stands secure. After the wind, there's an earthquake. Even more rocks split open and tumble down as the runaway bears witness. A fire spreads. There's turmoil everywhere. Nothing is safe. But, the man remains standing, sound and secure. Finally, after the fire, the man hears the sound of a low whisper, "What are you doing here Elijah?" The voice gives him hope, safety, peace. It tells him that although he fears for his life, his Lord will remain with him. God has a plan for his life.

You see, if I had thought of just the calm meadow or the sunny day at the beach, it would have been just that... just another day... just another scene. There would be no contrast to know peace. 

Now, I think of all of the tragedies that have passed, everything from the Dark Knight shootings to the Boston bombs. There is a peace that passes within this contrast. It is a peace that surpasses all understanding. Although, there's turmoil and torture, punishment and war, there is safety, there is trust.

We can know that although we do not understand  what is going on in this sick world, we can trust in its physician. In the midst of battle, the world should find us on our knees. Here, we can continue to seek the Lord, we can gain strength in Him, He gives us peace, a peace that He has paid for with His Son, a peace that makes us not just right in this world, but also in the next.

Do not hesitate.

We know where to go, who to turn to, who to trust.

Not in ourselves, but in God.

With Him, all things are possible.

And, he works through us. He empowers us with an immortal strength, to carry on and to be there for one another.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Humanity's Restoration Through Christ | Aquinas

"To restore man, who had been laid low by sin, to the heights of divine glory, the Word of the eternal Father, though containing all things within His immensity, willed to become small. This He did, not by putting aside His greatness, but by taking to Himself our littleness....

The reparation of human nature could not be effected by Adam or by any other purely human being. For no individual man ever occupied a position of preeminence over the whole of nature; nor can any mere man be the cause of grace.... Nothing remains, therefore, but that such restoration could be affected by God alone...

Man had withdrawn from spiritual things and had delivered himself up wholly to material things, from which he was unable by his own efforts to make his way back to God. Therefore divine Wisdom, who had made man, took to Himself a bodily nature and visited man immersed in things of the body, so that by the mysteries of His bodily life He might recall man to spiritual life...

At the same time, by willing to become man, God clearly displayed the immensity of His love for men, so that henceforth men might serve God, no longer out of fear of death, which the first man had scorned, but out of the love of charity [and grace]...

The Incarnation holds up to man an ideal of that blessed union whereby the created intellect is joined... to the uncreated Spirit... A creature's intellect should be capable of union with God by beholding the divine... since... God became united to man by taking a human nature to Himself.

Lastly, the Incarnation puts the finishing touch to the whole vast work envisage by God. For man, who was the last to be created, returns... to his first beginning, being united by the work of the Incarnation to the very principle of all things [namely, God]."

Thomas Aquinas' Humanity's Restoration Through Christ, page 199 of Kerr's Readings in Christian Thought.

A Journey into Darkness

Peter Kingsley’s In the Dark Places of Wisdom attempts to follow Parmenides (a teacher of Zeno and Socrates) down his deep dark path in hopes of discovering some sort of light. Just as the man wanders out of Plato’s cave, Parmenides starts a journey down a path of his own. Kingsley’s book is key for a better understanding of the cultural and historical influence on Parmenides’ thought. Many aspects of which, Kingsley interprets from Parmenides’ journey (p.53-54):

The mares that carry me as far as longing can reach 

rode on, once they had come and fetched me onto the legendary 

road of the divinity that carries the man who knows 

through the vast and dark unknown. And on I was carried 

as the mares, aware just where to go, kept carrying me 

straining at the chariot; and young women led the way... 

They rapidly led on: young women, girls, 

daughters of the Sun who had left the mansions of Night 

for the light and pushed back the veils from their faces 

with their hands. 

There are the gates of the pathways of Night and Day, 

held fast in place between the lintel above and a threshold of stone; 

and they reached up into the heavens, filled with gigantic doors. 

And the keys—that now open, now lock—are held fast by 

Justice: she who always demands exact returns. And with 

soft seductive words the girls cunningly persuaded her to 

push back immediately, just for them, the bar that bolts 

the gates. And as the doors flew open, making the bronze 

axles with their pegs and nails spin—now one, now the other— 

in their pipes, they created a gaping chasm. Straight through and 

on the girls held fast their course for the chariot and horses, 

straight down the road. 

And the goddess welcomed me kindly, and took 

my right hand in hers and spoke these words as she addressed me: 

‘Welcome young man, partnered by immortal charioteers, 

reaching our home with the mares that carry you. For it was 

no hard fate that sent you travelling this road—so far away 

from the beaten track of humans—but Rightness, and Justice. 

And what’s needed is for you to learn all things: both the unshaken 

heart of persuasive Truth and the opinions of mortals, 

in which there’s nothing that can truthfully be trusted at all. 

But even so, this too you will learn—how beliefs based on 

appearance ought to be believable as they travel all through 

all there is.’ 

Parmenides follows his guides to the plains of another world, a darker world, the world between worlds.

While Kingsley himself may be stuck, blindly following Parmenides in the realm of mysticism, we may know that even in this darkness, there has shown a light. It was nothing that we could have ever found on our own, a light is something that always first reveals itself, but He has come so that we may bask in His glory.

One of Diogenes’ stories is a little closer to our own. This philosophic role model of Alexander the Great is known to have carried a lamp into a city during the day in hopes of finding an honest man. I'll try to post it pretty soon.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Epistles of Heraclitus IX

IX. "To Hermodorus,

Hermodorus, how wicked will men get? It is no longer a question of individuals the their private vice, but rather entire cities and general vice. The Ephesians have exiled you, the most noble man there is...

The native of a place does not become a citizen because he has been judged to be virtuous. Instead, he is forced to be one because of his birth...

I do not think that there is any Ephesian citizen [supposing a citizen must prove virtuous], unless a dog or a cow is an Ephesian. As for an Ephesian man, if he is virtuous, he is a citizen of the world... in which the law is not some written statute, but rather god. The person who transgresses... commits an act of impiety. Of course, no one will transgress if he will not be overlooked when he has sinned... Wickedness abounds.

As for me, gods are my fellow citizens. I dwell with them through virtue. I know how great the sun is. The wicked do not even know that the gods exist.

Are the Ephesians ashamed that slaves are virtuous? Probably so! For they are wicked free men, who give in to servile passions... If God did not make slaves of dogs, sheep, asses, horses, and mules, did he make slaves of men? Aren't you ashamed that the fact that slavery afflicts greater creatures is in both word and deed a result of your injustice? How far superior are wolves and lions to the Ephesians. They do not enslave one another, nor does one eagle buy another, nor does one lion pour wine for another, nor does one dog castrate another...

'Let no slave sit near me nor dine with me,' say the Ephesians. I will pronounce a more just saying, 'Let a virtuous man sit by me and dine with me. Rather, let him take precedence over me and receive greater honor; for it is not chance but virtue which makes men equal.'

... Vice alone enslaves; virtue alone liberates. No man can do either. If by chance you issue commands to others who are virtuous, you yourselves are slaves on account of desire. You are being ordered about by your own masters...

The body, though enslaved to the soul, cooperates with the soul, and the mind does not object to dwelling with its inferiors. Earth, the least respectable element in the cosmos, rules along with heaven and heaven does not spurn its mortal foundation. Nor does the most sacred organ, the heart, spurn the bowels, the lowliest organ in the body. Also, God did not begrudge lighting everyone's eyes equally, nor opening up ears, nor bestowing taste, smell, memory, and hope. Nor did he shut out the sun's light from slaves, since he enrolled all men as citizens of the cosmos.

The Ephesians, however, believe their city to be superior to the cosmos, since they do not deem it suited to common practices. See that you do not commit an impiety by conducting yourselves in opposition to God.

You wish ever to be hated by the slaves, both at first when they serve you and later when they are dishonored by you. Why, then, did you free them, if you thought them unworthy? Was it because they were obedient to your passions?... Yourselves gave orders out of wickedness. They were pitiable, since they endured their evils out of fear, but you were despicable, since you gave the commands for vile acts. You were, then, enslaved to more severe masters, and now you are still enslaved, since you fear those whom you have ruled...

Hermodorus, the Ephesians will see to their own affairs. As for you, farewell, my virtuous friend."

This is the last of the Heraclitusian Epistles.


Translated by Harold W. Attridge in "First-Century Cynicism in the Epistles of Heraclitus."

Who is Heraclitus? Check this out.

Read more of Heraclitus letters:

<-| I-IV |-| V-VI |-| VII |-| VII.1 |-| VIII |-| IX |->

The Crossroads of Hell (Age of Ultron)

you'll come to a complete dead end...

If you're lucky you'll come to a crossroads
and see that the path to the left leads to hell...

The path to the right leads to hell...

The road straight ahead leads to hell

and that if you try to turn around
you'll end up in complete and utter hell.

Every way leads to hell

and there's no way out,

nothing left for you to do."

The Age of Ultron brings Hell to earth. We're tortured and helpless. Our greatest heroes, Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, and even Hulk, are crushed by this automaton.

The world, as we knew it, is over.

Joy, hope, and faith remain only as distant memories.

It didn't matter how strong we were.

It didn't matter how smart we were.

It didn't matter how quick or cunning we were.

It didn't even matter how courageous and dedicated we were.

Nothing we could have ever done would have mattered.

We were defeated.

And, surely, we too will perish.

This is where the disciples were on Resurrection Day. They had given everything they could. They had given up their lives and their livelihoods; their homes and their families; their wealth and their dreams.

All that they knew was to follow Jesus. They knew Him to be the Rabbi, the Messiah, their Lord. They trusted Him with everything, and they lost everything else in the process.

They would have died for that man. He was their King of Kings.

But, they never expected Him to die for them.

Now, they find themselves at a crossroads. They're sick and tired. They just want to be left alone. They are broken and weak. They don't know how they can go on, if indeed they can.

Every direction they look seems like Hell, without Christ.

Everything they had ever done seemed pointless without their leader. He was either the Messiah or he had lied and failed. His kingdom hadn't been established on earth. So, that left them with only one other option.

They might as well stay locked up in that small room forever.

Imagine the horror, when they found out that the tomb was empty.

After killing their beloved teacher, he wasn't even left to rest in peace.

This was the end of their world.

But, although the words seemed like an idle tale, Peter still got up. He rushed to the scene of the tomb.

It was empty.

Still, the linen cloths remained. Jesus had not been carried out by someone else. Surely, they would have left him covered.

Peter "went home marveling at what had happened."

There was still that small, slight glimmer of hope. The question played with all of their minds, "What does this mean?!?"

This brings back to memory the statement of amazement and wonder that the centurion had proclaimed at the cross, "Truly this was the Son of God!"

They began to think, even in this place, there must be hope.

This is where we find ourselves today. Lost. Hopeless. Damned. We know that what little good we may ever do cannot amount to much, especially in the long run... especially concerning eternity.

We want to stay locked up, left alone to our sorrow and woe. We can't save ourselves. We might as well give up hope.

Don't you remember what happens next???

There, in the midst of them, appears the Risen Lord.

It was not what anyone had done. It was not through the disciples' weak hope or their merit in rushing out to the tomb. It wasn't in their faith or adoration. It wasn't up to them at all. Concerning eternity, it could never have been left up to them.

Something timeless had to be beaten by someOne timeless.

Here, as He had done so many times before, Jesus comes to them. God, who had become incarnate, who had grown up, who had walked out to find them and gather them at the beginning of His ministry, the one who had come to them to teach them, to serve them, to save them, the one who had delivered himself upon a cross, comes once again.

He comes to remind them... He had been telling them this whole time, but now they see so that they may finally understand.

"These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."

"The Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."

"You are witnesses of these things."

All we can do is watch, believe, and proclaim.

"Why are you troubled..."

"Why do doubts arise in your hearts?"

He has come again to make sure we know.

There is joy, there is hope, there is faith. But, these things can never be properly placed in anything of this world. There is only one limitless source for our limitless praise. That is in Christ, the Lord, Himself.

It is only because of Him that our strength, our smarts, our cunning and quickness, our courage and dedication, our all can ever matter. It is because He works through us. He directs us so that we may live out our vocations. It can never be about what we do. But, it is about what He has done and continues to do through us.

And, He is still present here with us. His Spirit dwells within us, at Baptism his faith is poured out upon us, and at Communion He personally restores us.

He meets us at the crossroads and shows us a way that we would never had seen otherwise. While the signs all point to Hell, He stands there, pointing yet another way, the way through Him, the way to Heaven.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Epistles of Heraclitus VIII

VIII. "To the same person [Hermodorus],

...They are not used to real freedom, which consists in ruling. Now, as you might expect, they obey when given orders, or, if they do not obey, they wail.Men also blame the gods because they have not enriched them. They do not blame their own foolish disposition. It is characteristic of blind men not to accept the benefits which a deity does bestow...

The Ephesians disputed the testimony of God. They will pay for their presumption and even now they are paying, as they fill themselves with wickedness. God does not punish by taking wealth away. Instead, he grants it in abundance to evil men, so that by possessing the means to commit crime they may be exposed and by having an abundance of wealth they might be able to make a dramatic display of their depravity. Poverty is merely a camouflage. May good fortune not leave you, Ephesians, so that you may be reproached for wrongdoing.

Enough of them! ... They [Ephesians] cannot retain anything, but with constant chatter they let it flow out. Athenians, since they are born from their own soil, know human nature and realize that men who have come from the earth sometimes have a cracked mind. They teach these men caution through secret mysteries, in order that they might at least keep silence out of fear, since they will not do so out of discretion. Then it is no longer difficult for the soul to practice silence."


Translated by Harold W. Attridge in "First-Century Cynicism in the Epistles of Heraclitus."

Who is Heraclitus? Check this out.

Read more of Heraclitus letters:

<-| I-IV |-| V-VI |-| VII |-| VII.1 |-| VIII |-| IX |->

Something Else to Live For

"WHAT ISN'T THERE, IN FRONT OF OUR EYES, IS usually more real than what is.

We can see that at every level of existence.

Even when we're finally where we want to be--with the person we love, with the things we struggled for--our eyes are still on the horizon. They're still on where to go next, what to do next, what we want the person we love to do and be. If we just stay where we are in the present moment, seeing what we're seeing and hearing what we're hearing and forgetting everything else, we feel we're about to die; and our mind tortures us until we think of something else to live for. We have to keep finding a way away from where we are, into what we imagine is the future.

What's missing is more powerful than what's there in front of our eyes. We all know that. The only trouble is that the missingness is too hard to bear, so we invent things to miss in our desperation. They are all only temporary substitutes. The world fills us with substitute after substitute and tries to convince us that nothing is missing. But nothing has the power to fill the hollowness we feel inside, so we have to keep replacing and modifying the things we invent as our emptiness throws its shadow over our life..."

What's missing? For Pascal's answer, click here.

Peter Kingsley's In the Dark Places of Wisdom pages 33-34.

The World is Changing

RZIM Bible Sources

Over the past four weeks millions have watched The Biblemini-series on the History Channel. According to the Barna Group the first episode was the most popular non-sports program on television in 2013.

With the popularity of the mini-series you may have friends, colleagues, or family members who are especially interested in understanding more about God's Word. Knowing that we've put together a few resources to help your in-person and online conversations.


Ravi Zacharias answers a question from a student at the University of Illinois about defending the Bible.

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For two evenings, Ravi Zacharias answers hard-hitting questions from a student-packed auditorium at University of Illinois.

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There are some questions you can't avoid, no matter what you believe. The Bible is held up by many as the Word of God, but to make such an assertion is to invite a greater scrutiny than we assign to other literature.

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Are the manuscripts we have which form the Bible reliable? Hasn't the Bible been changed? Did different groups of people change the message of Scripture? Amy Orr-Ewing defends the reliability of Scripture in this clip from volume five of the Foundations of Apologetics.

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Why bother with the Bible? Of all the books in the world, the Bible sticks out like a sore thumb. For some, it's uniquely and divinely inspired, and thus the only authoritative source of truth. For others, it's a quaint relic from a bygone era that offers personal comfort to some but little more to anyone else.

The Epistles of Heraclitus VII.1

“… Lions do not arm themselves with force against one another, nor do mares take up swords, nor do eagles wear breastplates against eagles. They have no implement for battle; for each his limbs are his weapons. For some there is poison, for some horns, for some hooves… for some wings… speed… size… smallness… for some the ability to swim and for many nothing other than their breath, for none a sword. 

It makes the reasonless animals glad when they see that the law of nature [stability] is preserved in themselves and not in men… instability prevails among [men]…

In regard to the outcome of wars, what should you pray for?... Will you prevent my sorrow through this? How could you? … Many of your kinsmen are slain and their land defoliated, their city sacked, old men dishonored, wives led off, children snatched from their arms, bridal chambers defiled, maidens made concubines… free men chained, temples of the gods pulled apart, shrines of the heroes dug up… I remain without laughter at these things.

In peace you make war with words; in war you deliberate with iron. Justice is raped by your votes and justice is raped by your swords.

Hermodorus is driven out for writing laws; Heraclitus is prosecuted for impiety.

The cities are empty of nobility; the deserts are crowded because of injustice.

Walls stand… symbols of the vice of men. Houses are walled around; everyone has some walls to guard against discord. Those within are hostile, even though they are fellow citizens; those without are hostile, even though they are strangers. All are enemies, none are friends. Am I able to laugh when I see so many enemies?

You think another man’s wealth your own; you consider others’ wives your own. You enslave free men; you eat the living. You transgress the laws; you enact illegalities; you perform by force everything which you cannot do by nature… The laws are evidence of vice. For if they did not exist, you would commit vice freely all the time…

No oxen who are good at fighting with horns are taught by others to run and flee, but each beast fights staunchly against that which is natural for him to resist. You, however, when you have been trained, live in contradictory ways, some flitting swiftly about like flies, some battling like bulls, some exhausted in your belly, some borne along by pleasures… by unjust acts, by evil thoughts; no one of you lives according to nature, but all live overlooking such a marvel as this. Is not this to have a diseased mind?

Astounded at the world of the theaters, you disregard the world of the stars. One is adorned with lifeless items, but the heaven with gods. Look sometime at the sun, which gives life to the soul, and do not let the moon escape your notice… Lay claim to the prerogatives of virtue; love to strive after it.

Lions do not shed lions’ blood, nor do wolves poison wolves, nor do horses conspire against horses, nor de elephants destroy and sack citidels. Even when these animals live with us, they are rendered tame; but men, when they live among men, are made wild. Brothers have killed brothers… fathers have poisoned their children and legitimate sons have cut off their parents’ heads and women have not refrained from murdering their husbands and men have ungratefully slain maidens after seducing them. Licentious and impious at once, they have made those suspected of vice blameless, so that the unjust man seems to do justice. From these things the dumb animals are exempt.

Elephants are not greedy for money, lions nowhere hoard up possessions, nor do oxen prepare cakes and honeyed mixes, nor do bulls wear Milesian fabrics, nor do they have the clothing of any particular race. They do not aid one another in trade, nor do they lay hands on their own kind and make them servants, as men do.

Some of them live in dens, some in caves, some in woods… plains… water… air. None is without a home, as long as there is room. When conditions change, we see them with a thick, hairy shelter, or impervious to the cold or frost. Some take a shell as an outgrowing protection and they have for food pastures on mountains and plains, and for water they have both the bounteous springs and marshy streams.

Therefore they live without plotting, unexposed to killing except through men. [Through men,] that which is gentle by nature becomes beastly. There are swords against fathers, swords against mothers, swords against children, against brothers, against friends, against fellow citizens… against harmless beasts, against things foreign.

"Sate yourselves once and for all with impiety, so that I may bet back my laughter...


Translated by Harold W. Attridge in "First-Century Cynicism in the Epistles of Heraclitus."

Who is Heraclitus? Check this out.

Read more of Heraclitus letters:

<-| I-IV |-| V-VI |-| VII |-| VII.1 |-| VIII |->