"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Love Prayer

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8) It's hard to establish a priority higher than "above all things." Yet, God's Holy Spirit moved His Rock to set that priority on the hardest thing for us flawed humans to give. For years I've known to ask God's intervention in my life so I might love others perfectly, as He does. Yet, honoring Him with my obedience has always been a problem. Recently He showed me that loving others perfectly, as He does, requires that I love Him perfectly. But such love is beyond me. One consistency throughout my flawed, human experience is God's faithfulness in granting my requests to love others beyond my personal ability. It works! When I pray for love to give, it's there. But I still had trouble loving God enough to obey Him in all things. What frustration! But the answer to my quandary was right in front of me all along. If God grants my petitions for greater "horizontal" love, wouldn't He happily give me greater love for Himself when I request it? He would, and He does! Now my responsibility is just to keep bugging Him about it with consistent prayer. This is the hugest "DUH" in the world, a total no-brainer. Then why is it so hard to do? My flesh fights my prayer life, as one would expect. Now, God is gracious and forgiving, isn't He? He, more than anyone, understands our human weaknesses, doesn't He? Surely He doesn't expect us to toe the holiness line, does He? Aren't those thoughts comforting, though? Unfortunately for the rationalist in me, His word expressly tells us to be holy as He is holy. So that inner conflict,so typical of us flawed humans, in no way diminishes my responsibility to walk in the light He has provided. In view of His righteous command, my response must be, "Enough B.S. excuses! Just do it!" And by His grace, I will.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Tempest in a Washbowl

Biologists teach the idea that Homo Sapiens evolved it's characteristic, prehensile thumbs so it could grasp things, like the shanks of clubs, for the purpose of bashing neighboring possessors of less flexible digits and inferior brains. Thus, through the law of Survival of the Fittest, it became the dominant primate on Earth. But any critical thinker knows that doctrine is untrue. Homo Sapiens--or humanity, for the uninitiated--evolved its prehensile thumbs in order to more ably point the condemning index finger at the hapless victims of its withering accusations. And humanity's unique faculty of speech? Why, its highest purpose is obviously castigating those at whom the index finger unerringly points. Many ignorant commentators assert the dubious belief that Man is the religious animal because he is unique in his pursuit of the Supreme Being and an afterlife. Of course, while man is obviously the religious animal, his reason for being so must conform to the above stated evolutionary law. Thus: Man is the religious animal because his prehensile thumb-enabled index finger and his faculty of speech enable his religious mandate of verbally raping other faiths. Ralph Waldo Emerson's relationship with the Unitarian church is a case-in-point. Emerson, the humanist's humanist, as well as a Unitarian clergyman, threw a verbal rock into that denomination's ecclesiastical hornets nest when he delivered his "Harvard Divinity School Address." In it, he derided the traditional Christian teachings of Jesus' divinity and his miracles. Why, the more "conservative" Unitarians were outraged, and for two years engaged Emerson in a battle of religious mud-slinging. The Unitarians, who were liberal in comparison to the Evangelical church, found themselves in the unenviable position of defending Christian teachings in which they, themselves, held little confidence. Of course, everyone knows the post script of this story. After all that bickering about doctrine, the Unitarian church's teaching evolved to exactly the sort of thing Emerson was castigated for proclaiming. All this proves one thing: Religion, when practiced for its own sake, is vain. It serves little use but to provide small men a venue for exercising what petty power they can usurp from other small men. It also, by rashly claiming to speak for God, dashes sinners hopes for finding forgiveness, discourages them with useless rules and disillusions them with the hypocrisy of thinly rationalized, ungodly behavior. The problem with such a broad indictment of worldly religion is every religion accuses every other religion of ungodliness. So how can one sort it all out? The answer involves hard work, but since it leads to God, the process is worth the effort. The seeker must first devote himself to defining, understanding and cleansing his motives, clearly understanding the true "why" before the "how" of discovering God. He must realize that spiritual principles consistently counter worldly principles, and judge the worldly by the spiritual rather than the more natural opposite. He must open his eyes to the historical context of each religion he studies and the fruit it has born. But he must also recognize that studying a religion's proclaimed history and teachings leads only to a superficial knowledge of its public image. And every human religion tries to project the most positive image it can get away with. God, however, is not in the religion business. He has nothing to hide behind history's short memory. That fact narrows the search, as God's way has no arcane, "inner" doctrines, secret orders or privileged knowledge. He only requires that the seeker humbly go directly to the Source, fall on his face and pray for reconciliation to Himself. Such a prayer is the only one a sinner can expect to be answered.

Monday, March 07, 2005

An Unavoidable Comparison

On Orwell's ANIMAL FARM, the pigs were a little more equal than the other animals. With SB 199 and other measures, civil rights elitists of Montana's Animal Farm are pushing to establish another minority's preferential treatment under law. It seems hate crimes, as reprehensible as they are, become even more heinous when directed against members of that minority. That being the case, we must assume that an actual weakness or disability justifies such privileged legal protection ... perhaps something on the order of, dare I say it, limp wrists? Of course all sensitive, open minded readers have by now summarily pronounced judgment on my offensive, "homophobic" rant. As their righteous judgment is final, I may as well accept my sentence and join the white supremacists on that putrid, dung heap of hate. Perhaps, however, they will hold off their mortal shower of stones until they decide which of their number is innocent of stereotyping and otherwise making light of those with whom they disagree. But before my execution, I wish to claim my right to a last wish, if not a last meal of barbecued pork. I wish that both sides of the legislative aisle would, rather than constantly bashing the opposition for stonewalling based on political and ideological bias, open their eyes and confess their own sin of arbitrary stubbornness. Then, with the soul-cleansing complete, perhaps they would actually try listening to and understanding "those people." Stranger things have happened--or not.