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Month: March 2016

Leviathan and the Christ

Destruction of Leviathan By Dore “You have one Master and that is the Christ”, said Jesus.  Jesus showed that the Master becomes the slave of all. It seems hard to believe that “rights” were never really a part of religious or political conversation like we have today for most of human history.  Paul talks about rights.  Paul talks about limiting his rights so as not to offend the weak.  Paul talks about not forcing his rights to certain things even though he has the right too.  Paul talks about his freedom allowing him to be free to serve. Luther says that“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, and subject to all.” In the political philosophy that developed because of Christianity that statement cannot stand.  There can be one “lord” and all must be subject to him.  Thomas Hobbes called him “Leviathan” (Job 41), and saw him a sovereign as completely in control.  He envisioned an all powerful King who declared what was right or wrong and people would listen because they are afraid of having a solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short life. As time went on the concept of Leviathan became any state or assembly, elected or not.  A political power in this system does not really believe in religion but it uses religion...

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Curmudgeon Notebook – Easter Egg Hunts and Rights and the Powers that Be.

Two things happened this week that are illustrative.  This from MSN News. “What’s supposed to be a cherished Easter tradition turned into a mess after pushy parents caused a scene at egg hunts over the weekend. Saturday’s event at the visitor center of candy company Pez in Orange, Connecticut, drew hundreds of people, some of whom ignored the rules. “Everyone just rushed the field and took everything,” Pez General Manager Shawn Peterson told WFSB-TV. Event organizers placed more than 9,000 eggs on three fields with the intention of having staggered start times for each age group. But Pez officials say parents didn’t wait.” My favorite radio station in Minnesota has several on air staff who are new parents, and they relayed information on taking their babies to their first Easter egg hunt and had the same kind of experience.  Parents were so bent on getting their children Easter eggs and candy that they actually pushed other people’s children over and almost stepped on them. Notice that the parents didn’t follow the “rules”.  Why would there need to be rules at an Easter egg hunt at all? We have been having conversations on rights and parental teachings and responsibilities.  We are heading to an understanding of how moving from responsibilities to rights actually enslaves human beings but we have to lay the groundwork. When Christianity gained control of much of...

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The Curmudgeon Speaks – We Are Lorded Over Precisely Because We Have Rights.

We pointed out that Luther had a table of duties, not rights.  My Father always talked of responsibilities not rights.  The Old Testament is a record of God trying to get His chosen people to understand that because of His grace they had responsibilities to Him and to their neighbors.  They were to be a “light to the nations”.  The marvelous message of responsibility from of Micah, “7Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do mercy, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” is instructive.  Compassion and charity, mercy and grace are signal words in the Old Testament and Jesus fulfills them in His person. “Matthew’s comment on the compassionate ministry of Jesus is his quotation of Is. 53:4 “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” He thereby evoked the picture of the Servant of the LORD of whom the prophet had spoken, that Servant who goes the downward way of quiet and selfless ministration for the broken and despairing into a vicarious and atoning death for the sins of the many. What had been spoken by the...

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Quiet Saturday

I have often wondered what the Saturday after the Friday we call good was like.  We know that the disciples were hidden away for fear of the Jews so they were afraid.  We know that they were sad and that is probably a word that doesn’t cover the grief and the shame.  We all experience a sense of guilt when someone we love dies which is usually unreasonable but not always.  In their case they had multiple reasons to be ashamed and filled with guilt.  Abandonment of their teacher, downright repudiation in one instance, begins to describe the personal turmoil that must have existed in each of them.  A sense of futility that they had given up all they knew to follow this one that was now dead had to enter into their calculus.  Anger at being duped must have been high on the list. At the same time it is important to remember that as much as Jesus patiently told His disciples that He was going up to Jerusalem to die, He also told them that He would rise from the dead.  I can imagine that in between those deep sighing breaths as the hours passed, and those anxious glances at the door to see if some officials were coming to arrest them, was the nagging suspicion and fear that there would be a resurrection.  There is an old...

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Anamnesis – Good Friday

Yesterday we said that anamnesis is bringing the past into remembrance in a potent and important way.  In clinical medicine the word is used for a patient’s medical records, with the idea that the patient’s past and present may contain relevant information bearing on their health past, present, and future. The medical history, being an account of all medical events and problems a person has experienced is an important tool in the management of the patient.  A medical anamnesis is also the patients own recollection of their health history. On Good Friday our anamnesis brings to our present the understanding that our sin sickness was “unto death”. Isaiah 53 says “Surely he has borne our griefs     and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken,     smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;     he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,     and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray;     we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him     the iniquity of us all. The word translated “grief” also means sicknesses.  Our anamnesis tonight reminds us that the sin sickness of human beings that was “unto death” was placed upon Christ and Christ was nailed to the tree to bring us peace and health and salvation. Share this...

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