The Medium is the Message

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Reblog from my history blog.

History That Interests Me

Interesting article today popped up on Drudge that linked to The Holly Reporter. The article gave information as to how Hollywood helped Hitler and the Nazis after the Nazis rise to power in 1933

The “little story” is how for business purposes Hollywood caved to Nazi pressure to show Nazism (and Germany) in a favorable and sanitized light. Hollywood did so in a weird form of political correctness to make a buck. Nothing surprising about that.

The bigger story in my opinion has to do with the Nazis realizing the power of the medium to sway public opinion one way or the other.

It reminded me of a class I had in High School (1971), the name of which escapes me. Whatever the name of the class I distinctly remember the teacher frequently reminding us that the “medium is the message” a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan and from…

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Not Respecting Women?-Filner

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I recently read that 67% of San Diego’s residents want Mayor Filner out of office (Does this mean 33% have no problem with the Mayor’s behavior?).

The Mayor has thus far refused to step-down over sexual harassment charges from multiple sources and has instead opted for two weeks of intensive therapy. Filner has not denied the allegations and has confessed to “not respecting women.”

Personally, I wonder what kind of therapy he needs in order to respect women. I mean seriously, how do you fix that? Are we to expect the Mayor to emerge from two weeks of therapy cured? “Yes” says the newly cured Mayor, “I used to disrespect women, now I don’t, can’t we move on?”

Filner’s problem is not uncommon. Most men (and women for that matter) struggle with lust at one time or the other and to greater or lesser extent. Filner’s additional problem is that he seems to have a total lack of self-control, any sense of good judgment and any kind of discretion. Those are issues of arrogance, not lust.

At best the behavioral therapy Filner receives will teach him a smidgen of self-control and perhaps a little sneaky discretion. He’s counting on psychobabble to help him keep his lusts out of sight. Perhaps he will succeed and stay in office. Clinton did and he didn’t have therapy.

Jesus sums up the problem underneath THE problem nicely:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
(Matthew 5:27-30 ESV)

We sin from the inside out, not the outside in. What is in the heart (lusting) drives the behavior (adultery, sexting, sexual harassment, etc). Filner’s therapy will not deal with the heart. Filner does not need therapy. He needs the Gospel. If he had the gospel and understood the gospel it would not require 67% of San Diego’s residents calling for him to resign.

Back to the Future-Going Pagan in the UK and Europe

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In the History Channel’s surprisingly successful series, Vikings, there is a scene where Ragnar’s brother Rollo is baptized.

Rollo is baptized for pragmatic reasons much to the amusement of his fellow Vikings who know Rollo has no intention of abandoning the old gods or Viking ways.

The scene reminded me of a historical event known as the Edict of Milan. The Edict of Milan proclaimed religious tolerance for all religions in the Roman Empire in 313 A.D. The edict followed Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity. Whatever Constantine’s reasons for his conversion (he was only baptized on his death-bed) his conversion stopped the persecutions of Christians and led to the overall Christianizing of the Roman Empire.

See Bruce Shelley’s article on the subject here. The Emperor’s New Religion

Bust of Constantine the Great. revered as St. Constantine among Orthodox Christians.

Bust of Constantine the Great. revered as St. Constantine among Orthodox Christians.

Almost over night people who had been happily pagans “converted” to Christianity. Eventually, the Christianizing extended into Scandinavia and by 1000 A.D. Norway, Denmark and Sweden (homelands to the Vikings) were nominally Christian.

While some were no doubt sincere many more had no intention, like Rollo, of giving up the old gods nor of giving up their old ways. In my estimation Christianity was a layer of something new over something the very old of paganism for Europe as a whole.

The medieval Catholic Church was not unaware of the reality of the situation and at various times accommodated paganism (such as Celtic Samhain or Halloween that became All Saints Day) or worked to eradicate it usually through political means but at times through genuine missionary endeavors.

It’s with all the above in mind that I read World Magazine’s article, Going Pagan.

Going Pagan documents the Church of England’s proposal for attracting the young and unchurched to a “pagan church” with Christian content with the Anglican Church.

The article gives some detail as to what the church would look like. It amounts to a hodge-podge of just about everything from New Age to the old Celtic rituals at Stonehenge. The emphasis is on some sort of spirituality and the goal is really to get some young Britons to join the Anglican Church in a context they can live with.

The reason for the apparent compromise is how Britons self-identify themselves these days.

A recent poll shows that only 25% of young Britons unequivocally affirm a belief in God. This is to be compared with the 38% who said they did not believe in God or any other higher spiritual power (in other words practical atheists).

Furthermore, the number of self-identified pagans more than doubled between 2001 and 2011. Census data in the UK reveals that paganism is the 7th largest religious group in the UK.

Modern day Druid, Celtic priest. Recognized in Britain as clergy.

Modern day Druid, Celtic priest. Recognized in Britain as clergy.

On one hand I think the Church of England’s idea is silly. By choosing to stand for everything they stand for nothing. It’s no wonder that so many Britons see Christianity as a cultural tradition at best rather than a vibrant biblical faith.

On the other hand I rather commend the honesty of the atheists and self-identified pagans many of whom were no doubt baptized into the Church of England as babies. At least they are thinking there should be some sort of meaning behind the label they choose to identify with.

Below are two related videos. In general, paganism and atheism in Europe is on the rise. The first video is from a Viking/Slav festival. The Vikings raided extensively in the Slavic lands of Russia and Poland. The video does not necessarily promote paganism but does celebrate a time in history when the old gods were just as much in evidence as the new Christian God.

The second video appears to be a bit overt about paganism. I believe the language is Polish. I have no idea what they are singing about but I surmise it is some sort of love song that dates back to pagan times. It’s rather a catchy tune I think and the group’s name appears to be Percival Schuttenbach which is a bit confusing since “Schuttenbach” is clearly German. “Schuttenbach is the name of a gnome character in a Polish saga.

On Significance

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I was 16 when Neil Armstrong gave his famous one small step speech on the moon. I was proud of my country but well on my way to becoming an agnostic. Later in life as I contemplated the night skies I also contemplated the Creator as well as my own insignificance. This in turn led me to my greatest need- a Savior who is the Christ.

History Undusted

“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty & blue, was the Earth.  I put up my thumb & shut one eye, & my thumb blotted out the planet Earth.  I didn’t feel like a giant.  I felt very, very small.”

Neil Armstrong

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Atheist Chaplains???

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I few weeks I posted the story of James Caldwell, a Revolutionary War Chaplain who handed out hymnals written by Issac Watts during a Revolutionary War battle. The goal was to supply paper wading to the Continental Infantry who were engaged in a fire fight with British Regulars. The Continentals were running low on paper wadding so Caldwell supplied the hymnals for a paper substitute and uttered the words, “Give them Watts boys” or something to that effect.

In was General George Washington who established the military chaplaincy and until recently it was presumed that military chaplains had freedom of religion and the freedom to share their faith.

Gen. George Washington established the chaplaincy for the Continental Army.

Gen. George Washington established the chaplaincy for the Continental Army.

We’ve come along way since the Christianized American culture of 1777 to the “don’t you dare offend me with your religion” culture of 2013. Sadly, the American military is leading the charge (with the Obama Administration working behind the scenes) to start a war to suppress religion freedom. This trend has been well documented in a recent issue of World Magazine, article titled, Holding the Line.

Perhaps the oddest tidbit in the story was the US Congressman Jared Polis (D-Colo) proposing that the military add “atheist chaplains.” It did not pass but 150 Democrats voted for it and the Administration uttered not a peep in protest.

The US House of Representatives has had a chaplain since 1789.

The US House of Representatives has had a chaplain since 1789.

So one one hand the Administration via it’s control of the military is seeking to ban some expressions of religious freedom but on the other hand empower other expressions of religious freedom even if “atheist chaplain” is an oxymoron.

None of this really surprises me. What threatens the Administration is not religion or the lack thereof, but the gospel and the exclusiveness of it. The gospel is not pc and that makes Christians who believe it, “extremists.”

In years past I had considered becoming a chaplain as another ministry to the one I already had.  I didn’t have the military in mind because at the time I was too old and I had served long ago in another capacity.

I had thought of a prison chaplaincy and/or hospital. My thoughts were those were two likely places people would be most likely to want to hear the gospel.

So, I spoke to a chaplain who was from a Nazarene background as I recall. I asked him if he was free to share the gospel. It was a Catholic Hospital so you’d think it was a no brainer. He said no, he would have to be asked first. I said then what do you do? He said he would ask people how they were doing, leave encouraging materials (what could be more encouraging than the gospel?) and basically just be friendly hoping someone would ask him stuff.

I gave the man credit for sticking with it. He said most of the other chaplains were theological liberals and with them there was no chance to hear the gospel whereas with him, a slim chance if a person asked.

On the other hand he could not freely share his faith and the hope within unless asked. I guess it would be one thing if the recipient told him he didn’t want to hear it and leave, but it’s quite another to have a rule that prevents one from freely sharing the basis of one’s beliefs. It certainly seems the Administration has little regard for the Constitution and this is now reflected in the US Military.

Yes, I am aware that atheists mock the saying "there are no atheists in foxholes and I'm also aware that the Bible says the fool says in his heart there is no God.

Yes, I am aware that atheists mock the saying “there are no atheists in foxholes” and I’m also aware that the Bible says the fool says in his heart there is no God.

There is an old saying “there are no atheists in foxholes.” The reason for that appears obvious. It raises the question that if Atheist Chaplains were allowed in the military what would they do? Why would an atheist need a chaplain?

The Pastoral Challenge of Marrying

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From my friend and Sr. Pastor. Lots of good reasons to think about this issue pastors.

Missional Meanderings

I read with great interest this post over at the Gospel Coalition’s site.  Collin Hanson asks how pastors in America need to possibly rethink their current practice of marrying people in light of U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to overturn Proposition 8.  The audience is actually conservative pastors who see a rapid encroachment of the State into the Church with little shame or concern on the State’s part.

The article has four different pastors who weigh in on the issue to varying degrees of helpfulness.  I found Steve DeWitt’s to be the most helpful.  Here is a glimpse into his response if you haven’t already clicked on the link and read it yourself:

. . . . What makes a wedding “Christian” is a Christian man and a woman covenanting to follow God’s plan and fulfill God’s purpose for marriage.

At the same time, a pastor in the American…

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What can we learn from Horst Wessel?

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Who was Horst Ludwig Wessel?

Horst was a German political activist killed in 1930. He was only twenty-three years old at the time.  30,000 people attended his funeral and a high government official gave a stirring eulogy.

Horst was the son of a Lutheran minister and was known for his patriotism. Horst’s father wanted Horst to go into the ministry but the young Horst choose political activism instead. He wanted to make a difference to his country.

Horst had aspirations to be a lawyer and was enrolled in a University in 1926. It was said he was an intense and passionate student.

In his spare time he played a shalmei. A shalmei is a type of horn that falls into the double reed family of musical instruments. It took considerable talent to master this unusual instrument.

The clean-cut Horst Wessel

The clean-cut Horst Wessel

Horst was also a bit of song writer and achieved some fame writing a patriotic song about his country’s flag.

It is unknown as to the exact reasons Horst was killed. Some say he was killed by someone who disagreed with his politics. Others say the killing had something to do with money and back rent. Still others suggest the killing was over an argument over a girl.

But killed he was as someone with a handgun appeared on his doorstop one night and shot Horst in the face. He did not die right away and suffered in a hospital for a while before passing away.

After his death Horst became a national hero and his song about the flag (Die Fahne Hoch) became second only to the national anthem of Germany. Military units adopted Horst’s name as the name of their unit. Horst  and his life were commemorated in memorials, books and films and there was even a novel about him.

Horst Wessel became a hero to the Nazi Party after he met his death in 1930.

Horst Wessel became a hero to the Nazi Party after he met his death in 1930.

Clearly, Horst Ludwig Wessel was a hero\martyr to his people.

Most of the above are facts. I speculated a little about how good of horn player Horst was or how good of a student.

Horst was a minor officer in the SA. The SA were the predecessors of the dreaded Nazi SS. In the topsy-turvy world of the German politics in the 1920’s the SA served the then obscure Nazi Party by being street thugs. They harassed and beat Jews and fire bombed their businesses. They fought with other political groups including the German Communists. It is likely that Horst was assassinated by the Communists because he had killed a seventeen-year-old communist the same day.

Horst was a thug in a uniform made a hero after his death by the political powers in Germany. The person who spoke at his funeral was none other than Joseph Goebbels, the master of propaganda and the main propagator of the Horst Wessel mythology. A sympathetic national media of course helped.

When the government and the national media want to control the story they can turn a street thug into a national hero. The truth and facts are put aside to steer the population into a mythology. In Horst’s case, the Communists were blamed or the Jews or both for the death of a young patriotic hero. Never mind  that the young, clean-cut Horst Wessel was a hater of the worst kind. He served his purpose to advance a political agenda that would have world-wide consequences.

America’s national media, especially MSNBC is Goebbels Ministry of Propaganda. The Obama Administration including the DOJ is the government pushing the overall agenda of race baiting and racial division. Trayvon Martin, like Horst Wessel, is the hero\martyr to some who are not interested in reality but only the myth.

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