Friday, February 16, 2018

Considering Kindness

I read international headlines from prominent publications, and some from not-so-prominent fringe sources. I’ve done this long enough that the shock value is low. I’m no longer incensed when the Pope declares that America needs to be ruled by a world government as soon as possible “for their own good.”1

I’m not shaken by reports about who might use which restroom at the drug store where I frequently shop.2 Nor am I surprised to learn we might need to pass a law in order to keep public schools from adding gender identity to their curriculum.3

I do carefully consider the topics of war in the Middle East, of my own government slipping away from its Constitution, of threats of terrorists and dictators. These reports are numerous and at times unsettling. But the news stories hitting me with the realization that the Age of Grace may soon culminate are the ones about the leaders of the Church. Not the aforementioned Pope, but the accessible clergy of other denominations who, at least in name, oversee the followers of Christ.

One recent article extolled an interfaith assembly of ministers for blessing an abortion clinic, it’s doctors, nurses, and patients. They prayed for God “to keep them safe and keep them strong. And may they always know that all that they do is for Thy glory.”4

Another newsworthy event was a “renaming ceremony” for a Lutheran pastor in transition from female to male. Rose became Peter and the supportive congregation made it a church-wide event.5

For the sake of protecting the freedoms guarded by that slippery Constitution, I accept that we live in a nation defending all manner of life choices. And I believe we as Christians are called to be kind to all people. No matter how much a moral vacuum this lost world becomes, we must remember this good instruction:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

I am not opposed to befriending one who decided to abort. I understand how a woman in desperate circumstances might choose what I consider unthinkable. I can extend empathy to a person lured by the culturally promoted exploration of sexuality. I realize people who do not know their Creator might think it right and acceptable to recreate themselves. Knowing that I’m not privy to who is led by God to receive redemption, I can’ t call anyone hopeless. And if I am to demonstrate hope, I must do so with a kind and gentle spirit.

But when the leadership of the Church turns kindness toward sinners into the public elevation of sin, I have to wonder how long God will endure our perversion. Surely there’s an end to His patience.

Jesus is a friend to sinners, and we as His followers should be as well. But Christians, if they are Christians, recognize sin. They know what it looks like, how it feels, and when they’ve fallen into it. And they don’t call it righteous. We all fall into the trap of sin at times. I choose to follow Christ as He leads me to come alongside the lost and sinful with hope of celebrating the glorious power of the gospel to break every chain. But there must be a stopping point for tolerance, even if tolerance is the order of the day. For me, the end of my forbearance is the clergyman, or woman, or man who used to be a woman who celebrates sin as though it were a virtue, decent and upright in the eyes of God. I can’t accept that brand of leadership. I don’t want to be so kind to my fellow human beings as to slap God in the face.

News sources -- click on the titles to read articles:

1 Pope Francis: World Government Must Rule U.S. 'For Their Own Good' 

2 Walgreens All In for Co-Ed Bathrooms  

3 FINALLY This State Considers Banning Schools from Teaching Gender 

4 Clergy gather to bless one of the only U.S. clinics performing late-term abortions   

5 Transgender Pastor Celebrates Transition with Religious Ceremony 

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Tick Tock of the Doomsday Clock

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is not my go-to publication for calculating the world’s immediacy to “The End.” But I do find the discourse of physicists enticing, especially when the brainy guys and gals pontificate the fate of the modern world. The great thinkers should know when the planet is about to blow, so it’s only fair that they take time to warn us annually by moving the hands on a clock.

The Doomsday clock debuted in 1947, on the cover of the premiere issue of the Bulletin. Designed by artist Martyl Langsdorf, the timepiece of terror first placed the minute hand at seven minutes until midnight. Martyl was the wife of Alexander Langsdorf, one of the physicists who helped develop the atomic bomb for the Manhattan Project. From it’s inception, the clock has advanced or recoiled according to the predictions of people who might be the ones to literally bring about Doomsday. The simple rendition of a clock with its dots, hour hand and minute hand has given report as to the nearness of the end of life as we know it from that first magazine issue until today. Last week, on the cover of the Bulletin, the smart people moved the minute hand to a new position: two minutes until midnight.

The clock has taken this position before, in 1953 with the advent of the hydrogen bomb. In 1991, the countermove to seventeen minutes until midnight purported the safest year since the clock began ticking out it’s predictions. Overall, the countdown has brought us closer to Doomsday than it has to worldwide security.

This latest forward motion toward destruction was based on “the failure of President Trump and other world leaders to deal with looming threats of nuclear war and climate change.” Of course, Trump will take the heat for…whatever. I agree, along with the people of Hawaii who were wise enough to take cover in the recent misidentified drill, that somebody might drop a bomb one day. But I’m not convinced that what used to be called global warming has any real chance of ushering in the apocalypse.

The magazine, the scientists, the clock, the bombs, the weather—that’s all interesting and it brings a bizarre sort of excitement to our mundane lives. I’m guilty of pouring literary fuel on the theoretical fire with my own novels. But only one publication offers substantial vision for the future of us. In the scriptures, a thrill-seeking end-timer might get pumped up when prophecy and current events collide. As for me, it’s where I find peace and security. Not the kind the world seeks, but true rest in the knowledge that God has things under control. Bombs have already been deployed to annihilate human life. The earth has already survived periods of life-altering change. And we are still here to live or die according to God’s plan.

Now, were closer than we were yesterday to “The End” if that’s what you want to call it. Perhaps as close as two minutes. Something’s going to happen. Life as we know it is going to change. I’ll agree with the scientists in that regard. I might even help sound the alarm. The clock is ticking. But I won’t cower in the darkness or succumb to the anguish. My Deliverer is coming!

“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28