Prepare or Perish; I Cannot Be Quiet.

“Come, NOW is the time to worship.”

2021-03-27 House on FireI wish this could be more gently expressed, but like a man seeing the house of a friend on fire, I must SHOUT IT.  There is too little time to say, “Oh, maybe I will disturb him or interrupt his nice supper; I’ll call him later and tell him his house is on fire.”  What kind of friend would I be!?  That said, no one can force you out of a burning house if it is your choice to stay there.  But still, I have to warn that Jesus made it clear, we must Be Ready or we will perish.

We have examined the evidence of evil.  There are people who sell other people into the sex trades or some form of indentured servitude.  Just as bad, there are people who buy and use them.  There are people who will sell drugs to anyone with money to purchase, no matter how badly addicted their victims are; others who will turn a blind eye to crises because it is politically inconvenient or will cost them their job or make them look foolish to others; even more who simply shrug and say, “Well, I am not doing that.  It is not my problem.”  The mass of German citizens seemed shocked when they were paraded into POW camps after WW2 and said, “Oh, my, we didn’t know.”  But their complicity was in not listening to the warning sirens of Jews being “labeled” and marginalized; ignoring the buildup of power into a select few, all in the name of “purifying the race;” making life better for “all of you.”

We have looked at the Scriptures for what Jesus, the apostles, and Old Testament prophets taught about hell and its misery.  Gehenna (translated ‘hell’ or ‘fiery furnace’ or similar analogies) was the garbage dump outside Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, “where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”  This was His picture of hell; a place not intended for human habitation, but where those who cannot serve their purpose wind up; a place of disposal; strangely, a place “chosen” by those who will reside there because they refuse to trust the Creator and Jesus, in [whom] the whole fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily

Evil is evident.  Hell is authentic.  So how can one avoid it?  Jesus spent most of his parables telling about the Kingdom of God and how to get into it.  He gave several stern warnings, though, against being deceived.  In Matthew 24, four times He told His followers to beware.  He then conclude this teaching with a blessing and a severe warning (verses 45-51) .

 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.  But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

He then tells the story of ten women who went out to meet a bridegroom.  In that culture, the groom would come to his bride at an unannounced time after meeting with his friends.  Five were foolish and five were wise.  At the end of the story, this Jesus that everyone thinks would always be so kind and forgiving, excludes the foolish women from the groom’s banquet, and quite harshly!

He then tells a story of a landowner who commits responsibilities to his servants while he is away.  The wise servants invest his loans to them, but a foolish one hides the money so he can give back only what he received.  He gets a tongue lashing that would make Bear Bryant blush, and the land owner orders the worthless servant [to be cast] into the outer darkness . . .  where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

He concludes a trilogy of parables with a story of sheep and goats being separated.  To the “goats on the left” Jesus will tell them, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels . . . And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  Note, the eternal fire was never intended for humans.

The fearful thing for most people is that Heaven is not our default destination.  In our natural state, the way we are born, we are already condemned to hell!  John wrote in his Gospel, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already!John 3:16-18

That is why Jesus told the Pharisee that he needed to be “born again!”  Being born into this life was NOT enough!  As lovely or successful or rich or powerful or comfortable as one can be, we are all condemned to hell UNLESS we specifically and personally take a step of faith and “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” to be saved.

It would be “nice” if everyone would get into Heaven, but Jesus clearly teaches that many will NOT!  How can I invite you to read the Gospels, the Good News, so that you do not have to go to hell?  What can I do to persuade you that you were created for a better life than this?  Are there any words I can write that will convince you to trust Jesus for eternal life?  What can I show you of how much God, the Father, loves you beyond the fact that Jesus died in your place, in my place?

The promise is completely inclusive: ANYONE can come to Jesus, regardless of past sin, problems, ethnicity, success or failure; NOTHING excludes you!
But the promise is completely exclusive simultaneously: ONLY those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.

Someday, at the name of Jesus every knee [WILL] bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue [WILL] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” when He is fully revealed at the end of time.  But there is a special blessing and fellowship of the Holy Spirit and of other Christ-followers for those who bow their knees now, and confess now that Jesus Christ IS Lord.  Do not be deceived. 

Please, dear friends reading this blog, you to whom I have emailed this link, those of you just stopping by for a visit:
Pray to Jesus to be born again and to guide you by His Holy Spirit.
Begin reading the Bible, especially starting in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
Find someone near you who knows Jesus and start meeting regularly.

If you do not know of anyone in your hometown or country, email me at capost3k@gmail.com and I will help you find someone out of our international connections.  If you want to Zoom with me, just email me, but I encourage you to find someone locally who speaks your ‘heart language.’  Please, prepare or you will perish.

 

Hell Is Authentic


The result of living without Jesus is .  Not just a fantasy, not just a short-term separation from what is good.  It is a final loss, a final “mercy” of God to those who refuse any blessing.  He will not let an evil person go on hurting others into eternity, or even themselves; so He places them in outer darkness (Matthew 8:11-12), alone and apart from any source of light or life, because that is what they have chosen.  “All that are in hell choose it.  Without that self-choice, there could be no hell.  No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.  Those who seek find; to those who knock it is opened.” (C.S.Lewis, The Great Divorce)

If they would choose to know The God Who Is Here, anyone can enter into His Life, Light, Joy, Peace and every other blessing that comes from living in consistency with “the universe.”  There is only one way to know The God Who Is Here, and that is by getting to know Jesus, the Messiah, aka Christ.  “Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)  There simply is no other way.  Father loves each one of us so much that if there was another way, He would inform us and provide us with the alternatives.  But THIS is the nature of the universe.  It is what He created and knowing Him is the only way. (Acts 4:10-12)

Like the Children of the Day sang, “Don’t try to drive the darkness out; You just turn on the light.”  Hell is the absence of light.  It is the absence of love.  It is the absence of community.  It is the absence of peace.  It is the absence of selfless joy.  It is the absence of life. 

Note, by that I do not mean the end of existence.  It that were the case, “hell” would not be all that bad.  If when we died we simply vanished into nothingness, there would be no reason for warning and inviting people to Life.  However, God created each of us, created YOU, to enjoy Him forever.  There is no Infinity Stone that can simply snap away our existence.  The gift of existence is without do-overs. (Romans 11:29)  We were created for eternity and “He has put eternity into man’s heart.”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

One of Job’s visitors described hell as the destiny of all those who do not know God, a dreadful place he calls the king of terrors.”  Hell will be a place of eternal death, because its inhabitants will be separated eternally from the Source of Life.  There, like the demons who believe and shudder (James 2:19), its occupants will hate God and the exposing light of his glory.  “It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.” (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain)

Before Him “Every heart will melt, and all hands will be feeble; every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water” (Ezekiel 21:7).  Just as the kings of the earth will call to the mountains and rocks, “Hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne” (Revelation 6:16), in hell God will give them what they want, a place of complete eclipse, darker than anything we can imagine. (Matthew 22:13; 25:29-30

As we have noted before (see ), anyone who longs for joy can find it.  Moses said in Deuteronomy 4:29, “If you will seek Yahweh your God, you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” But this is not like trying to find Easter eggs, either in the yard under bushes, or a hidden message in a movie.  You do not have to scour the internet or decode mysterious anagrams or learn a particular language.  God is not hiding, making you wade through mazes or difficult terminology to find Him.  He makes Himself clear to anyone willing to see Him (Romans 1:19-22)  Further, He has revealed Himself throughout history via prophets, priests, church leaders and lastly through Jesus.

It would be nice if we could say those who go to hell will only stay there for a little while and then be granted entry into Heaven, kind of like an earthly prison sentence.  But remember those who go there go by their own choice because they do now want to live in God’s Kingdom; they refuse to live with someone else that is there; they object to His rulership.

So what awaits one who refuses to believe what God has revealed about Himself? 
“This is what Yahweh, the LORD, says:
“Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’
Therefore hear, O nations, and know what will happen to them.
Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people,
    the fruit of their devices,
because they have not paid attention to my words;
    and as for my law, they have rejected it.…
Therefore this is what Yahweh says:
‘Behold, I will lay before this people a stumbling block against which they shall stumble;
fathers and sons together, neighbor and friend shall perish.’”
(Jeremiah 6:16-21)

You have this opportunity while you live. (Hebrews 9:27-28)  There is no guidance on making this decision after you die, and why would anyone refuse the Lord of Life now while they can learn to know Him before that time?  The choice is yours to make.  we will look a little more at the choice.

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Will Vaccine Passports Control Your Daily Life?

Former Clinton Adviser: Mandatory Vaccine Passport Could Lead to ‘End of Human Liberty in the West’ – by Jack Phillips  March 29, 2021

Former Clinton adviser Naomi Wolf said that mandatory COVID-19 vaccine passports that have been proposed in recent days would be the “end of human liberty in the West if this plan unfolds as planned.”

“‘Vaccine passport’ sounds like a fine thing if you don’t understand what those platforms can do. I’m [the] CEO of a tech company, I understand what this platform does,” Wolf, who’s also an author, told Fox News on March 28. “It is not about the vaccine, it’s not about the virus, it’s about your data. Once this rolls out, you don’t have a choice about being part of the system. What people have to understand is that any other functionality can be loaded onto that platform with no problem at all.”

Wolf said such data can be “merged with your Paypal account, with your digital currency,” adding that “Microsoft is already talking about merging it with payment plans.”

Wolf noted that it happened in Israel, “and six months later, we’re hearing from activists that it’s a two-tiered society and that basically, activists are ostracized and surveilled continually. It is the end of civil society, and they are trying to roll it out around the world.”

“It is absolutely so much more than a vaccine pass, it is — I can not stress enough that it has the power to turn off your life, or to turn on your life, to let you engage in society or be marginalized.”

Going a step further, Wolf likened such plans to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) surveillance of its population and promotion of a “social credit score.”

2021-04-02 Vaccine PassportsA handout image shows the Excelsior Pass, a platform that lets New Yorkers present proof of COVID-19 vaccination at events. (Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo)

“How does [the CCP] keep a billion people under the thumb of a totalitarian regime?” she asked. “The CCP can find any dissident within five minutes, and that can happen here literally within months.”

Wolf referred to reports about Biden administration officials proposing the idea. The Washington Post and CNN — citing anonymous, unconfirmed sources — have suggested that the administration is working toward developing a national vaccine passport standard. New York state has proposed its own “Excelsior Pass” that would be used in large-scale venues such as Madison Square Garden. The plan has been lambasted by civil liberties groups and proponents.

On March 29, White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the claims, saying the administration doesn’t see a federal mandate for vaccine passports. “We believe it will be driven by the private sector,” she told reporters.

In other countries, such passports have already been created. Israel set one up in February to grant people access to gyms and hotels, Iceland now uses a passport to allow foreign travel, and Saudi Arabia has an app-based passport for people who are inoculated.

“The thing underpinning all of this is, what are you going to use it for?” said Melinda Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Is it for international travel? Is it for getting a job? Is it for buying milk?”

Evil Is Evident; Hell Is Authentic; Prepare or Perish.

This title is not stated as a threat or with any glee.  It is written with trembling knees, a heart full of prayer and sincere desire that anyone reading it may find Life and NOT perish.  The title is simply the statement of three facts which I will address in three blogs.  Though Jesus spoke much more about the Kingdom of Heaven, we would be remiss if we skipped these subjects that He and the Bible address.

Fairy Tales
2021-03-27 WickedSome would like us to believe in fairy tales; happily ever after endings without consequences for wrong behavior.  Or at least, let’s provide some context which makes wrong choices understandable and tolerable since the villain had it so rough.  So Wicked becomes a Disney retelling of Sleeping Beauty that makes Maleficent an unfortunate victim of her circumstances.  Romulans actually are nice guys, just with slightly different means of expressing the same values as Federation members.  Natasha Romanoff (or Black Widow) had a rough childhood; fortunately, she falls in love with a good guy and joins the Avengers.  Severus Snape, the epitome of evil with black cape, boots and a penchant for scaring Potter’s goodniks, turns out to be working for Dumbledore all along.  Another black-robed villain, Darth Vader is given reasons for his turn to the dark side.  And the Terminator turns out to be a misunderstood robot who just needed reprogramming.  Don’t we all?

So in this alternate universe Hitler would be mistreated by his dad and abused by a Jewish teacher.  Stalin was a nice kid who just got involved with the wrong crowd, and Pol Pot was very poor and had to steal food to survive as a child.

Unfortunately, alternate “universes” do not exist (with no apologies to Stephen Hawking).  By definition, universe means ”the totality of known or supposed objects throughout space; the cosmos.”  There cannot be another “universe” that contains that totality; that is an absurdity for which there is not a grain of evidence except in the minds of Star Trek viewers like Hawking.

Not Innocent, Only Incompetent
2021-03-27 Not Innocent Just IncompetentWe are the product of choices we make throughout life, beginning with infancy when we want the blocks the other baby has.  Shortly after most children master “Mama,” most also learn “Mine!”  Children are not innocent; they are simply incompetent.  Given the power, the mass of them would eliminate any opposition with a flick of Potter’s wand and simply kill anyone that prevents them from getting their way.

You and I were like that!  We had to be taught that there were better things than getting our own way all the time.  Most of those lessons were learnt through experience, the best teacher, but hardly the kindest.

In The Great Divorce, C.S.Lewis illustrates these choices among those who refuse Heaven because of what they want.  From the dishonest intellectual to a greedy materialist; from a religious hypocrite to a self-deprecating egomaniac; from a mother who preferred to drag her child into hell rather than forfeit control to a tragedian who loved his own misery rather than accept joy that was offered.  “Better to reign in hell than serve in Heaven.” (Milton)

There are those who will choose their own way rather than God’s way even at the pain of death.  And from their choices will come every kind of evil from murdering unborn children to killing the elderly who no longer “contribute to society” to justifying what once were considered perverse lifestyles.  Like Lewis’ Ghosts they will couch their evil in beautiful sounding words like Social Security, Affordable Care, For The People, Toleration or Government Protection, but what they really want is selfish aggrandizement, physical comfort, control of others and power for themselves.

Can’t We All Just Be Nice?
2021-03-27 House on FireEvil is real and it does not go away just because we try to be “nice” to each other.  Real love is much harsher than the pablum pop psychology puts out today.  If a neighbor’s house is on fire, would we be “nice” and say, “Let’s not upset him; wait till it’s convenient to tell him?”  NO, the “loving thing” to do would be to bang on his door, disturb his “peace,” and warn him to get to safety!  So it is that if we fail to warn people of the reality of evil and its consequences, we are simply “nice neighbors” who do not care if our acquaintances die.

Trying to be nice to some people is like appeasement of Hitler just prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939.  There was a madness sweeping Europe and the Fuhrer was simply its pawn.  This does not excuse him of the war’s atrocities, but remember he was as deceived as those he was deceiving (See 2 Timothy 3:12-13), an evil-doer going from bad to worse.

Paul had this to say to his protégé pastoring in Ephesus:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,  who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

And again some time later:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.” (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

Children of the Day
2021-03-27 Children Of The DayWe are called to be light in a darkening world, salt to a rotting, tasteless culture (Matthew 5:13-16).  The times will become darker yet, as political leaders lie more, as religious conviction becomes labeled “Hate Speech,” as bureaucratic alignments for economic and national interests bring together enemies of Israel, as whole societies call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:8-30)

However, though evil is real and becomes more evident, we are called “to walk in the Light, even as He is in the light.” (1 John 1:5-9)  We must stand distinctly apart from liars and deceivers who say, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:13-15)  And we pray for the deceived that they may see the Truth (Ephesians 4:18-19)

The Children of the Day recorded this song back in 1979 based on 1 Thessalonians 5:5-9.
When your heart is dark and empty and new shadows start to fall;
When cluttered fears and sin are the writing on your wall;
Your confusion and your doubts are always lurking left and right,
Don’t try to drive the darkness out; you just turn on the light.

We’re the children of the light, and we’re the children of the day.
We need not always stumble in an ever darkening way.
Though the darkness will close in around with shadows everywhere,
Still Jesus Christ is in our life, the Light of the world is there.

Next week, , I will discuss what Jesus and the Apostles taught about hell.  It’s not pretty.

Can’t Congress Find Anything MORE Stupid To Do????

2021-03-13 DST AgainWell, it’s that time of the year again.  After a year of pandemics and elections, it is time for the US Congress to address one of the stupidest laws they have ever enacted!  And this is noted with full awareness of the ACA (aka Obamacare – “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”Nancy Pelosi, March 9. 2010).  This presupposes the For The People Act that centralizes elections, disenfranchises states and degrades the integrity of the elections by “the people” it supposedly is FOR.  It assumes you know about the $1,900,000,000.00 ($1.9 trillion) Covid Relief Package that has less than $1,900,000.00 ($1.9 billion) for covid relief, less than 1/10th of the bill.

Even with these boondoggles, the stupidest law the U.S. Congress has ever passed was the Daylight Saving Time Act of 1918!  Because of confusion over when states would adopt DST, it was codified into uniform compliance by the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (unless states wanted to opt out, which Arizona, Hawaii and half of Indiana did).  Now Daylight Saving Time begins with “Spring Forward” at 2am on the second Sunday of March every year.  When 2am hits, we are supposed to move our clocks forward to 3am, skipping that hour.  Standard Time resumes with “Fall Back” at 2am on the first Sunday of November.  When 2am hits, we try to reverse the damage by moving the clocks backward to 1am, repeating the 1am hour over again.  Then we do it all again in the spring.

Now, let’s up the absurdity!  This year, again, a group of congresspeople and senators have proposed the Sunshine Protection Act which would make Daylight Saving Time PERMANENT, so that we do not have to change our clocks every other season.  After all, if the government does not protect the Sunshine, who will!?  A reasonable person might ask, WHYYYYY!?  If you are going to get up an hour earlier every day of the year, why not just leave the clocks alone and go with the Greenwich Meridian Time standard that the US adopted in November of 1883 and was standardized to the world in 1884?

Two stories to illustrate the asininity of this idea:2021-03-13 Capital Grille Lounge
One is the apocryphal tale of why DST was ever adopted. 
It seems some congressmen were concerned about getting reelected and felt they needed something to show their constituents that they were not just sitting around the Capitol lounge and gym smoking stogies, drinking martinis and getting tax-payer funded massages, even though that is exactly what they were doing
One suggested, “Why don’t we vote to give everyone an extra hour every day?  You know, to work longer and pay higher taxes, but we could say it was so they could spend more time with their families.” 
Everyone jumped on the bandwagon immediately exclaiming “Capital idea!” until a freshman congressman, who was unschooled in the finer arts of making laws, noted, “But that would wear out in about two weeks when people would be going to bed at sunup and rising at sundown.”
After some substantial grumbling about mouthy young upstarts needing to learn their place, one of the elder statesmen said, “Well we can just subtract the extra hour from the morning and that way everyone will get the extra hour without confusing the clock-makers who would have to make 25 hour clocks. Besides I don’t have that many voting clock-makers in my district.” 
The measure passed with full bi-partisan support and was signed into law by Woodrow Wilson, who was busy planning to catch the Spanish Flu when he attended the League of Nations meeting the next year, and could not get reelected for a third term if he had slowed down the earth’s rotation to actually give everyone an extra hour.

The second story is a true one about a secretary I once knew in an office in which I worked.  Spring was on the horizon and we were discussing the coming change of the clocks.  I noted that, “If it is really so important to have an extra hour of daylight in the evening, why can’t we just start and quit work an hour earlier?” 
The secretary looked aghast!  “Oh, C.A., I have to get up at 6am to get here by 8 as it is.  I could never get up at 5am.”
The befuddlement in my brain was difficult to speak through, but I finally managed to say, “But you ARE getting up at 5am; you’re just calling it 6am for the summer!”

I would like to suggest an alternative proposal that we set our clocks BACK five hours!  That way we could all sleep in until noon and miss the rush hour traffic going to work, right?  This proposal makes the same sense as “permanentizing” DST year-round.

2021-03-13 Congressional GymAnd so the idiocy we call Daylight Saving Time (and that many people mispronounce as Daylight SavingS Time) may not be going away any time soon.  In fact, if our brilliant congresspeople have anything to say about it, DST might not go away ever!  Just think of how much we will protect the sunshine and the time we will save THAT WAY!  Now I wonder what they will do while smoking stogies, sipping martinis and getting massages.

History of Daylight Saving Time

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Dr. Victor Hanson on Biden’s Amerika

2021-02-15 Bidens AmerikaRazor wire and fences still surround the U.S. Capitol at sunrise. (Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

2021-02-15 Victor Davis HansonThe World Goes On While America Sleeps
Victor Davis Hanson /
/
Dr. Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.  You can reach him by e-mailing authorvdh@gmail.com
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The Democrat-controlled Senate spends thousands of collective hours conducting an impeachment trial against a citizen who is no longer president.  The acquittal is predetermined, as in the first impeachment effort a year ago — and known to be so to the Democratic prosecutors.  The constitutionally mandated presiding judge — the chief justice of the Supreme Court — refused to show up.  Chief Justice John Roberts apparently believes an impeachment trial of a private citizen is either a waste of time or unconstitutional — or both.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is busy ferreting out purportedly extremist Republican House members.  For the first time in memory, one party now removes committee members of the other.  Yet for each Republican outlier, there is a corresponding Democratic firebrand member who has either called for violence or voiced anti-Semitic slurs — and yet will not be removed from House committees.  So the asymmetrical tit-for-tat continues.

The subtext to this madness is that the Democratic Congress, the new administration, the administrative state, and the political left are obsessed with dismembering the presidential corpse of now citizen Donald Trump.  Apparently they fear that one day he will rise from the infernal regions to wreak his revenge.  Meanwhile, life in America goes on.

Yet few of our leaders are very worried about the existential crises left unaddressed by their obsessions with the ghost of Trump.  Take the debt.  It is now nearly $28 trillion, and it is growing by almost $2 trillion a year.  No one in Washington talks about reducing the annual budget deficit.  Nor do officials find ways to balance the budget.  The idea of paying off the monstrous debt remains a fantasy.  Instead, our elected representatives argue over whether to borrow another $1 trillion, or more likely $2 trillion, without worry of where it comes from or how it will be repaid.

But money is not completely a construct.  We will eventually pay for our profligacy either with steeper taxes, higher inflation, 1970s-like stagflation, or permanent zero interest.  Or eventually America will renounce its debt and destroy the credibility of the U.S. government.  Meanwhile, hundreds of billions of dollars and countless hours of once-productive labor are diverted to unproductive ideological censorship, career canceling, and indoctrination.

Our allies, such as democratic France, warn America that it is cannibalizing itself — and becoming dangerous to others.  Our enemies, such as the totalitarian Chinese, are delighted with our suicidal wokeness.  The cost is not just the expense of cleaning up the billions of dollars of destruction from the summer riots, the thousands of memorials and statues destroyed and defaced, and the hundreds of schools and buildings to be renamed.

Far more consequential is the suppression of creative thinking — from humanistic study to scientific research.  The Islamic world, as the historian Bernard Lewis once observed, stagnated in the 19th and 20th centuries once radical Islamists began squelching all free inquiry.  Humanities and science were perverted from 1932 to 1945 in Germany by the pollution of Nazi racial censors.  What was written or advanced in communist Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union is largely discredited, given that commissar hacks determined the rules of publication and research.  Something similarly frightening is now occurring in the United States.

Scholars, journalists, artists, and educators feel they must mouth politically correct platitudes.  They constantly hedge their public discourse in fear of career cancellation.  They strain to synchronize their research with some approved woke ideology to save their livelihoods.  When professors must write “diversity statements” and hire, promote, and fire on the basis of race, the model is not the U.S. Constitution, but something out of contemporary China.

No one pays much attention that our capital is now weaponized with soldiers in camouflage and barbed wire.  Not since the Civil War has Washington resembled such a vast police state.  Ex-military officers who once warned Trump not to deploy federal troops to ensure the safety of the White House from Antifa and Black Lives Matter demonstrators now are silent about a veritable army deployed in Washington.

President Joe Biden has signaled that all new pipeline construction is over.  Fracking on public lands is taboo.  The border is to become wide open.  Federal immigration law is now effectively nullified.  Americans may soon have to be tested for COVID-19 before flying into or out of the country.  But illegal immigrants will not be COVID-19-certified when — illegally — they cross the border.  Iran is bankrupt, isolated and roundly despised by most of the countries in the Middle East.  Now America is doing its best to resuscitate the most radical and anti-American regime in the world — at the expense of our allies in the Arab world, Israel, and America’s own interests.  While we are busy devouring each other, China is smiling because once-feared American capitalists have become laughable Keystone Cops.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com.

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Petr Svab; Experts’ Warning

This is a rather long piece compared to my usual blogs of ~1000 words, but well worth reading.  C.S. Lewis once wrote: “A tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.  The robber baron’s cruelty may sometime be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment without end for they do so with the approval of their conscience[s].”  Read on and pray for the USA.  This article has minor formatting and grammatical edits from the original.

Ideological Alignment Pushing America Toward Totalitarianism

2021-01-21 Intermezzo Blog by Petr Svah
The US Flag at half-mast in front of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

Concerns about the nexus of big tech, big media, and big government.
By Petr Svab  January 20, 2021; Updated: January 21, 2021

The formation of a totalitarian state is just about complete in America as the most powerful public and private sector actors unify behind the idea that actions to stamp out dissent can be justified, according to several experts on modern totalitarian ideologies.

While many have warned about the rise of fascism or socialism in “the land of the free,” the ideas have largely been vague or fragmented, focusing on individual events or actors.  Recent events, however, indicate that seemingly unconnected pieces of the oppression puzzle are fitting together to form a comprehensive system, according to Michael Rectenwald, a retired liberal arts professor at New York University.

But many Americans, it appears, have been caught off guard or are not even aware of the newly forming regime, as the idea of elected officials, government bureaucrats, large corporations, the establishment academia, think tanks and nonprofits, the legacy media, and even seemingly grassroot movements all working in concert toward some evil purpose seems preposterous.  Is a large portion of the country in on a conspiracy?

The reality now emerges that no massive conspiracy was in fact needed — merely an ideological alignment and some informal coordination, Rectenwald argues.  “Despite the lack of formal overarching organization, the American socialist regime is indeed totalitarian, as the root of its ideology requires politically motivated coercion,” he told The Epoch Times.  The power of the regime is not yet absolute, but it is becoming increasingly effective as it erodes the values, checks, and balances against tyranny established by traditional beliefs and enshrined in the American founding.

The effects can be seen throughout society. Americans, regardless of their income, demographics, or social stature are being fired from jobs, getting stripped of access to basic services such as banking and social media, or having their businesses crippled for voicing political opinions and belonging to a designated political underclass.  Access to sources of information unsanctioned by the regime is becoming increasingly difficult.  Some figures of power and influence are sketching the next step, labelling large segments of society as “extremists” and potential terrorists who need to be “deprogrammed.”

While the onset of the regime appears tied to events of recent years — the presidency of Donald Trump, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, the Capitol intrusion of January  6 — its roots go back decades.

Is It Really Totalitarian?
Totalitarian regimes are commonly understood as constituting a government headed by a dictator that regiments the economy, censors the media, and quells dissent by force.  That is not the case in America, but it is also a misunderstanding of how such regimes function, literature on totalitarianism indicates.

To claim power, the regimes do not initially need to control every aspect of society through government.  Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist Workers Party in Nazi Germany, used various means to control the economy, including gaining compliance of industry leaders voluntarily, or through intimidation, or through replacing the executives with party loyalists.

Similarly, the regime rearing its head in America relies on corporate executives to implement its agenda voluntarily but also through intimidation by online brigades of activists and journalists who take initiative to launch negative PR campaigns and boycotts to progress their preferred societal structure.

Also, Hitler initially did not control the spread of information via government censorship but rather through his brigades of street thugs, the “brown shirts,” who would intimidate and physically prevent his opponents from speaking publicly.  The tactic parallels the often successful efforts to “cancel” and “shut down” public speakers by activists and violent actors, such as Antifa.  Dissenting media in America have not been silenced by the government directly as of yet. 

But they are stymied in other ways.  In the digital age, media largely rely on reaching and growing their audience through social media and web search engines, which are dominated by Facebook and Google.  Both companies have in place mechanisms to crack down on dissenting media.  Google gives preference in its search results to sources it deems “authoritative.”  Search results indicate the company tends to consider media ideologically close to it to be more authoritative.  Such media can then produce hit pieces on their competitors, giving Google justification to slash the “authoritativeness” of the dissenters.  Facebook employs third-party fact checkers who have the discretion to label content as “false” and thus reduce the audience on its platform.  Virtually all the fact checkers focused on American content are ideologically aligned with Facebook.

Attempts to set up alternative social media have run into yet more fundamental obstacles, as demonstrated by Parler, whose mobile app was terminated by Google and Apple, while the company was kicked off Amazon’s servers.

To the degree that a totalitarian regime requires a police state, there is as yet no law in America targeting dissenters explicitly.  But there are troubling signs of selective, politically motivated enforcement.  Indicators go back to the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups or the difference in treatment received by former Trump adviser Lt. Gen Michael Flynn and former FBI deputy Director Andrew McCabe — both allegedly lying to investigators but only one getting prosecuted.  The situation may get still worse as the restrictions tied to the CCP virus see broad swaths of ordinary human behavior being considered “illegal,” opening the door to nearly universal political targeting.

“I think the means by which a police state is being set up is the demonization of Trump supporters and the likely use of medical passports to institute the effective equivalent of social credit scores,” Rectenwald said.  While loyalty to the government and to a specific political party plays a major role, it is the allegiance to the ideological root of totalitarianism that gives it its foot soldiers, literature on the subject indicates.

Totalitarian Ideology
The element “that holds totalitarianism together as a composite of intellectual elements” is the ambition of fundamentally reimagining society — “the intention to create a ‘New Man,’” explained author Richard Shorten in Modernism and Totalitarianism: Rethinking the Intellectual Sources of Nazism and Stalinism, 1945 to the Present.

Various ideologies have framed the ambition differently, based on what they posited as the key to the transformation.  Karl Marx, co-author of the Communist Manifesto, viewed the control of the economy as primary, describing socialism as “socialized man, the associated producers, rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of Nature,” in Das Kapital.

Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist Workers Party in Nazi Germany, viewed race as primary.  People would become “socialized” — that is transformed and perfected — by removing Jews and other supposedly “lesser” races from society, he claimed.

The most dominant among the current ideologies stem from the so-called “critical theories,” where the perfected society is defined by “equity,” meaning elimination of differences in outcomes for people in demographic categories deemed historically marginalized.  The goal is to be achieved by eliminating the ever-present “white supremacy,” however the ideologues currently define it.

While such ideologies commonly prescribe collectivism, calling for national or even international unification behind their agenda, they are elitist and dictatorial in practice as they find mankind never “woke” enough to follow their agenda voluntarily.  In Marx’s prophecies, the revolution was supposed to occur spontaneously.  Yet it never did, leading Vladimir Lenin, the first head of the Soviet Union, to conclude that the revolution will need leadership after all.

“The idea is that you have some enlightened party … who understand the problem of the proletariat better than the proletariat does and is going to shepherd them through the revolution that they need to have for the greater good,” explained James Lindsay, author of Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity — and Why This Harms Everybody.”

Elements of this intellectual foundation can be found in ideologies of many current political forces, from neo-nazis and anarcho-communists, through to progressives and to some extent even neoliberals and neoconservatives, Lindsay acknowledged.  “This is why you see so many people today saying that the only possible answers are a full return to classical liberalism or a complete rejection of liberalism entirely as fatally disposed to create progressivism, neoliberalism, etc.,” he said.

That is not to say these ideologies are openly advocating totalitarianism but rather that they inevitably lead to it.  The roadmap could be summarized as follows:

  1. There is something fundamentally and intolerably wrong with current reality.
  2. There is a plan to fix it requiring a whole society buy-in.
  3. People opposing the plan need to be educated about the plan so they accept it.
  4. People who resist the persuasion need to be reeducated, even against their will.
  5. People who will not accept the plan no matter what need to be removed from society.

“I think that is the general thrust,” Lindsay said. “We can make the world the way we want it to be if we all just get on the same page and same project. It is a disaster, frankly.”

Points Four and Five Now Appear To Be In Progress.
Former Facebook executive Alex Stamos recently labeled the widespread questioning of the 2020 election results as “violent extremism,” which social media companies should eradicate the same way they countered online recruitment content from the ISIS terrorist group.  The “core issue,” he said, “is that we have given a lot of leeway, both in traditional media and on social media, to people to have a very broad range of political views” and this has led to the emergence of “more and more radical” alternative media like OAN and Newsmax.

Stamos then mused about how to reform Americans who have tuned into the dissenters.  “How do you bring those people back into the mainstream of fact-based reporting and try to get us all back into the same consensus reality?” he asked in a CNN interview.
“And can you? Is that possible?” CNN host Brian Stelter added.

The logic goes as follows: Trump claimed the election was stolen through fraud and other illegalities.  That has not been proven in court and is thus false.  People who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and managed to break inside and disrupt the electoral vote counting did so because they believed the election was stolen.  Therefore, anybody who questions the legitimacy of the election results is an extremist and potentially a terrorist.

With tens of thousands of troops assembled to guard the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) recently told CNN that all guard members who voted for Trump belong to a “suspect group” that “might want to do something,” alluding to past leaders of other countries who were “killed by their own people.”

Former FBI Director James Comey recently said the Republican party needs to be “burned down or changed.”

“They want a one party state,” commented conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza in a recent podcast.  “That is not to say they do not want an opposition.  They want a token opposition.  They want Republicans where they get to say what kind of Republican is okay.”

Just as Marx blamed the ills of the world on capitalists and Hitler on Jews, the current regime tends to blame various permutations of “white supremacy.”

“Expel the Republican members of Congress who incited the white supremacist attempted coup,” said Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) in a recent tweet, garnering some 300,000 likes.  She was referring to the Republican lawmakers who raised objections on Jan. 6 to election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania.  Their objections were voted down.

“Can U.S. Spy Agencies Stop White Terror?” Daily Beast’s Jeff Stein asked in a recent headline, concluding that a call for “secret police” to sniff out “extremist” Americans “may well get renewed attention.”  Under the regime, allegations of election fraud — de facto questioning the legitimacy of the leader — have become incitement of terrorism.  YouTube (owned by Google), Facebook, and Twitter have either banned content that claims the election was rigged or are furnishing it with warning labels.  Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey was recently recorded as saying that banning the president’s account was just the beginning.  This approach closely mirrors that of the Chinese communist regime, which commonly targets dissidents for “subverting” the state or “spreading rumors.”

What Is The Alternative?
If calls for radically reorganizing the world are inherently totalitarian, how is the world to avoid them?  The question appears to be its own answer.  If totalitarianism inherently requires allegiance to its ideology, it cannot exist in a society with a lack of such allegiance.

The United States were founded on the idea that individual rights are God-given and unalienable.  The idea, rooted in traditional beliefs that human morality is of divine origin, stands a bulwark against any attempt to assail people’s rights even for their own good.

“If you are not a believer in actual God, you can posit a God’s ideal on the matter … We have to posit some arbiter who is above and beyond our own prejudices and biases in order to ensure these kinds of rights. … Because otherwise you have this infinitely malleable situation in which people with power and coercive potential can eliminate and rationalize the elimination of rights willy-nilly,” Rectenwald said.

Guest Blog: Dennis Prager: I Now Understand the “Good” German

2021-01-09 Guest Blog Dennis Pragerby Dennis Prager, January 5, 2021

As my listeners and readers can hopefully attest, I have been on a lifelong quest to understand human nature and human behavior.  I am sad to report that I have learned more in the last few years, particularly in 2020, than in any equivalent period of time.

2021-01-09 Good Germans

One of the biggest revelations concerns a question that has always plagued me: How does one explain the “good German,” the term used to describe the average, presumably decent German, who did nothing to hurt Jews but also did nothing to help them and did nothing to undermine the Nazi regime?  The same question could be asked about the average Frenchman during the Vichy era, the average Russian under Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev and their successors, and the millions of others who did nothing to help their fellow citizens under oppressive dictatorships.

These past few years have taught me not to so quickly judge the quiet German, Russian, etc.  Of course, I still judge Germans who helped the Nazis and Germans who in any way hurt Jews. But the Germans who did nothing? Not so fast.

What has changed my thinking has been watching what is happening in America (and Canada and Australia and elsewhere, for that matter).  The ease with which tens of millions of Americans have accepted irrational, unconstitutional and unprecedented police state-type restrictions on their freedoms, including even the freedom to make a living, has been, to understate the case, sobering.

The same holds true for the acceptance by most Americans of the rampant censorship on Twitter and all other major social media platforms.  Even physicians and other scientists are deprived of freedom of speech if, for example, they offer scientific support for hydroxychloroquine along with zinc to treat covid-19 in the early stages.  Board-certified physician Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, who has saved hundreds of covid-19 patients from suffering and/or death, has been banned from Twitter for publicizing his lifesaving hydroxychloroquine and zinc protocol.

Half of America, the non-left half, is afraid to speak their minds at virtually every university, movie studio and large corporation — indeed, at virtually every place of work.  Professors who say anything that offends the left fear being ostracized if they have tenure and being fired if they do not.  People are socially ostracized, publicly shamed and/or fired for differing with Black Lives Matter, as America-hating and white-hating a group as has ever existed.  And few Americans speak up.  On the contrary, when BLM protestors demand that diners outside of restaurants raise their fists to show their support of BLM, nearly every diner does.

So, then, who are we to condemn the average German who faced the Gestapo if he didn’t salute Hitler or the average Russian who faced the NKVD (the secret police and intelligence agency that preceded the KGB) if he didn’t demonstrate sufficient enthusiasm for Stalin?  Americans face the left’s cancel culture, but not left-wing secret police or reeducation camps.  (At least not yet — I have little doubt the left would send outspoken conservatives to reeducation camps if they could.)

I have come to understand the average German living under Nazism and the average Russian living under communism for another reason: the power of the media to brainwash.

As a student of totalitarianism since my graduate studies at the Russian Institute of Columbia University’s School of International Affairs (as it was then known), I have always believed that only in a dictatorship could a society be brainwashed.  I was wrong.  I now understand that mass brainwashing can take place in a nominally free society.  The incessant left-wing drumbeat of The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and almost every other major newspaper, plus The Atlantic, The New Yorker, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, NPR, all of Hollywood and almost every school from kindergarten through graduate school, has brainwashed at least half of America every bit as effectively as the German, Soviet and Chinese communist press did (and in the latter case, still does).  That thousands of schools will teach the lie that is the New York Times’ “1619 Project” is one of countless examples. 

Prior to the lockdowns, I flew almost every week of the year, so I was approached by people who recognized me on a regular basis.  Increasingly, I noticed that people would look around to see if anyone was within earshot and then tell me in almost a whisper: “I support Trump” or, “I’m a conservative.”  The last time people looked around and whispered things to me was when I used to visit the Soviet Union.

In Quebec this past weekend, as one can see on a viral video, a family was fined and members arrested because six — yes, six — people gathered to celebrate the new year.  A neighbor snitched on them, and the celebrants were duly arrested.  The Quebec government lauded the snitches and asked for more public “collaboration.”

Snitches are likewise lauded and encouraged in some Democrat-run states and cities in America (Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in March: “Snitches get rewards”) and by left-wing governments in Australia.  Plenty of Americans, Canadians and Australians are only too happy to snitch on people who refuse to lock down their lives.  All this is taking place without concentration camps, without a Gestapo, without a KGB and without Maoist reeducation camps.

That’s why I no longer judge the average German as easily as I used to.  Apathy in the face of tyranny turns out not to be a German or Russian characteristic.  I just never thought it could happen in America.
Dennis Prager

c.a.’s note:  Additionally, there are some serious questions that need to be answered about who broke into the Capitol.  You will not find this reported on CNN, CNBC, MSN or other major news outlets . . . yet.   Pro-Trumpers did enter, but they were not the ones initiating the illegal actions.  There are many Pro-Trumpers who are at the far-right fringe that did wrong things, and these will be and should be prosecuted, but even those crimes pale in comparison to riots in our cities last summer.
https://www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_app/video-trump-supporters-stop-antifa-from-breaking-into-capitol_3649380.html

Guest Blog: The Night Before and After Christmas

The Night after Christmas, It Was Still Dark
How the story of the shepherds changes our view of suffering.
by Jeff Peabody – November 27, 2020 – Good reading in Christianity Today.

The little Palestinian town of Beit Sahour is believed to sit atop the site where “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” (Luke 2:8).  Two churches claim to mark the spot of the angelic visitation.  But that is just geography.  This year I find myself less interested in the where of the fields because I am more concerned with the when — the “at night” Luke briefly mentions.  The shepherds’ experience of darkness, both before and after their trip to the manger, holds special relevance for a Christmas arriving in the waning hours of 2020.

It has been a pretty dark year.  In the midst of already dire global conditions, the pandemic has plunged the world into what has seemed like an endless metaphorical nighttime.  It calls to mind when God brought the plague of darkness on Egypt, describing it to Moses as “darkness that can be felt” (Exodus 10:21).  Once again, something palpable seems to have blanketed the world with all the unknowns, fears, and uncertainties nightfall brings.  And as with most nights, we are weary.

Merry Christmas, right?

Maybe the sentiment is not as incongruous as it feels. Maybe the season of joy is right at home in these conditions. “Advent always begins in the dark,” writes Fleming Rutledge.

For most of my years as a pastor, it has felt as though I have been shepherding at night, in the dark.  No grand visions.  No mapped-out growth strategy.  I have prayed regularly for the light-up-the-sky kind of illumination realized by the Bethlehem shepherds.  Just show me what to do, God, and I will do it.  But my eyes have never been able to focus very far ahead.

That blindness became amplified by all that happened this year, like moving from twilight to midnight.  Suddenly, I could not see two steps in front of me.  Staring into a camera week after week to deliver sermons, I could not even see the flock, let alone the fields.  Each new crisis in the world begged for a response I did not have.  Big decisions and future planning became increasingly difficult, even as the need for them intensified.

The Old Testament book of Joel recounts a disastrous pestilence that wreaked havoc on God’s people.  It brought widespread, horrific destruction. In reflecting on those events, Eugene Peterson observed, “There is a sense in which catastrophe doesn’t introduce anything new into our lives. It simply exposes the moral or spiritual reality that already exists but was hidden beneath an overlay of routine, self-preoccupation, and business as usual.”

The virus we are facing may be novel, but the distress we are experiencing is not.  The preexisting darkness has simply grown thicker, making it more difficult to move.  But immobility is not always bad.  When we cannot go anywhere, we are left with sitting and waiting. And if we are still for any length of time, we are more likely to notice what we would have missed otherwise.

Such as those two little words: “at night.”

That first Christmas night created a watershed between epochs of darkness. There is pre-manger darkness and post-manger darkness.  “The shepherds returned,” Luke says, “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20).  After everything they saw, they returned to the place they had started.  In other words, they went back to that dark night.

All the brilliant, phosphorescent glory that lit up the entire sky did not end their experience of darkness.  It was still there, waiting for them on the far side of the manger.  And that was to be expected.  The angels had not visited the shepherds to bring a miraculous halt to the rotation of the earth.  They were not there to banish the night.  Glory displayed for one purpose only: to provide the irresistible prompt to seek out Jesus.  A flash of light showed the way to a greater light.

This, I have realized, is where I have often gotten hung up.  I have been praying for a light that will eradicate the dark altogether and get me out of it. I am looking — aching, at times — for clear, confident revelation that will end my confusion for good.  I have been waiting for God to solve life for me.  But honestly, that is more escapism than seeking God’s leading.  And that is not why he gives us light.  He shines his beams of revelation to show us the path to Jesus, the light of the world.

We can learn to reframe our questions from “Lord, when will this darkness be over?” to “What is pointing me toward Christ?” As we do, we may find there is significantly more light in the room than we realized.

The angel’s message began with the reassurance that there was no need to be afraid because God’s rescue plan was in motion.  It encompassed everything (offering joy for all people) and missed nothing (down to the details of how Jesus was bundled).  God’s grasp of history and his utter command of the situation were fully evident.  The birth of Christ happened before the angels arrived, during the unlit hours of the night.  The angelic announcement may have shattered the gloom with its brightness, but the miraculous arrival of Jesus occurred much like his resurrection: “while it was still dark” (John 20:1).

God is at work before we see him, absolutely unhindered.  Our blindness is not His.  “Even the darkness will not be dark to you,” the psalmist says (Psalm 139:12).  He is not intimidated by all the unknowns of night that stop us in our tracks.

That first Christmas night created a watershed between epochs of darkness.  There is pre-manger darkness and post-manger darkness.

Up until then, no one had ever lived in a world where the Son of God had dwelt among us as a fellow human being.  Prior to the Incarnation, God had not fully revealed himself.  As the shepherds sat out in those fields, they were living in a world that could see no more than the outlines of God’s redemption plan.  The veil had not been torn yet.

But then, as Isaiah predicted, a light dawned on the people sitting in that pre-manger darkness.  The birth of Christ changed everything.  Suddenly, there was physical evidence of spiritual action.  The hopes of endless ages were no longer abstract wishes.  They were about to be fulfilled within the lifespan of a real live person.

It was the reality of Jesus — not the light of the angels — that stuck with the shepherds.  As glorious as the heavenly choir had looked and sounded out in the field, it paled in comparison to the staggering truth the Christ child embodied.  Even as they were filled with wonder, the shepherds were given only the smallest glimpse of what was coming.  Their understanding was limited to whatever promise they could imagine from a newborn baby.  They did not know he would literally calm storms.  They did not see him heal the sick or raise the dead or feed the crowds.  They knew nothing of the Cross, let alone the Resurrection.  God did not show them the Holy Spirit’s work at Pentecost, the inclusion of the nations, or how the gospel would advance tirelessly around the globe for the next 2,000 years.  Yet the shepherds had enough light from that encounter to march back into their dark night rejoicing and praising God.

Sometimes we act as though what we are going through is pre-manger darkness.  When God seems silent, when we are bewildered by our inability to figure out a way forward, we make up a greater void than is truly there.  Because in truth, a staggering amount of light has been shed on Jesus since the shepherds.  History continues to provide both evidence and explanation.

I do not mean to minimize or trivialize anyone’s “dark night of the soul.”  When you are in one, it is painful and disorienting, often to the point of despair.  But as believers, our darkness is always post-manger.  Our darkness is forever against the backdrop of the light of Christ.  What has been shown of him cannot be unrevealed.  And Jesus never leaves our side through each season of darkness.  It is those who love us best who stay with us through our worst.  You know love is real when it shows up in the middle of the night.

Someday, morning will come.  Night never lasts forever.  In the meantime, we have Immanuel, God right here with us.  And that means we can return to the dark again and again, rejoicing and praising God for the light we have and the One who loves us enough to remain.  We can heed the angel’s call to not be afraid of this present darkness or any other.  The one born to us that night is still good news of great joy.

Jeff Peabody is a writer and lead pastor of New Day Church in Northeast Tacoma, Washington.

Angels We Have Hear On High – Pentatonix

Intermezzo: 9/11/01 Forever Changed …

2020-09-11 Remember
9/11/01 was a beautiful fall day across most of the country, especially up in the northeast around NY and New England.  But where ever you lived in the US, the day changed you.  It changed our nation.  It changed me.

The ACLJ, the American Center for Law and Justice produced a thoughtful and solemn one hour commemoration of the events of that day, with interviews with a handful of some of the people most directly affected.  It tells several stories from first responders and families who lost loved ones.

Tastefully presented, it does not glorify the gore or the terrorists who are to be pitied for their attempt to please a god who wanted them to kill and destroy.  Those of us schooled in the Bible know well enough who that ‘thief/god’ is.  Remember those who lost their lives that day, who are listed at the end of the production.