Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gender Roles from the Bakery

So the Pentagon is opening up more combat roles in the military for women.


Yay! More opportunity for our precious daughters to get shot up and maimed! Progress and stuff!

So glad we got to the point where, as a nation, it's no longer un-cool to send your wife or daughter downstairs to check on the scary noise at night.  For a moment there, I thought I might actually have to protect the women in my life.  THANK YOU, PROGRESS!

My life will be so much more satisfying now that I can guiltlessly choose the path of impotent, bubble-wrapped mediocrity.  Or maybe it'll just be easier... not sure about the whole satisfying thing.

Gender roles?  Can I buy those at the bakery?

It's not like I ever wanted my sons to learn what it meant to love sacrificially; to lay down their lives for their sisters and their wives; to be men who were prepared to come to the aid of the weak and the oppressed.

I mean, goodness, can you imagine how oppressed my poor daughters would be if their brothers opened doors for them all the time?  The chauvinism.  

And if I ever come across a girl being attacked in a dark alley, well, I certainly wouldn't want to interfere with her opportunity to show her equality!  Though I gotta say, I hope she went to the same school of womanhood as Black Widow and Catwoman and all those other movie stars.  

And if she doesn't make it out of the alley alive, no reason for me to lose sleep! Natural selection has worked its will once again!

But I do have one more request.  While we're progressing, and being equal, do you think we could make registration for the draft mandatory for girls, too?  Just being fair 'n stuff.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Warrior and the Slave

The dense mesh of fog and shadows was melting slowly away. Only a few minutes now.

The captain breathed deeply; methodically checked himself- sword, dagger, shield, saddle well in place, helmet snug, armor solid- he was ready. The signature of a smile flew across his face as his horse snorted noisily and pawed the ground with his front hooves, first one and then the other.

Now he looked up. His steely eyes shone like glass through the mud and smoke and blood that was stained into his face, and peered from beneath a permanently furrowed brow down the line of men stretched out behind him on his left and on his right. He caught the eye of another soldier- about his age, about his size. Could have been from the same town; certainly the same province.

The other man looks away quickly, unwilling to face the full reality of what is about to happen, and even more unwilling to face a man who has embraced that reality.

Suddenly, a whisper shimmers up the line of soldiers. A reward has been promised. When this city falls, every man among them will receive extra rations, double wages, and a share of the spoil. The whisper races down the line of men and fades into the distance.

Suddenly, the sun breaks through the clouds, the fading fog vanishes entirely, and the object of years of struggle is revealed. The walls of the city stand cold, naked, forbidding. Atop the towers and behind the fortifications bristle the helmets and spear-tips of a thousand foemen.

Everything is silent. Even the wind stills. The world is waiting.

It is time.

-----------------------------------------


"A reward has been promised."

For which of our two soldiers did this news change anything?  Homer Rice said that "You can motivate by fear. And you can motivate by reward. But both of these methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self-motivation."

Of course, Homer Rice isn't our source of wisdom.  Proverb 29:19 says that "A slave will not be instructed by words alone; for though he understands, there will be no response."

The slave does what he does because he is afraid of what his master will do to him if he doesn't do it.

The slave does what he does because he hopes maybe if he does it his master will reward him.

His tasks are a means to the end of his pleasure.  His work is the way by which he acquires the right to play.

He does his household chores because if he does them well enough, maybe dad will let him watch a movie tonight.  He finishes his math book because he knows, once he has done that, he gets to pick the restaurant that the family goes to for dinner that night.  He reads his Bible because he's afraid if he doesn't then the people at church won't be impressed.  He doesn't beat up on his siblings because he knows that would  make dad angry.

And in the press of battle, when the arrows are raining down, and shouts and screams and clamor and chaos are overwhelming his senses, and friends and foes swirl around him like so many grains of sand in an angry sea, his one thought is "if only I can survive this, then I shall have my reward."

And then there's the warrior.  His work is its own reward.  He does what he does because he is who he is.  He fights because he believes in what he is fighting for.  And while he certainly doesn't begrudge extra rations or higher wages, those things will not change how hard he fights.

In the press of battle, his thoughts are set not on survival, but on victory.  Even when the dead are falling all around him, there is nowhere he would rather be.

He's not a slave to his own smallness- he's a slave to a greater vision.

For Maximus, it was the glory of Rome.
For William Wallace, it was the freedom of Scotland.
And for us, it should be the expansion of The Kingdom of Christ- the only Greater Vision which is truly worth dying for.

Oh that that vision would permeate our lives.  For we are slaves to Christ, and ambassadors for Him.  He does promise rewards richly- and there are terrible consequences for those who forsake Him.

Praise God!  Let us look forward to those rewards, and labor hard towards them.

But let us also love the labor.  Let it be said of us that we were not simply "making it" through life, but that we conquered life boldly and subjected it to the Lordship of Christ.

Every task that God gives us is part of the race of life- something which can be conquered or simply survived.  From changing diapers to washing dishes to writing music to building bridges to fighting battles- whatever we are called to do on any given day, that is our battle.  Will we survive it?  Or will we embrace it?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Artistic Analysis: Shop-Vac

(Content warning: briefly refers to drunkenness)


One of the most amazing, artistically perfect, masterfully miserable pieces of art I've seen in a long time.

I think the thing that amazes me most about this video is that it is built on a great big artistic contradiction.  The music is exuberantly joyous- the animation is retro, classy, and somehow inherently American- and yet the lyrics are simply depressing.

Even more impressive?  The contradiction fits.  It's perfect.

Whether the artists behind this project did it on purpose or not, I don't know, but in three and a half minutes we are presented with a poignant and masterful lesson in the emptiness of the modern American dream- where everything is trendy and fast-paced and upbeat and fun and fake and shallow and empty. 

We walk around pretending that we're accomplishing stuff and that we have friends and are in relationships that actually matter- but it's all a farce.  The American dream is a nightmare- the kind of nightmare where everything you ever wanted is always just outside of your reach.

Because, at the end of it all, all that stuff we did adds up to a colossal zero.  No meaning, no purpose, no legacy.

"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity."

Talk about sad.

Of course, for the Christian, that isn't the end of the story- it's the beginning.  While the godless worldview paints us as a cosmic accident, the Christian worldview gives us the opportunity to participate in eternity- to labor for a Kingdom that will never pass away.  We are not left to dance through a masquerade-ball life.  We have a race to run- a battle to fight- a King to serve and a Kingdom to build.

We don't have to live a great and terrible make-believe.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Massacre




Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook- all come readily to mind when the word "massacre" is spoken. Tragedies, each one- horror stories, chilling for those who hear the tales told, life-changing for those who lived them. Every time the fruit of the sinful heart of some American spills out of the barrel of a gun, the immediate cry is for the gun to be removed. Yet scrawled in blood over the pages of history are the accounts of tragedies far worse, death tolls far higher, which seem to be somehow forgotten in the midst of this debate.

The bloody slaughters of millions of people at the hands of their own governments set the 20th century apart as the single bloodiest century of world history. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Chavez, the list runs on- the greatest murderers in history, perhaps rivaled only by those behind the abortion mills of America. Yet when the line of atrocities is marched into public view which serves as irrefutable evidence for the need for gun control, these holocausts are never mentioned. Massacre after massacre in American theaters and schools is trotted out as evidence for why the people should be disarmed, but not once are these slaughters even hinted at.

Is it because they are irrelevant to the gun-control issue? Not at all. Few things could be more relevant. No, the stories of these genocides cannot, must not be told because they tell the other side of the gun-control story; they are living testimony to the importance of the idea behind the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The American founders were not protecting Americans' right to hunt. They were not protecting Americans' right to protect themselves against would-be rapists and home invaders. They were protecting Americans' right to protect Americans' rights. The Second Amendment puts a wall of lead between the American people and a foe far more dangerous than any dark shape in a back alley. The dangers of a tyrannical government unchecked by an armed populace are illustrated potently by each government-led genocide, each purge, each Auschwitz and every Siberia.

Let the examples be examined- all of them. Let the truth have her day. The death toll of history gives overwhelming evidence that, in spite of the Auroras and Sandy Hooks, the price of a disarmed populace in blood far outweighs the price of an armed one.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Time



"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." - Eph. 5:15-17

It's a new year.

Already.

That happened so fast.

It always does, I guess.

Truth is, "the grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass."  70 years go by and the baby shower and the bridal shower and the funeral become pictures in an album in a dusty attic.  Remaining is the question which has haunted so many on their deathbed:

So what?

What was all that about?  What was it for? 

What a waste.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

It has been said that every runner has two great fears. The first; he fears finding himself spent before he has reached the finish line; whether by lack of training or by overzealous exertion, he cannot finish the race.  The second; he fears reaching the end of the race successfully, gleefully crossing the finish line, his laborious task complete- and then realizing, in the pit of his stomach-

"I could have done more."

Of course, we are all are runners in a race far more important than one of meters and finish lines.  Every year that ticks past is another mile marker.  But, in this race, we cannot stop.  The race will be run.  The mile markers will continue to fly past- even if we are sitting still.

We cannot stop, but we can fail; we cannot rest, but we can slow to a walk; we cannot give up, but we can give in.

Or.

We can run.  Fighting and clawing and climbing and reaching and sprinting and jumping and panting breathlessly.  We can run in such a way as to win the prize.  We can run a race that will stand the test of time, for though this race is run by every person, it is only conquered by a few.

As children of the King, we have been given a marvelous opportunity.  A breath of life- a window of time, swiftly closing- an epic journey which lasts for the blink of an eye- and the chance to take that momentary blade of grass which is ours and throw it into the great and eternal blaze of The Kingdom of God.

That we, here today and gone tomorrow, should be given the title of ambassadors for The King Who was, Who is, and Who is to come; that we, the dust of the earth, could become bricks in the construction of a celestial Kingdom; that the leprous and sick cesspool of sin and evil which is us should be chosen, redeemed, called, transformed, into the spotless bride of the Son of God- oh, what a marvelous opportunity is ours!

For we are not lost and losing in a race which can only leave us defeated.  We are more than conquerors; the race is ours, and is ours to win, and our victory is not one of hollow applause and trophies which tarnish and medals which collect dust and are forgotten.  We have been given a Kingdom to live for- and to die for.  These moments which we call lifetimes can be invested in eternity.  Our death will come in the blink of an eye, but our legacy can become a part of forever.

If we are faithful.

Will we be faithful?  Will we run with patience the race set before us?  Will we fill every "unforgiving minute with 60 seconds of distance run?"  Will we pant, and scrape, and sweat, and bleed, and weep, and laugh, and run, and come to the end of our race, breathless and amazed and victorious?  Or will we take our glorious birthright and trade it in for a mess of pottage?  Will we walk when we should have run, smile when we should have laughed, turn our eyes when we should have wept, be clean when we should have been soaked in mud and sweat and blood?

When our race is over, will we cross the finish line knowing that we could have done more?