Cloud of Light

October 14, 2016 — 1 Comment

hildegard-of-benginWhen I went back and re-listened to the previous tune I created a few weeks back, I realized that the mixing wasn’t as balanced as I thought it was. It’s all over the place.

The fact that I rushed the mixing process stands out. There’s a lot to be said about letting any art you’ve created sit for a few hours before stamping it out as complete. Lesson learnt.

Time is not a commodity I have a lot of, so, what I do put together is posted as is. Warts n’ all. I’m also not writing these tunes and putting them together in any professional capacity – or at least not yet.

This affords me a creative margin where I don’t have the pressure to have them as polished and perfected as I would, if say, I was doing this for a job.

What I like about what I can currently do is the honesty of it. I’m not the world’s best guitarist, but I am confident enough with what skills I do have, to put them before God and recognize them as a gift.

These tunes, are therefore, me just honing that gift; sharpening it with new technology and stretching my creativity. I’ve failed and will probably make more mistakes on that front as I keep doing this.

The same goes for this blog. For the most part, I grew up with no encouragement, recognition or knowledge about what gifts and talents were. It wasn’t something my parents seemed concerned about.

Guitar playing was something I was forced into. As a first grader my mother insisted I start to learn a skill; to be notably proficient at something, unlike other senior members of my family who seemed to have no desire to better themselves or work on what gifts they might have had.

The terms “gifts’ and “talent” only became a real concern for me in senior high school. Even then, any ambition for a career in music, although entertained, was a joke. Like most things I experienced in church and elsewhere, I came from a dysfunctional home; didn’t come from the “right” neighborhood, so not much was expected of me, let alone any hope for a future.

The first electric guitar I owned was second-hand. It had a cracked head, and would go out of tune as quickly as it was tuned. One of my worst memories is standing in front of a church with their worship team, trying to use it. Needless to say, I wasn’t on the team for very long.

That, I am grateful to say has no bearing on where I am at now.

As part of the creative process this week, I’ve taken a phrase out of the Complete Writings of Hildegard of Bengin. In particular the imagery of a ‘cloud of light pitted against an immense darkness of great density’:

“…an immense darkness of great density and horror came from the East and extended towards the cloud of light, yet because of that cloud of light it could advance no further […] I heard the ancient serpent say to himself: ‘I will prepare all my forces of strength and wage war against my enemies with all I can muster!’ […] And he blew out a poison cloud which covered all the earth like black smoke, and from it came a great roar, saying: ‘Let no one honour a God they cannot see and know! How can they worship what they cannot know! In the black cloud I saw the images of many kinds of vices.’
(Selected Writings, p. 137)

It’s a prophecy from the 1100’s, that, in its entirety, is worth checking out.


Top image of Hildegard: Artist unknown.


Take that which was left withering.

Call out for the deserted.

Watch them emerge from holy places.

Look at the put-downs still written across their faces.

The stillness of words,

echoes of what was once spoken to save appearances.

Scapegoats left bleeding,

glasses raised in smug celebration.

Alliances built on smiles and people pleasing subjugation.

Lies hidden behind smoke screens of charm and self-congratulation.

That, wished forgotten, doesn’t benefit the downtrodden.

Call out for the broken,

the wounded carer,

the grateful soldier,

those branded as lesser.

“Divine forgiveness leads the way to new life”

Like a lit lantern wrapped in darkness,

light breaks out through its cracks.

Once hardened lies drip to the floor like wax.

Tattooed hearts beat to a melody written by scars

Each beat will not fail to be a reminder;

Each a lingering memory;

Each a watchman;

Every ounce of pain a lesson;

Each a guard, guiding total forgiveness,

Each awakened nerve, calling out against careless forgetfulness.


  Image: sdh_photos

It’s always good to find small connections between one interest and another. It may not have wowed the Karl Barth Discussion Group on FB, but, hey, unless you’re poking sticks at the local wolf pack, not much rocks that sometimes stuffy Colosseum anyway.

I’m a casual Stryper fan and an avid student of anti-Nazi theologian, Karl Barth, so this particular connection made my day.

Barth, 1942:

‘The grace of God, is the answer to the ethical problem. For it sanctifies man. It claims him for God. It puts him under God’s command.’ [i]

Stryper, 1985:


[i] Barth, K. 1942 Ethics as a Task of the Doctrine of God, CD, 2:2, Henderickson Publishers, (p.516)


Defending against the hits

                Who has any real-time for this?

From the aggressors who blubber about niceties,

comes spiteful splattering subtleties.

               mud thrown over the walled city of Notifications,

               to distract plausible argument with great ironic howls of  “fallacy.”

Thus ends the great claims of integrity, from those who,

at the push of a button,

              hashtag their “internet solidarity.”

Intoxicating red bubbles demand you click

               and then engage with their foul spit.

To the odorous sentiment of superiority

           there is little antidote to its insanity

Reasoned argument is no guarantee

            and qualifications have zero sway in it,

So goes the condemnation of your disagreement

Only policy sellers; club dwellers with paid membership are “free.”

    Blindfolds are complimentary.

      Comments of support a necessity.

        Popularity a commodity;

           Victims to pounce on are compulsory.


                 truth, although reduced in its capacity,

                 and so forced into a quiet solemnity,

                 will have its ideological chains eroded by reality.

Like the wax of a burning candle, Light will dissolve each man-made chain into obscurity.

1 Timothy 6:3-5 & 20-21


Noah’s Revolution

September 22, 2016 — Leave a comment

noah-2When we get past the cartoon images and mockery, Noah, at the command of God, was essentially the Ancient Near Eastern equivalent of a naturalist. He knew how to grow food, make wine, care for animals and build.

With God at the helm, Noah, and his family, in the face of recrimination and direct opposition, faithfully nurtured a carefully coordinated exodus out of moral chaos and self-destruction.

Drawn back from the veil of its Sunday School drawings, and oversimplified Atheist polemics, Noah’s story is about surgical renewal. It is about the preservation and conservation of creation.It is the application of strong medicine with the aim of total restoration.

With God, not just at the centre, but by choosing to be by humanity’s side, Noah and his family are man and woman equally united before God, against a darkened and morally corrupt World.

At it’s core is God’s determined push back against the Abyss and its fanatical legions; who seek the slow extinction of humanity through the happy intoxication of excess, ignorance and unbelief. From which humanity is viciously guided towards the precipice of its total self-annihilation.

gresham-collegeEngland’s, Gresham College has a series of excellent lectures available for free on YouTube. Two grabbed my attention. Alister McGrath’s, ‘Darwin, Evolution and God: The Present Debates  was the first. The second was Alec Ryrie’s, ‘What Would Jesus Do? Christian Culture Wars in the Modern West.’ 

McGrath’s lecture reasserted a lot of what I’ve heard before. What I liked about this was how McGrath dealt with William Paley’s, Natural Theology and how McGrath leans authoritatively towards Thomas Aquinas and Charles Kingsley.

The lecture starts with an overview of Charles Darwin’s journey from boat to the establishment of his theory, and closes with a discussion about Darwinism and religion. I thought McGrath was a little  to generous towards Darwin when discussing Nazism and its social Darwinian ideology.

This, however, is offset by McGrath’s in-depth look at Darwin’s assertions in ”The Decent of Man”.

Key statements were: “Darwin never became an atheist. Although he wrestled with [Protestant] Christianity’s “lack” in dealing with suffering, brought on by the loss of his daughter, Darwin never used evolution as weapon against Christianity. From what we know, Darwin didn’t see a clash between evolution and creation”

After watching another lecture from Alister McGrath called, ‘Evangelicalism & Liberalism‘ from an unrelated source, Alec Ryrie’s lecture was a surprise find. Ryrie deals with a similar theme.

The great attraction of this lecture is how Ryrie presents Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s incomplete [‘half-formed’] theology on the ecclesia. More precisely his idea of ”religionless Christianity” drawn out form a list of letters in the unabridged version of ‘Letters and Papers from Prison, DBW:8.’

Ryrie covers three themes. Moral events, christian authenticity and the loss of christian identity as it is paralysed by politics and pluralism. His frame is the evangelical question ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Religionless Christianity.

Out of these he points out that in the West, ‘World War Two was the defining moral event, of the twentieth century.’ The fight against the Axis powers in WW2 was portrayed as a Crusade against evil. Something that, post Dachau and Auschwitz proved to be true. This lead to a post-war rallying around Judeo-Christianity, the faith of Christendom, as being a bulwark against communism because it saved the West from Nazism [the new modern face and name for evil].

From here, Ryrie looks to the African-American civil rights movement. In these he sees the opportunistic birth of the left as it took over ownership of the Civil rights movement, quietly suppressing the Christian foundations of it. Attracting in particular those who took Bonhoeffer’s ”religionless Christianity” and looked to work it out as doctrine. (Something I would take to mean the hijacking of Bonhoeffer by the radical Left).

The consequence being a ‘reckless abandonment of institutions’ and tradition in the process. Adding to this the eventual gagging of the gospel and the disintegration of an openly Christian identity.

It’s here where the content of Ryrie’s lecture meets with McGrath’s look back to the legacy of Christian liberalism. From which is drawn the view that ”culture determines the agenda and therefore the church has to go wherever culture leads.”

Christian identity ended up ‘torn’ between left and right. However, by the late 1970s the religious left had became ‘invisible’. As an example, Ryrie presents the overthrow of the Student Christian Mission (SCM) by Marxists, who ‘merged a Marxist revolution with the Kingdom of God; seeing Jesus as a political radical.’ This was the ‘subsuming of Christian identity into radical politics.’ Another legacy of theological liberalism with its ”world sets the agenda laissez-faire attitude.’ (McGrath)

The lecture ends with the example of Buzz Aldrin’s decision to have communion on the moon. Ryrie highlights Aldrin’s regret, mentioned in his 2008 memoir, which stated that he wouldn’t do it if he did the moon landing all over again because they went to the moon on behalf of humanity, which includes Jews, Muslims, Hindus and heathen, not just Christians. Although the communion was done in private, Aldrin is still led to reconsider it. Ryrie points to this regret as evidence of the crisis caused by this loss of identity. The  insecurity (lament/shyness/uncertainty) about holding up, with conviction, what is an essential rite of Aldrin’s faith, makes special note of the struggle Christians have in ‘maintaining a [Christian] identity in the midst of pluralism.’

Ryrie’s lecture is full of insight. His subject is well researched and I find myself agreeing with his points. Points that back up the quip that the radical Left created the Conservative movement. The radical Left continues to be a divisive force, grasping for any cause that will reinvigorate this division to foster recruitment and feed the sense of global community only found in the Commonwealth of Christ. Setting itself up as the Kingdom of God without God in it.

Christianity indistinguishable from the world is subsequently extinguished by the world. Or perhaps more accurately, Christianity indistinguishable from the world allows itself to be extinguished (at least in public) from the world.


[i] McGrath, A. 1993 Evangelicalism & Liberalism‘ Moore College, Australia

[ii] McGrath, A. 2016 ‘Darwin, Evolution and God: The Present Debates Gresham College – [transcript]

[iii] Ryrie, A. 2016 What Would Jesus Do? Christian Culture Wars in the Modern West Gresham College – [transcript]

silence-at-onceHere are some comments that I received in relation to  Why Social Justice Warriors Are The Brethren of Iscariot, Not Christ , posted last week. I’ve also added my responses to them.

The comments come from a few members of the 1,600 strong Karl Barth Discussion Group on Facebook.

First, I’ll state that I don’t intend to make a habit of sharing lots of dialogue like this. My goal here is to share the overall complex reaction to a relatively simple and straight forward post. It gives an a good insight into how online discussions go when you post something people that challenges the gathering storm. Secondly, I took valuable time to respond carefully to each comment and reasonable question, which makes what I had to say in response worth adding onto my original post.

The final exchange went further. The larger part of that can be located here. My interlocutor appeared to want to bog down my argument in semantics and selective argument. Feigning to want to ”understand” and ”hear me clearly”, my comments were isolated and picked apart with question, piled upon question. The general claim being that my point was not clear and that my logic (”non-argument”) was all over the place. Therefore, it left him “confused”. Once the tone of that particular conversation moved towards a cross-examination, I decided to politely disengage.

Facebook is not the greatest place to discuss theology, but we do what we can, and work with what we’ve got. I’m thankful that ‘Christ doesn’t build his church on opinions, but on revelation.’ (Bonhoeffer paraphrased, DBW 12: Sermon, 23rd July 1933).









And finally,




*Surnames and profile pictures have been redacted out of consideration for those who did comment.

Never Again

May 29, 2013 — 2 Comments

Never AgainIn 1994, my senior high history class walked through the halls of Sydney’s Holocaust museum. I cannot remember the temperature that day,  although I do remember it being cold.

At the entrance to the museum we were greeted by two elderly gentlemen. Both of whom warmly welcomed us, then introduced us to our tour guide.

Afterwards we were slowly escorted throughout the building.

Our guide would stop and allow us time to reflect on the photos, prison-camp clothing and other items of historical significance.

Upon arriving at the final room of the tour, our Jewish guide stopped and cautioned us about it’s contents:

“this room is full of disturbing images; you do not have to go in if you don’t want too“.

Not deterred by his caution, most of us went in. Those who didn’t, stayed outside. The rest all silently moved around the room, looking at the photographic record on each of the four walls.

Each wall was neatly covered in black and white photos. They were grim, blunt documentary evidence of the brutality of this time and the unruly isms that misguided it.

I am thankful for my teachers and these Jewish men. They took a risk and engaged with young Christians in a deeply vulnerable way.

The two words ‘never again’ hit hard that day. Nineteen years on and the affect still lingers. The words are still an eerie reminder of what ‘never forget’, enshrined on a plaque in Auschwitz, means.

‘Never again’ is a motto of resilience. It is a necessary imperative that calls us to heed the warnings of the past.

Today, the historicity of the Jewish holocaust is questioned. If anything this shows that the veil of deceit, which allowed this atrocity, is still present in certain parts of the global community.

As Gene Veith stated:

‘fascism may have been defeated militarily in 1945, it wasn’t academically’.[i]

Evidence of this is seen in how fascism wears the mask of political correctness and hides behind Marxism (Veith). Further evidence of this is seen in how fascism has hijacked cultural sensitivity in order to deny the Judeo-Christian God of the bible, and defend an ideology that, under the guise of reason, becomes solely about subversion, segregation, isolation, power and control.

It should ‘never be forgotten’ that God summons Christians to challenge

‘the ideas that led to Auschwitz with special scrutiny. This is especially true when those ideas, often adopted uncritically, are still in vogue’ [ii]

These ideas still exist. They are found in modernist interpretations of Frederic Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin. All of whom  had a direct influence on fascism and Nazism (Veith 1993 & Smith 2007).

Anti-Nazi theologian Karl Barth taught that ‘Christianity is the protest against all the high places which human beings build for themselves’ [iii]. Because true human identity and freedom is grounded in the God who became flesh, we must not turn to any ideology to define our identity.

It is important to remember that the subordination of the Church to the State in Germany at this time was understood as progressive and enlightened.

Christians cannot fail to see and then act responsibly in order to insure that this never happens again.

Theologian Thomas Torrance once wrote that:

‘I had been in Palestine, as it was then called, in 1936 when the Grand Mufti came back to Jerusalem from visiting Hitler and spread the terrible poison of anti-Semitism all over the Middle East…in his visit to Israel in 1977 Torrance states I was altogether overwhelmed by the massive evidence vividly placarded before my eyes of the slaughter of six million Jews’ [iv]

The event which Torrance describes presents us with an imperative. The church can never forget whose they are, or become politically ignorant about who they stand in agreement with.

Torrance reminds us of the historical parallels which exist in the present and should not be ignored.

For the saying “never again” to become a reality, we must not forget why it was said in the first place.

(Video content warning: some graphic images)



[i] Veith Jnr, G.E. 1993 modern fascism: the threat to the Judeo-Christian worldview Kindle for P.C. Ed.

[ii] ibid, 1993

[iii] Gorringe. T. 1999, Against Hegemony (p.64); Barth, K. CD IV/II:524

[iv] Torrance, T.F. 1994 Preaching Christ today: the Gospel and scientific thinking Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing Co. Grand Rapids, MI, USA


Preamble To The Uprising

September 27, 2016 — 4 Comments

My new tune.

Preamble to the Uprising: “…every eye shall see.” – John, Revelation 1:7

“We shall all be beggars together if we shut ourselves up like hermits, and cry “every man for himself.”
– (Charles Spurgeon, 1882, Flowers From a Puritan’s Garden)