The Medium is the Message

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Reblog from my history blog.

History and Hobby

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.

Funeral or Wedding Feast? Which would you choose?

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Yesterday I turned 60 and later today I’m doing a funeral. What do these two facts have in common? Answer: Ecclesiastes 7:2

It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
(Ecclesiastes 7:2 ESV)

If ever there were a counter intuitive saying  then Ecclesiastes 7:2 has to be it.

Let’s see, given the choice between a great wedding reception with lots food (at someone else’s expense) and a funeral home which would you choose?

Bring on the entre and let’s get this party started would be the choice of just about everyone unless they are of the depressed sort who dig funerals.

Yet Solomon says that’s all fine and good to want to feast but it’s really better to visit the house of mourning. Why? Well, the funeral home is the end of all mankind. Everyone dies, no exceptions. The house of mourning is the place for the thoughtful to ponder the meaning of life and the meaning of death.

King Solomon, Russian icon from first quarter of 18th cen.

King Solomon, Russian icon from first quarter of 18th cen.

And because I just turned 60 I’ve come to realize that all things being equal my life is probably more than 2/3 over with. A lot of men die around 75 and if that’s true then I’m around 80% done.

The “old” generally speaking are more thoughtful about death than the young. When I was 20 I didn’t give it a second thought, mostly because I was relatively healthy and could do my factory job with a minimum of pain to my body. Not so, at 60 with plenty of reminders the body is not what it used to me. Let’s face it, everything breaks down, whether its our bodies, our homes, our lawn mowers. Creation breaks down. The reality of that is everywhere.

Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes deals with that in Ecc. 12:1-8. He reminds the old of their increasing frailty, sign posts really to the end of the line.

The young do not escape his wisdom either.

He tells them in symbolic language that a lot can go wrong even when you are young. Consider accidents of all sorts and risky behaviors. Youth is not a guarantee of a longer life.We like to say oh, so and so, they died early.” Not so, the Scripture says all of our days are numbered and only God knows when our number is up.

It is a bit ironic that Americans spend billions of dollars a year trying to fend off looking old. Solomon might say that’s a good example of chasing after the wind and I’d agree. I say this because it seems we intuitively know time is passing by quickly and so it’s a kind of a denial to “fight for youth.”

Solomon handles those kind of thoughts by  telling the folks to remember their Creator (Ecc. 12:1). He says that’s a real good idea when you are in the house of mourning. The thoughtful will consider their Creator. Mockers and cynics, the cocky and arrogant, atheists and agnostics probably not and many nominal Christians will choose to ignore Solomon’s wise words.

Solomon tells folks to remember their Creator because the Creator is who we are likely to forget. Perhaps we are forgetful because we don’t remember that we are created beings and that implies accountability to the Creator.

The house of mourning is a good place to ponder that forgetfulness and remember that you are dust that the Creator breathed life into.

So, what of it? Well, Romans 1:18-32 says that mankind  has turned it’s back on the Creator, the God of the Bible is how I see it. Paul the apostle puts it like this:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
(Romans 1:18-23 ESV)

This is not good news. Forgetting the Creator apparently has consequences.  Paul goes on:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:24-32 ESV)

Solomon brings the above into sharp focus when he ends his sermon in Ecclesiastes . He says:

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV)

It’s better to be in a house of mourning than a house of feasting because it is of the utmost importance to contemplate these things. A person who seriously considers their life and considers the reality of life after death is not left by the Creator without recourse.

The Creator sent His son and his name is Jesus. In Jesus there is hope, not hope in the sense of “gee whiz, I hope everything turns out right” but hope in the assured sense that the repentant sinner is forgiven because Jesus paid the penalty we sinners owed. Jesus put it this way at a cave of mourning when his dear friend Lazarus died:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV)

The question demands an answer. Eternal destiny depends upon that answer. In the house of mourning the best question to ponder is what will you do with Jesus?

The Raising of Lazarus, 1857, Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat

The Raising of Lazarus, 1857, Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat

(A special word of thanks to a young seminarian who preached at my church this past Sunday on Ecclesiastes.)

Give them Watts Boys-the Rev. James Caldwell

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With Independence Day just around the corner I thought I’d tell the back story of how a hymnal became paper wading for muskets during a Revolutionary War battle.

Isaac Watts was an English churchman who wrote a hymnal that was later published by Ben Franklin. The most familiar hymn in the hymnal was, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

watts_i

Watts was what was called in those days, a non-comformist. His father had been jailed twice for his non-conforming views. This meant in 18th century England one did not conform to the Church of England. Most non-conformists were Calvinistic in their theology and further known as Puritans. The hymnal Watts wrote was as common as Bibles were in many New England churches.

Puritan influence on New England churches (Presbyterian and Congregational) was strong during the Revolution and many clergy served in the ranks of the militia and in the Continental Army as soldiers and chaplains. One pastor who served as a chaplain was the Presbyterian, James Caldwell who was stationed with the Continental Army at Morristown, New Jersey.

Prior to this Caldwell had been the pastor of a church in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Caldwell’s sympathies were with the rebels\patriots as were most Calvinists and his home and church were burned to the ground by Loyalists in 1780. Animosity between Loyalist and Patriot  ran high and the American Revolution was more of a Civil War than a revolution and that may have been a factor in what happened next.

When Caldwell was with the Continental Army at Morristown, British, Hessian and Loyalist units moved through the area where Mrs. Caldwell lived with their children including a three-year toddler on their way to the Battle of Connecticut Farms (June 7th, 1780). The circumstances remain murky but Mrs. Caldwell was shot through the window of the family home as the units moved through the area.

Shortly after her death,  the British engaged the Continental Army at the Battle of Springfield (June 23rd, 1780). The Reverend Caldwell was present.

A mounted James Caldwell handing out Watts to Continental soldiers.

A mounted James Caldwell handing out Watts to Continental soldiers.

The better known painting of Caldwell handing out Watts!

The better known painting of Caldwell handing out Watts!

During the battle the Continentals ran low on the paper wading that was used to pack the powder and ball in the musket. The Reverend Caldwell rushed into a church and grabbed Watts’ hymnal and shouted “Give them Watts’ boys” as the soldiers tore up pages to make wadding.

The Battle of  Springfield was the last major engagement in the northern colonies and it was a Continental victory.

Caldwell himself was killed a short time later, not by the British or a Loyalist by a Continental sentry when Caldwell refused to let the sentry inspect a package.

The sentry was hanged and it was rumored he had been bribed to kill the somewhat famous chaplain-a distinct possibility given the hatred between Loyalists and Patriots at the time.

The Caldwell’s none children were thus orphaned and raised by the extended family.

 

A Celebration of Genocide

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Headline in the Brit newspaper, The Telegraph, Wendy Davis: The woman behind the abortion filibuster.

First line in the first paragraph in a pro-abort article singing the praises of Wendy Davis, the new darling of the progressive left in Britain and here:

The world went crazy for Wendy Davis this week, and rightly so.

The issue.

Davis filibustered a law that would disallow abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy (in Texas).

Here are some facts regarding 20 weeks of pregnancy:

  • Baby now weighs about 11 ounces and is roughly 7 inches long.
  • Baby is 17cm long crown to rump, and weighs about 310 grams.
  • The baby can hear and recognize the mother’s voice.
  • The mother will probably start feeling the first fetal movements.
  • The toenails and fingernails are growing.
  • The growth of hair on the rest of the body has started.
  • The skin is getting thicker.
  • The heart can now be heard with a stethoscope

Here’s what the baby looks like at 20 weeks:

unborn child at 20 weeks

unborn child at 20 weeks

It's not just a British newspaper celebrating genocide and making Wendy Davis a hero. This paper is from Austin. Texas.

It’s not just a British newspaper celebrating genocide and making Wendy Davis a hero. This paper is from Austin. Texas.

 

Congratulations Wendy Davis. It takes a brave person to be for infant genocide. Congratulations Democrats and left-wing advocates of genocide. You are not unlike the Islamo-fascists who celebrated in the streets after 9/11.

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